JOHN’S TV

I thought I needed to explain “TV” to some people. The first year, 2007 I was in Portugal, my friend stated his fireplace was his TV, so thus while there it is standard practice to refer to his fireplace(in the kitchen) as the TV. There are many benefits to this type of TV which the normal person will never know or experience. Thus I hope to open the eyes of many and expand your minds just a bit. So from now on when referring to TV, it is the fireplace.
First one up in the morning turns on the TV. The water pot is set on to make coffee or tea while the morning chores are done. When we are ready so is the water, no wasted time. We sit back enjoying that first cup of the day staring straight ahead into the screen.
Now let me ask you, how many you have a TV you can make your coffee on? It also provides warmth and you can get rid of your trash paper in it. Sure you need to get up once in a while to feed it, but you also got to get up to take a piss, get a drink, something to eat no matter what type of TV you are watching.
Last night for example, I cooked some great pork chops on the TV. Just before, John set the pot of taters on to boil. While we were eating had a pot of water getting warm to wash dishes. How many of you have such versatile TV?
Also we have no commercials, no ads and we don’t have to worry where the remote is, if the remote batteries go dead or if the power goes out! Yes we do have sound effects, depending on the type of wood we use in the TV depends on the noises. Really dry pine produces the old Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Eucalyptus, if not completely dry will sizzle and hiss, you can also see the water boiling out the ends. Oak lasts a long time as does chestnut. Last night we cooked chops over wet grapevine, what a fantastic flavor. See our TV is great, not like yours, which you can only turn on and off, and besides so much of the programming today is crap (oh yea, we can burn that in ours as well)
John’s TV is never out of date. It never needs a software upgrade. Yea, I guess we could get a bigger model but that is not necessary for full effect or enjoyment. We can dry clothes on our TV and even flick cigar ashes in our3s (just try that with yours).
I bet there is a lot of you who pay big money to visit a shrink! We don’t need one. Usually a couple evening with our TV and we got the problems of the world solved. Yes for this step it does good to have “qualified” friends present like, Jack, Jim, or Johnny. As of lately Jack has been present at most of our therapy sessions. Our TV somehow seems to make their presents a little more smooth. You need to give this a try sometime.
Yep, tonight after the dishes are done, we’ll turn out the lights, stoke up the TV, invite Jack for a visit and just vegetate. I’ll look over at John and ask him, “I wonder what all the common folk are doing tonight?”

TIME MACHINE

The fire was crackling due to the pine wood burning. Dinner dishes done, and now am kicked back with a glass of wine, not thinking, just looking at the shadows dancing around the kitchen caused by the flames of the fireplace. Later on as I got up, I realized what the fireplace was and what had just happened – it is a time machine and I had just come back from a trip in the past.
I found myself, a ten year old kid sitting on a Ford tractor mowing hay. I just heard a clunking sound, so stopped the engine, put the mower in neutral, and hopped off to inspect the sickle which moved back and forth against the fixed teeth to cut the grass. Yep, one was missing, so I started back to see if I could find it. After a search and coming up empty handed I went to the tool box which was bolted to the rear wheel fender, pulled out a new blade, two rivets and a couple hammers. Getting the sickle positioned just right, I set the new blade in place, inserting a rivet. I placed one hammer on the bottom to support it and slowly began to tap the top with the round face of the ball peen hammer. I was careful not to tighten too much to begin with so I could get the second rivet started. After both were lightly secured in the holes, I then increased my strokes to tighten the rivets. Back up on the tractor, starting the engine, putting the mower in gear, I once again started cutting hay.
I next found myself much older, teenager. It was a cool cloudy morning, and I was walking in a bent over crouching position, approaching a ditch bank. Looking to my left I could see my brother Larry was also in this position I am holding a Winchester Model 42, 410 pump shotgun. Larry has a double barrel 16 gauge – we are jump shooting ducks. We don’t talk to each other because we don’t have to. We have hunted with each other for so long we know what each other is going to do. Larry is right handed, I am left, so there was never any problem carrying our shotguns in a safe manner. I am set, I look at Larry, he nods his head and up we go, shotguns shouldered and at the ready. The canal explodes, greenheads fighting to flee, but with two blasts from each of us, we see four ducks plummet to the ground.
The sun is shining and the wind is blowing in my face. Looking forward I can see the long straight stretch of the Jordan Valley Highway begging me to open up my 1974, 750cc Honda. Starting down the hill I crank the throttle wide open. As the bike leaped forward I feel a set of arms grip me even tighter – oh, yeah, almost forgot I had a gal on back. I’d met this classy gal at work and got the nerve to ask her out for a ride. As we both worked the midnight shift at Simplot, even on a work day we could still take the fifty mile right to Jordan Valley for dinner and make it back before work time. I could tell she was snug up tight with her head looking over my shoulder. We reached the bottom of the hill and the bike was still increasing speed, glancing at the gauge I could see we were doing a 120 miles per hour, what a rush. Inspecting the road ahead, no cars approaching us, but there was this large black object in the road and I wondered what it was. We were moving so fast, my thoughts were only in split seconds. I kept looking at it, all of a sudden I realized what it was, a golden eagle! Holy Crap – and in nothing flat we are on it. As we approached the eagle leaped into the air. We were too close, I braced for impact, my heart was pounding so hard I thought it was coming out of my chest. Just then I see its wing tips brush my windshield. The adrenalin is flowing, I can feel my whole body shaking. I know if I have to stop and put my legs down to steady my bike they will collapse. I am once again breathing, looking at the speedometer I am now doing 60. What a rush.
I am standing in the “Rat” boat. It’s a jet boat, powered by a 454 hp Ford engine. My left hand is on the throttle, the “stick” is in my right. I look to my right and see Judy, standing with her feet braced holding on with both hands. We are headed up the main Salmon River, approaching Rainier Rapids! This was my very first time to run this part of the river. Al Giles, who was driving the lead boat had stopped earlier, I pulled alongside, he jumped in, Judy hopped out and he now guided me though the rapids. We stopped at the bottom, Al pointing out the rocks and the path I need to take. He took control and ran it a couple times, then it was my turn. Coming back to Al’s boat at the bottom of the rapids, he jumped out and Judy hopped back in. “Are you sure you want to ride with me”, I ask her. She just smiled and shook her head yeah. Hammer down the “Rat” boat jumps forward and I got the path in my sights. At this water level there is a giant wave with a curl on top I have to go over. This wave is alive and always slightly changing, so I need to hit it just right in order to clear it without getting soaked. As I reach about three quarters up the wave, it changed, I get it wrong. The bow of my boat disappears as the curler crashes down on the bow deck of my boat. Even though we got a windshield, Judy and I are both soaked. The control stick is almost ripped out of my right hand and I fight to keep the boat straight in the wave, as Al said this was the most important thing – get sideways and the boat gets swaped. I ram the throttle all the way forward and we fly over the top, too much power. The jet comes out of the water, momentarily losing some forward movement this allows the boat to slam down in the water, once again soaking the two of us. As I approach the slack water above the rapids everyone in Al’s boat are laughing at me and Judy. Yep, we look like two drowned rats, but we made it.
I reach down with my right hand, lift the glass of golden liquid to my lips – Jack. Looking at the fire, I wonder where the time machine will take me next.

STATE OF MIND

Inserting the key into the lock silently I thanked John for leaving it. The rusty gate hinge gave its familiar drawn out squeaky greeting as I entered the “Consulate” as it is known to all of us who visit John since his move to Portugal in 2006. I have only missed one year coming to this, my place of retreat, cleansing of my soul, my mind, what I call my sanctuary.
I work hard all year long, dealing with each problem as it arises(both home and work), hopefully in a matter which will let people (and the wife) know I really care about the situation I am currently in and trying to resolve. Like everyone I need my vacation to just get away to forget the worries and care of life , to regenerate that spark inside so I can continue one more year. I didn’t get that last year and by the middle of this summer I could feel I had over extended and just needed to get away. John had informed me he would not be home upon my arrival, so had arranged for a friend Dave to pick me up. As I approached the inner double door, I noticed the wood stack on the left was gone, about time I thought, thinking back to how many years ago John and I had cut and stacked it there. Going through the door I looked to the right and smiled, yes the forge and bellows. What a magnificent pair they are. I have spend many relaxing hours with this pair as I reached over and gently patted the top of his anvil. Looking to the left the Danish Ensign still hangs on the front of his ceiling high cabinets. Even though the sun is shining it is very dark in here and I instantly know why, looking up as I enter the open inter court area I see a year’s growth of grape vines still doing their job of providing shade. I’ve never been here in the heat of the summer, but I understand how important these vines are to the Consulate for shade and keeping it cool. The upper deck had two sides covered, the inner court where I am is topped and the open front side is also covered with vines. John has trained them up the back wall of the area as well. There are two sources for these vines, one being in a dirt spot next to the south wall, these vines are the ones covering the inner courtyard. The other source comes from the kitchen! When John moved in this old grape vine was growing in a dirt patch on the back wall, so he provided it a place to continue to grow and built his kitchen around it. He has an opening for it to go outside, and had trained it to the top deck, patio, northwest wall. Yes they give lots of grapes and most people here in Portugal press their own wine. John doesn’t he just wants the shade, so the grapes go to the neighbors, who in return give him some of the “fruit of the vine” later on.
Just before I turn to my left, approaching the rock stair case leading to the upper room, I gaze upon the large stone slab covering the ground to my right. Affixed to the kitchen wall are two headstones, one for Jessica and the other for Conan. Jessica was John’s bulldog who moved from Denmark to Portugal with John. She was very special and I can’t tell you how much he loved this little girl. I could see the effect on John the year I came down after she died, very noticeable. He swore he’d never get another one, yet the following year I was introduced to Conan, he was a special guy as well (also English Bulldog). Now they are gone, he just has a cat. Much easier for John to take care of, but just not the same.
At the top of the staircase Istep on the stone surface leading to the room. I set my day pack down and open the door and am greeted with the slight rush of warm air as I enter. Looking to my right the shutters are open letting the warm fall sun in. I can smell the room had been closed for some time, so I set my gear down at the foot of the bed, go over and allow some of the great fresh fall air in. As I open the window I breathe deeply, put my hands on the window sill and look out over the view – mountains. The one thing Denmark doesn’t have I really miss. These aren’t Idaho mountains, but they fill the void.
After stowing my gear I head back down to the kitchen. I might add John’s kitchen is special. It is a completely separate room from the rest of the house. The first year I was here, it was a three sided room, completely open facing the south. Along the back wall from left to right is the fridge, gas stove and cabinet. Assorted cast iron skillets and pots hand from hooks on the roof beams. Above the stove coming out of the rock wall is his grape vine’s main trunk heading out its own little special window. Before I arrived the second year, John had a wooden wall built for the kitchen. This is special as it is panels hinged together so they could open and fold back against the rock structure. When fully closed a door is incorporated in this very ingenious design so if he wanted he could leave it open, then in the winter rainy months it can be closed up, snug as a bug in a rug.
I did the first natural thing when entering a kitchen, I opened the fridge, low and behold the lower shelf was full of beer bottles. He knows I enjoy nice cool one, so he had a few chilling for me. I reach in and grabbed one. As these are not twist off, I looked over the table and found the church key hanging in its proper place, with a quick movement the top was off. As John wasn’t home, there was only one place to go – the top deck, so I headed out side, back the way I entered. After closing the squeaky gate and a few steps up the street, I turned to my right, climbing the rock stairs. Oh, a new gate at the top. Going through it I turned immediately to my right, opened another new gate and stepped up onto the deck. Looking around I spied an old canvas deck chair folded up laying on the table. Sitting my beer down I proceeded to erect this canvas wonder and placed it in the sun. Ah, yea as I sat down. Propping my feet up on the railing I gazed out over the Portuguese landscape. Way down I can hear some vehicles on the road. I can hear a couple motorcycles on some mountain dirt road. I look up and see a few birds flying. I got my warm vest on as there is a slight breeze blowing . To my left I see the Idaho State flag is flying in honor of my arrival. To my right the Danish flag is flying as should be for the “Southern Danish Consulate”. I secure my beer from the table and take a long draw, afterwards just resting it on my waste between both hands I close my eyes and feel the warm sun on my face. Yes – vacation, I can now relax.

GOLF AND HUNTING

I finally figured out why I like golf so much – it is so much like hunting you wouldn’t believe it!
Who else gets up early before daylight to get to their favorite spot? This morning I had a tee time for 0800, so I got to the golf course about an hour early to warm up, it was blacker than all get out. Pulling in I was thinking I’d be the only one there, yet there was already a vehicle parked. After parking I got out walked to the club house to get my score card and used the latrine, coming out I noticed another vehicle was parked as well and now two guy were walking up with their golf carts in tow. I figured they had the tee time ahead of me, wrong, they were 30 minutes ahead of me, litterly the crack of dawn. It was at that moment I realized hunting was the same as golf. Yep, early, first thing in the morning is the best time to start a game of golf, just like hunting, ya got to get there early,
In both skill with the weapons is essential whether it be a rifle or a club. The object of both is to make the precise shot on the animal or getting your ball in the hole. Making a clean shot is imperative, like getting the ball in the hole in the least number of strokes possible. Completing this mission of each is enthralled with similar tasks. Let’s look at golf from a hunter’s prospective.
Your game (objective) is a few hundred meters in front of you – the hole. You have spotted the flag or know where it is by the map you have studied – it is now time for the stock. In hunting you study the terrain and lay out a route to your prey. In golf it is the same before you tee off, hoping to get the ball going in the right direction, planning where you want to place your ball and then begin the tracking (hitting the ball) process. Sometimes you hit your ball a little off to one side or the other, getting into the rough (long grass), maybe into a hedge row, trees or whatever – here’s where the trailing and tracking skills come in. You know about where the ball landed, so now you look for clues, trails in the grass, marks on the ground, patches of white sticking out. With great hunter tracking skills you find the once thought lost ball thus saving yourself penalty strokes, or you have re-acquired your game, the hole. The stalk to your game is treacherous, filled with obstacles, sand traps, water, ditches, trees, all designed and put in your way to make you fail. I the golfer am pitting my skills against the course as I did the animal in the hunt.
As I am slowly planning my approach to the hole (the game), I am assessing which club I must use, how hard I must hit it, which direction according to wind, slope of the ground, is it dry or wet. Even with the best planed hit of the ball, everything can go wrong, I can fail to rotate my body, watch the ball, slightly move my body up or down causing me to dig too deep in the ground or hitting the top of the ball. This is like sighting the rifle: relax, breath, aim and squeeze the trigger – even doing all those right, did I judge the wind and angle correctly? Did I judge the movement of the animal correctly according to the loaded ammunition I am using?
I make my final assault on the green, I’ve judged the wind, correct direction, power of my stroke for the golf club selected and plop the ball goes on the green, but the hunt isn’t over. Even in the final moments of the hunt the elk can smell you, see you, sense you, and even through no fault of your own rely in his natural survival senses bolt back into the brush leaving you high and dry – thus the green is the final survival skill of the hole: what is the slope, is it wet or dry, has it just been cut and rolled, is it fast or slow, all these things the hole is using against me to insure I don’t get my ball sunk under the prescribed number of hits. But like the hunter if I have judged everything correctly, had good shots throughout the course, read the elements correctly I will achieve my goal – the hole under the prescribed number of strokes.
And you know the best part? After a round of golf I can sit down and have a beer, but of course after a hunt I did have meat for the freezer – which I must say, I don’t think a golf ball tastes good.