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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"In my experience, there's no such thing as luck" ~ Obi-Wan, Star Wars, 1977.

“At 4:30 a.m., we assembled at the barn, donning warm camouflage gear, loading our guns, before stealing into the woods, finding our deer stands in spite of the darkness. From our perches (Marsh’s was 15 feet above the ground) we wait, watch and listen. You wait for daylight to provide enough light for the hunter to actually see the deer to be able to shoot it…”

Marsh and Dad went 'deer hunting' again this past weekend. I think the only thing that died was the poultry sacrificed for their fried chicken platters. Thank goodness. Where a Drylie is concerned, ne’er has deer blood been shed. The first morning, still overstuffed with Thanksgiving Day turkey, Dad found Marsh had snuck down off the deer stand and tip-toed back to the truck where was sound asleep ‘waiting’ for Dad.

I have known your dad for over 23 years. Many times he has traveled to Georgia to sit in a deer stand and ‘hunt’ deer. Waking long before dawn, great-Grandma would rise early, cook him the big breakfast and off he’d go. I miss great-Grandma. In the early years, Dad went with Uncle Dan, the man who taught him how to hunt and fish. These are fond memories and Dad is recreating them with your brother. Male bonding Marsh calls it. Deer or no deer, it’s a rite of passage.

There are 34 known species of deer. Deer are found on all continents except for Antarctica so it would make sense someone would want to hunt some of those deer.

So who is this talented huntress and just who shot this deer? This is my ‘deer’ friend Dani's first deer, an 8 point, 153 lb. buck. Dani loves to go hunting with her dad, too. Last fall, she shot a gobbler with a 9 inch beard and 1 1/2 inch spurs. It weighed 23 lbs! Dani is in the sixth grade. I think this would make her twelve years old.

In order to salvage what is left of the Drylie family pride, I have found out what I think has caused this lack of deer luck. Dad and Marsh have been the victims of ‘sneaky deer’.

Deer Hunting Tips: (per the National Association of Deer Hunters)

To have a successful deer hunt, the following tips may be useful

There are Three Types of Deer Sounds. Perhaps you can mimic one of them to coax the deer into your range of fire.

Snort - A snort is typically used when a deer is alarmed. They will also use it to alert other animals of a possible intruder

Bleat - A bleat is generally used by does when they feel scared or are in danger. Using this type of call can be effective because it may attract the attention and curiosity of the bucks.

Grunt - Bucks typically grunt when they want another buck to leave their territory. Although using this type of call can be effective it does not always work because it may actually scare off the bucks if they think another buck is making the noise.

Look for Acorns

While you are on the lookout for a good hunting spot, look for an area that has a few large oak trees with large amounts of acorns on them. These areas will become favorite spots for the deer to feed as the acorns ripen and fall off.

Pre-Season Scouting

The first step for successful pre-season scouting is to determine what and where the deer eat. They will frequent this spot throughout the season so it is a good idea to find them early on and scout their movements to and from this area. You can start scouting as early as the summer, but be careful to keep quiet just as if you were actually hunting. You do not want to scare the deer off before the season even starts.

Beware of Sneaky Deer

Some hunters will find they have tried everything and still no deer. Some deer, especially the older and wiser ones may not run as soon as you spook them. Instead they may try to hang their head low and sneak by you. Other deer may just lay low and hide, hoping that you will just walk right by. It is widely believed by most hunters deer are smarter than human beings.

Well for goodness sakes, now we know! I asked Dad if there was something he would like to add to this list of deer hunting tips. He stated he was apparently 'insufficiently informed' regarding deer hunting tips, hence his lack of success. Dad’s gun has malfunctioned twice during his last two hunting trips. Twice he has gone out unprepared, once with his gun loaded with birdshot and not buckshot. Dad says you can’t kill a buck with birdshot, you’ll only piss him off.

We have respectfully asked Dani to accompany Marsh and Dad on their next hunting expedition.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

"You know the difference between you and me? I make this look good" ~ Men in Black, 1997.

Homecoming, 2006

"He looked dashing, while dancing and prancing with vixens..."

Monday, November 20, 2006

"The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey A La King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!" ~ A Christmas Story, 1983.

To All Our Family and Friends

Just a note to let you know we are hoping to see you Thanksgiving Day, however...

Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I'm telling you in advance, so don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few small changes:

Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make. Instead, I've gotten the kids involved in the decorating by having them track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their idea.

The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy china, or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.

Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey.

We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds.

As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They are lying.

We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the
children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door.

Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner. For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances,enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that "passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean your sister in the head with warm tasty bread.

Oh, and one reminder for the adults: For the duration of the meal, and especially while in the presence of young diners, we will refer to the giblet gravy by its lesser-known name: Cheese Sauce. If a young diner questions you regarding the origins or type of Cheese Sauce, plead ignorance. Cheese Sauce stains.

Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have a choice; take it or leave it.

I hope you aren't too disappointed that Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. She probably won't come next year either.

Best Regards and Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

"We're on a mission from God" ~ The Blues Brothers, 1980.

How to Apply for an Event or Blessing from the Pope

I have had many requests since my return from Rome to discuss my visit with the Pope. It was a wonderful experience and one I will not soon forget. As you can see from my pictures, our fabulous Rick Steves tour guide, Tricia, was not only able to obtain tickets for the entire group, but she also guaranteed and delivered excellent seats.

St. Peter's Square, we wait for the Pope.
Audiences with the Pope are held just about every Wednesday morning. As you can imagine, tickets need to be reserved well ahead of time. There are a couple of easy ways of accomplishing this.

Arranging a Papal Audience by Telephone:
Talking to the Pope by phone. You can arrange an audience with the Pope through the Prefecture of the Pontifical House of the Vatican City: Tel: 011-39-06-698-83017.

Tour member, I shall call him "Frank", in prayer and contemplation, during our visit with the Pope.

Arranging a Papal Audience via the Web:
Though I can’t imagine it, the Pope in a chatroom, one can obtain tickets for an audience via the web. Santa Susanna, home of the American Catholic Church in Rome, offers a means of acquiring tickets to Papal Masses and Papal Audiences by filling out a web form well in advance of your trip to Rome. They will attempt to make your tickets available for pick up at the church the evening before the event. Although rarely available, you may be able to reserve a Papal Blessing.

Vatican Dress Code:
Be aware that Vatican dress code requires no shorts or tank tops. Women's shoulders must be covered.
(This is strictly enforced)

One of our guards who kept us highly entertained by just being so darn cute. He was one of a matched set. The guy in front of him is his twin.

To Request Papal Event Tickets:
For Audience Tickets:
Pope Benedict XVI continues the tradition of the Wednesday morning General Audience. We will continue to provide tickets for those who would like them, WHEN THEY ARE NEEDED. Please follow the instructions below. The information is updated when there are changes in the Holy Father's schedule. You can also check the Vatican website for updates (www.vatican.va)

It was announced October 25, that there would NOT be an audience on Wednesday, November 1st. Instead, the Pope will celebrate Mass in the Basilica at 10:00 AM. We have been promised our usual amount of tickets, so if you have reserved them, you should be able to get one with us, unless there is a change at the last minute. This will, however, necessitate that you get to the Basilica very early (three hours would be best), as the Basilica does not hold as many people as the Piazza. As soon as the Basilica is filled, people will be invited to sit out side and watch the Mass on the TV screen, even if you have a ticket. (I threw this in to show you how close I came to NOT getting to see the Pope. My dear brother-in-law, Charles, has never seen the Pope though he DOES get a Christmas card from the Republican White House every year, thank you very much….)

There is no Papal Audience on Wednesday, November 29, as the Pope will be in Turkey (for Thanksgiving, this is appropriate). This is definite and we ask that you please not call us about this.

•Tickets are necessary for the Wednesday Papal Audiences, which are currently in St. Peter's Square (AT 10:30 AM) due to the huge numbers.

• Though things may change again, the audiences are now in St. Peter's Square at 10:00 AM. We thank you your patience and your devotion.

• Please do not call the rectory for papal audience tickets (especially at 7 AM in the morning!!!)


The Swiss Guard do not like having their pictures made and will not pose for pictures with mere tourists like myself.

It really is not necessary:

Newlywed (Sposi Novelli) Ticket Procedures have changed once again. Newlyweds (within 8 weeks of your wedding) can sit in a special section, but ONCE AGAIN (September 2006) DO HAVE TO wear their wedding attire and must have their Catholic Church Wedding Certificate with them. We are sorry that the rules keep on changing, but we can only provide you with the information as we are given it. One day we are told you do not have to wear your wedding attire, and then the next week we are told that couples not wearing their wedding outfits were TURNED AWAY! Unfortunately this sometimes has to do with the whims of the particular guards of the day, though sometimes the order comes from on high. We wish we had more control over this, but unfortunately have little power, other than to complain. We thank you your patience and your devotion.

The current Pope is Benedict XVI (born Joseph Alois Ratzinger), who was elected at the age of 78 on 19 April 2005.

The Pope (from Latin: papa, Papa, father) is the Bishop of Rome and as Successor of Saint Peter, is the head of the Catholic Church. The office of the Pope is called the Papacy; his ecclesiastical jurisdiction is called the Holy See. Early bishops occupying the See of Rome were designated Vicar of Peter; for later popes the more authoritative Vicar of Christ was substituted. In addition to his service in this spiritual role, the pope is also Head of State of the independent sovereign State of the Vatican City, a city-state and nation entirely enclaved by the city of Rome. It is generally accepted amongst most Catholic and non-Catholic historians that the institution of the papacy as it exists today developed through the centuries, after the traditional arrival of Peter in Rome c. 50.

The pope was originally chosen by those senior clergymen resident in and near Rome. Under present canon law, the pope is elected by the cardinal electors, comprising those cardinals who are under the age of 80. Cardinal electors must meet within ten days of the pope's death, and remain in seclusion until a pope has been elected. By the mid-sixteenth century, the electoral process had more or less evolved into its present form, allowing for alteration in the time between the death of the pope and the meeting of the cardinal electors. Note: In the old days, officials used to hit the pope on the head with a hammer to determine if he were dead. This is, of course, no longer done.

The election of the pope almost always takes place in the Sistine Chapel, in a meeting called a "conclave" (so called because the cardinal electors are theoretically locked in, cum clavi, until they elect a new pope). Three cardinals are chosen by lot to collect the votes of absent cardinal electors (by reason of illness), three are chosen by lot to count the votes, and three are chosen by lot to review the count of the votes. The ballots are distributed and each cardinal elector writes the name of his choice on it and pledges aloud that he is voting for "one whom under God I think ought to be elected" before folding and depositing his vote on a plate atop a large chalice placed on the altar. The plate is then used to drop the ballot into the chalice, making it difficult for any elector to insert multiple ballots. Before being read, the number of ballots are counted while still folded; if the total number of ballots does not match the number of electors, the ballots are burned unopened and a new vote is held. Assuming the number of ballots matches the number of electors, each ballot is then read aloud by the presiding Cardinal, who pierces the ballot with a needle and thread, stringing all the ballots together and tying the ends of the thread to ensure accuracy and honesty.

One of the most famous aspects of the papal election process is the means by which the results of a ballot are announced to the world. Once the ballots are counted and bound together, they are burned in a special oven erected in the Sistine Chapel, with the smoke escaping through a small chimney visible from St Peter's Square. The ballots from an unsuccessful vote are burned along with a chemical compound in order to produce black smoke, or fumata nera. (Traditionally, wet straw was used to help create the black smoke, but a number of "false alarms" in past conclaves have brought about this concession to modern chemistry.) When a vote is successful, the ballots are burned alone, sending white smoke (fumata bianca) through the chimney and announcing to the world the election of a new pope. At the end of the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, church bells were also rung to signal that a new pope had been chosen.

The Dean of the College of Cardinals then asks the successfully elected Cardinal two solemn questions. First he asks, "Do you freely accept your election?" If he replies with the word "Accepto", his reign as pope begins at that instant, not at the coronation ceremony several days afterward. The Dean then asks, "By what name shall you be called?" The new pope then announces the regal name he has chosen for himself. When choosing a new name, according to tradition, a Pope can choose any name but one: Peter.

The pope's official seat or cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and his official residence is the Palace of the Vatican. He also possesses a summer palace at Castel Gandolfo. The pope derives his Pontificate from being Bishop of Rome but is not required to live there.

Symbols of the Pope:

"Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven", the image of two keys, one gold and one silver. The silver key symbolizes the power to bind and loose on Earth, and the gold key the power to bind and loose in Heaven.

Fisherman's Ring, a gold ring decorated with a depiction of St. Peter in a boat casting his net, with the name of the reigning pope around it.

The Pope's own JumboTron.

Sedia gestatoria, a mobile throne carried by twelve footmen in red uniforms, accompanied by two attendants bearing flabella (fans made of white ostrich feathers). The use of the sedia gestatoria and of the flabella was discontinued by Pope John Paul II, with the former being replaced by the so-called Popemobile. (see picture above)

Each pope has his own Papal Coat of Arms. The flag most frequently associated with the pope is the yellow and white flag of Vatican City. This flag was first adopted in 1808, whereas the previous flag had been red and gold, the traditional colors of the Pontificate. With the recent election of Benedict XVI in 2005, his personal coat of arms eliminated the papal tiara; a mitre with three horizontal lines is used in its place.

The tomb of John Paul II, where the faithful still come to pray.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops" ~
Arsenic and Old Lace, 1944.

And now for something completely different.....

While visiting St. Peter's, Vatican City, Heidi and I found a most interesting item. I say item, because I don't know how else to describe it, and interesting because, well it was. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Heidi had been saying for months we needed to commemorate the trip to Italy by both of us getting a tattoo. I don't know where she gets this 'we' thing. So after a good bit of asking around, making phone calls, polling total strangers and writing things down on tiny sticky notes, we found Sun Vibrations in Rome.

I thought we would never good there. Worse than that, I thought I would never come up with a good reason why I would not be baring my skin for a tattoo. Finally, I came up with a reason. I resorted to my favorite excuse, the one I use all the time.

I blamed Dad.

At first I thought I could get away with waiting in the waiting room. No such luck. I could barely watch. It was easier viewing the proceedings through a mirror.

But as time went on, I got braver and actually got close enough to make a few pictures. There was surprisingly very little blood. Maybe the tattoo artist is just that good. I wish I knew her name, because she was really nice to Heidi and did a great job. So I am told.

I am proud to say Heidi didn't cry once and I only fainted three times.

The tattoo artist has plenty of tattoos of her own.

So does Heidi. If she keeps getting tattoos as 'souvenirs' of everywhere she goes, she's going to look like travel trunk.

The finished product. Just like the one was saw in St. Peters. Oh, and a thousand graves in New England......

When I got home from Italy, I did a little research on the history of the 'winged skull'. I found so much information, I don't know where to start.

The Winged Skull, found in art and architecture, represents 'the frailty of mortal man', but also in the belief death is only the beginning. My research found the symbol to be very popular among the inhabitants of early North American cemeteries, with thousands of graves dating back to the 1600's decorated with the winged skull.

You can see more information at Mr. Robert Paine Carlson wonderful website, Cape Cod Gravestones.

Sun Vibrations is located in Piazza Camerino, Rome, close but not too close, to the San Giovanni stop on the Metro.

Marco and Company will take good care of you.

Tell them Heidi sent you.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ralphie: I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!
Mrs. Parker: No, you'll shoot your eye out" ~ A Christmas Story, 1983.

Heidi is leaving Monday on a ten day mission. Her PSD will be gone for Thanksgiving, so it looks like the dinner on the big day is an MRE. With Heidi now back in Gardez, today I started a list of what I want to get her for Christmas. I need to ship her gifts soon. Even though we have excellent mail service in the United States, sometimes it takes awhile for packages to reach her FOB. She says it is already very cold there, snowing already, and thick socks and warm gloves might come in handy. I am thinking about adding some chapstick and hot chocolate packets, too.

This is the third year Heidi will not be home for Christmas. I miss her so much. Heidi loves Christmas and never missed our family holiday activities even when she was home and had her own place.

While looking at some of the hundreds of pictures she has given to me of her time in the Middle East, I started thinking about her fellow soldiers there in Afghanistan and how much their families miss them, too. And what about the soldiers? What must it be like to spend the holidays so far away from home? All of the things we here at home take for granted, the turkey dinner, the Christmas carols, living Nativities, presents under the tree, time with family and friends, they will once again miss.

So I decided to go through Heidi's pictures and share some of them with you. These are her fellow soldiers ~ the people, men and women, she spends her days with. The soldiers she depends on to look out for her as she looks out for them.

Moms, dads, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, like Heidi, who will not be home again for Christmas this year.

Would you like to help me send out some boxes of Christmas goodies to Heidi's fellow soldiers? Maybe your school class, your Sunday School class or your book club would like to help?

I am going to get one of those artificial trees, some lights, some Santa hats, some fake snow, some tinsel, some Christmas coffee, some chocolate covered cherries.......

Thanks. If you have any questions, please contact me.



email to Heidi: maggiepershing@yahoo.com
Mail to Heidi: Heidi Drylie
APO AE 09354