Rocky Will Be Lonely

At 6:20 in the evening, Nathan pulled up to the place on Chena Hot Springs Road where we had agreed to meet to go moose hunting. He was running late, but I was grateful for the chance to sit quietly in my truck, listen to the news, and take a nap. It was the first still moment in an otherwise hectic day.

When he arrived, he was pulling his boat, and our plan was to drive out to the end of the road and put the boat on the river to hunt. But as he pulled up next to me, he got out of his truck with his rifle in hand, opened my passenger door, and set his rifle inside my truck. “You never know,” he said, “we could see Bullwinkle on the side of the road.” It was a joke he told several more times over the course of the evening. He got back in his truck and pulled out. I followed.

We drove up the road for maybe twenty minutes. During that time I was dutifully scanning each clearing and each slough on the left and the right of the road. At one point I thought I saw a moose standing in the middle of a slough, maybe a hundred and fifty yards off of the road, but we were going pretty fast, and I wasn’t about to stop and shoot a moose on my own. So I just drove on.

But after about a minute, Nathan pulled off the road. I pulled off with him. He walked back to my truck and said, “I think I saw something about two sloughs back. It was what I had seen as well. He jumped in with me, and we turned around and headed back. Even then I was thinking it was probably nothing, or maybe only a cow or a calf.

Sure enough, there it was. I pulled off of the narrow shoulder. He jumped out with the rifle. I grabbed my binoculars. By the time I got out and walked around the truck, he was already crouched down and looking through the rifle scope. I watched through the binoculars and waited for the bang. It was a bull alright, about 150 yards from the road. And when it saw us, it had the decency to come out of the water and walk up on to our side of the bank.

The first shot didn’t phase him; I thought Nathan had missed him altogether. But the second shot put him right down. As I watched, I couldn’t believe such a big animal went down so easily. It was four minutes after seven. We’d been driving for forty minutes, and the boat was still on the trailer. Our hunt had barely started. And just like that it was done. I simply couldn’t believe it.

Nathan gutted the animal while I marveled at its incredible size. At perhaps three or four years old, this bull was on the small side at maybe 1,200 lbs. We left it where it fell while we carried on with our plan to go out on the river. After a few hours of not seeing anything else, we returned to the carcass around 11PM and proceeded to dismantel the animal one limb at a time. We carried each leg, or “quarter,” through dense brush, high grass, fallen obstacles, and in near total darkness. At over 100 lbs. each, I felt like a murderer lugging a dead body to a shallow grave. The torso was a difficult two-man lift. Such a big thing didn’t go quickly, and it was after three AM before we were finished. 

And so Stephanie and I have spent the weekend cutting, grinding, vacuum sealing and freezing mose meat. The meat is incredibly tender and indistinguishable from the very best beef. Nathan and I are going out again tomorrow night. We’ll see if the unreal can happen again. 

Posted on Monday, September 6, 2010 at 02:43PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | Comments1 Comment

Heart-Felt Anniversary

Today is the two-year annivesary of Sarah's heart surgery. Sometimes when her hair is disheveled, her nose is running, her eyes are puffy from crying, when she's getting into everything, pestering her brothers, whining, and being a general nuisance, it's easy to forget how precious she is to us and how close we came to losing her. Today the calendar has reminded us to be grateful.

Posted on Saturday, September 4, 2010 at 12:40PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell in | Comments1 Comment

Din with Friends

I just got back from a McDonald's birthday party for Toby. The things we do for our children. And that's all I have to say about that. 

Posted on Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 05:47PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment

The End of a Season

Last night we had no less than nine children running around our back yard chasing each other, laughing, swinging, playing in the sandbox, eating watermelon and roasting marshmallows while seven adults looked on.

It was a final get together with our friends Russ and Rebecca who are moving with their three kids (the same ages as our three kids) back down to the lower 48. We’ll miss them and wish we had met them sooner. Blessings to you, Russ and Rebecca, and we look forward to your visits back to Alaska.

And that wasn’t the only transition from one season to another being observed. Last night was the last night of the fair, which traditionally ends with a large fireworks display: the culminating event of a culminating event. We couldn’t quite see it from our house, but we could certainly hear the concussions in the distance and the rollicking rapid fire of the grand finale. A culminating event raised to the third power. It is the end of the season. It is Fairbanks’ official good bye to summer. 

Once again, we ask ourselves, “Where did the summer go?” It flew by. But we put it to pretty good use. We camped, we drove to Valdez, I worked some, I fished twice in Chitina. We stayed busy. But even so, there is no way to get it all done, even in the 24 hour sun of the all too short Alaskan summer.

And now our summer is pretty much over. Jamiee starts back to school on Wednesday. She’ll be finishing her high school program at CEC here in Fairbanks. It looks like a really great program, and even though it was clearly a plan B, I think it might be the very best way for her to finish strong. With a diploma. And on to the next thing, whatever that might be

We’re still in diselief, but Jacob will be starting kindergarten this next week. We go on Monday to an ice cream social and to meet his teacher. Toby will also be starting preschool on the same day that Jacob starts kindergarten. Toby is proud to be going to “his” school, separate from Jamiee’s or Jacob’s. I’m glad he’s going to have a year of getting ready for kindergarten, and glad he’s excited about school. It’s never been hard to motivate Jacob to be excited about learning new things, but I wonder if the story will be any different for Toby.

And of course we have less than two months remaining until baby Micah arrives. Since it’ll be cesarean number four, we are already on the schedule for Friday, October 1st. Opa and Granna are coming to greet the new baby, and by that time we could have snow on the ground. And another season begins. 

Posted on Sunday, August 15, 2010 at 03:29PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment

The Messiest House in America

This past Saturday was an atypically slow day. Stephanie was off on an errand that I cannot now remember. I was home with the boys after a long and taxing week. There wasn’t much to do, or much that I wanted to do, so I did something rare: I turned on the TV and sat in front of it.

The show that was on immediately sucked me in. It was one of those shows where a charasmatic team of designers enters a typical American home and transforms one or more rooms before the dramatic “reveal” at the end when before and after pictures are compared.

This version, however, focused on clearing out and cleaning up a messy house and setting the family back on the path of using their space and keeping it clean and organized. I imagine those houses are just as messy a year after the program as they were before the program came to their house. But I digress.

This particular episode appeared to be some kind of culmination or special “worst of the worst.” It was billed as the messiest house in America, and I’m thinking it might have been. From the outside, it looked like the typical, suburban, American home. It was maybe a five-bedroom, three bath house with a finished basement. But inside the house, every room was buried under piles and piles of trash, clothes, and other stuff. So much so that every room looked exactly the same, and no individual details of the rooms (the architecture, the furnishings, etc.) were visible.

Each room was progressively worse. The basement was covered in mold and had to be emptied by professionals in hazmat suits. The freezer in the garage hadn’t been opened in five years because the door was blocked with stuff. The wife dropped her wedding ring and immediately lost it among the detritus, and considered it lost forever.

As the team came in to begin clearing out the house, they brought in an army of movers and a convoy of moving vans. As they emptied every room into boxes and into waiting trucks, they began to find loose change. And a few loose bills. In all they found over six thousand dollar in change and small bills that they didn’t know they had. They moved everythign to a huge warehouse where they sorted it and held a garage sale where they generated $16,000 in sales.

It was like watching a train wreck in super slow motion; I was horrified, fascinated, and I couldn’t turn away. I found myself asking, “How could they live like this? (And why are they putting it on national television?)”

At one point, the host of the show sat down for a talk with the couple whose house was being cleaned out. The host said to them directly, “If I saw the two of you out in public, I woud think that you are a success. You have a career, a beautiful family, and a nice house. You look put together. But as I go into your home, I see that your family is not functioning successfully. [The way you run your home] is a broken system.”

And as I heard the host speak these words to the homeowner, I could hear the ring of wisdom and truth. How many individuals and families look completely put-together, with-it, and in control of their lives, when under the neat façade they project, their lives are hurting, broken, failed systems. They struggle with both the brokenness and with keeping up the outward appearance of wholeness.

I am reminded of an maxim told to me by an education data specialist: “Visibility is accountability,” he said. He was talking about money, effort, and results, but the same holds true for a person’s life. Privacy is good; secrets are bad. 

And so I ask myself, what am I projecting to those around me? How can I be more real with my friends? And how do I strike a balance between being the “real me” without being that guy who shares way too much information too soon, making unwitting aquaintences more than a little uncomfortable?   

Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2010 at 11:22PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | CommentsPost a Comment