As you may already know, this site is brand new and stems from my old Blogger page. I had started that page back up and was trying to let friends on Facebook know I would be posting my substantive content there, but FB kept deleting my posts and telling me they violated their community standards. Knowing that was crap I can only deduce that what they were really saying was, "We don't want people over there reading things that might actually be interesting, we want them to stay here reading drivel and fighting among themselves in order to drive up the hit count so we can make a few more billion dollars selling advertising." I have never been know to just roll over and play dead, so I found a way around the Gestapo and started my own blogging website where I can do as I please, and here we are.
It is my intention to provide on these pages some glimpses of who I am, and some insight into what I really think and feel. I do that for the readers in general, but more specifically I'm undertaking this project to provide a lasting record of my life, and a window into my soul, for my family and close friends. That's not to say at all it's for them exclusively for that is not the case. I also hope to make more long term friends through this blog and through our encounters share both laughter and tears as we walk down the path of life together.
Below I imported my last few posts from Blogger. I didn't want to lose them, and I wanted readers here to be able to view them and start their journey with me.
Please grab a cup of coffee and spend a few moments reading the posts included below this introduction. I'm looking forward to our interactions.
Friday, March 1, 2019
There are few bonds in this world that are stronger than those between a duck hunter and his dog. This bond is formed through time spent together in the pursuit of an activity that captivates both man and dog. It’s something that once formed can never be broken.
I the spring of 2014 I was in search of a duck dog. After posting my quest on a duck hunting forum I belong to I was directed to a kennel in Marysville, California: a kennel that specialized in Chesapeake Bay Retriever rescue dogs. I was told there was a trained male there who still had a few years left in him and that it might be worth my while to check it out. I contacted the kennel and they did indeed have said dog, so I made an appointment to visit.
Upon arriving the trainer got out the dog…a large, muscular male weighing in at roughly 100 lbs. She introduced me to Houli, then she put him through his paces. I liked what I saw, an agreement was reached, and a partnership was begun.
It didn’t take long to find out Houli had a one track mind…FETCH! He would fetch anything you threw, bring it back, spin around and sit by my left side. He did that for as long as you wanted to play. His drive was amazing. He was honestly the best trained dog I had ever owned.
Chessies are widely known to be a one person dog and it didn’t take long for him to decide that I was his human. When I spoke, he listened. When others spoke it was as if no sound came from their lips. He also ignored any and all other animals. Cats, dogs…it didn’t matter. As far as Houli was concerned they were all beneath his dignity and weren’t worth the effort of acknowledging.
When Houli came into our lives he was pushing 8 years old. We spent two years hunting together exploring the local marshes and rivers in search of waterfowl. He was a wonderful retriever and once he was on the bird you never had to worry about losing it. It was a joy to have him at my side in the field.
Before our third season together the vet discovered some lumps on Houli’s leg. Much to our horror it was cancer. Doc Spencer had a medication he’d developed that had cured a good number of dogs in Houli’s situation so we started treatment. For awhile he was improving and we thought that perhaps we would all reach the other side of the woods together. Then one day he started having seizures. He was placed on a seizure medication, but they got worse, and Doc said the cancer had most likely spread to Houli’s brain. In the span of a week Houli went from fetching like normal, to not being able to see, to not being able to move, all the while enduring those damned seizures. We all knew the end of the line had come.
Houli’s last trip to the Doc’s office was in silence. When we got there my wife went in to tell them we were there. While she was gone Houli had another seizure. I held him and told him it was Okay, knowing full well it wasn’t. When the seizure was done he sniffed my hand and wagged his tail even though he couldn’t move the rest of his body. My wife motioned me in. I scooped up my friend and carried him into the operating room and laid him on the table. Doc prepared a site for the injections and I cried as I held my friend one last time as he slipped away into the great marsh in the sky.
We have a new dog now who is a wonderful boy and we love him dearly, but I can not look at a picture of Houli without shedding a tear.
I miss you buddy.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Music has been around pretty much forever. Honestly, I don’t know of a person anywhere who has not had it in their lives at some point in time. Of course I don’t know everybody, so I suppose a life devoid of music would be possible, I simply have no knowledge of that particular individual.
When I was growing up my kind of music was country. Loved it then, love it now, although I don’t consider much of what’s on the radio today to be real country. In high school my tastes turned more toward rock and roll and my car was filled with the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston and the Doobie Brothers. Somewhere in the early 90’s I was introduced to bluegrass music and suddenly I had a new favorite. The lead guitars in the old southern rock were amazing, but in my mind they paled in comparison to the ultrafast licks on the banjo, mandolin or fiddle. Yes indeed, that high lonesome sound reached out and grabbed me…and I was hooked for life.
I had for years been a guitar strummer, but when I heard bluegrass I longed to be the banjo picker, so that’s what I started to learn. At that time I was living in southern California in the high desert town of Hesperia and I began a search for a banjo instructor. That led me to Apple Valley and the doorstep of a wonderful musician named Julie Wingfield. Julie, it turned out, was a multitalented individual when it came to music. She could sing like an angel and she was very, very good on the banjo, mandolin, guitar, piano…pretty much anything. She was also a very patient teacher. Julie was kind and encouraging, but she also pushed her students to be the best they could possibly be. Not only did she get me started on the banjo, but she also helped me to learn to play the mandolin, and she introduced me to the Southwest Bluegrass Association.
SWABA, that organization, used to have monthly campouts all around Southern California and we began to attend those. Additionally, through contacts with them my wife began to play the stand up bass. At these campouts folks would gather in small circles and pick tunes. Each person in the jam would take a turn and decide what song they would like to play with the group. Somebody would kick it off, the one who had picked to song would sing the lead, and everybody would take turns playing lead breaks between the verses. There was no amplification, no electricity needed, and it didn’t matter what level player you were, you still got an equal shake and were always welcome to join in. These circles were, and still are, called jams, and were 100% pure fun. It was not unusual for a jam to start in the afternoon, and still be going when the sun came up the next day.
Later on, as happens often, my wife and I got together with a couple friends and formed a band. Our main function was to play for tourists who rode a train called The Blue Goose from Yreka (California) to Montague and back, a distance of about 17 miles round trip. We would meet the train and play as the folks departed, then go from shop to shop in town and play tunes while the folks browsed the wares, then play again as the passengers boarded the train for the return trip to Yreka. What we played were train songs for the most part, but we did also squeeze in some more traditional bluegrass tunes at times. Playing in that setting was one of the most fun times of my life. Our band even recorded a CD…another fun project. The tune I have inserted here below is a cut off that CD called Molly Rose. To this day when my daughter Sarah plays that song my grandson says, “That’s Grandpa’s song!” Ya gotta love that.
I am playing the mandolin and singling the lead on this one and my wife if playing the bass. I hope you enjoy it.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
In our family, my wife is known as Mrs. Goodwrench. Seriously. I can not count the times I have watched her take some broken thing apart, fix it, and put it all back together again. She loves the little tedious things. She loves tools. Heck, she loves plumbing! The plumbing thing in and of itself makes me wonder if perhaps I didn't marry an alien, but as long as I'm not the one working under the sink I'm good with it.
Back in South Dakota there lived a man fairly close to us who was a farmer. Delmer was his name, and he was a good guy. Sadly he was taken from this earth sooner than we'd have liked, but his legend lives on for certain. Delmer got wind of the fact that Mrs. Goodwrench wanted to drive a tractor. So, one afternoon I got a call from him saying to meet him down the road by Kyle's house, so we did. When we arrived there was Delmer on his big old John Deere with the disc still hooked up. He'd been out work the fields, and was on his way home, He was tired from the day's activities, but he opened the door and invited my wife into the cab. Mrs. Goodwrench was ecstatic and climbed aboard. After a short lesson on operations away they went down the road with my wife at the helm.
As they traveled toward Delmer's house they came upon a field that he had already worked. There they went off the road and out into the black dirt where Delmer had her lower the disc and start plowing. As they worked west through the field he explained all about the GPS system in the tractor and how by setting it properly the tractor was able to plow lines as straight as an arrow. She loved every minute of it. At the end of the field she raised the disc and they finished the trip into the farm yard. To say my wife was happy would be an understatement. Fact is she's still happy about it to this day.
A simple act of kindness with long lasting positive implications. I'm pretty sure there's a lesson in there for all of us. How many times have we been presented with the opportunity to brighten someone's day? How many times have we let them "drive the tractor", and how many times have we just driven by? I'm reasonably certain we'd all be a lot better off if when presented with these choices we'd stop that tractor and open the door to the cab. Might be something for us to work on.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
I have three wonderful daughters. One is married to a highway patrol officer, one to a computer guru, and the other will soon be married to a train engineer. They are scattered all over the west coast and I greatly value any time I get to spend with them. We have also been blessed with 4 grandchildren whom we love very much. We'd love to have a family compound on a section of land in Montana, but unfortunately those families all have to endure this thing called work for a good number of years yet. That being the case my wife and I will simply have to create a much smaller family compound in Montana and enjoy their company when they can come and visit. Ah yes, the sacrifices we all make for our kids.
For me my favorite "family" times were when the girls were young and we would all travel to bluegrass festivals and camp there for the week. In those environments there was always lots of music, lots of kids for them to play with, and lots of fun to be had by all. he festival in Grass Valley, CA even had a pond with trout, catfish and bluegills that the girls could fish in. I can still remember my middle daughter catching a big bull frog from that pond and
then hoping it all over the campground. Eventually Mr. Frog was released back into his natural environment which I'm positive was more to his liking. Still that whole scene provided us all with long lasting memories.
My oldest daughter was never much into the whole fishing thing. She was however, and still is, an excellent writer. She has co-written a couple books, but unfortunately those have never been finalized and put into production. I do continually harass her about it, so perhaps someday I'll actually be able to open a cover and see her words on paper. Our middle daughter, Mrs. Frog Girl, caught her first fish while holding a rod in her playpen that was set up next to a mountain lake. She is also the one who has spent many hours with me in a duck blind chasing feathered creatures. Truly, there is nobody on the planet I would rather hunt ducks with than her. The youngest daughter loves to go fishing, but you have to watch her...she cheats. Yes, that is correct. We have contests fishing as to who catches the biggest or most fish and she always wins. Even if she doesn't win fair and square she'll say, "Today is opposite day dad, so I still win." Kinda sneaky if you ask me.
There is nothing I wouldn't do for those three wonderful girls or their families. In closing I would like to dedicate this song to them all. Girls, I love you very much.