Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “wildfires”

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When I see something in the news about a tsunami in faraway lands, I have compassion for the victims, but the victims are strangers to me and I have never been to those places.

When there is a natural disaster, such as tornadoes in the Midwest or hurricanes on the Gulf Coast, or wildfires in the West, I can relate better.  The victims are Americans, like me.  Maybe I have been to the location of the disaster.  Maybe I have friends or family in the area.

But enough about people I don’t know.  Now let’s talk about me, me, me.

Now the news is showing the clean-up from the flooding in northern Colorado.  This is my neighborhood.  I have been on those roads now destroyed, like Highway 34 up the Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park.  I can’t get to Estes now.  I love going to Estes Park.  It is a beautiful little tourist town in the mountains, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.  We camped there this summer.  My wife did an art show there in June.  We have been to the stores shown on the news as being flooded. We live in the very same county.

We have family members in Boulder and Longmont.  They were not harmed, yet we worried until we learned that.

I called a lawyer friend last week to see how he was doing because he lives in an area that is a mountain valley.  Last summer, his family was evacuated during the High Park fire.  This year his family was not evacuated, but his home was damaged by some of the flooding.  Still, they stayed.  The road to his house is not a priority in the rebuilding efforts.  He was told that it might not be repaired for a year.  In the meantime, he literally has to use a ladder to cross a washed out section of the road that is now an open crevice in order to get to a car he parks on the road.  He has to hike quite a ways to get to that car.  For a year?

We have been to his home.  It is in a lovely setting.  I understand why they moved there.  Now I have difficulty grasping how they can stay there, cut off from vehicle access.

There are many stories like that.  Worse stories.  True stories.

The people who lost everything in a tsunami can feel compassion for families like my friend’s, and probably do.  Even so, Colorado is a faraway place to them.

I guess you had to be there.

It helps to remember that God, who knows when a sparrow falls from a tree, is here and was there with the people in the tsunamis, the hurricanes, the tornadoes, the wildfires, and the floods.  For nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Beau Ain’t No Lassie


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.  Very manly.  I did it for Miss Sugar more than for Beau, the whiny baby.

He was not in the barn.  Sugar had falsely accused me.

He barked again.  He sounded hurt.  Since I was in the barn, and the sound was not coming from there, I determined that the sound came from the west, maybe by the river.  I limped to the river.  Maybe Beau is hurt.  Maybe a snake bit him.

Sadie went with me to the river.  She was no Lassie.  She was unconcerned, actually glad to have time alone with me.  She swam in the river.  We found no Beau there.


Sugar was calling Beau repeatedly.  He would answer.  It was like the game in the swimming pool.  Marco.  Polo.  Marco. Polo.  You know the drill, except Sugar was saying, “Beau.”  Beau was saying, “Whine, whimper, bark.”  Again, “Beau!”  Then, “Whine. Whimper. Bark.”

Sugar was worried.  She was distressed.  So, as usual, I stepped in to save the day.  Again.

We have, between the barn and the river, a huge hole which we euphemistically call The Pond.  It is the low point where run-off gathers and actually fills to be a temporary pond in the spring.  The rest of the time is is a dry hole.  It is, more accurately, a burn pile/trash dump.  We throw old Christmas trees in there.  We throw scrap lumber there.  I hate to admit that we throw old tires in there, which are not burnable.  There is an old dresser in there.  Also, I confess to putting other discarded items.  I have been collecting such for years because I am afraid to start a fire when there have been so many wildfires.  I need a burn permit.  I don’t have one.  I doubt that I can get one.  I could haul stuff to the county landfill, but that takes work, plus they charge a fee.  So, I have been using my own personal landfill.   So have the rabbits.

Under the pile of trash, a colony of rabbits found safety, or so they thought.

Beau was somewhere under that pile, trapped.  He could not come out on his own.  He was stuck.  We could see his tail.  Like I said before, he was whining.  He was whining like a baby.  He was whimpering like a wimp.  Naturally, we thought he was hurt.  So I flung tires, plywood, fence poles, and such in order to clear a way to where we saw Beau’s tail.

We called him, but he did not come out.  He still thought he was stuck, I guess, or he was too lazy to back out.  Or too stupid.  Take your pick.  I moved more stuff out of the way.  Finally, he climbed out, just as pretty as you  please, with no injuries.

There was no apparent reason why he did not back out.  There was no reason to whine.  I suppose, unlike Lassie, who rescued Timmy, Jeff and others, Beau just waited to be rescued.  He identifies with Timmy, not Lassie.  He does not see himself as a hero.  He has that victim mentality.

I was the hero, like usual.  Ain’t I somethin’?


Charitable Contributions vs. Sponsorship

It may be that I am becoming a curmudgeon.  That could explain my growing resentment of being asked to pledge to a charity picked by someone else, who is enjoying an activity for free by getting pledges.

As have many of you, I have paid teens so much per pin for bowling for some charity.  I didn’t mind.  Bowling is fun for the kids.  The charity is a good one.  I gave it little thought.

Similar to contributing per bowling pin, I have pledged so much per mile for people walking or running for some charity of their choice.  They don’t have to pay an entry fee when they are participating for charity.

Of course, I could have contributed to the charity directly, regardless of whether the solicitor ran or walked or bowled.  Or, I could donate to a different charity of my own choosing, again, without any activity by a third person.

I like to ride horses.  I can do it with or without sponsors.  I could go on a 100 mile ride and all who read this could pay me so much per mile.  I could have the fun and get the credit for raising money from you to give to my favorite charity.

Or, you could leave me out of the loop and donate directly, which I encourage you to do.

The Red Cross, various church organizations, and other charitable groups are doing lots of good to help people who have suffered as a result of the recent tornadoes and current wildfires, as well as helping others throughout the world.  There are charities that fight diseases, such as cancer and M.S., or help wounded veterans, or needy children.  Most are good causes.

Please give, whether or not I bowl, run, bike, walk or ride my horse.  Choose your own way to help.  Bless your hearts for doing so!

However, if you wouldn’t give unless I ride my horse, let me know about your pledge and I will take old Woody out for a spin.  I will send your money on to my charity after I deduct the cost of feeding Woody and maybe renting my saddle to myself.  You know, for charity — the one I pick.



Here is why we did not attend church yesterday.  We intended to go, but something got in the way.

Miss Sugar looked out the window and said, “There’s a feral dog in the yard.  Get our dogs inside or they might fight.”

We started using the word “feral” during the wildfires in our county.  In my post “On the Run,” I wrote about two dogs that seemed to be pets who were now on their own and looking for something to eat.  They were scared and took off.

Now we had another visitor.  I hurried to the back door, where our two labs, Max and Sadie, were lounging on the deck, oblivious to any threat.  I opened the door and they entered at a leisurely pace.  As soon as I shut the door, the strange dog came up on the porch, right up to the glass door.  Our dogs did not notice.  Apparently, they are not watch dogs, but they sure can swim.

The wild, feral, trespassing dog was wagging his tail.  Maybe our dogs had assessed the situation and decided he was not a threat.  Maybe they had already gotten acquainted.  Our visitor’s ribs were showing.  So Miss Sugar gave him a dog treat, which he gobbled up.

I went outside and petted him.  He was not vicious or scared.  He was glad for the attention.  He was brown and white, with freckled legs and floppy ears.  I did not recognize the breed.  He probably has more than one breed in his DNA.

Miss Sugar thought she recognized him as our neighbors’ dog.  When we say neighbors, we do not mean folks whose radio we can hear.  We mean people in a house we can barely see, which is across the bridge about a mile away.

So I tried to lure Rover into the Pathfinder with two more treats.  He did not jump in, so I took a chance and lifted him up to the passenger seat, then gave him a treat.  I ran around to the driver side.  By then, he was occupying the driver’s seat, yet he let me in without jumping out.

We drove to the neighbors’ place, which involves opening and closing a gate.  He stayed in the car as I took care of the gate.   We found that no one was home.  I had no writing implement, nor paper, nor anything to attach a note to their door, so we went home.  Miss Sugar provided pen, paper and tape.  So we went back.  This time I let him out of the car, intending to leave him there.  I posted the note and drove along the ditch road back toward home.  Rover gladly followed me.  He even forgave me when we arrived at Cross Creek Ranch at the same time.  I told Sugar that he did not act like the neighbors’ place was familiar to him.

So Miss Sugar called Animal Control.  We live 20 miles from town.  By the time the nice officer arrived, it was too late to go to church.

I was sad when the officer loaded Rover up.  He commented that he probably belonged to an evacuee.  We told him that if they don’t find his owner and he is put up for adoption at the Humane Society, we would be interested.  Since we didn’t go to church, we figgered God would like to know we were kind to one of His creatures.  I bonded with Rover as we hung out together yesterday.  I miss him today.

P.S.  The neighbor lady called later in the afternoon.  Her dog was with her.  She does not know whose dog we found.

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