Thursday, December 25, 2014


Memories of special Christmases cross my mind as I sit this morning in anticipation of having all of my children and grandchildren here later today.  I reflect on the where and the what and the who. 

Some things that stand out in my mind are my first shotgun -- received at Christmas when I was 12 years old on a trip to my Grandmother's house in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  From there we traveled to Richland, Missouri, where we stayed with my Mom's sister and got snowed in.  While there I got to use the shotgun for the first time as my Grandfather took me squirrel and rabbit hunting in Swamp Holler.  After traipsing through snow for half the day we ended up at his sister's house for a cup of hot chocolate and fresh homemade biscuits cooked in her wood burning stove. 

I also remember another Christmas that my Dad took me pheasant hunting for the very first time.  It was the last day of the season and he and I went out hunting.  I "claimed" my first pheasant, but I have always been suspicious that he actually shot it.  It fell when I pointed and pulled the trigger, but I could swear I heard him shoot at the same time.....

I remember a Christmas in Nebraska when we expected it to be just us -- Missy and I and the kids.  Instead, my parents and siblings made the drive to be with us.  They had never been to Nebraska before.  They were delayed returning home because of heavy snow.  The worst of it was in the Texas Panhandle north of Amarillo.

I remember going hunting on Christmas nearly every year as I grew up.  It was either quail hunting or pheasant hunting or rabbit hunting.  Where we lived was far from any deer hunting.  There were several times we had pheasant for Christmas dinner -- my grandmother could batter them like a chicken-fried steak and cook them and they were pretty good.  Especially when served with lots of mashed potatoes and her cream gravy.  Occasionally you would bite down on a #4 shot bb that she failed to find when cleaning the birds.  I guess that was just part of the adventure of eating what you hunted.

I remember kids getting on their new bicycles for the very first time.  I remember a giant doll house for the barbies.  I remember excitement and disappointment.  But, at the heart of it all was family.  Happy, excited children, smiling, busy adults, domino games, card games, too much candy, homemade pies and laughter. 

Some of the faces are gone now.  New faces have arrived.  The mantle has passed and it is now clear that much of what I took for granted was the result of those who loved, served.  They knew the importance of those memories and sought to build them in me.  They sacrificed themselves to share joy with those they loved.

On this day we celebrate in honor of the birth of our Savior, it is important to remember His sacrifice that we might experience the joy of His love and share it with others.  May your day be merry and bright.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Oh, What If I Am Wrong?

Sometimes making decisions
Of the highly consequential kind
Can drive a wedge of fear
Into the unwary mind.

It's the fear of consequences
That might occur should I be wrong.

But, fear can often bind us
From reaching for the stars.
It binds us to forever stand
Within these earthly bars.

Instead we wring our hands and cry,
"Oh, what if I am wrong?!"

While swirling 'bout our throbbing head
Opportunities pass us by
That would exceed our expectations
If only we would try.

So, blind from indecision
For fear of being wrong

We fret and worry over things
That never will come true
If we'll just shoulder to the plow
And join the mighty few

Who soar above the moaning crowd
That fear they might be wrong.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Heritage of Scotland

I have been interested in my ancient family heritage for years.  The McClure Clan, of which I am a member, is a sept of Clan McCleod of Harris.  I've done a little research, but not a great deal -- just enough to learn that the earliest McClure's to come to the New World came in the early and mid 1700's.  James and Andrew are two of the most common male names in the family tree and are still found among my recent ancestors.

The interest in that history led me to "Like" a page on Facebook called "Heritage of Scotland."  The advantage of liking pages is the occasional item of interest they post.  It led me to explore their website. 

Those of you who know me will not be surprised that I'm not a good shopper.  I don't like to shop.  If I need something I go and buy it, but shopping for shopping's sake is no fun to me.  I did enjoy perusing the "Heritage of Scotland" site though.  I looked up my McClure clan tartan and found that I could order both formal and informal suits of clothing in that tartan -- kilt and all appropriate accessories.  I ended up spending a good deal of time viewing their site.  Yes, I even ordered.  Below are pictures:

The top photo is of one of the four mugs that I ordered.  They far exceeded my expectations.  They are G.W.P. Fine China -- made in Scotland!  They appear to be of excellent quality and the Celtic Design is flawless. 

The bottom photo is of one of the two Whiskey Glasses that I ordered.  There were numerous designs to choose from, but as you can see, I went with the etched map of Scotland.  They are the perfect size and design for the National Beverage of Scotland -- or, at least I think it is their national beverage -- Scotch.  However, for the non-Scotch drinkers, they also are perfect for your morning orange juice.  The bonus -- they are Burns Crystal -- also made in Scotland.  Beautiful.

I would encourage any of you who are so inclined to go take a look at their site.  It is interesting and easy to navigate.  Yeah, this sounds like a commercial -- and perhaps it is a bit of one -- but, it is a worthy one.  The wee bit o' Scottish blood in me compels me to promote the land of my roots.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


What makes us tick?
What gives us drive?
What gives us joy to be alive?

Is it the things we do each day?
Is it our job that gives us pay?
Is it our work that lights our way?

What is our game?
What sees us through?
What is it that we want to do?

Is it our family?
Is it our home?
Is it our friends upon the phone?

What pumps our heart?
What makes it beat?
What puts the motion in our feet?

Is it someone?
Is it a thing?
Is it a thought the bells do ring?

What gets us up?
What never lets down?
What is it that removes a frown?

For each of us there is something
That lifts our heart and makes it sing.
Until we find what makes us thrive
We'll never truly be alive.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Starting a New Business

This isn't the first time that I've found myself involved in a new business startup.  In fact, I have been involved in three at different levels. 

The first was a local Veterinary supply business which was started in 1991.  I was hired as the first manager and I had lots of guidance and input from the owners.  It was successful and profitable and is still in business.

The second was a new division within a large company.  It utilized new technology and was very capital intensive.  It required developing a working prototype of a computer driven system for delivering small amounts of feed additives and then from that prototype, creating a business around the supply and delivery of those feed additives to customers.  It is a continuing operation today although that company was "swallowed" by merger into another company in recent years.

The third was a service company built around new technology.  I was essentially handed the keys by the partners and asked to build it from "scratch."  It was profitable the first full month of operation, became the largest in its very specialized field and served customers from coast-to-coast and border-to-border in the U.S.  In 2012 it was purchased by a global bio-tech company that, just this year, was acquired by an even larger global bio-tech company.

So, here I am again.  Sigh.  You would think that I would be excited -- and I am -- but, this one has some challenges that are very different than the previous ones and yet includes elements of all of the previous startups. 

I like a challenge.  The biggest issue is limited resources.  Hmmmm.....that's what I studied in college -- Agricultural Economics with an emphasis on Farm & Ranch Management.  By definition (mine), I studied the art of the efficient allocation of limited resources to achieve a specific business purpose related to a successful farming or ranching endeavor.

Specifically, I am starting a new ranch.

We (I use "we" and "I" interchangeably because, being married, it is a "we" investment/endeavor.) bought land In August, 2012, and turned cows on it in late September of that year.  We sold our first calf crop last year and they made the land payment and recovered all of the operating costs for the first year.  No, they didn't recover all of the depreciation from capital invested in equipment or the cows.  So, technically, we operated at a loss.  However, I consider the first year to be a very successful one.  It was a solid launch.

By making some operational adjustments related to seasonality of forage availability, we were able to cut our hay usage by about 40% this winter from what it was the previous one.  We also have changed the genetics of the calf crop and tightened the calving window significantly.  The uniformity of calves this year is much improved over last year.  So, we are moving things in the right direction operationally.  The issue now is scale.

Scale is related to the efficiencies of the capital investment.  A great example is a tractor.  A tractor is necessary whether you are running 10 head of cows or 1,000 head of cows.  The cost of that tractor is spread through depreciation over its lifetime but also over the number of revenue producing units that it serves -- in our case, cows.  A $35,000 used tractor depreciated over 10 years is $3,500/year just for depreciation.  Divided by 10 cows is $350/cow/year.  Divided by 1,000 cows is $3.50/cow/year.  So, the point is to utilize equipment and other capital items at a level near maximum capacity.  The cost per producing unit is then minimized.

I need more land and more cows.  Land costs lots of money to purchase.  The best scenario would be to obtain a long-term lease, however, there is none available to lease that I can find near to me.  That is the dilemma.  How do I achieve scale for maximum capital utilization if I can't expand my operation?  Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Any "sugar daddy's" out there that want to buy a ranch as a long-term investment and then lease it back to me?  If so, comment with a way to contact you.

It's amazing how many things just take money to solve.....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Centrism and the Smell of Ozone

No matter what we do, or how hard we try, the world of each of us is centered on self.  We can't help it.  "I am the center of my universe" is true for everyone. 

It doesn't matter whether one lives in the slums of Nairobi or in the lap of luxury, each and every day is all about "me."  What will I eat?  What will I do?  Even if we claim to help others, the first question we must ask is "How can I help?"  Note the common denominator -- I.

I am the center of the universe.

I don't truly don't believe that, but, like everyone else, I behave as if I do.  So, I expect this brief written word to be read by others who will see my great wisdom and praise my deep insights into the that ozone I smell?? (as the thunder rolls)

Friday, March 14, 2014

Hounds Come Home

I don't know what came over me.....a pair of One-year old female Redbone Hounds now reside with us.  I have to plead temporary insanity. 
We had a male Redbone a little over 10 years ago.  We called him Beauregard -- Beau for short.  I have written about him.  He may have been my favorite dog we ever owned.  I'm not sure why.  I think it must be in my blood to like hounds.  It was Beagles and Bassets as a kid and Redbones as an adult.
Belle has a scent.  Beautiful classic trailing pose.
My grandfather on the maternal side was from Missouri.  He grew up with hounds.  His brother, my great-uncle Bill, raised hounds for many years -- mostly Walker's and Beagles.  At one time he probably had as many as 40 of them.  He was known throughout the Ozarks for the quality of his dogs.

Sadie posing for the camera.
My wife has been wanting a dog ever since we have been without one -- which has been several years.  She watches the Buy/Sell sites and the papers for them all the time.  Yesterday, she sent me a text about someone wanting to give away these two Redbones.  I think she knew my weakness for them.  I resisted going to look but, finally gave in.

Twinkies.  Litter mates.
I feared that if I looked I would bring them home.  I could list a dozen reasons not to get them.  But, I obviously gave in.  They needed a new home.  They had been well fed and given proper medical attention but, they just didn't have any room to run and be dogs.  It took me all of 30 seconds to make up my mind.  Sadie and Belle have a new home.

The squirrels don't have a chance.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Have you ever noticed
All the things you do
Are the same as yesterday;
There's not much new?

We get out of bed
Then shower and dress,
Eat a bite
Then spread some stress.

We go to work,
Get our coffee cup,
Head down the hall
To fill it up.

We check e-mail
And then Facebook,
Look at the calendar
Then take another look.

Go to meeting one
Then meeting two,
It's the same old things
There's nothing new.

Then off to lunch
With the same old crowd.
Head to the local dive
Where it's nice and loud.

The afternoon
Is much the same;
Around and round
It's just a game.

Head home from work,
Do some laundry,
Fix some food
And watch t.v.

Just like Spring,
Summer, Winter and Fall,
The cycle goes;
On a treadmill, all.

I wonder if
We changed something
If the sky would open
And the birds would sing?

We can't expect
A single thing new
If it's all the same,
These things we do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Naturally Failing the Credibility Test

I know that I have harped lately on the failure of many to apply critical thinking skills.  One of the things that stands out to me is how many people reject the arguments concerning Global Warming and yet accept the propaganda that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's) are bad and natural/organic is good.

I personally believe, based on scientific evidence, that we are seeing a climactic shift.  I reject the notion that it is caused by the activities of man.  It is a natural cycle fueled by the sun's activities.

I also believe, based on scientific evidence, that GMO's are a positive for feeding mankind.  GMO's reduce the need for chemical pesticides and herbicides which means less potential harmful chemicals in the environment.  Our digestive tract is designed to extract needed nutrients from the food we ingest and the waste (harmful or useless compounds) is passed from our body.  The yields of crops managed by purely mechanical means (which requires either more hand labor or more machine labor) are typically lower because of harmful pests that remain unchecked or because of incomplete eradication of competing plants (weeds).  So, we produce more food with fewer chemicals through manipulation of the plant's genes.  Note that this manipulation is with naturally occurring genetic material that is duplicable through natural propagation once the initial modification is made.  If the gene splicing is harmful to the plant it will not survive and certainly will not propagate.

But, people are gullible.  They accept arguments that sound reasonable if they fit their preconceived ideas.  The most effective lies are those that are nearest to the truth. 

If you want to argue against Global Warming, argue against the causes.

If you want to argue against GMO's, argue against monoculture cropping systems at the expense of species diversification.

With advances in technology come new challenges that must be solved.  Focus on solving the issues, not on stopping advances that are good for man.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Chance Encounter and Misunderstanding

A few weeks ago I was sitting in the Terminal at Nashville International Airport waiting on my flight home.  It was a Saturday morning and I was just relaxing.  I was early for my flight and there weren't many people so there was lots of room.  I was reading a book.

After awhile people started gathering and a young lady sat down the row from me and also was reading.  Shortly afterward a young man, obviously a musician because he carried a guitar case, sat across from her and they started visiting.  Not long after another musician type sat down as well.  I spoke to the young man with the guitar and asked if he was headed to a gig somewhere.  It turned out that all of them were on their way to Dallas to play for an engagement as the band for Gwen Sebastian, a former winner of "The Voice."

I asked where they were from and it was all over.  The young lady said that she was from Springdale, Arkansas, and wondered if I knew where that was.  I said yes and named a few small towns in the area.  We struck up a brief conversation at that point.  She never mentioned her name and seemed evasive at times -- enough to really pique my curiosity.  It turned out she played fiddle and guitar and sang vocals.  If she hadn't been evasive on some of the questions, my interest would have quickly waned and I would have gone back to reading.

As we boarded the plane I pulled out my phone and did a Google search based on the clues from the conversation.  It turned out that she was Jenee Fleanor, who plays fiddle, guitar and sings back up for Blake Shelton.  That is how she ended up playing with the group for Gwen Sebastian -- Blake was busy with a new season of "The Voice" and she had some open dates and the Shelton connection got her a gig with Sebastian I guess.  She backed Blake at the 2013 ACM's....

In my focus on my Google search I didn't realize that she had sat down in the seat behind me and in doing so had glimpsed my phone with her photo on it from the search.  I guess she thought that I was stalking her although I wasn't.  I just was exercising my natural curiosity.  It wasn't long before I realized that she had changed her mind and moved to the back of the plane with the other musicians.

When we landed in Dallas I spoke to her again, by name, and apologized, saying that curiosity got the best of me.  I then wished them an enjoyable time in Grapevine at the Gaylord Texan where their engagement was.

You never know who you might meet.

Here's a sample of her music:

New Music

Many of you who read this blog know that I play the guitar and sing.  It is primarily for my own enjoyment, relaxation and unwinding, but occasionally I will do something for church.  Since it isn't part of my vocation it is often difficult to spend much time learning new songs.

Lately I have had a little more time on my hands so, I've starting trying to learn some new stuff.  After all, most of what I know are songs that were popular back when I was in college when I had time and more inclination.  Things have changed a lot since then.

I remember using a cassette recorder to capture what was being played on the radio.  Most of it I didn't care to learn but, there were a few gems.  When I caught one of them I would play it repeatedly to transcribe it to paper and begin the memorization process.  Then, I would spend hours figuring out the chords so that I could play it.  I tried my best to make it sound like the recording artist but, of course, never quite succeeded.

Today, it is a very different proposition to learn new songs.  If it is something that I know the title, or the artist, or even a phrase, I can look it up on the Internet.  I can listen to YouTube videos and print off lyrics with chords already written on it and then play along from the printed music to the video as it plays.  It has certainly shortened the cycle to add new music to my repertoire. 

Sometimes the chords on the printed sheets don't exactly match the music.  There are mistakes.  After all, someone probably went through an exercise very similar to the way I used to learn music to create those sheets with chords.  The system isn't perfect but, it's much better than what I used to go through.

Here's a link to one I've been working on this morning.....

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Burning Daylight

Today's the day we change our clocks
'Cause the gov'ment says we should
It doesn't save a bit of time
Though they told us that it would

Out here we get up 'fore the sun
And work 'til it's long set
I've never seen a changing clock
Affect the length of it yet

It reminds me what my Grandpa said
When he woke me from the night
Get up and dress and eat a bite
We don't wanna burn no daylight!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

It Fits My Preconceptions, Therefore It Must Be Right!

I've written here before about critical thinking skills.  I was taught early on to examine carefully the things that I hear and see for accuracy rather than to just accept they are what they seem.  It is usually easier to detect something fraudulent by sight than by reading, although with digital image enhancement, that may not be so.  I'm thinking about things we actually observe in person.  Of course that assumes you aren't observing a magician at work whose entire performance is based on misdirection and deception.  But, for purposes of this brief post, I want to focus on the written.

We all have a tendency to accept things that agree with our preconceived notions of how they should be.  The Internet and other forms of electronic media such as television have made it very easy to mislead large numbers of people in a very short period of time.  Some businesses are base totally on the simplicity of manipulating the masses.  One that comes to mind is The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).  Their commercials are built around apparently abused and mistreated animals, yet it has been shown many times that the money they collect through such advertising is spent primarily on salaries and lobbying efforts.  Less than 1% of the funds they collect actually go to help these mistreated animals according to most credible sources.

This happens with political ads as well.  Politicians have made an art of appealing to the preconceptions of their target audiences -- especially when painting an image of their opponents.  Most people readily accept the message without carefully examining it for the truth.  For whatever reason, most people are pretty gullible.  Perhaps it is rooted in our "herding" instinct -- that desire to follow a leader and to live within the safety of numbers.  It is easier to follow along than it is to lead.

I guess my point is simply this:  If we see or read something that fits our expectations, we rarely question its validity.  We need to be much more critical in our thinking.  Test it.  Check it.  Look at it from different perspectives.  It is a little easier for those who base their lives on an Absolute Truth.  For Christians, the Bible offers us pretty clear guidelines against which we should measure all things.  As our society drifts toward Atheism, the ability of the nefarious to perpetrate fraud will only grow.  One need look no further than Washington to see plenty of examples.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Musically Connected

Music inspires
Or, can sooth the soul
It tames the wild beast
Or, can rock and roll

It expresses our heart
Or, the thoughts in our mind
It can lighten our mood
Or, 'cause tears 'til we're blind

It can tear down the walls
Or, say, "leave me alone"
It can pierce our ear drums
Or, be mellower tones

It can be personal
Or, make us part of the crowd
It can be soft and low
Or, unbearably loud

It can be background noise
Or, the focus of all
It can be played alone
Or, a huge music hall

Music connects
One soul to another
It crosses all bounds
Makes us sister and brother

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Remember the Alamo

Today marks the anniversary of an auspicious event in the history of Texas.  On this day in 1836, the valiant Texians fell to the Mexican army led by Santa Anna. (For a brief history of the battle follow this link.)

Why was the Battle of The Alamo important?  It bought time for General Sam Houston to organize the army of the new Republic.

Sometimes the battles we fight seem to be for naught.  We give our all, yet we often don't see the difference.  Sometimes the difference that we make is realized by others.  Sometimes we change the course of history by our efforts.

As Charlie Daniels likes to say in his Tweets and Facebook posts, "Let's all make the day count."

Monday, February 17, 2014

Calving Season

It is calving season for us.  It was my goal this year to shorten our calving season to less than 45 days.  So far, in the first 11 days, we have had 1/3 of the cows to calve.  I'd say we are on track to possibly be as short as 30 days.

For those of you not familiar with ranching, length of calving season is important.  The more uniform the calves are when you go to sell them, the higher the price received and the greater the average weight.  It's all about the distribution curve on the weight.  A 30 day season is a very tight distribution whereas a 90 day or longer season is not.  Play with the numbers, do the math, it works.

I am very pleased.  So far it looks like we are having cloned calves.  They all look alike.  Below is one of them -- and if you've seen one, you've seen them all....

The only question is heifer or bull calf?

So far we are about 50:50.  Imagine that......

There is nothing better than to see the babies out playing in the pasture. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Instinct to Hide

Cows are "prey" animals.  They evolved in the grasslands and were subject to predation by lions or wolves or other large predators.  In spite of our efforts to domesticate them, they retain the basic instincts of prey animals.

Recently I posted a photo on Facebook of a newborn baby calf that was lying curled up on the edge of a creek.  I included the caption, "Pretend you can't see me.  Momma says I can't move."  That photo is below.

There was some concern expressed that something was wrong with the baby.  Why would a mother hide her baby and then wander off and leave it?  It is because she is protecting it.

Below is another example of a hidden baby.  I spotted it from across the pasture and zoomed in at the highest magnification I could with my Nikon 55-300 mm lense.  Can you see him lying in the fence line?  His mother is about 400 yards away grazing -- pretending to ignore him.

I wasn't certain that it was a baby but was pretty sure, so I drove a little closer.

Again, I am zoomed in at highest magnification.  Now it is clear that it is a calf lying next to the fence.  Each of the photos below is just a little bit closer.

The photo below shows that the "hiding" instinct begins even before the calf is born.  Below, you will see a newborn, still wet from birth, lying just at his mother's feet.  She had the calf in the brush to minimize the exposure to potential predators -- such as the black vultures in the tree above her.

The photo below is of the black vultures.  They will clean up the afterbirth, but if given the chance, they will also attack the calf.  Turkey vultures aren't usually a problem because there generally are only one or two birds at a time.  I have seen flocks of the Mexican Black Vultures that had over 30 birds.  They are extremely aggressive and will attack even as the cow is giving birth.  It is important that she be in a place where she is protected from them.

Sometimes it is almost comical how a cow will hide her calf.  Below, you will see one that is hiding behind a stick.  You would be surprised though, how easy it is to miss the calf at a casual glance -- especially if you are used to seeing an object there -- the stick.

Aren't God's creatures amazing?!

Monday, January 13, 2014


Sometimes I'm lazy.
Sometimes I work too hard.

Sometimes I'm creative.
Sometimes I can't get out of my rut.

Sometimes I'm leading.
Sometimes I just want to follow.

Sometimes I'm organized.
Sometimes I can't find anything.

Sometimes I'm at peace.
Sometimes I am on a short fuse.

Sometimes I'm happy.
Sometimes I want to soak in self-pity.

Sometimes I'm consistent.
Sometimes I vacillate from one thing to another.

Sometimes I'm talkative.
Sometimes I need silence.

Sometimes I'm stuck on something.
So, I think I'll make a change......

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Soggy Pastures

Over the past few weeks we have had a lot of rain.  When I try to put into perspective just how much rain we have received I am shocked because where I grew up, it would be about a year's worth.  One of the spells that came through dumped 11 inches on our ranch and flooded the creek.

Keep in mind that the bottom of the bridge in the above photo is at least 12 feet above the creek bed -- that is to the bottom of the beams which are about 18 inches -- so, the water had to have been about 14 foot deep to cover the bridge.

I am having to feed hay to the cattle this time of year too.  That means muddy tractor tracks in the area in front of the barn and hay lot and out to the feeders in the pasture.  It is quite the mess. 

Unless necessary to feed hay or supplement to the cattle, I try not to drive in the pasture when it is so wet.  The grass turf is actually pretty firm and I can drive over much of it without even leaving a track, but there are places where the water stands in marshy areas that can be pretty soft.  If you hit one of those with the tractor it leaves some deep ruts that you have to live with for a long time.

Where I grew up in the Texas Panhandle, we would receive 14 - 16 inches of rain in a year.  It usually came in the Spring or late Summer.  Here in East Texas, the rains come in the late Fall and Winter and then into the Spring.  It is the Winter rains that cause the problems because of having to feed the cattle.  The rest of the year there is plenty of grass and hay isn't needed.

I am not complaining about the rain.  I do wish that I didn't have such a mess where I've driven the tractor through it and created a few mud holes.  All that rain is really why we moved here to Northeast Texas.  It grows lots of grass and grass is what the cows eat. 

I don't really know the point of this Blog Post except to say, it rains in this part of the world.  I'll end with a few more photos.

Friday, January 3, 2014

An Evening Walk

Sometimes it is only the quiet stillness that draws me to the woods.  Yes, I enjoy hunting, but not so much the "kill" anymore.  It is the chance to sit quietly and listen to the light breeze rustling dried oak leaves that leads me across the pasture and over the creek.  Barking squirrels signal my approach -- warning that danger may lurk in my presence.

It is gratifying when after only a short time the small birds accept me as harmless and flit from branch to branch in the trees over my head.  The occasional armadillo or other small animal of the woods edge often wander by, oblivious to my presence -- or at least, unalarmed. 

Suddenly an arrow crosses the sky.  It is a small flight of Canvasback ducks headed toward the shallow pond across the meadow.  The silhouette of their passage is barely marked across the fading light of the setting sun.  The whistle of their wings the only sound they make as they head to night's refuge.

In the distance a pack of coyotes signals approval that the light of day is fading and it is safe to come out for the nightly run in search of rodents and road kill.  Their yipping chorus sharply breaks the near silence of the evening.  Soon they are answered from the hill to the north.  Calls answered and replied speak volumes that only they understand.

I sigh and begin my walk back to the barn.  The gathering darkness signals time to return for supper.  Maybe tomorrow I will wander back into the woods where time stands still if only for a few moments.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Special Kind of Crazy

Sometimes I will sit and write something just for practice.  Yeah, I know that sounds weird to most of you, but I suspect a few of you writers out there do the same thing.  Below is one of those pieces:

Age has a way of bringing certain things into perspective.  Take time for instance.  When we are young time seems to drag but, as we grow older it seems to move ever more quickly until looking back, we feel as though events that occurred many years ago were as though only yesterday.  Yes, time is relative.
Perhaps it is the early onset of dementia but, I could have sworn the glass of ice water beside my keyboard was full only a moment ago.  I filled it from the refrigerator and brought it to my desk with the thought that I would want something to drink shortly.  It was full when I sat it down.  Now, at least a third of it is gone.  I am certain that I didn’t drink it….or did I?
To look at my desk you would certainly wonder about me.  It is cluttered with notes, printed documents, mail, memorabilia, paperclips, pens, and well, just stuff.  Much of it needs filed.  Some is clutter that is undealt with due to laziness I suppose.  Yet, I know what is here and where it should be.  The family leaves it alone – perhaps fearing what my reaction might be, but also with the knowledge that it is mine, I put it there and I know where it is.
Things have moved. 
It happened just this afternoon.  I got up from my desk to do something – I don’t even remember what it was – and when I returned my “stuff” wasn’t the same.  I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but something was moved.  There was no one here but me.
I know that I’m not losing my mind.  In fact, today was a productive day.  I office from home and today was an office day.  I accomplished numerous tasks that had been on my to-do list for weeks.  It being the first work day of a new year may have helped to motivate me.  After all, starting the year right is the right thing to do isn’t it?
I really don’t know what accomplishing a lot of work today has to do with a sane mind, but it makes sense to me.  After all, if I was going crazy I wouldn’t be able to do my job would I?  Hmmmm….maybe they are unrelated.  Then why do I feel this uneasiness?
I look around my desk and again spy the glass of ice water.  It is almost empty now except for the melting ice sitting in a lump in the glass.  That always annoyed me since I like to chew the ice.  That one giant chunk of fused cubes is difficult to chew.  You have to bite off pieces before you can crunch down on them.  But, I’m distracted.  Why is the glass now almost empty?  Am I so distracted with my thoughts that I don’t even remember taking a drink?
Suddenly I am cold.  I was cold earlier.  In fact, as I think about it, I got cold about the time I noticed that something had been moved on my desk.  I was shivering.  It has been colder outside today so, I got up and checked the thermostat.  It was set on 72 – right where it should have been.  I put on slippers and a sweatshirt and drank a cup of hot chocolate.  That warmed me up.  Now I am still wearing the slippers and sweatshirt but, again, I’m cold.  I am almost shivering.  The thermostat hasn’t been moved and the temperature in the house is still 72.
The thought crosses my mind that I am having a paranormal experience.  I have heard it said that the temperature drops when a “ghost” is present in the room.  It interests me that I have such a thought since I long ago completely dismissed the idea of ghosts.  I don’t believe in them. 
That’s not to say that I don’t believe in other things that might be considered to belong to the Spiritual Realm because I do.  I believe in angels and demons.  I believe in the Holy Spirit.  I believe there are many things that are completely unexplainable in the physical but are real nonetheless.  I believe there are spiritual connections between individuals.  If anyone is paying attention it seems obvious.  After all, how many times have you received a phone call from someone you had been thinking of only moments before – someone that just popped into your mind for no apparent reason?
But, the missing water is physical – not spiritual.  The moved items on the desk – I still haven’t quite put my finger on what exactly – are physical.  I’m either crazy, or someone is messing with me.  That is the only explanation.  I’m obviously crazy since no one else is around.
I think that I shall embrace this craziness.  Why not?  Anyone can be normal.  It takes someone special to be crazy.