Category Archives: humor

Hunting Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Dear Crabby, Choose wisely to keep good love for good

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

At my daughter’s baby shower I encouraged guests to bring along their best parenting advice. With twins on the way, I figured she could use all the helpful suggestions she could get. Sure, there are thousands of books on the subject, all offering conflicting, yet expert, advice.

And don’t we all know that advice will go in and out of style as quickly as most trends — bell-bottoms and Dr. Spock to skinny jeans and “time out,” and back again. I wanted our guests to share real, tried-and-true guidelines for raising two brand-new human beings.

Here’s a list of my favorite parenting advice:

  • Save Valium.
  • Rope and nails come in handy for bad days. You can nail your kids up on the wall by their clothes and let yourself out the window to run away, leaving them for your husband to take care of. (In other words — just hang on. Everything else will wait.)
  • Duct-taping children to a tree is not a good idea.
  • Drink wine.

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Common Ground: Bird (dog) is the word

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Communication is key in training bird dogs — once you learn to speak their particular language.

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Communication is key in training bird dogs — once you learn to speak their particular language.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

Bird dogs are sophisticated in the way they understand words. Just as the ancient Greeks recognized six different varieties of the word “love,” a bird dog recognizes many different meanings for a number of simple commands. They will sometimes cock their heads when “No” is yelled because they are not sure which of the word’s 126 meanings is intended.

“How,” they muse, “are we supposed to know how to satisfy a command when humans have not moved beyond their limited vocabulary?” Trans-species communication can transcend many barriers, but the biggest hurdle identified by eight out of 10 bird dogs is “multiple word meanings.” The other two dogs identify “overuse of the exclamation point in basic dog commands.” This survey was performed using homemade ginger treats and may not reflect the views of all dogs.

“Sit,” the first command taught to many dogs, comes from the Old English “sittan,” meaning “to occupy a seat, be seated, sit down, seat oneself; remain, continue; settle, encamp, occupy; lie in wait; besiege.” It can also mean to be inactive, withhold applause, to do nothing or to sit pretty. It’s no wonder the word causes confusion.

Many dogs will lie down and fall asleep in order to demonstrate the word’s Proto-Germanic origins. The word can be frightening, as it involves a lack of action. It would stress me out to be commanded to, “Do nothing!” while my back end was pushed down and I was offered a treat. Given the word’s etymology, I wouldn’t know if I was supposed to put my butt on the floor or run for office.

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Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce: Calculations on giving more in getting less

By Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt reporter

When we were first married, I announced to my husband, “I have an idea!”

That idea led us to living in a very remote cabin in Southeast Alaska with four children under 5 and no running water (unless it rained and filled the cistern). Wahooo! It was hard and awful and truly the best of times.

A few years ago I made a similar announcement, “I have an idea!” We agreed on this “idea.” We sold our suburban mansion of 1,500 square feet and traded up for 325 square feet of log loveliness and an amazing upgrade on outdoor elbowroom. No, we’re not a boat ride away from civilization and we have running water so we don’t qualify for own reality show. (Darn. There goes my chance to be a millionaire.)

The other day I did some rough calculations. Once I subtracted the stove, cabinetry, beds and so on we had approximately 125 square feet of actual unoccupied space, divided by three persons and three fur creatures, that leaves about 20.83 feet per being, give or take boot driers, fishing/hunting/musical gear or other seasonal trappings.

In our spare time (Ha ha! Like we actually have spare time) we are building a slightly larger log cabin. The first cabin will be a weaning pen for our youngest and a storage facility for company. We have never built a log cabin before, but we once had company for a month. That’s THIRTY days!

And we are still married. (Applause.)

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Family ties that bind, remind us

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels

Turnabout is fair-haired play when grandkids start to arrive

Like most families, things run in ours. Not only are we frequently found running here and there, running in circles, running late, but certain traits also generationally run in our family.

My ancestors gifted me with a Finnish temper and a special brand of stubbornness known as Sisu. I also inherited that special nose we can’t seem to outrun. My auntie got that genetic hand-me-down in spades — pretty sure we could land a plane on that honker. I can say that without fear of reprisal, as we also are hardwired for humor.

My hub came from a long line of red hair, freckles and melanin deprivation. He brings his own brand of stubbornness. When blended with mine, our combined DNA produced mutant offspring that are hysterically funny and as stubborn as mules.

On both sides we have Ph.D.s, BSNs, CNPs, RNs, CNAs and enough BS, PMS and natural gas to be considered a renewable source of alternative power.

Farming, fishing, a love of food and lactose intolerance are strong mutual traits. And like most families, there are the weird anomalies over which we scratch our heads and try to find an ancestor to credit — or blame, as the case may be.

Rh negative? Well, I guess my grandma’s sisters had it.

Thirty-four inch inseam and a 12 wide women’s shoe for one of our girls? Don’t ya know there are a few tall Swedes on Grandpa Carl’s side, and suspected Amazon warrior princesses somewhere in the woodpile?

Juvenile diabetes? Where’d that come from?

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Making a Halloween start to Thanksgiving dinner —  Confessions of a seasoned seasonal killer

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

I can’t help it, killing is simply something I do. Some people golf or enjoy a few rounds of Balderdash now and then.

I kill.

I get a certain primal satisfaction out of it. Sometimes my hubby joins me in creating carnage. Surely there’s some saying about “The couple who slays together, stays together?” If not, there should be a saying about matrimonial odds of the couple who raises livestock together without slaying each other.

The dispatching part is only a small facet of the entire experience. It’s the most dramatic part, but not really the part that keeps me keeping birds around the house. My carnal pursuit requires a delightful amount of ritual, and there is a stark beauty to the process.

First, there’s the gathering of the proper tools. The axe my hubby scored on eBay is indispensable. It’s a handsome antique implement of gore whose gently curved blade sharpens strong and silvery. The sheath is genuine leather with cedar-colored sinew laces that crisscross the handle, hinting at a dark, ancient, Viking past.

The belly and back of the handle are perfectly balanced at the grip point. As I contemplate the deed I’m compelled to commit, I study the rise and fall of my swing, noting that it feels sturdy and natural in my hand. When the time is right, I know it will land swift and sure.

The toolbox of carnage also includes a several knives, a practical steel sharpener, a scraper and a well-crafted slip noose. Any truly gruesome job requires tidiness, so a sturdy spade shovel, bleach and old towels are always on hand.

We might be killers, but even killing has a certain code of ethics. After our tools are properly assembled, we thoughtfully evaluate our potential victims, generally the old and slow, but sometimes we target juicier fare. Anonymity is vital. We deliberately don’t assign anyone a pet name. It’s much easier that way.

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Moose hunting for a humbling experience — It’s easy to think hunting’s easy with no firsthand knowledge to the contrary

Photo courtesy of Chris Hanna. Jenny Neyman and the moose she shot this hunting season. No, really. She is more shocked than anyone.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hanna. Jenny Neyman and the moose she shot this hunting season. No, really. She is more shocked than anyone.

Trails & Trails — By Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter

I am no hunter.

Before this month, that fact was hedged with an ellipsis of untapped potential. “I am no hunter … because I’ve never tried it, but if I ever do, Home Depot had better stock extra chest freezers!

Now when I say that I am no hunter, it is with the certainty of having actually shot something — a real, (previously) live, bull moose.

I went into this figuring I had at least some of the necessary ingredients that could possibly coalesce into a competent hunter, kind of like a determined fridge cleaning can result in a decent soup concoction when calling for pizza isn’t an option.

First off, I wanted to do it. It’s good for us humans to remind our civilized brains that, despite our autostarts, we’re still animals. I think we should all occasionally face some of the messier aspects of life, yet I’m one of those people without much firsthand knowledge of from where food comes.

Growing up in the Bush, milk was powdered, condensed or too expensive, and produce came in cans or was so wilted or woody that it was VINO — vegetable in name only. More people than not hunted or fished — my dad, brother, cousins, uncles, neighbors, etc., — but I was never invited to tag along, and by the time the fish or game got to me it had long since been removed of any evidence of life. No blood, bones, organs, fur or scales to be seen. The only meat covering I knew of was Shake ‘N Bake.

As for skills, I like to hike, camp and stomp around in the woods. I like to think I’m observant (at least enough to notice a 1,200-pound animal, surely?). I can haul a pack (through the power of profanity). And I can stay awake for long periods of time. That’s probably not relevant, but I once put leftover devilled eggs in a turkey stew and it was excellent, so who knows? I’ll use what I’ve got.

Granted, I was missing some key components. I didn’t own a rifle, and the few times I’ve shot one took about as much setup time as designing the International Space Station. My butchering experience was limited to being extremely annoyed when I’ve accidentally bought bone-in chicken breasts. I’ve never actually killed anything beyond mosquitoes, a few fish and houseplants.

Perhaps most egregious, I own only one article of camo — a thrift store GI Joe-looking shirt I bought for the sole purpose of playing Risk. (I might never have hunted so much as a spruce hen, but give me South America and I will dominate the world.)

Still, with the misguided optimism of the woefully uninformed, I figured, “I could do that.”

No, it turns out, I could not. At least, not without an amount of help that rendered my presence superfluous, if not obstructionist. It’s a pretty low bar when your highest achievement is not completely ruining things for other people. By day three, my sole focus devolved to a Dr. Seussian attempt at just staying upright:

Do not fall slogging through the swamp, do not fall wherever you tromp.

Do not fall climbing in the boat, do not fall as you will not float.

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Teaching dog trainer new tricks — Hunting for pup discipline beyond generational divide

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Don’t be fooled by good looks. There setter pups excel at setting their own rules.

Photo courtesy of Christine Cunningham. Don’t be fooled by good looks. There setter pups excel at setting their own rules.

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

Teaching a bird dog the art of being a bird dog is a messy business. There are plenty of books on the subject and plenty of experts who look really good standing next to a statuesque sporting dog that resembles an oil painting from the Renaissance. How, I often wonder, do I get my unruly English setters to not eat my mail, roll in mud and fart uncontrollably, much less do the honorable and sophisticated things for which they were bred. It takes a lot of time and practice, but eventually, they will stand still for the photo.

When there are five puppies to raise and train, the difficulty is confounded. Not just because they outnumber me, but because they have formed a team. They are a superpack. In the wild, they might take down a moose. In the yard, they have been known to wrestle me dangerously close to a pile of poo. My partner has given me helpful advice, such as, “Don’t let them do that.” Instead of following this advice, I decided to learn more about my new generation of puppies so that I could better teach to their personal values and aspirations.

My dog family includes not just the five littermates, but also a few other dogs of various breeds and ages. In order to assess the yard dynamics, I had to take into consideration the diversity of the yard as well as all three of the generations represented — the Baby Benign Tumors, Generation Ex-Lax and the Ex-Lax Maximum Strength Generation. The Maximum Strengthers, like the human Millennials, were the first generation to be raised in a daycare environment. Because of this, they work better as a team. They are also more tech-savvy and more inclined to jobs that allow them a work-life balance.

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