Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
This blog best viewed with IE4 or greater and tongue in cheek

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Trimming the Family Tree

This past weekend, we not only got to celebrate Christmas with the warden’s folks, but also their 65th wedding anniversary. Now that is an accomplishment that very few achieve. The whole family got to attend with the exception of one married grandson and his family and one great grandson. All others were in attendance! It was a grand occasion by anyone’s standards.

First we met at the Inadale community center for dinner (lunch for any “city people” who may be reading this) where the two were given the honor they deserved. There was turkey or ham and all the trimmings with pies and cakes and several different puddings for desserts.

There, they sat, surrounded by their precious loved ones ranging in age from 13 months to those of us who are now classified as “senior citizens”. And I couldn’t help but remember the song “Please pass the biscuits”. Everyone was talking, eating and laughing so much that you couldn’t get anyone to pass the food! Luckily the honored couple sat in the center so they could at least reach the food!

Then we went to the Salem Lutheran Church for candlelight services where the clan made up more than half the gathering. There was singing, carols, laughter, chatter and lots of well wishing along with plenty of congratulations. And the crowned couple beamed with pride.

From there we journeyed back to the farm to surround the family table filled with leftovers and finger foods before Santa arrived. When the doors to the “parlor” were opened the grandkids and great grandkids found stockings hanging inside that were filled with goodies and toys. More laughter, more chatter and more “remember when’s”. Then back to our separate quarters to spend a short night.

Sunday morning started with all coming together at the church for Sunday worship. After services the family gathered in the fellowship hall for a relaxing family gathering that lasted the full afternoon.

That’s when I first noticed, this family tree was really getting some different ornaments! Let me try to explain, none of the bunch are “bad” people. But this is sort of a redneck family. A lot of hats and boots. Agriculturally related, farmers and those of us involved in closely related industries. “Red-state” so to speak. But there are a couple of ornaments on the outer branches that kind of stand out. The sad part is, no one in the family knows how to talk to them!

One has a Mohawk hairdo, pierced upper and lower lips, tattoos and tunnels in his ears! Now, in case you are wondering, tunnels are large piercings within the ear lobe so big you can put in a one-inch pipe! I am not joking, when I was a kid I used to read National Geographic magazine. There were always pictures from deepest darkest Africa with people who did the same things. Now the kid seems bright and intelligent, but with all that metal in him, I sure don’t want to stand beside him during a lightening storm! Come to find out, he’s a “Network Engineer” for a national IT company!

Another one had never touched a calf, knew nothing about farming, was on his first trip to Texas and thought a cotton gin was some sort of a brewery. He too is an intelligent sort and works for a major international company. His work requires him to travel internationally and speak two languages. Kind of makes the ole homespun feed salesman look pretty dull!

So, I guess all in all, having a few shinny ornaments on the tree amidst the “home made” ones adds to the glamour of the family tree!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Nothing But Time

Well this morning while waiting for people to wake up, I decided to scan the headlines and see what was happening out in the world. There were the normal headlines about bombings, murders, droughts, blizzards, future financial predictions and an occasional human-interest type story. But then a headline caught my eye:

Extra second to get 2006 off to a leap start

I had to go read this! (As you know from a previous blog, I have a vested interest in “Time”)

It started out by saying:
SCIENTISTS are delaying the start of 2006 by the first "leap second" in seven years, a timing tweak meant to make up for changes in the Earth's rotation. A leap second will be added to keep uniform timekeeping within 0.9 seconds of the Earth's rotational time, which can speed up or slow down because of many factors, including ocean tides.

(I knew I had been feeling a little sluggish lately, but I had just thought it was because I had forgotten my Metamucil!) Actually I think these guys have a little TOO MUCH time on their hands if they are setting around studying the earth’s rotation.

This reminded me of a church friend who is always changing his watch so he has the “official time”. He listens to news only to hear the “Ding” on ABC News broadcast that comes at the top of the hour, resets his watch if needed and then waits for some unsuspecting individual to ask him “the time”. I was once that unsuspecting individual!

I walked up to him and a couple others and asked, “what time is it?”

One friend answered, “9:50” another said “10 till 10” but Doyle was almost aghast at their answers! He quickly (and proudly) informed me that it was “9:52”. When I looked at him, he reassured me that it was correct, “I set it by the ABC News ding just this morning!” (The other guys just kind of rolled their eyes.)

He continued, “You didn’t ask ‘ABOUT what time’, you asked ‘what time’ and I wanted you to know.”

I’d really like to send this article from Google News to him, but I am so afraid it would really get him worried about adjusting for that second everyday until the world gets “reset”. (Not to mention that he would be devastated to realize that there is something more reliable to set time than the ABC News ding!)

The article continued:
The adjustment will be carried out by adding an extra second to atomic clocks worldwide at the stroke of midnight Co-ordinated Universal Time, the widely adopted international standard, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology revealed. At midnight (11am Australian Eastern Daylight Time), atomic clocks will read 23:59:60 before rolling over to all zeros.

I really wish these guys could help me rest my wristwatch! It’s still running on military time since I tried to reset it when we switched from Daylight Saving Time!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Today, as I listened to talk radio during my rounds they were asking people to call in and talk about their most memorable Christmas as a kid. Well now there was all sorts of stories for sure. People who had grown up during the depression years or during world war two of course related a different style of story to those who had grown up in more prosperous or non-rationed times. So I got to thinking, what Christmas was my most memorable and I came up with two that stand out in my foggy memory.

My second most memorable Christmas was when I was in the third or fourth grade. I loved to squirrel hunt. I always took Dad’s single shot 22 rifle (of which I had been trained to respect its use) and would traipse through the back woods on the farm for hours. Just as the big game hunters stalked the lions in deepest darkest Africa, I stalked the illusive squirrel.

Well that Christmas I got a Remington, bolt action, 7 shot 22 rifle for my major Christmas present! I was overwhelmed! Proof that I had “come of age”! I had reached “man-hood”! I must have shot a box of shells that day at tin cans and other trashcan targets, but alas, squirrel season was over.

Then fate took a turn. The next morning I awoke to the sound of our coon dogs treed in the proximity of the barn. I clamored from bed, grabbed my brand new rifle and set out to find what varmint had invaded the premises. One step out the back door and I knew already! Skunk and the dogs had done a good job of riling him up.

Upon finding the varmint, I took careful aim and ridded the farm of the smelly egg stealer. My first trophy with my new rifle! Now it was “brag time”! I carefully unloaded my rifle, grabbed the skunk by the tail and ran straight to the house to show mom and dad. The house was still dark when I ran into the bedroom with the skunk held high. They were not near as proud of my trophy as I was just because it took two weeks to get the smell out of their bedroom!

Now my MOST memorable Christmas was when I was a freshman in high school. Dad was the lead man for Permian Oil Company and had about 4 drivers under him at the time. He and mom had planned a company Christmas party for the other drivers and their wives on Christmas Eve. Mom had worried herself silly cooking all sorts of treats and had out her fancy dishes for the occasion.

Dad had to check “one more thing” out at the pump station before the day’s work was to be complete. Mom sent me with him to sort of “make sure” one thing didn’t become two or three and that he would be home on time!

On our way home, there was a car parked beside the road with the hood up. Dad has never passed up a person in trouble, so he stopped to see if he could help. (I looked at my watch and thought to myself we still had a little time). As it turned out, he was a service man with his wife and two very young kids who were trying to make it home for Christmas before he shipped out to Viet Nam.

Dad worked there for a while as I worried about getting him home before Mom got into a tissy! With the sun setting, Dad gets out a tow chain and hooks to the car. I am thinking “Hey Dad, we got a party tonight!!” But none the less, Dad drags the car back to our house just as the guest are arriving. Mom is standing in the door as we push the car (with the help of the other drivers) into the lighted carport.

I’m thinking to myself that Dad is fixing to get in trouble when Mom comes to the car, but I am wrong. Taking one look inside the car, Mom starts making the tired woman feel like a long lost relative and ask her to come in and visit. “We got plenty to eat!” All the men stood around and helped Dad as the women busied around ohh-ing and coo-ing with the young kids.

They finally got the car running about the same time for the party break-up. Most of the food was gone, everyone had a smile on their faces and the service man still had barely enough time to get “home for Christmas”. They looked at mom and dad and asked what they “owed”. Dad just said, “drive careful”.

I don’t remember what I got for Christmas as a present that year, but I do remember what I got as a sense of pride for just being a “Douglas”.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Warden's Christmas Present

Well, it’s that time of the year again. Trying to find just the right gift for the Warden. You got to be careful though when selecting that special gift. For instance, when we were still out on the farm, I bought her a new scoop shovel. I knew how hard it was to muck out the hog barn with that old one and figured she’d be mighty happy with a new scoop. But I detected a little sarcasm in her voice when she said “you bought this just for me? How wonderful!” And I have learned that buying her a matching ensemble of denim work shirts and coveralls from Tractor Supply brings about the same retort.

One year I even had a lady from Sears help me match colors on a nice dress and blouse. And do you know what? The Warden got all bent out of shape just because of the size! (It was an XXX I thought that meant ADULT).

And I have even tried getting her some jewelry. Jewelry never has to be sized, right? And colors don’t have to match! So I got her a nice set of earrings called “Dream Catchers” and a matching necklace from a store down along the road in Oklahoma specializing in Native American Jewelry. (She tried to return them but the store had gone out of business.) And you know what, she has never wore them! She claims the 4-inch bobs would pull her ear lobes off if they got to swinging in the wind.

Now people, I’m hear to tell ya, that I have tried most everything to find just the right present for that woman and nothing seems to please her! A new Snapper garden tractor, a new set of tires for her car, a kitchen blender, cheese grater and mixer combination all in one and once I even gave her, her very own, monogrammed fishing pole. Nothing makes that woman happy!

So this year instead of just hinting around, I plain out ask her what she wanted for Christmas. She said she wanted something special, just from her, something that no other woman had or needed. Now it took a little thinkin’ and doin’ to come up with something that fit that description but yesterday I got it all finished. Thanks to modern digital technology and a Wal-Mart “you take em’ you print em’” kiosk when no one was around! And I even got one of those nice simulated wood frames for it.

I can’t wait to see the look on her face Christmas morning when she opens that framed 8X10 picture of me in the nude.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Early to Bed

Ben Franklin once said, “Early to bed, early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise.” So I have tried it.

When it comes to “health”, I’ve been blessed. Other than a bout or two with a cold or maybe that stomach virus stuff, I’ve never been sick. But I think that relates more to the providence of the good Lord than going to bed early. My heart goes out to those who are struggling with cancer or any other debilitating disease. I pray that I never face the loss of my health.

Now I did have a bout with diverticulitis once but that’s not a disease, it’s eating wrong. And I learned one thing from it; you don’t go to the doctor with it. He’ll send you down to get some test done by a proctologist. I learned you NEVER turn your back on a proctologist!

When it comes to “wealth”, I’ve been blessed there also. There have been times I didn’t have enough money to pay attention, but I was still a wealthy man. You see, “rich” or “poor” is more a state of mind than that of a bank balance or net worth. I’ve always had enough to pay my bills and if you’ve ever seen me, you know I am well fed.

I believe in capitalism, I just don’t believe in greed and I have learned that greed is not confined to the rich. Greed is a cancer that eats at the common sense until finally nothing else matters.

The book of Proverbs says, “the man who loves money, never has enough.” This applies to both the rich and the poor. There is nothing wrong with the accumulation of property or money, unless it becomes an obsession and stands in the way of relationships of family or friends.

When it comes to “wise”, I am sure that many would doubt my blessings in that area. However, I know enough to come in out of the rain. I know that if you play with fire you might get burned. I know that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably ain’t. And I know that if something looks and smells like crap you shouldn’t taste it just to be sure.

I have learned that wisdom doesn’t necessarily come from a higher education but the wise never stop educating themselves. I’ve learned that taking a stand can be a lonely place to be but that straddling a fence is a mighty uncomfortable place to sit. I’ve learned that the more you open your mouth, the greater the chance of putting your foot in it. And I have learned that the best way to stop gossip is to not repeat it.

So, I guess, all in all I would have to agree with ole Ben and go wake up the warden just to see if she agrees with the “early to rise” part.

Sunday, December 4, 2005

Redneck Christmas Soiree

Christmas time is the season that most people put their differences aside and work on having a good time. (Why that can’t be the "norm" has always been a mystery to me but that will have to be another blog someday.) And over the years I have attended company Christmas parties at a variety of places: Country Clubs, Fancy Hotel Lounges in Topeka, KS City and Wichita and even one in a Resort.

There were fancy decorations for the Holidays with flashing lights of every color, sparkling tensile and perfectly decorated 12-foot spruces. Those were places you had to put on that pair of slacks you hadn’t wore since last year, the sports coat that almost matched, the tie left over from the 70’s, suck it up and act "cultured". Some one from "the main office" or some one from "division" would make some sort of speech for an hour or so. We ate supper (which would be some sort of meat with a fancy name) and went home.

I always hated those Christmas parties!

But this year was a little different. Now I work for a rather small company, which has about 15 employees in it from start to finish … top dog down. But due to the nature of our business, we are hardly ever together enough to know each other real well. The demographics of employees are tremendously varied: education ranges from three with Masters degrees to high school dropouts. Backgrounds range from the Chautauqua and Osage hills to the KS City suburbs. So put us all in the same room and include the wives or hubbies it is a hilarious mixture of fun and frolic.

Last night’s soiree was held at "The Mule Barn Bar and Supper Club" and Fred was buying. The Coors, Budweiser and Michelob beer signs provided the colored lights but only one flashed. (Actually I think it has a short in it because the flashing would get rather erratic at times …. sort of like them strobe lights). There wasn’t any sparkling tensile, but the cobwebs did blow and shimmer in the dim lights each time the heater kicked on. And the spruce? Well, it was about 12 inches tall and had one three inch Christmas ball on it (which made it list to the side). Someone had tried to help it out though by hanging an empty beer can on the other side.

And when it came to supper, I knew what I was eating! It was a ribeye!

Everyone sat and talked, compared notes about kids or grandkids and swapped stories. No one was worried about sales, deliveries or production …. And we didn’t get an hour-long speech about it. But we did have a lot of "remember when" stories. And of course many of them were rather "stretched" …. But that’s ok since it justs made the laughter louder. Afterall, that's what Christmas is about, not about company profits.

Anyway, I guess it all comes down to, I’ll take a redneck soiree any day of the week over them hobnob celebrations.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Where is my underwear?

As most of you know, we just finished the process of moving. We first moved the necessities to a rent house back in August. Occasionally bringing a few odds and ends over during our three-month stay in the rent house and finally bringing the rest this last week.

Wow do we have a bunch of "stuff"! And since we didn’t NEED it for the last three months ……… chances are, we really DON’T need it! But none the less, the house is full of boxes, which, herein lies the problem, which box has what I am really looking for?

You know, when you are packing, it looks pretty simple ….. you just write on the box what is in it. But, usually before you close and tape the box……..there is a little room so, you grab a couple of things and put it in there too.

OK, now we are several days later (or maybe months) and you decide to look for something specific. First you begin my looking at box labels …… all 2653 of them. Of course you find NO labels that tell you what you want. Afterall, you wouldn’t write "underwear" on the outside of the box!

So, you start opening boxes ….. cutting tape …. peering in boxes. Now this is sort of like playing the game concentration (or which lid fits in Tupperware). You try desperately to remember WHAT box certain articles are in. However my friend, that is an impossibility.

And what about ALL the stuff that has been through the last several moves and never used? Sentimental value you realize.

During moving times like these, I have to think of the nomadic American Indian. Can you imagine what that was like? Moving EVERYTHING you owned on the back of one horse and a travois? I figure it probably went something like this:

Squaw: "Chief, have you packed my buffalo bone needles?"
Chief: "No dear, we will get you some new ones at the next camp."
Squaw: "But those were given to me by my mother!"
Chief: "Will they sew any different?"
Squaw: "Well, I don’t use them!"
Chief: "Why not?"
Squaw: "They are for sentimental value."
Chief: "There can not be anything sentimental that came from Screeching Owl."
Squaw: "Her name was Mourning Dove!"
Chief: "Oh yeah. OK, I’ll put them on."
Chief dutifully finds a spot under the lashings of the travois when Squaw returns with four large rocks.
Chief: "Why are you packing rocks?"
Squaw: "These are rocks that our children etched pictures on and go at the entrance to the teepee for everyone to see. This one is by Chief Junior, this one from Bear Paw, this one from White Dove and this last one from Party Night. *"
*Editors note: Remember that American Indians named their children by what had inspired them before conception.
Chief: "Dear if you keep bringing stuff, I am going to have to get another travois!"
Squaw: "Chief, just pack it!"
Chief: "Yes dear."

And so goes life. I sure hope we soon find my underwear soon, especially the long handles!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Time travel messes up my wristwatch

It’s that time of the year again, when we "fall back." Who came up with the idea of "daylight savings time"? It was a politician of course. Cause you and I both know, it doesn’t save any time, just messes things up for a couple weeks. But a politicians main job is to mess things up and make it sound better than it is!

I have done a little research on "time". First of all you have to understand that "time" was actually an invention of man to begin with. First into seasons, then into lunar cycles and finally into days. There were a lot of problems with the earlier attempts because the cycles are not 100% divisible into those units. After all, it is just over 365 of our 24-hour days to make one revolution around the sun. Thus leap year, except on years divided by 100. But then there is the matter of the every 400 years when we do retain the leap year. Confused yet?

I am sure the Creator of the ages, looks down in amusement at the only creation he made who concerns itself with "time and money". All the other creations eat when hungry, sleep when tired and in general do what is to be done in its season. But man, scurries around trying to fit his schedule into short blocks of "time" …. Of which there usually isn’t enough! But I digress……

I found it interesting to note that Standard Time (ST) wasn’t even "invented" until the late 19th century (1883) with the advancing use of railroads! Before that, everything went on local time, usually set by the position of the sun. And then this standard didn’t become law until the 20th century (1918).

This is all well and good, but then comes along some one who wants to sleep longer in the morning and still have more daylight in the evening. Instead of adjusting his biological clock, he messes up everyone’s by passing a law to change the WHOLE system. Does that make any sense? Daylight Savings Time (DST) was used by Roosevelt in wartime, but was not popular because we were still an agrarian nation (meaning of course, you got up at sun-up and went to bed at sundown). But people moved to town and in 1966, Johnson passed the Uniform Time Act.

Resetting clocks was no big problem back then because they were all mechanical. But a few short years after that the transistor was invented which opened the door to digital EVERYTHING.

Did you happen to save the instructions when you bought your last wristwatch on how to change the time? I didn’t! So I spent the first 3 hours of my "saved time" trying to figure out how to make my wristwatch fall back ONE hour without changing all the other settings for day of the week and date. I was finally able to get it set back an hour with the correct day of week and date but somehow got the "mode" changed. So now I am operating on 24-hour military time. It is now 17:24 o’clock.

I vow next year to have two wristwatches; one set for DST and another set for ST. That way, instead of resetting my clock, I’ll just change watches!

Please, if you happen to know how to reset the mode on one of these things, please send me some instructions!

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ignore the headlines in the Burden paper

This is going to be a little tough to explain …. But keep these facts in mind.

  • We are partially moved which means part of our clothes are in Oswego and part in Burden.
  • This is the first cold morning of fall.
  • A cat and coon fight requires immediate attention.

When I first got up this morning, I dug through my drawers looking for a pair of sweats. Finding none I opted for a pair of shorts and then I turned up the thermostat just to take the chill off the house. It was dang chilly! Then I sit down and started sipping my hot coffee in hopes of getting rid of my goose bumps!

Then I heard a big commotion out in the alley. A cat screaming and growling. Fearing for my cat’s welfare I peered out the window and seen Salem face to face with a big boar coon! Now Salem is a big cat, but no where close to a match for a coon.

So being the “concerned pet owner” that I am I decided to run the coon off. Well, it’s cold remember and all my stuff is in the closet in Oswego, so I grab the wife’s robe and slip on her fluffy house slippers. Now her robe isn’t one of them real gaudy women’s things …… but definitely feminine in design.

Anyway, now covered to prevent hypothermia, I set out to rescue Salem. As I round the corner of the house, the coon starts going on down the ally. Salem, being the territorial feline that he is, gives chase and tackles the coon. Again more squalls, snarls and screams that could wake the dead.

I break into a run to again scare off the coon. He scares and Salem again gives pursuit. By now we are five blocks from the house and I am getting tired of running so I holler a little myself. I honestly hadn’t noticed I was that loud, but somebody must have alerted the city marshal of a possible prowler.

Just as I come to the street, (figuring that walking home on the street is better than the alley) the marshal drives alongside and stops me right under a street light! At first his look was one of concern but as he recognized me, it turned to laughter. A snicker or a smile would have sufficed but the rolling HAW HAW’s woke more people that Salem and I did. If that marshal says one word about this down at the coffee shop, I swear I’ll never vote for him again!

And someday soon I am gonna take ole Salem to the pound and get me a dog!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Cowboys and Heroes

The other day I was walking across the street in Longton, Kansas headed to Marci’s Café to eat dinner when a car pulled up with New York plates. This little boy jumped out and hollered, "look mom! A real cowboy!" Now I have to admit, I sort of sucked the ole belly in and sort of strutted the rest of the way across the street as "mom" hushed her son and told him not to point and stare.

Now I noticed as I was reading the menu that the family had also entered Marci’s Café and had selected a booth opposite me. The young boy was eagerly trying to see around his mother, much to her embarrassment. Mom was "hushing" him and threatening him to settle down.

Well, as I set there and ate, my mind begin to wonder back to my youth and all my "cowboy heroes". There was Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Rowdy Yates, Hoss Cartwright and his brothers, Matt Dillon and Festus in the days of my early youth. These guys were always on the "right", stood up for the down trodden, defended the defenseless and were great shots! (they always shot the gun out of the perpetrators hand with out blowing him to smithereens!) They had an impact on my upbringing that lives with me today.

And then later in my youth I begin to admire other great cowboys such as John Wayne in the movies. He was always on the "right" in movies like "Big Jake", "McClintock", "El Dorado", "True Grit" and many more. Never afraid to face adversity head on, even against tremendous odds. There was Jimmy Stewart, Glenn Ford, James Garner and many other famous actors who portrayed cowboys in famous roles.

And there were some actors who had actually been cowboys in real life such as Ben Johnson from Pawhuska, OK and Slim Pickens from Bakersville, CA. Still later, but still young, I watched as Freckles Brown (at the age of 49) rode a bull at the San Angelo Fat Stock Show where I was in college, one of the all time great bull riders. All of these men had played roles in forming my attitude and fortitude.

Other great "unknown" cowboys had played a role in my personality formation such as Oscar and Tot Keplinger, Red Redford, Russell Whitman and many more. Cowboys had always been my heroes and very important in my life.

Well my dinner nearly over the family got up to leave. The young boy with mom in close pursuit, headed toward my table. "You are real cowboy?" he asked. But before I could answer that I was merely a feed salesman, he added, "You must REALLY be old to have lived back when there was just horses to ride!"

Well with my ego blown to smithereens, I finished my dinner and limped back to my car to spend the rest of the day thinking how I ALMOST had been a hero.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Warden's morning coffee

I sit here this morning, the aroma of coffee brewing tickling my sinuses. I anxiously await that first sip of the dark life giving elixir. The smell of coffee always awakens memories of my childhood.

My maternal grandpa used to “saucer” his coffee. (That’s how I learned to slurp!) Grandma had one of them Pyrex percolators that set on the stove burner. I loved watching how that worked! You could watch as the water worked up through the stem and flowed back down through the grounds to the urn. Then when the water turned just the right color, she would remove it from the flame and pour grandpa his morning drink.

My paternal granddad always carried a thermos of it where ever he went. And I can still remember on fishing trips, him taking off that stainless steel cup from the thermos and pouring it full, steam rising in the cool morning. Him sitting there sipping as he watched his fishing poles.

Mom and dad always had a pot brewing of a morning. Mom made the best coffee I ever drank. And it was made in a Westinghouse stainless steel percolator Dad had gotten somewhere. They always had it for breakfast and any evening if we had company! I wonder what ever happened to percolators?

I remember when I was in high school, several of us boys would go hunting or fishing. We always packed the “Cains” so we could have “Cowboy coffee” on our trip. We would go out and camp on the Pecos River. The next morning we would get a can of river water, bring to a boil on the campfire and stir in a handful of Cains coffee grounds. It always smelled so good! But tasted HORRIBLE!

However we drank it like MEN! We would sit there on a log, staring at the fire and lie about how good the coffee was this morning. We sure didn’t want to admit that the “Cowboy coffee” tasted somewhere between battery acid and road tar. And you sipped REAL SLOW cause you were hoping that someone else would finish off the coffee before you got done. (It was unacceptable to turn down a second cup if available!)

I did a little research this morning on coffee. Did you realize coffee was first found by some Arab goat herder? Really blew my fantasy! I thought some Juan or Pepe or Pedro from Brazil would get the honors! Click here to read the facts.

Well, my coffee just got done and I took my first sip of the warden’s morning coffee. Dang, I do wonder where that woman gets Pecos River water to make her coffee!!!! Or maybe I need to find her a Westinghouse or Pyrex percolator! She needs some help for sure on making coffee!

Friday, October 7, 2005

Interpreting and Communications

Lately I have been listening to the political discussions concerning the new Supreme Court nominee. Some believe she maybe too much of a liberal, others too much of a conservative on how she interprets the US Constitution. A document written 200 years ago and still is "interpreted" different ways today! There are religious battles all the time over interpreting the Bible! Lawyers make their living over misunderstanding of the law.

Have you ever really thought about "communicating"? About what it takes to truly understand what someone has said or written?

I honestly do worry of what YOU (the reader) understands about what I have written in my little stories! (I have to admit though, I don’t loose much sleep over it!) But I do want YOU to really know Frannie, Waydene and Anita. I want you to understand what it is like to sit in the Stockman Café or the Schoolhouse Café. I want you to KNOW Orbin Stevens. Actually most of all I want sympathy for putting up with the warden all these years!

As a "trained feed salesman", I must carefully select my words to make sure the rancher understands what I say. I don’t want him thinking that my feed will cause his calves to gain 14 lbs. a day (well actually I do want him THINKING that. I just don’t want him trying to prove I said it in a court of law!)

Same thing goes for the warden. What is said and what is heard can be totally different! Let’s take these two statements:
"Your beauty would make time stand still."
"Your face could stop a clock."

Basically, those two sentences say the same thing, but let me tell ya, they get different results with the warden!

Another example, take last night for instance. The warden says, "Will you take out the trash?"
Naturally I said "Yes," but added, "in a minute."

Now the word, "minute" can be a specific measured amount of time or a relative one. The warden understood the specific, I meant the relative. This caused miscommunications! (And a fight)

And the other day while trying on some old dresses, the warden asks, "Does this dress make me look fat?"

Now you would think that after 33 years I wouldn’t even GO THERE, but being the good communicator that I am, I answered truthfully. "Not too bad."

What I meant, "It doesn’t fit you like it did when you were 22 years old."
What she heard, "My God woman, you’re as big as a barn!"

I mean WHY ask the question, if you don’t want the answer? But what the heck, our couch is a queen sized hide-a-bed anyway!

I sure hope you have understood what I meant.


Sunday, October 2, 2005

A morning person

I just love getting up early and enjoying the early morning hours. I love watching the sun come up, listening to the birds as they wake up and I love sipping my coffee real slow. However, my wife (the warden) is NOT a morning person! I have tried for 33 years to "coax" her out of bed early, but with out success.

For instance, when we were first married. We lived in this little house with no insulation. (The only warm spot was standing right in front of the heater on a cold day.) But anyway, one cold Saturday morning it was time to get up. I stuck my nose out from under the covers and breathed a puff of white vapor into the bedroom. Now any intelligent person would know that laying under several blankets and quilts will keep you warm and increase the desire to slumber .... right? So the best way to wake up is to remove the desire to slumber....right? Made sense to me! So in one full sweep, I removed all the covers off the bed. The instant reaction should have been recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records! (By the way, it took two weeks and several stitches for the claw marks to heal)

I have also tried waking her with music! Now as a kid, our alarm was waking up to the Smokey Dacus morning show. (for those of you who are unaware, Smokey Dacus was once a drummer for the Bob Wills band). But I figured that the warden would much rather hear my melodious voice, filled with love and joy. However her critique of my baritone version of "There's Sunshine in My Soul" sounded pretty much like a sailor in a bar fight. I didn't know she even KNEW some of them words!

When we were out on the farm, I got an alarm clock that sounded like a rooster crowing from my mother. Now what is more "rural" that waking up to a rooster crowing? So I tucked it away at the head of the bed. The clock does still work, but after that first morning you have to wiggle the little liquid crystal screen to display the numbers and use duct tape to hold the batteries in.

I have tried other approaches with no avail: Cold wash rags (warm ones don't work either), a high lumen spot light, dropping silver ware in a stainless steel bowl, salted coffee delivered right to the bed!

If you have any suggestions to help with my dilemma, they would be most appreciated!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Frannie's pie

Well today, with my sales manager in tow, I headed to work the Yates Center area again. The day was good and had several sales, but as always when in that area..........I headed to Frannies to eat lunch. (click here to reference Frannies) I even told my sales manager I would buy lunch, (I didn't tell him it was only a dollar!)

Tuesday is always a plate full of beef and noodles over mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables, a slice of buttered bread and a glass of Frannies tea. Again, seasoned just right, Frannies lunch disappeared much to quickly. How ever today, I felt it was time to try Frannies pie.

I took my plate, just emptied of it's beef and noodle delicacy back to the kitchen and picked up a clean "pie plate". "Take your pick" said Frannie over her shoulder as she washed dishes. There before me was one of the toughest decisions I would make today.

The first pie was peach. Sizable peach slices floating in their own syrup on a flaky crust. Then a custard, with a crushed graham cracker crust. Next was a cinnamon apple, covered with a crispy oatmeal and brown sugar topping. A blackberry and a raspberry, both covered with a lattice work of flaky pie crust, a banana crème heaped full of banana slices and finally a pecan pie.

GOODNESS, what was a man to do?

Frannie watched as I closely checked each pie. "I have seen judges in the county fair take less time in picking a grand champion!" Frannie said as she grinned from ear to ear.

"Yeah, but they were going to get to taste each one," was my response (and somewhat plea)

"Well pick one," she demanded still grinning, "I'm afraid you're going to drool on them."

"Which one won the grand champion?" I asked to help with my decision.

"I'll tell you when you pay out" she said.

I picked a nice sized slice of the pecan and went back to my table to enjoy the pleasure of her culinary excellence. Each bite sweet and succulent. Just the right touch to a wonderful dinner. My sales manager (who selected the cinnamon apple) and I are in sharp disagreement as to which slice actually won the grand champion at the fair. Both of us feel we have selected the ultimate winner.

As we approach the culinary empress to pay for our dinner, we ask her to settle the bet. She grins, "Honey, they all have in different years" and snickers as she turns back to finish her dishes.

Monday, September 26, 2005

the old man in the mirror

This morning I got scared half out of my wits. I started to shave after my shower and there was this bald headed old man in my mirror! Now mind you, I KNEW it wasn't me, because looking from THIS side of my glasses, every thing is the same ..... (well almost!) ...... it's just the other side of my glasses that has changed!

I still have dreams and aspirations.....they are just about different things! No longer do I dream of owning a big ranch with 1000 cows ..... now I dream of pulling on my boots with out huffing and puffing. No longer do I dream of taking a full day to ride across my "spread" ......now I dream of spending all day leaned back in my recliner. No longer do I dream of walking down the street and everyone knowing MY name ...... now I dream of walking down the street REMEMBERING the name of THOSE I meet. No longer do I dream of OWNING the bank ..... now I dream of not OWING the bank. No longer do I dream of tomorrow's challenges ...... now I dream of yesterday's laughter.

And another thing I have noticed lately ...... "meaningful" things have changed. In college, it was very important that I have a comb in my back pocket. I was even known to turn the car around and drive back several miles to get one. Now I don't even have one in the house! I used to be very conscientious to make sure my shirt and wranglers were wore a certain way. Now I just want to make sure my pants are zipped. I used to enjoy a midnight snack of bean and jalapeno nachos covered with cheese, now I eat nothing without adding a Pepcid AC for flavoring. I used to check the refrigerator for fresh fruit, now I check the medicine cabinet for Metamucil.

But there is one thing I can say good about growing older ....... it's dang sure better than the alternative!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

"blink, it was gone"

Last week I was hot on the trail of Orbin Stevens. (Being a good feed salesman is kind of like being a good coon dog....... once you get a sniff ..... you got to follow the trail until you tree it.) Well now, Orbin himself, barely has a pot to pee in ..... but is a good range manager and day worker .... which means he knows all the local ranches, who has cattle in the area (even if the owner lives in TX, OK, CO etc) and who has the buying power!

I had met Orbin the first time in the School House Cafe in Fall River KS. (which by the way is a VERY good place to eat ... and if you are ever through Fall River around noon ....... stop in and eat ... well worth the money and the time!) We had compared names to find mutual friends, swapped stories and in general "checked" each other out for authenticity. (no use building a friendship with someone not genuine.) Well, Orbin was genuine.

Orbin is a big fellow, stands well over 6 foot, bald (he, like me, raised daughters) and in his mid fifties. He has spent most of his life in the Flinthills and has worked all the big ranches around that part of the country. His longest time for "full time" employment was on the Matador (owned by Koch Industries) in Greenwood co. But he preferred working for himself as a "day rider", "range manager" or as he put it, "general flunky".... and his reputation as a cowboy kept him busy.

Well Friday, I found him home in the middle of the day, which was very unusual unless it was raining..."otherwise people would think you lazy." When he answered the door, his hand was all bandaged and only three fingers protruding out of the bandage.

"What happened to you?" I asked, not wanting to over look the obvious.

"Well I joined the ranks of career ropers!" he said, his reference to the fact that many who rope a lot usually are missing a finger or a thumb. He then proceeded with the story of how it happened. A neighbor with a "wild ole rip" needed some help. The cow had been on a neighbors field for several days and they hadn't been able to get her back to the pasture.......so they called Orbin.

"I tried every trick in the book to get that wild old rip to the gate, but she would cut and head back. Well now, I couldn't have that! People down at the School House (what he called the cafe) would be snickering at me" he explained with a grin, "if I couldn't get one old cow through a gate!"

"So," he continued, "I throwed a rope at her and started dragging her to it. But, the rope started slipping around the horn. I turned to follow her and grab a new dally, when that wild ole rip turned and ran 90 degrees from me, sucking slack out of the rope ...... and blink, it was gone," he said holding up his bandaged hand. "But, when I set the dally that time, it was good.....and I got her drug through the gate!"

So all's well that ends well. Orbin's reputation is saved and he gets a few days of sitting where no one can call him lazy.


Monday, September 19, 2005

House hunting and persimmons

Sheesh........what a dilemma! As you well know, the wife and I are trying to find a new "home" .....and have been looking at houses in the area. Well, there are several things that make it doubly hard. The most prevalent is "me and her". Let me try to explain. This conversation happened this morning.

"Dear", (I always try to make things sound as good as possible), "what do you think of the Nellis house?"

"Well", she says because she always has SOMETHING she wants different, "can we change the walls on the master bedroom to include extra closet space?"

"Sure!" I say with no hesitation.

"Do we need to bring in a carpenter to check it just to be sure?" she ask.

"Don't you trust my judgment?" I asked, some what perplexed at her question.

"Well, I am some what leery of your decisions." she responds.

"Huh?" I respond. (I use this "huh" phrase a lot when discussing things with her.)

"Well," she responds, "there was the time with the persimmons!"

"Huh?" I respond again.

"You remember!" she says quite ........matter of factly.

(I always hate it when she does this ...... cause I USUALLY don't.) "Huh?" The only thing I KNOW to say! "What ARE you talking about?"

"You gave me a green persimmon to eat!" She says.

"Huh?" I ask, then clarify with, "When?"

"On our honey moon!" is her quick reply.

"Dear, that was 33 YEARS ago!" I respond "What has that got to do with TODAY?"

"Well, you KNOW how gullible I am.......How do I know you are NOT doing it again NOW?"

(I still stand, mouth agape, wondering if this is a bonifide discussion.) "Huh?" is my response.

"Well, I don't want EVERYONE thinking I am as gullible as I was back then!" she retorts.


"We need that wall moved in the laundry room so the house works for US!"


"Then the master bedroom will hold all the bedroom furniture!"


"And we can change the carpet to match the bedroom suite!"


"And if we move that door to the south a bit, it will leave ample room for the chest of draws and the hall tree! Just trust me! We need that wall moved!"

"Oh, well OK," I say without even realizing I have agreed to a hundred grand improvement on the house BEFORE we have even actually BID on it!!

I KNOW why Adam ate the apple Eve gave him!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Qualifications of a feed salesman

I have been in the feed industry for 30 plus years.....either as a consumer of feed products, as a manufacturer of feed or in a sales position. Even sold Ag software for a while which had modules that balanced rations and then tracked sales. So, I have dealt with salesman from all angles. This morning I have been sitting here thinking of what qualifies a person to be a good feed salesman.

  1. He has to be breathing. Dead people make very poor salesman ......... although, I have met a few I did wonder if they were alive or not!
  2. He has to be smart enough to NEVER guess the weight of a man's cattle. If you go ride with him to the pasture to see his calves, he will invariably ask, "What do you think they weigh?" A good salesman will be able to side step that question and change to a safe subject such as the weather, the rancher's banker or even the time his wife ran off with the mail man. ANY subject is safer than guessing the weight of his calves.
  3. He has to like pets ...... because all the time you are riding to see the calves .... the rancher's blue heeler cattle dog is sitting next to you and licking your ear while dripping wet from where she went swimming in the pond. And it is much safer to call the ranchers daughter dirty names than to push his dog away.
  4. He has to be able to face rejection. Invariably, the rancher will reject your perfectly presented product presentation .... because the competitor has a similar product for 50 cents a semi load less........ although he may call your cell phone before you get out the driveway and order a load of the product .... if you can deliver that afternoon .... which he and you know is an impossibility.
  5. He has to be able to put up with a sales manager .... who rides along every so often and ask stupid questions. I have yet to find a sales manager that could sell a drink of water to a thirsty man ...... but they know why you didn't get that last order. (I know why too! Cause the sales manger, who is a complete SOB, was along on the call!)

Well, after much thought and deliberation ..... I think I qualify!

Thursday, September 15, 2005

a looming crisis

Oh ...... woe is me! Today, I found out that the world is close to the end. There is nothing left to live for, Anita and Waydene have retired!

Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with these two women, I will try to explain their importance to the world ecosystem. For YEARS they had run the Welch, OK Stockyard cafe. These women could COOK!

Waydene, who was almost as wide as she was tall, could make a pie worth dieing for. The meringue was high and peaked, always just right in sweetness and texture. And the filling........whether peach, pecan, persimmon or pineapple was as mouth-watering as any delicacy sold on the streets of Paris. The crust was as if made by angels ..... light, flaky and browned perfectly. There was never a better buy for a dollar and four bits, than a piece of Waydene's pie.

Anita, whose smile graced any day, was the "Rock of Gibraltar". She could smile whether she was being brandished by some self serving soul or warding off flirts from some cattle buyer away from home. What ever she brought to your table .... soup, salad or special for the day ......... it was served with grace, dignity and a smile.

Together, sister-in-laws to boot, they could put a meal on the table that was famous far and wide for culinary excellence, atmosphere and just "down home" good! It was not only good food at the Stockyards .... it was a delight to eat there!

Today, being in a hurry, I ordered a hamburger. Now, maybe the NEW owners are still wet behind the ears, ........ but the hamburger patty is not suppose to resemble a dried cow-patty ..... lettuce is suppose to be green, not brown ...... onions are suppose to be juicy, not dried out ..... and the bun should not be like leather.

Now believe me ...... I wasn't wanting to be the type that complains ...... everyone new needs a little time to get on their feet .... and after Waydene and Anita, I already assumed there would be a step down ........ but not ALL THE WAY to the bottom of the barrel!

I sure hope that Waydene and Anita will consider coming out of retirement ..... or there is going to be some REAL SKINNY cowboys running around in the Welch, OK area!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday afternoon

Some have suggested that I should hone my abilities and try writing a book, be an author or columnist or something. (I always enjoy hearing flattering remarks!) But I thought what the hey.... I was doing nothing other than the laundry......why not give it a try?

Well I thought I would sit down here at this computer and try to write something humorous ... I scratched my bald head ...... looked at the ceiling for a bit ..... and finally came to the conclusion, there isn't anything humorous to write about.

So being the logical person I am, I thought I would write something serious .... so I cocked my head to one side ..... took the "thinker" stance (which by the way always reminded me of a guy sitting on a commode) ..... and still nothing came to mind.

OK ..... so I'll write something thought provoking ... and I leaned back in my chair, crossed my arms and meditated for a while. (very closely resembling "vegetated") Still nothing!

How about if I just ramble a bit ...... what ever comes to mind .... let the fingers type as if by a will of their own ..... goose egg.

THEN it hit me!!!! For once I felt I was becoming a bona fide writer!!!! An author!! One read far and wide ..... famous ..... readers around the world ....

because I had "writers block"!

Thursday, September 8, 2005

the stockman's cafe

One thing good about "moving home" is getting back to the regular "haunts". And the other morning I stopped by the Stockman's Cafe in Cambridge. It is kind of unique, in that Cambridge is not much of a town anymore.....but once was!

In the late 1800's it was a booming town with a stock yards and rail head for shipping cattle; two cut limestone buildings that were banks across the street from each other; grain elevator and feedmill; lumber yards, grocery stores and rooms to rent to cattle buyers in the hotel just down the street. Yearling cattle moved up from herds in Texas to be fattened on the bluestem grass in the Flinthills area around Cambridge. Then moved on to the slaughter houses in Kansas City. But now it is a mere widespot in the road.

I first visited The Stockman's Cafe in 1975 when I moved to Kansas to work on a ranch just north of Cambridge. Over the next 5 years I was there most everyday sipping coffee and listening to the stories of "the locals" (since I was a new-comer it took a year to get "accepted" by them.....but eventually I did!)

Back then, sitting around the tables were people like Oscar Keplinger (a bowlegged, gnarled old bachelor cowboy who could well remember putting cattle on the railroad), Archie Dwyer (who had been a mail carrier during the horse and buggy days), Ralph Sphar (whom we called the Mayor since he actually did live in Cambridge), Red Redford (who had made his fortunes building the wooden derricks in the oil fields of Oklahoma) Ezra Johnson (who had been on construction crews that built such buildings as the Texas Tech Administration building...actually Ezra was one of the reasons I made INTO good standing with the locals since I had attended Texas Tech!!)

After checking cattle or feed runs......the place would begin to fill up and the stories began. If some one didn't show up on time, everyone kind of got to worrying about him ...... and his chair would sit empty 'til he did show up. And that's actually how they found the Mayor, he didn't show up.....and they went to look for him. It was too late of course, but that's a part of life.

But the stories ranged from the winter of '39, the flood of '52, the drought of '33, the fire of etc etc. Sometimes they got to talking about some one getting throwed off his horse back in '22 ... "and you know, nobody ever was able to ride that horse" Or maybe some roper and how he could rope ...... "best dang heeler I ever seen!" Or the night somebody got married and they threw him a "chivalry". It was always worth some laughs as you drank your coffee.

Well last week I got to stop by for a cup and it was nice to walk back in and hear things like, "heard you were back in the country", "drag up a chair, this one is yours isn't it?", "you buying the coffee?" (which by the way, I did!) The only things that have changed .... are the names sitting around the tables (though most are offspring of the former mentioned) and the dates on the stories. Feels good to be home.


Tuesday, September 6, 2005

celebrations and other problems

Well, we attended the annual Atlanta Labor Day celebration over the weekend and I must say, it was an amazing success. People attended from far and wide to attend the parade, craft show, kiddy games and bean feed (which did prove helpful to end the gas shortage!!).

And since it would take a book to write about the complete days events, I must condense the day to one particular hair raising (even on my bald head) experience I had. Our children happened to be involved in the normal tasks of "seeing things get done".....since they are ........locals. Well Grandma says.......hey, we'll watch the kids while you guys do the work.

Now I thought this was rather bold of the wife, to offer my services since I had already spotted an empty spot on the liars bench, but I held my tongue, wishing also to "do my part" for the kids. So with 4 kids in tow (well actually two in tow and two being carried) we set out for the play ground, their caps pulled down half over their eyes to help block a sun burn.

We sit the kids down among 40-50 other kids and found a high point to sit that will allow us to observe in pleasure. Now trying to keep track of four individual kids in a mass of kids is kind of like keeping track of worms in a bait can. That's when the problem started. I was so focused on keeping track of the kids, I never noticed the wife had crept off to the craft show and left ME all alone to watch this menagerie of kids.

So there I set, craning my neck, looking for the wife among the hordes of women circling the craft tables.........no where in sight! So I turn back to check the kids. NOTHING there either!!! The kids had disappeared also!!! A cold sweat breaks out on my forehead as I think of how I am going to explain to my daughters the disappearance of my grandkids.

I walk into the middle of the moving mass, lifting caps and examining underneath, hoping to find the lost. (I didn't realize how much all kids look alike in a hat!) And since they were all moving at breakneck speed, I was often finding the same kid under each hat.......and it wasn't MINE!

I am near heart palpitations, when I hear from the sideline, "What's Pappy doing Mom?"

There stands my daughters, with all four kids looking like little angels. "Don't worry Andrew" Rachel answers, "Nobody knows he's your Pappy! He used to embarrass us to, but we lived through it!" And Becky gives a "eyes up" sigh as they turn and walk off.

So as I wade out of the masses, I have one question in mind.......WHERE IS GRANDMA?

Sunday, September 4, 2005

impending doom

Yesterday I started my day by watching the morning news......I really need to quite doing that. The reporters all talked of the "impending doom" that is about to befall us. I have been a avid "news watcher" since the 1960's. Wars, riots, shortages, natural disasters, fires, floods, earth quakes, tornadoes, political corruption, violence, robberies, murders, wrecks, crashes, explosions, bankruptcies, economical downturns, lay offs, inflation, etc.......etc........etc

Now don't get me wrong.....I am heart broken over the thousands who have lost their homes in the Gulf Coast regions this past week and I am sickened at the lawlessness in New Orleans. But exactly what qualifications does it take to be a "reporter"? Apparently not much! All you really need to be a reporter is to know how to find the most down trodden / disaster stricken / hardship ravaged / devastated person and then ask "How does that make you feel?"

It goes something like this:
Reporter looking thoughtfully into the camera says, "With us today is Mr. Joe Blow who has lost his house to the rising waters caused by hurricane Zezzibell. Mr. Blow, will you tell us what happened."
Mr. Blow, "Well........(and he tells his story)"
reporter, "Mr. Blow, how does that make you feel?"

Goodness sakes........how is he SUPPOSE to feel? Why can't reporters just report the facts and then GO HOME? Here's why....... the reporter KNOWS that if he can get a man to cry on LIVE TV...........the reporter's ratings will go up! You know what, that to me shows just how sick some of these reporters are! (what's even worse...........is that it shows just how sick WE (the watchers of this style of news) are!!) But then maybe it is just I who is sick.

Someday I envision the news to interview this guy whose house has NOT been torn down but who has opened his home to others, helped feed the hungry, clothed the naked and given what he could to the comfort of his fellow man! I do believe that there was way more people doing good for others down there than there was doing the looting and violence.

I'm sure not saying we need to overlook the devastation and violence.........but REPORT the news and forget the sensationalism......REPORT the facts.....ALL the facts. THANK GOODNESS there is the internet so people can find out about the people who are doing good.

And as Forrest Gump says, "That's all I got to say about that"

Sunday, August 28, 2005

the grapes of wrath and cat puke

We just finished bringing another load of "necessities" back from Oswego. Have you ever seen pictures of the dust bowl days, when the farmers loaded up all their belongings on a model A or T pickup and headed to California? Things piled high, held on with ropes and baler twine? A couple spare tires bolted to the fender? Pa in his bib overalls and Ma in her gingham dress?

Well that was about the way we looked headed west out of Oswego this trip. (well except for the bib overalls and gingham dress). I was afraid some highway patrol man would stop us for either overload restrictions or improper load restraints. However, the only two I seen, didn't pull us over.....they were bent over in laughter and pointing at us.

We also brought back the cats. Now we splurged and got some of the "pet taxis"...sounded like a good idea at the time. I swear, I think it would be easier to put a live coon in a gunny sack than it was to put ole Salem through that little door! I've shed almost as much blood today as I did during the cat shearing! But being the persistent cuss I am, (as well as putting on leather gloves and tapping ole Salem with a hammer which addled him for a few seconds).........we got him in and the door latched.

So thinking, all is well......I load the cats into he front seat with me.......turn on the air conditioner and the CD player......for a nice trip. Well Salem starts this low guttural meow .... kind of like he has his foot in a trap.....and lets one go about ever other second. I can't even hear the CD player! (if he had at least been in time with the music.......it wouldn't have been so bad!) But he keeps this up for about an hour ...... finally he quiets down and I think GREAT.....he went to sleep. WRONG AGAIN!!!! He is just getting sick and is too sick to meow. So the NEXT hour of the trip ........ he not only feels good enough to meow after throwing up, but I got the smell of cat puke.......which is still very strong even with the windows down!

The only good thing about the arrival in Burden.......the locals are ecstatic that they will get to host the annual cat shearing days next spring!!

Well this has been another exciting episode in "the days of our lives" .... asleep yet?

Sunday, July 17, 2005


I have been doing some research on investing: stock market, mutual funds, bonds, Certificate of Deposits, land developments, real estate, futures, etc. ( I mean at 53, it's about time to start ...... right?) And guess what I have found out? There are so many ways to double (maybe even triple) my money in 6 months or less!

I have been so worried about retirement ..... and there is no need! Simply type in "retirement" to any search engine and POOF ..... there are LOADS of plans, suggestions, testimonials, proposals, propositions, recommendations, approaches and opinions! I should be able to retire by the age of 54 with no problems!

The best deal I have found, however, is a guy in AZ with some swampland! Can you imagine how scarce a commodity that is? It's almost priceless! Swampland in a desert! He figures I can make 30 to 40 percent on my investment in less than a week! (I figure it will be MUCH more than that!) And he is so nice and helpful! He even said he would fore go the normal closure fees just to help me out. I just don't see how he is going to make any money on this deal......... it's a steal!

Actually (and to be truthful) I figure the only way I will be able to retire before I am 95 is to win the lottery! But what really bugs me, is that I could have bought Wal-Mart stock 30 years ago and been a millionaire.......or Texas Instruments 20 years ago ...... or Microsoft 10 years ago ..... or Yahoo 5 years ago .... or ......and that is where I get to. What should I invest in today that will make me a millionaire in 10 years or less, so I can retire? Cause, guess what ..... there is SOMEONE out there who WILL make it.

That is the advantage of the "free market" (Capitalistic) system that we live in ...... irregardless of what Hillary Clinton (and her Socialistic friends) tells you. Politically speaking, why ask the government to supply my retirement in the form of social security taxes when (if they would let me have my own money) the free market does so much better?

Think about it

Monday, July 11, 2005

The proper use of SPAM

You know when I was a kid, Mom bought SPAM occasionally and fried it for breakfast or fixed it in some other way as a meat dish for other meals. (It could take the place of real meat if you closed your eyes and hid your taste buds.) And back in those days, SPAM was known everywhere as a canned luncheon meat (or at least a facsimile there of).

Schools used it in the preparation of school lunches (this was before there was a dietary goal and never on Friday's because we had to have fish). The army used it in their meals because it was canned and could easily be transported and could be kept without refrigeration. Poor people bought it because it was cheap.

If you ever heard the word SPAM, your thought was a canned meat (of sorts).

But today when you hear the word spam, it refers to the sending of unsolicited email. So, being the natural inquisitive soul that I am, I decided to do a little research to find out why spam was called SPAM (or maybe SPAM was called spam .... whatever, read on) and guess what, I found out. (isn't the internet wonderful?)

I went to www.spam.com (yes there is a site for nearly everything) and low and behold, there was the answer!

Use of the term "spam" was adopted as a result of the Monty Python skit in which our SPAM meat product was featured. In this skit, a group of Vikings sang a chorus of "spam, spam, spam . . . " in an increasing crescendo, drowning out other conversation. Hence, the analogy applied because UCE (unsolicited commercial email) was drowning out normal discourse on the Internet

The trademark name SPAM (now owned by Hormel) didn't object to the use of the word spam, but did object to the use of their trademark in referring to UCE. Here is a quote:

Let's face it. Today's teens and young adults are more computer savvy than ever, and the next generations will be even more so. Children will be exposed to the slang term "spam" to describe UCE well before being exposed to our famous product SPAM. Ultimately, we are trying to avoid the day when the consuming public asks, "Why would Hormel Foods name its product after junk e-mail?"

So, make sure that in the rearing of children and grandchildren and for the sake of future generations, please take the time to teach the proper use of the words SPAM and spam.

For official company policy, please refer to number 5 on this corporate information page. Corporate info

Now aren't you glad I wrote this morning and explained all that to you? I am sure, that like me, you had worried about the history of SPAM.......(or is it spam?)

Sunday, June 26, 2005

How fights start

Yesterday, I observed the basis of a lot of spousal fights among the ELDERLY. Now being a trained salesman (and semi interested student of psychology), I try to be observant to the interaction of people to thus understand better "how they tick". And I sure got a chuckle and a lesson yesterday.

My father-in-law (Walter) and I were coming in the back door for a break about mid afternoon. Walter mumbles, "Wow! I need a break, it is hot!" To which my mother-in-law (Viola) responded rather sternly, "Well, you don't have to announce it to the whole world, just go do your job and get it over with." Well this remark perplexed me and sure didn't settle well with Walter naturally, so he of course came back with his own remark. Something along the likes of "doing what we want to do."

The exact words for the rest of the 10 minute exchange are not important, but were rather heated to say the least. Each trying reinforce their positions. I am simply an observer here but in my mind agreeing with Walter how hot it is outside. I am sure not understanding, even in the least, Viola's slave driving point of "getting the job done".

Well, to save a lot of typing, (because trying to explain the full exchange is impossible), let me cut to the chase. When Walter came in and announced "Wow, I need a break, it is HOT", Viola had heard "Wow, I need the POT". A rearrangement of the original statement and a complete misunderstanding of one word had caused the 10 minute fight.

Now, with full understanding, I am rolling with laughter, thinking how funny this heated argument was. I am shaking my head as I turn, still laughing and grinning as Shirley walks into the room. I say, "Now THAT was funny!" Shirley stops, grabs the cap off her head, looks at it and asks rather sternly, "What's so funny about my HAT."

Folks, the rest is history!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

A drought?

.....it's been nearly (not quite) 24 hours now with no rain.......so no doubt that within a week or so, some rancher or farmer will say...."getting kind of dry"! Farmers are worse about it than ranchers are, but you can bet someone will say it within a week.

Did you ever really stop and think about it? Any farmer of any size is a millionaire on paper because of his land holding. And because of landholding, he pays a bundle of taxes...all land is taxed. Now to farm, naturally he has to have a lot of equipment. Tractors of any size will run $65,000 on the smaller utility side......upwards to almost infinity. Combines well over $100,000 just to start looking. Not uncommon for a medium sized farmer to have 3/4 to 1 million dollars tied up in equipment. Then comes planting season and he starts buying seed, fertilizer, chemical and easy to tie up $150-200 an acre in a row crop.

Now take the rancher. If he is a yearling/stocker guy he is purchasing calves around 4-500 lbs at $1.25-1.50 per pound for each animal he purchases, prays the animal will live after the truck ride home, adds several more dollars in medications, feed and mineral (my part), grass bills, winter bills, vet bills and then transportation back to the point of sell and would feel he did great if he makes $50 a head. (now quickly do the math to see how many head he has to run to make $30,000 over initial cost only...and remember, no benefit package) The cow/calf man would have similar figures as that.....with only one pay check a year.

These guys share one similar interest, they pray there is no government program, mad cow scare or some similar act of stupidity that comes along and breaks the market just before they are to market their wares. As you can read, farmers and ranchers are the plumpest pickles in the jar or they wouldn't be doing that! Makes absolutely (from an investment / business standpoint) to take those types of risk. Even on the GOOD years, neither will have a ROI (return on investment) of 2-3%.....which would be a bad investment by any industry standard.

But yet, each day, I go out and talk to millionaires, with bib overalls, crumpled hats, junk yard pickups and blue heeler cattle dogs to make my living. These marvelously industrious, optimistic, hard working people who buy everything they use from a retail system so they can sell everything they produce at "raw ingredient price" to the food industry.

If they truly ever wise up to what is going on.....we are all gonna starve

Monday, June 13, 2005

A certified nutcase

I thought I had seen it all, but the events of yesterday top them all. I was on my way home from visiting my folks and decided to stop for a wonderful redneck delicacy, a bacon cheese burger and freedom fries. So I find me a Braums and pull in. Practically run to the counter to order but she is finishing taking an order from a rather "delicate" looking man. She looks at him and asks "Jim, are you sure that is what you want?" To which he curtly nodded yes. She then took my order and handed me my number and I go sit down.

While watching traffic out the window I am faintly aware that the man is talking to himself, but my main focus is on the bacon cheese burger and awaiting my number to be called. His number is called and then mine. I notice the two sandwiches on his tray and think for a little guy he must have a big appetite. I return to my table and peel back the wrapper on this beautiful sandwich. I take the first bite slowly to savor the blended flavors, and think to myself I am gonna make this last and enjoy every bite.

As I relish this bite of heaven, it becomes apparent that this guy is not only talking to himself, but answering! Which in itself is not all that uncommon, but he was using TWO voices! He would look to his left and say something and then look to his right and answer! I am sure I must have been looking at him with one of those "deer in the head lights" looks. He looked at me and said "What are you staring at?"

Then looking to his left in a rather high voice "Don't yell at him!"

Looking to the right in a deeper voice, "Well he was staring at us!"

My bacon cheese burger was losing my interest very rapidly as ultimate fear set in, but I quickly begin staring at my hamburger. Though my side vision I noticed as he looked left and then right. I strained to listen.

"Jim this is not what I wanted!"

"It's what I always get you."

"But it's not what I asked for tonight!"

"You'll like it. Eat it"

I attempted another bite, but it could have been made out of cork board and I wouldn't have known. I even tried a chaser of freedom fries, but I was totally trained on the conversation across the isle. No longer was I chewing my food, rather just biting and swallowing. I wanted OUT of this place.

As I was swallowing the last bite and picking up my wrappers to discard, I noticed the counter lady watching nonchalantly. As I walked by, I pointed to the table and she just winked, "They come in here often."

"They?" I ask. "This is normal?"

"Well", she said, "I wouldn't call it normal. But, not out of the ordinary for Jim and Sarah. You should be here when Sarah comes by. Decked out to the T."

"Oh?" was my first response, then realization set in. "OH!"

"And only once have they caused a scene enough for us to call police. Sarah was having an affair and Jim caught them!" She seemed fully willing to tell me many more stories, but this was getting a little too kinky for me.

But on the way home I got to thinking......if I could just figure out how to sell some tickets to a performance like what I had just seen.......I COULD BE RICH!

Friday, June 10, 2005

Reviving the Peace Lilly

Not much really going on to write about, but thought I would fill you in on the latest near catastrophe. Since is the wife is gone, naturally I have to take on the watering of the flowers. We have had a lot of rain, so those outside have been no problem......but there are some on the front porch which don't have access to the rainfall .... but I have been diligent to water then a couple times a week. GOOD job Dennis!!

However, the other night she happen to ask over the phone about the "Peace Lilly" ....."Which one is that?" I ask with glee knowing that I would be able to describe it's flourishing beauty.

"The one in the guest bedroom" she responded.

GASP! "Fine" I lied as I walked to the bedroom to take a look. I continued the small talk about training the new guy as I peered around the door of the bedroom. There was the remains of the flower in question ..... limp as a noodle hanging down over the flower pot rather than the majestic deep green erect foliage of a couple weeks ago. I ended the conversation quickly saying that I was headed to bed. In reality, I was quickly determining which lawyer would be best for negotiating my divorce settlement.

I hit the internet for looking for SOMETHING about Peace Lilies (you wouldn't BELIEVE the things that show up on a Google search if you happen to misspell peace......but that's another story) Anyway, I did find some good information on one web sight and quickly put the "water-denied" flower into the soil-istic emergency room. That was Wednesday night and today it is finally standing erect. Now I just got to figure out how to turn it that deep rich green again!!! The flower is suppose to be a pale yellow......not the leaves!

I hope things are good in your world

Tuesday, June 7, 2005


Well today I spent the day in Woodsen county KS. Sitting on the eastern edge of the Flinthills, it has a mix of farmland covered with corn and beans as well as rolling tallgrass prairie. Yates Center is the county seat and the largest (by far) town in Woodsen county (it has about 1500 people) and is usually where I eat dinner when working that area.

Well the place I normally eat was "wall to wall", so I left to go find another place. While driving around the town square, I noticed a sign that said "Frannies, down home cooking". So I thought what the heck and stopped. I walked through the door where there was a large staircase disappearing around a corner on the second floor.

The menu was on a makeshift easel and today's special was beef and noodles. I continued up the stairs, around a corner and up another short flight of stairs. Here was a long hall and no apparent dining area, but I could hear people so I continued on. As I passed the first double doors with glass I noticed a large room of an old opera theater, still complete with a low stage at the far end.

Continuing on down the hall I finally found the door and entered into a small, maybe 10X10 room with two small tables, kitchen sink, stove, oven, an island full of pies, big bowl of vegetables, pot of mashed potatoes and a stewer of home made noodles. To my immediate left was the cash register, completely open to all who walked up. I almost turned around thinking I had entered the kitchen then realized I was in "Frannies". Through an adjourning door, I notice 6 more small tables, each surrounded by people eating.

A lady behind the island of food asked me, "You eating?"

"Yes ma'am," was my reply and she grabbed a plate from a stack of plates, then asked, "you want your beef and noodles on the side or over the potatoes?"

"Which ever is best" was my response.

She grabbed a spoonful of mashed potatoes and then took a ladle of home made noodles with large chunks beef floating around and poured all over the top. Reaching next to the bowl of carrots and peas, she dumped a big spoonful on the side of the plate then topped that off with a slice of buttered bread.

"Coffee or tea?", was her last question to which I responded "tea". With that, she handed me my meal and I begin to look for a place to sit. Walking through the door into the second room, I noticed a vacant chair at a table partially surrounded by the locals.

"Mind if I sit here?"

"Sure go ahead", they uttered between bites, conversation and sips of Frannies tea. I listened only half heartedly as they discussed business, family and vacation plans. My mind was racing back 100 years in time as I looked up at the gas light hanging from the ceiling, the high arched windows and the wooden floors.

I took my fork and grabbed a heaping helping of the mashed potato mix. One bite and I was hooked. Seasoned perfectly, each mouthful literally melted in my mouth followed closely with a bite of the vegetable mix and a sip of Frannies tea. Wonderful food, which seemed to disappear too quickly, even though very generous in portions.

There was no waitress, it was "help yourself" if you wanted more tea. Want some pie? Get your own and clean your own table when you're done.

As I got up to leave, I did eye the generous portions of home made pies, but decided to decline. I handed my plate and tea glass to the older lady washing dishes behind the small island. "You Fanny" I asked.

"Have been since ever I could remember" was her reply.

"How much do I owe you?" I asked

"You have pie?" she asked.

"Nope. But I did want it." I told her truthfully.

"Well we don't charge for wanting." was her retort, "One dollar and just stick it in the cash register. Make change if you need it."

"What keeps people from taking more than they should?" I asked

"You can trust people around here." she replied, never looking up from her dishwashing.

"My first time here" I said as I put my money in the cash register. "But it won't be my last. That was a good meal."

"You should have tried the pie." I heard her say as I walked out the door, "That's my best cooking."

And do you know what, I'll just bet she's right!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cat Shearing 1/2 over

Well Saturday morning the cat was finally trapped inside the garage, much to the dissatisfaction of PETA, LEFT/WING and the cat (Salem). Even though trapped in the garage, the capture of the cat was not complete. And thankfully the morning exercise routine has increased my stamina to where I could chase him around and not be totally winded.

Finally I was able to corner him under the back step with a few volunteers from the local REBA chapter. Thankfully, one of them was skinny enough to climb under the steps and grab Salem. It really was a horrific battle under those steps and the screams sent shivers up your spine. And the good news this morning is that ole Jake is out of intensive care after they give him a few pints of blood. We are still are waiting on a total number of stitches it took to sew him back together, but you got to give him credit, he held on to Salem while we drug him out from under the steps by his feet (Jake not the cat).

And after getting all dressed in my protective gear I went to work shearing the cat. I reckon I got him about half done but it was so hot yesterday that I had them open the garage door to get some air. Since I was sitting on Salem I didn't figure there was anyway he could escape. But when he seen the open garage door he took a bite out of my derrière and escaped through the open door

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Cat Shearing Day

Well the annual Southeast KS event approaches! The day that Cowboy (actually it is a week long event if he can't catch him) tries to shear his old Maine coon cat.......alias Salem!

PETA and NRA already have offices in town to report to their respective members the status of each day. This year for the first time we have several new groups ....... some of the new national groups are:
  • MACS (Mothers Against Cat Shearing) .... all indications are they are a militant group

  • LEFT (Lesbians for Ethical Feline Treatment) ..... on the list of the FBI's most dreaded terrorist groups

  • CHA (Coon Hunters Anonymous) .... each of whom hope they have a chance to hunt down the main coon in the event that he (Salem) escapes

  • REBA (Rednecks Enjoy Barbeque Association) .... they are providing lunch!

  • .....but the county sheriff has extra deputies on duty observing each groups every move. The county sheriff has ask for additional funds this year because he has to cover so many areas. (rumor even has it that the FBI has been called in to cover some of the groups)

    Stay tuned to your national news for up to the minute news on this event!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2005

    Saturday Night at KS Cowboy's house

    Time 7:15 PM Scenario: Just finishing supper

    Warden: "What are you going to do tonight?"

    KsCowboy: "I figured I would play on the computer tonight, chat, maybe work on scanning some more of those old pictures in."

    Warden: "Well tomorrow the weather is suppose to be fairly nice, if we would both work on cleaning the house up, vacuuming, doing laundry and folding clothes tonight, then maybe we could go drive around the lake or something tomorrow."

    KsCowboy: "OK" (One should never enter into an agreement that hasn't been read over by your attorney.) I go to the computer room and shut down the computer least I be tempted and return to help clear off the table. The phone rings and the warden answers giving the sign that it's our youngest daughter calling. I continue cleaning off the table, putting the various left overs into the famous plastic bowls known as Tupperware.

    The warden has never missed a Tupperware party since our marriage in 1972. So we have all shapes and sizes of plastic bowls. This makes the task easy to select the right sized bowl for the selected left over. But here's the catch: you then have to find the right "burp" lid to that bowl. I have three small bowls of left overs and I begin to try to match the lids to each bowl. In the first 17 tries I find one match and quickly put that bowl into the refrigerator. I reach further back into the "Tupperware" drawer and retrieve the remaining 35 lids and begin the process of sort and match on the last two bowls.

    This procedure is very close to the old game of "concentration". Remembering which combination of bowl and lid have been tried is extremely important, but alas finally another match is found and that bowl also is quickly burped and tucked into the refrigerator.

    Time 7:42 PM Scenario: One bowl of tupperized leftovers and 57 lids strewn across the floor.

    The warden, still talking on phone to daughter, mouths that she doesn't have a lid anymore for that style bowl and hands me another bowl to retupperize the leftover. She points to lid on the floor then quickly returns to giving motherly advice to the daughter. The lid doesn't fit. I am not a statistician, but I do believe the chances of getting the lottery numbers correct are almost the same as selecting a correct Tupperware lid and matching bowl on one try.

    Time 7:58 PM Scenario: All leftovers tupperized, remaining 56 lids back in drawer, table cleaned off, stove clean, dishwasher ready to run....warden hangs up the phone.
    Warden "I'll put on another load of clothes and start the dyer, if you get the sheets off the beds."

    KsCowboy "OK" (refer to above statement concerning agreements and attorney)

    Time 8:02 PM Scenario: KsCowboy with arm load of sheets and Warden answering the ringing phone.

    Warden mouths that it is her sister Helen and that she didn't finish with the laundry.

    Now Helen is a wonderful sister-in-law who calls very seldom, but when she calls she does want to cover each event (in detail) that has happened in her life since the last call.

    KsCowboy empties dryer, loads the contents from the washer into dryer, starts both machines, carries the dry clothes to the guest bedroom to fold and fold and fold until the sound of the dryer buzzer is heard. The above procedure is repeated several times.

    Time 9:22 PM Scenario: Last load of clothes almost folded. Warden hangs up the phone and says "All we like is vacuuming the floors and remaking the beds. I'll do the beds, you do the floors."

    KsCowboy "OK" (reference the attorney statement again)

    Time 9:24 PM Scenario: Phone ringing, Warden answering.

    KsCowboy vacuums proudly with his Dyson "animal", under beds, into corners and completes the job in record time. Seeing the Warden is still on the phone, begins to make back up the bed with clean bedding.

    Time 10:10 PM Scenario: KsCowboy fixing the auto coffee for morning brewing, Warden hanging up phone.

    Warden "See how much faster things go when we work together?'

    Oh well.......that's life