Sunday, December 21, 2008

learning french in a hurry

All of you who do not study when you are in school, please read this. I have a very good education. I went to Walsh Jesuit High School, a college prepartory school. I attended Akron University for two years and Kent State University for over six years. I have a Master's degree in English. I have close to a Master's in Education. After looking for spelling and usage errors, in this blog (there are plenty), please consider the content of what I am saying.

I never learned my foriegn languages. I had two years of French, two years of Spanish, and over three years of Italian. While I can gibber a few phrases and mangle some sentences, my languages outside of ebonics, slang, jargon and American English are woefully inadequate. I have aproximately five days left before I leave for Paris and I am listening to cds in French on the car radio, I am watching French movies (heh, heh, qui, qui) and I am reading French literarture so I am not ill prepared for being immersed in the French language. If I had only studied when I was young, if I had worked more on my languages, if, if , if, if....

Most people claim that they never use the language. That is woefully true in most of America. The last time I was in Schenectady around Christmas, I had opportunities to use Italian and Spanish. I could do neither. This summer I met a Parisian at a party and we could have conversed in French to eliminate others from our conversation about futbol and some other things that no one else had an interest. When I was in the car business, I had numerous opportunitties to use many different languages, such as Italian, French, Farsi, Hindi, and Russian. Many of the Russians also spoke French. My point is that is not an excuse.

Now that I am older, I developed a great interest in other countries, Shakespeare, onions, anchovies, that I never had as a child. In the case of languages, however, it is important to get the rudiments when you are young, so you can use them for the rest of your lives. Once you have one of the Romance languages, the others fall into place easier. Or so I am told, as the rudiments of one escaped me, as did the others. So as I prepare for France, instead of brushing up, I am delving into the language as I never did before, only to find, that my inability to remember my words in English, is repeating itself, exponentially in the French.

My lesson is a simple one: Use the opportunity you have when you are young to study and learn, as you get older, it gets more difficult. Your tastes change as you get older and the things you think are inane now, become more important as time goes on. While this advice is as pedantic as it gets, it is sound advice. Something you can take to the bank in your future.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

long day deer hunting

Ohio is practicing sound deer management techniques by opening the season again to gun hunters for this weekend. This weekend only. So, there was one deer gun hunting week, two weeks ago and then, this current weekend where you are allowed to use a shotgun, pistol or muzzleloader to hunt. After taking my trophy doe a week ago, i was horn hunting this weekend and the weather was tough. It rained most of Friday and was warm, after it had snowed early on Friday morning. Saturday, I awoke at 5 to a dusting of snow and very cold temperatures. The woods was like walking on cornflakes. I did not see a deer.

Later in the day, I drove to another spot and quite close to my car a flock of over 60 turkeys, all females (I had my binos), was working a soybean field. i watched them for about 15 minutes and then they walked away when I began to get out of the car. They are not on an open season now.

I hunted til dark and finally saw either two deer or two coyotes. i could not tell at the strange angle i had on the animals and the crepuscular light. In order for me to shoot though, i would have had to make an exact identicifcation, as it is buck or coyote, no does now. Here is why: it cost $24 for the either sex tag. It cost $15 for an either sex tag up until December 1. So if i shoot another doe, outside of the urban deer zone, which i was in, it will cost me the price of any buck i see from my treestand from now until February 3rd, the end of the archery season.

So, the ODNR has made it interesting. If you are shooting does with a bow, prior to the gun season, you make out well, but if you are a two season hunter, you have to pay more to hunt bucks. This is an effort to take more does and encourage the taking of does to lower the herd. There are several minor problems with this though. One, if you take a doe as I have done, then, you have to buy another either sex special permit for $24. you can use your urban tag to take another doe during the remainder of the archery season, but you cannot take a buck using the either sex, $15 tag now. So, if i were going to hunt the muzzleloader, i would use up my buck tag if I were hunting deer outside of the urban deer zone. If i were hungry to hunt tomorrow and i would take a buck, i could still take a doe in the archery season, as long as i was hunting in the urban deer zone. I cannot take a buck. So, it cost me, $20 for the license, $24 for my autmn turkey tag, $24 for my doe, and i went out to get another tag, so i could buck or doe hunt, that is another $24 and i have a $15 doe tag in my pocket for the urban deer zone. This is a real money management thing. Not for me. I am not griping, but for someone on a short budget and that wanted meat in the freezer, it might also encourage poaching. It might also encourage the state of Ohio to devote all their resources to the money making deer hunting and nothing to the other hunting that could be available in the Buckeye state if properly managed. Whatever happened to the pheasants? Whatever happened to the bunnies?

In all my tramping around today searcing for bucks, it was not lost on me that i did not see a grouse, a woodcock, a pheasant or a rabbit. I cannot believe that habitat is lost for rabbits. They are off and running in Shaker Hts. and Beachwood, but nary a rabbit to be found in Farmington, Champion, Mantua, and Hiram. I am hunting farms and private woodlots. My farm in Champion was select and clear cut several years ago and it created what i thought was ideal grouse cover. I have never seen a grouse there. I spotted one pheasant on the property two years ago, a female and i have never seen another. She exploded from cover twice on me as only pheasants can do, and of course i watched as she flew off. I have seen plenty of cats hunting my farm. I have seen some raccoons and some coyotes and I have heard plenty of owls. If they charged $24 for a specail tag, would it encourage you to shoot a cat, or a dog in the wild, or a raccoon, or a coyote? Have you ever seen one?

My rationale for these thoughts is i received a phone call today from a friend who asked me how i was doing? I was having breakfast in a restaurant at the time, about 10:30 AM. I told him how tough it was walking around. He was saddled with a nursery job, taking care of his young nephew all day. But he told me he was going to enjoy it. He said, "i am not that worked up about the gun season anyway, I would rather be bowhunting." I agree with him 100%, so I am not going out tomorrow as the weather prediction of for more of the same. Dry, overcast, cold, and nothing but snow predicted for late in the day. And my heart is in bowhunting. My heart also is in developing my bird hunting and occasionally putting a rabbit in the pot. These two latter endeavors are now reserved for travel and maybe finding a rabbit spot like I had in Ashtabula a few years back.

Will Ohio forget about pheasants and grouse and other species, while the deer hunting experiences bigger and expanded seasons? Will habitat ever recover from overdevelopment in Ohio? Will the suitable habitat be developed and nurtured to support pheasants again, or should i just concentrate on paying for deer tags?

Friday, December 12, 2008

cadillac records

the largest blues cd collection this side of the missisippi is under siege. Should i protect my fragile ego and go see cadillac records? or should i rest, resigned to the fact that hollywood probably messed up my dream? am i compelled to see it because my record collection is probably half made up of the brother's (one Len, is famous, the other two were in the background) chess records, and cobra records and all the other blues labels that tried to imitate them, or do i want to see it because i know the story and muddy waters, the true father of rock n' roll will be in it? it seems so close, not yet dead enough for a movie. and why is beyonce' singing etta james while etta is still alive? so, i have mixed emotions. but that is nothing new. anytime hollywood touches anything i have mixed emotions. supposedly there will be another movie out this spring about chess records. one of them will be good, and the other will be better. I wonder which one?

it is not that hollywood is so bad. Ok, maybe they are bad. they control entertainment in America. they have defined what is funny and what is not funny to most americans. I remember Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. Famous scene. Butch and Sundance are compelled to jump off a huge cliff to escape the federales and they both jump and yell "Shiiiiiiiit." This cracked audiences up for years. To me this was not funny. What else are you supposed to yell? the idea of yelling profanity in a crowded theatre was new to the 70's so this became a punch line in a thousand movies afterward until it finally reached the tipping point. no more humor. no matter how raunchy. no matter how funny. hollywood had brought profanity to the mainstream and the original purveyors, the lenny bruces, the richard pryors were already at the mercy of a more powerful show stealer.

the point it that if hollywood is going to bring chess records to the forefront, where they rightfully belong, then it will be on hollywood's terms. not the way it really went down. not even with the original voices...why is beyonce singing etta james while etta is still alive?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

paris preparation

I guess you are grown up when you decide to take a trip and you leave on xmas day. it seemed like such a great idea in July. hey, the traffic is down. people are too old for xmas. oh yeah, and i am a teacher and i actually have time off for the holiday. what a great idea. too bad more people in America don't get the idea. we talk about the protestant work ethic, but we don't work as hard as we should when we are there. then, we want to spend more time doing something that should have been done a long time ago. Europe and Latin America are not falling off the face of the world by taking a more relaxed approach to the work day. Oh well, i digress. So, i work my three jobs and decide to take a vacation over xmas. all goes well, until now, when everyone thinks i am not prepared and i need new camera and i need to prepare for a trip of a lifetime. hey, if i like it i'll go back, so i am not worried. And just what i am going to do there? Legue One is down for the xmas holiday so no games between Olympque Marseilles or Paris St. Germaine. My hotel, the Normandie, is on the Rue d'Estelle, about 15 minutes from the Louvre and about ten from Notre Dame Catherdral. hey, Quasimodo, you in there? Just a short hop and skip and jump from Bibliotecqe Nationale.(spell) it is rated about five stars, but it is convenientl omitted from many of the travel books i have been trying to look at? uh oh.
So, anyway, i fly into the city of lights early december 26 and i will probably go to a cafe'. and maybe take a bus tour to get my bearings with the help of a pro. should be ok. then, i am sure i will do some shopping and take a look around. maybe visit Morrison's grave. one of the big American tourist hotspots. I wanted to do what Hemingway did, shoot a few pigeons in the park with his shotgun to prevent himself and his wife from starving before the first book was published, but that might not happen.
i met a young parisian over the summer at a friend's family gathering and it was all good. he invited me to call him and to visit his parents who he insisted would be happy to say hello. i thought not, but he gave me the list of places to visit and told me about the pickpockets and thieves who mark american tourists.
i tried to bone up on my long forgotten french phrases but somewhere along the way, in the 3,000 plus book family library, i threw away, Basic Conversational French. Damn. Voulez vous cashe e-z la checque?

doe in the freezer

It has been freezing cold all weekend. The temps hovered in the low 20's since Friday. It looked like snow on Thursday and again on Friday, but nothing. Sunday was the last day of deer gun hunting in Ohio, until the special season on December 20 and 21. Early Sat. AM saw me preparing for the trek out to my farm in Champion, Ohio. I had a fleece orange hat, fleece mittens, and neck gaiter. I had my filson coat, my long johns, my long sleeve sweat shirts, my fleece cover shirt and my shotgun and my blackpowder gun. i did not want to take any chances on a mishap on equipment and be cut off the gun hunting season. Plus, my second boss, a construction company that I work for, was excpecting me at a 5,000 sq. ft. monstrosity that i had worked at several times before. If worse came to worse, i would go in and work from morning to midday and then head back out. Luck was with me this time. I met my buddies at the farm and we all picked out the spots we wanted. i had seen several deer at a point way back in the woods where a swampy section met a forested section, and i knew it could be hot. With all the guns going off all week, if deer were going to be anywhere, they would be back there. I headed there before daylight. A tree had fallen and was wedged between two other trees and cut across the small clearing forming a 45 degree angle at about chest high. It was a perfect place to set up. I had the scope light on in the early morning light and the sky was quite overcast, not allowing for a specatacular sunrise, but a slow increased visibility. gray turned brown. black turned charcoal. the little bit of snow on the ground began to look white, not shades of gray. It was dawn and the first bird flew bye at a blurry pace in front of me. The wind blew and the air was still cold. it was early and i was still warm from my brisk walk to this little opening. As it got lighter, i could make out the deep pines about seventy yards in front of me. i could see the standing water that had a hard, clear ice coat over their surfaces. i adjusted my gun, resting on the downed tree and when i heard i noise i slid off the safety. it was such a loud CLICK, that i thought for sure it would surprise any animal around. It shocked only me. And the wind blew and it looked like another morning without action. The first gun went off somewhere far away. And then i heard it. The unmistakeable sound of deer or turkey walking through the woods. my sense tingled. I propped the shotgun up and saw the deer, making her way down the path. I verified it was a deer in the still dim light, even though it was long after legal shooting hours. There were no antlers, but that did not bother me. After the first shot she was running towards me, a rather fortuitous turn of luck as the path was only ten yards behind me. I checked my watch and it was just before 8 AM. after loading her in the rig and heading to the check in station, i was at the house for work at 11:30 AM. Snow was falling and the deer was already frozen. six inches fell that night in and around Mantua. The fire is still burning in the fireplace as i write this.

Fire roaring and deer and turkey in freezer.

it is twenty degrees outside, but inside the mantua manse, life is good. my deer is hanging in the garage, frozen. it is cold out there. my turkey is in the freezer. i got the bird on the last day of the season, Sunday, November 30th. I was calling to a flock of aproximately 50 birds. Plenty of big gobblers in that group. After two hours of working the flock to no avail, i gobbled twice and cut hard on my call. i was announcing that i was the biggest baddest gobbler of all time and that i was willing to fight to prove it. About four minutes later, i heard what sounded like nazi jack boots pounding through the dried leaves and patches of icy snow. it was the first of a long line of big, fat turkeys working their way to me. I was seated, completed camoflaged on a small knoll and the birds went into single file formation and began assembling just below me, out of sight and out of range, while i watched as the feathered formation began fighting and talking and scratching in the forest floor. I saw the bird of my dreams, a four foot high, 2 foot wide monster gobbler, all gold, red, copper and brown, just out of range below me. Of course, I was focused on him. My hunting senses have been honed from years of mistakes and a long season of misses and defeats. i noticed in the corner of my left eye, that the major flock had now crested the hill and there was one set of eyes locked on my position. Rather than risk it all on the big, golden monster below, i moved the barrel of the gun and like papa used to say, "bingo" it was all over. i walked to the small downed bird as turkeys began scattering in the forest, some up in trees and others running across the snow patches throwing up arcs of dirt and feathers. He was small but of big heart and beard. The beard measured seven inches. I was a happy camper. So, Thanksgiving is over, but i will be having bird for New Years.