Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the category “adventure”

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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March Madness on the Ranch

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With the lack of moisture and high winds, there are frequent warnings about fire danger.  So frequent are those warnings that one must be an idiot to light a fire in these conditions.

So when I put trash in the burn barrel, I was aware that idiots should not do what I was about to do.  As a special person who is not a member of the general public to which the frequent warnings were directed, I wisely checked the wind and determined that there was not much of it.  Therefore, I took matters into my own hands and lit the tissue paper from the waste basket from the bathroom.  As expected, the tissue paper ignited immediately.

Having successfully started the fire within the safe confines of the burn barrel, I took the waste basket back into the house.  There I went to the other bathroom and picked up another waste basket.  Then I heard the loud pop.

I looked out the window and saw that the grass next to the burn barrel was burning.  An aerosol can had exploded and landed on the ground.  It was a hairspray can which my wife had foolishly placed in the bathroom waste basket without warning me that I should not put it in the burn barrel.  What was she thinking?

Anyhoo, as a result of my wife’s utter carelessness, the grass fire spread quickly, beyond the reach of the hose I had heroically stretched to spray water as far as I could.  So, with great embarrassment, I reluctantly called 911.

“What is the nature of your emergency?” I was asked.

“A grass fire,” I explained, deciding not to tell the dispatcher that it was all my wife’s fault.  The investigators would see the hairspray bottle and determine that it was clearly not mine.  Ergo, it could not be my fault.  Fortunately for my wife, she was not home.  I determined that I would simply tell those investigators that she was a fugitive and they would never be able to catch her.  I would keep them busy while Miss Texas made her getaway.  It is my job to protect her.  She could count on me.

In the meantime, before the firefighters arrived, and before the criminal investigators arrived, I bravely filled buckets with water and kept trying to stop the progress of the fire.  While I was so engaged in that task, a nice man stopped by and pitched in.

Eventually, the professionals arrived and got the fire under control.  The nice deputy sheriff did not give me a citation because he recognized that it was “clearly an accident.”  He did not even ask about the whereabouts of my wife.  I imagined how grateful she would or should be for my success in clearing her name.

While on this streak of righteousness, I decided to text my wife at work to inform her in advance that I had found a clever way to clear that old dry grass out of our yard and beyond.  I decided that she would likely notice the 3 acres of black grass when she returned, so, like George Washington before me, I took responsibility for burning down the cherry tree.

Actually, the fire stopped at the banks of the irrigation ditch and did not reach the trees on the other side.  God protected us because the wind (the slight wind, I mean) blew the fire away from the house.  The firemen protected us. And I protected Miss Texas.  I am no snitch.

I just hope that she learned her lesson.  It could have really been bad.

Day at a Time — Day 1

So, today Miss Texas, my personal trainer, suggested that I return to the swimming pool in order to prepare for success at next summer’s Senior Games aka Senior Olympics.

A few years ago, I competed somewhat successfully in six swimming events at the national championships and the World Senior Games.  No brag, just fact.

My training was interrupted due to a number of reasons, including a trip to the hospital for a bum knee and a bicycle accident that injured my right shoulder.

Rather than swim at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Miss Texas and I decided to start our return to competition at the therapy pool at the Fort Collins Senior Center.  Not surprisingly, the pool was full of old people.  Clearly, we did not belong.  Nevertheless, we tried to blend in.

There is something wrong with me besides my knees and shoulder.  My competitive drive is unhealthy.  The old lady next to me did not realize it, but I saw her as a challenge and targeted her by giving her a headstart and then trying to pass her.  She did not realize that she was in a race.  But I did.

Maybe tomorrow she will recognize just who she is dealing with.  Or not.

 

Poopy Pants

Miss Sugar and I have been  camping.  We have not really been roughing it because we have a camper trailer.   It includes a bathroom.

Those of you familiar with the joys and responsibility of camping in an RV are aware of the need to visit a dump station at the conclusion of the camping experience.  Guess what is dumped at a dump station.

Yes.  You are correct that a dump station is where one dumps what went down the sink and toilet in the recreational vehicle.  There are two types of “water” — gray water and black water.  Gray water comes from a tank where the sink and shower water go.  The black water is exactly what you imagine, i.e., the contents of the tank filled with contents from the toilet, which is more than mere water.

Miss Sugar, my trusty trophy wife, is very knowledgeable about camping in general and the operation of the gray and black water release systems in particular.  As her able assistant, I use my own personal hand to open the pipe and the respective valves under the verbal direction of Miss Sugar.

For those of you interested in the details, please visualize that the dump station has a hole.  The camper has a pipe.  The pipe is connected to the hole by a wide collapsible and flexible hose known in the camping world as a “stinky slinky.”  In another blog post, I described our initial experience with such a device.

That post was posted years ago.  Today I am writing about an event that occurred this very day.

Today, after I attached the stinky slinky to the dump hole at one end and the trailer pipe/tube to the other end, opened the black valve, emptied it, then opened the gray water valve and emptied it (the order is important), Miss Sugar directed me to rinse out the stinky slinky by transferring the end of it attached to the now emptied trailer over to a water spigot so that it could be rinsed by that fresh water after the gray water.  Get the picture?

Sugar operated the handle of the water spigot as I obediently held the stinky slinky and moved it to a position under the faucet.  Blessed with excellent eye-hand coordination, I accomplished the task.  Sugar’s water flowed down the wide tube, cleansing the you-know-what down the tube.  When she said, “Okay,” I interpreted that to mean that I could remove the stinky slinky because she was shutting off the water.  I was wrong.

I moved the tube away from the spigot but Sugar did not turn off the water.  Consequently, as the tube moved, its contents back-splashed onto my pants.

Sugar thought it was funny.  She suggested that I write this post and is credited with the title.

Despite her instructions to me and direction of me, let’s be clear about who wears the pants in the family.  That would be me.  I wore those particular pants as I drove all the way home.

 

 

Beau and Cujo Go Camping

Some loyal readers have asked how Beau, our Yellow Labrador Retriever, is doing. I have some news to report.
Beau, who has extraordinary self-esteem, and consequently expects that everyone, all creatures great and small, will like him, discovered, sadly, that is not true. It was not true when he met a Mastiff at a campground last week.
As Miss Sugar told the story to me, the Mastiff, apparently irritated by Beau’s exuberant attitude, barked at him. Beau, delighted to have his presence acknowledged by another dog, pulled on the cable to which he was tied so hard that it broke. Beau happily ran to the campsite across the road, dragging the cable, expecting to play.

When Beau arrived, the Mastiff, whom we shall call Cujo, knocked Beau onto his back and went for Beau’s jugular.
Miss Sugar and Cujo’s owner watched in horror. Beau realized that Cujo was not playing nicely and managed to bite Cujo’s face. That move allowed Beau to get up and try to leave the adversarial situation. Unfortunately, Cujo was not finished. He bit Beau’s left hind leg. He bit all the way through the leg.
Miss Sugar called for Beau to retreat. He did.  It is rare for Beau to come when called.
Cujo’s owner owner was embarrassed. She stated the obvious, “He does not get along with other animals. That is why we take him out for walks at 4:00 a.m.” It seems the dog has a history. Beau was not Cujo’s first victim.
She kindly offered to help with Beau’s anticipated vet bills. Then she added. “Our dog’s face is bleeding.”
Sugar did not offer any sympathy.

Sugar did take Beau to a vet she found in the area.  (I was not there to help.  I was at work, scheduled to join the family later.)  The vet treated the puncture wounds from the bite and prescribed antibiotics.  She said Beau might need a shunt to drain infection if that sets in.  He had to wear a cone to keep him from licking his leg.

When I arrived at the campsite, Beau was not the happy camper I am used to seeing.  He was depressed.  He was in pain.  He did not want to walk on his swollen limb.  He hated wearing the cone.  We were sad to see Beau so very sad.  I think part of his depression came from the realization that  Cujo did not like him.  That fact did not Beau’s worldview that everyone likes him.  He seemed to be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But don’t worry, Beau fans, he has bounced back.  He did not need a shunt.  He no longer limps.  The cone is off.  He has re-captured his gift of enthusiasm.  Beaurunning

Cowboy Gathering

Folks from across the West

From Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas

From Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, Utah

From South Dakota, Montana, Nevada

And even from California.

Open microphone on the stage in the park

Later taking turns singing around the campfire

Or saying poems or telling tales

My kind of crowd

Gathered at Encampment, Wyoming

For three days

The fourteenth annual cowboy gathering

Of which I have been to five

Attending with Miss Texas

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Another Bat Bites the Dust

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Warning:  If you are a lover of bats, the following post contains disturbing material.

An erratic flight pattern by something crosses the TV screen in the dark room.  We know what it is.  We have had this experience many times before.

I turn on the lights in the room and we try to spot where the creature has landed.

My wife, Sugar, is my spotter.  She tells me to look at the third log from the top, right of the smoke detector.  I grab my trusty Red Ryder BB gun and take aim.  POW!

The winged creature drops to the floor.  The wings close around the body of the deceased.  It is a goner.  Another one bites the dust.

Not everyone shoots BB guns inside one’s home.  But I ain’t everyone.  I am a special marksman living in a log home with high ceilings.

We like bats flying around outside, presumably eating bugs.  But inside?  That’s where I draw the line.

History of Violence

I met a young man who shared with me that he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of “being involved in a murder trial.”  (I did not meet him as a law client or potential client, but in another manner).

I asked if he had been a witness or juror or defendant.  Defendant was the answer.

He explained further that when he was only 17, he entered into a plea bargain to avoid the risk of a murder conviction as an accomplice to assault and accomplice to murder.    It seems that his father had beaten a man to death and he, the son, was accused of being involved.  He had gone to prison as a result of the plea deal.  He told me that a book was written about his father’s case and trial.

I commented to the young man that I had gone to school with a guy with the same last name, but in another state.  I told him that the kid I knew was named Butch.

“That is my Dad’s name,” he said.  I told him where I grew up.  It was a match.  He told me the year his father was born.  It was two years before my birth.

Same guy.  What a coincidence.  I did not tell the young man the nature of my relationship with his father.

My wife researched the old news story about the murder trial.  Part of it described the father’s criminal history.  Butch was known in his town as a bully it said.  He had many arrests for assault and, well, various violent crimes. Tough man. Had pulled a straight edge razor on the victim in a bar during an argument about high school wrestling.  He wanted his 17 year old son to fight the 28 year old who had criticized his wrestling.  The 28 year old, 6’1″, 245 lbs, was invited by Butch to their home to finish the conflict resolution.  The result was a dead 28 year old.

Decades earlier, when I was 12 and Butch was 14, we went to the same junior high.  Butch was in 9th grade.  I was in 7th.  Butch was a bully, supposedly, by reputation, very tough and mean.  I had a foolishly exaggerated sense of self esteem.  I had watched too many cowboy movies.

So, since my peers were afraid of Butch, I thought it would be hilarious to mock Butch.  Remember the song about not tugging on Superman’s cape and not pulling the mask off the Lone Ranger by Jim Croce?  Well, the song had not come out yet when I was in 7th grade.

It would make a better story if I had saved someone from the school bully.  Rather, I teased him to show I was not afraid.  As he ran by on the way home from school, I ran after him.  It was unthinkable to the other 7th graders.  They were smart.

So Butch noticed the laughter and turned around and saw me imitating him.  He came over to me and knocked the books out from under my arm.  In those days, we did not carry books in backpacks nor, heaven forbid, brief cases.

The onlookers watched, fascinated, as I faced a beating.  To their surprise, and probably mine, I retaliated and knocked Butch’s books out from under his arm, to the ground.  Then he shoved me.  I shoved him back.  A crowd gathered in a circle.

Then a miracle happened.  Butch picked up his books and left.  I like to think that he wondered why I was not afraid.  I wonder too.  It has worked for me on other occasions.   My wife, Sugar, has witnessed the same phenomenon.  (See “A Cry for Help on a Downtown Street ” https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/?s=+cry+for+help+).

Butch was either scared of me or he was just in a hurry to beat up some other kid.  I ain’t saying I could whip Butch.  I am just saying that he did not beat me to death like he did that other poor feller.

Beau Gets a Friend

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Duke is not a puppy.  He is a six year old German Shorthair Pointer.  Miss Sugar, my kind-hearted wife, saw on Craigslist that Duke needed a new home.  (I do not understand why she was looking at pet ads on Craigslist.)  As an historical note, we previously were owned by another German Shorthair Pointer, Rover, who was a wonderful dog.  Rover and Max, pictured above, got along well.  Sadly, both have passed on.

German Shorthair Pointers like to run.  They probably need to run.  The family that posted the ad had decided that their living situation was not meeting Duke’s needs for lots of room to run.  We have lots of room to run so Sugar said we would take him.  That happened yesterday.

Duke adjusted well to our family and home immediately.  We introduced him to Beau and Sadie, Yellow Labs, and the horses, and even a cat.

We took all the dogs for a long walk in the pasture, with Duke on a leash, to show him the place.  We took a chance letting him off the leash, hoping he would stay by the other dogs, and he did stay by them, sort of.  He runs circles around the rest of us.  Literally.  He runs in big circles.  But he came back.  That was yesterday.

Today, we took the crowd out for another “walk.”  Even the cat came.  Beau spotted some Pronghorns (antelope) and Duke was glad.  They chased the fastest land animals in North America.  Beau gave up after awhile.  Duke did not.  The Pronghorns and Duke all disappeared from sight.  Sugar and I worried that we had made a mistake letting Duke off the leash.

To our relief, he eventually returned.  Sugar met him with joy.  The prodigal son returned.

In the house, Duke is a gentleman.  He has accepted us.  And we have accepted him.

Beau seems glad to have another buddy.  They are both “sporting dogs.”  So they have that in common.  They are supposed to be bird dogs, of course.  That is what the antelopes would like them to be.  The rabbits in the vicinity also feel strongly in favor of these dogs sticking with retrieving birds.

Pecos Bill and Me

There are tall tales about Pecos Bill, a famous Texan, like my own trophy wife, Miss Sugar.  This here is a true tale about what I done, just like old Bill.  I done it at the urging of Miss Sugar.  I’d do anything for that gal.

The reason I am writing this now is that a good friend of mine called me to say he enjoyed reading Sharpshooter, which is a true story as well.  His only question was why I used any tool to kill that rattler I wrote about.  He asked that because, growing up with me and all, he is very aware of how quick I am.  So is Miss Sugar.  That got me thinking about what I done a few years back without no shovel, nor gun either.

If y’all have read some of my previous posts, you know that Miss Sugar and I live in a log cabin in Colorado.  Miss Sugar loves birds.  She feeds ’em and takes pictures of ’em.  Well, one time some birds built a nest on a light fixture above our front door.  It was pretty smart of them bird brains cuz that light is beneath our porch roof out of the rain.  Miss Sugar occasionally checked on the eggs in the nest and, after they hatched, she would hold a mirror above the nest so she could look at the baby birds per the photo above.

Well, one fine day as she checked on the bird nest, she saw something that bothered her a mite.  What she seen was a mean old snake climbing on the logs aiming toward them baby birds.  So, since I’m her hero and all, as reported in previous posts, she decided to casually mention to me that it appeared a snake was fixin to bother her favorite birds.

I caught her subtle drift.  As always, I come a runnin’.  What she had carefully described in colorful language was indeed true.  A damned snake was slithering up the house to the nest.  I did not have time to get a gun or tool.  My favorite gal was upset.  So I did what any fearless hero would do.  I grabbed that snake by the tail, swung it around and around with centrifugal force so it  could not bend back and bite me.  I knew what to do because I had read about Pecos Bill doing the same thing.

After a few swings around my head, Miss Sugar suggested that I quit showing off and let go.  Which I done.  I let go with an appropriate wrist motion, sending that snake off the porch a ways, where it landed on the ground.  I went down the porch steps to finish the job.  Miss Sugar confidently assured me that it was a bullsnake, not a rattlesnake.  They have similar patterns.  She called her brother Mike because he knows about stuff like that.  He agreed that it was surely a bullsnake.

Now there is a difference or two.  One is that bullsnakes do not have rattles.  Another is that they are not poisonous.

So I went over to the bullsnake.  Apparently, it held a grudge.  It coiled up, imitating a rattler.  It was so good at imitating that I imagined I could hear rattles.   It opened its mouth and flicked out its forked tongue in a threatening manner, revealing its fangs that Mike and Sugar knew were not poisonous.  Silly me.  I felt like a big old chicken.

If I was as brave as Pecos Bill, I’d of picked it up again, just for fun.  But since I already had saved the birds, I kilt it with that sharpshooter shovel I wrote about in my blog called Sharpshooter.

I cut the rattles off the bullsnake because everyone knows bullsnakes don’t have rattles.   This one had not gotten the memo.  At least it wasn’t poisonous.  That could have been dangerous.

What Pecos Bill did was very dangerous.  What I done was similar, but, like Mike told Sugar, was perfectly safe.   Those rattles almost fooled me.

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