Just rambling thoughts about anything that happens to be on my mind and that usually isn't much!
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Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas my way

As a young lad, 4th grade, I became disillusioned with Christmas.  It was my first year at a "city" school instead of the country school where I had been attending.   We had just returned from the Christmas break and each of us were bragging about what we had gotten.  I had gotten a Remington 22 squirrel rifle which had a 7 shot clip!

Mrs. Clower, seeing our enthusiasm, decided to have each kid stand in front of the class and tell about one thing they got for Christmas.  I think she thought that it would teach us a little about talking to a group.  And if we were talking about something we really liked it would be easier than "making up a speech". 
It didn't take much coaching to get started.  Many kids were holding up their hands to be selected.  Those of us that were a little more bashful held off until our names were called.  Jack Hudson was the only one that shook his head "no" when she called on him.  Mrs. Clower politely called another name and we went on down the list.
Now Jack was a real bashful kid.  He was a "country kid" and, like many of us, helped with chores before catching the bus to school and often his clothes showed it.  He was a slow reader and wasn't very good at math so he did everything he could to stay out of the limelight.
However Mrs. Clower came to the end of the list and everyone had been in front of the class, that is, except for Jack.  She called on him again and again he shook his head no.  Everyone in class then turned in their seats to look at Jack.  This udder defiance of Mrs. Clower was sure to rain down destruction and everyone wanted to watch the event.
Mrs. Clower then gave the "everyone has to take their turn" speech.  Jack just slide down a little more in his seat, his eyes focused on some imaginary spot on his desk.  He again shook his head no.  There was no rustle of paper or any whispering in the room.  The silence was deafening as everyone awaited Mrs. Clower's wrath.
Mrs. Clower then gave Jack the option of standing at his desk and telling his story.  Jack slid lower, his eyes still transfixed on the spot.  All eyes in the class danced back and forth between Jack and Mrs. Clower.  Jack never moved a muscle.
Mrs. Clower then rose from her chair, her eyes fixed on Jack and in one swoop grabbed the paddle from it's resting place on the window ledge.  She strode angrily back to Jack's seat and laid the paddle on his desk.  Jack didn't twitch.
"Mr. Hudson.  You will do as everyone else has done or you will suffer the consequence!" Her voice quivered with anger as she struggled to contain herself.
"Mrs. Clower" Jack's voice was almost a wisher, "I didn't get anything."
All eyes in the class now shifted back to an imaginary spot on our own desks.  Mrs. Clower stood there motionless for a few seconds then she ran out the door.  There was no talking, whispering or any movement within the room.  After a few minutes, Mrs. Clower returned through the door with a handful of Kleenexes, her eyes red and swelled.  She never said a word, just wrote our reading assignment on the blackboard and returned to her desk.  Mrs. Clower made several trips outside the room that day. 
That particular story took a lot of the "fun" out of Christmas for me.  As my girls were growing up, anytime Dad would be called a "scrooge" they would be told "The Story".  Finally, one of the girls came up with a plan of how to get the fun back in Christmas for ole dad and it is now a tradition.
We each draw names early in the year.  You look for a "cause to do good" for that family member.  Then on Christmas day you present that family member with a letter of what was done in his/her name.  It can be a donation of money for a specific charity or a donation of time in helping or anything in between.  The letter explains why you chose that event in their name.
Each Christmas I am amazed even more than the last at how creative the gifts can be.  Not only does it make us more mindful of being a good Samaritan at times, but it is uplifting to know how your "gift giver" sees you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Shopping

This morning at the Stockman, the subject of Christmas shopping came up.  I mentioned I hated to go shopping and that the Warden would just as soon I didn't go with her.
Clem said, "Not my Claire.  She wants me to go with her every year."
"Really?" stated Chester, "She really values your opinion on colors and gift selection?"
"Nothing like that," confessed Clem.  "She just wants someone to push the cart, tote the bags and pay the bill!"
"Well I only buy one gift each Christmas and that's for Chloe" stated Chester.
"How do you decide what to get her," I asked.
"That's easy," explained Chester, "I just call up my oldest daughter and ask her how much I owe her for Chloe's gift."
And the Spirit of Giving continues another year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Family Tradition

Back when the kids were small, it was "Dads" job to load up the bundled toddlers and go find a tree to trim for our front room.  Now this was pretty easy when the kids were just toddlers and would think ANY tree I got was "perfect". 
Now it's pretty simple for me to select a tree.  The first qualification was that it had to be where I could drive the pickup up to it, step out, cut the tree and drive home.  It didn't have to have "perfect branches" and couldn't stand over 5 feet tall.  Since it was already cut (and the small kids thought it was "perfect") the Warden couldn't turn it down.
But as time went along the "eye of the beholders" became a little more selective and the daughters take after their mother when it comes to "aesthetic beauty" and size.  They began to want one of the caliber that the White House would want!  This of course would take multiple negations during the selecting phase.  What had once been a 30 minute job now took most of a Saturday just to bring one home!
Those kids could spot a tree up to a mile from the nearest road!  I swear they had eagle eyes!  We would then have to trek out to examine the proposed tree, all the while me trying to explain that the distance made trees look a lot smaller.  Standing beside the towering tree, they would eventually agree it was too large and we would trek back.
Finally I spotted one right beside the road, 4 feet tall (maybe I could convince them it was 5) that I thought was perfect.  The sun was almost ready to set and I was desperate to find one and get home for supper.
"That's too small!" said daughter number one rather definitively.
"Isn't it suppose to be green?" asked daughter number two, being more sarcastic than for the gaining of knowledge.
"The bottom branches are even charred from the spring burns!" daughter number three pointed out.
I could instantly see that negations were going to be tough.  But being the resourceful person I am, I broke into the story of "The Littlest Christmas Tree".
I looked at the tree rather remorseful and started, "This poor little tree.  All it's ever wanted was to be selected some day to adorn someone's house on Christmas day.  Now deformed and not pretty, no one will ever pick it."
I glanced out of the corner of my eye to see the girls.  They were all looking at the tree, lower lips quivering.  I kept going.
"No doubt the little tree thought it would be able to some day have a star on top.  Bright lights would encircle it's branches and bring colored lights to someone's front room."
I heard a sniff, but I didn't look over thinking I might break the mood.
"It was hoping that some day it would be able to spread it's lower branches over presents that would bring laughter and joy to children."  I was almost in tears myself by this time.
Finally one of the daughters said, "It's good enough." and the other two nodded in agreement.  As quick as a flash, I grabbed the saw and put the fledgling tree in the pickup.  We arrived home, me smiling and the girls all teary eyed.
The story of "The Littlest Christmas Tree" was banned from ever being used again when the tree selection job came around.  As a matter of fact, Pappy has been banned from even telling his grandkids the story!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Prairie Air's Pumpkin Provender

A few days ago, November 25th to be exact, Prairie Air published a blog about her pumpkin bread.  You can read the blog for yourself. 
You could almost smell the aroma of the bread as you read the article.  And as you can see from the pictures, she not only bakes it, she makes a presentation out of it!!  She told of how it had become a tradition of baking this bread for family gatherings.  Then that tradition got extended to baking for friends, neighbors and acquaintances.  So I jokingly (actually it was a ploy to get on the list) left a comment, What are the chances of your blog buddies getting on that recipient list??? 
Well lo and behold, Jenni showed up at our church the next Wednesday night and presented the Warden with a loaf of the heavenly sustenance!!  Now I'm here to tell you ..... that is GREAT stuff!
But I must admit, I don't know which I savor the most .... the pumpkin bread ... or the budding new friendship of good people.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A vacuity of computerese

The guys at the Stockman are often caught in a time warp, some time between the frontier days and the space age.  Cattle still graze the flint hills requiring cattleman to brave the elements for their care.  Yet the cell phone and computer are becoming a necessity in doing business. 
Cattle are now commonly sold via satellite auctions to prospective buyers all over the nation.  Some local auction barns even broadcast their sales over the internet allowing for more distant buyers of the local ranchers live commodities.  However, for those that are stuck in this "time warp" ... too young to retire ..... and too old to grasp some of the newer electronic contraptions ... this proves to be a struggle.
This morning Clem was complaining that the Misses was wanting to replace their Dell computer.  "It's only 9 years old," he complained, "my tractor is 20 and I'm not ready to replace it!"
"What's the problem with it?" asked Chester.
"She complains that she can cook, eat and do supper dishes while it's warming up." He explained, "I don't see any problem with that.  What else would she be doing?"
A young service man, on leave visiting his grandparents and apparently with computer knowledge, asked, "What size processer does it have?"
Clem, not wanting to look like he didn't have a clue, answered, "About the size of any other computer I guess.  About 18 inches high and 6-8 inches wide.  Sets there on the desk."
"No No" the service man explained, "I mean the part that does the computing, the actual work.  Like the engine in a pickup."  Clem, now visibly clueless, just shrugged.
"Well, do you know what operating system it has?" continued the young man truly wanting to give some technical advice to his senior acquaintance.
Clem thought for a moment before answering, "Well, she uses a keyboard and mouse."
The young man tried desperately to contain his smile, but it was evident none the less.  So rather than to continue his questions, he began explaining the advancements made in the last 9 years in computer processors, internet speeds etc.  Everyone was tuned in to listen even though most weren't on the same channel and didn't understand anymore than if they had been listening about brain surgery.
Finally Chester ventured, "You seem to know a lot about computers and electronics, would you mind giving me a little help?"
"I've had quite a bit of training in computers and wireless transmissions" the young man explained, "how can I help?"
"Would you mind," Chester continued, "resetting the digital clock in my feed pickup now that daylight savings time is over?"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Restless Natives

The Warden and I are beginning to struggle a little bit with the audiological part of our lives.  Understanding what is said is extremely difficult when other noises are happening at the same time, such as talking in a restaurant where nearby tables are also talking.  The ability to sort the sounds of speech from all the other sounds is becoming a greater and greater problem, even at church.
A couple weeks ago the Warden and I were particularly interested in a sermon topic and were becoming engrossed in the sermon.  About that time off to my right, the disgruntled grunts of a toddler became very evident.  The toddler, unable to communicate verbally, was making her wishes known through squirms, squeals and grunts.  The young mother struggled desperately to contain the child on her lap.  Finally a toy was selected and offered that stilled the child.
Our attention returned to the sermon to hear another verse or two being read.
As the preacher began his commentary on the verses, what had to be a tug of war between a small girl and her not too much older brother was taking place in the pew just in front of us.  The action in itself would not have made much fanfare except the young girl decided to ask for help at the top of her voice range.  That young mother too, acted quickly "shushing" the child and arbitrating the matter to its eventual end.  The arbitration however did not set to well with the older brother who "whispered" (in a voice audible for the dead) his disapproval.  This brought a quick "chin grab" by the father who, eyeball to eyeball with the child, settled the matter.
The fervor now complete, we returned to the commentary, another verse selected and the recitation of the verse started.
Off to my right a young man starts pushing a toy tractor along the top of the pew, his lips vibrating the "make-up" noise of a diesel tractor under full throttle and load.  Just as the young man was taking another breath and the tractor another make-up gear, the father scooped up the child onto his lap.  The action was so quick the child was taken by surprise and the tractor sounds stopped.
We now were able to hear the end of that verses commentary.
The oldest brother of the family on our pew and the oldest sister of the family in front then decided to exchange the books that each were reading.  As she turned to give her book backwards, his 7 year old chubby hands failed him and the book tumbled to the floor in a loud thud.  All eyes in the auditorium turned on the sound.  From each respective pew of the families involved, there was a scurry as the parents shushed the corresponding delinquent.
Our attention then returned to the last lines of the sermon.
As the Warden and I made our way through the exiting parishioners, Sister Straightlace took hold of my elbow.  "May I speak with you?" she asked.
As we stepped out of the traffic flow, she stated, "the natives were a bit restless this morning."
"Yes ma'am" I replied with a rather embarrassed smile.
"You do know I am talking of your grandchildren," she further stated.  "Something needs to be done.  Children need to be taught to sit quietly in church."
Now some may say here "the devil made me do it" ..... but really I think I had some inspirational help.
"Yes ma'am.  And I am thankful YOU noticed my grandchildren were in church this morning just as they are at every congregational meeting."  Then I looked her in the eye, "May I ask where YOUR grandchildren are?"
PR 17:6 Grandchildren are the crown of old men


Friday, November 21, 2008

Dearly Beloved we are here to honor .......

"Hey!" he says with a great big smile and firm handshake, "It's great to see you.  What's it been? Fifteen, no twenty years since I seen you two?"  A round stories follow beginning with "you remember the time ..."
Then a light comes on as the mind fully remembers, "Oh yeah, now I remember the last time I seen you.  It was at (fill in any name here)'s funeral.  Strange we only meet at these things.  We need to get together sometime soon." 
The afore mentioned story has happened at every funeral I have ever attended. 
Yesterday, the Warden and I attended yet another funeral of a woman whose life had been unexpectedly shortened.  Yesterday the Warden and I again vowed to renew old acquaintances and friendships.  Isn't it strange that we let "life happen" rather than "live life"?  We let life control us rather than staying in control of our lives?
"Yesterday" ... unlike "tomorrow" .... can never be changed and yet it will bear the memories that forever shape our lives.
Just some rambling thoughts.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Out on the Town

This has been the second Saturday night in as many weeks that the Warden and I went out.  Last weekend we went to a wedding reception and even danced a couple times (kind of hard to do when your holding a grand-daughter between you .. but did give me a good excuse for stepping on her toes!)  But it was fun none the less.
And then tonight we went to the movies, ate supper out and then went to Wal-Mart before coming home.  It had been awhile since we had been to the movies ... and the $7.50 that use to buy two admissions, a tub of popcorn and a barrel of pop was about one third enough!  And I have to admit, I was thinking there was no way the movie could be THAT good ..... but I was wrong.
We went to see "Fireproof" .... and it was worth every penny.  I don't care if you've been married 1 year or 40 ... spend the $25 dollars and go see it (with a bucket of popcorn and a large soda pop of course).  And if you don't get blurry-eyed sometime during that movie, you're a lot tougher than me (or dead). 
I don't imagine that it'll win any awards from Hollywood even though the acting was good, the story-line great and I haven't heard ONE bad thing about it from any who has seen it.  However to win awards from Hollywood .... there needs to be vulgar language, nudity and some sort of political statement to blame Bush for something.
Anyway ..... the Warden and I sure agree on this ...... go see the movie (even if you have to float a loan from the local bank ... I hear Congress is giving them more!)  Somewhere in that movie, you'll see yourself.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


How do you ever adequately thank the veterans for the service they have provided this nation?  Some gave the ultimate sacrifice, some suffered with wounds but all suffered the absence of being with loved ones.
Over the years I have met many men/women who served in WWII, Korea, Vietnam as well as the more recent wars of the middle east and I admire each.  However, recently I found out that a friend had once served as a Marine.  Due to his age, I ask him if he had been in Vietnam.  His response was that he had only been on one base outside the USA mainland.  When I ask him which base, his response was Guantanamo.
Doing some quick math in my head, "What year?" I asked.
"1961 through 1963" was his quick response.
"We're talking Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crisis!" I stated rather emphatically.
"Yep" was his only response, offering no further explanation but rather lead off into another direction of conversation.  My attempts to learn more brought only "yes" or "no" answers.  Over the next few weeks I tried to no avail to learn more of his service during that time. 
Then one day he handed me an article from a major newspaper, "You wanted to know what I did in Cuba?  Read this."  I quickly scanned the article which had been written after the release of material from the archives.  Things that had been locked away for years in files marked "top secret".  The cold war era of espionage, covert operations and CIA operatives. 
The article was bringing more questions to my mind than it was answering.  "This is CIA stuff, not Marine."
"I and 32 other sharp shooters were recruited, trained, dropped into the bay to swim ashore on Cuba.  We spent 63 days there with orders to disrupt" was his response.
"So when Kennedy said there would be no American servicemen on Cuba, he wasn't exactly telling the truth?"  It was more of a statement than a question, but I needed clarification.
"We had no identification or dog tags.  Had we been caught, there would have been no trial."  Having said that he headed out the door and to this day I have never yet got any more of this mystery answered.
But I do wonder how many have served in such a manner and never said a word.
Thanks to ALL veterans.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


Big bowl of tallerina ..... $20
Hot rolls and a salad ....  $10
3 Butterscotch pies   ..... $ 5 /ea
Birthday Cards          ....  $ 2 /ea
Surprise birthday party with a family tribute to dear ole dad ..... priceless!!!!
My girls and the Warden pulled a fast one on me last night.  Since baby Ruth (my youngest daughter ... not the candy bar) has been down visiting for a couple weeks, they decided to celebrate my birthday a little early before Ruth went home.  Last night under the guise of a family gathering at the middle daughters house, they completely caught me off guard with a surprise birthday party a couple weeks early.  There was my favorite dish tallerina ... hot rolls .... salad and the Warden even made me some butterscotch pies! 
After supper we had a family singing, which is one of my favorite pastimes and I didn't even have to beg!!  Each of my girls have tremendous vocal talent, so anytime I get a chance, I want to hear them sing .... but usually it's a little hard to get them all together to sing.  Then the older grands all had some songs they wanted to sing for Pappy, it was quite a performance!  There were cowboy songs, truck driving songs and a couple gospel hymns.  Proud Pappy couldn't have buttoned his shirt after it was over.
Then each of my girls read letters they had written about childhood memories, values they had learned while growing up and some funny things they remembered.  Even if they didn't bring a crown, I felt like a king .... actually, a crown wouldn't have fit because my head was swelled so much.
It just don't get better than this! 
(There's a couple pieces of pie left ... I think I'll go get me a piece now)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just another day ...

Today, like most days, I was driving from one customer to another ..... figuring out how to sell another load of feed when the cell phone rang.  Now cell phones in rural Kansas are barely a step above smoke signals on a windy day ... so if it DOES ring you stop as soon as possible or you loose the signal.
As it so happened, the nearest stop to get off the highway happened to be the driveway of an old country cemetery.  Well after the call was over, curiosity got the best of me so I stepped from the car and began to look through the headstones at dates and names.  Being somewhat of a history buff .. I enjoy visualizing what the "era" would have been like for the person that is eternally resting under the headstone.
There weren't a whole lot of headstones in this .... almost forgotten country graveyard ... but a few were large and sculptured ... some just more or less markers of the grave.  Some were affectingly marked as "Mother" or "Father" ... a few said "infant son/daughter of ...."  The headstones told little of the persons life, primarily only the date of birth and death .... that is except for "George Pruitt".
Now I never knew George Pruitt ... according to the date on his headstone, he died some 30+ years before I was even born.  But I wish I had known him, for on his tombstone was written ..
George Pruitt
1853 - 1919
As a neighbor ... commendable
As a friend ... trustworthy
As a father ... honorable
As a husband ... admirable
What more could any man wish to be said of his life.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the plummer .......

... Slim the cowboy ..... Sam the trucker ..... Sarah the secretary ..... Sheila the nurse ..... Steve the trash truck driver .... we're all in the same boat.  Trying to better ourselves.  Working hard to make a living ..... making ends meet, trying to make more than we did last year .... try to save a few bucks ....... put some back for a rainy day and maybe make enough so we can buy some of those things we have always dreamed about. 
MAYBE even start a business of our own .... for what?  So we can keep Pelosi in a private plane to fly around?  Help some Senator put his name on a government building?  Help some congressman build a freeway and buy a few votes?
This is a true story. 
Two of my customers are former "trash truck" drivers.  Both are now millionaires ..... but if you met either one, you wouldn't know it.   They worked hard ..... took risks and made the correct decisions that led them to be in the right place at the right times.  They sold their "fledgling" companies for millions and now own farms and cattle.  Both still wear overalls and talk about coon hunting, setting lines for fishing and eat "hot hamburgers" covered with French fries and white cream gravy. 
They got up early.  Drove used cars with bald tires and sweated every day it was hot ... blowed warm air into their hands on cold days and got soaking wet when it rained.  They earned every dollar .... and even paid every tax dollar required of them.
Now WHY am I entitled to some of their fortunes?  Why would I want more than their friendship?  They'd give you the shirt off their back if you were in need.  But if you try to "take it" ...... you'd best be ready for the tussle of your life ..... because they WORKED for what they have.
Mr. Obama .... I for one don't want you to "spread the wealth around" ....... just get out of the way and let those of us who DO BELIEVE in the AMERICAN DREAM have a chance at it.  My daddy taught me ..... if you want a bigger house, go get a job and buy it.  Pay what you owe and do the job you were hired to do. 
Mr. Obama .... what did your daddy teach you.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sure is quiet around here

Last weekend the Warden and I went to Arkansas to visit my dad.  His 83rd birthday was coming up and that gave good reason for quick trip down to visit him and eat some cake.  While there Dad mentioned he had something he had found that Shirley might like to have.  He then gave her an article from the 1991 Winfield Daily Courier Achievement Edition that my mother had saved.
The article was about the Warden's volunteer work at our local elementary school.  She was, at the time, the president of the parent / teacher organization.  She also volunteered one afternoon a week as an aide working with the students doing what ever the teachers needed.  There were several quotes from her about the activities of the school, the aide program and the PTO organization. 
It also quoted the principal's glowing words concerning my wife and the program of which she was a part.  He mentioned how the aide program, though unpaid, was invaluable to the students. There were also some pictures of her working with the students.
The Warden then handed me the article explaining further to Dad what the PTO had achieved during those former years.  She told how the old school had been replaced and now she worked in the libraries of the new schools.  "Wow," she said looking at me, "That was a trip down memory lane."
"Sure is." was my response, pointing to a picture.  "You were a lot thinner back then."
She hasn't spoken to me much this past week ... at least not with civility.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Out of the blue

It's been so long since I wrote a blog ... I've about forgot how!  But I must confess, almost anything I would have written the last few days would have been a drag and a downer because of all the political shenanigans and rhetoric that has the airways blocked.  I for one will be glad when this election is over .... assuming we are still the United States of America .... and not the Socialists States of America. 
I do have to admit .... when I watched Sarah Palin's acceptance speech .... I did stand and cheer!  I for one say, take the lipstick off that hockey mom and let the Rottweiler in her tear some politcal @&& up in Washington DC!  I do have to admit though, I do worry about her "inexperience" .....  I mean it takes EXPERIENCE to screw things up this bad!  And with NO experience, she might actually FIX SOMETHING! 
There's only one thing I have against Sarah Palin .... one thing I shall always hold against her .. it happened in her interview with Katie Couric .... Sarah didn't haul off and belt that elitist biddy in the mouth.  But ... there's always a possibility she'll fix that someday.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The term "Pro-choice" seems odd to me .....

officer:"Sir I've pulled you over because the children in the back seat are not restrained in car seats in a moving vehicle."
man:"Officer, my grand kids were here visiting and we were just going a few blocks to get some ice cream."
officer:"Sir, it's the law.  You don't have a choice."
Doctor: "Ma'am, the test are conclusive.  You're pregnant."
Woman: "Doctor, you must be mistaken.  Another child will change all my plans."
Doctor:  "If it's inconvenient, you can abort.  You do have a choice."
It just seems odd to me that there are laws to protect children's lives ... except for the unborn and it's called being "pro-choice".

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Meeting women off the net update

OK....... here's proof for those "nay-sayers" who had doubts that I actually met a "sweet young thing" off the net!  Meet Katy!!!!!  (OK her name is Sarah ... but I first met her as Katy!)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

There's no pleasing that woman....

As many of you might remember, a year ago in April the Warden embarked on a strategy to rebuild our house.  And I must admit the improvements have generally been good improvements to our living quarters and lifestyle.  However certain projects have been put aside as more pressing projects have taken the forefront.
Sometime in the midst of our kitchen remodel, the vent in the hood over the stove stopped working.  At the time I told the Warden, "I'll check it out when we get time."  Each time the Warden would cook for family or company this past year, she would reference the fact that the vent wasn't working.  And each time I proclaimed, "I'll check it out when we get time."
Well this past week the Warden said she was headed to Wichita to look at new range hoods.  That sure seemed like a waste of money to me to buy a NEW range hood, so I assured her that I would look into it before she would have to buy one ...... and Saturday I did just that.
The removing of the ailing motor took approximately 15-20 minutes.  I then made a fast trip to Wichita to buy said motor.  I retuned to reinstall said motor which took about another 15 minutes.  I stepped back in pride to observe my handiwork and turned on the switch.  The purr of the new motor was reference to man's dominion over his kingdom. 
I smiled at the Warden.
"You're done?" was her astonished response. 
"Yeah, nothing to it" I said, wanting to beat my chest and give the Tarzan yodel. 
She just stood there looking at me, hands on hips. 
"Is something wrong?" I inquired.
"I have been waiting for a year with no stove vent and it only took 30 minutes to actually FIX the thing?" she said.  More of a statement than an inquiry and with that she turned and headed out of the kitchen.
I swear, there is just no pleasing that woman.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Meeting women off the net.

Sunday I got to meet a woman that I had met "on line".  I had heard/read a lot about people meeting "on line" ... some even traveling from across the country.  Well this woman was from the Houston area .... (that's quite a haul too!) ... and was coming to the area ... so I asked the Warden if I could meet her ... and she said OK!
So Sunday after church we stopped by a family reunion and I got to meet Katy (OK, her real name is Sarah .... but seems I have a hard time remembering names ... and she is from Katy).  Anyway, she and her family were gracious enough to take a few minutes and allow me to introduce myself to her and her immediate family (Ryan, Caleb and Logan). 
She has a great blog full of pictures, news of her expanding family and the values they live by.  It's worth a read so click here and check her out.  I especially like reading her "Thankful Thursdays" ... makes me more aware of my surroundings as I should be.
I hear so much about "young people" these days and how bad the values are.  How they don't "take responsibility", how they raise their kids ... yada yada yada.  If you ever watch the TV news or read the paper, you have been deluged with how bad the world is becoming.  I don't believe it anymore than I believe in man made global warming ..... and this young family is just more PROOF.   I agree that there is plenty of bad young people out there (always have been) ... but there is a LOT of good ones too.  Come ride with me some day and I'll introduce you to some of them.
Thanks Katy, Ryan, Caleb and Logan for taking a few minutes from your reunion to meet me.  (And thanks to Mark and Karen for the invite.)
And another thought just hit me ..... having the Warden's permission to meet women "off the net" might come in REAL handy!!!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Atlanta Labor Day

Last night the Warden and I took a gallon of home made ice cream and headed to Atlanta.  Each year the citizens of Atlanta host a weekend long Labor Day celebration.  People from all over come join in the revelry; Families come home to have reunions; and I go to get a bowl of ice cream! 
I written about it before on a couple of occasions:  Labor Day 2005  and Labor Day 2006
Well last night was no different from past years.  The city park was covered with people of all ages, each carrying a plate of food.  There were old timers comparing notes and seeing who could " 'member the most", grandparents showing off their grandkids, grandkids moving at sonic speed, teenage boys checking out teenage girls and the usual political wannabe's shaking a few hands.
While there I talked to Bret and Robin (I nearly shot his wife 32 years ago ... but that's another story!)  But they are a loyal Labor Day celebrationist now and return to Atlanta every year for the festivities.  Bret is also a good photographer and has recorded the celebration for several years.  Click here to see some of his pictures.
Tomorrow the Warden and I will return to Atlanta and watch the parade and visit again with old friends of by gone years.  If you want some good times .... come join us.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I love a debate ....

I normally don't "comment on comments" .... but this time I must.  I responded directly to Jenni via email because I could .... but I have no way to directly respond to "a non-climate scientist" so I shall use this forum.  (I wish you would at least sign it Fred or Nancy or whatever)  Nor shall I know if you even read my rebuttal.
First of all, we agree on one thing ... I won't play Russian roulette.  As a matter of fact, I wouldn't even put an unloaded gun to my head.  So the premise of your statement has no bearing.
Now, concerning your statement, "but what if the scientists are right? ".  My first question is; Which scientist?  The ones who tout global warming?  Or the ones that doubt global warming?  There is NOT a consensus among scientist about either.  Perhaps you have not heard of the Global Warming Petition Project.  It would be easy to miss because it is hardly reported and only has 31,000 scientists signing it.  (and only started in 1997)  If you are truly interested in research go to that site, please at least read the letter written in 1998 by Fredrick Seitz, Past President of the National Academy of  Scientists; President Emeritus, Rockefeller University.
Concerning your statement "we have to replace our current lifestyle".  Which lifestyle?  Mine or yours?  What does that mean?  Stop eating meat?  Plow the fields with horses again?  Park our cars and trucks?  Stop flying?  Turn off air conditioners and heaters?  What is the problem with our lifestyle?  Nancy Pelosi who says she's saving the planet sure doesn't take the train or bus .... and I even doubt she flys commercial!!  Al Gore (the Nobel Peace Prize guy) doesn't drive a Prius or ride a bicycle when he travels!!  So should our current lifestyle return to the feudal system of serf and noble?
Concerning your statement "When you ignore the data".  Again we agree.  I hope you don't ignore the data either or for that matter use "selective" data.  As for me, I shall continue to use the God given sense I have to reason for myself. 
And as far as "Unless you're a fool" .... I am reminded of a 2000 year old writing to a group of Romans that says, although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.
Dennis  <-------- that's me!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rain Slicker and Mud Boots ..... In August?

Is it really the middle of August?  Toto, am I really in Kansas?  And I am to believe that this cooler than normal weather is being caused by global warming. 
Folks, I'm tired.  I'm tired of idiots telling me that I'm slowly burning up when in fact I'm looking for a long sleeved shirt, IN AUGUST!  I'm tired of hearing how the bread basket of North America will lay barren due to drought when in fact our rivers overflow their rain filled banks, IN AUGUST.  I tend more to agree with the June 24, 1974 Time Magazine article that a global ice age is returning.  Or perhaps if you are a naysayer (or even worse, a believer in global warming) an even more recent article written in 2005.   Climate change is a natural occurrence and the effect humans has on it are local not global.
I'm tired of being forced to purchase ethanol in gasoline.  (talk to your local gas station and see if he is purchasing fuel with added alcohol)  Since I drive an average of 250 miles a day, I have a log of my fuel mileage ..... (alcohol reduces my mileage by at least 10%).  The only thing that ethanol improves is the intake of federal and state fuel taxes because you have to buy more gallons.
I'm tired of "political correctness".   I'm tired of listening to one woman saying she is "saving the planet" by not drilling.  I'm tired of politicians taking my liberties and spending my money and saying it is for my well being.   It is time to take the country back, not by revolt, but by the vote.  We have an election coming this November.  Make your vote count this year.   KNOW what your candidate's position is on the different policies ... and if they don't follow-up on it .... vote them back out.
This has been my rant for the day.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Stockman's Cafe

Over the last couple years, some of the readers of this blog have mentioned they enjoyed the stories which originated at the Stockman's Cafe.  So after learning a bit about YouTube .... I am going to attempt to make a video blog with actual videos from morning coffee.  I will try to add one or two a week.  Right now they are pretty quiet when I turn it on .... but as time goes along I am sure they will eventually come around and the videos become more fun.
Please keep in mind ... these are grown men and the language at times might be colorful to say the least. 
Watch at your own risk!
The first one is an introduction to the Stockman Cafe.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Boots spurs and tennis shoes

Yesterday morning at the coffee shop, after the "how much rain did we get" report was over, Clyde asked about where a guy could get a pair of boots fixed.
"This is the most comfortable pair of dress boots I ever had" he continued. "But the sole is getting a hole in it.  Does anyone around still half sole boots?"
From around the table came suggestions where guys had had boots fixed; Wichita, Ponca City,  Bartlesville, Amarillo.   With each suggestion came the consumer report for that place of business and the price last paid.
"Well there's a guy down at Niotaze that does a good job.  He done these." Clem offered as he raised his foot to the edge of the table for everyone's nod of approval, "and he only charged twenty bucks!" which brought more nods of approval. 
"The wife wants me to throw them away" Clyde continued.  "But dang it's hard to find comfortable boots anymore.  Everything I try on hurts my feet.  She says maybe I should just get me a pair of loafers to wear for dress.  I'd feel plum naked though without boots on."
All nodded their agreement except for one.
"I did break down and buy me a pair of tennis shoes the other day," Chester offered sheepishly.
"Tennis shoes?" asked Clyde needing clarification he had heard correctly.
"Yeah!" exclaimed Chester in defense.  "I got tired of my feet hurting" he said hoping to rectify his reasoning. 
Clyde was just looking at his friend with one eyebrow raised, the other sort of squinting.  "What brand did you get?"  
"Well," Chester continued.  "I just stopped at Wal-Mart and got me a cheap pair."
"Not a pair of them gray ones that all the old men wear around town?" Clyde asked, still disbelieving his life long cowboy friend.  "With the Velcro straps?"
"Yep" Chester said putting his foot up on the table.  "Really, sort of comfortable.  The only thing wrong is trying to keep a set of spurs on them".
"Goodness!" Clyde snorted in disbelief.  "At least you ain't got none of them bermuda shorts."
"Uh ....." Chester stammered, "bought a pair of those too."

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Standing in his shadow

A couple weeks ago, I was getting gas down at the Copan Truck stop .. (out at the fuel pumps ... not in the restaurant!) .. when this semi pulled along the next fuel island.  The driver set the air and had no sooner set one foot on the ground when a boy about 10 years old came bailing out the driver side door.
"Dad", he asked, "can I put the diesel in?"  The driver nodded and patiently helped the youngster start the fuel into the tank.  All the while the youngster was jabbering excitedly about this and that.
"Dad, can I bump the tires?" was his next question.  The driver reached in just under the seat and handed the boy a small ball peen hammer which the excited youngster grabbed and headed back hitting each tire to check inflation.  The driver followed along closely lending a trained ear to the sound as the boy struck each tire.
"Dad, that one sound low?" the boy ask, sounding some what excited that he might have found one.
"I believe it's ok" the driver answered, "let's check the rest of them."  I watched and listened as the two walked around the truck, the same question / answer repeated at each set of duals, the driver patiently teaching his son.
My car now fueled, I was ready to leave when they walked close by.  "That's quite a swamper you've got there" I said with a wink.
"Yeah, he's still a little short on one end ... but I think he'll make it" the driver said looking down with a grin.  The boy, standing in his father's shadow beamed with pride.
I looked at the sign on the door of the truck ..... Wilson Freight Line, Omaha Nebraska ... but for a second, I was transported back 46 years and it read E. L. Reddish, Springdale, Arkansas.
Thanks Dad .. I ain't forgot your guidance .. Happy Father's Day

Friday, June 6, 2008

Visiting Tess

The Warden and I came to Peoria yesterday on our annual pilgrimage to visit our youngest daughter, her husband .... and of course our youngest grand daughter Tess. The drive up was a perfect day except very windy. (The strong tail winds did help improve gas mileage though!!) And the folks in STL actually had the ramp fixed onto the I70 bridge (first time in 5 years we made it on to the bridge without a few hour delay or detouring .... click here for a recap of a previous attempt)

And I must explain my absence from the blogosphere for the past few days (other than not having a thought worth recording). Last Saturday morning we had one heck of a hail storm. The biggest blessing the Warden and I have is that we are not depending on farming for a living. The crops locally to Burden were indeed destroyed or greatly reduced.

Our insurance agent acted quickly though and an adjuster was examining our house for damage Wednesday by noon. He reported to us late Wednesday night with the claim. Roof (the one we put on brand new last Oct with 30 year Heritage shingles) was totaled. The gutters (installed new a year ago) totaled. The siding on the north, west and east ... totaled. It appears the estimates are sufficient .... so basically we are going to end up with almost a cosmetically new house.

But back to the better things to write about .... our trip to see Tess.

Tess turned one just last week and we hadn't got to play with her since Christmas. Ruth had kept us "up to date" with U-tube videos of her changing, learning to walk and beginning to speak. Now naturally, when Ruth sent a video of Tess learning to say "Pappy" last week ... my desire to come to Peoria grew 100%.

For those who can view U-tubes click here to view this awesome event.

Now (as Paul Harvey says) for the rest of the story. As everyone knows, to teach a child a new word, one has to repeat the word often .... and soon the child mimics the word. At the same time the child is also associating the word with the event that is happening. An example would be saying "no" and swatting the hand. This of course teaches the child that when you say "no" they are to stop what they are doing.

Herein lies the problem .... Ruth often used the time changing dirty diapers to repeat the word "Pappy". So at this time, Pappy means dirty diaper ... but I'm optimistic I'll have the meaning changed before I leave to go home ... and hopefully I don't just redirect it till Tess thinks I'm a dirty old man. What I'm wondering now is ..... did Ruth just overlook the "repeat / association" technique .... or is she picking up some of the Warden's devious ways?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Debt of Gratitude

A few years ago, a retired preacher from a nearby town was to hold our morning and evening services while our own preacher left for a family gathering on Memorial Day weekend.  The Warden, known for her hospitality, invited this elderly preacher and his wife to dinner and to spend the afternoon with us while awaiting his second service. 

After dinner, he and I moved to the recliners of the living room while his wife and the Warden cleared the table.  Because of the great age difference, we were having somewhat of a difficult time with conversation topics, so I flipped on the History Channel and turned the volume down real low.  I was previously aware that the History Channel was going to air a Memorial Day Special on WWII all afternoon and I had planned on watching it.  I thought perhaps it might also be a conversation starter for us ..... I had no idea just how correct that would be.

As his wife and the Warden joined us, the segment just starting on the History Channel was the landing at Normandy.  I mentioned my admiration for those soldiers who climbed off the LCMs facing insurmountable odds.

"They expected a 70 percent causality rate," was his mater-of-fact reply, "or at least that is what they told us."

"Us?" I repeated as I turned the volume completely down.

"I landed with the second wave at Utah."

He seemed willing to talk so I turned off the TV and listened all afternoon to his first hand account of the invasion of Normandy, the liberation of France and ultimately Europe.  He told of his part in the Battle of the Bulge as a foot soldier under Patton.  With tears forming in his eyes, some of the carnage of two concentration camps in Austria.  The afternoon was over much to soon and my history lesson ended.  As we got up to leave, his wife of well over 50 years stated she had heard more that afternoon of his WWII experience than in all the 50 plus years of their marriage combined. 

"He just never talks about it." she explained. 

I have noticed that too, most veterans know we ... those of us who have never served in that manner .... won't completely understand.

And that is what this short blog is about ... an attempt to thank those "common people" who has kept this nation free ... the school bus driver who fought at Anzio ... the school teacher who as a marine landed on islands in the south Pacific ... the banker who flew spotter planes in Viet Nam ..... the college professor who fought in Korea ... the farmer who as a medic rode helicopters under fire into the rice paddies of Viet Nam to retrieve wounded soldiers ..... the rancher who laughs as he recounts some funny happening in the jungles, then cries when he recalls a buddy's name ... the list goes on from history ... and the list continues to grow with Iraqi Freedom.

Again, I thank you for your service.


Monday, May 19, 2008

If I knew then, what I now know .....

Thirty-six years ago, when we started out,
I had no idea, what marriage was about!
It sounded easy, simply give and take,
Decisions would be fluent, effortless to make.
After all, I was the man of the house,
All she had to do, was listen to her spouse.
But all that thinking was about to falter,
As we exchanged rings there before the altar.
I soon learned, that it takes two,
If you take that pledge and say "I do."
Now take a bed, with his and her side,
Who cares if mine is only a third as wide.
The closet is filled with blouses and skirts,
With barely enough room for a couple of my shirts.
Then I lay down the law and got that look,
I knew for sure, my goose was gonna cook.
So we came to an understanding way back then,
I make the decisions, she says when.
If I had known then, what I now know,
I wouldn't change a thing, I'd let it be so.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Mt 6:28b See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.
Mt 6:29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these

When I was a child, my mother taught me to love wildflowers.  She taught me to look closely at the intricate detail God puts in each one.  Some He puts in clusters; others He keeps single; some in radiant color.  So yesterday, with the sun bright and warm, I had to stop along a gravel road and admire God's handiwork.

The prairie was awash in color.
But to really enjoy God's handiwork, one needs to be on his knees. 
A place I, and perhaps others, need to spend more time.









I hope my children learned the same from me.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Seeing the unseen

There's a good uplifting book by Joe Beam about spiritual warfare by the same name as this blog.  Don't confuse this blog with that uplifting book ...... this blog's about getting older and weakening eyes ... and seeing what you thought you seen!!!   If you're over 50 you know what I mean about the eyes ... the print gets a little smaller ... the bifocals a little thicker and you now own 4 or 5 handheld magnifying glasses..... but let me explain the rest. 
The other day, the Warden ask me to mow the yard while she went to do the grocery shopping.   Well while as I was tinkering on the mower, I got a small sliver of steel in my index finger.  Now admitedly we're not talking 911 / EMS emergency here ... but it was so positioned that everything I touched wiggled that little sliver and was kind of like touching a small electrical current.  Now out in the bright sunlight I could barely see it just under the skin and nothing I was doing seemed to remove the barb.  So after fiddling with it for the better part of an hour, I headed to the house to retrieve a needle.
There's two places it's hard to find a needle; in a haystack and in the Wardens sewing box!!  There's everything in the world there except needles!  Clasps, buttons, spools of thread, snaps, safety pins etc.  Finally, giving up on finding a needle, I took one of the safety pins and with a pair of pliers designed me a pointed object!  Back to the front porch and direct sunlight I started trying to pry the irritating barb from under the skin.
Well it seemed all I was getting done was torturing myself by wiggling it because I really couldn't see the protruding end of the sliver good enough to get hold of it.  What I needed was a magnifying glass.  So back in the house I went to get one of those.  Now comes the fun part ... trying to hold the magnifying glass and needle (pointed object in my case) ... in my left hand while working on the right.  I am not ambidextrous
My neighbor Susie had been working in her flower gardens all afternoon while I was fidgeting with my minor yet irritating problem..... and perhaps she had heard a word or two of frustration.  Susie is a very attractive young mother of two and I had been reprimanded a couple times by the Warden for spending a little too much time being neighborly.  But anyway, she called out and inquired as to what I was doing.
I walked across the street, finger extended verifying my minor injury.  I explained how I was having problems getting the sliver out.  Susie took one look (without the magnifying glass) and said she had a needle (she scoffed at my pointed object) and a pair of tweezers.  So I followed her into her living room where she extracted the irritating barb in a matter of seconds.  I thanked her and headed out the door to get started mowing.
Well just as I was coming out the door, the Warden drove by returning from getting groceries.  I followed her into the garage so I could help her unload her groceries.  I was reaching to get the first bag of groceries as she stood arms folded just looking at me, eyes first looking at me then across the street.  So I explained how Susie had helped get the sliver from my finger.
"That took all afternoon?' she asked pointing at the unmowed front yard.
I don't know which is worse .... having to wear bifocals or seeing what you thought you saw.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Now back in biblical times dreams meant something.  Some were like visions of the future.  You remember Joseph's dream provoked so much jealousy that his brothers sold him into slavery.  Then from there his ability at interpreting dreams helped him rise to be second in power only to the Pharaoh.  Then there was Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar.  Daniel was able to interpret his dream and also rose in standing in Babylon.
Sometimes dreams are influenced by things on our minds, things that happened that day or some sort of stress we are undergoing in our lives.  Well I need a modern day Joseph or Daniel to do a little interpreting ..... or maybe a hidden camera to gather evidence!
Now I'll admit, over the years I've done some strange things in my sleep.  Back in the early married days, I was having a tremendous problem with a co-worker.  So bad was the problem that one night I dreamed I caught him by the cuff of the neck and drawed back to give him a pop.  I probably would have popped him good if my new wed had not screamed out in time because it was the cuff of her cotton night shirt I had hold of.
And there was the time a few years later that I dreamed I needed to go check the heifers I had penned that might be calving.  I couldn't find the keys to the pickup in my pocket.   The Warden woke me at the backdoor; clad in boots, hat and underwear; searching in my non-existent pockets for the keys.
Then night before last I dreamed I was eating supper and watching AFV on TV when my glass of tea tipped to fall over the edge of the table.  With my lightening fast reflexes I reached to grab the glass and was awaken with a very audible "ooof!"
As I blinked my eyes trying to get my bearings, I saw the Warden sitting up in bed.   "What was that for?" she demanded.
"What was what for?" I asked still trying to figure out where I was.
"Hitting me in the ribs like that!" she replied.
"I reached out to grab a glass that was falling off the table" I explained.
"What glass!  What table!"  She was a little irritated to say the least.
"In my dream" I continued with my explanation.
"Yeah.  Right!"  She didn't seem to accept my answer.
"Com'on.  You can't blame someone for a dream can you?" I replied to her disbelieving attitude.  With that I rolled over and tried to catch up on my unfinished night's sleep.
Well now the blog should stop here ... but it doesn't.  Last night, my wonderful nights sleep was interrupted when I was slammed in the face by a book.  Before I could realize I was under attack, I was accosted again.  I throwed up my hand and barely deflected a third blow.
"Hey!  What's going on?"  I asked in a not to low voice.
"I dreamed there was a spider on your pillow and I was trying to get it!" she explained.  And before I even questioned her motive she continued, "You can't blame someone for their dreams can you?"  And with that she set the book down on the night table and turned off the light.
My question is .... why was the light on if she was asleep?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Working calves

In times past, several people have encouraged me to write about some of the "characters" I meet on a daily basis.  A week or so ago as I went to coffee on a Saturday morning there were pickups and trailers setting outside with horses loaded.  It was evident that some one was going to work calves.  So I ask if I might come along to take a few pictures.  (I sure didn't want to help!!)  
The crew that was gathering there at morning coffee were 3 area ranchers and sons and I thought that maybe I could get the perfect father/son picture.  The pictures I got were "OK" but the brims of hats and bills on caps prevented the perfect ones.  But I would like to share a few of these with you in this blog.
These first pictures are of JD (whose cattle they were working) and his oldest son.  JD's ranch is just on the south side of Cambridge and is picturesque in it's setting.  His son Russ is the perfect example of my definition of cowboy in a former blog.  Russ chose engineering as a profession and works for a firm in Wichita but is here often working cattle with his dad and other area ranchers.  Russ grew up hanging on the side of a DewEze hay monster as his dad hauled hay all along the Grouse Creek valley.  This was well before the time that child restraints were mandatory in a moving vehicle.  I am sure than in today's world, JD would be arrested for child endangerment.   But anyone who knows Russ, knows he grew up right.
The next pictures are of Neil and his son Jared.  Neil was a young man, perhaps no older than Jared now, when I first came to Cambridge.  At that time his primary ranching duties were as a working cowboy for a cattleman just north of town.  Clay J said of him "he's a good hand", which is a title not easily bestowed upon the young.  But through hard work and desire for the profession, Neil has earned his own right as an area rancher.  Jared follows close in his father's example.  Jared is one of the first names mentioned anytime there is something ready to happen from gathering cattle to building fence.  And this is not because he's Neil's son, it's because Jared is a "good hand".
The next pictures are of Mark and his son Wyatt.  Mark, like myself, is a transplant to this area.  Not long after arriving he married a local girl. Now many of the older area women at the time said "she could've done better" but time, Mark's hard working ethic and sense of humor has won them over.   Wyatt, like his dad, showed the willingness to work where ever needed and was given some time to learn in several areas from "tail-gunner" to chute operator.
Now one thing about being the youngest on the crew, you've got to be ready for advice, whether from grandpa

or jokingly from a fellow cowboy.

And advice from an elder and valued friend should always be a welcomed influence, whether your talking about the cattle industry....

or just advice about dating "girls".

And last but not least, I caught this picture of Mark standing as if he is some gunslinger ready to draw down on an hombre on some dusty street of the old west.  But seeing as how he isn't wearing a pistol, but rather carrying a donut .... we had to title it .. "the fastest donut eater in the west".

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Foot and Mouth disease

Foot and mouth disease is a very deadly malady in the livestock industry.  It was eradicated many years ago in the US and Canada through quarantine and destruction of diseased herds.  It recently has become a national security concern again because of terrorist threats due to the viruses explosive onset.  Also due to the mobility of cattle in today's markets, it could bring widespread economic losses to our meat supply in a matter of days if the virus was introduced virtually anywhere in the US, Canada or Mexico.
However that is not what this blog is about .... this blog is about the salesman's malady of opening mouth and inserting foot!  Let me explain:
A few days ago I happen to run into a rancher fixing fence along a dirt road down in the Osage.  Now I have been trying for this man's business for several years and seen an opportunity here to continue building my relationship with him.  Now I had some knowledge of personal facts, one was that he was very proud of his daughter studying in college to be a doctor, so when a very young woman came walking along the fence to where we were talking, I extended my hand in introduction.
"You must be the daughter, Shelly" I said, proud of myself for remembering her name and hoping to impress the rancher.  "How's college life?"
"That's my wife, Sarah." was the rather curt correction from the rancher.
OK here was a missed fact, the rancher was divorced and remarried.  (And to a much younger woman.)  Needless to say I didn't gain any points on that call.
Another similar episode happened when I made a call on a rather young couple with two young children.  As the young rancher and I discussed mineral needs for the summer program, his wife joined us carrying coffee.  She was clad in tight low riding wranglers and a tight cotton knit shirt covering a protruding midsection. 
Not wanting to "overlook" the obvious I stated, "Congratulations!  Steve never told me.  When are you due?"
"I'm not pregnant." was the icy riposte.
When cattle are diagnosised with foot and mouth disease they are immediately destroyed and the carcasses buried.  It's fairly similar with a salesman.