All posts by Rob Darnell

Jefferson City @ St. Joseph Academy

I feel like I’m entering an unfamiliar territory with this post, but I want to give it try. I’d like to get in some more blog entries about sports and about games I watched. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have any particular loyalty to either of the teams in a game.

I was on ESPN3.com to see if The Big Ten Championship football game was listed, because Michigan State is in this game. I have to be honest. Although the Wolverines are my all time favorite college team, the Spartans are my second favorite. When the Spartans are in the championship game, that’s a game I want to watch.

But, no luck. The Big Ten Championship game was not listed on ESPN3.com, so I decided to watch something else. There were quite a few games to choose, most of them NCAA football and basketball games. But I wanted to watch something a little different and selected a girls high school basketball game that was listed.

That game was Jefferson City at St. Joseph Academy. I don’t think it was a live game, but I’m pretty sure it was recent, probably yesterday or the day before. I don’t even know what state these two schools are in. But all that’s cool. It was just a pure basketball game where everyone plays fair.

I came in late. They were in the third quarter. The scores were close, in the high-twenties. I think St. Joseph Academy was leading by two points when I first got the game on. Since I didn’t have a dog in the fight, I was rooting for whoever had the ball at the moment.

I thought both teams played very well. I was impressed with some of the moves the players made. I could never play basketball very well. I had a brief stint on Michigan School for the Deaf’s basketball team during my sophomore year, but I was just embarrassing. I just never had talent for basketball, but I do enjoy watching a good basketball game.

The young women playing for Jefferson City and St. Joseph Academy were talented players.  They played a good game, a game worth watching.

At some point Jefferson City pulled ahead and continued to secure their lead. But St. Joseph Academy kept playing until the clock ran out. The final score was Jefferson City 47 and St. Joseph Academy 34.

The Missing (2003)

51AoX0fT7zL__SY445_The Missing. Yeah, an impressive movie. If you haven’t seen it, it’s one I recommend. It stars Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett.

Set in New Mexico, 1885. Blanchett plays Maggie , a doctor, rancher and mother. Tommy Lee Jones plays Maggie’s father, Samuel.

Samuel had run off when Maggie was young and Maggie does not wish to reconnect with him. But he turns up at her home because he needs a doctor. Maggie tends to him, and then runs him off her land.

Later, Brake, the man Maggie loves (I don’t think they were married) and her two daughters, Lilly and Dot, leave for the fair. Maggie stays home, until she sees one of the ranch’s horses that Brake and her daughters had taken with them. The horse is riderless and appears to be frightened.

Maggie figures out that something had happened to Brake and her daughters. She rides off to find them. She arrives at the place where they had camped and finds Brake dead. And then she sees Dot who had hidden. Dot informs Maggie that men had taken Lilly.

Maggie sets off to find Lilly, enlisting the help of Samuel. Along the way they encounter Chiricahua Apaches who Samuel had lived with and who agree to help rescue Lilly and other girls who were taken.

I first watched this movie a couple years ago. A few weeks ago, I watched it again with my friend Kathy who is a citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma and has ancestors from various tribes. She’s very involved in Native American culture, i.e., she knows stuff. Her dad is a famed Native artist who once served as chief of his tribe. So, I think she knows what she’s talking about.

Kathy felt that the people who made this movie did a very good job in holding true to Native culture and beliefs. I guess there are a lot of movies that did not get it right, but this one did.

Hats off to Ron Howard and everyone involved in the making of this movie.

My First Deer

Image1Well, this entry is a week late. During firearm season, I tend to fall behind on chores, writing projects, blogging and reading. But here’s the gist. On November 24, seven days ago, I went from being a hunter who never harvested anything to a hunter who harvested one deer.

Let’s see…. When I was younger, I hunted irregularly. I was thirteen the first time I hunted. My dad, brother Fred and I went Up North with our cousins Greg, Paul and Dean to hunt on Greg’s property deep in the woods. We camped for about a week and hunted turkey. No one saw any turkey, but that hunt is still one of my best memories.

After that, I’d hunt on the property I grew up on maybe once every few years. But I wasn’t really into it. I didn’t really apply myself. I’d go out only once or twice a season and sit for maybe an hour, get bored, pack it up and come in. Oh, and of course, I didn’t see any deer.

About five or six years ago, I started hunting for real. I’d go out to hunt as often as I could and sit for hours. The first couple years, I didn’t see anything. Nothing at all. But the last few years I’d see one or two deer per season. But they were always doe and I didn’t have an antlerless license.

Well, this year was different. Maybe it had something to with me deciding to replace the metal  folding chair that had always been in my shack with a plastic patio chair. The metal chair would often squeak when I shifted my weight. The plastic chair is silent no matter how I move.

I started seeing deer only a few days  after I switched to the plastic chair. The first deer I saw this year was a doe. Since I got an antlerless license this year, I was going to shoot it, figuring it was the only deer I would see this year. But I so stupidly had my gun leaning against the wall instead of my leg where I usually have it leaning. When I picked the gun up, the barrel scraped on the wall.

At the sound of the gun scraping on the wall, the deer lifted her head and stared up at my shack. I froze and prayed she would go back to eating the corn on the ground. She didn’t. She turned away and walked toward the trees. But then she turned around and started back to the corn.

That was when I pointed my gun at her. But before I was comfortable with my aim, she started running.

I was pretty disappointed. I finally saw a deer and I spooked it. I didn’t think I’d see anymore deer this year, but two days later there were two deer in front of me. Both were doe. This time I had my gun resting on my leg instead of leaning against the wall. I watched the two deer for about ten minutes. I waited until one of them turned so that its side was facing me.

I silently picked up my gun, aimed at the spot above the deer’s front leg and fired. I guess I missed because both deer ran off and I couldn’t find a blood trail. There was snow on the ground, so finding blood should have been easy. I must’ve jerked the gun upward a little as I pulled the trigger and missed the deer by a few inches.

So, shit, I had two chances to harvest a deer and I blew it both times. I thought I definitely wouldn’t be seeing anymore deer after that.

But the very next day, I’d been in my shack for less than an hour when a doe came down the path toward me. The doe was skinny, so I decided not to shoot and let her eat all she wanted.

She ate for about ten minutes, and then peacefully walked off like there was nothing to worry about. About ten minutes later two more deer walked to the corn. And then there was a third deer, and then a forth. They were all eating right there in front of me. Whenever one deer finished eating and walked away, another deer would come out of the trees and take its place.

I watched them. Some of them were bigger than others. I wanted to take a big one, but there were some factors that prevented me from having a clean shot. They would not turn their sides to me, or there was a smaller deer in front of them that I didn’t want to accidentally shoot, or they just wouldn’t stand still.

I think it was fifteen to twenty different deer that rotated in and out of the woods. I had up to six of them in front of me at one time. Finally they all finished eating and walked off. I was disappointed that I didn’t get a shot at any of them.

About twenty minutes later two more deer came out of the trees and approached the corn. That’s the two deer in the picture above, which the trail camera took. I wanted the deer on the right because it looked a little fatter, but the deer on the left kicked it away from the food and I didn’t have a clean shot. So, as soon as the deer on the left turned its side toward me, I picked up my gun, aimed and fired.

The deer on the right ran off, but the deer on the left was frozen in place. It stood still for a few seconds, and then its back legs collapsed. It held itself up on its front legs a few more seconds, and then fell on its side.

I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t miss. It was a direct hit.

I climbed out of the shack and carefully approached the deer. It rolled around for a while, but soon it was dead.

I thought it was a doe, but as my dad and I were field dressing it, we found out that it was a button buck. I felt bad about that. Although it’s legal to take button bucks, it’s something you don’t want to do. Because everyone wants to let the bucks get big and grow antlers.

I felt like I did something wrong and I was afraid I would get a lot of criticism over it. But after talking to some very experienced hunters I know, I found out that, although they try not to, sometimes they take button bucks themselves. Sometimes it’s just hard to tell a button buck from a doe. If you get a button buck, it’s all good.

So, I felt better about it. Getting my first deer is a big thing to me. It was something I’d been trying to do for a long time and finally I’ve done it. It wasn’t a very big deer, but it did yield me quite a bit of meat, which I just got from the butcher today.

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Cold Day in the Shack

Nope. About a four and a half hours in the shack and no deer. I got the card out of the trail cam when I was done hunting and checked the pictures out on my dad’s computer. There were a bunch of deer at my shack about a half hour before I got there. One picture shows six or seven of them together. So, I just missed them.

It was snowing the whole time and a bit cold too.

I took this first picture at 12:45 PM. I took the second picture at 5:00 PM. Notice the snow buildup on the window.

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Meanwhile, the Michigan Wolverines are kicking ass

While the Detroit Lions are having a horrible season, the Michigan Wolverines are kicking ass. They’re 7-2 so far this season. Many of their victories were big wins and only a couple were close.

I wish it was a perfect season, but it’s a season I’m happy with. I admit, I was disappointed when they lost their first game to Utah and my faith dropped some. But then they had a solid streak of big wins.

Until the Michigan-Michigan State game.

For several years in a roll, the Spartans have beaten the Wolverines. I had high hopes that this year we would see a Wolverine victory over the Spartans. We have Jim Harbaugh now and he certainly has turned things around since Hoke’s reign ended. I had hoped he would bring us a victory in the Michigan-Michigan State game.

Oh, the Wolverines were ahead by a few points, with just a few seconds left on the clock, and then something went terribly wrong. A field goal attempt went bad, a Spartan defense man got the ball and ran all the way down the field for a touchdown.

It was painful to watch and my spirit died a little. Out of all the games they play, there are two games that I really want to see them win. That’s the game against Michigan State and the game against Ohio State.

I’m not completely over the loss to Michigan State, but I’ll consider this a great season if they win the rest of their games. The last game will be against Ohio State, who are currently undefeated. If the Wolverines can beat the Buckeyes this year, I’ll be very, very happy.

I love the Detroit Lions, but sheesh….

Oh, man, what a season. YAY!!! The curse continues.

That’s right. Whatever curse the Detroit Lions have been dubbed with, it ain’t lifted yet. Was there someone from Ancient NFL who declared the Lions will never make it to the Super Bowl because he was pissed off about being cut from the roster or traded to another team? Like Babe Ruth did when the Red Sox traded him to the Yankees?

I don’t know, but every season we see the Lions miss the mark. Some seasons are better than others. Once in a while the Lions will be having a season that looks so good, we dare to think that “Hey, this just might be the year they break the curse and set foot on Super Bowl turf.” Those are seasons that are exciting, they get your blood pumped. At least you got hope, even though it always gets dashed in the playoffs.

But this season ain’t one of the seasons of high hopes. No, it’s quite far from that. The Lions are currently at 1-7. Amazing that they managed to beat the Chicago Bears. But all the other games are losses and I’m not expecting a dramatic change for the remaining eight games. I mean, it would sure be impressive if they suddenly turned everything around and won all of the remaining games. But the way things are going, they might win one more game and lose the rest. Either way, the season is already blown.

 

Ruins Excavation

71xoD-fmp9LOkay, Ruins Excavation was released today. If I haven’t miscounted, the anthology contains eighteen short stories by different writers and I happen to be one of them. It’s been quite a while since I had anything published. It’s nice to be back in the game. The anthology’s theme is one I found interesting and I’m proud that my story was accepted.

Ruins Excavation is the fourth Ruins anthology edited by Eric T. Reynolds and published by Hadley Rille Books. As with the anthologies before it, the stories in Ruins Excavation have to do with archaeology and take place around ancient ruins. But Ruins Excavation differs from the others in that the protagonists are not only archaeologists, but are also women of color.

I was up for the challenge. My story is pretty short, but I did quite a bit of research while writing it. I wanted to get everything right and I’m still worried that I didn’t. But even so, I enjoyed writing the story. My story touches on a subject that I had in other stories but hadn’t been able to sell. So, it’s nice to finally have a story published that touches on that subject.

Ruins Excavation can be purchased from Amazon.com and other stores. But, at the moment, I don’t know which other stores are selling it. There are print and ebook versions available, though.

According to the trail camera…

Image1Every other day, my dad goes out and gets the card from the trail camera he has strapped to a tree in front of my hunting shack. For those not in the know, a trail camera is a camera that you leave at your hunting spot. It has a motion detector and takes pictures of animals that cross its view. So, my dad gets the pictures off the card and either emails them to me or I look at them when I’m at his house.

There has been a lot of deer activity around my shack. Some of the pictures show up to five deer in a single shot. A six-point buck keeps returning. I think it’s the same buck, anyway. The other night he made himself at home, laid down on the ground and posed for the camera.

I want that buck, but I’d happy with any mature-aged deer. It’s really the meat I want, but I won’t complain if I get a trophy.

There has also been several pictures of four-point bucks and good-sized does.

Though there has been much deer activity around my shack, the times they show up are not very favorable. They’re most active around the shack between 8 PM and 11 AM, with a couple having shown up at around 3 PM.

Because I can’t drive, I can’t always get over to my mom and dad’s house before 3 PM, and it’s especially rare that I get over there early in the morning.  So my hunting times are usually between 3 PM and 7 PM when it gets dark, or now that we’ve set the clocks back an hour, I’ll be coming in at around 6 PM.

And the deer don’t seem to show up between 3 PM and 7 PM, whether I’m out there or not. I will probably spend a night at my mom and dad’s house once in a while, as I’ve done every year during hunting season, so I can get out to my shack before sunrise.

But, according to the trail camera, it seems like no matter what time I head out in the morning, I’m just going to scare the deer away as I enter my hunting area and they probably won’t come back until night. That’s what it seems like, anyway. I hope I’m wrong and that I can get in position before the deer show up.

If there wasn’t a law against it, I’d probably spend the whole night in the shack so I’d already be there when the morning deer come. But you can’t do that.

The Michigan-Minnesota Game

Rudock was injured, but Wilton Speight proved to be a decent replacement. Still, that was too freaking close. Minnesota was right there on the goal line. All Minnesota needed was a touchdown and they would have won, but Michigan managed to hold them back until the clock ran out. Practically gave me a heart attack.

Michigan wins, 29-26. That makes them 6-2 for the season.

Just Breathe: My Journey Through Cancer and Back, by Stephen Graham King

41Nr6+Wo-XL__SX331_BO1,204,203,200_My friend Stephen Graham King wrote this book. Just Breathe: My Journey Through Cancer and Back is one of the clearest accounts on battling cancer that I’ve come across. But it’s more than just a story about battling cancer, it’s a story about Stephen’s life. We learn about his family, important events in his life, his romances and who Stephen is. Stephen is a friend of mine, but after reading this book, I feel like I know him better than I had before.

But though the book is about more than cancer, cancer is its primary focus. The writing was very easy to understand and the story held my interest. I learned so much from this book and now I have a better understanding of the scary and humiliating ordeal that cancer patients go through.

This is a book I recommend to people who want to understand what it’s like to be a cancer patient.