My First Book is Ready for Pre-order!!

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So after two years of work, my first book is ready for pre-order!!

Waldorf Publishing picked me up a couple years ago, and after two years of editing, marketing tasks, securing endorsements, etc., the title is up on their site and available for pre-order.

I am beyond excited to be able to make this announcement, and want to thank any and all who have helped me make this possible!!

Here is the link!!

Aside From the Harvest

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My Gun Perspective

I was 14 and worked at Little Caesars in Cary. The city was on Forbes best and safest city to live in that year, and ridiculously high up there; at least to me it seemed. I had finished all my closing duties and was sitting on the cutting tables waiting for 10:30. That was closing time. Only one other person was with me, the manager, she was in her 40’s, and she was involved with paperwork.

Probably around 10, I saw two guys, all in black, walk by the store quickly, left to right; I’ll never forget it. They didn’t have masks on yet. When they ran back around the corner, and straight into the store, they were in black from head-to-toe. I remembered they were both young and white.

One stood just after entering pointing a gun at my face, the other jumped the counter and made for the register, but it had already been cleared of all but a few bucks. Something happened in those moments though that completely changed my life; something that told me something about myself. I heard his keys hit the floor when he jumped the counter. They had their driver park behind the store, and took the car keys; they didn’t trust she would remain, I suppose.

I was present at 14. I already knew what I would do if I was alive when they exited that store. Can you imagine? The athletic fella was unhappy the register was near-empty and asked for the safe to be opened, but we told him we’d already made the deposit, but we’d open it. He panicked. I could see it in his face he knew he had to get out. He was terrified. Then he scared us to death. He made Robin and I lie face down on the floor. He put that pistol in the back of my head and shoved it a bit. I remember my teeth hitting the floor lightly. He wasn’t so tough after all. But I’ll never forget that either. Then, he said, “if either one of you get up, I’ll kill both of you” then he ran out like a coward.

As God is my witness, I followed his coward ass out, and locked that door behind him, without thought, I just knew I had to. As I turned to get back to the phones, Robin was up and dialing 911, then he ran back up pointing the gun at me through the door as I was pivoting. I ran back behind the door to the back area and waited agonizing minutes for police to respond. It took a while too.

I decided after that I’d never be in that position again if I could help it. I know first hand it’s on you in these types of situations, and it always will be. Arming yourself can be especially empowering after living through something like that, of this I can assure you. It will change the way you view the world, and it will remove fear entirely.. After training, or just life experience with a gun, it becomes, ironically enough, just like your car, you become one with it and can use it safely without much situational thinking at all. However, I choose not to carry unless I’m going somewhere I have had issues with in the past. I could tell another story about confronting 9 illegal fish netters on the Cape Fear by myself last year, and that a good buddy, spent over an hour with me a few days later, picking up the nails and screws they dumped in the gravel parking area at Buckhorn in response, after I called them out, gun on my hip. You see there is no cell service down there…at all.

I said all that to say this…

A reality we seem to be begging for.,,,

‘Hello young man, I know you’d like to go to college, but we have a disagreement in this country over here, so take these guns and kill who we say kill, when we say kill, as many as we say kill. Then come home, if you can, and turn in your guns. You aren’t old enough to protect yourself and we obviously can’t or won’t protect you either. Do try to fit back in, ok?’

Or,

You drive up to the school to pick up your child, or children. You hear gunshots. You observe multiple men, dressed in black, flak jackets, heavily armed posted up behind a building, seemingly unable, or again, unwilling, to respond, to protect you and your children. You hear more gunshots. But all you have is a phone.

Maybe it isn’t the school, or the church, or the mall; the location is irrelevant. And I don’t know what people are seeing or thinking, because I’ve seen all the news outlets telling us the multiple grotesque and frankly insulting failures at every level by our authorities, and these catastrophic failures have been observed now at shooting after shooting after shooting. And these reports seem to have no political polarity. They’re just brutally honest. Yet we scream for our rights to be taken.

I’ll tell everyone of you who reads this plain out. You cannot legislate away hatred or greed or envy. And you can make all the restrictions on gun owners you want, hell, let’s say we could snap our fingers and every gun and bullet on earth disappears (which will not happen with any laws or bans) I can assure you corrupted and hateful people will still kill, they will still kill many and they will, I have no doubt, invent something far deadlier than a gun in short order.

I hope we all carefully consider what we’re asking for.

Spring Stripers, White bass & Crappie

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I got out on Jordan Lake this afternoon and found striped bass, white bass and crappie feeding heavily.

It was a perfect afternoon; the cloud cover was thick, rain was light to non-existent, and the wind was light. I couldn’t stand it.

Launched the kayak around 1:00 and started into a narrow area I’ve found fish laying before. I started with both rods rigged with KVD 1.0’s; the pics will show what happened…after just a few moments, one of the rods bounced, and I decided to reel it in and make sure it was clean; the area I was fishing was shallow and there was no reason to pull crap around. But on the retrieve, as I was approaching a fast rate, the rod doubled over with my first striped bass of 2018.

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I didn’t want to be disrespectful to the fishing Gods, so I tossed it back after a quick pic.

Then after a few more minutes, and having no luck, I thought to myself, I’ve seen this movie before, let’s speed this up, and within seconds this nice crappie joined the party. Well it is spring….burn em!!!!

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After that, the pattern had revealed itself and the fish repeatedly fell prey to the same technique. Stripers, catfish, perch, crappie, and white bass couldn’t resist the tiny crankbaits.

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Then, after a short break, cuz my legs were burning…my first double of the year, a duo of white perch that were far more trouble to document than they were worth…

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I was releasing everything today, and these were no exception.

Then…more stripers!

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And the clouds got really scenic for a bit…

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They seemed to roll in some direction I was supposed to follow, so I did, and then…bam!!

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And then…bam again!!

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At this point it was kind of embarrassing.

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More Cedar Scrimshaw Commissions

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I’ve been catching up on more cedar scrimshaw commissions over the last few weeks.

The piece above is a cardinal one of my neighbors wanted. She didn’t want any flowers, but agreed to allow for a tree branch… This particular piece, as with the last few bird inspired scrimshaws, has no etching, nor does it have any inked lines at all. This seems to make these particular pieces appear more realistic.

I also got a Grateful Dead, Steal Your Face piece done for another client, and this one is totally engraved. He still has to decide if he wants any color, or if he wants to keep it simply line art.

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And then I did this one for a very special person…

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This one does have some lines inked, but only in the darker areas, and there is no engraving, save the signature on the back. It’s my favorite hummingbird to date.

Then, I had another good friend who needed a cedar board and help with finishing it. He had a cast iron replica of an old car passed down to him by his grandfather. So we cut a piece to size, belt-sanded the rough cut lines and then mounted the car. This was a fun little project and I was honored to help preserve and display the piece.

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So the new mill is getting worked out and I’ll have more project updates soon!

New Cedar Scrimshaws

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I’ve been creating new cedar scrimshaws lately for a few commissions, and also stock for the store in Cary.

These pieces are inspired by a good friend’s suggestion after seeing some of my cardinals. As usual, they are crafted with aromatic eastern cedar, and the artwork is original. I used pastels, color pencils and ink after cutting and sanding the wood to prepare for the artwork. The only thing engraved on these cedar scrimshaws are the signatures.

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After milling a few logs lately….

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I have plenty of canvasses to do things like, maybe this…all on one piece…but with varying species of birds and flowers.

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Here are some ‘process’ milling pics from yesterday. Log #2 is under my belt. The Alaskan chainsaw mill is working great!

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Milling an Eastern Red Cedar Log

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I finally got the ripping chain for my chainsaw; let the milling of eastern red cedar slabs begin…

The four boards (above) were milled today from the same eastern red cedar log. I bartered a job with a customer for a dead-standing tree on their property, a few years ago, and this log has been waiting to show what it has hidden within ever since.

At first, as I was trying to get the feel for this new contraption, I rocked the saw back and forth while cutting because it was quicker. That is a mistake, and will only result in more sanding time. I quickly realized I had to trust the system, and push, straight-armed to gain maximum control, and maintain as steady a speed on the saw as possible. This gave me the smoother lines as evidenced in the center two pieces from the feature photograph.

I would say, it is crucial not to overrun your saw. I have run and owned multiple chainsaws, over many years, and I did use a ripping chain, and additionally cedar is in fact a soft wood. However, my saw almost overheated a few times as I became familiar with the speed I could run it while cutting with the grain, as opposed to cross-cut. Make sure your saw isn’t smoking, and if it does, shut it down and let it cool immediately.

Here was the beginning of the process after assembling the mill to the saw.

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I used an old u-channel post for a rail for the first cut; simply screwed through the holes, which were already provided, and leveled.

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The first cut was rough, but I had a feel for the setup and made adjustments. I used braces and screws to stabilize the piece and continued.

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These are really going to be rewarding to work with. Stay tuned!

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Don’t Get Sick, Get Echinacea

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Getting sick plain out stinks. So don’t. Get Echinacea.

Most people I know may have heard of echinacea before, but they don’t know much about it. For over a decade now, I’ve used it to fight colds and flu. But here’s the thing, you don’t fight off the symptoms of the colds and sickness, you simply never get sick in the first place, and I have used it with almost complete success for a long time. But there is a secret to using echinacea.

So I’m going to start out the New Year by giving up a seriously well-kept secret. I don’t know why it’s a secret; it shouldn’t be. I don’t even recall how I learned about this wonder-herb, but luckily for me, the person who divulged the herb to me, also thought it pertinent to tell me how to use it.

Echinacea is a flowering plant in the daisy family found only in eastern and central North America – lucky us. The leaves and flowers are edible and the plant, in its entirety, have been used in medicinal tinctures for longer than any of us have been alive.

Now if you go online and read about echinacea, you will come across a great variance of information; some pro and some con, but I will tell you only of my experience with it and what has worked for me. As with any drug, herb or substance you are not familiar with, proceed with as much information as you can.

I have never had any sort of reaction but awesomeness from echinacea.

So here is the trick.

Echinacea is not to be used like a vitamin. Your body will quickly build a tolerance for it and you will not receive the plant’s vital qualities when you need them. So here is my criteria for administering the herb.

First, keep it on-hand. It’s cheap and readily available at your grocery store, and no, I have seen no difference in the effectiveness of any one brand over any other. In fact, I would recommend always using different brands of products, once you use up a container, for varying reasons. I like to get a new bottle every year.

Second, only use echinacea if you have been in contact with a sick person. Do not use it as a daily supplement. It will not hurt you to do so, but as already has been stated, the herb will lose its effectiveness if this is done.

So here is what I would recommend. Let’s say you and the family have been visiting friends or neighbors over the holidays, and their ‘little Johnny’ was feverish and you could actually see the germs flying towards you while you celebrated with your friends. As soon as you get home, take one pill, or however many the brand you select says is a single dose, and eat a little something with it. Do this with each meal, at least 3 times a day for the next 3 days. Do not delay, if you don’t have it at home, stop and get it on the way back. Don’t wait one meal, or the germs will certainly do their job.

I have, a few times, woke up in the morning with a sore throat (sinus draining) and hadn’t known I’d come across a sick person (probably random contact with a door knob) and started the above treatment and staved the cold off. Once I did that a few times I was a serious believer.  However, if I had waited a day to start taking the herb, I am sure it would have been a waste.

That’s it. It really is that simple. I hope this helps!