A Barking Dog

Oh, would that I were a barking dog,

Free to woof and growl,

I’d bark at kids on the way to school,

And on their way home again.

I’d bark in the day and awaken

So I could bark at a sound in the night.

If you think my bark discordant,

And it bothers you so much,

Just remember, as a dog, I’m immune.

I bark because I have to, my ancestors barked and barked,

And now it’s compulsive, like lightening and thunder.

The UPS driver, and the FedEx guy too, understand my dilemma,

So why don’t you?

I want not to bark, but as it is uncontrollable, so I will simply

Run to your side, as if to say, “I know, I know.”

You’ll be sorry when I’m quiet and gone,

You’ll wish I were there to help you carry on.

Just remember, if you will,

I’m just a dog,

And I love you still.

– Small town boy

Horses

My father was a vetrinarian, but

I don’t remember him treating horses,

Just piglets.

Though I never owned a horse,

I rode.

I rode at church camp and scout camp in the Colorado Rockies.

The wranglers often gave me the hard to handle riding horses, because I could handle them.

Except for the one who tried to brushing me off by going under a low hanging tree.

Although he was unsuccessful in this attempt, I had to eat Jello for dinner because of a bloody mouth.

We were charging, like wild Indians, and I couldn’t slow him down.

Five years later I worked in the kitchen of the Rawah Dude Ranch in northern Colorado, where the help was not permitted to ride the horses. Mostly they were work horses uses to pack into Rawah Lake in the Rawah Wilderness area, or as log pullers when timber harvesting was done.

He had a pair of horses, one black and one white to pull the logs.

But they had to hitch up the black one first and get him started, then the white one.

As she (the white) worked up the hill passed him, he would come to life and struggle to beat her to the top.

One of the largest pack horses, Tom, many hands high, was nortoriously spooky. One day as I was holding his reins after he was packed with camping and fishing gear, he spooked and tore off through the brush destroying the fishing gear and spreading camping gear everywhere..

The owner of the Rawah Guest Ranch raised Arabians, and provided stud service to interested mares from nearby ranches.

However, all the college kids on the ranch were required to be in the bunkhouse, so as not to see the stallion do his job.

It was thought by the owner that he didn’t want his employees behaving in a manner like those college kids in Estes Park, who came from all over the country to party.

The owner had bred his own Arabian mare, with the result being a beautiful colt, named Rawah.

However, Rawah got into the barbed wire and cut himself badly, but since the owner was a Christian Scientist, he would not call the vet, and the colt died.

Thirty years later, my wife and I decided our ten year old bossy daughter needed something large to boss around, so we signed her up at a nearby stable in Portland, Oregon, where she rode and cared for her horse.

I decided it looked like fun, and since I only knew how to ride western, that i would learn English as well.

When I fell after a stirrup broke, it was a soft landing in the bark feathers in the arena.

My instructor said that it takes twenty falls to be an expert.

Words to live by.

– Small town boy

The Ocean

God is like the ocean.

Powerful, beautiful, and dangerous.

S/He ebbs and flows with lunar cycles.

One can stand at the edge and watch or enter the surf and feel the power, straining against it.

In warmer climes, one can swim in the salty waters, until one is  out of their depth, but stll able to stay afloat, because of belief in the ability to float and swim.

There are boats on the water, large and small, some fishing the depths, some transporting cargo to unknown places.

There are animals near the shore, birds, crabs, sea lions, and sand shrimp, all occupying there own niche, all a part of the oceans ecology.

Am I part of God’s ecology?

In the depths, where I can not see, live giant whales, sharks, fish, octopi and squid, and so much more: diverse in nature but adapted to life in the sea, each having its own part to play, each a part of the food cycle.

Am I part of the spiritual food cycle? Whom do I prey (pray) upon, and who preys (prays) on me?

The sea has been here before me and will be here long after I’m gone.

As I stand here naked before it, arms upraised, willing myself to resonate with its roar, I await the day.

Resistance is futile, harmful, and not in keeping with why I was made, not in keeping with my basic, fundamental nature.

Being open and working with the forces present allow me to ride the crest of the wave, to receive the power offered, and to live with a force stronger than my own and feed as my soul requires.

Thank God for the ocean and it’s abundance.

The ocean is great and reaches far away past the horizon to where others stand by it and marvel at its grace, beauty and power, my brothers and sisters on this globe,

A planet, when seen from afar, is notable because it is blue,

Blue because of the ocean.

Let me sail forth today, find the spirit of God, and fish for the sustenance offered me.

Let me be with other sailors riding the wind and the waves, going together on life’s journey today.

Amen

– Small town boy

Winter is filled with geese and frogs

I know, it’s not winter yet, but it feels like it today.

The wind is blowing, scattered showers, and dark skies.

Leaves are falling, some leaves have already fallen, gynkos are in the midst of leaf drop.

As I walk my red golden retriever, Tawny, around the park in an effort to stop sitting around, we hear frogs and geese.

Frogs are loud though they are small and my dog is confused, especially in the backyard. to bark or not to bark?

I think they take turns. Frogs then geese and then frogs again.

Geese fly over the house in their gaggling style, each encouraging the other; each calling out their position in the Vee, as they fly from Ankeny Wildlife Refuge in the west to Findlay Wildlife Refuge in the south and Basket Slough Wildlife Refuge in the north. Grass, new, fresh, and succulent is everywhere. Scaregooses do little to prevent their settling into a field and gobbling grass.

There are twenty little birds in the dying birch in my backyard, waiting for me to go back inside so they can feed at the bird feeder uninterrupted. Their songs are sweet and cheerful, finches and juncos mostly.

Little tree frogs croak to attract females and discourage males, yes?

But do they sing to each other, geese and frogs?

Is there something the frog wants to say to the geese flying overhead?

What would a goose tell the frog on the ground, safe in my backyard?

“Winter is coming!”

The frog tells the geese to get out of the sky and find a safe warm place to be for the winter. The goose says, “You need to get out more often.”

The goose tells the frog that there is lots to eat in the field next door, but frogs are not interested in grass, fresh or no.

Many other conversations go on in my backyard and in the park across the street, but I don’t have access to them.

But I hear the message that winter is coming, and go inside and wonder 

If there will be snow this winter?

My dog says, “What is snow?”

– Small town boy

The Mouse, the Louse, and the blue nosed pig

Said the mouse to the louse, Let’s get out of the house,

And go see the pig with the sky blue snout.

I dont know why, you need  to see the pig,

Is this frivolous or is it something big?

I want to se the marvelous pig,

Not because he does a jig,

Or because he eats a fig, no

It’s something we share.

Have’t you noticed?

You haven’t the remotest,

There’s something about us,

It’s something we share,

Something deep inside us,

Something others may not see,

You don’t see it in Me, but

Because he realizes it in him,

Discerns something of the universe, something kind, some empathetic response,

I see it brightly in him,

He sees it loudly in Me.

I love him and he loves me,

We just feel better when we’re tigether, you know?

Do you have someone like that? Said the mouse with an orange tail.

I do, said the louse, it’s you.

Then come along and we will go see the pig with the blue snout.

OK, I ‘ll come, but first I must paint my toenails yellow.

– Small town boy


There’s Something in the Park

There’s something in the park today, something green.

It’s bigger than a bread box (google it) and it is not vegetable or mineral.

I don’t know where it came from, the children have been talking about it for weeks,

But it was only today that I saw it, in the morning sun, grazing on the grass.

I forget what it is called (there’s some controversy about its name) but it is big, huge, bigger than a house,

And longer too, and taller, and heavier.

I don’t know where it came from, the children have been  talking to it for weeks,

And they say it’s not going anywhere.

They like to ride on it, but as large as it is and as small as the park is , it doesn’t go far.

Better, they like to slide down  it’s neck and, after walking across its back, continue to slide down its tail.

It came from an egg, I think, but it’s not going anywhere.

It shits really big piles of poop, which I and all the neighbors scoop up and  put in our composite bins (nearly filling them up).

It’s better than elephant poop (Zoo Doo) for gardens and planters and such.

It makes no sound, its small brain is totally consumed with walking and eating and pooping.

It can’t sing, but the children sing to it.

They sing happy songs, fun songs, songs about home and hearth, and it smiles.

Yes, I said it smiles, and then the children smile too,

I even catch myself grinning occasionally, you know.

I asked my grandchildren what it is and they said “It is a Marjorie.”

“A Marjorie?” I ask.

Yes they say, she told us so.

Who am I to disagree?  It keeps them out of the house and from underfoot.

It stops the constant barrage of, “Grandpa, watch this.”

But it doesn’t stop them from going to school.

Actually she encourages school, and reading, and math, and exercise,

Because she has no children of her own, she helps raise ours.

I love Marjorie.

I don’t know where she came from, an  egg I think, but I’m glad she’s here and

I thank the children for introducing me to her.

= Small town boy

Nothing to say

I have nothing to say to you.

I listen quietly for your voice. 

I clear my self tip to toe for what will come. 

Hush mind. Hush my heart. Body be quiet with your complaints. Spirit drop your expectations.

I am here at the end of the day hoping for a message to end the day like the one that I began with you this morning outside picking up the paper in my bathrobe.

Remember? We looked over the roofline hoping to see the rest of the moon, the leftover after its waning in cloudless skies.

The morning was breathless as I saw trees in the park allowing their bright yellow to be seen, as their green evaporated and they fell panting to the ground in colorful abundance.

Such a start to my day, our day.

I happily walked grandkids to the school bus with Tawny, my red golden Retreiver. She was happy.

I felt so good walking today that I continued past the park down Summerfield where all the new houses are complete or started, save one. Over half are sold and most of them occupied in houses not yet a year old. 

No birds, no redwing blackbirds, sang in the wetland next door to the new houses. To early? Too late? Come back after the rains.

The day has been filled with chats with my wife, and touches, and food fresh from the garden that is lowering my glucose levels in the morning.

Planes are heard outside my window tonight after the warm day, because the airport is only a few miles away.

My dog is tired of being thrown off the bed and sleeps by the door. She will join me later in the night and cuddle me off the bed.

I eagerly await  our new meditative time early in the morning. I expect nothing but I’m all eyes for what new thing I might see.

So since I have nothing to say, I’ll just say goodnight.

Thanks for today.

I love you

– Small town boy

Life Quilt, row 5, #1 – bicycling the Oregon Coast

So many stories, so little time.


My first time on the Oregon Coast (Hwy 101) was during the first Cycle Oregon in September, 1988, right in the midst of my dissertation. 


I remember the strong headwind we faced out of Mapleton on the way west to Florence. I remember learning to draft (riding closely behind the rear wheel of the rider in front of you for wind protection and cadence).  Each rider took the front for a spell and then the leader rotated back to the end of the line. BTW coastal winds generally flow from north to south. Smart cyclists take that into account and travel north to south as we did.

After Florence came Sea Lions Cave, North Bend, and nightfall in Coos Bay.

then Bandon, Port Orford and Gold Beach.

And last Brookings. 

Well, that was not actually my first ride along the Pacific coast. That ride occurred in about 1983 when my son John and his two friends Maureen and Leslie camped at Cape Lookout (see above) and then rode the Three Capes scenic route in two days.

It was then I first saw what would become our beachhouse in Terra Del Mar. When we returned from the trip a letter was waiting for me. Bike Gallery, where we had gotten parts in preparation for the ride, had drawn my name and I got a free Brookstone touring bike.

I would ride this road from Tierra del Mar to the top of Cape Lookout and back often as a training ride.  When I rode across Wisconsin, each day someone would say, “Wait til you get to THE hill!” None of the hills compared to this climb.  Initially with John and friends we had to walk our bikes over the top, both ways.

It was 100 miles from my home in Portland to the beach house in Tierra Del Mar, but there was a shortcut.With the advent of Max light Rail in the Portland Metro area it made riding to the beach much easier. By taking your bike onto the MAX train from Lloyd Center to Hillsboro you chop off 24 miles, urban miles, with hills, on a four lane highway.

Then by riding the backroad from Hillsboro to Forest Grove and Banks to US 6 which will follow the Lewis river you can climb 7 miles and go down 24 miles. The shoulder is nice and the traffic is not bad.  Jack rode with me after he got his new touring bike. Then it’s a short 20 miles to Tierra del Mar.

Side note: my great grandson found a giant spider in the house!


A western Hobo Spider, not toxic.

My Life Quilt #2 – Costa Rica

This is the second square of memories from the Life Square made for me by my friend Joanne for my 75th birthday..

My wife Betsy and I went to Costa Rica on a birding trip with Road Scholars where I bought this tee shirt with the macaw in it.

While it’s true that we saw birds everywhere, even during meals in outdoor restaurants and dining rooms, the most memorable event we shared was because Betsy wanted to walk along the beach.

We left the tour bus and walked through a small town to get to the beach, when we heard raucous cries. When we looked up we saw a pair of macaws flying into the trees near the shore. Exquisite! We couldn’t have had a better show or viewing of a mated pair. Thank you Betsy.


One more thing in this memory: a hotel on wheels! At the other end of the beach was a semi truck with a very large trailer. As we walked closer we could see that it was set up and being used for a hotel!


Sort of like this German one called a Rotel, but the one we saw was from Australia, I think.

Although I had done a lot of traveling after my retirement, as a global volunteer, this was only one of two trips Betsy was able to come with me. You see, we had adopted three of our grandchildren in 1992 and that required her to stay at home, so I really loved her for coming in this beautiful trip we had planned together.

I love you Betsy.

– Small town boy 

Corvallis AC

There’s a phenomenon here in Corvallis, OR

That I call Corvallis AC

It’s a breeze that comes in from the Pacific

50 miles to the west.

It cools off the day and cools off the house and

Cools off the people in the house.

A zephyr

In Portlnd we had gorge winds from the Columbia gorge to the east,

But it often blew an ill-wind,

Snow and freezing ice,

As it blew below the warmer, moister sea breezes from the west,

It made freezing rain and black ice.

Transformers would explode in a vision of yellow sparks in the night,

And lights would go out.

But here in Corvallis everyone loves the evening zephyr,

Except maybe cyclist who complained to me,

On my Honda Motorscooter,

About the wind

With no one in front of them

To break the wind

And set the cadence

As we had on the first Cycle Oregon when we turned into the wind

From Mapleton to Florence on hwy 126

And made new friends and

Learned the protocol for drafting:

The leader changes, every mile, and each member of the line gets a chance

To face the wind.

Kites are abundant at the beach with strong winds for

Stunt kites that dance and swoop above the sand.

But no kites here,

Only the occasional turkey vulture

Soaring and sailing in the up drafts.

I envy them,

And I envy the woman in South Africa who

Went hang gliding with the cape vultures! Ahhhh!

So I will just enjoy the little zephyr who cools my patio

On the east side of the house.

My old neighbor sent their children to ACE school

And their science books said that the wind

Was the breath of God.

Thanks God.

-small town boy