53

I’m not usually the type of person to believe in the paranormal, or that sort of thing. But my sister just told me a really cool story. She drove our mother to her senior meeting yesterday. It’s a weekly meeting she goes to at her church where she gets to socialize with women her own age, and they play Bingo and have weekly raffles. As she exited the car, my sister told her to have fun. My mom turned to her and said “I had a dream about your father last night, and he told me to play the number 53. Wish me luck.”.

The raffles work a little differently than raffles I know of. Usually you just get a ticket with a random number on it. Apparently with her church raffle there are 100 numbers. Each round you pick a number and if that number gets drawn, you win. The first two rounds, someone else grabbed the number 53 so she wasn’t able to play it. In the 3rd and final round, she said she “ran” up to make sure she got the number 53, which she did!

Sure enough when they called out the winner, they called the number 53 and she won. It was only $25, but it made her day. As my sister was telling me this, we were trying to figure out if there was any significance to the number 53. We started thinking back to when my parents met, and I wondered if it was 1953. Then the number clicked for my sister. She pointed out they were married in 1959, so they would have been married 53 years!

Perhaps it was all just a coincidence, but I like to think that maybe, just maybe, it was a sign from my dad. He’s been gone for almost 30 years, but there are so many things I see and do each day that make me thing of him. Especially when I am doing things with Max. I remember back to the days when I was the little boy, and my Dad and I would go to the park. And how excited I would get when he would get home from work at night. I hope some day when Max is grown, that he looks back at all the things we do together as fondly as I remember doing things with my dad.

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Call of the Wildman

Call of the Wildman is Max’s new obsession. We started watching the show over the summer after we saw commercials for it. Basically Turteman is an animal lover, who gets called to animal rescue jobs. Turteman’s real name is Ernie Brown Jr, and he comes from the “backwoods” of Kentucky. Apparently where he lives, animals such as raccoons, fox, skunks, possum and snakes find their way into people’s homes and places of business. So they call Ernie in to get the animals out.

Ernie catches most of the animals by hand, usually grabbing them by the tail and placing them in a sack so they can be relocated. On occasion he uses traps or improvises and uses a bucket or trashcan to capture the animals. It’s always done in a humane way. Once he catches the animals, he relocates them, though Im not really sure where he takes them exactly. His first love are turtles (hence the name Turtleman), specifically snapping turtles. He will dive into a disgusting, scum filled pond in order to rescue a snapping turtle.

Turteman has a team of helpers like his banjo playing partner and best friend Neil. And he also has a guy named Jake, who is quite handy at building things. Whenever Turteman needs something built to outsmart the animals, Jake is usually the one who does the building. The last member of the Turtle Team is gentle giant “Squirrel” Brady. He’s a giant of a man, but he is very kind and shares the same love of animals that Ernie has.

I have to admit, I enjoy watching the show as much as Max, but maybe not for the same reasons. I think Max is just fascinated by the animals, while I’m more fascinated by the people on the show. Like when Ernie went into a trailer park to rid them of a troublesome skunk who was stinking the place up. Watching him roll around and get sprayed in the face by skunks is just nuts. Especially when he goes in with very little and quite primitive protection.

If I were going in after skunks, I would want to be in a fill hazmat suit. But Ernie goes in wearing nothing but a hooded sweatshirt, goggles and a bandana around his nose and mouth. And he didn’t have any sort of fancy contraption to catch the skunks either. He followed the scent of the skunks and found fresh claw marks. So armed with nothing more than a bath towel and a flashlight, he rolled into the crawl space beneath one of the trailers and quickly discovered a family of 5 skunks. Expecting only one skunk, his eyes get real wide and he yells out to his partner “Neil, I’m surrounded”.

Neil nervously waits outside, waiting to bag the skunks while Ernie rolls around, and makes a ruckus in the crawl space while catching the stinky, unwelcome visitors. Eventually, Turtleman can’t stand the smell and the cramped quarters he’s in, so he lowers a shoulder and busts through the small wall that covers the crawl space under the trailer.

The show ends with Ernie “bathing” to get the skunk smell off of him. And when I say bathing, I mean he’s filled up a large Rubbermate container out on his front porch with tomato juice and sliced potatoes. He scrubs himself down with the tomato juice, before dousing himself with a gallon of vinegar and then finally rinses off by jumping into a big blue barrel filled with water.

Since Max loves animals, I could see why he would love the show. Usually Turtleman starts off by trying to locate an opening in a window, a wall, attic etc where the animal gained entry. So now whenever Max sees a hole in a screen door, or some mulch that’s been dug up, he makes up stories about how he thinks it was a possum that did it. Pretty funny. And Max also loves yelling out Turtleman’s catchphrase “Live Action!”.

Unfortunately I think there are only about 12 episodes so far. So we’ve probably seen each one about 5 or 6 times. I hear they are doing a second season, so Max and I will be excited when those start to air.

Fall for Fairfax

The past three years, we have taken Max to the “Fall for Fairfax” celebration. The weather this year was absolutely perfect. About 82 degrees and sunny. After the rain and cold we experienced last year, it was great to see such lovely weather.

In years past, we pretty much stuck to all the free stuff. Max was still kind of young, and scared of the rides and attractions. This year was completely different. Thanks to playing Carnival Games on the Wii, Max wanted to try every game they had. His favorites seemed to be the shooting gallery and the dart toss.

The shooting gallery was really cool because they used these old toy rifles that shot corks. I had one just like it when I was kid. The targets were red Solo cups. Max has a pretty steady hand and good eye from shooting his Nerf guns. He hit the cups just about every time, but because the corks are light, if you hit the bottom of the cup, the cup just sort of slid and didn’t tip over. Eventually he ended up knocking over three cups and picked 3 harmonicas as his prizes.

The dart toss is one of his favorites on the Wii and he seemed to love the real thing as well. There are different sized and colored balloons up on a wooden board. Max was given three darts. Pop 1 balloon, you get a small prize, 2 balloons and medium prize and if he got all 3, he would get a large prize. The first dart he threw was a bullseye and popped the balloon. The 2nd, sort of wobbled out of his hand and bounced off the balloons. The last went high and missed the balloon he was aiming for. So he settled for a small prize. I think it was a small plush shark.

Then we tried the basketball toss. It looked like the hoop was really high, so we were hesitant to try. The girl running the booth said Max could stand on the little podium and shoot from there. Three balls for $5.00. His first shot bounced off the rim. The 2nd went in perfectly. Nothing but net! The 3rd hit the rim and bounced off. Max’s prize? This GIGANTIC inflatable bat. He saw a boy carrying one when we first walked in and was so excited to get one of his own.

At $5.00 a pop, the games were getting kind of expensive. So we bought $20 worth of tickets for the rides. Max eyed the potato sack slide. He’s under 48 inches, so he had to be accompanied by a parent. I asked him if he wanted to go on the slide with Mommy or Daddy and he smiled and pointed at me. I’m not a big fan of heights or rides, but hey, I couldn’t look like a wuss in front of my boy. We grabbed a sack and climbed the stairs to the top. When we reached the top, I sat on the sack, then had Max sit on my lap. The slide was hard plastic and had a series of ups and downs that looked sort of like waves. I was surprised at how much speed we picked up at the top. I was holding on to Max for dear life. When we got to the bottom, Max jumped up and said “Lets do it again!” So we went down a 2nd time. Not quite as scary the 2nd time.

The next hour or so, Max played in various moon bounces, visited the petting zoo area, stuffed a scarecrow, and went on a pony ride. On the way in, we saw this cool looking bungy jump zone. They had these harnesses they hooked you into that were attached to bungee cords. At each station, they had a “plastic pillow” that you could jump on to launch yourself up. When Max saw it on the way in, he said he didn’t want to do it. On the way out, he stopped and looked at it again so Rachel asked if he wanted to do it. He said he did, so we got in line. I half expected him to “chicken out” as we neared the front of the line. But I think seeing kids around his age doing it put him at ease. When it was his turn to go, he did pretty well. He probably got himself about 12-15 feet in the air. A few of the older kids were doing backflips, which he was desperately trying to do, but couldn’t quite figure out.

It was a pretty great family day. I love this time of year, so looking forward to finding some more outdoor fall stuff to do this weekend!