Sunday, April 29, 2012

Completing the Circle!

Saturday was a catch up day for me.  Between baseball and turkey season, I have had very little time to get any work done in the shop or any work done in the yard.  My wife had an eye appointment on Saturday morning so I volunteered to stay home with the kids while she went, so that meant no turkey hunting.  It has also been spring break for the kids, so we gave them an off day from baseball practice, so that meant no baseball.  What was a man to do???  Get some work done!!

After I got the yard tended to, I turned my attention to my little circle topped table.  All I lacked from getting it finished was the four legs.  I always do the legs last because they are definitely the least fun part of the table to tackle.  The picture above shows me carefully sanding each spindle.  You can see the changes in color as I work my way down.  Each leg was sanded twice.  The first with a medium finish sand paper and the final with a fine finish.  This table had no paint on it, only a coat of old stain.  It made the work much easier.

I decided to give this table a coat of stain to help bring out the Tiger Oak finish.  Once I had the legs sanded and cleaned, I applied a coat of pre-stain conditioner, followed by my stain.  I chose Provincial by Minwax.

We waited on the stain to completely dry and filled the time by breaking out the ping-pong table.  Reid enjoys playing and actually has gotten pretty god at volleying back and forth we me.  It was now time to start putting everything together.

I will never understand why people fill these little tables with nails in order to try and strengthen them.  I find that a good dose of wood glue does the trick just fine.  Here the table has been put back together and glue has been filled in the slots.  The bottom shelf has been screwed back into place in order to set the legs in their proper places.  Now all I have to do is apply the final finish to the legs.

The end result!!

I think it is one of the prettiest pieces that I have done.  I may just have to keep this one for myself unless someone wants to make me a ridiculous offer on it.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Circle Where a Square Should Be!

Those of you who have followed my blog for some time know that I really enjoy refinishing small oak center tables like the one shown below.

90% of these tables have a square top and a square (or sometimes decorative) bottom shelf.  But every once in a while you will run across one of these little jewels with a round top shelf.  I would say that you find 25 square ones for every round one, and the round ones are usually pretty expensive.  I have always wanted a round top center table and I was lucky enough to find one recently at a local antique dealer.  The table was in need of some TLC and I just happen to enjoy that kind of thing.  A bargain was struck and I brought her home at a price that I consider to be 1/3 of its value.

As I started tearing it down for refinishing I noticed this label.

This table was produce by The Knoxville Table and Chair Co. in Knoxville, TN.  A quick Google search did not yield very good results, but I was able to find out the the company produced oak furniture in the late 1800's and very early 1900's.  The label is in very good shape and should help add to the overall value.

This is a picture of the bottom shelf after I have already sanded it and gotten it ready for stain.

I have not started on the legs yet.

I took advantage of the cooler weather yesterday afternoon and finished up the sanding on the top piece and bottom shelf.  I applied stain and added a coat of finish.  What do you think??

Wow!!  Look at that Tiger Oak!!

This thing is really going to turn out very nice!  Although I think I can triple my money on this project, my wife has already said that she may want to keep it. 

I can live with that!

Monday, April 23, 2012

2 Much Fun!

My even year seasons continue to be good ones as I bagged turkey number two for 2012.  This was a two year old bird with an 11 inch beard, 3/4 inch spurs, and weighed in at 18.75 lbs.  He was taken on a Sunday afternoon hunt that lasted all of 30 minutes.

Daddy and I had hunted Saturday morning and chased two gobblers all around the head of woods where I killed my first Tom earlier this year.  No matter what we tried, the two birds would not leave those woods to come see the hens that were calling their names over and over.  I want to believe it was the two birds that I have on video in an earlier post.  A wedding would prevent us from coming back and rejoining the chase that afternoon, but Sunday afternoon found us with nothing but opportunity awaiting us.

We eased our way through the little bottom and set the decoys up in the same spot as earlier in the year.  We sat down in a slightly different spot to take advantage of better shooting lanes and started some soft calling.  About 30 minutes had gone by and my mind had started to wonder a little as I took in the woods around me.  I was constantly looking for movement and thought I was on high alert.  You can understand my surprise when I looked towards the right of our decoy setup and saw a black ghost emerge from the shadows not 40 yards away.  My Tom was standing there in full strut.  I told my Dad that I saw a strutter and got ready to shoot.  The Gobbler put on quite a show as he strutted back and forth between the pines.  His drumming was the only sound I could hear in the woods besides my own heartbeat that I thought would surely give my location away.  As the Tom finally stepped out into a shooting lane, the Browning barked and turkey number 2 for 2012 was down.

My Dad looked at his watch and asked if I realized that this hunt was exactly like the hunt that produced my first turkey of the season.  We set up at 3:00 in the same spot both times, and both times I killed the turkey at 3:30.  We have a new name for this little spot.  It will forever be known as "Death Hill".  We tried to remember the exact number of turkeys we have killed in this spot and came up with 6.  That's not a bad little set up!

I'm trying for a "Turkey" I guess you could say as I go after bird number three.  I have a particular Tom that I want to chase and will concentrate my efforts on getting him.  He was the first bird that I heard gobble this year and he hangs out in a spot on our club that we have never really hunted that much.  To make things harder, he roosts on the side of a big clear-cut.  He is going to be a challenge!

I'm ready!!

PS:  On a side note, this is the Brave Eagle's 200th post!  I'll have to have a small celebration of some sort!  Thanks for all of you who read this thing and encourage me to keep writing!!  I have met some very awesome people on this journey and have made some really good friends!  It has been sooo worth it!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

2012 Camp Kaleo RA Trip

The Royal Ambassadors of First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald made our way to the RA State Camp out this past weekend.  Our destination was Camp Kaleo and we took the largest crowd of boys that have ever made the trip.  We competed in a variety of competitions and the boys had a great time camping out in their tents and playing in the woods.  I will let the pictures tell the story!

Dinner time around the camp fire.  Reid's tent is the small mansion seen in the top right corner!
More of the camp site
This is Death Hill!  The boys love this place!  They slide and slide!
Best friends, Reid and Taylor
Reid on the archery range
The start of the Wild Wood Run
Fire building
Individual knot tying competition.  Reid finished second for the second year in a row!
Showing off the hardware
The following video is of Reid tying his three knots in the Team Rope Craft competition.  Our team finished second with Reid leading the way by tying the bowline, the double bowline, and the running bowline all correctly!

This is what the entire trip is all about!!
We had a great time and I look forward to spending more time in the woods with my son.  We have a great RA program and some great guys volunteering their time to lead these young men!  I am very thankful for my church and my church family for providing us with the means necessary for us to take these kind of trips!  The boys love it and I know the Dad's do too!

See you next year Camp Kaleo!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Star is Born!

The difference between you and her is that she makes this look GOOD!
The T-ball world was introduced to Miss Mia last night and it may never be the same.  Have you ever seen a cuter Chipmunk??  Her little team did really well and Mia hit the ball each time at bat.

In the field is another story.  Don't let this "ready" stance fool you!  Her Papa asked her the other day how T-ball practice was going.  She said that "it was going good."  He asked her if she could hit the ball and she said "Yes, I can hit it real hard!".  He then asked her if she could catch the ball and she very matter of fact replied, "We don't do that!  We just stand there and look cute!"

I was proud of one thing last night.  She was the last batter one inning, which means that she gets to circle the bases for a home run.  Watch the video and I think you will agree that my little girl has WHEELS!! (sorry for the screaming into the mic)

I admit that the slide into home needs a little work, but we will get there.  After the game she was so excited!  I asked her if she was excited about the game and she said "Kinda.  But I'm more excited about the hot dog I'm gonna get!"

T-ball may never be the same!!  :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Reid's birthday present this year included tickets to the Braves game.  This was his first trip to Turner field to watch his favorite baseball team, and the first time my Dad and I have been to a game together in many years.  We had great seats and we watched a terrific ball game which included a home run by Chipper Jones and Jason Heyward, Reid's two favorite players!  The Braves pulled out the victory against the Brewers 7-4.  We ate peanuts, Cracker-Jacks, hot dogs and pop-corn.  We bought Brave's hats and sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the 7th inning stretch.  It was a great day shared between Grand-father, father, and son. (We let one of Reid's friends tag along too!)

Reid, Taylor, and Daddy
It really was a perfect afternoon at the ball park.  The weather was great and we got there early for batting practice.  We even made our way down to behind the dug-out and spoke with some players before the game!  The kids had a great time!  I can't wait to go again!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Turkeys! I got Turkeys!!

I went out and pulled my camera to see if I had any pictures of the turkeys that I have been chasing with very little luck lately.  I didn't realize that I had set the camera to video mode, but I got some great shots.  Enjoy!

What is better than one Big Tom???  Two Big Toms!!!

Apparently theses bad boys have lost the ability to gobble because they sure haven't been saying much!

Wish me luck!!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Let's Talk Rattlesnakes!

John Luckie and toothy friend!
In 1974, The Fitzgerald, Georgia Chapter of the Jaycees decided to try their hand at hosting a Rattlesnake Round-Up.  This first event would kick off a successful run of over 20 round-ups that saw thousands of spectators, miles of snakes, and an enormous amount of money generated for the local economy during that time.  My Dad served as chairman of the round up and became the head snake man due to the fact that no one else volunteered.  (I wonder why??)

The local Jaycees used the event as a fund raising project for their organization and donated the money back to Fitzgerald by helping needy children or families.  The round-up brought them an estimated $10,000 per year.  Admission was charged for the event, ads were sold for a program, and vendors paid a fee to be there.  The Jaycees would purchase snakes brought in from snake hunters, then turn around and sell them to a pre-determined buyer.   The prices for snakes ranged from $1.50 per foot in 1978 to a high of $10.00 per foot in 1993.

The Round-up took place on the third Saturday in March each year.  It was actually a pretty big deal.  Newspapers from all over the Southeast would cover the festivities and I have just gone through countless pictures of my Dad from many years of articles that my Mom saved in a file.  According to the articles, the day would begin with a pancake breakfast hosted by the Masonic Temple.  Guided snake hunts were offered to those who wanted to participate and get a feel for the hunting action.  The gates would open at 9:00am and snakes would be brought in for sale throughout the day.  One of the very first years reported only 83 snakes bought by the Jaycees.  It quickly grew and later articles report numbers in the 600's.  Each snake would be measured by my Dad and placed in a holding pen.  Those snakes would then be milked for their venom by Mr. Ken Darnell of Bioactive Inc.  The venom collected is used for medical research and the production of anti-venom.

The Venom is collected by actually milking the snake's glands.  You can see in this picture that the snakes fangs are exposes over the side of this collecting glass.  Ken will then press on the snake's upper jaw to allow the venom to be expressed out of the fangs and into a ice chilled container under the glass.  If you are bitten by a poisonous snake and you are administered an anti-venom, then you can more than likely thank Ken Darnell and his years and years worth of work.  I would be willing to bet that he has milked a million snakes over the years and he still does it today from his home in Alabama.

Now let's take a look at this picture!

We have all seen Internet pictures with captions that read, "Man kills 9 foot Rattler weighing 27 pounds!"  I'm hear to tell you that those stories are just not true.  In my Dad's hands is one of the largest snakes ever brought into one of Fitzgerald's Rattlesnake Round-ups.  This bad boy probably measured in at 6.5 feet and weighed about 12 pounds.  That my friends is just about as big as they get.  Trust me!  My Dad has measured thousands of snakes and he will tell you that he can count on one hand the number of snakes that even made 7 feet.  None at 8 or 9 feet.  It just don't happen.  Take a look at this next picture.

What is he thinking?? A Pink hat??

This is a pretty good snake that you see here.  He will measure in at about 5 1/2 feet, but notice the marking on the pole that my Dad is using for measuring the snake.  It is only marked to 6 1/2 feet.  There is a reason for that! :)

People say that all good things must come to an end, and the Rattlesnake round-up did just that.  The same guys that started the round-up in 1974 were still running it 20 years later and frankly were getting a little older and tired of all the work that must go into putting on an event of this nature.  When Dad decided to hang it up, they couldn't find anyone who would take on "snake" duties, so that pretty much wound it up.  The Rattlesnake Round-up was converted to The Wild Chicken Festival and has been that way for the past 15 years.  The Jaycees were also starting to feel pressure from environmental groups about the round-up.  I found several articles that Mom had saved from papers all over depicting the round-up as a bad thing for the environment and all those poor little rattlesnakes.  Snake hunters countered that they were not hurting populations because they were finding more and more snakes each year.  I kind of like this quote from my Dad.  He sort of tells it like he sees it with this one.  "There are a lot of environmental groups that are against it, but they don't live in this part of the country.  Rattlesnakes are not thought too highly of.  They're not a cuddly species."  Well there you go!

I got to thinking about those environmental people and tried to see things from their point of view.  I am all about protecting the environment, but lets just face some facts.  If 10 different people walk up on 10 different rattlesnakes in the woods, odds are that 9 of those 10 snakes are killed on the spot. (My Dad would be the one to let his go)  At least some good was coming out of the round-up by milking the snakes for anti-venom, stimulating the local economy, and promoting trade.  How could that be wrong?  Today there is only one Round-up left in the state of Georgia. 

I will always have great memories of the Rattlesnake Round-up and the snake hunting that I was able to do with my Dad.  I have great respect for the Eastern Diamondback and consider it a beautiful but deadly creature.  I wish we still had the annual event so that I could relive childhood memories, but I know it could never be the same without this man running the show....

Thanks for the memories Daddy!  You are definitely one of a kind!!!  I sure hope you burned those suspenders!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

He Really Didn't Have a Chance!

I was nine years old when I had to start wearing glasses.  I can still remember telling my parents that I was having trouble seeing.  They didn't believe me.  Another boy in my third grade glass had just recently started wearing glasses and my folks just thought that I was trying to be like him.  Turns out I really was blind as a bat and had a bad astigmatism in my right eye.  That started a life long dependency on corrective eye wear starting with my first pair of very nerdy thick rimed plastic glasses.  I wore these very awful glasses for 5 years before being allowed to start wearing contacts, which I still wear today even after Lasik surgery.

My wife has bad vision.  She has also worn contacts most of her life and now ops to wear glasses on most days.  She has two or three different designer pair that look really cute on her.  Some might even call it sophisticated sexy!

I was hoping that my children would be like their Papa and have perfect vision into their old age.  No such luck.  My wife noticed it first.  She told me that she didn't think Reid could see the clock on the TV.  I just blew it off because I had not seen Reid squinting or heard him complain about not being able to see.  I first noticed it when baseball season started.  My son is not the best baseball player in the league, but he has always been pretty good and has always been able to put the bat on the ball with consistency.  He wasn't touching anything.  It was like he was swinging right through the baseball.  I still did not think about his vision though until I asked him to read the timer on the stove one day last week.  He walked all the way around the counter to tell me the time on the ticker.  It hit me like a ton of bricks!

I asked his teacher to have the school nurse issue him an eye test.  He failed it.  We made an appointment.  Yesterday I sat in the same doctor's office with my son that I had sat in 30 years previous to get my first set of glasses.  The staff was great and got Reid settled into the exam chair.  I don't know how the child was walking around without bumping into stuff.  He could read the big E and the next line under that.  The rest was a guessing game.  In other words, if Reid was an old man, he would have qualified for disability and his drivers licence would have been taken away for being legally blind.  They started the process of getting his prescription dialed in and Reid starting reading the very small print that even I was having trouble reading.  He was amazed at himself.  He didn't know he couldn't see.

We were very fortunate that we were able to get his frames and lenses on the same day.  Glasses have come a long way in 30 years and Reid was able to pick out a very cool pair of Nike flex frames.  After some adjustments, the doctor signed off on a good fit, popped in the lenses and sent us off to see a whole new world.

I can say that I know how my son is feeling today while he is at school.  He is excited about the fact that the world is a new place with clear vision, but I'm sure he has taken some teasing from his friends about his new head wear.  He told me that he was not going to let it bother him, and for that I was proud of him.  I have encouraged him to stay positive and have told him that baseball has to be easier to play when you can actually see the ball.  I have also told him that his glasses are very cool compared to the ones that I had to wear when I was his age.

His doctor told us that Reid can start wearing contacts whenever we feel he is ready.  We decided to give it a year or so to see how he does and then we will look to make the transition.  At least he will not have to wait 5 years like his Dad.

So Reid never really had a chance.  Both his mother and I have passed on our terrible vision to our son.  The good news however is that he has a cool pair of glasses and contacts will be here before you know it! 

Now let's go hit some home runs!!