Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “September, 2013”

Miss Sugar’s Weapon Purse

In the harrowing adventure called Risks of Vacuuming a Car, I recounted the near tragedy of Miss Sugar losing her purse by leaving it at a carwash.  In this post, I will better describe the purse which is the main subject of that prior blog.

Living in the shadow of Sugar’s fame, some of my talents are not known to the general public.  Among my talents is purse design.  So far, I have only designed one.  So far, so good.

Pictured below are the two sides of Sugar’s purse that I designed to look like a saddlebag with symbolic decorations, such as a Texas star, the name Cross Creek Ranch, our registered brand (open A, cross, reverse C) and a CC logo.  A saddlemaker did it for me to give her as a Valentine present a few years back.


You might have a similar purse, but does your purse also include a hidden compartment for a concealed carry revolver?


Consequently, Sugar’s purse, though beautiful to look at, can be heavy to carry, so heavy that our friend who is an orthopaedic surgeon, upon examining it, recommended that I carry it rather than the more delicate Miss Sugar.  Nevertheless, she seldom calls on me to do so.  Thank goodness!

And for your information, men carrying shoulder bags is very European, very metrosexual.  The fashion just hasn’t caught on yet around these here parts.

So we were walking around Hill City, South Dakota, which is near Sturgis, the motorcycle mecca, and as we were in front of a biker bar, I offered to carry the heavy purse because Sugar had been carrying it for quite a distance.

A man behind us witnessed the transfer.  He commented with sarcasm, “That purse really goes with your outfit.”

I had a comeback.  “Watch it, Pardner, or I’ll hit you with my purse.”

After that, he shut up.  You should have seen the fear in his biker eyes.

By the way, I was wearing a darling outfit comprised of a cowboy hat, western shirt, boots, and jeans.  Unfortunately, that purse/saddlebag did not match my black belt and boots.  Still, in accessorizing, can’t one mix black and brown?  Maybe the biker noticed the color discrepancy, which would explain his sarcastic tone.

If you get an outfit, you can be a cowboy too.  You will look amazing.

Risks of Vacuuming a Car

Miss Sugar was concerned about the untidiness of our car.  She directed me to go to the vacuum by the automatic car wash where we had just purchased gasoline.  There are no attendants.  Customers punch in a code after purchasing a car wash at the convenience store/gas station/car wash.  You can even pay at the pump.  That is, as I said, for a car wash.  You can’t pay for using the vacuum that way.

The vacuum operates on quarters.  We needed six of them to pay the $1.50 minimum amount of time on the vacuum.

Sugar searched her purse for quarters as she stood outside the car by the vacuum.  She was successful.  She inserted the quarters and we each vacuumed a side of the interior of the car.  Then we left.

We had not gone far when Sugar shrieked, “Go back.  Go back.  I left my purse by the vacuum.”

No woman wants to lose her purse, but  Sugar especially treasures this particular purse.  It was a Valentine Day present from me a few years ago.  I designed it and then had  a saddle-maker actually make it.  It looks like half of a saddlebag.  It has our ranch brand on it as well as a Texas star.  Sugar gets lots of compliments on it.

I made a quick U-turn and headed back toward the car wash.

On the way, Sugar lamented.

“Everything I have is in it.  Hurry!  I saw a woman standing outside the store.  She probably took it.”

I tried to reassure Sugar.  “Maybe that lady or someone else will turn it in at the counter.”

We got back to the vacuum and, to our relief, the purse was still there, right where it was left.

All’s well that ends well.  Plus, we have a cleaner car.

The Haircut

I got my hair cut today.  Randy is my barber.  He is about my age.  We talk about sports and local news.  It is usually uneventful.

There was a young teenage boy in the next chair.  I learned, from eavesdropping, that he is in 8th grade.

Personally, I don’t recall ever crying in the barber chair, or at all as an 8th grader, so I had zero empathy when that 8th grader had a hissy fit.

Apparently, his haircut was not turning out as he wanted.  I could tell because he said that was not what he wanted, threw down the cloth thing they put around your shoulders to keep the hair clippings off your clothes, got up literally crying, and went outside, followed by his mother and the lady cutting his hair, who attempted to placate him, one of them bringing him water.

Randy and I shook our respective heads with shared disgust.

The placating was “successful” (although not something that would be my goal as his parent) so he returned to the chair.

The young lady to whose chair he returned asked if he was okay when he continued to pout.  She asked if he wanted to go wipe his teary eyes in the bathroom, an idea that he rejected.

Instead, the misunderstood teen shouted that she “did not understand” his feelings.

Neither do I.  Neither does Randy.  Join the club.

His mother understood that her son’s needs were not being adequately met.  She agreed that he could have his hair dyed.  That is a great idea, because a thirteen year old with an earring looks stupid without dyed hair.

So, after his unsatisfactory haircut, the stylist/colorist mixed up the old dye pot and brushed a potion on the top of the kid’s head.

I probably hurt the sensitive young man’s feelings when I joked with Randy that I wondered if I needed highlights in my naturally whitened hair.  Randy did not think I needed any highlights.  I take that to mean that my hair is such a beautiful color that is impossible to improve upon.

The crybaby’s mother brought to his chair a book for him to read while waiting for the dye to kick in.

I hope the hair dye cheered him up.  I got a feeling that he is going to have  much more to cry about when Mom isn’t around to respond to life’s disappointments.

I fear the kid has been spoiled.  That isn’t all his fault.

Somebody should have told him long before now that big boys don’t cry and that crying to get your way won’t work.  It is getting almost too late to teach him what most of us learned at age two.

But there is still hope.  Maybe he will join the Marine Corps someday.  They provide haircuts without a guy’s mother butting in.

Close to Home

When I see something in the news about a tsunami in faraway lands, I have compassion for the victims, but the victims are strangers to me and I have never been to those places.

When there is a natural disaster, such as tornadoes in the Midwest or hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, or wildfires in the West, I can relate better.  The victims are Americans, like me.  Maybe I have been to the location of the disaster.  Maybe I have friends or family in the area.

But enough about people I don’t know.  Now let’s talk about me, me, me.

Now the news is showing the clean-up from the flooding in northern Colorado.  This is my neighborhood.  I have been on those roads now destroyed, like Highway 34 up the Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park.  I can’t get to Estes now.  I love going to Estes Park.  It is a beautiful little tourist town in the mountains, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We camped there this summer.  My wife did an art show there in June.  We have been to the stores shown on the news as being flooded. We live in the very same county.

We have family members in Boulder and Longmont.  They were not harmed, yet we worried until we learned that.

I called a lawyer friend last week to see how he was doing because he lives in an area that is a mountain valley.  Last summer, his family was evacuated during the High Park fire.  This year his family was not evacuated, but his home was damaged by some of the flooding.  Still, they stayed.  The road to his house is not a priority in the rebuilding efforts.  He was told that it might not be repaired for a year.  In the meantime, he literally has to use a ladder to cross a washed out section of the road that is now an open crevice in order to get to a car he parks on the road.  He has to hike quite a ways to get to that car.  For a year?

We have been to his home.  It is in a lovely setting.  I understand why they moved there.  Now I have difficulty grasping how they can stay there, cut off from vehicle access.

There are many stories like that.  Worse stories.  True stories.

The people who lost everything in a tsunami can feel compassion for families like my friend’s, and probably do.  Even so, Colorado is a faraway place to them.

I guess you had to be there.

It helps to remember that God, who knows when a sparrow falls from a tree, is here and was there with the people in the tsunamis, the hurricanes, the tornadoes, the wildfires, and the floods.  For nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Oops, Beau Did It Again

A while back, I wrote about Beau and the UPS Driver.

Today, FedEx delivered something to our ranch.  Second verse same as first.

While the delivery driver was on our porch handing my wife the package, Beau was in the truck eating the driver’s lunch.  When are these drivers going to learn to shut their doors when they visit us?

The photo below shows Beau in the truck and his accomplice, Sadie, outside the truck as a distraction I suppose.  (You can enlarge the photo by double-clicking it.)


The stolen lunch might have been Beau’s way of helping the driver lose weight. If you are having trouble losing weight, come to Cross Creek Ranch and we can arrange for Beau to eat your lunch every day.

The photo above was not staged. I grabbed a camera while Beau was still in the truck. Beau has no defense.

Plumbing Assistance

We decided that we might enjoy heat during the up-coming winter.  We have a hot water radiant heat system.  When the thermostats were turned up, we could hear the boiler clicking to kick in, but it never did.  So we called a plumber with expertise with boilers.

I know what you are thinking — why didn’t Sugar fix it?  Those of you who read my post called Do It Herself Plumbing ( are aware of Sugar’s handyman talents.  Well, she tried before calling the plumber out of frustration.  She went on-line and found the brand of boiler that we have and looked at the owner’s manual.  She diagnosed the problem as stemming from some by-pass thing-a-ma-bob.  She was fixin to order the part when I intervened by doing my own on-line research of plumbers who specialize in hot water radiant heat systems.  So I called the plumber, whose name is Jim, and he came out yesterday.

No disrespect to Sugar, but it turned out to not be the bypass valve.  Rather, the zone valves for the zones needed replacing as well as some corroded re-fill pipe.  Just as I thought!

I know what you are thinking — why didn’t Beau fix it?  Those of you who read my posts called The Usual Suspect ( and Beau Helps Sugar ( are aware of Beau’s handyman talents.  Well, Beau did help.  Sort of.  Or not.  He did accompany us into the crawl space wherein the boiler resides.  So did Sadie, our other Yellow Labrador Retriever.  So did the cat.

Jim didn’t complain, but I’m not sure he appreciated their advice.  I could see it in his eyes.

Now we have heat.  Thanks, Jim!  Thanks, Sugar!  Thanks, Beau!  Thanks, Sadie!  Thanks, Simba!

Beau and pipe

We Don’t Scare Easy

History, literature, movies, and music include many stories, some even true, about courage.   People admire courage, and should.

Americans pride themselves on facing adversity with bravery.  In Western lore, we have many examples, both fact and fiction, about native people, mountain men, pioneers, and cowboys, who were either fearless or overcame fear, which is probably even more admirable.

We have very recent examples of Coloradans bravely contending with wildfires last summer and now floods as have not occurred in Colorado for 100 or even 500 years.  Apparently, this is no place for sissies to live.

Tom Petty wrote a song that was featured in the movie, Appaloosa.  The song is called  “Scare Easy.”  Some of the lyrics are:  “I don’t scare easy.  Don’t fall apart when I’m under the gun.  You can break my heart and I ain’t gonna run.  I don’t scare easy for no one.”

The flooding in Colorado this week has been and, as I write this, is still a dangerous and destructive enemy.  We pray for the many who have suffered damage to homes and businesses and the many involved in rescuing the stranded and helping clean up and rebuild. These folks have demonstrated that they don’t scare easy.  Or quit.  God bless them!

Listen to the song by clicking the link below

Miss Sugar’s Driver’s License

This was the year that my wife, Sugar, had to renew her Colorado driver’s license, so I accompanied her to the appropriate government office.

Sugar took a number at the door, #341, and awaited her turn.  She made friends with another lady there, who said it took her three hours to get her license.  She must have been exaggerating.  I made a mental note to counsel Sugar about choosing her friends wisely and to beware of pathological liars.  It was apparent to me that we would not be there long.  They were already up to #297.

In order to renew one’s license, one must bring documentation other than one’s expiring license, which documentation must document one’s current address. So, when it was Sugar’s turn to go to window #8, she showed the young man our electric bill from REA mailed to our P.O. box.  She also had her Colorado Teacher’s Certificate, which had been mailed to the same P.O. box.  The young man, trained to ensure that no imposter be granted a driver’s license in Sugar’s name, disapproved these as documentation because they only showed our post office box number.

Sugar called me to the window, asking if my driver’s license, which is in good standing, had our county road address or just our P.O. box address.  Mine has both, I proudly showed the young bureaucrat.

“Sorry,” he said, “I can’t accept your husband’s license as documentation of your current address.”

Apparently, others have tried to pull this stuff, using one’s spouse with an identical address to prove one’s own address.  And who is to say that I am her spouse?  See, we did not bring in our marriage license, so I might have been an imposter that claimed to be married to her and to have the same P.O. box AND physical address, yet really only had the real husband’s driver’s license, by, say, picking his pocket.  Since my photo is on my license, this scheme would only work if the imposter looked like me, which, I might add, would be virtually impossible because very few members of the general public are as photogenic as yours truly.  Nevertheless, the guy behind the counter was wary.  Perhaps he has seen many frauds sit in the waiting room with women for hours, pretending to be married, so as to present a stolen license with an altered photo in order to meet the requirement of proving a current address.  And if some people did go to all that trouble to provide a false address —  what would be the purpose?  I am guessing that most of us want our correct address on our driver’s licenses.

We showed him our checkbook.  The checks have our P.O. box as our address.  He suggested I go to the car to get our vehicle registration.  Sugar told him that it probably only has our P.O. box.  So I went to the car, got the registration, and, sure enough, it only had the P.O. box.

Sugar explained that we get our mail delivered at the post office for the reason that the U.S. Postal Service does not deliver mail to our ranch.  Truly, you cannot use Mapquest or Google Maps to find our ranch.  Once we called the Sheriff and he could not find us at the very address assigned to our place by the county.  Apparently, our road address was incorrectly entered into the world of G.P.S.  There are satellite photos of our ranch.  You can see it from space, just not from the local Post Office.  It is easy to find, just not by sheriffs or mailmen.  Therefore, all categories of documents suggested by the state as identification showing one’s address, such as utility bills and bank statements, are mailed to our mailing address, which, if you still are with me, is our post office address.  This is called circular logic.

I was thinking of going to the courthouse to get a copy of the deed to the ranch, which has a physical address with a road number and a lengthy legal description, but by this time, Sugar lost her place in line.

I went back to the car.  (I had plenty of time to kill.)  Digging through the glove box, I found no gloves, but I found our temporary registration when we bought the car years ago.  That piece of paper, issued by the State of Colorado via the dealer, who probably asked for our address and relied upon merely the spoken word, happened to have both our P.O. box and OUR PHYSICAL ADDRESS.  Yippee!  The problem was, there was a sticky sticker stuck on the temporary registration from years of close contact within the glove box, which was the sticker with the price and options.  I tried to remove the sticker from the temporary registration but quit when that action appeared to be ripping the registration at the place where our “street” address was written.  I brought the registration and the attached sticker into the State of Colorado, Department of Revenue, Division of Motor Vehicles office.

As I said, Sugar had lost her place in line.  We got there initially at 10:30 a.m.  Now it was 12:30 p.m.  I decided that Sugar’s new friend might have been accurate in her report of time spent there after all.

After a wait, the young man at window #8 had mercy and called us back up.  I presented the temporary registration where you could kinda see the county road number if you barely pull back the sticker.  He told me he could not read it.

Then Sugar smiled her beauty pageant winner smile and told him that it was her birthday, which is why she came in to make sure she did not drive on an expired license for even one day.

The state official asked her to tell him the address that he could not read, so she did, and he put that on her new license.

I guess I did not smile charmingly enough.  The guy at window 8 took a chance that Sugar was not fooling about where she lives.

We still had to wait for her to get her photo taken and fingerprints taken.

The photo session went fine.  It seems they believed that was Sugar’s real face.

The finger print guy could not get a print after four tries.  For some reason, perhaps a trick she picked up from the Mafia, being of Italian heritage and all, Sugar has fingerprints that do not show up.  Maybe she burned them off using some bad stuff as an art teacher.  She would have an advantage as a burglar.  When she renewed her teaching license, we had the same problem.

So the nice fingerprint guy checked something on the computer showing she had no criminal record and that her prints from before did not show up either.

So, the fingerprint guy compared her lack of prints in the past to her lack of prints in the present and said, “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a match.”

Sugar is supposed to get the license in the mail within 30 days.  I sure hope they mail it to the P.O. box or we will never get it.  Like we told the guy at window #8, they don’t deliver mail to our ranch.

If the mailman is attentive, he does not return mail addressed to the physical address on the county road, he puts it in the P.O. box with a note:  “Please inform sender of P.O. box address.”

We tried to do just that.

The Yacht Club

Sugar and I have invited outsiders to pay us for coming to our ranch for various purposes that, until now, involve horses.  For example, we have boarded horses, taken people for trail rides, given riding lessons, and hosted birthday parties for kids at which the attendees got to ride horses led in the arena.  We have a horse hotel, for which I got two inquiries this very week.  We even had a pumpkin ranch, but I don’t want to talk about that because advertising costs exceeded income.  I also don’t want to talk about our horse-breeding operation because our stud has been transformed from a stallion to a gelding.  He doesn’t want to talk about it either.

Today we just “launched” a new venture — The Cross Creek Ranch Yacht Club and Marina.  We are branching out from the horse facility operations.  We are going nautical.

The rains and flooding in Colorado have been devastating for many people, so I do not want to make light of suffering of others.  I am writing to report a new lake and, as an example of making lemonade from lemons, to envision a new business opportunity.  We looked out our bedroom window and saw a large lake that was not there last week, prior to the rains of Biblical proportion.

Therefore, those of you who own yachts will be interested in this opportunity to join the yacht club and get in on the ground floor.  I will give you a real good deal, but don’t delay, this is a limited time offer.

It might dry up again.

In the meantime, we have some lots on the beach available exclusively for members of the yacht club.  I am humming the song, “I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona.”

Beau, who enjoys living on the beach, would welcome some neighbors.  By the way, members of the yacht club and residents of the beachfront community are allowed to bring dogs, provided they can swim.

Winning the Lottery

Sugar and I had cabin fever, so we called our friends, Rodney and Debra, to see if they wanted to meet at The Forks.  They did.

I have written about The Forks previously.  It is like an old general store in that folks can meet there, get a treat, and sit on the front porch.  Tourists stop by too.  So Rodney and I, together with our hot trophy wives, ate ice cream cones on the porch.  I had a Jack Daniels cone.  Yes, that is one of the ice cream flavors at The Forks, made by Walrus Ice Cream in Fort Collins.The front of The Forks 287

I felt like we were decorating the place with our authentic Western attire in order to enhance the experience of the tourists. At the next table were two couples who had German accents.   “Look, Ma, real cowboys!”

Rodney and I were each wearing a cowboy hat.  A man who was also wearing a cowboy hat joined our group.   He kept getting calls on his new-fangled cell phone.  He explained that he was there to meet some people from New York.

“I don’t think they’re too smart,” he volunteered.  “They had to ask me my address three times.”

We talked about a mare that he had for sale.  Sugar was interested in the horse because of its bloodlines.

As we talked, the cowboy with the mare for sale got two or three more calls.

“I’m right here waiting for you.  Where are you?”  we heard him say.

“They said they will be here right away but they don’t even know where they are.  How can they know how long it will take if they don’t know where they are?  Boy, are they dumb!”  He couldn’t get over how dumb they are.

After about a half hour, we were fixin to leave.  The New Yorkers had still not arrived.

As we were getting up, the cowboy awaiting the New Yorkers was irritated by another call from them.  He told them that he was tired of waiting.

At that point, we got nosy enough to ask why he was meeting them.

The cowboy got a sly look and confided with us that they were bringing him a check for $2.5 million.  Sugar commented that she would wait a little longer if they were coming to bring her a check for millions, even thousands, even $10.00.

Then he elaborated.  “Ya see, I won some lottery.  The thing is, they won’t just send me the money.  I need to pay them off the top for taxes and fees or somethin, so they are meeting me here to trade checks.”

I butted in.  “Pardner, I don’t think their check will go through.  They will get your check, which will go through, and you will be out that much money.  It sounds like a scam to me.  I am sorry to tell you, but I have heard of such things.  I am a lawyer.  Years ago, a client told me that he had won the Spanish Lottery.  He wanted me to look over the paperwork.  The lottery officials wanted him to send a check for taxes before they could send him his winnings.  I contacted them and said they could deduct the taxes first and send him the balance.  The was the last we heard of the Spanish Lottery, which, by the way, my client did not even remember entering exactly, wishfully thinking he had forgotten that he entered, maybe over the internet.”

The millionaire cowboy got a strange look on his face and left immediately.  He did not even say goodbye.

Rodney noted something else.  “Since he gave them his address but was to meet somewhere else, I wonder if they are robbing his place while he waits here.  Why did they need his address if they were meeting here at The Forks?”

Rodney just might be on to something.

Boy, were those New Yorkers dumb!

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