Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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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"