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.

2020, A Different Year

What a way to begin a year! Lots of people working at home, or laid off. Most of us are wondering how long this will be, and how much can we trust what we hear. Once my Dad told me, “Believe nothing you hear and half what you see and you will be alright”. Like I told my wife, I am skeptical of what all I hear, yet on the other hand I am not going to put my head on the chopping block and see if the hatchet man can miss. I take the normal precautions while I work, am out and around, yet I realize if I get it, I will get it. Not losing any sleep over it. I have looked at the positive side of the situation.
With more people sent home to work, school out, some laid off, look at the chance to have more quality family time! In the day and age of everyone going everywhere all the time, now things have been forced to slow down and be together. What a great thing. Why not make this time quality time. Think of all the things you can do with your family, the things you can teach your kids. And just some time to sit back with a cup of coffee first in the morning and listen to the birds sing. This is the best part of a spring morning. Even though there was a cool wind blowing, I sat outside this morning for the first time this year with a cup of coffee and just watched the morning, it was great!
Speaking of the situation, I just wonder in trying to save the limb, we are killing the patient? I understand the Chinese virus is something new, we need to take precautions, but in many cases is it over kill, killing our nation (the patient)? So many states have shut down when there is no real crises – many of the areas where there is low population. Many of these places, why haven’t the State governments come in and said to industry, “Come up with a plan so you can stay within limits of contact and such so you can get back to work”. So many small businesses will not be here after this is done. So many people are out of work right now, many who could be working?
This bail out Congress came up with is like putting a band-aid on an amputated limb. Giving businesses money to pay employees, is the same. Businesses are not employment centers, they are there to make money. Yes, for a little while it will help pay the on going bills, but sooner or later, that band-aid is going to get blood soaked. The bill Congress passed had so much pork barrel spending in it, it was pathetic. Everyone who voted for the bail out should be voted out of office. Where is all the money coming from – sooner or later we the people will have to pay it back. In the mean time, the money printing machines are rolling full speed, printing almost worthless money. When I was a kid, my Dad once told me, “There will come a day when you will need a wheelbarrow full of money to buy a loaf of bread”. So how does Congress usually finance this? They sell bonds, but what happens when no one wants to buy these bonds? Well our government buys them back. In other words, we are getting debt stacked on debt. I just read where the U.S. Treasury is thinking about coming out with a 50 yr bond, first time ever. There is also talk of zero or negative interest rates in the States. What this means is if we get negative interest rates, you the saver will get to pay the banks for the privilege of keeping your money. At the low rates now, at least you are not losing money, but this could turn around if negative rates come to the States.
We are now into May and things are beginning to loosen up a bit. I wonder if instead of locking everyone down, why didn’t they treat us like responsible people. Lay out the facts of the situation, tell us what we needed to do and let us carry on with our lives the way we see fit. I know business owners are not dumb, they would have found ways to make things work. What I can’t figure out is why it is safe to go to the big chain stores to shop, yet we can not be trusted to go to the park, the beach. Let some of the small business owners come up with their on solutions. Yes, people are going to die, this is one of the three facts of life which are: be born, pay taxes, and die. We have learned we need to take precautions for the older generations, those who have medical problems and such, but hey, let’s get real.
Actually, in a way I have found a bright side. Many churches have developed an online service. The Cloverdale Church of God uploads their services so their members can watch and listen. This is great for me, as the time difference I get to listen to the services on Monday mornings on my way to work. Tom, the pastor told my brother, who e-mailed me, let me know that even after this is over, they will continue to post their services online. So, I guess God does work in wonderful ways.
I guess no matter they situation we can be thankful for what we got, instead what do don’t have.

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.

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”.

OLD YEAR GONE, NEW YEAR BEGINS

So I have once again successfully completed another vacation. Sitting here in the Lisbon airport with a few hours to kill is giving me time to reflect on the passed year. My year begins with the ending of my annual trip to vegetate in Portugal with John. It is a time of reflection, regeneration and just plain whatever. This year’s trip will have a little different meaning for me as when I return, the following Monday will go under the knife for a new left knee. Am I worried about it, apprehensive or scared – not really. I am just put out at myself for falling apart.
You see, my whole life I have been fit as a fiddle, able to do what I wanted, go where I wanted to go and such. Now I find myself acting like the “old” guys I used to see coming to my hunting camps when I was a guide. Or the old guys walking down the street. I used to, well not really think about them, but I would in the back of my mind, without thinking about it, run through my head – “Boy, sure glad I’m not that old guy.” I got out of bed this morning in my hotel room and looked at the person staring back at me and I almost didn’t recognize him. I just stood there for what seemed like hours (actually less than a minute) wondering how I had changed into this old gray bearded, fat guy, instead of what I used to be. I remember back so many years ago, an “old” guy once told me: If you see something is life you want to do, then do it because there will come a day when you won’t be able to, and if you didn’t, you’ll look back and say, I wish I’d have done that. Well most of my life I have always taken that chance, gone out on a limb and tried something different. I look back and I have had a good life. I have had many great opportunities and gone ahead with them – it has been fun.
I got paid to do things many people pay to do. Being a professional guide was good. It was a lot of work. I remember so many good times, fun times. There were also many long days, hard work. Times where it was cold, wet and I wondered if it was worth, but that thought only lasted about two seconds – even on a bad day (which there never really were).
Growing up I used to hear: Join the Navy – See the world. Well I joined the Army Reserve and have seen more places in the world than I ever thought I would. Yes, may times it wasn’t that great vacation place, but many times I got to visit history, to see where history was made, to walk in the steps of men who’d gone before me I had only read about
I have meet people from all over the world. This morning I had breakfast with a former princess of Russia – Anastasia ( we laughed about that one). She was a beautiful 24yr old gal living in Moscow who have been in Lisbon for an international web seminar. She came from a small island in the northern Pacific, attended university in Moscow, went to work for Microsoft, but now has her own business. Before her I shared a cup of coffee with a great young man from Spain who had also attended the same event. He was great to talk with. Having the chance to meet and talk with people from all over the world lets me expand my knowledge and vision.
But the thing I am most thankful for is the beginning I had. My brother and I were adopted, and the people who wanted us were the best in the world. I was give fantastic values and a direction in life. I had a great life where I learned as a very young kid what hard work was and to accept responsibility. I learned early life wasn’t always a bed of roses and I wouldn’t always get what I wanted, but I would have what I needed. So many times our wants out race our needs and when it come down to it, our needs are very small compared to what we really think. I also learned after I left home, two things I never ask God for – a place to say and something to eat. God provides this for the birds of the air, so I knew and have always had faith these two things would always be provided to me. I may not have always had the best place to stay, nor the fancy foods to eat, but I have never needed.
So now I begin a new year, and it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

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?”

THANKSGIVING

Here in Denmark there is no Thanksgiving Day, but there is a lot to be thankful for. I was driving home from my day’s work shoeing horses and kind of down in spirits because today was Thanksgiving Day. I thought back to the last time I really celebrated it and wow, has it been a while back!
Last time I really did Thanksgiving was 1992, at my brother’s place. I’d got up early that morning because I was use to it. I was a little surprised when I got down stairs, no one was in the kitchen, no turkey getting started. Soon Larry came down and I ask why Sue wasn’t getting it done to which he replied she was sick with the flu. So why aren’t you doing it I ask? Well he really didn’t know where to start. I ask what time dinner was planned, with his reply I stated it would be a little later. Sue had the bread dried for dressing so I got started making the dressing, then giving the old bird a good rub down with a few spices. Soon he was stuffed and in the cooker, with extra stuffing made for the large crew, Sue’s family. I ask what else I needed to do. Sue was doing the main course; others were bringing pie, salads and such, so I got to work making my pot of coffee! After my coffee break, spuds got peeled and in the pot to cook. I prepared the neck and such, in a pan to boil so they could be used for gravy. After a while the kitchen was starting to acquire the correct smell. After a period of time Sue’s family started arrive. Learning Sue was sick, they were all ready to pitch in and help. I was thankful for all the help to finish the meal. It was a Thanksgiving to remember.
Yes I got a lot to be thankful for. I got so many Brothers – in- Arms who’ve come home in a pine box: I’m still here. I’ve got many who’ve lost limbs, carry the scares of war for the rest of their lives: all I’ve lost is a few marbles (so the shrink says). I get up every morning feeling the aches and pains of my past life; thankful to feel the pain because that means I am alive!
I’ve got a great place to live, it’s not big, but if it was bigger there would be a lot more work to do. I’m thankful Jette doesn’t have to go out to work every day, she keeps the place running and in order. We have worked hard to get what we got and I am thankful for all we have, mostly warm, dry place to sleep every night and good food to eat.
I am thankful for my family. This year I had some cousins drop in for a visit – was fantastic and loved every minute of it. I am thankful for my brother’s kids whom I have visited many times and enjoy. I am thankful for my friends, few they are, the best. I don’t have to name them, they know who they are. Those who’ve stood beside me through thick and thin. Everyone who have given me moral support in the times of my life when I really needed them.
I guess for me, now a day, Thanksgiving Day is a good time for me to reflect back over the past year, remembering all the things I am truly thankful for. I am glad so many of my family and friends are with their loved ones enjoying their Thanksgiving Day dinner. As you all sit around the table today enjoying a great dinner, each other’s company, please stop and reflect over your past year and remember all the things you are truly thankful for and Thank the Lord for all the blessings He has gives us all. Actually today turned out to be a REALLY GOOD THANKSGIVING DAY!

ALLOWANCE AND MONEY

A post on Face Book today got me to thinking of the past:
I grew up on a farm west of Caldwell, Idaho. There were four of us, my brother, Dad, Mom and I. When I was just a small boy my father explained to me in order for the farm to work every one must do their fair share. So I learned what my fair share was.
Every morning I got up, made my bed, got ready for school or if none school day got ready for whatever there was to do. My daily chores were to feed the chickens, gather the eggs. A couple times a week I had to set the supper table, and another couple days it was my turn to clear the table and help with the dishes. In the summer my brother and I shared mowing the lawn, clipping grass around the bushes and such – this was every week. Along with this we also helped plant, weed the garden and when time came harvest what we’d grown. We usually grew enough vegetables to last the winter. We’d also help pick, prepare and can fruit. Come fall there was always chickens we’d butcher, pluck and put in the freezer. All this along with the things around the farm like fixing fence, cleaning ditch, cleaning chicken house and whatever work was needed around the farm. All of this was done for no pay – as Dad explained it took all of us to do our part. If I wanted money I had to arrange extra work with Dad or Mom.
One Saturday when I was around five years old or so we were in town. I’d seen something in the store I really wanted and ask Dad if I could have it. “Sure”, he said, “What are you going to pay for it with?” I looked at him and said I knew he had money and could pay, he then replied, “I don’t want it, why should I pay?” He then finished with, “If you want money we can arrange extra work you can do to earn money, nothing is for free.” So I started to earn money. Dad divided up the farm in two and my brother got half and I got half to trap gophers. He paid us twenty five cents a tail. We each had an old band-aid can in the freezer we’d put our tails in. Every so often Dad would take them to the irrigation district and collect the money for them, which we received. Cutting thistles out of the pastures was also another job we got paid for, along with other jobs we’d arrange. In 1963 we took summer trip to Disney Land in California – and I had my own spending money! As we began the trip there were so many things I wanted to buy, and I remember Dad saying to me: “It’s your money to spend how you like, but remember when it’s gone there’s no more.” This would make me think and I learned how to make my money last for the entire trip.
After we sold the farm and moved to Greenleaf I did odd jobs to make money: mowing lawns, cleaning ditch(shovel in hand), I worked on a crew training hops (was the only white kid on a crew of Mexicans), pulled weeds out of mint fields for Cecil Benford, cleaned chicken houses for Mr. Harris and worked in his orchard, irrigated fields for Chet Harris, milked cows for different ones while they were on vacation and so many more. The summer I was 15yrs old, Mom, Dad, my brother were all working “real jobs”, so my main job around the house was cooking supper which was not a paying job, but Mom said, “Someday you will appreciate knowing how to cook.” As usual she was right.
When my brother and I got our driver’s license, Dad got another family car and gave the old ’61 Chevy Impala to us. He said he’d keep the insurance in his name but we had to pay it. We also had to buy the gas, oil, tires and service. If we didn’t have enough money for up keep we weren’t to come to him for money, the car could just set – that’s the way it was. Soon my brother bought himself a pickup and I got myself a ’69 Camero. Never did we ever ask Dad for money.
The year I was in 5th grade I attended Washington school in Caldwell, Idaho. One day during our noon break I was out on the playing field with a few other boys I hung around with. One of the guys looked at me and ask, “How much allowance do you get from your Dad and Mom?” I looked at him, “What’s an allowance?” He said, “You know, the money you get every week for making your bed, cleaning your room or just spending money from your parents?” I proceeded to tell him and the others I got no allowance. All that stuff was my responsibility and if I didn’t do it, well Dad had a punishment for that. I also explained all the work I had to do as it was my fair share, and if I wanted money I had to arrange other work to do. They all looked at me with strange looks shaking their heads in disbelief. Each of the other boys stated they all got an allowance.
A few years ago it was like getting hit in the head with a brick – I now understand who’s running our Government – it’s all those kids who never had to work and received other people’s money for something they never did.

OH MAN DOES THAT FEEL GOOD!

I got home this evening, dirty, stinking and full of horse smells and such.  As I got done with the shower, I thought:  Ah, that’s great!  Then it got me to thinking of all the different times and places I done the clean up and how so little can make a person feel sooooo good!

When I was a kid, the normal bath night around our house was Wednesday and Saturday night.  The rest of the time we cleaned up at the sink.  If we’d been out and got extremely dirty so then another bath night was there.  Even today, those two days are still my traditional shower nights.  Getting into school and playing sports changed that, so it became almost every day at school was a shower – sports had a way of making you want to take a shower.

When I was working up in the mountains as a guide, during the summer time I spent a lot of weeks on a trail crew.  We’d rebuild damaged trail, clear trees and brush which had come down in the winter snow.  It was dirty hard work.  Most of the time we only took a shower once a week – Saturday afternoons.  During the week we’d strip to the waist and wash up.  We had to pack water to the camp and besides the next day we’d just put on the same dirty clothes to work in.  But Saturday, I’d saddle up a mule and pack water into camp.  John would get busy heating water to wash with.  We had an old U.S. Army shower bucket to shower with.  It would hold about 2.5 gallons of water, so you got enough hot and cold water to fill it.  Out back we’d built a shower place – just some trees put together for a floor and one hanging high enough for the bucket to work.  There was no shower stall, you just stood out and communed with nature while taking a shower.  The process was:  fill the shower bucket and hang.  The you screwed the nozzle up so the water would come out and get wet.  Once wet you shut it off, soaped up, scrubbed up, then opened it up to rinse off.  Next you washed your hair.  Usually you had about 5 minutes of running water, so you never let it run all the time.  But boy, was it a great feeling to be clean.  The clean clothes felt really good as well.

I’ve done many different thing in the Army as well.  In December ’95 I deployed to Croatia/ Bosnia.  I was part of a command and control team on a bridge over the Sava River, our Call sign was “Cowboy TOC”.  We live and worked in the same place.  As it was winter time, I had 6 kerosene heaters going.  I’d obtained a three pound coffee can for each of us.  What I’d do is when I came off my night radio watch shift at around 0700, I set my coffee can full of water on top of a heater.  When I woke up about 4 hours later my water would be just about luke warm, that was all the warmer it ever got.  Then I’d get my little blue pan, stand in it and take what we called a “whore’s bath”  Wipe down with a wash cloth, soap up, wipe down again and that was it.  It’s amazing how clean one can stay.  Then you always had some warm water to shave with.  After that was done, the can was about empty.  If there was any left over, you got a cup of coffee as well!  About every ten days or so we’d take turns going into Camp Harmon around meal time.  This way the two who got to go took a real shower, ate a hot meal, picked up our clean laundry from the Quartermaster laundry and the most important – MAIL!  Many times I’d have to go in more often as it was my responsibility to get fuel for the generators, heaters, MRE’s, water and such.  I never had much time for a shower run as I always had to get back for something!

In 2003 I deployed to Kuwait, Camp Virginia which was out in the middle of the desert.  Nothing but sand as far as the eye could see.  All the water was trucked in.  We had bottled water to drink.  Because of the hours I worked and such, by the time I’d get around to take a shower, there’d be no water.  I was lucky, my cousin was very smart!  She sent me a care package with a whole bunch of baby wipes.  I’ve taken many a bath with baby wipes.  Again it’s amazing how great it is just to wipe your body off with so little.  When we moved north to Balad, Iraq, a base later know as  LSA Anaconda (it was the beginnings), we still had to burn human waste, but we did have a Quartermaster laundry and bath unit!  I’d get in line, standing in my PT shorts and shower shoes.  When it was my time to enter, we’d go in, I think it was about 10 soldiers at a time.  A NCO was in charge and he’d tell us to get stripped and under a shower head at the ready.  When he said go  the water was turned on for 9 minutes.  Yea, you had to have a system but again it’s amazing how fast you can get clean.  Many times I’d have time remaining and I’d just stand under the HOT water using up my full time!  It was glorious.

Now in my later years I still appreciate a good shower.  When there I get in and get my  business done, but sometimes I do stand and just let the hot water run.