Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “July, 2013”

The Arrogance of Pride

A few days ago, I wrote about Victimhood as a Choice.  My point was that we usually do not choose what harms us but can choose how we react.

This is on a topic that is the opposite of seeing oneself as a helpless victim.  It is about taking credit for blessings that are simply gifts from God.  This is sort of the flipside to victimhood.  It is about undeserved pride.

Are you smart?  What did you do to accomplish being smart?  Ask the same about being pretty or athletic or healthy or even wealthy.  You inherited your genes and maybe inherited your money.

Our talents and opportunities come from God.  Just like having choices about reacting to bad things in life, we have choices about reacting to good things, to our blessings.  We can use them, share them, or bury them and waste them.  Even if we use those talents and opportunities, it is wrong to brag about accomplishments that we achieved with the gifts from God as if we are self-made.

My Gramma who lived next door to us was a blessing in my life.  I did not pick her.  I was just lucky enough to be her grandchild.  I have many stories about Gramma, but today I want to write about a song she taught me, called Little Robin Red Breast.

Little Robin Red Breast sat up in the tree.

Seeing there are cherries,

“They will do for me.”

“Fly away,” said Tommy.

“Don’t you think I know

“These are Daddy’s cherries

“And you better go.”

“Did your Daddy make them?”

Sang the Robin red.

“No,” said little Tommy,

Hanging down his head.

“Come back, little Robin

“You may have a few.

“There’s enough for Tommy

“And for Robin too.”

God gave us all some cherries to share.

Beau Learns to Share

I have written many blogs about Beau, one of our Yellow Labs.  In most of the posts, Beau is shown to be a trouble-maker.  This one is different.

Everyone knows that dogs and cats fight like, well, like cats and dogs.

We have a cat named Simba.  Simba is an outside cat.  We feed it in the barn.  It has a cat bed in the barn.  It has a job.  The job is to hunt mice and keep our country home free of rodents.

It is actually a pretty good hunter.  We know that because it brings us trophies.  The trophies show that the cat has made a kill and started, but not finished, a meal.  Sugar would rather just take the cat’s word for it about hunting success.  She is disgusted by Simba’s efforts to document successful hunts.

Simba is supposed to be a barn cat, not a porch cat.  However, it spends its leisure time on our deck, lounging with the dogs.  We feed our dogs on that deck.

Beau has apparently noticed the cat’s ability to kill.  Recently, Simba has boldly gone to Beau’s bowl as soon as it is filled.  Beau waits and watches Simba eat his meal.


Maybe Beau is being polite.  Maybe he is “chicken.”

After viewing the animal photos herein, tell me which one is the pussy.


Colorado Ranch Photos

Colorado Ranch Photos

Here are some pictures that my wife took with her camera that I gave her for Christmas, so I want to be credited with providing my loyal readers with these Colorado ranch photos.  All were taken on our ranch or a neighboring ranch.  As soon as you click on the link, a slide show will start.  Enjoy!

Boy of Many Names

It is probably too late for Child Protective Services to get involved.  Nevertheless, any social workers or child psychologists reading this are invited to make therapeutic comments so I can heal from my confusing childhood.

My Grampa Carlson called me Pardner.  It had something to do with me constantly wearing a cowboy hat, I suspect.

My Uncle Forrey called me Herkimer.  I am not sure why.  I would have preferred Hercules.  He had names for others too.  My cousin Bob was Jocko.  My ballerina cousin Barbie was Muscles.

My Uncle Don would often say, “Alan Douglas (my real name), you are a mental case!”  That actually did not bother me because I did not know what he meant.  I thought he was saying “metal case.”  It did not make sense, but it did not seem derogatory.  I mean, metal is hard and a boy called a metal case was obviously tough.

Uncle Luke called me Tarzan, an obvious compliment.

My Dad called me many names:  Butch, describing my earliest haircut; Crash, a subtle reference to my lack of daintiness; Pal, which is common; and Double Ugly, which was a hilarious sarcasm about such a handsome young man.

Hey, what if Uncle Luke was the one being sarcastic and Dad and Uncle Don were the ones making accurate descriptions?  Maybe we do need to get Social Services involved.

First Kiss

My parents first kissed in the backseat of a car in Omaha, Nebraska, on a double-date, while the car in which they were passengers was driven east on Curtis Avenue, between 31st Street and 32nd Street.

I was not present at the time, except as a gleam in my father’s eye, so my information did not come from my own memory.  I learned this fact in an interesting manner.

As a bright and observant young child, I noticed that every time we drove down Curtis Avenue, Dad would quietly smack his lips with a kissing sound and Mom would do the same in response.  Every time.  Maybe I did not have to be so precocious to notice after the millionth time.

So I asked, “Why do you two always make a kissing sound on this street?”

The answer is what I wrote in the first paragraph.

“Yuck!”  I had not yet evolved into the romantic person I am today.

Even though it seemed like too much information for a grade school boy who was not interested, yet, in the facts of life, I suppose it gave me some security to see that my father was still crazy about my mother as his girlfriend, as crazy as that seemed to me at the time.

My parents were married for 55 years, until death did them part.

Maybe Dad was onto something.  It does not seem so yucky anymore.

The Abbey of St. Walburga

These are our neighbors. They are cloistered nuns who live very disciplined spiritual lives in a Benedictine order.

As part of their ministry, they host some retreats and classes. This week my wife taught a clay art class for children held at the Abbey.  Last summer she taught a watercolor class for adult women.  The year before, Sugar and her mother participated in a contemplative art retreat.

They also operate a farm.  Get a load of their bottle-fed Oreo calf.  They grow hay and have an apple orchard.  They have chickens too.  I’m not sure what good the llama does, but I see that they have one.  They raise bees for honey.

They have a gift shop too, with books and crosses as well as some hand-made items.  Sugar bought an afghan there.

Another money-maker for them is making wooden caskets, which are shown in the video.  I’m not in the market for a casket just yet, but Sugar might be picking one out for me since I saw her thumbing through the life insurance policy on me the other day.

An interesting fact:  One of the sisters is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and was a Naval officer for 20 years before becoming a nun.  They come from diverse backgrounds.

Old-Fashioned Marriage

I have not been availing myself of the full capabilities of cell phone devices, according to what I see in the news.

Anthony Weiner is running for mayor of New York City.  Previously, he served in Congress, but resigned in 2011 due to a scandal involving exchanging sexually suggestive texts and racy photos with several women.  Recently, another young woman informed the media that he  had similar communications with her last summer and into the fall of 2012, including telephone sex, whatever that is.  Apparently, Mr. Weiner, whose name is no joke, has one of those fancy phones.  My own phone is not that attractive to me.   Mr. Weiner has a different  contract than the one I have with Verizon.  He might have T Mobile.  Or Sprint could be good for his active lifestyle.

Candidate Weiner is married.

His wife, Huma, who works for Hillary Clinton, a woman who herself  knows something about having a spouse with a wandering eye, held a press conference to express her continuing support of her husband as a candidate for mayor.

I am married too.  So I asked my wife, Miss Sugar, if she would be as understanding and forgiving as Hillary and Huma.  She would not be.

“But, Sugar, I applied for the county rural land use advisory board and I need your support for my political career.  Let’s hold a press conference so you can declare your loyalty to me.”

“What have you been up to?”

“Nuthin.  I just want to be proactive, so I think you should declare that if I ever do have an online relationship or texting relationship or an affair with, say,  an intern, or visit a prostitute, that you would stand by me, your man.”

“You know that I have stood by you for better and for worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, but unfaithfulness is where I draw the line.  That is not what I meant when I said, ‘I do.’ ”

“Yes, ma’m.  I was just checking, now that I am on the brink of celebrity status.  We celebrities are not like the general public.  It is hard to be a celebrity or a charismatic politician and the like.  May I at least get a new cell phone?  This one does not even have a data package.  How am I supposed to stay connected with my public unless I have  mobile internet capability?  And one more thing — will you show me how to text?  Does this thing even take pictures?  Show me how to tweet.  Is there a voice messaging feature?  What is a ‘selfie’?”

Sugar has kept my cell phone activities simple.  She could teach Huma a thing or two.

Paul Newman, a handsome movie star, who, in my opinion, was much more photogenic than Anthony Weiner,  was once asked about his long-lasting Hollywood marriage and the temptations that come with the celebrity lifestyle.  I like what he said because, being married to Sugar, I totally understand.

Paul Newman explained, “Why fool around with hamburger when I have steak at home?”

That’s what I had in mind when I said, “I do.”  I had in mind sticking with the top grade steak I was blessed enough to get.  Others have pointed out to me that marrying Miss Texas was way, way above my station in life.  I ain’t complaining.  I don’t need to upgrade my cell phone plan.

Clint Black sang about this very topic, which you can listen to by clicking the link below:;_ylu=X3oDMTEyNTdmaWJzBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMQRjb2xvA2FjMgR2dGlkA1FJMDM4XzE-/SIG=120hf4s9f/EXP=1374707119/**http%3a//

P.S.  Sugar also clarified that she is not open to sister wives either.   She is very territorial and that’s all right with me.  I am too!  I don’t want no stinkin’ new phone.

Victimhood as a Choice

The advantage of being a victim of life’s circumstances is that you are not at fault and thus can blame others, including God, for your problems and failures.

I am not talking about  fault as in causation; obviously, crime victims or accident victims harmed by the negligence of another did not cause what happened to them, but neither do victims of disease or abuse.  I am talking about choices in how to react to what happened.

I am talking about making excuses rather than making efforts to overcome even things that are not your fault.

I am talking about the dangers of self pity.

For example, if only Archie Manning was my father, I would be an NFL quarterback like Peyton and Eli, but as it is, I did not have a chance.  All of us whose fathers are not Archie Manning have a great excuse.  Let us blame our own fathers and, of course, God.  Life is so unfair to people who see life that way.

I admire people who do not see life that way.  Wise people know that there are blessings and troubles in everyone’s life, even for Peyton Manning.

My Uncle Luke was an excellent athlete.  He was actually a Major League pitcher.  God blessed him with talents that he used.  He also had an injury to his throwing arm.  I never heard him say if that was his fault or his coach’s fault or God’s fault.  It is just something that happened which ended his pitching career.  But that was a small part of his life.

Luke played the organ and had his own radio show.  He was a local celebrity.  He was a top car salesman, even with a bum arm.

Luke had the gift of enthusiasm. He was cheerful.  He was friendly.  He would greet people from across the street, calling them by name.  People liked it that he knew who they were, that he liked them, and that he knew their names.

When he changed from the Ford dealer to the Chevy dealer, most of his Ford customers decided to buy Chevrolets because the brand did not matter as much as it was important to buy their car from Luke.  What mattered was that Luke knew them and would take care of them.  They trusted Luke more than the car manufacturers.  Plus, it was fun to make the deal with Luke and enjoy his sense of humor.  Everyone felt that Luke gave them the best deal, so they came back again and again.

Luke had a habit of creating nicknames for other people.  I liked my nickname.  He called me Tarzan because I was a competitive swimmer.  He did not pressure me to be a pitcher in Little League.  I was a catcher and that was okay with him.  Imagine how fun it was for me to introduce Uncle Luke to my Little League friends.  (You will be surprised to read herein that I did not play in the Major Leagues.  Sad but true.  How unfair of God towards me.)

Another baseball connection was that Luke, like Lou Gehrig, was afflicted with A.L.S., commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

I never heard Uncle Luke complain.  If he did not complain, maybe I should not either.

Thanks, Luke, for the example of excellence, cheerfulness, and courage.

Thanks, God, for Uncle Luke being in my life.                              

Another Trial or Two

The man on the bottom, whose head had been slammed into the concrete sidewalk, whose nose was broken by the fists of the man on top, had no gun.  The man on top continued the assault.  He continued it after the man on the bottom lost consciousness.  He continued it and the man on the bottom sustained brain damage.  The man on the bottom died.

At the trial, the man on the top, seen by eyewitnesses, would be convicted of murder or, if you prefer, depending on intent and other factors, manslaughter.  Would that be expected?  Would that be fair, provided the evidence was presented at trial?  Use your imagination.

Or, imagine the man on the bottom did not die, but just had the head injuries described and no brain damage, just the unfortunate victim of assault.  It probably happens every day somewhere.

Does it matter if the man on top is black?  Does it matter if the man on the bottom is black?  Does it matter if both are the same race?  Does it change your answer if they are not of the same race?

If the man on top was convicted, whether of murder or manslaughter or assault, would you expect protests?  Does your answer depend upon the race of the assailant or of the victim or of both?

There was a trial already, of course.  The man on top was Trayvon Martin.  The difference from the actual incident is that the man on the bottom did not succumb, but rather had a gun.  The scenario I laid out was what could have happened without that effort at self defense by the man on the bottom, George Zimmerman.

Or, here is another test for racism — what if Trayvon was on the bottom?  What if Trayvon had a gun.  What if Trayvon used it for self defense?  Use your imagination, again.

Would the result be different?  The answer ought to be:  “No, the result would be the same on the same facts regardless of the race of either man.”

Aren’t blacks entitled to self-defense?   The answer to that question is certainly:  “Yes, of course black persons are entitled to the same jury instruction about self defense.”

Would there be protests if Trayvon had been acquitted due to self defense?

Race is involved in the protests, but was not involved in the trial, and should not have been.

Back to the Piano

Recently, on June 30th,  I posted something called Denver’s Got Talent (, in which I wrote about people we met on the 16th Street Mall in Denver while my wife had a booth to sell jewelry at an art event.

Well, we went back for another event.  We got the same booth we had before, the one by the outdoor piano.  We looked forward to seeing Billie, Phillip, Michael and Franco, who had taken turns playing the piano when we were there before.  We had made friends.

The weekend before, at another event, the Black Arts Festival in City Park, we saw Michael, who had a job at a food vendor booth.  I bought a funnel cake from him and later, on  break, he came over to Sugar’s booth.  Michael is a young black man who is a talented pianist.  He plays for tips when he does not have a job, but he does not live on the streets.  The food vendor goes to Michael’s church.  Michael is a student at a community college.  It was good to see him.

It was not good to see Phillip.  He did not come around until the second day.  He looked bad.  He smelled bad.  He did not remember us at first.  I thought we had made a connection on our previous visit.  This time he talked to me without recognition about being homeless because his buddy kicked him out — get this — after Phillip spent all his money on beer for them.  There might be more to the story.  I reminded Phil about our time together last month.  Then he seemed to remember.  However, he was slurring his words and not really playing the piano very well, just one song.

He told Sugar that he had not eaten in four days.  She gave him $10 and told him to get something to eat and then come back.  He did not come back.

I met some new folks.  One lady is running for President of the United States again.  She said that she ran in 2008 and 2012.  She has written a new constitution to replace the one the founders wrote.  She is calling for a new constitutional convention.  She brought me a draft of her proposed constitution.  I read it.  I told her I could see that she had given it lots of thought.  The founding fathers had neglected to have a provision about not urinating in alleys.  Her constitution prohibits that behavior and calls for more portable toilets as well as free health care.  Divorce would no longer be allowed.  The proposed constitution is very specific about a number of issues.  I suppose most ideas arise out of personal experience.  The candidate put many hours of work into drafting it.  She made some amendments this weekend and brought me a revised version on the second day of the show.  She is a hard worker, which I admire.  She faces an uphill battle.

I met a Lakota Sioux who told me that he is a lawyer licensed in Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota.  He showed me some newspaper articles about his work for native people.  We talked for quite awhile.

We never saw Billie or Franco or the gal from X Factor.  We did see the same street mime and talked to him.  He showed us his swollen ear.  He said he had gotten into a fight.

Life is rough anyway, but especially rough on the streets of a big city.

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