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.

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.

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”.

SUMMER TIME THINKING

Spring has sprung, fall has fell, summer is here, and it’s hotter than – not really just nice.
This year, like last I am enjoying my summer playing golf. This year is a little different, I have cut back on my work a bit, so gots lots of extra time to play. Today is the first time the wife really said something about my playing. I just let her complain, no replay. I remember what my Dad said years ago after Mom got on him about something. He just finished supper then went outside. I finished and followed, going out sitting on his pickup’s tailgate. He then invoked some words of wisdom: It is no use arguing with your mother because she is always right and your always wrong. Just let it go in one ear and out the other. So I remembered this and found life is so much better when you just let it go.
Getting my knee replaced this past winter has been great. Yea, I still got some small issues, like it aches a lot, but it is so much better than the pain I had last year. I remember sometimes coming back from work or a game of golf my knee hurt so much I couldn’t sleep without some painkillers. Now I haven’t had my knee brace on for a long time. In fact a while back my whole knee itched so bad for almost a day. Always had people tell me this was part of the healing process. Have had a couple people I know tell me it will take a year or so for it to completely settle in and I won’t notice it. That’s ok, at least it doesn’t hurt like it did before.
I almost never listen to the news anymore. I get so tired of all the B.S. and crap going on. Many times I have thought to myself, Sure am glad I am over 60yrs old and not 20 and just starting out. It seems like you can’t say anything or do anything without offending someone. I guess people have forgotten or never be taught to respect others for what they think or how they want to live. I bet it really makes for some very interesting family conversations around the Thanksgiving or Christmas table if you got a big family.
One thing I am glad for, so many years ago I had the insight to plan for my twilight years. No matter what the plan is, you got to have one. I am so glad I joined the Army Reserve and stuck it out to get a pension. With the Reserve I had two goals – 1. Stay long enough to get a pension, 2. Make the highest rank I could get so I would get a good pension. I was lucky enough to achieve both goals. I made the rank of Sergeants Major, which for pay is an E9. I have had some ask why I never got to Command Sergeant Major, well I suppose I could have, but the retirement pay for a CSM is still E9, just a lot more responsibility for the same pay, plus I would have had to stay in longer. When I got out it was time. My civilian job couldn’t stand another deployment, plus I ended up with some physical problems which would have required me to get what the army calls a “Profile”, meaning I physically couldn’t do some things. I always told myself I would never stay in with a profile. Being in a leadership position I felt I needed to lead from the front, which I tried to do all the time. The other part of my retirement plan started when I was working as a professional guide. During that time I lived where I worked so my living expenses were very small, thus I was able to save money, so I invested in land. I looked at the stock market, but I was in a position I couldn’t keep track of it, so land seemed a better deal. It would be a long term investment which has turned out great. If I could pass on one piece of advice is: it is never too early to plan for the future because no one else will plan for you.
When I got out of high school I knew I didn’t want to go for a college degree. At that time there were a lot of degree holders flipping burgers and went into debt to do that. So I went to a Vo-Tec school, learned to be a mechanic, got out and immediately went to work. I also worked with my Dad who was a carpenter. Another piece of advice my Dad gave me: “No matter how hard times get there is always a job if you want to work. You may be doing a job you don’t like, but sooner or later the good one will come. In the mean time you can eat”. I just shake my head in amazement sometimes reading about how a college degree is needed to succeed. Now don’t get me wrong, education is good and we do need people who have degrees, but it is not needed to be successful. I read so many times about all the “trades” needing apprentices to train for a job. Many of these jobs pay good money, but the problem is you got to work, get your hands dirty. If it isn’t the job many people don’t like, they won’t take it. My Dad also said, “You have to learn to work”. As a kid I thought to myself, sure one had to learn the job, but that wasn’t what he was talking about. Learning to work is: getting yourself up and ready to get to work on time, having the desire to do a good job, learning to work with others, developing a good work ethic, doing a good job even when it is the worst job you can think of.
Anyway, life is good. My cup is always half full, never half empty. Life is too short to argue and worry too much about things, just let it go. Work is good. Good for the soul and good for your health (especially if you want to eat and pay bills). Enjoy your summer!!

BACK IN THE SADDLE AGAIN

Finally, after a long winter I am back to work and play! 12 November last year I received a new left knee. It wasn’t major surgery, but it is taking a long time to recover. Even now I am not up to full work, only about half time, but it is great to get out of the house. Worst part is I got my two dogs spoiled. They now think every morning I should devote at least twenty minutes or so playing ball, then every afternoon the same.
I was given an injection in my back, deadening me from the waist down, so I was able to hear the entire operation. Saw, grinder, hammer, chisel and staple gun. I figured out I got all the tools for to do the right knee, just need to contact my local vet to see about getting some drugs.
The guy in the bed next to me had his right knee done right after me. Later in the afternoon he suggested we take a walk, so we got our walkers, threw a robe on and headed for the elevator, down and out side. It was great to get some fresh air, my partner needed a smoke. Was a good walk, best part my left leg was still dead – then it woke up.
Didn’t get much sleep that night. They gave me some pain pills, but they did no good. The one thing that helped was ice. I kept the nurses busy all night getting cold packs which was great. The next morning the nurse told me I could take my walker, go up the hall to where they had breakfast ready. I got my walker started out. I got about three quarters of the way there and all of a sudden started to feel funny, oh no, so I backed my walked up to the wall, set the brakes, turned around, sat down and passed out. I woke up with four or five nurses standing around me, I was still sitting. They had my bed there and got me back in. The nurse in charge of me asked if I was in pain, I said yes. She asked if I had taken any pain pills, I said just what they gave me. She asked why I didn’t say something. I told her what was pain? I have lived with pain, worked with broken bones so I just dealt with it. Now she really got pissed off. She said this was the reason I passed out because my body said enough and just shut down. They got me back to my room and gave me two little blue pills. I guarantee I took a trip and never left my bed!
The other thing which helped me get through the long night was I thought ahead, brought the charger for my mobile phone. I knew they had free internet, so I was able to plug in a couple of my favorite talk radio stations, KBOI and KFSO – great listening to talk radio to help pass the time of night. First time I was thankful for a smart phone.
Getting into the car for the ride home was tough, but great to get out of there. I will have to say the food was good. Jette fixed up the couch/sofa in the office for me to sleep at nights so I didn’t have to go up stair. She was great in support. Guess the best part is for the first time since I have been living here she fixed breakfast for me. Not a real breakfast, just the Danish type, but who am I to complain. Probably the best for me, as if I’d had a real breakfast every morning I’d have gotten real fat! Even now she still does it for me, so no complaints here!
After the New Year, I started riding out with another farrier a couple days a week, just to get out of the house (I think Jette was glad as well). Twice a week to the rehab center plus the stationary bike one of my fantastic customers loaned me, I put myself to work. As the old saying goes, “No pain, no gain”, I must have gained a whole lot. Having our riding hall was great as well. During rainy weather I was able to get out and walk without getting soaked. January I also got access to my shop to train up my hands, arms and muscles for work. Then came the first of Feb – back to work.
It was tough the first few horses and I am so thankful to my customers for being very understanding. I also want to thank all the other farriers who supported me and cared for my customer’s horses. Everyone I have been out to has been so supportive and glad I am back. I enjoy getting back to work on their horses, we talk, have some coffee and a general good time while I am working.
Yea, I have lost some customers. Some have taken on the farrier they had do their horse, well that’s their choice and I respect it. What I don’t respect is the fact some have refused my calls, text messages and such. I don’t know what is so hard about telling me they took someone else – people.
Best of all I have been able to hit the golf course again, started out doing a few swings and such. This past Friday I did my first 18 holes, the longest I have walked since the operation. Yea I was pooped, in fact I was kind of struggling through the back nine, but I wanted to complete it. I played probably the worst game I ever played, but a good score wasn’t the goal. Goal was completing the course. My body was so sore afterwards, but I was surprised my knee wasn’t swollen more than normal. In two weeks my course opens up and I know I will be struggling as it is pretty hilly, but looking forward to it. Saturday a friend and I played around a nine hole course. It was flat and not as long as a regular 18 hole course so we went around twice. I actually played pretty good.
By no means am I to full speed but I am gaining every day. I will be increasing my work as time goes along as well as my golf game. Best thing is spring is just about here, longer, warmer days to play more golf. My rehab instructor told me golf was a great sport to play as it is one where I can go at my own speed. I am also looking forward to the point in time when all the pain and swelling are gone. I was told before the operation it could last six to eight month afterwards, so I am still ignoring the pain. Best part is everyone I have talked to say after the first few months they are so glad to have had the operation. This is the time I am looking forward to.

2018 in Review

And so another year has slipped by, kind of makes a guy wonder where it all goes.
This year has been good and also different. I really got into the game of golf. If you would have told me a couple years ago I would love the game of golf I would have told you you’re crazy, but it is great. Another reason I took up golf was for the exercise. Since my knees have gotten bad and I knew replacements were needed, I needed the exercise, thus another good reason for golf. I’m not all that great, handicap is 31.5, but I am having a great time. I have also met some really great people on the course as well. In June I went to Sweden to compete in a farrier competition with a good friend, Tom Williams, who competed as well. We just happened to take our golf clubs with us and daily after the competition we hit the course for 18 holes. It was great in Sweden because it didn’t get dark until about 2300hrs, so it was fantastic.
Because of my knees I have cut down on my work. Cutting down has helped a lot. Before I cut down, many nights I’d get home and couldn’t hardly walk, it was a real chore to get up the next morning and go to work. Yes, this year, after playing 18 holes of golf my knees were sore, but it was needed as I had to keep up some good exercise, as we say, “No pain, no gain”.
Before my knee operation I took my annual trip to Portugal. I didn’t get a vacation last year because of my knees, so it was greatly needed this year. It was a good time with mixed weather. Lots of rainy days, but we also had some good weather as well. The most important thing was I had a great time with an old friend.
This knee operation has been the hardest thing I have ever faced. I never really knew what my pain threshold was until now. I’ve walked out of the mountains with broken bones in my foot, worked with broken toes, had horseshoe nails pulled through my body, kicked in the face by horse, but this is the first time my body shut down because of pain, at least that’s what the nurse told me after I passed out the morning after the operation. I’d walked up to get my breakfast and boom, out I went. Later on the nurse proceeded to chew me out for not taking enough pain killers, she then gave me some and I took a trip and never got out of bed. It’s a little over a month ago since the operation. I am now walking most of the time with no crutches, still have some problems sleeping at nights because of the aches in my knee and leg. Before the operation I was hoping for about the first of January to get back to work, but now I think it might be more to the end of January (I hope).
Jette had decided to trade off her truck for a smaller horse transport. Because of all the rules and regulations coming out, it will be much more cost effective to down size. She has also decided to down size on horses as well. I don’t know all the ins and outs of her decision but I also know we are not 30 no more and I have a feeling she wants to cut down on all the work.
Weather this year has been different. Jette said she has never seen a summer so hot and dry as we did this year. Lot of crops dried up, I know our pastures did. Many who have horses and cattle began to use their winter feed during the summer (I know we did). Lot of farmers began to slaughter their cattle early as they couldn’t feed them all winter. Will be interesting to see how things end up this coming spring. We are now into a typical winter. We had a bunch of rain this fall and now we got freezing weather. One thing I have always hated is the long, dark winter days here. It doesn’t really get daylight until the morning is about half over and it gets dark about mid afternoon. I can’t wait until 21 December passes (shortest day of the year). I think it should be a holiday and we can celebrate days are getting longer.
Our two dogs, Coco and Gaby are now sleeping, relaxed as we just got in from our morning game of ball. Being home the past month I take them out and play ball every morning, then go for a walk as the beginning of my rehab training. Jette and I have always had two dogs and love them very much (as we never had kids). They are both very different and special in their own ways.
I am wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I am not politically correct and hope I never am, so if anyone is offended, I really don’t care. You all be good and remember: It is only you who takes the step away from God, He will never step back from you. I hope you all have a great Holiday Season and the coming year if full of joy and love.

JOHN’S TV

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

STATE OF MIND

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

COMPARING U.S.A. TO DENMARK

Well I spent the day hearing about the follow video, so when I got home I had to view it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSFfTG42Jl8
After listening to it, and have been living in Denmark for the past 25yrs I felt I needed to write something about it so here it goes:
When I first got my business going (farrier) I soon got some clients who had lost their jobs and began to collect what we call “unemployment”, ok, but to my shock and amazement I learned at that time unemployment benefits continued up to four years!! I was shocked. I was also shocked when many of the people who were collecting told me, “Why should I go to work when I can stay at home and collect almost as much”? Last I heard the Danish government has cut this back as they could no longer afford 4years, it is at 2 years now(last I checked). I have seen so many people abuse the system and it is easy here to do. There are a lot of people working here, good honest people doing an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. There are many Danes who have values and uphold what they think is right, I have to add this so you don’t think there isn’t.
But shall we flip the coin.
Since I left, the United States has become a welfare country. More and more people are sticking their hand out to get all they can get from the government as they have learned they can get paid for doing nothing. When I was a kid, it was really a low blow to have to be on food stamps, receive welfare or such. But today it is growing to be the norm to be on some kind of government handout. There is no shame in it today. In fact just the opposite, so many feel the government owes them! When I was a kid there was a newly elected Democratic President who in one of his speeches he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” Today he would not even fit into the Democratic party.
So back to the video. Yes in Denmark we pay taxes, lots of taxes. Yea there are services for those taxes, but like another world leader (Margaret Thatcher) said, “ The trouble with socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money”. I see that now. It is the little things at first. Here a while back I noticed many of the road side rest stops have had the toilets, picnic tables and trash cans taken out, this is so they can save money by not providing the service. This tells me money is getting tight and local governments are trying to save money. Denmark has a cradle to grave care system. Suppose to take care of all your medical needs, needs in retirement and such paid for. You pay for these services in your taxes. Now much of the home care is being cut down. I have a customer who is a home care worker and every time I shoe her horse, I have to listen to an hour and a half of how services, which these elderly people have paid for, are now being cut or discontinued.
Yes education is free and like in the States everyone wants to go to the university, get a degree, which is for free. Like in the States many of the “trades” are suffering from not enough young people wanting to get their hands dirty, they want the office jobs. Like in the States many don’t understand the trades, welders, plumbers, electricians, mechanics and such are very good jobs, it’s just you got to work hard and get dirty.
Growing up in the States when the chimney needed cleaning out, you either did it or you hired someone to do it. You decided when your septic tank needed cleaned out, not here in Denmark. Firms are on contract with the local governments to do these for you, you no longer have to think about what you need to do, oh yea, this is part of your taxes. Everything is taxes as much as possible. We have our own water well, yet we pay a tax on the water, then we pay another tax on the waste water coming out of our septic tank. And get this – there is even a church tax here!! Once I found out about this I figured out the “separation of church and state”. I always enjoy how so many want to compare Denmark with the States – it can’t be done. At the end of FY 2018 the gross US federal government debt is estimated to be $21.48 trillion, according to the FY19 Federal Budget. Different reports puts the cost of single payer health care at between 1-3 trillion dollars a year, and this is just for health care. If the country is already so deep in debt, where is the money coming from? Guess we’ll just have to raise the taxes a bit more. Today so many want so much for free, they seem to forget that nothing in life is for free, it has to be paid for by someone somewhere. Oh by the way, this is Denmark’s national debt converted to dollars: $124,850873,000 (debt clock: https://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/denmark
No system is perfect. I have lived under two different systems. There is good and bad with both. So before we take what is said in the video at the beginning of this post, we need to reexamine ourselves and maybe once again bring up that phrase a newly elected President so many years ago put forth.