Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is She Really Old Enough for Senior Pictures?

I don't know when it started, but as long as I can remember, senior pictures have been a 'right of passage' for any senior in high school. Well, today was the day that Kenzi, her best friend 'Nay', the dog and I trudged out into the woods to take Kenzi's senior pictures.

It's hard to believe that my first born is already 17, will graduate in a few short months and then sprint as fast as she can into a life of her own (which is exactly what her mother did). It just dawned on me that my dad did my senior pictures and I guess it was a given that I would always do Kenzi's, since photography is a hobby/passion of mine.

For the past few weeks I have been searching out the perfect spot for Kenzi's pictures when Boz and I are out hiking. I found an arm of the river where the creek bed has dried up except for a slow trickle and the bushes that line the bed are in full fall color. So, today we trudged up a trail, maneuvered down an embankment, slid over still wet river rocks (a few times nearly falling on our backsides), smiled, struck poses, laughed at Boz chasing chipmunks and got some great pictures. So, here's my little girl.

Striking a pose... always more fun with your best friend.

Yes, the shoes make the dress!

...and I believe I see some her mother's attitude in that look (ehem!).

Of course Boz has to be a part of the action... he strikes a pose showing his 'best side'.

Making ripples in the water.

Beautiful in black and white...

..and in full color.

Oh, that smile!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

What's In a Memory

I once read that if a person has memories of when they were very, very young their childhood was a good one. I have shared some of my earliest memories with my mom and it seems I have a few of when I was just under two. And I would have to agree that I had a pretty darn good childhood and a lot of fond memories.

Whenever I've been asked about my childhood, I have likened it to growing up 'Beaver Cleaver'. My family consisted of a dad who was a school teacher, a stay-at-home mom who got up with us at the crack of dawn during the school year to make breakfast and lunches, and who could cook a mean pot roast, two older brothers, myself, two cats (not always the same two) and a dog.

We lived in a relatively small town (15,000) and everybody knew everybody, which could be a really good thing, or a really bad thing, depending on who your parents were. Because of my dad's teaching gig and the fact that he reffed football and basketball and taught Driver's training, there was no way I would be able to get away with anything because he knew too many people. So I led a relatively boring life through high school.

My brothers were complete opposites. My oldest brother was very mechanical and to quote my dad, 'Scott was the only kid I knew who got through high school with no homework assignments.' I remember him taking things apart and putting them back together. And they worked. Even without the leftover pieces. He loved to execute the Chinese torture technique on me and my other brother which usually left me freaking out in mass hysterics only because my other brother would never let Scott get the best of him and I was sure that he would die at the hands of Scott. Scott eventually entered the army, told his CO to eff off because they wouldn't let him come home to see my mom when she went in for cancer surgery and was 'honorably' discharged the same year.

My other brother, Matt, was skinny. He was like the .5 child in the perfect family that has 2.5 children because when he turned sideways we couldn't see him. He hated swimming pools and my only memories of him in such places are of him shivering uncontrollably with blue lips even if it was in the dead of summer and 100+ degrees. And he loved the Pittsburg Steelers. In fact we went to Pittsburg in the summer of 1980-something(who cares what the year really was since were from 'dry' and not humid Oregon and it was freaking miserable and hot) and walked on the turf that the Steelers played on. It was like entering the holy land. I remember one extremely horrible Christmas when he didn't get a Steelers helmet because they were sold out. It was the worst of times.

When he got to high school he became a runner. And popular. Luckily by the time I entered high school, Scott had graduated, but I had to live with the tag of 'Matt's little sister'. And I hated running.

There was always some sort of weapon around the house that us kids found to amuse ourselves. BB guns, pellet guns, pocket knives, crab apples, wheel barrows full of firewood... Fortunately I escaped most, ok, all of the injury inflicted by these things, but Matt was not so fortunate. Like the time he and Scott were bringing in firewood and Scott told Matt to hold the 'ramp' (a flimsy piece of bark - ok, maybe not bark, but you get the picture) so that he could push the wheelbarrow down the step onto the back porch. Well, the ramp didn't hold and the picture in my head before Matt was taken to the emergency room was him sitting on the kitchen counter, mom dialing the rotary phone (like she was calling 999-9999) and holding his hand in the air with bones sticking out of his skin. Did I mention it was his birthday and several of his friends were coming over for a party?

Or the time he and Scott got into a crab apple fight and Matt ended up in the emergency room because of a well placed crab apple to the eye.

My poor mother.

Matt was big into putting together model airplanes. I learned quickly that model glue does make your fingers stick together, permanently, and model paint will stain the dining room table. It was a tedious hobby, but the finished product was pretty cool. My brothers shared a room and they had a fleet of aircraft hanging from their ceiling. They were mostly WWII aircraft: F4 Wildcats, B52 Bombers, Kingcobras, Invaders, Destroyers, Helldivers.

For fun, Matt would put together models of German airplanes and we would take them out back and tie them from the branches of the Juniper trees. And then shoot them down with our BB guns(my cousins didn't call me Annie Oakley for nuthin'). From the carnage on the ground, it looked as though we shot down the whole Nazi fleet right here in Oregon. I know they say, 'Don't mess with Texas', but the kids on NE 11th street were doin' a little whoop-A of their own.

We always had animals and cats adopting our family. I remember when Sweetie Pie showed up and adopted us. She was the meanest cat I have ever known (besides my great-grandma Sabo's orange cat that would jump out and attack my legs). Back then, there wasn't a big campaign to spay ones cats, so we didn't. She had thousands of kittens and we ended up keeping one and naming her Mimi. She was the second meanest cat I knew. Sweetie Pie disappeared and Mimi became the Matriarch of the house. We still didn't believe in spaying our cat and she birthed thousands and we kept one. He was named Guido. Guido was awesome. He was a huge orange and white cat that ruled the neighborhood. I think he was a pimp but I'm not sure. But he was cool and I was ticked when my parents gave him away after I moved out.

We had two dogs that I remember growing up. Aussie and Missy. Aussie was an Australian shepherd that was the smartest dog I've ever known. My parents had 5 acres on the outskirts of town where we raised steers. We would go out daily to feed them and tend to dad's garden and Aussie would jump out of the back of the truck as soon as we got to the gate and start herding the steers. All three of them. Unfortunately, Aussie passed away from Parvo when we were away on family vacation. Us kids were devastated.

So we went to the pound when we got home and found Missy. My parents tried to make her an outdoor dog and told my brother she had to sleep out in the doghouse. Well, I remember many mornings looking out the back window and seeing a sleeping bag hanging out of the doghouse. Missy soon became an indoor dog. And was a part of the family for 14 years.

My dad's family was in Ohio and we only saw them every five years. But my mom grew up in California and us kids loved going to LA to visit Grandma and Grandpa Vic. My grandma's family was very musical and she bought me an old upright piano when I was five. I still have it to this day. What I loved most about going to grandma's house was that she and grandpa always had bologna, white bread, Kraft cheese slices and 7-up in the fridge. That is every kids dream meal and we only got that stuff when we were there. At Christmas, grandma always had the box of assorted chocolates and 'someone' always took bites out of all of them to find the coconut filled one.

Every girl likes to dress up dolls and I was no exception. That dress that is adorning that most adorable baby girl (me) was a permanent fixture on my favorite doll. I still have that dress to this day and if I was organized, I could find the picture of Kenzi wearing it as a baby.

To this day, I have a very close knit family. My parents have been in Israel for nearly two weeks on a missions trip and I call and leave messages on their home answering machine because I miss them so much.

Matt lives in Virginia with his wife and 11 of his 12 children (yes, they are all theirs and no they are not Mormon or Catholic) and when we get together it is a great time had by all.

Scott lives here and we talk frequently. Whenever we get together with the folks it's a lot of laughing and good times.

When the whole family is together (meaning my brothers, me, my parents and all...however many grand kids) it is apparent by the look on my dad's face that he is very proud of his family. There is always much laughing, story telling, reminiscing and making new memories.

As you can imagine, I am very thankful for the family I have.

Monday, October 12, 2009

When Things Go Right: A Young Hunters First Buck

Living here in the Cascade Mountains I definitely get to enjoy the four seasons of spring, summer, winter and fall. But living this close to the woods and abundant wildlife, we also have another four seasons. Deer season. Elk season. Pheasant season and duck season.

Since my son was little, he has had a passion for hunting and this year he drew his first buck tag. It was with much excitement and enthusiasm that he planned his first big rifle hunt with his grandpa, whom he has spent endless hours with watching hunting shows, shooting rifles and bows, discussing hunting techniques and finally shooting his first buck. I believe every child needs to find their passion and if my son could hunt every day of the year he would.

It was an extremely memorable week for Killian and he allowed me to interview him about his first big successful hunt and what it means to him.

So when did you first became interested in hunting and do you remember your first hunting trip?

Well, I've been interested in hunting ever since I can remember because I was born into a family of hunters. The first hunting trip I really remember is when my dad shot a spike and when I went up to touch the deer my sister freaked out because she thought I would get rabies from touching it.

Describe how you spent the day during this hunting season and who you went hunting with.

I went hunting with my grandparents and great aunt and uncle. We would get up around 5:00 am and go to our hunting spot about an hour later, then walk for a few hours looking for bucks. It was cool being out in the woods with my family and getting to hang out, look for deer and talk about different things.

What happened opening morning.

We had gotten to our hunting spot and it was about 9:15am and we had just been out walking and we saw two bucks and a doe. I found a rest for my rifle on a tree and one of the bucks was moving through the trees. Then when he stopped, I put the crosshairs behind his shoulders, clicked the safety off, took a deep breath and pulled the trigger.

The deer ran about 10 yards, turned, ran back to where I had shot him and died.

Do you remember your first thoughts when you shot the deer and it died?

I wasn't really thinking about anything, I was just really excited that I got it.

How big of a buck was it?

It was a forked horn.

You ended up hunting for the whole week with your family. What were some of the most memorable moments?

Shooting my first deer, and getting to hang out with my family. I also learned how to skin a deer, quarter it and break it down for the meat processors.

What are you going to do with the meat?

We are going to make steaks out of the backstrap and tenders. The prime cuts are going to be made into hamburger. We ended up with two deer and so we will all share it.

What was the biggest surprise of the week?

When my grandpa gave me his hunting rifle (Bertha). It's a Remington 700 series rifle.

Why is this such an important thing to you and what does it mean?

Well, it is important because it is my grandpa's favorite hunting rifle and he shot his largest deer and elk with it. In fact he's shot too many deer or elk with it to count.

What it means to me is I feel that it is my grandpa telling me how proud he is of me and that he thinks I'm responsible and that he can trust me with his favorite gun.

(editors note: Killian's grandpa sent me an email saying how proud he is of him and that he is giving Killian his favorite rifle so that Killian can now have his own favorite rifle.)

* * * * * *

When I received the email from Killian's grandpa regarding the passing down of his rifle, I did what any proud mom would do and got all teary eyed (ok, I flat out cried) because I realize how important and meaningful this hunting trip has been for both of them. It has been a week of bonding, laughing, talking, being in the woods, and just spending family time together. I am proud of how my son has handled himself as a hunter and for being responsible when it comes to handling a gun.

As I spoke with Killian on the phone the night he found out he was receiving his grandpa's rifle, he said to me (and I couldn't have said it better),

"Mom, this has been the best week of my life. I shot a buck, grandpa gave me his rifle and the Yankee's won."

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The First...

I know, I's been a few weeks since my last post, and I have some really wonderful excuses as to why I've neglected my blog. (Did you think I was going to tell you what they were?)

Anyway, I finally have a few days off and thought I should quit being so lame and post something (anything) on my blog. Since it's snowing like crazy at the moment and the 3-4 inches that have accumulated are keeping me house bound, I thought I'd post a few 'first' pictures. (Hey, it's something.)

Yesterday was opening day of deer slaying season and Killian secured his first buck tag this year. He has been waiting 'forever' for this hunting trip with his grandparents and a few hours into opening day, he dropped his first buck with one shot. I don't think he's stopped smiling since.

The First Buck

As I mentioned, it's snowing. Apparently we had summer last week (80 degree temps) and winter this week. I don't know what happened to fall but it appears mother nature doesn't think we need to bother with that season.

Oh, and would someone please call Al Gore and tell him global warming is a bunch of left-wing hooey. Thanks.

The First Snow

I had to bring out the winter recipes from the vault last night even though I'd still rather be BBQ'ing. I'm just not going to stand out in the rain/sleet/snow to do it. So I made a huge pot of lentils and if you'd like the recipe for this tasty looking dish, you can find it on mine and Helen's food blog.

The First Winter Dinner

I did manage to get some pictures posted on my photo blog, so feel free to wander over to 'Annie's Daily Picture' (which has not been so 'daily' lately) and catch a glimpse of what I see when I get behind the lense.

The First 'Fall' Hike

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go shovel some snow...