WONDERING AND THOUGHTS

1 June, it is a holiday here in Denmark so I am sitting outside, on a beautiful Monday morning with a fresh cup of coffee, just enjoying life as it slowly passes by, but before hand I took a quick peek at my schedule for Tuesday, got my knives and file sharpened, shoes loaded in the van and already to hit the road tomorrow. I have always believed in the “6 Ps” ; Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. Have lived by these all my life and so far things have worked out fairly well – considering “Murphy” is always with us,

Life on the golf course this year has been very trying to say the least. It has proved to me I should have been a cook because I could slice bread real well! Those of you looking as this, raising an eyebrow wondering – I can’t hit a tee shot worth a plugged nickel, my slice is so bad sometimes I think it will come back around a hit me in the back of my head. Yesterday, after the first hole I knew I wasn’t going to need a score card to keep track of my game. I scored a whole 4 points on the first nine, 7 points on the last. I have never played so bad. Last year I was hitting great, I worked my handicap down real well last year, now this year is is going the other way and I can’t figure out why. I was playing last Friday with a usual partner, Kurt. At hole 10 he asked if I minded if he gave me some advice and proceeded to give it. I told him I have no idea what is going on so any advice he can give will be welcome. I absorbed what he told me. The next tee shot was a 300 meter shot – 100 meters out, 100 meter up, 100 meter down, but at least it was straight. I get to the next hole, wham, it was straight with good length. Then came the slice, but it wasn’t so bad. Sunday before our round I hit the driving range giving Kurt’s advice a try, once again slicing my way through the balls. As I said the round yesterday was bad, tee shots were bad, thus my attitude got bad, which lead to lack of focus, which lead to bad shots. Finally at hole 12 I am ready to tee off and I just told myself, “I don’t care” (which I really didn’t). I just came up, lined up, not taking any time to focus on the shot and wham, I hit a perfect shot. The next hole was a par 3, next was a par 4, so again I just went up, taking no time, no focus and whacked that white ball – it was a fantastic shot. The rest of the course, using my driver I did fairly good. I have come to conclude maybe I am over thinking it, over doing it to do good. I need to just relax and hit the ball. I was going to play today, but decided not to, just to stay home and relax. Tuesday. I have a regional golf match, so hopefully I can just relax and enjoy the game again.

Well the powers to be decided the China virus was a fail in getting President Trump out of office, so now another tactic is in play, organized civil violence. Reading reports, many of those arrested are not residents of the areas effected, and this makes sense. Why would normal, rational people burn and destroy their own areas? I bet many of the smaller shop owners will never come back to business after this, and it is really sad to see. Yes. there is problems with some police officers who abuse their power, but this is only human, look how many of our elected officials abuse their power. It is not confined to anyone group. When the video came out, most people were horrified, shocked at what happened. If people had come out with peaceful protest, they would find most civil Americans would fully support them, but burning, looting, beating up people – this was no reason for these type of actions, unless there is a subversive motive- and like Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s White House CoS said, “Never let a crises go to waste”. According to Emanuel, it’s not about managing a crisis—it’s about using that crisis to advance your agenda. I can guess there are those out there who have their “own agendas” and it doesn’t include the best welfare for America. Money and Power are the two things which drive many, and this is not the first time we have seen the masses stirred up to riot and destroy. Remember the last Presidential election. The biggest word and idea has been forgotten – RESPECT. Once people come back to the values our Nation was founded on and begin to once again respect each other, remembering diversity is what has made our nation great. Slowly over the years I have see our values eroded. I remember a time when prayer was part of our society, that has been taken away. One of the bases of our laws was the ten commandments, ten basic laws to live by, but this has been dictated as taboo. Soon we found the family unit was beginning to be eroded. In a speech by Ronald Reagan delivered before the Orange County Press Club in 1961, and entitled “Encroaching Control”, he alleged that, “Three months before his last visit to this country, Nikita Khrushchev said, ‘We can’t expect the American people to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find they have Communism.’” Is this what we are seeing now, the slow and planned take down of our society? If you want take the time, look out what freedoms we had a hundred years ago and what we got now. Slowly our freedoms and society are being torn down and replaced with what? No matter if I am right or wrong, that is not my purpose. My purpose is to make you stop and think for yourself. Do your own research, decided for yourself what is right or wrong. Have you ever read our Constitution? If not do so. If you really want to do some good research, start at the website of Hillsdale College (https://online.hillsdale.edu/#home). They have some very good FREE online courses, even one about the Constitution. Make up your own mind, and in the end, remember RESPECT for other’s opinions is a must, but this doesn’t mean you should let them run over you.

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.

TIME MACHINE

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

STATE OF MIND

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

GOLF AND HUNTING

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

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!!

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!!

6 JUNE

In a few days it will be 6 June. Why is it special? – all the military types know and many civilians as well – Operation Overlord, the invasion of Europe.
A few years ago I was privileged to do a Battle Staff Ride to the Normandy Beaches. About a month before going each of us were assigned a unit to research and their part in the battle, drew the 121st Engineers. On the ride over on the bus we watched “The Longest Day”. The next morning we were standing on Omaha beach at day break, I was not prepared for the feelings I felt.
I was standing at the low water mark and looked up the beach. It was almost flat with the dunes and banks rising high above it. My first thought was, “My God, how did these guys have the guts to cross this killing field?” As I slowly walked towards the high ground I began to look: to my left was a firing bunker, but the firing ports weren’t straight forward it was at a 45 degree angle. I looked to my right and saw another one mirroring the effect – then it hit me = interlocking, grazing fire made to kill anything in range! How anyone survived I’ll never know. As I slowly went up, the slit trenches were still there and behind were the mortars. Placed along the beaches were some bigger gun emplacements as well. I learned on the beaches, aiming stakes had been set so the mortar men, machine gunners knew exactly what their ranges were. The entire beach was dialed in. I don’t have to explain the meaning of this to any of my Grunt Brothers, I know the hair on the backs of their necks will rise just thinking of this. The soldiers landed and got bogged down, but then they broke through and we know the rest. You can read this but unless you have walked that battle field you will never understand (unless you’ve been under fire as well).
Once they secured the beached then they got funneled into killing fields of fire again when trying to breach the hedge rows. It was a killer. Walking the roads, seeing the actual remains of foxholes still there, I have no words. The average age of WWII soldiers was 26, so maybe this helped them “suck it up”, draw from within and drive on. They knew they would die, but someone had to.
I have no doubt about the will and intestinal fortitude of our soldiers today, I’ve seen what they have done in Iraq and Afghanistan if let along to do the jobs they are trained to do and not restrained by our political leaders who sit on their soft chairs thousands of miles away.
Sometimes I look at our systems and think we got it all wrong. Our leaders should be military and they should be right out in front leading the men into battle. War has gotten too far away. Yea we think it is something when a guy can sit behind a joy stick in the western U.S. and kill bad guys half away around the world. I wonder how politics would be if war was once again close up and personal? If our elected officials were also required to be out front – There would be no need of term limits for Congressmen then, most would pull out in a flash.
Anyway I want to salute all my Brother Grunts who led the charge across those flat sands into the certain death many received. As I walked the green grass dotted with white stone in the cemetery above the beaches I could only look and read names.
The table is set and I raise my glass – SALUTE!

NEVER TOO LATE

This has been the story of my life – the things I want to do or enjoy have always come later in life. I guess through it all I have learned it is never too late to do something.
I wanted to join the army and fly, but 1 December, 1974 put a stop to that – I took a ricochet from a pistol in my right eye ending my flying and delaying my military career until late in life – age 26. By this time most guys have enlisted and completed eight or nine years. When I went to basic training I was called “old man” as I was the oldest in my platoon. Yet even with the late start and not getting to do what I really wanted to do I managed to have a Reserve career spanning over 22 years and I achieved the rank of Sergeants Major and now enjoy a retirement. In a way I felt a little left out as I already had a civilian career under way, but I was privileged to serve my country and contribute as I feel everyone should.
I’d been married and got divorced in 1984. After living in Pasco, Washington for a year, I moved back to Idaho and somehow got into riding saddle bronc. Here I am in my late twenties starting something which is a young man’s game (much younger than me). At my age most rough stock riders are in the second half of their career. I had a ball. I traveled to central Oregon, Northern Nevada, and many rodeos in Idaho. I didn’t make any money, but one thing I can tell you – there is nothing like coming out of the chute on that eight second ride!
I was around 30yrs old when my brother and I took a hunting trip with our horses in to the Salmon River Wilderness area in Central Idaho. While there I got offered a job as a guide and packer. On our way out my brother asked me, “You’re going to take that job aren’t you?” I replied, “You bet, this job has been offered to me and it is one most guys would give their right arm to do. Lots of guys pay to go to guide schools to get a job”. So began another episode in my life – professional guide/packer. I will have to say it was the best time of my life, so good I wrote a book about it.
Low and behold at age 36 I up and move to Denmark, half way around the world. The clincher to my move was there was an Army Reserve Command in Germany so I didn’t have to give up my long range goal of a military retirement. So here I planted roots and started a business as a farrier. Late in life I am beginning all over again. It was hard work and there were also hard times but I stayed with it and soon was able to enjoy a nice life.
My job in the army was infantry, but my war didn’t come until the end of my career. I was in year 19 when I answered the call to war. In 2003 I deployed and wouldn’t get back home for about 14 months. The worst part was I didn’t get to do what I was trained to do. I would have rather been in an infantry unit up front fighting the enemy, yet I ended up in the rear as the Rear G3 Sergeants Major of V Corps, doing a job we combat arms guys always detest, but I did my job to the best of my ability. After I moved up to Baghdad, I made contacts with an infantry platoon and was able to go out on night patrol with one of their squads. It was great, just being one of the guys, not in charge of anything, just taking care of my sector. I was out with these guys every chance I got, at minimum once a week. At age 47 I was finally getting to do what I was trained to do and enjoyed every minute.
So now I reach another late in life challenge – farrier competition. Last year I got talked into going to Las Vegas to attend the final for the World Championship of Blacksmiths. I entered the novice class, at first did I feel stupid – an old guy in this class with a bunch of young farriers, but no one said anything about it. I had a great time. I told a friend of mine I wanted to go back again this coming December so he said he would help me. I am not the best at forging. I can make shoes I need for the horses I work on, but for competition it takes lots of practice, practice. I got problems with my shoulders and arms, but it is fun and I am going to do it. I have just entered another competition in June, so I am pounding iron. Again I am entered in a lower class and will find myself against lots of younger farriers. I am having a good time and figure if I don’t do it now I may not have another chance.
We only go through life one time. If I’d put off things because I was too old, I would have missed out on so many good times in life. Yea, many times it is late in life, but at least I gave it a shot and had fun. After all, what is life if we don’t have some fun?