Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Have you ever awakened to the smell of coffee, bacon, and fresh bread? Or, awakened with the smell of pine in your nose? Have you ever been rolled up in your bed roll, with a camp fire, snapping and popping, as it dies out for the night? With the stars so bright, and so many, that it seems that you can see the heavens go on forever.

Have you ever watched the sun rise from the back of a good cow pony? Or watched as trout jump in the early morning light on a beaver pond? Or awaken to the sound of a breeze blowing gently through the aspens? Have you ever listened to cows as they settle in for the night? Have you listened to the sounds of the forest as it starts a new day? Or the sounds of the forest as it readies for nightfall?

The sound of a small stream as it rolls over stones and tumbles over on small water falls. It makes for a lazy late afternoon of dangling your feet in the water. As you prepare to head back to camp for a supper of homemade biscuits, beans, steak, and apple pie fresh form the chuck wagon cook. The sound of someone chopping wood and the voices of men who are gathering around to fill their plates after a hard day of rounding up cows.

These are the things that I grew up with and the hunting, fishing, and camping all those years ago. I was just being on the ranch that I spent so much time on with family and friends and the men who worked on the ranch. They were so kind to me and my sister, all of them teaching a youngster the things he should know, like how to ride, rope, mend fence, and all the other things about ranching and being a cowboy.

They also taught how to see things from their eyes. Like, how to know when a cow is about to calf. Or when it's time to bring in the herd. And to cut out the yearlings that need to go to market. They also taught us how your word and a hand shake meant something. And, they taught fun things like how to play mumbly peg with a pocket knife. And how to roll a smoke. (I never could get one to roll right.) Horseshoes, poker, ( I always lost my allowance), riding a yearling calf (before mutton busting), how to saddle a horse (which is really hard to do when you are only about seven years old.)

They teased, and joked, and picked on me. And I enjoyed every minute. All I ever, really wanted to do was to be a cowboy. But times changed and I got older. The ranch is still there. It's owned by some big shot rich guy. All the places that I roamed, fished, and hunted are still there. Over the years my family and friends have been to these same places and have enjoyed some of the things that I enjoyed as a child.

But, people pass on and things change. The places of my youth are still there, but you can no longer get to them. Condos, cabins, and ranches are now on land that I use to roam. Beaver ponds that gave me so many hours (years!) of fishing are gone, drained, covered over, or destroyed just so some rich person can have their BIG cabin in the woods.

Before they closed it all off. I was able to do a little fishing in a beaver pond that I used to fish in when I was 17 or so. And not too far from this beaver pond was a group of aspen trees, and behind those was some heavy timber. This is where I got my very first deer. Now the aspens are gone. The heavy timber is gone. In their place is a road and a big metal building (a workshop, I think.) Someone has placed a mobile home there.

I wish that I could go back with a good cow pony and some cows to a place that I can call my own.

I just wanted to be a cowboy.  

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you."
--Langston Hughes

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

NOW YOU KNOW: Ancient Greek Army Ration

Philon of Byzantium developed a ration pill for his soldiers in 150 BC. This pill was the size of an olive and was made of sesame seeds, honey, opium, poppy seeds, and squill (which is a root plant I've never heard of).

The pills were made to provide protein (from the sesame seeds), hydrocarbons (the honey), helped a person be free of pain from hunger and/or discomfort (opium), and a general tonic (the squill).

Active soldiers got two pills a day, one at 8 am, and the other at 4 pm. They also drank vinegar on a regular basis.

So, now you know!

Monday, July 22, 2013


"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great."

--Mark Twain

Friday, July 19, 2013


Well, it's been hectic here. And I don't really have anything to say, or write about.

But, come Monday? There will be things to read. And maybe watch.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Just to make you laugh. . . (A Kathi Post)

I took this picture a couple years ago.

This is one of Jim's friends from as far back as elementary school. They still act as if they are in junior high, as you can see!

(Which is one of the things I like best about Jim. AND his friends.)

Happy summer!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Do you all remember roly-poly bugs, from when you were a kid? And do you remember having dirt clod wars? And do you remember pop guns and/or cork guns? And how about when you found out that you could take your pop gun or cork gun and shove it in the mud and shoot mud balls at one another?

Well, I found out about better ammo than mud. I found out that you could shoot roly-poly bugs out of your pop gun AND that those little roly-poly bugs would shoot further than wet mud. The hard part was getting enough roly-polys to last through the fight. That and that the roly-polys didn't shoot very well unless they were rolled up.

When they hit you, you just had some roly-poly guts on you instead of a glob of mud. You’d wait for the innards to dry then just wipe them off. If you tried to wipe them off before they are dry? Well, then it smears and, from what Mom told me, it does not always come off of your clothes so well.

The next hard thing about roly-poly bugs, is finding a good way to carry them. Sandwich bags don't work too well. The bugs get all mushy. Jars are too hard to carry and too easy to break. I found that if I used an empty BB tube with the cap that I could carry almost 50 roly-polys.

The only problem was if the lid came off in your pocket. Have you ever stuck your hand in a pocket that is full of roly-poly bugs? They squish and leave a kind of smelly wet spot on and in your hip pocket. That was not good when Mom would go to clean out your pockets before doing laundry.

I swear, you could hear her scream from two blocks away. A friend asked me once if I heard a scream while we were at his house, which was two blocks from my house, and I told him I heard it, but didn't know why someone would be screaming during the day. Well, I found out why about ten minutes later when my friend’s mom said that there was a phone call for me from home.

Yep. It was Mom. And she was NOT a happy camper. I went home real fast. I mean, it's not like I had left them there on purpose. It, just kind of happened.

I learned how to do my own laundry that weekend. And Mom went to get her nails done. She ended up having to find a new nail salon. And I learned,to never wash a red t-shirt with your socks and underwear. Do you know how hard that is to explain to your buddies in the locker room?

I think I was the only kid in school,who went comando for awhile, until I could get some new shorts. And that was when I was in junior high in the late 60's early 70's. And you know. It's pretty cold going like that in the winter.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013


"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."
--Joseph Campbell, Professor and Author

Friday, July 5, 2013

It's the mother person! (a Kathi post)

Those of you who read here regularly know that Jim's mom (Dennie) passed away last month. Jim's dad (Jim) has been gone about a year and a half.

Dennie was one of my very favorite people ever. I was SO lucky in the in-law department. She called herself "the mother person," and after awhile, so did we all. I'd answer the ringing phone and hear from the other end, "It's just the mother person."

Dennie was fun and funny. She was nice, but not in a sickly sweet way, and not if you weren't nice to the people she liked, loved, and cared about. In fact, one of Jim's nasty aunts (well, I guess it's really his ONLY aunt) said bad things about me to her after we had spent a BUNCH of hours in a car together, and Dennie told that she was hanging up the phone and didn't walk to talk to her again until she could talk nicely. Thing is that most of the bad things his aunt said about me that day were true.

Dennie had a great smile and wonderful laugh, and she was a hugger. One of her frequent phrases was about hugging. She'd say, when we got ready to hang up from a phone conversation, "Hug the boy's neck for me" -- meaning Jim. Or if I said something by phone that she particularly liked, she'd say, "I just want to hug your neck!"

And she meant it! She hugged everybody. Often.

When Jim's nephew Grant was killed in Afghanistan, there was a service for him and two other guys at Fort Carson. After the service, there was a receiving line of family members, and the soldiers in attendance came through the line on their way out. There were probably 150 of them. She was at the front of the receiving line, and she hugged each and every one of them. Well, since the line started out with hugs instead of handshakes, that meant WE all hugged every one of them. But the thing was? It did feel right. It was comforting to hug them and be hugged. If someone else were at the front of the line, though, I'll bet we wouldn't have had that.

My sister Kristi and I have a history of laughing hard. We've been kicked out of places because we just couldn't stop laughing. For example, one time we were at Woolworths (do you remember Woolworths?) We tried on wigs and laughed. We looked at products and laughed. Then we were walking down the cleaning aisle and it smelled of mothballs. I said, "Have you ever smelled mothballs before?" and she said of course she had, and I asked her how she got their little legs apart. We laughed so hard I thought we were going to pee, then we were told to leave. And yes -- we were adults, not kids, at the time. We'd laugh so hard that we couldn't breathe, then we'd try to say, "I-can't-breathe-I-can't-breathe-I-can't-breathe-I-can't-breathe-I-can't-breathe. . .," in a high-pitched, oxygen-deprived voice while laughing, until we could finally recover enough to actually breathe.

Anyway, I tell you that as a gauge to how hard we laugh on a regular basis. But one time Dennie and I laughed so hard that it surpassed the mothball incident.

We were at a convention together, Jim, me, and his parents. After dinner, Jim and his dad were "off gallyvanting" (as Dennie would say), and she and I went back to the room. We were just going to sit on the beds and watch TV or talk. She was a tall person, and simply got on the bed and sat back against the pillows. I am much shorter, and had to generally take a running leap (if you could call it that) to launch myself up onto the tall bed. I'd been doing it for two days, but on this particular evening, I just couldn't do it. Each time I would try, the slickness of the bedspread and the slickness of my skirt conspired against me, and I'd just slide back off to have to try again. Pretty soon it was to the point that it was ridiculous, and we started laughing and couldn't stop. We laughed SO hard, and I could do nothing but hang on to the edge of the bed, half on, half off, and laugh. Well, that's when the guys came in, and we couldn't stop laughing long enough to even tell them why. Jim snapped pictures of us, which made it even more ridiculous. That was the hardest I ever laughed in my life, and I was glad it was that way.

Jim's dad made me a whole bunch of .38 caliber wax bullets, so that I could "practice shooting in the house." He even went so far as to make them from vanilla scented wax so they were more feminine. He was completely serious, and took me to his basement to his shooting range (a plywood board propped up against the wall on some milk crates) to try them out. I totally thought he was kidding.

He was not.

After I shot a bunch of them, I went back upstairs to visit with Dennie, and she just looked at me with a straightface and said, "I'll bet you never even KNEW you needed to practice shooting in the house!" We burst out laughing.

Truly? The wax bullets were a thoughtful thing and one of the best gifts I ever received. Not because I needed to practice shooting in the house, but because my father-in-law loved me enough to think of me, think of my safety, and think of something he could make me that would show that. He was, as you may have guessed, also one of my favorite people.

I miss them both a lot.

The good news is that Jim has the best qualities of them both, and I am very lucky to have him as my person.

What I wouldn't give to pick up the phone and hear,  "It's just the mother person."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Ok, I made mention about my sister liking stained glass and such. And, well, I guess I can see where it could be kind of neat to be able to work with glass. They have a glass museum in Seattle. Really, they do all kinds of neat stuff. Blown glass of various shapes, colors, textures, and lots of other things to boot. Slivers of glass in different colors and squeezed together, then bonded, and you have a scene of the country side.

Blown, stretched, and shaped. You have flowers, or shapes of people, or of fish and critters under the sea. Stained glass visions of knights and dragons. I was truly amazed and in awe of some of the things that they did with glass.

It can be something as silly as a child's drawing being brought to life in glass. Or as detailed as a vase for flowers.

Or, a walk on a bridge and overhead it is like you are on the bottom of the sea looking up. 

Walking on the bridge also shows off various shapes and sizes of vases and sculptures of different styles.

I really did have a good time with my sister here. She was like a little kid in a candy store. She bought a hand blown star fish. She said that it called to her. Who am I to say otherwise!

This is the girl that almost beat me to death with the doll leg after I ran over and demolished her doll with my peddle car. I still have dreams of that one. I only mention this because, they had a doll that was blown from glass. Its head, arms, legs were separated from the torso. I would have taken a picture,  but my sister had this funny look in her eye, and I think she was reaching for one of the legs.

Monday, July 1, 2013


I like road trips. I always have, since I was a little kid. I wanted to be one of the guys from the old TV show "Route 66. "  I also wanted to be on the ultimate road trip. On the TV show "Wagon Train" with Ward Bond, they were on their way to California, but never seemed to get there.

Anyway, I was gone most of last week. I went on a road trip with my sister. Not the most happy happy, let's have some fun type of sister. She is way older than me (by two years) and does not really know how to have a good time. Her idea of a good time is teaching water aerobics at the rec' center. Or watching a documentary on stained glass.

Me? I like to boogie (like that word?) down the road. And if I see something that catches my interest, I stop and check it out. I like history, so a lot of the historical markers and such are a must stop, and read, and look. But, with my sister doing some of the driving, we didn't do a whole lot of that.

We were on a mission, of sorts. My brother-in-law made a old style baby cradle. We were taking it  from Denver to a little town just south of Seattle, Washington. It was for a young couple who just had their first child, a little boy. My sister asked me if I would go with her on this trip, and I felt honored to do so. You see, the young man had been in the same unit as my nephew who was killed a couple years ago. I had met him at a picnic in my nephew's honor some years back, here in Colorado.

This young man is now out of the service from wounds he received in Afghanistan. He is now a proud father. Robert, my brother in-law, made this cradle for his new little boy. It will be a family heirloom to be handed down through the generations to come. I was honored to get to go with my sister to deliver the cradle.

It gave my sister and I a chance to talk and to reminisce about our childhoods and to talk about family. Things that she remembered at times, I could not remember. And, if I brought something up, she also could not remember some things. We were in a hurry, but not in a big hurry. When we arrived at their home, there was excitement and hugs, and a few tears. My sister held the baby for awhile and would not give him up so I could hold him. But that's okay.

We stayed and chatted, drank some ice tea, and I took some pictures. My sister and I left and drove on into Seattle to a hotel for some good sleep. I found out on the first night on the road that sleeping in a reclined front seat of a Subaru Outback at a truck stop does NOT make for a good few hours of sleep.

I also found out that it takes Robert several months to do one of these cradles. I think the man is wasting his time driving a truck. He ought to be making more of these and the wooden toys that he makes. I think he could make a good living at it. Unless my sister likes him out of the house now and then when he is on the road.

(continued tomorrow)


"Gratitude is what starts the receiving process."
--Jim Rohn