Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Then the rains came! (Or What a Difference a Day Makes!)

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

So there we were in Vegas, our first "out of town" vacation since we got married.

Our first night we saw Siegfried & Roy, thanks to Paige and Pat. The next day was the big wedding day. Thursday we had all to ourselves to explore Vegas before flying out on Friday.

We didn't have a lot we wanted to do. Walk the strip, watch the fountains....and because I am a Star Trek geek I wanted to do "The Star Trek Experience" at the Vegas Hilton.

We got an early start, bopped down to the lobby and asked the concierge about times and travel. She gave us the rundown, suggesting the free shuttle to the strip and catching a cab later to the Hilton.

"But you really shouldn't leave the hotel..." She said.

"Why not?" I asked perplexed.

"Well there's a flash flood advisory today!"

"Flash flood? We're in the desert!" I told her assuredly "Besides we get flash flood advisories at home all the time..."

She looked at me quizzically "Where are you from?!?"

"Michigan" I replied as we waved goodbye and set off on our adventure.

Per her instructions we hopped the free shuttle to the strip downtown. 

As we stood getting our bearings and deciding how we were going to attack Vegas in such a way as to see as much as possible, when the first raindrops began to fall.

Just a few drops, certainly nothing to prevent us walking the strip.

As we were standing in front of a souvenir shop, I popped in and bought a $3 sun visor to keep the rain off my glasses.

So we set off...

We had gone no more than a block when the sky opened up! Not a torrential downpour mind you, but a good hard Midwest summer rain shower.

Laughing at our luck we dashed into the lobby of some little hotel on the strip, it's name escapes me now.
We decided that we'd flip our plans, and go see the Star Trek Experience first. Let the rain run it's course and then come back and walk the strip, I mean how long could it last? It's Vegas BABY!!!

We called for a cab, and sat down to wait.

As we were waiting we couldn't help but notice how people were acting. Locals would come to the doors, look up at the sky in wonder, shake their heads and walk away with an "end of days" look on their faces.

Finally curiosity got the better of me...

"What's up? You guys act like you've never seen rain before!"

"Not like this!" the counter man said.

"Rains like this about once a week in Michigan." I told him.

"Well take it back to Michigan with you," he said "we're not used to it!"

Took about 40 mins. for our cab to arrive as they had suddenly became VERY busy!

We got to the Hilton and made our way to the Star Trek Experience. This took a couple hours to go through...then drinks at Quark's bar, even got the souvenir glasses from our Romulan Ale! Lol

So, all told about 3 hours since it had started to rain.
What we had no way of knowing was that while we immersed ourselves in intergalactic space travel, a full 4 inches of rain had fallen.

That in itself would be bad enough, but as was later explained to us Las Vegas sits at the bottom of a big rock bowl! Therefore everything that falls in the mountains around Vegas, flows downhill INTO Vegas! Hours after the initial rainfall, the waters continue to raise. This combined with the lack of storm drains meant that flash floods are serious business in Vegas!

The Hilton had sandbags set up at the front doors. At the time this seemed excessive seeing that it set up on a about a 10 foot high raised plateau.

When our cab arrived, our cabbie informed us we were lucky to get a cab. Dispatch had just stopped taking runs and was advising all their cabs to seek high ground!

On our way back to the Rió we couldn't believe how bad the flooding was already! At certain points the water was 3-4 foot deep!!! Our cabbie told us he'd lived in Vegas for 35 yrs. and had NEVER seen anything like this!!!

The Rió Suites Hotel just happened to be high ground, so our cabbie was more than happy to take us there!

Once back in our room we turned on the TV and watched the mayhem unfold, happy to be safe and dry. Paige and Pat had made it back much earlier than us so we were glad they too were safe.

At one point the waters were so high, there was an overpass near the hotel marked 14' 8" with 3 foot concrete barriers along the top. Water was flowing OVER those barriers!!!

We watched transfixed, as the waters overflowed the flood canals. Eroded the banks and sent hapless mobile homes downstream to be torn apart by the fury of the rapids.

We didn't realize we were making National news until Kathy's Boss Bob and his wife Cheryl called us from home. They were watching Princess Bear for us, and were hoping it wouldn't become a full time thing!!! Lol

Clip from the Today show the next day.

  So we remained trapped at our hotel until we headed to the airport the next day! The strip? Shut down, every casino flooded. By luck the airport was completely spared.

And people wonder why we don't travel much! 

You know you have bad luck when the place you visit experiences a "100 year" event as the News called it. We couldn't even say "It was hot, but it was a dry heat!" Lol

Only we could cause it to rain in the desert!!!

Well folks, there you have my final post of 2014.
Number 153!
I started with high hopes of doing a daily blog, over optimistic to be sure as I notice it's been 2 months since my last post. More like every OTHER day...on average.

To those of you that have read these, and maybe shared them with your friends I say a heartfelt "Thank you"!!!

I hope I've made you laugh a time or two, or at least entertained/informed you! 

Be Well Folks, and Best Wishes for 2015!!!

As Always,

Your Beastly Bear

Monday, October 27, 2014

My Day Bodyguarding for Richard Gere...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I find it hard to believe, looking back...that Mamma Bear and I, after marrying in '87 didn't get an "out of town" vacation until 1999.

That year, my wife's cousin Paige asked us if we would "stand up" for her and her fiancé when they got married in Vegas.

VEGAS you say? As in Las Vegas?!?

Hell YES we would!!!

Her Fiancé Pat worked at the same GM plant that I did in Pontiac. We were down the first 2 weeks in July for a model changeover, and they decided that was when we'd go.

We flew in on Tuesday the 6th., and we took a taxi to the Rio Suites Hotel to get our rooms without incident.

That night as a special "thank you" for coming out with them, Pat and Paige took us to see Siegfried & Roy at the Mirage.

It was amazing to say the least, and we were so grateful to see these legendary performers live!

After the show we came back to the Rio, gambled a little, had a few drinks and went to bed. We had a big day the next day as they had the Candlelight Wedding Chapel already booked.

Set across Las Vegas Boulevard from Circus Circus Hotel and Casino and next to the Riviera it was a Vegas landmark! In doing a little internet reconnoitering for this, I discovered that sadly it no longer resides there.

Moved when the land it sat upon was sold in 2007, it made it's way across town to be preserved as part of the Clark County Museum complex. It's sign is now in the Neon Museum alongside other historic landmark signs! 

Celebrities that have married there include Bette Midler, Barry White, Michael Caine, Clayton Moore (the Lone Ranger for those too young to remember), and Richard Gere! Well, almost...

Pat and I met up after breakfast, he in his black suit...looking dapper. Me? I was in a grey pinstriped double-breasted. We took a cab to the chapel while the girls made sure Paige was stunning. 

So we arrived well before they did, but what to do?
Well, when in Vegas...
So we walked next door to the Riviera to get out of the heat. July in Vegas, it was hovering around a 110° F. "But it's a dry heat....."
YEAH RIGHT! Tell that to the 2 Michigan guys in suits!

So we stepped into the casino where it was cool and dark. A light haze of cigarette smoke hung in the air. Though it was early a few die hards were already trying their luck at the one-armed bandits. There was a bar close to the door, and Pat and I walked over and got a couple cokes.

We did not have direct line of sight to the Wedding Chapel's drive so I wandered over by the door so I could see out. As I was standing there, two women approached me...looking "touristy" in "I ♡ Vegas" T-shirts and visors.

Amid much giggling, and looking towards the bar one of them asked me: 

"Are you his bodyguard?" indicating Pat.

This set off another round of giggles.

I must have looked a little confused as I asked "What?"

"Richard Gere," they said pointing to Pat "are you his bodyguard, can we talk to him?!? P-l-e-a-s-e...."

"Um, yeah you can talk to him...but that's not Richard Gere, and I'm not his bodyguard. His name's Pat and he's marrying my wife's cousin in about 15 mins."

They looked crestfallen and asked "You're not lying are you?"

Then I looked, really looked... Damn, I could see it....

Mr. Gere
If ya squint a little, look just right...

I guess he does look a little like Richard Gere...

Lucky Bastard!!!

After assuring them I was NOT in fact lying they moved off in search of other celebrities... 

I walked back over to Pat, chuckling.

"What was that all about?" He asked.

"Evidently, you look like Richard Gere, and I look like your bodyguard..." I told him.

"Gotta be the sunglasses..." Pat said, indicating my gold tone Gargoyles™ with a laugh. I'd been wearing them looking out the door.

We finished our cokes, looked at our watches and started for the door...when we heard:

"Excuse us....can we get a picture???"

We turned around to 2 different ladies, older than the first pair yet similarly attired, readying cameras.

"Sorry ladies...not Richard Gere..." I said.

"Dammit Gloria I told you so!" One said to the other, as they too wandered off.

"Come on Buddy, I better get you out of here before you cause a riot!" I told him as we hit the door.

We walked back over to the chapel and were standing outside waiting as the girl's arrived.

As the cabbie pulled into the drive, Mamma Bear said to Paige:

"There they are...ready?"

"Holy SHIT!" said the cab driver, turning around.

"You're marrying RICHARD GERE?!?"

The stunning couple!

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Friday, October 24, 2014

Take a Chair...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

Remembering my Wife's Grandmother's passing made me think of one of my favorite stories about my Mother's Mother.

My Grandma Helen.

My family comes from the Thumb area of the state of Michigan. By and large farming communities settled by English, German and French Canadians.

Tight knit communities where everybody knew everybody.

My Grandma lived in Lexington, a small coastal community 25 miles north of the larger port city of Port Huron. An hour and a half drive, North and East of where we lived.

Back in the halcyon days of my childhood. When "Race Relations" meant shaking the winner's hand even though you had lost, and the only sex on my mind was the sex of the friendly dog I'd found. (Cause if it was a girl, there might be puppies!)
I used to spend a week every summer with my Grandma Helen.

A robust woman of good German stock, a devout Catholic and hard worker she brooked no insolence from anyone, let alone a young boy. She still wore 50's style house dresses and aprons, well into the 70's. Her dark hair perfectly coiffed in a short neat style, she was a force to be reckoned with! 

Before we went anywhere I was always admonished to behave myself, as how I acted not only reflected upon my parents but on her as well. She loved me fiercely, but misbehaving brought fierce and swift reprisals.
She would not have me sully her good name.
"You'll be gone and I'll still have to live with these people." she'd say.

She was semi retired at the time, but still cleaned houses for a select group of folks older than her, and would take me along.
She also supplemented her income by taking in lodgers to her modest home, just North of town.

One such lodger was a fellow named Paul. Paul was a tall, lanky string bean of a man, who wore his thinning hair with plenty of Brylcreem plastered to his head. He had a large bulbous nose crisscrossed with the broken blood vessels that marked a penchant for alcohol. He had deep set, rheumy eyes that always looked like he'd just finished a good cry, but a ready smile for all.

I remember Paul well as he lodged with my Grandma for several years. Never married he was always present at holiday dinners as he had nowhere else to go, and Grandma wouldn't hear of him being excluded. Much to my Mother's chagrin.

On a couple of occasions during my summers there, Paul would walk me down to the ice cream shop closer to town for a cone.
He in his navy work shirt and pants (which is all I ever remember seeing him in) and me in shorts and a tee shirt! I always wondered why he just didn't burn up it was so hot.

Paul's one failing, according to my Grandmother was his love of "the hooch". While he paid his bills on time and went to work everyday, he drank up every last dollar he made, and that's why he had never been married. It sometimes "made him belligerent" she confided.

The incident happened on a hot July day...
Grandma kept a sizable garden in her back yard, cucumbers and tomatoes, cabbages and carrots, radishes, strawberries and lettuce.

That day we worked in the garden. While Grandma weeded, it was my job to check the plants for and remove, any insects I found.
We had started early but the was a lot of garden to check and it was well after lunchtime when we finished.

We had sandwiches and split a Fresca, and after cleaning up Grandma had me take a nap on the couch in front of a fan.

Afterwards as the sun moved to the West and the back yard became cloaked in the house's shadow, we went back outside. Grandma set up a couple of old style aluminum lawn chairs, one for her and one for Paul when he got home from work. A little folding table held sweating glasses of fresh lemonade. As she read, I occupied myself with my Tonka trucks and plastic army men...

While I'd napped Grandma had started a roasted chicken, boiled potatoes and left them in the pot to be warmed up when Paul got home.

The time Paul should have been home came and went, and as time ticked by Grandma became more and more agitated. When Paul finally showed up, he staggered down the back porch stairs and weaved his way over to my Grandma.

"Just where have you been?" Grandma snapped.

"I had some stops to make..." Paul slurred, then belched.

"You've been warming a stool down at the beer garden again haven't you? You reek of booze!" I was young, but I recognized that tone!

"Aw Helen...Don't be that way..." Paul whined.

"Don't you 'Aw Helen' me! You take a chair before you fall on your drunken face, you can't even stand still!!! I'll get dinner ready. Maybe some food will sober you up." Grandma said pointing to the vacant lawn chair.

Paul puffed himself up, taking obvious umbrage at being called drunk.

"I am not DRUNK!" Raising his voice and his chin in defiance. "And I ain't taking no Goddamn chair!!!" Paul declared...and promptly pissed himself.

Never before and never since did I see a reaction like what happened next!

In the instant it took Paul to realize he'd just pissed his pants, Grandma was up and out of her chair like a shot! She snatched up the lawn chair intended for Paul and swung it like a baseball bat!

The chair caught Paul across the shoulders, rocking him on his feet and folded up giving Grandma a better grip.

"How DARE you!" She yelled at him "Piss yourself in front of my grandson like a common bum!!! Won't take a chair huh?!? I'll give YOU a chair you son of a bitch!!!"

The beating continued. Paul did his best to protect his head and face, and make his way inside the house but in his state of inebriation he was no match for my enraged Grandmother!

"God dammit Helen...quit!" Paul squealed as he stumbled up the stairs, blows raining down on his head and shoulders. This only intensified the attack! Finally the chair came apart and she threw the pieces at his retreating back. They bounced off and clattered against the screen door and house.

She was in the house right behind him...and I was right behind her, I wasn't gonna miss THIS show!

She snagged him by the scruff of the neck and guided him through the laundry room and kitchen and right into the bathroom. He was half a foot taller than her, but I could have swore she had him up on his tip toes! There she shoved him into the tub, clothes and all and turned on the shower...cold water only! 

"I'll not have you leaking piss all through my house! You get out of those clothes and wash yourself, I'll bring you clean clothes..." She fumed at him. "Just leave those in the tub!"

"Yes Helen..." I heard meekly over the running water.

She fetched him clean clothes and set them on the toilet, closed the door and started dinner. Heating up the potatoes then mashing them with a little butter and cream, reheating the chicken and heating up the peas. Muttering to herself the whole while...

The table was already set. It was a much subdued, wet and sober Paul that emerged, about the time the food was hitting the table. A good sized lump on one side of his head.

This time when Grandma told him to "Take a chair..." with a look, he hurriedly complied!

I don't think I ever saw Paul drunk again... 

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Never Say Never...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

As I may have mentioned, I try to NOT be a most of you. I bite my tongue, let things slide, swallow my opinions... all in the name of getting along.

But every now and then you meet one of "those" people. You know the ones, the ones that get under your skin...till you just CAN'T let it slide.

From 1997-2001 I worked at General Motors Plant 6 in Pontiac, MI. building pickup trucks. I worked third shift, 10 pm-6 am and the shift attracted some "different" folks.  Like our buddy James.

For a while I worked on the final line, across from a guy we'll call Keith. Keith was a heavy set, red haired Hispanic guy of about 25 yrs. of age. For the most part an affable guy....for the most part

Keith's Achilles heel, personality wise was his overwhelmingly high opinion of himself. From his perspective, his Associates degree from the local community college made him a God of all human knowledge. This caused him to go on long tirades about whatever the topic of the day was.

Google was in it's infancy, with Yahoo being the search engine of choice for most everyone. Nobody had smart phones...
 Keith, having taken computer classes at the community college...would often turn his tirades against the "Stupid old Men" in Congress that wanted to regulate the Internet.
"They're trying to regulate something they know nothing about!!!
It's just stupid!!! If you're going to have an opinion on something that important, you should really educate yourself about it...otherwise you just sound ignorant!"

Good lord I don't know how many times I heard THAT while working across form him.

While I tried to let these tirades just roll off my back, there were times I just couldn't keep my mouth shut...

So I often poked holes in his faulty logic, pointed out hypocrisies, and corrected him when he said something so flat out WRONG I just couldn't let it go.

Should you disagree with him, his first line of defense was the taunt: "And how many years of college did you go to?"

To which I would answer "It's knowledge Keith, not College that's important here...don't believe me? Look it up on the Internet!"

I always got the feeling that Keith spent his early life as a spoiled, indulged child. He'd never be able to play poker as his every thought was revealed by his face. He had very little ability to reign in his emotions. Light skinned with freckles across the bridge of his nose, his face would go crimson at the slightest bit of anger.

I remember one particular rant that he went on was about the nepotism employed by the Union in getting their kids into the plant. 
I just looked at him...though I knew the story, I asked innocently.

"'d you get hired in here?"

"My Dad's a Skilled Trades Electrician, he got me in...."

"Uh huh..." I said


"Mr. Pot, meet Mr. flash, you're both black!!!"
His face reddened, veins stuck out on his forehead...I thought he was having a stroke.

"It's not the same thing..." he stated.

"Yes it is," I interrupted "it's exactly the same thing. Everybody in here that's been hired in the last five years, is here because they KNOW somebody or a parent works for GM...EVERYBODY!!!"

He snorted his derision of my opinion and stopped talking to me the rest of the day, a common punishment for disagreeing with him....ah, silence.

Things REALLY came to a head one day when he started a gun control rant/argument...a subject with which I am quite well versed.

I'll not bore you with the whole long argument, but when he said to me:
"Nobody needs a semi-automatic to gun to shoot deer, where you shoot 3 bullets every time you pull the trigger!" 

"That's not what that means Keith. What you're describing is the 3-shot burst setting on a full auto machine gun/assault rifle, and nobody hunts with those! What semi-auto means is that when you pull the trigger the gun shoots 1 shot, then the gun reloads itself and is ready to fire again the next time you pull the trigger. But you must pull the trigger every time, 1 pull = 1 shot." I replied calmly.

"You're full of shit," he said face coloring "that's not what I was told..."

I had had enough.

"Look Keith, I don't know who's filling your head with the stupid bullshit you've been spewing for the last 2 hours, but to anyone that knows what they're talking sound like an idiot!
You want to regulate something you know nothing about!!!
Just like those old men that want to regulate your Internet...
And that's just stupid!!! If you're going to have an opinion on something this important, you should really educate yourself about it...otherwise you just sound ignorant!!!" 

Ok, maybe that was a little over the top, throwing his own words back at him...but it felt so right!

His face went from pink to bright red, then he crossed the line.
"Fuck you, you MOTHER Fucker!!! I'm sick of your fucking bullshit..."

"What bullshit is that?" I interrupted calmly "You mean the bullshit where I tell you that you're wrong and uninformed? Seems I have to tell you that a LOT!"

"Fine Mother Fucker! I'll never talk to you EVER AGAIN!!!" he vowed.

"Oh please," I answered "we both know you have neither the willpower nor the maturity to make good on that threat!"

He went from crimson to purple, and I thought his head might just explode as he declared:

"I will NEVER, say another WORD to you, as LONG as I LIVE!"
spittle flying as he enunciated every word!

"Never say never..." I replied.

Next day I figured he'd be over his funk as I greeted him with my typical "Hey Keith!"

I got nothing but the "look of daggers" in return.

"Really?" I said, shrugged and went to work.

After about a week of this...I couldn't help but start pushing his buttons. 

One of Keith's MANY rants was about his hatred of country music. I happen to be a fan. But out of respect for my coworker's feelings, I never played any on my stereo. In my car I had a 90 min. cassette of Marty Robin's "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs", it don't GET more country than that!

So I came in, offered my daily "Hey Keith!" to more daggers...


So I popped my cassette into my stereo and hit "play"!
Keith's face went immediately crimson.

"Hey man, I haven't listened to this in a while...and I kind of miss it. Do you mind?"


"All you have to do is ask me to shut it off and I will..."


"Cool..." I said, and went about my business.

Was it childish? Absolutely!!!
But I was determined to break him and his every day we played out the above scenario! This lasted a month...until Keith put in for a different shift rather than speak a word to me.

This bothered me not in the least, as I got rid of a class "A" jerk in favor of a nice girl from first shift.

A couple months went by and I didn't give Keith another thought.

Then one day as I was walking out of the plant, I looked up and saw Keith walking in...talking to a buddy.

"Hey Keith, How ya Doing?" I asked.

Without missing a beat Keith replied:

"Ok Joe, How are you?"

I leaned in, looked him in the eye smiling and said:

"Told ya!"

Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ricky's great idea...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

This time of year, when the Autumn breezes blow and amber leaves turn cartwheels across my yard, my mind always turns to hunts I've had, and friends I've shared them with!

One of my most boon hunting companions was my friend Ricky Johnson, who long time readers met here, along with his future wife Arlene. She often accompanied us on our misguided adventures as well.

Together we've hunted this State, one end to the other...Upper AND Lower peninsulas. For squirrel, rabbit, pheasant and partridge, deer (both with gun and bow), and bear. One of our FAVORITE destinations was Drummond Island.

Our core group, that went every year to hunt the elusive whitetail deer with our bows. Consisted of Ricky and Arlene, one of the mechanics from work Mark, his lovely wife Gail, and me. Oh sure every year there were satellite friends that tagged along. Sometimes swelling our group to twelve or so, but at the center were the five of us.

Now Ricky is one of those guys that's always looking for "the edge". That one exclusive thing that will get him a bigger, better, more monstrous buck.

One year Ricky had an epiphany!

While buying feed corn to take as bait, he saw a thing called a "Deer Sucker"! Eight inches round, two inches thick and stuck on a stick you could push into the ground. Comprised of oats and grains, a little corn and salt all bound together with molasses and baked hard. The idea being the deer stopped to lick and nibble the sucker, distracting him long enough for a shot.

This got Ricky thinking. He had heard of something called "Sweet Feed" which was oats and barley tossed with molasses and given to horses as a treat....

What if...instead of feed corn, he baited with sweet feed instead?
Surely the deer would go crazy for the stuff! After all,
other perennial favorite baits were apples and sugar beets, sweet would WORK!!!

So instead of feed corn, Ricky bought ten 50 lb. bags of sweet feed figuring he could always buy corn on the island, albeit at a higher price.

We arrived two days before the season was to start, spots were picked out, blinds/treestands set up, and bait piles laid. 

I had never been a fan of bait piles myself, and eschewed Ricky's offer of sweet feed. I thought it was a bad idea...not for the reason it turned out to be, but more because I thought with the dampness of the fall air on our island refuge, the molasses covered grain would congeal together into one large rather solid, lump!

Opening morning came.
I was sharing a cabin with Mark and Gail. As we got our things together to head out I saw Mark slip something into the pocket of his coat.
"What's that?" I asked as I continued to don my own gear.
"Firecrackers and a lighter!" Mark said "In case any bear tries to climb my stand with me, I'll light the firecrackers and toss them at him to scare him away!"

Did I mention that Drummond Island also sports a healthy population of black bears? Though none of us had ever seen one.

That didn't stop Mark from having an absolute phobia of being trapped in a tree by a black bear. I gave Mark a chuckle and shook my head, shared a knowing look with Gail and finished gearing up.

We made our way into the woods in the predawn chill. Frost on the leaves crunching beneath our feet and breath steaming like mini locomotives. Mark and I went left, with Gail following Ricky and Arlene to the right. Mark and I had the more remote hunting spots, with Mark's a half mile farther from the cabins than my own.

Our daily routine was always the same. Stay in your stand until 11am (Unless you'd shot something), then come in for lunch. Maybe a nap, then back to your stand by 3 where you'd stay until it was too dark to see.

Our morning hunt was as uneventful as it was unsuccessful. The girls had seen a couple does with yearlings. Ricky saw nothing though he noted with pride "They tore the hell out of the sweet feed Mongo...told ya!" (Ricky had taken to calling me that after watching a rerun of Blazing Saddles.)
I saw a spike, but he was way to far away for a shot, and Mark saw bupkis!

Lunch was chili in bread bowls, cheese and salami with crackers.

Back out for the evening hunt...with hope in our hearts.

When the sun finally crawled beneath the horizon, and the light washed everything to shades of was time to come in.

I walked out to the nearest road to wait for Mark. After waiting well longer than I should have I decided Mark had probably been successful and headed back in to get help. I turned towards tha cabins and started walking back. As I approached the campground, the lone streetlight for 5 miles showed 3 figures waiting under it.

Ricky, Arlene and Gail were waiting for me, out of their hunting gear.
"Who got lucky?" I asked as I walked up.
"We thought you or Mark did...isn't he with you?" Ricky answered.
"I waited for him...I thought he must have come in already."
"Shit," Rick said rubbing his whiskered face in thought.
"Go dump your shit and we'll drive down to the fire road, we'll walk in and see if we can't find him."
Gail, looking worried said "I'm coming too!"

I offed my gear in short order and we were in the Comanche, driving slow so we didn't miss the fire road. Which was not much more than a 2 track after a couple years of regrowth.

We pulled in and killed the engine. Under the canopy of remaining leaves it was blacker than a tax man's heart. We let our eyes adjust a minute, left the girls in the Jeep and started walking. We wouldn't use our flashlights until we absolutely had to, saving the batteries in case we needed them to track a deer Mark had shot. Mark's stand was about a hundred yards in, around a bend in the road and set back maybe 40 yds.

Ricky and I started pushing our way through the brush when a tenuous voice called out:
" that you?"
"Yeah Mark, it's ok?"
"Oh thank God!!! Thank God you guys came...oh God, oh God" His voice came from some 20 ft. in the air, telling us he was still in his tree stand. From the tone of his voice it sounded like he was barely holding it together.
"Mark, listen to me...we're here. You're going to be OK, are you caught up on something? What's wrong???"
"Bear....there was a bear, I don't know where he went..."
"It's alright Buddy, the sound of our voices will have scared him away...come on down."
"No it won't...I yelled at him, he wouldn't leave..."
"OK, we'll walk in to you...shine our lights as we come, he'll clear off if he's still there." And that's what we did.

Eyes the size of saucers, Mark wouldn't start down until we were at the base of his tree. Between the chill in the air and nerves he had a bit of the shakes, so I took his bow and backpack. When he got to the base of the tree he looked around on the ground for a second before snatching up his lighter and firecrackers. When he saw me looking, he sheepishly admitted "I was shaking so bad I dropped them!"

We got him back to the cabin, a hot meal and warm fireplace made a world of difference...and after a while he offered his tale.

He had just got up in his tree and got settled when he heard footfalls. Thinking I might have forgotten something and was coming to talk to him, he called out. The footsteps stopped for a minute then resumed. The direction he walked in from was the densest part of woods near him and visibility was only about 10 yds. The steps were coming right to his tree.

When he could finally was a mature black bear!
It walked to his tree, sniffed the steps curiously. Then another scent reached him...the scent of molasses!

You see bears are omnivores, they'll eat damn near ANYTHING!
In spring when emerging from hibernation they'll eat tender grass shoots. In the summer, berries and fish and whatever meat they can catch or scavenge, throw in a little wild honey you have a bears diet.

So the bear ambled over to Marks pile of sweet feed, flopped down on his belly and started using both paws to shovel it in!!! When he'd eaten as far as he could reach, he re-positioned and started over!

Not wanting anything to do with this, Mark yelled and waved his arms, whooped at him all to no avail. The bear merely lifted his head, looked at Mark and continued eating. At this point Mark decided to use the firecrackers...but dropped them. 

The bear then curled up and took a nap (full belly and all), leaving Mark stuck up the tree. As the sun started to set the bear woke up, ate some more. Then unceremoniously turned around and took a massive dump right next to the bait pile. To let any and all know who this "candy coated oat goodness" belonged too. Satisfied, he slowly sauntered off, a black bear into the black woods...

With the sun down, and no way of knowing exactly where the bear was, there was NO WAY Mark was coming down until daylight, OR someone showed up to find out what happened to him. The rest we knew...

Mark's adventure proved, come morning each and every bait pile that had sweet feed in it had been visited by a bear, ruining them as deer blinds.

So Ricky's great idea...? Disastrous! We spend the whole rest of the day moving 4 blinds/treestands. On the plus side, Ricky was able to sell his remaining bags of sweet feed to our host (who guided bear hunters) for a profit!!! Lol 

We still did OK, 6 of our 8 hunters scored a deer....freezers filled and lessons learned!

And Mark? He started carrying 2 lighters and 2 packs of firecrackers...just in case!

Be Well Folks, 

Beastly Bear

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Our last Grandparent...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

I know it's been a while, and I apologize! To those of you that faithfully checked for fresh blogs, only to be disappointed, I want to thank you for your diligence and loyalty. 

Time just got away from me, hard to believe it's been well over a month since I've published.

Mama Bear's Grandmother passed away at the end of Sept., just a month away from her 97th. Birthday. Matriarch of my wife's side she's survived by 3 of her 5 children, 10 Grandchildren, 19 Great Grandchildren, and 10 Great, Great Grandchildren.

In the vernacular of her day she was a "Tough old Broad"!
A woman that spoke her mind in a time when such a thing was simply not done. 

I met her 28 years ago, while dating Mama bear. I was invited to Christmas dinner with her Mother's side of the family, at Grandma's house.

When introduced she gave me the slow once over, betraying nothing. I could tell immediately, this was a woman that brooked no nonsense. I was at my most charming, still I didn't feel I was making any points....until dessert.

I had found a recipe for Peaches and cream cheese pie in a magazine while waiting to pick up a load of candy from the Lifesavers plant in Grand Rapids. I had to make a couple changes to use ingredients local grocery stores carried, but whipped one up to try. I've always cooked. From a young age I've been more than able to feed myself...

Well, Grandma had a slice...then another. Finally pronouncing that I would be "expected to bring one every year, or not bother coming."

I knew I was in!

Years went by, Mama Bear and I lived close to Grandma...and while she lived alone my wife would call her almost daily from work to check on her.

One night when Grandma was well into her 70's she called us about 9:30-10:00 at night and asked if we could come over. She said she had fallen and cut herself and thought she might need to go to the hospital, but didn't elaborate.

Needless to say we made it there in record time.

She had told us the door was open and to just come in when we got there.

We walked in and stopped dead.

It looked like a murder scene!
Grandma's living room was cream colored carpeting, white leather furniture, cream drapes and white sheers...and blood, LOTS of blood!!!

There was a quasi modern white leather glider and footstool to the left as you came into the room, a rather large pool of blood before it. Bloody hand prints on the footstool and couch where she had levered herself up. The white princess style corded phone had a perfect bloody hand-print from where she had called us. A blood trail led across the carpet from the phone towards the kitchen, smears on the linoleum where she had stepped in, and slid on it.

We called out to her, and she said "In the kitchen..."
As we made our way, avoiding the blood and rounded the corner there she stood, bent over the sink bloody towel held to the rear of her head. The kitchen looked little better as she had smeared blood on the counter-tops, on the drawer handles, and bloody hand-prints on the refrigerator.  

She explained that she had gotten up too quickly from her glider/rocker, gotten dizzy and went over backwards striking her head on the metal frame of the glider. She had laid there a minute disoriented, then touched the back of her head which had been bloody. Once she got turned over and saw how profusely she was bleeding she called us, got herself up and into the kitchen where she grabbed a towel and filled it with ice and applied it to her scalp while leaning over the sink to try and slow the bleeding.

We got another towel and got her to sit down so I could take a look at the wound. She had a good 11/2" gash that gaped open and was still leaking at a pretty good rate. I took the new towel, putting pressure on the wound I was almost able to get it to stop bleeding after a few minutes.
"Yep need stitches." I told her.
"Well CRAP!" she replied.
"Come on, we'll take you..."
She got up and started for her bedroom...
"Grandma where are you going?" I asked
"I'm going to change my clothes!" She was wearing a shirt and sweater.
"Grandma, pulling the sweater off over your head might get it bleeding harder again, I think we should just go in what you're wearing..."
She looked about to argue with me so I added.
"Besides, once they see all that blood, you'll go right to the front of the line."
She "Harrumphed" at me but didn't complain.

Once we walked into the Emergency room, just as I predicted orderlies scampered to get her a wheelchair, they rushed her through the triage, and put her in a room to await a Doctor.
When the Doctor came in, he took one look at Grandma and said 
"Oh My, what happened here?"
"This ONE," Grandma replied jerking a thumb in my direction.
"wouldn't let me change!!!"
"No, no...I meant how did you hurt yourself? You DID hurt yourself didn't you?" Giving her a significant look.
"Oh, " she said waving his concern away "Stood up, got dizzy, fell down...called my Granddaughter and her husband...who wouldn't let me change, and they brought me here."
"Well, it got you to the front of the line..." He told her.
She just glared at me, daring an "I told you so..."

Wisely, I declined....
R.I.P. Grandma
You are loved and missed.

Be Well Folks,

Beastly Bear

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Designer Dogs...?

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi folks!

I must be getting old...that's gotta be it!
Why do I say that you ask?

Because more and more I find the things people do, and say, and the fads they cling to....well, silly!

I was talking with a friend at work the other day, a fellow not savvy to the ways of the Internet. He told me his girlfriend's Birthday was coming up and she wanted a "Yorkiepoo, it's one of those designer dogs!" and would I help him find a breeder.

A Breeder?!? For Yorkiepoos???

So like a good buddy I looked online....and there are TONS of them! When did this happen?!?

In my day we didn't call these designer dogs...we called them mutts, or mixed breed, or Heinz 57, most often "Whoops"!!!

Not Puggles, or Labradoodles, Yorkiepoos or Goldendoodles!! MUTTS!!!

We HAD designer dogs...every AKC/UKC breed there IS, is a designer dog!!! That is why we have such diversity, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes!!! Because someone DESIGNED them that way...

Just silly!

The first time I ever heard one of these terms bandied about was from a Vet, some 33 yrs. ago!

My sister had rescued a puppy, more fluff than dog really. She and a friend had found it wandering near a lake, in obvious distress. 

She brought the puppy into my work at the Sporting Goods store, as the pup was tangled in fishing line and had a fish hook through it's lip. Not even having the okay to keep it, she brought it to me to remove the line and hook. Veterinarians cost money!

While she held it, I was able to snip the barb from the hook so it would slide out and a few scissor snips took care of the line.

Once she had it home and bathed, and had my mother talked in to letting her keep it, a Vet visit was in store. To have our families newest addition checked out!

After a thorough exam and all her shots my sister asked what breed the Vet thought it might be.

After looking the pup over again he said:
"Well, definitely poodle and something else...if I had to guess I'd say Schnauzer, I guess you could say she's a Snoodle!" He said with a chuckle.

My sister named her Heidi.

Heidi grew into a small/medium furball...vaguely poodlesque. She attached herself to our Mom as my sister had just started to drive, and once she had that freedom she was g-o-n-e! 

Both my sisters were married and out of the house, long before me...and when they left, their pets stayed.

One particular day I'd come home from a long, hot day at work. Fixed myself a cocktail of Black Velvet whiskey and Canada Dry ginger ale, with a splash of Rose's lime juice. Grabbed the newspaper (yes boys and girls, before the Internet that's how we got our news) and settled in to read.

Mom told me she had ordered a pizza for dinner, and would I mind going to get it. Hell no I didn't was PIZZA!

So I set my drink on the floor next to the chair and ran up to get the pizza. The pizzeria was close so I wasn't gone that long. When I got back, I set the pizza on the table and went to get my drink. 

As I turned the corner I saw my glass laying on it's side..."Dammit," I thought "I must have knocked it over when I left." So I went to clean up the mess I'd made, I grabbed some paper towel as I was sure the carpet was soaked. I'd only taken a couple drinks out of a 30 oz. tumbler.

So I picked up my glass and ice cubes, and applied the paper towel....

How could that be???

About that time Heidi staggered into the room...looked at my glass and licked her wouldn't have...would she?

"Come here Heidi." I called patting my leg.

Heidi slowly walked/staggered usual she jumped up and put her front legs on my thigh so I could rub her neck/head. She smelled of whiskey.

She would put her head back into my palm, relishing the attention...except this time when she put her head back she kept going...right over backwards!!!

She laid there for a moment, sprawled flat on her back, wondering what in the hell just happened I'm sure...before rolling over and standing up again, swaying.
I couldn't help it, I started to laugh...

Heidi threw a "look" over her shoulder as she walked away, even cross species it said: "ASSHOLE!"

Indignantly she started to stomp off and go up stairs...except she couldn't. Oh, she tried mind you...but in her state of inebriation she just couldn't get her legs to cooperate! 

First she tried her left leg...couldn't quite get it up on the first step.
Then she tried her right, again a "no go", finally she curled up in front of the steps...heaved a heavy sigh...and fell fast asleep.

She slept there, uninterrupted for a good 4-5 hours...occasionally snoring, waking herself up to re-position and she was out again. 

The next day I again found myself having a drink and reading the paper, when Heidi sauntered in to see if possibly I had something to eat.

"Hey Heidi, How ya feeling girl?" Yes I talk to animals like sue me! 

I figured she must have been rockin' a MASSIVE hangover! Those 4-5 ounces of whiskey was more like drinking a fifth when you weigh 35 lbs.

She walked over and I held my drink down to see if she wanted some, you know "A little hair of the dog that bit ya!" Lol

Intrigued, she took a sniff...backed up about three feet...and gave me the "ASSHOLE!" look again....
and said "Ruff!!!"
Which I interpreted as not just "no", but "Fuck no!"

Funny how it took the dog just one time....and many of us are still learning! Lol


Be Well Folks!

Beastly Bear

Monday, August 18, 2014

Karma can be a cruel mistress...

Den of the Beastly Bear

Hi Folks!

The other day I was having a discussion with some friends on the vagaries of that most fickle of mistresses, Karma.

Most often when we feel a wrong has been done us, we cry out to her for satisfaction...though she seldom seems to hear.

Oft times her machinations are far too subtle for us mere mortals to comprehend...but oh there are times!

I've told you all of my after school job at the Sporting goods store, that became my full time employment once I graduated.

I learned many thing in those early formative years...and one was taught to me by a fellow employee named "Zac".

I will again remind you all that "Zac" was not his real name, and in these stories true names are seldom used.

Zac, was a ladies man...that's all I can say!  He was a good 5 years my senior, taking college classes and working at the store for spending cash. Tall and blonde, blue eyed and handsome...he had that kind of "surfer dude" vibe; tan and active, outdoorsy and healthy. The girls loved him.

For his part, Zac loved them back...a "player" before the term was common!

One November day a young woman came in, she caught my eye as she walked over to the gun counter. Tall and lean, dressed in jeans tucked into brown knee high boots, a soft cowl necked white sweater with a knee length coat belted over it. She looked like she stepped out of the pages of Vogue. Long blonde hair and big blue eyes, a small nose and lush full lips! She walked in that way that women should...

As fate would have it I was tied up with another customer, when she pinged on Zac's Hottie radar! While I was busy, I was not too busy to surreptitiously listen in... 

"Well Hello," said Zac "What can I help you with today?" favoring her with that megawatt smile of his.

"I'm looking for a gift for my husband." she replied, I saw disappointment flash across Zac's face but he soldiered on.

"Alright," he allowed "what are you looking for?"

"My husband was talking to one of his friends and I heard him say that he wanted a new deer rifle...a Winchester I think it was...and two numbers, like 20/20. Does that make any sense to you?"

Zac gave a little chuckle and told her "It sure does...I think what he was talking about was a Winchester Model 94, in 30/30 win., I have one right here..." He took the rifle off the rack, checked that it was empty and held it out to her.

"Oh, no thank you," she said waving a gloved hand "I wouldn't know what I'd be looking for..." I had noticed her brown leather gloves and handbag both matched her boots...this woman was put to-geth-er.
"I'll take your word for it...that that's the much is it?"

"$189.00..." Zac told her.

"Wow, I didn't think they were that much...." she said, looking concerned. (that was a sum in the early 80's)

"We have a lay away plan," Zac explained "10% down and as long as you keep paying on it, you can have it in layaway."

"Let's do that then...but I'll need it by Christmas." She smiled...and oh what a smile!!!

Zac wrote up the paperwork, walked her up to the cash register...waited while she paid, shook her gloved hand before she left then strutted back to the gun counter wearing a Cheshire cat grin.

"Her name is Sarah, and I got her phone number!" he crowed to us once the other customers moved on.

"No you didn't," I ribbed him "you only got it for the layaway form! Besides, she's married...buying a gun for her husband, remember?"

"Doesn't matter how I got it..." He replied, holding the paper like Charlie's Golden ticket. "being married doesn't bother me, just means she won't want a commitment!"

We all laughed at him, called him a dog....and forgot about it.

Next week mid-day she was in again, asked for Zac by name to make her layaway payment. Any of us could have done it, but she asked for him.

Zac was his flirtatious self...and asked her if she'd had her lunch yet? When she said she had not, he told her he was about to go on break and maybe they could grab something together.

Against my belief, she said "Sure"! I was did he do it?

Every week the pattern repeated, right up to the week of Christmas when she made her final payment and took her gift home.

"Well buddy," I told him, putting a hand on his shoulder "Guess that's the end of that...huh?"

He heaved a mighty sigh..."We'll see...."

When you work retail, the 2 weeks prior and the 2 weeks after Christmas are your busiest time of year. As the new year get's into full swing...things slow down...a lot! In sporting goods, sure there are a few intrepid souls ice fishing...but until spring Baseball and regular fishing, we were dead. 

So when Miss Sarah reappeared, we all noticed...

She no longer came in once a week, her visits were far fewer...but whenever she appeared Zac would ask to take an hour lunch. We were dead, so the boss didn't care!

I asked him on a couple of occasions just what was going on, he'd laugh and tell me not to worry about it....

This went on for a few months.

Until one bright spring day not long before Easter. Sarah appeared again, dressed to kill in skirt and heels...and as usual her and Zac were off to lunch.

One hour passed, then another half...2 Zac!
Mind you this was a time before cell phones or pagers or GPS, he just didn't come back, and we had no way to contact him.

The manager, having a fit...allowed that Zac would have a lot of explaining to do when he showed up again...if he didn't fire him on the spot.

About 4 hours after Zac had left for lunch 2 Oakland County Sheriff's Deputys came into the store and asked for the manager.

When my manager had introduced himself, the Deputy's explained the reason for their visit.

It seems Miss Sarah's husband had come home unexpectedly in the middle of the day. Upset to find her, in his bed with someone other than himself, he availed himself of a gun and shot the fellow in the ass...that fellow being our employee Zac!

"Oh My GOD!!!" replied my boss "What was he shot with?"

The Deputy consulted his notes "A 30/30 Winchester rifle....a Christmas gift from his wife."

Ah can be so cruel.

Zac survived, albeit with a bit of a hitch in his giddy up for a while...
He never returned to the store, and I never saw him again. He wouldn't let the police tell us what hospital he was in and said he would refuse all visitors. What happened to the husband, or Miss Sarah for that matter I never did learn.

But what I did learn: Never date a woman that buys her husband guns!!! 

Be Well Folks!!!

Beastly Bear