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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Soon...Very Soon....

9:35 PM 3 Comments
I've been hearing them almost a week now, just before the sun breaks over the field behind the house in the mornings, hard on their way to a mine lake. In the everings - a little more subdued, but with same soft swoosh and heralding honks as in the mornings. 

 The reeds and grasses are turning - quickly losing the shiny green of summer and fading into the reds and creams and browns.They are getting scratchy and starting to crackle a bit. 

The dogs are working hard every day. Eyes watching the sky - they are antsy, and restless, and ready to swim. 




Soon, very soon, it will be time. 




Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Good Folks Outside

11:13 PM 5 Comments



I had planned to post about gar, green berries and ginseng, carp and crawdads, blue mud and backwater. Typical week's end for a Southern Illinois river rat – but then as the whole weekend was coming to a close disaster struck.

Just as we swung into a good dusk catfish hole and started to unload rods, thermacells, bait, poleholders, buckets – the flotsam and jetsam that goes with tightlining at dark – I realized with horror that my tackle bag was no longer in the back of the truck.

I wouldn't be thrilled, but I could stand it if I lost the bag. I could stand it if I lost the tackle – I travel pretty light – but what I couldn't stand was losing every important credential I have. 

Zipped into a pocket of my tackle bag is my ID case – my hang around one's neck big, black, clunky get you through a crowd , ID case.
It had my press credentials, my drivers license, my disabled ID card (which doubles as my hunting and fishing licenses) my federal duck stamp, ...oh holy credential crap.

We painstakingly re drove the ground we had covered since we'd left a “back in middle of 40 acres of mud ” - to quote my non enthused, non waterfowl liking, husband -) duck hole and blind I wanted to check on. Low water crossings, unmarked field roads..just plain field...no where to be found.

Finally, I sadly said to my husband, “ It's good people that roam down here..they burn boot leather, they drag catfish out in the summer and ducks in the winter. Whichever one finds it will call. “

Suffice it to say, he is a bit more of a skeptic than I.

Dejectedly we drove back to the first tiny town you run into on your way out of 20,000 acres of public land. Perhaps a giant chocolate bar  and a gallon mocha cappuccino would soothe me, so I tromped into the the combination grocery, bait shop, convenience store, hamburger joint, in the middle of town.

When I got back to the truck the voice mail indicator on my phone was hrrmphing at me.

The voice mail was from a kind and wonderful gentleman. He politely told me his name, address, and phone number, along with where he'd found the bag and to just call him back - “we'll figure out to get this back to you right quick”.

I hurriedly called him back and in ten minutes was perched on his front porch having a nice visit.

“I thought I knew who you were. Not many women wading around back in there. I've seen you coming and going. I go out most ever morning and evening to sit and watch the deer feed” 

After talking about our vehicles we agreed that we'd often seen each other coming and going and always gave a little smile and wave.

I was happy to have all my credentials back safe and sound. I promised him some autumn olive berry jelly as a reward, and we agreed to look out for each other. Turns out he has a disabled ID card too.

My belief in the people of the outdoors, the back waters, the public lands, river bottoms and rock faces is strengthened and confirmed tonight.

I've been out here in forest and the fields, on the water and in the woods long enough to know and be realistic that there some rotten apples in every basket, but for the overwhelmingly majority of the time, I am reminded  that the outdoor people in my world are still ethical, compassionate, and kind souls that will always do the sportsmanlike thing.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Account is Overdrawn

10:22 AM 1 Comments
The guy is moving faster than I today
I'm not talking about my bank account - although it's probably dangerously close to being overdrawn also right now, I'm talking my energy account.

One of the most common and debilitating symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis is fatigue. We're not talking gee I need a nap fatigue, or gosh it's been long day fatigue- we are talking about unable to get up out of bed fatigue.

Some in the MS community have taken to calling it lassitude - but for me that seems too mild. Lassitude conjures up scenes of still glassy water, warn sunshine and just a general feeling of laziness and lolling around drinking tropical drinks and soaking up the sun.

MS fatigue is bone crushing., stuck in layers of mud, unable to sit up or hold your head up fatigue - it goes beyond feeling worn out or tired, and is very difficult to explain or put into words.

I'm a type A person- or as a friend recently told me a WAAAAY  A  person. Some might even be tempted to use the term driven at times.

Consequently the whole "balance rest and activity" part of living with MS often escapes me. I just gut it out, grit my teeth , grab another gear and go. That's great for awhile - then comes the massive crash.
In order to help me get a better handle on it my physician explained it very basic terms. I should consider my  energy and stamina a bank account,  every activity I do withdraws a few dollars or sometimes in my WAAAAY  A personality's case  thousands -

Those  withdrawals need to be followed up with deposits. A nap here - a rest in the recliner there, a day lounging in bed and sleeping at times. If I don't make those deposits back to my account  I'm overdrawn, and if I let it go too long, The account gets closed.

I think I'm hovering at the edge of an account closure today. I know I need to make a deposit, but just like with real bank accounts, the times we most need to be making deposits we have the hardest time scraping up dough to do it.

Same with my energy account. I have deadlines to meet, I have photos to process, I have customers getting a little antsy.

So I check the balance and see how overdrawn I am and try to float a check one more day.

Don't think that's going to work much longer.

I'm basically going to be forced by the mean bank officer that my  body is to make  an effort to get my account stable and healthy and ready for the next round of withdrawals.  I have to make some large deposits today.

Laptop, notebooks, pens, lists,  have already been set up bedside. I'm going to crawl in cool dark room, turn on restful tunes, slide into those clean percale sheets that feel so good, and deposit away.

Have  a great day all! I'll be the one napping in the corner !
Always a restful place to visit


Monday, August 22, 2011

Bye Bye Barbie-Doo!

8:36 AM 8 Comments
Barbie-Doo with a bad dye job and even worse extensions


Surely by now you've heard the mentions and murmurings about Barbie-Doo. My friend Jody Narantic and fellow Carp Caper participant, pens The Hunters Wife. Jody and Barbie -Doo were a big part of the Great Carp Caper, we had days of fun at Barbie-Doo's expense.

Then things started getting a little ugly with Barbie-Doo. Barbie -Doo started fighting back. By the end of the Carp Caper, the rallying cry when anything went awry- and trust me plenty went awry - was "Blame it on Barbie-Doo!!"

Barbie-Doo apparently doesn't playing the blame game and she vanished during the Carp Caper. It might have been the snake photo shoot Stacey Houston set up that was the straw that broke Barbie-Doo's back. But suddenly - Barbie -Doo was MIA.
Stacey setting up Barbie-Doo for her snake photo shoot



Truthfully - after all the commotion and difficulties she caused during the Carp Caper - I wasn't too sad to see Barbie-Doo gone. I decided she made a return trip to The Opera House Cafe in Sesser, IL where we ate our supper during the Carp Caper. The HAUNTED Opera House, with the ongoing paranormal investigation. Yep that seemed like a likely crowd for Barbie-Doo to hang out with instead of the Elite Carp Tactical Team from Women's Outdoor News.

Then early Saturday morning as I was packing up to head out for more carp killing fun at the BAI Muzzy Flurospar Benefit Bowfishing Tournament in Rosiclare, IL
The  anonymous tip I received about MIA Barbie-Doo

I got word that Barbie-Doo had been sighted in the neighborhood. She had a bad dye job, and even worse extensions, but an eagle eyed bowfishing chica fan of The Hunter's Wife broke Broke Barbie-Doo's cover.
Our brave anonymous tipster


Yep there she was, hanging out on Slew Rat Bowfishing's team boat. The team and boat I was shooting with for this tournament. 

Gasp - on the control panel of Slew Rat's Boat!

Joining in a little fun with Slew Rat Bowfishing

Having way too much fun with the rare Foam Nose Gar


Barbie-Doo tried.. oh that evil pissed chick in pink capris tried to ruin everyone's night with horrific storms, boat failures, scary moments- but what she didn't count on was how tough we bowfisher chicas are. We take no crap from the carp and we weren't taking any from Barbie-Doo.

The Dancing Arrow Divas decided to solve this Barbie-Doo Problem once and for all.
Using one of our best Dancing Arrow Diva pink arrows, a little hippie themed duct tape, and sheer will, we sent Barbie - Doo sailing into the Ohio River with my pink "Barbie" Bow.

Preparing Barbie-Doo for take off

Any last words Barbie-Doo?


But that damned Barbie- Doo; she had the last word. No one's video or photos of the launching of Barbie came out. None. Zero. Zip.

Best we got was Barbie- Doo floating away....



Bye Bye Barbie-Doo; you and your cursed self can now be fish food!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

I'm Excited!

1:35 PM 2 Comments
Ah yes - I'm excited because  things are beginning to fall in to place for the Great Carp Caper! I can put the Valium back in the medicine cabinet.

I've been a little stressed by this because I'm not great at organizing events - heck I'm not so great at organizing anything. I think I am lacking the organizational gene or something. I tend do my best at the last minute, under the gun, by the seat of my pants. 

But somehow- (probably all that chanting, praying and Barbie-Doo business ) The Great Carp Caper is coming together in rare form!

I'm  excited to hear that a few comrades from Illinois Bowfishers are making the trip down to assist with eradication efforts.


I am excited to hear that the Mayor has the Pirate Flag and Parrot ready for the Princess Party Barge



I am excited to have new boat captains volunteering left and right

Let's face it- I am just plain excited about the Great Carp Caper but most of all I'm excited to be seeing and spending time outdoors with TeamWON! 



Ladies - let the arrows fly and the carp die!



Friday, August 5, 2011

It's Almost Time!

11:05 AM 0 Comments
The Great Carp Caper grows near and I've been fussing and grumbling and in general throwing hints, using visual aids, and pinning notes to dear husbands shirt every day that I really need a new bowfishing bow. Seriously - I can't take folks like Stacey Houston, Barb Baird, Paige Eissinger, and Jody Narrantic out bowfishing with my ratty, hand me down, cobbled together, recurve.

They will have cameras. They will be sighing once again " that Gretchen..she's always so backwater, redneck, messy" and calling for wardrobe and make up!

Some how I've convinced them that I'm a great bowfisher (they'll learn soon enough, that I love to bowfish, but my skills - eh - could be better), and everyone knows a great bowfisher needs a great bow.

Since dear husband was not getting the message I took matters into my own hands, and gave Brian at Outdoors Experience a call. Outdoors Experience is a company that's widely known on the bowfishing circuit and also known for excellent  old fashioned one on one customer service.

Brian was ever so helpful when I explained to him that what I needed, and how many dollars I had to work with. Best of all, there was no talking down to me because I was a woman. 

It's not easy to fit a bow to my shrimpy 24 inch draw length, it's not easy to fit a bow for someone with strength and cordination issues from MS, nor is it easy to please a picky old lady like me, but Brian cheerfully came through with shining colors.

I also explained to Brian that TeamWON was  soon to be here in Southern Illinois for the Great Carp Caper- I fretted to him about shipping times.

Not to worry - he assured me; you'll have it  tomorrow.

TOMORROW??? Did he sense the urgency in my voice? Could he tell I was completely fed up with my old recurve?

Yes tomorrow - it arrived the next day in great shape and ready to go.  Now I have plenty of time before the Great Carp Caper to get the hang of using the new bow and the new prototype arrows that Cajun Archery , a Great Carp Caper sponsor,  was kind enough to send me to trial. The arrows are designed specifically for short draw lengths and light draw weights.

Arrow Precision bow outfitted with an AMS Retriever Reel, AMS roller rest, and Cajun Arrow -     


A quick trip to the creek last night and I was in love with the bow from the first shot - I was also impressed with the distance I got from the new arrows. Alas, daylight was fading,  so I didn't get to actually stick a fish, but I'm headed out the door now to give it a whirl!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Too Hot For....most anything!

12:50 PM 0 Comments
I'd like  to report that my blog has been  in disrepair  and ignored so long because I've been away on some great  vacation - some stupendous event that you are all dying to hear about. Sadly - that isn't the case, unless you are really interested in my Camille act that involves mostly lying about in a darkened room with an air conditioner going full tilt along with a fan blowing directly on me. Sighing a lot.

It's hot here - heck it's hot everywhere this summer and for those of us who live with MS it's an especially difficult time.

Suffice it to say I need a new wiring harness and have a great many shorts in my system thanks to the demyelinating effects of Multiple Sclerosis. There's something abut an increase in body temperature - even as much as a half of degree that sets things into a tizzy. In my case, (all MS'rs are a little different) it begins with a slightly drunken looking sway to my gate, my words begin to slur, I develop double vision, and before you know it - I look and sound like someone who's been on three day drunk. Even swallowing becomes difficult.

Most generally once I get my temperature back down to a reasonable  place the worst of those symptoms disappear. Then comes the fun part - the constant spastic muscle cramps and movements. and I do mean constant - I swear I could time the contractions in my "Big" muscles with a metronome. Cooling off doesn't help with those - and about the only option I have is to load up on pain killers and muscle relaxers and head to the dark cold bedroom.

I literally lose days in weather like this. It doesn't take a prolonged exposure either. A simple walk down the drive way to the mailbox can leave me unable to get up the porch steps without the dogs' assistance.
Since this summers heat has been so relentless and so wide spread I've put together a few tips to help everyone mange in the heat  not just those with heat intolerance.

1. Plan your activities outdoors in the cooler parts of the day - essentially - don't head to the fishing hole at high noon on a day when the heat index is 105 - the fish probably aren't going to be biting any way.

2. Enlist in the aid of cooling devices such a hats, cooling vests, wrist and neck wraps. If you don't have any of these  available, simply wetting a bandanna in the water in your cooler can  help via evaporation.

3. Stay hydrated - CDC recommends 16-32 oz of fluid replacement every hour of outdoor activity in excessive heat - while water is always a good choice it helps to to also use sports drinks to help replace lost electrolytes.

4. Plan as many activities in shady areas as possible. Often temps can be 5-10 degrees cooler in the shade.

5. If you a planning an outdoor activity alone, be sure to let a trusted friend or family member know where you are going and when you anticipate you will return. Remember to call them upon your return!

6. If you begin to feel overheated find shade and a water source, be it a hydrant at a picnic area , a pool or lake or stream. Drenching oneself with cool water will help via the evaporation  process to lower your body temperature.

Best bet - if you have heat intolerance issues - stay inside where it is air conditioned until evening  or nightfall when generally the heat should be subsiding somewhat. Learn to enjoy night fishing, frog gigging and star gazing.

Here's a quick recipe for a home made sports drink type formulation that can save you a bundle during these dog days of summer -

1/2 cup orange juice
9 tbs. Sugar
3/8 tsp Salt
2 liters water.

This makes enough to fill two  recycled 1 liter sports drink bottles. If orange isn't you most favorite flavor, substitute any other type of juice such lime, lemon, grape etc. that you have on hand.

This gives, per an 8 oz serving:
14.4 grams carb (6.1%)
104 mg sodium
28.4 mg Potassium

Stay cool friends - I'm retiring back to the frigid arctic den that is my bedroom these days!