Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Traveling with the Warden

It’s always nice to go on a vacation, get away from the routines of a “normal” day and visit family. I wish that they would hurry up and invent one of those transporter things like they have on Star Trek, you know where they can beam you from place to place. But even if we had one of those, I am sure the Warden would forget something and we get “beamer-lag” from return trips to get something the Warden forgot.

The drive to Texas is about 10 hours (based on the average number of return trips to get hairbrushes, nightgowns, shoes or any other left behind object and stops along the way). Our normal Texas trip goes something like this: As we approach the car, I ask, “Can you think of anything we forgot?” Her sleepy reply is always “I don’t think so.”

Mile marker 3: Warden “Wait, I forgot my hair dryer!” Over the years and many return trips, we have carved out of the bar ditch an easy turn around spot here so the return trip is made and we are quickly back on the road again.

Mile marker 35: I mention that I need a cup of coffee to help keep my eyes open. The Warden sleepily mumbles she would like one also. I ask, “Do you need to use the restroom while we are here?” The Warden says no. I make the stop, retrieve the cups of coffee and we are back on the road.

Mile marker 37: “I need to go to the restroom.”

“What!” I ask with a little too much emphasis. “I just asked you two miles back!”

“Well I have had some coffee!” she insists.

“You’ve had two sips!” is my emphatic retort. She says nothing, but the look I receive says volumes.

(This scenario is repeated at mile markers 96, 143, 260, 320 and 412 with the only changes being the liquid that was purchased.)

Along about noon, we decide it’s time to look for a place to eat dinner. Passing through one of the burgs (which are few and far between) along the route we spot the “Red Rooster Restaurant” and decide we shall eat there. There are a few cars around it, so our assumption is that this is at least frequented by the natives and must have reasonably good vittles. However, I do notice as we approach the door, that 5 of the 6 cars have out of state license tags on them. The second clue to leave should have been the Christmas tree still standing in the corner. But we go ahead and select our table away from the door and the blast furnace heat of the outside.

Apparently the Warden is getting the same vibes I am because she leans over and states, “Well at least it is clean.” Just as she says that, the waitress (who can’t be over 14) brings us menus and ice water, then awaits our order. Now folks, I am a redneck and proud of it. I do not look down my nose at any man (or woman) because of their creed, color or clothing. But this little girl makes me look and sound like I am spit polished and cultured!

Well we did go ahead and eat dinner (or at least part of it) there. And so far have not succumbed to ptomaine, hepatitis or typhoid. However, if you are traveling along highway 277 from Wichita Falls to Abilene and spot the Red Rooster Restaurant, my advice is to keep traveling!

Stay tuned, there is always the return trip!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Let me tell you about my Dad

I have often spoken of Cowboys being my heroes as I was growing up and how they (whether fictional or real) had influenced my life. But I want to tell you about the man who had the greatest single influence on my life. Let me tell you a little bit about my Dad.

My dad taught me personal responsibility. If you took a job, do the work. Don’t do it in a haphazard way, do your best. If you made a mistake, own up to it. Don’t lay it off on someone else. If you owed a debt, pay it. Don’t expect someone else to cover for you.

Another thing my Dad taught me, was not to worry, either fix it or forget it. I’ve never seen the man “worry”. Oh yeah, I’ve seen him “fret and stew” over a few things and how he was going to handle it. Then I’ve seen him shoulder the problem and fix it or he’d let nature run its course and forget about it.

He taught me the importance of money. It wasn’t important about the amount you had in the bank. But it was important what you did with the amount you had there. As a family, some would have called us poor but we didn’t KNOW it. All of our “needs” were far more than met.

Dad was the smartest man I ever knew. No, he wasn’t a Rhodes Scholar nor did he have a degree from Harvard, he had that “common ole horse sense”. Now I have to admit here, there was a time in my teenage years that I wouldn’t have said that. But when I left home and got off on my own, I found out how right he had been.

Dad taught me about a handshake. Truly one of the greatest lessons I have learned in life. A handshake will tell you the measure of a man. If you can’t shake a man’s hand with respect, then don’t shake his hand.

Dad taught me about pride. Not the pride of the “high and mighty” but to take pride in who you are and what you believe in. You’re reputation is your greatest asset.

Now keep in mind that every time I said “Dad taught”, he didn’t set down with pencil and paper or a book to teach me a lesson. He taught me by being a living example in all these area’s and more. Thanks Dad for being the living lesson and example.

My Dad is the greatest of all my “heroes”. Happy Father’s day Dad.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Cowboys Are Still Heroes

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go observe a “calf dragging” in Oklahoma. That’s what they call cattle processing locally there even though it does sound a little rough in today’s society. And in the dusty conditions yesterday, even the pictures appear that the cattle are being jostled around excessively, when in reality, they were being handled as easy as possible during the actual processing.

I took along my camera to capture some of the events. I was hoping to capture some such as a cowboy throwing “the perfect loop”, some cowboy getting run over by a runaway calf or some other funny happening. I also had hopes of getting a few that would provoke some thought. So when going through the pictures last night I found one that really stood out to me.

A few months back, I wrote a blog called Cowboys and Heroes where I told of how I had always looked up to cowboys. I mentioned down in the story of some “real” cowboys and cattleman that had affected my life as a young adult. And the older I get, the more value I place on that time of learning, the wisdom they shared and the laughs caused by their stories.

This picture, showing the backs of two cowboys, shows to me the contrast of “those with experience” and “those wishing to gain experience”. I know J. B. Bowman pretty well and have tremendous admiration for the man. The youngster (whose name I do not know) can be seen in the background in several pictures doing his assigned job.

J. B. has spent most of his 72 years in the ranching areas of southern KS and northern OK and still puts in a day’s work that most half his age couldn’t. He has done every associated job from fixing fence to selling the fattened cattle. He has made money and he has lost money. And yesterday he told me his reflexes just weren’t quite quick enough to “tail down” a calf. Then said with a grin, “I’ll leave that to the younger ones, even though I still can.”

And I also had some admiration for this youngster. Here was a youngster who wasn’t sitting in the house on a Saturday morning, watching cartoons or playing video games. He was up at daybreak anticipating a day filled with “working cattle”.

It really bothers me to hear people talking about this “new generation” in an all-encompassing way, saying they are lazy and incompetent. Some are, but my belief is that, by in large, they will find some of the answers to the problems we are facing today.

This picture portrays to me the dreams of youth combined with the experience of maturity; the respect for the elder by the youth, the acquiesce for the youth by the elder.