Trash or Treasure

The other day Ol' Dutch was tying up yet another bag of trash generated in the kitchen and I could not help to wonder where it all came from.

For you see, Ol' Dutch is not like most men who stay at home watching television, golfing, fishing or merely scratching the posterior parts of their anatomy. No siree. I have found out that accompanying Trixie to the local stores or the far away Wal-Mart gains me what is known as “points” with Trixie.

Women are like that. Once you find out that merely spending time with them doing seemingly mundane chores relates to “quality time together,” your life will ease up considerably. Now I know that all women are not the same to which I can get a hardy “Amen,” but by and large, they love to have their selected better-or-for-worse half along for the day perusing the shelves.

So having said all that, Ol' Dutch has a pretty good idea about how many sacks of food -- paper, plastic and other -- come through our front door. What I cannot figure out is how that seemingly limited supply of goods multiplies to a vast amount of trash going out that same door.

This is totally against the laws of physics and maybe a dozen other laws that Ol' Dutch is unaware of. There is only one conclusion: something tawdry is going on inside the cupboards and fridge when I am not looking.

I have been tempted to put my game camera in there to somehow catch the plastic wrap and milk cartons having questionable relations but so far whatever they are doing is in complete silence which reminds me of a girlfriend I once had.

Whatever is going on in there though, I am sure if I were to catch it on video, it would lead to a stint on some national news or television show. But, just like the UFO controversy where the truth is hidden for our own good, Ol' Dutch is not sure the nation is ready to find out what goes on behind our cupboard doors when we are not looking.

I believe that most people would rather go around with their heads in the sand like some long necked bird in Australia oblivious to the dangers lurking on the other side of the door.

Now I understand how trash accumulating can occur around a house but when you live in an RV like Trixie and me, there is really only a limited amount of space to store items purchased. So the normal wrappers and boxes that come from the store have to be carefully accounted for when living thus and I have no idea how all this “stuff” appeared out of thin air.

While we contend with our shopping bags multiplying, our neighbor down the road, Uncle Si, has a real passion for garage sailing and his “stuff” multiplies faster than rabbits on viagra.

Just one peek in his massive shed and you see exactly what happens when your stuff decides to propagate. It is impossible to walk from one end of his building to the other without stubbing your toe on a 1929 pecan picker or the three billy clubs he carefully watches over.

Ol' Dutch bought a boat one time from a collector of such things and you could not walk through his yard for the parts scattered in the grass. When I asked the man why he had hundreds of trashed boats, boat parts, boat motors, boat oars, boat seats and all other things boat related, he looked me calmly in the eye and said, “Well, that’s my 401(k).”

It’s bad enough to have to deal with the daily amount of trash that we generate and the thoughts of how much a great city may accumulate just boggles this simple mind. But regardless of what we have to deal with, Trixie is just thankful that should something happen to Ol' Dutch she won't have to cash in a 401(k) of rotting boats.


Nimrod of the Plains

For the unchurched folks out there Nimrod was a man in the Bible. He was a great grandson to Noah, who himself was said to have built a big boat of some kind and could only count to two.

The Bible and historical documents are pretty clear about old Nimrod that he was an evil man but he was said to be a mighty hunter. Some interpret that to mean a hunter of men's souls as he was so evil but I tend to believe he was a savvy pursuer of game and fish.

Recently Ol' Dutch and Miss Trixie took a trip up to Kansas to take in a little deer hunting and practice his Nimrod skills. We were lucky enough to have an invite from my dad, Preacher Man Freddy and my mother Glamorous Glenda. So that saved us a lot of expense by not having to tow the Conestoga and you all know how tight Ol' Dutch is.

And it didn't take Ol' Dutch long to get into the swing of things and soon we were up to our ears in cutting meat for the year ahead. Trixie has decided that we eat only what we harvest and so Ol' Dutch is constantly under pressure to produce a bountiful supply from afield.

Now for most of you hunters out there this may seem to be the path to Nirvana having a woman that “wants” you to hunt and fish and for sure I can say that I am truly “living the dream” as I get to do as much of that as I want. But providing and butchering meat for the table means production and “production” is a fancy word for work.

Jerry Clower who was a funny old homespun comedian once said, “too much of anything ain't good.” And I have often thought about that and think that maybe Jerry was so old to have forgotten his wedding night.

But regardless there is a limit to everything in some manner or another and I came close to crossing that line this week with Miss Trixie.

I had very generously taken her along for this adventure. Every morning we would get up before dawn to go deer hunting. We would stroll through some tall grass and weeds outfitted in the latest orange hunter vest and gingerly walked our way up a frozen creek. I even took her to the Pizza Hut in a small town nearby which, by reputation was overrun with deer. Now, what woman wouldn’t love being on this romantic getaway with me?

All in all she was a good sport and fun to have along until Sunday when I may have pushed the limits of her good nature. We went out before daylight as usual so she could wax poetic about the beautiful sunrise over a nice blue Kansas lake. By 8:30 a.m. it was evident no deer were moving, so I told her we would go back to my Dad's house and have breakfast.

As luck would have it, Ol' Eagle Eye Dutch spotted a doe deer in a field of tall grass and as I stopped to point her out to Trixie, the doe took off and ran up a canyon followed by a huge buck deer.

Well, breakfast was soon forgotten and a long walk and stalk later Ol' Dutch had him a nice buck on the ground pretty as a picture. Well, dead, but pretty. All 250 pounds. At the bottom of a canyon.

For the next 2 ½ hours, Miss Trixie and Ol’ Dutch pulled, pushed, implored and beseeched that monster buck up the side of that canyon and then across a long field of thick grass and bushes. Apparently a three-quarter mile drag of a big buck is about one-quarter mile beyond where Miss Trixie’s good nature and her body want to take her.

But we got it out finally, luckily saving all the meat for our freezer. Other than having to hear about her sore back all the time, all is well. So it appears I may have found the perfect woman. Now if I can only convince her to share her money with Ol' Dutch and we would be truly in Nirvana.

Shop 'til you drop

Thanksgiving has come and gone and I hope you all survived the Holiday festivities with relatives and friends. Benjamin Franklin once said “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Now that’s pretty good wisdom from Ol' Ben, but, I’ve always wondered about the man’s sanity when he flew a kite in a lightning storm.

 Although that makes for a good story any way you slice it and he did survive after all making advancements in electrical sciences and inventing the Internet. Oops, wrong fella that was Al Gore, I hear.

So anyway, another Thanksgiving came and went like a flash of that proverbial Franklin lightning and Trixie and Ol' Dutch ended up spending a nice quiet day alone on the farm cleaning up the messes.

 For those of you who have not heard, Ol' Dutch got himself a small ranch down in Texas and with that inherited a nasty trashy mess of unbelievable proportions.

 I have heard about how people can trash a place but this is just plain gross. Food left in the cupboards has turned to green growing masses of moving amoebas, holes were kicked in the walls, something or someone pooped on the floor and piles of trash, old clothes, worn-out video games, and just plain filth are everywhere.

 They left a 99 Chevy truck and a nice tractor and lawn mower where they stopped and we got 10 huge bags of trash out of the truck alone.

 Picking up all that “stuff” that these poor people could not live without when purchased, got me to thinking about our rush to consumerism.

 Trixie and I have made it a yearly goal to go to the local Wal-Mart wherever we may be on Thanksgiving night just to watch the “crazies.” Many a time we have been treated to fights and flying box cutters as people refuse to wait on the staff there to open up the pallets of crock pots and Little Susie Dolls.

 Of course we always stayed far back out of the way but the sights and sounds are something to behold and make for a good story no matter who you are.

This year however, the stores have decided to not have the limited sales and thereby totally eliminated the rush to get more junk. The crowd was calm and there were not many more people there than a normal day of shopping and Ol' Dutch was thoroughly disgusted.

 Nothing says Holiday joy like seeing someone get beat over the head with a television and there was none of that to be seen that night.

 So on the following day known as Black Friday in the shopping world, Trixie and I found ourselves in the hunt for crazy. One good thing about living full time in an RV is you really cannot buy much of anything as there is no room to haul it. The 40 inch TV's for $125 were so tempting but alas, no room at the inn. The story of the ages so it seems.

 We went to Bass Pro Shops and it was a tad nuts but I was able to get out of there with some ammo. Having seen me purchase bullets in the past, Trixie had the audacity to ask me “just how much ammo does a man need?” Now what kind of foolish question is that?

 We finished up with a stop at the local Verizon and they talked me into a new phone and even reduced my bill by doing so. I am milking them along and before you know it they will be paying “me” to use their service.

 So all in all it was a poor year for fights, scraps and nasty words while shopping. Next thing you know there won’t be any reason to even get out and go to the store. We’ll just await the drone bringing it to our Thanksgiving feast. 

Thanksgiving Can be A Turkey

Nothing says a good family fight like getting everyone together for a day of Thanksgiving Day celebration.

I can recall some doozies down through the years as normally sane people seem to lose all control when confronted with the idiosyncrasies of Aunt Martha and Uncle Paul.

Suddenly the constant belching issuing forth from some distant cousin or the showoff dress worn by your sister Sharon comes to a head and tempers flare and words are spewed forth like Jonah from the proverbial whale.

If people could just learn to eat the tryptophan-laced turkey first they would quickly pass into afternoon slumber. You don't see anyone fighting after they eat as they are all sprawled out and asleep in the chairs, beds and couches of the hosts’ homes.

Of course this leaves said host to clean up the mess left by the gobbling guests and with no respite as they all wake up about the same time ready for another round of food and pie.

Recently I was in Idaho and had the pleasure to meet a man who is from the Shoshone Tribe. If you know your history you will remember that those people helped Lewis and Clark in their journey across America.

As we talked it became clear that he also felt like guests can be a pain especially when they overstay their welcome like the early pilgrims and pioneers did. For just like any guest, coming to visit is one thing but moving in with you is quite another.

I have to think that the Native Americans that fed the early Pilgrims to this nation must have eaten the turkey first, otherwise they would have had a fight right at the beginning and sent those immigrants packing.

The one thing you now find in many Native communities is a casino. Since they really got a raw deal by the intruders, I am all for them getting what is owed to them $1 at a time.

My great-great-grandfather was Native American and could not live in town due to that bloodline. I got to thinking about him the other day and about all the talk of reparations being owed to people of different races.

I soon figured out that I would love to get some of that free money but then realized that being of Scottish and Heinz 57 ancestry in addition to Native American I would end up owing myself.

Isn't that how it always is? Just when a person figures out an angle to get rich someone throws a wrench in the works.

Trixie for her part may owe me quite a bit however as her ancestors came to Texas back in 1833 and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that her great-great-great moved in on someone else’s land.

Regardless of your heritage or political leanings try and remember to get that turkey on the table early and hopefully prevent some Thanksgiving fireworks of your own. And if that doesn't work, relish the fact that you will have a nice peaceful evening when everyone gets mad and goes home.

Lightning Bugs and Fireflies

Having grown up in Kansas I am not really sure of how much experience folks from Colorado had with lightning bug. In my growing up years, we had them by the yard full.

Many a night throughout the summer all the neighborhood kids would run through the yards catching them in clear glass mason jars making luminous lanterns to carry around.

And it didn't take long for the average American boy to find out that if you pinched them dead at the moment the light was blinking on, it would remain on full blast for some time

Now, before you scold Ol' Dutch and tell him that was cruel, he already knows that and probably was the least among area killers of that era so chill out.

If you are not familiar with these little bugs that so delights with their erratic blinking as they fly around the dark lawns, you have truly missed out on something quite amazing.

I never could figure out how they carried around a battery to keep that tail end a’going either. Turns out it’s a chemical reaction in their tail end and that makes it blink on and off in some mating ritualistic fervor.

Which in fact reminds me of the foolish ways that a lot of people act when they themselves are in the dating scene. Running around half lit and blinking their eyes like a bat in a hailstorm to boot. Just like those bugs.

Trixie and I have found our way down to Texas after an exhausting stay in Idaho helping No. 1 daughter Cricket remodel her house. It was a very long trip and dragging a big ole RV behind me for some 1400 miles in three days just wore me out.

So imagine my despair upon arriving in the Dallas area only to find out our RV spot had already been rented to a bunch of Boy Scouts. Now I normally don't mind these types of organizations and without the Girl Scouts where would I get my Thin Mints?

But to take my spot after a grueling trip of endurance and on the verge insanity, to find my spot gone just about drove me over the edge. Trixie just remind me that I went over there long ago so maybe it was deja vu all over again?

The park manager did some heavy manipulation only to be compared on difficulty as getting dead people to vote and snuck us in to a spot.

Finally hooked up and settled in Ol' Dutch was standing outside enjoying the quiet when the Scouts arrived. I have never seem more flashlights in one spot and lightning bug fever hit me like a brick.

Those dancing flashlights told a tale of an incredible amount of activity as they tried to pitch their tents around us.

They were pretty quiet at night and I was just about to commend them on their wonderful demeanor when I found myself needing to use the shower house in the Park. Imagine trying to fit your schedule into the lives and colon schedules of 119 Boy Scouts that had consumed vast quantities of Beanie Weenies?

Now you know the meaning of the word “impossible.” I did get a shower to which Trixie added an “Amen” which I guess is a good thing?

There are no more fireflies so it seems as I have not seen one in many a year. Some say it’s due to farming practices, some say it’s the sprays we use while others I am sure hold out for global warming or cooling whichever they need to use that day.

I don't know what the cause is but I sure do miss seeing them. The only question is what kind of mother gives their kid a glass mason jar to run around the neighborhood with?

Noodling Around

“Noodling around” is defined as “the act of doing things for no purpose other than entertaining yourself and/or others.” And Ol' Dutch is certainly an expert on that.

But with my time in Idaho with No. 1 daughter Cricket coming to a close, somehow the topic of homemade noodles came up and before you could say lickety split Ol' Dutch was volunteered to make them for the crew.

Now normally I don't mind cooking and grilling and using a smoker is one of my favorite things to do actually, but this came at a bad time for me. You see, for the last two days I had been fighting sewer troubles and my normally cranky disposition became even more severe with each passing -- or shall we say “not passing” -- day. Ol Dutch was plumb pooped out.

Only I could blend toilet troubles and a meal but if you think about it the two are connected at the end of a very long colon.

I did wash my hands well before starting the process of making noodles and soon I was up to my oodles in noodles.

Trixie got the chicken to boiling into a nice broth and soon it was time to drop those plump yellow noodles into the flavorful mixture.

Like I said, Ol' Dutch doesn’t mind helping out in the cooking department when asked but I have begun to notice something peculiar about that situation and last night brought it out to the forefront of relationship problems to avoid.

Now Ol' Dutch has been making noodles long before Miss Trixie was even a thought in her parents’ minds but it appears that somehow I was “doing it wrong.” The more “wrong” I did it the more heated the conversation became until a divorce was imminent. It was that bad and we are not even married.

To further let you know the seriousness of the conflict, the danger of separation of powers was close to the boiling point just like that pot of noodles.

Finally having what is known as “enough” in a man’s world, I threw up my hands and left the kitchen. For most of you this is what is known as “smart” as you get out of the chore at hand but when you live in an RV there is no escape as I now had to endure the continued chatter about the noodles across the counter top.

The conversation turned to what a fine job I had done which in Trixie's world is called “working the crowd” which is meant to get me back in there to finish the job.

Now I know most of you out there can relate to some of this story as I know you have at least eaten noodles if nothing else. The rest can maybe learn a thing or two about relationships and how men need encouragement and not criticism when they are undertaking a not so favorite activity.

My suggestion to anyone wishing to “noodle around” later is that you go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. That has to be cheaper than a divorce.


Remodel from Hell

Someone once said “No good deed goes unpunished” and that seems to hold true in about every area of life that I can think of.

No matter what you do to try and help some people, it seems like your good efforts bring on some form of punishment after the fact.

I recall most vividly helping my church do some work only to see all of it torn out a year later for yet another new addition and although there was no real punishment involved there, it sure felt like it to my soul.

Most of you can relate to having something like that happen in your life and it sure leaves a sour taste in your mouth for the next time that same person is looking for volunteers. Trixie is the ultimate helper and she will bite on the same bait over and over even though she is pretty sure there is a hook in it. Even a fish with a pea brain learns pretty quickly not to take the bait over and over.

But not Ol' Dutch, no siree Bob. Ol' Dutch has gotten a tad wiser with time and it’s easier for me to pass on the pain when it’s offered. Well maybe not wiser but more cranky and with that comes the ability to say no.

I pride myself on being able to put aside a sure road to hurt and pain when I am asked to volunteer and that my friends is true personal empowerment. No longer do I have to look forward to having my feelings hurt after helping someone and their ultimate slam of some part of my participation. I go about my life happy as a pig in a mud hole with nary a care in this world although I have to live with a certain amount of condemnation from well-meaning folk for not helping.

There are only two people I never say no to and although that gets me in plenty of trouble, it’s probably natural for a father to dote on his two kids above all other people. And no one dotes more than Ol' Dutch.

Most of you are up-to-date on our recent trip to Pocatello, Idaho, to help my Daughter Cricket and her husband Cap remodel their house. For those of you not so fortunate to have read my past columns, last Christmas they held a party at the newly acquired home and tore out all the plaster walls and ceiling. This led to what is called “freezing” as Idaho winters do not tend to lean toward tropical and balmy.

Ol' Dutch is not a stranger to helping out his kids as I remodeled their basement one time in Lawrence, Kansas, and last summer went back to Kansas to help the No. 1 son remodel his house. Whatever it is about these two kids that make them buy houses and gut them needs to be addressed quickly as I am getting too old to do this year after year.

So here we are in Idaho and although just saying Pocatello does kind of give me a pleasurable sensation in my mouth, this project has drug on into overtime with no sudden death in sight. For my part, I have been doing the wiring and for a normal house this is not that hard of a job but with these two, it has extended into something akin to illuminating the 2016 World’s Fair in scope.

I have never seen so many outlets, lights, three way and four way switches nor miles of wire in my lifetime of construction. These two kids have decided that if one is good four of anything has to be better.

Our weekends usually involve some planning sessions for Ol' Dutch so that I am on the same page as to what they want done for the week. Of course that seems to change by the next weekend and Ol' Dutch is back to moving things around, stringing countless rolls of additional wire and it’s the redoing that is worst of all for me.

Now of course they never say it, but since I have Trixie as a witness it’s the old “oh no, you did it just like I told you to,” before I have to tear it out once again.

Like I said, I have gotten pretty good as avoiding volunteering at about every venue I am at and if I can get Trixie to quit volunteering we still will have a shot at the “good life.” Now if I can just find a good psychoanalyst to address these two kids “remodeling” issues Ol' Dutch will have conquered life for sure.

Hiking on purpose

Trixie has always been one to like a good hike and as many of you know Ol' Dutch has put in a good mile or two while fishing or hunting. A recent trip to Idaho, however, made me realize that there is where the similarities end.

We pulled the Conestoga to Idaho last week to help my daughter Cricket and her husband Cap with a remodel project on their house. To kind of give you a heads up on this endeavor, they had purchased this cozy cottage on a quaint shady street near Idaho State University.

I guess this is the “go to” neighborhood for people in this town as “everybody” wants to live near there. For Cap and Cricket it is extra handy as they are both professors at the college and can walk to work rain or shine.

But back to my story. They purchased this house last fall and for a Christmas party all of their friends came over and they tore out all the walls and kitchen and bath. Now when Ol' Dutch says all he means right down to the studs and rafters.

Some months later Dad got the call and so here I am trying to work a miracle in 30 days and get it wired, plumbed, insulated and sheet rocked. Please pray.

We had Saturday all planned out on what we could do with all of us working when suddenly Cap came down with the green apple nasties and he was confined to a small distance between his bed and the porcelain throne.

Seizing upon the chance to not work, Cricket, Trixie and I headed out to see some sights and took a drive up toward Lookout Mountain. Now when Ol' Dutch heard about that place I was envisioning a drive up to an overlook where I could sit and watch the world pass by.

Little did I expect that every mile along the road there would be an actual hiking trail to explore. They had nice cutesy names like Peach Orchard Loop, Cherry Creek Loop, Alpine Ski Loop, Miners Creek Loop.

I would suppose that having a trail that ended up back at the same spot you began would be a good thing in the end but somehow Ol' Dutch just cannot for the life of me figure out why anyone would go on a hike to nowhere.

My hikes always have a purpose in mind like finding a deer or elk, bear or moose or some secluded stream or lake to cast a fly into. To simply walk for the pleasure of walking seems to me to be a little bit on the crazy side.

Somehow Ol' Dutch was able to dodge the hiking part of the day by reminding the girls that this is rattlesnake country and passing a road sign that said “Lower Rattlesnake Road” did wonders for my cause.

Of course I do realize that to go about anywhere you either have to double back or make a loop and this day was no different as we continued on around the mountain range and up to the Snake River.

Now there is something Ol' Dutch could get excited about as there were people fishing and Cricket and I got to watch them for a while. Trixie had stayed in the truck in the parking lot perusing the Internet on her phone and was treated to a couple doing the “the horizontal hula” in the car next to her. That gives a whole new meaning to going fishing to soak your worm to which Trixie rolled her eyes. 

But all in all it was a good day with the No. 1 daughter and we did end up making a loop – albeit in the truck – which was good since we wanted to go home at the end of the day. 

If you are into hiking just to hike I can appreciate that but having a real purpose in mind keeps Ol' Dutch more interested. But who knows, maybe someday I will take one of those side trails and talk Trixie into a little hula of our own.