Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Not Impressed

Last week, I went swimming at the rec center.  I was doing butterfly stroke, the Fly, flyin’ through the water.

When I stopped at the end of the lane after a lap, or half a lap, a young boy, appearing about ten or eleven, was standing on the deck of the pool, above me.

He said, “That was some good swimming!  I saw that in the Olympics.  Were you in the Olympics?”

I said, “Thanks.  I was in the Senior Olympics.”

He looked at me with obvious disappointment.

“Oh,” he said and walked away.  I guess my answer was not what he hoped for.

Me neither.  It was not the answer I wish I could give.

If given another chance, so as not to disappoint any young admirers, I will say, “Yes, I was in the Olympics.  Would you like my autograph?”

I might add, with feigned humility, “I also play for the Broncos.  I left my Super Bowl ring in the locker so I won’t lose it in the pool.”

That would make the kid’s day, to meet someone as admirable as me.

It would make my day too.

P.S.  I thought of how to sign my autograph — Walter Mitty.

Adios, Pard

photo rodney and al

Rodney was, among other things, a Mountain Man, and his wishes were for his ashes to be spread at some of his favorite places in the mountains.

A gun collector, knife maker, and history buff, Rodney enjoyed going to Mountain Man Rendevous.  He had the outfit.  He had a great knowledge of American Indian culture, such as making a sweat lodge.  His spirituality included a connection with red hawks.  Back in the 70s, when the TV series Centennial was filmed around here, Rodney was an extra, playing an Indian riding a horse bareback.   Movie star!

Rodney enjoyed countless camping trips, ranging from sleeping under the stars in a bedroll to traveling in a Mercedes RV with his devoted wife, Debra.

Debra is a New York Times Best Selling author, who wrote about Rodney as an example of exhibiting genuine cowboy values.  He used to manage a ranch at a remote location, staying in a primitive cabin during the winter, taking care of the livestock.  You could depend on Rodney.   So could our nation.  He served in the military.

Rodney encouraged me to join the Single Action Shooting Society, found the kind of rifle I needed, and told me about the Hell on Wheels competition in Cheyenne.  He even suggested that my wife join SASS as well, using her alias, Miss Sugar.  She did.

Debra and Rodney regularly made trips to Santa Fe, relishing in the SouthWest culture there.  Sugar and I went with them a couple times.  Rodney knew a lot about Santa Fe, so we got much more out of the trips than if we’d gone alone.  They built a beautiful Santa Fe style home in the hills above Fort Collins, decorated like a gallery of Western art and artifacts.  There, in the place he loved, with the woman he loved, he died.

Adios, amigo.  Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

rodney

Engineering 411

I do not know if any of my loyal readers are graduates of M.I.T. or any other fine engineering school.  (I myself am largely self-taught as a mechanical engineer, yet I do not denigrate the path of those who felt the need for mentoring).   If you are an engineer, you might learn something from me today.  If you are merely a member of the general public, you still might learn something, provided the subject is not way over your head.

First, some family history:  my maternal grandfather on my mother’s side was a civil engineer who worked for Union Pacific Railroad (as distinguished from a locomotive engineer who operates trains and probably has much more fun).    Like me, he did not go to engineering school, nor to college of any sort, going directly to work after graduating from high school.   One day at church, a man who knew my grampa at U.P., came up to me and asked whether I knew that the man who replaced my grampa had a Ph.D.

So, apparently I have engineering genes so strong that actual coursework is unnecessary.  And that brings me to the topic of the day.  I put together TWO home projects in ONE week.

My ever confident wife, Miss Sugar, purchased two items which each came in a box clearly labeled “Assembly Required.”

One of the projects was a fire pit from Home Depot.  It is no longer in the box.  It is actually assembled.  You should have seen me.  Anyway, we have had four successful fires.  Grampa would be proud.

The other project was a bird bath.  There were six, waddayacallem, yea, bolts, and just as many, you know what I mean, nuts.  I won’t explain the entire process.  All you need to know is that the finished product is already in use.  Charlie Sheen and I call that WINNING!

If you, loyal readers, ever have any home improvement projects, now or in the future, simply call my toll free number for expert assistance over the phone.

I will let you know when the number is working.  I have delegated that to Miss Sugar.

Gender Inequality and Numerology

During my childhood, I did not realize how unfair it was of God, I suppose, to allow unequal gender distribution in our family.  I felt secure and loved for several decades, but now I wonder whether I have been a victim in some manner, so I am writing this to see if there is some organization for people like me and, more importantly, if there is a compensation fund or government program to make it up to me.

Now that I have your attention, as well as anticipated sympathy, I will explain the situation.  It is really a mere census report rather than a sociological, psychological, or biological study.  I leave interpretation to the experts.

Do I still have your attention?

Bated breath?

Okay, here goes:  My paternal (i.e. father’s} parents had grandchildren of the following, i.e., hereinafter,  birth order and gender identification designations:

One granddaughter, Ten consecutive grandsons, and then my sister, who we shall label as the Second granddaughter and, simultaneously, Twelfth grand child.

Let’s focus on me, me, me for awhile.  Let us consider my particular location in the family tree of the family previously referred to herein-above-described as the  paternal side of my family as referenced in the paragraph preceding the paragraph immediately prior to this very paragraph.

I was the tenth of ten grandsons.

I feel special.

I was also the eleventh of twelve grandchildren.  It was a coincidence that no one noticed until it dawned on me as a write this, but get ready for a sleepless night:  I was assigned and wore jersey number 11 on a Y.M.C.A. basketball team.  How did Coach Lawrence know?

Think about it.  There are things we can never fully understand.

KarenAndAlAtCrossCreekRanch

 

Show Time

You know that awkward feeling when you ask if someone is going to a party that you will be attending and the person you asked tells you that he or she was not invited?

Out of kindness, I suppose, I have not told my wife, a former model and television actress, that I am being contacted on a daily basis by Casting 360, which has modeling gigs, acting jobs, and movie extra work for me.

I am not certain how this agency discovered me.  Perhaps this very blog site attracted their attention.  I imagine that some folks at Casting 360 have been ogling photos of me posted on this site.  I am surprised that they did not respond as positively to the many photos of the photogenic Miss Sugar also on this site.  So maybe I was discovered in another manner.  Sometimes, as I walk down the street, I notice people noticing me.  They never come right out and tell me how good-looking they think I am, but I can see it in their eyes.  Probably some of those admiring eyes work for Casting 360.  It is hard to say.

Nevertheless, for whatever reason, Casting 360 is desperately trying to recruit me.  All I have to do is pay $7.99 a month for them to send me notifications about the jobs they have for me.

That is a good deal.  My first movie job should more that pay for it.

That is when I will tell Miss Sugar.  She might notice my absence when I have to travel to the movie set.  For $7.99, I could use my connections to bring her back into the family business — show biz.    If you, gentle readers, also want to try show biz, simply send me your credit card information, Social Security number, and a portfolio of photos.  I will see what I can do for you.

I can’t make any guarantees, however.  Modeling and show biz are very competitive.  Good looks are all that count.  Some of us have it, some of us (present company excluded) don’t.   You know who you are.

Springtime in the Rockies

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Two days ago, when I left for work at 6 a.m., it was snowing.  Two hours later, my wife reported that we lost our electricity.  When we lose electricity at the ranch, we also have no water because we have a well and the pump requires electricity.  Of course, we were not the only folks experiencing an outage.  It was widespread.  Because it is late May, and we had 80 degree weather a few days ago, the snow was wet and heavy, and the wet snow broke many tree branches and, apparently, power lines and even poles.

We have a backup generator.  Unfortunately, it requires gasoline and pulling a cord to start it.  Miss Sugar tried to start the generator but was unsuccessful.  So, she wisely left before the snow got worse.  She was smart to do that because shortly afterwards the highway was closed behind her.

Sugar booked a bed and breakfast in town, where we stayed the past two nights.  This morning we came home.  The highway was open, our road was plowed, so we made it back okay.  Our own unplowed lane was tough to navigate, but we made it to the house.

We called some friends who live a couple miles away.  The have been snowed in since Thursday.  They  endured the loss of electricity.  They had groceries.

We now have electricity.  The pasture will be green from all the moisture.   I shoveled off the steps and hot tub.  No one feels sorry for someone with a hot tub.

Life is good.

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Do You Want Cheese With That Pizza?

Miss Sugar and I visited a car dealership, where we met an interesting sales person, who was very entertaining.

He is, he told us, 47 years old and does not run out to nab prospects “like the young spider monkeys” who are also part of the sales team.

We asked about a certain vehicle, a Lexus RX350.  Miss Sugar said she would like leather seats.  I said that I think all Lexuses (Lexi?) come with leather seats.

The car salesman confirmed my assumption.  He said, “When you order a pizza, you get crust and cheese without the cheese counting as an extra.  You don’t have to order cheese, but you might have to pay extra for sausage.”

This was a fitting analogy because the salesman has a very Italian name.  Sugar understood immediately because her father is Italian.

I just liked being right.

Dog Park Disaster

So, as a favor to our dogs, my kind wife, Miss Sugar, took them to a dog park.  Because we live on a ranch, those who know us might wonder why our dogs, who have their own river, would be candidates for visiting a dog park.  Well, it is because we had been away from the home place.  We have been camping and, while camping, we have kept our dogs tied up so as to not bother our fellow campers.   So, as I said, Sugar took them to a dog park.

As a preface to describing what happened at the dog park, I will educate those of you who are unfamiliar with what constitutes a dog park.  Note carefully that dog parks are enclosed areas in which unleashed dogs can run and play and fetch, etc.  Emphasis in this definition is on the term “enclosed.”  This is important for obvious containment reasons.

So, as I was saying, Sugar took our two dogs, who are Labrador Retrievers, to a  dog park.  This was the first visit for Beau.  It did not go as planned.  It was a surprise to Sugar that someone left the park without closing a gate, thus failing to, you know, maintain closure of the enclosure, a fact that did not escape Beau’s attention.  He saw his chance to escape and did indeed escape, much to the dismay of sweet Miss Sugar, who watched Beau take his leave.

Now, many dog owners are thinking, I bet, that Sugar should have called her (notice I do not say our} dog.  Those are people who have dogs who come when called.  Beau is not in that category.  Beau only comes when he wants to come.  He wants to come only when there is nothing better to do.  On this occasion, there was, in his opinion, something better to do.  He explored an area new to him.

Sugar cried.  She and Sadie had to leave the dog park to get in the car to try to catch up with Beau.

It took an hour.  She was sad as she worried.  She was relieved to find him.  She was angry that she had to.

Born This Way

Baby puppies and kitties do not run around right away.  Baby horses do.  It is funny to watch a one-day old foal run and buck.  It can have no memory beyond yesterday.  What is it thinking?

foal

I suppose a difference between dogs and horses is that dogs are predators and horses are prey.  As prey, they must immediately be capable of fleeing danger.

But mostly, foals play.

I don’t know what is going through their minds, but it sure looks like it would be fun to be a foal.

Image

What they can’t imagine is that when they grow up the real fun begins.

 

The Least of These

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.

Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?”

The King will reply,Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  Matthew 10: 35-40

Nowadays they are called behavioral health facilities.  Formerly, they were known as mental hospitals.  I have been leading some “groups” at one.  The groups are on a different topic every day, such as “Asking for Help,” and “Healing from Anger.”

Some of the patients are very depressed.  Some of them have made suicide attempts. Some are bi-polar.  Some are psychotic, hearing voices and seeing things that others do not.  Some have dementia.  Some have post-traumatic stress disorder.  Some are addicts.  All are God’s children.  All, at one time at least, had parents.  Some, at one time, were accomplished people.  Some have dealt with mental illness their entire lives.

Often, one or more thank me for what I said in group.  You, Dear Readers, might be thinking that I am doing something kind for “the least of these.”  But I am going to tell you a secret.

These patients, all of whom have suffered, can display great wisdom.  These patients, all of whom have suffered, display great empathy for one another, almost without exception.  And when they share their wisdom with me and the rest of us in the groups, and when they show empathy for one another, and when they appreciate my contribution, then I am blessed by us being in each other’s lives.

The secret is this:  I am one of the least of these too.  And there is another secret: So are you.  I think, at times at least, we all need help and we all need empathy and we all need to heal.  All are sinners who have fallen short.  We all may be counted among “the least of these.”

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