Monthly Archives: October 2010

Summer Time Ends

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I never thought I would be jealous of the British, but this morning as I am making coffee in the dark, I am.

Those lucky Brits all got to sleep in this morning. “Why?” Today marks the end of British Summer Time; that’s why. You must be thinking, “Didn’t summer end in mid September?” It is true that the good old autumnal equinox falls in the latter half of September, and that is when we westerners consider that summer ends. However, those limeys are apparently not beholden to all that scientific mumbo-jumbo, so for them, Summer Time ends today.

We westerners tend to go for feel-good terminology like the phrase Daylight Savings Time. But let me ask you something, “Do we really save daylight?”

I see similarities between the inference of saving daylight during Daylight Savings Time, and the current misleading political reference to extending tax-cuts. Politicians talk about the tax-cut extension, often failing to point out that tax-cuts are not even a consideration. So the phrase, not extending tax-cuts is really just a euphemism for raising taxes. Moreover, in an apparent attempt to make these so-called tax-cuts evil and unworthy of extension, they are labeled the “Bush era” tax-cuts. After all, who wants to extend Bush?

It is too bad that the nasty “Bush era” Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended Daylight Savings Time though the first Sunday of November, was not set to expire this year too. I guess I will just have to wait another week to get my extra hour of sleep this fall.

Yawning, I pour myself another cup of coffee.

You know it sounds crazy, but I have actually heard people say that, during Daylight Savings Time, you get an extra hour of daylight. If someone says this, do not even try to reason with them. I have also heard it said that not raising taxes is the same as giving a tax break. Do not believe that either. These people are not rational, likely believe in collective salvation, and think there are 57 States (not counting solid, liquid, or gas).

And while I’m on the subject of the South Side of Chicago …

Even Jim Croce knew you could not save Time in a Bottle, and as we all should know, You Don’t Mess Around with Jim.

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Mary and Jari

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Yesterday was a momentous day in Guymon Oklahoma. We got the attention of both gubernatorial candidates as they made a stop in Guymon with just one week to go before elections. Out here in the Panhandle of Oklahoma, we do not usually get too much attention from statewide candidates. So regardless of anyone’s political affiliation, I thought it was nice to have them both stop by for a visit.

I mean no disrespect by calling these women by their first names, but I am never quite certain how I should refer to them when introduced. “I’m very pleased to meet you, Madam Candidate.” “Nice to meet you, Mrs. er.. ah.. is it Mz?” “Your Honor?” “The pleasures all mine, Ma’am.” One candidate used to be the Lt. Governor and the other holds the office today, so maybe it’s “I am so pleased to meet you Lieutenant, a-ten-hut!” Probably not.

When introduced to men of importance, I feel less uncertainty, less hesitation. “My pleasure, Sir.” “Pleased to meet you Mr. …” There is just no guesswork in it for me when meeting guys.

Fortunately, one of these two outstanding candidates, who happen to both be women, is going to settle this confusion for me. Oklahomans will make history next week when we elect the first women governor of Oklahoma. When I greet one of them I know exactly what I’ll say, “I am very happy to meet you, Governor …, whoever you are.”

I did not get to greet Congresswomen Mary Fallin this trip, although I have been introduced to her in the past. She flew in to our small rural airport and took off again 45 minutes later. She only had a short meet and greet out at the airport. I thought about going out to greet her, but Lt. Governor Jari Askins stopped by my place of business about that same time, so I talked-turkey with her instead.

Actually, we did talk turkey, turkey hunting that is. Although a democrat and trailing in the polls, she supports gun ownership, turkey hunting, and she thinks state question 756 allowing Oklahoma residents to opt-out of federal health care will pass, and said it probably should. She also said she does not pay any attention to the polls. She did mention that MSNBC had contacted her earlier in the day to get a statement about something her opponent had said in a debate recently, but she offered me no details. Then when asked what the differences between her and her opponent were, without hesitation she quipped, “We’re pretty much the same, except my hair is shorter.”

You have to respect a candidate that will not allow the news media to drag them down into the mud along with them. It is certainly too bad that there has to be a loser in this gubernatorial race. These are two fine candidates, nice women, and good people. One thing is for sure though; the people of Oklahoma will not be losers. We will all be winners no matter the outcome next Tuesday, when we go to the polls and elect the first female governor of the fine State of Oklahoma.

Be part of history: Vote!

Time Stood Still

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In the never-ending process of cleaning out my garage, I have been sorting through stacks and stacks of old pack boxes. I accept the fact that I will never ever be able to park a vehicle in my garage, but I need to make room for my mother-in-law who is coming to live with us. You must be thinking I am a horrible person for cleaning out the garage for my mother-in-law, but you have not seen my garage.

Did you ever live next to someone who accidently left their garage door open, and you call them just before bedtime to let them know? When my garage door gets left open, perfect strangers knock on my front door wanting to buy stuff. I cannot even open my garage door long enough to get the lawn mower out without causing a traffic jam on 4th Street.

Just the other day while going through a box of old things out in the garage, I came onto a wall clock with a Monfort logo on it. Looking at the clock brought back some fond memories of my 20 plus years with that meat packing company. Unfortunately, the clock had apparently pushed up against the outside of the container it was stored in, and the face of the clock became scratched up while stowed away for all those years. I hesitated only a moment, and then tossed the clock into the 40-gallon trashcan that was already half full of forgotten knick-knacks, memories, and trash. My wife pulled the clock from the garbage, suggesting I should keep it, even if only to hang it in the garage. I agreed.

I eventually decided I should take that old clock to my office at the plant, and hang it up on the wall right next to my office door as I had always done back when I worked at Monfort. I put a screw in the wall and hung the clock. I found a battery for it in my desk. The time on the clock read 12:18, but the clock did not run. The battery from my desk drawer must have been dead, but I left the clock up on the wall anyway. After all, even a broken clock is right twice a day. I kept forgetting to bring a fresh battery from home, so the time stayed at 12:18 for several days, the remainder of that week and all the next. Time stood still.

Then on Sunday as I was sitting in my office, the auditors, who had been out in the plant testing inventory counts all morning, stopped by to let me know that our inventory was a few boxes short but that one of our supervisors was still looking into it. The auditors were leaving the plant for a while and would be back later in the day. My office door closed behind them as they left. I leaned back in my office chair and just shook my head. “We have not been off on our inventory counts in a number of years,” I lamented to myself. It was then that I heard a strange noise in my office, a crunching quiet sound, but where is that coming from? I looked around, and then I looked up on the wall. The second hand on the Monfort clock was moving. The sound I heard was the tick-tock of that old clock. “This is weird,” I thought to myself, “the battery must not have been dead after all.” The time on the clock still read 12:18, so it had just started running when the door shut behind the auditors, shaking the wall and nudging the clock just enough to cause it to start running.

As I began to get up from my chair to go reset the time on the clock, I glanced over at the corner of my computer screen to determine the exact time. The time on my PC read 12:18 PM. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, and I felt a chill in the air. That old Monfort wall clock used to keep perfect time. I guess it still does. Our supervisor found those missing boxes too. I should never have doubted it for a minute.

I need to go back to cleaning and sorting in my garage now. There are many memories to sort through out there, and I never know what I might discover. Actually, my mother-in-law will not be living in the garage, but I do need to convert my den into a bedroom for her. All my exercise equipment and some of the bookcases in the den need relocated out into the garage. My wife returned home from her trip bringing her mother here just last night, so a new adventure in my incredible journey though life will now begin. While my wife was gone away from home picking up her mother, I checked into self-storage rentals, and I have now decided that to make enough room for my mother-in-law, our best solution is to rent a storage unit.

I sure hope she likes it.

Time will tell.

Memory Lane Closing

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While the nation focuses on the federal government taking control over areas of our lives way beyond the powers provided for by the U.S. Constitution, the City of Guymon is quietly planning to close Memory Lane.

According to a press release from the city of Guymon, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, the City of Guymon will be closing off Memory Lane from Highway 54 east to Hurliman Road to replace and repair the concrete and asphalt in that area. Lloyd Boles, Streets Director for the City of Guymon, has been busy notifying businesses in that area about the project.  Boles and his crew will be setting out road blocks and detour signs in the area before Behne Construction starts the project on Wednesday.

Local traffic that needs to go east on Memory Lane will be rerouted to Jerry Street northeast of Memory Lane on Highway 54 to Patricia Drive and then back south to Memory Lane to go east. Hurliman will remain open off Highway 54 and Hwy 3 for regular traffic, only local traffic from residents living in that area or funeral processions will be allowed down Memory Lane in between Patricia and Hurliman. Access to the truck stop, restaurant and motel will only be available from the Highway 54 entrances.

“We realize this will be an inconvenience for the customers of these businesses and homeowners east of this project area. However, this intersection east and onto Memory Lane is getting very rough due to high traffic and in need of replacement and repair in order to make it easier on customers and residents utilizing it,” said Ivan Clark, Public Works Director for the City.

What is this world coming to when here in sleepy little Guymon USA the local government is allowed to close Memory Lane?

The City says Memory Lane needs these improvements. I say you cannot and should not reroute Memory Lane, and what our City is trying to do is revisionism of the worst kind.

Call your City Fathers today, and tell them to stop the Memory Lane reconstructionism.

Paid for by: The Committee to Prevent Short-term Loss of Memory Lane.

Blue Pigeon

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Every Saturday during the last days of summer, I sat out on my patio conversation set for a morning cup of coffee. Those days were always slow to begin, and so the mornings went by quickly. Sometime before 11:00 a.m., we would hurry off to the Main Street Guymon Farmer’s Market. As summer wound down in the Oklahoma Panhandle, I was saddened that the fresh supply of homegrown garden produce was coming to an end.

It was the next to the last weekend that the Main Street Guymon organization would block off 5th Street between Ellison and Main for the locals to sell their produce and crafts. It would be the last Saturday for some of the vendors, as the mornings grew colder and their gardens grew bare. We bought a thirty-five pound pumpkin for five dollars, and found just enough zucchini to cook our last zucchini pizza of the season. We took a little longer picking out what to buy, because there was less to choose from, and we knew we would not see some of these folks until next season.

Two men were selling honey grown in one of the men’s beehives. I knew both men, so we traded pleasantries, and then we traded stories. One of the men had a novelty cane made with pipe fittings, and when he flipped it end for end, it became a novelty golf putter. We talked about the same things that we have always talked about when we run into each other. We told the same stories that we always tell. We listened to the same tales we had heard before, and we behaved as if the tales were being told for the very first time. This is what you do when you see someone you enjoy talking with, but do not know them well enough to talk about anything else. That is what we did.

The man with the novelty cane began to tell me his Blue Pigeon joke. I may have heard him tell it once before. It’s the one about the time Guymon had a big problem with pigeons.

The city had tried everything to get rid of the pigeons, but the pigeon population continued to grow, and so did the mess they left on the buildings and sidewalks of Main Street. The city officials heard about a traveling man who guaranteed he could get rid of the pigeon problem, and at no charge, but on one condition. That single condition being that they could ask no questions or the fee would be $5,000. The city leaders agreed.

So, the traveling man came to Guymon, bringing only a single birdcage with him. The Mayor met the traveling man at the corner of 5th and Main, just a few yards from where we stood that morning at the Farmer’s Market telling stories. Then, the traveling man reached into his birdcage, pulled out a Blue Pigeon, and immediately released it up into the air. That Blue Pigeon flew straight down the middle of Main Street, and as it flew, all the other pigeons that had lined the building tops took flight and followed that Blue Pigeon. They followed him down to the stop light on the highway. Then, being led by the Blue Pigeon, they all took a right turn and flew on out of town, never to be seen again.

The Mayor was extremely impressed, and now he had one question he felt he had to ask. The traveler reminded him that the fee would be $5,000 if he were to ask even a single, simple question. The Mayor, being fully aware of the $5,000 fee, still felt that he had to know, and so he asked the traveler, “Do you have any Blue Illegal Immigrants?”

I did not laugh at the punch line. There was an awkward moment of silence.

The man explained the punch line to me. The other man mentioned that the joke might not be politically correct. I said that novelty cane is “really something.” We told another story or two. I bought a container of honey, and hurried off to pick out some other produce from the other vendors. That was the last time I saw the two men at the market. Only a few vendors showed up the last weekend. I guess the two must have decided not to sell honey that last Saturday.

I was glad I bought the honey when I had the opportunity, although I could give the man a call if I needed more. I have enjoyed the honey, but it turned bittersweet for me last week. The man who told the Blue Pigeon story passed away, a week ago, Saturday. I was stunned when I heard the news. I reflected on how I had just seen him such a short while before at the Farmer’s Market. He seemed fine; he was fine. We had traded stories. You just never know what the future holds. You just never know when someone will go. Just like that. You just never know.

I wish I had laughed.

My Wheelchair

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Five years ago, I tried out for the leading man in the musical production of Annie at the Guymon Community Theatre. Had I gotten that role as Daddy Warbucks, I would have shaved my head and become a billionaire. I did not get the part. At first, I was disappointed not to get to be the man who sits atop the Forbes Fictional 15, but the director gave me the choice between taking the part of Bert Healy or the President of the United States. Choosing to be fully dressed, with or without a smile, I quickly settled into the character role of FDR.

The first thing I learned about dear old Franklin Delano Roosevelt is that he married his cousin, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt. So, now I have to pretend to be some guy who married his cousin and later became the President of the United States? I do not remember learning about this in school, but it is nonetheless true. Although, I am still trying to figure out if Eleanor kept her maiden name, took Franklin’s, or both. Take your pick. Either way, this just seems creepy to me.

I also learned that those Pince-nez glasses FDR wore do not stay on your nose when you are sweating under the stage lights. Thankfully, after much experimentation, I figured out that false eyelash glue works perfectly for keeping those Pince-nez spectacles on your face. I even learned something that FDR probably did not know: you cannot buy a tube of false eyelash glue without the false eyelashes, and the clerks at Wally World are not used to seeing guys go through the express lane buying false eyelashes for themselves.

I listened to all the recordings I could find of FDR speeches. I tried to imitate his accent, practiced the cadence of his words. I found one of those old cigarette holders on eBay too. I jutted my jaw forward, and I clinched that cigarette holder in my teeth until my checks ached. I applied his speech pattern to my lines as I rehearsed them. I tried to become FDR.

Although FDR did not want to be seen by the nation in his wheelchair, for this musical production, he needed to be seen in one. Somebody had spotted an antique wheelchair down at Guymon’s year around garage sale, so off I went to the dimly lit ex-VFW building to check it out. I found an antique wheelchair all right, but it was in pretty sorry condition with most of the wicker in need of repair or replacement. Plus, this chair was the super-pooper model, and I did not think that would look quite right in the footlights. I knew this chair would take a lot of work to be ready for the stage, but it was just what the President needed, so I bought it.

I had never done any kind of wicker repair work, so I surfed the Internet, reading tutorials and shopping for supplies, and finally ordering new webbing and spline for the chair. When the materials arrived, I had a problem. I had ordered natural wicker, but it was almost pure white. Turns out that wicker takes years of exposure to sunlight to turn that beautiful golden color. Going back to the Internet, I learned a little shortcut about giving wicker that aged look; when you wet the wicker, soak it in tea instead of water. We were without a bathtub for several days, but the tea bath worked perfectly. Then, after a bit of woodworking, no one would ever want to drop his or her drawers in this chair again. With the super-pooper feature permanently disabled, I sanded, I polished, I used a hair blow dryer to dry and tighten the wicker. Finally, after much work, love and attention, the chair was completed with only a few days to spare before opening night.

Following one of the performances, a frail little lady came up to me after the show to shake my hand and tell me how much she enjoyed my characterization of Roosevelt. “I remember him well, and you sounded just like him too,” she said to me. “You were very good, exactly like him, and I would know. I voted for him.”

“You can’t be old enough to remember Roosevelt,” I quipped as if it were a matter of fact.

Then returning the complement, she leaned in and whispered, “I think you played Roosevelt better than Roosevelt himself.”

What that woman said to me was music to my ears. I had finally done it. All the research, the practicing, the rehearsing, the hard work, it had all paid off. I had become FDR. I had become one with the wheelchair.

A year later, I rolled out onto the stage again as FDR in the sequel, Annie Warbucks. But ever since then, the old wheelchair has just been sitting in my garage. A few weeks ago, I finally came to a place where I decided I was ready to give up that old chair. I had come to terms, and was ready to say my good-byes. I loaded her up in the Suburban for one last trip down to the Guymon Community Theatre, where she will once again roll onto the stage and into the spotlight. Come this December, in the performance of It’s a Wonderful Life she will be seen in the roll [sic] of Henry F. Potter. I will not be on the stage with her, but I will be there in the audience to watch her…

… a chair which will roll in infamy.

Smart Chicken

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With our lovely summer weather coming to a close, I decided to spit roast a chicken last week end. I was running in and out the back door while draining the pool anyway, so why not throw something on the grill at least one more time this year. For those of you not familiar with high-end barbeque-grill speak, spit roasting is how you cook with the use of a rotisserie. While, in the privacy of my own home, I refer to spit roasting as rotisserate, rotisserating, or rotisserated, depending on what stage of the process I am in. However, when typing those words into my PC, I get those annoying little red squiggly lines underneath the words. So, for the sake of PC correctness, I’m going to use the term “spit roast” in my blog.

For all you grilling connoisseurs out there, is it just me or is chicken one of the most difficult meats to cook on a grill? I have always struggled getting it right. I remember one of the first times I tried to grill chicken on an old conventional flat charcoal grill: burned. Then, when I bought my first Weber grill: burned. I later upgraded to a gas grill: burned. My wife got so tired of burnt chicken she started cooking it in the oven first, and then would hand it over to me to add just a little bit of that smoky barbequed flavor from the grill: burned. Please don’t be offended by a little homophone humor; for me, cooking poultry on the grill was no paltry task.

At the beginning of this barbeque season, I bought myself a brand new gas grill along with an electric rotisserie to go on it. I knew that cooking chicken must be easier with a spit roaster. After all, I was only burning the chicken on one side, so if the bird is rotating while cooking, chances are, the heat will even out and the bird will be cooked to perfection. This seemed like a sound theory. However in practice, the rotation simply allowed the chicken to burn on all sides, leaving no surface unburned. But I was not to be deterred.

Last Saturday my wife bought a Smart Chicken from Wally World. Oh, this was going to be just terrific! Dumb chickens had outsmarted me for 55 years, and now I was supposed to cook a Smart Chicken? On the other hand, if this chicken is so smart, why is it going to be my supper? I fired up the grill and threaded the chicken onto the spit rod. I did not have any cooking string, so I carefully tied down the legs and wings with knitting yarn, the best substitute I could find in the house.

Now, if you are going to spit roast a chicken, you first have to rub it with a tasty seasoning. I used up all the Cajun Rub on the last bird I burned, so the wife found a new kind for us to try called Tailgate Rub. If you have ever seen a tailgate in Guymon Oklahoma, you would not want to rub anything on it, especially not something you planned to eat later on. However, this was Organic Tailgate Rub, so I went for it.

Saturday was a beautiful day, cooler and a bit windy. I thought sure I would need to turn up the heat on the grill just a little, at least in the beginning, you know, just to compensate for the cool breeze. I thought I knew what to expect when spit roasting in the wind.

As we sat down to eat the burnt bird, I apologized to the family once again. We laughed and made jokes about Smart Chickens. Our son wondered how you would test a chicken to see if it were smart or not. I decided you should test smart chickens and stupid chickens the same way, with a thermometer. We told every “why did the chicken cross the road” joke known to mankind. I told the story about the time many years ago when my dad, who was a volunteer fireman at the time, had taken us kids on a drive in the country to show us a burned down farmhouse where he’d helped to fight a fire a few days earlier. I went on to say how I remembered seeing the charred remains of a chicken standing up on the railing of the front porch of that burned out farmhouse. I had never before questioned it myself, but My kids wondered if that chicken truly just stood there and was burned alive, or if someone had put it up there as a joke. We decided to give my father full credit for a brilliant practical joke; one that had fooled me, up until last Saturday.

I figured out something else last Saturday. It is not all that important how well you grill a chicken. What is important is how well you enjoy eating the chicken.

Eat well, enjoy.