Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “John Wayne”

Facing Fears

In the sci fi movie, The Highlander, certain people who are “immortals” cannot be killed by anyone except another immortal cutting off the head of the vanquished.  (Otherwise, the immortals live for centuries without aging).  When the victor cuts off the head of his opponent, an electrical power surrounds him, somehow bestowing the power on him from the one he defeated, making that victor even stronger.

Sometimes I feel like that.  When I face my fears, I emerge stronger than before.

There is a phenomenon that a person who survives a battle, even with wounds and scars, becomes stronger for the next battle.  Most battles are not in war, but personal problems of a normal life.  Most scars are not physical, but emotional.  Most courage is not a lack of fear, but a facing of fear.

John Wayne, my favorite philosopher, said, “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.”

You, dear readers, have your own examples from your own lives, when you have saddled up and gotten back on the horse.

john wayne quote on courage

Bravery of Cowards

This is about facing fears.

Fearlessness is not the same as bravery.  The rugged John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

So which is braver:  the child who is not afraid to jump off the high board or the one who is afraid of heights but jumps off anyway?   One is fearless, so he has no fear to overcome.  Not being afraid of what others are afraid of can be admired, surely, and can be of great advantage, particularly in a physical fight, but the person who overcomes fear and does what is difficult because it needs to be done, is being brave.  That is courage.

And there is a paradox that goes with this.  At least in my experience, when I do what I do not want to do because I am afraid to face the consequences, yet face those frightening consequences, afterwards I feel stronger, maybe proud of myself, and probably trusting more in God who got me through what I feared.

That does not mean I necessary was wrong about the pain of what I feared, just that I got through something that I did not want to have to go through.

I sometimes think of the movie, The Highlander.  It is a ridiculous premise about immortals battling until there is only one.  What I took from it is that each time one immortal defeated (by beheading) another immortal, the victor became even stronger, taking power from the other he vanquished in moving up the tournament ladder.  I believe that each victory over fear makes one stronger for the next battle with fear.

It has not been my experience that facing the dreaded unpleasantness necessarily makes it less unpleasant.  Often I try to encourage myself by asking myself, “What is the worst that can happen?”  Sometimes the worst I imagined does happen.  Sometimes it is even worse than I imagined.  But when I get through the experience I wanted to avoid, whether it turned out to be not so bad, just as bad, or worse than I imagined, having gotten through any of those categories makes me feel stronger.

Also, when I need to trust in God, I recall the question which the Lord asked Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”  Numbers 11: 23.  The correct answer is “No, the Lord’s arm is not too short to deliver you.”
When we trust and obey, we are not alone, and can have the power to overcome fear.  Even us chickens, including Moses and John Wayne, can be brave.

Who Let The Dogs Out?

The Beau marathon continues. This post from the past describes an event that resulted in a liability claim against our homeowners’ insurance policy. Sad but true. Beau is to blame. We offer him for sale. We don’t want to make a profit — we will sell him for just what we have in him, $50,000.00. Any takers?

Shootin' the Breeze

AUTHOR’S NOTE:  Yesterday was our annual John Wayne Birthday Party.  This is the 2013 sequel to the 2012 post, Dangerous Dangers at Cross Creek Ranch,

beaumodelMiss Sugar, as usual, out-did herself.  She made about nine pies, including pecan, sweet potato, and apple pie, more than one of each kind.  Plus, some of the guests contributed to the dessert table.  Sugar made enough side dishes, such as potato salad, Oklahoma caviar (black beans with something good), baked beans with sausage, cole slaw, cornbread, deviled eggs, and corn casserole, to cover a long serving counter.  I think she put out twelve different dishes that she calls “the fixins”  when she invites our guests to enjoy Texas Bar B Que with all the fixins.  She made her special Texas barbeque sauce.  After last year’s party, she chose to not make three bean salad.

kitchenmargbotelloIt was all pretty good, but what folks will…

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The Stabbin’ Cabin(s)

So, like I was saying, we had a fire at our house last week. There has been a lot to deal with. One of the things to deal with has been the lingering smell of smoke in the house. The insurance adjuster told us that we could stay in a hotel and get reimbursed as part of our claim. At first we did not leave. We stayed in the bunkhouse on the ranch the first night. It was 11 below zero and the pipes froze in the bunkhouse. My wife, Sugar, got up at 2:00 a.m. and said she had to use the bathroom in the big house, but warned me that she might not come back if she decided the smoke was not as bad as the cold, leaving me and the dogs in the bunkhouse until morning.

The next few nights the dogs and I joined Sugar in the main house. The smell was dissipating until the high winds blew the burnt smell back into the house. On the sixth night we went to the hotel.

I don’t recall staying at a hotel in our town before because there was no reason when we could go home to sleep. But now we did not want to go home to sleep in the smoke and wind coming from the hole in the north wall where the fireplace used to be. (See photos in previous post.)

Well, I picked a nice place so Sugar could rest up in relative luxury — the Hilton by golly. It has a nice restaurant. We had been to the Sunday brunch in the past. It has a spa and exercise room and pool. It has a ballroom where Sugar had put on a big art and craft show in December 2013, called “Handmade for the Holidays.” There is a beauty salon off the lobby where Sugar had gone for a haircut in the past. We felt kind of at home there. We stayed three nights.

In the morning after the first night, we went down the glass elevator into the lobby and there was crime scene tape on one side of the hall where folks exit the elevators. There was more crime scene tape around the front desk and more by the revolving door at the entrance where cars park while guests register or taxis drop guests off or pick them up. You have seen such entrances to big hotels. Some have valets. On that day, the yellow tape put a damper on the elegance.

I asked the woman at the front desk what happened. She told me that they “are not allowed to talk about it.”

So when we sat down in the restaurant to have the breakfast buffet for $15.00 each, Sugar asked an employee stocking the buffet what happened. Then she asked in Spanish. He replied in Spanish that someone got stabbed. He illustrated with a motion to his stomach. That information did not diminish my appetite. I got my $15.00 worth. The crime scene tape was marking off where the victim was bleeding throughout the hotel and out side.

A lady serving coffee and juice told us that nothing like that had ever happened at the hotel in the 28 years that she had worked there. I believe her. (It does happen other places, which I will explain later).

She said that someone on the 5th floor had been stabbed in a room and took the elevator down to the lobby, past the front desk and on out the doors. She did not say what happened to him next. Maybe he called a cab. Anyway, he is now in the hospital and on the front page of the local newspaper.

Who stabbed him? There are two suspects, who are accomplices. One is a 19 year old woman. The other is a 31 year old man. That is a big age difference for dating. I do not know whether they are romantically involved. However, it is alleged that the man who was stabbed was meeting with the girl for a business transaction when for some unknown reason, one of them stabbed him. Some speculate that the meeting involved the payment of money for something offered by the girl. It appears they did not agree about payment. Maybe the stabbing victim did not bring enough, or his credit card was declined. He obviously caused some disappointment.

Sugar thenceforth called the place The Stabbin’ Cabin, an inside joke between us, referring to a bar wherein I had a run-in several years ago. I was supposed to meet Sugar to go out to dinner later that particular day but I was in town early and had time “to kill.” Almost literally.

I am not a frequent drinker, nor a heavy drinker. I have never been drunk in my life, believe it or not, but on this Saturday afternoon I was thirsty, probably after mowing the lawn or some manly hard physical labor. I noticed a sign about half price beers and went into the establishment. No sooner had I sat at the bar by myself, and before I had even ordered a half price beer, a man entered the barroom and yelled some bad things to and about another man who was playing pool. There was a fight. Some of the patrons tried to break up the fight. I should have stayed out of it, but concerned about justice and even peace, I inserted myself into the altercation. I am a fairly large guy and was easily able to pull the combatants apart. I encouraged the attacker to leave the premises and, guess what, he did. The guy who was the victim was grateful. I felt important, like I usually do. I felt like John Wayne. (Like I usually do.)

I returned to the bar. The bartender seemed apologetic. He defended the reputation of the establishment. He told me that it is usually not that rowdy there so early in the day. It was like a Western movie. “Thanks, Stranger, for keepin’ the peace. What’ll ya have? It’s on the house.”

So when I later met Sugar at the fish place where we had planned to eat, I proudly told her what had happened while I was killin’ time. She had seen me do similar things in her presence and even on her behalf (See She reminded me of my age and the distinction between chronological advancement and actual maturity. Overall, I got the message that she was not impressed. Well, I take that back. She was impressed by my stupidity, which apparently is way above average in its enormity. Our waiter, however, had overheard my tale of brave exploits and asked the name of the saloon. When I told him, he was familiar with its reputation. He told us, “We call that place the stabbin’ cabin.” That did not make Sugar feel better. Still, she remembers that name to this day and thinks it is funny to re-name the Hilton.

Not Wholly Alone

Miss Sugar and I are on a kick to try to eat healthily.  This past weekend was our annual John Wayne Barbeque.  About 50 guests attended. We served pork that we smoked ourselves for many hours, then simmered in Miss Sugar’s special barbeque sauce.  We served barbeque beans with lots of sausage, almost like chili.  We served potato salad, Oklahoma caviar, and a bunch of other stuff which might not all be gluten-free or sugar-free.  Sugar made lots of desserts — sweet potato pie, pecan pie, apple crisp.  Other folks contributed to the array.  We had sweet tea, lemonade, and some adult beverages.  It was all very healthy. 

So today we had lunch at Whole Foods.  I walked around and around the buffet, feeling like crying.  It was difficult to find anything that I wanted to eat.  Kale is not my favorite.  I settled on some fake crab, spinach leaves, and peas.  I am still hungry, but I did not even want seconds of anything.  Picky eater, I guess.

What I noticed as I walked around the store was that I was not appropriated dressed.  I was out of fashion.  I was not wearing khaki shorts.  I was not wearing sandals.  I was the only person I saw wearing cowboy boots as I checked out the other shoppers.  No one else had boots.  No one else was wearing Western style clothes.  And this is in Colorado.

Wait!  I finally saw a kindred spirit.  I saw another pair of cowboy boots worn by a very attractive woman, who was also wearing a cowboy hat.  My heart fluttered.

Miss Sugar is my kind of gal!  Anybody can see that!


The only trouble is that when we hold hands, hers are quite a bit smaller than mine, as you can observe in the photo, but I don’t mind, and she don’t seem to neither. I’d still say we are equally yoked.

The Duke on Courage

“Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”

— John Wayne,
American actor

It is good to remember the distinction between just plain not being afraid and courage as overcoming fear.  Who is braver?

If a person is not afraid of horses, for example, and in fact loves horses, then getting on a horse is not an act of bravery, it is just a way to have fun.  Some bronc riders are fearless; others have fear but are courageous.  Observers can’t tell the difference.

This principle applies to more than physical courage.  If a person is afraid to make a difficult telephone call, but does it anyway because it needs to be done, that person is showing courage by facing what is feared. 

It is appropriate that an actor who played roles of brave characters reminds us that we can act brave even when we are afraid. Acting brave can be courageous.

Miss Sugar Goes East


Miss Sugar is a wonderful cook, like chef quality.  She is half-Italian and learned how to cook great lasagna and other Italian dishes.  She is from Texas.  Consequently, she makes makes many Southern dishes.  When we have our annual John Wayne Birthday Party, she does “Texas Bar B Que with all the fixin’s.”  We served barbequed pork from a smoker.  The fixins include Oklahoma caviar (black-eyed peas), baked beans that are like chili, with lots of sausage, cole slaw with extra stuff, and many pies, such as pecan, apple, and sweet potato pie. She makes enough to feed around 80 people.  Everyone loves her cooking. 

Of course, I get to partake of her good cooking every day.  I have partaken so much over the years that I have gained “a couple pounds.”  Okay, a couple dozen.  Okay, four dozen.  Like I said, Sugar is a wonderful cook.

So now that the quack doctor is not happy with the 25 lbs. I lost already, Sugar is on a new cooking path.  She is taking that quack so seriously that we went together to the gym the last two days and, in addition, she bought a bunch of stuff to cook Asian food because she believes it is healthier than barbequed pork and beef and pecan pies, and get this, even than lasagna or pizza.    

Tonight she made potstickers, miso soup, California rolls sushi, and rice.  It was really good.  I have been to Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Tibetan restaurants.  I have an international palate.

However, I do not want to be deprived of the fare to which I have grown accustomed.  I have requested steak and potatoes for tomorrow’s dinner.  After all, I need to keep my weight up.

Then maybe for the next supper Sugar will use her new cooking stuff for Eastern recipes. 

Sunset, Sunrise


The world turns.  The sun sets and rises and sets and rises.

Each day there are tragedies and there are victories.

There are births and there are deaths.

There is happiness and sadness and emotions in between.

Every day.

Two days ago the world was aghast at the devastation and the deaths caused by the tornadoes in Oklahoma.  I felt very sad watching the news about the destruction.  I was horrified that two elementary schools were leveled.  Those poor children!

Yesterday, I called the home number of a friend to see if he and his wife were coming to our John Wayne party on Saturday, as I had not gotten a response to the e-vite that we sent to them.

The wife answered.  I cheerfully asked her, like we often do in starting a conversation, how she was doing.

The usual response is something like, “Fine.  How are you?”

She was not fine.  She told me that her husband “died last night.”

While people died in the tornado in Oklahoma, he died in Colorado, of cancer.  He had told me that he was doing chemotherapy.  A few weeks ago, in our last phone conversation, he said it would be completed in three more sessions and we could get together in May when he would have more energy.

While my wife and I prepared for a party, my friend was breathing his final breaths.

His daughter got on the phone.  She had flown in from New York City, where she is attending graduate school.  She had been with her parents for the past week, for the last week with her father.  She told me the services will be Friday.  She asked me to say a few words.  Of course, I am willing to do so.  I want to show my respect.  I want to honor her father’s memory.

I will go to the funeral on Friday, which is my birthday.

On Saturday we will have our annual John Wayne Party at the ranch.  The party that my friend attended in other years.

“There is a time to be born and a time to die…  A time to mourn and a time to dance… A time to weep and a time to laugh….”  Ecclesiastes 3.

Life goes on as we each feel different emotions in ever-changing moments when the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.  Blessed be the Name of the Lord, Who is with us in all those experiences.

Last Year’s Celebration of John Wayne’s 105th Birthday


When it was the 100th anniversary of John Wayne’s birth, Miss Sugar and I had a party at the ranch.  It has become an annual event.  Last year we had some “complications.”  Check out the link below for a full description.

A Cry for Help on a Downtown Street

The young man, who looked to be in his early twenties, got off his skate board and came over to where my wife, mother and sister were standing in front of the restaurant.  They were waiting for my brother-in-law and me to join them after we parked the car.  He approached the women.  His two friends stood several feet away.

“Do you have some spare change?” he asked.

Rather than answering his question, my wife asked him some questions of her own.  “Why are you begging? You are not too sick to skateboard.  Can’t you work?”

His tone changed.  He said to my wife, as he skated away, “F_ _k you, you selfish bitch.”  Apparently, he believes that he is entitled to expect money from strangers and it made him feel uncomfortable to be asked about his situation.

I was returning from the car parking and close enough to hear what he said to my wife.  I guess I didn’t like it much.  Or him.  I am kinda sweet on my wife, Miss Sugar.  I am protective of her.  So I walked over to the rude kid and his two companions.

Before I could give it much thought, my left hand suddenly gripped the front of the young gentleman’s shirt and knocked him off his skateboard.  It rolled away but he was still within my grip.  I am a professional communicator.  I communicated to the young man something along the lines that I did not like that kind of language around my wife, sister and aged mother.

Unbeknownst to me, my right hand had instinctively formed a fist and my right elbow had cocked my arm into a position by which that very fist was pulled back and pointing at the young man’s head.  Apparently, he recognized the predicament in which he had placed himself.

He turned to his friends for assistance.  “Call the police!,” he requested of them.  His voice had become less confident than the snotty tone he had used when addressing my wife.

Life can change in an instant.  In this particular instant, he seemed to change from feeling entitled to feeling frightened.  His friends seemed scared too.  Armed only with cell phones, they were not brave.  They were not loyal.  They did not come to the aid of their imperiled companion.  They stood by while an older gentleman (that would be me) was presenting a danger to the young man who insulted my wife and, in their perception, to themselves as well.  Smart kids.

Three against one is usually in favor of the side with the larger number of combatants.  But strength is not always in numbers.  Strength also comes from being on the side of right.  The two fellow skateboarders might not have felt it to be the right thing to do to come to the aid of a person who insulted another man’s wife.  Plus, I probably looked scary to them.

Jimmy Dean, before he started selling sausage, had a hit song called “Big John.”  Some of the lyrics describe  “A crashing blow from a huge right hand sent a Louisiana fella to the Promised Land.  Big John.  Big Bad John.  Big John.”  I like that song.

What saved these frightened young men from physical harm?  It was not the police. There was not time for them to arrive. Rather, it was an eighty-two year old woman who is 5’1″ and weighs 110 lbs.  She called my name in a stern voice that is familiar to me from my earliest memories.  When she uses my first name and middle name together, she means business.  It means stop what you are doing.  My mother had previous experience with me bruising my fists in the halcyon days of my youth.

So, obedient to my mother, I dropped my right fist and unloosed the grip of my left hand and gently shoved the foul-mouthed youth towards his stalwart friends.  And towards the curb.

The three skateboarders anxiously scooted away, as if in a hurry to be somewhere else.  Maybe they heard their mothers calling them too.

Tennessee Ernie Ford had a song called “Sixteen Tons.”  I am dating myself again.   It goes like this: “If you see me coming, better step aside.  A lot of men didn’t and a lot of men died.  One fist of iron and the other steel.  If the right don’t get ya, then the left one will.”   I like that song too.  I am a product of my upbringing.  My mother should not have let me listen to such songs.

The young skateboarders  were perhaps influenced by a recent Clint Eastwood movie, “Gran Torino.”  Beware crazy old men.
The photo above depicts the lovely woman I always will protect as well as one of the hands that frightened the ill-mannered youth.  My fist looks kinda big from certain angles.

In the movie, An Unfinished Life, Robert Redford’s character was told by a man whom Redford had ordered out of town because the man was stalking a woman he had abused, “You have seen too many Westerns.”  Redford replied, “I don’t see how that is to your advantage.”

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