Tuesday, January 6, 2015

2014 Year In Review

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So, it isn't EXACTLY new years. On New Years, I was in Tampa watching Auburn lose to Wisconsin while stuffing my face with ball game food to the tune of $54, lying on the beach in 80 degrees, and going on a seafood bender. Resolutions weren't going to happen. But they will. Shortly. 

I didn't do resolutions in 2014. That explains why nothing seemed to get done, haha. Let's take a look at the 2014 Year in Review. 

To be fair, I had surgery to repair a torn labrum and rotator cuff in December of 2013 and was out of commission for 2 months or so. Then, I had therapy for 6 weeks. Without the ability to lift weights and the pain on my shoulder do to running, I gave up working out. Though I did go back to working out, I never got in a rhythm. As a result, I packed on the 25 pounds I lost in 2013....and 10 more. So, here we are in 2015 and I look like crap, but I feel worse. Additionally, the loss in strength has been terrible for my repaired shoulder, which now pains me each and every day. I also suffered some injuries during the sports season, some freak, some my own fault, that are still nagging. 

It was an...interesting....year in terms of softball. Defensively I played every position on the field except 1st base, and that's for obvious height reasons. I didn't play my cleanest season in the field. I had 2 bad games where I didn't make plays I normally would make. I can think of several flys in the outfield that I either dropped or didn't get to (after gaining weight, my speed was dropped dramatically). I did think my throwing improved. With the energetically repaired shoulder, I didn't wind up and throw it as hard as I could, which frequently let balls sail over heads. Instead, I threw a lot flatter and more accurate. Sure, balls had to hop a few times, but they went exactly where I wanted them to go. 

I am torn on what to say here. After doing some research and some practice, my range went way up. I hit my first over-the-fence homeruns in 2014 and smoked many more balls over the outfielders heads. But, that comes at a price. My on base percentage dropped dramatically due to pop-flys. I did a better job getting basehits when I needed to. That is, with 2 outs, I put the ball on the ground instead of trying to hit it out. But, my baserunning suffered and I was thrown out more in this year than the rest of my life combined. That had a lot to do with my weight, but also with some nagging injuries that simply wouldn't go away. Namely, a hamstring injury so bad that it bruised. 
Teamwise, we still can't win a championship. We were 13-2 in NASA leagues and dropped 2 straight games in the playoffs to be the first out after EASILY being the most dominate team in the league. We oustscored other teams something like 285-85. We still can't win at the Sportsplex. And in NARF, we were undefeated in the regular season, which meant we suffered a 7 run handicap AND we limited to 5 runs an inning for the entire playoffs. 

Flag Football
Though the record didn't show it, this was probably the best team and execution we have had. We had a rough go of it early in the season. We made some QB changes and some changes in philosophy in mideason . By the season's end, we were playing better than anyone. Unfortunately, we didn't have anything to show for it other than some spectacular finishes to critical games.

Soccer happened last in the year. That was a bad thing. Though I played more games this year than last year, I had a handful of injuries from softball and football that hampered me. In particular, a heel injury that wouldn't go away. It kept me from being able to plan and kick or backpedal, things a defender needs to be able to do. Additionally, the weight gain slowed me so that I couldn't run anyone down, a new experience for me. I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed playing more soccer, but I know the team was probably tired of me being a liability. The good news is, I got to play midfield for 2 games which led to 3 assist. I felt like the last 2 games gave me a lot of momentum for the spring season. 

Alyse and I planted our most ambitious garden to date. We grow a ton of tomato plants indoors and then transferred many of them. We had so many that we had to give away a significant number. It was all for naught, however, as this year most everyone's tomatoes contradicted disease of some sort. It hit us hard and though we had planted 40 odd tomato plants, the output was more like 5. 

Cucumbers, on the other hand, produced so well that I had to quit picking them. We ate a ton of fresh ones. We made a TON of pickles. And we gave away bushels. Still, we had more than we could deal with. I have an entire closet of pickles, even after giving away a lot for Christmas. 

Squash, much like last year, was hit or miss. We would get production for awhile, then the plant would die...even with baby squash on the vine. Though I didn't see the direct evidence, I suspect that the same parasites that killed them last year did the same this year. I have a plan for next year.

Okra was another booming crop. We froze gallon upon gallon of it. Then, I made around 10 jars of pickled okra. It was so good that much of my family demanded it be used for all the holiday parties as well as for Christmas gifts. 

In 2014, I spent more time squirrel hunting than ever, at the request of my grandmother who detests the tree rats. As a result, I had a banner trips. On one trip, I killed 8. Thanks to a bountiful harvest, I served squirrel d'oeuvres at several parties. I thought they were awesome. I attribute the success to my new Ruger 10/22 I put together, which has been amazing. 

Deer hunting has been decent. I bagged a small doe early in the season, then went after a large buck which I believe ended up being poached. After a long streak without seeing a decent buck , I finally got one right before Christmas

I didn't get a chance to make many turkey hunts. In fact, I think I only went on 1....but, dad and I doubled up on a set of jakes which ate supremely well. 
In many way, I am really disappointed in this year's fishing. I didn't catch any monsters nor did the numbers really pile up. In fact, I caught less fish in 2014 than I have since 2008. The biggest fish caught hovered right at 6 pounds. A lot of the reason for low numbers is I didn't fish as much. We had 2 kids in sports and obviously we play a lot of sports ourselves. In addition, my boat (now sold) was out of commission for the 2 best months of the year. 

But, before I am too hard on myself, I remember some GREAT things happened. Josh and I found a magical place on Guntersville that I hope produces each year. I am inclined to believe so. In a 2 week period (2 tournaments) we caught 6 fish over 6 pounds. We stroked them on Logan-Martin. We caught out first 20 pound sack during a tournament on Guntersville. I won Angler of the Year in my club and the Club Classic on Wilson. So, it wasn't all so bad.
Not much going on here. I did start a slow process of integrating a plan to prep on a budget. I wrote about it earlier in the year. Essentially, I want to buy a little something each and every paycheck. I did manage to stock up on 5.56/.223 and 7.62x39 a good bit. You know how I feel about it, if you think you need more than 1,000 rounds....think again. I have slowly added foodstuff and other less-prepped items like fasteners. I learned a lot of lessons in 2014 about gardening and food preservation. To me, that's more important. Additionally, I did a TON of reading this year on some of the classics that I believe will really help me....if the time comes. 

It was probably the best and consistent year of the blog. Sure, STATISTICALLY I have had more hits in a single year, but that was mostly because of a 10,000 hit month. I went over 100,000 hits this past month. I think the coolest part was that the audience is so diverse between my Auburn fans, fishermen, and preppers. I am still not getting paid for it and I don't get much in terms of interaction with fans. But, there is always next year!