Wednesday, December 30, 2009
I don't know how things have been at your house this year but I'm glad to see 2009 go out the door (and don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out). Shirley's son Jeramie was out of work all of the 2009 winter. He was hired (returned from 2008) for a seasonal job with the City of Elgin in late March, that was supposed to last until November, and they let him go sometime in late June. All the summer help was already hired and he didn't find a job until mid fall. He has a job now as a teller at a credit union but it is far from the pay he was making at the old job. Shirley's daughter Melissa was released from her CNA position at a Nursing home (we sometimes have to learn the hard way) and is having a difficult time trying to find someone to give her another chance when there are so many applicants fighting for a few positions. I currently have been out of work since the end of July (laid off) and to this day have not found anything that will pay more than I am collecting on unemployment. Luckily, Shirley was able to find a part time position at Central Dupage Hospital that had benefits, so at least we have health insurance and do not have to worry about paying for COBRA. The year also had some sad moments. Our close friends the Gelfo-Kleins and the Penars each lost one of their parents this year, and I know they are missing them dearly during this Christmas season. The year was not a total loss however. I had a wonderful time helping Bryan's baseball team when I could (I was still working), we enjoyed our fishing vacation in Minnesota even though I was let go the day before we left. I was the assistant coach for Bryan's basketball team this fall and will be head coach for the winter 2010 team. I spent a great deal of time with Bryan, and that was without a doubt, AWESOME!! Oh, and we did go fishing in the Fox river as much as we could. As Cub fans we were able to witness another season of baseball what not to do. The Bears bought and brought us new hope! When it was all said and done, same old press conferences. The Bulls, I have not managed to sit through and entire game yet and I may not even want to try for much longer. Our Blackhawks are the bright spot in the sports scene and it is a pleasure to watch these kids mature in to great hockey players. I am looking forward to going ice fishing within the next few weeks, now that we have had some cold nights and good ice conditions. A few bull bluegills and a crappie or two will give me a much needed shot in the arm until the job market turns around. I hope the New Year brings all of you health and happiness in 2010 and hopefully a few nice fish to go along with it!
Friday, December 18, 2009
The winter is upon us and the end of the year is near, the Cahill-Grays family wish you a holiday full of good cheer. As we hurry through this enchanted season, take time to reflect that there is a reason. A gift from the father sent from above, the birth of a child to teach us to love. Hang all your decorations from your porches and stoops, when you step back to notice, remember our troops. We rush through the stores and shop till we drop, please keep in your hearts that this war does not stop. Remember the loved ones who are not with us this day, as you sit for dinner with family we hope that you'll pray. The birth of the Christ child is what we celebrate Christmas day. The love from our father that never goes away! May the love of the Holy Family be with all of you this Christmas and throughout the New Year. Love, Kirk, Shirley, Melissa, Jeramie, and Bryan.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
When I first started to date my wife Shirley some 11 years ago, she introduced me to her Jack Russell Terrier named Spunky. She was a very muscular dog with above average size for a Jack and weighed about 23 pounds. Spunky was mostly white with a few tan patches on her ear and face. Her coat was smooth and short and her undercoat was almost barren of any hair. Because of the lack of hair growth on her underbelly many skin spots would be very noticeable and at first I wasn't taken in by her appearance. Shirley had Spunky for a few years already and both her kids had grown quite fond of her. I had not been around for more than a few weeks when I offered to take Spunky out for a walk one fall evening. Down the apartment stairs and out the front door we went to head towards the park near the creek. About ten paces from the door we began to pass the garbage bins that were in the parking lot, when I heard Spunky had began to choke on something. The sound that was coming from her throat immediately signaled to me that she was in a desperate situation. I looked down and saw an entire chicken breast bone lodged sideways in her throat, just passed her rear teeth. I don't know what came over me at that moment, but I probably wouldn't be married to Shirley today if I didn't respond as quickly as I did. Grabbing Spunky's mouth I opened her jaw, stuck my fingers down her throat, and somehow was able to dislodge the breast bone from inside her. I paused for a moment and made sure she was OK, and we continued our walk. When I returned to the apartment I explained to my new girlfriend that her dog almost died the first time that I had walked her. At the time I did not know, the long relationship I would build with both Spunky and Shirley. The dog became a "project" of mine. My goal was to transform her from the many bad habits she had learned from the kids and the lack of consistent discipline she had received. Some of those habits included, barking at everyone and everything, being aggressive towards certain people, and some dogs, digging through the garbage, just to name a few. I worked with her all the time to try to make her a better dog, but she was very stubborn and many times I nearly lost all of my patience. She did develop into quite a nice dog and over time I grew very fond of her. Spunky continued to have her moments though. There were her two confrontations with dogs that required several stitches and permanent scars. One was a Doberman Pincher, the other was a Rottweiler. Fine choices when you are only 23 pounds. My favorite episode though, was when we had taken her to Minnesota to go on vacation with us. Spunky was deathly afraid of the water and a bath to her was the worst torture you could consider for a dog. Getting her into the boat was going to be trouble but somehow, the thought of being with us overcame her fear of the water and she reluctantly climbed on board. One outing during that week we had got into a nice bunch of bluegills and bass and we're having quite a good time when Spunky decided to grab on to my 6 inch culprit worm (purple shad if you were wondering) and stuck the hook in her upper lip past the barb. As she panicked from the surprise of the hook, she managed to again stick the hook in her right paw. Now we had a yelping Terrier with her paw stuck to her lip and quite a dilemma on our hands. After some quick thought I was able to pin her to the boat deck and began to remove the hooks as though I was removing them from a large Musky, very carefully trying not to injure her mouth. The operation was successful and she never touched another lure again. Spunky loved to be outside(as long as it wasn't cold) and I loved to watch her as she would sit, watch, and listen attentively to the world around her. I spent an entire week with her in St. Germain WI one fall and let her run through the woods chasing squirrels up trees and giving a few Whitetail deer quite a surprise in a field near the cabin. As with all dogs her time was too short and she developed a tumor that was too difficult to remove. It was the second one she had, the first one was removed successfully. Other complications began to take hold of her and we decided it was best to put her to rest peacefully. I had that task, and it was one of the more difficult things I have ever had to do. I don't know what made me think of her today, but it was probably something in our current Jack Russell, Scruffy that reminded me of her. I have taken Scruffy in the boat with us once, and he has been to St. Germain for the opening fishing weekend in 08, but I'm sure the first time I show him a purple shad culprit worm..... I'll make sure I leave the hooks out!
Friday, December 11, 2009
If you stepped outside the last few days you have obviously noticed that old man winter has decided to slap us in the face. Yes he has awaken, and quite abruptly I might add. Being that it is too cold to fish for me (it's got to be at least twenty degrees)I took the time to continue my assault on the dust bunnies that are running rampant through the house. That is not Shirley's fault, she has been working almost everyday. Well, here is my testimony of the days events. My first thought was to clean the chandeliers (small light fixtures) hanging from our vaulted ceiling. I took out the ladder and built my homemade scaffolding (a couple of kitchen chairs) placed the ladder and began to clean away. After a full roll of paper towels, I had managed to completely wipe off the first light and decided to change the bulbs. "Why not change them?" I said, since I was on the scaffold and they were looking a little worn and dirty. Upon entering the utility room to get the new bulbs out of the cabinet, I managed to drop the old bulbs and they shattered in a million pieces on top of the dryer. The glass pieces had now fallen amongst the items that were on the washer and dryer (can you see where this is going?). Out came the vacuum cleaner to pick up all the debris. As I am vacuuming up the fragments in comes the dog (I didn't hear him with the noise of the vacuum) to walk right through the glass! Now this is where it gets good! I removed Scruffy, check his paws for shards and go back to finish the vacuuming. Continuing on, I begin to notice that the vacuum didn't seem to be working anymore. Now What!? After my investigation, I found that I managed to suck up two small baby socks (I use them for Scruffy when it's cold) into the vacuum hose. To the garage to get the tools, disassemble the hose from the main unit and remove the socks. After putting the vacuum back together, and finishing the utility room, I decided to vacuum the couches in the family room. Surprise! Someone (I'm putting my bet on Bryan) had spilled something in the couch and didn't do a very good job of cleaning it up. Just what I wanted to do next. Out came the Resolve. Two hours later I had finally managed to make it back to the living room to complete the light fixtures. I put everything away, cleaned up the kitchen, fixed dinner for Bryan and me and sat down to eat. Where did the day go? It was gone in a flash. I thought about the crazy events of the day and was reminded. That's exactly like a day of fishing, they go by so quickly. A full day on the water or ice can bring a multitude of different problems to the forefront. How we adapt to those changes is what makes us all better fisherman. Mechanical issues with the car or boat, equipment failures with rods and reels, weather changes such as a cold front, can all have an effect on a perfect day of fishing. But as seasoned anglers we are ready for whatever is cast our way. I suppose my wife Shirley is accustomed to those same type of issues when cleaning the house. I will tell you that I am not, nor ever will I be! I'm thinking of changing my twenty degree rule, and the next time I'm looking for something to do, you can bet just as much that Bryan was the one who spilled on the couch.... I'll be going fishing!
Monday, December 7, 2009
As my son Bryan walked down the stairs this morning, his first word was "WOW!" The sight of the first new snow of the season had filled his eyes. It can have that affect on you. Although I knew that a coat of fresh new powder was waiting for me, I followed him down the stairs with almost the same reaction. I grabbed my first cup of hot coffee, bundled him up for school, and sent him out the door. "Is it snow or is it Christmas sugar?" I asked. "Christmas!" he shouted back. He walked toward the bus stop with an extra bounce in his step. I closed the door and stopped to take in the beauty of the new Christmas snow. Then I began to remember my youth and the excitement of that first snow. Sitting in a classroom at St. Theresa's and watching the first new flakes falling from the sky. How I couldn't wait to spring from that chair to go out and become a part of its wonder. As I stared out the now half snow covered window, a sudden pull of the rope from Miss Gorman had now closed the shade and I was quickly reminded that I still had half of the school day to complete. Those last 3 hours seemed like they would last forever. I headed back to the kitchen to pour another cup of coffee, and I started to think. How lucky we are in the midwest to be able to enjoy the splendor of the four seasons. I couldn't imagine living anywhere else. The first new fallen snow, the warm days of spring, the golden evenings of summer, the bright red and orange maple leaves of fall. We are truly blessed with what we have been given. As a fisherman I experience that magic many times during the cycle of the seasons. It never stops amazing me. Raindrops falling on a still lake, the rings how they merge together. Each sunset on the water is more beautiful than the one I had witnessed the day before. Reflections of the fall foliage on a calm bay as my lure makes that first splash. The sound of ice shifting beneath your feet on a quiet overcast winters afternoon. Those are the moments were time stands still. A picture, painted in my memory forever. I had one of those pictures painted for me today, of my son, standing on a snow covered sidewalk shouting "Christmas." Thank you God!
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Decorating the Christmas tree is one of my favorite things to do during the Holidays. I'm pretty particular about how it needs to be done, which keeps the rest of the family away, not to create any conflicts. The holiday music is played from the start until completion, normally about three days. This drives Shirley crazy because she doesn't really care for holiday music anyway. No colored lights are allowed! Only white. The red glass balls go on first (there is mostly red) than the red bells. Next come the silver balls and bells. Then we move on to gold, purple, etc. Once all that is complete, we put on the rest of the ornaments. Oh, I forgot to mention it took me an entire day to set just the tree up and adjust all the branches. After three days it was completed and it looks great if I do say so myself. During all that holiday music, tree trimming, and beer,I had lots of time to think about what else, fishing. This is the time of year when you really don't have time to be fishing. With all that there is to do for Christmas, we can't really tell our wives that we are taking off a whole day to go catch a few walleyes. Although, I admit I have tried once or twice. We make time to go every other time of the year, why not before Christmas? Well, I'll tell you why. It's just not worth it. First of all, the weather is just not that cooperative, cold one day, warm the next. We all know that type of weather pattern really sucks for fishing. Second, most people have put the boat away for the winter, which limits the places where you can go. I'm not putting my waders on and going to stand in 40 degree water for non-biting fish. So this gives us lots of excuses as to why we are not fishing. But the real reason is WE DON'T WANT TO GET YELLED AT! The stress that the holidays can put upon us can make you go crazy. Trying to find the extra money needed to buy gifts, food, travel, can be tough on all of us. Now just imagine adding to that. Can I go fishing dear? The next words you are going to hear are four letter words that I can't put down here and are muttered in boats, across lakes, every time you miss a fish. Next comes the silent treatment, she pretends if she doesn't talk to you,it will force you to change your mind and stay home. It works! (but only till ice up). So we do the little things to keep everyone happy, like helping with shopping, buying the groceries, hanging up the lights outside, etc. This is where we collect "the free pass". If we are good during the holidays we can use our free pass later in the winter to go ice fishing. I'm one step ahead though, you can use this holiday time to your advantage. "I'm going into the basement to wrap gifts" really means that you are going downstairs to sharpen your hooks. "I'll clean the garage sweetie" means you are going to dust off the ice shanty. "Would you like me to go look for a present for your sister?" means I'm on my way to BASS PRO to get a new jigging stick. Using the time wisely now can result in a bounty of fish later. The holidays will come and go just like they do every year. I'll finish the decorating, help with the cooking, be a good husband, and before you know it, 2010 and 6 inches of ice. I can't wait! Until then it's a good thing that putting up the tree is one of my favorite traditions of Christmas!