05 August 2009

Dream In Red

God, I think I have to go back to my therapist. Not that I'm that guy. You know - the type with a therapist. I started going with my ex to try and save our marriage and I just don't have anyone to really talk to these days.

My family means well, but they are far from objective. They would be on my side no matter what I did short of rape or murder.

I am tired constantly. It's true that I'm busy - very busy. Between settling in to the house in Barboursville, two visitation schedules, registering the kids for a new school system, a huge project at work, and all of the house work (painting, etc) I did before I left it feels like I haven't had a still moment in months.

That isn't the true source of my constant bone-weariness. Maybe it's depression. I'm not sure... maybe I'm getting old and this is what exhaustion feels like now. I've never been this constantly and persistently tired before.

I had a dream last night, too. It woke me up at around 3 AM - covered in sweat and breathing hard.

In this dream I was escaping from somewhere - an insane asylum? I was running, trying to get some sort of clothes off my chest. I'm not sure what it was, but it was very restrictive and gave me a panicked feeling as I ran headlong through some swamp, dogs barking in the distance behind me. I never actually looked down at the piece of clothing I was trying to get off of me.

They were coming for me. I finally shook off the claustrophobic article of clothing and ran bare-chested at full bore through the swamp. The dogs were getting closer. As the sound of their barking drew near something grew inside me. As the panic in me rose, it turned into something animal.

I gradually started running slower, but not from fatigue. My breathing became slower, more measured and I turned to face the dogs. There were two of them; both large and both fast. One trailed the other slightly. As the first one leaped for my throat, I intercepted him with my hand, spinning to deflect the second dog with the first.

My fingers sought and found the dog's windpipe. I pushed my fingers together to make them meet in the middle of the dog's throat and pulled it clean out of it's body, tossing the dog aside as I did.

Somehow I had a stout stick in my hand, and I used it to crush the other dog's skull in an overhand stroke that sent both splinters and blood flying.

I was seeing red. I knew the dogs' handler would be soon to follow. So I walked back in the direction the dogs came from. I walked quietly and slowly, keeping to cover, and managed to surprise the dog handler. He was wearing some sort of uniform and had a revolver in his hands. I woke up after about the third time I brutally hit him in the head with my club.

It was one of the most vivd dreams I've had in a long time. I got up and took a long pull from the glass of water by the bed. I stepped out on the porch, turned on the overhead fans, and had a smoke while the sweat dried.

I felt very calm by the time I went back to bed and fell into a deep, black sleep.

29 July 2009

Giggity-gat! Can't Let the Terrorists Win (Again)

Yesterday I had the day from hell at work. Up against a deadline to get testing done against our 64 bit Oracle database, I had to do all of this in one day:
  1. Resolve three separate technical issues in coordination with the system's vendor (not Oracle) by 3 PM to get a "go" decision at the "go-no go" decison point
  2. Update the MS Project Plan governing the project
  3. Update "Command Center" document (don't ask)
  4. Meet twice with my upper management
  5. Determine permission levels needed on two servers to be used in the production go-live
  6. Go to Albemarle High School to get a form to allow my kids to attend Albemarle County Schools the coming up year

Everything got done, but I was left feeling drained by the end of it all. I ended up taking off from work at 4:30. There wasn't enough time to get anything else started or done, and I was really in no mood to try in any event.

I drove home, to Barboursville, and then immediately got changed into jeans, a t-shirt, and my fidel cap, gathered my SKS, loaded three 20 round clips, and then walked down to my brother's cottage to do some shooting.

He brought his AR-15 with two clips, and his .45 callibre Glock with two clips. We set up some targets against a hillside and proceeded to plunk away at them. God, to those who don't shoot, let me tell you something: There's nothing quite like shooting a powerful rifle repeatedly to drain away the day's stresses. Hippies can go ahead and insert phallic substitution joke here.

Whatever - it's really one of those subjects you can't intelligently comment on until you've tried it. Like parenthood or the military, you can read as much as you want about guns, gun ownership, and civil liberties but you can't truly know the subject until you yourself have done it. No ammount of reading will truly prepare you for parenthood or joining the military. In this case, you have to have owned a gun and shot it. Especially with rural gun ownership, there really is no debate in my mind about the nature of the civil liberty aspects or the essential goodness of it.

In short - suck it, hippies.

I'm also planning another expedition to the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area, this time on the weekend of 9-11. Possible attendees include me, my sister's boyfriend, a friend of his, my brother, and one to two friends of mine. In all likelihood we'll have to split up to not put too much pressure on the brook trout in any one stream.

Since the weekend is 9-11, I was thinking of getting a t-shirt custom made by my buddy Andy who runs the Black Cat Skate Shop in Charlottesville. They do custom t-shirts there. I was thinking of getting a Jack Kennedy graphic on the front, like this:

On the back of the shirt, it would say:

"Hey, terrorists! I banged all 72 of your 'virgins'...
Have fun with your Heavenly sloppy seconds."

Haha - because, you see - JFK is dead up there in Heaven with all of the virgins the martyrs are promised... ahhh, and ole Jack had a rep for being a ladies' man...

I think it's friggin' hi-larious.

Bacchanal & Milk of Human Kindness

Bow, once more, to the gods of modern rock-n-roll...

Bacchanal by Clutch

Temptation of indulgence
Divides and conquers my mind
An elegy for fading youth
Welcome to mankind

If you provide the spleen
Then I'll provide the ideal
If I provide a puppet
Will you provide the strings?

Revel in the glory
Of a coming of age
Decades of suppression
Released in a rage
Have mercy

How can I seize the day when it is dusk?
You provide the pull, and I'll provide the thrust
Romance is nothing but a sack of lies
But it is truth which I have come to despise


If I provide the scene
Will you provide the ordeal?
If I provide a crown
Will you provide a queen?

Milk of Human Kindness by Clutch

Fine swine, wish you were mine bite the apple of my eye
This little piggy never made it home
Helter skelter, run for shelter, can't escape the boiling swelter
Beat you like the dog that you are

Oh, I could kill you if I wanted
Kill you with my own two hands
Oh, I'm so happy I could kill you
Kill you like a sacrificial lamb

Because you, you are nothing but an animal
Panting, lying on your back
A sight so obscene, a sight so absurd
So many ways to skin a cat

Everything tastes better now
My hands, these tools, the fatted cow
The swine, the wine, the coming feast
Your Jesus Christ has canine teeth

Fine swine, wish you were mine bite the apple of my eye
This little piggy never made it home
Helter skelter, run for shelter, can't escape the boiling swelter
Beat you like the dog that you are

Because you, you are nothing but an animal
Panting, lying on your back
A sight so obscene, a sight so absurd
So many ways to skin a cat

Everything tastes better now
My hands, these tools, the fatted cow
The swine, the wine, the coming feast
Your Jesus Christ has canine teeth

24 July 2009

Catch Up Ball and the Divorce

I haven't posted in a while. Haha - like anyone has noticed! That's okay... I write here to purge and get things straight in my own mind as much as anything else.

Well, without going into any of the gory details, I've become separated from my wife. Irreconcilable differences, I guess. I don't think either of us really wanted it deep down, but we just couldn't overcome a couple of problems.

So, I've moved back in with my folks out in Barboursville. My two oldest kids (from my first marriage) are moving with me. During the summer they stay with their Mom and visit me on the weekends. This weekend will be the first where they get to see their new digs.

I'm actually kind of excited. I think I'm realizing that, much like Papa, I'm a rolling stone. I enjoy change on some level no matter what kind of change it is. It's the same here. There's a lot of pain, of course, but most things painful also cause you to grow. "Look at the bright side whenever possible" is becoming my new motto.

One of the things in the "plus" column is the room in which my kids will be staying. It's my sister's old room and is easily the coolest room in the house. It's huge with a loft and the sweetest walk-in closet a girl could ever want under that loft. My daughter (11) will be getting the closet except for one rack so my son (14) can have some hanger space. He has a nice big dresser out in the room for his stuff.

Another thing in the "plus" column is the lake on my folks' property. It needs to be stocked, but it does have a small and very fiesty largemouth bass population. I've been fishing twice since I moved in on Saturday and these ferocious fish have given me many needed hours of peace and relaxation.

Four years ago there was a drought which just about drained our little 3/4 acre pond. The opportunity was taken to completely drain the lake and rebuild our aging dock. The pond was never restocked.

In steps Mother Nature... the pond seems to have been naturally restocked with largemouth bass. From what I've been told and what I've read this is likely to have been done by geese. We have a family of geese which visits our pond each year in their migrations. Evidently these geese will eat fish eggs if they stumble upon a nest. Some get digested and some just pass right through. They ate some eggs at another pond along their route and then pooped them out in our lake. Either that or their legs brushed some eggs which stuck and then upon landing in our lake the eggs were deposited.

Either way, natural bass stocking! Our bass are suffering from a lack of their normal food sources - usually bluegill or some other form of sunfish. Evidently these geese ate no bluegill eggs. The bass in our lake were surviving off of tadpoles for a while and now seem to have switched to surface feeding on bugs since the tadpoles matured. Tuesday night I was out at the lake at around 6:30 or so and witnessed a number of surface strikes, including an eating of a post-coital dragonfly who flew too close to the surface after his mid-air whoopie was done.

The end product are bass that simply stay hungry - surface feeding on bugs is a much more energy-intensive venture for less food in return for their effort than bass are used to. I'm telling you these bass bite at about anything. From what I've caught, there seems to be five or six bass with most of them being in the 8-10 inch range and one down at around seven inches or so. I think their diet is limiting how much they can grow.

So I've done some research on stocking the pond. For less than $150 I'll be able to get 10 more largemouth (at 5 inches), 10 catfish (at 10 inches), and 90 bluegill (at 3 inches). This should keep the proper ratio of predator to prey in the bass/bluegill equation. Some sources say the ratio should be five bluegill to each bass, some say seven to one. I split the difference and said six to one (5 native bass + 10 stocked = 15 bass times 6 = 90 bluegill). These numbers are a quarter less than the numbers the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries suggests for a warmwater pond an acre in size.

As long as I harvest bluegill at a five or six to one ratio to the bass, the poulation should be fairly self-regulating after one season. I may even look into some minnows. That bears some more research, though.

18 June 2009

Reservoir Dogs

Tuesday night my brother, his wife, and I went canoeing on the Rivanna Reservoir. "D" (my bro's wife) bought my borther a canoe for his last birthday. Best. Birthday. Present. EVER!!!!

I took off work an hour early and swung by the grocery store to buy some beer (for the canoe), some OJ, and some bread (the latter two for home). I met B (my bro) and D outside of the sporting goods joint, which was in the same shopping center.

We caravaned up Route 29 a bit and left my car at Harris Teeter, since parking at the boat ramp is limited. We then got in D's Xtera and headed out to the reservoir.

B and I easily hauled the 14 foot canoe off the roof and put it in the water and away we went! We put in at around 5 PM. With B and I paddling we got the canoe going at a pretty decent clip. Diesel power!

I brought my little Zebco 33 rod and my vest (which serves as my tackle box). It was so quiet out there where we were paddling. We paddled back into the backwaters of the reservoir where at points the water was only inches deep. It was so quiet, as a matter of fact, that the clicking noise of my closed face Zebco was really annoying me.

I've been meaning to get a decent open faced reel anyways. I got the Zebco because it was cheap and at the time I wasn't sure if I was going to be getting back into fishing seriously or not. That question is answered, I guess! I now have a 4 wt fly rod, a 6 wt fly rod, a large Penn open-faced rod-n-reel setup, and the Zebco.

I was tempted to bring the fly rod, but I think with three people in the canoe that casting would have been difficult, especially with the fact that I'm fairly new at fly casting and hadn't been in a canoe for well over a decade. I tell you what, though - the insect activity on the water was robust to say the least. We were seeing tons of surface strikes all evening. I bet some caddis and anything mimicking a dragonfly would have torn it up out there.

In any event, we saw quite a bit of wildlife while we were out on the water. We saw a couple of herons (that's what we think they were, anyway), geese, a couple of beavers, turtles, and some deer.

All evening only B was able to catch a fish. A glorious bluegill! It was of moderate size and he released it.

Towards the end of the evening, some good ole boys in a nice jon boat were tearing up some bass. They caught one that was at least two feet long as we were watching them from a distance.

By nine o'clock we took out and headed back to their place for dinner. My brother has a garden that has really taken off and he's a top-knotch chef, to boot. You know dinner was good!
Let me see if I can remember it all: bed of butterleaf lettuce, radishes, finger carrots, beets, chicken, and an avacado/onion salad on top. The beets, radishes, and carrots were tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a crushed garlic clove and then cooked in the oven until slightly tender. Everything except the chicken and the avacado was from my brother's garden, too.





ps - dealing with image placement in Blogger is teh ghetto...

06 June 2009

Memorial Day Weekend @ Smith Mountain Lake

This last weekend my friends Mark, Earl, Sam, Adam, Anna, and I went to Smith Mountain Lake State Park for the weekend.

Friday, 22 May 2009

I got over to my friend Mark's joint at around 9 AM and we loaded my gear into his truck. Sam was easily convinced to come with us. Earl got off work at 11:30 or so and we met him at his place. After loading his gear and his brother Adam's gear and gathering Anna, we were on the road.

It was about a two hour trip. Not too bad, even with a couple of Google Maps induced fits of directional confusion. We set up the camp first and then headed out to Mango's Bar and Grill. It was a total tourist trap Jimmy Buffet-esque joint complete with totally mediocre food and overpriced drinks. The shot "Sex with a Catfish" is to be avoided at all costs!

I could see Mango's being a good choice for a family outing. There was putt-putt golf right there, an old-school video arcade, and some shops all situated right around Mango's. Mom and Dad could send the kiddies off to play putt-putt or video games or shop while they had a drink and enjoyed some music. Although the act they had for a big weekend like Memorial Day weekend was fucking terrible. The Breeze Boys. Two dudes in their late fourties with receeding hairlines, a karaoke machine, a bass guitar, and very little talent. They ended up driving us out of there early.

That was okay, we went back to camp and partied like a mahfukkah! I brought a bunch of homebrews (California Commons and Oaked Imperial Stout) and whiskey and store beer was also present. We ended up staying up real late and making a lot of noise. I mean, not a terrible ruckus, but we weren't exactly whispering.

Sam and Earl stayed up pretty late that night, annoying the hell out of the people in the campsite next to ours. I love hanging out with these guys... it's always a lot of laughs.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

We got up around 7 the next morning. I made breakfast - camp slop, what else? This time it was about a dozen eggs and a dozen sausage links, though.

After getting everything sorted out concerning the day, Earl, Mark, and I headed out to Parrot Cove Marina to get the boat. I felt kind of bad to leave Adam, Anna, and Sam out of our boat trip but we hadn't originally planned on them coming, so Mark rented the 17 footer. It turned out that the marina wasn't open until 8 anyways, so we were right on time, really.

A word of advice to anyone thinking of renting a boat to fish at Smith Mountain Lake: you're only going to get good evening and morning fishes in if you rent the boat for two days. All the marinas down there open at around 8 and close at around 6 or so. This means you can't get your boat until after the morning fishing is pretty much done and you have to return it just as evening fishing is heating up. It's a bit of a scam in that way.

That being said, we had a lot of fun, even with just having the boat one day. Being Memorial Day weekend, there was so much boat traffic that all the big fish in the main lake were driven down deep. We saw plenty of them on the fish finder - big fish down at 120 feet to 160 feet, but they weren't biting on anything.

We ended up hitting the coves and trying to find spots where there were no other boats. We'd cruise up in these quiet coves and cast under overhanging trees. Those were the only spots we found any action all day - either way up north in coves or in coves off the state park. I ended up getting the big fish for the day - a 17 or 18 inch catfish... probably around 2 lbs. It was good eating, too! Mark caught a small largemouth and then we all caught a bunch of tiny sunfish.
I even did a little flycasting from the boat. A lot of fun. It's really the only way to fly fish on a lake!
At around 4 or so, we cruised up into a cove in the State Park and called Sam. He answered and said he was just done with a shower. He took the path directly behind our campsite down to the water and there he was! We had successfully picked the right cove and everything. Earl ended up getting off the boat and Sam got on. We goofed around a bit more on the water and then took the boat back at around 5:30 or so.

Sunday, 25 May 2009

Not much on this day. We got up, brewed coffee, broke camp, and went to the White House Restaraunt for a good southern breakfast buffet. Simple and delicious - the selection consisted of biscuits and sausage gravy, sausages, bacon, french toast sticks, and scrambled eggs. That's it.
The waitress was very nice and asked us if we wanted eggs cooked any other way. I had mine over-medium. That, and some coffee hit the mutha-jumpin' spot.

After that we were on the road again - this time heading home.

18 May 2009

Catch Up

I've been doing a lot of fishing lately. I used to go fishing with my Dad quite a bit as a kid, but after I went to college, I just stopped going for whatever reason. In any event, my recent trip to the Rapidan WMA rekindled my interest in the sport.

Also, fishing is a good survival skill to have. This coming up fall and winter I intend to pickup hunting as well. I will bag a freaking rabbit this season! I also intend to go deer hunting for the first time ever. A bit late to start, I'll admit, but starting at 36 is better than never starting at all. My Dad lived in suburban Maryland while I was growing up and my Step Dad never was much of a hunter, so I never was really exposed to it as a kid.

Sugar Hollow Reservoir

In any event, the weekend of May 9th I went fishing at Sugar Hollow Reservoir and the Moorman River. Rainbow and Brook Trout are stocked here every year in addition to the reservoir's native smallmouth bass population. I hear there are crappies and bluegill as well, but I've never seen them.

I got up at 5:30 in the morning and was on the road by 6. I got lost on my way out there (thanks, MapQuest!).

It had been nearly two decades since I'd been to Sugar Hollow. Haha - the last time I was up there was just after high school for a "hike-n-hump" with a girl named Casey. Ahhh, memories! That was a fun but short-lived relationship.

I was on track to be out there by 6:30 AM, but ended up making a wrong turn and arriving in Crozet by 6:45. I stopped by a gas station to see where I went wrong, but no one there (not even the employees) were actually from the area. Great. So I headed back the way I drove in and just happened to luck into an older gentleman checking his mailbox. I pulled over and he was glad to give me directions.

By 7:30 I pulled up to the reservoir just in time to see a guy with a string of six or eight trout loading his car up. I asked what they were biting on and he said "green eggs and bloodworms, but they stopped biting about thirty minutes ago." I thanked him and he was on his way. Thanks again, MapQuest. I would have been right on time...

I fished for a while and then a gent by the name of Aaron pulled up. I picked his brain about the tricks to fishing this reservoir. He suggested eggs, bloodworms, and mealworms after it had rained and lures for when it had been dry for a while. The reason for this, he said, was that during rainstorms, things get swept into the water and so the fish are looking more for live bait. During dry spells I guess the lures work a bit better because the fish aren't expecting to see any live critters floating through the water.

I drove back up along the reservoir a ways and rediscovered the Moormon River upstream from the reservoir. It's a pretty little river... more of a big stream, really. It looked like good trout waters. I dipped my hand in - chilly. Perfect. Aaron said they stocked these waters every two or three weeks. During the height of the summer the waters get too warm for the trout and they retreat to the depths of the reservoir. The trouts eggs don't live in the reservoir. I don't know if that's because of predation or inhospitable circumstances or both.

Anyway, I didn't catch anything. I chalked this trip up to a learning expedition.
  • Get up there early (don't trust MapQuest if you can help it!)
  • Live bait after a storm, lures during a dry spell.
  • Wyant Country Store has all the bait you'll need for Sugar Hollow.
  • Use smaller hooks if you're after trout - their mouths are much smaller than those of bass

All in all it was a lot of fun. Peaceful, beautiful country out that way. Albemarle County is a huge county and it's easy to think of it as just the Charlottesville area and Route 29 corridor. It's so much more than that. I intend to hit every public lake in Albemarle County over the course of the summer.

Fly Fishing Adventures

I just got a fly rod setup for my birthday. My wife was kind enough to buy it for me. Thanks, hon! Last Saturday morning I decided to try my hand at fly casting at my parents' pond in Barboursville before embarrassing myself in public.

I had watched a ton of tutorials on YouTube over the past few weeks while waiting for my rod (it was on backorder), so I had a basic idea of what I was doing. I knew it would be a matter of getting the feel for it and after about an hour of casting with no fly on my line, I decided it was time to graduate to some real casting; fly and all.

I attached a dry fly, a black gnat, and looked around the lake. I saw a group of little black bugs buzzing around the water by a bush hanging over the pond. I cast right into the middle of it and bam! My first cast ever with a fly attached and I hooked an eight inch bass!

It was exciting because the fight was different. With most rods you use a combination of the reel and and rod to tire the fish and eventually pull him in. With the fly rod, it's much more about using the rod to tire the fish and drawing in slack with your hand, keeping the line pinched against the rod with your index finger. It's a more personal, manual fight.

Seeing the actual strike didn't hurt, either! All other fishing I had ever done, the strike happened below the surface - you didn't get to actually see it. Very cool. I think I'm hooked. Okay - I just realized that was a terrible pun. It was unintentional.