Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

A Good Quality of Life


Bill Sweeney, the author of this post, is an inspiring individual whose faith sustains him as his body withers from A.L.S., aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease. My Uncle Luke suffered and died from the same condition. The courage shown by both men is heroic.  They demonstrate that Victimhood is a choice.

Originally posted on Unshakable Hope:

I’ve been thinking a lot about quality of life issues lately. More specifically, I’ve been trying to figure out why some people that (in the natural) possess virtually everything we think would make for a good quality of life, yet they’re miserable. Conversely, many others have almost none of the ingredients that we think must be in the mix for a good quality of life, but they seem perfectly content.

I think about this issue more and more as life with ALS becomes an even greater challenge. If ALS takes its natural course, the victim will die of respiratory failure. The muscles needed to breathe become weaker and weaker to the point where you just can’t breathe anymore. Oftentimes the flu or pneumonia are just too much for those with advanced ALS and can speed up this respiratory failure.

I had a severe case of the flu in February, and…

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A Baby Left On The Doorstep

Yesterday, we were fixin’ to leave the ranch to go to town when we heard a knock on the door, which is unusual because we have a locked gate and a sign that says, “Patrolled by shotgun three days a week.  Guess which days.”

Anyway, this brave soul had parked his vehicle outside the closed gate and climbed through to walk up the lane.  I opened the front door and he said that he had a calf in his car and was looking for the owner.  He said it was caught in barbed wire close to the highway.  He saw afterbirth, but no mother cow around.  So, he scooped it up.  All the fight was out of it, he said.

I told him it was not ours but I thought I knew to whom it belonged and opened the gate remotely by the magic of electronics so he could drive to the barn.  It was in the back seat of his Jeep Cherokee.  We put it in a stall.  It was big for a newborn, probably 100 pounds, but it still had the umbilical cord so I reckon he was right about its time of birth.  It is a Hereford.  Those have cute white faces and red bodies.  My wife, Sugar, immediately wanted it as her own.  Her mothering instincts kicked in.

hereford calf

We went into action.  We drove to a farm and ranch store twenty miles away.    We bought colostrum, which orphaned calves need within the first few hours of birth, and milk replacer for on-going nutrition.  We hurried back.  Sugar got started with bottle-feeding the baby.  I called Zach, the ranch manager for the big (16,000 acres) ranch bordering us.  He had been looking for the calf.  Zach said it was born around 6 a.m.  He said the mother somehow got across the highway and then couldn’t figure out how to get back.   Zach said she lost her baby last year too and that it died.  Surprise!  (My next call should have been to Social Services to report her unfitness and neglect.)

Zach said the calf was born right by the highway fence.  He had the problem with the mother leaving and then when he came back to the calf, it was gone, taken by the Good Samaritan in the interim.

Zach and his five-year-old daughter came over with a stock trailer.  The calf stood up on shaky legs and even stepped up into the trailer with little help.  Since it has a mother, such as she is, the milk replacer is unnecessary.  So was the colostrum.

Miss Sugar misses the calf.  She was hoping she could keep it.  I reminded her that at 3:00 a.m. she will be glad the calf is with his mother.  For the first couple days newborn calves need to be fed every two hours, then tapering to three times a day for the duration until weaning.  Sugar might have even expected me to take a couple shifts.  We were spared.  So was the calf, provided his mother can handle the job.

P.S.  Zach told me the next day that the mother and calf have hooked up.  He is now nursing.  That is preferable to bottle feeding every two hours.

bottle calf

Another calf another time.

Beau’s Purpose in Life


Today, as usual, Beau, pictured above, went with me to the barn when I fed the horses.  Then I returned to the house.  Alone.

Sugar, my wise and discerning wife, commented, “Did you call Beau and he did not come?”

“Yes.  You are correct.  No, he did not come.  He is busy eating horse manure.  He looked right at me when I called him, but ignored my invitation.  He seemed to be laughing at me.”

Miss Sugar, usually so sweet, made a statement about our beloved Yellow Labrador Retriever, and also mentioned Beau too.  It should be noted that we got Beau from an animal shelter shortly after Max died.  We did so because Sadie, another Yellow Lab, was depressed and not eating as she mourned Max.  Beau is also a Yellow Lab, but he ain’t no Max.  He did, however, help Sadie by distracting her with his antics, of which she constantly disapproves.

Sugar sighed and said, “I think Beau’s purpose on earth is to remind us of what a wonderful dog Max was.”

The better we get to know Beau, as we have been doing for over two years now, the more we appreciate and miss Max.


Max – look at his sincere expression and contrast it to Beau’s smirk above.

Differing Emotions on Mothers’ Day


worth repeating

Originally posted on Shootin' the Breeze:

This is a day on which we honor mothers.  It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

My mother (and father) provided a stable home for me.  I felt loved.  I learned love.  I was blessed.  I am glad that my mother is still living.  I can thank her for being a devoted mother and tell her that I love her.  I can tell her if I can reach her, that is.  She is traveling.

Other people miss their mothers who are no longer living.  They wish they could call their mothers or, better yet, spend the day together.

Others have mothers from whom they are estranged, or by whom they were abandoned.  There are not appropriate cards for that kind of relationship.

There are women who long to be mothers.  It is painful for them to feel left out.

There are mothers whose children have died. …

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Dr. Lynn wrote a well-done analysis of the evil being done in the name of Islam.

Originally posted on Life In The Gym:

*This is off topic but something I wanted to comment on.  We’ll return to regular programming with the next post.

photo 2

On May 3rd, 2015, Pamela Geller held a “Draw the Prophet” event in Garland Texas. Most people are aware that two jihadis showed up, armed, with the intention of murdering Ms. Geller and the attendees. The jihadis were killed before they could do any great harm.

Since then, it’s been noteworthy to watch news reports of these events. Ms. Geller has been excoriated for holding this contest because it was “provocative.” Many question the wisdom of having such a contest and posit that perhaps she and the attendees deserved the attempt on their lives. There’s been a strong she-brought-it on-herself thread running through commentary about the event.

In a new threat yesterday, ISIS has said they are going to continue in their quest to murder Ms. Geller…and also anyone who…

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Dr. King on the Futility of Rioting

“ The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. ”
― Martin Luther King, Jr.

The leaderless mobs rioting in Baltimore and, previously, Ferguson, are not only destructive but also absurd.  It does not appear that the rioters are deep thinkers.  Dr. King would not approve.

Fashion Police

I sort of learned to dress myself at a young age.  I mastered zippers, buttons, buckles and, ultimately, tying shoelaces.  I say “sort of” because although I learned how to put clothing on, apparently, I never learned how to choose which clothes to put on.

For example, this very day I had an appointment in Denver, a very fashionable city a mere two hour drive from our rustic rural home.  It was for a legal matter.  I selected my favorite sports jacket.  My beloved wife, a former model, informed me that my favorite coat was not her favorite coat.  She selected another one.  I complied, of course.  I inquired whether the tie I already had tied goes well enough with the coat I had not intended but was then wearing.  It was okay.  She explained why — something about subtle green tones.

I said above that I know how to tie my shoes, and that is true, but the only shoes I have with laces are gym shoes.  Otherwise, I always wear cowboy boots, even to court.  Miss Sugar asked which pair of boots I was going to wear, then looked at my socks and gasped.  I had a hole in my left sock.

I explained that when my boots were on, no one would know that I had a sock with such a hole.   The conversation turned to what I thought was an urban myth, but which is, according to Sugar, common knowledge as a universal truth.  That is, and you readers probably know this already — if one gets in an accident, the emergency personnel are shocked by dirty underwear.  A corollary to such common knowledge about the disadvantages of dirty underwear is that if one has a hole in one’s sock, the health care professionals often refrain from assisting.  I suppose it follows that if one does not care enough about one’s self to wear clean underwear and intact socks, then why expect anyone else to care?

Further, as you know, mothers and wives take it personally when anyone in their care presents to EMTs in such a manner that it is clear the injured person is unloved by mother or wife.  The fear is that such an injured person will be refused an ambulance ride and refused admission to the emergency room at any hospital.  In addition, the photos of such a person’s wife and/or mother will be displayed on the front page of every newspaper in the nation as the party responsible for the unacceptable socks or underwear.  And, on the six o’clock news for pity’s sake.

We just couldn’t take that chance of humiliating Miss Sugar, so I put on a sock that would not bring embarrassment to the family.

I made the round trip without any incident.  I did not want to be in a traffic accident, but I was ready to be seen without my boots on just in case.

Gym Competition

I was fixin’ to do some pull-ups at the gym today when a little guy, probably a foot shorter than me, got to the pull-up bar first.  I walked away when I saw how many he was doing.  It is a firm principle of mine to not embarrass myself.  I decided to sneak back later after this gymnast-type finished his multiple sets.

So I went over to the free weights.  There was a muscleman there.  He was in his twenties with huge arms.  He tucked his tee shirt sleeves in to have the sleeveless look, the better to display those arms.  I, on the other hand, did not tuck in my sleeves.  I modestly chose to not display my huge arms.  Well, I was not entirely modest, for I was wearing my Senior Olympics shirt.  Maybe that intimidated him.  He might have scoffed, but I like to think he was choking up with admiration.

As we stood there, facing the mirror, I noticed that we were each curling the same amount of weight on our respective barbells.  I make it a point to notice stuff like that.  I made sure I did as many reps as that whippersnapper.  I’ve been around ya know.

I was competitive with this big kid if not the little gymnast.  This muscle shirt guy was more my stature.  Then he topped me.  He walked up closer to the mirror, lifted the front of his shirt and checked out his six-pack abs.  He was not that sly.  He was unabashed.  I decided to keep my shirt down.  Comparing abs definition is where I draw the line.

After my workout, I went to the steam room.  I made sure I stayed in longer than anyone else.  It is a matter of competitive pride.  You shoulda been there.  I was really somethin’.

On my way out, I talked to the guy at the front desk.  I had a question for him that he might not have been asked before.  I asked, “If my muscles get too big so I have to cut back on my visits, is there some sort of refund or pro rata monthly dues?”

He did not miss a beat.  He sincerely replied without smirking, “I suppose we can talk about that when the time comes.”

That is good to know.

How To Be Missed

His wife drove the car to the car wash.  It was not a self-serve car wash.  Rather it was one that involved going inside to pay and wait while the car goes through the line.  It was an arrangement that involved interaction with employees, or at least an opportunity for that.  Or not.

The man at the counter commented, “So Forrey has you bringing in the car today.  That’s a surprise.  How is he?”

“Forrey died last week.  A massive heart attack.”  She started to weep.

The car wash employee joined in.  He too wept.  “Forrey was always so nice to me.”

Forrey was my uncle.  He was a man who quietly made people enjoy contact with him.  He was generous and kind.  He had a good sense of humor without trying to be the center of attention.  He was cool and humble at the same time.

I don’t know, but I guess that the guy at the car wash got to know Forrey (Forrest) because he came in a lot.  He always had nice cars.  (The week before I left for college, Uncle Forrey brought over his Mercury convertible and had me drive him home so I could keep it that week.  That was cool.  That was fun for me and my friends.)  The car wash guy recognized the car.  Forrey probably gave remarkably big tips.  Forrey probably learned the man’s name, called him by name, and asked about him.  He probably learned about his family.  He might have said, “How is your son’s little league team doing?  Did your mother get back from her trip?”  The man felt that Forrey not only noticed him, and appreciated the work of keeping cars nice, but cared about him.  The car wash guy wept because he lost a friend.

You never know who will miss you.

Not only me, but everyone who knew Forrey misses him still.

What would Jesus do?  Forrey knew.  I doubt he ever thought of himself as Christ-like.  He just was.

See also,

Bravery of Cowards

This is about facing fears.

Fearlessness is not the same as bravery.  The rugged John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

So which is braver:  the child who is not afraid to jump off the high board or the one who is afraid of heights but jumps off anyway?   One is fearless, so he has no fear to overcome.  Not being afraid of what others are afraid of can be admired, surely, and can be of great advantage, particularly in a physical fight, but the person who overcomes fear and does what is difficult because it needs to be done, is being brave.  That is courage.

And there is a paradox that goes with this.  At least in my experience, when I do what I do not want to do because I am afraid to face the consequences, yet face those frightening consequences, afterwards I feel stronger, maybe proud of myself, and probably trusting more in God who got me through what I feared.

That does not mean I necessary was wrong about the pain of what I feared, just that I got through something that I did not want to have to go through.

I sometimes think of the movie, The Highlander.  It is a ridiculous premise about immortals battling until there is only one.  What I took from it is that each time one immortal defeated (by beheading) another immortal, the victor became even stronger, taking power from the other he vanquished in moving up the tournament ladder.  I believe that each victory over fear makes one stronger for the next battle with fear.

It has not been my experience that facing the dreaded unpleasantness necessarily makes it less unpleasant.  Often I try to encourage myself by asking myself, “What is the worst that can happen?”  Sometimes the worst I imagined does happen.  Sometimes it is even worse than I imagined.  But when I get through the experience I wanted to avoid, whether it turned out to be not so bad, just as bad, or worse than I imagined, having gotten through any of those categories makes me feel stronger.

Also, when I need to trust in God, I recall the question which the Lord asked Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”  Numbers 11: 23.  The correct answer is “No, the Lord’s arm is not too short to deliver you.”
When we trust and obey, we are not alone, and can have the power to overcome fear.  Even us chickens, including Moses and John Wayne, can be brave.

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