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Legs and eggs

Without getting too personal, I will tell you that for the last 40 years I haven’t had a proper functioning pancreas. Whereas the average person eats the poundage equivalent of six elephants in their lifetime, I will hopefully end up eating one. I have to “eat “ the exact same thing at the same time every day, and have for over 30 years. To digest my intake I have to swallow eight pills daily that cost $30 apiece and are composed of powdered pig pancreas. Isn’t it ironic that someone whose entire life has been connected to beef can’t live without swine?

I’m just glad it’s not chicken or I’d never live it down!

If I did backpeddle on my diet I’d end up in critical condition in the hospital. It only took me three of four times to get that message. In retrospect, I’ve been a picky eater my whole life and my stomach always was easily agitated. You’ve heard of people who have an “iron stomach,” well mine is made of tissue paper.

Even back when I could eat I had a very discriminating palate. I never drank coffee, have never tasted espresso and have only been in a Starbucks once and that was to use their bathroom. I always hated the taste of beer and wine.

Back when I could eat I couldn’t stand the taste of yams, Brussel sprouts, oatmeal, lima beans, Fig Newtons, watermelon, anchovies, chipped tuna on toast, cooked carrots, the “fish” in fish and chips, rutabagas, turnips, prunes, mushrooms, raisins, or spinach. I also didn’t like any vegetable that wasn’t its natural color, such as red lettuce, red cabbage, golden beets, or yellow bell peppers. Come to think of it, I didn’t like them in their natural color either. I never liked cucumbers or dill pickles but I loved my mom’s sweet pickles.

Speaking of my mom, she was always trying to sneak things in on me that I detested, such as eggs, which made me gag. It didn’t take me long to find out that French toast was just an egg on bread. I didn’t eat eggplant for fear it had egg in it. I was also suspicious of anything that was all mixed up, such as sausage, hash, hot dogs, stew or Lobster Newburg. Not that we could afford lobster. I preferred plain foods and always kept them separate on my plate. The broccoli on my plate was never allowed to even barely kiss the meatloaf.

As a result of being forced to eat liver at an early age I became a firm believer in the concept that internal organs were never meant to be eaten by humans. This would include kidneys, gizzard, heart, brains, intestines, bone marrow and sexual organs such as mountain oysters. I’ve often watched in amazement as diners in Basque restaurants wolfed down tongue. Don’t they know that the mouth is full of nasty stuff? I feel the same way about pickled pigs feet and chicken feet. Do they not know what the chickens and pigs were walking in their entire lives? This is one major reason why I hate eggs, because of where they came from. (I hope I don’t have to draw you a visual.)

You’ll never catch me begging for legs or eggs!

All this talk about food has made me hungry, and yes, there are many foods I’ve always loved. I’ve never tasted a bad potato in my life. Baked, fried, scalloped, you name it, I love potatoes. In fact, it’s one of the half dozen foods I can still digest now. I’m sad because I can’t digest milk and all the products made from it because they are so delicious.

I would have made a great old time cowboy because prior to getting sick I lived on the four “B’s” at bull sales: beef, bread, bacon and beans. Although I don’t think beans should ever be served for dessert. But the beans will have the final say on that, as they always do.

I guess you could call me a “meat and potatoes kinda guy” because if I could eat one last normal meal it would be a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake. Please note that the fries come from potatoes and the cheese, beef and milk all come from a cow. ❖

Beautiful babes

“A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” Carl Sandburg

My wife and I couldn’t have kids so we had thousands of them… baby lambs, calves, piglets, you name it, we’ve had them. Although I know a lot about baby lambs and calves, my knowledge of Homo sapien babies is woefully lacking. I’ll never forget the time I was looking at baby diapers in the grocery store and I saw the diapers arranged in order, such as 4-6 pounds, 6-8 pounds etc. I told my wife, “I had no idea that human babies pooped so much!”

I love holding human babies but I still don’t really know how and I think all babies at birth should be tattooed with humorist Dave Berry’s warning: “Gently lift baby to your shoulder. If you are holding the baby correctly there should now be vomit on your shoulder. If there is poop you’re holding the baby upside down.”

I’ll never forget the time I was engaging in one of my favorite activities while stuck in the hospital. I don’t think they do it anymore but years ago after a mother gave birth to her baby, when she wasn’t feeding it, they’d put the new baby on display and you could look through a window and see all the beautiful babes in pink and blue either sleeping or crying their baby brains out. One time at the window a proud father joined me and asked, “Which one is yours?”

“Oh, no,” I said, “I’m just window shopping. All my babies are at home.”

“How many do you have?” the father asked while raising an eyebrow and moving away.

“At the moment I think we have 340,” I replied proudly.

The next thing I know the father was pleading with a nurse to get his baby out of there, as if I was going to kidnap it.

I don’t know why we love babies so much and yet we don’t look upon the elderly with as much affection, after all, they have so much in common. They both have no teeth, no hair, they’ll eat anything put in front of them, they require babysitters, they’re always wetting their pants and they cry all the time. The only downside to human babies is they grow up to be teenagers and have lots of relatives.

While I think human babies are precious and are one of the wonders of this world, I don’t think I’ve seen anything cuter than a newly born Hereford calf hiding in green grass. The only thing cuter is if it’s curled up in snow. Baby ducks are also very cute, unlike a chicken which loses its cuteness after one day. I can watch a duck all day. They just crack me up for some reason. And if baby lambs don’t bring a smile to your face when they get together, twirl their tails and run helter-skelter all over the place then you truly are a hard-hearted human.

There is a downside to building an emotional bond with a newborn. I’ll never forget one Christmas when my wife and I were supposed to travel three hours away to spend the day with my grandparents. Before we left we checked on the cows and found one calf with a terrible case of scours. We threw everything in the book at that calf trying to save it and had to call my grandparents and tell them we wouldn’t be coming. They were understanding, but terribly disappointed. Later that day the calf died and my wife went home and took down all the Christmas decorations. It was a very sad Christmas.

That’s what the animal rightists are missing and why they’ve got it all wrong when they talk about stockmen. We aren’t a bunch of cruel and sadistic meanies whipping, hitting and otherwise abusing our livestock. The animal rightists haven’t seen us with a baby calf in our bathtub trying to warm it up, or a pair of bummer lambs on the hearth, or the back porch. PETA just doesn’t understand that we raise animals because we love them. We love the wonder of nature and all those beautiful babes. And we give these precious babies a life they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

I think that’s a winning argument for the preservation of stockmen and their beautiful babes in anyone’s book. ❖

Family secrets

As a youngster I dreamed of making my living as a musician and I certainly had Van Gogh’s ear for it. I showed early signs of musical promise when as a 7-year-old I could play our National Anthem by placing my palm in my sweaty armpit and jerking it up and down. In fact, that’s how I became known in the musical community by my nickname… Pittsy.

My family was very musical. My grandmother was the soloist for two different denominations on Sunday and sang for over half the funerals and marriages in town. She was also a great piano player and took organ lessons until the day she died from her cousin Byron who I wrote a true story about early in my career. Byron was not what you’d call “outdoorsy” or “swarthy” by any means. My grandpa called him a “sissy.” He wasn’t gay and got married later in life to a rancher’s widow who could rope and ride with the best of them. Naturally she introduced Byron to the ranch life by inviting him to his first branding and when he saw his first calf being castrated he passed out cold. I think he’d have died if he’d have seen a Basque sheepherder castrating a lamb with his teeth.

As for myself, I flunked out of piano school because my version of Yankee Doodle Dandy sounded more like Achy Breaky Heart performed by steel drums and a band of bagpipes. Whenever I played the piano the number of lost dogs at the dog pound tripled and and even Tom cats covered their ears. I gave up the piano and tried to teach myself to play the guitar but my first love was the saxophone, all three variations… tenor, alto and bass. I started in the sixth grade and in high school I was first chair saxophone in the school’s marching, concert and jazz bands. I was so serious about the saxophone I considered making a life for myself by becoming the sax man for a rock band, but I just didn’t have the hair for it. I also realized I wanted to eat.

Anyway, back to Byron. He led two church choirs and made his living teaching piano and organ lessons. His playing provided the soundtrack for my grandma’s life. One reason why grandpa called Byron a “sissie” was because as a bachelor Byron sewed his own clothes. That’s why I hesitated when grandpa asked me, “Lee, what’s your favorite part about leatherwork? Is it the tooling? The construction?”

“Grandpa I know you’re gonna think less of me,” I replied, “but I enjoy the sewing best.”

Grandpa looked at me in disgust with a look usually reserved for Byron.

Now that I’ve admitted it to the world I know you’ll also think less of me. The fact of the matter is I love to hand sew leather and I have two sewing machines, an old treadle Singer that I completely refurbished and a Tippman machine that will sew through three-fourths of an inch of leather. I really want a “Cobra” which many of the top saddlemakers now used.

I come by my sewing skills honestly because my mother was an unbelievable professional seamstress and for many years it was her sewing that paid the bills and put food on our table. Still, I was was not proud of admitting to grandpa that I enjoyed the “needle arts.”

When grandpa went into the rest home my aunt had an estate sale and as I was going through the debris of Grandpa’s life I found a small quilt composed of 1-inch squares of material that were perfectly sewn together with tiny stitches, about eight to the inch. I asked my aunt, “Who made this beautiful quilt? Such workmanship!”

“That’s your grandpa’s.”

“Wow, I’ve never seen it before. But do you know who made it?”

“I just told you. Your grandpa made it!”

“WHOA! Wait just one darn minute! Stop the presses. You’re saying that my grandpa sewed?”

Without waiting for an answer, I gathered up the quilt and immediately took it down to the geezer prison where grandpa was now encamped. He took one look at it and immediately knew that I knew our family’s deepest and darkest secret: GRANDPA SEWED!

My 94-year-old father figure pulled me aside and said, “Lee, I won’t tell if you don’t.” ❖

Tools of the cowboy

Several years ago I read in a man’s magazine (not Playboy, probably Popular Mechanics) a list of the top 10 tools of all time. Duct tape was number one and “Vice” Grips was also included, which according to mine is properly spelled Vise Grips. Believe me, Vise Grips have no vices. Also on the list were zip ties, margarine tubs, a big screwdriver and to show you how old the list was, a phone booth and a quarter was number 10. I haven’t seen a phone booth in years and believe, based on personal experience, they’ve been outlawed in Nebraska for years.

According to the article, really only two tools are needed: Duct Tape and WD 40. One for things that refuse to move and the other for things that move, but shouldn’t.

When I was making my living as a cowboy not a single one of my essential tools was found on that list. When I composed my list of cowboy tools I left off things like a pick-em-up truck, a horse, Gooseneck® trailer, chaps and saddle bags. They are all indispensable but I didn’t consider them tools. Horses are members of the family, saddle bags are for holding tools, (like a toolbox) and chaps are more appropriately called clothing, not tools.

I also didn’t include things like a chainsaw, nail gun, drone or ladder. Although cowboys are occasionally called upon to use such things they usually avoid them like the plague. Here’s my list of the top 10 tools of the modern day cowboy.

#10 The Cell Phone: Although I don’t own one I hate to admit that the cell phone has become a vital tool for the modern cowboy. If they can get service out in the boonies where they work, I admit a cell phone might come in handy if your horse bucked you off and ran home, or you’re trying to find the trucker who was supposed to show up two hours ago.

#9 Fence Pliers (American made): Your average cowboy knows that the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy is a cheap tool. That’s why cowboys don’t buy fence pliers at Harbor Freight that were made in China.

#8 Digging Bar: Unfortunately these are needed to dig post holes but they also come in handy for putting behind recalcitrant cows in the lead-up alley to keep them from backing up.

# 7 Hoof Pick: Used for getting rocks out of the frog of your horse’s feet and in a pinch it can be also be used as an offset screwdriver.

#6 Cowboy Hat: Also known as a lid, war bonnet, conk cover, hair case and a Stetson, cowboys live their life under one. It can be used as an umbrella, to throw in the face of a charging cow, fan a fire to get it started, water your horse, keep rain water from dribbling down your back, and put on a stick and raised above the rocks to draw gun fire from renegade outlaws.

#5 Leatherman® Multi-Tool: For cutting baler twine, castrating calves, picking your teeth, gutting fish, pulling out a hook or a splinter, or cutting the meat at a bull sale.

#4 Wild Rag: Can be used as a napkin, towel, tourniquet, handkerchief, piggin’ string, dish rag, sling, to keep out the dust when riding drag, cover up an ugly face, rob a bank or acting as a spur strap when one breaks. Speaking of which…

#3 Spurs: Also known as gut hooks, pet makers, persuaders, irons, rib wrenches, can openers, Chihuahuas and grappling irons. They can be used to communicate messages to your horse and to make it giddy-up.

#2 Saddle: A cowboy’s workbench, this is where a cowboy does his best work. It provides front-row seating for sunsets, wrecks, brandings and ropings. A saddle can act as an anchor, someplace to tie to, a foot protector in brushy country, a cup holder, closet to hang his or her slicker and is a portable string dispenser of “whang” leather to cut off and be used as needed.

#1 Rope: Also known as a reata, string, lasso and twine. Unlike non-cowboy tools, the rope comes with no instructions written in six different languages. It’s been said that the simpler the tool the harder it is to master and that certainly applies to the cowboy’s number one tool. ❖

Another man’s game

I went to Australia to get an education in foreign relations and I did. But it wasn’t at the schoolhouse… it was at the race track.

Horse racing is very popular in “The Land Down Under” and most every small Aussie town has their very own race track and our town was no exception. One weekend I made the very large mistake of attending the Armidale Jockey Club for a day at the races. Now, you must understand that Aussie horse racing is a little different than what you might be used to.

Not only do the horses run around the track in the opposite direction but the betting seems to be a little backwards also. As far as I could tell, all that was needed to be a bookie was a signboard to post your odds and a box to stand on. They odds on each horse were usually different with each bookie. If things were getting slow the traveling bookies would just change their odds.

The race horses belong to the local grazers or sheepherders. They are often ridden by a son or a daughter and in one race an 8-year-old stud might be racing against a 4-year-old mare. As if that wasn’t incentive enough for the horses, the purse was often as high as $100. But despite these unbelievable payouts there were times when none of the horses would show up for a particular race. In fact, it happened on my very first race at the local track. But that did not deter the race fans who had already placed their bets… the race went off as scheduled without the ponies. The gun went off, the crowd urged on their favorites and the winners were posted. Then everybody tore up their tickets and got in line to place a bet for the next race.

I became quite a student of betting strategies. My favorite strategy belonged to a 250 pound sheep shearer who had arms the size of tree trunks. He would walk up to a bookie standing on a box, look down on him and say, “I want to bet a “fiver” on the winner in the next race.” I was standing next in line and that seemed a good strategy to me so I said the same thing. “Put a fiver on the winner for me too.” I never could figure out why he won his bet and I lost.

Hard data was a little hard to come by on the race horses. There were little books for sale that told you such things as which farmer owned the horse, what color he was and how old the horse was thought to be. It also made a guess at which jockey would be riding that day. There were usually only five professional jockeys in town and they rode in every race. In between races they would congregate in a huge tent with the rest of us sportsmen and drink beer. Large amounts of beer. Aussie beer is quite good but nobody told this Yank that it was twice as strong as ours. I found the tent to be my best source of inside information. All you had to do was buy the jockeys beer and they’d give you all kinds of tips, right or wrong, true or not.

After betting on six straight losers I was pretty tipsy. But then lady luck dealt me a good hand. I bet a fiver on The Guyra Ghost in the Maiden Handicap of 1,200 meters. Three drunk jockeys fell off their mounts in the course of the race and the Guyra Ghost took a different course altogether, shortening up her race to about 600 meters. Anyway, I won and I figured my winnings would just about pay for the beer I had invested in the drunk jockeys. But when I went to collect my winnings from the bookie he was gone… vanished from the face of the earth.

I discovered this is what the bookies did if they didn’t have enough money to fulfill the promises they made to pay up. They’d just lay low for awhile and in about a month or two they’d be back in business and all would seem to be forgiven. It reminded me a lot of how our U.S. Congress operates. ❖

The hood

I’m the first to admit that when I got started in the cattle business in the town I grew up in I did not have very good cattle. Everyone assumed (correctly) that I had so little cash I could only afford other people’s culls, cast-offs and cheap bulls which, at the time, cost $500. Keep in mind that at that time you could buy a very good Angus bull for $700. It may come as a shock to younger cattlemen that in 1972 when I got started, at a typical all-breeds bull sale, which were popular at the time, Angus bulls were not the highest selling breed but were amongst the lowest.

I know, I know, you can’t believe that bulls cost so little in this day and age when a sale of 500 bulls in Montana or South Dakota might average $7,000 and some range bulls to be used on commercial cows cost as much as $20,000! As hard as this may be to believe, I bought my first cow herd of 50 cows for $20,000! But here’s the thing that really upset my contemporaries: the calves out of those cheap cows and cheap bulls sold for just as much as their quality calves did.

I had other reasons for not buying the best bulls. I grew up in a very tough neighborhood, (“the hood”) and I didn’t have the best of neighbors. One of them thought nothing of putting his brand on my calves. Accidentally on purpose, of course. I figured if I had crappy cattle my neighbors wouldn’t covet them quite as much. I also had very wild cattle and any bad actor within a three county area became known as a “Pitts’ cow.” Usually to steal one of my cows they had to rope it and tie it to a tree for two days to let it soak before it could be loaded in a trailer.

I also spread the rumor far and wide that I didn’t test my bulls for trich. (I did but I didn’t want my neighbors to know it.) Believe me, if one of my cheap and potentially sick bulls got on my neighbors side of the fence, or my neighbors were pasturing my cows involuntarily, they’d be pushed back to my side by nightfall. It also meant I didn’t have to do much fencing because the neighbors put up nine new wires on the fences between us.

I did have one neighbor though who I thought was still stealing my cattle. I didn’t want to confront him though because he was as friendly as a locked gate, owned an arsenal of guns and was rumored to have done hard time. It was pretty hard “to love that neighbor as thyself.”

One day I’d had enough. My favorite cow had been missing for days and it wasn’t like her to go off like that. I bought her as a replacement heifer at the county fair and she became a pet, hardly ever getting out of eyesight of the international headquarters of US Cattle Co. (A trailer house we lived in.) So I gathered up my courage and drove over to the home of the snake. He met me at his front door where there was a shotgun leaning by the door. He said it was for varmints but I didn’t know if I fell into that category or not.

“Hey, have you seen my cow Paint?” I asked.

“Is she part brown, red, and black with splotches of white?” he snarled.

“Yeah,” I tried to snarl back at him but my voice sounded kinda squeaky.

“Does she have one horn pointing north and the other south?”

“Yes she does.”

“Is her tail frozen off?”

“Yes, that would be her.”

“Does she have one good eye and the other eye is a round orb of white.”

“Yes,” I said, getting excited that Paint may not be missing after all.

“Can a person walk up to this pet cow and scratch her neck?” asked my neighbor.

“Yes, yes, that’s her,” I replied.

“Nah,” said my neighbor as he inched ever closer to his shotgun. “I haven’t seen her.”

I snarled my lip, balled my hands into fists, stared him straight in the eye and squeaked, “Well then, have nice day.” ❖

Braving the elements

As part of my ongoing “Take An Urbanite Outdoors Program” I recently took an 18-year-old boy outdoors at the request of his parents who are worried that playing video games and texting with his friends 14 hours a day might somehow inhibit his development. I met Drew at his bio-containment facility (house) as the COVID crises was easing and where he’d been sheltering in place for the past 18 years.

“Now Drew, to introduce you to the wonderful world you’ve been missing we’ll start out real easy by taking what is known as a “walk” from your house to where I live on the edge of a big state park. Can you remember when was the last time you went outside?”

“Yeah, it was terrible. The Internet went down and my dad made me take out the trash. It was real scary and I couldn’t wait to get back inside. I still have nightmares about it.”

“I can tell by your pale skin and flabby body that you don’t go outside to play baseball, basketball, soccer or football with your friends. Don’t you like sports?”

“What you talkin’ about man, I play video football all the time. “Madden is rad and The Ravens are awesome.”

“Did you know that ravens are actual birds that live outdoors?”

“Yeah, if you say so. Hey, what’s that bright thing shining in my face. It’s hurting my eyes.”

“That’s the sun, Drew, and if you turn your cap around the bill of your cap will shade the rays from your eyes. That’s why there are bills on caps.”

“Hey, that’s pretty cool,” said a shocked Drew. “That works pretty good. Who would have ever guessed? Oh no,” he exclaimed as he assumed some sort of karate-like defensive position, “Who are they?”

“They would be your neighbors Drew.”

“Oh no. My dad says they’re evil. The mom gardens, whatever that is, and the father drives real big cats. Can you imagine? Do I need a can of mace, a taser gun, maybe even a real gun? Should we call PETA or 911?”

“No Drew, just wear your mask, practice social distancing and you should survive the encounter.”

“Hey, what is that?,” said a suddenly shaking Drew as he hit himself all over. “Git it off me.”

“That’s just a lady bug Drew. Don’t be frightened, it won’t hurt you. It’s just an innocent insect.”

“That’s easy for you to say. I’m the one under attack here. Does it have a stinger? Oh no, it could sting me and I might die out here. I want my mommy.”

“Just hold my hand Drew.”

“Did you see that. Something just hit me right in the face and it hurt like crazy. I’m telling you it’s not safe out here. I want to go home right now!”

“Don’t worry Drew, that was just a small tree branch that barely grazed your head.”

“No sir, all the trees are gone, my teacher said so. She said that terrible men cut them all down with something called “chainsaws.” They raped all our forests. Hey, is that a deer over there?”

“No Drew, that would be a cow.”

“I don’t like cows either,” said Drew, “their farts are going to wipe us all out. Don’t you watch the news? Hey, what are those guys doing?” asked a suspicious Drew.

“That’s a farmer and a rancher and they are doing something called work.”

“It doesn’t look like very much fun, and they are getting dirty. Yuck! What are they doing?”

“They are producing the food that you eat.”

“No sir. That comes from the grocery store and McDonalds. By the way, can we go home now? All this walking makes my legs hurt and I think I have a blister on my foot.”

“But Drew, we’ve only walked two blocks!”

“I think I’m getting a headache from all this outdoorsy stuff. I could be allergic to it, you know? Besides, if I wanted to see the natural world I can see it any time I want on my iPhone.”

And that, my friends, is why Mother Nature is childless these days. ❖

Moniker madness

As I write this the Washington Redskins are going through very public agonizing spasms trying to come up with a new name that doesn’t offend anyone. One of the suggestions was The Washington Navajo Code Talkers, this despite the fact that Washington, D.C., is 2,000 miles off the reservation. If Washington, D.C., really wanted an appropriate name they’d call themselves the Washington Crooks, or the Washington Swindlers. By the time you read this the Redskins will have a new politically correct name and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the Washington BLM Muslim Socialists. After the Redskins change their name can the Atlanta Braves, Golden State Warriors, Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Indians be far behind?

Frankly, there are many names of the four major professional sports that offend me. (I don’t count soccer.) We have the sexist Milwaukee Bucks but where are the Does and am I to assume that the Nashville Predators are a bunch of perverts and sexual deviants? The San Antonio Spurs are named after an instrument used to jab a horse and the animal rightists can’t be pleased about that. Perhaps they should rename themselves the San Antonio PETA’s. The Los Angeles Lakers are named after the lakes in Minnesota and I’m sure all the old hippies who enjoy baseball would much prefer the name The L.A. Draft Dodgers. New York teams are named after Giants, Knickerbockers and Yankees so to be fair shouldn’t we have The Atlanta Confederates? Perhaps the Yankees would more appropriately be called the New York Leftists and the New England Patriots, in the spirit of the day, should be called the New England Slave-Owning Patriots.

I’m sure enviros and greenies are offended by all the references to fossil fuels like the Oilers, Pistons, Flyers, and Jets. The Chargers are probably okay but don’t be surprised if they change their name in the future to the L.A. Solar Panels. And it doesn’t set a very good example for our young people to see mature adults spell team names “Sox” instead of “Socks.” We should call them the Chicago Illiterates. Speaking of Chicago, we have the Chicago Bulls but where are the Chicago Cows or Chicago Heiferettes? There are other sexes, you know? The gay community should insist that the Golden State Warriors have a sex change to The California LGBTQ’s. And while we’re being more honest, the Green Bay Packers would more appropriately be called the Monopolistic Packers, Tyson Packers, Imported Cheese Heads or The Holsteins. We have teams with several references to animals but where are the Las Vegas Vegans, Salt Lake City Vegetarians or Tampa Bay Flexitarians? Isn’t the Milwaukee Suds a much better name than the Brewers? If we’re going to name teams after alcoholic activIties where are the San Jose Winos?

There are too many teams named after bears like the Bruins, Cubs, and Grizzlies but where are The Teddy Bears and The Portland Endangered Polar Bears? There are also far too many bird names like Pelicans, Falcons, Eagles, Penguins, Blue Jays, Orioles, Cardinals, etc. But where are the Rodents? I couldn’t find a single team named after rats or mice. The Orlando Magic would be a natural as the Orlando Mice with Mickey Mouse as their mascot, and the Anaheim Ducks would sound better as The Anaheim Donald Ducks.

Several teams are named for disastrous climatic events like The Thunder, Hurricanes, Lightning, Avalanche, Heat, Earthquakes and Flames but this is the 21st century folks, where are The Phoenix Climate Changers? (The Phoenix Sunburns is more accurate than The Phoenix Suns.) There are also lots of teams named after fish like the Rays, Marlins, Sharks, etc., but where are the Monkfish, Sea Bass, Salmon, Suckers or Steelheads? The Miami Dolphins would be more politically correct as the Miami Dolphin-Free Tunas and following recent protests, Seattle’s Seahawks should be changed to The Seattle Communists.

I’m outraged I could find only one team named after snakes and one after insects.

We have the New Jersey Devils, the Los Angeles Angels and the San Diego Padres but where are The Minnesota Lutherans, Albuquerque Catholics, L.A. Methodists, Dallas Buddhists, Ohio Muslims or Indiana Atheists? We have the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks but not one team is named after the United States. Wouldn’t the best name for our nation’s capital’s football team be the Washington Americans? ❖

Stuff I learned from cows

Cows are supposedly “dumb” animals and yet I have learned a lot from them, such as…

1. Don’t shoot the bull.

2. If someone wants to load you up and take you to town put up a big fight. There is danger lurking there.

3. When your offspring become of age and leave home no amount of bawling will bring them back.

4. Piercings, notches, tattoos and brands hurt and make it easier for BIG Brother to identify you.

5. The way to acquire a small fortune in the cattle business is to start with a large one.

6. Don’t allow yourself to be driven by an unruly mob. Especially don’t get stampeded. You could get hurt and it will only result in you going round and round in circles.

7. Hogs have no place on a cow ranch.

8. Stay close to your youngsters at all times. If you must go leave them with a good babysitter.

9. Hide when people gang up and come looking for you because whenever you meet in large groups no good can come of it.

10. Never go swimming unless you can keep your head above water with your feet firmly on the ground.

11. The biggest thing wrong with the world is that there are far too many people in it.

12. If you get caught in a squeeze just stand quietly, take your medicine and get it over with as quick as possible.

13. Offspring are far better off being raised by the female of the species.

14 Life is sexually transmitted.

15. A banker is your friend… until he isn’t.

16. Sacred cows make great hamburgers.

17. If you have an enemy give them a cow.

18. Males come around for one reason and one reason only.

19. It can be liberating to step away from the herd and run around naked when no one is looking.

20. Life is not about how fast you can run or how high you can climb but how much you can eat.

21. Sometimes the skies are cloudy all day.

22. When the chips are down no matter how careful you are, you’ll step in a big pile of —- once in awhile.

23. Good hay is expensive, cheap hay even more so.

24. You’re on the backside of life when you start to lose your teeth.

25. If someone starts bringing you breakfast in bed for no apparent reason be afraid. Very, very afraid.

26. After the female is in the family way the male will usually disappear faster than vanilla ice cream at a 5-year-old’s birthday party.

27. Don’t allow yourself to get fenced in or get stuck in the mud.

28. Getting fat can cause death.

29. Trust the cows more than the chemists. Life is too short to drink fake milk.

30. Birth, copulation and death. That’s life. None of us will make it out alive. ❖

The big (rotten) apple

Big cities give me the creeps. As a kid from a small town who hadn’t seen much of the world I had what I presumed to be a panic attack one time in San Diego and left that supposedly serene city at 2:30 a.m. because the noise and activity were driving me crazy. Cars backfiring, Jake brakes braking, sirens singing, airplanes landing, fog horns and TV’s blaring and phones ringing through the thin walls of the cheap motel I was staying in. It sounded like a chorus made up of a dozen heaving horses, a pack of coyotes and a howler monkey from the San Diego zoo trying to pass a gallstone. I left skid marks in the parking lot leaving that stinkin’ landfill gone wrong.

I’ve self-diagnosed myself as an urbanaphobiac and I’ve been this way since birth. I get anxious in unfamiliar settings and claustrophobic in any elevator with myself and more than one suitcase in it. I hate big cities so much I haven’t been in a city of over 50,000 in over five years. I first knew I had this phobia as a kid when I went into town on a day the elderly got their Social Security checks which caused a riot in the bunion and laxative aisle of the drugstore. I barely made it out of there alive.

I take no pleasure in admitting I’ve been to all 10 of the largest cities in this country and I know this will come as a shock to their economies and Chambers of Commerce but I don’t have plans to EVER return. Easily, the worst of the 10 was New York City. You must understand, I live in such a quiet place that I can hear the clock ticking in the neighbor’s house 100 yards away, so the cacophony of New York City was an assault on my senses. The writer O’Henry hit the nail on the head when he said, “If ever there was an aviary overstocked with jays it is that Yaptown-on-the-Hudson called New York.”

Not that I wasn’t warned. I was told by my more urbane and urban friends to: (1) never smile in the Big Apple because the muggers might see the gold in my teeth and abduct me; (2) leave my good watch at home; (3) don’t carry a wallet in my back pocket, or my front pocket either; (4) always carry fifteen bucks in cash to give the pickpockets and muggers because they have a minimum wage law for crooks in NYC; (5) don’t go in the subway after dark, or before dark for that matter; (6) make a list of all my credit cards so I could cancel them immediately after they’re stolen.

I’ve been in The (rotten) Big Apple three times. The first two were going and coming to visit my brother at West Point. I got on a bus at a Hell-hole called the Port Authority Bus Station which had more muggers per capita than the wild cow milking at a ranch rodeo. I left for home through LaGuardia Airport where the folks were as cordial as a pen of bucking bulls at the PBR. I went once more to NYC after my wife and I were married because I thought I wanted to see a play on Broadway, but we left after being there for only an hour and I vow that in the future the closest I’ll ever come to being on Broadway is visiting the auction market in Amarillo on Manhattan Street.

I read that 40% of New Yorkers are foreign born and I think the other 60% came from New Jersey, which explains why I didn’t understand a single word the entire time I was there. As far as I’m concerned, they can put up a five wire fence around the place, make it its own country called the United Nations, and require vaccinations and a quarantine if New Yorkers ever want to leave and rejoin humanity.

If I recall my U.S. history, the original Pilgrim real estate developers paid the Indians $24 worth of junk jewelry for the land upon which New York City now sits. Conventional thinking says the Indians got snookered but I bet if you offered it back to them for the same money today they’d laugh in your face and decline the deal. ❖