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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Flaming Mask of Peppermint

My wife uses oils, I have used oils…not a lot, but I’ve used them.  I have mostly made fun of people who use oils.  Rest assured I believe some of them work.  I just like to pick at the folks who are full on voodoo believers.  It’s one of my small pleasures in life.  Sometimes this comes back to bite me on the behind.

A couple of days ago, I got to bed with a pounding headache.  My normal procedure is to get up , get a couple aspirin, slime up a little in my mouth, swaller’ em and go back to bed.  But that night my Bride was putting some oils on her knees.  I don’t recall what it was she was using, but I mentioned that I had a headache.  She said, “No problem, do you want me to put some peppermint on your temples?”  I initially thought she said something else, but I won’t go into that.  I thought to myself I don’t want to get out of bed, so “yeah, put some on me”.

She put a little dab on her finger and rubbed it on the sides of my head.  I couldn’t tell she’d put any on me.  I couldn’t yet smell it and must have had the look on my face that said that, because my Bride asked if I wanted more.  Being from the school of “if one nail is good, 10 is better”, I told her to slather some more on there.  I could immediately tell I now had some on me, because I could smell it.  It kinda made my eyes water a little.  Ok truth be told…my sinus’ cleared out and my eyes started watering like Niagara Falls.  But I am a tough guy, so I said thanks and lay back down.

I lay there with liquid running out of my eyes, streaming down either side of my head like the Columbia River in the spring time.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind my eyes watering.  What bothered me was that somehow that peppermint had caught on fire.  I now had flaming streams of liquid fire on either side of my head.  I was pretty confident that somehow my Bride had snuck up on me with a match and lit me up in some kind of morbid game of “let’s see what this’ll do”.  I could even have dealt with this, if it weren’t for the fact that my eyes were also on fire.  It was a little like having welder burnt eyes.  If you never had welder burnt eyes, and want to experience it without the benefit of the welder arc, I highly recommend the peppermint oils.  It will give you that just right burned out eyeballs feeling you’ve been looking for.

The flaming liquid trails on either side of my head or the burned out fiery holes that once had been my eyes would have been tough to deal with by themselves, but together…oh, together…together they were more fun than being whipped with a rattlesnake.  I swear at one point I thought I smelled steak, but I knew that couldn’t be right.  I figured it must have been the meat on the sides of my head cookin’.  All I could hear was this weird screaming sound, I thought it might have been my Bride screaming in horror…but then I realized it was me.

I noticed through the pain glazed fire that was now my eyesight that my Bride, during all of this, was double over shaking.  I thought she might have been crying, seeing all of the pain that I was in.  But to my horror, I realized she thought this was funny!   She just kept saying, “I told you it doesn’t take much”, and then falling into fits of laughter again.  I don’t know why she thought it was funny; after all it was her sheets that were getting burnt up.  I decided that once this burning, screaming, fiery hell that was burning the flesh off my head and my eyes out of their sockets was over; we needed to discuss our empathy/sympathy feelings. 

This liquid fire burned for most of the night, I imagined I lay there looking like some macabre flaming head thing that haunts children’s nightmares.  But at some point I passed out from the pain, or as my Bride says “I fell asleep”.  I awoke to no pain, but figured I was still in shock.  I hurried to the mirror expecting to see my burnt out head, BUT…there was nothing.  Nothing I tell you!  Could this have been that same nightmare that haunted children’s dreams?  Could I have dreamt the whole thing?  I immediately knew this wasn’t true when my Bride started giggling as soon as she was awake enough.

This was a horrible traumatic experience that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and I won’t be making fun of those folks who use oils.   Ok, that last part isn’t true, I will still be making fun of those who use oils…it is one of the small pleasures in life.  But I have learned a  new found respect for peppermint oils.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Battle With Prehistoric Pterodactyl Bees

One of the wonders of living in southeast Texas, which I still am amazed by, is the fact that if you aren’t making hay…you shred your pastures.  Even after almost thirty years after coming from the Texas panhandle, where grass is a premium, mowing pastures boggles my mind.  But we have had a lot of rain this year, so when my grass/weeds are almost as tall as my horse I knew that I needed to mow my pasture.  You may think this is just a story about mowing, but this is a cautionary tale about the dangers of the giant pterodactyl killer bee (Gingantus Dinosaurus Apis Killus is the Latin, I think).   And lest you think this isn’t about horses, if you have any amount of pasture…at some point you will need to mow it.

 I had all kinds of tractor problems before I started, which leads to the fact that I am a mechanical idiot.  I said it and I’m not afraid to admit it.  Talk to me about a horse, or even a cow or lamb; I can speak semi-intelligently.  Talk to me about anything mechanical, and my eyes will glaze over and I may even drool out of the corner of my mouth.  If I can’t fix it with a set of jumper cables, we are in trouble!

But, I did finally get the tractor rolling and was busily shredding pastures most of the day.  It was hot and I was really glad when I had finally gotten to the last little bit up around my round pen.  To set the stage a little, we have a simple little bridge like thing that my daughter uses to teach her lambs to push.  It is a 4x8 sheet of plywood screwed to 2x8’s.  I have even used it to walk my colts over, so it is somewhat of an effective tool.  Not so, on this day.  I thought I would use the bucket of the tractor to get under the edge of it, lift a little and just push it out of the way while I mowed.  Seemed simple enough and it worked just fine, to a point…

If you have ever used a shredder, you know there is all kinds a grass and brush flying around, so after mowing most of the day I was not paying much attention to  what was flying around my head.  When I picked the bridge up, and started to slide it out of the way, I suddenly noticed that the stuff flying around my head had suddenly increased.  Still I was oblivious to my imminent danger.  All of the sudden somebody shot me in the back of my arm.  That’s when I noticed some giant prehistoric pterodactyl sized bees boiling out from underneath the bridge.  As the second one hit my hand and ripped a hunk a flesh out of it, I realized I no longer wanted to be on the tractor.  But the tractor was still moving in low first gear, so I knew I had a responsibility to shut it off.  It was at the moment that wanted to turn off the tractor that I noticed that my hand was moving in the same gear as tractor (I had never noticed how slow I was before).  The pterodactyl bees were now pinging me with all of the ferocity of pack of velociraptors.  I finally bailed off the tractor and immediately broke out my ninja moves as my first line of defense.  I started karate chopping and high kicking in an attempt to fight off the pack of giant bees.  At some point I realized that my karate skills were not helping in the least bit.  So the next line of defense was kicked in and I started running away from the tractor, all the while flailing…er karate chopping, the bees into oblivion.  I ran toward the house and covered the hundred yards in near Olympic speed, all the while waving my arms around and doing my best to distract the bees by shouting at them (as everybody knows, shouting at bees will distract them).  There were only about four pterodactyl bees that could match my speed, so we had a showdown at the gate.  I fought them to a bloody draw right there at the pasture gate and I am going to claim victory because they cannot dispute it. 
Actual Size may have been larger!

I knew that I’d been stung a bunch of times, so I thought it was prudent to get in the house and take an antihistamine.  My sprint from the barn area had caused me to run just a little short of oxygen, so I was sucking oxygen like a dying cow when I burst into the house.  My poor bride must have thought I was crazy, but she was trooper and killed the last three bees that had made into the house with me.  She said that she thought I had cut my foot off with the shredder or something…not just a few little bees.  Obviously she had killed the baby bees, because the ones that I fought at the barn were of a much, much larger variety.
As I close, I will just say…be careful out there, it that time of year.  Whether it’s snakes or giant pterodactyl bees; whether you’re on a horse or a on a tractor, pay attention to what’s going on around you.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Believe

So many people in today's society try to look at worldly things to get "pumped up". Some things can't come from the world; including having trouble with your self-esteem, feeling unforgivable, or even having fear. Sometimes you need something stronger than what the world can give you; I believe that the stronger cure is connecting with God by reading the Bible.

So many women nowadays have self-esteem issues. Girls see people in magazines, and girls want to look exactly like those women; when they don't they feel ugly or not worth other people's attention. Well this is simply not how God wanted us to feel. One day Cynthia was looking in magazine and she felt this way exactly, but she opened her Bible. The first thing she saw was Proverbs 31:25, it says, "She is clothed and strength and dignity and laughs without fear the future." This verse gave her a strength to see who God wanted her to be. This was God's point of the verse, to show us how He wants us to act. She also saw that through Him she could have pride in herself and in God. God gives us these type of verses to bring us a peacefulness and show us that we can become new in Him. We can also realize that we are worthy of people’s attention and that we are beautiful. I believe that reading the Bible can better yourself esteem and give you the self confidence that you could not have had without God.

It is in human nature to do bad things, but that does not mean that you are unforgivable. God can forgive you! One day Daniel knew he had done something horrible, he had lied, he also thought that if people knew the truth they would never forgive him. He talked to his youth leader about it and his youth leader told him to read the story of David. He found out that David was a murder, a liar, a cheat, and even adulterer, yet he was still considered a man after God's own heart. Daniel was overjoyed he knew what he had to do, tell the truth and know that God would forgive him- and that was all that mattered. If you read the story of David you'll see many, many times he messed up, but he always turned back to God and every time God forgave him. This was amazing news for Daniel, and it can be amazing news for you too. I believe that reading the Bible can make you see that you are forgivable!

Today so many people are afraid of war and what other people can do to them. This is not how God wants us to live. Pastor Saeed is a man being held for his faith, he is now going on his third year in one of the world’s toughest prisons. He is beaten daily, among other horrible things, yet he doesn't ask to be rescued. What does he ask? He asks for the guards in charge of him to become Christians, that's all he wants, to be a witness. Psalm 118:6  says, "God is on my side. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" This is why Pastor Saeed doesn't ask to be saved, he knows that no matter what they do to him in prison, in the end he will be in the throne room of God and all the anguish he is in now won't even matter.  Man can do so many things to us, but how many of them are eternal? Nothing that man can do to us is eternal, that is what God is trying to tell us here. That no matter what the world does, God can always forgive us, and we will always be His. If we are Christians we are God’s children and He will take care of us no matter what. So I believe that reading the Bible can give you peace about what is going to happen, because no matter what happens God will always have our back.

So why try getting peace from the world? Somethings only God can help us with the most important things, that's why he gave us the Bible, to learn that God is an all powerful God and that He always has our best interest in mind. So go home and read your Bible you will be amazed at how much it can do.
Alicia Johnson

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Scamper the Wonder Horse

Scamper the Wonder Horse was my first horse; well to say she was a horse was stretch.  Scamper was a pony, my Dad bought her for me and she was mine; but a horse?  I think not.  I think he paid maybe twenty-five dollars for her…or maybe he traded nine chickens for her.  I’m not really sure, but she was mine and I was as proud as any five year old could be.  She was the beginning of my cowboy career and I had plans to be the next Jim Shoulders and Phil Lyne all rolled into one.

But before my cowboy career could begin, Scamper had a few kinks that needed ironing out.  Not huge issues, just things like laying down when she didn’t want to go and running off when she did want to go.  There wasn’t a whole lot of in between with Scamper.  But it wasn’t a big deal for a top hand like I was going to be.  It was just a chance to show the world a what a wolf of the world looked like.

The first thing we dealt with was the running off, and really the running off wasn’t that huge a deal.  Heck, I could ride her as fast as she could run.  It was all the things she would brush me against the concerned me!  She would run off (which consisted of a combination of her bone jarring trot and her ground hammering lope) with me pulling on both reins for all I was worth and Dad would start hollering, “Just pull one rein, just pull one rein”

That was easy for him to say, he wasn’t riding this wild mustang that I was riding.  I couldn’t hear him anyway; I was way more concerned with dying.  We would bolt around the arena, or around the barn, with her brushing up against things trying to knock me off and me pulling for all I was worth to get her to stop.  Once Dad had several young horses tied to the fence when Scamper ran off.  She ran up between the fence and those young horses.  You would have thought it would have caused a big wreck, but other than undoing all of Dad’s training, breaking a few lead ropes and catching those lead ropes under my chin as I laid back in the saddle….it went surprisingly well.

The laying down was the other issue that I needed to work out with her.  When she didn’t want to go anymore, she would just lay down.  Didn’t matter where you were or what you were doing.  She’d just quit.  I spent many a day jumping up and down on her sides trying to get her to get back up.  All she would do was just lay out on her side like she was just waiting to die.  And I can tell you, there were many time I wished she would have died…or that I could have killed her!

We got most of these kinks worked out in the arena and Dad finally felt comfortable enough to take me with him to check cows.  I was some kinda excited.  I left the house in all my cowboy gear ready to show my Dad what a hand I had become.  I had my best hat, my boots, my rope  and my chaps.  I also had what no self-respecting cowboy would be without; I had my pistol in the holster on my hip.  I, not only was ready to do cowboy work, I was dressed properly to perform these important actions. 

Dad was riding a big gelding we called Festus. 

Now Festus, it seemed to me, was nineteen feet tall with a head that was almost that long too.  So, Scamper and I did have somewhat of a hard time keeping up.  The best we could manage was to travel a little ways back of them, in her spine battering trot.  At one point, I started to wonder if I would ever have kids (just kidding, what five year old thinks about having kids?).  I couldn’t have been prouder though.  I was going to do real live cowboy work on my own horse, with my Dad.  Whoo Hoo!

As we traveled along, suddenly Dad kicked Festus into a lope and they soared over this irrigation ditch.  It probably wasn’t a huge ditch, at least not for Festus.  They cleared it rather easily and Dad pulled up on the other side to check on me.  I pulled ol’ Scamper to a stop at the edge of the ditch and it might as well have been the Atlantic Ocean.  I felt like, not only was I riding the smallest horse in the world, but that I was the littlest kid too.

But, my Dad was there to encourage me.  He didn’t say too much, no long speeches for him that day.  He just said, “You can make it”.  If it was one thing I believed, it was whatever my Dad told me.  Heck I was the kid he could get to jump off the top of the garage into his arms…man, after writing that down…I wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer was I?  But I digress…back to the ditch.

I turned Scamper around and rode back toward the house, when I was about twenty yards away I turned around and lined her up on the ditch.  I took the end of my reins and started whipping her over and under, I knew that we needed a lot of speed to cross that Grand Canyon of an irrigation ditch.  I would like to say that she took off with all of the speed of a thouroghbred racehorse, but we were pretty much in that same spleen splattering trot/lope thing.  But she was going somewhat faster.  As we neared the ditch, I started having visions of us flying over that ditch somewhat like Pegasus.  That we would clear it and I would come to a sliding stop like the top professionals that we were.  I could just picture my Dad’s chest swelling up with pride, knowing that his legacy was going to continue in a grand fashion.  There would be dancehall gals singing and everyone would be beating me on the back in congratulations and buying me drinks……of milk.

As we raced toward the edge of the ditch, with all of the brain rattling, kidney collapsing speed that could be mustered by a short legged pony; Scamper must have been feeling all of the confidence that I was oozing, because at about ten feet from the ditch, she jumped. She surely must have thought that she grew wings.

To say we missed would be an understatement.  We landed smack dab in the middle of the ditch and sunk to the bottom.  Obviously not a wide ditch, but it was deep.  Both of us went under and came back up spraying water like a couple of Beluga whales.  As we scrambled out, to my horror…I could hear my Dad laughing.  I was cold and wet, not the least bit happy about the situation and I had a new found hate in my heart for this worthless, early jumping, nine chicken pony.  But my Dad…he just couldn’t stop laughing.  I just knew that I could no longer call myself a cowboy, I mean, come on…any hand worth his salt could have made that jump, right?

Dad finally got himself under control and shared with me some of the wrecks he had growing.  He let me know part of being a cowboy was celebrating the wrecks that you have.  Laughter is contagious and eventually I laughed a little too.  It wasn’t until much later that I realized that this was part of the initiation that goes along with being a cowboy.  If you haven’t been a wreck or two, then you probably have done much.

You know, I don’t really recall what happened to Scamper.  I just remember I started riding real horses at some point.  I supposed Dad traded her off to the next growing cowboy, or maybe he sold her for twelve chickens.  I don’t know.