REFLECTIONS, MAKING MEMORIES

Sitting here drinking my morning coffee I get the chance to reflect on my vacation. It has been good, but I am ready to get back to work.
I talk with my brother all the time on Skype, but getting down to it, there is nothing like the real thing. It was so great to be met by him and his wife at the airport. The following day he took me to get my business done and when we got back to his house, we continued what we had done the whole day – talk. The following day we drove to his kid’s place south of Portland, Oregon, we continued to talk almost the whole way. We had a fantast weekend with his two girls and three grandsons. On Monday after the kids had gone to school, we got a few games of pinnacle in. Has been years since I played, yet didn’t take long to come back to me.
Had a great visit with cousins who have been a large part of my life. One whole day we sat in the kitchen and talked, it was 2200 that evening when we finally went to bed, yet we never talked the same subject twice. Like the rest of us, they are getting older and I wonder if I will see them again. This is the same thought I have with everyone I visited this trip. We all know there is no guarantee in life, so every time I come over, I take it special, like it is the last time I will see them, until the next.
My best friend in school, who is my best friend in life, got to spend a few days with him and his wife. It never matters how long since we have been together, we can pick up right where we left off from last time. We fall right into life as if we have never been apart. His wife continually made the statement, “Just like having a double here”. I think she never gets over the fact we are two peas in a pod.
Leaving his place, I made the trip back to Idaho on the interstate through the Columbia River Gorge, making a stop in Hermiston, Oregon. Had to visit a Brother from another mother. Those of you who have never been in the military will never understand how this family is, especially this family – we are all 11 series – INFANTRY. Even though many of us have never met, we are tied by the bond of the rifle, the fact that ties us together for the rest of our lives. It was a great time meeting a brother I had never met, then surprised to meet two more. Even though it was the first time we physically have met, we had a bond which can never be broken.
After leaving his place, the drive was fantastic, a clear day. Looking way over to the west north west, I got to see a snow – capped volcano, Mt. Hood sticking up like a guiding beacon. It was beautiful, I have never seen this before. Up over the Blue Mountains, down in to LaGrande. Looking to the mountains to my left, they were all dusted with snow. Climbing Ladd Canyon, I remembered so many times driving truck up this stretch in the snowy, slick winter having to get out and chain up. It was a beautiful day all the way past Baker City, down the Burnt River Canyon to the Snake river, into Ontario, Oregon. Had to take a brief stop to say goodbye to my brother who was getting ready to go elk hunting.
The Treasure Valley, where I grew up, but no longer a home I recognize. It has grown up so much with so many people. After a couple night with a good friend living in Greenleaf, Id, visiting friends, enjoying the great Café in Greenleaf, I went to Boise to get some business done. I drove around the valley some, just looking. Yes, I did get a game of golf in with three guys I didn’t know. They were great to guide me around the course.
One thing I loved, this is the first time since I moved to Denmark I have been back in the fall. I love the fall colors here, one thing I miss in Denmark. I was blessed with fantastic weather, clear sunny days to enjoy the beautiful colors God has blessed the Treasure Valley with. Along with the colors was the smells and sights of fall; Crisp aspens, the sugar beet factory in Nampa, corn in the fields ready for harvest, lawns filled with leaves, empty irrigation canals, the reds, yellows against the green evergreens. Yes, I took pictures, but pictures can never replace what I seen with my eyes and are now burned in my brain.
My last Sunday I drove to the Owyhee Mountains. God blessed Idaho with some of the most fantastic country on earth. My Dad introduced me to this country when I was very small and instantly fell in love with it. I have covered lots of this country horseback. Hunted much more. One has to experience it to really appreciate it. To end a great day, I was blessed to have dinner with many of my school mates. To fantastic ladies, Karen and Becky contacted those still in the Valley and we got together for Mexican food in Caldwell. It was great, lots of stories of our younger years with smiles and laughter. God has truly blessed me with these friends I went to school with. I looked around the table, not seeing the older men and women we are, but the kids of our youth because memories are strong and they never age.
Two days remaining, will spend with my cousins in Boise. When is the next time I get back – who knows. Will everyone I have seen this time still be on this earth – God knows. I am so glad for the memories I have made this trip. The friendships I have renewed. Today it is not like it was 27yrs ago when I moved away. Back then it was snail mail, today we reached “The Jetsons” age, seeing who I talk to, half a world away. Yet there is nothing like being able to see the person, shake the hand, give a hug. After our dinner Sunday we were just standing outside the restaurant, not really talking. I shook hands and hugged around, then we stood there not really wanting the moment to end. Finally, we said our goodbyes again and departed. Love you all!

EXPRESSING FEELINGS

Walking to the airport exit my thoughts were of getting my baggage, contacting my brother so he could drive by and pick me up. All of a sudden a guy moves to my right and a arm goes around me, by brother. What a good surprise. I was not expecting to see him until later. We talked a bit and headed to the baggage claim, retrieved my bags, Larry contacted Sue so she could meet us out front, loaded up and away we went.

Larry said something which stuck with me, something about we were getting older and how much more important it was see each other. I mulled it over and yep, he was right. Both of us are getting older. I remember back in time when I use to see my Dad great his brothers or sisters after not seeing them for a long time. I remember see two older people who’s faces lit up upon seeing each other after a long time.

We have it a little different today. Larry and I communicate almost regularly over the internet. If not by e-mail we do the video talking bit. Hardly ever do we turn on the camera as it is more important just to hear each other’s voice and know we are still alive and kicking.

One thing my brother and I have always had a special relationship. While working as a guide, I gave him my check book to take care of business for me while I was in the back country. I remember telling someone this once and their reply was in shock and how could I just give him total access to my stuff. My reply was, “He is my brother. If I can’t trust him, then I have no one.”

My first day back he took me around to get some business done. I said something about taking time, his reply was: “I don’t care anymore, I am retired.” Wham, that stuck with me. My brother was retired and he is only one year older than me. I guess that means I am not too far behind and both of us are no longer spring chicks. We got some good talking that day and the following day as we drove to his kid’s place in Oregon we talked almost non-stop for two hundred miles.

Getting to his oldest daughter’s place I was met by these two very much grown up guys. Not the same “boys” I had remembered. Tabitha’s two and Traci’s one have all grown up so much I almost never recognized them.

We have had a lot of fun, playing some golf, listening to Gabe, a young man starting a music career. He was kind of put on the spot to play for us and it was tough. I know he was nervous, I remember when I was a kid and my mom wanted me to play for others. I knew what to do and now to do it, but it some how didn’t come out right. That’s OK, I know the more he plays and practices the more he will enjoy (if that is what he wants)and the better he will become.
Family is something, something very precious. I never had kids. My life was too scattered, here, there, impulsive, never really settled down until my later years, then it was too late to start a family. If I had do overs in life I wouldn’t change a thing, because if I did I wouldn’t be me. But through my brother and his family I feel proud to know there is a connection to the future.
Looking at the way his two girls have turned out and in turn see the way Larry’s grand kids are developing into fine young men with good moral standing.
Yea I think back to Larry and I greeting each other at the airport. I didn’t express my feelings as openly as my brother, maybe that is because he has more practice at it than I do, but that doesn’t mean my inner feeling of joy and excitement weren’t there to physically be with my brother after all those years.

I guess maybe I had better get a little more in practice because in a couple weeks I will return home and have to greet my wife and dog whom I will have been away from for three weeks. After all they are MY family and I do miss them very much.

TRIP BACK IN TIME

Tuesday I got done late with my last horse. Just rounding a turn in the road here was a 1959 Chevy Apache Fleetside sitting in a guy’s front yard staring me in the face. I just had to back up and take a picture. As I backed up, here the guy was looking over his yard fence. I yelled out, “Great looking Chevy”. He started out the yard gate so I parked, got out, we shook hands and started to talk. He gave me the low down on how he acquired it and told me about a get together of American car owners in the area. Of course I had to tell him my Dad owned a Chevy Apache, which we used on the farm, and how I learned to drive in it. I then went to talk about my first car – 1969 Chevy Camaro. Finally I had to go, so we shook hand and off I went. Now my drive home was a trip back in memory lane.
It was metallic purple with black interior. When I got finished I had rebuilt the top end with a 4 barrel carb, new headers, high lift cam, you know, all the goodies needed to get some more horses under the hood. I only had a 283, but I got as much power as I could get from it. Bought a set of deep dish slotted steel wheels (chrome finish), L60’s for the rear, 70’s for the front. Air ride shocks all around. Inside I decked it out with a brand new Craig eight track power play, with Pioneer speakers, two almost filling the back deck. I was real proud of this car. Also I had my CB radio mounted under the dash, my handle was “Purple Pirate”.
My best friend Dan had a ’68 Malibu. We soon learned girls took money away from the things we “needed”, plus it was much more fun “cruising “ down town Boise without gals, also a lot cheaper! One weekend I would drive my car, Dan would buy the food and drinks. The next weekend he would drive his car and I would buy. Great deal and was a fantastic time.
It was the ‘70s. The movie “Happy Days” had played and the TV series of the same name was still playing. Down town Boise was the place to be on a warm summer Saturday evening. There were two, main one-way streets at that time. Both streets would be lined with people, teenagers, young adults to watch the cars cruise the streets. Every once in a while a couple would line up and drag from stop light to stop light. I never remember any trouble, everyone was there for a good time. It was a fantastic time to grow up, have a great car and enjoy a good summer weekend.
It was usually after midnight when Dan and I would head home. On the way many times we’d stop at the Hong Kong in Nampa. One time we ordered a meal for “4”. The waitress didn’t want to order it for us, but we said we’d pay the rate for 4. She looked at us kind of strange, especially when Dan ordered extra portions of hot mustard for the pork & seeds. Later on as we sat back, after finishing a Chinese meal for “4”, the waitress came and shook her head in disbelief.
Yes, those were the care free days of our youth. Later on after Dan moved back, south of Portland, Oregon, I made a trip out after rebuilding my engine. I got it tuned up on the way out. I told Dan to find a good, straight road with no traffic, I wanted to see how fast she would go. The speedometer went to 140mph and I pegged it, so I figured it was fast enough.
I turned into my drive way, looking up I can see my dog Gabby came out to greet me as usual – back to reality. Slowing driving my VW Transporter up to the parking spot I collected my computer, phone, work calendar, opened the door and was greeted by a good looking dog. We gave our greeting and headed for the house. Yep, I’m back to reality, but it is sure great to have those memories in my head and get something to trigger them every once in a while, just so I don’t forget them.

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE

I was taking a break this morning and got to thinking, (dangerous sometimes). Anyway got to looking back in time, thinking about what Denmark was like when I first arrived and what it is like today. A few thoughts of when I was a kid got thrown in as well.
The first obvious thing was the road in front my house. I went from living in the back country of Idaho to having a road (Nyvej) right in front of my house. When I arrived in December 1992, there wasn’t much traffic. The every once in a while car, the tractor and an occasional delivery truck, with the garbage thrown in the mix. Most country roads here in Denmark are not very wide. In order for two cars to safely pass, both must pullover to the extreme right, driving on the shoulder of the road. With that in mind, now think about the large trucks. Today Nyvej is like a freeway. Certain times of the day you don’t want to be walking or riding a bike, the traffic is unbelievable, sometime into all hours of the night.
It was very different when I first moved here, most stores were completely closed on Sundays, and only open half days on Saturday. Then about once a month was “Long Saturday” where the stores were open a few hours longer, it was something, not today. I thought this was a really great thing, giving people Sundays free, and not working long on Saturdays – gone today. Now it is all about the money. Most all stores are open seven days a week, and many are even open on holidays, just like in the States. I was disappointed to see this happen, Denmark falling to the ways of the west, and I really don’t think it is so great.
When I first moved here, the little village of Lintrup had a small grocery store, a mechanic/handyman shop. You could also mail letters and such at the store. Just outside of town was a blacksmith shop – all of this is gone today. Like many places in the States, the stores and shops in the bigger towns have taken over. There has been effects in the towns as well. In the town of Rødding there used to be a baker – it has opened and closed a number of times and now is currently closed. There was a full time butcher shop, no longer as it was. Post office long since gone, you now go to the local “OK” tank station to mail a letter or pick up a package. The local camera store is gone along with the local electric appliance shop. One of the two grocery stores is gone. As I drive around my shoeing area many of the small “Mom & Pop” stores are gone. Bakers are gone. I used to have my “usual” places I would stop to get something to drink, a snack to eat, gone. Many of the local bakers where I would stop to get fresh make morning bread, pick up a sandwich, or an afternoon snack are gone – they have been replaced with many of the gas stations which now have an oven to bake frozen, ready to cook rolls, pastries and such, and they taste like it. Many places over cook stuff, they really don’t care about the quality. Thank goodness for a local tank station near me. They get all their rolls, bread and such from a “real” baker and it tastes like it. There was a time when they got it from another place, but they went back to the baker – Thank God. I feel sorry the people have settled for second best and not supporting their local bakers and butchers, so much quality has been lost.
On the bright side, I can now find a cup of coffee first thing in the morning if I want. When I first moved here you couldn’t find a cup of coffee at 0600 if your life depended on it. Now I really don’t care. I got a thermo cup and fill it before leaving the house and many of my customers have coffee for me during the day.
I can understand many of the changes. Postal services have been cut to almost nothing because of the internet, e-mail and over-night express services. Train stations in many towns are just empty building now because most purchase tickets online, or “swipe” their card at the local machine to purchase a ticket. There was a time when you could purchase a ticket on the train, no more, you get a fine today if you get on the train without a ticket.
When I first moved here I relied on our home phone for my business, now I almost never get a call on it. Only during the weekends when I have my mobile phone set to switch to the house because I don’t answer my business phone on the weekends. The mobile phone is great, lets me instantly contact a customer letting them know of any schedule changes or them letting me know of a problem and sometimes getting a same day fix. Worst part is so many people can’t set their phone down for any time. Many times I have a customer holding a horse and still trying to message someone or talk to them. I will stop, look at them. I tell them when I am working on their horse, their phone is in the pocket. I am not talking on a phone, they are not using their phones. Mobile phones today are a necessary evil. Yet too many people, kids today are forgetting how to look someone in the eye and talk to them. They are lost if they can’t check their “status” every minute or so.
One thing I am glad for, glad I am old enough to remember how easy life was before mobile phones, knowing how to ride a bike without “fancy riding clothes”, knowing if I fell over I might get a skinned knee. Remember when a “soda pop” was something special, not many a day. Three channels on the TV and it went off at midnight, with the last thing showing was the American flag and National Anthem. The list can go on and I know many of you out there will remember as well, but like the old saying goes, “That’s water under the Bridge”.

HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU GOT?

Got into a financial discussion today with one of my customers, once again saw that “you crazy old man” look when I brought up the fact that one day all money will disappear and the government will have its thumb on everyone and our lives, knowing everything we are doing.
Just ask many of the depositors of the Bank of Cyprus how much money they lost in 2013. Some have said, “Oh, that is Cyprus, it can’t happen here”. It has happened once it can happen again.
Slowly I see George’s book, “1984” coming true. Those of you who have never read it, maybe it is time you did. He might have gotten the year wrong, but he is getting everything else right. Stop, look, listen to what is happening all around you.
Slowly but surely money is disappearing. Direct deposit, online banking, instant payments with credit card or direct withdrawal from your account using an app on your mobile phone. All of this is “to make your life so much easier”. They (who ever they are) wanting to make things easy and instant, but in reality they are also keeping better track of what you want, how much you make, where you spend your money, how much you got. What price are we going to pay for all this “instant service” and “life made easy”? Maybe I am old school, maybe I am just that crazy, gray haired old man, but I think we do have something to be afraid of.
I am reminded of when I was deployed to Kuwait/ Iraq in 2001. I was the V Corps G3 Rear HQ Sergeants Major. After we got to Kuwait, almost everything in the section went electronic. All the functions we had plotted on a map, now done by computer. Faster, better, instant updates and less personal needed to do it. I pulled my Operations Sergeant aside and told him I wanted all units of Battalion size and large posted by hand on a map. He started in, “But SGM, we got computers now, we don’t need maps, besides there is no place for it in the TOC”. I told him the map could be in the back room but I wanted it done and updated at least once every 24hrs, no ifs ands or buts. As time went on I caught some flak from one of the Operations Officers because it was taking some extra time to up the map. I told the officer this was NCO business and I would take care of it – updates continues. So comes the end of April first of May. We are in the middle of the war and it is hotter than a popcorn fart, so hot in fact that the electronics begin to overheat and fail. The large electronic map projected on the screen for the Commanding General to see goes out because the projector gets hot. Next some of the computer screens start to fail. About that time I hear the Chief of Staff, a Colonel start to cussing up a storm because there are no graphics to see. “Sir, I got a map”. The Colonel looked at me, “What did you say SGM”? I replied, “Sir, I got a 1:100,000 map current from Battalion level and above”. With language only an Infantry officer could use I was told to get it out there. Had my Ops Sergeant with a couple soldiers get it up front and the General was as happy as a fly in a pile of horse crap.
High-tec is great, but it will fail. This past spring the mobile app used for instant payments went down for just one day, you can’t imagine the strife it caused, instantly made the news. You trust banks, maybe to a point, but not completely, just ask the people of Cyprus who had some of their saving taken away. Banks aren’t lily white, just look at Danske Bank. One of the biggest money laundering scandals in recent times. Banks and insurance companies caused the mortgage crises which led to so many home owners losing their homes. So many home owners were made loans with hardly nothing down and in the end couldn’t make the inflated payments on houses which weren’t worth the money.
Like I told my customer. “You and I can go down to the local store to buy a bag of groceries. You go to pay with your plastic, but it doesn’t work. I pay with the money I have in hand. Who do you think is going to walk out with their bag of groceries”?
When we give up the use of money, the stuff we got in our hands, we can touch, feel and trade for goods, we are giving up a piece of our freedom. This is what governments want. Once all currency is gone, the government will have one more hold on you. They will have more control over our lives. “Oh but it will be so much easier” you say. Is easy always the best way?
Stop and think about our national debt. Congress can’t even submit a balanced budget. If I ran my business the way they run the country, I would have been bankrupt long ago. Spending is about 18% higher now than two years ago. Congress continues to loan money to every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, yet they have no money to spend. Think what eventually this will do to your savings?
Yea, I may be just a crazy old man, but at least this crazy old man will have something of value to buy or trade with. As a kid, my Dad taught me the value of money, if I wanted to buy something, I must have the money first so I learned if I wanted something, first I must work to make the money to buy it. There was never an allowance, or “free” money when I was growing up. I think too many kids got “free” money growing up and now they expect it.
One thing for sure – I am so glad I am over 60yrs old and not 20 just starting out.

SUMMER TIME THINKING

Spring has sprung, fall has fell, summer is here, and it’s hotter than – not really just nice.
This year, like last I am enjoying my summer playing golf. This year is a little different, I have cut back on my work a bit, so gots lots of extra time to play. Today is the first time the wife really said something about my playing. I just let her complain, no replay. I remember what my Dad said years ago after Mom got on him about something. He just finished supper then went outside. I finished and followed, going out sitting on his pickup’s tailgate. He then invoked some words of wisdom: It is no use arguing with your mother because she is always right and your always wrong. Just let it go in one ear and out the other. So I remembered this and found life is so much better when you just let it go.
Getting my knee replaced this past winter has been great. Yea, I still got some small issues, like it aches a lot, but it is so much better than the pain I had last year. I remember sometimes coming back from work or a game of golf my knee hurt so much I couldn’t sleep without some painkillers. Now I haven’t had my knee brace on for a long time. In fact a while back my whole knee itched so bad for almost a day. Always had people tell me this was part of the healing process. Have had a couple people I know tell me it will take a year or so for it to completely settle in and I won’t notice it. That’s ok, at least it doesn’t hurt like it did before.
I almost never listen to the news anymore. I get so tired of all the B.S. and crap going on. Many times I have thought to myself, Sure am glad I am over 60yrs old and not 20 and just starting out. It seems like you can’t say anything or do anything without offending someone. I guess people have forgotten or never be taught to respect others for what they think or how they want to live. I bet it really makes for some very interesting family conversations around the Thanksgiving or Christmas table if you got a big family.
One thing I am glad for, so many years ago I had the insight to plan for my twilight years. No matter what the plan is, you got to have one. I am so glad I joined the Army Reserve and stuck it out to get a pension. With the Reserve I had two goals – 1. Stay long enough to get a pension, 2. Make the highest rank I could get so I would get a good pension. I was lucky enough to achieve both goals. I made the rank of Sergeants Major, which for pay is an E9. I have had some ask why I never got to Command Sergeant Major, well I suppose I could have, but the retirement pay for a CSM is still E9, just a lot more responsibility for the same pay, plus I would have had to stay in longer. When I got out it was time. My civilian job couldn’t stand another deployment, plus I ended up with some physical problems which would have required me to get what the army calls a “Profile”, meaning I physically couldn’t do some things. I always told myself I would never stay in with a profile. Being in a leadership position I felt I needed to lead from the front, which I tried to do all the time. The other part of my retirement plan started when I was working as a professional guide. During that time I lived where I worked so my living expenses were very small, thus I was able to save money, so I invested in land. I looked at the stock market, but I was in a position I couldn’t keep track of it, so land seemed a better deal. It would be a long term investment which has turned out great. If I could pass on one piece of advice is: it is never too early to plan for the future because no one else will plan for you.
When I got out of high school I knew I didn’t want to go for a college degree. At that time there were a lot of degree holders flipping burgers and went into debt to do that. So I went to a Vo-Tec school, learned to be a mechanic, got out and immediately went to work. I also worked with my Dad who was a carpenter. Another piece of advice my Dad gave me: “No matter how hard times get there is always a job if you want to work. You may be doing a job you don’t like, but sooner or later the good one will come. In the mean time you can eat”. I just shake my head in amazement sometimes reading about how a college degree is needed to succeed. Now don’t get me wrong, education is good and we do need people who have degrees, but it is not needed to be successful. I read so many times about all the “trades” needing apprentices to train for a job. Many of these jobs pay good money, but the problem is you got to work, get your hands dirty. If it isn’t the job many people don’t like, they won’t take it. My Dad also said, “You have to learn to work”. As a kid I thought to myself, sure one had to learn the job, but that wasn’t what he was talking about. Learning to work is: getting yourself up and ready to get to work on time, having the desire to do a good job, learning to work with others, developing a good work ethic, doing a good job even when it is the worst job you can think of.
Anyway, life is good. My cup is always half full, never half empty. Life is too short to argue and worry too much about things, just let it go. Work is good. Good for the soul and good for your health (especially if you want to eat and pay bills). Enjoy your summer!!

COCO

When she came, she was a little ball of fur, but what we got was unexpected. Coco was to be the most independent, self-willed dog we ever had. She was never submissive to an older dog and most of all, she loved to play BALL! Shelia had her hands full keeping Coco in line, but she was a good “mom” and did her best.
From the very start Coco was hole hog when she played, ran or whatever. Coco was a very over active dog. If she was lying down, and Jette or I got up, she was up in a flash with a ball headed to the door. It wasn’t until after she was three or so, when I just moved in my chair, her head would raise up to see what was going on, I’d life my hand, palm facing her, telling her to stay. Soon she learned this and I could get up without her exploding to the door. She would chase a ball and many times end up rolling on the ground with the ball. From the beginning she was very hard on herself, never slowing down, never accept second best, and she was a talker! In her whole life she never showed any pain, as if pain was something she never felt.
When it was time to go for a walk, she was so excited she was jumping up and down, and talking. It wasn’t a bark, more a combination of a bark and a yowl. This was something she never lost. In the mornings when it was time to get up, she started, I never needed an alarm clock. She would coming running upstairs and make sure I was up. She would run down stairs and wait for me, banging away with her tail on everything. She was so happy I was up, her tail going, moving between my legs I could hardly walk. Even if I had to piss like a race horse, I had to take that time to pet her, hundred percent focused only on her. When she was satisfied, outside she’d go, and I got to pee. Coco very rarely licked me, instead if I was lying on the couch she would come up and touch her nose to mine, that was her greeting to me. She knew me and I knew her.
The ball was her lifelong joy and pleasure. No matter the time of day, she loved to play ball. If I was sitting down, she’d come set down with a ball in her mouth. One thing at the beginning I never reached down to pick a ball up, she was so lightening fast she’d nab it in a flash of light, no matter if my fingers were there or not. I learned early to step on the ball first, then she’d back off a bit. But best of all was to have two or three balls at the ready. If she had one in her mouth, she’d cover the second one with her paw, pressing so hard it was almost impossible to get it free.
Yes, Coco was the most challenging dog we ever had, but despite all the problems and such, we loved her very much. The last couple days after her passing, I have found just how empty my life is without her. No more waking me early in the mornings. No more greeting me when I come home. As I said she was very vocal, her special sounds and language – the house is silent now. She knew our routine. She knew when I was going to work. Mornings I’d play a little ball with her, she was so keyed up. All I had to say, was “Bye-bye Coco, I got to go to work”. Immediately she’d drop the ball, come smiling, wagging her tail to me so I could pet her for a while, then it was ok for me to leave. As I would drive off, I’d look back and see her laying in front of the door on her blanket watching me drive off.
I remember when Shelia passed on, Coco grew up over night. From being a puppy to “Head of the house”. For two months she was on her own, but it made no difference to her, she was a little calmer being the only dog, but her love for play and being never changed. When we got a new puppy to replace Shelia, it was a big problem – she wanted to attack her. It was a very difficult, challenging week or so. We couldn’t let both of them free at the same time. We had a divider in the house to separate them and I had to make a fence down the middle of the yard. With them on each side of their yard, she could get use to the new puppy. Finally she gave in and it was ok. I was surprise how submissive she got to Gabby – Coco turned into a puppy again. When Coco came to Gabby she’d automatically wash her face – this never stopped, she continued right to the end.
When we got Coco, Shelia was older and didn’t really play as much with her, now Coco turned into a puppy playing with Gabby. She would lay on her back and allow Gabby to be the “Aggressor”, teaching Gabby how to attack and defend in their play. At first Gabby cared nothing for a ball, but soon she learned from Coco the “Ball” was good. These two would chase each other through the house – around the chairs, under the table. Finally Coco would fall to the floor, roll on her back and allow Gabby to “attack” her at the end.
Yes in a way some of Coco still lives on in Gabby because of all the things Gabby learned from Coco. This is one thing we always liked, how the new one learned from the old one. But Gabby is the wife’s dog, she hangs on her, like Coco hung on me. I love Gabby, but I got a very big empty place I my life with Coco gone as she was my dog. Coco, you will always be missed every time I come home, getup in the mornings, get out of my chair, go out the door. You knew my life, routine, everything. You felt my love for you and gave so much, I will never forget you – even if you were a real pain in the ass. Good-bye Coco (Aug 2013 – Mar 2019), you will forever be missed, and always loved.

MY RYDER CUP

Competed in my first match play game of golf – it was fantastic. I thought being hooked on golf was something, but now I have discovered match play. This is where handicap has no play, you against the other guy, counting strokes to win a hole. Whoever wins the most holes wins the match.
I couldn’t believe how good I played, yea if I could reach around I would pat myself on the back! I believe it brought out the best play in me because I was counting not only my strokes, but his as well. My short game was almost perfect. I only really screwed up a couple long chip-ins, and one of my short chips. If I screwed up, had a bad shot, then I would start thinking, “Ok he’s a stroke ahead, where can I make it up”. I found myself focusing more on the ball when shooting, thus getting more good shots. For example: One par five was about a forty five degree bend to the right. My tee shot was way too much to the right, just about inside the trees. I looked at my opponent’s ball, he was sitting good in the middle of the fairway, crap, I was going to get a shot behind getting around the corner – unless I could go over the trees. The only problem was there was a little tree almost in my way, I looked at it and thought if I got a good shot I could make it – go for it. I got my hybrid 4, picked my direction and thought, “Watch the ball, rotate the body, now hit the ball.” I did, a good shot, I could feel the solid whack and hear the sound as well. It climbed over the trees, I watched I could see it bounce on the fairway, I did it. That was my second shot. My third shot I landed on the green, but rolled just across to the other side. Now I had about a 12-14 meter putt. My opponent hit the bunker and had to get out, now I was a stroke ahead. My putt was good, I was short, about two feet from the hole. My next shot was in – par. I won the hole all because I took the chance.
I had some bad shots as well. One hole (par 5) I duffed my tee shot, lucky enough it ran a ways, but I was only half way to my opponent’s ball. My next shot with my fairway wood I topped the ball and watched as it just went over a little rise – directly for a ditch crossing the fairway! I just knew I lost my ball. My opponent was sitting great, he took his next shot and came to help me look for my ball. He found it just about a foot below the edge of the ditch, playable but tough. I took my sand wedge, tried my best to get a good footing on the side of the ditch, whack, amazingly enough it popped out about 30 meters forward. I was relieved, he was a stroke ahead. We both got on the green. I missed, he went in. I lost the hole, but just had to putt the ball in for a finish to a bad hold.
Lots of give and take, him winning a hole, me winning it back, coming even on many holes. I won the first two holes outright. We tied the next couple. I won another couple, only first dropping a hole on the eighth. I wasn’t keeping score, and I wasn’t keeping count of how many we tied, but I was keeping track of my wins. Finally after hole 17, as he picked up after I holed my ball, he stuck out his hand and said, “Congrats, you won”. I must have looked surprised because he repeated it. I stuck out my hand and said thanks, then I remembered I screwed up – forgot to take my hat off (guys must do), so I apologized, removed my had, stuck out my hand and did it right. He then said, “Shall we play the last hole just for fun?”, of course I said, after all I have no idea when I will play this course again. So we played the last hole, not keeping track of strokes.
I know it’s not the same, but I understand how the guys playing the Ryder Cup must feel when they win a match! Yea, for me there was no crowds, no big prize (in fact it cost me to win, I had to buy his first drink), but this was my first match play game and I had WON, bringing home a win for my team. I was on cloud nine. I just wanted to jump up and down and shout to the world, but I didn’t, somehow I remained proper and respectable. Afterwards the opposing team had food ready, all I had to do was buy my opponent his first drink (their rules), I didn’t mind. This first win ranks right up there with the first deer I ever shot, the first saddle bronc I came out on, calling in a bull elk within about 10 meters. Yea, it is one for the memory books.

EASTER

I received an e-mail from a cousin’s husband talking about Easter past, which got me to thinking while laying in bed, so here the first thing, the day after Easter I get to writing. Even though it is late, I still need to get it written.
One of my first memories of Easter was a few days before Mom would hard boil some eggs so my brother and I would have fun dipping them in the different colors. We’d then take turns hiding them and finding them. Living out on the farm, we didn’t have many others to do this with, so we had lots of “family” fun. Then Dad got a little short cut – he bought some chickens who would lay colored eggs. If I remember right, they came from South America.
Many times before Easter Sunday we would get kitted out with a new suit jacket, shirt and tie so come Easter Sunday we would go to church in our new clothes. Mom would usually have a new hat to go along with her new dress. It was a special time of the year, days were getting longer, weather was getting better. Usually Easter time Dad had would go to the feed store and buy about 50 chicks or so to raise through the year. Yep, it was truly a special time of the year.
After I got older, in my teens, I remember going to Lizard Butte for Easter sun rise services. Most of the time this was with a youth group from church. Lizard Butte is a large rocky outcrop, overlooking the Snake river at Marsing, Idaho. It gets its name because it looks like a resting lizard with its head reared up. Anyway, it was always a sight to behold, on a beautiful, clear morning, the sun would crack the dawn. Many times it was a little frosty, but it was a fantastic experience celebrating Easter Morning with so many others in the wide open spaces overlooking the Snake River and the majestic Owyhee Mountains behind.
We didn’t go out to eat much, but Easter dinner was different. After attending the First Christian Church in Caldwell, Idaho, Dad would take us out to dinner. After all, we were all dressed up in new clothes and why not? I don’t know if Dad phoned to make reservations or if we just went and showed up, but Pollards in Caldwell was where we always went. It was a very nice, family styled restaurant and the food was good.
I have in my later life had some memorial Easters as well. 1996 I was part of a command and control team at Cowboy TOC over the Sava River at Zuponja, Croatia. No sunrise services, just controlling convoys headed south to Bosnia during Operation Joint Endeavor. 2001 I spent Easter at the NATO Headquarters in Pristina, Kosovo during Operation Joint Guard. I remember that morning standing outside my office which was the top of a double stacked set of containers having a cup of coffee overlooking the local cemetery with lots of freshly made graves. It was also a nice morning. 2003 I did Easter services at Camp Virginia, Kuwait. I think it was the most special one I remember. We were at war and yet time was found to attend services with my Brother/Sisters –in- arms.
What’s so amazing, all these memories would not be possible except for one moment in time. The day an empty tomb was found and angles announced, “He’s not here He has risen”. We think of the Easter bunny, colored eggs and such, but true Easter is to remember not the sacrifice Jesus made for me and everyone else, but the fact He is still alive and is the way to everlasting life for all. Today I don’t attend church much, but He is with me all the time, and yes this year Easter was a fantastic, beautiful day and I am thankful for the promise it gives to me.

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

Finally, after a long winter I am back to work and play! 12 November last year I received a new left knee. It wasn’t major surgery, but it is taking a long time to recover. Even now I am not up to full work, only about half time, but it is great to get out of the house. Worst part is I got my two dogs spoiled. They now think every morning I should devote at least twenty minutes or so playing ball, then every afternoon the same.
I was given an injection in my back, deadening me from the waist down, so I was able to hear the entire operation. Saw, grinder, hammer, chisel and staple gun. I figured out I got all the tools for to do the right knee, just need to contact my local vet to see about getting some drugs.
The guy in the bed next to me had his right knee done right after me. Later in the afternoon he suggested we take a walk, so we got our walkers, threw a robe on and headed for the elevator, down and out side. It was great to get some fresh air, my partner needed a smoke. Was a good walk, best part my left leg was still dead – then it woke up.
Didn’t get much sleep that night. They gave me some pain pills, but they did no good. The one thing that helped was ice. I kept the nurses busy all night getting cold packs which was great. The next morning the nurse told me I could take my walker, go up the hall to where they had breakfast ready. I got my walker started out. I got about three quarters of the way there and all of a sudden started to feel funny, oh no, so I backed my walked up to the wall, set the brakes, turned around, sat down and passed out. I woke up with four or five nurses standing around me, I was still sitting. They had my bed there and got me back in. The nurse in charge of me asked if I was in pain, I said yes. She asked if I had taken any pain pills, I said just what they gave me. She asked why I didn’t say something. I told her what was pain? I have lived with pain, worked with broken bones so I just dealt with it. Now she really got pissed off. She said this was the reason I passed out because my body said enough and just shut down. They got me back to my room and gave me two little blue pills. I guarantee I took a trip and never left my bed!
The other thing which helped me get through the long night was I thought ahead, brought the charger for my mobile phone. I knew they had free internet, so I was able to plug in a couple of my favorite talk radio stations, KBOI and KFSO – great listening to talk radio to help pass the time of night. First time I was thankful for a smart phone.
Getting into the car for the ride home was tough, but great to get out of there. I will have to say the food was good. Jette fixed up the couch/sofa in the office for me to sleep at nights so I didn’t have to go up stair. She was great in support. Guess the best part is for the first time since I have been living here she fixed breakfast for me. Not a real breakfast, just the Danish type, but who am I to complain. Probably the best for me, as if I’d had a real breakfast every morning I’d have gotten real fat! Even now she still does it for me, so no complaints here!
After the New Year, I started riding out with another farrier a couple days a week, just to get out of the house (I think Jette was glad as well). Twice a week to the rehab center plus the stationary bike one of my fantastic customers loaned me, I put myself to work. As the old saying goes, “No pain, no gain”, I must have gained a whole lot. Having our riding hall was great as well. During rainy weather I was able to get out and walk without getting soaked. January I also got access to my shop to train up my hands, arms and muscles for work. Then came the first of Feb – back to work.
It was tough the first few horses and I am so thankful to my customers for being very understanding. I also want to thank all the other farriers who supported me and cared for my customer’s horses. Everyone I have been out to has been so supportive and glad I am back. I enjoy getting back to work on their horses, we talk, have some coffee and a general good time while I am working.
Yea, I have lost some customers. Some have taken on the farrier they had do their horse, well that’s their choice and I respect it. What I don’t respect is the fact some have refused my calls, text messages and such. I don’t know what is so hard about telling me they took someone else – people.
Best of all I have been able to hit the golf course again, started out doing a few swings and such. This past Friday I did my first 18 holes, the longest I have walked since the operation. Yea I was pooped, in fact I was kind of struggling through the back nine, but I wanted to complete it. I played probably the worst game I ever played, but a good score wasn’t the goal. Goal was completing the course. My body was so sore afterwards, but I was surprised my knee wasn’t swollen more than normal. In two weeks my course opens up and I know I will be struggling as it is pretty hilly, but looking forward to it. Saturday a friend and I played around a nine hole course. It was flat and not as long as a regular 18 hole course so we went around twice. I actually played pretty good.
By no means am I to full speed but I am gaining every day. I will be increasing my work as time goes along as well as my golf game. Best thing is spring is just about here, longer, warmer days to play more golf. My rehab instructor told me golf was a great sport to play as it is one where I can go at my own speed. I am also looking forward to the point in time when all the pain and swelling are gone. I was told before the operation it could last six to eight month afterwards, so I am still ignoring the pain. Best part is everyone I have talked to say after the first few months they are so glad to have had the operation. This is the time I am looking forward to.