Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “March, 2014”


Toby Keith

Miss Sugar is a former vocal performance major.  She has sung professionally at weddings and funerals and community theater.  She likes karaoke. 

I am not a professional singer.  In fact, when I was in the Senior Choir in high school, my role in selections from Kismet at the talent show was to be the king, with harem dancing girls surrounding me as I stood in the middle of the stage, with my royal arms crossed.  Now here is the rest of the story.  One of the dancers was a cousin of mine.  Yuuch!  More significantly, the choir director decided that I should not be singing in that scene.  He had, you know, artistic reasons.  Was I selected as king based on my regal appearance or as a kind way to have me not sing?  I will always wonder.

Another more recent experience was when Sugar was singing a solo at church and invited me to join in the refrain as she harmonized.  The person running the sound system made a mistake and cut off Sugar’s microphone at a crucial point, probably intending to cut my mike off, but with the result of only my off-key singing filling the sanctuary.  Sugar blames me for them not inviting her to be a soloist again.  She wanted to change church membership as a result.

So, based on my unsuccessful music career, I am surprised that Sugar is encouraging me to join in at karaoke.  She picked a song for me and is helping me practice so that I don’t embarrass her, again.

I suggested that I do a medley of Roy Rogers’ songs, ending with “Happy Trails to You.”  Sugar steered me to “I Love This Bar” by Toby Keith.  A star is born. 

We are going with a group of friends.  Sugar is fearful that after I sing we will have to find new friends.

The Lost Is Found


Long-time readers will recall our concern that our barn cat was missing. We worried that she was the victim of coyotes but we found no signs of a struggle in the barn.  We speculated that an eagle might have whisked her away.  We searched along the river.  We put out a trap in the barn to catch the predator who came in there to get the cat, in case that had happened.  I don’t know whether raccoons kill cats, but they could be attracted to cat food.  (Yes, we fed our barn cat and did not force her to only catch mice, but she did that too.)

We were very sad.

Today we are very happy.  Well, kind of happy, but also frustrated.

This afternoon, Sugar went to the post office.  On the bulletin board there, she saw a sign that said, “Found!  Is this your cat?”  And there was even a photograph of — our cat.  Sugar called the number.  She recognized the voice of the person who answered.  It was Cheryl, one of our few and far between neighbors.  She lives over a mile away, as the crow flies, but over two miles, as the road winds.

Cheryl told Sugar that the cat in the photo has been hanging out in her barn with three other cats.  We went to her barn immediately.  We found the three cats who are supposed to live there.  They came out of hiding when Sugar called  them and banged a dish with canned cat food, the way she used to call the feline formerly known as our cat.  It did not appear.

Sugar and I agreed that if we were cats, we would rather live in Cheryl’s barn.  They even plug in a water dish so it does not freeze.

Sugar said that it hurts her feelings that after all we did for our cat (including my design of an elevated feeding system so the dogs did not bother her while she dined), she ran away.  We feel like unfit cat owners.  Like our kids were put in foster care due to our neglect.  We deny that we were unfit cat owners.  cat and inventor

We can’t understand where we went wrong. I comforted Sugar by blaming the usual suspect, our rascal of a dog, Beau.

I said, “Wouldn’t you rather live with three other cats than with Beau?  He probably said something that hurt her feelings.”

“But he let her eat his food,” Sugar reminded me.

“Well, that is my theory and I am sticking to it.  In fact, if you want more cats, let’s give Beau to Cheryl.  Then all the cats will move to our barn.  Cheryl will probably move here too, and leave Beau at her nice house.”

Since we did not find the cat in Cheryl’s barn, she will call us when it shows up again, now that she knows to whom it belongs.  It was nice of her to put up the “Found” posters.

We will hurry right over when we get that call.  We will bring Beau.  Sounds like a good trade.  Good for us, at least.


Keeping Me in Line


It has come to my attention that I am bossed around by animals.  I am reminded to do my chores and scolded when I am too slow.

Beau, our Yellow Lab, tells us when it is his supper time.  He stands on the deck and barks.  Then either Sugar or I dutifully fill his bowl and Sadie’s.  Sadie lets Beau do the advocating for the two of them.  Beau sometimes brings his bowl in his mouth if we are too slow to get the hint.

Scamp, our trick horse, has remarkable vision.  If I go out on our back porch, which is screened in, he notices, and whinnies.  I would be complimented that he is greeting me because he loves me, but I know better.  He wants me to go to the barn and feed him and the herd.  None of the other horses scold me like Scamp does.  He can be out in the pasture, half a mile away, but if he sees me walking toward the barn, he moseys towards it too.  Then the other horses notice that Scamp is heading in and the pace picks up.  Eventually, all are running to the barn. 

I just wish these animals would pitch in with the chores.  They are happy to eat the hay, but I don’t get any help from them when I stack it.  I need to tell them the story of The Little Red Hen. 


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Sugar and I went to the gym again today.  As I waited for a turn at the pull-up station, a respectful distance away, the guy who just finished doing pull-ups loitered there in front of the mirror on the wall by that equipment.  I wondered why he did not just leave to go to his next workout station.

What to my wondering eyes did appear, but a cell phone with a camera.  The fellow pointed his camera-phone at the mirror, where his posed image looked back at himself.  He took a picture of himself at one angle, then turned so he could get a good shot of his other side.  Such photos are known as selfies, I have been told.  Kim Kardashian is another narcissist who likes to share photos of herself, taken by herself, in her closet, wearing underwear.  So far, I have refrained from emulating her. 

Now this guy at the gym might not be merely vain.  He might have a scientific purpose.  He might be taking separate photos of each tatooed arm in order to monitor his personal muscular growth to ensure symmetry as an aesthetic endeavor for the good of mankind. 

“Hey, Sugar.  Let me borrow your cell phone.”

When I told her why I needed it, she cracked up, but did not share it with me.  It won’t be my fault if one of my arms gets disproportiately bigger than the other.  Blame it on Sugar.

Oh, from my observations of the younger gym patrons, I am feeling the peer pressure of needing some tattoos.  They will make my future selfies more aesthetically pleasing.  Of course, in order for the tattoo artist to get to my skin, I will have to remove all my body hair like the cool guys do.  Sugar said she could use it to weave three or four Indian blankets.  Then we could sell the blankets to pay our membership fees at the club.  She is always thinkin’.    


Healthy Habits, Unhealthy Competition

So, Miss Sugar has me going to the gym with her the past couple weeks.  I am enjoying it.  I have spent time in gyms before.  It is a healthy habit to exercise.

It is not so healthy to go with my inherent attitude.  There is something wrong with me.  I will explain.

When I get on a weight machine, whatever the previous user set the weight at, I will increase it, or try to anyway. 

When I am on the elliptical machine or a pedaling machine of any type that has a screen showing time, or a setting for difficulty, or miles, or r.p.m.s, I peek at the screen of the person next to me, whether it is a college kid or someone my advanced age.  That is sick.  I try to beat them. I do not always win, but I always compete.

When in the pool, even if an old lady is swimming in the lane next to me, I try to see how many times I can lap her. 

In the steam room, I try to stay in longer than my companions. No one cares but me. No one is impressed. It is personal goal-setting. No one knows what I am doing. They are not competing with me.

However, now they will know because at the club there is a board showing records for pull-ups, push-ups, dips, sit-ups, bench press, dead lift, even mile run.  With my bum knees, I concede that the mile run record is out of my reach, and probably dead lift; however, I am aiming to break the push-up record first.  You are thinking — How arrogant!  How delusional!  You might be right.

Regardless, I talked to the college kid working at the front desk about how to get on the board.  One of the personal trainers on staff has to witness the feat.  I asked him who Lucas is, the current record holder.  I was told that Lucas is a stud.  I replied, “Don’t tell Lucas that I plan to set a new record.”  The kid did not laugh, which was polite of him.  I was wearing a Senior Olympic tee shirt.  I guess I looked like a stud too.  I could see it in his eyes.

I kinda feel sorry for Lucas, but afterall, it is a dog eat dog world.  As the Old West gunfighters acknowledged, there is always someone faster.  This will be a good life lesson for Lucas. I am gunning for him. As Muhammed Ali said before a fight, “I pity the fool.”  

Jedi Horse Training


Many horse trainers, whose abilities are not as great as mine, use equipment to aid them in controlling horses.  Only a few of us true “horse whisperers” get the job done by helping the horses to want to do what is asked of them.

Let’s talk about me for a minute.  This morning, from within my home, I exerted certain Jedi powers to perfectly line up four horses from one hundred or more yards away.  Even I don’t fully understand how I accomplished this.  Don’t ask me to teach my skills to those of you in the general public.  You would be in way over your heads.  Just admire my accomplishments as documented for history in the photo above.

“Horses,” I thought, “turn to your right.”

“Good!”  I use lots of praise in my extra-sensory communication.  “Now, space yourselves equi-distant from one another.”  These particular horses have excellent vocabularies.  Don’t try this with dull horses.

“Finally, march forward, as in a parade.”

Those Budweiser Clydesdales could learn a thing or two from the Quarter Horses of Cross Creek Ranch.   

Miss Sugar Goes East


Miss Sugar is a wonderful cook, like chef quality.  She is half-Italian and learned how to cook great lasagna and other Italian dishes.  She is from Texas.  Consequently, she makes makes many Southern dishes.  When we have our annual John Wayne Birthday Party, she does “Texas Bar B Que with all the fixin’s.”  We served barbequed pork from a smoker.  The fixins include Oklahoma caviar (black-eyed peas), baked beans that are like chili, with lots of sausage, cole slaw with extra stuff, and many pies, such as pecan, apple, and sweet potato pie. She makes enough to feed around 80 people.  Everyone loves her cooking. 

Of course, I get to partake of her good cooking every day.  I have partaken so much over the years that I have gained “a couple pounds.”  Okay, a couple dozen.  Okay, four dozen.  Like I said, Sugar is a wonderful cook.

So now that the quack doctor is not happy with the 25 lbs. I lost already, Sugar is on a new cooking path.  She is taking that quack so seriously that we went together to the gym the last two days and, in addition, she bought a bunch of stuff to cook Asian food because she believes it is healthier than barbequed pork and beef and pecan pies, and get this, even than lasagna or pizza.    

Tonight she made potstickers, miso soup, California rolls sushi, and rice.  It was really good.  I have been to Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Tibetan restaurants.  I have an international palate.

However, I do not want to be deprived of the fare to which I have grown accustomed.  I have requested steak and potatoes for tomorrow’s dinner.  After all, I need to keep my weight up.

Then maybe for the next supper Sugar will use her new cooking stuff for Eastern recipes. 

Hole in the Head

Sugar, my trophy wife, is a very positive person.  She is cheerful most of the time.  She has, I often say, the gift of enthusiasm.  I usually appreciate her encouragement, but sometimes I want to feel sorry for myself.

Yesterday was my annual physical.  Being such a fine physical specimen, I have a feeling that my visit to the office is a treat for all the nurses.  I don’t know why I have to take my clothes off to have my blood pressure taken nor why it has to be taken five times by five different nurses, but I go along. 

Dr. Murphy praised me for losing 25 pounds since 2009.  Slow but sure.  At that rate, I will still be above 200 lbs in five more years.  I am, even now, dangerously skinny for an NFL linebacker.  I might have to become a kicker.

The one thing that I do not look forward to as part of a complete physical is the part when Dr. Murphy puts on his rubber glove.  The first time I got a big boy physical, it was performed by Dr. Engdahl, who attended the same church as my family and whose daughter, a cheerleader, was in my class.  A stranger might have been easier for me to tolerate.  As Dr. Engdahl invaded my privacy, I told him, “Doc, I don’t like this,” and as he continued, I repeated, “I REALLY don’t like this!”  Dr. Engdahl validated my opinion.  “I’d be worried if you did like it.”  I still don’t like it.  One year I talked Dr. Murphy out of it.  I persuasively argued that blood test ought to identify if I have prostate problems, which I don’t.  This year I was not as persuasive. 

Sugar waited for me in the car.  I came out with a referral to a skin doctor to look at some sun damage to skin on my face.  Every cowboy, lifeguard, swimmer, tennis player has sun damage to his skin.  Still, I was sent to have it looked at.

Well, that skin doctor did more than look.  First an assistant examined me.  I had to take my shirt off for her to get a good look at the spot on my face, apparently.  But, like I said, I am used to that sort of thing.  She then called in the reinforcements, and the doctor himself was called into the room.  He told his assistant to take a biopsy and chickened out himself, leaving the room.  So the assistant and another lady were in the room helping each other cut into my face after shooting something into the spot to numb it.  I am so tough that I did not need the shot, but they did not ask.  I was still shirtless when a third woman came into the room.  Like I said, I am used to women gawking when I take my shirt off. 

The third one said, “Your wife or daughter wants to come into the room.”  So Sugar joined the crowd.  She is very territorial.  I am not sure why she came in, but perhaps she heard the women of the office whispering about my lack of a shirt.  Anyway, she busted in just as they were patching me up.  I left with a bandage thing covering the site of “the procedure.” 

On the way home, Sugar was still happy that the one office lady wondered if she was my daughter. (I invite you to look at the ABOUT page to scrutinize photos of the two of us to determine if you agree that she could be mistaken as my daughter, which insulted me, injuring my pride in my own youthful good looks).  It was my mistake to tell Sugar that is what that lady said when she asked the physician’s assistant if she could come in.  Naturally, that put Sugar in an even better mood.

Sugar said, “What a beautiful day it has been.  Did you have fun?”

“Sugar,” I said, recounting the day, “I was violated by Dr. Murphy in the morning, had a lovely lunch with those folks from the volunteer fire department, then went and let the ladies at the skin doctor’s office dig a hole in my head.  Does that seem to you like it would be fun for me?”

Sugar just laughed.  So I told her about my conversation with Dr. Engdahl.  She suggested I write a blog about it. 

The Getaway

Like Dustin Hoffman’s character in Rain Man, I am an excellent driver.  Imagine my surprise to see flashing lights of a law enforcement vehicle in my rear view mirror.

“Don’t worry, Sugar, I can lose him,” I assured my lovely wife.

“But you are already stopped,” Sugar pointed out. 

“I know.  I will wait for the officer to get out of his car, which will give me a headstart while he has to run back to it.”

“Too late, Butch Cassidy, he is already approaching the window.”  Sugar had distracted me during my opportunity to flee the scene and thus spoiled our getaway.  Sugar does not have what it takes to be a successful criminal. 

“Good evening, Sir,” said the young cop.  “How are you tonight?”

“I am frightened,” I lied (nothin’ scares me), “because I do not know why you would stop me.”

“Did you see that car when you pulled out to turn right?  You almost hit it.”

“Officer, I don’t think I almost hit it. It almost hit me.  I did not even see it.  It must not have had its headlights on.  If you hurry, you can catch that lawbreaker.”

“Why did you pull over into the bike lane after you turned?”

“Because I heard the siren and know that it is the law to pull over for emergency vehicles,” I patiently informed him.

He might not have heard me because at that moment an ambulance roared by, lights flashing and siren screaming.

He asked for my license, registration and insurance card.  I got my driver’s license from my billfold while Sugar retrieved the insurance card and registration. 

“Where are you coming from, Sir,” the officer asked.

I knew the answer.  “We ate at El Burrito, just around the corner.” 

“Did you have anything to drink?”

“Just water.”  (Sugar had lemonade, but since she was not driving, she was not interrogated.) 

“Well, I have to go back to my vehicle.  Wait here.”

As the policeman did whatever they do in the car, such as checking my F.B.I. profile, Sugar speculated about how much the ensuing ticket would cost.  What a pessimist.

The officer returned, handed back my license, registration and insurance card, and said, “I am letting you off with a warning.  Be careful pulling out.  There are a lot of drunks out on this road on Saturday night.”

So I carefully pulled out, nearly colliding with the officer as he drove away.

“Now aren’t you glad you did not make your getaway and have a car chase like in Bullitt with Steve McQueen?” Sugar asked rhetorically.

“I think he let me off because he recognized me as a member of The Rural Land Use Advisory Board.  I don’t want to use the powers of my office in that way.  I just want to be treated like he would treat a member of the General Public.  I have half a mind to report him for showing favoritism to me as a public official.  I am a Man of the People.  I insist on a citation and the right to trial.  I have already planned my defense.”

“Let’s go home,” Sugar sweetly suggested, “It is nearly 8:30 p.m.”

Like I said, Sugar does not have what it takes to live the lifestyle of a criminal.  Fugitives don’t go to bed early on a Saturday night.  They have to flee and hide out.  It takes dedication to be a good fugitive.  Sugar has too many diverse interests to devote herself to evading arrest. 

And that is just one episode of our life of adventure.  Stay tuned. 

Courtroom Decorum

I was in court today, waiting in the courtroom with my client for the 2:00 p.m. docket.  The judge had not yet emerged to “take the bench” as they say.

Apparently, my client was nervous, or had a lunch that wasn’t sitting right, or a combination.  Regardless of the cause, the result was gastric turbulence.  My client loudly expelled gas.  Use your imagination based on your own life experiences.

The sound reverberated throughout the somber, heretofore quiet, room.  It was noticed by all therein.

Since the judge was not yet in the courtroom, I, as an officer of the court by virtue of my admission to the bar, stepped in, and declared, as I have heard judges pound their gavels and say, “Order in the Court!”

I did not have a gavel, but my words rang out clearly because the room was uncomfortably silent.  All present heard my authoritative voice use that well-known legal phrase, “Order in the Court!”

My client, already uncomfortably embarrassed, cracked up. 

Contagious laughter erupted.  Embarrassed laughter.  I joined in.

Sometimes, I crack myself up with my subtle, dry, junior high humor.

You shoulda been there.  You would have cracked up too.

It is a good thing the judge was not present.  I could have been held in contempt.

My client is probably looking for a new lawyer even as you read these words.  That’s okay.  I will likely be a judge soon anyway.  I’ve got a flair for it. 

P.S. My friend Terry had a great idea. He said that after saying “Order in the Court,” I should have added, “One more outburst like that and we will clear this courtroom!” I wish I had thought of it at the time.

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