HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED

How times have changed. This past week I had someone ask me when did I move to Denmark. I thought for a bit and replied, “December 1992”. After answering I then calculated how long this has been – 28yrs this coming December! Then I got to wondering where all the time had gone and how things have changed.
My brother and I are very close, so when I moved to Denmark it was very hard for me not to have the access of communication with him. Phone calls were very expensive, so I limited myself to one call a month, sometimes calling him, sometimes others I needed to contact. Next was the pony express (mail). From the time I wrote a letter to Larry (brother), send it, him to receive, sit down and write, it was somewhere around 3-4 weeks for a turn-around, sometimes longer. It was better than nothing at all and so I began to write more than I ever had.
After moving to Denmark, I transferred to the 7th Army Reserve Command in Germany, my job entailed me learning how to operate a computer, so I convinced the wife we needed to buy one. We bought the latest, greatest available. It had about a 540 megabit hard drive – big for the day. I remember Windows 3.1 came on 6 discs. A couple years later we got e-mail. When sending mail, I would first prepare the message and address. Then disconnect the phone, hook up the computer, dial up the connection and send. It was superfast for the day. I evolved right along with technology. Today I just click an icon on my computer screen, connect through a wireless connection to the internet, if Larry is home, he will hear his computer ring and we can talk just like over the phone, except there is no phone cost. Better yet, if we want, I can click on a button while talking to him and it will activate a camera in my computer, transmitting a live video so we can see each other while talking. Reminds me of a cartoon I use to watch as a kid, “The Jetsons”. They were a futuristic family who when talking on their phone could watch a video screen seeing who they were talking with. At the time, this was so “out of this world”, but fact today! If we take a look, many things in our lives have changed many for the better, but sometimes I wonder if some are not so good.
When I first started to ride the train to Germany for Army Reserve, mobile phones were not so present, especially those which could connect to the net. Then, I would read a book most of the trip or just watch the country side go by. If someone sat down beside or across from me, it was not hard to strike up a conversation (if they could speak English). Today, I notice hardly no one talks with others. First thing after sitting down the smart phone or laptop computer comes out, they are instantly connected with the world and who cares about those around them. We as a whole have become disconnected with those around us while we are connected with the bigger world around us. I notice many time when the wife and I go out to eat, so many people around us, the mobile phone is sitting on the table and most can not let it go, they must pick it up every once in a while and see who has sent a message, who has posted something on one of the social sites so many watch. It is amazing to watch people sit at the same table, next to each other and yet they are so distant from each other they hardly talk to each other. I do have to state an exception: the wife and I went to a farrier friend of mine for dinner. We sat at the table and enjoyed a good meal. About half way through the meal, his girlfriend went to the kitchen to get something and also came back with her smart phone, sitting it on the table. The first time she started to look at it, my friend reached over took it stating: ”We have guests, there is no place for a phone on the table”. Inside I smiled, thinking at least someone has good sense. There is also the flip side.
Today so many people are able to work from home because they can connect with the world from their computers. This is allowing parents to spend more time at home if they have this type of job. For me, I am able to send my bills out the same day over the net instead of writing it out, spending money to send through the mail. Then if someone is late paying, I no longer have to repeat the process costing me more money, I just hit “send” and out it goes again. Churches have benefitted from the internet as well. With this Chinese virus thing going on and members are not able to attend, many have turned to “Video” church. Amazingly enough I get to attend church in Boise, Idaho. Yea, the time difference is such that I don’t get to see the live feed, but they have the sermons posted so I can watch when ever I want. We are able to make appointments, do shopping, go places on the internet. So many things have been made easier, more accessible, easier to communicate worldwide. Those who were kids in the late ‘90s will never know a world without instant communication, unless the net goes down.
Some things which will never change internet or not. Going outside on a nice warm morning, listening to the birds sing, feeling the morning warmth on your body as you enjoy the smell of a nice cup of coffee. Standing on a mountain top on a clear summer day as you slowly turn around seeing the full scope of the world presented around you – oh yea, you can see it on the internet, but you are also limited to the size of the screen, you cannot feel the sun on your body and let all your senses sample the time and place. And just the small thing of communication. Yes, you can see someone on the video, but there is still the ability of one’s senses to sample every facet of the environment around as you converse. The internet, hi-tech is great, but unless you step outside this “virtual” world and really live life, one will never really experience life.

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”.

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?”

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”!

PASTURE POOL

If six months ago anyone would have told me I would be playing pasture pool and enjoying it, I would have called you crazy! And to top it off I am enjoying it so much I am now working hard to find excuses to take in nine holes.
Yea, I’d swung the whacking sticks a couple times. When my brother’s daughter got married, her future husband Tom took us all out for a round on the short grass – it was ok, something different. I also remember playing miniature golf as a kid. It was great with my friends, but never in my life did I think I’d take up the real thing. I also played “combat” golf while deployed in the Balkans(but that’s another story). I partly blame Tabitha and her husband Tom. Besides getting me on the course for his pre-wedding gig, when I’ve been to visit they have taken me to the driving range and I enjoy whacking the little white ball down range. We did the putting thing with Tabitha, her two boys and Traci and her son. Also the fact that Tom’s brother is caddie for Jordan Spieth. When you have some kind of a connection, ever so slim, it does makes things more interesting.
It was this past July I was talking to one of my fellow farriers, also named Tom, he ask me if I wanted join him, I guess he was needing some company. I told him I didn’t have stick, so he said I could use his. So I got started. After a few times using his sticks I decided to go whole hog! Bought my own (left handed to boot) and joined the golf club.
So now I’ve had three lessons and competed in a few practice tournaments. Here in Denmark I got to get around the 9 hole practice course with a score of under 50 three times in a row, take a test on the rules and course ethics, and compete in a minimum of three practice tournaments before I get my “big boy’s card” which lets me go to any golf course to play. I will also have a handicap.
It’s been fun getting round the course. Every time I go around it is different, in fact every hole is different every time. Guess if I could spank that little white ball the same way every time, I might be a little better. The practice course is all par 3, with 2 par 4 holes, but never the less I get lots of practice. I did real good on hole 3 which is a par four – I finally sunk my ball after 12 shots! Lots of practice! On the other hand, hole 2 is a par 3 – I screwed up and made it in two shots once, not too much practice on that hole. Over all it is been great. This past Sunday afternoon I did the practice course tournament in 45 strokes (a par 29 course), but I felt great, it was the best score I ever did.
Come 25 September I am having an operation on my knees, worst part is I won’t get to play for a while. During this time I will use it to get my rules and ethics classes done and work on putting and some chipping as there is not so much stress on the knees.
One thing I do know I will always strive to improve my game and do good, but I don’t think I can ever take it too serious – I’m just having too much fun!!