Saturday, August 27, 2016

Love is Kind, Patient, and Sometimes...



In accordance with my seven-day challenge of Love Your Spouse, I have resurrected this story.

RV’s are a wonderful way to travel, but they are the perfect test of marital love. The challenges abound in the best of circumstances, but after a long day of moving, they explode into another dimension.

Our relocation from sunny Arizona to cooler Idaho went smoothly, considering, until we decided to winterize the RV. We dropped off the U-Haul and drove over to the storage lot. The instruction manual said it would only take five minutes, so what could possibly go wrong?

My husband peered at the valves. “Now which way do these go?”

I repeated the instructions.

Straightening back up, he said, “I’ll will hook up the hose, if you’ll open the faucets.”

That moment things began to go wrong. Water poured out of the faucets.

I made a quick exit back out to my husband. “We forgot to drain the lines when we drained the tanks, and there’s a lot of water running out of the taps.”

“Well,” The Love of My Life said, “It’s clear water. We’ll just run it into a bucket and walk it over to the dump station. That would be much easier than re-hitching the trailer and pulling it over there.”

“We don’t have a bucket. You took all of them into the house.”

My One and Only sighed, and then winked. “I told you we should keep one bucket in the trailer.”

It was an old joke between us, his way of admitting I had been right and he was wrong.

I looked up at the gray sky. The sun was hovering near the horizon. A gust of wind blew through the lot, carrying a cloud of leaves, papers, and grit.
.
I hunkered deeper into my coat. “Let’s come back tomorrow with a bucket.”

“No, I really want to get it done tonight.”

“And how are we going to do that without a bucket?”

“Let me think a moment.”

Before I could protest, another cold gust of wind blew an old bucket out from behind the neighboring RV. A quick inspection deemed it usable.  

We were lucky, the fresh water tank and both grey tanks contained very little water, and dumping them went smoothly and quickly. However, our luck turned sour when we opened the black tank. A thick, odorous black muck oozed into the bucket.

The Love of My Life stated the obvious. “It appears we also forgot to flush the black tank.”

I said nothing. My mother told me if I couldn’t say anything nice, not to say anything.

Next came the Really Big Mistake.

My Beloved announced, “Well, there can’t be that much left. We’ll just drain it into the bucket like we did the grey tanks and walk it over to the dump station.”

I watched the sludge pass the halfway mark, then the three-quarters mark. When it neared the rim, My Soul Mate shut the valve. We both stared at it, willing it to disappear.

The Man of My Dreams announced the scariest plan I ever heard him say. “It’s too heavy to carry. We’ll have to haul it over to the dump station in the truck.”

My stomach rolled. The storage lot was unpaved and filled with potholes and bumps. Coupled with a fully carpet lined truck bed, I had a sinking feeling this plan probably wouldn’t turn out well.

However, My Once in a Life Time Love had it figured out. “You sit in the back seat and watch. If it starts to slosh too much, holler, and I’ll stop.”

Oh, I’d holler all right.

We inched the truck across the lot to the dump station. I was amazed. My Darling did a fantastic job. Only once did the goop sway close to the rim.

Back at the trailer, we paused, staring at the Black Water valve. How much was left in the tank?  

The Light of My Life set the bucket down and opened the valve. More sludge poured out. He turned the valve off. “I don’t really want to try that again, do you?”

My facial expression must have given him my answer, because then he added, “Okay. We’ll hitch up the trailer.”

The sun sank below the horizon and the temperature dropped several more degrees. I was certain I had frostbite on my both hands and feet by the time we hitched the trailer and pulled it over to the dump station.

Once again disaster struck. The coupling on the dump station hose didn’t fit our flush valve.

My Dearly Beloved had another solution. “I’ll just take the hose through the bedroom door to the bathroom and flush the tank that way.”

I remained silent, but envisioned water spewing in every direction, soaking everything it touched. However, the Man Whom I Adore managed the process without any further mishap, and forty minutes later, we had the trailer back in its storage spot, the hitch and the towing equipment put away, and we were once again reading the instruction manual.

All we had to do was pump the anti-freeze through the water lines, but our hose wouldn’t fit into the antifreeze jug.

My husband looked sideways at me, then back to the antifreeze jug. “Sweetheart, would you go see if there is anything in the trailer we can use?”

“We took about everything out of the trailer, right along with the buckets.”

“Well, there might be something…”

I found a foil casserole pan just deep enough, I hoped.

And yes, from that point, the procedure took five minutes.  

The Man Whom I Adore More Than Anything made another announcement: “Let’s get a burrito at that little place I saw just up the street.”

I gritted my teeth. For the last two months, My Beloved failed to recognize any other fast food choice. I was certain if I ate one more burrito, I would not only look like one, I’d turn into one.


I gazed at My Nearly Beloved.

He said, “On second thought, let’s just go home.”

Good man.

 Love is: patient, is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians: 13: 4-8)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

An Officer and a Gentleman - To My Husband and All Law Enforcement Officers

Harrison Ford, "I thought you women wanted men to be in touch with their feminine side."

Anne Heche, "Not when they are being chased by pirates. They want them armed and dangerous."

My favorite line from the movie, Six Days and Seven Nights. I laughed, but it is also true. When threatened, I want to be protected and feel safe. 

For thirty-five years my husband wore a bullet proof vest as part of his everyday uniform. During the morning briefing he was told about the deaths of officers from all over our nation, officers killed while performing their duty, protecting the lives and property of citizens. He never knew who would pull a gun. It wasn't always the tough guy sporting a shaved head and body tattoos.  The bullet could come from a routine traffic stop with a gray haired grandmother or a pretty teenager. Abused wives have shot the officer sent to rescue them. Mixed in are the robberies, riots, and murders. 

My husband has comforted families after delivering the news of a loved one's death. He has held babies severely beaten by an abusive parent while waiting for paramedics. He has wrestled maniacs high on amphetamines to the ground before they could hurt themselves - or others.  More than once he has stayed out all night searching for a lost child or an aging parent. 

My husband has often joked, quoting Winston Churchill, "There is nothing more thrilling than to be shot at and missed."

If you say so, Honey, but it scared me to death. I tried not to worry when you came home late, telling myself if you were hurt, someone would come. You never spoke much about what happened on your shift, just bits and pieces - enough for to me to know you fulfilled your oath to serve and protect. 

I dedicate this poem to you and all law enforcement personnel. Bless you all for your dedication and sacrifices. You are the heroes who stand in the rift between danger and safety. Surely God has a special place in heaven for you.

The Final Inspection


The policeman stood and faced his God
which must always come to pass, 
he hoped his boots were shinning
just as brightly as his badge.

"Step forward now policeman,
how shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek,
to my Church have you been true?

The policeman squared his shoulders,
and said, "No, Lord. I guess I ain't, 
because those who carry badges 
can't always be a saint. 

I've had to work most Sundays
and at times my talk was rough
and sometimes I've been violent
because the streets are awful rough.

But I never took a penny
that was not mine to keep,
Though I worked a lot of overtime
when the bills just got too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
though at time I shook with fear,
and sometimes, God, forgive me, 
I wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,
among the gentle people here.
They never wanted me around
except to call their fear.

If You have a place for me, 
it doesn't have to be grand,
I never expected or had too much,
so if You don't I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne
where the Saints had often trod,
And the policeman waited quietly
for the judgement of his God.

"Step forward now, Policeman, 
you've borne your burdens well.
Come walk a beat on Heaven's streets
....you've done your time in hell."
                                                                                         Author  Unknown       

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Worth a Repeat, Because We All Need a Good Laugh: Gosh Awfuls, Jackalopes and Other Tall Tales


I grew up in what is known as the Oregon Outback, Eastern Oregon. My dad is a retired logger, and my childhood was spent in the woods, camped a few miles from where he was working at the time. Most often we were next to a lake or a creek - a wonderful way to spend childhood summers, except for my dad's tall tales.

Not only did we groan at the puns, my sister and I were often the stars of the tale.

One of these occasions we were camped about a thirty minute drive from the town of Silver Lake, up in the Gearheart Wilderness area. My father announced we were going to town for a Tube Steak dinner. All excited we loaded into the pickup truck and headed down the mountain. We never noticed the twinkle in his eyes, or the wink he gave the waitress when he placed our order. We waited impatiently for our Tube Steaks to arrive, totally unaware we were being duped.



 The waitress finally returned with plates piled high with French fries and something familiar looking in a bun. I looked at my sister and she looked at me. We shrugged, made faces at our dad and ate our steaks and fries.We notched this tale right up there with his stories of Jackalopes and Gosh Awfuls.





Now the Gosh Awful is a horrible creature who lives in the woods and preys on unsuspecting girls walking alone along any of the trails, night or day. In an unguarded moment  he springs from his hiding place and does Gosh Awful things, like tickling, or Indian hair rubs, or simply saying, "BOO", and causing said girls to run screaming.

And, added to this, all of my dad's tall stories started out with, "When I was a little girl...." Even at a very early age, we knew better.


 
Then of course, there were the road trips. My dad read the road signs and made comments.

"Slow Children must go to the Slow School."

"Speed [for] 50 miles"

"It is very likely we will drive through the town of Likely."

In Death Valley. "250 feet below sea level. Better hold your breath."

At the Grand Canyon. "Golly what a gully."


There were many more, but I can't recall all of them (or have space to write them). 

Then, there were the mosquito stories like the poor logger unmercifully attacked at a local sawmill. He raced for cover in an unused metal sawdust burner. In their zeal to get the man, the mosquitoes drove their proboscis right through the metal. Finding a discarded hammer, the man pounded their snouts flat like nails. There were so many mosquitoes, they flew off the with the building and the man. He was never seen again. 

There are a lot of mosquitoes in the area. The town of Paisley has a Mosquito festival every year. (I'm not kidding.)

There were also Poodle cookies and Mongrel cookies. Poodle cookies don't shed, but the Mongrels do.

While driving through Goldfield, Nevada we stopped at the Green Frog grocery for  cookies. I was a little worried when I had to blow the dust off the packages in order to read the labels. My dad assured us a little age would only enhance their flavor, like good wine. My sister and I were a little skeptical, but agreed to buy both Poodle and Mongrel cookies. After all we didn't want to discriminate. 

My dad suggested we stop at the diner for pie, and save the cookies for later. It was the first time I had seen blueberry pie snap back together when I tried to cut it. My dad agreed  the pie, and the waitress might have both been left over from the 1880 Gold Rush. 

Jokes aside, I've stood in virgin timber, watched sunrises over lakes and creeks, and sunsets from mountain tops with a sea of unbroken forest stretching from horizon to horizon. I've been to every national park and historical site from the Pacific Ocean to Tennessee. I learned to love nature, books, and history. All thanks to my father, sick puns, practical jokes, and all. 




Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Apprentice




I am in training. My mentor, and the expert, is Sarah Hodgson, professional dog trainer and author of, Puppies Raising & Training Diary for Dummies. Her expertise has made a tremendous difference in training our new Brittany puppy, Cooper (Coop). 

Puppies do not perceive the world as we do. Things natural to us encourage unsociable behavior in our pups. It’s been hard for my husband and I to retrain ourselves in order to train Coop. The first, and biggest, error for me was talking to him too much. My voice has a tendency to be higher than my husband’s, which excites Coop. An excited puppy equals a hyperactive puppy, which equals disaster. The ideal is to encourage enthusiasm, not hyper-excited behavior. I have labeled the latter, Psycho Puppy. It ain’t pretty, let me tell you that. 

The other behavior hard to break was using our hands too much in order to redirect his attention. To a puppy, hands are mouths. He equates this with rough and tumble play, which is not acceptable behavior. A puppy’s mouth should never be on human skin. Kisses z(licking) are encouraged, but no mouthing or nipping. 

Sarah suggests using a head collar, which Coop is proudly (if reluctantly at times) modeling for you from his safe place, the closest set of human legs. This collar gives the same correction as his mother, a gentle pressure on the nose and it is safe to use on pups as young as eight weeks. It is designed similar to a halter for a horse. Puppies can still eat, drink, and chew. 

It is amazing how well it curtails bad behavior such as nipping, mouthing, jumping, and general running amok. It requires only a little pull on his lead. No more buying Bitter Apple by the gallon to keep him from chewing on things like the couch, the carpet, or me. Puppies thrive in a home with rules, just like children. And Coop is much happier when not in the Psycho Puppy mode.
Following Sarah’s advice, I’ve shucked my usually reserved, lady-like demeanor for something a little less dignified. In order to introduce Coop to new things, we need to pretend we are his mom (Oddly, my husband has happily left this part of Coop’s training to me. Shrug.)

I have crawled on my hands and knees over to the scary new toy, sniffed, and pawed at it. Coop ran over and did the same, albeit from his safe place between my knees. But it worked. Now the toy is a favorite. 

Next was the little wading pool. I took off my shoes, rolled up my jeans, and got in. I splashed, giggled, and swirled the water with my hands. Coop followed suit and now we have a water puppy, who loves his pool and is unafraid of water. Unhappily, he views mud puddles with the same enthusiasm. Oh well, he’s wash n wear. 

Another big hurdle was the dreaded water monsters, the automatic sprinklers. I ran through them, laughing, whooping, and giggling. Coop followed me in, ran circles, and nipped at the spray. We were both soaked, but with the ninety-degree temperature, neither of us suffered — and we had a lot of fun.  

I have to admit. I love playing with him and exploring new things, even if it means crawling on the floor and acting like a silly kid.

I figure I’ll be a full fledged Puppy Whisperer about the time Coop is fully grown. That’s okay. We will enjoy the result for years to come.

Then it will be time to start my apprenticeship as a Dog Whisperer. I wonder if Sarah has a book on that…