Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Friday, March 24, 2006

Hunting Season

With my territory expanded because of the job changes, my lunches are now in unfamiliar cafés. Selections are made now, not based on known culinary practices, but rather on the mix of vehicles parked outside. I look for the local café with the most pickups that are equipped with cattle feeders and bale spears. I figure that if the food isn’t any good at least I can pick up a few names of local producers.

When walking into one of these places, I am often reminded of the old western movies of a gunslinger walking through the bat-wing door of the town saloon. All eyes turn to see who the stranger is. So I play the part as best I can.

Just inside the door I will stop, a stolid look on my face, survey each table and meet the eye contact of any who look my way. And the longer you stand there, the more that will turn and look. This little technique is used to establish the aura of “confidence” or “self-assurance”.

As you survey the room, you look for the table that is surrounded by the most hats, chaps and muddy boots. (It’s even better if they have a pair of wire pliers hanging off their belt.) If possible, you sit at that table or at least in close proximity so you can eaves-drop on the names and conversations. This technique has worked well for me to quickly establish relationships in a new area.

Yesterday, while in a new area of the Flinthills, I found one of them little outback cafes surrounded by 20 or more pickups fully equipped. I thought I had found the mother lode! When I walked in, the room was packed with people wearing the correct garb. And there was one chair left in the middle of the pack.

With all the John Wayne confidence I could muster, I played the part and strolled to that open chair. Conversations resumed and I cocked my ear to “infiltrate” the area locals.

Conversations seemed pretty normal at first, cattle prices, calving difficulties, pickup problems and other brags or disclaimers. Then the guy that was sitting a little to my right speaks out in a voice that demanded listening to, “Hey Jim, when does season open?”

Jim answered, “I think it opens next week, April 1st.”

I’m sitting there wondering what kind of season would open at this time of year, when a guy across the table speaks out. “Have you seen that one Frank got last year? He had it stuffed and sitting in his living room now. It’s over 6 feet tall!”

“Yeah, I seen it when he was skinning it” another chimed in. “And it must have weighed over 250 lbs.!”

Well my curiosity is about the overcome me. I am thinking of deer, elk, bear or maybe cougar. Finally, I can no longer hold back and ask, “What season are you talking about?”

The guy sitting across the table from me, looks right at me, and answers, “Feed salesman season? Have you ever seen one?”

Monday, March 20, 2006

Spring has Sprung?

Just after 12 noon today the sun will cross the equator and spring officially begins! (Vernal equinox) I’m dang sure glad because I am sitting here shivering with two pair of socks, a long sleeved shirt and the Wardens house coat on! And the forecast is for snow all the way through Thursday morning. High north winds and freezing temperatures. Sure sounds like spring to me!

The old timers always said, “If March comes in as a lamb, it’ll go out as a lion.” Well we set a record high temperature on March 1st. I walked around sweating all day, felt like summers full bore! Had to shed the long handles about mid morning! But it’s dang sure looking like the end of the month is going to set them the other way.

Always seemed strange to me that the Farmers Almanac could predict the weather a year in advance with amazing accuracy and the local weatherman had trouble hitting it just 24 hours in advance! (Sorry Arno. I know you just retired from NOAA and are tired of weatherman jokes. But there is a comment section at the bottom of this blog if you wish to defend your profession.)

Elsie Dwyer, (who was born in 1900 and long since left our midst), would have called this the “Equatorial storm”. She always kept up me up to date with the moon and “signs” as she called them. And a good bit of her predictions and forecast were right on the money. She would read the Farmers Almanac for the long range stuff and then make the more timely forecast based on her bodily aches and pains.

She told me how her dad had once used a local Indian medicine man to predict how hard the winter weather would be. The story went something like this: It had been a good spring and they had filled the barns with alfalfa hay, as had all the neighbors. As summer hay crops came along, they stacked the hay outside and were going to have extra to sell.

However, her dad decided to check with the medicine man to see how hard the winter was going to be before he would decide to sell anything. The medicine man told them it was going to be a tough winter. Her dad got kind of worried so he put up more hay and returned to the medicine man for a little more advice. Medicine man said it’s going to be a REAL tough winter. Her dad now worried and continued haying.

This informational forecasting and haying activity continued several times with the adjectives describing the harshness of winter increasing resulting in larger and larger hay piles. Finally her dad ask the medicine man just how he knew it was going to be such a harsh winter. The medicine man replied, “because the white man is putting up a lot of hay!”

Well, the short story is this. The way my ole body is aching and shivering this morning, I think I’ll dig my long handles out of the closet and put them back on for a couple weeks. I don’t even think I’ll ask the medicine man.


Saturday, March 18, 2006

Rain on the Roof

I was sitting here this morning drinking my coffee when I begin to hear the metallic ring of raindrops hitting one of the roof vent covers. It is a pleasurable sound for sure since we are in such desperate need of rain. But it also gets me to “remembering”.

When I was a kid, the farmhouse hadn’t been finished, meaning that the boy’s room didn’t have any sheet rock on the walls or ceiling. So you could look past the rafters, through the attic, straight up to the underside of the roof. It was great when it rained cause you could hear it loud and clear! There is just something about that “pitter-pat” on the roof that can loll you into the most satisfying sleep.

I would just snuggle down into that feather bed and listen. Maybe there would be an occasional crack from lightening or the roll of thunder. But the sounds would bring about pleasant dreams. Evan as a kid I realized that those gentle rains were a source of revitalizing one’s “inner-self”.

When a little older and living on the ranch in Kansas, on a rainy summer day I would sit out on the front porch. Just sit there listening to the rain fall through the leaves of the big elm tree that stood just off the edge of the porch. Now that could lift the burdens off a guy’s shoulder and give him time to reflect on his blessings.

Did you ever notice how rain muffles outside sounds such as a distant train, highway noise or airplanes flying over? Even the birds quite singing to listen I think. It seems in the same way to muffle the problems and worries that sink into our lives and take over our thoughts.

I have seen where they sell tapes of different sounds to help “soothe” or perhaps induce sleep. “Ocean Sounds” “Bird Calls” “Mystic River” etc. But I tell you, rain on a roof or rain on the leaves of trees will do it best! Something about rain just cleanses the soul.

I remember too, milking cows out in the barn during a rain. The rain hitting on that tin roof would just nearly sing to you. Each cow would come into the barn, dripping wet, so you would take a burlap feed sack and wipe off all you could. Then grab your milking stool, sit down at her flank with a bucket between your knees and start squeezing. That song produced by rain hitting that tin roof even relaxed the old cow so she milked easier.

BUT, that “song” was sort of like the mythical song the Sirens would use to lure the sailors to their demise on the rocks along the shore. Eventually she would take a relaxed “swat of the tail” and wrap that coarse haired, wet, mud-filled (and other things) tail switch right up beside your head and bring you back to reality!

Oh well, at least this morning, I am going to sit here, listen to that little metallic ring of the roof vent and enjoy my coffee.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Tonight I went to watch a movie on TV, turned it on and could hardly see through the sticky handprints on the screen. Seems they are left over from when the grandsons visited a couple of weeks ago. Give a toddler a chocolate chip cookie and they can put more handprints on things than you can clean in a month! But that got me to thinking, not about cleaning the TV screen, but about fingerprints.

Fingerprints have been used by law enforcement agencies for years now. Many convictions have been made on criminals because of the fingerprints that have been left behind at the scene of the crime. I am told they use extreme diligence in working a crime scene to get evidence of who was involved. (Now I am no FBI agent, but I could tell real easy whose prints were on my TV screen!)

Also I am told that on one of the greatest paintings of all times, a close examination can reveal the painters fingerprints caught in the paint as he worked to make each brush stroke in a proper manner. Now, that would be conjecture of course, since the artist is long since dead. (Probably was fingerprints from some redneck like me who walked up and said “Is that paint still wet?”)

But, have you ever considered the fingerprints you’ve left on someone’s heart? Could it have been used as evidence to a crime? Or would they have been interesting part of a masterpiece seen throughout the ages?