Monday, November 23, 2009

Goodbye old friends....

So it's looking like it may be time for me to say goodbye to some old friends soon. I don't want to do it, they have been with me quite honestly, on a daily basis for the past 4 years or so. They have been to the top of Mt. Mitchell with me, they have tromped across creek beds and frog leaped through den meetings., They have been to Sunday Mass with me, soccer games at the Y, as well as to see sick relatives in the hospital, and they never have thought of leaving me...EVER. They are my trusted and well loved Hiking boots.

I can deny it no longer; I've tried to shirk off the warning signs, I've done my best to ignore the pleading of my feet, that pitiful squeaking that stayed with me for a few weeks as the soles tried gallantly to hold together.I cant count how many pairs of shoe laces I've gone through, how many times I've bent the eyelets back into place, or how many pieces of gravel I've pried out of the heels after clicking and clacking across our new hardwood floors. I am forced to resign to the fact that at long last, after a valiant and noble run, I need a new pair of hiking boots.

They were a good pair to be sure, and I will swear by the Columbia name, but I'm thinking that maybe I need to open my mind a bit, and look at other brands too. that's a little scary for me, because I'm usually the type of guy who finds something that works, and sticks with it until he cant find it anymore, and is forced into the cold,harsh, world of change. "Why don't you look at a pair of these Merrell's?" my wife (who does not hike or camp by the way, but knew more about hiking boots than I do) said.
I eyed the new-fangled boots with suspicion, not knowing whether I had the level of education -or the appropriate state licensing- to even wear them, and decided i could manage for a few more weeks, maybe a month or two longer.. as we walked out of the store, I silently swore an oath never to forsake my dear friends like that again. Next time I would spare my friends this humility, and instead wear my Vans to try on new boots.

Well OK, so maybe it's not that bad, but seriously, how do you choose new hiking boots anyway? Well according to the good folks over at ABC of Hiking,
there are a few things to look for:

Intended Use & Hiking Skill Level
What kind of hiking will I be doing? Well for me, it would be mostly day hiking, and no more than a couple of miles at that. I am not only (after all) still badly out of shape, and a beginner, but I usually hike with a 6 year old and a 7 year old too. So 10 mile hikes are pretty much out of the question for me, at least for right now anyway. The class of my boot should (again, according to ABC) increase under the following factors: expected terrain and weather conditions, intended Hiking duration, and intended backpack load. Since I'll be doing mostly day hiking on pretty well established trails and paths, with not much more than a small day pack or Camelbak, With all this to take in, I think the most important thing to remember is that I should probably go for something that gives a little more support.

There is a heckuva lot more to take in to consideration, and since I don't really want to steal from the good people at ABC's of Hiking, I'll just redirect you to their website ,in case you are interested in learning more. What do i currently wear? Columbia hiking boots, and I have to say that they have performed heroically. For the last year and a half, I have worn them to work almost every single day, and I can quite honestly say they are the one pair of shoes I own that do not hurt my feet at the end of the day. ....maybe I'll stick with Columbia then..

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Indian Summer....

Yes, sonny, this is sure enough Injun summer.

Don't know what that is, I reckon, do you?

Well, that's when all the homesick Injuns come back to play. You know, a long time ago, long afore your granddaddy was born even, there used to be heaps of Injuns around here - thousands - millions, I reckon, far as that's concerned. Reg'lar sure'nuf Injuns - none o'yer cigar store Injuns, not much. They wuz all around here - right here where you are standin'.

Don't be skeered - hain't none around here now, leastways no live ones. They been gone this many a year. They all went away and died, so they ain't no more left.

But every year, 'long about now, they all come back, leastways their sperrits do.

They are here now. You can see'em across the fields. Look real hard. See that kind o' hazy, misty look out yonder? Well, them's Injuns - Injun sperrits marchin' along an' dancin' in the sunlight. That's what makes that kind o' haze that's everywhere - it's jest the sperrits of the Injuns all come back. They're all around us now.

See off yonder; see them teepees? They kind o' look like corn shocks from here, but them's Injun tents, sure as you're a foot high. See'em now? Sure, I knowed you could. Smell that smoky sort o' smell in the air? That's the campfires a-burnin' and their pipes a-goin'.

Lots o' people say it's just leaves burnin', but it ain't. It's the campfires, an' th' Injuns are hoppin' 'round 'em t' beat the old Harry.

You jest come out here tonight when the moon is hangin' over the hill off yonder an' the harvest fields is all swimmin' in the moonlight, an' you can see the Injuns and the teepees jest as plain as kin be. You can, eh? I knowed you would after a little while.

Jever notice the leaves turn red 'bout this time o' year? That's jest another sign o' redskins. That's when an old Injun sperrit gets tired dancin' an' goes up an' squats on a leaf t' rest.

Why, I kin hear 'em rustlin' an' whisperin' an' creepin' 'round among the leaves all the time; an' ever' once 'n a while a leaf gives way under some fat old Injun ghost an' comes floatin' down to the ground.

See - here's one now. See how red it is? That's the warpaint rubbed off'n an Injun ghost, sure's you're born.

Purty soon, all the Injuns'll go marchin' away agin, back to the happy huntin' ground, but next year, you'll see'em troopion' back - th' sky jest hazy with'm and their campfires smoulderin' away jest like they are now.

© Copyright 1907 John McCutcheon

Indian summer is an informal expression given to a period of sunny, warm weather in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, typically in late October or early November, after the leaves have turned following an onset of frost but before the first snowfall.

Called циганско лято, tsigansko lyato) or Gypsy Summer in Bulgaria, In Sweden it is called "brittsommar", In Germany and Austria it is called "Altweibersommer", in Hungary "vénasszonyok nyara" (Old Ladies Summer or Crone's Summer) and also known as "Saint Luke's summer", as the saint's feast day is October 18.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanks to my Great Uncle Norman, who lied about his age to join the Army in 1944, and at the tender age of 17 was assigned to the 28th Infantry, Pennsylvania National Guard, and sent to the Huertgen forest. He survived hopeless odds; His unit had a 110% casualty rate, and in 2 months of fighting in Huertgen, the U.S. Losses were a little over 33,... Read More000 dead (That's almost as many as we lost during the entire Vietnam war). My Uncle received the bronze Star with V for Valor for his part in the Battle of the Huertgen forest. No one in my family knows why, and that in and of itself, is a very sad statement about our society.

When relieved in early December, the 28th-and my Uncle- were sent to a very quiet part of the front for R&R. It was so quiet, it was nicknamed "the Ghost front". The ghost front was right near a little Belgian town called Bastogne.

I was never allowed to tell you thank you Uncle Norman, and it is one of my only regrets in life.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Veterans Day parade 2009

Well, Saturday morning found Pack 49 in downtown on a bright, crisp, clear Autumn morning; perfect for being outside, and perfect for a parade! We were participating in the "Salute to veterans day" parade, as a part of the Mecklenburg council of BSA. Last year was the first year we were in scouts, and we marched then too, but there were only 15-20 of us. This year I started asking people in June from our Council to march, and by the time Saturday morning came around, we had close to 500 scouts in the parade! I dont have a ton of pictures just yet, but here are a few that I took.

We finally get moving!

Boudreaux, Thibadeaux and friend with a dough boy!

Learning how to properly fold a flag courtesy of the fine men and women of VFW Post 9488

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Happy Veterans Day", or "Thank You Veterans Day"??

One week from today is Veterans day, and this weekend, the Mecklenburg Council of BSA will be part of the Salute toVeterans day parade. It's always a lot of fun, but this year promises to be a bigger parade than ever before. I kind of jumped up and down so much about it back in June, that I went and got myself "volunteered" to head things up. It has been a labor of love, but the men and women who have protected us all these years are worth it. I am not worthy of being counted amongst their ranks, but reluctantly, I am. If you have a Veterans day parade in your town, I would urge you to take that hour out of your day, and go down and participate. They gave at least 4 years of their lives up to protect us, is it really so much to ask that you give up one hour a year to say thank you?

If you are a leader in Cub Scouts or Brownies, heres a good project for you to do in the next week with your kids;There are a ton of Veterans Day coloring sheets found online that you can print out for your scouts to color. have them pick from a few different ones, color the sheet and write a small message to a veteran on the back. They can then send the picture to a family member who might be a vet, or who might still be serving. A nice touch is to take a picture of the den and send it along in the letters with a thank you on the back of it. We went an extra step, and got a nice Veterans Day card from hallmark, and had all the kids and leaders sign it, put a picture of the den in it, and then figured out who in the den had the oldest Veteran in their family, and mailed the card to that boys relative (in this case a Great Granpa who was with the 8th Army Air Corps in WWII).

You would be surprised how a simple "thank you" will touch a vets heart; I've seen men who braved the flesh shredding machine gun fire of Okinawa and Guadacanal well up with tears in their eyes because someone simply said thank you to them. Whatever you decide to do, at the very least find a veteran, shake their hand, and tell them you appreciate what they do every day for us .

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beauty for ashes

Okay one and all, if you are looking for my more theological ramblings, they can be found over at "Beauty for Ashes", my WordPress blog. I have decided that i need to keep the two seperate. and that it is time for meto start writing again, so it will be a little more active over there now than it has been in the past.