rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Buddy Poppy

 

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In Flanders Fields
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

That poem reminds me of my youth. Growing up in East Texas, we observed most all things patriotic. I had many small town “little boy” jobs. Mowing lawns (with a boy-powered push mower), selling newspapers, you name it, I did it. One job I remember was selling Buddy Poppies, the paper replica flowers that the Veterans of Foreign Wars sell to raise money for disabled veterans. These were to honor our fallen soldiers. And at that time the focus was on WWII men and women.

Somehow I cannot visualize myself being in a war. I did spend a few years in the U.S. Navy; however, it was not during a period of American involvement in conflict. Honorably discharged in 1960, I spent the bulk of my military service aboard the USS Oriskany and the USS Hornet, both aircraft carriers. I married in 1959 and made the transition to civilian life upon my discharge. A few years later, America became involved in the Vietnam War.

But raising a family was my first concern and while my allegiance was to my family, I have always been conflicted about not serving during that period of time. Even today, I feel a deep regret for not stepping up to the plate. I feel sorrow for those who had the unpopular task in the Vietnam era.

My father-in-law was a combat veteran during WWII, serving in the SeaBees and among the first to venture onto the islands of the South Pacific, fighting battles and building airstrips. He was very private about his time in the service, but was among the many who received accolades for his time in the military, unlike the Vietnam veterans. I suppose this is one reason I feel a kinship with those who did.

Many returned home to an unpopular welcome. Derided and made to feel ashamed of their service. No other service to our country has ever been placed in that reasoning. Over 58,000 American men and women lost their lives during that conflict, and at the time those who survived were made to feel ashamed. That was a disgrace then and now.

Monday, May 27th is the day we observe Memorial Day this year. It is a day of remembering and honoring persons who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The burden is upon you, the America citizen, to remember and honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our country. Don’t disappoint me. Remember and respect all who did so. They served with distinction. And to the Vietnam veterans, I especially thank you for your service. I apologize for you taking my place.

Maybe I can find a Buddy Poppy to wear this Memorial Day. I do remember.

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Pushing Carts

I’m confident that most if not all of my readers have shopped at least once in the “giant ‘big box’, has everything, supercenter store”. If there should be one who hasn’t had that experience, I urge you to venture into that dominion. That should be on your “bucket list”. But be prepared for the consequence.

Yesterday, I accompanied the “Rancherette” on our weekly outing to the friendly supercenter for much needed supplies.  We do everything together. We work together, play together, eat together, so it makes sense that we shop together.

Most of our journey into the realm of our supercenter shopping schedule takes place in the grocery section. “You are about to enter another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b5aW08ivHU

Our path is pre-ordained. We enter the store, proceed to the pharmacy, (at my age there is usually a prescription to be picked up), then on to the Health & Beauty section. The “Rancherette” does not need anything from here, but I do. At last visit,  they did not have any such beauty aids that would be of assistance to me, but I spend a lot of time in the Health Department.

.blood pressure machine

Since the beauty section is on the opposite end from the grocery section, we must then travel through the various departments including the fashion department, and usually with a stopover in each with a detour for a pit stop along the way. (Think health needs).Occasionally, we slide through the craft department, for the “Rancherette” is very crafty.

See the source image.

As we make our way through the store to the foods the travel gets perilous. Pushing a cart through the supercenter is risky to say the least. I have a couple of ideas that might make it a little safer, or not.

First, a pushing cart license should be required before entering the store. They could set up a kiosk at the entry and charge a fee, either for a one trip or annual permit.  Instruction booklets could be found in the Home & Office department. A short one week course with field training could be utilized during nights and weekends when traffic is lightest if there is such a time.

Believe me; many people are in need of a degree of instruction.  See the source image

For example, some use the British model, you know, pushing on the “wrong” side of the aisle, while others use the American model, pushing on the “correct” side of the aisle. Still others use no model at all. Some use the haphazard model. It is very confusing.

driving on wrong side

And there are the “wrong way” pushers. They are oblivious of anyone around them. One can be pushing the correct direction, either British or American and out of nowhere comes a cart from the wrong direction and stacked so high the “pusher” cannot see over the mound of stuff, usually with soft drink bottles hanging off the side. You know, “East is east and West is west, and never the twain shall meet.”(Except in the “Big Box Supercenter”.) As you see, in the photo above, one can find anything in a “Big Box” Supercenter.

And with the “medians” in the middle of the wider aisles one never knows which side to move. The narrow aisles do not have these obstructions, so this is where the motorized shoppers meet to discuss current events.  In fact, the “big box” supercenter could set aside a section like a park, where these individuals could meet. The supercenter could then charge admission. All this could be corrected with “pushing licenses” instruction.

One solution would be to make the aisles a one way direction.  It might not solve every problem but it might solve a few. See diagram below. Notice in the diagram, there is only one check out location. This is controlled chaos. All the stores use this method to keep order.

As we proceed down the aisles we pass all the well known “impulse” items, usually not on our list but placed exactly at eye level. The managerial staff knows when I am coming. Being the sucker I am, I load the basket. But we must also locate the items on our list.  Bottom shelves are not knee friendly nor is the fiber cereal on the top shelf. This is an area where the supercenter needs a bit of instruction. If they would call me, I would tell them where to put stuff. They do not understand such logic. I do.

Eventually, we make our way through the checkout. As we leave the store, we converse about how exciting it is to see the many exhibits (exhibitionists)  throughout the store. Kind of makes your venture worthwhile. Since this is a family friendly site, I will not describe all the varying displays throughout the supercenter. Let just say,  one can see things in there that are not available even in the zoos of the world. Children under 16 years of age should not be admitted, many are simply unsuitable for young adolescents.

But hey, we gathered our groceries, now you gather your courage and get out there and go “pushing”.

See the source image

Have a happy day.

Update to “The Ice Cream Scoop” and other stuff

Update to “Ice Cream Scoop”. The “Rancherette” went above and beyond the call of duty in loading the dish drainer yesterday and she took a picture of it. Obviously, this is not censored in any way since she shared the photo with me.

Drainer

And while the drainer was piled about as high as usual, she did make a special effort to place the “scoop” in a favorable location. But observe the height restriction of the overhead cabinet; I suppose I could remove the overhead cabinet to give her more stacking room. As I said in “The Ice Cream Scoop”, the Rancherette is an expert at loading a dish drainer. Notice how her little round ball scoop is positioned conspicuously in the flatware compartment. I wasn’t fooled even a little bit. I didn’t take the bait.

Notice also how the “cereal bowl and the ice cream bowl” are partially hidden. She’s still got me. Once again I must at least unload some of the dishes in order to retrieve my bowls. Evidently, this task will require a bit more training.

In “The Ice Cream Scoop” I mentioned that I have an affinity for a particular scoop and bowl. Do you not also have a likeness for something odd or something someone else would describe as quirky  or a “peculiarity of behavior”?

Quirkiness: A peculiarity of behavior; an idiosyncrasy. So says “The Free Dictionary”. To borrow a line from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, “How Do I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways” of quirkiness. In my situation, I will admit to being guilty of these examples  but I am not admitting to being “quirky”.

First, there are the aforementioned articles, i.e. “scoop and bowl”. But there are others. For example; Identical Bread Slices!

bread slices

When I make a sandwich, the bread slices must be exactly alike. You then place them side by side in such a fashion that they match each other. This is called a symmetrical arrangement, exactly similar parts facing each other. In other words balanced. The ingredients are perfectly aligned. Therefore when the sandwich is made it is balanced. This, of course is not quirky in my opinion, however, “some people” consider it quirky. In a perfect world, everything would be balanced. At my age, balance is important. Fortunately, the dish drainer is not involved in this example. No utensils are required (except for a spoon.) Come to think about it, I may have to unload the flatware compartment to get to a spoon.

Crumbled Crackers in milk is another example of what “some” consider as quirky.           You take an antique beer goblet, hopefully from the cabinet and not in the drainer, crumble saltine crackers in the glass, pour milk over the crackers until covered, retrieve spoon from flatware drawer, (if empty check dish drainer flatware compartment) stir concoction and enjoy. Occasionally when I have had a big meal for lunch I resort to this for my dinner in the evening.

 

.3-bartlett-collins-thumbprint-clear-glass-stem-beer-goblets-16-oz-3-737040a841efb91bd085d02206830e48crackers

So there you have a few examples of what “some people” consider quirky.

If you ask the “Rancherette” I am confident she could list several more “quirky” examples, (in her opinion),  but since this is my blog I reserve the right to choose the items that grace these pages. Besides, she has her hands full with loading the dish drainer.

AND since this is New Year’s Day, I wish all my family, friends and readers a very happy start to 2019.

Ice Cream Scoop

Being a creature of habit, I went into the kitchen, cut me a piece of delicious Apple pie made lovingly by the “Rancherette” , got the Blue Bell from the fridge, looked in the drawer where we keep such specialty items as my special ice cream scoop, and it wasn’t there.  My scoop is not your regular scoop, it is more like a miniature shovel. It removes the ice cream from the carton in a shovel fashion, unlike other scoops that make little balls. It was a free gift from Gulf Gas many years ago.

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The “Rancherette” and I bought this old farm house in 2009. With her design skills and my building skills, we spent about four years remodeling and changing things up a bit. When we got to the small kitchen, it was either give up counter space and cabinets to put in a dishwasher or keep counter space and cabinets and give up a dishwasher. The “Rancherette” decided to give up the dishwasher in favor of the cabinets. Since there was a lack of cabinet space she made a wise decision.

However, this meant a dish drainer would be necessary. As I have learned since the remodel, the “Rancherette” is an expert at putting dishes in a dish drainer. She knows so very well what will fit where. She also knows how high to stack the dishes and the little compartment on the side that holds the flatware until it will not hold the flatware. In that case the overflow will fit under a plate or pan somewhere else in the drainer. She is teaching me the skill. As I said, an expert. You see, everything in our farmhouse kitchen has a specified place.

With that being said, the only problem I have is: “Where is my ice cream scoop?”  I’m sure we all have our little peculiarities. For me, it is my ice cream scoop. Well, I also need my “dog food bowl”. For those of you who do not understand, my “dog food” bowl is a small yellow Tupperware cereal bowl. Many years ago it was placed in a bag of dog food as a gift from the manufacturer when you purchased their brand of dog food. I have several from that time period. My cereal  would not taste the same from any other bowl nor my ice cream from any other scoop.

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So, I have my bowl, I have cut my pie and taken the ice cream from the fridge. But where is my scoop?  There is no sign of my ice cream scoop. Then I remembered. Look in the drainer. But all the other dishes are piled high in the drainer. It isn’t in the specialty drawer, it isn’t in the flatware container in the drainer and it isn’t in the sink dirty. My ice cream is beginning to melt and I have no scoop. Heaven forbid that I must use the little round ball technique. I asked the “Rancherette” if she had any idea where my ice cream shovel was located. She said look in the drainer. I said, “I did, it isn’t there.” And she said, “Look deeper!” But the drainer is stacked almost to the ceiling. So I have three choices, unload the drainer, use a different scoop or forego the ice cream.

So I began unloading the drainer. I work my way carefully, piece by piece, in case I spot the ice cream scoop before unloading the entire drainer. But to no avail. And my ice cream is melting.

Finally, the drainer is empty and there it is, my scoop, on the bottom. I suspect a ploy here. When the dishes in the sink are washed, my ice cream scoop is washed first. It can then be placed on the bottom with all the other dishes expertly arranged on top. What better way to get the drainer unloaded? I told you the “Rancherette” is an expert.

Under the Kitchen Sink

I am such a creature of habit. The news comes on around here at 4 P.M., Monday through Friday. It airs for two and a half hours. There are four local news channels in my area and I switch back and forth so I don’t miss a thing.

They all have the usual assortment of local, national and international news. I don’t know, some of it may be “fake news”, I watch the stories anyway. Let me preface this post by saying,  do not take this personally. I know this may upset some of my friends, but it is not meant to be troubling to you, and may even appear sensitive for some, but it is merely my take of news in general.

Some of the programs touch me in such a way that I have dreams about them. Sometimes the dreams could be described as “nightmares”.  I’m not saying this particular dream was a nightmare, although it could be for some. My question to you, the reader, is, “Do you ever have thoughts or musings about such?

Our news sources regularly report on the happenings of the President. He is a big fan of social media, in case you haven’t noticed. There are many subjects he covers on an hourly basis, or so it seems. He sometimes embellishes his tweets and is generally called out for those comments. Now, I am not judging any of these situations, only commenting my view point.

One story, in particular, caught my attention. The other night, Mr. Trump, our current resident of the White House, stated that he was going to ban bump stocks, an attachment to a semi-automatic rifle that creates a type of machine gun. I do not own a machine gun or any type of semi-automatic rifle. My little .22 caliber rifle is used primarily around here for protection from varmints, predators and slimy snakes. I do not like snakes. My .22 is a bolt action rifle and has a six cartridge magazine  It would not be capable of mounting a bump stock. Machine guns have been illegal in this country for quite some time. I have never seen a machine gun except on the TV series , “The Untouchables” shown in 1959. I’m pretty sure they were only props. Guess that dates me quite well.

I used my trusty .22 some time back to dispose of a skunk. Skunks are persona non gratis around the Fuzzy Chicken Farm. Once he was no longer kicking, the remains had to be disposed of. That was a problem. The smell of a skunk really lingers for a long time. And the location of said animal was very close to the back door. “Doo, doo, doo, Looking out my back door”, my apologies to J.C. Fogerty of Credence Clearwater”.                                      You know, I kinda like that song, and listening to the words very carefully it reminds me of the current situation in Washington, D.C. Just had to throw that in.

So, I watched the news that particular evening, and “bump stocks” stuck in my mind. Like an ear worm. (Note the song above) As luck or fate would have it, or whatever you call it, I fell asleep wondering about my “workload”  the coming day.

Then a knock at the front door and the doorbell rang. The dog began barking. Dogs do not like big brown trucks, or garbage trucks, or doorbells. I jumped from my bed and raced to the door, with the dog getting there first. I restrained him and peered through the blinds to see who it was. It was Mr. Trump. I opened the door and asked if I could be of any assistance, thinking he was probably lost. Now I live in the country and to come to my house one must be on a mission. No one gets lost at my house. It is not a destination location. One must have a reason to come this far out.

So, I asked Mr. Trump what his reason was for visiting my house in the middle of the night. He replied, ”I’m here for your bump stock”. “I don’t have a bump stock,” I said. He said, “it is a crime to lie to a Federal authority.” By this time, I am getting nervous. I timidly asked, “Do you have a warrant?” He replied, “no, I don’t need one but I do need your bump stock, so hand it over.”  “You can search my house if you want to but I don’t have a bump stock”, I said. I must have convinced him. The next thing I knew, he was gone. I looked under the kitchen sink and there was a bump stock I did not know I had. Moments later, my bladder called. Whew, what a relief! (in more ways than one)

I think I will start watching Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy, well, maybe not Jeopardy. Just gonna restrict my news watching habits a bit. Or maybe listen to some more Credence Clearwater. Becareful watching the news.

This isn’t a Christmas Piece, however, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Christmas Eve, 1892

I have spent a lifetime cultivating friends.  It has been a gratifying experience on my part. I hope it has been for those who have befriended me. At this time of year, we are inclined to recognize the sincerity of friendship. I would love to list each one individually, but I could not possibly single out any one person for to do so would overlook someone and that would clearly not be my intent. So, allow me to use this platform as my way of saying Merry Christmas to all my friends of today and those of years past and to all my family members.

Times have changed so much and so fast over the years. I do not send out Christmas Cards as I once did. I suppose social media has a lot to do with that. But with the technology of that medium, this will serve as my Christmas greetings. My family is scattered and grown with grandchildren of their own. Each family celebrates Christmas in traditions and customs of their making. However, the custom and tradition of family love is inherent in each. I love my family and support each as we welcome the celebration of the Christ Child.

From time to time I dabble in Cowboy Poetry. This is a poem of such in recognition  of the celebrated Child.

It was Christmas Eve in eighteen ninety-two
when the crusty old cowboy come riding thru.
the years ain’t been too kind to his wrinkled old skin
but that wasn’t stopping his toothy old grin.
He was wearing his frazzled and moth-eaten old coat
with a dull-colored scarf wrapped ‘round his throat.
under his coat he wore an old woolen shirt
thread-bare ‘round the elbows and covered with dirt.
His legs was all chafed by the rough leather straps
of his battered and weathered scruffy old chaps.
His tattered old hat barely covered his wind-reddened face,
wrinkled and wearied by a tediously…backbreaking pace.
His worn-out old boots had known much better days
When they weren’t stuck in the stirrups rounding up strays.

Ain’t been no easy years for this doddering cowpoke
For he’s played out his life mostly hard up and broke.
Been riding the range for most all his existence
Depending on nature for all his subsistence
Too many Christmases have passed him on by
But this one seems different yet he can’t figure why
May be he’s thinking it’s the end of his ride
And there’s a few things in this life he ain’t never tried.
Like hearing a preacher tell and discuss
’bout ashes to ashes and dust to dust.
Or hearing the story of the birth of Christ
Born in a stable under the Daystar’s light.
This old cowboy ain’t figured it out just yet
But when it finally comes ‘round he won’t ever forget.

Now he’s close to the end of this rough cowboy life
And he’s tired of the anguish, torment and strife.
But he ain’t never stepped foot inside of no church
So, he’s got no sense about where he should search.
But the voice in his mind kept telling him ride,
Keep riding cowpoke, the Lord will provide.
So, the crusty old cowboy woke up before dawn.
This was the day before Christmas so he kept riding on,
for there was a particular… place the voice said to be
and he needed to be there… on Christmas Eve.
He rode into town feeling so distressed
When a stranger asked him, “would you be my guest?”
The crusty old cowboy felt a sense of relief
As the dark-headed stranger shared his belief.

The old cowboy wondered if he could hear more
‘bout what all that happened on that stable floor.
And he wanted to know ‘bout any gifts he should bring
The stranger said, “He is the gift, He is the King”.
This old cowboy’s at the end of his rough cowboy life
He’s tired of the anguish, torment and strife.
He’s looking to finish with a whisper and smile.
Knowing Jesus is what makes it all worthwhile.
No more dust and grit to choke when you ride.
No more chasing strays and branding their hide.
No more riding watch in the middle of night
No more wrangling horses in the flickering light.
You signed on to ride with Christ the rest of your days
You’ve stood your ground and heeded His ways.

No more riding ‘crost the prairie plain
All wrapped in a poncho fighting the rain.
I’ve fixed up a camp spot high on a hill,
with bedrolls and blankets, in case there’s a chill.
There’s a campfire burning that never needs wood
A cast iron pot of beans that always tastes good.
Sourdough biscuits made the campfire way
and cowboy coffee to start your day.
And if you think you might… just get the urge
To ride the range where the rivers converge,
Then your dusty old bay is tethered near by
You can ride forever ‘neath the clear blue sky.
And the angels all gathered to sing and shout
Surely, old cowboy, you’ve figured that out.

It didn’t seem much like Christmas Eve he thought…
But his life was made new by the gift that Christ brought.
So on Christmas Eve in eighteen ninety-two
The crusty old cowboy comes riding thru
His looks had been changed from his wrinkled old skin
But there sure wern’t no mistaking his toothy old grin.
The story goes on ‘bout stars in the sky,
How the cattle are lowing but the baby don’t cry
How the bells keep on ringing the news for today
That the Christ Child was born on Christmas day
on this Christmas Eve he was feeling so blest.
This crusty old cowboy heading for a long winter rest.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT

 

 

Once Upon A Time, the Saga

Once upon a time! That’s how most fairy tales and stories for children begin. One can write a story and start with this idiom and immediately it gains some sort of legitimacy. So with that in mind, I begin another story of Gweeny Goose. I will try to keep this story suitable for children.

Once upon a time, there were three geese, Bailey, a gander, Indie, another gander, and Shya, a goose. (I am told there is no specific name for a female, so I will just call her a ‘goose’.

‘ Three geese coming from pen

Indie came by his name because he was rather independent. And Shya came by her name because of her shyness. And Bailey? Well, the characteristics were appropriate for a female. As it turned out, she was a he and since the name Bailey is gender neutral, Bailey it was. However, we now had two ganders and one goose. Bailey has evolved, seemly, into the dominate gander, although he is actually the smaller of the two ganders. Like they say dynamite comes in small packages. I think that Indie is just biding his time.

Life was good for the ganders but not so well for the goose. According to the geese experts, a female chooses a monogamous partner about the age of three. Since these three are just now approaching the age of two, it is difficult for the lone goose to manage two suitors.  I can only imagine her difficulty.

On a regular basis, I interact with these three ‘geeses’ (I call them ‘geeses’ which they understand). It requires much study, but I have a Master’s degree in geeses language, and I speak it fluently. Like, ‘att choo doin’ geeses?’ Sometimes, I yell, ‘eir u goin’, geeses? They honk back at me and the louder I get the louder they honk.  Since we put them up at night to protect them from predators, we have taught them a method of cooperation to help us at that task. From goslings we have called out, “let’s go home” as a means of bringing them in. It works quite well, even as they have matured. We sometimes use a small children’s rake to ‘herd’ them into their pens. These three geeses mind very well, most of the time. And most of the time they answer to their names. But a friend of mine reminded me that it is a scientific fact that only when they want too!

And at breeding season, forget all this information. I recall last season. It was so very difficult to go around them. I believe Bailey saw me as a threat. And Indie was not subtle either. Occasionally we would have to use the aforementioned children’s rakes to defend ourselves. The secret to defending yourselves is to not let them get behind you. They are sneaky. Face to face, they seem quite mild. They are friendly and will come close but not too close. Have you ever had a dog nip at your heels? Our geeses have picked up that trait during breeding season. We have a kennel full of dogs and on their afternoon run, they have learned to not go close to the geeses.  Talk about nipping at heels!

So breeding season is fast approaching. Enter Gweeny Goose!  If you read the previous post you know how she came to be the newest addition to the geese population at the Fuzzy Chicken Farm. This story, “Once Upon A Time”, is part of a continuing sage of Gweeny Goose. Perhaps you have once been the new kid on the block or at school. You may recall the reluctance of many to make friends with you or you with them. Such is the case of the “geeses”.

Yesterday was the first day the four were allowed out at the same time. The “Rancherette” and I were very apprehensive about letting them out simultaneously. It was unknown how any of them would react. Would there be any animosity between them?  Would the three original residents cause any rancor? Or would she? Well, there wasn’t necessarily any congeniality between them but there was no bloodshed either. That’s a good sign.So, this morning was the second day of mingling.They appear to be “mingling” just fine. Swimming together and checking each other out. Bailey is either nosy or jealous. He  wants her to be around but then he chases her away when she gets too close to Indie and Shya.

Foour geese a swimming                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Since they slept in adjacent but separate pens it was a curiosity of Bailey and friends to check out her apartment. It seems that she has spacious sleeping quarters. Gweeny's apartment

She has good food, too. (It’s the same stuff.) But, it is only a matter of time before she will move in with her choice. [being a female (goose) she is allowed to make her choice.]

But do not be dismayed, breeding season is fast approaching. And I am trembling.

Gweeny Goose

Among the many “critters” we have on “The Fuzzy Chicken Farm” are three Sebastopol Geese.  They are a hoot, or should I say honk. These three geese answer to the names of Indie, Shya and Bailey. (When they want to)  Once upon a time we thought Bailey was a she but we soon discovered she was a he. Luckily we gave her a name that could be used with either gender.  We are approaching the breeding season and they become aggressive during this time, especially with two males and only one female. So the “Rancherette” decided another female was in order. Indie needed a mate and the“Rancherette” was determined to play matchmaker.Geese April                                                                                                                                                                    IMG_7134

The search began for someone who raises this breed of geese and lo and behold, one was found. The downside was this person lived about 3 hours away. They do not deliver; Hence a road trip. We are accustomed to road trips since the “Rancherette” shows her fancy chickens at various chicken shows.

I placed a portable pen in the pickup bed, wrapped it with a heavy-duty bed quilt for the goose’s protection from the wind and used bungee cords to secure it. With a printed map and directions to the geese herder (?) we hit the road. Before I could get 10 miles down the road, the quilt began to blow in the wind. Of course I stopped to further secure it. Again another few miles and the stupid quilt came loose again. You must understand I am not a professional truck driver. I do not have their expertise at securing loads. You are probably thinking it will happen again. And you would be correct. Fortunately, I had several bungee cords with me. This time I secured it so tightly it would have taken a stick of dynamite to remove it.

So, with that chore finally completed, we “hit the road” again. Of course no road trip worth its salt would be without a “pit stop”. Such was our case. When one gets to be our age it is imperative that one finds a place to get a “bar of candy”, if you know what I mean. It means nothing to say, “You kids go before we leave because I am not stopping!” That was then, this is now.

Mission accomplished and back on the road again. Driving down the freeway, one can get lost in the moment. Luckily I had my printed Google map and directions.  If only I would have taken the time to read them, I probably would not have missed my turn. About twelve miles down the freeway I remembered. A U-turn was the next course of action. I took the next exit which could take me across to the correct highway without a U-turn. Or so I thought. I believe it was Yogi Berra who once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it”. There was no fork in the road, however, the detour was a dead end and one must turn right or left. Big decision, my road map was of no use any longer. The “Rancherette” turned on her IPhone gps. We turned right. I drove all the way to the next town, passing a mushroom processing plant. Now I love mushrooms and have eaten my share of several different varieties, however the smell from the processing plant was very difficult to overcome. Hurriedly, we passed.

We came into town and because I had failed to follow directions, I was lost. (Me? A male? Lost? Unheard of) I turned around and began to retrace my steps. Ugh, it was the mushroom processing plant again. I picked up speed and passed the plant quickly.

So driving further down the two lane highway about ten miles or so, the “Rancherette” thought we were still going the wrong way. She was correct. I turned around and once again went back to where we came from. Yeah, I passed the “mushrooms” for the third time. We finally located the correct road and quickly arrived at the geese home.

A varied menagerie of critters, including a very colorful Tom Turkey named Kevin which seemed to have other things on his mind. The owners met us in the driveway as well as many dogs, chickens, goats, pot-bellied pigs and geese. Travis and Joy, the owners are such nice people and their baby is so sweet. we offered to bring her home with us and the goose, but they declined, just the goose. After an enlightened conversation the “Rancherette” picked out Genevieve the goose. It seems her nickname is Gwenny, thus she will forever be known as Gweeny Goose, not to be confused with Granny Goose.

Gwinny Goose

With a long drive ahead of us (assuming we don’t get lost) we said our goodbyes and departed. But there was no way I’m passing the mushroom processing plant again.  Stay tuned for the continuing sage of Gweeny Goose.

One More Christmas Story

If you are past the age of finding out whom Santa Claus really is, then you probably have heard all the Christmas stories ever told, or so you thought. Allow me to provide you with one more.

Somewhere beyond the heavenly stars dwells a Being that made His presence known on this earth in the form of a Savior. You say, well, that is the same old story I have heard for years. This is a twist on that story.

The Cradle

The old carpenter spent many hours trying to finish his project. He had a deadline to meet and the hour was growing late. It did not seem as though he would be able to complete it. He had started in plenty of time he thought, back when he first learned of the impending arrival. He had scoured the sparsely wooded perimeter of his home looking for just the right tree from which to chisel and perform his gifted talent of carpentry. He finally found a cedar tree just about the right size for his purpose. So, he cut the tree and brought it back to his workshop. It was green and would have to season a bit, but he could deal with that. He laid out the wood for the sun and the air to dry it. It would take thirty to forty-five days of seasoning to be just right. If it dried too fast, it would check and crack. He would sprinkle water on it to slow the process, but if it did not become dry enough for his work then he would be unable to hew and chisel the material.

The days fast disappeared and he began to spend longer hours late at night on his personal project, as he still had work to complete for others as well. After all, he was well known throughout the community, having crafted pieces of furniture for some of the most renowned citizens of his village and in the city not too far away. But he busied himself and continued on his task. He would finish it in time, he vowed as well as the other pieces.

His tools were shopworn but one could see the care he gave them. After all these were tools of his trade. A man without good tools usually does not take pride his product and you could tell the quality of his work just from looking at his tools.

His work of art began to take shape and it was evident of his love for this piece. Perhaps he had insight as to what he was preparing. If it appeared that if wasn’t just right, he would have to start over. This is something he did not want to do. But that would not be the case for it was going very smoothly.

Then unexpected news arrived. He and his family were about to take a forced journey. It could not be delayed. Severe consequences would apply should they not make this trip.

The notice arrived declaring that all residents would have to appear in person with their family members to be counted. He must make his way to his place of birth. He was taken aback. If he disobeyed this government order, he could be prosecuted. If he complied with the order, then he may be unable to finish his project on time. It was a dilemma.

Thoroughly discouraged, he had no choice. He must go with his family to be counted. He would not be able to finish. Feverishly he worked but it appeared that the project would have to wait. Then he thought, I have just a day or two before we must go, so worriedly he worked through the night. By noon the next day he completed the project. Giving thanks, he then set about procuring the animals for the journey to his hometown.

His betrothed asked if they could bring the completed piece, but was told there wasn’t any room. Don’t worry, he said, it would be here when we return. So, they loaded their belongings for the trip and started out.  They had to make their way about ninety miles.

They could only go about fifteen miles a day, so it would take them about six days to reach their destination.  His bride, you see, was pregnant with child and their movement was trudgingly slow. The donkey was not very cooperative either and had to be led.

On the evening of the sixth day, they arrived. It was late and as they begin inquiring for places to stay, they were turned away. It seems perhaps they should have come earlier. The town was full of others who were coming for the census. They were exhausted and desperate. They tried one more place and again were told there was no room. However, the innkeeper felt sorry for them and offered to let them stay in the barn. It wasn’t very clean and the animals had to be shooed about, but they made their bed for the evening.

Before morning would come, she would deliver a baby boy. Right away, he thought of the piece he had made. You see it was a cradle. It was made with loving care for this occasion. But it was not here. It was back home. And he was terribly unnerved. Knowing that she was about to deliver, he searched for a place for the infant.

He did not see anything that could be used. Then he noticed the feed trough, a manger! We could use this if I put some hay in it and perhaps a blanket.

Then he thought, perhaps it was supposed to be. He had heard from those who said that a baby would be born like this and laid in a manger. His cradle would have to wait.

Before the night was over, others would hear of the birth and want to see the Child. But in a manger? Was this right? He wanted so much for this child to have his own bed. But the cradle would have to wait.

Then as the visitors, shepherds from the fields, came in, Joseph heard them talking. It is as the angel has said. He is lying in a manger. Then it came to him. This method, this journey, the manger, the visitors, all of this had been orchestrated by God, just as He said it would be. Joseph saw this for what it really was. The purpose of God was fulfilled. And suddenly, the cradle did not mean nearly as much as before. For God had provided a bed for His Child. A special cradle! A manger! It was a sign to the shepherds that God cared for them too.

December 2003

 

 

BEWARE OF DEAD PLANTS

We are in the middle of a drought, or so the meteorologists are prone to declare. You see, there are various stages; no drought, dry, moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional.  Today, August 22, 2018, we are in a moderate drought not quite severe but mostly dry.  The locusts are not even chirping, they always make a lot of noise in the summer, but the crickets are, chirping and noisy and smelly. The trees are losing their leaves, called transpiring.

Most of the ponds around our rural area are drying up or already dry. Our pond is no exception. In fact, it did go completely dry about two weeks ago. We since had a little rain and a few inches collected in the pond. However, it is quickly shrinking. The geese are blaming me. In fact, all the animals are blaming me. The one that seems to enjoy this predicament the most are the pesky flies. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get them to at least move away from here. Go back across the fence where there are cattle with tails that swish.

 I try to keep the geese satisfied by furnishing them with kiddie pools. We have three Sebastopol geese and each has their own pool. They waddle through the mud and any remaining water in the pond, then immediately waddle into their kiddie pool and of course muddy the waters.

Then they waddle out and stand around and watch me empty the filthy water and wait, not too patiently, (geese have no patience) while I clean and refill them. I slowly lift the pools to empty. I say slowly, because last week I lifted one and discovered a Copperhead snake underneath. That will get your attention very suddenly. The geese were not very empathetic about the situation. They just want their pool filled.

 If I understand geese talk, the conversation went something like this, “OK, Dad, hurry up. What’s taking you so long? Can’t you see we are waiting? It’s only a little snake. Are you afraid of a little snake?” The answer is emphatically YES, all snakes and all sticks that look like snakes. And this conversation is over.

So, I’m letting the geese out of their pens this morning, I notice a small brushy thingy in the almost dry pond. It is moving ever so slowly, stops for a bit, moves a little more and repeats its maneuvering. Is it a snake? It is leaving a trail in the humidified, algae infested water, which causes more algae to grow and hide such creatures as snakes.

By now my curiosity is peaked. Should I go get the rifle and shoot the darned dead plant out of the water?  That seems to be an oxymoronic statement. Dead means dead, yet the plant was moving. (Well, everyone knows DEAD plants don’t move) Come to think about it, LIVE plants don’t move either. But snakes do move until they are dead.  Some even continue moving minus a head.

I stalled while I continued about the chores of feeding the chickens in the coops and the dogs in the kennels, neither of which seems concerned about snakes or dead plants floating in the few inches of water. They all have the same mindset as the geese. “Hurry up, they crow, cackle, bark, honk!”                                                         

I’m fixated on the dead plant. It continues to move ever so slightly. I go into the supply room and fetch my 22 rifle. However, I do not want to shoot until I know what is causing the movement. Then I pick up the rake and the shovel. One can’t be too prepared for dispatching a moving DEAD plant. Slowly I reach out to the DEAD plant with the rake. It has a long handle and I place the prongs around the thing and begin retrieving it to the bank. Suddenly, it moved quickly. So did I.

Well, the geese are watching from beside their kiddie pool, content to observe from a distance and not willing to help in the least, laughing in their honking way of conversing. They want their water changed. Most geese are extremely vocal about any unusual activity. These three weren’t the least bit concerned about my welfare. Occasionally, when a chicken misbehaves I simply yell, “Chicken Nuggets” and that usually will quiet them down. It doesn’t work with geese. I can’t wait until the rainy season.

All I know, is watch out for floating dead plants. There may be a turtle pushing it around.

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