Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “Sugar”

In the Middle of the Night, She Asked Me

I try to not disturb my wife’s sleep.   Sometimes, despite my best efforts, others disturb Sugar’s rest.  For example, last night our 90 lb. puppy, Gus, who just celebrated his first birthday, came up to Sugar’s side of the bed and awakened her by sniffing at her lovely face.

However, it is my job to let Gus out, as he good and well knows, so next he came to my side of the bed and softly barked.  I awakened from a deep sleep, obediently sat on the side of the bed, waited for my consciousness to emerge, and started for the bedroom door in the utter darkness.

Before I got there, I stepped on Beau, one of our other Labrador Retrievers, who was sleeping soundly at the end of the bed.  I tried to lift my foot from Beau, out of kindness, I suppose, sacrificing my extraordinary balance to protect Beau, and landing on my bum knee and then my extended right hand, which did not support my lithe frame, which resulted in my laying on the floor at the foot of the bed, where Gus eagerly jumped on my prone form.

“Get off me,” I said from the floor, which disturbed Sugar, who reminded me that he is just a puppy.  I already knew Gus is just a puppy, yet I felt it would be easier to get up off the floor without a puppy on my chest.

Gus and I walked down the hall, across the balcony, down the steps, through the front room, and out the front door, onto the front porch, then down the steps.  Gus was happy to be out at 2:00 a.m.  I was hobbling on my bum knee, which was much more painful than it had been a few moments earlier.

Gus proved that it was worthwhile to go outside, as from a young age he had been taught to potty outside.  See post entitled, “We slept together the very first night.”

I returned to the bedroom by the same painfully difficult route of going up two flights of steps.  I stealthily slipped under the covers.  Sleepy Sugar hugged me and, with genuine concern, asked, “Did he poop?”

Apparently, she felt it unnecessary to inquire about my health after my fall.  That makes sense because she knows how tough I am.

Beau Helps Garden

It is too early to garden, but this post fits in the Beau marathon as a supplement to other stories involving water and hoses.

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Here in the high country, we have a short growing season.  In her valiant attempts to have a garden nevertheless, my wife also has to contend with wildlife helping themselves to various delicious plants.  In particular, rabbits eat vegetables and flowers.  Consequently, Miss Sugar has a box, pictured above, to protect her modest garden by raising it above rabbit level.

Sugar’s parents, Bob and Ginger, while visiting from Texas this past week, helped plant some tomatoes, squash, and strawberries.  They are experienced and helpful.  Beau is not experienced in gardening.  Neither is he helpful.

garden dogs

Sadie, our other Yellow Lab,  is not particularly helpful, but, unlike Beau, she does not harm the project.

Beau decided that Bob was being selfish with the hose.  That is one thing with which Beau will not put up.  He wanted a turn with the hose.  He grabbed it.  Bob did not share.  A tug of…

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The Usual Suspect

This reblog is a companion to yesterday’s Lassie, the Well, and Criminal Minds. Beau has a problem concerning water.

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I am starting to detect a pattern.

I am not a master plumber, nor an amateur plumber.  I am not a police detective, nor a private eye.  However, I have been involved in two plumbing tasks this week and I have been involved with an ongoing criminal investigation of repeated acts of vandalism.

In both incidents, spraying water coincidently occurred when a certain Yellow Labrador Retriever was in the vicinity of the scene.

The first incident is described in Lassie, the Well, and Criminal Minds.

This very day, an eerily similar incident happened.  I will explain.

Our log house does not have a basement.  It sits on a foundation with a crawl space.  The crawl space is five feet in height.  I am taller than that.  I do not have to literally crawl, but I have to bend and duck.  Within the crawl space are mechanical devices, including a…

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Beau Ain’t No Lassie

This Beau story is similar to the Wascally Wabbit one. Lassie was the hero in many rescues. Some dogs are rescuers, others rescuees.

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Oldtimers such as myself, who watched the TV show Lassie, or younger folks who have seen re-runs of the show, probably remember Lassie rescuing Jeff or, later, Timmy.  A familiar joke was, “What is it, Lassie?  Timmy is in the well?  Show me, girl.”

In a 1988 vice-presidential debate, Senator Lloyd Bentsen said to Senator Dan Quayle, “Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy and you, sir, are no Jack Kennedy.”

I knew Lassie, and you, Beau, are no Lassie.

Rather than save Timmy from the well, as did Lassie, Beau is the one who needs saving.

Miss Sugar is more like Lassie and Beau like Timmy.

Sugar called to me, “Al, Beau is whining and barking.  I think you locked him in the barn when you put the rake away.”

I went to the barn, bravely, on my bum knee, enduring the pain for 100 yards.  Very John Wayne-like.  Very tough. …

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How to Impress a Girl

The summer after my freshman year in high school, I worked at a horse camp for kids, as a counselor. It was called The Lazy H Dude Ranch for Kids. They had over 90 horses, including foals, yearlings and two year olds, which were not ridden by the campers. There were about 50 kids a week attending the camp and enough gentle horses for them.

My cousin Heidi got me the job. She was the head girls’ counselor the year before, when she graduated from high school, and returned every summer during college. She is four years older than me, Uncle Jack’s daughter. I was happy to get to have a job riding horses everyday.

Plus, I was allowed to bring my own horse, Gypsy, about whom I wrote in another blog post, Hot Girlfriend At that stage of our lives, I had just turned 15 and Gypsy was 3. The camp kids thought Gypsy was the coolest horse. She was pretty, a blood bay, and fast, always the first to run in from pasture. She was spirited, which does not make for a good kid’s horse, but is an impressive quality for a counselor’s horse. The kids enjoyed it when she tried to buck me off on certain occasions. It was good for Gypsy to get ridden for hours every day.

There was another girls’ counselor, Mary, who liked to ride another horse we brought to the ranch, Heidi’s black gelding, Domino. So, at the end of the summer, I lured her to visit me to go for a ride on Domino. She was my age. Neither of us were old enough for a driver’s license, so Mary’s brother drove her across state lines from Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Nebraska, and I got another horse for him so he could accompany us on our romantic ride.

Since we were no longer at the Lazy H, we were where I knew the territory and they were unfamiliar with the area. So, accordingly, as host of the event, I led the way. For awhile.

I led them on a shortcut behind some houses that backed on the field. I showed off a little by galloping across the field. Gypsy was, as I said, fast. She was half Thoroughbred, racing stock. (The circumstances of Gypsy’s conception is another story, but I will say that Uncle Jack was surprised by her dam’s unplanned pregnancy.) See

So, as I swiftly led the way, full speed ahead, Gypsy changed direction from forward to up, then down, when a dog came from one of the backyards and ran at Gypsy. Gypsy’s “fight or flight” responses were cross-wired. Similar to the time she dumped me onto the hood of a car by bucking towards it rather than fleeing, Gypsy again chose to buck. Her bucking was not to get me off, I like to think, but to stomp the dog. I say that because after I went out of the saddle over her head and on to the ground, she kept bucking. I know that because I looked up from my back (having instinctively broken my fall as I’d learned in judo) and unhurt looked at the underside of my horse and quickly noticed a hoof coming at my head. So, without pausing to gather my thoughts, I quickly rolled out from under the horse, but not quite quickly enough because that hoof landed on my jacket and, in that instant, it tore because it was held briefly by the force of the hoof hitting the ground softened by the jacket being pinned as I rolled. Get the picture? The fact that the jacket was too large for me probably helped since I was not occupying the part that was stepped on.

As was her custom, Gypsy eventually stopped and waited for me to remount. It would have been more embarrassing if she had run home, riderless. She had unseated me before and, apologetically, always waited.

I remounted and, as if nothing had happened, rode on. However, something had happened. Besides the brief event itself, there was a reminder that could not be ignored. The jacket I was wearing was my father’s college letter jacket. He was not in college anymore, and it was very cool for me, a sophomore in high school to wear a college letter jacket. Wearing a torn jacket, however, was not nearly as cool. It was decidedly uncool, a totally new and unique experience for me.

I don’t remember ever seeing Mary again after that day. Her brother drove her back across the river to their home in the neighboring state. I made no more long distance calls to her. She did not return to the Lazy H the next summer like Heidi, Domino, Gypsy and I did. It seems she did not care about Domino as much as she had indicated. Poor Domino! He felt kinda rejected.

I didn’t like Mary that much anyway. And that is a good thing because, years later, when I met Miss Texas, I was available.

Miss Texas, aka Sugar, has seen me get bucked off too, but she stuck with me anyway. That is the kind of girlfriend to have. No brag, just fact.

I don’t wear Dad’s letter jacket anymore. I got one of my own. What I can’t figure out is why mine is too tight now. It probably shrunk in the wash.

Eagles and Other Creatures

Let me tell you about my day.  I was pleased and I was, well, displeased by my interactions with some of God’s creatures today.

I wonder if any of you folks reading this were within 50 feet of two eagles today.  I am pleased to report that my wife and I had that experience.  Wow!  We were thrilled.

We were minutes from our ranch gate, less than a mile from home, on our country road, when we noticed two big birds perched on a fence.  As we approached, we saw the unmistakable white head of a male Bald Eagle. Next to him was his more drab mate.  I would say something about males being more beautiful than females except I caught a glimpse of my image in the mirror and it does not compare well with the appearance of Sugar, my much prettier mate.

Where we live, it is not unusual to see eagles and hawks soaring high in the sky, but we have never been so near to eagles, nor seen them so close to the ground.  Before Sugar could grab her camera, they flew away, so you will have to just take my word for it.

Hours later, we got home after dark.  Sugar set out to wrap Christmas packages.  As she got organized, Beau, our Yellow Labrador Retriever, brought her a role of tape.  She thinks he knew that she needed tape.  She thinks he is helpful.  She thinks he is extraordinarily smart.  What a great dog!

What a great dog?  Minutes later, we heard a crashing sound coming from the kitchen.

I went in there to investigate.  What to my wondering eyes did appear, but a dog eating cookies and fudge which had landed on the floor after somebody, and I ain’t saying who, knocked a pan off the stove.  It was not Sugar, as I can vouch for her since we were in the dining room, and she can vouch for me, as I was in that same room.  Who are the suspects?  Well, Sadie, our female Lab, could have knocked the pan and fled, possibly, but the circumstantial evidence points to Beau.  He was standing above the pan.  He was eating out of it.  I am thinking that he had the motive and opportunity to commit this crime.

Some of you animal lovers are concerned about whether he consumed any of the fudge because chocolate is supposed to be dangerous for dogs to eat.  And I say, it serves him right!  Then I worry that he will get sick in the night and we will have another clean-up job.  I already cleaned up the cookies and fudge so I nominate Sugar.  After all, it is her turn and she thinks he is such a great dog.  He brought her the tape.  He did not even bring me the fudge.  I had to eat it off the floor after I got him out of the way.  I am, you see, the Alpha Male in this house.


It’s not a lucky number
Or so some people say
But 13 means a lot to me
It means our wedding day

The 13th of October
A few years in the past
Is when my life got better
With a marriage meant to last

On the 13th of October
I married my sweet wife
It was my lucky day
The best day of my life

Of course what really matters
Is not the date or time
What matters is the person
The woman who is mine

On the 13th of October
We exchanged our vows
The promises we live
From that day until now

The vows we keep on living
And will until we die
The ceremony happened then
When I became the luckiest guy



The Lost Is Found


Long-time readers will recall our concern that our barn cat was missing. We worried that she was the victim of coyotes but we found no signs of a struggle in the barn.  We speculated that an eagle might have whisked her away.  We searched along the river.  We put out a trap in the barn to catch the predator who came in there to get the cat, in case that had happened.  I don’t know whether raccoons kill cats, but they could be attracted to cat food.  (Yes, we fed our barn cat and did not force her to only catch mice, but she did that too.)

We were very sad.

Today we are very happy.  Well, kind of happy, but also frustrated.

This afternoon, Sugar went to the post office.  On the bulletin board there, she saw a sign that said, “Found!  Is this your cat?”  And there was even a photograph of — our cat.  Sugar called the number.  She recognized the voice of the person who answered.  It was Cheryl, one of our few and far between neighbors.  She lives over a mile away, as the crow flies, but over two miles, as the road winds.

Cheryl told Sugar that the cat in the photo has been hanging out in her barn with three other cats.  We went to her barn immediately.  We found the three cats who are supposed to live there.  They came out of hiding when Sugar called  them and banged a dish with canned cat food, the way she used to call the feline formerly known as our cat.  It did not appear.

Sugar and I agreed that if we were cats, we would rather live in Cheryl’s barn.  They even plug in a water dish so it does not freeze.

Sugar said that it hurts her feelings that after all we did for our cat (including my design of an elevated feeding system so the dogs did not bother her while she dined), she ran away.  We feel like unfit cat owners.  Like our kids were put in foster care due to our neglect.  We deny that we were unfit cat owners.  cat and inventor

We can’t understand where we went wrong. I comforted Sugar by blaming the usual suspect, our rascal of a dog, Beau.

I said, “Wouldn’t you rather live with three other cats than with Beau?  He probably said something that hurt her feelings.”

“But he let her eat his food,” Sugar reminded me.

“Well, that is my theory and I am sticking to it.  In fact, if you want more cats, let’s give Beau to Cheryl.  Then all the cats will move to our barn.  Cheryl will probably move here too, and leave Beau at her nice house.”

Since we did not find the cat in Cheryl’s barn, she will call us when it shows up again, now that she knows to whom it belongs.  It was nice of her to put up the “Found” posters.

We will hurry right over when we get that call.  We will bring Beau.  Sounds like a good trade.  Good for us, at least.


Keeping Me in Line


It has come to my attention that I am bossed around by animals.  I am reminded to do my chores and scolded when I am too slow.

Beau, our Yellow Lab, tells us when it is his supper time.  He stands on the deck and barks.  Then either Sugar or I dutifully fill his bowl and Sadie’s.  Sadie lets Beau do the advocating for the two of them.  Beau sometimes brings his bowl in his mouth if we are too slow to get the hint.

Scamp, our trick horse, has remarkable vision.  If I go out on our back porch, which is screened in, he notices, and whinnies.  I would be complimented that he is greeting me because he loves me, but I know better.  He wants me to go to the barn and feed him and the herd.  None of the other horses scold me like Scamp does.  He can be out in the pasture, half a mile away, but if he sees me walking toward the barn, he moseys towards it too.  Then the other horses notice that Scamp is heading in and the pace picks up.  Eventually, all are running to the barn. 

I just wish these animals would pitch in with the chores.  They are happy to eat the hay, but I don’t get any help from them when I stack it.  I need to tell them the story of The Little Red Hen. 


Tis the Season

It troubles me when Christmas decorations are put up before Thanksgiving.  Thankfully, it is now safe to decorate, so Sugar, my artistic wife, put up some lights while I was doing something other than putting up lights outside.  Actually, for you critics out there, I want you to know that I offered to help and my offer was declined.  Image

Instead of my help, it is apparent that Sugar was assisted by twelve drunken second graders.  I did not actually see the second graders and cannot confirm that they were drunken.  It might just be that they were unsupervised.


In truth, Sugar had no help and wanted none.  She wanted to express herself in a non-conventional manner.  She did.  And she does not even drink alcohol.  I have not questioned her about hallucinogens.  It is like looking at the stars in the sky and identifying constellations.  If you look closely, you can see a CC (for Cross Creek) and a sleigh to the bottom right of the top photo.  Do you see it?  Do you see the mountains above?  Do you?  Do you see Orion and the Big Dipper?  Well, they are not there, so you are just being agreeable.  Those of us who are modern artists want to be taken seriously.  Don’t patronize us.  Well, you can be patrons of Sugar’s art by supporting it financially.  Email me about where to mail contributions.  Cross Creek Ranch is not yet a 501(c)(3) charitable entity but it definitely is a non-profit organization.

On another note, as a polite and devoted husband, after dinner, which Sugar prepared, I did my part by cutting a piece of pumpkin pie for Sugar and brought it to her, forsaking my own pie.  Beau the Criminal Labrador, noted my presence in the dining room and deduced that meant I was absent from the kitchen.  He left the dining room and beat me back to the kitchen, where he put his front feet on the counter and started eating the rest of the pie still in the pie plate.  I saw him in the act.  I saw the teeth marks across the soft pumpkin.  I screamed my displeasure.  Then I ate the rest of the pie.  Dogs’ mouths are cleaner than human mouths, aren’t they?

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