Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Sugar’s Job Offer

Miss Sugar is an artist. She is also a promoter for other artists, putting on shows and arranging for them to hang artwork in venues in our town, ranging from a bank and restaurants to even a veterinary clinic. Last week she rented her own studio within a gallery run by a group of artists.

I support Sugar in her art endeavors. Last night, however, I drew the line at what I could not support.

I helped her set up her studio by putting up a hanging system which is too complicated for those of you not familiar with art galleries to fully grasp. Let’s just say I used an electric drill, screwdriver, hammer and a saw. I’d like to give the impression that it was a job for a manly man such as myself, but the rest of the story is that Sugar, who is not manly at all, had to kind of tell me how to set it up. I might be stupid, but I sure am strong. Plus I can reach pretty high without a ladder.

Sugar also cut a piece of carpet to fit in a spot in the larger gallery, but then we needed a transition strip where the carpet met a wood floor. Let’s just say I cut the wooden strip with a handsaw, something a girl like Sugar would have trouble doing. She hammered the strip to the floor. Big deal!

We were at the gallery last night and I was sawing the wooden transition strips as Sugar was in her studio painting a watercolor. The gallery was closed, or so we thought. Some men came in for an after-hours class. It was a figure-drawing class. The students were there, but no model had yet arrived. Clearly, I was the maintenance man. Sugar came out from the room that is her studio to see who came in. Who was she? One of the men asked whether Sugar was the model. She said she was not.

“Sometimes our model does not show up.” One of the other men told us that with a worried look. He pointed out some of his drawings from earlier sessions. It was, I could see, a nude figure-drawing class.

The men did not know this, but Sugar won the swimsuit portion of the Miss Texas/USA pageant “back in the day.” In connection with that, the Kim Dawson modeling agency recruited her as a swimsuit and lingerie model for both “print work” in catalogs and newspaper and magazine ads, as well as runway work at the Dallas Apparel Mart. It is not only my opinion, but the opinion of modeling professionals, that Miss Sugar is above-average in the looks department. She continued modeling after moving to Colorado — for a classy dress shop. She even modeled for them at bridal fairs when she was approaching 40 but still looked 20. She was in their newspaper ads for years.

The men did not know that I am Sugar’s husband as well as the maintenance man.

One of the guys, tired of waiting for the model to arrive for the class, had an idea. It was for the good of the artistic community. After all, the class had assembled.

“Would you mind modeling tonight?” he asked Sugar. “We pay $25.00 for an hour class.”

I played dumb, which is easy for me to do. I made like he was talking to me and I answered in her stead. “Thanks for asking me to model, and $25 is surely more than I’m used to getting for taking my clothes off, but we have to get home pretty soon.”

I also added, “In my modeling days, I insisted on a warm room and it seems chilly in here.”

My sense of humor only goes so far. The man with the good idea did not clarify that he meant for Sugar, not for me, to be the model.

I am pretty sure he “got the picture” that I am her husband and did not approve of his idea. He might have also noticed when I arose from working on my knees on the floor that I am a fairly big guy.

If you ever have a bachelorette party at which you want me to pop out of a cake, I will do it for $12 plus mileage. You will need a pretty big cake.
Miss Sugar modeling a bride’s dress in Colorado many years after the Miss Texas pageant and while mother of a teenager.

Point of No Return

Shootin' the Breeze

girl with puppy
The young teen had her puppy on a leash at the summer festival. The puppy was being exposed to a crowd of people, strange smells, and loud sounds, including music. I guessed that she was socializing the puppy. She kept reassuring him and he stayed calm, trusting her apparently.

It was a German Shepherd, about 12 weeks old, she told me. The puppy did not pull on its leash, even at that young age. It was sitting right by its owner’s leg, alertly taking it all in.

A dog lover myself, I complimented her well-behaved pet. I told her it was a good-looking dog and seemed very intelligent. Thinking of a stereotype for the breed, I even asked whether she was training it to be a guide dog.

“Not exactly,” she said. “This puppy is blind. I suppose you could say that I am guiding him.”

“Oh my,” I exclaimed…

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Love Is Not Abstract

It was a good funeral for a good man.

Martin’s funeral was yesterday. We used to practice law in the same firm a couple decades ago. I liked him. When I learned of his death, I planned to attend the funeral and I am glad that I did.

His widow, grown daughters, sons in law, grandchildren, and even one great grandchild filled the first several pews of the sanctuary. Part of the service involved some of his granddaughters giving sweet tributes to him. It was clear that they loved their grampa and are sadly mourning his new absence from their lives. They will miss his involvement with them on this side of Heaven.

The priest gave a good homily. He referred to the many references to love in the abstract in our culture — in songs and romantic movies, in advertising and Valentine cards. But in reality, love is not abstract. It is concrete. It is shown in how we participate in each others’ lives. It is shown in how we interact with our family and friends. It is demonstrated in how we live with our spouses.

And here is a powerful truth: Love does not die. It lasts well after a loved one leaves this life.

I have no doubt that Martin was, and is still, well-loved. He must have loved those people who miss him so because they clearly loved him and always will. I believe that Martin still loves them right back.

The Power of Positive Thinking

cattlein hayfield
My nephew Sam brought his wife and son to visit our ranch. Kingsley, Sam’s little boy, was barely three, but already a very good talker with an impressive vocabulary and clear pronunciation.

I offered to take him out to the pasture to see some animals while his parents talked to Sugar because, well, Kingsley and I are men of action. We don’t much cotton to sitting around jawin’ in the courtyard. We set out on our own. Kingsley rode on my shoulders.

He commented on what he was seeing from on high. We talked about various things. We walked about a half mile before we found the livestock, him on my shoulders and me with my bum knees. But I tell you what — I was enjoying myself. I love hanging out with children. I do not get to see my own grandchildren much. It was a real treat to spend time with Kingsley.

As we got near the horses, Kingsley wondered out loud whether horses could step on “somebody.” I pointed out that he was on my shoulders and thus safe from getting stepped upon. He liked that idea. We petted the horses and talked a little about cows too. We noted that cows are big animals also.

Kingsley told me, emphatically and with utter confidence, “Those cows are not going to step on me.” And he was correct. No cow, nor any horse, stepped on him that day. None of them stepped on me either, and I wasn’t even riding on anyone’s shoulders.

As I walked back with Kingsley on my shoulders, we heard some thunder. Kingsley assured me that “It won’t rain on us before we get back to the house.” And, by golly, he was right again. It did not rain on us.

When we got back, we told the boring adults, who were still sitting around, about our adventures. I told them what Kingsley said about the horses and cows and rain not bothering us. His parents had heard such powerful positive thinking from Kingsley before. When he is afraid or worried, he says that what he is worried about is not going to happen. The power of positive speaking. The faith of a little child….

So ever since that life lesson, Sugar and I often quote Kingsley. Tonight, as we sat in our house, eager for the repairs from the recent fire to be completed, Sugar told me that pretty soon everything would be back to normal. She added, “Those cows are not going to step on me.”

That is a good attitude to have in times of trouble.

Hi, Cowboy!

So, as I am accustomed, yesterday I sat on a bench on the sidewalk outside the store in which Miss Sugar was shopping. Before she came out to show me the real good deals that she found, a young family walked by.

A cute little girl, about four years old I would guess, was telling her parents, with great enthusiasm, “We are sure having a fun day, aren’t we?” They agreed that it was a fun day indeed. I grinned as I eavesdropped.

Then she noticed me sitting there, stopped and smiled right at me. She saw my hat, I suppose. She looked up at me with joyful recognition, like she was looking at Santa Claus. “Hi, Cowboy!” she said happily.

I could not resist playing the role I know so well. “Howdy, Pardner,” I replied and smiled at her, tipping my hat.

“Mom, that cowboy called me his partner. Dad, I’m his partner.”

I am pleased that she and I connected. She made my day.


I can see why the little girl thought maybe I am a cowboy. You can tell by my outfit. If you get an outfit you can be a cowboy too.

Persistent Patriotic Flag Display

We used to fly a flag from a pole on our porch. It was nice. It was easy to stick in the holder and to remove it at night.

A couple years ago, we bought a 25 foot telescoping flag pole. In a blog shortly after the purchase, I wrote about the pole being bent to the ground by high winds. My sturdy installation, by putting it in a PVC sleeve in two feet of concrete below ground worked — for the part of the pole in the ground. The aluminum, or whatever the telescoping part was made of, bent at 90 degrees at the ground.

The manufacturer had a guarantee. So we took it up on that and got a second pole. Not surprising, we got the same result when high winds came. We did not ask for another. Maybe third time would be the charm, but I doubted that.

We went another route. We used iron irrigation pipe. It was one solid length of pipe and did not bend, but it was only about ten feet long, not twenty-five. It did fit in the same PVC concreted into a two foot deep hole in the ground. The problem was how to secure the flag to the pipe without the fancy rope and clips and stuff that came with the genuine flag pole.

The fourth step in my development of the perfect flagpole for our location was when I tried putting the irrigation pipe as a lining in the surviving pieces of the telescoping aluminum pole. It worked as far as it went since it could not go through the bent section at the bottom, nor the narrower upper sections. Consequently, the pole is now maybe fifteen feet, ten of which are reinforced with the irrigation pipe inside. So far that has worked.

Now the pole does not bend, but the flag takes a beating in the wind. We know it is disrespectful to have a shredded flag, so we have to replace damaged ones. We also know that unless a light shines on the flag at night, it needs to be taken down at the end of the day. We took the lazy route, and got a solar light.

I am looking at it right now. God bless our U.S. flag!

We also have a Texas state flag. I am not a Texan, but I married one, so I tip my hat to it too, and to Miss Texas.

Opportunities In Trials

Bill is an excellent writer with “unshakable hope.” He inspires many people with how he deals with the challenges of A.L.S. My Uncle Luke also had A.L.S., so Bill’s blogs remind me of Uncle Luke, another brave man. Ironically, Luke was a major league baseball player, like Lou Gehrig, and the condition is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

Unshakable Hope

In the midst of a trial, the greatest temptation we face is to hunker down and wait for the storm to pass. I don’t believe this is ever God’s will.

We tend to view trials as a kind of imprisonment, thinking our life is on hold until the day we’re released from the grip of the life challenge. ALS has made me a virtual prisoner of my own body for the last 18 years. It has been a very cruel warden. But I look around me and see other people fighting illness or trying to overcome addictions, depression, abuse, debt and so many other cruel masters.

We must continue to hope and pray for freedom from whatever is trying to “holdus,” and we should do everything in our power to move toward that goal. But, in the meantime, we should look for opportunities for God to use…

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How to change the world

Morning Story and Dilbert

MS&D Vintage Dilbert
January 16, 2015

The ninth week of SEAL training is referred to as Hell Week. It is six days of no sleep, constant physical and mental harassment and one special day at the Mud Flats. The Mud Flats are an area between San Diego and Tijuana where the water runs off and creates the Tijuana slues—a swampy patch of terrain where the mud will engulf you.

It is on Wednesday of Hell Week that you paddle down to the mud flats and spend the next 15 hours trying to survive the freezing-cold mud, the howling wind and the incessant pressure from the instructors to quit. As the sun began to set that Wednesday evening, my training class, having committed some “egregious infraction of the rules” was ordered into the mud. The mud consumed each man till there was nothing visible but our heads. The instructors told us we…

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Bucked Off and Getting Back On

This is the short version of a talk I have given at a cowboy church and at our local homeless shelter chapel.

Shootin' the Breeze

I confess that I have been bucked off many horses, many times.  I have been bucked off other things as well.

There is a saying that gives me some comfort.  “Ain’t a horse that can’t be rode; ain’t a cowboy can’t be throwed.”

Unless it is a bronc at a rodeo, who bucks for a living, and you are not allowed to get back on, there are two important reasons to get back on after being bucked off.

One reason is very simple.   If you don’t get back on, the horse won and will think that it can get you off whenever it wants.  So, for training purposes, and for the horse’s own good, you want it to learn that it can’t get away with it.  You want it to learn that you are boss; that you are in control.

The second reason to get back on is for your…

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Sad Times at Cross Creek Ranch

I am remembering Rover. There are a number of posts about him on this blog. He was a fun character. Smart too!

Shootin' the Breeze


Today we buried Rover. He exited our lives as swiftly as he entered.

He died doing what he loved — chasing a rabbit.  At least that is what we surmise happened.  We did not witness his death.  We found him when we started looking for him because he did not come when we called him.  His cold body was in the road merely feet from the front gate.  We had never had a problem with Rover disappearing or not coming when called.  We did not have a problem with him going by the road with one exception — he looked for rabbits who hide in the drainage pipe under the entrance to our lane, where the lane goes over the barrow pit on each side.  I speculate that he was chasing a rabbit across the road after flushing it out of the pipe.

It did not appear that he had…

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