Shootin' the Breeze

and random targets

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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.

Dog Park Disaster

So, as a favor to our dogs, my kind wife, Miss Sugar, took them to a dog park.  Because we live on a ranch, those who know us might wonder why our dogs, who have their own river, would be candidates for visiting a dog park.  Well, it is because we had been away from the home place.  We have been camping and, while camping, we have kept our dogs tied up so as to not bother our fellow campers.   So, as I said, Sugar took them to a dog park.

As a preface to describing what happened at the dog park, I will educate those of you who are unfamiliar with what constitutes a dog park.  Note carefully that dog parks are enclosed areas in which unleashed dogs can run and play and fetch, etc.  Emphasis in this definition is on the term “enclosed.”  This is important for obvious containment reasons.

So, as I was saying, Sugar took our two dogs, who are Labrador Retrievers, to a  dog park.  This was the first visit for Beau.  It did not go as planned.  It was a surprise to Sugar that someone left the park without closing a gate, thus failing to, you know, maintain closure of the enclosure, a fact that did not escape Beau’s attention.  He saw his chance to escape and did indeed escape, much to the dismay of sweet Miss Sugar, who watched Beau take his leave.

Now, many dog owners are thinking, I bet, that Sugar should have called her (notice I do not say our} dog.  Those are people who have dogs who come when called.  Beau is not in that category.  Beau only comes when he wants to come.  He wants to come only when there is nothing better to do.  On this occasion, there was, in his opinion, something better to do.  He explored an area new to him.

Sugar cried.  She and Sadie had to leave the dog park to get in the car to try to catch up with Beau.

It took an hour.  She was sad as she worried.  She was relieved to find him.  She was angry that she had to.

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?

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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.

Getting Back on the Horse

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 own good, for your self esteem, I guess, to not quit and to not be afraid.

Besides horses, there are other things in life that buck folks off.  (I am not talking about bulls, which are not really intended to be ridden anyway, at least not by me.)

Getting cut from a team is like getting bucked off.  It is  surprising that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team and inspiring that he did not quit basketball.  Some say that he turned out to be a pretty successful player.  Some say the best ever.

Getting fired, getting divorced, declaring bankruptcy, losing a loved one who dies, and health problems of all sorts are examples of life bucking you off.   When you are laying in the dirt, you often do not feel like standing up, mounting up, and taking another ride.  Those are the times to “cowboy up.”

Sometimes, I suppose we are more like the horses doing the bucking.  You might say that people who are recovering from addictions are trying to get a “monkey” off their backs.  From another perspective, you might say that making choices that lead to addiction could be to escape life’s demands, like you are trying to buck off responsibilities.  Either way, addictions involve bucking too.  Overcoming addiction is like getting back on the horse because it requires re-taking control.

God knows when we get bucked off, whether literally or by being cut from a team, fired from a job, divorced from a spouse or any of the ways we fall and land hard.

God also knows when we are bucking.  Like a good horse trainer, He does not give up on us.  He has ways of letting us know that we are not in control.

The Bible tells us that the hairs of our heads are numbered, that God knows when a sparrow falls from its nest, and that, lo, He is with us always.

Our heavenly Father is always ready to help us get back in the saddle.

From personal experience, most of us realize that “there ain’t a cowboy can’t be throwed.”  If you haven’t been throwed yet, you will be.

It is by faith we see that with God’s help “there ain’t a  horse that can’t be rode.”
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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.

Kim K Copies My Fashion

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Very recently, I saw a photo of Kim Kardashian wearing jeans with holes in the areas of her thighs and knees.  My first thought was that she must be bucking bales of hay because I have over the years had many pairs of jeans with that exact same look.  I suspect that Kim and other fashion leaders noticed me at the feed store or while I was doing chores.  I know I look good in jeans, but I always believed women were studying my Wrangler butt.  Apparently, they study my thighs as well.

Here is how to get holes in the thigh area of one’s jeans.  As you lift bales of hay, use your leg to help bring the bales to your middle area immediately prior to using your arms to lift the bales above your waist or even head, depending upon how high you are stacking the bales or throwing them onto the hay wagon as another person standing on the wagon aka hay rack (as in hay rack ride), to stack bales there.  I perfected the technique as a young teen trying to keep up with older fellas picking up hay bales from the field and then handling them again to stack the bales in the hay loft of the barn.  “More bales!” we would yell, implying that the other cowboys were not keeping up with our respective selves, the superior workers.

Kim did not explain the worn-out jeans that she was wearing so she might not want me to explain the process of achieving that look.  She does not seem the type to throw bales of hay, but now you know.  I see her in a whole different light.  What a hard-working cowgirl!  I had previously thought she shopped on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Hollywood or wherever it is.  I do suggest she get more sensible footware.  I wear cowboy boots.  They have heels, but not spindly ones such as Kim wears above.  I doubt she wore those shoes in the hay fields.

I hesitate to publish this because I fear that a bunch of California girls will be contacting me to ask about stacking hay bales.  I will have to reject their assistance.  After all, I am married to Miss Texas and she looks good in her jeans with or without holes in the thighs.  Kim could learn a lot from Miss Texas but I wonder if she is capable of grasping what Miss Texas knows.  Miss Texas is way out of Kim’s league.

Modeling

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Take a bow, Miss Texas!  (I doubt Kim can ride a trick horse).

Four Eagles

I’ve got poetry in me
Sometimes
Sometimes, like after a foot of snow,
Followed by sub-zero temperatures,
Requires me to walk to the barn
And I want to describe what I see
And how I feel.
At such a time, like today,
Frost forms on my mustache
From breathing cold air
And the breath of the horses is visible
For the same reason.
I like the smell of the hay in the barn.
I like the smell of the horses’ coats of hair
And their breaths of alfalfa.
Coming back inside
The house welcomes me
With warmth and the beauty of flames
Visible through the glass front
Of the wood-burning stove.
Today, my lovely wife had soup cooking
Which smelled better than alfalfa even.
Then she showed me the photo she took
Of four eagles in the same tree.
Don’t you wish you were here?

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