Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Censured by The HuntFish Adventure Club

Hank: Guys, You know what really grinds my gears? I leave Jimmy a message saying I am fishing the hooch Saturday and have 3 people so he is the 4th and we will use his canoe and mine. He responds via text “Not sure. If I do I’ll have Tyler with me which won’t help your boat situation. If you want the boat its at the house. Motor and battery in the carport.”

Jimmy, wtf? A cardinal rule that I try to follow in all circumstances is “no girls before dark.” It has kept me more or less worry-free throughout my life. It allows you to drink beer and go fishing with your friends and then get wild at night with the womenfolk. Jimmy obviously doesn’t realize the fatal mistake he is making. Plus, on top of that, girls are not fun to hang out with in the daylight, so I am doubly confused.

What are you going to do next Jimmy? Get a job?

Unemployed, single, Jimmy is one of my favorite people. Girlfriend Jimmy might get cut out of the will. I am understandably unimpressed.

I agree. Jimmy, you better slow down or you will soon wake up married with a child. Then you will find yourself changing diapers & going for walks instead of fishing and hunting during your so called “free time.”

Hank: He deserves whatever fate befalls him. I am washing my hands of the situation.

Me: Hank – its not like that. I’m at the beach! C’mon. Give me a break.

Hank: Jimmy. Please don’t respond only to me. Everyone is in this discussion now and I would choose your words wisely cuz theres alot a' splainin' to do. As for what time I am going, we are going to go out tonight and get hammered drunk while talking to girls after dark. I plan to get up in the morning, eat lunch, and get on the river around 2 or 3. I don’t want to interrupt any cuddle time though.

Fred: What is this? I return to my office from lunch to find my inbox filled with distressing emails regarding one James Ewing. I peruse the chain and find that not only does Jimmy have a girlfriend (which I was, not surprisingly, aware of), but said girlfriend is now cutting into huntfish time. Severely. I have had suspicions of as much though. Jimmy has been eerily quiet on multiple group emails that were ripe for satire. Jimmy has not inquired into the productivity of recent fishing trips, nor has he collectively mused about our next fishing trip. These are all sure signs that Jimmy has become woefully entangled in Girlfriendlandia (which is magically created when a new girlfriend divides the sum of all the awesome things that happen hunting and fishing by “0”, and we all know that you can’t divide by zero; this in turn results in a black hole of sorts that the man is dragged into where he is incapable of contacting the outside world).

Jimmy is certain to read this and think to himself, “oh, the hypocrisy! The pot deriding the kettle!”. To this I offer my simple recipe for avoiding Girlfriendlandia (of course, as we are all so painfully aware, it’s too late for Jimmy to use this): when you feel like you’re about to come down with a bad case of Girlfriend, don’t necessarily fight it. If you enjoy spending time with her and making out, you may proceed. Just before the “let’s be boyfriend – girlfriend talk” though, hereafter referred to as “The Talk”, sit the young woman down and explain in no uncertain terms how much the outdoors mean to you. And your how much your friends mean to you. And how much beer means to you. Be sure to emphasize how much time you typically devote to outdoors, friends, and beer (this is prior to entering the relationship). Then put it all in writing. Have her sign it (which she will readily do because she “knows” she can change you), have it witnessed, have it notarized, and place it in a safe deposit box that only you have access to (she will attempt to destroy this document during deer season, duck season, crow season, turkey season, dove season, and fishing season – so pretty much all the time). When the day comes when you feel guilty about going away on a sure-to-be-awesome adventure with your friends and beer, go back and read The Document. You can quote the document to Girlfriend as needed. Disaster averted. Go huntfish.

Note: this formula does not work on preexisting girlfriends.

My prognosis: Jimmy has an inoperable preexisting condition that is dragging him into another dimension where we will never hear from him again.

Hank: The only thing I have to add is this. It goes along with the “better to beg forgiveness than ask permission” mantra that ranks up there with “no girls before dark.”

If you have any doubt as to the amount of guilt-tripping that will be heaped upon you when you tell a girl you are leaving to go hunting/fishing for the weekend, use the Fred Hand method. Turn your phone off and deal with it Sunday night. I’ve seen it work more times than I can count. Better yet is a method I employed Friday before turkey season my Junior year. Call her on the way to the farm and break up with her. Said girl is happily engaged and I am happily not engaged.

Fred: There are certainly multiple treatments for Girlfriend, but there is really no cure if you don’t get The Document signed before The Talk. Jimmy has painted himself into a corner here. Actually, Jimmy painted all of us into a corner. Jimmy, you have brought Girlfriend into our midst without proper clearance and paperwork. You just handed Obama the keys to the White House with all the nuclear launch codes. Girlfriend now has the ability to destroy huntfish trips at will. Assuming she still lets you have a cell phone, she doesn’t even have to be near us to destroy a huntfish adventure.

Dammit Jimmy, I want answers. I want an explanation. A good start would be, “I’m sorry”.

Words that describe my feelings regarding the situation that Jimmy has gotten himself and all of us into: unimpressed, provoked, not amused, betrayed, heavy hearted, gut-shot, sick, queasy, irritable, flaccid, confused, broadsided, offended, and worst of all, unaggressive.

Me: I’m in the car halfway home from Charleston. I can’t respond adequately. You’re killing me. Rebuttal will follow.

Hank: If the rebuttal doesn’t include nekkid pictures*, don’t bother.
*girl pictures. Not you.

Me: You’re all sick.

Hank: Charleston, huh? You can just stay in South Carolina, Jimmy. You’ve caused enough problems for all of us today. I hope you’re happy with yourself. I’m going to have to go drown my sorrows in a bottle of single-malt. I might even have to leave work early. Luckily there is a liquor store between me and the SR 400 on ramp. My liver does not appreciate your decision-making.

Fred: This is not over Jimmy. As I have sat here toiling away on addressing plans, utility drawings, and service providers, my brow has furrowed. It has furrowed deeply, Jimmy. How you managed to wind up in this unconscionable predicament which has massive, unrealized, far reaching implications for all of us at the Huntfish Adventure Club is beyond me. I will look back on June 12, 2009 as the day I found out that Jimmy Ewing unwittingly and naively imploded the Huntfish Adventure Club (Jimmy, “unwittingly” better be the proper word. If I find out that “knowingly” is more appropriate, I will pour sand in your gas tank and break every fishing rod you own.). This is the most unaggressive decision that anyone I associate with has made. Ever. It’s downright cowardly. Even treasonous. I haven’t had a bigger Benedict Arnold pulled on me since Matt decided to date Leslie.

You don’t know Matt or his Girlfriend, but let me tell you the story. And you damn well better read this, Jimmy, because by not getting The Document signed beforehand, this is the path you’ve chosen. Matt was my huntfish adventure buddy for just about my whole life. We went on all sorts of adventures on a very regular basis. Matt was always somewhat concerned about school things because he’s from Alabama so it was harder for him, but he was good for adventuring just about any time. Then Matt went and got himself a Girlfriend. She promptly divided all our awesome adventures by zero and now Matt’s been lost in Girlfriendlandia for about 3 or 4 years now. I lose track because he can’t be reached. Do you know how many times Matt sat in a deer stand last year, Jimmy? Zero. Zero times. Do you know how many times Matt’s been fishing this year, Jimmy? Once. And do you know what Matt did the entire time we were fishing? He texted. He walked outside the cabin to talk on the phone for extended periods at night. If there’s one thing I can’t stand on huntfish adventures, it’s excessive texting.

You think about this when some unforeseen adventure pops up.

Hank: Just wait for that call to go fish Fred, Jrs in the fall. I have a suspicious feeling that it will land on a weekend when you have to go to Tyler’s best friend’s wedding or some abhorrence like that. I’m going to the liquor store and then home. The difference is I am going to by a 12 pack of natty and a bottle of scotch. Jimmy and Tyler are thinking of splitting a nice white zin tonight and cuddling up for “The Notebook”

I’m off to get lit. It’s been a long week.

Fred: I’m going dark too. I’ll call you and figure out some plans. Jimmy, you know what you can do with your “rebuttal”. You are welcome to come hang out with us tonight. I know you won’t be able to, but I’m extending the offer because I want to kick you in the shins. Judson, have a good weekend buddy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Legendary Martin "Marlin" Dozier

I firmly believe that I’m a good judge of character. I am. I’m not bragging – I’m just pointing out that I have developed some skills in this arena. It’s true. Judging character is an extremely difficult skill to develop because, generally, that means that you’ve gotten screwed over so many times that now you can see it coming.

I’m there.

I can sense good character a mile off. It leaps out at me. I can also sense poor character a mile away because it also leaps out at me - generally from the bushes.

I’m not saying I’m a genius, that I have 6 senses (I have 12, actually) or that I understand what “spice” was in the movie “Dune” – because I don’t. I just want to establish that I’ve been taken advantage of more times than I can count, it’s going to keep happening, and I’m ok with that. Occasionally, however, my judgments are wrong. Please allow me to give you an example.

Some years back I caught up with my (then-single) cousin Sarah Dozier (nee Brannon) and I put her through the paces of my usual cousin questionnaire: job status, family, marital prospects, etc. When I asked “who, if anyone, should be on my radar right now” she indicated that a gentleman going by “Martin Dozier”, and holding himself out as an attorney - was worthy of further inspection. Some months later I again inquired as to her relationship status and she said “Well, Marty still (I guess) but the jackass won’t pull the trigger.”

Having not yet met the young man in question, my immediate response was: “Get rid of him. It’s been too long. He’s useless and weak.” To which she replied “We’ll see what happens. He better get himself together quick though – that’s all I know.”

Shortly afterward, they were married. I know – because I was there (at the buffet). I know it was a REAL wedding, because they had lamb chops; which (as I understand it) means the bride and groom will live together happily forever – they have to; because if you waste lamb chops for 350 people you’re going to have an ex-father-in-law camped outside your house with a 30-06 until you’re dead.

I know I was happy for a long time in the buffet line, so that’s a good start. Either way – it was a fabulous wedding, but I still didn’t know much about this “Martin Dozier” character except that he had very aggressive hair and an understanding of corporate finance that would blow your clothes off.

To be honest with you – I didn’t get a full grasp of the character that is Martin Dozier until much later. In 2008 we invited Martin to the First Annual James G Ewing and Tripp Maddux Jr. Memorial Deer Camp Squirrel Hunting Championship of the World Invitational Tournament; and gentlemen: Martin Dozier made a man of himself that weekend. Due to his stellar work ethic Martin didn’t show up until after dinner on the first night of The Tournament. By the time he arrived, the majority of the gentlemen present were seated at the bar engrossed in a high-stakes poker game and, quite frankly, I had forgotten he was coming.

Shortly after ten o’clock the door banged open revealing a grim-faced, pinstriped, young man – hair standing on end; steam rising from his heated temples. One hand held a small gym bag sporting the logo of a prominent local law firm, the other; a gallon jug of Maker’s Mark Bourbon.

It was Martin.

He took one tall stride into the room of total strangers, took a long pull from the jug, and loudly announced “Deal me in, boys.”

I can spot good character when I see it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Stick Your Boobs Back On, Ashley

"DAD. WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING?" Natalie asked, loudly, through the sliding glass door; sun-scorched beach and blue sky shimmering behind her.

"I'm writing dirty words on the refridgerator" responded Uncle Robert, calmly lighting a Benson and Hedges Ultra Light Menthol 100s. "Do we have another magnetic 'c' and 's' somewhere?

I looked over to see "FUGK ME HONKY AS BOOBOO" spelled out in children's magnetic refridgerator letters.

"Quit hollering, Natalie, or I'll take away your fake ID", put a high arch in 19-year-old Natalie's right eyebrow and precipitated her rapid departure.

Robert grinned. "I ain't no dummy. Now go find me the damn 'c' and 's' before Sherry gets up" he pufffed smokily in my general direction.

Instead, I headed out to the beach.

Later that afternoon we retired from the beach to dinner upstairs. The house, basically two houses stacked atop one another (the top for "adults", the downstairs for children, Uncle Robert, and Uncle John), was full of people. The spicy scent of Uncle John's low country boil wafting in from the back porch mixed with cigar smoke and rose to cloud the rafters above, themselves fairly vibrating with the laughter and talk from the noisy throng below.

Cousin Ashley, always lovely, pranced in just before dinner with several shopping bags and loudly exclaimed "Ok everybody! Looky what I got!" She then rummaged around in a sack held at her waist, and produced two adhesive breasts. Before anyone had time to respond, Maggie popped her head out of the kitchen and exclaimed, "Is that to keep your big 'ol boobs from being all saggy?" To which Ashley immediately rejoined "MY boobs are NOT saggy!" with great distaste.

Maggie (grinning mischeviously): Well. How do you define 'saggy'? Ehhh, anyway..not 'saggy' really. I mean - you know...just a bit 'flopsy'.

Ashley: "WHAT? They are NOT 'FLOPSY' or "SAGGY" or any other 'Y', MAGGIE!!! .... GRANDMA!!! TELL MAGGIE THAT MY BOOBS ARE NOT FLOPSY!!" she shrieked.

Gma: Ashley, we don't say 'boob' at the dinner table.

Maggie: Ok Ashley. They're just. You know - 'big'.

Ashley: NO THEY ARE NOT. THEY ARE "PERKY." You have MOSQUITO BITES, MAGGIE!!! Ashley hollered, now appearing to be in a certain amount of inner turmoil.

Ashley continued to staunchly defend her youthful stature until Maggie capitulated, then when Ashley's back was turned Maggie stuck her head back out of her room and, eyes wide, silently mouthed "THEY ARE BIG, FLOPPY BOOBS!!" before slipping back into her bedroom with a sly look and a wink at the table.

Ashley, disgusted, also retired to her bedroom, only to pop back out a few minutes later and ask, "Hey, has anyone seen my boobs?"
Maggie: Oh yeah! I've seen 'em!
Ashley: No, I mean the stick-on ones that I just got.
Robert (walking in): What in the world are y'all talking about? Ashley - good grief!

Uncle John (grinning), silently lifts his shirt to expose one smooth "C" cup adhesive breast stuck firmly over his right nipple.

GMA: Well, he's a lady-doctor. He can do that.
Uncle William: WHAT in the WORLD does him being an OB-GYN have to do with this?!? I am so sick of hearing about how he's a "lady doctor"! AUGH!
Maggie (in background pointing at Ashley): "FLOOOOPPPPYYY BOOOBBBBB!!!!"

Ahh. The Beach.

May your Uncles live forever, may your tan lines never fade, and may your adhesive boobs always stay right where you put 'em.

Best wishes for summer 2009.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

New Silverware

I enjoy old people, in general, but Gma is probably my favorite of the advancing generation. At some point before my birth she came to the conclusion that she genuinely DOES NOT care what you think. Seriously. I appreciate that, but I DO care what Gma thinks - even when she's thinking cloudily (which happens occasionally); but hey - she's old! Give her a break. If she wants to consistently misplace her left flip flop, and call me "George" - fine by me; I've certainly answered to worse.

Just tonight we were all sitting around in the beach house watching "The World's Largest Man" on TV when the following exchange took place:

Gma: Paige, have you noticed that every year the silverware in this house changes? Am I going crazy? Somebody explain to me why the silverware is different.
William: MAMMA PLEASE DONT START THAT AGAIN. We've already talked about it 4 times. I told you - stuff disappears and instead of buying individual pieces each year - they just replace the whole set. Its a rental house.
Paige: William don't be ugly.
Gma: Its different from last year. The silver this year is ugly.
Paige/William: MA!!! PLEASE! HUSH!! They're about to sponge bathe the world's fattest man!!
Robert: Well, I want to see the new silverware. Paige - bring us the silverware drawer and put it right in front of William.
William: AUGH. She's been asking people about it all day! I ALREADY TOLD Y'ALL WHY ITS DIFFERENT!!!
Gma: I liked the old kind better. It had roses.
William: WHO CARES?!?!?!?
Gma: Also, the blinds in front of the kitchen sink are gone this year too. Now the sun shines in my eyes.
Robert: I can fix that for you in a jiffy because I love you more than William does.
William: Robert, you are an idiot.

Robert disappears for a second. We hear rummaging around from one of the bedrooms, then the kitchen. Shortly afterwards we hear hammering, then the bright shaft of sunlight coming from the rear of the house disappears.

William: Robert, THATS THE COMFORTER FROM MY BED!!! You have used the comforter from MY bed to cover the window, and its dragging all in the sink.
Robert: Well, fold it up a bit on the bottom edges! Turn down the air conditioner, you don't need that comforter anyway.
William: I want my comforter. Why didn't you use YOUR comforter?
Robert: Well, I have to have my comforter to protect me from Sherry in the night. You sleep alone.
William: AUGH. Stay out of my room.

An interesting facet of our family interaction is that the old, infirm, and handicapped get treated with not a whit more grace or dignity than anyone else. That might be more noteworthy in other families, but if you walked in and saw us seated for lunch I think the variety would probably preclude accurate judgment of mental capacity anyway. Fifteen years ago you might have thought, for instance, that the long-haired gentleman seated at the southeast end of the table (levis, short button-up shirt, no belt, nike tennis shoes) eating bananas dipped in mayonnaise around a heavily-ashed Benson and Hedges Ultra Light Menthol 100s was retarded; not the demure older woman seated next to my grandmother. You'd be wrong, of course; you've just met Uncle Robert. The older woman in question, Elinor, had Downs Syndrome, lived to be 67 and, unless you had spotted the dinner rolls Elinor hid beneath each armpit at Sunday lunch, you still might not know.

Why she felt the need to hide baked goods on her person, we'll never be quite sure; but just to assure visitors that we didn't have her on unreasonable rations - Gma always leaned in to newcomers at the table and, in a loud stage whisper announced: "she knows she can have whatever she wants in the kitchen!" Elinor herself never had a good explanation, but I think she just wanted the comfort of knowing, without a doubt, where her next meal was coming from. We didn't fault her for taking a little bit of the uncertainty out of life when she could.

Awhile back I was violently accosted by a young woman over my use of the word "retarded" (in a non-pejorative sense) in reference to a person who she had identified as "developmentally challenged." It caught me off guard because I didn't mean it ugly - I promise, but that was apparently not a defense to the crime. Naturally, I never called her again, but I felt bad so I did double-check with my family over Sunday lunch to make sure it was OK to continue using the term "retarded." Uncle William immediately looked up from his butter beans and said "Hey, I shared a bathroom with a middle-aged Downs Syndrome woman for 15 years. I'll say 'retarded' anytime I want, and you got grandfathered in."

I believe thats a point scored for the politically incorrect.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

He Never Needed a Helmet

I generally don’t worry too much. I find it doesn’t help things, and it’s a huge distraction from the more important elements of life such as hunting, fishing, and staying current on facebook; BUT I can’t help but worry a tiny bit about Beausie. Given recent infections, pneumonia, and enough chemo treatments to absolutely flatten a lesser man; I feel that some level of concern on my part is appropriate. So there you have it – I’m concerned. I will, however, point out a few important facts about Beau that may make the non-family reader feel a bit better about his ability to handle himself

December 26, 1984 – Beau is born. The world rejoices. Jack Gregory subsequently announces that he does not believe that Beau was "born" at all. Rather: buzzards laid him on a stump and the sun hatched him.

1989 – At 4yrs old Beau flips his first ATV attempting to jump OVER the trampoline via a dirt embankment. The ATV lands on his neck, footpeg pinning him to the ground in the backyard. His Mom looks out the window 30 minutes later to see him laying underneath it, arms and legs flailing, attempting to dig himself out from underneath the vehicle. She runs out to assist, and rolls it off his neck. Beau stands up, furious, kicks the rear tire 4-5 times as hard as he can, cranks it up, and hits the jump one last time at full speed.

1990 – Beau is riding on the tailgate of his dad’s pickup next to Rayboy, Seth, and John headed for a dove field. His legs are swinging free beneath the truck. Buster hits a bump, the tailgate sends Beau into orbit, he lands (facedown) on an expose pine root, the root knocks him senseless for a few seconds. Before anyone even has time to act, Beau jumps up hollering, chases the pickup down, jumps back into the bed between the two men, and says “I’m ok.”

1994 - A young hoodlum attempts to land a strong right on Beau's face at a football game. Beau quickly tucks his chin face-down, taking the blow square on the top of his head. Hoodlum's knuckles snap, as do his resolve. Bystanders indicate that Beau grins...and wins without firing a shot.

1996 - Beau is riding a 1971 model Honda Trail 90 motorcycle (300lbs) at full speed, un-helmeted, through a field of grass chest-high. He hits a large rock in front of a deep dirt depression, goes head-over-handlebars and ends up with the dirt bike's metal fender pinning his face to the dirt. Once again, Beau is unconscious underneath something heavy - a lifetime theme as I'm sure you will note. Heyward Adams, bystander, runs over, sees Beau's face and immediately throws up. Beau later awakens to find himself strapped to a board in an emergency room. He wiggles his feet around frantically for a bit, then finally says "Dad, can you take my shoes off?" That was his only commentary.

1998 – Beau attempts another (handbuilt) highjump; this time on a dirt bike. The 2-stroke rocket separates itself from Beau at apogee, and Beau lands solidly on his un-helmeted head; tumbling end-over-end approximately three times a la Evil Knievel. Once again, we find Beau senseless in the dirt. Jason Tidwell, bystander, attempts to awaken the facedown dirt sleeper only to hear muffled cursing and “DON’T TOUCH ME! DON’T TOUCH ME!” coming from out of the sand. Beau rights the dirtbike, and without saying a word - rides slowly home and spends three days on the couch.

2001 – Beau gets into a physical altercation with a certain local hoodlum, much smaller than Beau, who promptly squares off and gives Beau the beating of his life, for free. Bystanders suggest that the intense bruising and black eyes were the result of multiple slams into the pavement. Bystanders also indicate that all attempts to elicit the hated word “UNCLE” from Beau were unsuccessful, and the hoodlum gave up due to exhaustion. For years Beau claims the obvious bashing and 3 weeks worth of black eyes were due to a dirtbike accident. Beau goes on to dominate the world. The local hoodlum has not been promoted at Wal-Mart.

2003 – X-rays of Beau’s body indicate multiple healed fractures linked to the dirt bike incident.

2004 – Beau sells dirtbike indicating a growth of maturity and general sense of self-preservation.

July 25, 2006 10PM – Mom disappears. Beau arrives on-scene by 2am July 26, with flashlight, and begins search without food, water, any idea of where he is, how long it may take, where he is supposed to be the following day, or how he'll get home.

Winter 2009 – In a pre-race physical Beau’s doctor says “you look healthy as an ox. Anything been going on with you lately I should known about?” Beau says (in typical Beau fashion) “Well, I’ve been coughing up blood a good bit lately.” This prompts a series of chest x-rays, and just a few days later – removal of 40% of his right lung. Beau is home a few days, only to ship off shortly after that to MD Anderson for intense Chemo treatments just weeks AFTER massive lung surgery.

Spring 2009 – Beau is bald, has consistently whipped chemo treatments, various infections, homesickness, and Houston, Tx. He regularly posts pictures of his bald self doing things a normal person in chemo wouldn’t even consider READING ABOUT due to nausea. During the chemo he also contracts a wicked e. coli bacterial poisoning in his blood from...himself; proving once again that the only thing bad-ass enough to whip Beau is - Beau.

That is why, though I am concerned, I know some things are a whole lot meaner than cancer.

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you my cousin and friend: Beau Slocumb.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Wash Your Hands, Weirdo

I generally don't publish much in the way of "serious" topics, and for good reason; I've learned that nobody wants to hear what I think unless its funny. I can respect that. I don't much care what you think either, unless you think you want to give me a million dollars. I'm willing to discuss free money pointed my way, at length, anytime.

However, if something funny happens to you - lets hear it. Did you fall down in public? Did Mike Vick invite you to a dogfight in 1998? Did your Dad know Lewis Grizzard? Have you ever had a doctor insult you during a physical exam? Did you spend an hour in a bar hitting on a transvestite unawares? Have you ever owned a ferret? Does your grandmother smoke pot on the sly? We're friends - you can tell me anything!

If its funny - I'm your man, but you can save your cute dog stories - I just don't care how high Fluffymop can jump, or that little Bosco learned to sit last week. Big deal - Bosco is 8 years old, and Fluffy is too fat to move. Get a labrador retriever of any variety you choose, and teach him to do something useful - then we'll talk, but remember: dogs aren't people - they're carnivorous mammals and they only love you if you feed them regularly. Try it - leave the door open, don't feed Barley for two weeks and let's see where he ends up. My guess is: not with you.

While we're on the dog topic: to the woman across the street who lets her dog use my lawn with impunity: SERIOUSLY???!?? Thats a mailbox right there, woman - not a PLACE DOG POOP HERE sign.

But really, I don't blame her. You people that jog around carrying dog poop in a Kroger sack are nuts. When was the last time your proctologist walked in the exam room wrapping a Kroger sack around his hands? I bet 90% of the world population that "didn't have a condom handy" probably DID have a Kroger sack handy, but that didn't do anybody any good did it? So, WASH YOUR HANDS, weirdo - and get a house with a dog door and a fence around it for crying out loud! That dog doesn't want to walk around tied to a rope anyway - he wants to chase and eat other critters. I think he ought to be free to do it.

Don't get me wrong - I'm no "animal rights activist" in the strictest sense of the term. Sure, I'll shoot a deer, but YOU are the one committing a crime against the animal kingdom; not me. Animals eat other animals all the time, but you don't often see a deer traipsing around leading a raccoon tied to a string, do you? I haven't either, but if I did I'd shoot the raccoon first, then stuff them both, and tell an awesome story about the time I shot a deer who had a pet raccoon.

As far as your silly dog tricks go - I hate to break it to you, but your dog doesn't really sit, stay, or come. I've seen everybody's dog, and I'm not impressed. You want to meet impressive dogs? Meet Allie Farmer, Cember Maddux, and Gauge Landers. If I fall asleep too early after a duck hunt and forget to brush my teeth; Cember will wake me up, breathe on the mirror and lick "BRUSH YOUR TEETH JACKASS" in the fog with her tongue. Thats what kind of a dog Cember is. Thats a man's dog. You want a beer? "CEMBER: BEERTHIRTY" will get you whatever you want, fast, and with a smile. Your wife won't even do that - I know because I've met her too and I prefer Cember.

So listen: "Sit Barney. Sit Barney. BARNEY. SIT BARNEY. Here is a treat Barney. NOW SIT BARNEY SIT PLEASE. SIT. OH DAMN YOU BARNEY PLEASE SIT." doesn't impress me - I don't care how cute Barney is. What makes me teary-eyed is when that duck goes down a quarter mile away and Cember swims through 30 degree water, breaking ice, to bring it back and doesn't mind riding in the back of the truck on the way home.

Enough with the cute dog stuff. You want a parlor trick? Give my little brother a lighter and two cans of baked beans, or get Uncle Robert to blow smoke out of his tearducts - THAT is quality entertainment, but please, PLEASE check your Kroger sacks and your brain-dead Labradoodles into doggy-day-care when I come around.

Victim Impact Statement - May 19, 2009

For years it was just the two of us. I was the first of three, the oldest, and she was my mother. I remember clearly that we liked to sleep late. Dad would be long gone on his way to work before she came skipping into my room yelling RISE AND SHINE!! IT’S GOING TO BE A FUN DAY!

And she was right. It was a fun day. It was always a fun day, with Mom.

It seemed plenty big enough to me, but our house was a very small two bedroom in Decatur. Too small even. When my sister was born they had to turn the sitting room into a nursery, but we didn’t care. Nobody “sat” much anyway.

Your parents always seem older, even ageless I think - when you’re young; but now I realize they were about my age now; just starting out. And so much fun!

We spent so many brilliant, happy, days together exploring the world, she and I. We liked to take long walks in the neighborhood. The old lady down the street would let me hammer nails into her back stairs and eat oreos while she and mom sat on the porch swing. When I got tired Mom would carry me home.

I didn’t think about it then, but we spent a lot of time with our elderly neighbors. More than was usual for a 30 year old young mother, I think. And that was like her. I called all our aging neighbors “my friends” and I thought we were out “visiting” and “exploring” – and we were, but the whole time she was kindly, quietly, ministering to the people around her.

“Most of them don’t get out much like we can,” she would say. And that is how she lived – always putting the people around her first. I think that is why 1,500 showed up at her memorial service. It was so full the church had to broadcast the service for the people out in the lobby and standing in the parking lot. The dry cleaner, the pharmacist, someone she passed on the trail, people from all over the world –all came to say goodbye.

So when they asked me, a little while back, to describe to you how the miserable, violent death of the person I loved most makes me feel - all I could think about was Oreos and porch swings. And I wished, suddenly, that she was here to carry me home.

But I’m big now I guess. Too big to carry anyway - and who would do it? She’s gone. Instead we, her children, carry her with us - the memory of her softened at the edges like a faded photograph; she remains a beacon to me and a reminder that, even when I am confronted with evil -terrible, angry-strong, there is still good - and good will win if we let it.

She used to say to me “Jesus will take care of you” and I think He does; just not always how you expect. He took care of me for 26 years by giving me the kind of mother that changed the world for good literally every single day of her life.

They asked me to tell you today about the emotional impact her death has on the community, but I won’t.

I think you already know.