Where Are They………..

Sometime ago, I resolved to not rely on my blogs to craft political hit pieces, although the fodder for such is scattered about ankle deep in our country today. My question is not rhetorical, I genuinely wonder where the 30% or so of Americans are that approve of Joe Biden’s job performance. Pollsters provide us this number. My musings are prompted by Elon Musk’s discovery that fully a third, if not more, of Biden’s followers on Twitter are actually bots. They don’t exist. Does Biden’s third exist…..or are they also bots? Who among us can name a single program or event masterminded by this administration that is widely accepted as beneficial and constructive?

Joe, waving to his BOTS, that form the basis of his 30% approval rating.

I watched an interview recently with a Hispanic commenter who suggested one of the reasons for Biden’s record low approval rating among his demographic is the disappointment they feel with the Hunter Biden saga, reminding them of the corruption that immigrants are trying to leave behind in their countries. His is an excellent point. Where are the folks among us that don’t grasp the significance of the Afghanistan horror show and the message it sent to the rest of the world? How in the name of all that is sacred can anyone accept the current economic crises as okay? Biden has grandiose economic plans that involve spending trillions (with a “t”) of dollars on dubious give aways, like paying off college debt at the expense of millions of hard working American’s earning a living while relying on the many options that do not involve a degree for the sake of having one. I cannot wrap my mind around the acceptance of opening the southern border, much less the blatantly dishonest denial of this event. The situation on our border is another horror show and we are to believe that a third of Americans approve? The latest revelation that stores of baby formula exist on the border, earmarked for alien infants at the expense of of our babies at home, is an affront to the sensibilities of anyone who genuinely cares about this country. I am not anti-electric as an alternative energy source, however anyone with a smidgen of common sense can see the concept is not ripe and we must continue to rely on fossil fuels for years to come. Fossil fuel drives our economy. Where are the 30 percenters who are okay with the current energy policy?

I could go on, but it isn’t necessary. Allegedly, there exists a sizable number of folks who think the above realities are the essence of “a good job” by this President. Why can’t these same folks see the challenges the world is tossing our way with this feckless man at the helm. Russia is making it’s move and we are in a war by proxy with them in the Ukraine, likely to be a trillion dollar war before it is over. China is challenging us on every economic level, as they sense now is the time with this administration in the left seat. Countries are queuing up to join NATO so as to place themselves under our economic umbrella, even though they have contributed little if anything to the NATO budget. Did Vietnam or Afghanistan teach America anything? You be the judge………

So, where are these folks? I do not believe they exist. I am also confident if you can locate one of these challenged folks, he or she can’t get two words deep in their justification without mentioning Donald Trump. They have resoundingly made their point. They prefer Biden to Trump, but do they honestly think he has done a better job? Please. Sometime ago a prominent politician said that Joe Biden was wrong on nearly every foreign policy decision he was involved in. Folks, leopards do not change their spots and Biden hasn’t changed his. If you are one of the thirty percenters that approves…….sit back with a cup of coffee, a yellow pad and pencil and jot down why you feel this way. I don’t think you exist….instead I think you are one of Elon Musk’s bots.

Bots are easy to count but impossible to locate. We may have just solved the problem!

Have a great week ahead!

SR

Driving Mr. Daisy……..

When life hands you a bag of lemons, make lemonade! It helps to have a cute, energetic lemonade maker at your side, preferably one with just a smidgeon of drill sergeant coursing through her veins. These are precisely the circumstances I find myself in after punching my dance card awhile back with one of Tazzy’s dog blankets on a slick vinyl floor. Out of adversity comes opportunity, and I have used this down time to become acquainted with the nuances of a torn rotator cuff and the healing process. Dr. Tim Galbraith, my surgeon, said it would not be easy, elevating him to the master class of understatement. Please feel free to benefit from my experiences here and avoid, at all costs, falling on a otherwise perfectly good shoulder. If you do, see Dr. Galbraith and thank the Lord for his talents and pray for the commitment of a caregiver like Miss Sharon on this beautiful Mother’s Day.

Torn tendons in the rotator cuff

Our conservative, middle class abode has been modified to approximate a physical therapy unit. We have a nice recirculating ice water machine that cools the shoulder down to about where you hold beef while it is aging at a local abattoir. The center piece is “the chair”, a nifty little electric chair that is engineered to provide a full range of motion for your arm with absolutely no effort on your part. The surgeon and I have have entered a pact whereby I won’t tear his engineering up in exchange for a precisely controlled recovery process. The first few days are in the books and I can attest to the desirability of avoiding this mechanical creation at all costs. It hurts as you sit in this chair, pretending to watch the latest Netflix series while you chew your lip in an effort to avoid peeing down one leg. The latest in designer narcotics are available, but as many of you know, you trade the usefulness of your alimentary canal for pain relief, not an entirely desirable swap under the best of circumstances. I should point out that Sharon is a veteran of THREE shoulder surgeries and, typical of the female persuasion, sailed through the recovery process with little if any complaint. I’ll say it and get it over with, men whine and complain, women grit their teeth and bear it. Once again, I doff my hat at the resilience inherent to she class of folks.

“The Chair” Notice the assistant physical therapist, Tazzy, carefully watching my progress.

Yesterday, Miss Sharon saddled up the “Orange Crush” and drove us out to our local strawberry patch for a neighborhood run on these delectable little berries. The fresh air was wonderful, the berries just coming into season and her role as a chauffeur handled with grace and just a touch of road rage. It was a perfect Rx for me after spending the required 6 hours in the chair. This is to be my daily routine for a minimum of 6 days, three two hour sessions per day. I dare not show weakness in her presence lest I bring out the drill sergeant in her. Complaining is not in my best interest, rather a smiling commitment to the torture necessary if I am to slide a shotgun to my shoulder next spring to end the suffering of a forlorn Turkey venturing about looking for love.

Strawberry time!
The Orange Crush, pre-flighted and ready to roll

It promises to be a warm week with plenty of sunshine. Get out and enjoy every minute of it but do so from a firm two point stance on terra firma.

SR

Aging Ain’t All Bad…….

Yesterday we had a garage sale, more to show solidarity with the neighborhood than out of the love for folks who frequent these events. It was kind of fun, bartering over something worth a quarter takes me back to shooting 9-ball at a military pool hall for a dollar a rack. The event also reminded me of the benefits of aging that often go unrecognized. This week I go under the knife again for the 10th time in my lifetime, this time to repair the shoulder that I sacrificed to the God of stupidity when I tangled with a dog blanket on a slick vinyl floor. Rather than mope around, damning my bad luck, I decided to take stock of the good things inherent to being around to meet a new surgical team. Here are a few things the garage sale and the prospects of the knife have taught me.

The good life!

First is associations. Rather than deal with insufferable folks because of professional circumstances, I get to choose who I hang with for extended visits. This from a individual whose career path forced associations with most unsavory folks as a matter of course. Your self esteem is a reflection of those you associate with and I am proud of my friends. Next up has to do with brain power. Your vocabulary actually increases during the golden years, a necessity with all the techno-speak we are forced to endure. Your ability to manage this vocabulary is the result of increases in actual neurons in our brains. Young folks think our brains are draining down our necks, so don’t let them in on this secret. We tend to hide our mental gains from them, less we threaten their fragile protected egos. The golden years are about establishing new and personal priorities. This alone is worth the price of admission into the old dude category. The trappings of today’s culture, cars, flashy clothes and such matter to us far less than the person behind all this stuff. Emotionally, we have gained immeasurably. We shed the image armor in favor of tears when the dog dies or a child is successful or at the sight of a beautiful sunset or sunrise. Speaking of children, we now understand Gore Vidal when he advises we skip having children and go straight to grand-children. Why are they so different than our children? Who knows and who cares, we just love them differently.

Our coping skills are refined. We accept the inevitability of death of all things important. We’re not wandering aimlessly, rather able to conjure up a mental road map, based on experience, for most situations in life from the catalogue of such maps in our brains. We have experienced many things in life, good and bad, and are able to lean on this experience when new problems arise. An example of this is flying an airplane. This pastime places great emphasis on experience behind the yoke and rewards us with a safer and more enjoyable flight each time the wheels leave the ground. We catch fewer colds (true!), enjoy guaranteed income (for most of us that have earned this perk), gamble smarter in life and at the casino, and have more mental endurance than at any time in our lives. We expend our resources in time and materially with a focus on improving the existence of those around us (volunteering, like ringing the bell at Christmas) and revel in the warmth of those efforts when we are successful.

This week, I will drag out one of those roadmaps I mentioned, greet the surgical team with a smile and thank them for rebuilding a shoulder that I am going to need for hopefully quite awhile longer, confident they will work their magic. If the pain isn’t prohibitive, I’ll attend the retirement festivities of my long time family physician who has kept me alive to see him finally decide to give up his practice, all while I am healthy enough to smile, laugh and embrace life. I am now offering him advice rather than the other way around!

Aging ain’t all bad, rather it is an opportunity. Now grab this beautiful spring day by the tail and give it a shake. We have far more to smile about than we might imagine…..

Have a great week!

SR

Firefighters Matter………

Earlier this year I accepted a position on our local Fire Department Board of Directors. I have always been a strong advocate for emergency services of all kinds and welcomed the experience. Like the military, where being around it is not being in it, my knowledge relative to the fire service was limited to working with them at accidents and occasional traffic issues at really big fires. My appreciation for the services these folks provide has increased exponentially and is growing daily. Our district borders Springfield where their fire service is all career as opposed to our guys who are comprised of 14 career firemen (women) and 20 volunteers of which 18 are certified or close to certification.

A recent tax levy has enabled us to accelerate our efforts in growing, training and equipping our department. I was immediately struck by the sense of mission and dedication of these folks in providing this essential service. My respect is apparently not mirrored by the City of Springfield which has begun proceedings to annex the new county jail into the city thus removing us from providing fire and rescue coverage at this facility. The county, city or fire service in the city did not bother to involve us in the discussions relative to this annexation, which may be sound from a tactical perspective. Tactical considerations do not preclude courtesy or inter-agency communication. The failure of Springfield or the county to reach out to us should not be misread. Our department is fully capable of responding to the new jail if needed and we certainly know how to call for assistance in the unlikely event our response needed augmentation. Communication is the very soul of emergency response.

Our fleet also has two engines, a ladder truck and additional brush and rescue vehicles.

Let’s talk about the status of firefighting in America. In 2019 it was estimated there were 1,080,800 career and volunteer firefighters in our country, comprised of 358,000 career and 722,800 volunteers. It was estimated that 88,800 of these folks were female. These folks worked out of 29,537 organized departments nationwide. Missouri is home to 678 departments. Because of population density around our cities, 18% of these departments were either career or mostly career manned and protected 69% of the US population. Rural firefighting is no longer your grandfather’s drive like hell and attack a fire without benefit of fire science, tactical consideration and good equipment. Firefighting, just like policing, has evolved tremendously, and I am working hard to grasp the nuances.

Ready to roll……

Another consideration is basic life support. We also field a rescue component of trained professionals and volunteers who respond to accidents and other rescue scenarios. Their commitment is unsurpassed. I sat in on a class provided by a local ER physician as he educated our group on the strategies in handling the various overdose scenarios that are becoming quite common in a culture that is relaxing it’s guard against recreational drug use. In 2019, only 46% of fire departments offered basic life support and advanced rescue capabilities. My experiences is as a rural trooper, for the most part, and I can attest to the dignity these guys provide at scenes that were otherwise chaotic.

Let’s wrap this up. There are about 358,300 home based fires in America every year. The property damage is hard to estimate with today’s inflation but is believed to be well north of 12 billion dollars. The toll in human lives is north of 2600 a year. We lose an average of 80 firefighters each year, dying in the execution of their duties. My perspective relative to this essential profession has been altered from one of acceptance and appreciation to admiration and awe. Their commitment must never be underestimated and their thirst for increased knowledge must be fed. It is essential we continue to support our fire services, rural and urban. When you need them, you want the best available…….as quickly as possible.

Firefighters matter…..believe it!

Easter’s New Beginnings….

The reporter wandered around the streets of an American city this week with a camera and microphone, asking folks what Easter was all about. Older folks seemed to do well on this little pop quiz, however; younger folks, not so much. One of the respondents thought Easter was all about candy and a rabbit and several had no idea. Theologians will tell you this is consistent with what they are seeing today, with the sharp decline in church memberships centered around younger people who have an aversion to being “members” of anything organized. Our political leadership isn’t helping with the decline in Christianity, removing God from so many aspects of life in it’s effort to accommodate forms of faith embraced by the folks streaming into our country from non-Christian societies. Church attendance will nearly double tomorrow as the closet Christians emerge and make their annual pilgrimage to a nearby church to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ.

Sunrise………a new beginning

When you are retired, you depend less on a calendar and more on what is actually happening around you. Easter for folks who are tied to nature signals many things beyond the star attraction of the Resurrection. It is believed the Dogwood tree was once tall, straight and stately before it became twisted and anything but straight. It is believed to have been the wood that formed the cross that Christ was crucified upon. The tree was never to be straight again. It’s flowers are in the shape of a cross with red hues in the center of each bloom, signifying the blood shed from the nailing of the Messiah to the cross. Old fisherman, and I am one, rely on the blooming Dogwood to signify the beginning of the crappie spawn, a spring ritual that results in nice limits of these delicious fish for the fryer.

The Dogwood blooms are also indicative of Missouri wild mushroom season, another delicacy when rolled in cracker crumbs and sautéed in butter. These spring rituals are associated with the turkey mating season. It is around this time that amorous old Toms can be talked into the range of your shotgun. There are various “Grand Slams” in the hunting world when a series of game harvests are noted as such. To an old Hillbilly like me, a grand slam is a morning turkey, mess of mushrooms and an afternoon basket of crappie. If you catch the scent of freshly turned farm fields as your pursue the rewards of this season, well, it can’t possibly get any better.

So it is that I believe the Master chose Spring to announce His plan for the salvation of sinners, and sacrificed his Son so that we can be guaranteed acceptance into his Kingdom. To celebrate this special time of the year, He gave us a number of spring rituals that are unaffected by the machinations of mankind, all of which can be enjoyed with basic, rudimentary devices and our senses. These rituals are unlocked by the miracle of the Easter resurrection.

Easter. A wonderful time of the year for Christians. If you are not one, the door is open. Think about these things when you see a flowering Dogwood. It’s significance is more than you might imagine……

Have a great Easter!

SR

The Grim Reaper Loves Stairs and Throw Rugs……

A little over a week ago, I fell like I have never fallen before, twice within a three day span. The first time, I was mucking about a new build near our house and stepped out of a framed wall onto the ground outside. My trifocals lied to me and the one foot drop was actually three feet. A scraped knee and elbow were the only damages. I was not as fortunate the second time as the fall was hard, onto a concrete surface resulting in damage to my shoulder, hand and other knee. I was fortunate. The fall was through an open door, down a two step stoop and adjacent to a parked car. My head missed the bumper by a few inches as I came to rest alongside the car. To add to the indignity, I was laying in wine and glass from a bottle of very good Moscato that I had kicked off the edge of the stoop on the way down. Sharon had to back the car out so that I could roll onto my back and get up. My right arm was numb and shoulder hurt terribly. I thought I heard the Reaper leave the garage.

The scene. I fell between the car and refrigerator, headfirst. I was elevated 11” above the floor at the point of launch.

At out age, virtually every visit to the doctor is accompanied by his or her asking if you have fallen recently. We tend to blow those questions off, even suggesting that everybody falls once in awhile. When you are 25, conditioned and quick, you manage most at grade falls with ease. When you are over 65, you do not. I thought a little primer on the significance of falling might prove helpful.

Falls in the elderly are big business for hospitals. We know that 67% of falls do not happen from a height, rather at ground level. We know that in America, falls result in one million hospitalizations annually. We know that someone dies as a result of a fall every 19 minutes. We also know that if you have a measurable hearing loss you have 3 times the propensity to fall. Not even Tom Brady is immune from the deterioration of our bodies over time. Older people do not fall well. We know that certain medications increase the likelihood of falling and that if you are overweight you are 37% more likely to fall. We know that physical inactivity predisposes you to falling and we know the incidence of falling in America has increased significantly over the past decade. Finally, NEVER think it only happens to the other guy. We are all a step away from being that other guy, a fact that I gleaned from my recent experiences.

So what happened to launch me headfirst out of a door and down a brick stoop onto concrete? Inattention is the answer, along with a loose blanket on the floor that had slipped off Tazzy’s dog bed. I had turned in the mud room to hang keys on the keyboard, slipped on the dog blanket and shot through the open door, headfirst, like a torpedo launched from a tube. A couple hundred pounds, headfirst into a car bumper, would likely have been the end. I was, at once, hurt, chagrined, irritated, scared and thankful. An x-ray shows no fracture, a MRI will tell us about the certain soft tissue damage.

Bruising extending from my reconstructed thumb through the wrist.

Here is the takeaway. Watch where you step. Do NOT wander around in darkness. Use hand rails or door frames when ascending or descending. When you stand, take a second to let your feet “wake up” before charging ahead. Remove fall hazards, such as loose throw rugs, clothing or dog toys from your path. Remember that stairs, even just a couple of them, will kill you. In our early lives, we concentrated on walking. It is the same in late life. Complacency while underway will add your name to the statistics noted above. The Grim Reaper stays close to “mature” folks, please don’t let him in……..Falling to your death is not the way to end your run.

Have a great week!

SR

Commitment, Courtesy And Communication…..

“Courteous Treatment Will Make The Customer A Walking Advertisement“. J.C. Penney.

I am getting old(er), which results in a lack of patience for broken promises, poor service and a failure to communicate when you cannot meet a commitment. Truth be told, I have never had much patience with folks who over promise and under deliver but it is becoming commonplace today. If you are still working, please give my thoughts in this musing consideration. It might make a difference in the survival of your business as courtesy is still revered. Mr. Penney, a proud Missourian made a lot of money relying on courtesy……we can learn from him.

I have always prided myself on candid assessments of goods and services that come my way. It is a perk you earn by spending time on the ground at the mercy of folks who deliver everything from medical care to lawn care and the things you use in your lives. I am on my high horse today because a trusted RV dealer has failed to understand the principles that, to date, has kept him off the social media pages where folks go to absolutely slam this industry.

We have a new RV, the third new unit bought at this dealership. I have not only recommended this store to many others, but have blogged the quality of the sales and service experience here. While on vacation a month or so ago, several rather commonplace problems developed with this latest trailer. Mind you, I have no clue how any structural integrity remains in today’s rather sophisticated RV’s given the state of our roads and bridges.We made an appointment, the first available, for about three weeks out. A week later, we had to cancel that appointment and rescheduled for another three weeks out and delivered the trailer on the appointed day through a steady rain. That was on the 24th of March. I called yesterday (April 1) to check on progress and was told they had not started on our unit, and that it was second in line, likely being brought in to a bay Monday of next week (April 4). Apparently, appointments do not matter. In the interest of fairness, I can conjure up a number of possibilities as to why they could/did not get to our unit as promised. I CANNOT come up with a single reason why they could not pick up the phone and call, advising us there was going to be a delay. This is important as I am confident that at least one of the repairs will require ordering a part from the factory and this will further delay the return of our unit. The bottom line here, pick up the damned phone and communicate with your loyal, repeat customer. You can bet that I will reinforce this perspective, in person, with the dealer when I pick up the trailer.

I feed my lawn all kinds of stuff. This requires access to our back yard, through a locked gate. We have asked, even demanded, that our chemical applicator call the day before he is to do an application. It allows us to make arrangement for the gate opening by a neighbor who has a key, should we not be there. We have replaced an expensive, wooden gate affixed to steel 4×4 imbedded posts as a result of folks climbing over instead of calling. Once again, pick up the damned phone and communicate with your loyal customer. Sharon will burn the house down if a bug finds it’s way inside. We use one of a number of local pest spray services, and they NEVER fail to notify us a day ahead of an application, are on time and obviously value us as customers. We love them, because they pick up the phone and check with us with absolute certainty. Courtesy can happen…….

I am on the Board of Directors for our local Fire and Rescue service. Greene County has built a new jail in our fire district, a state of the art facility. They have chosen to annex this site into the city of Springfield so the city fire service can respond if there is an event. We can’t argue with this concept (our service is not chopped liver, rather is very capable of responding and calling for assistance if needed) but I take great exception to the lack of courtesy in our finding out about the annexation and fire service planning in the local media. Once again, pick up the damned phone and talk with us. Believe it or not, we are all in this together.

I’ll sum this up. Honor your commitments, if you cannot, then communicate the changes to the customer. Finally, wrap the whole interaction in courtesy. It seems elementary but is slipping away from us. Folks have a phone in their pocket damned near from their first steps as a baby until the undertaker hands it to a family member at the end. Use it. Come on folks……courtesy and communication goes a long way….especially when a commitment can’t be met.

Have a great week!

SR

Sexual Identity, It used To Be Simple……….

This week while perusing today’s version of the Encyclopedia Britannica, ie, the internet, I happened across a page devoted to my High School’s alumni, both teachers and students. It was a trip down memory lane, replete with a long list of folks whose race with life has ended. It provoked feelings of sadness as well as warmth for the times some 54 years ago when life was simpler and being in the moment brought happiness and security. When you boil it down, not necessarily in the order of importance, my world involved study, girls, fast cars, baseball and nature. Let’s talk girls for a bit.

In 1968, things were different. There was a clear distinction between the sexes, something our current SCOTUS nominee apparently has failed to grasp. It is not entirely her fault that she refused to define a woman, although in a short conversation I am sure I can help her with her conundrum. Her intellectual dishonesty is appalling. With rare exception boys and girls worked damned hard to accentuate their individual characteristics as it related to their sexual identity. We tended to minimize our distractions and maximize our endowments, not change them. The rules, then, were simple. Today there is a birth control pill for men in final testing that’s has shown great promise in mice. In the day, from one end of a hallway to the other, it was pretty easy to discern a man or woman by their hairstyles. Today it is nearly impossible. Man buns didn’t exist. Mohawks on the ladies were not yet in vogue. In those days your clothing made determining gender easy, today it is very unreliable. In those days, when you veered into a restroom of the opposite sex, you got the hell out before trouble ensued. Do it twice and you were catalogued as weird or twisted and shunned. Sports ran along gender lines. I can’t remember a single instance of boys playing on women’s teams or vice versa. Our female student population relied on make up to enhance their facial femininity. Today’s men wear the stuff, a practice that would get you hurt in the locker rooms of old. In the day, when you signed up for a military hitch, your training followed established and vastly different training paths. A woman stepping into a pugil stick pit (bayonet training) would either be demolished or labeled rather unflatteringly. We understood a woman couldn’t carry a 70# ruck sack and march 20 miles before firing a perfect score on the rifle range……and we liked it, because we didn’t want them to do these things. The military is still struggling mightily with this issue, having great difficulty finding the “line” in their unisex world.

A masculine, chiseled man that was well spoken, had a sense of humor, who was groomed and clothed appropriately was in demand. It helped if he had a smidgin of ambition and kept his chariot clean. The subtle scent of Jade East or Canoe was the only chemical enhancement he trusted. By the same token, we preferred a well proportioned lady, dressed neatly in clothing that suited her build, with just a hint of the cologne of the day. We liked just the right amount of make-up or none at all, hands that were clean and soft and an appreciation for just a touch of chivalry. It helped a lot if they were self confident and conversational. Athleticism was always a plus. A neat ponytail, snug jeans and smooth un-altered skin is far more stimulating than a Mohawk and hog ring through the nose or tongue. In the day, jewelry was worn on or about not through and in (pierced ears being the exception). Goth was exceedingly rare and we acknowledged that intellectual superiority existed in both sexes.

Back in the day…….
Uh, maybe not for everybody…..

Speaking for my generation, I can assure you that a lady dressed to accentuate her assets, who is clean, neat and well spoken will stir my primal instincts a hell of a lot faster than a Gothic, unisex clothed, pierced and rainbow painted lady wearing a pair of combat boots who believes razors are unnecessary. Those were wonderful days and I was blessed to grow up in the environment existing a half century ago. The scent of a woman is still intoxicating…..even though I am old. Thank you to all of my lady friends who are still feminine and, most importantly, want to stay that way until the end. At my age, the smile is not lascivious, rather appreciative. God made us different for a reason, please………no more blurred lines.

Have a good weekend!

SR

A Tale OF Two Tractors…..

Some 35 years ago, this time of the year found me climbing into the cab of a John Deere 8650 tractor, like the one pictured, if I wasn’t behind the windshield of a Patrol Car. It was a behemoth, capable of pulling big implements with the reassuring drum of a turbo diesel that hardly broke a sweat. Piloting one of these machines involved a pre-flight not unlike piloting an airplane. There were a dozen or so lube points that needed refreshing and a walk around was always in order to check for stuff that wasn’t where it was supposed to be, bent or otherwise not pleasing to the eye. The filter in the cab A/C needed to be cleaned and the glass touched up for another day in the dust that a huge field cultivator was going to soon raise. You accomplished this check list while the big tanks were taking on another load of diesel fuel. It was a second identity for a guy who traced his roots to a “Poppin” Johnny on a 40 acre tobacco spread in rural South Carolina. Both events were on “family” farms, soon to be relegated to the status of dinosaurs, replaced by mega farms owned by mega companies, many of which are Chinese in origin. It was hard work and I loved every minute of it.

John Deere 8650…a serious tractor!

Yesterday, I climbed on a 22HP lawn tractor and mowed the lawn for the first time this year. The Cub Cadet started on the first key turn and for just a second, I was reminded of the honesty and effort it takes to groom Mother Earth. My “spread” today is a corner yard and our produce begins life in colorful 5 gallon buckets strategically placed around the perimeter of the back yard. Neighbors on all sides are dedicated to lawn maintenance, evidenced in the curb appeal of their residences. Our livestock is in the form of humming birds, robins and doves who stop for a little chow as they nest and do bird things in the spring. My implements include a string trimmer, hedge trimmers and leaf blower with a pair of lopping shears to guarantee the symmetry of our relatively young trees. I love yard work and prefer a walk behind mower, however arthritic feet don’t share my enthusiasm for the effort to manicure a lawn behind a push mower. Today, the big tractors can lay a line on a multi-acre field with the precision reflecting the magic of the GPS guidance found in the cab. The straight lines you see on today’s farms are the result of technology or an inordinately skilled tractor driver who takes pride in his work. Our yard reflects this same commitment to precision. The big John Deere and little Cub, each in their own way, provide a link to the ground we depend on. There is immense pleasure in shaping the earth from the seat of a 300HP tractor……or shaping a lawn from a little Cub Cadet.

My tractor today

In the end, it is the earth, tools, machinery and a willing human being that sustains our brief life cycle on earth. It doesn’t stop there. Most of us are destined to spend eternity shrouded in ground set aside for that purpose. My plans include a National Cemetery where a tractor of some sort will keep the ground immaculate, reflecting the orderly lifestyle of each of the folks interred there, if only for a few years in their past. It is spring and nature is a multi-sensory experience. Sit on the porch or your deck and listen, take a deep breath and note the scents of spring. If you are truly blessed, and live in the country, listen for the new calf talking to his mother or working equipment. Smile as you contemplate starting a tractor or mower and working the ground, whether it be a hay field, bean field or your lawn. While you are at it, say a prayer for those whose existence is on the cold concrete of a city, where nature is a green way they drive by at 60 MPH. They may never know……

Two tractors. With just a little imagination, the distance between them isn’t all that far! Grab a little nature today……

Have a good week!

SR

Experience Matters…Especially In Retirement

Other than a few short gigs that actually earned a check, I hung up my gun, pen and necktie over 15 years ago. It has been quite an experience since, with a very flexible bucket list and the time to check items off this list. Many of my contemporaries that were starting when I was checking out are reaching this magic phase of life. You see, retirement removes your job as an excuse to not do things for yourself and family that you should have been doing when you were employed. What did my vocation as a trained observer teach me about retirement? Several things, actually. Here we go…..

Why we work

First, keep your feet on the ground. Altitude, even a few feet, becomes a deadly reality for folks as they age. Avoid ladders like the plague, admire rooflines from the street and treat stairs like hooded cobras. Next, regard that first cup of coffee with the reverence reserved for a rich uncle who is ailing and refers to you as his favorite nephew. Savor it’s warmth and aroma as you gently brew a cup or pot to start and perhaps end the day. Even the medicos are touting the benefits of this magic elixir these days. Grasp the concept of adaptability with gusto. In my case arthritis has affected virtually every activity that I enjoy. Our bodies, like a vintage automobile, require maintenance and nurturing. If you are in the “elder” classification, and nothing has happened, wait a bit. Something will happen, I can guarantee it.

Cultivate a passion. I have friends who wood carve, fly airplanes, fish, travel, research history or keep their yards to botanical garden standards. Perhaps wood working or turning wrenches is your passion. Maybe you are a voracious reader, play word games on computers or love being behind a camera. Some folks love the casino, a pastime that requires discipline lest it relieve you of all that you own, but is nonetheless fun for them. When asked what you like to do, have an answer. If you are involved in a multitude of activities, you are blessed. A special word of advice is in order here. Today folks seek a profit from about anything you can do legally. Be sure and work nature into your regimen, as life in the outdoors is still a bargain and the returns are endless. There is no Rx that can deliver the tranquility that a sturdy pair of shoes and a hiking trail can deliver. The sound of a paddle cutting a J stroke is priceless.

Be a kid again. When is the last time you sauntered out to the family chariot and deep cleaned the beast before hand waxing with the stuff that requires effort and is not sprayed on. Pretend, just for a moment, you are getting the car ready for prom night seeking perfection as you use little brushes and swabs to get dust out of crevices and voids. Get dirty planting a tree or shrubs. If you don’t need a nail brush regularly, you are missing out on the things that bring smiles to kids faces.

Donate weekends to those still pulling in the traces of employment. You have five days a week to do what you want to. Saturday and Sunday as personal days are where you were, not where you are.

Unless you are involved personally, leave the politics to those hapless souls who are trapped in the stupidity of our political system. What, you say? This from a fellow who constantly harangues the politicians who feed at the public trough? I have failed miserably in following this advice and paid a price for it. You see, politics and perhaps religion, both result in your making enemies you really don’t have to. This trait is particularly vexing in retired police officers whose careers involved constantly assessing what is right and wrong in human behavior. My heartfelt advice is to avoid this arena and save your passion for the voting booth, the only place you can make a difference unless your name is on a ballot. Being a politicoholic isn’t advisable, perhaps an intervention is in my future. Politics constitute the seed bed of hatred in folks who want to affect change beyond their vote…….

Don’t back down after retiring, buck up! These are golden years, but do not let the old man or old woman slip into your life. We live in the best place in the world to branch out, find a passion, and get moving. As Larry the Cable Guy would say, git’er done.

Have a great week!

SR