Ok, so it’s really Tuesday and I forgot Monday was Memoir Monday, so I’m playing catch-up. But it worked out well because it brings me to our Memoir excerpt of the week.
One of my favorite things to do when I’m bored is to scare people. Usually those people are my family. I’ve done this since a small child for reasons I cannot explain, but I love it even more as an adult.
Now, after 3 years of being scared, Erik and his family have begun trying it out for themselves. It’s actually a good thing. Learning how to be quiet, calculated and work your way somewhere un-noticed is a valuable skill for survival. On the opposite end, learning how t be constantly aware of your surroundings, noticing things sneaking around and hearing faint noises is also a key to surviving.
Unfortunately, I am the master of scaring. I am small enough to fit anywhere and I’m always inventing new places to hide. Between the two shower curtain halves, in the cupboard, under a pile of blankets on the bed, under the bed, next to the bed under a blanket overhang, in the curtains, and the list goes on.
Most everyone screams and jumps back. The one you gotta watch though, is my daughter Nuriel. This one will throw punches and kicks when you scare her. This, I tell her, is a good thing. But she still needs to notice me better.
Camper life was no exception to my scaring obsession.
(This one actually includes two different excerpts)
Six Kids, Four Months and One Camper
Sunday we stopped at Meijer on the way home from church. We had to return the Redbox movie so Erik ran-in to get two rotisserie chickens and some sides from the deli. I loved not having to cook! When we got home, Erik ushered everyone inside saying he had to poop and didn’t want an audience. We didn’t think anything of his request as we were too busy fighting over what part of the chicken everyone got, and how many potato wedges everyone could have and “don’t forget Dad!”. Several minutes later Erik walked-in and none of the kids noticed his face, but I did! He had that funny, twitching smile he gets when he’s up to no good and trying to be secretive about it.
He pulled me aside in our bedroom. “I’m playing a prank on the kids, so don’t go into the potty. Let’s wait and see which kid goes in!”
I grinned slyly, “Oh good honey! I’ll play along!”
We nonchalantly walked back out to join the group and began munching away at the delicious fare on our plates (tasted all the better because I didn’t have to make it!) That’s when they all began to get up and clear their plates talking about going outside to play. Erik began to look nervous knowing he’d lose his chance to watch the fun if everyone was milling about outside.
I quickly broke-in, “hey could one of you guys get your Dad some toilet paper from the bathroom?”
“I will!” Eian said, but Abby jumped-up first.
“I’m going to Eian, sit-down!” Abby shoved him back into his seat, then jumped-out the door looking over at him, sticking out her tongue.
Erik and I snuck over to the window in the kitchen but couldn’t see well enough, so we just stuck our heads out the screen door. Abby walked along quite pleased with herself for beating Eian to the job. She grabbed the plastic handle of the door and struggled to pull it open. She started to go inside, then shrieked and jumped back several steps. She scowled and began walking back along the deck. We both jumped back into our seats and played casual.
Abby stomped up into the living room, “nice try Dad!”
“What Abby?” Eian asked with wide eyes.
Abby smiled slyly. “Oh Dad left a giant turd floating in the toilet! It was gross!”
Eian got excited. “Did it have chunks of corn in it?”
“Oh yeah!” Erik broke-in, with a sideways glance at me. I rolled my eyes, but he was playing along well so I kept my mouth shut.
“I bet it’s not huger than the one I took the other day at school!” He called as he ran out the door.
Erik was trying hard not to give himself away with his snickering.
“Dad, WHAT are you doing?” Brea yelled at him hearing his snickers.
Erik snickered more violently. “Tshush! Brea, get down!”
Brea’s eyes got bigger as she hunkered down next to Erik and poked her head out the door.
Eian caught us poking our heads out and called to us confidently, “Come-on, it can’t be THAT bad!”
Eian opened the door and almost jumped inside in his effort to see the “turd”. The door suddenly burst back open and Eian ran out yelling. Erik had stuffed a very realistic-looking squirrel dog toy in the far corner of the potty.
He looked-up and realized we were laughing at him, and Erik most of all.
“Not funny Suzanne! You didn’t scare me!”
“Eian I didn’t do it, your Dad did!”
“Very funny Dad.”
Erik finally managed to collect himself enough to poke a few coy comments at him. “Didn’t scare ya uh? Looked like it did to me! You ran outta of there pretty quick!”
“No, I ran because I was mad you guys played a trick on me!”
“Seriously Eian, you were THAT excited over POOP?” Brea rolled her eyes in disgust.
When there is no TV available to keep you entertained, sometimes you have to provide your own entertainment. That was just the start of the pranks. Everyone knew I was the master pranker of “jump out and scare you”. I could squeeze myself into anything and make the most horrific noises when I finally did jump out. Brea was usually my favorite target as she was both easy to scare and gave the biggest reaction.
Later that day, Brea walked out to use the bathroom. I quickly snuck outside and crawled under the camper where the steps were. The bottom two steps were solid wood – added under the metal folding ones to make a smoother transition from the ground. The top step was a metal, folding camper step, and I could reach through it easily. I only had a minute to compose myself, mentally pick my scary sound and position my hand before Brea would pop out of the porta potty and run up the steps.
Sure enough, in less than a minute Brea was out of the potty and running up the steps. Unfortunately for her, I was faster and caught her last foot through the steps, letting out a horrific, ear-piercing shriek/scream. Brea let out a horrified scream-wail and kicked furiously to release my grip on her leg, wailing more. I couldn’t contain myself any longer and let go and began laughing.
“What?! Suzanne!” Brea’s face popped under the camper to stare at me. “You scared me! I thought you were a possum or a raccoon!” She helped pull me out and shook her head. “Great hiding spot though. You gotta get Abby. No one has scared her yet!”
I looked at her devilishly, “Oh don’t worry, I’ve got plans for her too! Maybe not today, but sometime!”
*****Except number 2********
October 7, 2013
A great way to begin any Monday is by having to process up a deer. Again, this was one of those things that some guys can do in under an hour. Not me. Thanks to my small stature, man-handling a deer weighing more than me was a difficult task. Even pulling the hide-off was a feat due to my tiny hands . . . and my insistence of perfection. I had plans to someday tan this hide (and any others) and it had to be pulled-off the deer perfectly. I began on a step stool to reach the neck, then worked my way down to the back legs. Once it was off (minus the tail, I always managed to not catch the last tip of the fluffy tail!), I folded it in half then rolled it up and put it into a garbage bag, then into a cooler filled with ice. Randy had already said we could use his extra freezer at his house to put our meat and hide in, I just had to keep it cold until then.
Flies were buzzing around my head, and the weather was coming into a brief warm spell. I had to get this deer cut-up before the meat went bad, or the flies got into it. Hmm . . . I looked around as I kept trying to swat the flies off my deer. Now that the hide was gone, all that tasty deer meat was drawing flies like a dinner bell. I looked down at the roll of garbage bags and had an idea!
I took my knife and began slicing them down the seams. I laid the sheet of plastic around the deer, covering all exposed areas I was not cutting. The flies were pretty ticked off! This deer was already quite fattened up for winter, no doubt thanks to the neighbor’s corn field. I peeled-back the plastic covering her back and began chiseling off the thick, hard fat along her spine, exposing her back straps.
Now, I’m not sure what exact cut of meat this is in relation to other animals, but it resembles a tenderloin. Many guys insist you can remove these simply by running a thumb along the spine to loosen it, then pull it out. You can, but you leave a lot of meat behind. My goal in cutting-up any deer is to use as much as humanly possible. Last year I even cooked the ribs down for pulled venison.
I went to work skillfully cutting out both back straps and laying them in a gallon size Ziplock bag. The two hind quarters of the deer were tricky. You had to split the pelvis with a sharp knife then you had to detach the free hanging legs from the back tissues. They were heavy and every time you cut one off, you had to catch it as the heavy weight would always catch you by surprise, buckling your arms in and nearly dropping it.
Erik had cleaned-off the counter-top to his homemade workbench and it was sitting outside the round top with a hose at the ready. Since I didn’t have the needed counter space in the camper, this counter was going to be my processing station. I heaved the leg up onto the flat surface and carefully selected the perfect knife. My cleaver. I still had to hack-off the end of the leg with the hoof.
I stuck it out over the edge of the counter and with three hard chops, it fell to the ground, leaving behind the meaty portion of the leg.
I quickly went to work with my knives, slitting-open the muscle groups and making piles of them on the counter.
The large leg bones I tossed into a pile with the hoof, then packed the various meat groups into Ziplocks. I arranged them by roasts, steaks and grind later for ground “beef”. I did the same for the other leg, then cut off the front shoulders and finally all the neck meat.
It took me several hours, but I finally got it all done. We would be having steak for dinner tonight!
Now since I wasn’t sure yet what Erik wanted me to do with the rest of the carcass, I just left it hanging in the hay shelter. He told me the next day to go bury it out back (thanks). However, this was also the day the kids came back from their Mom’s house, so I wasn’t in a rush to cover it in the ground. As the first set of kids got off the school bus and walked up the driveway to the camper, I popped outside quick to ask Brea to get me the horse’s lead rope out of the hay shelter. I wanted to walk the dogs and couldn’t find their leash.
Brea nodded and dropped her backpack off on the deck then walked over to the round top. She unzipped the front door then walked-in . . . screams of bloody murder erupted from inside! Brea came running around shrieking in a high-pitched voice at me that I was a horrible person. Abby stood there laughing at Brea as Brea’s voice reached such a high pitch that only the dogs understood what she was saying.
“Why do you always get me?! Why not Abby!?” She laughed as she lightly shoved me, then dragged her backpack inside with her.
We had done the same thing last year at the old house. After cutting up the deer, all that was left hanging on the rope was the head. We had taken the head and stuck it inside a large bin behind the house, then set-up the video camera. When Brea got home from school, we asked her to get some bird seed out of the bin to feed the birds. At first she stuck her hand in before looking. When she felt something furry, she shrieked and then looked in. She screamed seeing the deer head with his cold, glassy eyes staring at her and then fell to the ground in a tight ball, crying and sobbing. When she figured out Erik had planned the whole thing, she chased him around the yard trying to beat him.