A Story About Barbed Wire….

After many years of sitting out deer seasons, I returned to the woods this year with little intention of killing anything. I had ample opportunities at yearlings and does, who were invariably traveling together, carefully picking their way through a poor mast crop on Wilson’s Ridge. Wilson’s Ridge is owned by my sister and brother-in-law and overlooks the Pomme De Terre arm of Truman lake. The deer in these parts are not in a class with the beautiful bucks taken in north Missouri that have been gracing social media this year, as they have no crops to browse and are used to running the razorbacks that comprise this part of the country. So it is that I write about a deer hunt that doesn’t end in a picture of a trophy, rather a picture of barbed wire that has been encapsulated by a tree. There is a story here that is known only to God. I imagine the story goes something like this.

If an old piece of wire could talk.

To some minds the picture accompanying this article has some sort of humorous connotation, however; to me it tells a story of hard living on a piece of rocky ground carefully fenced off from a neighbor many years ago. Fences are for livestock and privacy, and one has to work hard to imagine either issue being a concern on this craggy bluff. I thought about the toil involved in making a fence across these hollows and ledges, stringing wire from tree to tree as a fence post is out of the question up here. The two-barbed wire tells me this was a turn of the century fence overlooking what was once the Pomme de Terre river, in a region known for dinosaurs in ancient times. This wire has seen year upon year of blistering heat and frigid snow dulling the points and gradually sapping it’s strength. The tree, mightily offended by the tacking of the wire to its trunk, has encapsulated the wire, growing around it relying on the tree equivalent of scar tissue to make it a part of the tree for the rest of it’s life. I wondered where the fence builder, long since departed, is resting eternally. He was probably of European ancestry, likely Scotch or Irish, once removed from Kentucky, Tennessee or the Carolinas. It is certain that he gave little thought to a man testing this wire well over a hundred years from the day he strung it. There is no water on this ridge, so he undoubtedly drank from the Pomme or contrived some form of cistern on his ground. He was used to back breaking, hard work as he relied upon wood for heat and shelter many years before the advent of the chainsaw. He would have marveled and likely cussed the impoundment of Truman Lake as so many natives in these parts still do. I said a silent prayer for his soul, at rest after his existence in this rugged, beautiful part of the country. His rest is well earned.

Sunset on Wilson’s Ridge

I enjoyed this deer hunt immensely. I passed on taking a deer for the sake of killing, which would have been the case, as venison was never a particular favorite table fare for me, having long since being replaced by quail and crappie! I was able to talk strategy with Dennis, revisit history and gaze over Truman Lake, to me a nearly sacred place. I spent an hour being scolded by a young squirrel who did not appreciate my sitting close to his old snag of a den tree. Most importantly, I was able to identify with the old piece of barbed wire, a reminder that all things on earth are time limited. Like the wire, I am still here, brittle and not as sharp as in years past, likely to be offensive to someone who gets too close or takes me for granted. The wire will be here when I am gone and maybe, just maybe, another person will happen by and pay their respect to it’s history.

Have a great week!

SR

I’m A Lucky One……..

Veteran’s Day is upon us. It is time to set aside the degrading political rancor and tension of the day to remember those who have gone all in to preserve the right to raise hell, or not in this great country. I stopped in at our local, quite impressive VA outpatient clinic where a staff member reminded me that folks come home from wars one of two ways; in an aluminum shipping casket, or as permanently transformed who cannot unsee what they have seen or un-live what they have lived through. Thankfully, most of us do just fine, but no one ever let’s it all go.

Not everyone is coming home

SSgt. Barry Sadler, a Green Beret crossed trained in several combat specialties wrote a number of ballads about the soldier in Vietnam. Not to show preference here, his songs could have been about any war. My father was a Green Beret who talked little about his experiences. The only advice he gave me along these lines was to avoid war because it changes you in ways that are not good or, if you must go, fight like hell and give it every thing you have. He was a lucky one, and died peacefully in bed, still capable of great violence when provoked.

Score 1 to 1……….

When you have a moment, Google “I’m A Lucky One” by Sgt. Sadler to hear these lyrics set to music.

“I’m going home, my tour is done… I’m going home, I am a lucky one………but I’ve left friends behind me who won’t come home no more…..yes many friends remain forever on that bloody shore”

Loading up……

Although not every veteran was forced into the nuts and bolts of cannon fire and small arms lethality, all were trained to do so when the winds of fortune changed. Frontline fighters and pilots have been tested, of that you may be sure, a test that exacts a toll. Military service in any form teaches you to obey and function in a team environment. At one point in your life, you were disciplined and prepped for the ultimate experience……fighting, and dying.

Yesterday’s visit at our VA Clinic was a heartwarming experience. Old veterans waiting their turns for the services they provide, talking quietly and exchanging smiles and greetings as only folks do who are members of this fraternity. The VA provides support to me, personally, in the form of hearing aids and a small disability pension for my hearing loss that I have hidden for many years. Artillery pieces don’t really care about your ears and bloody noses. The mission goes on.

There will be much written about the significance of Veteran’s Day in the next few days, as it should be. Virtually every one of us either knows a veteran or is one, and their criticality to the success of America cannot be understated. From the standpoint of the politics of the day, my concern is not with the myriad of problems we face so much as it is with the maintenance of a strong, effective and well led military. To reduce it to simple terms, fire superiority prevents wars and wins those we are forced to fight.

Sgt. Sadler, I join you as a lucky one. I came home, better for the experience and life’s lessons, relatively insulated from the demons who rode home with me. There were more than a few at the clinic who still share seat space with their demons. They came home but left their innocence on the battlefield.

Please shake a Veteran’s hand over the next few days, and when you see him wearing a hat proclaiming his status, ask him about it. He will be honored that you cared! At some point, pray for the souls of every veteran who exists as a name carved in granite. They answered the call……

Have a wonderful week.

SR

The Simple Things in Life……

It is easy to get caught up in the business of the day, much of which you cannot influence much more than casting your vote and walking on. There has been much written about 2020, the year of the whirlpool, lurking in the form of weather, politics, unrest and Covid. It is easy to get sucked into this whirlpool and lose your bearing. Sharon and I packed a handful of snacks, loaded Tazzy in the car and went on an exploration of beautiful SW Missouri. We stayed on country roads, saw and smelled country road things and recharged our batteries. We were reminded that in this techno age, it is the simple things that really matter.

Somewhere on a numbered county road we drove up on this beautiful pair of sorrel mules that were kind enough to trudge up to the fence and talk with Tazzy. Missouri mules have a place in history and are known for many positive attributes and more than one vexing trait. These two guys, that I immediately named “Ben and Jerry” were buddies and probably didn’t get many visitors who would stop and talk a bit. Tazzy did most of the talking but soon calmed down. To some folks, they were just long eared critters, but to me, they were a reminder of days past. I immediately recalled the hours that I spent staring at the south end of a northbound mule pulling a tobacco drag in South Carolina when I was a sub-teen kid. It was then that I learned that you co-exist with mules not master them.

Ben & Jerry

We drove by a property that was for sale. It was interesting in that it appeared very old and new at the same time. Someone had taken a home built in 1891 and upgraded it with windows, siding and trim in a way that captured two distinct eras. I suppose someone will take a chance on this old place, but to me it was scary. Structural integrity, electrical wiring and old plumbing conjured up memories of a cinder block house in South Carolina, with central oil stove heat and no air conditioning back in my mule skinner days.

We drove through beautiful river bottoms, large walnut groves and a surprising number of row crop operations that I had no idea existed in this part of the country. Every once in awhile, our cultural upbringing was reinforced by a Trump sign, our only connection to politics as we drove with the radio off. For the most part, fences were good, gates closed and tight and yards kept clean and junk free. Many homes were older than we were but the pride in ownership was evident. Old pickup trucks were co-mingled with the latest Detroit offerings and automobiles tended to be US made. Waves from folks working their cattle or ground were common and you just felt good among these folks.

What is the point here? What is going on inside the Washington Beltway is not going to change one damned thing in the real America that we drove through. Ben and Jerry will still saunter up to the fence to make new friends, the beans will be cut and sold and cattle raised. Dinners will be the same delicious fare as in years past, with garden produce and home raised beef on the table. Fences will be repaired and the critters fed and/or milked right on time. Before anything is thrown away an effort will be made to fix it, unlike the fast paced urban existence when hesitancy gets the offending device a trip to the trash can without as much as a cursory attempt to repair it. Firewood will be cut, split and stacked and folks will go to church on Sunday. Instead of listening to the political yammering that is incessant on the radio, these folks will be most interested in the weather, crop and beef market reports. They recognize the things they cannot change and change the things that need changing. God bless them as they can teach the rest of us the value of the simple things in life.

In the country, when folks make a promise…they keep it, without fail, which makes them careful with promises. There aren’t any feed stores or Dollar Generals being burned and looted in this part of our world. The reason why is rooted in a long, proud history of rural America, where change is slow and only if we want it. You cannot burn and pillage your way into changing things out here.

Have a great weekend, turn the radio and television off, saddle up, and take a drive. There is more to America than the crap in Washington. We’ve all done what we can to influence the situation…..now we’re along for the ride.

SR

A Culture of Hatred……

This writing is not intended as a political informational, rather a look at the America we have become. We are surrounded by a deep, narrow eyed, visceral kind of hatred that moves less disciplined people to react in ways that are patently destructive. As a professional police officer, I have witnessed the damage that hatred can do firsthand, however; never have I seen it sweep so many folks so fast.

America is fed up with the political establishment in Washington. It is what propelled Mr. Trump into office. If Mr. Trump loses this election, it will not be as a result of a deep sense of love and respect for Mr. Biden, it will be because about one half of the nation despises Mr. Trump. This is evident in any serious reflective conversation with an honest liberal who will immediately change the thrust of a conversation about Mr. Biden to a deriding commentary about Mr. Trump. Hatred may decide this election, not policy or accomplishment or Covid…..hatred.

The destructive nature of hatred

It has become quite fashionable to challenge the so called “white privilege” with destructive activity in our cities. Burning down our cities, destroying historical artifacts, defacing the graves of our military is the result of pent up rage or hatred. You see very few accomplished, successful, employed folks on the front lines of the destructive wave that has us buying guns at an unprecedented level. Somehow, our educational institutions are convincing our kids that socialism is the answer and the redistribution of wealth will guarantee a chicken in every pot. In our society, to date, wealth is accumulated by hard work, discipline and character. Successful middle class America enjoys a life they worked for, it is that simple. When you see hordes of folks, mostly non-achievers, storm into a middle class neighborhood and raise hell, that is hatred of the people who have things the hordes don’t have and think they are “entitled” to.

A very visible faction of our society hates authority. The progress we have made over the past decade or so is down the tube. The media, ginning up hatred for the institution of policing, is on full display. Every time a threatening, likely sociopathic person, brandishing a weapon or resisting the police, is hurt or killed, we cry for justice in the form of castigating the officer(s). Police work involves split second judgements and swift reaction. The mounting toll of officers killed this year points to the necessity of the use of force, sometimes deadly, in this profession. Polls conducted within Missouri in regard to the public perception of my old agency, have consistently shown very high levels of appreciation and acceptance. Hatred has not arrived here, but is knocking on the door. Like cancer, hatred is always on the lookout for a new place to settle in.

When you watch the evening “news” you will note the disturbing trend of children carrying often obscene signs and posters as they join the parents on a crusade for or against some American institution. It is appalling and counter to the decency that we were once known for. This is one way we keep hatred alive. I mentioned “news” in this paragraph. Network media, as an institution, deserves much credit for fanning the flames of dissension. Social media is front and center in this discussion. They have tremendous power over the message and are guilty of buying into the hatred game. The media hates Mr. Trump and have a very high pulpit to preach from. When you take on folks who buy ink by the barrel and paper by the ton, you will have a tough fight on your hands.

I am ending where I began. Tuesday, America will go to the polls. This is not an election where the winner will be decided by their record, rather it will be an election where hate is the central theme. I enjoyed past political seasons, spirited debate, discernible truths and policy differences on display. This has been a hellish season and when the dust settles, we have much to consider going forward. I have watched hatred kill family members, neighbors, businesses and even pets. The only time in my lifetime that I have seen hatred reign supreme is in combat…….where you are trained to hate and kill. Hatred is lurking everywhere in America and we had better understand it’s compelling nature. It is far more dangerous than Covid…of this you may be assured!

Have a great weekend and be safe with the kiddos as they do the Halloween thing!

SR

Mist and Mask……

Some time ago, I bowed out of the mask controversy, I suppose because I have many friends who are intelligent enough to see both sides of the issue and respond responsibly, and quite differently to the issue on a personal basis. In a few days, we are going to the polls to elect a President and the election, in large part, hangs on the nation’s response to management of the the big “C” or Coronavirus. The world, in it’s entirety, is facing a resurgence of this virus at a time when we need it least, the winter flu and cold season. I am not writing today to provoke argument or attempt to persuade. Instead, I simply want to offer an opinion to my friends to put my conscious at ease.

Chris Christie, a politician from New Jersey is recovering from a severe case of Covid. He has written an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal about his experiences in an ICU ward where his doctors offered absolutely no guarantee that he would not soon experience what doctors are calling a “Celestial Discharge” from the hospital, that is an entry into the afterlife as opposed to convalescence at home. The title of his piece is “I Should Have Worn a Mask” at the Rose Garden announcement of our soon to be newest Justice on the Supreme Court. Christie was a mask wearer, but decided against it at the ceremony. When admitted to the hospital three days later, he was running a fever, in extreme pain, chilling and utterly exhausted. He was soon in ICU, hanging on to that tiny thread of life that has parted for so many. He was fortunate, but has no idea what damage has been done to his body.

You wouldn’t know it, but the mask is more than a political prop. It has become a symbol of virility, machismo, cultural significance, weakness, strength and the freedom to do as one pleases, like wearing a motorcycle helmet or sun block or not. We are still learning about this virus and it’s implications, and after all the fanfare about vaccines and curative applications of old medicines, the best avenue to approach it is to keep it away from your eyes, nose and mouth, and to wash your hands. Pretty simple in a world that is far from simple.

Our supply and the mask…..

A recent survey has shown that 86% of Americans believe that a properly worn mask is preventative. Yet, in America, only 50% of the population wears one, about 90% of the time. That is all we need to know about numbers, beyond the escalating numbers of cases across our country.

Now, for the arguments. A mask that is dug out of your nasty work pants pocket, un-balled and casually strapped on to enter a venue where masks are required, is likely compromised. Sharon and I rely on a system that I have dubbed the “Mist and Mask” protocol. We use very good fitting cloth masks that we religiously mist with alcohol each time we take them off. We carry a little mister with us and saturate the mask and straps after gelling our hands in the car, and place the mask on the dash to dry. We bring our mister to the table (dining out) and spray our hands when we sit and when we mask up to leave. We carry a supply of sealed, paper masks with us for use if our cloth masks are still damp with alcohol. There are those who have a fatalistic approach. “If I am infected, it is in God’s hands”. There are those who think the whole thing is a hoax and not serious. I have a number of friends in the medical community who can, in fifteen short minutes, explain the realities of the disease and the lonely deaths that are tearing at their very souls. My life is in the hands of my medical team and they, without reservation, recommend wearing a properly fitted mask.

So, those are my thoughts on the matter. You may consider them, or not. Either way, I hope we remain friends. After this election cycle, win or lose, we are still going to deal with Covid for a good while. November 3d is not the end of a cycle, rather the beginning of another era of discord, viciousness and polarization, no matter who is in the White House. Gov. Christie has offered a stark reminder about the sinister aspects of Covid 19, from a personal perspective. As my old Sergeant was fond of saying, “Bought learning is the best learning”. We can learn from both the Sergeant and the Governor………or not.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading..

SR

What the Hell………

Okay. I am going to deviate a bit from the seriousness of the world around us and talk about something that is the foundation of our existence. Ladies, you may find this of particular importance as it is reported that women buy 60% of this product for the men in their lives. I am talking men’s underwear here, where I take a tongue in cheek look at this booming industry (pardon the pun.)

It you are a Social Media consumer you know what I am talking about. Who lately hasn’t seen the Facebook add featuring a young man wearing a pair of the latest Tommy John drawers. He is either an out of work porn star or desperately needs attention to address what has to be a painful hernia. But wait…as they say in the informercials, there is more!

Industry experts say the average man buys his own underwear for 17 years of his life. That leaves a lot of time for moms and wives to do the shopping. Thirty years ago it was easy. You wore boxers, briefs or Army drawers. They came in white, white or olive drab. Back in the day, go to the gym and drop your jeans to reveal a “red soft modal, copper infused thong” and you would be dressing alone or stuffed into a locker. Cotton was the order of the day, which modern manufacturer’s say is comfortable but loses it’s shape over time. No kidding, so do the wearers! Don’t think it matters? Think again. Your chances of ending up in a doc’s office or the ER standing around in your soothing paper gown are better than ever. Don’t get caught without a sleek pair of designer drawers when they decide they need to look in places that don’t see much sunlight.

Mack Weldon says he has devoted 10,000 hours to the development of his silky Lycra and Modal underwear. This brings up another point, gone is cotten and Modal is the new fiber of choice. Modal is derived from the Beech tree and Lycra is a chemical concoction that can expand up to six times it’s original volume. This expansion is important to middle aged men and the aforementioned guy with the hernia. Wait, there is more!

Everybody has gotten into the underwear game. Tommy John, Mack Weldon, Duluth Trading, Sax, Calvin Klein, and Bonobos come to mind. They offer copper for odor control (replaces washing machines) cool zones for the boys and super secure pouches that breathe when you are short of breath. (The pouches should be mandatory for ball players to keep them from constantly rearranging their junk) The colors are breathtaking and the styles are limitless. You can choose old school boxers or briefs, or…..hold on, boxer shorts, short boxers, long boxers or boxer briefs, thongs, slingshots (don’t ask) or cute little socks that resemble the handle protectors on a cast iron frying pan. No fly, button fly, or horizontal fly are additional options. You can get them with copper filaments or for the discerning, silver threads, anti-microbial infused and organic fiber constituted. You can even order a “hammock” style pouch and guaranteed no roll waistband. The discriminating shopper can also find his and hers sets of undies where form eclipses function, I am sure……

Not your fathers underwear…..

Why does this matter, you ask? Harvard says that men who wear boxers produce 25% more sperm than guys who wear briefs. So if you are in the baby making business, this might be helpful. Guys who go commando are 30% more likely to have chaffing and to injure themselves while physically engaged. It matters because many wives and girlfriends will see the Tommy John guy and think they have been short changed in life. (Another pun, sorry). It matters at the doctor’s office or gym where staff won’t be able to recall your name but will long remember your neon Star Wars shorts. We have come a long way from worrying about whether to button down or use a collar stay.

Good luck ladies as you navigate the world of men’s underwear. Odds are you’ll spend a lot more time buying his foundation stuff than he does yours. That, my friends, is a shame…….

Have a great weekend!

SR

Hell Comes in Many Colors…..

I read an interesting and very compelling article in the local paper this morning. This article detailed the soft blue walls of the Covid ward in one of our two major hospitals and the plight of the nurses and techs who are immersed in the business of death, dying and prayer. The article reminded me that hell is all around us in America, the greatest nation on earth. It also reminded me that it is okay to rely on a living God when we are surrounded by Godlessness.

My first experiences with God, not the concept but the reality, occurred in Vietnam. When you are walking artillery in very close to kill an enemy that is determined to kill you, your attention turns, instinctively to God. It is a rare individual who is flirting with death that doesn’t ask for the Lords help. That I am sitting here, writing this piece, is the result of tremendous good fortune and the Lord’s generosity. My next intimate visits with the Lord occurred when I was tasked with providing some degree of certainty to the families of folks killed in car accidents, by criminal acts or at their own hand. I relied upon the Lord, often in silent prayer, to give me the strength to add dignity to the otherwise undignified death at hand. Death in these circumstances is a multi-sensory experience and is often accompanied by many vivid colors, each representative of the hell that is surrounding both the families and the first responders. I shall never forget an experienced Highway Patrol Captain, on his knees tearfully praying with the family of another trooper whose son was killed in front of them as they stood in their front yard. The child rode his bicycle across the road and was struck and killed by a good neighbor. Hell that day was a bright bluebird sky with white puffy clouds holding forth over a cold, asphalt gray road. This family was strong and yet relied upon the God that we are tossing out of America to provide the strength to endure their taste of hell.

The caregivers in the hospital mentioned in the beginning of this writing are living testaments to the strength of a God. When medical science is failing the patients, a regular occurrence with this invisible hell that has been unleashed upon us, they turn to prayer. They are experienced professionals who have joined the fight to keep their patients alive. Friendships develop and often, these providers are in a position to know when survival is unlikely. They are tasked with staying in the fight and acting as surrogate family, as the patient is most often relegated to a death without family present. They call upon the Lord to help the patient and themselves deal with the inevitability of a final, lonely demise in the powder blue room referred to as a Covid ward.

Please God….give me the strength

From experience, I can tell you that circumstances do exist where you call upon a spiritual being to help you avoid suffocation and panic when death is close enough to smell. If you are fortunate, you have the time to call upon the Lord before you breathe your last breath on earth. Many times you are not and an eleventh hour save is useless when you are taken in the tenth hour. Please take a moment to look around you and decide where you stand and who you want in your corner when the bell tolls. Are we going to sit idly by and let “progressive” America pitch God out of our lives? Are we going to let a political persuasion that believes it is okay to snip the spine of a newborn infant be our conscious? Are we helpless in the face of this same political persuasion that is going to make a faith a litmus test for a seat on the Supreme Court?

Back to where I began. My hat is off to folks who take on the responsibility of not only the maintenance of life, but a dignified exit from the life we have been given. Combat has an effect on everyone who experiences it. Police service has an effect on everyone who takes on the responsibility. Providing medical care, for folks who are afflicted with a scourge on a scale with Covid 19, will forever haunt the providers. If you have ever uttered “God help them” or “God bless them”, you are acknowledging the existence of the Master. We are taught that you deny the presence of God at your own peril.

Denying God is denying the reason America came into existence. He is not a statue to be torn down……and one way or another, he will be there at the end……How do you want the meeting to go?

SR

Oil, Wind and Grass……

We recently completed a “glass” getaway through the great state of Kansas and Colorado. By glass, I mean little contact with people as we viewed the countryside through the glass in our car. A visit to the Mining Museum in Leadville, Co. filled in many of the blanks as it relates to mineral and metal from Mother Earth. With the lyrics from the popular television show “The Beverly Hillbillies” streaming through our minds we were determined to become familiar with the lure of oil, wind and prairie as we travelled. The answer lies in money. Let’s have a look.

I am fascinated by Kansas topography, and amazed at how quickly we go from the ruggedness of Missouri to the gently rolling plains of Kansas. No sooner than you cross into Kansas, you begin to see small oil wells scattered about the countryside. Looks easy, drill a hole, install a pump and sell your black gold to the folks driving from well to well while you count your money. Actually, it is a tremendous risk. The average well produces 3.5 barrels of crude every 24 hours. Today, Brent crude is trading for 41.93 a barrel in these days of fracking and Keystone pipelines. The average well is 3,000 feet deep and costs about 500,000+ to drill and set up. If you hit a dry hole, a possibility even with todays seismic capabilities, you owe the drilling company 150,000. If your well is productive, you can expect, on average, 20 years production. You are advised to NEVER borrow money to speculate in this enterprise. On the other hand, some landowners have many wells churning out oil every day and are doing quite well. The size of the rig denotes the depth of the well and it’s productivity as compared to the averages. So, before you sink you inheritance in a well, consider the prospect of shoe sales at a discount shoe store, a real possibility if the well is or soon runs dry.

“Nodding donkeys”

Wind is up next. All of us have driven by the “Wind Farms” some of which stretch for miles along the high plains. First, you need wind, at least 9 MPH to turn the turbines. Almost all of the turbines you see are owned by large investment conglomerates, and at least in Kansas, most of the electricity is going to California. The financial considerations attendant to a turbine can be complicated, but the average turbine pays the land owner 8,000 a year, and typical leases are 20 years. There are spacing requirements and the soil must be of the right composition to hold the thing upright. The developer must front about 2 million to erect and bring on line each turbine. The math tells you that if your ground is just right, and you have enough of it, you will be well served to choose wind over crops or cattle. I should mention that if a turbine(s) on your property is in a great wind zone, you may also negotiate a financial reward based on a kw/hr basis.

The Tri-fecta. We drove by a number of ranches that were truly blessed. They had wind turbines happily supplying electricity to the west coast, a number of oil wells covering their operating expenses and either cattle or irrigated crop land to keep them happily belted into first class as they winged their way to Europe or South America for a get away. Or you could emulate the late T. Boone Pickens, a legendary oil man who understood risk. Mr. Pickens was broke when he borrowed money and formed a company to find and produce oil. He died just short of being a billionaire, as he, like all wildcatters, did not always come out on top in a speculation. He did however, understand America’s energy needs and was not lazy.

Renewable Energy

Mr. Pickens died last year, and left an interesting philosophy on the table when he said, “I’m a Republican. I don’t want to go to heaven and have to face my family up there and tell them I voted Democratic”

I’ll bet you didn’t see that one coming!

Have a great weekend, stay safe and VOTE.

SR

Cliffhangers, Ghost Towns and History…

We are back from a getaway to scenic Colorado that had much to offer beyond skis, snow and spandex. Finally after 70 years, I was able to see the fabled Aspens in their peacock splendor and wind generated whispers. They are beautiful. Folks write about the Million Dollar Highway, and it is a treat, but examples of this kind of cliffhanging motoring abound within the state. The ride through Independence Pass was complicated by bicyclists that were pedaling both up and down as if they were on the Katy Trail. We wondered what it would be like to have a resting heart rate of around 3. Colorado has a well earned reputation for personal health, an attribute they are justifiably proud of.

Sharon and Tazzy on the Divide

There are thought to be around 600 ghost towns in Colorado, vestiges of the glory days of gold and silver mining. To understand their magnetic appeal, one needs to spend a couple of hours at the Mining Museum in Leadville, high in the Rockies. You can understand the magic of gold, silver and other metals that drew folks from a depressed eastern seaboard to the freezing mountains of this beautiful state. The mining activities and lust for riches have resulted in 24 Super Fund sites being declared by the EPA through out the state. Toxic wastes are still leeching from the mining sites as Superfund status is not a guarantee of restoration. The superfund is currently woefully underfunded. There are many ties to Missouri in Colorado mining country, not the least of which is the plethora of mining experts turned out by our own University, formerly known as the School of Mines in Rolla, Missouri, now referred to as Missouri S&T, for science and technology.

Let’s talk cliffhanging for a minute. Colorado has a number of roads leading to the crests of it’s tallest mountains. Folks who have negotiated them have an appreciation of heights and white knuckles. Your car or motorcycle requires a diligent, focused effort to operate as you both ascend and descend these peaks. We drove to the Continental divide at Independence Pass on a sunny morning, sharing the road with bicyclists in both directions. The bicyclists, and there were many of them, started at the base of the mountain and rode, non-stop to the divide. Had I not watched this with my own eyes, I would have told you no way. The harrowing consideration is sharing the road with vehicles, around hairpin curves, sans guardrails, and chugging bicyclists going up and hurtling down. It is no wonder that Colorado enjoys a stellar reputation for robust personal health and conditioning. I talked, through a mask, and briefly, with a passenger who had just made the ascent to the divide who declared the trip was “terrifying”. She had a point!

Colorado’s history is well preserved. Every mountain town, through preservation and restoration, has a story to tell. These villages and ramshackle whistle stops are becoming very popular and expensive as folks are relocating back to these quaint environments in great numbers. Consequently, real estate prices are eye opening and the properties in great demand.

Every pancake, no matter how thin, has two sides. We drove through scenic Aspen where the rich and famous casually stroll through town in spandex and fur. Their town is a far cry from Leadville, where we were most comfortable. The town was wrapped in an aura of opulence and wealth. We did not feel unwelcome….nor did we feel welcome either. We love the Dillon, Breckinridge vibe, places we know and skied once upon a time. We are jeans and flannel folks and pride ourselves on never meeting people without a smile and greeting. Good old boys would be well advised to seek the ski country on the “other” side of the tracks, where cold beer and strong drinks are all readily identifiable. Places where designer shirts come from Duluth Trading or Carhartt and jeans are cut for a loose, high waisted fit………

Time for another coffee and additional reflection on the ability to ride a bicycle up a mountain….

Have a great weekend, pray for our President, and remember to be civil….

SR

Magic Is In The Air……

Two days from now marks the beginning of my favorite season in Missouri. A years work in the fields will soon be ready to go into the bins, the gardens are in Mason jars and our critters begin fattening up and grooming their coats for what is promising to be a cold winter. WWII had just ended days before this poem was published by A.H.Hindman in the Kansas City Times.

Every line captures a facet of fall and my hope is that if you have not experienced each one of these sublime considerations, you do so before you go to your reward. Missouri, my adopted home, never fails to enchant me. It has been my privilege and good providence to settle here as a boy. It is my intention to be here for eternity.

Beautiful in it’s simplicity

We have held onto this for many, many years. It was given to Sharon just before we were married by a teaching colleague. Fall is such a multi-sensory experience. Grab it while you can!

Have a great week!

SR