2019 IN REVIEW

I started the year just like a one – legged man in an ass kicking contest, well not completely, just had my left knee replaced November of last year. I was lucky a customer loaned me her stationary bike, so I was doing lots of rehab at home along with going to the local gym to keep the rest of my body in shape. I attended a rehab center near me until the first of February when I got the good to go. Along with this I started some work in the shop, getting my shoe making skills back in shape, swinging the hammer. Physically my hands, arms and body got out of shape for work so needed to get back in shape. Finally my knee was in shape enough to drive, work, and do, so the first of February I started shoeing horses again. I chose the easiest, ones only needing front shoes, those needing just trimming and so I began. Yes, I lost some customers, and really in the end it was a good thing. I now have enough work to keep me busy and allow me to play a little more golf!

Spring and summer rolled around with great golf weather. Had a lot of fun whacking the little white ball. My handicap went down a few points, so guess I am getting better. Jette kept up with her horses. Between horses, Gabby and the house, Jette kept pretty busy. It is nice she doesn’t have to go out to work every day. She also keeps me straight as far as the book work end of my business goes.

This year was different as I went back to Idaho for the first time in the fall since I moved to Denmark. I had forgotten how great the fall colors are, it was beautiful to see. My brother and his wife picked me up at the Boise airport after a very long day’s flight. Thursday, we spent getting some of my business done and getting ready to leave for his kid’s place in Newberg, Oregon. Friday morning early, we departed. Even though we talk often on Skype and e-mail, we talked constantly for the next four hours until we stopped for gas and a bit to eat the west side of Pendleton, Oregon. It was a beautiful, sunny day for a drive and as we entered the Columbia River gorge, Mt. Hood was standing snow – capped, tall in the clear, blue sky. I could write a book about the visit, but I will just say I had a fantastic time with Larry’s kids and grandkids. I was really shocked how much all three of his grandkids have grown. Tabitha, Larry’s oldest daughter hosted us and Traci who lives about 15 minutes away. Traci has a new house and car, great to see her and Gabe are doing so well. I am really proud of Larry for raising two fantastic daughters, who in turn both have fantastic families to be around.

Larry and Sue went home, I rented a car, continuing to visit relatives with whom I spent a lot of time talking and catching up. We keep in contact, but it is never the same as visiting in person. After family, it was time for my best friend Dan and his wife Chris. Also had dinner with a school mate, was geat. Several time Chris would shake her head and say, “Just like having his twin brother here”. I guess it is the fact Dan and I know each other and no matter how long it is between times we see each other, we fall right in step as if we had been together all the time. I do metal work, Dan does wood work, so we hit his shop. Dan set up his lathe and got me to do a project, my first. It came out pretty good. I found lathe work is a lot like my metal work, only faster. We had a great time. Took a couple days see the sights, we went to a couple different places and really had a great time.

Drove the interstate back to Idaho, stopping in Hermiston, Oregon to visit an army buddy. We talk all the time on the net, but was good to shake hands and see the real face. Over the Blue Mountains, past La Grande and Baker City, Ontario and stopped one more time to say goodbye to Larry and Sue. After a couple hours it was to Greenleaf to visit Del, a good friend. We always have a lot to talk about. The next day Del and I visited a couple mutual friends, was good to have a good navigator as so much of the Valley has changed. It is always good to visit Greenleaf. I was a little disappointed as the School (GFA) was closed for a few days. So, it was off to Boise. The weather was great, so I couldn’t resist 18 holes of golf. Booked a tee time at the course near Star, Idaho. They put me with three other guys I never met, but we had a great time. They were great in explaining the course. I didn’t play the best, but had a great time. Sunday afternoon had dinner with a bunch of school mates living in the area. Big thanks to Becky and Karen for contacting everyone and to everyone for coming. Was fun to talk about some of the old school days and times we had together.

Monday was to my cousin’s place in Boise for a couple days. Gary and I took a drive to their place up in the mountains. It was great to see some of my old stomping grounds. After a visit with them it was on the plane and back to Denmark. I needed another week as I was not able to get to Salmon and visit all the people I know there. Work was calling and I had customer’s horses waiting for me.

That’s pretty much our year. My knee has been doing well, I do have some pain in it, but accept it will probably have some. Jette just some good news about a horse she wants to get. One more test to go and if it passes looks like she will be getting another one this spring. Spending some time in the shop and doing a few things around the house, just waiting for the good golf season to get here again. I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I refuse to be politically correct, and if this offends any of you, GREAT, get over it.

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!

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”.

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.

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.

ARE THEY YOUNGER OR AM I OLDER

I was sitting in the dentist’s chair this morning looking at this very young gal who claimed to be the dentist. I wasn’t really listening to what she was saying, rather I was thinking, Holy cow, she is so young, how can she really know what she is doing?, yet she was very professional and did good.
The other morning I stopped in a place to get a cup of coffee and spend my telephone time reading a bit, having a cup of coffee and enjoying my morning. I was greeted by what seemed like a very young, smiley guy. As I placed my order I wondered why this kid wasn’t in school. With coffee in hand, walking away I thought, “ I wonder just how old he is”? Then I began to look at myself.
When I began to shoe horses here in Denmark I was 36, still had a full head of hair. I got a couple customers I picked up then and still do their horses today. One in particular I remember she had one kid in arm and the other one in a carriage. Today both these gals have grown into young, good looking ladies in their twenties. And it only seems like just yesterday they were about a foot and a half long!!
I would be driving down the road and come up behind a car just putting along, seemingly in no big hurry to get anywhere. As I would pass the car I would glance at the driver, yep look at that old guy in the hat. I wonder if he really knows what he is doing? Today as I drive down the road, not really in a big hurry to get anywhere, thinking about if I will have time to squeeze in a few holes of golf, cars zip around me in a big hurry. As I glance at the driver I seen them looking at me sometimes. I bet they are thinking: Look at that old, gray bearded guy in the hat. I wonder if he really knows what he is doing?
Where did the time go? I look back and it has gone by so fast. 2018 just got a start and we are already one fourth of the way through March! How did the time get by me so fast? I remember so many years ago an “old guy” once told me: If you get the chance in life to do something, do it, because there will come a time in your life when you won’t be able to do it, and you don’t want to think, “Gee why didn’t I do that”! I have taken lots of chances in life and done a lot of things, gone a lot of places and glad I did. I’ve had people sometimes think I was crazy for the chances I’ve taken or the things I have done, but looking back now I have had a fun life.
I remember once during my professional guide life I thought to myself, “Gee, I am getting paid to do what other people are paying to do”. Hunting, fishing, floating the Salmon River, driving jet boats, living in the wilderness area. I can look back on all those experiences and smile. I look back on my life so far enjoy it. I have had some people tell me they can’t believe I have done the things I have done – I really don’t care what other people think, I know what I have done and where I have been. I am thankful for the adventures I have taken and the fact God has been watching over me because sometimes I could have been in deep trouble out there by myself.
In moving to Denmark I gave up the best job I ever had in my life, but other doors opened to me and I’ve gone places and done things I never would have if I had remained in Idaho. I see and know so many people who are afraid to step out and take a chance. Remember, sometimes those golden opportunities only knock once at your door and if you don’t take them you will have to settle for second best. Even at my age now I am still getting new chances and opportunities which I will continue to take advantage of. Don’t be one of those who is afraid to take a chance. Yes I have had failures, but they were also something. Physically now I can’t do a lot of things I did earlier, but I still got the memories and I can’t say, “I wonder what it would have been like if I had done that”!

2017 IN REVIEW

Well we’re just about ready to sweep this year out the door. I don’t know about you, but for me it has gone so fast, maybe because I have kept busy.
January I made a trip to the States for a few days. I arrived right in the middle of a fantastic snow storm, so helped my brother shovel over three feet of snow off his roof, but what are brothers for? I was just glad I had to chance to help and there was no damage to his house. Afterwards I traveled to Ohio, attending the International Hoof Care Summit. This is a yearly event with so much information it is really hard to pass up.
February wasn’t so good. We lost our old dog, Shelia. She had been having health problems for a while, but it was finally her time. It was especially hard on Jette as they had bonded so well. Coco took it in stride. She had a little hard time getting over it, but then all of a sudden she “grew up”, out of the kid stage and took over as “chief of the watch”. We have watched it times before when the older one passes on, then the younger one grows up fast. It is really amazing to watch the change. Coco spent the next while by herself with us. I don’t think she missed Shelia as much as I have seen others before, but it was good for her to have the time by herself to really find her own way. Jette, this time really looked around and found a good pup to replace Shelia, so we got Gabby.
It was a real tough time for Coco to accept Gabby. We had to be on high alert all the time because the few first days Coco wanted to attach her. I had to divide the front yard giving each a side so we didn’t have to keep any one of them on a leash all the time. Finally after about 5 days or so, Coco came around and it was good. When we got Coco, Shelia was older, so Coco really didn’t get the “puppy” play. Now at 4yrs old, Coco was in hog heaven. She loved to play with Gabby and it was amazing to see how she changed a 180 degrees. Many times Coco would be laying on her back with Gabby astraddle in “attack” mode, run and chase around. Coco soon turned into a good “baby sitter” giving both of them good exercise. Evening were pretty quite as Gabby’s off switch was hit.
It was a good thing spring was over and summer came because our heating unit was worn out and needed replaced. This was the first big project of the year. I had to pull our old heater out, plus the water tank as it also had been patch a few time over the past years. Jette found a different heating unit and water tank on the internet. After getting them home it took me about a month to get the old one out, new heater and water tank installed, plumbed and insulated. It burns straw, heating water which is pumped into the house for heat. Lot cheaper than the oil furnace we have in the basement. We do keep it in back up and do use it in the summer time.
So it was end of July when the heater was fixed then Jette’s manure wagon needed rebuilt. I knew it was going to need a new floor and sides, but I soon discovered the side rails were rotten as well. So getting the cutting torch, they were taken off and had to hit the scrap yard to find what I needed. New sides rails welded in place, floor plates welded in place, new sides build and installed. By the end of the project I knew there was another problem – my knees were shot.
It was so painful getting on my knees to weld the floor on, but it had to be done. Even with knee pads and pain killers it was still a struggle. I had been having problems earlier in the year, but I knew the heating system need replaced and the wagon needed rebuilt, they came first. Now time for taking care of myself. Here in Denmark it has been a long drawn out process to get my knees looked at. I just have to laugh every time I see on Facebook how people post, “We need to be like Denmark”. In July I made my first doctor appointment about my knees. I have found out the problem – cartilage is gone, they are worn out. As of this writing the Danish doctors will not replace my knee, even though the surgeon at one hospital who did the arthroscopic surgery on my right knee said nothing would help but a replacement, to which my own doctor agreed. Even when the first surgeon said there was nothing to do, the next surgeon said he wanted to wait another 4-5 months to see if the surgery helped. My own doc was shocked as was I. After starting this I have learned and was also shocked as to how many people here in Denmark have their own private health insurance, or it is provided by their work place! I had a couple customers tell me if I had private insurance I would have had the operation by now and back to work. So much for the quality health care, I guess it is good – when you can get it. Come on over Bernie, give it a shot!
This year it has rained, rained, and rained. Jette said she had never seen so much rain – ever! So our basement flooded because a drain in our yard was plugged, so it needed dug up and cleaned out. Oh, yea, I am on crutched because two days before I had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee. Jette was able to get a mini backhoe and we started digging. I stood and watched. Finally getting deep enough we got to the old concrete pipe which was in 50cm sections. I got down in and pulled out the first section – it was full of roots. Guess what is directly over the line – a big chestnut tree which we had to stop and cut down and get the stump out. So with each section we took out we found roots, about 12 meters worth! So in between rain, with Jette on the backhoe and me in the ditch we got it out, replaced and thankful no more water in the basement.
. During the three weeks I couldn’t work I was graced with fantastic guys who helped cover my customers and keep horses done. I can never say thanks enough to these other farriers who took time to help me out. With my knees shot, I have had to cut back on my work, so I got rid of one of my largest customers with deep regret. I just can’t stand and do so many horses at one time. This getting old is for the birds!!
Thank God real winter has started. Today it was a few degrees below freezing with snow on the ground – great no much. I have no idea how long this will last, but am enjoying it.
I guess the biggest thing for me this year is I started playing pasture pool – yea golf. Never thought I would enjoy it but it is great. Can’t hardly wait for spring to get back on the course. Now during the winter I am really enjoying making some knives.
I hope this find you all closing out your year with grace and looking forward to the New Year. May God be with you and your loved ones and truly bless you all. See you all later, guess we’ll see what 2018 has in store!!