LIFE LONG FRIENDS

When I moved to Denmark in December ’92 the lady I married had acquired a German Shepherd pup earlier in the year.  Chiquita was a good friend.  She was more the wife’s dog as they had done the bonding thing long before I arrive in the scene.  I knew Chiquita in her first year and she was a puppy, but she wasn’t real wild.  She never chewed things up or really got out of line.  When she was 7, we got Jessy because we wanted time for the new kid on the block to learn from the grand old lady. 

Jessy was something else.  When the wife brought Jessy home, she screamed and howled all the way – hated leaving home and didn’t like driving!  It didn’t take long for that to change.  Later on Jessy loved to drive.  She enjoyed it so much and would go to sleep many times.  Jessy loved the water, but never swam a stroke!  She always, no matter how cold it was, would go in the water.  She had to splash through every mud puddle in the road!  Jessy always wanted to play a lot, but Chiquita was older and not so playful anymore.  She tolerated Jessy and her puppy ways, many times not really enjoying it, but understanding it.  Then things changed.

Chiquita was old.  She could no longer eat or drink, so we had her put down.  The only change we saw on Jessy was she grew up.  She never really showed any signs of missing Chiquita, but she changed all the same – she became an adult.  Lot of the puppy play went out of her.  It would be about 4 months until we got Shelia, but in that time the strong bond Jessy and I had grew even stronger.  Jessy was my dog.  She would sit outside, no matter the weather and wait for me to come home.  She slept every night with me, never missing a day.  I always felt sorry when I had to leave for a few days, as I knew it would be hard on her.  Soon she learned when I came down with my rucksack or duffle bag, I would not be back for a few days.  Jette said she most always went up and slept in my bed for the first few days. 

Shelia was a wild and happy puppy.  Jessy adopted her from the very first minute as her very own.  She lick and cleaned her as if Shelia was her very own.  They bonded so that Shelia knew and respected Jessy as her Mom.  They got along very well.  Shelia was very strong minded and I knew we’d have to watch them when she grew older because she was twice the size as Jessy, and I knew Jessy would never back down.  There were a few times they got into it and I or Jette would have to get in the middle, but for the most they were ok.  Jessy and Shelia were together for eight years.  At 13 ½ years old, we had to put Jessy down because of an infection in her system.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was the right thing to do.  But it was just as hard on Shelia.  I’ve never witnessed such sorrow in an animal for another one as I did in Shelia.  After we buried Jessy, Shelia several times tried to dig her up.  The spark went out of her eyes and she just moped around the house.  She missed her Mom. 

So now we got Coco, which I first named “The Spawn of Satan”.  As it has turned out, she is becoming my shadow! It was hard for Shelia to accept another dog around the house, but by the next morning, she turned into a Mom, I know Jessy would be proud of her.  Coco has started waiting for me to get home every evening and always expects our play time after supper.  She is also turning out to be a water dog.  She, like Jessy has to hit every puddle of water around and always takes a dip in the lake.  Shelia had grown up, passed the puppy ways.  She is the same age difference to Coco as Chiquita was with Jessy, amazingly enough, I can see the two in these as well.  Shelia has put on the tolerant side and trying to get use to the puppy ways of Coco.  Yea, there are times we’ve got to step in between, but for the most part they are good. 

Watching our dogs grow up, change and pass on is tough.  The worst part about a good dog is most of the time we out live them.  Each in their own way have blessed us and given us so much, I really don’t know if we’ve given them as much.  But I guess we have, because they have given so much to us.  Life goes on and changes and so must we.  And now as I write this, I’m looking at a young puppy laying sleeping after a long day of fetching ball, running and enjoying life, I know there are many good times ahead.

HI – TECH

We have such a hi-tech world today, and it’s probably only going to get even more so. Technology connects the world today that was only science fiction when I was growing up. I remember The Jetsons living in a hi-tech world where one could see the person they were talking to a TV, today we do it over a computer. I talk to my brother half way around the world all the time for free. And if we want to see each other, I just push a button and there we go, visually see and talk to each other. I never thought this was possible in the early ‘90s when I moved to Denmark. At that time, mobile phones were out, but they were fairly good size and expensive. Today I know many who’ve gotten rid of their “land lines” in exchange for mobile phones. The ´60s was awash with the space race and with it saw many advances in things for our normal day use.

I grew up in the military learning to read a map, use a compass, finding my way around by navigation.  Then in the ‘90s I started to hear something about “pluggers”. This was hand held thing that use space age technology to find your way from point “A” to point “B”. I never really got into using it until I was deployed to Kuwait/Iraq in 2003. Come to find out, this was what we know today as GPS. After I got back from Iraq in 2004, I ended up buying myself a GPS system to use in my everyday job. I could now punch in the customer’s address, find the shortest or fastest route and let the customer know almost exactly when I would arrive. This was also assisted by my mobile phone, which by now is so advanced I can’t keep up.

Mobile phones are a funny sort. They started out real big as I stated earlier. Then as technology advanced they got smaller. It was the big thing to have the smallest, smartest, fanciest phone. Now it has taken a turn the other way. They’ve started getting bigger again – because we now got “smart phones”! About the only thing these smart phones can’t do is your paper work when finished in the bathroom. Me, I’ve still got a “dumb” phone. It’s one of the small ones without the fancy touch screen. I suppose, once this phone plays out, I’ll have to get a “smart” phone as they’ll stop making the “dumb” phones. Smart phones will connect with the internet, have access to GPS, and do all those fancy science fiction thing we read about many years ago.

The one thing changing so fast one can’t keep up is computers. You can buy the most latest, greatest computer today, and tomorrow it will be out of date. In my opinion, advances in computers have been the biggest change and are continuing to evolve than any other thing I can think of. I remember the very first computer I bought had a 4 megabyte hard drive with 2 megs of ram – top of the line. Now I got one of those flash drives which fits in my hand that’s 16 gigabytes of memory and it’s out of date! If you can remember the “Commodore 64” you know what I mean.

But what happens when hi-tech stops working, what do we do? We’ve had a little reminder with the disappearance of an airliner flying to China. So far with all the hi-tech stuff available, after two weeks of disappearance this plane has yet to be found! I was listening to the radio this morning while driving to work that a company has had problems with their computers and many of their internet and telephone customers have been left wanting for service and connectivity. When I was in the desert in ’03 we were just going hi-tech in our mapping and tracking systems. We had a system where we could be on the battle field in real time tracking the movement of force as they progressed – fantastic. But you should have seen the scramble when the power went down. Or you should have seen the effects the desert sands and heat had on computers and hi-tech equipment when no air conditioning was present. Mother Nature also let us know who was in charge when She let go with a sand storm of Biblical proportions. Lots of the hi-tech stuff got grounded and shut down.

And it’s not only with the military. I wonder what’s going to happen when high technology takes over so many things in our lives, what we’ll do when it lets us down, and at some time it will. There are already way to let us know. Hackers are continuing to put viruses on the net to disrupt service. EMP is always waiting on the horizon to shut down electronics. What happens when the basic, everyday things of life are forgotten? When skills are no longer learned or taught. Look at today. Is it easier, faster to just buy another shirt or pair of pants than to repair ones that are ripped or torn? Today, most of the time we no longer repair cars but replace parts. I once learned how to take a bent crumpled fender from a car, straighten it out and make it look like now. Today, mostly they will be replaced. I’ll never forget having to make valve springs for a Studebaker truck because none could be found. What a joy to know I had really made something, but I’m afraid those days are almost gone. In my job as a farrier, you don’t need to know how to make a horseshoe because you can buy every kind of shoe imaginable, but the thing is many times, even though they do work, the best fit is still the shoe you hand make, but it takes a little more time and a lot more skill than just nailing on a factory made shoe.

High technology is great. It has advanced out lives in ways we can’t even imagine. We live better, get around faster and more efficient. Advances in medicine have improved our quality of life (to a point). But one thing I know, we need to remember how to do some things the “OLD FASHION” way. If we don’t remember, some day we’re going to wish we had.

UPS and DOWNS

The past week has been fantastic!  For the first part of March, the weather has been those warm sunny days you dreamed of during the crappy weather of winter.  Sun shining, sometimes light winds, flowers blooming and the best of all – days getting longer!  I wake up in the morning to hear the birds singing.  This tells me spring has sprung.  But then comes the surprise – cold blowing winds, frost.  Just a little reminder we as man are not in charge.  It’s really not us who made the decisions, but the Man upstairs who has His hand on the world. 

We as man have it all planned out.  We know where we’re going, what we’re doing and when we’re going to do it.  It seems we, as man sometimes get to thinking we are in control, then some greater force in the universe needs to come and slap us down and remind us just how little we are.  In December 1999 we had a storm blow through western Denmark of hurricane strength.  It was sudden and not predicted.  The next morning whole forests lay on the ground, cement tile roofs blown off and in some cases brick houses blown down.  I’ve seen almost entire villages buried by an avalanche.  We’ve all see what hurricanes and tornados have done to the southern and central United States. 

One subject in front of the world is global warming.  Now I’m not a scientist or one of those highly educated dudes trying to figure this out.  When did global warming begin?  Anyone with a nickel’s worth of brains should be able to answer this question.  It’s so simple most of these educated wonders over look the simple answer – when the last ice age ended!  I mean how smart does one have to be?

Our time on this earth is only a mere blink of an eye.  And I’m guessing in the grand scope of things one of these days Mother Nature is going to get pissed and really give us the what for.  Who was here to save the dinosaurs when they got buried?  Where I live in Denmark was once under water – how do I know?  I guess because they are digging up whale bones not too far from where I live.  Many of the great cities of the world will someday be under water and we won’t be able to stop it.  I probably won’t see it in my life time, and who knows when it will happen, but it will happen again, just look at past history and if you’re not with your head in the sand, you’ll see the truth.

 When it comes don’t be surprised.  Volcanoes around the world continue to erupt with such furry and violence, every single one is shocking.  And just think, we haven’t seen a big one yet.  Think what’s under Yellowstone National Park and why there are so many geysers, hot water and activity in the area.  It is alive with the ground constantly rising and falling.  So what happens when the ground fails to fall?

I don’t want to sound like doom and gloom, but reality is like a cold slap in the face.  Yes we as man can do better in taking care of the world we live in and I doubt we should stop trying to take advantage of our smarts to figure things out.  But the worst part is when money, power and politics get in the way of mankind advancing.  Here in Denmark they began encouraging private people to put up windmills and solar panels to generate power.  But once it was found out so many people started to take advantage of it, and the power producing companies were required to buy their surplus power thus losing money, now the government had set such high taxes and “penalties” to these projects that normal families no longer can afford to do these things.  When the do-gooders are preaching green environment and ways to help, big business and government are sucking the life blood out of the projects.  Kind of reminds me a bit of when the former Soviet Union took away all the small farm plots from the normal people, and tried to control the production of food.  We all saw how that worked – it didn’t!  We all know many big businesses and interests have used their power and money to hold back progress because it would cost them money. 

Yea we try to control our situations and destiny but in the end we’re no more than a pimple on a grizzly bear’s behind, just something to be scratched at.  We’re kind of up now, but some day we are coming down and when it does, it will only be a speck in the movement of time.  I guess what I’m trying to say is:  Live life to its fullest.  Remember to look around and help someone else who needs it, after all you’re not the one in charge and don’t pretend to be!

SPRING

Spring is in the air.  Birds are singing early in the mornings.  Days are a lot longer now.  I get up every morning around 0400.  For me this is the best part of the day.  There are no customers calling me at this time.  It is quite and my time.  I noticed this past week as I got up I could hear a few birds singing.  This put a smile on my face because I always know when this happens spring is here.  Yesterday I noticed my first fully developed leaf.  Not just a bud, but a real light green one.  For the past ten days or so those little white and purple flowers have poked their heads out and braved the spring frosts to remind us they are there and fighting for the warm days to arrive. 

I love the mornings!   I can get out to my work shop and really have some fun.  As the days get longer I also feel my body has more energy.  In the winter time, when it gets around two or three in the afternoon, my body begins to tell me “I’m done, go home”.  Now I’ll look at the clock in my van and think, Wow it’s that time already? 

With spring signs of new life are all around us.  Recently my cousin Jene just became a Grandmother again.  She was so elated!  New life is in the air.  It is a real awakening of the mind and soul this time of the year.  I just hope with the awakening of the spirit, people will also awaken to what’s happening to our country and the world around us. 

I hope with the awakening of spring, parents will take time off work to spend with their kids at the play ground or at the ball game.  Kids are a great resource that is too often squandered – if you don’t have the time, then why did you have the kids?  They take love, guidance and discipline and most of all your undivided attention to help direct them towards a great and successful life awaiting them.  It’s not all about all the latest, greatest things you can buy them.  In the end you can’t buy love and respect.  It’s about sharing and caring.  Sure we all know bill got to be paid and one must keep the nose to the grindstone, but somewhere there must be a happy medium.  There must be a balance in life and if you’re so wrapped around the axle to see this, then maybe you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your life and your expectations.  Sure we all want what’s best for our kids.  We want them to have things much better than we had it, but if this deprives them of the love and attention needed to guide them to the future the why are we here?

If our great country is to survive values must be taught at the home first.  Discipline, knowing right from wrong, respect for others and their property, not always giving into what your kids want, learning one of the most important facts of life – For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Sooner or later one must pay the piper.  If these core values are taught at an early age, coupled with the love and respect shown them, how do you think things will turn out?  Our country has sunk to a new moral low. 

A family that prays together stays together.  This was a phrase I grew up with.  I was lucky my parents cared enough about me not only to spend time with me, but take me to church and instill the values of life in me.  They cared enough to get me started down the road of life in a correct way.  Today I find myself with these values and the belief that God has directed my life and helped me set my course.  Sure I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  God is not there to make life easy for us.  He is there to help console us and give us a piece of mind.  His Son died for our sins and gave us hope for the future.  He is there for us to talk to – to comfort our souls and give us a peace of mind of a great future.  I thank my parents for giving me this direction in life.  I thank God for walking with me down the road of life and helping me when I stumble in a pot hole, He’s there to give me that helping hand. 

So when you wake up, hear those birds singing, sun breaking through a blue sky, get a smile on your face.  Take some time with your kids and let them know you love them.  It’s from the bottom we’ll make the change that lasts forever!

LOST PRIDE

So now our courts have sunk to a new low by a ruling in California telling students they cannot wear shirts with the United States flag on it during a Mexican holiday:  http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-flag-shirts-20140228,0,6088879.story#axzz2uhqh1pBV

When citizens of a nation are barred from showing the flag of their country, and allowing people of another nation (many who are here illegally) to fly their colors instead, then the country has sunk to an all time low.  What has happened to the country I gave over twenty years of my life to?  When did the national pride of another country come before ours?

They called them the Great Generation – those who fought WWII.  Look at the times when these men and women grew up.  Just after the turn of the century there were no government hand outs, men and women had to get out and make it on their own.  Many west of the Rockies were grandsons and daughters of the pioneers who settled the west. 

Today we got lots of second generation welfare recipients living from the hard work of others.  The government has expanded so much it is out of control.  With so many working for the government, they are nothing more than welfare recipients themselves.  The government produces nothing but paper work, rules and regulations.  They also invent new ways to suck the money from the working class man so they can line their own pockets.  No wonder national pride is what it is, everyone wants something for nothing.  Everyone thinks the government owes them something. 

We’ve got a president now who’s nothing more than a laughing stock of the world.  I have always been amazed how he got awarded the Noble prize when he did nothing, and has driven the country further in debt than anyone before him.  A president who in his first term bowed down to another, which a leader of a country should never do, unless he is beholding to that other leader and feels he is lower than him. 

When I was a kid I always remember hearing how the communists were going to defeat the United States – not from the outside, but wait for it to implode from the inside.  The iron curtain has fallen, and now we are also seeing the United States implode.