Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Departure




This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time and tonight the Internet is down, so I’ll take the opportunity to write.  I’m going to revisit something that I touched on briefly in “Blessed Be The Name of the Lord” and that is the two songs that my son David and I played the night before he passed away.   I’ll quote from that blog entry:


As I sat there in the moonlight, my eyes fell on David's little electronic drum set, which he'd only had for a week. He had an excellent sense of time, though, and we played several times. On Sunday evening, Georgia and David started playing- her on bass and him on drums. I came in from chores, got my Telecaster, and joined them. We played several songs and then were sitting there when I started playing a certain song. We played that one for awhile and then G got up to leave. I said “Wait, let's try this one before you leave”, and we played another song for a bit. Georgia left and it was just David and me. David said “Let's play that one again. I want to make sure I have it.” So, I obliged. Afterward, I told him “You know, I've never played those songs with anyone before. I've only practiced them.” Sitting there on the couch, wondering about where David's spirit was, staring at his drum set, I suddenly recalled the last 2 songs we'd played. The next-to-last one was “Knockin' on Heaven's Door”. And the last one- the one he wanted to play again, to make sure he had it right-  was a Brad Paisley instrumental called “Departure”.
Out of all the songs I know, why those two titles in that order, at that time? This is beyond coincidence and I can only attribute it, along with Mario's e-mail, as an answer to my cries from God.

Fast forward about 8 months from that time.  I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep and the weight of David’s death was heavy on my heart.  I opened up my Bible (on David’s iPad) to read, thought for a moment, and then turned to Paul to read what he has to say about his upcoming death.  Here’s what I found:

2Ti 4:6-8 NKJV  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 

He says “the time of my departure is at hand.”  I honestly did not know- at least not consciously- that Paul used that word there before I felt like I should read that passage.  Suddenly, the song David and I played together had even more significance.  But that’s not all....

As I lay in bed thinking about this passage, an event from several years ago popped into my head.  A guitar customer/friend, Scott, who was not a Christian when I first met him, sent me, out of the blue, an e-mail that said simply “Bryan, I have found the Lord.  More later.  Scott.”  And that’s all I heard from him until nearly 2 years later at Kaufman Kamp.  Four of us- Scott was one- were standing around in a circle talking.  iPods were new that year and the conversation was “What’s on your iPod?”  Two of the guys said this or that bluegrass group, blah, blah, blah.  Then they turned to Scott and said “What are you listening to?” and Scott said “Well, I’ve been working thru Vernon McGee’s ‘A Year Thru the Bible’”.  I smiled a big smile and asked if he’d listened to John Piper yet. 

So, there I was, years later, laying in bed thinking about David and thinking about Paul’s verse, and that conversation came back to me, and I realized I’d never really heard or read anything by Vernon McGee.  Using David’s iPad,  I surfed over to my Bible software’s download page and behold! There’s “Vernon McGee’s Commentary”.  I bought it, downloaded it, and immediately turned to his comments on Paul’s verses above.  Here’s what he had to say:
-------------------
Now let's return to his statement in verse 2Ti_4:6: "my departure is at hand." Departure is from a different Greek word than the one used in 1 Thessalonians for the departure of the church at the Rapture from this earth. Paul himself was going through a different doorway. Believers who are living when the Rapture takes place will not go through the doorway of death. "… We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye …" (1Co_15:51-52). The Greek word which Paul uses in speaking of his departure is analusis, an entirely different word. [which he uses ONCE in the entire New Testament- here] It is made up of two words, one of which is luo, which means "to untie or unloose." Analusis could be used to refer to untying anything, but basically it was a nautical term used for a ship which was tied up at the harbor, ready to put out to sea.

Paul had an altogether different conception than that which is popular today. I've heard this so often at funeral services: "Dear Brother So-and-So. He's come into the harbor at last. He's been out yonder on a pretty wild sea, but the voyage is over now, and he's come into the harbor." Paul is really saying just the opposite of this. He's saying, "I've been tied down to the harbor." And that is what life is—we haven't been anywhere yet; we've just been tied down to this little earth.
I know of only one writer from the past who has caught this meaning of Paul's. Tennyson wrote as the first verse of his poem, "Crossing the Bar":

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

That's what death is for the child of God. It is a release for us.

Paul says, "Don't look at my execution and let blood make you sick. I'm like a ship that has been tied up at the harbor. When death comes, I'm really taking off to go and be with Christ, which will be far better."
---------------------------

I can’t tell you what joy and peace this commentary gave me.  The thought of David’s earthly bounds and constraints being untied and him being freed to sail God’s seas (or knowing him, flying God’s skies!) made me smile.  Again, what are the chances of us playing- out all the tunes I know- two songs I’d never played with anyone, “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” and “Departure” the night before his totally unexpected passing?  And then to recall a many-years ago conversation with Scott which led me directly to Vernon McGee’s commentary on this verse?  You can call it coincidence if you want but it’s way beyond that for me; it’s the hand of God in action.

After reading the passage and the commentary, I closed my eyes and slept the best sleep I’d slept in months.

This scene from "Lord of the Rings" captures this concept so very well, I think.  Frodo at 4:14 really nails the feeling of "peace, finally".


video


------------------
In other news, it’s been raining steadily since it started raining in early July.  Grass in some places is literally knee-high.  This is the best of the season I've maybe ever seen and it should definitely give us a good start for  next year.  I cannot believe how fast and how well the ground has recovered.  Places that were dry, dusty, and barren are now covered in seeded-out grama grass.  It truly is incredible and truly gives me hope that what is dead, God can make alive again (Ezekiel 37).

Fixing water gaps!

GRASS!!!
video

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Green, Green Grass of Home

Last time I talked about how dry it was out here and noted that I'd talked about this same thing 2 years ago and that immediately after I wrote "Dust Bowl Days" in 2011, it started raining.  Same thing happened this year, too.  I wrote about the dust bowl conditions and it started raining.  Late June gave us some decent rain, with small rains every week and a couple of big rains.   This past week, it's been raining a lot and today we got over 1" of rain and it's still coming.   Let's look at some pictures:



Here's a storm coming in

Water in a playa- this one doesn't fill up very often


Water in the creek!  Creek's running, too.


A rainbow!

So, the place is green and stuff's growing.  The "stuff" isn't totally grass, though.  There are a lot of weeds and there's a lot of purslane growing.   Purslane is interesting stuff and you can read all about it in the link provided.  We've never seen it before but I'd sure rather have it than snakeweed or locoweed. In fact, I'm thinking about making a salad out of it.  And in areas, there is some excellent grass growing.  It's too late for this year as our cattle owner has already sold his cattle, but this will hopefully give us a good start on next year's cattle and it should definitely help our pastures recover.  In the meantime, I've learned a lot about just tight we can pull our belts, although with some careful budgeting and forecasting, we're actually doing okay.  And, hey, at least it's raining.

In other exciting news- working backward here- we had a visitor!  I'll copy from my Facebook description:


Well, another exciting day on the ranch! About an hour ago, the dogs started barking like crazy and we looked outside to see a bear standing on a post in the front yard, "treed". I called the fearless and brave Australian Shepherd (<- inside joke) back and the bear jumped down and worked thru the pens toward our chickens. Georgia said "There's something else over there!" So we looked and... oh, no... a cub, standing right next to the chicken pen. Thru some yelling, careful nudging, and encouraging with the pickup, we got them both headed out of the pens and into the pasture... until the horses came along. The horses actually charged the cub and knocked it over but finally Mama Bear headed south under a fence and the horses couldn't get to them. I then herded the bears across the road, giving them plenty of room. They wanted to cut back toward the house, but I "encouraged" them down the old railroad bed toward the creek. After about a dozen attempts to cut back to the house, they finally made the creek, got a drink, splashed in the water, and headed south down the creek.

Mama Bear was actually very well-behaved and showed no threatening behavior toward us, although she stand on her hind legs a time or two. Here's hoping they find happy hunting grounds and stay away from the house. We all now know to watch for bears- in addition to rattlesnakes and mountain lions- when we go to check the chickens. Kudos to "Risky", the Aussie for barking.
Mama Bear on the fence
Mama and Baby try to get away- but the horses intervene



More exciting news:   Derek and I shot the NM State Archery Championships which, as you know if you've been following my blog, I've been preparing for since last fall.  I got my equipment worked out, worked on my form, and I did good.  I was hoping for a top 5 and I finished 3rd, which is not too bad for my 1st year of competition since 1990.  I improved my scores all year long and that was good.   Derek, on the other hand, won his division and also set 4 State Records!!!   We had a good time in Farmington at the shoot, even though it was really hot and the days were long.  We lazed about in the motel's outdoor pool and Derek started learning to swim.  Afterward we went up to Durango CO and visited my friend and mandolin builder Robb Brophy.  Good times.

Last shot of the Animal Round: 21 (perfect!)
After the shoot, I continued to work on my form and if you're really bored, you can watch a video of me practicing here.  After watching this video, I made yet another small change in my form which showed immediate results.  I'm hoping to shoot the series again next year!


Okay, last bit of news- in June, I attended Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Music Kamp in Tennessee.  I did 8 years as the Kamp Doctor- the on-grounds repairguy- but this year, I went as a Kamper.  With fewer cattle on the ground, I had the time.  One never has the money, but I sort of had it.  Mostly, though, I wanted to see friends.  There were so many people who were so supportive during David's death and I felt like I needed to see them and thank them personally.  So, I got my plane tickets, signed up, and went.  It was great.  I took mandolin, learned a lot, talked a lot, and had a very, very relaxing time.

Jamming (on guitar) with Andrew Collins
Well, gotta run for this time- it's thundering and lightning outside.  Thank God for the rain.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dust Bowl Days Redux

 Well, that's interesting... I was going to title this post simply "Dust Bowl Days" and then I thought "Didn't I already name a post that?"  So, I checked and sure 'nuff, I did back on, ironically enough, June 24, 2011.  Almost exactly 2 years later, here I am in the same situation, writing about the same thing.  That has proven to me to be one of the great things about this blog- I'm surprised at how useful it's been to go back and re-read past posts.  Reading my post about "Dust Bowl Days" gives me hope that it might actually rain this year; 2011 ended up pretty well on the whole, after all.

Going back and re-reading the posts I wrote about David immediately after his death- especially THIS ONE has really, really helped me.  In the year since his passing, we've done pretty well but there are times- especially when I'm alone in my shop- when it just all seems to come down like a load of bricks.  I have literally crawled into the little dark space under my bench and curled up there for a bit.  At those times, I remember the things I wrote, the unbelievable "coincidences" that happened, eventually I start focusing on the light again, and I can emerge and go on with the day, a little stronger and a little more healed each time.  Likewise, I find it oddly comforting to go out to the graveyard and wander around.   As I wrote either here or on Facebook, the cemetery where David is buried is probably 1/3 children, many who seemed to have died during the mid-20's.  I took some PHOTOS.  Somehow, it lessens my loss to know that many, many others have gone thru this already.   Over Christmas, we watched Ken Burn's The Dust Bowl and I was surprised to see that fully 75% of those in the 1st dust bowl stayed put.  If you'd asked me before, I'd have said 75% left, but no...  Some of them died and some of them survived, but the encouraging thing is that some did stay, survive, rebuild, and go on to see green grass again.  Looking at history is good.  And it  reminds me of this passage from one of my favorite books:

Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 NKJV  That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.  (10)  Is there anything of which it may be said, "See, this is new"? It has already been in ancient times before us.
And so, on we go, forging ahead, one foot in front of the other, dealing with circumstances the best we can, as life dishes them out.  Lest we lose focus during our struggles, let me quote of the end of Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 NKJV  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.  (14)  For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
Okay, let's look at the pasture condition now.   Here's the condition of the "grass".  This is a spot out in the pasture. The roots are still there, but the exposed grass is gone.  And this is not just a case of "over-grazing" because it looks like this in places where I haven't had cattle in a year- in the shipping trap sub-trap, for instance, and in places along the road right of way where there is never grazing. The grass just is not growing. 

Yuck!

Worse, though, are the prairie dog towns.  Here, there IS grazing from these pasture rats.  Most of the dog towns are now bare dirt or close to it.  On the upside, the prairie dogs themselves are mostly gone.  Where you'd go out and see dogs running like dropped marbles on a tile floor, now you'll see 1-2-3 and they're scattered all over the town.  My guess is that the lack of food stressed them and a plague finished the job.

Prairie dog town

Here's what happens when the wind kicks up over a prairie dog town, which is does, frequently.




We have gotten some rain and here's a section of pasture that got 1" of rain about 2 weeks before this picture was taken.  It's not great, but it's something and since the cattle focus here, it gives the rest of the pasture a chance to catch up.  Note rain clouds in distance.

Little bit o' green

Since I took these pictures, it has rained 2.5" in parts of the ranch and even more up-creek from us, the result of which is that the main creek is FULL of water.  Just like the 1st "Dust Bowl Days" post, though, there's water in the creek, but the adjacent land is dry and brown.  Unlike that year, though, I am determined to hold our cattle numbers down to let the pasture recover.  In a good year, we'll run 2000-2100 yearlings.  This year, we have 700.  The problem with that is- no cattle, no income.  Try cutting your income by 66% and let me know how it works you.  Nevertheless, we're better off that those who went thru the original Dust Bowl and we're going to- Lord willing!!!- survive this.

In other news, I spent a week taking mandolin lessons at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp in Maryville, TN.  I did 8 years there as the on-grounds repairguy, but this was my first time as a Kamper.  It was mega-fun.  I needed the break.  And it rained every day.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lessons from Dobby

I saw this on Facebook, saved a copy, printed it, and stuck it on our refrigerator.   As I was getting my yogurt one morning a thought struck me; Dobby is an excellent example of Christianity.  Dobby is from the Harry Potter series and I'm probably the last person in the world to watch the movies.  I resisted them for a long time but my daughter brought them home one day, it was cold and snowing, and so we loaded 'em up in the DVD player and commenced to watching.




Some people like to watch "Christian" movies like "Fireproof", "Facing the Giants", "Letters to God", and etc, and I enjoy those, too. but I have more fun watching non-Christian movies and pulling themes out of them to show the universalism of the Gospel message.  Many "Christian" movies are so often like fairy tales- everyone's happy, trouble comes along, they pray, everything is better again.  Life isn't like that (nor is the Bible or the gospel message).  Instead, we're not happy, troubles get worse, we pray, things get worse, we pray some more... and then something odd happens... we learn to be joyful w/in our troubles.  We transcend our troubles.  A bunch of verses immediately spring to mind that address this paradox:

Job 5:6-7 NKJV  For affliction does not come from the dust, Nor does trouble spring from the ground;  (7)  Yet man is born to trouble, As the sparks fly upward.

Zec 13:9 NKJV  I will bring the one-third through the fire, Will refine them as silver is refined, And test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, And I will answer them. I will say, 'This is My people'; And each one will say, 'The LORD is my God.' "

1Pe 1:6-7 NKJV  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  (7)  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

So, back to Dobby.... why do I think Dobby is a nice illustration of a Christian?  Granted, this is not a perfect illustration, but it seems to me to have its points.  Dobby, when we first meet him, is a slave and furthermore he is a slave to a harsh taskmaster- the nefarious Lucius Malfoy.  I can't ignore the root of Mr. Malfoy's name: "Lucius"- as it's the same as "Lucifer". So, Dobby is basically a slave to the devil.  He's dressed in filthy rags to remind him of his state.  The only way he can be freed is if his master gives him an article of clothing.  Lucius Malfoy isn't about to do that, of course.  Harry Potter ends up tricking Lucius by hiding a piece of Harry's clothing (a sock) in a book; he hands the book to Lucius who then hands it to Dobby.  Dobby opens the book, finds the sock (never said it had to be the slave master's piece of clothing, right?) and becomes a free elf. After realizing that Harry has tricked him- although Harry played according to the rules!- Lucius is furious.  He doesn't care one whit for Dobby; he's just mad that he's lost a slave.  Harry, on the other hand, does care for Dobby, as Jesus Christ cares for His sheep.   Likewise, we're dressed in filthy rags (Isa 64:6) and are cleaned up by the gift of God in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23).

Our analogy gets a little weak here because Harry only gave his sock whereas Jesus Christ gave his life and took our sins upon Himself, but what happens next is what struck me about this analogy in the first place.  Dobby is now FREE.  He's a FREE elf.   Just like this:


Joh 8:36 NKJV  Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Dobby's response to this freedom is to respond with gratitude and voluntarily attach himself to Harry Potter.  And this is where so many people misunderstand Christianity.  Upon being freed from the slavery of sin by Christ, I don't have to do anything.  That's religion.  I've been freed by grace (an unmerited favor) thru faith (in the fact that Jesus can do this), and I'm free from my former bonds.  At this point, I could voluntarily return to my old master, but who would?!  Well, some do!  Some go back to their harsh taskmaster.  Others, seeing a better way in front of them, go with the Good Taskmaster, the one who cares for his followers.  In the Harry books/movies, that's Harry.  In the Christian life, that's Jesus.   Dobby's love of Harry is so great that he eventually gives his own life to save Harry's.  Later on, Harry gives his life to save everyone from the evil Voldemort, but we don't know that just yet and- like I said earlier, this isn't a perfect analogy, nor would I want it to be; it's more fun to put the pieces together in a different order with the same result.

Many people think that they don't need Christ; they can "improve" themselves and make themselves a "better person".  Well, maybe they can, but the problem is that they're still slaves, just like Dobby, except that now they're new and improved slaves.  It takes someone else to come along and ransom them, or for the slave-master to set them free.  Believe me, your slave-master doesn't want to set you free any more than Lucius was ever gonna set Dobby free.  Paul's all over the "slaves of sin" theme in Romans:


Rom 6:17-18 NKJV  But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  (18)  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
So, along comes Harry Potter and pays the price (with his sock!) of setting Dobby free.  Again, this is where the analogy is a little weak because Jesus paid much, much more than that.  But the principle holds; we must be ransomed and set free.


Mat 20:28 NKJV  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
 1Ti 2:5-6 NKJV  For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,  (6)  who gave Himself a ransom for all...


A key point here is that Christians are followers of Christ because they want to be, not because they have to be.  Following Christ is not something one does to earn their freedom but something they do in gratitude.  If you don't want to be grateful, then that's between you and Him.  I suppose, having been freed, if you want to go back to your sin master, you can.  Certainly, it seems like many (maybe most?) Christians stop in to visit their old master once in awhile to see how he's doing.  Dobby never did, that's for sure.  He knew who Lucius was and ended up fighting against him for Harry several times.  That should be Christians, too.  We should fight against sin and help others do the same.  Dobby wants nothing more than to please Harry and that should be Christians, too.  We do things, not because we have to, but because we know that it pleases Jesus.  Of course we're never perfect in these things and of course we make mistakes but that's part of the learning process.  The main thing is that we do what we do out of gratitude and out of a willingly obedient heart, not out of a slave's heart.

Psa 51:16-17 NKJV  For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering.  (17)  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Archery

Last week, we journeyed to Farmington NM for the State Indoor archery shoot. This is the first time I've done this since 1990 and I worked pretty hard this spring to get back into shooting shape and improve. I tried different rests, stabilizers, and releases and last week got a whole new bow to try (Hoyt Contender). It was a little bit of a risk shooting such a new bow, but I took an immediate liking to the Contender and ended up shooting it this past weekend, along with a new stabilizer (a 10" B-Stinger) that came in on Tues.

It was an 8 hr drive to Farmington. Going there, we took the "mountain" way thru Eagle Nest, Taos, Chama, Tierra Amarilla, Dulce.  We've never gone that way and so it was part of the adventure, too. The drive was real scenic and seeing all the snow in the high country was great.  On the return trip, we boogied back down Hwy 550 (70 mph), and then up I-25. That was faster and much straighter, but only about 1/2 h shorter when all was said and done and much less scenic.  I can see where the mountain road could be rough if you got caught behind a motor-home or other slow vehicle, though, and it was definitely harder on the back-seat passengers.

We arrived at the shoot around 6 pm, did some practice, and got ready for Saturday.  The distance was 20 yards and scoring is 60 shots, 5 points max, X counted for tie-breakers;  perfect score is 300/60x. You can shoot 5 individual spots or a single center bull. The problem with 5-spot is that only 4 and 5 count. Shoot what would be a 3 on the single bull and you get a zero. Problem with the single bull is that if you shoot good groups, you can hit an arrow and knock it out plus you'll almost certainly damage some arrows. I shot 5 spot and on the 1st day, sadly, tossed one into the 3 zone for a big fat "zero". First day, I scored 290/33x. Next day, I tossed one into the 3 zone during practice, got that out of my system, and shot a 296/37x.  I had one exciting moment the 2nd day where I shot my arrows, stepped off the line, and then decided to check my target with my binoculars.  I don't always do this because my feeling is that the shot's gone, so what's the use?  But I checked and, try as I might, I couldn't find an arrow in the center spot.  Looking into my quiver I found an "extra" arrow and that's when I realized that I'd only shot 4 arrows and not 5.  So, I hustled up to the line again, calmed down, and shot an X.  Whew!!!!

The best I've ever done previous to this was 288 and my goal for the shoot was 295. I beat that once, so I'm happy enough. I don't know yet where I ended placing. Hoping for top 5, but there were some good shooters and that dropped arrow hurt me. But, it was fun, I learned some things, and I was pleased enough with my performance. Here's my actual target from Sunday...


296 w 33 x
All but one of my 4's is in the inner 4 ring which tells me that with a little more tightening down, I can get them in the 5. (One of those 4's is from the 2 practice ends....). I did throw one high and made it in by 2/3 of an arrow. That's gotta stop.





From practice- this is what 5 arrows in the X looks like




Oh yeah... I'm shooting "Bowhunter Freestyle" class which is a short stabilizer, pins (not a scope), and a release. The hardest part is placing the pin accurately on the target which is a whole lot smaller at 20 yards than it is "in your face" as in the above picture. The light is always bad indoors and if you use a light (which I did), then the pins get a little fuzzy (.ie "larger") and you have really pay attention to where the pin is on the target face.

Next up in the State Tournament is an "Animal" Round in Sandia on a range I've never shot.  Should be fun.  I'll likely be using the Maxxis 35 there as it's shorter, lighter, and faster- all useful traits outdoors.  Gotta practice!




Hoyt Vectrix, Maxxis 35, Contender

In other news, we've gotten some nice snow lately.  Two of the storms were also accompanied by high winds (40-50 mph) and when that happens, it blows thru the windows into the house.  For the first time, it also blew under the north wall of my shop and caused a leak in there that forced me to clean off my work-bench and run 3 fans non-stop for several days to dry everything up.  But, we got it under control.

Snow in the house


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Anniversary, Blog!




I was looking over my blog yesterday and realized that its 2nd anniversary is here.  I started the blog to chronicle the trip to Washington DC that my son, David, and I took.  He had been talking a lot about Washington DC and how much he'd like to go there, but with his anemia, I was scared to fly.  Then my mother said "Have you considered the train?"  I looked into it and, before long, David and I were on Amtrak on our way to DC.  The blog chronicled the trip and I kept it up when we got back.

In recognition of 2 years of writing this think, I spent some time reading back over the whole thing and I was struck by just how MUCH has happened in 2 short years:

Year One:
I had water problems in the house.
David and I went to DC.
We both got sick upon return- I was down for over a week
Our water froze and then the pressure switch stuck, blowing valves.
I did an emergency extension of our septic tank...
...During which our backhoe broke down (and is still broke).
Derek requested and received baptism. [a GOOD thing!]
David started on blood transfusions.  Lasted 3 weeks at first.
We entered what would prove to be a severe drought.
I took a wild peregrine and prairie falcon to use for falconry.
David's transfusions increased to every other week.
Moved into a new guitar shop.
My grandmother died.
The ranch got hit with a lawsuit.
The peregrine died from an eagle attack.
David's transfusions increased to every week.
We struggled financially due to reduced income from drought and increased expenses from lawsuit.
David started on steroids.
More drought.
More expensive legal wrangling.
A critical well went down.

That was all in the first 15 months.  After that, things seemed to turn and this past year has brought:

Year Two
Drought continues thru summer- worst since the '30's but we still shipped some nice cattle.
Saved the well thanks to "well fishing" and improved the well while fixing it.
Daughter off to college and doing good.
Lawsuit settled.
Drought still in effect but we got some much-welcomed snow.

I know life's supposed to be exciting, but, believe me, "cruise control" for the next 2 years would be just fine with me.  :)  However, I don't think that will happen.  There will be challenges and adventures and we'll face them just like we've faced these.


My prairie falcon loves me:



Monday, February 4, 2013

Winter’s Come and Gone




Well, not quite, but it’s a cool song and it’ll soon be true.  Here’s my friends Kenny and Amanda Smith doing the song:



We still have some (probably) cold weather ahead but on the whole, it’s been a very mild winter.  We’ve had just a few small snowfalls and we definitely need some more moisture to get started growing grass in ’13.  The forecast isn’t calling for rain but I’ve seen it rain here and not there, so I’m hopeful that we’ll get something.  Just in case, though, we’re reducing our cattle load to 60% of normal operating capacity.  Now, that sounds easy on paper, but that means a 40% reduction in income, too.   I should be able to make that up by working on guitars, but we’re anticipating a lean summer.  But, I’m confident that we’ll be okay.

Christmas came and went and went enjoyed spending it in Santa Fe at my mother’s house.  I’ve otherwise mostly just been working on guitars, working on sermons, and doing what I normally do this time of the year.  One new thing is that I’m going to make an effort to shoot in the State Championship archery rounds, and to prepare for that I’ve been tuning bows and practicing.

We got a new-to-us Harris' hawk right after the NAFA meet back in Thanksgiving and we've been working with him.  He's doing okay but we just don't have any game.  Maybe next year.

I had a nice surprise the other day. I was wanting a drum track to practice electric guitar with and I thought "Garageband!" So, I fired it up on David's former iPad and guess what I found on there? A recording of us jamming. Before he got his little drum set, he played our Ashbory Bass. If you've never seen one of these, they have a very short scale and literally rubber bands for strings. They are super-easy to play.  David started fooling around with it and I could see he had a good sense of rhythm, so I said “Why don’t I show you a chord progression?”  I showed him a simple I-IV-V in G and it didn’t take him long to get it down.  I remember the day he set his iPad down in front of the amp and recorded himself and then played it back thru the amp (using some connectors I'd put together) and then recorded me playing along with him. We did that _once_ and that was the recording I found today.  I edited a rough start out (I was trying to figure out if he had the right number of beats) and added a few more photos of him and threw this little video together.





I also found on Garageband  a recording of him singing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" along with a Garageband keyboard which he presumably played.  What a couple of special finds, huh?

We’re continuing to work through David’s passing.  The hardest part is going to the cemetery.   They called and said that David’s headstone had come in and so we drove out to see it.  It was a little crooked so I reached out to straighten it up.  I was able to touch his casket at the burial but something about touching the headstone just wiped me out.  We came home and I slept for 4 hours.  We’ve been back twice to put plastic flowers back in place and both times I’ve come down with gout which, in me, seems to be stress-related.  However, I continue to be given little “comfort circumstances” and am gaining peace.  Here’s an interesting story...  I’ve been using E-Sword software for years but have never used the reference library downloads.  Well, I moved to a new computer (originally supposed to be Georgia’s but ended up being mine) and in the process of updating everything I re-installed E-Sword and while doing that, I looked over the reference library downloads and found this book:


So, I downloaded and read it.  I was an amazing read.  It’s a story of a pastor whose 18-year old was killed in a car wreck and the things they went thru while dealing with it.  I’ve read quite a few books on death, but this one really hit home. I recommend it highly. 

Well, let’s wrap this up.

Mom and Derek at the gravesite

 
A Fender Esquire that I put together