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VOLUMES 161 & 162 -------- NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

January 4, 2016

Well, we had another birthday here at the ranch.  Ann caught up with me at 73 on October 30th.  I have heard about being 40 days her senior for all these many years now and it doesn't promise to change anytime soon.  My standard rebuttal has always been, "Yes, but if you were born one day later, you'd 'a been a witch."

Hectic times around here and a change from Ann's past birthday celebrations was in order.  At least it turned out that way.  The celebrating began on the actual birthday with Ann and I going to the Elks Lodge for Chili and cornbread.  Afterward we came home to Klondike Bars and candles courtesy of Rick.

Who needs a birthday cake when you have Klondike Bars?

A Macy's gift card is always a good deal.

Now here's the explanation for no dinner out with cake and all the trimmings:  Rick had obtained tickets for the October 31st football game at Washington State's Martin Stadium
against Stanford.  Since neither Ann nor I had ever attended a college football game, that became the birthday celebration.  As most of you know, granddaughter Jennifer is a sophomore at WSU, so look out here we come.

The day was cloudy, windy, and rainy as we left the ranch, and the weather did not improve!  We arrived at Jennifer's and Roanna's apartment with BBQ ribs and potato salad in hand for a hasty dinner before the game.  Jennifer drove us all to the parking lot nearest the stadium for which she had a permit; much closer than walking from the apartment.  Still nearly 327 miles to our entry gate.

Martin Stadium at Washington State University.  WSU vs Stanford, October 31, 2015.

Fortunately, the temperature remained moderate, so the constant rain only drowned us, rather than freezing us to death as well!  We all wore our long underwear and had some sort of rain garment.  Ann's and mine consisted of some emergency ponchos that we keep with our Hunter Education gear in case of unexpected rain at our range days.

I guess Rick thinks his Mother looks funny?

Okay, so I look funny too.

Jennifer and her roommate Roanna Nam joined us from the student section at halftime.

The football game could have ended on a better note.  Stanford was favored to win big, but WSU more than held their own for most of the game, leading for much of it.  The end came with WSU's kicker missing what would have been a winning field goal in the final seconds, giving Stanford the W!

Very late night getting home for us older folks but a great way to celebrate Ann's birthday!

I spoke a bit about our annual deer season opener in the last newsletter and sighting in the rifles we planned to use.  Turned out that Ann was the only one to fire a gun.

I misspoke last time about Ann's shot at a big buck last year.  That actually occurred two years ago in 2013.  In fact 2014 and 2015 found us with a dearth of mature bucks here around the ranch.  In 2014 none of us even fired a gun because we saw nothing we wanted to burn a buck tag on.  Of course we kept hoping until last light of the last day when, with a tick of the clock, it became too late to even shoot a spike to replenish our sausage supply.

On October 17th Little Heifer put the Savage Lady Hunter to work.  You may recall my discussion last time about shortening the stock and re-setting the scope with extension rings so the gun actually fit her much better.  After the complete miss on the buck two years ago, I think Ann was a little soured on the rifle and her confidence with it.  The new fit and a shot or two off a tripod rest, I believe eased those concerns.

The opportunity on a young buck with a modest set of eight point mainframe antlers came just before noon.  I was at a Doctor's appointment so didn't get to witness the event.  The buck appeared at the hay pile north of the house and Ann stepped out to the tripod, previously placed for a good line of sight to the area.  After what Ann described as an eternal wait for the deer to turn sideways for a classic 'boiler room shot', which he never did, one shot through the neck did the trick.  He fell in his tracks and never moved!  The Savage .308 was fueled by Winchester ammo propelling a 150 grain 'power point' bullet.

Ann and her 2015 Buck.

I already said that I wasn't there, so how do I know what happened?  We had three trail cameras out all season to record what was coming in to our feed piles at all hours of the day and night.  (Yes, baiting for deer in Washington is still legal at this writing.)  One camera was busily taking photos as this drama unfolded.  Unfortunately, the day was chilly and damp, so the camera lens was fogged a little for some of the photos.  Anyway, we have a visual record of the events as they happened, from standing, to down, to checking for demise, to loading in the Kubota's loader bucket.

Last picture before the shot.

Buck down!

Poke the eye with a stick to make sure it's dead, just like we teach in Hunter Education class.

Notch and attach the transport tag.

Help has arrived!

Now into the loader for transport to the shop floor.

Since I was gone and Rick was at his house on a vacation day, he got a "Please help your Mother" call.  I arrived just as the first cut was being made on the carcass on the shop floor!

"Let me change my clothes, and I'll be right out." I said.

Changing clothes takes a while!  I returned to the shop just as the guts were being rolled out onto the concrete!  But, I really did help!  A gambrel and the electric hoist soon had the animal up into skinning position, and that was quickly accomplished with two knives working.

One might ask, "Why didn't Little Heifer just field dress the deer herself?"

We have an understanding about that.  She shoots 'em!  Nuff said!

As indicated, we had three trail cameras out and also two feed piles that I replenished at least once a day.  During the month or so that this went on, some of the does, fawns, and small spikes or forkies were my close companions most every day.  I came to recognize some of them by their unique size, antlers, or other characteristics.  I think I may have mentioned last year that a frequent visitor to the feed sites was a doe with a longer than normal face and eyes that were much closer together than other deer.  She was back this year.  Since we have never seen her with a fawn, we speculate that she's so damn ugly that the bucks won't breed her!

In the several hundred pictures of deer, 'coons, and turkeys, there was never a photo of what I would describe as a genuine trophy buck.  There were maybe three or four separate eight point bucks that we could positively identify in addition to the one Ann killed.  Yet, only a few miles away, in identical habitat, some of my fellow Hunter Education Instructors killed huge bucks in their backyards!  Even after all the scientific studies of the species, much of whitetail deer behavior remains a mystery.

Speaking of scientific studies, I did read a couple of magazine articles earlier this year that poked some holes in what I have always thought of as settled science.  The dominate, mature bucks do most the the breeding during the rut by intimidating away their lesser rivals, right?  Not necessarily so, says the latest research.

With the advances in DNA technology and GPS tracking, scientists have determined that much, if not most of the breeding is done by lesser bucks, including spikes, forkies, and even in some cases, button bucks.  Again, so much for knowing what we thought we knew.

About a year ago, I was writing about trading off our 2007 Cadillac DTS for a 2014 Cadillac XTS from a dealer in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.  The XTS was smaller but touted as being both a luxury sedan and a sports car.  I suppose one could say that, but it was clear that there were a number of mental compromises necessary to make that assertion a reality.  Despite those compromises, the car had all the electronic bells and whistles of the day, was a great road car, had power to spare, and was a very comfortable highway ride.

Unfortunately, during the course of a year, the dealership could never get all the electronic brains working as they should.  We were never left stranded, nor faced any emergency roadside service, but error messages about the suspension system and automatic leveling feature kept showing up on the information panel.  How frustrating to be told that the error codes were indeed imprinted in the computer systems, but they could find nothing wrong.

After nearly a year of numerous visits to the shop and multiple software updates, we were told that this XTS was one of three in the world that had similar issues.  The other two were supposedly, "Somewhere in the Middle East."  "The latest new 'software' should solve the problems," we were told.

That lasted about two weeks!  Finally, I guess I'd bitched enough that the General Motors Regional Rep told us that they would "Buy it back" through their 'repurchase program'.  Now what have we gotten ourselves into?

For background, Idaho has no 'Lemon Law' regarding new car purchases so even if the typical legal conditions of such laws are met, there may be no straightforward legal remedy in that state.  Washington, on the other hand, does have a 'Lemon Law', which in it's simplest terms may entitle one to a prorated refund of the purchase price based upon the miles driven as a percentage of 100,000 miles.  i.e. If you have 20,000 miles on the vehicle, you would get back 80% of the purchase price.  In most instances, the car company will attempt to make you a deal where they take back the car and sell you another vehicle at a steeply discounted price.  That is exactly what happened with a 'Lemon' Ford Escort Ann bought in Washington many years ago.  She ended up swapping out for a Ford Explorer, which turned out to be a fine and dependable vehicle

Turns out that I can say that General Motors treated us quite fairly!  In fact, were it not for the hassles, all the trips to the dealer's shop, and all the 'pain in the ass' experiences, I'd let them do this every year!  (Just Kidding!)

Here's what happened:  We had to gather a multitude of documents pertaining to the original purchase, license information, financing information, payment history, etc and supply this to the repurchase center.  Next, they came forward with an offer to buy us out.  The offer included reimbursement for the full purchase price of the car, sales taxes, licenses and fees, all finance charges, and document fees.  They then used some sort of formula to determine a deduction for 'usage of the vehicle'.  This was calculated at $2,000.  Since the car had nearly 20,000 miles on it, I looked at it as a 'lease' for one year at about 10 per mile.  I'd take that kind of lease any day!

I won't go into all the gory details, but an attempt to tie the purchase of a 2016 GMC Yukon Denali into the Cadillac buyout didn't work out because the dealer with the Denali wouldn't agree to let it go under those terms.  So, after accepting the cash buyout on the Cadillac, we simply went to Becker Buick GMC in Spokane on Novermber 28th and made a deal to buy the Crimson Red Denali we had been looking at.

I'll try and remember to tell you about and show pictures of the Yukon in the next newsletter.  With our crappy weather in recent weeks there probably isn't a clean automobile in Spokane County so any photo at this point would mostly show the road grime rather than the car.

Speaking of weather; November and December 2015 will go down in history!  On November 17th we had a storm with some of the highest wind gusts ever recorded in this area.  Century plus old giant pine and fir trees were uprooted or snapped off, along with many of their smaller brethren.  This devastated the electrical power grid infrastructure and resulted in power outages for many thousands of homes and businesses.  When an entity such as the Spokane Valley Mall closes for lack of power just weeks before Christmas, you know it was bad!

We had no infrastructure damage in our immediate area as Inland Power Company had put our power lines below ground several years ago.  In our forested area, the under ground lines have saved us from the outages we experienced on a regular basis when we first moved here.  Underground power didn't save us this time!  The main transmission lines were basically destroyed in a widespread area around Eastern Washington.

We were without power for four days and felt extremely lucky.  Many others in the area were out much longer.  Even when electrical power was restored, the telephone and cable TV lines were still down for several weeks in some cases.  We were also much more fortunate with respect to property damage than many others in our area.  We did lose several trees but the only real damage was the smashed left fender on our flatbed trailer.  Elsewhere, people lost cars, roofs, and in some cases had their homes destroyed almost beyond repair!

We do have a 6500 watt generator that runs most of our necessities when we are without power.  We can't use the electric stove or ovens, but can cook on the gas grills outside.  Other than that, the generator runs the well pump, water heater, furnace, refrigerators, freezer, coffee pot, a few strategic lights, and satellite TV.  What more could one want?  Downside, we were burning $25 to $30 in gas each day!

After power was restored the evening of November 20th, we began the chore of gathering up gas cans and extension cords and moved the generator back to its corner in the shop building.  Bad move, as we had to get everything back out on December 20th!

After little or no snow over the past two winters, Mother Nature decided to dump on us.  Official totals at the Spokane Airport were somewhat less, but here at the ranch we received well over two feet of snow in a matter of a few days.  Ann's shovel and the Kubota tractor kept our decks, patio, and driveway clear while neighbor Larry kept our communal access road plowed.

Real pretty ain't it?

It ain't so pretty when you have to move it off the driveway.

Unfortunately, the heavy, wet snow began bringing down trees and limbs onto the power grid.  The snow was so heavy on some power lines that they simply snapped.  Some of the area power companies even hired helicopters to fly over the transmission lines to blow the snow and ice from the wires and surrounding trees.

Back out with the generator and more trips to the gas station to fill cans!

December 20th, 21st, and 22nd found us without power intermittently, which was almost more frustrating than staying out.  Then, early on the 23rd we were out again and weren't blessed with power until 8:15 PM on Christmas Eve.

Rick and Jennifer were here on Christmas Eve for our traditional family supper and gift exchange.  Traditionally we would have eaten Ann's famous Chicken Bisque, but with no kitchen stove, our supper consisted of chili dogs prepared on the gas grill.  Ann's Chicken Bisque recipe was developed over several years of trial and error attempting to duplicate the super secret bisque recipe from Curley's Broiler, a restaurant in Missoula, Montana.  She now has it captured, and some of us think it is even better than Curley's!

Our family gift exchange concluded just about the time the power came back on and, except for a few flickers, we have been up and running since.

The generator even powers the Christmas tree Lights.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Grandma's hand tied comforter from Jennifer.

Rick and Jennifer with some of their loot.

Grandpa's comforter.  Camo on one side, Hunter Orange on the other.

After gift opening wreckage.

Rick and Jennifer returned in the evening on Christmas day when we had a baked ham dinner, courtesy of being able to use the stove and ovens again!  Another tradition we have observed over the past several years, is bringing some of our morel mushroom stash out of the freezer for Christmas day.  Last spring presented a bumper crop of these wild delicacies and Rick and Ann harvested dozens of them.

The morels are dipped in flour and fried in oil when freshly picked.  They are then frozen and retrieved for our special occasions.  Heating and crisping in the oven makes them just as delicious as fresh.

New Year's Eve found Ann and I at the Elks Lodge for the annual New York New Year's Eve party.  Most of our lodge members, including us, are getting up in years, so we welcome in the new year with the New York City folks.  That way we can be home in bed at a decent hour!

New Year's Day brought another traditional meal at our house with Rick and Jennifer.  Prime Rib on the Holland Grill was prepared by yours truly, and filled our tummies to the brim!  (Again.)  No wonder a few pounds are usually added during the Christmas holidays!

Another happening that holds significance for us, is the annual memorial service at the Elks Lodge on the first Sunday in December.  Ann and I were asked to chair the event, which basically meant having the candelabra and candles ready to go for the Officers' ceremony.  This year we honored ten of our absent members.  After the ceremony, cake and beverages were shared by those gathered.

Candles lighted for our Lodge members who passed on in the last year.

The cake shared in memory of our 'Absent Members.

My media credentials have again been approved for the annual SHOT SHOW in Las Vegas.
  Ann and I will be making the road trip beginning January 13 or 14, where I'll again be attending this National Shooting Sports Foundation's annual event.

NSSF, based in Newtown, Connecticut, is the trade association for the firearms industry.  The Foundation's more than 10,000 members are made up of manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers.

The SHOT SHOW is: (quoting from shotshow.org)

"The largest trade show of its kind in the world and the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show features more than 1,600 exhibitors filling booth space covering 630,000 net square feet. The show, which is a trade-only event, attracts more than 65,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries."

The show begins on January 19th and runs through the 22nd, with check in for Media members January 17 and 18.  As he did last year, Rick will be around the place daily while we're gone to make sure all is well here at the ranch.

Before we head for Las Vegas, I will set up a page on jimparman.com dedicated to coverage of SHOT SHOW 2016.  Don't expect any Facebook, Instagram, or any of that Tweet, Trill, Tinkle, Twiddle, or Twaddle, (whatever) stuff.  However, I will try to post updates to the web page most every day.  Visit often to see at least a small part of what's going on in the industry.  I've a number of things that I want to check out, and hope you will find some of it interesting as well.

This month's hillbilly wisdom is a quote from hockey great, Wayne Gretzky:

"You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take."

Well, it's time to shut down here, so. . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!

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