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

Monday, December 24, 2007

T'was the night before ......

T'was the night before Christmas,
or maybe it twasn't,
For it's bearing on this story,
matter it doesn't!
For each family reunion,
the gathering of the hoard,
There's just one thing,
that gets my gourd!
The Warden cleans the house
inside and out,
Until everything is spotless
there is no doubt!
"Why?" I ask
"You know it won't last!"
"Don't you remember,
what happened in the past?"
"Quite your complaining
and grab a broom"
"When your done there,
there's one more room!"
And if that isn't enough,
we must feed the brood.
To feed that bunch,
takes a ton of food!
A side of beef,
an acre of potatoes.
And don't forget,
a bushel of tomatoes!
Two days of cooking,
the Warden finally sighs,
But keeps watching me,
with wary eyes.
"Get your finger out of there,
that's for tomorrow!"
So I hang my head,
and walk away in sorrow.
The day finally comes,
with all it's clatter,
The saying of grace,
and passing the platter.
Glasses turn over,
spilling to the floor.
Even mashed potatoes
are found stuck to the door.
Dinner now over,
nothing left to devour,
Plates licked clean
not even enough to sour!
Then like a tornado,
a storm that looms,
The devastation now spreads
to the other rooms.
Bristle blocks, toy trucks,
dolls and so much more,
These are found strewn
all over the floor.
Naps are attempted,
but never attained.
It would be simpler,
to keep an atomic blast contained.
The aroma from the kitchen,
the Wardens cornbread and stew,
Now replaced by the smell
of diapers and hinny wipes too.
The day finally ends,
the mayhem completed.
We stand at the backdoor,
hugs, kisses and I love you's repeated.
I extend my hand
and give a last wave,
Wondering in my mind
if the house we can save.
The Warden gives a wink,
and I can read her mind,
For she and I
are of a similar kind.
Here I must brag,
I must be bold,
We wouldn't trade that day,
for all the world's gold.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My Last Blog and Testament

Well folks I just thought I had a cold, that is till I read The Drudge Report this morning!  It quoted a Washington Post article entitled ....
"Virus Starts Like a Cold But Can Turn Into a Killer"
Now naturally I had to read THAT one ... seeing as how my well being might be in jeopardy!
There they quoted an expert in infectious diseases, a David N. Gilbert (now it doesn't mention him being a doctor .... but I assume he is ... or possibly a local quack ... but none the less).  He had noticed an unusual number of patients, "including young, vigorous adults" were coming down with pneumonia. 
The article went on to quote Gilbert ..."What was so striking was to see patients who were otherwise healthy be just devastated," Gilbert said. Within a day or two of developing a cough and high fever, some were so sick they would arrive at the emergency room gasping for air.  My symptoms exactly!  (well except for the emergency room)  When I woke the Warden this morning to tell her I was sick .... she said, "take a couple aspirin and wake me in the morning".  She has a terrible bedside manner.
As I read more of the article it stated, "1,035 Americans in four states have been infected so far this year by the virus".  That number has increased to 1,036 because there is no doubt in MY mind that I got it!
Then the article quoted a CDC disease investigator and said, "What people need to understand is that there is a virus out there that can make you very, very sick," Su said.  (No S*** Sherlock!) "If you have a bad cold and your symptoms keep getting worse, go see your doctor. (This man is an utter genius!) This is nothing to be necessarily alarmed about." (Then why the article?) 
The article even quoted a survivor.  "At first I thought it was just the flu," Spencer said. "But then it was the worst feeling I ever had. I felt so miserable. I really felt like I was dying."  Yep, that's my symptoms!  And he spent 8 weeks in the hospital with it.  I better call Fred and ask for the day off!
The article concluded,  "Are we going to have another huge outbreak, or will it disappear?" Gilbert said. "We just don't know."  Well I'm sure glad he cleared that up for me!
So if in the next few days you read of my demise, you can tell the Warden she should have been more sympathetic to me because I had the "adenovirus".

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Energy Dependent

This morning I got up at my usual 3 AM.  I knew it was going to be a good day.  I walked to the kitchen and started my coffee perking (or dripping or what ever they do these days), then walked to the man lair.  I started my computer and listened to the hum of the hard drive as Windows Vista began to load. 
I could hear the rain dripping off the roof as the first winter storm of the season blew outside.  "HA HA" I think to myself, no outside work today!  A whole day in the man lair!  The perfect Saturday!
Poof!  The lights went out!  It was so dark it was like being in a cave!  I sat for maybe a minute before the lights came back on.  It's this way every year ... the first storm will always find all the weak links in the rural electrical grid. 
I knew that I would need to restart the coffee and reset the clocks, so I set about that task; microwave, stove, TV, video tape player and finally the coffee maker (I didn't realize that we had so many clocks!)
I walked back to the man lair and hit the power button on the computer.  Whir.  Blink blink. 
Poof!  Out they went again!  So I sat patiently for maybe 5 minutes .. nothing.  Well I finally decided to go find a flashlight.  Now finding a flashlight in the dark is like looking for your glasses when you need them to see anyway!
I groped all around the man lair and could find nothing.  Working my way to the door (and stubbing my toe a few times) I proceeded to find the kitchen.  There on the cabinet I was able to find one without first slicing my hand open on a sharp object.
Now I had light!  I shined the light on the coffee pot to see if there had been enough time for at least ONE cup.  No such luck.  So now what was I going to do to pass the time while I waited patiently for the electricity to come back on?  No computer.  No TV.  I couldn't even read a book by this flash light.  (Coal oil lanterns would have put out MUCH more light!) 
I located my PDA.  Since it ran on batteries, I decided to catch up on my notes from work the past week.   After finishing that (and still no electricity) I played the few games that are installed there till finally the batteries ran down.  I looked at my watch 5:05.
With no electricity for nearly 2 hours .... which of course means no heat ... it's beginning to get a little chilly.  OK I think to myself, the Stockman's cafe is on another utility company so they should have heat AND coffee by now.  I locate my wranglers and head into the garage.  I hit the button to raise the garage door. 
Sheesh, I think to myself ... but being the resourceful fellow that I am, I remember the pickup was left parked outside.  So I head out the front door.  Since the Warden is still sleeping I lock the front door behind me.  I reach into my pocket for the keys when it hits me ... they are hanging on the key rings by the door into the garage.
With the front door locked, I walk around the house to the back door, rain dripping off the brim of my hat.  Walking through the house I retrieve the pickup keys then return through the rain to the pickup.  I drive the 5 miles to the Stockman's cafe and see the welcome lights of the coffee shop.
Not many are there at this time of the morning, but as I walk in, Mr. Holt starts pouring me a big hot cup of coffee.  Just as he sits the cup down in front of me ... POOF the lights go out!
So much for a perfect Saturday!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Reflective mood

Sometimes a guy has to sit and reflect on life; what's really important; things or events that have shaped his/her status in life; dreams of things to come.  And here at Thanksgiving, those things are more apt to come to mind ..... even though they should continually be there.  This was unexpectedly emphasized to me the other night by the Warden.
We went out for supper and were doing the normal man/wife chat, you know the drill: what bills are we going to be able to pay; taxes are due; work problems; somebody died; what needs fixing around the house; the noise the car is making; etc etc. Then I noticed an older couple across the restaurant from us.
"Sug," I said, (I always say Sug when I want her to hold on to my every word) "Look at that older couple over there" nodding my head to the side so as not to stare.  "That'll be us in another 10 or 15 years."
I looked at the Warden thoughtfully and said, "They are probably reflecting on the years they have had or making plans for their remaining years."
"Just think of the changes they have seen in their lives.  The dreams that have come to fruition.  The plans that became unattainable or unimportant."  I continued with my reflection, "they've probably seen a world of change since they started out; social changes, political changes, technological changes."
"When their kids were born, they probably didn't worry as much about stuff as people have to now"  I resumed after a short pause.  "They've probably watched their kids grow up and leave the nest to start their own families.  They probably don't have a real worry anymore."
I ended my observation with a firm tone.  "They're probably just enjoying their station in life now, going over how things have come together for them and all their blessings.  They've got it made!  Not a worry in the world!" 
"Dear," the Warden said as she took another bite of her supper, "you best clean your glasses and take another look.  That wall across the restaurant is a mirror and you are looking at us."
nuff said

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A rare opportunity

Well as many of you know, the Warden and I undertook some remodeling this past few months.  What started out as a very simple suggestion ended up as a major undertaking.  But with the end at least in sight .. the finished product does enhance the needs of our growing family, especially during a family gathering.  We plan to put it to use this next week when kids, family and friends all gather around the turkey and dressing.  At last report, there is suppose to be 22 here for dinner!  (sure hope the Warden has enough turkey!)
But one of the major improvements in the reconstruction phase, was the addition of the "Man Lair".  (that's lair not liar!)  As you well know, I lost my "office" in the expansion phase of the living-room and was destined to a corner nook there.  However I stood my ground (ok, so I begged, pleaded and groveled .. but it still worked) and took over the Warden's craft room.
Once inside the steel reinforced door, (which requires voice recognition, retina scans and finger prints to open) the room is filled with study books of all kinds, scanners, 2 printers and 3 computers all hooked together on a wireless network with an open end to the world wide web via a cable modem.  (click here for a rare opportunity to view inside)  My new Toshiba laptop (with Home Vista) has an additional 22 inch widescreen monitor (where I can now blow-up things enough for me to actually read!)  This bunker has been well designed to help promote digital creativity (as well as a hideout when the Warden has something for me to do!)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I had a thought

This all started back in April and sounded simple at the time.  The Warden was standing in the south door of my spacious computer room, looking at the north wall which adjoined the living room.  "I had a thought."she said, then asked "Can we move that wall in by 4 feet? And close that north door?  It would add greatly to the size of the living room for family gatherings."
I quickly surveyed the room with a wary eye.  "Well we would have to move your desk and computer out, but it would work."  I responded, beginning to plan for a smaller, yet ALL MINE, private retreat.  "But I don't know how much that would cost" I added as my frugality took over my dreams of my own personal "man lair".
"I'll find a carpenter to come look at it and give us an estimate" she said as she left the room.
I said "OK."   An open ended agreement is never a good idea.
One evening that week she said the carpenter had been by to give her a bid, "The bid was so cheap, that I had a thought."  She continued "I asked him if he could also find time to put down some laminate flooring in the kitchen and dining area while he is here."
The bid wasn't bad for the two projects, so I said "OK."   This is where I should have retained a lawyer and written up a contract.
A few days later over supper, the Warden said, "I had a thought.  We could remove that fireplace and have the carpenter fix the wall at the same time."
Again I answered, "OK."  (reference here back to the lawyer contract statement)
I will shorten the story by a few pages and forget more details to the project planning.  The end result is that we have removed an unused fireplace, taken out the carpet in the dining area, taken out a bar, added cabinets for a pantry on the west wall, inserted 12 feet of new cabinets on the east wall, added a floating kitchen island, a new dishwasher, a trash compactor, new kitchen counter tops and wall to wall walnut laminate flooring with a 30 year warranty against scratches!
Wait you might ask, what happened to your computer room wall? 
There are now NO WALLS in my ex-computer room, making the living room very spacious.  Spacious enough for a new couch, two new recliners, one new straight back chair, a corner (triangle shaped) desk, two hanging lamps for reading and a 42" HD flat panel LCD TV (which I was able to negotiate in.)
But wait!  (as they say on those TV commercials)  That's not all!  We are presently waiting on an electrician to come add a new circuit to the master bath and bedroom.  There we have removed one of the two entrance doors to the bedroom and are adding a new vanity and cabinets to the master bath.
Oh!  And I almost forgot!  The roofers will be here in October to put on the new roofing with those 30 year gray Heritage shingles!
You might be wondering by now where my computer space ended up.  I will soon be sharing the Warden's "craft" room!  Sitting there on my computer amid the crochet thread, scrap-booking material and potted plant fertilizer.
I really must sign off now and start looking for the name of a good lawyer, the Warden just walked by and said, "I had a thought...."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

August is just not my month

Last year in August was my first time in a hospital gown. (August 2006)  Today I donned one again.  And it even started last year on a follow-up call for my surgery ... supposedly as an office call to remove some "skin lesions" (what us Rednecks call moles).  To make a long story short, what was suppose to be just a long office call to remove them, ended up as two office calls and a surgical hospital gown! 
This time I was set though, I started taking names so I could haunt the nurses if I didn't survive the surgery!
The first nurse I met was Heather.  Nice looking young lady and I ask how long she had been a nurse here.  "Actually I work in another area of the hospital, I'm just down on this wing as a student." she replied as she handed me the famous bottomless, one size fits all, hospital gown.
"What's this for?" I said, holding up the gown.  "The skin lesions are here on my head!"  I added pointing to each of them, wanting to make sure THEY KNEW which lumps of skin they were to remove.
"You have to be prepped for any procedure in the OR.  Now put it on" she demanded.
"So you are just learning the ropes on the surgical wing?" I said, hoping to befriend this nurse with small talk.
"I am in "Vein Therapy" she relied, "I'll be putting in your IV when I get back."  With that, she headed out the door.
BIG RED FLAG!  Nurse ... Student ... Needle ... Vein ... Me ... IV ... MINE! 
"Oh" I gasped as my heart rate went from 65 to 115 beats per minute.
Heather returned with Susan in tow dragging the tripod with it's needles, hanging bag and tubes.  Heather walked to my right side and Susan to the left. 
"I assume you are her instructor?" I asked Susan and received a nod of the head. 
"And I assume you graduated top in your class?" I inquired needing more reassurance for the coming experiment, receiving another not-quite-so-convincing nod.
"Where did you go to class?" I questioned, still needing more reassurance.
"KSWCF" was her answer.
"I never heard of that.  Where is it?"
"Kansas State Women's Correctional Facility at Hutchinson" she said with a slight smile.  "Nurse shortage.  You can get a job anywhere these days."
I started to run but she grabbed my left arm and Heather my right and started poking.  After several attempts and no blood (at least in the needle) we changed hands!  Several more attempts there, same results!  So we moved up the arm and finally hit pay-dirt but by this time I have little blood soaked cotton balls and tape covering my hands.
"Heather," I sobbed, "I'm sure not giving you an A plus."
But with mission accomplished, they "high five" each other and head out of the room.
Soon the door opens and the familiar "ladies in green" show up to take me down the hall.  The head one starts telling me of the sedation procedure and surgical procedure that will be involved.  She assures me that the doctor does an excellent job but then they both snickered.
"How long will I be out?" I ask.
"Well this is a fairly mild sedative.  You really won't be very out of it.  But you won't remember much when you come out of it" was her reply.
"So what you're telling me is that I'll still be in pain .... I just won't remember it?"
"Yeah.  Pretty much."
Well I can't recall much after that, it's all a little fuzzy.  But I do remember walking out to the car with Heather.  As we walked through the lobby, there was a guy giving my stitch covered, Frankenstein looking head a serious look.  Heather, seeing his concerned look, just pointed at me and said "Lobotomy."
Next August I am avoiding the hospital for a vacation spot somewhere!
PS  the facts here might be slightly skewed since the sedation did play havoc with my already diminishing memory

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The amazing brain

Yesterday, on the return trip from Columbia, MO, I marveled at functionality of the brain.  While passing a line of trucks at 70 mph on I-70, the one I was beside decided to merge into my lane.  The brain had to receive the information through the eyes, process the data, decide on the best approach to prevent an accident and carry out the resolution. 
Literally thousands of bodily functions were logically taking place due to this stimulus.  In a few milliseconds, I steered to the left just to the edge of the pavement, checked the rearview mirror for secondary threats, brake and hit the horn.  My brain was also processing the grass median for objects to avoid if I had to go into it.  My heart rate increased along with my respiration and both my hands gripped the steering wheel.  I noticed at the same time the Warden's hands reaching for the dashboard as she braced for impact, the flushed face and the gasp of fear.  All people have a logical path to avoid dangerous situations.
This might be called the "fear and flight" scenario.  Processes born out of experience, training and the need for natural preservation.  Next came the "anger and fight" scenario when the threat was over but it was short lived due to the fact I couldn't get my hands around that truck drivers neck, so I settled for a few chosen words.
Much later and almost home we waited beside a flagman on a two lane highway as a utility truck setup a new telephone pole beside the road.  The Warden and I watched as the various specialty and bucket trucks put men dangerously close to the live lines.  My brain was processing the immediate danger to the linemen who were working right beside high voltage electrical lines.
Then the Warden, who was watching as intently as I, said, "Scholar bowl."
My brain went into an immediate reboot sequence.  "Huh?"
"Watching that made me remember that I had some scholar bowl stuff to finish before school starts" she said matter-of-factly.
My brain was still trying to reboot. "How did that remind you of scholar bowl?"  I asked, hoping for some starting reference in my reboot process.
"The telephone pole made me think of phone.  Phone made me think of megaphone.  Megaphone -cheerleader.  Cheerleader-school.  School-scholar bowl!"  She answered as if everyone could follow the logical path.
I sat gripping the steering wheel, staring at the flagman who was frantically waving me to move on, my foot pushing on the brake and my brain somewhere between overload and shutdown.
I guess all brains don't work quite the same out side the danger zone.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

A house full of kids

Yesterday I made a flying roundtrip to Columbia, MO to pick up Ruth and my newest granddaughter Tess (who are going to spend a weeklong vacation with us). Upon our return, we found the rest of the clan waiting, a welcome home and a house full of kids. So I beg of you at this time (as Paul did the Corinthian church), let me "do a little bragging". As I wrote in an earlier brag blog, let me tell you about my favorite grandkid.
The oldest and boldest.

Andrew and Faith (both 5 going on 25), being the oldest siblings of their respective clans, have most of the answers to the worlds problems. They of course can make these decisions based on their extensive life experiences. Their only need of the adult world is for the adult to reach something on the top shelf or to drive since they don't have their license yet..
Double trouble.

Aaron and Luke, (both 2) are constantly looking for something to get into.  The family can be sitting and visiting when the question arises, "Where's Luke?"  This is immediately followed by, "Where's Aaron?" (those two questions are interchangeable in order). Then there is an immediate flurry of activity, very similar to the flush of a covey of quail, as everyone scatters to find where the two are and what they are up to.
Weesome threesome.

Adah, Micah and Tess (10 months to 2 months) are of course still in the limelight with snuggles, coos and dirty diapers.  In each case, personalities are beginning to emerge.  I theorize them this way; Adah, wide-eyed and observant as if to say "Mama, did you see what they did?"  Micah, smiling and always looking around to see where the others are, "It's OK mom, I survived the last time!"  And Tess who lives the furthest from the group, quiet with wondering eyes, "Mom, are you sure I am kin to them?"
My oldest grandson Jacob (17) was unavailable, so he gets to escape this blogging!
Dennis (and proud Pappy)
PS click on the images and they will appear larger. Use the "back" button to return to the blog.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Update ....

Well I must update my previous early morning blog-post since going to the Stockman's Cafe for some coffee.  Skip (who records daily rainfall for the local weather forecasters in Wichita) said that the "official" for Cambridge KS this past week would be over 12 inches ... over 23 inches for the month of June ..... and over 43 inches for April, May and June.  I reckon it's making up for last year.

And the weather forecast is .......

RAIN AGAIN ....... 80% on Saturday and 50% on Sunday
Well one thing about Kansas, we have great averages.  Last summer was one of the hottest and driest on record .... so far this summer, one of the wettest and coolest.  But take a governmental style statistical average .... we're perfect!
Yesterday, in my "feedsales" adventures, I had to pick and choose which road I took because of high water.  Not only the country gravel roads but also some major KS and US highways.  Low lying areas looked like lakes.  Those farmers with good bottomland for crops were wishing they had upland this year.
One rancher I was talking to, had tried to swath some hay in a low area a couple days back.  The rains came and the "babbling brook" became a "raging river" which consequentially took his windrows of hay with it.  The once straight windrows of fluffy hay were now hanging from fences and the not so low branches of trees that lined the creek.   I really didn't know what to say with such a crop loss but in the optimistic view of any rancher/farmer he replied.  "I am just hanging my hay out to dry!"
Now our average rainfall in this area is 33-35 inches a year.  That's not quite 3 inches per month.  And this year ..... just in June and not counting April and May ... (as recorded by the USGS in Elk Falls KS) we have received over 16 inches .... 10 of which came the last 7 days.  (click here if you don't believe me)
But the spirit of the KS rancher/farmer remains undaunted.  As one rancher put it, "I would much rather put in water gaps than haul water!"
However, for any who maybe reading this, if you know of a good supply of gopher wood give me a call just in case it KEEPS raining.
PS How long is a cubit?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Cordless or clueless?

This last car the Warden and I purchased has keyless entry.  Now I think this is a marvelous invention!  Not only does it lock and unlock your car but also beeps the horn so you can find your car in a Wal-Mart parking lot!!  I think this technology should be added to such things as cordless phones and TV remotes!
Around the KSCowboy household there are 4 cordless phones and a TV remote (we are a technologically affluent household).  However this technology may also cause the break-up of a 35 year old marriage!!!  Let me explain.  Here is how a "typical" day happens:
6:45 AM I head out the door as the Warden sips her coffee in her easy chair.  I hand her the TV remote so she can watch the news as she relaxes.
7:00  She decides to empty the dish washer and as she is putting up the dishes, the phone rings.  The Warden answers the cordless kitchen phone and talks with her Peoria daughter as she puts the dishes in the cabinet.  Her conversation ends and she leaves the phone in the cabinet with the coffee cups.  Finished with the dishes, she returns to her easy chair for a last cup of coffee and the last segments of Fox and Friends.
7:15  the cordless phone beside her chair rings.  The Warden grabs the remote, punches the off button and proceeds with the conversation.  Its her oldest daughter who wants her to go to town with her.  The Warden says she can be at her house by 8 AM and heads to the bathroom.  She lays the TV remote in the linen closet as she grabs a towel still making plans with her daughter on the cordless phone.  Plans all made, she lays the cordless phone on the back of the commode as she steps into the shower.
7:30  the cordless phone again rings as the Warden dries her hair.  Quickly she grabs the cordless phone by the bed and discusses the days plan with her middle daughter, all the while primping in the mirror.  The days plans all discussed, the Warden lays the phone down in the dresser drawer as she grabs a pair of socks.
7:45  I call just as the Warden is walking through the living room.  She quickly picks up the cordless phone by my easy chair as she heads through the house.  I tell her I will be home around 4:30 because of a canceled meeting.  She tells me she is meeting Becky at 8 and that she is running behind.  She will be home around 5 and will call to tell me what to take out for supper.  She lays the cordless phone on the dryer as she heads out the back door.
4:15 PM I enter the house, glad to be home and ready to relax in my easy chair and watch Home Improvement which starts at 4:30.  I look for the remote by her chair.  A little miffed, I search under her chair, between the cushions, in the trash can by her chair, in the cushions of the couch, under the couch and all around the remainder of the living room.   
4:45 Steaming by now, I decide I'll just forget TV.  I walk into the office and the phone rings.  I walk to my easy chair to grab the phone.  Nothing.  I cross the room to get the one by her chair.  Nothing.  By now the phone has rang four times and I make a mad dash for the bedroom phone.  Nothing.  The phone now stops ringing and I figure the voice mail will pick up any needed message.  I return to the office, prop up my feet on the desk and see if I have any email to read.
5:00  the phone again starts ringing and I head into the bedroom rechecking each phone-less cradle, scanning dresser tops, into the living room scanning every available surface big enough to lay a phone on and finally run for the kitchen to get the last phone.  Nothing.  Red-faced, I return to my office.
5:15 the Warden enters the office and with hands on hips says, "I've been trying to call, why didn't you answer the phone?  Now supper will be late!" ........ and it's down hill from there.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

My favorite grandkid

As many of you know, my family is very rapidly expanding.  I now have 8 grandkids (7 under the age of 5 1/2) 4 boys and 4 girls.  Now that's bragging rights in ANYONE'S eyes and I keep pictures on my PDA so that I can brag to anyone that feels they can challenge my rights as the most blessed man alive.
The other day I ran into a "granddad" with his grandson riding shotgun in his feed pickup.  I of course had to brag on my newest arrivals.  He too had several but then went to bragging that this one was his favorite because he was someday going to take over the family ranch.   Then he asked me a very odd question, "Which one is your favorite?"
Well now I had to stop and think about that for a few seconds.  Then starting with grandson number one I proceeded through my digital photo album to granddaughter number 8 explaining why each was my favorite.  My reasons include such descriptive adjectives as smiles, cuddling, orneriness, twinkling eyes, maturity, personality, curiosity and the list goes on.
"Yeah" he said, "but one will win your heart."
As I drove away, I was sadden to think of "limited love".  That love could be metered out or that a heart only had so much love and once it was "used up" there was no more.
Later that day I ran into another "granddad".   Anytime you get two granddads together, there is always something to talk about, so we exchanged our mutual brags.  I then shared with him the story from my former meeting.
He too shook his head in disbelief and said, "I'm sure glad I have a heart like the jar of flour and jug of oil that the widow of Zarephath had.  But then you have to believe in the Lord for it to work." 
(1 Kings 17:14-16)
As I left that grandpa I had a much better feeling for the day and knew that, even though I am the most blessed man in the world, there are some that are close seconds.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

35 years today

Last week in my excursions around the country, I was talking to a young cowboy who mentioned he and his wife were going to celebrate their second anniversary this coming Sunday.  When I mentioned that Sunday was also my anniversary, he asked what the secret was to a long marriage.  Well I didn't have an answer for him right off, so I gave him the address to this blog and said check it Sunday night.  So this post is primarily for him.  The rest of you who read this must understand it is similar to a "Dear Abby" column and a specific question.

First of all there must be agreements between you.  The Warden and I came to agreement long ago that whoever left first had to take the kids.  (I mean what good is the single life if you are toting around three kids?  You're still broke!)  So that worked for about the first 25 years and then we made a second agreement that whoever left first had to take the house mortgage and that's been working for the last ten.
Secondly you have to learn to say those three little words. "I was wrong" or "You were right".  These two phrases are interchangeable and should be used often.  Best results are received if you use the two phrases together, "I was wrong and you were right!"  However, never under any circumstances should you get the pronouns mixed up and say "you were wrong and I was right!"  The resulting mayhem is much worse than global warming .... actually might have some bearing on global warming because things are gonna get pretty hot!
Thirdly you have to learn to treat the wife as an equal.  You do this by learning to cook, clean house and do the dishes.  Now my expertise is breakfast but I have learned a few extras by watching Rachael Ray on the cooking channel and I got a few good cleaning tips from Hints to Heloise.
Also having a pet name for your spouse helps show affection and endearment.  As you have noticed I affectionately call my wife "the Warden". 
Last and not least, don't let the spark go out.
Remember why you married her and think of it often.
May 20, 1972

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day

At the Stockman's Cafe this past winter a discussion arose that stuck in my mind.  It was during a particularly cold time when calving season and bitter cold collided.  The discussion was about cows that are either "good mothers" or "bad mothers".  This of course played a tremendous role on the survival of the new born calf in the very bitter conditions.  Some cows will find a good sheltered draw out of the wind, have her calf with temperatures well below zero and save the calf.  She'll nuzzle, lick and moo at him until he gets up and nurses.  Some cows won't.
That got me thinking (which might scare some of you) about nature and mothers.  I once seen a hen take on a coyote to protect her chicks while the other hens scattered;  watched as some cats brought food back to the kittens while other cats stood at the bowl and meowed to be fed;  seen some sows build "nest" when they were getting ready to farrow while others laid in the mud to stay cool.  Some just have a natural "mothering" ability.
Now I know women don't like to be compared to hens or cats (and especially not cows and sows), but it's true, there are good mothers and bad mothers in the human race too.  All one needs to do is sit at a mall somewhere and watch for a few minutes, you'll see the difference quickly.  I was fortunate enough to be blessed with a good mom.
Mom taught me to laugh.  I can still see her start snickering when she would see or hear something funny.  And if the "funny" kept going she would break out in a full blown "ha ha".  Then she'd get red-faced and embarrassed and go to fanning her self.
Mom taught me to squirrel hunt.  We'd walk the woods after the leaves were off the trees and she'd point them out for me.  Then she'd tell me how to sight him and would give all sorts of encouragement especially if I missed.
Mom wasn't afraid of spanking us kids either.  As a matter of fact she gave me my last spanking when I was in junior high.  I still remember it quite well, don't remember exactly what I done, but do remember I KNEW I had it coming!!  A few times I remember Mom sending me to bed without any supper.  Then a couple hours later my older brother would show up with a piece of cake or a couple of cookies (Mom would never bring it herself because that would have been going against the punishment!)
Mom taught me hospitality.  Never was she inhospitable to anyone.  No matter who us kids or Dad would come dragging home, she'd make them feel like family.  And if they left hungry, it was their own fault cause she could cook.   Whether it was a picnic at Bolin Bridge or a family dinner with all the trimin's there was always room for one more.
Mom also taught me to sing.  She had a wonderful alto voice and us kids grew up on four part southern gospel music.  Some of her favorite hymns were written by Albert E Brumley who was sort of a shirt-tail relation.  His songs included I'll Fly Away, Did You Ever Go Sailing, If We Never Meet Again and many more.  There are a few songs I have trouble singing today because it opens the floodgates of memories.
Mom has gone home now, but the lessons she taught us will forever live within each of us kids and all that she met.  I truly was a blessed man to have a mother with natural "mothering" ability.
Addendum: Not only was I blessed with a great mother, but I was blessed with a wife who also had that natural mothering ability. And her daughters are following closely in her footsteps.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Last weekend the Warden and I went for a quick visit to Dad's house and thoroughly enjoyed the slower pace.  And I enjoyed some trips down memory lane with a visit to "the farm" where I grew up (although the house no longer stands) and a stop at Bolin Bridge where many a hot afternoon was spent.
The urban expansion in that area of the country however is phenomenal and does detract from the visual remembrances.  Old homesteads, with barns and chicken houses have been replaced with two story condominiums and cow pastures divided into multiple lots with 1/4 to 1/2 million dollar homes.  The traffic on the old two lane highway to the farm now rivals that of many metropolises but without the added security of traffic lights and multiple lanes.  That is until you turn off onto the rough dirt road the last leg of the trip to the farm.  The major change there is the street sign which now names the road.  What use to be "route 2" is now Fruitwood Drive.  I consider myself most fortunate to have grown up there before the urban sprawl.
Back then there was time to "cool off" in the cold water down at Bolin Bridge.  The water was clear and the bridge made a good diving platform and some one usually tied a rope up in a tree so you could swing out and do "cannon balls".  There was always a few old inner tubes to float around in and see who could flip the other out of theirs.   On occasion we would take a watermelon or two, juicy and red, for an afternoon snack and let the juice drip down on your belly as you ate it right off the rind.  And then after you were all sticky and drawing flies, you'd head back to the swimming hole to wash off the excess.
It seems to me there was always a passel of people there at any given time and if anybody drove by they'd stop and visit for a few minutes.  If you were eating, they'd stop and have a bite.  If we done chores early and went in the late afternoon, we'd have a weenie roast and maybe some soda pop's floating in a washtub with a chunk of ice to keep them cool (my favorite was a NeHi grape ... I wonder if they still even make those).  To top off the evening we'd have toasted marshmallows.  I'm living proof that high doses of salt and sugar won't kill a kid!
Then after the sun would go down and the mosquitoes begin to bite real good, some of the older kids would begin to tell "ghost stories" that would scare the dickens out of us younger kids.  I reckon today that would be against some rule or would cause some sort of psychosis or something, but we survived it.
Every time I drive by a "water park" these days, I think of Bolin Bridge, Blue Hole, Whitebluff, Adriens and all the other swimming holes we had.  I watch the kids playing and wonder if they will be able, when they get older, to look back in fondness as I do.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Chicken Little and Foxy Loxy

Do you remember the story of Chicken Little?  (A refresher here for those who may have forgotten how the story goes) ...  Chicken Little is eating lunch one day under a big oak tree.  During her lunch an acorn falls off the tree and hits her on the head.  She is convinced that the sky is falling and runs to tell her friends.  Most begin to believe her because she does have a bump on her head .. pure evidence that she has been hit from above.  There's Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Turkey Lurkey and many others who are wailing as much as she, about the sky falling.

Then along comes Foxy Loxy!  Now here's a character that uses the situation to gain control over the group and get his next lunch.  (OK, now in today's political correct world, I'm sure they have left out that last part ... might scare the kids!)  But anyway ..... the moral of the story is that Chicken Little whips the general population into a frenzy .... causing mass hysteria .... about something that isn't happening (or even if it WAS happening, they couldn't do anything about it!)  But as the hysteria builds ...... the populace is then controlled by some one who claims (for his own benefit) he has the answers.

 Now I ain't the crispiest cracker in the barrel, but it sure looks to me like that's what's happening these days with Global Warming and the speech "humans are causing it".  Now I'm not just saying this because we have had one of the coldest winters on record .... or record snowfall the 14th day of April .... look at the total evidence ... don't be Chicken Little!
And as far as Foxy Loxy .... well there are plenty so-called experts making millions off this travesty!
As a matter of fact, the other morning at the coffee shop, Bud said he was going to start selling carbon offsets.  He said he had a quarter section he as going to plant trees on to sell to those who felt guilty about their lifestyles and wanted to purchase carbon offsets and be carbon neutral.  Then he added "and if it stays this cold, I'll use the trees to sell firewood ... it's a win win for me!"

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Father's role

It's been a while since I posted a new blog, partially because I've been very busy the last six weeks and partially because I just haven't had an idea to write about.  So to those of you who wrote to the Warden thinking I was dead, no I am not (even though the Warden says I do smell that way).
At the writing of this, I am sitting on the couch at my baby daughters house waiting on coffee to perk (or what ever coffee's do these days).  The Warden and I decided to make a fast visit to see her before she "dominoes" with her first, sometime in later May.  And while visiting her, there is a chance that we may receive a call from her next older sister that she has dominoed in our absence with her third. For those of you who may have lost count, that will make 7 grandkids under the age of 5 1/2. 
Now I don't guess that qualifies me for a Nobel Peace prize or Academy Award of some kind, but it does make me an expert in birthing preparation stories!  And that is the part that has amazed me over the past 5 years.   Birthing has changed, the preparation for it and the father's role. 
When the Warden and I first got in the "family way" the Doctor said something like this:  "You're pregnant", "When contractions are 3 minutes apart, come to the hospital", "The baby comes out here."  The fathers duty was to sit in the waiting room, smoke cigars and high five those who were present when the nurse announced the arrival.  This was the "natural way" back in the 70's.
Back then the fatherly pre-birth bonding was limited to laying your hand on the distended stomach and feeling the baby move.  Now they listen to the heartbeat, watch the baby move around on the sonogram screen and carry sonogram pictures of the "soon-to-be" in their wallets. 
The new fathers are now expected to help get their wives in shape for birthing.  They wear tee-shirts with "coach" written across the chest, help in breathing techniques and tell their wives when it is time to switch stretching exercises.  (I bought my son-in-law a whistle to blow but the daughter said if he did blow it she'd make him eat it.  She's a lot like her mother!)
During last night's exercise routine, my daughter told us what muscles each stretching position worked on.  Now that's a little TMI to explain in your father's presence!  Fathers do NOT need to know about "Keagles".
There is one thing though that I have noticed that has gone unchanged over the years.  The new father's pride.  They still walk around with chest puffed out, buttons almost popping and act as though they planned the whole thing.  I hope that never changes.
There's one question though that I am too embarrassed to ask.  With all the changes to the father's role, do they still make babies the same way?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


Sometimes things happen that bring into memory something from the past.  This past weekend I was reminded of a lesson on chaos from a college class years ago.  The professor of that class made the statement, "chaos is essential to the universe". 
He defined chaos as "a property of some non-linear dynamic systems which exhibit sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This means that there are initial states which evolve within some finite time to states whose separation in one or more dimensions of state space depends, in an average sense, exponentially on their initial separation.  Such systems may still be completely deterministic in that any future state of the system depends only on the initial conditions and the equations describing the change of the system with time. It may, however, require arbitrarily high precision to actually calculate a future state to within some finite precision."
Well the redneck version of that is ... chaos is the power that forces an unpredictable outcome to a predictable set of circumstances.
He went on to use the equation of time (T) multiplied by speed (S) will equal distance (D) as proof that we have a predictable outcome.  (T x S = D)  But if you figure in the blowout of a tire (which would be chaos) then the distance was unpredictable.  Further examples of volcanoes, tsunamis and hurricanes were also used as forces of chaos. 
Hey the man was a genius!
He then went on to explain that even with chaos, events were somewhat predictable unless another chaotic event happened.  (I'm getting lost by this time and probably you are too, but bear with me.)  A tsunami's effect is fairly predictable if there is no other chaotic event such as a hurricane, volcano or other event happening at the same time.
You are probably asking "how does that figure into this blog?"
Well let's start with the equation pappy (P) times grandkids (GK) equals a chest swollen with pride (SC).  This is as you can see a very predictable outcome.  (P x GK = SC) 
HOWEVER if you enter in the chaos of "screaming at the top of your lungs" and "running throughout the house at breakneck speed" then the outcome equals pappy blowing his stack!  (Very similar here to a volcano erupting to relieve pressure within the earths crust.)
Now back to last weekend, after the Warden's birthday dinner, we had adjourned to the daughters house for cake and ice cream.  The grandkids were indeed totally experiencing the moment with shrills of joy, over turned chairs, running top speed throughout the house and pappy was on the brink of erupting.  Then in a flash, in the utter chaos, one of the little toots begin scratching and clawing his way into my lap.  He looked up with those big eyes, smiling widely and said, "How ya doing Pappy?"
Yes, I have to agree .... chaos is essential to the universe.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Pappy the Troll

The whole family was recently in Texas to attend the funeral of my father-in-law.  It was nice to get the whole family together even though it was for a sad occasion.  My family all roomed in the Ranch House motel where we have spent nights before on numerous more pleasant occasions such as Christmas and anniversaries with grandma and grandpa.
The two oldest daughters and their families always get adjoining rooms so the kids have a bigger running space than just one room.  This is both good and bad since it seems the little tykes can get a bigger head of steam built up with the greater distance to run.
The morning of the funeral, the daughters ask us to come "baby sit" the grands while all three of them practiced the songs they were to sing for their granddad's funeral.  That sounded easy enough so we went to their adjoining rooms while they searched out an empty, much quieter room to practice.  They had assured me that the outside door in the other room was dead bolted and chained so the kids couldn't "sneak out".  OK, no problem (I thought).
Well the noise level was just below sonic levels as the grands tried to burn off some energy.  I still have a hard time understanding how 4 kids can make that much noise!  The Warden and I looked at each other and silently worried if our family would be banned from ever attending any family functions again.  But anyway after pappy had enough, I set them down on the end of the bed to tell them a story of "Pappy the Troll" who carried a big belt and hated noise!
They listened intently as I described the belt and how it was used on real noisy children.  And went further to explain how quiet they should be at the family dinner and services in the afternoon.  Well now I was right proud of myself and my story since I hadn't raised my voice and the kids had taken it all in!
As soon as I had finished, I winked at the Warden in a show of male intellectual superiority.  I had headed off a potentially noisy afternoon.
The two oldest looked at each other and said how they had best stay away from Pappy.  Then they bolted off the bed with the younger ones in close pursuit and headed into the adjoining room quickly shutting the adjoining room door......the one without the doorknob on my side!  So here I set as the noise level increased in the other room......unable to open the door and with the outside door bolted and chained!
Each time I asked them to open the door, they hollered back that Pappy was a troll!  The Warden now stood there with arms folded and that "know it all look" on her face.  Finally the daughters returned and the kids opened the door for them as they promised the grands they would protect them from "Pappy the Troll". 
Then all the daughters took their mothers know-it-all stance and Becky said, "Next time Dad, we'll just lock them in a room when we leave!"

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fat Boys Don't Bounce

One thing about frigid temperatures and icy roads, people stay close to home.  That is except for dedicated feed salesman!  We see a unique opportunity in catching ranchers close to the heating stove after chores are done and cattle fed.  However it does bring about another set of difficulties, that being, keeping ones feet firmly on the ground!  And yesterday was no exception as I slowly made my way from one hard to catch prospect to another.
I was counting my blessings as I approached the home of a very hard to catch prospect and seen that his feed pickup was in the shed.  His twin rat terriers were as anxious as ever to bite at my ankles as I stepped from the car and began my "baby stepping" toward his back porch.  Normally with good footing I can kick the little ankle-biters off but with the ice underfoot this was not an option.  So I just dragged the little cusses along growling and holding on to my pant leg.
Very carefully holding on to the porch railing, I was able to rid myself of the two attached appendages.  Slowly I made my way up the ice covered steps to the back door.  I knocked loudly a couple times, eagerly awaiting his appearance so that I could get in out of the bone chilling wind.  But to my great disappointment, no one was there.
I turned and slowly made my way back to the ice covered steps of the porch rubbing my hands together in an attempt to warm them.  The two ankle biters were waiting patiently for me at the bottom step.  Fearing they might cause me to loose my footing (and knowing that the owner wasn't home), I let go of a stern bellow that sent them scurrying around behind the house and eased on down the steps.
I headed back across the yard totally disappointed that I had again missed an opportunity with this prospect.  So totally was I focused on planning my next call that I never realized the very slight slope in the yard two steps from my car door.  In the next instance I was suspended in mid air resembling the position of a magician's assistant as he passes a hoop to show there is no wires attached.
I landed so prone that my heels, butt, back and head hit at exactly the same time with a very audible WOOF!  This sound raised the attention of the ankle biters who rounded the corner of the house in a dead run.  My next memory is trying to determine which was the most important crisis; getting air back into my collapsed lungs, freezing to death only inches from my car, or the ankle biters who had discovered that my ear lobes were now down on their level.
Well as you can see by my relating this story that I did in deed survive.  But I am sure dreading going to the coffee shop this morning hobbling like a 100 year old man.  And there is no doubt the Band-Aids on my ear lobes will attract some attention.