May 4, 2013
This blog is dedicated to bragging about my grandchildren and if through the course of this blog you find your eyelids getting heavy and your simply bored to tears after the first few sentences you have my permission to sell out for the Boob Tube or maybe some honey do jobs. My wife and I are at the Santa Ynez Equestrian Center watching our 6 grandchildren compete in a West Coast Jr. Rodeo and the time is 9 AM. Our granddaughter Sage Massey just ran her horse Olie through the pole bending course and is now setting in 2nd place. Whoops, Sage was just moved to third by a hundredth of a second. Wait the announcer is announcing the results of the pole bending Sage Massey ends up in fourth place. Grandpa is pleased. You know this rodeo is better watching than the Kentucky Derby because where else will you get to watch a Dust Devil, that at this very moment, is dancing the Jitter Bug with an awning fastened to a motor home and has spun it around and then turned it upside down. I wonder why we are always fascinated with someone else's misery.
Cade Varian age 9 has just now come a running on his horse Shelzee and is weaving his way through the pole bending course and at present is in 1st place but this race for Cade isn't over yet, he has crossed the finish line still going 90 and now a very quick stop at the fence by Shlezee and there goes Cade catapulted out of his saddle and headed for the ground. Everything is OK. He is up and walking away. Folks in aviation circles tell me any landing you get to walk away from is a good one.
One of the highlights of junior rodeo is how much time we all get to spend watching the big green John Deere tractor level the playing field so many times that any grain of sand that had sharp edges at the start of the day will find them rounded at the end of the day but we will relax knowing that every mothers little cow person will have an equal chance. Time is the coin of your life be careful how you spend it. I'm spending my coin watching my grandchildren and loving it. Why I can even see the value as Mr. Tractor grinds sharp edges from grains of sand.
It's 7 minutes to 1 o’clock PM and my belly is starting to rumble. I've worked up an appetite shifting my Fannie from side to side in this folding chair that looked like an orphan so I adopted it but comfort is sure not its middle name. There you go Jack looking a gift horse in the mouth. Why don't you just stand up all day?
Brinan Varian just came out of the Bulldogging chute hanging on to a 700lbs steer, his job is to take his 150 lb body and twist this steer to the ground with all 4 feet pointed in the same direction. Since the opening of the gate which starts the time clock 3 second has gone by and the steer is on his side. Brinan your 1st place has lasted about 2 minutes. Someone else just put his steer down in 2 seconds and change.
The announcer has just announced that Cade has won the all around cowboy title for his age group and one of his female competitors seems to have her eye on him but I could be mistaken.
Zack and Rhett just went to the lead in the team roping but cousin Sage Massey is throwing her head loop right now, son of a gun, she just missed.
Zack and Rhett you just finished in 3rd place in the team roping and Brinan your effort was good for 6th place. The time is now 5 PM. Only 2 more hours to go as we are now into the ribbon roping and Brinan and Sister Katherine went to the lead and kept the lead to finish 1st. Grandma and Grandpa are having quite a day.
I'm getting tired now so if there are any readers still left that want to find out how grandma and grandpa’s little darlings performed here goes. The munchkins had quite a bunch of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6ths and the most coveted title of all, All-Around Cowboy and Cowgirl for their age group were Brinan, Kathryn, and Cade Varian.
The other night I was again to be found half asleep in my recliner as the local news visited our nightly crime scene full of murder and mayhem that has become so common place that I find myself jaded to a point where my emotions are I guess nonplussed . But that's when our anchorman changed topics and said that the Orcutt Union School District was going to stop their grammar school students from playing TAG as it was too dangerous. What murder and mayhem could not do to my rage meter the abolishment of tag made the hairs on the back of my neck stick straight out. How could they, how could the people involved in this decision call themselves educators.
Now if I was in the position to monitor the success or lack thereof a school system I would give credit to a few bumps and bruises and that maybe the school nurse might have to open the band-aid cabinet and issue a few little band-aid badges that say, “I'm in grammar school; that I'm full of vim and vigor; and I like to play tag just like generations of children before me enjoyed."
This kind of decision making validates why we see more home schooling, more charter schools, and private schools that see their enrollment moving up. I think because of this type of “cover your rear” policy I would think long and hard about what other fuzzy thinking is going at the Orcutt Union School.
I was reading an article in one of my magazines this evening that really caught my attention for what an 82 year old man would do if he could lead his life over again. His words follow and then this story will close with some of my thoughts.
"If I had my life to live over, I'd try to make more mistakes next time. I would relax, I would limber up, I would be crazier than I've been on this trip. I know very few things that I would not take a chance on. I'd take more trips, I would scale more mountains, I would swim more rivers, and I would watch more sunsets. I would eat more ice cream and fewer beans. I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones. As you can see I was one of those people who lived prophylactically and sensibly and sanely, hour after hour and day after day. Oh, I've had my moments and if I had it to do it all over again, I'd have many more of them. In fact, I'd try not to have anything else, just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of my day. I've been one of those people who never went anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had it to do all over again, I'd travel lighter, much lighter than I have. I would start barefoot earlier in the spring, and I'd stay that way later in the fall. And I would ride more merry-go-rounds, and catch more gold rings, and greet more people, and pick more flowers, and dance more often. If I had it to do all over again, but you see I can't I'm an 82 year old man, dying and accepting death." Taken from the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.
There is so much of this testimonial that I love, like leaving my thermometer and parachute at home when I start my day and I will save my thermometer for when I have a real honest to goodness fever and not the imaginary one. I will not consider that when I hear some talk about cancer or heart disease or all matter of tumors and all the other diseases that can kill you that I surly have the worst one and I will fly without white knuckles so I will not need a parachute. I will spend more days living in the present recognizing that the best place to be is where I'm at and I'm going to do my best to always look for the silver lining and all the other positive ways I can lead my life.
But there is a great part of my life that I wouldn't change for anything and it's about considering the welfare of others. Number one is my wife and family that is a part of me and I'm a part of them. Choosing a life's work that you are passionate about, that you look forward to each day and that will produce a body of work that you will look back on and say “I have no regrets".
My father told me on several occasions that democracies are a very messy way to govern and without ordinary decent people volunteering to make our form of government work it will fail. In my case, and it wasn't always sweetness and light but, I can look back and feel that my 14 years on the Shandon Unified School Board was time well spent. My stewardship of our family ranch has been very satisfying these past 50 years. So if at some juncture in your life you happen to be reflecting over your line of work and you don't like the direction your going in we'll how about changing direction. I now will close with this wish that giving and receiving will be of such a balance that when each of us gets to the end of our life we can look back and say it was a wonderful journey.
P.S. I think most of us would like the journey to go on and on but end it must hopefully with few regrets.
Have you ever talked to a molecule of air? They certainly are an independent lot. Zee and I have just returned from seeing a somewhat risqué movie whos title was This is 40. The message that dysfunctional families can grow to appreciate each other was heartening but that is not what this blog is about. It’s really about the trip on our way to see this movie and my side of our new-used car (used because the hit to my pocket book was just too great to own a new one). Buying a used car was a decision that Zee and I readily agreed upon. However, this was not the case when it came to the temperature that our new used minivan was going to be maintained at.
Zee’s body temp was running on the low side and mine was leaning toward the high side. Now this is where the manufacturer of our car, Chrysler Corp., needed to consult their public relations department. They would surely have known that you must first consult the air molecules to see if they will obey and if they will stay on the proper sides of the cabin; cold ones on my side warm ones on Zee’s side. I think that Zee and I are representative of a bigger problem when they put two temperature controls creating a his and her situation and the igniter of a response when one person tries to regulate the other guys sacred temperature control valve without permission. This could be as little as a laugh to one and as serious as leaving the toilet seat up to another. So think seriously about how harmonious your relationship will be the next time you go to buy a car and the salesman wants to know if you would like to have two heater controls.
A Christmas Photo From the Past
I feel like I'm cheating by skipping our family Christmas card and taking the easy way out, by sending, all who might stumble across this blog a merriest of Christmas's and a Happy New Year and a lot of Parkfield Magic mixed in.
So much is being said today on the T.V. news about the fiscal cliff and what might happen to all of us come 1/1/13 if our President and congress decide to let us all thunder over that cliff. Well, I have a test that will reveal your political strip if you would like to know which camp you will jump of the cliff with. If you’re a republican you will sign on the front side of a check and if you’re a democrat you will endorse it on the back side!!
Let's see, now that we've put politics behind us. Last April 12th Zera had the horse that she was riding jump out from under her and she lit on the left side of her fanny doing great harm. This harm turned into a volleyball sized hematoma that abscessed and she had to have surgery in June. But there is a silver Lining, Zee as of December 12th climbed back into the saddle to once again ride the horses she loves so much.
Travel we did. In June we found ourselves watching our granddaughter Sage Massey compete in the California High School Rodeo finals at Bishop, California. Next came our Mid State Fair held in Paso Robles where we again watched our grandchildren 7 in number this time and we got to commute from our home at our V6 Ranch. The middle of November we found ourselves staying one night in beautiful downtown Kingman, Arizona on our way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. We were headed to a grass growing convention and if you’re wondering, it was not the kind you smoke. We have just finished our last trip which took us to Las Vegas, Nevada to watch 2 nights of National Finals Rodeo that was sure good watching and then a little side trip to Axtell, Utah to load a cattle squeeze on a flatbed trailer that we had been towing from California so that the trip had a little utility thrown in.
I'm now reclining in my easy chair watching the Miss Universe contest, my there certainly is a lot of fine chest work to view. I guess that about sums it up except to say "Why me Lord? Why have I been so blessed?" Zee sends her Christmas blessing to all and wishes that in the New Year you will each in your own way treat yourself kindly.
Jack and Zee
I just finished reading the non fiction novel The Worst Hard Time. The story unfolds during the great dust bowl of the 1930's. What has caused me to write first comes the soil part 2 was a passage in the book that a fellow by the name of Don Hartwell records in his diary. A summary of the year 1936, he wrote in his diary, was the driest year ever in Webster County Nebraska. He wanted to spend New Year's Eve at a dance in the town of Red Cloud, to put behind him the past 12 months of misery. But a cold drizzle and then a northern packing dust and snow kept Hartwell and his wife at home near Inavale. They ate cornmeal and ham and went to bed early. On New Year’s Day he recorded in his diary the simple facts of life on the farm, the wind at 22 miles per hour and dust filling the air. But Don Hartwell just tightened his grip on the land in order to fend off complete failure by losing the farm to the bank, losing his wife, and all his dreams for the future dissolving. What struck me about Don's travails was a common denominator for all of the dust bowl BARE GROUND and how tenacious these farmers hung on to farming practices that caused so much death, destruction, and misery and with not so much as a thought given, that maybe there might be a better way to care for the soil.
Don records in his diary on July 2, 1937…I laid a thermometer on the ground at the base of a hill of corn today, it registered 137 degrees! And on July 15…I placed a thermometer out in the field beside a stalk of corn, it registered 140 degrees! No wonder things burn! A carnival is in Red Cloud and I haven't been to one for a long time.
So for Don with all those years of misery the soil never came first. I think that it was a given that the soil would always be there and all the dust bowl needed was some timely rain and everything would be just fine. Well everything won't be just fine as long as the idea prevails that you can have millions of acres of Mother Nature’s skin exposed to the elements without some consequences. People that hold this view are delusional.
For me Holistic Management entered my being at a time when I was in need of a new trail to follow. Holistic Management offered one up by making me ask the question, maybe my decision on how I'm managing my ranch might be wrong. It gave me permission in fact demanded that I use this new found freedom to question all my ranch practiced and throw out the ones that don't put the soil first and keep the ones that do.
Thank goodness today is different than the 1930's for there is so much information available on how to put the soil first and for those that choose to march to a different drum there is support and acceptance for your journey. In closing what to me is so ironic is that these better methods that need to be accepted and that are both profitable and soil building are so slow to have their day center stage.
P.S. It only took the British Navy almost 200 years of knowing before passing out food to their sailors containing some vitamin C to stop Scurvy!
I have just had my right front tire on my pickup blow out. Cell phone service is not very good in Vineyard Canyon my route to Paso Robles to get 3 tires fixed that had ailments as small as a nail to a sidewall on one that had its heart torn out by a rock. So I'm waiting for somebody to pass by. I'm in luck only a half hour since the blow out and here comes a low bed truck going toward Parkfield. I recognize the rig as Matt Cary pulls to a stop.
"Hi Jack, it looks like your between a rock and a hard place."
"Well I was headed to Paso with 3 flat tires to be fixed and now the 4th tire blows out. I sure thought that the tire that blew would get me to town even though it had a bubble on the sidewall the size of an egg. Matt,” I said, “When you get to Parkfield see if you can track down one of my sons and have him come with a good tire. Thank you.”
I don't know where this blog is going but I can tell you that I'm writing this dictum from the passenger side of my truck using a cardboard box for a table that says the banana count is 18 and the box for some unknown reason is telling me to be patient. It was, I'm sure, good advice but my mind takes me to, I've got lots to do. I have no time for a blow out, also, I'm a brand new 77 year old who could have a heart attack waiting to be rescued, to a guy who has been very fortunate in his life, to whatever will be will be, to flecks of terror, to all the times I've been and a-- hole, to the times I've thought of myself as a decent sort with a somewhat checkered past. I'm running out of paper which is the back side of and invoice. I’m still waiting to be rescued.
P.S. One hour later I was plucked from my state of imagination by my son Greg who arrived with spare tire in hand and in no time I was on the road again. “Just can't wait to get on the road again,” as Willy Nelson said in song.