Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

Archive for the category “Life in Colorado”

Not Impressed

Last week, I went swimming at the rec center.  I was doing butterfly stroke, the Fly, flyin’ through the water.

When I stopped at the end of the lane after a lap, or half a lap, a young boy, appearing about ten or eleven, was standing on the deck of the pool, above me.

He said, “That was some good swimming!  I saw that in the Olympics.  Were you in the Olympics?”

I said, “Thanks.  I was in the Senior Olympics.”

He looked at me with obvious disappointment.

“Oh,” he said and walked away.  I guess my answer was not what he hoped for.

Me neither.  It was not the answer I wish I could give.

If given another chance, so as not to disappoint any young admirers, I will say, “Yes, I was in the Olympics.  Would you like my autograph?”

I might add, with feigned humility, “I also play for the Broncos.  I left my Super Bowl ring in the locker so I won’t lose it in the pool.”

That would make the kid’s day, to meet someone as admirable as me.

It would make my day too.

P.S.  I thought of how to sign my autograph — Walter Mitty.

Adios, Pard

photo rodney and al

Rodney was, among other things, a Mountain Man, and his wishes were for his ashes to be spread at some of his favorite places in the mountains.

A gun collector, knife maker, and history buff, Rodney enjoyed going to Mountain Man Rendevous.  He had the outfit.  He had a great knowledge of American Indian culture, such as making a sweat lodge.  His spirituality included a connection with red hawks.  Back in the 70s, when the TV series Centennial was filmed around here, Rodney was an extra, playing an Indian riding a horse bareback.   Movie star!

Rodney enjoyed countless camping trips, ranging from sleeping under the stars in a bedroll to traveling in a Mercedes RV with his devoted wife, Debra.

Debra is a New York Times Best Selling author, who wrote about Rodney as an example of exhibiting genuine cowboy values.  He used to manage a ranch at a remote location, staying in a primitive cabin during the winter, taking care of the livestock.  You could depend on Rodney.   So could our nation.  He served in the military.

Rodney encouraged me to join the Single Action Shooting Society, found the kind of rifle I needed, and told me about the Hell on Wheels competition in Cheyenne.  He even suggested that my wife join SASS as well, using her alias, Miss Sugar.  She did.

Debra and Rodney regularly made trips to Santa Fe, relishing in the SouthWest culture there.  Sugar and I went with them a couple times.  Rodney knew a lot about Santa Fe, so we got much more out of the trips than if we’d gone alone.  They built a beautiful Santa Fe style home in the hills above Fort Collins, decorated like a gallery of Western art and artifacts.  There, in the place he loved, with the woman he loved, he died.

Adios, amigo.  Happy trails to you, until we meet again.

rodney

Engineering 411

I do not know if any of my loyal readers are graduates of M.I.T. or any other fine engineering school.  (I myself am largely self-taught as a mechanical engineer, yet I do not denigrate the path of those who felt the need for mentoring).   If you are an engineer, you might learn something from me today.  If you are merely a member of the general public, you still might learn something, provided the subject is not way over your head.

First, some family history:  my maternal grandfather on my mother’s side was a civil engineer who worked for Union Pacific Railroad (as distinguished from a locomotive engineer who operates trains and probably has much more fun).    Like me, he did not go to engineering school, nor to college of any sort, going directly to work after graduating from high school.   One day at church, a man who knew my grampa at U.P., came up to me and asked whether I knew that the man who replaced my grampa had a Ph.D.

So, apparently I have engineering genes so strong that actual coursework is unnecessary.  And that brings me to the topic of the day.  I put together TWO home projects in ONE week.

My ever confident wife, Miss Sugar, purchased two items which each came in a box clearly labeled “Assembly Required.”

One of the projects was a fire pit from Home Depot.  It is no longer in the box.  It is actually assembled.  You should have seen me.  Anyway, we have had four successful fires.  Grampa would be proud.

The other project was a bird bath.  There were six, waddayacallem, yea, bolts, and just as many, you know what I mean, nuts.  I won’t explain the entire process.  All you need to know is that the finished product is already in use.  Charlie Sheen and I call that WINNING!

If you, loyal readers, ever have any home improvement projects, now or in the future, simply call my toll free number for expert assistance over the phone.

I will let you know when the number is working.  I have delegated that to Miss Sugar.

Show Time

You know that awkward feeling when you ask if someone is going to a party that you will be attending and the person you asked tells you that he or she was not invited?

Out of kindness, I suppose, I have not told my wife, a former model and television actress, that I am being contacted on a daily basis by Casting 360, which has modeling gigs, acting jobs, and movie extra work for me.

I am not certain how this agency discovered me.  Perhaps this very blog site attracted their attention.  I imagine that some folks at Casting 360 have been ogling photos of me posted on this site.  I am surprised that they did not respond as positively to the many photos of the photogenic Miss Sugar also on this site.  So maybe I was discovered in another manner.  Sometimes, as I walk down the street, I notice people noticing me.  They never come right out and tell me how good-looking they think I am, but I can see it in their eyes.  Probably some of those admiring eyes work for Casting 360.  It is hard to say.

Nevertheless, for whatever reason, Casting 360 is desperately trying to recruit me.  All I have to do is pay $7.99 a month for them to send me notifications about the jobs they have for me.

That is a good deal.  My first movie job should more that pay for it.

That is when I will tell Miss Sugar.  She might notice my absence when I have to travel to the movie set.  For $7.99, I could use my connections to bring her back into the family business — show biz.    If you, gentle readers, also want to try show biz, simply send me your credit card information, Social Security number, and a portfolio of photos.  I will see what I can do for you.

I can’t make any guarantees, however.  Modeling and show biz are very competitive.  Good looks are all that count.  Some of us have it, some of us (present company excluded) don’t.   You know who you are.

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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Do You Want Cheese With That Pizza?

Miss Sugar and I visited a car dealership, where we met an interesting sales person, who was very entertaining.

He is, he told us, 47 years old and does not run out to nab prospects “like the young spider monkeys” who are also part of the sales team.

We asked about a certain vehicle, a Lexus RX350.  Miss Sugar said she would like leather seats.  I said that I think all Lexuses (Lexi?) come with leather seats.

The car salesman confirmed my assumption.  He said, “When you order a pizza, you get crust and cheese without the cheese counting as an extra.  You don’t have to order cheese, but you might have to pay extra for sausage.”

This was a fitting analogy because the salesman has a very Italian name.  Sugar understood immediately because her father is Italian.

I just liked being right.

Born This Way

Baby puppies and kitties do not run around right away.  Baby horses do.  It is funny to watch a one-day old foal run and buck.  It can have no memory beyond yesterday.  What is it thinking?

foal

I suppose a difference between dogs and horses is that dogs are predators and horses are prey.  As prey, they must immediately be capable of fleeing danger.

But mostly, foals play.

I don’t know what is going through their minds, but it sure looks like it would be fun to be a foal.

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What they can’t imagine is that when they grow up the real fun begins.

 

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.

 

Cowboy Up

In the West, there is an admonition that means one ought to be tough.  The phrase is this:  “Cowboy up!”  It is used to encourage.

For example, if a cowboy is complaining about having to do something difficult, another cowboy would likely say, “Cowboy up.”  It means to face what you need to face.  It means to do what you need to do.  It means the same as another catch phrase, one formerly used in Nike ads, “Just do it.”  I am guessing the derivation might be about getting up on a horse that is likely to buck.  (Mount up and be ready for a ride, i.e., Cowboy up).

You do not have to be a cowboy in order to cowboy up.  A non-cowboy can be tough.  A non-cowboy might figuratively have to endure a rough ride of one kind of another.

For two examples, I will tell you about my Uncle Luke and about my Friend Bill.  They each have faced something more difficult than anything that I have faced  — A.L.S., also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.    Talk about tough men!

Recently, I spoke separately to two young men who had threatened suicide.  I did not tell them to cowboy up. That is not always therapeutic.  I listened to the hopelessness they felt about life circumstances.   I also encouraged them, or tried to, by telling them about the courage of Uncle Luke and Friend Bill,  facing A.L.S., and how those tough men have inspired me.   I agreed that life can be difficult, but reminded them that life is precious too.  Too precious to throw away.

That realization, that life is precious, is the reason to cowboy up.

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