It’s time to get UP!!!!

 

 

dogs

Every morning starts the same in our little ranch house. My wifes alarm goes off at 5am….

(long pause for effect)

Now having an alarm clock rattle off at 5am is nothing spectacular, it happens in millions of homes across this great nation everyday. Hard working people groping in the dark for a pause button, sliding their feet onto the floor, struggling to find the light switch. Wandering around unfocused they are, until that first cup of jo hits the lips, (ahhh so good) then begrudgingly getting on with  their day. Off it into the land of commuter travels or out to start feeding at the crack of dawn a new day welcomes them all.

What happens in our house though, this morning I found rather amusing. Yes it has been happening forever, and no I have no idea why it took until this particular morning for it to hit my funny bone just right. But this morning it did.

So as most of you know, my wife and I take rescue dogs from the SPCA that need a “final” evaluation before meeting Mr. Doggie Reaper.  It is an amazing thing to handle a dog who has lost their mind living in San Francisco (I know goes without saying huh?) and watching them turn around to become cheerful loving animals after a couple of days running free across 40 acres. Humans do it all the time; leave the city and head out into the country, I believe they call it “camping”? After some work and a specified period of time is even more amazing when they are re-homed and we see them popping up on FB living it up with their new families. It, as can be expected is also sad when they fail and there is no hope for change;  yet we rest easy knowing it would be sadder still if they were never given a chance/a opportunity at life.

Every Morning as I stated earlier my wifes alarm goes off at 5am.  Every morning at 5:01am the dogs, which by the way are almost 50 yards away from the house begin barking like crazy! It drives us nuts and we always worry about it bothering our neighbors. Now we have joked between us that somehow these furry heathens know we get up at 5am, somehow these mutts can sense it is 5 freaking am and we need to get our sorry asses out of bed to come get them.  What the holy hell? Cant they just let it be for 15 minutes so we could at least make a feeble attempt at hitting the snooze button? But ohhhh nooooo; 5am alarm goes off and at 5:01 so do the dogs! BARK-BARK-WOOF FREAKING WOOF!IMG_1186

Until this morning I had no clue what was up. How this could be, I know dogs are smart, but even when it is a fresh lot of new ones this happens.  How on earth do they know?Then like a ton of bricks it hit me. Some mornings when it is new dogs the barking is not that bad, a bark here, a bark there, but right now we have three bird dogs and a cattle dog out there and it is off the freaking hook! It has been since day one!  Hmm three bird dogs and a cattle dog??? What could it be????

Oh yes I failed to mention my wifes alarm is the sound of BIRDS HOLLERING, SQUAWKING, CHIRPING, HONKING, WHINING, SQUEAKING AND EVERY OTHER SOUND A BIRD CAN MAKE!!!! IT SOUNDS LIKE THE FREAKING AMAZON JUNGLE MIXED WITH A DUCK BLIND!

HOLY SWEET MOTHER MARY JOSEPH! THAT’S IT!!!!

It is no wonder these dogs are going crazy at 5:01, it hunting time! Its time to chase the elusive fine feathered friend! Its game time and these mutts are no longer sitting on the bench! Riding the Pine, keeping the kennel warm! No sir, the sound of my wifes alarm reverberating at decibel level 9 through our always open bedroom window which faces the kennels is the starting pistol to their local track race! The green flag has waved and the race is on! It’s no wonder they act like fish in a feeding frenzy, zombies stuck on a fence looking at fresh meat, children 30 seconds before the end of school! These poor thoroughbred bastards are in the starting gate just waiting for a bell, the GO sign! And that is just what they get! Birds! The sounds of Birds! Lots of birds! different kinds of birds, styles of birds, just one full minute of birds, teasing them with every smooth fake synthetic, sound! The most primal of instincts, jarred awake from deep inside every dog that graces our door! Simple recognition for the ever aware bird dog. But for the new dog who has lived its entire life within the confines of an apartment, surrounded by hordes of people even when traversing the wide open spaces (sarcasm) of a city park, these sounds must be like the equivalent of a persons “first” high! That feeling when the buzz sets in from a shot of whiskey or what ever choice of poison your body prefers! (not judging)

cooper

 

Yep it all makes perfect sense now. I can rest at ease every morning no longer feeling anger for their stalwart commitment. It is not the dogs fault for their tuned up crazy behavior, it is ours. Like dangling a donut in front of a group of cops or a bucket of ice cream to a hoard of firemen. There is just no stopping the horrific aftermath.

Birds….

 

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My little angel might be no angel at all…

What you are about to read is an opinion; it is not a solution, it is based upon expressed emotions pondered for a specific amount of time. We (as a society) are allowed opinions afforded us through the first amendment to the United States Constitution. Although we are afforded these rights, I will never abuse that privilege. I have and always will take very seriously what ever opinion is put forth by my ever spinning brain.

I purchased a laptop, and promised stories would continue, I wrote a few relatively funny snippets about parenthood but just could not bring myself to post them. Why? Life got in the way, and my sense of humor has been affected.

Over the past couple of weeks since posting my last story a multitude of events have transpired both locally and nationally  leaving me wondering what the hell?

  1. A warning comes down from the federal government stating that ISIS is now looking at soft targets.  That is right; no longer are we safe in our homes as operatives are now individually targeting military personnel, (first and foremost) police officers, politicians and firefighters.  We now have terrorism at its very core.  When you become afraid to post with pride what you do for a living through social media, walk out your front door, and fear for your family’s safety.  Our country has a serious problem. Note I said “fear” because that is the root of terrorism. It may never happen, it probably will never happen, but the fear is always there, always present.  For this I have no comment other than to shake my head in sadness for our country.
  2. School shooting in Washington.  We have all read or watched the reports.  Teenage boy gets together with his closest friends during lunch like he does everyday then pulls a gun from his backpack and proceeds to shoot them in the back, in the middle of the cafeteria, with all to see.
  3. Teenager walks towards a high school, back pack containing a handgun and several rounds of ammunition.  A friend of said teenager feels comments he made the previous day are of concern, notifies school administrators that this teenager had in fact made credible threats in regards to coming to school and shooting several individuals, including a teacher that very day. (this is all para-phrased) Long story short-cops look for teenager, teenager finds them first unloading several rounds into unsuspecting patrol car, barely missing the police officer inside. Short chase ensues, face off happens, teenager ends up with a superficial wound after being shot (public knowledge) by police.
  4. A young girl decides she has had enough.  After some discussion with her mother she disappears from home, the police are called and a missing persons report is filed. What no one knows or could have known was this girl proceeded to walk towards the train tracks and step boldly in front of a 70mph Amtrak train. I say boldly because it takes a certain amount of resolve/inner pain to willingly step in front of a moving train. It makes me nauseous just thinking about it.  It was my shift, my guys responded to the incident, and all though it is not the first time nor will it be the last time for our crew dealing with such a morbid scene along the railway. It has forever changed the face of suicide for each and every one of us. Her reasoning for taking her life stemmed from bullying.

These four things all happened with in the last few weeks.  I have screamed at the television, written a few things in regards, decided the tone was all wrong and deleted the subject matter. I as have all of you, have sat patiently while political pundits cast stones in all directions away from any responsibility their own party may bear.  I am frustrated, confused, disgruntled and angry! As a parent it makes no sense to me why we can’t create solutions! Instead we all sit by as the news media (who cares not one bit about finding an answer through non bias reporting, but instead thrives on ratings and if there are none then the story disappears forever) gnaws on the raw meat that is our emotions. My emotions are raw as well. I have pondered and pondered, written and as I stated before, erased. My blog has always been about my life, the life of my family, the fun and exasperating moments along the way. I never want anything on my page to become a political debate as it takes away from the fun.  Unfortunately this is still about my family as I have been affected personally by each of these 4 stories. Number #1 is self-explanatory. The shooting in Washington, #2, only in relation to #3 as my crew responded to this incident, and the “what if’s” rolled fast and furious afterwards. What if he made it to the school? What if-it turned into a mass shooting are we prepared? What if- my son was one of the victims could I have continued to do my job? Number #4 was also my crew and opened my eyes to what is out there, pulling my head from the sand and re-evaluating my own personal responsibility when it comes to our children. Remember these are only my opinions, and although many may disagree I am open to any conversation that is held respectfully on these topics.

  1. More gun laws- More gun laws are not the answer. I would like to say they are but they are not. The answer: allow our police officers to do their jobs, then hold the courts accountable for not upholding the strictest of sentences when these laws currently in place are broken!!! We don’t ever hold our court system accountable! It amazes me that a drug offense is stricter than a gun violation. Our country screams for justice, why are we not starting with the justice system! We knee jerk react instead of planning for the future in turn we allow another idiot politician to revel underneath his own fodder, founding a bill in their
    name so he/she can pat him/herself on the back a little more.  Here is another idea, how about a revision of all laws currently on the books in regards to guns? I bet there are many that are redundant or have no bearing what so ever in this supposed civilized society! Listen people a sign at school that says this is a no gun zone doesn’t mean shit to an angry person hell-bent on vengeance.  And if it’s not a gun, then maybe its a crossbow, or a knife or what ever that angry person is using in the commission of a crime. Hell a weapon is not a description used solely for guns as the news media would have you believe! A weapon is any object used in the commission of a heinous act.  I get it, put up the sign which creates another charge added to the suspect, but that leads us back to my original complaint! Our justice system. Now before you get angry with me, I am neither pro-nor anti gun.  I am for reasonable people making reasonable decisions when it comes to our future as a society. Something I feel we have lost.
  2. Bullying- Ok so we have all been bullied at one time or another in our lives. If you have read any of my stories than you know in high school I was a bit mouthy (yes that means I bullied a time or two as well).  Got myself into trouble and at times ran scared (being bullied in return).  The ability to handle those situations and learn from them is what made me the person I am today, it developed my character.  We as parents cannot protect our children from everything and at some point they (our kids)  need to learn to stand up for themselves, hopefully with our help and guidance. Although that all sounds good and fine, it is not happening, the problem lies with our current way of living, our social structure, the need for rapid gratification! What is the problem, the root cause you ask?  Social media and a severe lack of respect! Not just for others, but for ourselves! Our children are not equipped for what lays in wait for them on the internet, like a wolf hiding in grandmas dress waiting for little red riding hood to come through the door, so does the internet. We have provided our children with too much! To much freedom, too much trust, to many  electronic gadgets with windows to a world we just can’t keep shut from prying eyes! Television shows  that exemplify treating your best girlfriends like shit, talking behind their backs, having sex as a social status in school! Teenage girls portrayed as sluts, hookers, meat for young boys to have anyway they wish and whenever they want! And if you don’t give it up, you are anonymously trashed on every social media site available! FB, Yik Yak, KIK, Snap-chat all there to post how she was a slut, what degrading acts you performed on her (or really didn’t but by lying about it you keep your rep), why she should sleep with your friends-oh hello snap-chat! Here is a picture of her naked everyone, I took it with my cell phone camera! I promised I wouldn’t show any one, but I lied! Also On the Snap-Chat front, girls willingly sending pictures of their boobs to boys! What the hell! It’s no wonder bullying is such a problem! Dont believe me?                               I will use Yik-Yak as an example. I downloaded the app, set my geographical area to the center of my town, within one hour I knew where to go for drugs, who was looking to score, what girls were hoes (yes I even knew a few of them) whose ass was so hot it needed to be (one boys own words) POUNDED! I now know the description of several shapes of a penis’, the detailed description of both what its like having inter-racial sex and sex between boys, what group everyone wants to kill at school, who the hottest teacher is everyone wants to sleep with, and so one. And I really mean SO ON!!! Oh and let me add I only chronicled the boys here, the girls are just as descriptive, mouthy and vile. As a parent I have never been so disgusted by what I read in a very short period of time.  Did we talk this way as teenagers 35 years ago? Hell yes we did, not to the extreme I am reading here, but yup! It happened. The difference is it was between us, our small group, done in person and if you crossed the line it was handled then and there, either with apologies afterwards or some smoothing over that took a few weeks.  Today they are all hidden behind a veil of secrecy, they can say what they want without retribution, it gives them power! It creates monsters that have no repercussion for their actions. The ones with no conscience, or parental guidance will only grow bigger and stronger until someone decides they have had enough, choosing to step in front of a train as their only option, as opposed to seeking help, receiving that help and living.

Unlike the gun control debate where I only provide a suggestion; I think I have a solution to help us begin to conquer our social media related troubles.

  • We can start by eliminating cell phones from campus.  I am sorry your little angel is at school and you need to get ahold of them right now, but guess what? THEY ARE AT SCHOOL!!!! We didn’t have cell phones at school in my day and our parents got along just fine without us! If little Johnny needs a message from you then go through the office! Its called the chain of command. Something we use to a T in the fire service.  If you don’t allow your school to guide and control the motions and activities of your child while they are on campus then you are circumventing the system and empowering your child. You are telling your child they are more important than the lesson being provided which in turn takes away from the respect due towards the instructor inside the classroom.  Eliminate phones and you eliminate distractions, kids texting kids, taking pictures, surfing the internet. Dont tell me your little one would never do that, because I guarantee if given the chance they will. If we can’t take them away (cell phones) maybe just as a few of these social apps restrict their use while near a school campus, we jam all cell signals within the same specified area, neutralizing the temptation. Just a thought.
  • Mandatory bullying class- a class taught by adults, sharing their experiences being bullied. Bullying doesn’t just happen to children, it also happens to adults, if we are to become this great civilized society, an example to all around the world then why aren’t we educating ourselves in regards to the destructive nature of bullying.  Why are we not recognizing the life long damage it can create? Why are we not empowering the weak, celebrating the strong and bringing them all closer together.  Our society currently crushes the weak, watch any teenage show on Disney and prove me wrong. We are teaching our children to cast them aside instead of standing up, protecting them, and showing compassion. Our children, parents and siblings should be supportive, creating change, providing a better society that thrives on pushing forward mankind, people’s rights and ability to thrive. It sounds nice I know, I also know we can’t save everyone, but education has and always will be the key.

So there it is, its off my chest. Like me or hate me, agree or disagree. I felt it had to be said. I am tired of fearing for our world and what we as adult are allowing to happen. I am just as guilty as the next person. My children are just like yours and given the same opportunities will follow the very same paths without proper guidance from their mother and me.  In the end, it comes down to this, we are trying our hardest to raise respectful, well-rounded children who understands the needs of others. It’s a hard enough job parenting with both of us working multiple jobs and running from one kids sporting event to the next, but it is what we signed up for and we all need a little help now and again.  I also never want to see another young child take their life, or see a kid who is so frustrated they feel killing someone or there fellow students is the answer. Because it never is.

Betty is sad………

 

Lip Foliage

kid stacheIt started out strangely enough as an act of laziness.  It had been 4 days since my last encounter with a razor, the face had become stubbly and rough.  There was no ill-intent, no malice aligned discord, no social stance of support or injustice to be had. Instead it became nothing more than a middle-aged man deciding he just didn’t want to shave anymore.  Besides, it could never happen anyways, my entire life at one point or another had been spent trying to grow one! Secretly hoping and praying as a lad that one hair would turn into two, two to four and four to a five-o’clock shadow!

So with the skill of a veteran barber from the old neighborhood I shaved it all…..except what lay conspicuously over my upper lip.

Maybe this time will be different I thought! Maybe it will grow and look really cool? Yeah…. Cool like Clint Eastwood or no wait; super cool like Rollie Fingers, Tom Selleck, or maybe even Wyatt Earp!! Oh yeah I could see it now, laying there across the upper regions of my mouth, big, bold, so tough it carries its own zip code! That’s it, I must try! But WAIT!! Do I quaff this soon to be surely beast with the stylish subtleties of a Ron Burgandy or stretch her out sly and snakey with a hint of country charm like Sam Elliot? So many choices, such inner excitement at the mere prospects laying before me!

Over the next few weeks every morning I rose from bed, walked into the bathroom and carefully started cultivating my follicular garden of manliness! I am not sure if I could really witness its progression or wanting it to finally happen so badly was allowing my vision to become superhuman! Zeroing in on one hair after another choosing them for a specific length, size and girth! But there I stood, staring, combing, wondering, if this would be the day? Oh don’t get me wrong, I had tried many times in the past, only to feel like a freak show! A clump of hair here, a spike or tuft there, some of it red with Irish rage and other portions brown with a Caucasian curse.

Inevitably they all met the same fate, to spikey, to scattered, to ragged; all of their untimely ends were met at the hands of Gillette.

Then one day I woke up, made my way into the bathroom as I had done so many times before, partook in the very same ritual as any other day, but this time I could see it without the light on!! Yep that’s right, a natural wonder in the making, right there, just under the confines of my inhalation portholes, perched upon the ledge of a saliva sanctuary, running down both sides of the devils curl lay what I had been dreaming of since puberty!

My very own mustache!!!

And not just any mustache mind you, a super MANLY mustache, the kind of mustache that makes women quiver and men perish from envy! (not really it just sounded good) Best part? It was mine!! A fine cross between Sam Elliot (Ok if Sams was a little smaller and well not quite as thin) and Officer Dangle from Reno 911 (but only in color, not the whole looks like Ned Flanders thing)! Yes sir this thing, much like an unattended garden was owning my face!!! It felt great! It felt AWESOME! Like; like I should ride a horse with a cowboy hat on (oh wait I already do that) or maybe throw on a “cut’ grab my Harley and ride!! (Hmm I kind of do that too) Gosh I really feel like I am not getting anywhere here? Maybe, it’s cool enough I can finally be in a band? Yep that’s it, new cool handlebar mustache obviously means I should be in a band! Right! There are lots of cool singers with big burley manly mustaches like this one! Let’s see, I know there are at least a couple? Think…. Think….

I got it! Freddie Mercury Yeah that’s it!!! He got tons of looks with his mustache! It made him cool! Didn’t it? Ok he was kind of wafey looking, and a little pale. Hmm. How about Frank Zappa? No, no maybe not so much, he was kinda weird too. Or Hey that Biker dude (Glenn Hughes) from the Village People! Yeah that’s still kind of cool isn’t it? Isnt it?? Man maybe not so much….

I know!! I can look like a FIREMAN!! FUCK!!!!!! I have got that one nailed and I didn’t even need a mustache!!!

Huh? What the HELL was I thinking?

After all those years of trying, having a mustache just wasn’t that great. The dog growls at you, the kids think you look weird, everyone greets you with “hey what’s that on your face?” Which is usually followed with the obligatory; Ah yeah man it looks, ah it looks g r e a t? And last but not least the wife stops kissing you. Something about having a brillo pad rubbed across her lips while a porcupine simultaneously wrestles with her cheeks! I don’t know the kisses felt the same to me.

So in the end my great mustache went the way of all my other feeble attempts, landing one grainy strand at a time in the bottom of a bathroom sink, taking all hopes of testosterone filled adventures and adoration from those around me with it.

All I am left with for reflection is a quote by the great scholarly mind of one Mr. Peter Griffin; with great Mustache comes great responsibility.

No truer words have ever been spoken.

Sadly I just wasn’t up to the task…..

mustache

I am BACK!!!!!

That’s RIGHT I am back! The fog has lifted, the earth has shifted…..

For all who had given up, felt as though I’d all but abandoned writing, leaving the untapped strange, crevasses of my mind to obscurity. I am back! And why is this important to no one but myself really? Why am I giddy with excitement? Why do I keep asking myself redundant questions through my keyboard?

Because I finally purchased a laptop!!!!! That’s right boys and girls, the purse string opened, the vault broke, the tin can buried in the back yard has been unearthed! This proverbial cheapskate has finally gotten over  the debilitating theft of my precious HP last year and purchased a replacement.  (moment of silence inserted here) Now she isn’t quite as nice as the old HP, sexy would not be a word I’d use to describe this off-brand 5.6lb metal object, but the price was right, the keys are backlit and there is plenty of storage for my ramblings!! Whoop! Whoop! Oh, I think Erkel with a side of the Fonz would best describe this little gem.

So get ready because “freak show” is back in town and the head ring master is working on a schedule for your enjoyment! Ok really for my own enjoyment since there is like 5 of you who faithfully follow me. Alright it really is 4 since my mom doesn’t count. Wait, It might be more like 3, yeah 3 because if you count my wife, although she doesn’t read all of them so technically she could still be considered a follower? Yep, ok we will go with  all 3 of you! So the three of you get ready because new stories will be coming shortly.

Oh and to the guy following me from within the Ukraine, No I wont send you $500.00 so you can give a 1,000,000.00 Hrynvia! I am sure your sister makes good collateral but how do I know that’s not just the promo picture that comes when you buy a new picture frame? Seriously at least throw in a goat!

Thanks for hanging in there you guys and if you aren’t excited about this great news (the laptop thingy) its alright, I am already over it..

 

 

A boy finds a horse…or did a horse find a boy?

When the dust had settled he stared into the soft, red dirt scattered around his partners feet.  Frustration filled every fiber of his body, anger brewed deep inside as he coiled up his rope slowly, deliberately as if this woven, intertwined piece of apparatus had feelings to be hurt by such forcefulness.  He had missed his throw again, leaving his header dragging the steer alone. Team Roping* is his new rodeo sport of choice, it has a pretty big learning curve and right now this boy is bearing that weight.

Looking at his partner from a distance the appearance was one of a nervous looking paint horse standing silently, waiting, hoping not to fall upon the wrong end of youthful rage.  But nothing could be further from the truth. The boy leaned over gently petting his friend, his amigo, letting him know that he (the horse) had in fact done his job, and done it quite well.  The sole responsibility fell completely upon the boy and as they rode out of the arena only a blind person could not see the anger this boy had within himself.

Toowey is a 12-year-old paint, purchased for the staggering sum of $5 dollars.  Toowey was born to be a cutter * He was purposely bred from a fine stallion to a mare of substantial quality all in the hopes he would someday reign king of his craft. But for poor Toowey that was not to be, for this horse was a thinker, so much so that he repeatedly would get into his own way, not allowing the natural course of action to take place. Thus leaving him without a job. A sorry thing for a horse with such a sharp mind. That was until three months ago when a proposition was laid before this young lad; You need a horse to rope from and this horse needs a job. The owner absolutely loved this horse and could not bear to part with him. The deal was simple, if he works he is yours, if Toowey cannot do the job, bring him home, no questions asked. And just like that a union was formed, and my family is forever grateful for this amazing gesture.

Now don’t think for a second it was that easy, you see two months ago I may have paid $10 dollars to send him home. (joking) But you see the thing about Toowey that makes him different from every other horse (besides the astronomical purchase price) the thing that continues to amaze me about this very animal is not that he needed a job, but that he needed a boy.  You see as I previously stated; Twooey is a thinker, he is also a very fast learner, and yes his ability to over think a situation still gets him into trouble on occasion, but he has an uncanny way of saying he is sorry. Roping gives him the release of responsibility that cutting does not and that fits this horse just fine.  He is also incredibly loyal.

That’s right I said he is loyal, loyal like an old bloodhound or your best friend.  I have been around many, many horses in my 48 years and yes they are all different, they all have personalities; traits we love, behaviors we try to correct and we may even like some more than others.  But I have never seen a horse that loves and loves to be loved by just one person like this horse. I am not talking about leaning into a good scratching or nuzzling up I am talking about devotion shown directly towards one human being.

Twooeys engine is huge! He can go and go and go, and just when you thought he was done, he would go some more.  When we sent him off to roping camp I warned the trainer about the size of this horses engine. It was big! Two weeks in, after checking in with the trainer it was confirmed just how big this horses motor was by him stating he almost gave up. But then like a light switch Twooey started to give, and just like that, everyday he learned more, became faster and stronger, and calmer all at the same time. Twooey finally had himself a bonafide job.

When we went to see him the first time is when I noticed Tooweys love starting to show.  As we walked towards the arena his head hung low, he sat still not a muscle twitching (unusual for him) and then he heard Jake’s voice. The boy who brushed him everyday, rode him in countless circles, walked him in the back and talked to him on the way back towards the paddock.  Tooweys head popped up, ears twitched forward and a loud whinny echoed across the arena.  As Jake approached Toowey could barely contain himself, scooting from side to side, licking his lips, quivering his lower lip.  Jake slowly reached out, placing his hand on Tooweys face and neck, slowly stroking him, whispering; hey buddy I’m here.  The horse stopped moving, dropped his head and leaned into my son.  A heavy sigh released, an eye softened and for a moment all was right in this animals world.

It broke my heart to leave him that night, as we drove back I could tell Jake missed his new buddy as well. Two weeks later when we picked him up, I have never seen a horse jump into a trailer so fast, ready for the long ride home, ready to be back with his rider.

Since that time it has been non stop practices and one official rodeo. There have been little successes here and there as far a this young boys roping goes, but no matter what happens or how it ends each afternoon after leaving it all in the arena; no matter how upset this boy becomes with himself or his performance his horse is there, always leaning into him, sighing heavy, lip quivering, happy to be his partner, his friend.

To have that kind of friendship with an animal as a young boy fighting the throes of testosterone coursing through his veins, competition, hard work and the sting of failure is priceless.

It appears as though the boy didn’t just need the horse, but the horse needed a boy. Some matches we just don’t understand, like a 5 dollar horse who unknowingly needed a home, a job and a frustrated boy who unknowingly needed a new partner and a friend. I believe the lord works in mysterious ways…

10173565_10203892468536547_6650411374466403385_n

*Cutting is an equestrian event in the western riding style where a horse and rider are judged on their ability to separate a single animal away from a cattle herd and keep it away for a short period of time.

*Team roping also known as heading and heeling is a rodeo event that features a steer (typically a Corriente) and two mounted riders. The first roper is referred to as the “header,” the person who ropes the front of the steer, usually around the horns, but it is also legal for the rope to go around the neck, or go around one horn and the nose resulting in what they call a “half head.” Once the steer is caught by one of the three legal head catches, the header must dally ( wrap the rope around the rubber covered saddle horn)and use his horse to turn the steer to the left. the second is the “heeler,” who ropes the steer by its hind feet after the “header” has turned the steer, with a five second penalty assessed to the end time if only one leg is caught. Team roping is the only rodeo event where men and women compete equally together in professionally sanctioned competition, in both single-gender or mixed-gender teams.[1]

When did I become the “old guy”

fire 13

Silence interrupted by deafening sounds created within a brain refusing to disengage from endless chatter bleeding forth through a radio stationed not far from where my head lays motionless. A county never sleeps, fire departments responding here, rushing there, fellow brothers and sisters not even being afforded the very moment my stupid brain will not allow me to enjoy. Head filled with echo’s of each and every call they’re responding too, returning from or currently enveloped. Where is my family? Are they home yet? Which district boundary are they traveling through? Or have they nestled peacefully into bed? Whose family is wondering the very same thing without the same general knowledge my ears are so privy too at this very moment? It is my curse, my sleepless, frustrating, torturous curse.

Then it happens, as it has thousands of times during my 19 years of service, the warble tones scream, letting everyone know to cease radio traffic for another 911 call is being dispatched, you wait and wonder? Will it be our tones? Is it our turn? And then our tones ring, forceful and true, setting off a chain of events that could only be described as a technological ballet. A printer springs to life, chattering away, printing the story of our impending response; a light shines brightly inside each and every room of this glorified 6 car garage/hotel, awakening us, blinding us from darkness in conjunction with a horrifying bell whose sound is remnant of electricity coursing through your veins. Doors open, computer screens spring to life and it all crescendos with us, moving from the dead to the undead or in my case no man’s land, the neutral zone, or as some would say; a grey area of lifelessness. Yes we all begin to move, from those who actually are blessed with an ability to sleep at the drop of a hat to station zombies such as myself. We move, swagger, stagger, stumble and charge forth like an attack straight from “the living dead”.

Meet at the map board, wipe the sleep from your eyes, then identify a map page, cross street, address number, a house, business, parking lot, freeway, intersection, country residence. How do I get there, which way is fastest, what type of call is this? Is it a medical aid, structure fire, vegetation fire, vehicle accident, mutual aid, automatic aid, haz-mat, or a public assist? Is this another call we will see in our dreams for years to come, will we return home feeling accomplished as our training has once again paid forth with huge dividends or will we laugh at some absurdity only humanity or the human spirit can bring during a ride home?

Through the final door, at the rig, is everyone here, what gear are we donning, is everyone seated, are seatbelts in place, have I unplugged the shore lines, opened the bay doors, started the engine so Cap (the captain) can get on the radio? So many boxes to check off a list wedged inside my head.

Making a right turn onto the main thoroughfare, I grab a glimpse of the two seated directly behind Cap and I. They look like kids. It’s hard for me to believe this time has passed, I am no longer the fresh-faced lad; heart racing before each call, nervous to ask questions, pie eyed wondering what will await us upon arrival. They look so young, so damn young and yet even though I joke about my age on a regular basis (I am only 48), in reality I am not that old; I do not feel old in any way shape or form. Yet here we are inside this Engine, I seated in the engineers position and one of my closest friends now my boss seated to my right wearing the “red hat” or Captains helmet. WE are no longer the long-term future of this department, the up and comers buried in classes, spending thousands of hours and dollars obtaining every certification we can load into a leather binder for future uses. WE instead are now this department’s core, the steady, the constant, dare I say it? (Swallowing hard) The old guys…

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My graduating academy class 1995

In what feels like a millisecond I went from riding backwards to driving, from taking classes to teaching classes, from becoming an Engineer to an Acting Captain. Some days I am considered middle ground between Cap and crew other days I am the Captain with those around me looking for direction and advice. Are you kidding me? When did all this happen? What myriad of events led to someone handing me a red hat and saying today this crew is yours? What person ever thought of placing me behind the wheel of a 44,000 pound rig, then running it code three (lights and sirens) through the busy streets of town unabated? It is lunacy I tell you, pure lunacy!

I talk with college kids, fire academy kids, our new kids, probationary, first year and second year firefighters too. They all look so fresh-faced, innocent, not damaged by what is to come. They all retain the very same attitude we had, the same attitude those who came before us had, and the same attitude all that will ever pass through these hallowed halls after us will have. One of ignorant bravery, one of unabashed cockiness, an attitude that says I am here to help, to learn and nothing will ever hurt me. How little do they know, for no matter how much you inspire, mold, guide or lead “it” (that attitude) will be with them until one defining moment in time forces them into change.

It is the same for us “old guys” we see it in each other’s eyes, feel it through our words, and absorb it through a hug, a hand shake, a nod, a bad joke, a look. It comes with time on the job, experiences that for some may seem the same but in reality each and every experience in this line of work is dependent on the job. Each wrinkle upon our faces has been earned, each grey hair grown from the memory of something we’d rather forget. Eyes once steeled, are now softer, kinder a tad more gentle. We can’t talk about some portions of the job with anyone else but our peers. They are the only ones who understand and where a young one will sit and listen to tales with dreams of someday having stories of their own, us old guys hope they do create stories of their own, yet secretly hope in the same breath some of those stories never come true.

The young guys are loud and brash, quick to jump on a topic, any topic and beat it up with theory, formulas and standard operating procedures. Watching them from a distance I can only chuckle as they work out their problems and only through the rationale of an old guy are shown an easier, faster, less labor intensive way of completing the very same job. The young ones, smash and break things to reach their goal, the old ones walk gently, using a “try before they pry” philosophy. The young ones talk loudly, while drilling each other for knowledge, the old ones walk softly and speak only when needed. The young ones let everyone know when they are promoted things will change. The old ones let anyone who asks know; when they retire things will most certainly change.

The fire service is a young man’s game there is no doubt, but you need the wisdom of the old guys to not kill yourself participating in such a wonderful career. Creating memories of your own is important, good bad or otherwise but developing a bond with these people, this second family, well that’s what lasts a lifetime. I love these guys, would do anything for them, passing on that aspect of the fire service is every bit as important as how we do the job.

I don’t know where I am going with all this, it just seemed odd to me as another night passed, another round of service calls were answered and as I looked into the baby-faced gleaming eyes of those young firefighters surrounding me. That I in fact had transitioned from a young guy to one of the very guys we looked up to 20 years ago and now these kids are now looking up to me. WTF!

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I hope, no I pray I can do a good job filling those boots.

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48- How did that happen..

James Franceschi (AKA- Betty)

Born August 19, 1966

Chosen Profession (note I said “chosen”) Firefighter

Dream profession Writer

Betty is now 48 years old.

That is right 48 years walking this spherical hunk of rock, dirt, sand and water! 45 of them I didn’t even know I was a Betty! Pretty strange huh?

30 of them spent learning and trying to understand the world. 18 of them raising children, doing my best to be a father with no guidebook to help. 19 of them as a firefighter dealing with the very worst of someone’s day on a regular basis. 10 of them spent behind the wheel of a semi truck crossing the highways of these western United States. 8 of them (because that’s the farthest back I can remember my brain acting this way) praying to be able to shut my brain off with no real success…

So what’s a guy to do now that he is 48?

I have decided to make a list of things to accomplish before I am 50 years old. The half century mark, gateway towards my “golden” years, the beginning to a silver lining covering my head and beard, doorstep to AARP, Social Security, and the old folks home.  Thank goodness for Dentu-grip, Efferdent, Ben-Gay and the Clapper! Bring forward the oatmeal cause Wilford Brimley said so, find me a no slip tub and time to obtain a reverse mortgage right after purchasing my Life Alert so when I have fallen some one can get me up! Anyone have the number for a Lark distributor because according to my co-workers I will be in need of one very soon.

Anyways I am a list maker. If it is not written down it was never said, implied, intended or goal driven to completion. Therefore a list of awe-inspiring, door stopping, jaw dropping exploits shall ensue. (ok not really but here’s the list anyways)

  1. Jump from a perfectly good airplane. Been a motto my whole life, why would anyone wish to do such a thing. Well time to conquer my fear of dying and just do it.
  2. Climb to the top of Half Dome. I made it all the way to the base, started up and had to come back down because we were sliding so badly on the granite, my ten-year old son was terrified, so I gently coaxed him back to the bottom where we patiently waited for the remainder of the group. I must stand at the top and survey all before me.
  3. Score a 72 on a cutting horse. Unless you have ridden a cutting horse or are a fan of cutting horses, you will not understand just how important this really is to me.
  4. Finally quit putting everything aside for everybody else and purchase a jeep. I have wanted one for well over ten years and every time I get close we find something else we need, or something breaks, or I need to use the truck replacement fund plus money set aside for this all terrain, topless wonder to repair, replace or re-use something else. I quit riding motorcycles, sold my bass boat and it is has become a personal quest I must complete for me. Its selfish, but I don’t care, after all I am almost 50.
  5. Run the Tough Mudder with my son. My wife and I competed in one and completed it, Cody was to young and I made a promise we would do one together. I need to not let that promise go by the wayside and follow through.
  6. Write a book. I have several avenues to work on, I just need to quit making excuses as to why I can’t, and start focusing on how I can.
  7. Go hiking more. It’s not a big one, but our country is beautiful and it just can not be seen from the windshield of your car.
  8. Ride my mountain bike more.  Now I know this also isn’t a big one, but according to statistics, my ability to do so shall dissolve within three to five years. (hence the need for a Lark)
  9. Zip line over a forest canopy. Once again fear of things out of my control.
  10. Lose thirty pounds! I am overweight again and it seriously is affecting me both physically and mentally. If only I could just put down the fork at dessert time!

Bonus listing: Learn to forgive myself. Not sure the next 50 years will be any fun until I figure out how to do that one little thing.

So there is ten things for me to work on.  I am sure other goals will be set and a few of those will be destroyed, but they are written down and if history has anything to do with it, when ever I write something down, nine times out of ten I complete them.

What kind of lists have you written, are there any goals you aspire to complete?

Wish me luck only 728 days to go….

 

Dont tell me I should be happy!

Ok so here it is, 5 days since my boy headed off to college and now I am seeing on Facebook and hearing through conversation there are hoards of children cleaning out their rooms, packing up boxes, loading up trucks, trains, planes and automobiles, all to adorn the entryways of higher learning.

Since my boy left early to attend a freshman backpacking trip (super idea), my personal experience with watching our son vanish in the rear view mirror gave me a bit of a leg up in the separation anxiety arena and the raw emotions associated.

None of which I was prepared for in the least! It pretty much has gone something like this over the last several days.

  • Cried at the thought of him never really “living” here anymore
  • Cried at my burnt toast
  • Cried at the sight of the dog licking its ass
  • Cried over feeding the fish
  • Cried because the coffee I was drinking was the same as his
  • Cried when I looked into his room (oh wait that was because I was going to have to clean it)
  • Cried at the prospect of dying alone (whoops an unrelated topic, sorry)
  • Sniveled at the thought of mowing the lawn

Went to bed, woke up the next morning (yes that was the first day)

  • Cried at the thought of crying
  • recited over and over again: I am so sad, why am I so sad?
  • Transferred money into his checking account (you guessed it cried again)
  • Cried while cleaning his room (not out of sadness but disgust! It was really gross!)
  • Cried because I couldn’t remember just how in-depth our “sex talks” were? Lord knows we can’t afford to be grandparents quite yet or have him come home and ask if that “thing” looks like a rash!
  • Heavy sigh over whether or not he will take care of himself. Yet with the food plan we purchased he better come home a little chubby! (secret note-he can eat all the cereal he wants when he wants it at no extra cost! Uh SCORE!!!!)
  • Cried just to cry, hey its my emotional breakdown I can do what I want!

Seriously though, it has been an adjustment and although there have been some wonderful, caring responses to my irrational dilemma there is definitely one thing I have learned through this entire process.

Dont tell someone who is grieving over their kid going to college to; Be Happy!

Note I said grieving.  You see I have come to this conclusion after several days of watching Cody “ghosts” walking around our property. We parents who are sending our first born out into the world are in fact grieving.

Grieving or to grieve: 

grieve verb \ˈgrēv\
: to cause (someone) to feel sad or unhappy

: to feel or show grief or sadness

Yeah that second definition fits pretty well!

So when a parent says: it’s just so empty without little Jonny at home. or I see little Jonny around every corner in our house or I feel like a part of me is missing without my son at home.

Responding condescendingly: Well aren’t you happy for them? I mean this is what you worked all those years for isn’t it? Is in no way the proper response.

Yes I am incredibly happy for them, ecstatic,, euphoric, jubilant, seriously over the moon! But that is not the point!

I am sorry if your plan was to have kids and ship them off the very moment they turned 18. Got your little tax deduction all those years and now OH BOY I see a new office in the house or that bar/game room the wife and I have always wanted! Well that wasnt me, it was never me. I had children because I wanted children. To be a part of their lives, invest in everything they do, watch with pride when they succeed and coach them when they fail. I had children hoping to leave a better legacy than before and something strange happened along the way. I fell in love with them first, parented them second and after they grew, became their friend.

My son means everything to me, I am incredibly proud of all he has accomplished, I know for a fact he will succeed at what ever he applies himself too.  But he is still a part of me, he is still a face I look forward to seeing every single day. A smile and laugh that can erase even the harshest of days from burdened shoulders. I can’t turn back time and say yes to hunting trips when I had to say no, I can’t turn back time to sit a while longer in his room chatting about everything and nothing at all, I can’t turn back time and laugh while he annihilates me at Halo, I can’t do anything, but sit in his empty room, listen for a voice that’s not there, wonder how he is doing at that very moment and if it’s all he ever dreamed it would be.  The sadness is not for him, the sadness is for me…

The only thing I can do is have a sense of humor and faith.

So as you run into these “newbies” yeah that’s right 5 days puts me in veteran status y’all! Tell them you understand, listen with compassion, feel their pain, and let them know you are there to talk if need be.  Because they just shipped a human being that took 18 years of hard work, molding, love, dedication, devotion, grey hair, and lots of tears out into this world.

Turn on the news if that thought doesnt scare even a childless couple I don’t know what will..

Alright, enough sniveling. Be happy everyone!!!

 

 

Thank you….

 

Today my heart is a tad heavy as I process two individuals that meant something to separate portions of my life. To help explain I am going to do something I don’t normally do; jump on the media bandwagon for one.  Then I will tell a tale of overwhelming gratefulness towards the other.

#1

Yesterday as we all know by now (if you were unaware I apologize for breaking it to you this way) Mr. Robin Williams ended his constant struggle with depression, taking his own life inside his home near San Francisco California.

Now for some this may mean nothing and judging by the overwhelming reaction through social media it is devastating to say the least for most.

I was first introduced to Robin Williams as a teenager of 13. His character introduced through Happy Days, then his own show Mork and Mindy was brilliant.  I could not wait to watch him, to sit with my family as we all of laughed to his crazy antics. He made Thursday nights one of the most popular nights in our house and the ability to watch his show a driving force in completing homework, chores or what ever else my mother could use as leverage.

Something most people don’t know is Robin Williams made me want to become a stand up comedian. I would practice jokes in the bathroom, jokes to our horses, jokes to a tree if I could.  For those who remember, he was the reason I practiced impressions of people or cartoons or who ever I felt I could impersonate. I laid in bed dreaming of standing on stage, being crazy and giving people the gift of laughter. In groups of friends he is the sole reason I learned to tell a good tale, just to make you laugh. Alas, I am not that funny, it wasnt my calling, fear plagued me from performing and I would only cautiously do impersonations if I knew you and felt comfortable enough to do so.

Fast forward 7 years.

I was lucky enough to meet mister Williams at the Sonoma Mission Inn one evening over a dinner being hosted by some notable people.  He was kind, friendly and as always genuinely funny.  Working there I met plenty of celebrities and most were arrogant, full of themselves and came across as though they were special.  Not Mr. Williams. In one evening over a few hours Mr. Williams showed he was an everyday guy with an incredible gift. To make people laugh.

Today

Yesterday when I heard the news it hit me in the stomach, like losing a war hero, an astronaut, someone we ALL have come to idolize in one way or another. Yes he wasnt a personal friend or family member, but for some reason he feels like one.  Like a long-lost relative you knew about, heard about but never saw.  I have him to thank for bringing me out of my shell as a child, something I am sure he has done for countless individuals.  So many people (myself included) wish we could be that crazy, wish we could make people laugh with such power, such animation, such free-spirited will! I know I do.

The world has lost a wonderful, innovative, amazingly funny human being. There is no one person of his caliber to follow in those shoes. For that I am sad…. For that the country shall mourn.  May the heavens glow under this mans light.

#2

His name: Roger “Deets” Winslow

Many of you have never heard of Roger “Deets” Winslow or Deets as we all knew him.  I found out last night the Napa county sheriffs office was searching for his body at the bottom of Lake Berryessa following some type of boating accident.

Now I could give you all the very same stories that most who knew him are expounding at this very moment, (awesome dad, super great coach, best of friends, etc..) but I wont. The reason I am struggling with the news of what appears to be his passing is quite simple.

I never was able to say thank you..

Once again through life spinning at a hundred miles an hour, turning in multiple directions, and never making it a priority. Quite simply I never was able to say thank you.  High school was struggle for me as I have explained on numerous occasions.  There were three individuals that saved me. Two saved me my sophomore year, and one saved me my junior year. What did they save me from? Myself.

Kurt Hornaday (rest in peace buddy) and Deets Winslow.

These two men saw a kid who wasnt doing well, couldn’t stand up for himself, had a mouth the size of texas, and took him (me) under their wings.  They both introduced me to wrestling, they both took the time to become friends with a underclassmen, and they both helped guide me through my junior year; while letting me continue to write checks with my mouth that couldn’t be cashed, then teaching me (through friendship) how to right those wrongs.

The third person was Deets dad-Mr. Roger Winslow.  I joined the wrestling team my junior year because of Kurt and Deets, Roger was the coach. I know he wanted to boot me from the team, I was weak, not fast, had no real comprehension when it came to drills, but he kept me, pushed me, and made me believe I could be better than I was every single practice.  I only won a single JV match that entire year, but coach Winslow made me feel as though I had won the championship.  He still resonates within me to this day and his coaching abilities/skills are why I became a coach and why the kids I have coached have had such a great time.

Deets and Kurt were friends, they were mentors, they were honest wonderful side by side buddies that would do anything for you at the drop of a hat.  My senior year I struggled without their presence.  Dont get me wrong I was surrounded by awesome people, spectacular friends who put up with me besides myself, but without that straight and honest advice whenever I felt I was straying or doing wrong, that year emotionally and physically (I hurt my knee pretty bad, the first few weeks of wrestling practice and just never came back) I was lost.

I never was able to thank Deets, I don’t think he even knew the impact he and Kurt had on my young messy life.  I was never able to thank Kurt either and found out about his passing through a dear friend.  I once again have procrastinated way to long…

Rest in peace my friend.  May your family find some comfort through the lives you touched..

So there it is, I apologize for it being a bit messy, with a few run on sentences and goofy content. The main point is this; Dont procrastinate, tell those who are important to you, that helped you get to where you are; Thank you.  They don’t do it for the recognition, they do it because they were raised right, held empathy in their hearts and cared about passing those feelings on to others.

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It is your time….

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Fear resides as the devils left hand while hope lies within the depths of the right.

As a young man I would lay in bed wondering what would become of my life. Not just the normal glossary topics such as marriage, children etc.. But what would BECOME of my presence here on earth, both in the present and long after I am gone. There has always been a yearning to become more, a feeling as though there is more for me to accomplish, left gazing to the heavens wondering what more could be out there and hoping that one day all would reveal itself to me. You see fear has always kept me from being exceptional at anything and hope has continued to keep those dreams alive through wild daydreaming and at times pointless planning. But in the end my inability to control my fears have left me with nothing more than hope and for that an empty feeling deep within my soul remains.

As we enter the final days until Cody leaves for college, it has occurred to me this conversation has never taken place between the two of us. Is he prepared to strike out on his own? Does he have a true vision of what his life will become, where he is headed, and if he has a plan? Or does he even need one?

Do his daydreams have meaning, has anyone ever told him they are part of the fabric for which his inspiration will evolve. When we are young we should be encouraged to follow those dreams to strike out on our own, throw caution to the wind, find out who we are by testing the very mettle molded by our parents and the experiences held up to this point.

As a child I was constantly warned that daydreaming was a complete waste of time. But it was where I went, or could go to be whatever I wanted to be at any moment. As a child I was also terrified to daydream out of fear of punishment, chastised for the very waste of time others felt my mental trips to be. As an adult I believe daydreaming, contemplation, to meditate is the mystical treasure map of our lives. Where do we want to be? What do we want to become? It’s all right there, trapped within our magnificent, organic, computers (the brain). Stare into the distance; let your mind take over and what do you see? Are you on a beach in Tahiti or piloting an aircraft? Can you feel the warmth between your toes as you stroll across a cobblestone path or are you closing big deals in the heart of New York’s financial district? Can you hear the applause of a packed theatre as your performance brings down the house or the cold sting of a winter’s night as you walk carefully up the side of a car you just pulled over for speeding, no back up, alone? Does a fire engine race by as you gaze into the unknown whilst its sirens leave you with chills, or do you feel empathy and an inner strength as though you could perform that very job? Can you smell the dirt roads of an impoverished country and see yourself guiding those in need or walking across an unknown landscape with no destination in sight until you unknowingly stumble across a new challenge, or fortune.

Do you see yourself doing GREAT THINGS!

There is an old adage that our parents told us as youngsters; when you grow up you live in a country that will allow you to be whatever you choose to be. Personally I prefer: There is nothing you can’t do once you put your mind to it. But my personal favorite is: if you can dream it, you can be it.

So to my son, his friends, every boy and girl heading out into the world I say; this is your time! This is when you take a moderate amount of responsibility and huge dose of dreams and find out who you are, what you are, how much you really like yourself, then squish it all together and become whatever you want to be too this world! Yes! It won’t be perfect! Yes it will be messy at times and involve meeting new people, understanding those you have nothing in common with and occasionally like a sculpture in the works need a little molding from time to time. Yes you will leave behind people you care about as well as those you don’t, but have learned something from just the same. Yes! It will take work, hard work, so hard at times you will feel like quitting but you won’t because you have a dream. Leave a legacy, a mark, have a moment in time that will forever be yours and remember to never, ever quit daydreaming.

To every adult out there who reads my blog. I have never stopped daydreaming, but I have allowed my inability to control fear keep me from accomplishing my dreams. Hopefully life, burdened with all its responsibilities has not left you stunted in the same fashion, unable to dream big, achieve those dreams then close your eyes and smile wide; for now that you have done your job as a parent; it is “your time” as well.

Dream big, open your eyes and see what happens when you push fear aside….

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