Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rats, Buzzards and Other Distractions …

Alpha male at Disney's Animal Kingdom; hope to get as clear of a shot on
a wood ape, 'cause ya'll won't see any "blobsquatches" on this-here blog.
     Howdy!  I know that my last post was several months ago, and there is no excuse for neglect.  Lotsa drama on the job, lotsa honey-do's & projects around the house, some huntin’, some much needed family time, some fishin’, a couple of North American Wood Ape Conservancy outreach events and an auto accident involvin’ my parents have all since transpired.  Yeah, much has happened … so, no excuses; I simply should’ve made the friggin’ time to post.  Period.  Excuses are like assholes, and everybody has one; Lisa just happens to have me.  My beautiful bride has reminded me on numerous occasions that there are abso-friggin’-lutely no “buts” after an apology.  So for those who still read this, I sincerely apologize and thanks to all of y’all for comin’ back.  "But" ... those of you who actually know me should already know by now that I ain’t technically a butt, but more of a hemorrhoid … ‘cause I tend to irritate most assholes.  And over the past few months, it seems that I’ve done quite a bit of that!  Lately, I’ve been distracted by rats & buzzards, all while still bein’ haunted by my memories of last summer in Oklahoma.  So first off, let’s talk about the rats & buzzards …

     I have worked for the same business for over 20 years.  Over that period of time, I have met some truly amazin’ folks, some of whom have become like my family away from home; however, work will always be a four letter word.  While I am truly blessed to be employed, at the same time I’m cursed to find myself in an environment where I simply no longer enjoy what I do.  My creativity has been quelled by too many cooks in the proverbial royal kitchen.  You’d think that after 20 some-odd years I’d be the king of this thing; however, my reality is that I’m just a pawn … evidently expendable in the endgame.  Upon my last performance review (which was supposedly good) I was told to simply play the cards that were dealt.  Really?  Dodgin’ bullets in the workplace is the easy part, but dealin’ with rats and buzzards was never part of the master plan.  Y’all know that I’m Greek, right?  Well, the Greeks have lots of sayin’s … such as, keep yer friends close but yer enemies closer.  I refuse to become the friggin’ sheep that is eaten by the wolf … ‘cause lately, the best defense is a good offence.  I have a tendency to come-off a bit offensive at times, but I’m sure that it’s due to becomin’ a product of my work environment.  The Greeks also say the walls have ears, and one shouldn’t wash dirty linen in public.  Well, I simply don’t give a rat’s ass about what’s considered public.  All I know is, I’ve been a very loyal soldier and expect to be treated as such.  Period.  My absolute favorite Greek sayin’ is “Κόρακας κοράκου μάτι δε βγάζει.” (which translated means, “Hawks will not pick-out Hawk’s eyes”).  But, instead of soarin’ with majestic raptors, I seem to be dealin’ with friggin’ rats & buzzards.  What fresh Hell?  Lately, this paradox called work seems like it’s all just Greek to me.

I checked-out the gut pit on a friend's huntin' lease in The Big Thicket
on New Year's Day, which was the first day of open carry here in Texas.
     Incidentally, I did find me some genuine down-to-earth buzzards on a huntin’ trip this past New Year’s Day.  I finally ventured to the gut pit on my buddy’s deer lease out in The Big Thicket.  If y’all remember, I’d written about my friend who’d had an experience with what was most probably a wood ape in this very spot about a year or so before … which backs-up to the Nueces River.  Well, that whole river has been well outta its friggin’ banks quite a few times since January.  Just gettin’ to the gut pit was a slow cruise in 4WD with rushin’ water close to mid-door in some spots.  I didn’t find any evidence of apes, but it damn-sure looked-like prime ape territory to me!  I’m gettin’ a little long in the tooth to be settin’-out all night in 30° temps in the wet, even though I feel confident enough to spend the night out there alone.  And, even though I friggin’ blew a no-brainer shot on a doe from a box-blind … I did score big when I got back to the lease.  I had promised not to divulge their identities, but two of the lease members I met were both very familiar with these mystery primates.  One is an employee in the forestry/lumber industry, who said that just talkin’ about these animals was a sure-fire way to get fired!  Even though he had not personally seen any of these critters, he’s seen the barefoot tracks and heard things such as wood-knocks, mouth-pops, grunts, growls & howls that could have come from nothin’ else.  He also said that he had heard stories from other employees who had seen ‘em, but that’s second & third hand info, so I won’t go into that here.  The other feller however, is now officially retired.  He told me that he’s seen ‘em up-close & too dang personal, but said they never showed any aggression towards him.  Let’s just say he was both a forestry service and parks service worker who’s been around in them woods for quite some time.  Oh, and both of these southern gents have personally seen black panthers!  One feller told about how he shot one, trackin’ it for a couple of miles ‘til he lost the blood trail.  I wouldn’t ever rat either of these men out, and I’m ever-so appreciative of ‘em bein’ so candid with an outsider like me.  I’ll try and get a bit more detailed about what-all was said in an upcomin’ post …

The Landrum's 2016 winter vacation ...
     And speakin’ of rats, evidently the world is not so bleak if yer rat is actually a famous mouse in a Magic Kingdom!  My queen arranged a quest for her king, the princess and reluctant prince as a family Christmas gift.  In mid-January, the Landrum clan took a trip to Orlando’s Disney World and Universal Studios for a wonderful week’s escape!  If anyone thinks that place is just fer the kiddos, they’re sadly-friggin’ mistaken.  Our 23 year-old daughter was in heaven, although our 20 year-old son wanted to be elsewhere; that is, ‘til he finally got there.
The Yeti exhibit naturally
caught my eye; Hmmm ...
  We all had a blast, and that trip will rank-in with one of our more memorable vacations.  Kudos to “Mrs. Incredible” for all her hard work in makin’ the “Magic” happen for all of us!  There was nothin’ disappointin’ about Disney, especially Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Baloo got a ‘lil offended when “the old silverback” wanted his picture taken only with King Louie, and I even found a cool exhibit of all things Yeti on the Expedition Everest ride.  Now, it wasn’t near as excitin’ as the Ouachitas last summer in Southeast Oklahoma, but it sure was fun!  Probably the best memory that I have is watchin’ the gorillas, which were awesome.  Observin’ the females carin’ for their young was absolutely fascinatin’; however, everyone backed-up as the alpha-male stood-up and knuckle-walked past the crowd.  I don’t know how sturdy that glass was, but I was in no rush to find out.  I knew right then and there that what I’d had under me in Oklahoma one June night last summer surely dwarfed this alpha-male.  I was terrified and truly outta my element as far as bein’ a hunter was concerned.  It also made me realize that I would do everything humanly possible to never see a wood ape bein’ paraded around in captivity like this.  Period.

The gorilla exhibit at Disney's Animal Kingdom had me in awe; these animals are in captivity due to the onslaught of poachers.

Jared Alphonso, "bassmaster"!
     On top of all the honey-do’s, cleanin’, limb-cuttin’ and such ‘round our place, I actually got my boat, the Sloughstalker ready and put it through its paces on Clear Creek.  After cleanin’ everything up, the only 2 items I had to replace were a couple of switches in the foot-control on my Minn-Kota trollin’ motor.  Shortly thereafter, my buddy Jared Alphonso and I entered a bass tournament at the last minute, and ended-up placin’ 5th outta 19 boats!  That ain’t bad considerin’ we only pre-fished for less than 4 hours the day before. 
Sahil tryin' to comfort the rescued Bo.
The very next weekend, my buddy Sahil Dilwali and I fished a 45-50 lb. dog we found tangled-up under some tree roots from the risin’ tide in the not-so friggin’ “Clear” 65° water.  It had a collar & tag, so we contacted the vet, who contacted a couple of different police departments to track-down the owner as well as an animal control officer.  Accordin’ to the owner, Bo the shepherd mix, was 12 years old and had been missin’ for a day-and-a-half.  Although we all tried, sadly, Bo had to be euthanized that evenin’.  The
Sloughstalker was s’posed to accompany me & Lisa on our annual week on Caddo Lake, but that trip was cancelled due to the recent, historic 50-year floods.  The locals are still devastated due to flood damage, and my buddy The Goob has said that the Giant Salvinia is worse than he’s ever seen it.  Y’all be sure to keep those folks in yer prayers, ‘cause they’ve been through a bunch!  Makes me wonder where all the wood apes & other critters went after gettin’ displaced …

The North American Wood Ape Conservancy doin' some community outreach
at The Baytown Nature Center. Josh Hall, Tommy Gilley & Jay Southard field
 questions from the crowd. Inset is Tod Pinkerton, Jay Southard, Josh Hall &
Dusty Haithcoat, who are just a few of the members volunteering their time
to educate the public about this yet undocumented species.  We hope to try
to dispel any myths or misinformation given about these mystery primates. 
     For the first couple of weekends in April, I had the privilege to help-out with the North American Wood Ape Conservancy in doin’ some community outreach at a couple of local wildlife events.  First, we were at The Texas Wildlife & Woodland Expo, held at the Lone Star College Montgomery Campus in The Woodlands.  This free, family event is held annually and the NAWAC has had our presence known for a few years now.  Our goal at these events is to educate the public on these yet undiscovered primates and our efforts to scientifically document the species, as well as the protection of its habitat.  I urge y’all to visit our Web site at and see what-all we do.  There is a free PDF download of the NAWAC’s Ouachita Project Monograph … detailin’ several years of study performed by our members.  Now, the second event I mentioned was The Baytown Nurture Nature Festival held at the Baytown Nature Center.  This venue is top-notch in my opinion, and we had 4,200 people attend!  Both the children as well as the adults flocked to our enclosure, and the crowds were evidently pleased.  Not only did we get to educate the public, but a few attendees shared their experiences with us, such as one hunter finding barefoot trackways durin’ deer season well off any trail.  One lady told of actually seein’ one of these critters face-to-face!  This happened in the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area by a National Park Service associate.  Again, I will divulge more details in an upcomin’ post.

Angels, airbags & seat belts, y'all ...
the collision was center from the rear
and catapulted them into the divider.
     Sometimes, life will just up and blindside ya; back in mid-April, my parents were simply headin’ to church for a Greek Orthodox Easter service.  While goin’ up the Galveston Causeway, they were violently hit from behind by some friggin’ idiot who felt the need to do well over 90 mph durin’ rush hour traffic.  Lisa and I got the call from my father that they were bein’ transported by ambulance to the hospital, and I cain’t remember ever hearin’ Dad sound like that!  It was a miracle that they weren’t killed.  All airbags deployed and did their job, and it's a miracle that they were not catapulted off the bridge. They both suffered from the effects of whiplash; we initially thought that Dad got the worst of it with 3 broken ribs and a fractured L1.  Dad went to a specialist in Austin and is now doin’ much better.  Mom, however is still in physical therapy but is finally off the pain medication.  She had a shattered T-12 finally got the same procedure from that same specialist in Austin.  Both are doin' better and are finally on the road to recovery.  Again, thank God ‘cause it could’ve been much worse.  My family and I have been helpin’ ‘em with anything they might be needin’ no matter how menial the task.  Keep in mind that my parents are both in their 70’s and were basically robbed of their independence.  My wife’s been an absolute angel, but I’ve been kinda feelin’ the exact opposite.  I’ve done everything in my power not to have any more thoughts of exterminatin’ the rat that hit ‘em.  It seems that this upstandin’ citizen has a long rap-sheet and had just been released a day prior to causin’ the wreck from, get this … a criminal evade charge!  I know that I ain’t been havin’ very Christian thoughts towards this f-tard; God help me, I’ve been tryin’ ‘cause them buzzards ain’t circlin’ ‘round that rat’s grave just yet.  Again, thanks for all the prayers!

     So as y’all can see, much has transpired since my last post.  That’s life, and I’m obviously blessed enough to still be livin’ it!  Albeit rats, buzzards and other distractions, I will dang-sure make a better attempt to update this blog in a more timely fashion.  Due to my current work situation and personal schedule, I still don’t foresee that I’ll be able to take off to Oklahoma anytime this summer.  My annual kayakin’ trip on the White River looks like it’s shot as well.  However, as promised … I still need to share with y’all about my second full week spent in the Ouachita Mountains with two fellow NAWAC investigators last summer in Area X.  I wish to spend some long fall weekends in The Big Thicket, The Sam Houston National Forest or maybe take a trip back to Caddo Lake, but we’ll just hafta see.  So until next time, y’all be real careful while runnin’ ‘round out there in them woods … especially, on yer travels to and from as well!  Remember, the main thang is to always try and have ya some fun!  Life’s too short to worry about the rats, even with them dang buzzards a circlin’ ‘round overhead.  Now that I think about it, I’d much rather deal with the chiggers & ticks my own-self!  Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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