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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Caterpillar Phenomenon

     OK... this is weird. Last night I was cooking my wild hog meat. While standing at the grill and staring into the horizon, I noticed something strange along the outline of a large post oak we have in our yard. They were caterpillars... crawling along the side of the tree. It seemed like a line of caterpillars, one after the other climbing up the tree. A glance to the other side of the tree proved that the same was happening along the other side. I got a flashlight and looked very closely at the tree and oh my God! There were hundreds... thousands of caterpillars climbing the tree. It was truly amazing. I looked lower and discovered that they virtually covered the ground surrounding the stump. I alerted everyone to the phenomenon happening before us and they too were amazed. While standing and taking it all in I noticed that something was falling around us. It could be heard like rain easily against the calm of the night. We surmised that these were caterpillars falling. We guessed that they were climbing into the tree and falling out. Everyone started saying they were falling into their hair or clothes. It was wild. We checked the large water oak on the other side of the yard and sure enough they were climbing it too. We figured, after much deliberation, that they were feeding on the newly born leaves from the oak trees.... and why not? It's been a long time since that particular dish was on the menu.
    This morning when I woke and went to stoke the fire in the smoker I noticed that what was falling like rain the night before wasn't just caterpillars. It was mostly caterpillar feces... yep.... crap. They were crapping on us all night. climbing the tree, feasting and crapping like I'm sure they haven't crapped in months. It covers every surface. Tiny black specks... just about the size of the broken tip of a pencil lead. Thank god the smoker kept my meat protected but I'm sure we drank beer the night before that was full of it. Yeah... they really got us good. It makes me appreciate all the more that the twenty or so birds I've been watching in my yard all morning have been having a feast of their own... a feast of caterpillars.   :-)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Judi Diane Duncan

    18 years ago, when I was 17 and Connie (my wife) was 15 we got pregnant. 7 months later Diane was born. She was early and had to spend a little time in the hospital. I will admit that I had no idea how to raise a child. Connie knew how to take care of a baby but neither of us knew what it was to be a parent. How could we? We were children... not that anyone could tell us that. We've made our mistakes along the way... the parties, the alcohol, the bands, etc. I guess that's why we were powerless to stop her from making the same "mistake" we made. At 14 Diane came to her mother and told her that she too would be having a child. We were devastated.... I was completely beside myself. I was angry not just at her but at the her boyfriend's parents. We sat down with them and discussed whether or not to allow Diane to visit them without us there. They both agreed that they would always be in plain sight... never a closed door. They even acted like it was an insult that we would doubt them. We found out later she got pregnant over there while pretending to play "Rock Band". What idiots!!! I was afraid for Diane. I've never advocated abortion but I have to admit folks I was scared... I suggested it. In all honesty I pleaded with her. I didn't know how she was going to achieve the goals that she had set for herself. I didn't know how she would function in society... how would she raise a child? I'm sorry for that now but I won't lie... I begged her to have an abortion. I would have called anyone else doing the same thing crazy but I ask that you please not judge me until you've experienced that for yourself.
    There were nights we fought... we yelled at each other. I forbade her to see Josh (her boyfriend). I threatened to have him arrested. Especially when I caught him sneaking in her window. I even found pictures and video they had taken together of an extremely perverse nature... she was 14 for God's sake!!! It seemed like I stayed angry. I'm sure I was very unpleasant for anyone who dared keep my company. This seemed to be the norm for a while. I eventually came around and when Diane started going to the doctor I allowed Josh to go also. I still had limits which Diane felt were unfair. I guess she figured that since she was pregnant the word and guidance of mommy and daddy no longer applied. So... I tried hard to show her that it did apply. We fought more...
    Through all of that we struggled to find a balance and eventually a baby girl was born. Alyssa Diane Asmus was born... healthy and ready to live. She was so precious. I felt horrible for having suggesting abortion...

It's my pain though and I'll live with it. Thank God Diane had the fortitude to ignore my suggestion just like I would have done in when I was in that same place. It wasn't the end of our fighting though. Diane tried harder than ever to show us... me... that I didn't matter. She wanted to get married and I wanted her to finish High School first. I thought that was a fair compromise and she reluctantly agreed. Little did I know that she had agreed because Josh's stupid, ignorant, mouth breathing, mushy brained parents were telling her that when she turned 16 she no longer needed my permission to marry in Georgia because she had a child. Needless to say I was extremely distraught when she brought this to my attention (two weeks before her 16th birthday). I felt the need once again to prove to her that she/they were fucking wrong! I did my research... called courts and lawyers and discovered that while that was true up until 2006, it was no longer the case. When I told her that and told her that she had no choice but to honor her agreement to finish High School she immediately threw a fit. She promised me that if I didn't let her get married she would run away and I would not see the wedding, I would not see my grandchild again and not only that but Alyssa would never know who I was. I felt like she truly hated me but if we could get through this and get her to finish High School with the 4.0 GPA she had achieved, everyone would be better off for it. She swore that I was ruining her life... Josh was going to go into the military but now that he had a child with her he couldn't until he was married. Really I don't understand how that is my fault... he got her pregnant... that's his shit. I don't know why they felt the need to put it on me.
    I stood by my guns and settled into a routine. They would say "Josh's parents are moving to Guam. We need to get married right now!" and I would reply "You're not going to Guam and I'm not letting you get married!" It was a struggle but it was routine. Eventually they did end up moving... which once again pissed me off. Why couldn't Josh's dad just stick around here until my daughter finished school. He's so fucking stupid and selfish! His son had finished and he would still see him everyday. Anyway, I decided to let them get married... not just let them but I paid for the wedding, planned the wedding and facilitated the event. The whole thing was still a struggle. She fought me on everything from the date to the music. Have you ever heard "Face Down" by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus? I hadn't either until she gave me her list of songs that they wanted played at the reception. It was chaos... I did everything I could to just stay calm and get through it. When the day came I walked her down the isle and I danced with her at the reception while I cried like a baby. On the day she left for West Virginia we all went to breakfast together... I took the day off work to tell her goodbye. We hugged her, kissed her and watched through tear filled eyes as they took our baby away.
    I thought that after the initial hurt I would get used to life without seeing her everyday and be relatively normal again. However, when I tried to call she wouldn't answer. When I texted I got no reply. I tried and tried but to no avail. Then I noticed that she wasn't only not answering but sending my calls straight to voicemail. I was heartbroken.... she sent me an email which she had sent to her mother and this is what it read:
Dear Mama,
       I know you will probably hate me for this, but I've been avoiding dad on purpose. I've been talking yo you cause you didn't do all those things in the past. I swore to dad at some point that when I was free from the "wardon", I was never turning back. I don't want you to be mad at me but I know you will never understand cause you don't want to leave your family & this is all I wanted for years. You can go on and stop paying for my phone if you want, even though I still want to talk to you and Georgia. Ya'll also screwed up by telling Josh, ON OUR WEDDING DAY, that you could annul the marrage up to 6 weeks after the wedding (EVEN THOUGH YOU KNEW THAT WAS A STUPID LIE)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I still want to be Georgias' god mother though. By the way, you said that Georgias' life will be harder? Keep in mind, you were less strick on me and you saw how I rebelled. Imagine how bad Georgia is going to rebell, she's already starting to in her own way by not listening. The more she's educated and the more freedom you give her, the longer she will want to be a kid and thinks before she acts. Hopefully this will teach dad a life long lesson. You can talk to me if you want. If dad continously calls I'm just going to keep hanging up.
   Most of that isn't true... we didn't say we were, or could annul the marriage and she isn't Georgia's Godmother. Now she's sending back her phone so I won't have anything on her. I guess she'll hate me until I'm dead and she's old and it's too late for either of us to hug each other and say "I love you Diane".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

On The Menu - Wild Hog

   Anyone who knows me would know that I LOVE to cook. I mean I love it... I find it relaxing and it really does spark my creative side. I like to experiment with food and make things I've never even tasted. As a matter of fact the very best way to get me to try something new is if I make it myself. I've always dreamed of owning a restaurant but the problem is I would have no idea how to run it... just cook in it. One thing that I like to say when I make or create something wonderful is "That's going on the menu!".... and by menu I mean my fictional menu in my fictional restaurant (which coincidentally is named "On The Menu"). Some of my friends and family have picked up on that saying and it's not uncommon to hear someone say "Chad this is excellent! This has to go on the menu!". It makes me feel great I must admit. A few of the choices for the menu so far have been:
Egg rolls
American Pepper Steak
Stuffed Manicotti Shells
Chicken Pot Pie
Stuffed Peppers (one of my personal favorites)
Green Beans (sounds simple but they are the best I've ever tasted)
Homemade Pizza
Kickin' Wings
Chicken Soup
Chili (everyone makes chili but this stuff is to die for)
London Broil with Mushroom Gravy
Bison Burgers with Ranch Cilantro Slaw
Mexican Pizza (nothing like the one served at Taco Bell)

I could go on and on but the point I'm making is that I'm always looking for new ideas. Well now I've got one that I'm sure will be on the menu... Wild Hog!! My father-in-law, Mike has been trying to harvest a wild hog since February. He's made feeding plots of cracked corn to attract them. To begin with he was trying to trap them but they proved too crafty for that. Next he tried to shoot one and missed or didn't have a powerful enough gun. Finally Monday night he got one. He was so excited that he started calling people at 11:30 PM before the hog stopped kicking. When he told me I was excited too... especially when he said I could have my choice of the meat! I ended up with a side of pork and a shoulder. I'm so excited to cook it that I can hardly contain my excitement. I'm going to start tonight in fact soaking it in a solution that I read about online and by Saturday night it will be ready to smoke!!! I have some pecan smoking wood that I plan to use and I'm hoping to smoke it all night long. I will be sure and let you all know if it's worthy of being "On The Menu".

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sunday Alcohol Sales In GA

    OK... well I guess it's time I actually expressed my views on something. It seems that Senate has passed a bill that will potentially allow Georgia to join the other 47 states that already allow Sunday alcohol sales. The way I understand it, the bill would turn the decision over to local communities. It goes to Governor Nathan Deal for his signature next and he has indicated that he will sign it.
    Now what I want to hear from you all is whether you think it's the right thing to do constitutionally. I also welcome religious views but it's the constitutional implications that I'm most interested in. I believe that it's unconstitutional to BAN alcohol sales on Sunday. I'm not trying to attack anyone's religion or their right to practice which ever religion they choose (or none at all). I'm simply referring to the separation of church and state... which you may be surprised to learn (as I was) doesn't appear in any part of the actual constitution. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the 1st amendment erected a "wall of separation" between the church and the state (James Madison said it "drew a line," but it is Jefferson's term that sticks with us today). I take that to mean that the government should keep it's nose out of religion and by the same token laws should not be written based on religious views.
    Alright, now that I've thrown that out there allow me to explain. The Crusades were fought in order to spread Christianity. Right or wrong, people were tortured and killed in the name of God. The Taliban used to force people in Afghanistan to become radical Muslim. For the six years the militia ruled the country, men had to grow long beards and go to the mosque seven times a day -- or face public beatings or even jail. Women had to quit their jobs, cover their entire bodies with burqas and leave their houses only with their husbands or fathers. I'm not saying that we're headed in that direction but you can see where it ultimately leads when you allow religious groups to make and enforce laws.
    I don't want any government to tell me when, where and what I can worship. And I certainly don't want any religious group telling me how I can live. If you ban the sale of alcohol on Sunday what's next? Should we ban the sale of Playboy magazine on Sunday? It is, in fact pornography... I've spoken with people who believe smoking cigarettes is a sin but there's been no attempt to ban the sale of tobacco on Sunday. Should we make it illegal not to attend church on Sunday? The bible says to "remember the sabbath and keep it holy". How do you define "keep it holy"? The Jewish believe that pork which isn't killed in a certain way is unholy. No matter how you define it it's up to the believer to "keep it holy". Nobody should be forced by law to obey the bible. What's to keep other religious groups from forcing their beliefs upon us all?
    Now some may say it's a matter of respect but how do you legislate respect for a religious belief? Others may say this country was founded on the teachings of the bible. I don't dispute that. It's said that our founding fathers fled England to escape religious persecution. Even these very religious men who made it very clear "In God We Trust" had the foresight to see that they couldn't force others by law to obey their religion. They made that clear in the constitution as well... in the first amendment. The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law "respecting an establishment of religion", impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. I may be kicking a hornet's nest here but I would like to hear from everyone who has an opinion on this matter. It's coming... like it or not it's coming to a vote very soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In the Beginning

   This is something I've wanted to do for a while. I love to write and I'm a very opinionated person so of course I'm drawn to this thing called blogging. I think it's the modern version of a soap box where people of a town would stand and voice their opinions. Some of you probably won't agree with me but I hope you'll at least find some entertainment value here. The idea is to open myself up so that all of you can witness my slow but certain decline into the realm of insanity brought on by middle age and that mid-life crisis thing I keep hearing about.
    Well this is my first attempt at a blog so I think I'll just start with one of the comical things that seems to happen to us all. My life is filled with colorful characters and anyone who reads my blog will come to know these characters quite well. One of these characters is my neighbor, Josh. He's 27 and just as much a life loving, mud bogging, beer drinking redneck as anyone else in my neighborhood. He's a nice guy but when his truck went dead less than a mile from the house he was at a loss to understand why. He was able to get his 1978 4 x 4 Ford F150 home thanks to another neighbor, Mike. When I got home from work Friday, Josh was laboring in his yard to try and find the reason that his truck wouldn't run. He called me for advice and here is part of the conversation.
    Oh yeah, one thing you must understand is that he yells everything. I had the misfortune of answering the phone while wearing my bluetooth headset once and as a result suffered a 10% hearing loss in my right ear. Anyway, here's some of what was said Friday.
    "Man I cain't get no fuckin' fire from the coil. I got fire goin' to it, but I cain't make 'at sumbich fire fer shit! I even stuck a fanger in 'at sumbich and hollered at Tiff-ney... Spin 'at sumbich over!!! No chaints."
    You should also know that I thought for a very long time of a way to spell chance that would demonstrate how it sounds when he says it. With the help of my wife we were able to come up with "chaints". It still does not do justice to what it is to speak with him but it's the best I can do.
    So you can see my delima. I've been working with engines and trucks most of my adult life. I have the training and common sense to find and fix the problem.... Maybe even keep Josh from burning to death in his truck. It just seems like a shitty way to spend a Friday night. I like to be neighborly however, so I call him back and tell him I'm coming over to look at his truck. He isn't home and he informs me that he's tried a new ignition module and that didn't fix the problem so he's returning it.
    The next day when I do go over there I start of course with the fuse panel. Folks let me tell you... there are real gum wrappers stuffed into his fuse panel in place of fuses... wrigley I think. There are fuses that have long since blown, wrapped in foil and placed back into the fuse slot. I do my best to I check everything from asshole to appetite and it appears to be his ignition module. He assures me he has eliminated that possibility. I must say I had my doubts because he comes up with the most fucked up ways of testing things that I have ever seen. He'll call me and say something like "Man I ran a war straight from the positive side of the battery to the coil, then I turned on my left blinker and hit the gas three times and my radio still won't play! So 'at tells me the heater fan ain't workin'... right?"
    Ok maybe not that bad but you get my point.
    To make a long story short it was the ignition module. He had installed a new one previously and had wired it wrong and that's why it didn't crank. This time, however, he "Plugged 'at sumbich in an' 'at mother fucker fired right off!" I saw that he was driving it this morning and I hope that he doesn't catch fire on his way to work one day.... Maybe I should get him a fire extiguisher just in case.
    Ok... first blog done. I think next time I'll even voice some of my opinions. Topic suggestions as well as discussions are always welcome.