Contacting Craig

To contact Craig for speaking or interview opportunities, email at craigd2599@gmail.com
Visit his website (Big Fat Grace) at www.craigdaliessio.com


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"Hill Country" My memory-infused birthday present

My birthday present came in the mail today. It's a little late, but right on time...as great presents can often be. I bought it for myself. A little something to celebrate year number 51. 
So I'm sitting here at my table. Holding this book in my hands  

and almost not wanting to open it for fear it will do one of two things:
Make me regret buying it because I can't ever go back to this time again. 
Or make me regret buying it, because after 40 years, maybe my memories of Gene Hill and the "Hill Country" column are kinder than the truth of his writing.
I quickly come to my senses...Mr. Hill was every bit the great writer.
Here's why he was so special to me...
I grew up loving the outdoors and wanting to hunt and fish. I would have easily spent every waking hour that I wasn't in school, either on the baseball diamond or beside "NoneSuch Creek" with my three best friends catching fish or -later when I was old enough- hunting for whatever was in season.
It wasn't just about having success...it was about being out there

I drank my first cup of coffee at the Townsend Fire Hall Deer Hunter's breakfast. I walked miles and miles of hedgerow in St. Georges and at Phillips Nursery looking for rabbit. I ate packed lunches on hot summer afternoons at NoneSuch Creek and "The A-Bridge" and sneaking back into Smalley's Dam to fish with Johnny Wilkins and Richard Ferraro.
I learned to track deer. I learned how to smell the rain coming before it got there. I bought my first pocket knife at the Western Auto, to use on those excursions. I could decipher the call of the birds in the treetops. I learned how to set up a string of Canada Goose decoys.
Those days in the woods were about a lot more than just hunting or fishing. They were about moments.

I saved my paper route money when I was a kid and subscribed to Field and Stream. For me, the magazine was more than just good information, it was a script, of sorts. I would read about hunting Dall sheep in the Sierra and fishing for Steelhead on the Columbia and I would imagine what it would be like to do that with my dad. My father wasn't a part of my life then and my stepfather was not an outdoorsman at all and so I had to do these things by myself with my friends and their dads when I could. But when I would read about them in Field and Stream, I was there. I was out there with a really great Ithaca or a Purdy and a really smart, game, bird dog and I was taking quail with my dad and maybe my grandfather and I was where my heart always wanted to be.
Gene Hill's column was always on the very last page of Field and Stream. It had to be. The way he spun a wonderful, warm tale of the outdoors, there could be nothing after.
I guess I was nine or ten when I read him for the first time. From that day until this, I wanted to write like Gene Hill. I wanted to write like some others too...but Gene Hill was the very first author I ever read that I consciously made a connection with, and wanted to emulate. Gene Hill made you feel like you were in the blind with him, or walking that hedgerow with him as his champion Brittney Spaniel worked the honeysuckle.
And he made you feel like he really liked your being there.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Remembering...

* I wrote and posted this last year on this day. I thought it was worthy of reposting.

I wanted to write something about today but I couldn't make the words come out for a long time.
12 years later and we're so dangerously close to being overtaken by the same animals who flew airplanes into our iconic towers. Last night our president essentially put OUR military behind the very people who committed that barbaric attack 12 years ago. I wish I could forget. I wish we had eliminated the threat forever and we could all forget. But we can't.
...so we remember.
I remember watching in horror and shock and then racing across town to gather up my 3 year old daughter at her daycare. On the way over, I worried that something would happen in the meantime...they'd attack the children, they'd bomb on a local level. Then I got there and saw on the faces of the other moms and dads, the pain of disbelief, and the frightening horrors of simply not being able to grasp an attack on our soil. I saw the hollowness in the eyes of the parents who thought as I did: We didn't know where we would really be safe but we knew our kids were safer with us.
My daughter and her friends were playing happily, not realizing that these were the final waning moments of the world they were born into. I wish I had thought to take a picture. Or write it down. Or just watch through the doorway for five more minutes before walking in and taking her in my arms. After that day...after that moment, my daughter would live under the shadow of terrorism for the rest of her life. She has grown up with security threat levels crawling across the screen on news stations. With being all but strip searched at airports. With surveillance, and war and fear.
It was the last day of innocence for her. At least as far as her nation was concerned. If I had realized it then, I would have savored it a few minutes longer. Maybe instead of whisking her off, I would have let her play with her friends until we were the last ones to leave. Maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour. Just a little while longer before the post-terrorist world became her home.
I remember leaving the daycare, and calling her mom, and telling her I had her, and we were going to my house. And I remember not knowing what the heck to do. I went home. We stopped at the grocery store to get some things in case they...you know...in case this was bigger than even the WTC.  I remember thinking this might be a full on invasion.
The events that unfolded throughout that day are well rehearsed. We can all recall how it happened. What still hurts is how it felt. How it still feels.
Every generation has an "End of Innocence" For me, it was the day Reagan was shot. For my daughter it was this day. Her innocence ended before it ever began.
I love this country. Love it like a living, breathing thing. As crazy as this sounds, there are times when I wish I could literally wrap my arms around the expanse of her, and just hold on and let my heart beat into this sacred soil. I love her that much. She was everything to my family -immigrants on both sides- and she is everything to me. I miss the way she was when I was young. When my friends and I had no fears of airplanes, and bright blue September skies.
I wish we had leaders who loved her this much. Because her people still do.
I still do...
I
I wanted to write something about today but I couldn’t make the words come out for a long time. 
12 years later and we’re so dangerously close to being overtaken by the same animals who flew airplanes into our iconic towers. Last night our president essentially put OUR military behind the very people who committed that barbaric attack 12 years ago. I wish I could forget. I wish we had eliminated the threat forever and we could all forget. But we can’t.
so we remember.
I remember watching in horror and shock and then racing across town to gather up my 3 year old daughter at her daycare. On the way over, I worried that something would happen in the meantime…they’d attack the children, they’d bomb on a local level. Then I got there and saw on the faces of the other moms and dads, the pain of disbelief, and the frightening horrors of simply not being able to grasp an attack on our soil. I saw the hollowness in the eyes of the parents who thought as I did: We didn’t know where we would really be safe but we knew our kids were safer with us.
My daughter and her friends were playing happily, not realizing that these were the final waning moments of the world they were born into. I wish I had thought to take a picture. Or write it down. Or just watch through the doorway for five more minutes before walking in and taking her in my arms. After that day…after that moment, my daughter would live under the shadow of terrorism for the rest of her life. She has grown up with security threat levels crawling across the screen on news stations. With being all but strip searched at airports. With surveillance, and war and fear. 
It was the last day of innocence for her. At least as far as her nation was concerned. If I had realized it then, I would have savored it a few minutes longer. Maybe instead of whisking her off, I would have let her play with her friends until we were the last ones to leave. Maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour. Just a little while longer before the post-terrorist world became her home.
I remember leaving the daycare, and calling her mom, and telling her I had he,r and we were going to my house. And I remember not knowing what the heck to do. I went home. We stopped at the grocery store to get some things in case they…you know…in case this was bigger than even the WTC.  I remember thinking this might be a full on invasion. 
The events that unfolded throughout that day are well rehearsed. We can all recall how it happened. What still hurts is how it felt. How it still feels
Every generation has an “End of Innocence” For me, it was the day Reagan was shot. For my daughter it was this day. Her innocence ended before it ever began.
I love this country. Love it like a living, breathing thing. As crazy as this sounds, there are times when I wish I could literally wrap my arms around the expanse of her, and just hold on and let my heart beat into this sacred soil. I love her that much. She was everything to my family -immigrants on both sides- and she is everything to me. I miss the way she was when I was young. When my friends and I had no fears of airplanes, and bright blue September skies. 
I wish we had leaders who loved her this much. Because her people still do. 
I still do…
wanted to write something about today but I couldn’t make the words come out for a long time. 
12 years later and we’re so dangerously close to being overtaken by the same animals who flew airplanes into our iconic towers. Last night our president essentially put OUR military behind the very people who committed that barbaric attack 12 years ago. I wish I could forget. I wish we had eliminated the threat forever and we could all forget. But we can’t.
so we remember.
I remember watching in horror and shock and then racing across town to gather up my 3 year old daughter at her daycare. On the way over, I worried that something would happen in the meantime…they’d attack the children, they’d bomb on a local level. Then I got there and saw on the faces of the other moms and dads, the pain of disbelief, and the frightening horrors of simply not being able to grasp an attack on our soil. I saw the hollowness in the eyes of the parents who thought as I did: We didn’t know where we would really be safe but we knew our kids were safer with us.
My daughter and her friends were playing happily, not realizing that these were the final waning moments of the world they were born into. I wish I had thought to take a picture. Or write it down. Or just watch through the doorway for five more minutes before walking in and taking her in my arms. After that day…after that moment, my daughter would live under the shadow of terrorism for the rest of her life. She has grown up with security threat levels crawling across the screen on news stations. With being all but strip searched at airports. With surveillance, and war and fear. 
It was the last day of innocence for her. At least as far as her nation was concerned. If I had realized it then, I would have savored it a few minutes longer. Maybe instead of whisking her off, I would have let her play with her friends until we were the last ones to leave. Maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour. Just a little while longer before the post-terrorist world became her home.
I remember leaving the daycare, and calling her mom, and telling her I had he,r and we were going to my house. And I remember not knowing what the heck to do. I went home. We stopped at the grocery store to get some things in case they…you know…in case this was bigger than even the WTC.  I remember thinking this might be a full on invasion. 
The events that unfolded throughout that day are well rehearsed. We can all recall how it happened. What still hurts is how it felt. How it still feels
Every generation has an “End of Innocence” For me, it was the day Reagan was shot. For my daughter it was this day. Her innocence ended before it ever began.
I love this country. Love it like a living, breathing thing. As crazy as this sounds, there are times when I wish I could literally wrap my arms around the expanse of her, and just hold on and let my heart beat into this sacred soil. I love her that much. She was everything to my family -immigrants on both sides- and she is everything to me. I miss the way she was when I was young. When my friends and I had no fears of airplanes, and bright blue September skies. 
I wish we had leaders who loved her this much. Because her people still do. 
I still do…