I don't know about ya'll but we celebrate the 12 days of Christmas around here. Something that really helps get the Christmas Spirit going is a capture of the Christmas Possum. Note that the words Christmas and spirit are often combined. Spirit has lots of meanings and other than an unpleasant airline flight we choose to have it mean consciousness or personality in this context. You have to be conscious where there be possums and it takes a certain personality to bring one to Christmas. If you are not familiar you may have to search the blog to know more about possum Christmas It's like anything else we do. It's fun, it's a spectacle and we do it over and over again. Miguel and Mary have been great to provide the Christmas possum each year and this year Miguel steps up with this fine, healthy specimen. . .
Possums are really beneficial animals. In an urban environment to which they adapt well, this one was captured just off South First Street mere blocks from downtown, they perform a grounds keeping role of eating snakes, rodents, bugs and carrion. They will also eat your pet food but why have pets when you can have possums? As far as the snake eating goes ( I have always wanted to say that in a blog post (snake eater) they are immune to snake venom except for coral snakes and the body temp is too low to incubate rabies. Thanks again to wikipedia for all these facts.
In a culture where people put clothes on their dogs you should not be surprised that there is a National Possum Organization.
As you see Miguel is taking good care of this possum. He's got a food bowl, and some weights to work out and live a healthful life. I now need to go check outside. The Christmas possum has occasionally ended up in my garage. Don't worry Miguel. studies show that if you relocate an urban possum to the wild another one will soon move into his place.
I got out of Christmas easy this year. All Cathy wanted was to go fishing on Christmas Day. I think it's the second year in a row we have fished on this day. I did balk a bit about what the goal for the trip would be. I did not really want to clean another limit of catfish so I suggested we float noodles and try to catch a big one.
Her is Cathy and her brother Matt with one of three fish we caught. If you don't know, floating noodles is where you take a bunch of swimming pool noodle floats, cut each in three or four pieces, tie on a drop line with a hook, weight and sinker. You bait with live or cut bait and toss it over the side of the boat so it floats and fishes while you relax back and watch for the tell tell action of a fish trying to take one under.
It's a bit of a process to decide whose fish this was. There are four parts. Some one sees the noodle jerking in the water, someone drives the boat ( my part ) skillfully up to the noodle, someone hooks the line with a boat hook and some one nets.
Cloud photo to show the funky Texas weather. One of our noodles float in the foreground.
These three cats got grilled up and fed 5 people with sauteed greens and cornbread on the side. There were two fillets left and I just ate them for supper.
Coraline made Grandma's dog doo cookie recipe for Christmas.
Take one package chocolate chips. Melt it. Stir in butter and flour. Taste to see if you got it about right. Drop it off a spoon in dog doo size lumps on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in oven but not too hard. It's a soft cookie.
Here's the result. That looks like dog doo cookies to me.
Some times you are not quite ready for the big horn. Luckily there are little horns available for those that fall into this category. Myself I have always been in the big horn category but there maybe opportunities that I don't have knowledge of and I was not quite as young as this little man when I started. Like they say no matter who you are, where you have been, what you have done there is a horn you can't blow. This happened to Warren this past weekend and is a little photo sequence of him trying his best on what's a big horn to him.
It was a windy weekend for fishing. While we could hardly keep hats on our heads the catfish did not seen to notice. They bit like crazy ahead of the cold weather. Brother in law Matt and the grand kids were in for the trip. Lucky thing that the kids fished because we caught 80 catfish. That was a little short of the 125 fish five man limit but it was enough to keep us busy. Matt took big fish honors with this nice blue cat.
Cats were in one of the same places we have been fishing since October. Todays was a bit different as almost all fish were caught on the left hand side of the boat. That's where the closest side to the drop off, a typical winter time fishing pattern. Fish hold tight to the breaks.
Coraline helps Cathy fish.
In this photo of Warren and Cathy you can see how the wind blows Cathy's hair.
I think we are going to have to get a bigger tub. These cats made 19 pounds of fillets. We cooked 15 pounds the next day for a Christmas tree decorating party.
I went back through the blog and counted up cat fishing trips as well as I could. Looks like we are right at 500 fish for the year with almost half of those caught since October and that half comes from the same area.
I have spent a couple of mornings this week on the Big Slough, one by myself and this morning with Mary. Only one duck to show for all this early morning rising but a morning spent sitting by the big slough is better than other possibilities.
Should have made this photo which was taken at dawn in low light conditions with the sun out for a bit better focus. This is a new thing since the last trip, a small kayak stashed on the bank. That's an industrious fellow that got this down to where it is. It's smaller than my canoe so a tote through the thick woods 1/2 mile to a mile is possible with a couple of young strong dudes. Likewise if it was paddled in by water and I have no idea where the launch point might be then the owner still had to walk out. The slough is big at this spot, unwadeable and we have been seeing some ducks here. Might have to borrow this as I have avoided hunting this stretch of water because I did not think I could easily retrieve downed birds.
On the trip by myself I got one one duck hen. Note the pack in this gear photo. It's such a hike through the bush that I carry my waders in and don them as needed. I needed them to get this duck.
It makes me thankful that I am still in good enough shape to hike in carrying gear, find my way in the dark and enjoy the solitude of this beautiful area.
One of my favorite ducking places. This morning at first light we heard a bunch of ducks flying and calling but none landed near us. Other that those first flights probably spotted less than 10 ducks swimming on the slough that we flushed up and were not able to get shots. I kind of figured more ducks down with reports of low temperature in the north.
Other than the occasional tree across this creek I think I could drive the pontoon boat down here. That would be against the rules as this is a wilderness area and no motors or wheels are allowed.
Got this photo of a critter crossing a slough.
What kind of critter goes about on it's all fours but carries a shotgun.
Well it's that time of the year and Drum and Tuba Christmas have a couple of gigs lined up on Thursday at the Huntington and Jasper nursing homes. Doing the two man band thing made me think of some guys I saw this summer busking outside of a White Sox game in Chicago.
That's right, two man band, trombone and drums. Bad to the bone so to speak.
I made these photos from an upper deck ramp of the ball park. My subway stop was out the other side so this was as close as I got but kind of like drum and tuba I could hear the music on a Chicago summer baseball afternoon just fine and it was good.
Don't ever let them tell you you are not playing it right. Don't listen when they say "do it like this." Use any instrument, any combination of instruments and find that groove. The music is in you. Play it like you own it.
Never trust a man without an instrument in his home.
There are four great Kings who were blues guitar players. I have seen B B King. It was a memorable night, not just for the music which was great but also because we accidentally left the late Tim Graham standing on the side of the road in the middle of the night at the exact center of nowhere. Don't worry, we went back and got him. I have seen Albert King. It was a few months before his death and I think maybe he was not at his best that day. I know I was not at my best because I had an awful hangover. I guess neither one of us was really feeling it. I never saw Freddie King who consumed only Bloody Marys instead of food so as not to waste any time at a sit down meal. He was gone way too soon in 1976 but I have a bunch of his records. Looking through old photos this week I remembered what a great time I had seeing Earl King a couple of times at the jazz fest in New Orleans. These are a couple of old photos from the first time I saw him. I am going to guess mid 80s. If you don't know Earl he was a player in the New Orleans R&B Style who was influenced by another player who came before called Guitar Slim. In fact Earl became so good at what Slim did he took his place on a tour as an imposter when Slim had to take time off because of a car accident. Without Slim and Earl you have no Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn.
Photos I made that day a little blurry because they have been scanned ,uploaded and then downloaded again. Maybe the originals will surface. I am having seasonal nostalgia of some sort as I sift through photos for memories.
Here's some better photos from maybe the early 90s.
You have maybe noted the behind the back playing that became a signature move for Jimi and SRV. King was doing it long before them. He wrote and recorded the song "Come On" in 1960. It was later recorded by Hendrix.
Earl was born Earl Silas Johnson IV in New Orleans and was advised to use the name King Earl, as a stage name. A type setter reversed the stage name and the rest is history. He could often be found at the Tastee Donut shop on Prytania Ave which he used as an office to conduct business. King passed from diabetes complications in 2003.
A slow rainy weekend keeps me off the lake but I get in the shop for a couple of new cigar box guitars. These home made guitars continue to trickle out to the public as I have time. Someone asked me last night if I was playing music all across the "country." They were familiar with my stint is a country music band a couple of years ago. I must remind all that no matter how international all this seems I do still have a day job. A young man called me up and said "I want a cowboy guitar." This is what I came up with.
The tail piece is an old spur I had laying around. Somewhere there's another spur and if I find it I can make another guitar like this.
A little cow head trinket and a piece of left over wash board from other projects. Gives it a rural look but actually with a little practice this instrument could provide a little bit of percussion sound. Remember there are no rules with cigar box guitars. Play it your own way.
It's electric and the acoustic sound is good.
Here's a more conventional guitar made from a San Lotano box. I tried to translate San Lotano to English because I thought it would give some inside and a Spanish vibe to this instrument. I guess it does because San Lotano translated means San Lotano.
It's electric but plays well as an acoustic.
The San Lotano guitar is hanging in the local music store Sound Techs on South First. It was yesterday but I had a call about a guitar and I refer the caller to the instruments I had hanging in the music store. It may be gone.
The Museum of East Texas also has my guitars for sale. There is an art bass guitar down there and a one string fruit cake tin that plays real nice for those of you into the brutally primitive low fi thing.
A few guitars have sold lately as people shop for Christmas gifts. I have about three guitars that I have made over the past year hanging around the house plus the one string Red Man tin.
I'm on a strange things in the woods kick. The place we hunt is one of those old camping areas from long ago. It was a custom in East Texas that when the crops were all harvested everyone would take off for the river when the would cool off with camping, swimming and fishing as a kind of vacation from the hard farm work. Without the modern conveniences for processing and storing frozen fish everyone would instead use this woods outing to catch and eat as much fresh fish as they could. I have only fished a little in this slough and caught a few catfish but I am sure it's loaded with fish. Nice little rocky riffle at one of the most narrow places. Wade-able with hip boots. I would not wade other wider places without chest waders and then you might find an occasional deep spot. Might not be able to wade at all if it rains much.
Note some kind of ore rock on the bar in this photo. Also spotted these rocks in the woods and they seem to be the same material, just bigger. There are two sets of two each about 25 yards apart.
Looking back the other way. They are situated in a little draw that probably fills with water. Natural or human? could have been part of an old bridge or dock I suppose if they are not natural but the ore on the creek bank indicates from the area. Wish I had paid more attention to those geology major room mates I had in college.
Saw at least a half a dozen ground scrapes like this one that indicate buck deer marking their territory.
Also several tree scrapes.
Mary and a snake skin. Lucky in winter snakes are not active. I would guess a walk through here in spring without getting snake bit would be a fine accomplishment.