Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “cowboys”

I Wasn’t Always Like This

A group of people, a family I supposed, emerged from the restaurant next door to where I was sitting outside the art gallery wherein my wife was hosting an exhibit of western art.  She had recruited some excellent artwork by local artists.  I was outside the gallery as a decoration in my cowboy hat.  I was playing a character — me.  As people passed by me on the sidewalk, I would invite them in to see the western art exhibit.  I solicited the group mentioned above.

A young man, college age, was pushing an older gentleman in a wheelchair.  There was a middle-aged couple, an older lady, and a younger woman.  The man in the wheelchair stared blankly ahead and did not participate in the conversations of his companions.

I smiled my award-winning smile and initiated eye contact with some of them.  The man in the wheel chair did not smile back.  Nevertheless, the group went inside the gallery.  Sugar took over the public relations.  I went in too, to see her in action.

The young man pushing the wheelchair kindly placed it in front of one of the walls adorned with paintings of Old West scenes, such as Remington or Russell created, scenes with cowboys, buffalo, cattle, Indians, locomotives, mountain scenes, running horses.  He waited patiently for the man in the wheelchair to take it in before moving to another wall.  The man in the wheelchair was not staring blankly.  He was intent, studying the images.

As I watched him, a lady came up behind me and explained that she and the man in the wheelchair had been professors at the university.  She added that he, Dr. _____, used to teach a course on The Philosophy of Art.  No wonder he seemed to be enjoying the art exhibit.

I introduced the doctor to Sugar.  She had a table of treats and beverages.  She asked whether he would like lemonade, coffee or wine.  He spoke.  He told Sugar he would prefer wine, using one word — “Wine.”  So Sugar brought the professor a little bit.  The young man, who we learned was his caregiver, pointed out to his charge, “This is not juice like you drink at home.”  The young man seemed surprised that the professor was partying at the gallery.  The professor smiled at Sugar and indicated that he would like more wine.  She gave him a little bit more.  He smiled again.  He was enjoying the gallery scene.

I am glad that the professor visited us.  I watched him studying the art and saw him in a new light.  At first, I just saw him as a person who seemed very limited in his abilities.  Now I saw him in the light of his history and accomplishments.  I could imagine him back when he was teaching college students.  He must have been knowledgeable and  bright to engage them.  He must have been respected.

He was not always like this.  And his present condition was not exactly as it appeared.  He still could enjoy a night out on the town.  He still could enjoy art.  And he still could choose whether to have lemonade, coffee, or wine.

And he can still be respected, and loved.  And he is.

Old West Adage

“There are really only two kinds of people in the world — those who are cowboys and those who want to be cowboys.”

Image

Winning the Lottery

Sugar and I had cabin fever, so we called our friends, Rodney and Debra, to see if they wanted to meet at The Forks.  They did.

I have written about The Forks previously.  It is like an old general store in that folks can meet there, get a treat, and sit on the front porch.  Tourists stop by too.  So Rodney and I, together with our hot trophy wives, ate ice cream cones on the porch.  I had a Jack Daniels cone.  Yes, that is one of the ice cream flavors at The Forks, made by Walrus Ice Cream in Fort Collins.The front of The Forks 287

I felt like we were decorating the place with our authentic Western attire in order to enhance the experience of the tourists. At the next table were two couples who had German accents.   “Look, Ma, real cowboys!”

Rodney and I were each wearing a cowboy hat.  A man who was also wearing a cowboy hat joined our group.   He kept getting calls on his new-fangled cell phone.  He explained that he was there to meet some people from New York.

“I don’t think they’re too smart,” he volunteered.  “They had to ask me my address three times.”

We talked about a mare that he had for sale.  Sugar was interested in the horse because of its bloodlines.

As we talked, the cowboy with the mare for sale got two or three more calls.

“I’m right here waiting for you.  Where are you?”  we heard him say.

“They said they will be here right away but they don’t even know where they are.  How can they know how long it will take if they don’t know where they are?  Boy, are they dumb!”  He couldn’t get over how dumb they are.

After about a half hour, we were fixin to leave.  The New Yorkers had still not arrived.

As we were getting up, the cowboy awaiting the New Yorkers was irritated by another call from them.  He told them that he was tired of waiting.

At that point, we got nosy enough to ask why he was meeting them.

The cowboy got a sly look and confided with us that they were bringing him a check for $2.5 million.  Sugar commented that she would wait a little longer if they were coming to bring her a check for millions, even thousands, even $10.00.

Then he elaborated.  “Ya see, I won some lottery.  The thing is, they won’t just send me the money.  I need to pay them off the top for taxes and fees or somethin, so they are meeting me here to trade checks.”

I butted in.  “Pardner, I don’t think their check will go through.  They will get your check, which will go through, and you will be out that much money.  It sounds like a scam to me.  I am sorry to tell you, but I have heard of such things.  I am a lawyer.  Years ago, a client told me that he had won the Spanish Lottery.  He wanted me to look over the paperwork.  The lottery officials wanted him to send a check for taxes before they could send him his winnings.  I contacted them and said they could deduct the taxes first and send him the balance.  The was the last we heard of the Spanish Lottery, which, by the way, my client did not even remember entering exactly, wishfully thinking he had forgotten that he entered, maybe over the internet.”

The millionaire cowboy got a strange look on his face and left immediately.  He did not even say goodbye.

Rodney noted something else.  “Since he gave them his address but was to meet somewhere else, I wonder if they are robbing his place while he waits here.  Why did they need his address if they were meeting here at The Forks?”

Rodney just might be on to something.

Boy, were those New Yorkers dumb!

Football Season

What is the proper number of football games to watch in a given weekend?

I am trying to live a balanced life, so I pose this question to the people of America, seeking guidance.

Watching no games is un-American and unmanly.  Watching too many games could be deemed by one’s female wife as being an unhealthy waste of time.

Failing to watch televised games of teams to which one owes a duty of loyalty probably borders on immorality.  For example, my father-in-law lives in Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.  Therefore, if the Cowboys are playing and I call to talk about the game at half-time, it is important that we have both been watching the game.  On one occasion in the past, my mother-in-law told me that she had to call him to come to the phone because he was outside filling the birdfeeders.  She might as well have told me that he was crocheting doilies and could not be disturbed.  Since that incident, I have frequently called in advance of Cowboy games in order to ensure that said father-in-law is aware of his obligation to watch.  I don’t want to hear that he got beat up by his neighbors when they asked if he saw the game and he did not know the score.  It is important to fit in with the other men who live in America.

Similarly, when the Broncos are playing, I like to get calls from kindred spirits.  This past Thursday, the Broncos played the Ravens.  My good friend Kirk, who lives in Wisconsin, appropriately called during the game.  Today the Packers are playing the Forty-Niners.  It is half-time.  They are tied 14-14.  I reciprocated by calling Kirk so that he knows that I am watching the Packers, out of respect for him.

The examples that I have used are about NFL teams.  The same principles apply to college football.  Those games are played on Saturdays and there are more teams.  Last week Nebraska played Wyoming in Lincoln.  My friend Tom, who is on the faculty of the University of Nebraska, actually attended the game.  Therefore, I was obligated to call him the next day to ask about the game.  It was fitting and proper that I do this.

Obviously, if one actually attends a game, that pretty much prevents watching other games on the same day.  However, if one is employing the magic of television, there really is no excuse to fail to watch all games involving one’s favorite teams.  I have explained to my wife, Sugar, that I have approximately twenty favorite teams.  It is a huge responsibility to monitor each of them, but it has to be done.

In addition, I am competing in Yahoo Sports College Pick Em.  Therefore, I must, in advance of each game, select not only the winner, but beat the point spread.  Even without betting money, my man card is at stake.

Sugar does not fully grasp the importance of football.  She is, after all, just a girl.  Her friends and relatives never ask her if she saw, or validate whether she is presently watching, a particular game, with the possible exception of being asked if she saw the half-time show for the Super Bowl.  That lack of accountability frees her up to pursue other activities.

She has got it easy.

OOOPS — half-time is over.  I have to get back to the Packers game in case Kirk calls me later.

Pre-Campaign Identity Strategy

The response across the nation to my pre-announcement of my candidacy for the U.S. Senate has been even more greatly underwhelming than anticipated.   Apparently, the Senate has plenty of white males already.  It might be advisable to emphasize diversity within my gene pool.

One of my grandfathers used to say that he was “mixed as the dogs in the streets.”  With fewer dogs in the streets due to leash laws, as well as the greater use of spay and neuter clinics, that saying probably lost some of its impact. Shucks, that was gonna bring me some street cred.

I do have two grandparents born to Swedish immigrants, so I could emphasize a strong Viking heritage.  The new TV series called The Vikings might have  helped in popularizing Vikings, yet I am not certain that will translate into electability.  I need more of an American identity.

Colorado is a western state.  We elected a former Senator named Ben Nighthorse Campbell.  I like Senator Campbell and even met him at a cafe when he was on his way to a meeting and asked me for directions after I introduced myself.

Former University of Colorado  Professor Ward Churchill did not run for office as far as I know, but he knew how to get attention.  Professor Churchill not only offended lots of folks by his comments about 911 being the fault of Americans rather than terrorists, but he also turned out to be a poser about being Native American.  I might have more Indian blood than him.  My gramma, who lived in Chickasha, Oklahoma, claimed to be part-Indian before it was so popular that Professor Churchill wanted to join the Native American club.  I don’t think Gramma knew about the scholarships or she might have gone further than the eighth grade.

On the subject of Native American vs. Indian, isn’t it telling that the American Indian Movement (AIM) organization named itself what it did?  Also, the proud Oglala Sioux at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation have not changed their sign.

Pine-Ridge-Indian-Reservation-image

Will Rogers is one of my heroes.  I wish he was still around to be my campaign chairman.

Back to the drawing board……….  I am working on “branding” my campaign identity.  How does the electorate feel about cowboys?

As I do this strategic planning, based on Will Rogers and Gramma, I have decided to open up my campaign staff to Okies, despite my Texan wife’s prejudices.

Okie dokey!

Pow Wow

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXPqmxVonjs

My Grampa Carlson was a rural mailcarrier in Burt County, Nebraska.  His route included part of a reservation shared by the Omaha and Winnebago tribes.  Macy, Nebraska is a town on the reservation.  I had fun when Grampa took me to the Macy PowWow. 

The dancing and music was supposed to be the draw.  For me, however, I played with other little boys I met under the bleachers.  They were not old enough to be part of the show, I guess, but they were friendly Indians and invited me to play in the woods, away from the event.  There we had our own powwow, called making friends. 

I was envious of their situation because I came from a much more under-privileged background.  The particular privilege of which I was deprived was that my mother did not allow me to throw knives.  Can you believe that?  As a cowboy nearing kindergarten age, I deeply resented my mother’s unreasonable interference with my chosen lifestyle, which obviously required practicing skills with weapons.  So, in the woods, I was delighted that my new friends shared their knives with me and we took turns throwing them into trees. 

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods.   What Mom did not know did not hurt her.

Rustlers

Some of you reading this might not have had the experience of living in the ranch country of the American West and might not believe all of the stories I write about, such as seeing buffaloes and pronghorns or killing rattlesnakes.  I want to assure you that all the blogs I have written so far are all true.  Today’s story is no exception.   

Today is June 30, 2012.  Miss Sugar and I had planned to go up to Cheyenne, Wyoming for the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS) event known as Hell on Wheels.  That adventure was going to be the subject of today’s blog, but it will have to wait until tomorrow because I want to first write about what just happened when we got home.

So as we drove up the lane, we noticed a pickup truck with a  stock trailer backed up against a gate by the barn.   That is not an unusual sight.  We have a pickup and we have a stock trailer.  The trouble was, this particular pickup was not ours and this particular stock trailer was not ours but the barn and the gate are definitely ours. 

So the question that Miss Sugar articulated with her Texan candor concerned her suspicion that persons unknown might be up to no good.  Rustlers!  Rustlers?  That’s a hangin offense around these parts.

There were two cowboy types in our pen by the barn trying to convince a calf to join his friends in the trailer backed up to the gate.  Apparently, this calf was not that close of a friend in that he was very reluctant to join the other calves. 

You are probably wondering, “Was it your calf being rustled by badmen?  Did you shoot them per the Code of the West?  Did you use the Colt .45s you have for the SASS competition?”  Those are excellent questions, which I will answer for you.

No, it was not our calf, so, no, I thought it would not be proper to shoot them.

However, the question remains, why were the cowboys, calf, truck and trailer in our barnyard?

So I drove down to ask the cowboys that very question.

A young feller came over and introduced himself as Brad Hall.   Then Brad offered an explanation.  He said that he and this other feller, Ken, were hauling cattle when something happened to a tire on their trailer right in front of our place, which caused them to stop and unload the bunch in our pen.  He said that they knocked on our door but no one was home.  That was because we were up in Cheyenne at Hell on Wheels, which, like I said already, I will write about tomorrow.

Miss Sugar said, “Your trailer looks o.k. to me.”  Which it did.

So Brad said, “Oh, it ain’t this trailer.  After we unloaded, we took the other trailer with the bum tire to our place and came back with this one.  We got all the critters loaded in this trailer except this last stinker.  We been trying to get him in for more than an hour.  If I had a .45, I’d shoot him right here and give you the meat.”

I know what you are thinking, gentle reader.  You are thinking, “Al, didn’t you just say you have two Colt .45 pistols for your SASS competition?”  

No, I did not offer Brad the use of one of my .45 sixshooters.

Instead, we offered to help him load the calf.

I wish I could say our help was valuable.  It was not.  That dang calf got around Ken (not me) and took off out of the pen into the pasture.

I know what you are thinking.  “Didn’t you write in Where the Deer and the Antelope Play that your buckskin gelding, Woody, is perhaps the fastest land animal in North America?  And didn’t you write in Wonder Horses that Scamp is a real smart trick horse like Trigger?  Wouldn’t Roy Rogers use Trigger to chase that calf right into the trailer?  Or would you just rope him and drag him?  Didn’t you say you have participated in roundups and cattle drives and brandings?”

We four were not mounted on cowhorses.  We just chased the calf on foot into a different pen, our stud pen, which is six feet high and made of pipe and cable.  It is a good thing it was available.  (Remember, Woody used to be a stallion, but no more.) 

So Brad go out a rope and roped the little calf in our stud pen.  Ken helped him hold the calf while Brad tied the calf’s hind legs.  Then they dragged him to the trailer and lifted him into it and that was that.   

They thanked us and left.

Miss Sugar and I walked from the barn to the house.  There we found a note taped for us in case we came home and wondered about our new calves before Brad and Ken returned.  It said, “Dear Folks, Sorry about the issue at hand but we were forced to unload these calves.  (Two phone numbers were next).  Please give us a call.  We will return ASAP.  Going to Middle Cherokee Park.  Thanks, Brad.”

What a fine young man!  I’m glad I didn’t shoot first and ask questions later.

Sweat Lodges

 

My friend Rodney, who claims to be part Injun, knows how to build a sweat lodge. This particular blog is mainly about sweat lodges, but first I want to tell you that Rodney, who wears cowboy attire whenever I see him, also dressed like an Indian as a movie extra when they filmed the TV mini-series, Centennial, out here on Roberts Ranch. It was a good choice to film it here because, as those of you who watched the movie or read Michener’s book, on which it was based, know, Michener wrote about this very area of Northern Colorado.

Despite Rodney’s identity crisis concerning whether he is a Cowboy or Indian, I like him anyways. He also knows how to build teepees and make leather stuff, like knife sheaths, but, like I already said, this is about sweat lodges.

Miss Sugar, my trophy wife from Texas, wanted a sauna here at Cross Creek Ranch. As you know if you have read my blogs about all the stuff I done for her, like killin’ snakes and, especially, the post called My Station in Life, I try to let her know that I’m crazy about her. I married above my station in life, which is naturally humbling, so if Sugar has a hankering for somethin’ it tickles me plumb to death to get it for her.

So I got her a sweat lodge. I should have just asked Rodney to build one, but instead I got a store-bought one, made in Finland, although I would have preferred a Swedish model. Which got me to thinking. At the same time as my Viking ancestors invented saunas, Indians in North America were doing about the same thing, independently. Apparently, for centuries, people in different parts of the world have been doing similar things in order to sweat. There are probably similar things in Asia and Africa, but I ain’t done the research. I’m just saying it dawned on me that Rodney and I have in common Indian sweat lodges and Viking saunas.  Plus, we both turned into cowboys.

Don’t Scare Easy

History, literature, movies, and music include many stories, some even true, about courage.   People admire courage, and should.  Americans, particularly Westerners, pride themselves on facing adversity bravely.  In Colorado, we have many examples, both fact and fiction, about mountain men, pioneers, and cowboys, who are either fearless or overcome fear, which is probably even more admirable.

Tom Petty wrote a song that was featured in the recent movie, Appaloosa.  The song is called  “Scare Easy.”  Some of the lyrics are:  “I don’t scare easy.  Don’t fall apart when I’m under the gun.  You can break my heart and I ain’t gonna run.  I don’t scare easy for no one.”

The High Park Fire in Larimer County, Colorado has been and, as I write this, is still a dangerous and destructive enemy.  We pray for the many who have lost their homes or face losing their homes, and the firefighters who have valiantly worked to protect lives and property.  These folks have demonstrated that they don’t scare easy.  God bless them!

DEADLY DANGERS AT CROSS CREEK RANCH

              It was high noon.  Miss Sugar, my trophy wife, was fussing in the kitchen when she hollered, “Big Bronc, they’re coming!  Lots of ‘em.  You better be ready.  I’m gittin plumb nervous.”

           Soon they commenced to coming up our lane to the ranch house.  Dozens of folks arrived in waves.  We was surrounded.  

            Me and Texas Bob took our stations, him by the cantina, me peeking out from inside the house.  We was ready, providin’ there warn’t too many of ‘em.  I lost count at 65.  That seemed about right for me and the little woman and Texas Bob.

            Also, Texas Bob had brung a woman with him, as was his way.  She was a spunky redhead, a fancy dresser, name of Ginger.  I’d seen her before.  Once down in Fort Worth Stockyards, at the Cattlemen’s Club, Bob and Ginger was there with me and Sugar and we had a good old time.  Now we four was going to have a different kind of party.

            The womenfolk tried to help, but they was just gals.  Bob and me would have to “do the heavy liftin” as far as taking care of the situation.  The way I looked at it was, we’d done it before so there was no need to think we couldn’t handle this situation just like we done other times.  As you can tell, I don’t scare easy.

             So what are you’all thinking we was facin’?  The people surrounding us had been invited to our annual John Wayne party, this one to celebrate the 105th anniversary of his birth.

              We had a band.  Karen aka Sugar had been preparing food for weeks, baking and freezing a score of pies and all.  She done what she could, but of course I was  the one who set up the folding tables and chairs.  I unloaded the keg.  I dished out the barbequed pork.  Karen only made a dozen or so sidedishes and her special Texas  barbeque sauce.  I appreciated that minor assistance.  Like I said, she done what she could. 

             Texas Bob manned the cantina bar, like the experienced barkeep he is.  He served beer, margaritas, sangria, sweet tea, and lemonade.  He was very popular.  But the meat was my department.   A feller ought not to delegate the biggest job.  That buck cain’t be passed if Big Bronc wants to keep his title of King of the Wild Frontier, assumed by him after the untimely passing of Davey Crockett.

            Anyways, I expect none would argue when I tell ya’all that a good time was had by all.  No brag.  Just fact.

            After the crowd thinned out, Bob and me loaded the chairs and tables into my Ford F250 Supercab shortbox pickup truck.  We picked up the garbage bags too while the little ladies messed around in the kitchen on account of they ain’t no dang good at loading pickups. 

            Sugar and Ginger got along like peas and carrots.  Some say Ginger made her way out West by way of Jugtown Mountain, New Jersey.  If that ain’t true, it should be.  It is well known that Texas Bob is Miss Sugar’s Daddy.  The DNA results proved that.  As for that Ginger woman, the rumors are that she might be Sugar’s biological mother.   Regardless of whether the rumors are true, Sugar treated Ginger just like kin.

            You might be wondering why this tale is called Deadly Dangers at Cross Creek Ranch.  I’m fixin to tell you why or I’ll be a blue-nosed gopher. 

             Recall what I said awhile back about Miss Sugar making a bunch of side dishes.  Well, one of them was something called Three Bean Salad.  (This writing technique is called foreshadowing.)

            I reckon I might not have done a proper job of securing those garbage bags.  A couple days later, Max, our ten year old yellow lab, seemed bloated and was having trouble breathing.  We speculated that he might have been bitten by a rattlesnake.  (See also Sharpshooter blog.)  We took him to a veterinary emergency room where x rays showed that it was not a bite by a snake, but rather, lots of bites by Max as he consumed “leftovers.” 

           He had surgery.  The doctor told us that she recovered from his stomach a couple pounds of deadly Three Bean Salad. 

            As a result, I’m betting that our next party menu will not include Three Bean Salad.

           

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