Got it Right. . .

I guess this is a continuation of my last two trips to the keyboard.

I probably need more than the month or six weeks I have spent with this gal still labeled as Wine Time, but I think the title applies.  I got it right this time. She will be known as Nuthin2Mow as soon as I can get my act together and make the change.  You gotta do that right or bad luck can prevail.

Why do I think I got it right?

Not because the sale of the old place and the purchase of Nuthin2Mow went as smooth as anyone can expect those things to go; although that did give me a warm fuzzy feeling that I had made a good decision.

Not because the first trip out of the slip was a huge success; let me share a little of that with you.

Included in the purchase agreement was a training run with the previous owners.  I decided I didn’t need their help; all I needed was a willing “first mate”.  I happen to know one; she has the same amount of houseboat experience as me.  Next trip will be our second, if I can get her back onboard.  We got the thing started, untied and eased back out of the slip just like we knew what we were doing.  The captain (me) had a little trouble getting it to turn starboard (that’s right for you non mariners) but we kind of backed it away from the dock; I don’t think anyone was watching.

It is about a half mile or so through a reasonably narrow cove from the marina to open water; we just kept her pointed north and cruised right on out past the mouth of the cove, lookin good.  The plan was to get out where we couldn’t hit anything or heaven forbid anyone and figure out how to maneuver this twin engine thing. I thought it would be about like a Zero Turn lawnmower, I still think it will be. Following the couple minutes it would take me to become efficient at that we planned just a short shakedown cruise.

We made our way up to the fly bridge; great view from up there.  I played with the throttles and gearshifts and turned left or port if you prefer like a pro, then I tried the other way. Things went to hell in the proverbial handbasket.  The big ole steering wheel up top wasn’t turning anything, just spinning.  The starboard engine wouldn’t go into reverse, and just to complicate things a little more we lost forward and reverse on the port engine.  From the fly bridge we could go in a big lazy circle.

We went back down to the main cabin.  We now had a functioning steering wheel and one engine in forward gear; we managed to get her turned about and pointed in the general direction of the marina.  About half way there when it appeared we would make it back, Patty asked what I was going to do when we got there.  My response made her feel real comfortable; I calmly said “I don’t have a clue, we’ll figure something out”.  With a lot of assistance from the Evergreen (marina) crew we docked it emptied the waste holding tank filled the fuel tanks and got it safely tucked away in the slip.

I think we figured out what all the problems are and the parts to fix it are on a brown truck headed this way.  If you happen to be diving in about 60 feet of water just outside Evergreen cove and find a big old propeller, it is probably mine, we lost one there.

Not because some good friends and relatives have stopped by for a tour and a visit or because if have made some new friends; although those things certainly contribute to the title.

Not because it is easy to step off Nuthin2Mow, step on the pontoon and go fish, go to the beach or just cruise around the lake; again a contributor but not the real reason.

I think I got it right because for the first time in a VERY long time I spent four consecutive nights there, really didn’t want to come home and plan to go back real soon.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Was Never On My Bucket List. . .

Over the years I have probably spent almost as much time trying to think of a title for my posts as I have spent actually writing the things.  The opposite is true for this one, I thought of too many appropriate titles.  I had to use an elimination process and finally just went with the bucket list reference.  Some that made the short list are: Crazy Old Man.  You Bought a What?   Welcome Aboard.

The last time I was here I almost wrote a boring novel about the years up the hill from the Crazy Woman Campground.  I promise this one will be much shorter, no promises on the boring part.

Allow me to introduce the new lady in my life, her name is Wine-Time, her home port is Evergreen Marina at Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma. I don’t anticipate a port change however I think a name change will occur in the very near future.

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You see why I had trouble deciding on a title.  It was never on my bucket list but the crazy old man bought a houseboat.  If your travels take you to Evergreen Marina you are welcome aboard Wine-Time or whatever her new name might be, right now the lean is toward Nuthin2Mow.

This wasn’t just an impulsive move like I have been known to do, I thought about it almost a full day before I made the purchase.  It just seemed like the thing to do at the time; so I did it.

This picture is of my front yard on a busy Saturday afternoon.

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This one is of the backyard on a lazy Sunday morning.

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I don’t think I need to mow the front or back.

For those of you interested in such things.  It is a 1985 Gibson 36’ x 12′ with twin four cylinder Volvos. It is supposed to sleep six; 2 adults and some kids maybe.  Six adults, I don’t think so even if you are very good friends and no one the least bit modest.

She will spend most of her time in the slip, with an occasional venture around the Gentle Giant.  So far the relationship has been harmonious and I am very excited about my new home away from home.

Drop by for the 10 minute tour, a cold drink and some conversation if you make it to Evergreen.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Turn Right At The Crazy Woman Campground

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About 26 years ago some friends invited us to visit their lake place and gave us the typical left turn / right turn directions using a few highway signs and a lot of landmarks. The final landmark prior to arriving at their place was a hard right turn at the Crazy Woman Campground.

Making that right turn soon became a frequent and routine part of our life. We were looking for a getaway place at the lake and the mobile home park just past that right turn at Crazy Woman seemed to fit our budget and provide what we had in mind.

A few days ago as I made the left turn (turn right going you gotta turn left when you come back) and headed for the highway and home I paused a little longer than normal in front of the Crazy Woman (I actually stopped at that stop sign, maybe a first.) and reflected on twenty six years of memories.  Most of them very good memories; if it is OK I will share a few.

The Crazy Woman Campground was a unique little place consisting of a small convenience store with gasoline, beer, bait, tackle and enough groceries to get you through the weekend if you wasn’t too picky and didn’t check “use by” dates. The other end of the building was a bar complete with a pool table and a couple card tables. They also had about a half dozen mobile home or travel trailer spaces, after all it was a campground.

Bob and Judy were the proprietors at Crazy Woman, they were newcomers to Haskell County, I think they were from Oregon via Wyoming but they adapted well to the Eastern Oklahoma lifestyle.  We always ran a tab while we were there and paid our bill when we started home.  When Cale and Conner were about three the highlight of a lake trip was going to Bob’s, loading up on candy and putting it on Paw Paw’s bill.

About 10 or 15 years ago the EPA took away the gas pumps (grass still doesn’t grow there), bread, milk, beer and ice sales dwindled forcing the store to close, leaving the bar.  I think a combination of poor sales and declining health forced them to close the bar.  About a year ago those health issues forced Bob and Judy to go back out west to be near their children.  To Bob and Judy: we enjoyed having you in Haskell County and you did the Crazy Woman Campground proud.

I have so many memories of fun times with family and friends, especially during the first 20 years of those right turns, I could probably write a book instead of a blog if I shared all of them.  I have neither the skill nor desire to write a book so I will try to generalize, touch a few highpoints then share a few pictures.

Sharyl and I didn’t have these wonderful things called grandkids when we started making those right turns, there were only two grandkids in our social group, a baby girl and her cute little blond headed brother named Brock.

I have to share a quick (I hope) Brock story.  He loved to fish with his PaPa; after a morning of having absolutely no luck, nothing biting, we’ve all been there, Brock analyzed the situation and identified the problem.  He told his PaPa he needed a new hork (cork), if his hork would just go under like it was supposed to he would surely catch a fish.

As an adult Brock is a proud United States Marine, he has defended freedom around the world for several years.  He has a darling little girl of his own, I hope they find time to fish and I hope he gets her a better hork than his PaPa got him.

We were fortunate, over the years, we had good horks and caught a lot of fish.  A few times each summer we would pool our resources and have a fish fry.  Sometimes we would cook for 50 or 60 people, other times maybe just three or four couples.  I think I liked the whole bunch of folks kind better.  I was usually in charge of cooking the fish and hush puppies.  Everyone would start eating long before I finished cooking, some of the sympathetic ones would feel sorry for me because I wasn’t eating.  I’ll just say it would take a special kind of stupid to cook that much fish and be hungry.  You have to sample enough to know you are putting a quality product on the table.

Dava was in high school and Lori in college when we started the Crazy Woman run.  The early years (pre wakeboard) we did the water ski, tube, kneeboard routine.  Some of the guys learned to barefoot and were pretty talented on the old standup jet skis.  I don’t think I was ever athletic enough to barefoot, I’m sure Sharyl could have, but given the opportunity as a young man I think I could have given them a run for their money on the Jet Ski.

Sharyl and I became grandparents in ’91.  Grandkids are fun anywhere but they are real fun at the lake.  Lori and Steve made that right turn a few times a year when the kids were small.  As the kids got older, baseball and life reduced the frequency of their lake trips. Often the kids would go with Sharyl and I, those times were good because we didn’t have that parental interference.  What happened at the lake stayed at the lake.

Dava and Rick on the other hand are Lake People, they bought a boat then a marriage license.  They bunked up with us for a couple years, then bought the place across the street.  I think Braxton was four weeks old the first time he got to hang out on the beach, Luke was born in the middle of winter so he had to wait a while.  The guys did a lot of sleep overs at our house and Maw Maw made a lot of cinnamon toast; a breakfast favorite at the lake. Just last week I found her special mix cinnamon/sugar shaker tucked away in a corner of the cabinet; yes I dumped it.

I fished a little with all the grands.  Rylie was the best fishing partner of the bunch.  Cale and Conner argued continually about who caught the biggest or the most fish, they just couldn’t relax and fish.  Braxton and Luke had fun part of the time but Rylie would just fish like an old pro.  I thoroughly enjoyed fishing with all of them and hope to have more of those days.

About fifteen years ago we added a Wave Runner (Jet Ski) to our little fleet.  We thought the grand kids would enjoy it, believe that if you will, we bought the thing for us.  I thought the speedometer was wrong on the thing, there is no way I was doing 50 mph.  We decided to just run it and the bass boat side by side about 30 mph or so just to verify the speedometer.  Sharyl was always pretty competitive and you give me a steering wheel and an internal combustion engine I will do anything in my power to beat you to the other end.  That little 30 mph speedo test turned into a full bore dead heat race to the other end of Brooken Cove.  It was a slow day on the water; the only people at risk was us.

As with daily life, lake life changed over the years.  We continued to make that right turn at Crazy Woman but we busted the budget and upgraded a little bit in ’94 and again in’08. The last upgrade left us with a pretty good second hand double wide with a huge deck and a heck of a view and about an acre or two of gentle slope down to the water to mow.

As Lori’s kids got older, their lake time decreased as life seemed to interfere.  About four years ago Dava and Rick quit making that right turn at Crazy Woman, they are still Eufaula lake rats, just changed home ports.

Some of the old friends that helped make those memories still make the right turn at Crazy Woman, it just seems that we don’t show up at the same time very often.

The past three years I have spent an awfully lot of time up on the hill past Crazy Woman alone.  It has been a favorite writing venue for me, I am doing this one from home.  I still enjoy a morning cup of coffee on the deck or a cold drink later in the day. That right turn doesn’t put the same smile on my face that it did when I was planning to cook fish for about 50 people.

You have probably guessed where I am going with this.  I have changed ports.  I think the new owners will smile when they make that right turn at Crazy Woman just like I did for many years.

If my reasons aren’t obvious and you would like to ask why; I could give you a real long answer, a long answer or a short answer.  Let’s go with the short answer: It was time.

I will introduce you to the new place, still at the same lake, in a few days or a few weeks.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Consider a donation to the Cancer research organization of your choice.

Good Night and God Bless.

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Dave

Take A Little Off the Top

They say the difference between a good haircut and a bad one is about two weeks: I will know in a few days.  More on that later.

To me, getting a haircut has always rated right up there with paying taxes and going to the dentist.  Not something I look forward to; just one of life’s little necessities.

I think women have always been a little smarter at the hair maintenance thing than their male counterparts. The longer hairstyle gives them more flexibility, no one really notices an extra inch or two of growth, and when it is time, they have always simply made an appointment and showed up at the scheduled time.

In today’s society the appointment thing is acceptable for men; hasn’t always been that way.  Back in the day an appointment with a hairdresser would have been grounds to have your man card taken away.  If you needed a haircut, by god, you went to the barbershop and waited your turn, even if you were there most of the day.

My earliest memories of barbershop visits were in the small community where I grew up.  The barber was my best friend’s dad.  He had a small shop and wasn’t very busy.  There was usually a card game of some kind in progress (surely they weren’t playing for money) and sometimes Booger, his name was John but everyone called him Booger, seemed upset that you interrupted the card game for a haircut.  You didn’t need to tell him what you had in mind, he only knew how to give one kind, whitewall the sides and take a little off the top.

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Then he would rub on a double handful of Fitch’s Rose Hair oil.  I think every barber in the free world used that stuff.  The smart customers wore a red shirt, you sure didn’t want to wear white.  On a hot summer day that stuff would soak a shirt, drip off your elbows and run all the way to your waist. In those days, haircuts were a quarter or fifty cents, most barbers had a second source of income, Booger made moonshine.  I never had the opportunity to sample his, but I understand his moonshine was better than his haircuts.

My teen years were during the heyday of the flattop, the ducktail on the sides was a popular option. During the early years of the flattop not many barbers could do one right, and they didn’t do appointments so you had to go sit and wait.  I either waited for Tom at the Cozy on West Main in Shawnee or for Herman at Hackett’s in Tecumseh, both those guys could do a flattop right.  By this time a regular cut was a buck and a flattop was a buck and a quarter.  While you waited at the Cozy a guy called Cinders would shine your shoes, I think he charged a quarter, he was as good at shining shoes as Tom was at giving flattops.

The late sixties and seventies saw much longer hairstyles and was not financially kind to the barber industry.  I think a lot of those guys wished they knew how to make moonshine.  It was also during this time that it became socially acceptable for a guy to make an appointment with a hairdresser.  The only thing Sharyl knew about flattops was that she didn’t like them, but with the longer hair she could take a little off the top and trim the sides.  She was my barber for several years and she rates in the top three or four that I have used.

About 1980 I found the perfect, for me, barber; his name was Doyle.  He made appointments and kept them.  I was always in the chair within 2 minutes of my appointment time, and after the first visit I didn’t need to tell him what to do.  Unlike most barbers, Doyle didn’t initiate a lot of conversation, he just cut hair.  It didn’t get any better than that, walk in sit down in his chair, exchange “how’s it goings” relax get my haircut the way I wanted it and walk out.  The whole thing took about fifteen minutes. I used Doyle for a few years.  Cancer took him much too soon. Rest in Peace Doyle, you were the best.

For a while, after Doyle, haircuts were kind of like dental visits if you need a root canal.  Hairstyles eliminated Sharyl or maybe she thought I was too picky.  I tried the wait your turn system again, I liked the barber and sometimes I got a good haircut.  The quality seemed directly proportionate to the intensity of the political, religious, or football discussion at the time. Bottom line, I couldn’t handle the sit and wait system.

I gambled and went to the phone book.  I found Linda.  She made appointments and kind of kept them, at least it beat the wait your turn system and I liked her haircuts.  We had enough common interests to support pleasant conversation during the 30 minute process.  After we moved to Norman I continued to drive to Tecumseh for haircuts.  I think I was more comfortable changing family doctors than changing barbers.  A landlord/tenant issue forced Linda to move her shop to Shawnee and me to find a barber in Norman.

I found a little shop close to our house, the owner and one other barber.  I have simplified my hairstyle, since what hasn’t turned loose has turned white, I wear what we call a short Caesar.  It is kind of hard to screw it up in fact I thought it was impossible to screw it up.  They do appointments but with my present lifestyle I don’t like to make them, I just check the parking lot and stop when they aren’t busy.  The owner cuts it occasionally but I usually use the other barber.  I have used Laura, Wendy, and now Brandi; I hope Brandi stays a long time I like her haircuts and we have enough common interests for pleasant conversation.

Paragraph one continued.

About 10 days ago I stuck my head in the door, Brandi had someone in her chair, she said give me a couple minutes.  I can wait that long, just as I was sitting in her chair a guy came in.  Brandi didn’t realize the time; he had an appointment.  Suzi (the owner) was doing a major overhaul on a lady. Between Brandi and Suzi was a third barber.  Suzi said “let her do Dave”, I was OK with that, and anyone can do a short Caesar, right?  The very young lady seemed a little nervous, I would tell you her name but she didn’t tell me, in fact she didn’t say anything.  I looked at her license but it wasn’t a license.  It was a permit, Suzi occasionally works with a vo-tech to give some kids a little practical experience.  I assumed they did this practical experience thing during the latter stages of the vo-tech course; I now believe they do it the first week or maybe the first day.

She was very nervous and completely unsure of herself.  I quickly became nervous and unsure of her abilities.  I kept my cool, we kept some lighthearted conversation going with the lady in Suzi’s chair and Brandi.  Suzi gave my barber a crash course in haircutting 101 and Suzi isn’t the most patient or diplomatic person I have encountered.

I left with a short Caesar, albeit a little shorter on one side than the other and we don’t usually do that 2 inch gash up high on the left side. I think this one is going to need more than two weeks before we can call it a good haircut.

Maybe I’ll make an appointment with Brandi next time or maybe I’ll just see how much she improved in four weeks.  I’m sure she is a sweet young lady and will make an excellent barber with a little more training and some experience.  I will ask Brandi, but I kind of suspect I may have been her first customer, and we all had to start somewhere.

Thanks for reading what I write.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

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Fifty years ago today Sharyl and I followed instructions and either repeated after Reverend Burns or said “I do” or “I will” at the appropriate times.  I don’t remember all the words; there were things like:  with this ring . . .  and do you Dave take Sharyl . . .  I do remember, very well, a small part of one of those “repeat after me” things; the part about “for better or worse, in sickness and in health until death do us part”.

We got a little taste of the worse shortly after he said I could kiss the bride.  The car wouldn’t start.

Some of our friends made sure the thing wouldn’t start so they could have a little old fashioned fun at our expense.  We did a little wheel barrow ride down Main Street and some other goofy stuff.  We managed to escape and get back to the car.  I looked under the hood, expecting to find the coil wire disconnected.  No, they opted to pull the coil wire and all eight spark plug wires out of the distributor.  Those eight plug wires each have a specific location in the distributor, it won’t run if they aren’t in the right place, I think there is 512 possible ways the things can go.  Like most young guys, I didn’t know as much as I thought I did, but I did know the firing order for a 394 cubic inch Oldsmobile.  It took about thirty seconds to get the thing to breathe a little fire and we roared off toward the future. Suddenly we had some of the better the preacher spoke of.

Over the next forty something years we continued to experience a mix of better and worse. Kind of like the spark plug deal, when it got worse if we just relaxed analyzed it and got the wires all back in the right place pretty soon it was better again.  We were fortunate and the better far exceeded the worse.

For 43 years we had some bouts with the sickness and health part of those vows and we thought we knew all about that.  In ’08 we got a crash course about “in sickness and in health”.  That day in 1965 we had no idea Reverend Burns might be talking about this thing called cancer. Cancer suddenly controlled our lives; it was the driving force behind every decision we made and everything we did.  Forty three or four years after I said “in sickness and in health” I fully understood its meaning and why it was an important part of those vows.

That brings me to the part about “until death do us part”.  Sometimes I still struggle with that one.  This is one of those times.

I love you babe, and still miss you every day.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

PS:  The title is the firing order for a ’61 Oldsmobile.

From the Sharks to the Falcons . . .

One spring evening in probably ’96 or’97 Sharyl and I made another trip from Tecumseh to Norman. This time we came to watch Cale and Conner play a little baseball; it was their introduction to team sports and the grand old game.  The venue was an open field, with a makeshift backstop, out behind Perfect Swing Fun Center, in a recreational Tball league that didn’t even keep score.  They played for the Sharks, and yes Conner kept score, even at that age he saw no reason to play the game if you didn’t keep score.  He said they got a one run win, no one argued.

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Last weekend I made another trip to, my home away from home, the great state of Kansas.  I went to watch Cale play a little baseball; he continues to pursue the grand old game.  The venues: a doubleheader at historic Lawrence-Dumont stadium in Wichita and a doubleheader at, not so historic, Dick Peters Sports Complex in Ottawa, Kansas.  He plays for the Friends University Falcons in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.  They keep score.  The Falcons won three and lost one.

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During the, almost twenty years between the Sharks and Falcons, I have seen a bunch of ball games, traveled a lot of miles, made a lot of memories i.e. baseball became a much bigger part of my life than I visualized that spring evening at Perfect Swing when we didn’t even keep score.

The memories from all those miles and games bounced around the old brain for much of the five or so hour drive home from Ottawa Saturday evening.  If it is okay I will share some of those thoughts.

Over the years I cheered for Sharks, Rays, Yankees, Red hawks, Predator, Timberwolves, Lions, Trojans, BJs, Mountaineers, Stars, Heat, Falcons and at least three others, I just don’t remember their names.  I do remember one of them wore these god awful multi-color hats that should only be worn by true red necks at a NASCAR race: those hats were so bad, I think, only two of the dads wanted one.  The team wasn’t quite as bad as the hats.

I addition to the various venues in Norman, Davis Field in OKC, that old complex in Del City and about half the high schools and Colleges across the state, I have watched the game in: Kansas City, Longmont, CO, Phoenix, AZ, Bradenton, FL, Grand Prairie, TX, Hanceville, AL, Clarendon, TX, Morgantown, W VA, Hutchinson, Liberal, Hayesville, Derby, Wellington, Wichita and Ottawa all in Kansas. I’m sure there are others.

During the pre high school years I would do almost anything to avoid going to the restroom at those little league parks; had to be real careful or you would be tagged “it” in a game of pee tag with some 8 year olds.  I think there is an unwritten rule that the first guy to arrive is supposed to stop up at least one commode and sometimes they only have one.  My worst bathroom award goes to Davis Field and it really isn’t close.

During the early years we always took a quilt for Rylie, she was about 3 or 4, one of the coaches had a darling little girl about two years old.  She was ALMOST potty trained, but she always and I mean always came untrained during the game and she always peed on Rylie’s quilt.  On a good day she would make it until the late innings.

May 3rd ’99 we were in the 4th inning of a close Tball game at Griffin Park here in Norman when the tornado warning sounded and the game was suddenly over.  Lori and I loaded the kids in the backseat and started to devise a plan to keep them safe.  A calm backseat would have made our tension filled task a little easier; nothing about that backseat resembled calm.  Conner was trying to convince himself and anyone who would listen that we had played enough innings to call it a complete game and give us the one run victory.  Cale was wailing because we had to leave before he got his post-game snacks and Rylie was just upset and really didn’t know why.  An hour later, the storm had passed, and we were safe but Conner was still seeking confirmation that we had won the game and Cale was still moaning about missing the snacks and, by now, Ry was probably just trying to get them to shut up.

A couple years later, still playing the recreation league at Griffin, our first base coach was a prominent Norman physician. One late afternoon game, he either made a call or received one on about 5 minute intervals; I think it was the bottom of the 2nd inning he got someone to replace him and he left in a bit of a hurry.  He came back in the fifth inning with the good news.  It’s a boy and mother and baby are doing fine.  He had driven the mile to Norman Regional, delivered the baby and made it back to coach first base the last inning.

We moved from Griffin to Reaves, started doing some travel ball and taking the game a lot more seriously.  We played with one bunch that had spent too much time around the softball parks.  They tried to bring those softball chants and cheers to the grand old game.  I just moved my chair out by the outfield and tried to ignore them.

They did national tournaments in Kansas City, Hutchinson and Longmont in ’03 ’04 and ’05.  Triple digit temperatures made Kansas City an endurance test, Hutchinson must have been kind of mediocre, because I really don’t remember anything other than we went.  Longmont was a fun trip, nothing major but overall just a good trip.  They never won a national title, but this post is about what happened outside the lines.

The next year they became Norman North Timberwolves.  Probably the best run we had with the Twolves was to Phoenix for a spring break trip in ’08.  We watched some very good high school baseball and took in a couple of major league spring training games.  Later that summer we made a good run to Bradenton, FL to watch Cale in some kind of an Under Armor all American deal.

Prior to the ’09 season, the game of baseball dropped way down our priority list as we had encountered this thing called cancer and were in a fight for life.  There were a few times on a good day we managed to find a parking place and watch a few innings from the car.  We even made it to Grand Prairie, TX for a couple games of the ’10 spring break tourney.

We realized how lucky we were all those other years when we just got in the car and went to the ballgame. I guess we kind of assumed it would always be that way.

The guys’ first college stop was with the Wallace State Lions in Hanceville Alabama.  Sharyl wanted to go see her guys play a little baseball.  That trip, was by far the most difficult, baseball trip I ever put together.  The first thing I had to do was buy an RV, then we did a little trial run, then I made a list and checked it 5 or 6 times and what ifed the thing to the ridiculous point.  In April of ’11 we made that trip; we planned to stay three days and watch three games.  We stayed one day and saw one game. Would I do it again?  In a heartbeat.

WE went to watch THEM play more times than I recall; I remember like it was yesterday the first time I went to watch HIM play.  It was three years ago, he was playing for the Trojans, had recovered from some arm problems and was finally going to take the mound. The game was in Clarendon, TX out by Amarillo.  I don’t know why I didn’t spend the night, I guess I just thought it wasn’t a problem to drive 5 hours watch a doubleheader and come home.  Honestly it took about all the emotional strength I had to go there and I probably just needed to come home.  That trip took more than a little RED Bull and peanuts.

I have adjusted and I am now emotionally comfortable going to watch him. I don’t go every time he plays but I try to make it when we know he is going to pitch.  Is it as fun as the days when WE went to watch THEM play?  Of course it isn’t, but I enjoy the game, he appreciates me being there and the quieter two of the old foursome get to spend a little quality time together.

If I had to pick my favorite game of all of them, I don’t need to give it much thought.  That Sharks’ game at Perfect Swing all those years ago.

Disclaimer:  I normally do a little research to verify what I have to say.  I believe this one is factual, but it is strictly as I remember it.  Kind of like the Blog title “Random Thoughts”

Sorry for the length of this one, Thanks for riding along.

Good Night and God Bless

Dave

See You Guys Next Year. . . Maybe

I started this about a week ago, kind of forgot about it.  I had one of those “sleep won’t come” nights tonight; I sometimes try to write when i can’t sleep.

My nachos were in my left hand, my right hand was over my heart as we honored America and Old Glory, with some vocal group’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.  I was standing in front of the aisle seat in row 12, Section LS5 (behind the south backboard) in the LNC (Lloyd Noble Center).

My Oklahoma Sooners were preparing to take on the Iowa State Cyclones: the student section was overflowing and a little bit crazier than I had observed in recent years.  The rest of the place wasn’t full, but it was close and the students’ enthusiasm kind of spread and even had old guys like me a little bit excited and ready for some basketball.  The game was close and the crowd remained extremely vocal, reminded me a little bit of the way it used to be.

As the evening progressed I caught myself literally and figuratively glancing over my shoulder at row 18.  For about 25 years our seats were in row 18, I always sat on the aisle.

I moved down a little this year; just thought a change might be good; I think it is good, but I have some great memories of those years in row 18.

We made some good friends in row 18 and the surrounding area; not the kind of friends you invite for dinner or the kind you spend time with in May or July or September. The kind you see at the LNC fifteen or so times between November and March. Guys and gals like Hoot, Dave (the other one), the professor, Bernie, Sandy, Hayden and the Seminole county used car dealer and there were others.

The common bond is Sooner Hoops, but you get to know and care a little bit about their families and what goes on in their world, then when the clock winds down, and the final buzzer ends another season, everyone exchanges nonchalant “see you guys next year’s” and just assume it will happen.

I never knew the professor’s name, I believe he taught history, we visited across the aisle when his wife was pregnant and looked forward to seeing his little girl each November; and then suddenly his little girl was all grown up and gone.  I remember the ugly red sweats he wore before he was a dad and I remember the same red sweats as he and his wife adjusted to the empty nest.  Sometime between ’08 and ’12 he and the red sweats failed the “see you next year” test; I hope he is doing well and I really hope he burned those sweats.

Hoot and Betty (I think) sat behind us for a few seasons.  Hoot had been around Norman forever, he was a loyal Sooner fan and a name dropper, and he always had some interesting stories and was eager to share them.  I still remember some of the stories but they are a little too personal to share in a public blog.  Hoot was a diabetic and had to miss a lot of games because of the illness.  We were disappointed and saddened but not surprised about 15 or 20 years ago when “see you next year” didn’t happen for Hoot.

Dave and his son Tyler sat in row 17 for a few years.  I think Dave carried Tyler in until he was about six so he didn’t have to buy a ticket.  They were both true basketball fans; they understood the game and didn’t hesitate to openly disagree with referees’ calls and coaching decisions and game strategy.  I think Tyler became a pretty good player and his season conflicted with the Sooner season.  You guessed it we didn’t see them next year.

Sandy and Hayden sat at the other end of row 18, down past Sharyl, Luke, Braxton, Dava and Rick for a few years.  Hayden grew up and went away to college.  Sandy got tired of looking through the backboard and found a more desirable place to sit.  We still saw them once or twice a season; they dropped by row 18 last year, to say hi and make sure the old man was doing OK.  Thanks guys, I’m down in row 12 now.

The Seminole county or maybe it was Hughes county used car dealer and his wife sat directly in front of Sharyl and me for a lot of years.  They were almost always at the games but they were kind of quiet.  He always had an unlit cigar in his mouth and his wife always had candy for Luke and Braxton.  I am not sure why we didn’t see them next year; probably about ’06 or ’07.

Another family that was kind of fun to watch a game with took those seats.  We really never developed any more than a speaking acquaintance with them.

Bernie and Yulanda replaced Dave and Tyler in row 17.  Yulanda was quiet and reserved but seemed to enjoy the game of basketball.  Quiet, reserved and Bernie don’t belong in the same sentence, at least not at a Sooner game.  He understood the game, but he didn’t understand nor accept that his Sooners sometimes lost.  He also fully believed that anyone on the floor with a striped shirt and a whistle didn’t like his Sooners. At halftime he always came and sat in the aisle and we reviewed the first half and put together a second half game plan.

A couple games before the final buzzer of the ’07 ’08 season Bernie was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. Yes, we ended the season with the typical “see you guys next year” but it was probably more of a question.  Like so many, Bernie gave it his best shot but Cancer won.

That same final buzzer was also the last time Sharyl would watch her Sooners from row 18.  My trips to the LNC became very infrequent and not very fun for the next few years.

So far row 12 isn’t what row 18 used to be, but it is better than row 18 was last year and the year before that.  There is only one group that appear to be season ticket holders.  Two couples sit in row eleven; I have attempted to establish a “see you next year” friendship with them but they don’t appear eager to expand their social circle.  Oh well, it’s their loss.

We sat in row 9, same section for almost as many years for Sooner women’s basketball.  I think Sharyl is the only one missing from that group of “see you guys net year” friends. I think some of them read what I write; so all I will say to or about them is, thanks for the support during the difficult times.

To all of you, please consider a donation to your comfort level to the Cancer research organization of your choice.  We need to whip that god awful thing.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Tailgates and Other Stuff…..

Last time I was here I complained about having the winter time blahs.  I didn’t mention I also came down with a good case of car fever.  Spring like weather or maybe just a little sunshine cures the blahs, but the only known cure for car fever is, shall we say, expensive.  You can’t let an illness like that go untreated so I blew the budget.

I didn’t just run out and buy something, I did a lot of research and assessed my wants and needs, ignoring the fact that I didn’t need a new car, I reached a compromise.  I wanted a new SUV with lots of bells and whistles.  I had a perfectly good SUV, a perfectly good pickup and an old fun to drive Jeep.

A one person household really doesn’t need three vehicles. I seldom haul anything bigger than a sack of groceries and I have a trailer or two for the occasional big load; the pickup was the odd man out.  I really don’t need that old Jeep but did I mention it is really fun to drive.

I found a good home for the SUV and traded the pickup for a new Jeep Grand Cherokee with lots of bells and whistles.  I am now a one person two Jeep household, I know one of them is a real Jeep, the other one needs to live with me a while and pass a few tests.  It has only been here about three weeks but I believe it has found a home and can proudly wear the Jeep nameplates.

I am a little nervous about life without a pickup; I have had one for the past 45 or 50 years and it is just kind of understood that a redneck needs a pickup.  So far I haven’t missed the pickup.  I wish I could say the same for the tailgate, I have already needed that thing two or three times.

If I would have included the tailgate in my assessment I probably would still be a three vehicle household.  Tailgates do so much more than just keep things from falling out of the back.  I needed to clean the mud off some shoes, I always sat on the tailgate and did that.  The next day I needed to change from some muddy boots to clean shoes: I missed that tailgate again.

Those two little incidents started the wheels turning.  I always do my chainsaw and weedeater maintenance on the tailgate, over the years I have used and abused tailgates for untold numbers of projects.

I have spent many pleasant hours sitting on the tailgate with good friends or maybe just casual acquaintances, swapping stories and enjoying life.  I have even spent some time there alone reflecting on the past and envisioning great things for the future.

I have heard, the perfect redneck summer evening is to get a six pack, sit on the tailgate with your significant other and watch the bug zapper.  I never did that but many years ago we had a bug zapper.

I never considered removing the tailgate from any of my pickups.  I won’t tell the entire story but I knew about a cantankerous boss that didn’t have a tailgate in his pickup, he also had a safe with wheels on it.  He had two real smart eighteen year old employees.  He sent those guys in his pickup without a tailgate to get the safe with wheels.  It was a long time ago but I still remember one way to bust open a safe.

I think I will add a tailgate to my possessions and it will be attached to a pickup; probably just an old clunker.

Did you ever lose your keys, wallet or purse, or maybe the family pet?  Remember the search and the feeling of accomplishment and relief when you found the lost thing?  Finding what you lost isn’t always a happy occasion.

EXAMPLE:  I don’t know if I mentioned it but a year or so ago I lost a significant amount of weight (OK, I bragged about it to the point of being ridiculous).  Well I have found all that weight I lost and I am not happy about it; guess I’ll just have to find a little willpower and lose it again.  I promise I won’t brag this time and just maybe I will be smart enough not to find it.

For the past week or so I have had the lyrics (actually the title) of an old Kris Kristofferson song on my mind.

“Lovin’ You Was Easier than Anything I’ll ever do again”

5-25-’47 to 1-22-’12

Love you babe, still miss you every day.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Random Redefined…….

When I was a kid one of the songs we listened to at 1520 or 930 on the AM dial was Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochran; at the time I not only liked the sound but I understood and could relate to the lyrics. As I have matured (sounds better than, gotten old) the lyrics no longer apply and the seasons have changed, I get through the good old summertime ok; the cold grey days of winter are sometimes difficult. By definition I prefer blahs to blues. Merriam-Webster defines blues as a feeling of sadness or depression; blah is defined as a feeling of boredom, lethargy, or general dissatisfaction.

A whole paragraph just to say I have a bad case of the wintertime blahs.

It has been a while since I have been here, oh I have had some thoughts I wanted to share but as I approached the keyboard it just didn’t happen. I could blame this new keyboard, if I could just remember what I did with the old one . . . no that’s not it, it’s gotta be the wintertime blahs.

The last time I was here was the night before Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and Christmas are behind us and we are a few days into ’15. Very briefly, we had some quality family time and I believe “they” were right it does get a little easier each year. Please accept a belated Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Our extended family experienced the worst kind of tragedy a couple days before Christmas. “Rest in Peace” Shereatta Tarbox. Gus you remain in my prayers.

One of the things I have done to help me through the long winter nights is attend Oklahoma Sooner (men and women) basketball games. We have had season tickets for the past 20 or 25 years and have spent a lot of fun evenings at the Lloyd Noble Center. They always have some kind of halftime entertainment, sometimes it is a couple fifth grade ball teams scrimmaging or maybe a group of 5 to 12 year-old cheerleader wannabes. Most of the time it is some form of professional act; yesterday and today it was 5 young men from Seattle WA. These guys jumped rope, let me just say they did it with a great deal of precision and gusto.

As I watched these guys, I thought how fun that would be for maybe a couple years. To hit a different town or arena every weekend and put on a show for the fans. Some of my favorites or some that I remember are: Red Panda, the Chinese lady, she rides a unicycle and catches bowls on her head (it is more entertaining and exciting than it sounds). Sharyl’s favorite was the quick change lady. They sometimes have Frisbee chasing dogs or guys jumping on trampolines. All those people were very good at their specialty.

I think the only thing preventing me from doing something like that is, I don’t have a talent. I can’t ride a unicycle, it takes me 15 minutes to put on my socks, and the only thing my dogs ever chased was cars or chickens. Any form of physical activity that requires speed, balance or coordination is out of the question. If they only wanted a grumpy old man to just show up and make sarcastic remarks.

I had another subject I was going to bore you with but this one is getting a bit long and if I work at it I can probably make a complete post with that other thought.

Thanks for reading what I write and the prayers are still appreciated.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

I Thought I Broke It!!!!

Last time I was here I mentioned spending a lot of time with my doctor.  He and I have been somewhat concerned about my blood pressure, he assured me it would be in my best interest if I shaved 40 to 60 points off the top side and 30 to 40 off the bottom.  We had gotten in a habit of discussing this bi-weekly.  I don’t know if he gave up or was just tired of seeing me every other Wednesday but we took a couple months break.  I go back in January; I promised to lose some weight and to closely monitor the BP at home.

The weight loss part of the agreement isn’t going well at all, I think I have gained about four pounds since I saw him last. Thanksgiving and Christmas are about the only things between now and that next appointment; the odds aren’t in my favor.  Maybe, with a continued effort and just a little luck, I will only be about ten pounds heavier when I see him again.  He won’t be happy but he probably won’t be surprised.

Per the agreement, I have monitored my BP very closely.  I check it at least once each day unless I forget and some days I check it several times.  I have one of those fancy home units; all I have to do is put it around my arm and push a button.  It pumps up and slowly releases the pressure then alarms sound and lights flash and I read the numbers on the screen.

Today, I thought the little machine had malfunctioned.  The pressure released but there were no sirens or flashing lights. I glanced at the thing these numbers were there.

BP

It didn’t look like my numbers but there were numbers, then I remembered, if the numbers are low enough it doesn’t do the bell and whistle thing.  Probably just a temporary thing, but I feel good tonight and I may not check it again for a few days, just assume . . .

I spent some time last week with a book on nutrition, exercise and dietary supplements.  Actually the guy that wrote the book was the same guy that had the supplements for sale.  About half the book was about diet and exercise and the other half was about how great his dietary supplements were.  I hope he sells lots of supplements because he will never make it as a writer.

If I followed his recommendations my diet would consist of raw vegetables, and I would do more calisthenics than I did in basic training in 1963.  He went so far as to insist you completely eliminate, not only the obvious, sugars, fried stuff, etc. but also to totally give up all dairy products and foods containing dairy, about the only cheat he found acceptable was to occasionally cook the vegetables.

As soon as I finished the book I did one big push up out of my chair, went to the kitchen and got some cheese and crackers for a little midnight snack.  I am actually using some of his supplements and kind of like them but I will never know about the diet.

I thought tomorrow was Thanksgiving, I just glanced at the clock, it is already Thanksgiving.  I have been known to get deep down in the heart and share some serious thoughts and personal feelings when I do these holiday things.  I am not going to go there tonight; I have accepted the fact that Thanksgiving will always remind me of a difficult time in my life; I am also reminded of the many things I am thankful for.  A new one this year, I am thankful I don’t live in Ferguson, Missouri.

Wishing you and yours a great Thanksgiving.

Please consider a donation to the cancer research organization of your choice.

Keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave