Friday, November 14, 2008


Well it is 3:40 pm on the eve of Firearm Deer Season in Michigan. I am home with the car packed waiting on Arlene to get here. She said she'd be home at 4 PM. She is out at her sister Judy's where they are finally putting her new modular house on the foundation. This whole process has been slower than molasses! If any of these people worked for me, I'd of fired the whole bunch weeks ago. Poor Judy! She is so anxious to get into her new house and it seems to have taken forever.

I am so excited for deer camp that I can't hardly stand it and the minutes are ticking by so slowly I had to check three clocks to make sure that they didn't stop or something. Why is it that when you are waiting to do something you just love to do the time goes by so slowly? But it flies by when you are doing something you really love to do.

Arlene just called and they still don't have that thing on the foundation. What the heck.

Well, I'll be gone until Wednesday night and I'll hopefully have a "Big Buck" story to tell. To all our hunting friends out there, best wishes and if you are hunting in Michigan: Good Luck and Be Safe!

14 Hours 10 minutes and counting!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Deer Season 2008 Preparation

Well, opening day is only SEVEN days away now and the countdown is on! It is raining and very cold here in the old U.P. this weekend. Arlene and I were going to go up to Camp to stay the weekend but the weather put a damper on that idea, literally.

So today we went out to Pickford and got the trailer from Camp and went to town for our load of sugar beets. We parked the trailer at camp and got out the "buggies" and loaded up our beets and some carrots for the deer.

We went to Skyview first and dropped off bait and picked up my deer cam from back there. It is really really wet back there and hard for my little buggie to negotiate the trail so I have decided to hunt with Arlene at Cadillac Shack opening day. Dan has a big 4-wheel drive 4-wheeler so the mud and water is no problem for him to get back to Skyview. I hate to abandon him but I don't want to take a chance on trying to get back there with my gun on my buggie and tipping over or something.

On our way back to Skyview, we surprised the little twin fawns who were at Cadillac shack having a snack. They are so used to us that the one fawn didn't even leave the feeding station. I talked to him as I went by and he just stood and looked at me. They are getting very independent and aren't always close to Mom.

Here they are with Mom three weeks ago. They were much smaller then. But they have been eating alot of corn since then and are really growing.

This photo was taken this past week and though you can't really tell from the picture, they are much bigger now.

We went back to Camp and got another load of beets and dumped it at Cadillac. We needed to take down the corn feeder and the camera. I also had to take down my doghouse blind and get it put away. Of course, the weather picked that moment to rain really hard and Arlene and I were soaked to the skin by the time we were done. Luckily, I had hooked up the battery, turned on the propane and started the furnace in our trailer so we had a warm place to go when we were done. I always keep extra clothes in the trailer so I was able to change into dry clothes for the ride home. Arlene wasn't as lucky and had to ride home in wet clothes.

I had to pack up my bow and bowhunting gear and take it home. I hate doing that because bowhunting is definitely my favorite over rifle hunting. We do have late bow season from Dec. 1 to Dec. 31 but usually there is so much snow that it isn't practical to bowhunt that late up here.

We just need to get our clothes ready, decide on our dinner menus, and most importantly of all, buy SNACKS. Good snacks for your deer shack are a must and great care must be taken to get just the right selection. They have to be easy to transport, not make alot of noise when you open them and taste really good.

I am starting to get excited now as I look forward to the opener next Saturday.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Bowhunting Success at Camp Chicken!

Congratulations to Dan, Arlene's son-in-law, who bagged his first deer with a bow on Saturday afternoon. He made a really great shot from about 40 yards away while just sitting on a milk crate on the ground. He was really excited and so were we.

We had an extremely busy weekend. We stayed home for Halloween and had a housefull of guests and had a great time. Saturday morning we left early for camp and while on the way up there saw 3 wolves right out in the open field about 100 yards from the road. They weren't very afraid of us and finally ran away. They were only about a mile from my parent's house. I won't tell you my opinion of the planting of wolves in our area by the DNR as I don't swear on my blog!

We got to camp and got unloaded and get the furnace going as it was 27 degrees. We went back to town and picked up corn and sugar beets and went back to camp. As we were unloading the stuff into our old red trailer, a very large spikehorn came walking right into camp. He could see us and knew we were there! He was only about 30 yards away. He walked down our cart path to the Taj Mahal feeding spot, looked around and walked back to the start of the path and then walked back to the feeding spot again. Finally, he walked back to the start of the path and looking right at us took a few steps toward us, stopped and switched his tail and walked away toward the road. We were just amazed at him.

We loaded up the 4-wheelers and went out to check out Arlene's spot. When we got back to camp, one of my student workers from work, Theresa and her boyfriend Chris, were at camp. I invited them out to hunt racoons later that night and they were getting the "lay of the land" at the spot they would be hunting.

Arlene's brother came out again and we helped him load a trailer load of downed and dead maple for his wood burner. After that we set up our target and sighted in our deer rifles. We then loaded my trailer full of wood for Mom and Dad's fireplace and took it down to their house. While I unloaded the wood and stacked it in the woodshed, Arlene and Dan climbed up on the garage roof to fix the leak around Dad's new stovepipe. They managed to dink around until I had most of the wood in the woodshed.

We rushed back to camp as we still had to pull a big tarp over Dan's motorhome and get ready for the afternoon hunt. Arlene had ordered her electronic deer call and wanted to try it out. It has the sounds of rattling horns, a doe bleat, a doe-in-heat bleat, a buck grunt, and a buck snort/wheeze. She drove me nuts with that thing until Dan called her to tell her he had a doe down with his bow and we called it a day to go help him load her up and bring her out.

Theresa and Chris came about 9:30 and went out to wait for the midnight racoon raiders and we played Phase 10 until about 11 and hit the hay.

It was a very full day.

Sunday, I slept in and didn't hunt as I went to church with my family. It was remembrance Sunday and we had lost my Aunt Flora, my Dad's sister-in-law this year. My aunt Mary Hessel(my Dad's only sister) was coming and my cousin Judy and her husband Bob. After church we all went to brunch.

While I was away, Dan and Arlene made their first attempt at butchering. Dan had ordered this DVD on the internet and they had watched it and decided that they could butcher Dan's doe themselves. I advised them to let her "season" for a few days but they figured they would go ahead and do it that day. Much to my amazement, they were all done with her by the time I got back at 1:00 PM.

The new shed is perfect for butchering and with the salamander Arlene's sister lent us, we can work out there in comfort. Hopefully, we will have another nice deer to butcher next weekend.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Arlene's New "Buggie"

Arlene has a new 4-wheeler, actually she bought it in July but I forgot to write about it. She has a really bad hip and knee and it has kept her from being very mobile at Camp Chicken. She used to love to go for long walks around our trails and roads but for the past couple of years has been stuck at camp. Now with her new wheels she can go all over and she is having so much fun.

Saturday, we loaded up the buggies with sugar beets, carrots and corn for our deer feeding stations and went out to check out our spots. This is my favorite activity for the fall; getting everything ready for rifle hunting season. Even though I bowhunt, I still enjoy getting the other hunting spots baited so that the deer know where to find food.

I love checking out the sites to look at tracks and seeing what new trails they have made to come in to eat. I try to combine that with the camera photos to get an idea of when they come in and what trails they are using. Arlene has missed out on much of this until this year and she is really enjoying it.

We worked on cleaning up some of our old roads in the afternoon and took the new camera to take some photos.

She thought this view of one of our beech trees was pretty neat.

The fall leaves were at their near peak last weekend and of course, we had 50 mph winds on Monday and they are almost all knocked off the trees. But, there were still some really pretty ones left on Saturday.

All in all, it was a great day. I went bowhunting about 5 pm and two nice does came in to check out the new food we put out. We don't usually use carrots but Arlene thought it would bring more deer in to the spot where I have the outhouse blind set up. After watching that doe stay at the feeding spot for almost an hour eating carrots, I have to agree it was a good move. Except we are going to need lots more carrots to feed her LOL. She must have eaten a half-bag full. She didn't eat much corn or sugar beets but really went for those carrots. In the deer cam photos we looked at the next day, she came back at midnight to fight off the raccoons and get the rest of her carrots.

I can't wait to get to camp next weekend and check out the photos. We have to figure out something to deal with those pesky raccoons before they actually damage the corn feeder.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dinner Guests at Camp Chicken

"Ok Ratso, the coast is clear"

"Come on, hurry it up"

"Wait for me, Bugsy, I can't quite reach it"

"Mom, I thought you said dinner was at 6:30?"

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bow Season Begins at Camp Chicken

Sorry I haven't had much time to blog lately. Arlene's sister Judy is getting rid of her old trailer and getting a modular put in. We have been very busy helping her pack and move all her stuff out of the trailer so it has been a very very busy time.

But, Dan and I have been bowhunting. The weather has been very warm and the deer aren't really moving during the day very much so I haven't seen anything to speak of. One big doe by herself and one big doe with twin fawns.

Arlene and I bought ourselves a new megazoom digital camera and it takes pretty good pictures. It is nice for wildlife.

I put a one of those outhouse blinds down by the Cadillac shack spot and have been using it for the afternoon hunts. This partridge came right up in front of my pop-up blind yesterday. I managed to get the camera on him and take this shot. He blends in so well with his surroundings that he is hard to even see in the fall leaves.

This is my new friend "Chip". He gets under my feet as I try and fill up the corn feeder at the Cadillac shack spot. He is so darn cute as he waits for me to drop corn so that he can stuff his little cheeks full.

The leaves were really spectacular yesterday and today. Arlene was still helping her sister so I went to camp late Saturday. Dan and I hunted all morning and then spent the rest of the day riding around on our 4-wheelers taking pictures.

The camera just can't seem to capture how really beautiful the leaves are. I'm sure that by next weekend, they will be all on the ground. We were very lucky to have this day and it's beautiful colors.

And that is my Mother's little piece of heaven in the good old U.P.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Storage Shed is Finished

Family--I'll try to get the rest of the pictures on Flickr tonight.

Actually, the shed was finished two weekends ago. We were darn tired and sore but managed to complete our project with some help from Arlene's daughter Janet.

Last weekend we tore off the old siding from Mom and Dad's old garage/woodshed and replaced it with plywood. What a chore! We managed to get it all done almost.

Monday, Arlene, Mary, Tiny and I went out to Mom's and began to apply the stain. We managed to get alot done but didn't have enough to completely cover it so had to quit for the night. Yesterday, the weather was very warm here for September, so we were going to go out and stain again. Arlene came down with a horrible cold and Mary and smashed her hand in a door at work so just Mary and I went and we got quite a bit done. We still have to finish up and I think we'll need about 5 or 6 hours to do it.

We plan on going to camp this weekend and finishing up at Mom and Dad's and then we have to stain the Camp Chicken "Poop Coop" (our outhouse). With our leftover shingles and OSB board we put a new roof on the outhouse and it badly needs a new coat of stain.

Getting ready for bow season and there isn't much time left as it starts a week from today. I got some "Buck Jam" out at the Taj Mahal and got my deer cam up so we'll see what deer are visiting that spot. Hope to have some pictures for everyone next time.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Busy August at Camp Chicken

It has been a very busy time at the old Camp Chicken. My brother Chris, sister-in-law Judy and nephew Ross were here for a 10 day visit in late July-early August. They were able to spend 3 great days at camp and we had a lot of fun. Arlene, Mary Sue and Tiny joined us all this year and Tiny had even more people to spoil her.

We took a day-trip while they were here to Munising and went on the glass-bottom boat shipwreck tour. It is a definite must-see. Here's a photo of nephew Ross and his old auntie Cathy on the deck of the glass-bottom boat in beautiful Munising bay. We viewed three shipwrecks and saw an bald eagle's nest with 3 adolescent eagles in it and the Mom or Dad on guard very close by. Visit my sister-in-laws blog for some really great photos.

We also went to Miner's Castle that day and then a long drive to Grand Marais for some of the best freshly caught lake perch I have ever eaten at a very Yooper-ish restaurant called The Sportsman's Club.

As a special treat for Ross, his Auntie Arlene made him a "Marshmallow Gun". It is a blow-gun made of PVC pipe and you insert a mini-marshmallow into the mouthpiece end and blow really hard and the little marshmallow flies about 30 to 50 feet depending on your lung power. Here's a photo of Ross with his.

We all took turns with our guns trying to shoot the marshmallows into the fire and trying to shoot each other. The guns are really alot of good clean fun and the directions for making them can be found on the internet.

Of course, we had to play croquet and had several cut-throat badminton matches. We did manage to play a good many games of Attack Uno too. Tiny looks on intently as the badminton action really heats up.

That following Monday we started our most ambitious project in the history of the Camp Chicken Construction Company. We built a 12 x 12 storage shed. We had no blue-prints and no shed kit, just an idea and some drawings on legal paper. I sure wish my Grandpa Elmer was still alive to help us out. He was a master carpenter and could have drawn up the plans for it.

We used patio blocks and treated 4 x 4's for the foundation and trying to get that level and square took about 6 hours LOL.

The next weekend we brought all the 2 x 4's and OSB siding to Camp and started building the walls. We were three tired women after that chore.

I was smart enough to know that we weren't up to building rafters yet, so I ordered them made for us. It was good and bad, as pre-made trusses come with 2 foot long tails so that you can cut them off to suit your project. However, you have to cut them all the same length and perfectly level so that you can attach a board to close them in if you want to make a soffit. Arlene read up on how to make soffits on the internet. Oh my gosh, what a difficult thing that little part was.

tune in next time for more pictures of our building.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In Memory of Kitten Mitten

Arlene and I lost our beloved cat, Kitten Mitten yesterday.

She was the joy of our lives and we miss her terribly. We put her to rest in our back yard as it was one of the spots that she loved to look at. She would lie on the dresser in my upstairs bedroom and watch the yard by the hour from my bedroom window.

We remember with gratefulness the love she gave us during the short three years that we had her and pray that she is now at peace in a better place.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Almost Spring!!

Saturday looked like a really nice day up here in God's Country, sunny and 50's, so Arlene, Mary, Tiny and I loaded up the old Blazer and headed to camp. The road in was a little treacherous but we made it to our gate. I tried to drive in to camp but the snow is still too deep. Maybe by next weekend, we will be able to drive in.

Mary and I shoveled out the firepit and I got us some lawn chairs so that we could sit and enjoy the sunshine.

It was almost too warm to sit in the sun. We really enjoyed the peace and quiet and just sat and visited all afternoon. I did my favorite task, which is to split wood for the fire and keep it going.

After awhile, everyone was hungry so we cooked hot dogs over the fire. Why is is that the first hot dog cooked over the campfire tastes the best. Yumm.

We had Potato Chips and sliced Colby/Jack cheese, and Reese's Peanut Butter cups for dessert. It was a feast. As the afternoon wore on, it got a little chilly so we let the fire go out and packed up. On the way out we saw 4 deer and two big turkeys and a big skunk. It is unusual to see a skunk out in an open field in the middle of the afternoon

We are hoping for good weather next weekend so that we can stay the night.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

KC-X Next Generation Tanker Contract

I have never really used my blog for political views or for expounding on issues but to all my blogging friends out there, I must take a stand on this issue.

If you haven't heard the Air Force has awarded a $35 billion defense contract to the Northrop Grumman (NG)-European Aeronautic Defence and Space (EADS) Team, sending 19,000 jobs to France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

I am outraged by the Air Force's decision to award the KC-X Next Generation Air-fueling Tanker contract to a foreign competitor. This is a decision that absolutely should not be allowed to stand. This is wrong on just so many levels. We should not export National Security!!! And especially not to France, a country who pretends to be an ally but is really in bed with our ENEMIES.

The American people need to rise up and revolt against this decision by the millions.

Thanks to NAFTA and other ridiculously stupid policies by the government, the American Worker is under attack as never before. Americans deserve to have a good job and this is just another horrible example of our government shipping jobs that American workers should be doing to foriegn companies.

Michigan has been especially hard hit by these kinds of policies. Congress should pull the funding for this contract immediately and fire the idiot procurement officer that thought this was a good idea.

You can voice your opposition to this lunacy by going to Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt's blog and competing a short survey.

I also wrote my Senators and Congressman to voice my outrage and I urge you to also.

Thank you.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Beautiful Winter Day at Camp Chicken

Saturday was a really beautiful day in the E.U.P. with temperatures in the low 30's and plenty of sunshine. What a relief after three straight weekends of blizzards and heavy snowfall. Arlene and I decided to get to Camp and check the snow level on the trailer.

As you can see, it was a little over knee deep with a heavy crust from last weekend's freezing rain.

Here's Arlene hard at work shoveling the trailer roof.

It sure looks beautiful from up here.

If you look at the snow you can see some good tracks. Some big rabbits have been having a fun time playing around camp.

Even a partridge stopped by to see what we were up to and to grab a snack from the top of this birch tree.

What a lot of snow! That's the picnic table buried under all that white stuff.

Arlene takes a well-deserved break after I manage to dig out the picnic table.

The Taj Mahal was pretty much buried but we didn't have the energy to snovel any of the snow from it.

The "Poop Coop" doesn't have quite as much snow on it but there is still a lot there.

But it was just great to be outside on a beautiful day in the woods. The sun was really warm and it felt so good to just sit with the sun shining on your face. It is so quiet and peaceful in the woods in the winter time. The only sounds are the wind singing in the spruce boughs and the chickadees calling to each other. If I would have had a comfortable chair, I could have taken a little nap.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Excellent Blog Award

I am so honored and humbled to have been awarded the Excellent Blog Award from Marian Ann Phillips at Marians Hunting Stories. I have only been blogging a short time and people like Marian, Rex, Kristine and my Sister-in-law Judy have given me great encouragement with my blog. I have met some really great people through blogging and to be recognized with some of these folks is really special. By accepting this award, I found from reading Marian's blog that I should pick out 10 or more blogs that I thought were worthy of The Excellent Blog Award.

Marian's Hunting Stories - "Stories of Marian's hunting experiences with her husband, daughter and grandchildren! Also, her favorite pictures of family, friends or whatever!"

Cheery Tomato Productions - My Sister-in-Law Judy's "Thoughts and photos about art, life, my family ... A place to share my enthusiasms!"

Deer Camp Blog - Stories of deer camp, friends, tall tales and fun times. Rex is one of my great new blogging friends and one the founders of the Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

Hunt Smart Think Safety -Kristine is a fellow Michigander from TC and has a great blog about hunting and women hunters, outdoor tips and safety.

"Andy and Julie Outdoors - Andy and Julie are a great couple who enjoy life in the outdoors.

The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles - The Adventures of Albert Rasch and family in Florida's great outdoors.

The Wild WoodsWoman - Dana has a great blog about women who love the outdoors.

Ok, I can only come up with seven for now since these are the ones I check on and read pretty regularly. But these blogs are really great ones and I want to recognize them as really excellent blogs.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A History of Camp Chicken - Chapter One

I started working on this in early December but didn't get around to posting it with the holidays and all.

Now that it seems winter is here, I won't be able to get out to Camp on the weekends like we do in the Spring, Summer and Fall months. I really miss Camp in the winter. Oh we get up there once in a while but it isn't the same as being able to go and stay for the weekend.

When Arlene and I were younger and in much better shape, we would drive to the start of our camp road and then snow shoe in to camp pulling a sled with all of our gear for the weekend. It is harder to do that now and even if we could, it is difficult to do when you are staying in a travel trailer. They aren't exactly designed to be used in sub-zero temperatures. I wish I had the money to put a nice cabin up there.

Now that I have lots of time on my hands, I thought it might be nice to share a history of Camp Chicken with everyone. It has only been called Camp Chicken for about the last 10 years. Before that it was simply called "The Forty".

My Great-great Grandfather, William Rutledge was a pioneer homesteader in Marquette Township, which is in the Northeast corner of Mackinac County in the Eastern Upper Peninsula. He came to Goderich Ontario from Tyrone Ireland with his parents and there married Betsy Ross in 1861. In 1882 he and his family moved to Blairville, where my parents still live today, only about 3 miles from Camp.

His son, John Thomas Rutledge, my Great-Grandfather came to Pickford in 1890. He homesteaded the 80 acres that is now Camp Chicken. The 80 acres of property was sold at some time but recovered by my Grandfather Elmer Rutledge, John Thomas's son and was owned by my Grandpa Elmer and Grandma Gladys until their deaths. Gram passed on at the age of 100 years and 6 weeks on April 18th of 2004. Now the 80 acres belongs to my Mother Gloria. At some point it will pass on to my brother Chris and I but I just think of us as trustees as it will eventually belong to my nephew Ross, Chris's son. Neither my sister or I have children, so Ross will naturally inherit Camp Chicken.

So, for as long as I can remember, we have been going up to "The Forty" as my Grandpa called it, even though it was actually 80 acres.

Some of my earliest memories of "The Forty" are of going up there with Gramp and Gram to walk around or to shot the old .22 that Gramp had. I must have been about 5 years old when he taught me to shoot. He was a stickler for safety and everything I know about shooting, hunting and safely handling firearms, I learned from my Grandpa and my Dad, Harry. I remember being so excited when I was old enough to go small game hunting with Gramp and Dad. Now when I go hunting, I feel that connection with them and it's like Gramp is still right there with me, telling me what to do. Sometimes when I'm hunting deer at Camp I feel like it's Gramp thats sending me a deer to harvest.

The Anti-Hunting Crowd just don't get that part of hunting. I don't hunt just because I like shooting animals. I hunt because it keeps that connection to my Grandfather and my Father alive. My Dad is in his 80's now and doesn't hunt anymore. It's the memories and the tradition and connection to family that is the most important part of hunting for me. Everytime I go up to Camp and go hunting, I feel like I am honoring my family and my ancestors. And because of that, I try to be an honorable and ethical hunter. I never shoot more than I or my family need and I eat what I shoot.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Camp Chicken In The Snow

Hope everyone had a very Happy New Year!

Yesterday, Arlene and I decided that we had better get up to camp and check out the snow level on the trailer. It is unseasonably warm here, 35 degrees and rain in the forecast for the next four days. Snow can get very heavy when it gets rain on top of it. So we loaded up the snowshoes and a shovel and headed out about 10 am.

When we turned off the highway onto the secondary road, Arlene spotted a large bird sitting the very top of a large tree in a field we usually see deer in. It was an eagle! We were pretty excited. Actually, there were three eagles, two mature birds and an adolecent bird. They weren't close enough for any photos though.

The road in was plowed and there was a nice parking spot at our gate that was plowed out. Many thanks to Dana Gaylor who keeps the seasonal road our camps are on, plowed out in the winter.

We strapped on our shoes and started in the camp lane stopping to take a few pictures. I just wish it had sunny instead of cloudy and gloomy.

I had taken my new gun with me to do a little shooting at camp. It is a Firestorm .22 handgun that is exactly the same as my Firestorm .380 pistol. I bought it to practice with because .22 ammo is a lot cheaper than .380. It is a sweet little handgun and shoots really nice. After shooting a couple of clips, I got to work climbing up on the trailer to shovel off the show. It's a really cool view from up there.

Once we got the trailer cleaned off, we decided to take a walk back through the woods to Arlene's shack. There were lots of deer tracks in the meadow on the way to her shack. You could see where the deer were digging in the snow to get down to the grass underneath. There were even several places where you could see where a deer had bedded down and made impressions in the snow. I love tromping around the woods in the snow and looking at all of the tracks the animals have left. It is always neat to see what has been traveling around and where the animals are going.

After we snowshoed back to the car, we took off our shoes and walked down the road to Wayne's gate to see if the deer were crossing the road to come into the meadow. I am quite surprised to see them spending the winter in camp. Normally, the deer head for the big deer yards in the cedar swamps but I guess with very little snow last winter and this winter, they are hanging around. They may hang out in the thick balsam swamp on the lower 40 acres. They could winter there pretty well as it has thick balsam and poplar and some good water sources.

On our way back out the road, we stopped and took some pictures of the snow hanging in the trees. It was very beautiful with all the snow.

It was pretty snowy on the old camp road. The trees were really beautiful.

Here is me in the nice new hooded camo sweatshirt I got with the Cabela's gift card that Chris, Judy and Ross gave me for Christmas. I also got a pullover camo sweatshirt, camo T-shirt and a cool little .22 target that spins around when you hit the little metal turkey on it. Many thanks guys for some great gifts.

This is a really nice shot of Arlene!