Saturday, September 30, 2023

Chapter 19: The Dad's Other Job

 It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, however often you look into eyes and see nothing of the soul.  The Old man taught The Boy how to look behind what the eyes deny to the person inside.  It is not the soul the eyes reveal, but who contains a soul.  Many times there is no soul.

The Boy was older now and had become a capable person.  He would work with many different people from all over The United States.  Some of these folks had agendas that had nothing to do with the job at hand.  It would prove interesting in encounters with what The Old Man would call soul less people. 

The Dad would travel for an unknown job.  In-between his  job teaching at the local High School and periods of rest, The Dad would quietly disappear to places unknown.  Occasionally either by USPS or an other carrier a package would arrive for The Family that would contain trinkets, small toys, and short notes from places all over the globe.  The Family never knew what form of work The Dad was involved in or how he got from The Property to wherever, only that he would disappear then reappear without notice, usually during a time of rest from school.  This part time employment lasted for more than 10 years.

Not often, but occasionally the part time employment would travel back with The Dad.  He would spend time drawing small sketches of airplanes, tanks, riflemen, and other war looking pictures that he called his therapy.  Then He, The Old Man, and The Boy would go into the garage, or the back yard and practice the art of toss The Boy.  This was great fun for The Old Man and The Dad, however is was becoming more and more difficult to toss The Boy as he was now closer to a 200 pound man that would toss back.  The Three enjoyed this time and were very good at the game.  The Dad would always thank The Old Man and The Boy.  It seemed the game was cheaper that visiting a professional therapist. 

The Boy visited a tournament in Billings with The Grandma as moral support.  The Grandma had an old student competing in the tournament that was a "Rotten Boy" and said to The Boy, "Put him in his place he is a bully and deserves a good lesson."  Then she smiled up and The Boy knowing she had just instigated a certain amount of mayhem.  

The Boy said, "Yes Mam."  And when the two met in the center of the ring He looked beyond the eyes of the bully to the person behind them and filled the bully with fear.  The whistle blew and The Boy reacted swiftly and rolled the bully into a Head In Arm followed by a rear choke.  The Bully slapped out.  The Boy won the match and the honor of The Grandma.  He came home with the tournament.  

The Grandma smiled and said, "That was an important lesson."  They drove back to Havre and The Property stopping off at the CM Russel camp ground for a picnic.  This was The Boy's favorite part of the trip.  The Grandma always had the best picnic lunches packed.  Sandwiches, lemon cakes with butter frosting, boiled eggs, and a home made fruit drink that was sweet and fulfilling.  The Boy was in food heaven.  The Grandma could cook. 

The Boy turned right onto the gravel road leading to The Property and could see some cars in the distance parked in the driveway.  The closer they drove to the driveway he could see what looked like The Old Man standing over a man dressed in black with his arm twisted in what looked to be an uncomfortable position.  They drove closer and turned into the driveway.  The Boy opened the door to the pickup and heard the fellow on the ground screaming in agony and The Old Man telling him to quit complaining.  Where was The Dad?

The Grandma said, "Go" and The Boy was off like a shot.  He ran to the Front of Winston and found The Dad face to face with a largish young man about a head taller than The Dad, who at his 5 foot 5 inch stature was still an imposing man. 

The closer The Boy moved to The Dad and his assailant He could hear the largish fellow making various  insults and threats.  The Dad had a gleam in his eye and a slight smile on his face, he was enjoying the battle.  The Boy heard The Grandma's voice come from the pickup, "Look out!" she said.

The Boy felt movement and ducked.  A body flew over the top of his shoulder and rolled into a pile in the dirt.  A man stood up and looked at him.  The Boy looked beyond his eyes at the person standing there and the man froze in place for a brief moment then lunged forward.  He was stopped in an instant when The Dad's hand grabbed the back of his collar which elevated the man into the air.  He landed so hard a very loud crack could be heard above the screaming.  The man was done fighting.  The Old Man had his foe tied into a knot and came over the help.  He was laughing, and The Boy looked over the battle ground.  Three assailants, three injured foe.  He recognized one as a kid He knew from school.  The other two he didn't know.   The Mom wasn't home.  

When the deputies arrived The Grandma was administering some first aid and the Three broken assailants were all crying and in pain.  The deputies handcuffed the three and were stuffing them into  the back of a couple cruisers when another vehicle pulled into the driveway followed by a van with bars on the windows.  A few rather large gentlemen dressed in black emerged from the van and one walked over to The Dad and saluted him.  That was a first for The Boy, to see The Dad receive a salute from an unknown man dressed in black.  The Deputies were complaining saying something about jurisdiction when The Dad whispered something to the deputy sergeant.  The complaining stopped and the sheriff department left the scene.  The Three broken bad guys were then piled into the van.  

The fellow that talked to The Dad stuck his hand out to The Boy and shook his hand.  He asked a few questions and The Boy told him he recognized one of the three as a boy from school.  The Man In Black said "That's interesting." Talked more with The Dad who seemed to be in charge, then got back into the black truck and the rest piled into the van with the three broken bad guys, then drove off.  

The Boy just stared at The Dad for awhile and The Old Man shook his head and said something about not bringing work home with him.  The Dad nodded and said, "Lots of paperwork, lots of paperwork."  Then The Grandma stuck her head out of Winston and said, "Dinners ready."  The Mom just pulled into the driveway pulling a horse trailer behind her blue Chevy Truck.  

Peace and Balance,



Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Chapter 18: The Almost Monk

 The Dad taught The Boy about chivalry.  He taught him about the knights and a round table.  The Dad taught The Boy about the goodness behind that kingdom, the truth encapsulated into Camelot. The Old Man taught The Boy about the Darkness.  He taught The Boy about Merlin and Morgana, the struggles between Light and Darkness, and The Boy absorbed all he could about the lessons that The Dad, and The Old Man shared with him.  In his mind his became both a Warrior of Light and The Encompassor of The Dark.  He wanted to know everything he could about being a Human Being, a Man of Knowledge.  

The Dad had a friend that would visit from time to time.  His friend would walk with The Dad and The Old Man in the fields late at night talking about the acts of a Warrior, being a hunter.  These Hunters stalk Death.  They Hunt and are being Hunted by what The Old Man called The Terrible Other, The Shadow of the Stalker, also coined as The Angel Of Death.  

Very late on an evening The Boy was sleeping in his tent next to Winston, The Dad's Friend tapped on the side of the tent and woke The Boy.  When The Boy climbed out of the tent The Dad's Friend was there waiting for him.  The Boy looked at him, beneath His short black sombrero The Dad's Friend had eyes that were shinning a silver light as terrible as anything The Boy had ever seen.  In a voice that sounded straight from Hell The Dad's Friend spoke, "I See You." Then he ran back into the fields.  The Boy was left sitting in the grass in front of His tent next to Winston.  He was petrified. 

The next morning The Old Man brought him a plate of tortillas, some chicken strips, and a cup of café' mocha, chocolate coffee.  The Boy ate, drank and thought about the past night.  The Old Man just said, "You'll understand someday.  We are the Toltec."  Then he went back into Winston.  

The Boy took a shower and did his chores.  The Dad was waiting for him in the horse stalls.  He had the stalls cleaned already but there was a large metal cauldron full of water sitting in the middle of the stable.  The Dad instructed The Boy to stand low in a Riding Horse and slap the water with first the palm of his hand, then the back of his hand rotating back and forth right to left, left to right and so forth. "Don't stop until I come back for you." The Dad repeated twice, "Savvy?"  Then He walked away. 

The Boy did as he was instructed.  After about an hour his hands began becoming numb.  After two hours the numbness translated into the kind of pain that a person shouldn't feel.  The hands felt like they would melt.  After 4 hours they began feeling like falling stones attached to two tightly wound ropes.  The Boy's hands were becoming weapons. 

The Dad returned just as the sun was falling behind the horizon with a bucket of ice and submerged The Boy's hands into the ice.  The Boy winced in pain, then the pain went away and His hands suddenly felt very good.  The Dad pulled The Boy's hands out of the ice and dried them with a towel.  He showed The Boy his hands, they looked red, but nothing worse for the wear.  They felt powerful.  

Again that night The Dad's Friend showed up at the tent.  This time he shook The Boy's hand and said, "It was very good meeting you.  I See You."  Then he got into his car and drove away down the road to the highway.  The Dad waved at his retreat, and The Old Man was laughing. 

Episodes like these repeated themselves over the course of several years until The Boy voiced His urge to walk to the mountains and live with the Zen Monks there.  The Dad said these words to The Boy, and they changed the course of his life, "It's Easy to be a Holy man sitting in front of a tree alone with no one but the tree and yourself to keep you company, But what of the man who walks amongst the people learning and absorbing everything from life that He can take?  This is the way of The Toltec."

Peace and Balance,


Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Chapter 17: Hot Lemonade

 The Boy and his Friend were in trouble from both Mom's.  Apparently the two had been gone longer than normal for them, that the whole day and night had gone by without their presences, they had been missing.  Neither The Boy or his Friend were even aware that they had been gone so long.  They denied all questioning. 

Early the past morning The Boy and his Friend had been working in the Hay field stacking and organizing bales into a couple different hay stacks, one slightly smaller than the other.  After working in the field the two decided to go shooting and grabbed a couple BB guns, a bunch of BB's and a few targets to shoot up.  The targets consisted of Styrofoam cups, a couple cans, and a paper poster of William Shatner as Captain Kirk.  

The Boy and his Friend took the targets, BB guns, and ammo out into the back forty of the property and set up the shooting range.  Small bets were made.  Things like comic books, candy, who pays for the next movie, the kind of stuff kids gamble with.  The BB gun warriors spent the rest of the afternoon shooting up the imaginary foe, Captain Kirk died in shreds of old poster paper. The Battle was glorious.  The Boy and His Friend had become the invading Klingon warriors. 

After shooting up all the BB's and destroying the targets, The Two picked up the paper mess and stuffed it into a garbage bag brought with them and walked back to the trailers.   After placing the paper and Styrofoam into a burn barrel next to The Old Man's garage, The Two went into the Bel Aire to get something to drink.  

While in The Bel Aire The Boy found a pitcher and some powdered lemonade.  He and His Friend made some real cold lemonade, mixed it up good and each had a glass.  The pitcher was left on the counter.  It was cold.  The water on the property was naturally very cold as it came from a deep water well.  The Boy's Friend was looking out the window over the kitchen sink when He suddenly became very scared.  He pointed out the window and managed to say, "Look, what the hell is that?"

The Boy looked out the window and in the Western sky he saw what looked like a black spot in the middle of the sky.  It was shaped like a football and appeared to be getting bigger and closer by the second.  Then it was gone, then it was there, then it was gone.  

The Two were looking out the window at the disappearing reappearing black spot in the sky when it suddenly appeared again right over the horse stall and was so big that it covered the entire sky.  There was a low hum, then a buzz, and a pressure in the ears and head, and...

The Two woke up in the middle of the kitchen floor, "What the Hell was that?" The Friend asked.

The Boy said, "I don't know."  Then he grabbed the lemonade to have another drink.  The pitcher was warm, very warm, and the drink was hot.  It tasted like hot lemonade, and it looked like the sun was just coming up in the morning horizon.  "What time is it?" The Boy asked.

"Looks like 7:00" His Friend answered.  They were both confused, bewildered, and wondered what happened to the day.  

The Mom's wouldn't accept the story.  The Boys were obviously making it up.  Even though The Boy and His Friend denied going anywhere other than shooting in the back forty and making lemonade.  They had no idea what happened or where they were...

Peace and Balance,


Monday, September 25, 2023

Chapter 16: To Cold To Run

 The Boy grew from an almost 5 foot 5ish kid to an almost 6 foot monster in a course of a little over a summer.  At the beginning of the summer he was 5 foot 5 or 6 and began eating like a horse, working hard and working out hard.  Being a fan of the Jack Lalanne show on TV he began using Lalanne's method of body building and exercise  to gain the fitness that every teenager desires.  The Boy began a routine of pushups, pullups, and various versions of sit ups in the morning and in the evening.  It was at this time that The Boy also began running. Road work is always the best way for a fighter to increase stamina and lung capacity.  The Boy was becoming addicted to the working out part of his life.  

The summer past and the work was hard.  Throwing 50 to 100 pound hay bales around in multitudes is good for the bod.  At the end of the summer The Boy was almost 6 feet tall and 200 pounds.  He was doing hundreds of push ups every day, and could do almost as many pull ups.  A thousand sit ups every morning helped build a strong trunk.  The Boy walked into the varsity center position on the Foot ball team, not many of his team mates could do a hundred pushups at a time.  The coach was impressed.  

The Football season melted into the Wrestling season and The Boy sweat down to 180 pounds to wrestle for the AAU, Amateur Athletic Union.   Because of his Family practices The Boy was becoming a world class Greco Roman Wrestler.  Greco Roman Wrestling is in many respects very much like competitive Judo or Jiujitsu.  Both, The Boy was intimately familiar with.   

The Winter was here and The Boy continued to run.  He would rise early in the morning head out the back door of the Bel Aire, down the road to the Highway.  At the Highway He would turn left and run toward town.  Each morning The Boy would add just a little more distance in his run then turn and run back to the Bel Aire.  Every morning after his run he would shower, shave, eat breakfast, and be reminded by The Dad to get to school on time.  Often He would catch a ride to school with The Dad, most the time he would drive himself.  He always arrived early enough at school to visit the weight room for an hour or so before school started.  Lift, pushups, pullups, sit-ups, shower, then classes began.  After school, practice, which meant rolling around the mat, running the halls, and building his repertoire of usable moves.    A good competitive wrestler only uses between 4 and 6 moves. 2 to 3 take downs and 2 to 3 pinning moves, but He gets very good at them.  The Boy was.

The winter of 1976 in northern Montana was harsh.  At times it was almost warm, at other times is was cold enough to keep everything still.  When the wind blows in the desert and it's 30 degrees below zero nothing alive will move until the sun warms the land.  The thing about that winter was the changes in temperature.  The body will get comfortable in almost fall temperatures, then the temp. will drop below zero, way below zero.  

The day before a morning run it was warm.  Snow was melting, and even birds could be seen in the trees.  It felt like a fall or spring Friday, the beginning of a fantastic weekend.  The Boy went to a movie, Logon's Run was playing at the Cotton wood in Havre. The Boy liked Science Fiction, and Logon's Run did not disappoint.  After the movie He drove home, fed the horses, milked Bessy #5, ate some dinner and went to bed.  

The alarm woke The Boy early and He crawled out of bed, put on his winter running gear, and headed out the door.  He forgot that this was Saturday or he would have stayed longer in bed, but the addicted habit kicked in.  He ran down the road to the Highway, it was cold, something in the air didn't feel right, but he kept running.  He took a left down the Highway and ran towards the Angus Ranch down the road.  He felt off, this was as cold as he ever remember feeling cold.  The Boy turned and began running his way back to the Bel Aire.  He had a headache and his vision was blurring.  "This is not good," he thought to himself.    

He arrived at the back porch of the Bel Aire and wiped his face.  He had a bloody nose and could not see well.  The door flew open and The Dad grabbed Him and pulled Him into the house.  He was going in and out of consciousness, and He could not see what was happening.  The Dad wrapped Him  in a wool blanket, put him in the back seat of the 1968 Chevy Impala Super Sport.  The Old Man was in the driver's seat and The Dad crawled into the back seat with The Boy.  The Old Man tested the engineering of the small block formula 409 in the Chevy and headed balls to the wall towards the Northern Montana Hospital in Havre.  Dr. Elliot the team Doc. was waiting for them when they arrived.  This was early enough in the morning that no Highway Patrol were on the road.  It took less than 15 minutes for The Old Man to drive that car an excess of 12 miles to the Hospital.  The Boy was unconscious when they arrived.    He was not breathing.

The Boy woke to the sound of Deep Purple playing, "Smoke On The Water." from a small tape deck that The Sister had brought to the Hospital.  He could not talk, there was a tube going down his throat.  The Sister told him that Dr. Elliot had to have him intubated so he could breath. She had been crying.  

The Dad, The Old Man, The Mom, Grandma, and Dr. Elliot all walked into the room at the same time.  The Boy thought to himself, "Who's dying?"  The Old Man looked down and him, smiled and pointed at him.  The Old Fart was always reading his thoughts.  

Dr. Elliot spoke, "Well sir, you are lucky.  You managed to frost bite your upper lungs.  Your body responded to protect itself and shut down before you died.  Your eyes will be fine, you had moisture freezing in them.  The next time look at the weather before you go running, it was 60 below zero last night. You'll stay here a few days and heal.  It'll be good for you."

The Old Man was shaking his head and laughing, The Dad patted him on the shoulder, The Mom kissed his forehead, The Grandma hugged him, and The Sister punched him hard in the arm, "No more running in the Dark." She said.  

Peace and Balance,


Sunday, September 24, 2023

Chapter 15: A Real Honest To Goodness Cowboy.


The Old Man was an honest to goodness Ole' fashioned cowboy.  He was born somewhere in the neighborhood of 1880 in an area that eventually became Texarkana, the city that sits right in the middle of the Texas Arkansas border.  Oh sure it pretends to be two different communities, but those in the know, know.  

He claimed to be from the Texas side of the border, but The Grandma always disputed him  saying he was Arkansas through and through.  

As the story was told by The Old Man, when he was a boy about the age of The Boy he and some friends drove some horses and a few cows directly north from Texas all the way to Montana without running into any roads, fences, or other drives.  On the way he and his friends managed to collect some US Cavalry tach, a couple bridals, old fashioned horse bits, a hackamore, and saddle straps, all with a circled US seal that were eventually given to The Boy when he became older. 

When The Old Man arrived in Montana he was hired on as a ranch hand for a big spread outside Boulder Montana.  He eventually became the foreman of that Ranch, The Mom was born in the back of an old Desoto going to the hospital from that ranch in about 1932.  That was not as uncommon as it sounds back in the day.  

The Property in Northern Montana was referred to as The Heart Bar O Ranch.  The name The Mom chose to call it based on the Brand that was used for the horses, cows, and all other four legged critters that needed ownership markings.  The modern brand is actually laser tattooed on the inside of the upper or lower lip of the animal depending on thickness.  The foremanship of the Ranch was split between The Old Man, and The Mom.  The Dad taught at the local high school, and the Grandma had responsibilities with the elderly.  

The Old Man was an old fashioned cowboy and decided to ride the fence line of the property on horse back to give it a good check, and as The Grandma said, "A few days to himself."  That was adult code for, "Vacation."  

He saddled up a neurotic quarter horse that The Boy name Pacos.  He always considered Pacos his horse, but The Old Man rode him fairly consistently.  He claimed he was always in need of training, but The Boy thought The Old Man just liked Pacos better then any of the other horses.  Pacos was the best cow pony the Ranch had.  The Old Man called him neurotic because the horse was afraid of his own shadow and had the habit of  running back to the barn on a whim.  The Old Man was trying to break him of those bad habits.   After loading up some saddle bags and filling a canteen The Old Man was off down the fence line, "I'll be back in a week." he said. 

During the first week The Dad had The Boy doing the chores mostly on his own.  He would feed and comb the horses, He would clean all stalls, and milk and feed Bessy.  The Boy did these chores as The Dad rebuilt part of the front stall area for The Mom.  The Grandma was spending time with some of the Elderly folks on her circuit.   She saw to the needs of many of the Elders of The People.  

It's been a week and The Old Man hadn't returned yet.  The Dad reminded The Boy that this wasn't the first time that The Old Man said he'd be back in a week, but was gone longer, so he continued working the Ranch with The Dad and The Mom.  He was learning more about horses, and that the goat liked butting him in the rear on a regular basis.  Why The Grandma had to have a goat no one will know, but it was a terrible annoyance for The Boy.  Every time he tried working in the yard, in a stall, on the fence, or with the water, that Goat would show up and Butt him in the rear.  The war was on.   That darn goat.

Two weeks went by and still no Old Man.  Then the second day Pacos showed up without The Old Man.  The horse had a large cut across his front right leg and chest.  The Mom took him into a stall and began cleaning the horse up and put some salve on his wound.  The Dad saddled and took another horse out the back gate to look for The Old Man.  He met him half way up the back fence line walking home with a pack over his back.  

The Old Man walked into the yard with a slight limp on his right side.  His pants were torn and it looked like he had some dried blood staining his leg and boot.  He sat in a chair on the porch of Winston, took off his left boot and told The Dad to get a sharp knife.  He took the knife and cut slowly from the top of the boot down and around the back, cutting the boot off of his foot.  When his foot was revealed The Boy got the uncontrollable urge to throw up and ran to the back of the trailer and let it go.  When he came back The Dad and The Grandma were both looking The Old Man's foot over.  The Boy saw an incredible sight.  There were maggots' crawling all over the foot and wound.   The Old Man said that He and Pacos had found a break in the back fence about 10 miles up.  The barbed wire was hidden in some tall grass and He did not see it until they were on top of it.  The horse fell and the wire got wrapped around his foot and leg and cut Pacos' chest.  Pacos ran back home leaving The Old Man in a pile in the dust.  

The Old Man found a carcass and dug some of the maggots out of it with his knife and put them into his boot on purpose.  He told The Boy that it was an old trick to keep from getting an infection.  The maggots would eat the dying flesh and keep the wound clean and the blood flowing.  This is what would keep his foot attached. 

The Mom called the Horse Doctor who came quickly.  He lived down the road a bit and was there about 30 minutes later.  We called the Horse Doctor with any serious emergencies.  It was better than taking a long ride to the Northern Montana Hospital in Havre.  The Horse Doctor told The Old Man that he was smart, and very, very lucky.  He cleaned up the wound with iodine, stitched him up, gave him a jar of antibiotics, and told him to stay off his feet for a couple weeks.  Then he looked at The Grandma who knew what to do, and The Dad looked at The Old Man who just smiled and looked at The Boy, "More Jerry Reed?"  The Boy asked, "Are we going somewhere?"  and they just laughed.  The rest of the family were clueless...  The Old Man was a real honest to goodness Ole' Fashioned Cowboy...

Peace and Balance,


Saturday, September 23, 2023

Chapter 14: A Trip To Edmonton With The Old Man And Jerry Reed


When The Boy was about 12 or maybe 13 he went on a long haul delivery with The Old Man.  It was summer time and The Mom thought it would be a good idea for The Boy to spend the summer with The Old Man, and The Old Man agreed. And why not. This time The Dad was chuckling.  All he would say is, "Good luck fellas, and have a good drive."

The Boy helped The Old Man load up the rig and checked all the fluids in the truck.  The oil was good, the coolant was good, the fuel tanks were topped off, and the tires all had proper air pressure.  All was good.  The Old Man said goodbye to The Grandma, and The Boy Hugged The Mom.  The Dad just smiled at the two as they crawled into the cab of the truck and started her up.  A puff of black smoke, then boom the engine was purring like a tame tiger.  "We're going to Cut Bank to pick up a trailer, then off to Edmonton to make our delivery." said The Old Man.

The road to Cut Bank traveled west on Highway 2 for about 2 or 3 hours depending on your speed and if you stop to view the river.  The highway winds around the front of the Milk River in that spot, the very top of the Missouri, and has a pull off that makes viewing pleasant and a convenient place to stretch the legs.  The Old Man always made an excuse to pull off here.  The Boy enjoyed watching him stand facing the rising sun quietly talking to himself.  At the end of his self speech he always raised his arms high and said an out loud, "HO."  

"What was that for?" The Boy asked.  

"Oh, I promised Your Grandmother I wouldn't forget the Pelicans."  

"Huh?" The Boy pictured Pelicans over the ocean, not in the middle of a desert.

The Old Man explained that as far as he could remember back, and that was a long time since The Old Man was, Old. As far back as he could remember the American White Pelican has been  migrating to this section of the river and nesting in the middle of spring, and by this time of year, early summer the parent birds were teaching the young how to fly.  As he said that The Old Man pointed high over the river and The Boy saw a couple huge white birds with black and red markings at the mid point of a very long wing.  "These fellas are responsible for much of The Peoples Lore and Mythology." The Old Man explained. They became messengers from afar."  Which made perfect sense to The Boy as Pelicans fly all the way from the Ocean to get here.  As it turns out, these birds come from Lake Superior.  The Old Man knew the migratory habits. "Interesting", thought The Boy.

 After a short bite to eat The Old Man and The Boy climbed back into the rig and headed west for Cut Bank which was about 45 minutes away from the pull out.  "An empty semi tractor is the most dangerous vehicle on the road." explained The Old Man, "Driving one of these things is taking the responsibility of the whole road into your hands.  You are the king of the road." The Old Man then popped a cassette into the stereo on the dash and Jerry Reed started singing, "King Of The Road."  The two laughed all the way into Cut Bank.  The Old Man had impeccable timing. 

Cut Bank is not a very big place.  Then again nothing in Northern Montana is big, just spread out.  The Old Man turned the Truck down a street that said, 2nd Ave. NE on the sign.  He muttered something about hiding things in out of the way places then pulled up to a grain elevator sitting outside a small apartment complex called, Buffalo Grass Apartments.  Parked in front of the elevator was a trailer that had a yellow and blue stripe painted down it's side.  He backed the tractor up to the front of the trailer until the hitch clunked into place.  Then he pulled forward just a couple feet to set the pin.  The Boy and The Old Man got out and The Old Man showed The Boy how to set up the airlines for the brakes and the final setting of the trailer.  After walking the trailer and thumping the tires with a ballpeen hammer The Old Man checked the brakes, all was good.  He checked a list on his travel tablet and said, "Ok, Let's go."  

The Old Man turned the truck north on 213 toward Medicine Hat in Alberta Canada.  The Old Man said, "It'll take about 3 hours to get to Medicine Hat then we'll get some dinner.  Then He plugged in some more Jerry Reed and they sang stupid songs all the way to Medicine Hat.  Songs like, "When You're Hot Your Hot, East Bound and Down, Amos Moses, and the Bandit.  Jerry Reed was one of the preferred musicians of the long haul trucker, according to The Old Man.   The Boy just thought he was eccentric.  After all he's been known to do the weirdest things just for kicks.  The Grandma would tell The Boy that he was just like The Old Man.  "When You're Hot You're Hot, When You're Not You're Not."  The Boy heard The Old Man sing, then laugh.  He knew what The Boy was thinking. 

For the next two and a half hours Jerry Reed became the tool The Old Man used to torcher The Boy.  The two where laughing so hard at one point He had to pull the truck over to regain his composure.  After he started driving again in the distance a low building could be see with a light going across it that was shining red.   The Old Man stopped the rig and got out.  The Boy followed him out of curiosity.  This was The Wild Horse Border crossing into Canada. The customs officer came out of the building and checked The Old Man's books.  They traveled to the back of the truck and opened the doors.  The Officer looked in and said, "Ok".  He gave the books back to The Old Man and took a set of metal seals out of his pocket and wove them around the door lock and the ring holder at the bottom of the door.  He stamped The Old Man's book with a red stamp and said, "You're all set."  

The Old Man said, "Thank you sir." and they got back into the truck.  Off again,  Medicine Hat was just on the horizon.  The Old Man took a left on The Canadian transcontinental route 1 and the Truck steered toward Calgary in the west.  3 hours to drive and they will arrive at the Home of the Calgary Stampede, one of the worlds largest rodeos.  Which is more like a national fair than just a rodeo.  It attracts over a million visitors every July with it's 10 days of rodeo, festivities, concerts, stage shows, agricultural exhibits, and cultural exhibitions of the First Nations People.  A good time had by all.

 The Old Man drove through Calgary and headed out on Canadian Route 2 north heading towards Edmonton, "3 more hours and we'll be there." he said.  The Boy wondered how he manages to drive so long without stopping.  They've been on the road for a good 9 hours so far.  The Boy crawled into the sleeper of the truck to take a nap.  He was tired.

The Boy woke and found that the truck was parked outside a truck stop café, The Old Man was no where to be seen.  The Boy crawled out of the cab of the truck in search of a bathroom and found a row of porta pottys lining the outside curb of the parking lot  relief was at hand.  He then went in search of The Old Man, who he found in the restaurant sitting at a table talking to a waitress drinking coffee.  The Boy walked to the table and The Old Man introduced him to the waitress, "I'd like you to meet your cousin Thelma." He said.  The Boy was astonished not knowing there were relatives north of the boarder.  But, of course it makes sense The People didn't just stay in Montana or the northern reaches of The US, they traveled to Grandmother's Land, the nick name of Canada coined by Sitting Bull in the late 1700's.  He called Canada grandmother's land because that's what he referred to Queen Victoria.  "Nice to meet you." The Boy said.  The family is getting bigger.

"Tonight we stay here at the rest stop.  Tomorrow we'll drive into Edmonton and deliver the trailer then head back into Montana.  Maybe we'll see some sights on the way.  What do you think?" asked The Old Man.  

"Cool" was the all The Boy could muster.  He was reaching the age of non conversation.  All Boy's go through this stage.  This is the Ugh, and nod stage of development, adult conversation hasn't evolved yet.  So he Ugh'd and nodded.  The rest just sort of fell into place.

The Boy stayed in the sleeper, and The Old Man stayed in the Rest Stop.  There were tiny sleeping rooms there for over night truckers that the restaurant rented for cheap.  The Boy actually slept very well in the rig.  The Old Man locked him in when the sun began dropping and showed him how to use the small black and white TV in the sleeper cab.  The Boy was in heaven.  He slept like a rock.  

The Boy woke with a start after The Old Man unlocked the cab door and crawled into the truck.  He handed The Boy his bag and pointed at the Truck Stop, "In there you'll find showers and a bathroom.  Clean up and we'll get some breakfast and head out."  

The Boy took the bag and headed to the shower.  His newly found cousin met him at the door and led him to the bathrooms and left him to his business. The showers were cold, the floors concrete, and the toilets clean.  The Boy woke up quickly and headed back out to the truck.  About half the way there he was met by an ugly looking rather unsavory fellow that spoke to him in an American accent.  He was from Washington State heading East.  The Boy's instincts were telling him to get away from this person as fast as he could, but the ugly guy wouldn't let him pass.  The Boy ducked and ran around him toward the truck.  The ugly guy was following him.  The Boy managed to get to the passenger side of the rig, but the unsavory fellow had beaten him there.  The Boy was beginning to panic, just a bit, when he heard a familiar clearing throat behind him.  The Old Man had moved like a Big Cat and pounced on the ugly guy in an instant.  He had the guy by the front of his jacket with his left hand and his right hand was lodged under the fellows throat holding onto the lapel of his coat.  The Old Man had his right thumb forced under the ugly guy's adam's apple and the guy could not talk.  The Old Man was whispering to him very close and The Boy noticed that the unsavory fellow was dangling feet in the air.  The Old Man had him in a position where his mortality was in question.  After talking to him The Old Man let him go and he dropped to the pavement.  The ugly guy got to his feet and ran as fast as he could away from The Boy and The Old Man.  The Old Man said, "Ready to eat?"  And they went to the restaurant to get some breakfast.  

The road to Edmonton was a very nice ride.  The Old Man and The Boy didn't talk about what had happened at the truck stop at all.  When they arrived at Edmonton they delivered the trailer to a housing complex on the outskirts of the city.  The Old Man backed the truck into a long driveway, unhooked the hoses, wacked the locking plate a couple times with a sledge and pulled away from the trailer.  He spoke to the customer who cut the seals off and signed The Old Man's book.  They crawled back into the cab of the tractor and started the journey back.  The Boy looked at The Old Man and said, "Thank You."  

 The Old Man put a hand on his shoulder, smiled and said, "That guy was a real creep. It was my pleasure."  

They played Jerry Reed on the way back and sang stupid songs..  The Old Man had saved The Boy's life...

Peace and Balance,





Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Chapter 13: Chopping Wood


The Old Man was standing feet apart, low facing a block with a short log top side up sitting at it's center.  He had his arms raised high over his head holding a two headed axe.  He suddenly dropped his arms sending the axe head down straight through the log splitting it perfectly in two.  He grabbed another, positioned the log and repeated.  His technique was the same every time he chopped a log.  Hands high, back straight, standing feet apart low.  As he dropped the axe he would raise up slightly with his legs then down again just before chopping.  Perfect.

The Dad saw The Boy watching The Old Man and called him over to another pile of logs.  He made The Boy stand feet wide apart, legs bent low, back straight and handed him a heavy wooden axe handle with no axe head.  The Dad positioned The Boy's arms and hands high over his head with the handle held high and said, "Hold this high just like this, watch The Old Man, but don't move until I come back."  Then he walked away with The Boy standing low holding a headless axe handle over his head high, not moving.

The Old Man continued chopping wood, and The Boy did not move.  His legs began burning.  His arms were asleep.  His feet tingled, but he did not move.  The Old Man kept chopping.  After a forever time The Dad returned and removed the handle from The Boys hands and helped him lower his arms.  The Boy winced in pain.  The Dad grabbed him by the shoulders and lifted him up on his feet, then caught him to keep The Boy from falling.  He sat on a log with The Dad sitting next to him.  "What was that?" The Boy asked.

"It's called Riding the Horse." The Dad replied, "Tomorrow we practice again."

In the Morning The Dad led The Boy to the pile of logs again and had The Boy touch his toes for another forever time, then had him stand again feet apart low with his back straight.  This morning he handed him an axe handle with a heavy two headed axe head attached.  He raised his arms high and placed the axe in his arms high over his head and said, "Don't move until I come back." And he walked away.

The Boy stood in this position with the axe high over head for another forever time.  This time however he didn't suffer from as much pain as the day before, and his legs did not go to sleep.  He just stood, hurting all over instead.  The Dad returned and lowered his arms, stood him back up and said, "Later we chop wood."  Then handed him a bologna sandwich from The Grandma's kitchen.  It was tasty, then he washed it down with some water.

After The Boy had eaten some lunch and regained his limbs The Old Man, and The Dad took him to the wood pile.  The wood pile was endless.  It seemed to stretch out forever into a cavern of splinters and knots.  The Boy can't remember how long this pile had been sitting here, only that it was part of the landscape.  The Old Man said something to The Dad and The Dad spoke to The Boy, "I will explain, but you watch The Old Man and remember what you see, savvy?"  The Boy nodded his affirmative. 

As He watched The Old Man stand with his feet apart and raise an axe high over head, The Dad said, "This position is called Riding The Horse."  

The Old Man then dropped his axe straight down chopping a small log perfectly in center, cutting it in two. "This is called, Chopping Wood." Said The Dad, "It is what the whole exercise is named after."

Then The Dad said, "Notice how when The Old Man begins his drop, the lower body and legs raise as the arms and upper body drop. This is the crest of a surfers wave ready to smash upon the rocks below." The Old Man chopped again, perfect. Two pieces.  

"Are you ready for a demonstration Son?" Said The Dad.  From out of the ether The Old Man produced a Katana, a Japanese sword, and tossed it to The Dad, who in one stroke unsheathed the sword raised it high and brought it down onto a log.  This all happened in one smooth stroke.  The log was now in two perfect pieces and the sword was back in it's scabbard.  The Boy didn't even notice when or how that happened.  "This is the reason we chop wood," said The Dad.  The Old Man was clapping and laughing.

The Dad handed the axe to The Boy and said, "Chop wood."  then walked away.  The Old Man winked at The Boy and followed the Dad.  The Boy began chopping.

Peace and Balance,



Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Chapter 12: Race Horses And Throwing Knives


The Mom was standing in the center of the stable holding a long tether with a Therabred Appaloosa cross attached to the other end.  His name was Chief the son of Khalif, who was sire to many great race horses including Secretariat the triple crown winner of 1980.  The first triple crown winner of more than 29 years.  The Mom was quietly clicking and taping Chief on the rump with a long leather lead.  

Standing in the North corner of the stable was The Old Man, who was smiling and nodding his approval. The Old Man had taught The Mom everything she knew about training horses.  His philosophy was to treat the animal with respect and you will gain respect in return.   The Mom was known across the country for her horse training skills.   These are Horse People.

The Old Man and The Dad were seen in the late evening by The Boy standing in the middle of an open field.  The Dad would smile and raise an arm, run across the field and strike at The Old Man, Who would magically disappear from in front of The Dad and reappear behind him in an instant.  There would be a flurry of movement from his feet to his hands and The Dad would be airborne to land again on his feet laughing and adjusting his glasses.  The Old Man would in turn do the attacking and The Dad rolled under The Old Man's feet taking him off the ground.  The Old Man would sit roll and rise on his feet laughing.  This exchange played out back and forth, back and forth until the Sun dipped low on the horizon.  

The next morning The Boy was greeted by The Dad at the foot of the back door stairs to the Bel Aire.  He had a Kabar Marine knife in his hand that looked newly sharpened and polished.  He walked The Boy to an area on the side of The Old Man's garage.  Leaning against the garage the long way at ground level was an old telephone pole.  It was 40 feet long and looked hard as nails.  

The Dad looked at The Boy with fire in his eyes.  The Dad's eyes were a bright blue with flames flying from their orbs.  He said, "Notice the condition of this knife.  It is clean, new looking, and very sharp.  After you are done today it will look in the same condition it is in now, Do what I do and don't stop until you can do it Consistently, Savy? Keep your eyes on me."

He flipped the knife once in the air catching it by the back of the blade, twisting his wrist over knife up, he pointed at the pole on the ground and let loose a throw that flipped once in the air and stuck perfectly at a perpendicular angle to the pole.  He pointed at the knife, looked at The Boy, and walked away.

The Boy tried pulling the knife out of the telephone pole.  It did not come out easily, as the matter of fact it was stuck up to the hilt and took some rather intense pulling, cursing, and grunting that finally freed the knife.  It was still clean, how'd that happen? 

He tried flipping the knife.  That didn't land exactly the way he thought it would.  He finely caught it in his palm correctly and twisted blade up and let it loose.  It didn't flip.  It flew straight and hard hitting the pole dead center on the butt of the handle, with a loud clang and metal ping.  He was beginning to get frustrated.  He kept throwing, and throwing, and throwing.  Finely he tossed a toss that stuck, and fell out.  "It stuck." he thought.  Now there was hope.

The secret was all in the way he flipped and twisted the blade to get it to do one flip in the air before sticking.  He began sticking his blade a majority of the time now so he took a break to clean the knife.  Oh boy, it needed cleaning and straightening.  It seems that other than a proper flip and twist it needed the right trajectory to keep from being bent to hell.  It took some oil, a plyers, hammer, and a soft cloth to get it just right.  Then he went back to throwing.  

The Boy started this practice early in the morning, the sun was now threatening to go down and he was still feeling unsure about his throw.  He began pacing back and forth in front of the Telephone pole when a hand grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around on his heals.  He was face to face with The Dad who handed him the knife and said, "Throw."

The Boy was petrified.  He looked at The Dad, and saw standing in the Northern Corner of the yard, The Old Man who was smiling.  The Boy stepped 25 paces away from the pole turned and flipped the knife once.  It landed in the palm of his hand.  He twisted his wrist over once and let loose.  The knife flipped once perfectly and sunk up to the hilt in the pole with a loud Thunk.  The Dad walked over and dislodged the knife from the pole, looked it over hard, smiled at The Boy and said, "You Pass."  The Old Man laughed.  He had learned The Dad's throwing technique.  

Peace and Balance,


Monday, September 18, 2023

Chapter 11: Saint Helens, Curiosity, And A VW Bug.

 The 1960's model Chrysler 318 V8 was one of the most reliable horse power to torque engines put out in that era.  It was a classic that sat mounted in Mopar cars of that generation for a good decade.  The Plymouth Fury Sport coup, the Fury III sedan, (adopted for Highway Patrols all over the country), and the 2 door Fury coup convertible were all capable of waging war on any drag strip or hidden road for a majority of that decade.  Pink slips fell to the ravages of the Fury. It was Glorious.

The Plymouth Fury sedan was one of many vehicles The Boy would piece together with the assistance of The Old Man.  It was capable of driving the driver and passengers back solidly in the seats due to the force of gravity suddenly exerted upon them.  0 to 60 in less than 6 seconds is very respectable for any car of that generation.  The Old Man was proud of that car and the Boy, beamed.  

In 1980 the ground around Mount Saint Helens in Washington State began rumbling.  The mountain was going through stages of swelling an contracting.  Unfortunately the seismic scientists of the USGS, the United States Geological Service, didn't detect the exact power building, nor the time it was to explode.  For this reason a team of scientists lost their lives  and the warnings to evacuate came late to the surrounding communities and folks living in the vicinity.  Some did leave, but a few refused and paid the ultimate price.  

On May 18th, 1980 at 8:32 AM Mount Saint Helens exploded in a violent eruption that sent ash and fire 80,000 feet into the atmosphere, and from there it spread KCL, Calcium Chloride or Potash to virtually every continent in the Northern Hemisphere.  The two years following The Old Man's piece of heaven had it's best growing seasons ever.  The clover grew thick, the sweet grass was high, and the corn plentiful.  It was a profitable couple of years.  

Less than a week after the mountain exploded The Boy decided to drive the Plymouth Fury to Washington State to check out the state of the Cascades, the mountain range St. Helens was part of.  He was curious and wanted to see what was left.  He packed a cooler, made the appropriate calls, he was on leave from the Air Force, put some clothes in a duffle bag, filled the car up with gas, and headed out down Highway 2 West.  His trip had begun.  

The Old Man tried to warn him about driving at this time, but The Boy's curiosity was strong and driven.  He drove past Chester, then Shelby,  Cut Bank, and Browning, then finely into West Glacier.  The Mountains had arrived.  The drive from Columbia falls to Kalispell is basically fairly even as they are at the tops of the ridges, then up again until the drive reaches Libby.  The Libby Loggers are a historical rival of the Havre Blue Ponies.  The two football teams would go to war in ritual combat at about the same time every year.  It is as regular as the harvest and celebrated much the same way, ritualistically.   Havre always one the game.  After all it was a AA school and Libby wasn't.  

When The Boy reached the Idaho border he noticed the car running slightly sluggish so he pulled over and took the air cleaner out of it's compartment atop the engine. Probably not a good idea.  He was now at the top of the Continental Divide and would be driving down hill for the remainder of this leg of the journey.  He pulled over at a Idaho state rest stop to stretch his legs and get some coffee.  He found a nice little restaurant at the pull over and decided to get a burger, fries, and coffee.  He got talked into a sundae surprise by the waitress.  It was large, tasty, and probably not real good for him, but that was ok.  He left a nice tip and continued his trip. 

The drive across Idaho isn't a long drive. The top of the state is only 50 miles, however when The Boy reached that spot he looked down the long drop of a highway.  At this point the decline of the highway is so steep that every few hundred feet there are panic ramps for those weak at heart, and trucks who's breaks decide to crap out.  This was a hair raising trip.  On this steep piece of road there where actually other drivers passing him at better than 70 MPH.  He was not comfortable.  The car was acting up and his nerves were sitting at the bottom of an ice cream cup.

He was finely at Bonner's Ferry and could see the mountains in the distance.  There was something wrong, but he couldn't quite put a finger on it.  He kept driving.  The car was sounding rough and spitting every now and then.  It was not happy.  He Turned North on 117 and drove for about an hour and a half.  There was a roped off parking area.  He pulled in and parked shutting his car off.  The Boy  got out of the Plymouth and looked into the horizon where a mountain should be.  Saint Helens, or the top of, Saint Helens was gone.  It was about half it's usual height.  He could not believe his eyes. 

The Boy cried at the sight of the mountain.  His heart was heavy.  He had walked some of this paths in the past and felt close to the mountains.  This was an unbelievable sight.  These mountains will never be the same again.

Then The Boy got back into his car and tried starting it up.  Nothing.  He tried again.  Only a whir and an electrical noise.  He opened the hood and took off the air cleaner lid.  The engine was no longer pretty, it was covered in pot ash and the top looked like dried cement.  A man in a tow truck stopped and talked to The Boy, then looked at the car, "This is not good." he said.

After explaining to The Boy that pot ash is not good for engines at all, that it looked like the motor had seized, and probably had seen it's last hurrah, he offered The Boy a trade.  A 1965 VW bug for the Plymouth. Papers for papers.  The Boy agreed and they loaded his stuff into the VW, and said, "Thanks mister."  Full of gas, full of the sight of no mountain, and full of wonder, The Boy started his drive home.  

That little Bug turned out to be one of the best cars The Boy had ever owned and the Old Man, well he just laughed.

Peace and Balance,


Saturday, September 16, 2023

Chapter 10: Remembering The Past, The Boy And A Rainbow Car

 Before the boy's sister was toddling, before she was a person, the boy himself was a toddling child getting into all sorts of mischief and mayhem.  The boy was a wanderer, he was the type of child that did not know that sitting still was a thing.  He could be found in any location attached to the property or even an adjacent strip of land or dwelling that he could manage to meander into.  An occurrence that was often the dilemma of the Mother.  The many letters that follow a child's name today as a manner of diagnosing the reasons for the meandering and not acknowledging the sitting still part of life had not been invented yet, the boy was a seeker, a finder of things unknown to human eyes.

There was a stream on the back side of the property that spilled into a small lake.  The lake had trees and grew around a small beach of white sand that the family would enjoy swimming from and have an occasional picnic.  The property was an oasis in the middle of the northern expanse of the Great American Desert.  For miles around the land was brown and dry in the summer, and cold and frozen in the winter. but on the property hay grew green, the trees reached for the sky, and wildlife would commune and flourish.  It was a small piece of heaven that The Old Man and Grandma had been working for generations with Mom and Dad and the boy helping as family should. 

The boy was wandering.  No one was sure this time how long he had been gone.  It could be the manner of minutes or hours.  He was supposed to be napping.  Apparently the boy had ditched a diaper, grabbed his favorite blanket and crawled prowled out the back door of Winston, this was before the Bel Aire had been added to the front.  

A massive search was begun.  Grandma was looking, Mother was panicking, Dad was walking toward the back side of the property, and The Old Man was chuckling and grooming his roan.  A reddish brown mare that loved the attention.  After he finished giving the horse the attention she thrived The Old Man put his brushes and comb away then walked towards the back of the main barn.  It was getting dark.  

In the barn The Old Man could hear some shuffling and giggling coming from up above the floor.  He flicked the light switch and the barn opened up to him.  The stalls in front where all empty, the horses were out in the field running.  The back of the barn was dark with saddles and tac lining rows of hooks and hangers.  Then he heard a giggle and looked up.  The boy was standing high over head looking down at The Old Man, arms stretched out.  The Old Man chuckled and stepped towards the opening under the second floor of the barn. He smiled up and the boy who then jumped and fell into The Old Man's arms.   A game they had played before.  The boy was not afraid, he was happy. 

The Old Man carried the boy back to Winston and waited for the rest of the search party.  He redressed the boy and gave him some warm cereal.  The boy smiled and drooled as he ate his snack.  The world was good.  The rest of the family was not as happy at the boy which was a source of amusement for The Old Man.  He knew, the boy was just like him.

As the summer progressed the boy would occasionally wander and bring back treasures from his walks.  Colored rocks, funny shaped sticks, and a puppy.  The Mother was unsure, the Dad was ok, Grandma had a questioning look, and The Old Man picked up the puppy, "Where's your mother little fella?"  The puppy was a runt wolf pup.  

Dad left to go search and came back a short time latter.  "The mother is dead," he said.  "Looks like she's been shot."  Wolves are usually not appreciated by the neighbors.  Fortunately the closest neighbor is miles away.  Grandma took the puppy and began cleaning it up.  He turned out to be a loyal pet. 

It was the beginning of August now and the boy was was again wandering.  He managed to walk to the back of the main stall area of the horse barns.  The lights in the stalls were off, but the boy could see.  He could see a rainbow.  It was coming down from the sky in the middle of the field.  The lights covered every thing he could see.  The rainbow was soft and warm, the boy was happy.  After awhile he could hear some music and voices.  Someone was talking to him, they were asking him his name and where he came from.  Things that people would ask a lost child.  One of the voices, a lady with a soft sing song voice, picked the boy up and carried him into a large car.  Inside the car the rainbow was all around and the music could be heard everywhere.  The boy smiled up at the lady, who looked like sparkling lights.  He could hear the motor running, a high whine.  He could feel himself moving in the car.  There was another voice, his was lower, but soft.  The music kept playing and the car stopped.  

The lady carried the boy out of the car and put him down on some soft grass.  The boy knew where he was.  The voice said, "Wait here, they'll be here to take you home soon."  She brushed his hair out of his face and disappeared.  The boy saw the car back away then fly straight up into a cloud followed by the rainbow.  He was alone on a small hill in the grass.  

The boy didn't know how long he was there, he didn't know about time yet, but he heard his Mother's voice, then Dad's, and Grandma's, finely The Old Man, he was laughing.  They found him on the hill and took him back to the house on the rise in front of a lake.  This was not the same lake on the property it was a lake 250 miles away next to the house of Dad's cousin in Billings Heights.  No one knows how the boy got there, but the boy was happy.

Peace and Balance,



Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Chapter 9: Can Am Drilling And The Missouri Breaks

 Montana in the winter can be very cold.  The plains are flat and the winds blow.  A normal wind in winter across the northern plains can exceed 30 MPH.  When it's 60 below 0 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind is blowing at 30 MPH the feel like temperature is in the Oh My God degrees and a person can freeze to death in the manner of moments. 

While the Boy was still in High School he landed a job working for an oil and gas chemical supply company as a delivery truck driver.  The company's name was Can Am Drilling Supply and was owned by the father of a friend of the Boy.  He was paid an hourly wage plus 10 cents a mile, including overtime. Over a period of time the Boy became hard as a rock and could pick up 2 hundred pound bags of cement at a time.  A feat that did not go unnoticed by the Football Coach. The Boy was the team's varsity center, his primary job was to protect the quarterback.  A job he was very good at.

The Boy was the only high school student that carried an on call beeper around with him 24/7.  If the beeper went off he followed the instructions that came through from the company dispatcher.  Not often, but once in awhile he would be called out of school to drive a delivery to either an oil rig or gas well being drilled at any location throughout the state of Montana.  Montana is a big place, he drove a bunch of miles. 

The Boy was responsible for loading his own delivery truck, a 2 ton flatbed truck that had a raised bed and a dual shift gearing system.  That is a shift stick that has a knob on it that shifts back and forth from high and low through 12 gears.  The truck was a Chevy that was considered a 2 ton, but was regularly loaded with about 18,000 pounds  of cement, barite, poly S, calcium carbonate, and other chemicals and mud that are necessary for the proper operation in the drilling process for oil and gas.   

The Boy could hire any temporary employee he deemed necessary to help him deliver and unload the truck when they arrived at the rig.  He usually hired the same friend.  They could unload a truck in short order.  The Boy also had an expense account.  He could purchase food and drinks while on the job.  All he needed to do was keep all receipts which he would give to the Owners wife, who was also the HR person and book keeper.  The money would be included in his next paycheck.  It was a good system.  He would also purchase 12 packs of soda and other beverages to bribe the crew and hands on the rig to help in unloading the truck.  If they assisted he would give them the drinks.  

He was a good driver, and felt confident that he could drive anything on wheels.  A family trait.  The Old Man had taught him how to drive his Peterbilt a few years before and the Chevy delivery truck drove and felt very much like the Old Man's semi.    

Texas Oil was one of the biggest oil drilling companies in The United States and a had foot hold in Montana.  

The Football season was over, and the Wrestling season was in full swing.  The Boy was going to practices everyday after school then he would report to work.  He would clean the warehouse, put stock in order, and make deliveries when necessary, this was  full time job his last year in school.  

Right after lunch on a winter's day the beeper went off while the Boy was in English class.  The instructions said to deliver an order to the one place that the Boy feared, especially in the dead of winter, the Missouri Breaks.  The Breaks are an area in Montana that surrounds the Missouri river in North central Montana.  It comprises about 375,000 square acers of public land that is some of the most remote and dismal land in the country.  That was were he was driving.  It was sunny outside, and 35 below zero at a quarter after 12 PM.  He tried hiring his usual helper, but his friend said, "No!"  

The Boy reported to the warehouse and loaded up his truck.  It was really cold, really cold, but the truck had a good heater.  He drove to the company gas pump and filled up both tanks of the tuck.  The truck would hold about 200 gallons of fuel in two tanks that could be switched back and forth from with a valve switch under the driver seat of the truck.  He grabbed a burger and fries for dinner with a coke, and bought a 12 pack of bubbly beverage for the rig crew, then headed south through the Bear Paws to the Breaks.  So far so good.

The Boy was pretty good at tracking his locations with a map and compass.  He knew about where the rig was supposed to be operating.  He had it marked on his map.  At about 4 in the afternoon he arrived at where the rig was supposed to be located.  Nothing was found.  He got on the radio and called up the rig.  The Tool Pusher, the boss on site, answered and gave him the correct coordinates.  The Boy found the rig, right over the horizon.  He wasn't to far away. 

The Boy backed his truck into a make shift loading doc and crawled out of the cab to find some help to unload.  There was no one on site except the Tool Pusher.  He actually helped the Boy unload.  It took a few hours.  They were alone and he had more on the truck than usual.  When done, the Boy said  his goodbyes and headed down the road.  He didn't bother checking the outside temperature, his first mistake. 

The sun had gone down, and the temp was in the extreme cold area.  It was 60 below and the wind was kicking up.  The heater in the truck was working, sort of.  It was getting cold.  About 35 minutes into the drive back the truck began sputtering.  The Boy reached under the drivers seat and switched tanks, his second mistake.

The engine sputtered and stopped dead.  The Boy tried switching tanks again, nothing.  The only sound was the rrr of the starter trying to start the truck, nothing.  After awhile the Boy gave up on the truck and made the decision to walk back to the rig.  He got on the radio, no answer.  He radioed his intention to walk back to who ever was listening, and started to walk.  He did not have on the appropriate shoes, and his jacket was not quite right.  The walk became a struggle.  He was walking to live, that was his focus. He could not feel his feet anymore, and all he could hear was a very high pitch whistle in his ears.  There was a glow just over the horizon, and the rig came into view.  He kept walking.  

Just as he was about to step across the out fence of the rig, a white pickup appeared and the door flew open.  It was the Tool Pusher.  That is the last the Boy could remember.  The Boy woke once in a cot on the rig is a warm room.  The Tool Pusher was talking to another rig hand who was nodding his head and saying yes sir.  The Boy went back to sleep.  He woke again in the back seat of the cab of a dually then went back to sleep.  

The Boy woke again in a bed at the Northern Montana Hospital in Havre.  He had all of his toes and fingers, and his noes was still in tacked. The Tool Pusher had saved his life.  His boss walked in the door and told him, "The fuel lines of your truck were frozen solid. The tank switch had broken off and was not working.  You are a lucky SOB."  Can Am Drilling paid for all hospital bills, and gave the Boy a pretty good overtime check.  The Boy decided this was not the best place to work...  That is another story.

Peace and Balance,


Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Chapter 8: Crime And Punishment.


The Boy and his Friend had thought their indiscretion would go unanswered.  They were each naïve possessing young minds that believed that youth and nerve made them the image of invincibility and immune to the ravages of reality.  In short terms, stupid.

School started and the days progressed fairly normally as the calendar pushed forward through the daily edifices of education.  Autumn had come and the foliage was changing.  October was progressing as Halloween threatened to excite the imaginations of all believers ready to celebrate the candy gods.  After school on a Friday the Boy's friend was scheduled to work a shift in a local garage pumping gas, checking oil, and adding air to tires.  At $4.50 an hour he was happy enough.  The Boy filled his tank and began the ride home.  The bike was humming right along like a champ. 

The trip home was about 12 miles and took about 15 minutes.  When the Boy turned down the dirt road to the property he noticed what seemed to be a couple squad cars parked in the drive way.  When he drove closer he noticed one was a Hill County Sherriff department, the other Montana Highway Patrol.  2 officers talking to the Old Man, and Dad in the front yard of the Bel Aire, no one looked pleased to see him.  

The Boy parked his Sportster and walked up to the conversation.  The deputy asked him his name, he answered.  The Highway Patrol said, "Nice Bike. Yours?"  His inner voice was telling him something was amiss. 

Dad pushed his glasses down his nose and had that glare in his eyes that he gets when it's about to hit the fan.  The Old Man just looked at him and stretched out his left hand.  The Boy threw his keys which were snatched from the air with the speed of a pit viper.  This was bad.  

As The Boy, The Old Man, Dad, and the 2 Officers were all having a rather intense conversation a black Chevy pickup pulled into the drive way.  The door swung open and out stepped a large man dressed in jeans, boots, and an old dusty denim shirt, the Honorable Judge Vasicka.  He was not smiling when he approached.  He and the officers talked alone for what seemed like a very long time.  The Old Man and Dad said nothing.  His Honor walked to Dad, and The Old Man and they had an equally long conversation.  Then was heard him say, "We have an agreement then?"  Dad and The Old Man nodded.

The Very Honorable Judge Vasicka then focused his attention on the Boy, "Young man, it seems these two Officers are convinced that you rode your motorcycle through the reverent halls of academia. You rode the halls of the high school?"  The Boy had to fess up and tell the truth.  The Judge continued, "Since no harm was done, other than the damage to the floors of the school this shall be your punishment.  You will turn the motorcycle over to these two officers, who will place it in auction and use the proceeds to fund the repairs to the school and the rest will be donated to Rocky Boy.  The rest of the punishment I leave up to these fine gentlemen."  He pointed to Dad and The Old Man. The Old Man threw the keys to the Judge, and the Officers ramped the bike into the bed of the pickup. 

That was the strangest court proceedings to date in Hill County.  The Honorable Judge Vasicka and Dad both shared a similar tattoo. Dad's on his left forearm and the judges on his right shoulder.  It was the flaming winged skull of the Montana chapter of the Hells Angels.  He a judge and Dad a high school teacher. 

The next morning The Old Man met the Boy at the foot of the Bel Aire stairs carrying a large greasy pump greaser and said, "Come With Me." 

He walked to the garage and opened the side door.  They both stepped in.  The Peterbilt tractor was in the garage.  "You will clean every inch of this truck, then you will find every grease fitting and grease each bearing and joint in the rig without making the need to clean it again.  You will do this in the order prescribed until you can accomplish this task as I have described, understand?"  The Old Man was deadly serious, and when either he or Dad got that serious it was wise to listen and follow direction. 

It took the Boy 5 times and 2 days to accomplish the impossible.  The Old Man made inspection while carrying a cup of coffee and smiled at the Boy without speaking.  When he left the garage he was laughing an evil laugh.

The next morning Dad met the Boy at the stairs of Winston carrying a spade shovel.  Dad didn't speak. He just walked to the pump house next to the trailer.  Between the trailer and the pump house was a roped off area that marked a path from the trailer to the pump house.  He handed the Boy the shovel, "You will dig a ditch from the trailer to the pump house 2 feet wide and 6 feet deep for a new water line."  The Boy began digging.  

It took him the entire day to dig the ditch.  When he was done Dad came to inspect, "Not right.  Fill it in. Tomorrow you will dig again."  He handed the Boy the shovel and walked away.  The Boy filled in the ditch. 

The next morning Dad met the Boy at the foot of the stairs again with the shovel.  This time he just pointed at the spot and walked away.  The Boy began digging.  After what seemed like forever Grandma showed up with a lunch in a bag.  An old bologna sandwich and a canteen of warm water.  Even she, who always stands by the Boy, was a tool of Punishment.

After he dug the ditch, Dad appeared to inspect, "This is not right, fill it in and dig it up in the morning."  Then he walked away.  Dinner was waiting for the Boy.  On the table was an old Bologna sandwich and a canteen of water.  

The next morning Dad was not at the foot of the stairs.  The shovel was standing straight up where the ditch was to be dug.  The Boy began digging.  Again at the end of the day he was done.  This day there was no lunch, there was no inspection, only the ditch.  The Boy went to bed and found a note, "Take a shower."  

In the morning he woke to the smell of ham and eggs.  There was a big breakfast complete with coffee and juice.  Dad and The Old Man were waiting at the foot of the stairs.  "We will never speak of this again. Savy?"  

"Yes." said the Boy, "I'm sorry."

Dad held his hand out and Boy gave him his drivers license.  

Peace and Balance,


Monday, September 11, 2023

Chapter 7: The Sportster.

The Old Man was into motorcycles.  In the garage was stored frames for different years and styles.  There were parts for Harley Davidsons, Indians, Hondas, Kawasaki's, and Suzuki Motorcycles scattered around the walls and hanging from different locations on the rafters.  He had boxes and bins where the motors, transmissions, forks, brakes, fenders, lights, mirrors, and seats were kept all organized by catalogue number and date.  All the tools he needed to put any one of these works of art together were also in their proper place ready for use.  This was no ordinary garage, it was also the place The Old Man did all repairs that kept his Peterbilt semi tractor in good shape.  It was a large and wonderous space of mechanical beauty.

The Old Man's garage was located at the front of the property next to Winston and the Bel Aire, the trailers that the family lived in.  His truck was parked in front most of the time while he was inside either working on parts of the truck or working on a motorcycle mechanical marvel.  

The Old Man caught the Boy in his garage looking over frames of different bikes.  He walked in, smiled at the Boy and threw him an open ended wrench and pointed to a frame that the Boy was standing next to.  "What do you think of that one?" He asked.

The Boy blinked and replied, "Sportster?"  

"Of Sorts." The Old Man said. 

Then he started handing the Boy parts.  He gave him bolts, nuts, handle bars, seat frame, and wheel assemblies, "That'll get you started."  

The Boy worked for the entire summer, when he wasn't working on the ranch, building, rebuilding, polishing and fine tuning a piece of mechanical wonder of his very own.  Under the guidance of the Old Man, the Boy began growing into a man of mental means.  He was learning to focus his energies into a creative project that he could begin to see come to fruition.  The Old Man was teaching him how to create, how to think. 

By the end of the summer the Boy and The Old Man together had managed to rebuild a 1955 Harley KHRM Sportster.  The engine, chrome parts, exhaust, and fenders where all painted a nice flat black.  The gas tank an ivory white with a gold Harley Davidson etched down the center.  That bike was a wonder of a motor cycle art.  A veritable sculpture in motion.  It was fabulous.  

The Old Man and the Boy celebrated their hard work and went for a ride together.  The Old Man drove an Indian Chief of the same year and the Boy drove the Harley.  The Boy thought he was dreaming when The Old Man threw him a key and said, "This belongs to you." and pointed to the bike they had built.  He was in heaven. 

Together they road west on highway 2 toward Shelby.  They rode there and back stopping at the Bar S restaurant for lunch.  The Bar S is a small place in the middle of, Nowhere.  Good food, good people, and they don't mind bikers. 

On the drive back the Old Man kicked his Indian in the butt and disappeared over the horizon.  The Boy just laughed and followed.   They arrived home just before dusk.  Parked the bikes and sat on Winston's porch to watch the Sun set. 

School starts in a week, and the Boy had an almost evil idea.  He rode the Harley to town picking up a friend on the way.  The two arrived at the High School back entrance and sat for a time to make sure no one followed.  The Boy jumped off the bike and produced a key from his pocket and unlocked the back door.  There were no cars in the lots front or back.  His friend held the door open as the Boy, this icon of human nature drove his Harley through the school halls making the loop from the door past the main office and back to the door again and out.  The two locked the door behind them and drove off into the sunset laughing like it was the funniest thing that had ever happened.  They had gotten away with the ultimate incursion, or so they thought.

Peace and Balance,


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Chapter 6: Snake Hunter

The Old Man had a special gun that he used to hunt rattle snakes with.  He made it from an old single shot 12 gauge shot gun that he sawed the butt off of and carved a curved hand grip from. Then he sawed the barrel off, down to about 10 or 12 inches.  He filed the end of the barrel to round the edges off, and attached the handle with wood screws and glue.  After everything dried he put it all together and sanded it all round and varnished and finished the wood.  It was really pretty.  Then he soaked the barrel in bluing for a good 72 hours.  After polishing the pieces he put the gun together.  You can legitimately say the Old Man had a hand cannon.  A very effective snake killing machine. 

Montana has a fairly large rattle snake population.  It's legal to hunt rattlers year round.  The thing about hunting rattlers, they tend not to get intimidated by anything, and have some pretty serious attitude.  

Montana has an indigenous Prairie Rattler population.  They are in the Pit Viper family being related to Cobras and Asps from Egypt.  Prairie Rattlers, like their cousins the Cobra live in cavernous holes and pits underground.  They also share a mark that creates a divot between their eyes and nostrils that makes them look mean as hell.  

These were the main prey of the Old Man and his Snake Killer.  That was the chosen name of his home made hand cannon, "Snake Killer."  

Hunting Prairie Rattlers is a fairly dangerous affair and training a snake hunter is just as dangerous.  Early on a Saturday morning the Old Man wakes the Young Man early and tells him, "You and I are going on an adventure."   On the way out the door Grandma put a beaded necklace around the Young Man's neck.  It was red and blue with a coiled snake in it's center and seven directions pointed out from it's middle.  Grandma said it was a snake charm to protect the Young Man from being bitten. 

The Old Man and the Young Man walked to a high nole on the back side of the property.  The top of the nole was a sand hill that the Old Man said was a snake den. They each had on a pair of high leather boots, chaps, gloves, and a full length leather jacket with long sleeves.  This was the armor of the snake hunter.  

To get to the top of the nole the two had to cross a stream.  The Young Man crossed first with the Old Man behind him.  When he got to the other side of the steam he started taking his first step up to get to the top.  As he was taking that step the Young Man suddenly found himself dangling 3 feet in the air staring down at a coiled up snake ready to strike and rattling up a loud buzz that he seemed to miss.  The Old Man had the Young Man by the collar of the jacket, holding him up with his left arm.  The Young Man heard what sounded like hell being unleashed as the hand cannon, "Snake Killer" was fired once.  The head of the snake disappeared and the rattling stopped.  The Old Man just said softly, "Why don't you let me lead."  Then he put the Young Man down, and stepped around beside him to the front.  The hunt had begun.

Peace and Balance,


Saturday, September 9, 2023

Chapter 5: A Short Ride, Fishing, And Blue People

 The family lived in a couple single wide trailers that stood about 15 feet apart at the front of the property.  One was a fancy model, a Bel Aire that had a lowered floor and raised roof over the living room area.  And a trailer that the Old Man called Winston.  It was never revealed why, Winston, but the name stuck.  

The Old Man, and Grandma lived in Winston, while Mom, Dad, the boy and toddling girl lived in the Bel Aire.  It was a good arraignment.  The boy was free to wander from trailer to trailer at will. Occasionally with the toddling one in tow, more times not.  Grandma always had goodies at the ready just in case raiding parties of wayward teens showed up at the door.  The boy and his friends were in constant battle with factions of invisible 7th, 8th, and 9th cavalries.  The boy always used the Old Man's US Cavalry tach as proof of victory of many battles.  The raiding parties always succeeded in counting many coup on the invisible horde.  The end of the battle always signaled snack time.  Grandma was always ready. 

Parked next to the garage was the Old Man's truck.  A Peterbilt tractor that was fully loaded with climate control and a sleeper in the back of the cab.  During the summer the boy would either sleep out in the open under the stars or in the Old Man's sleeper if he wasn't out on the road.  During his driving career the Old Man had contracts with two companies, United Van Lines, and Mayflower.  The Old Man owned his truck, but would change the paint depending on which company was hiring his business.  Mom was seen once repainting the lines on the doors of the truck from green/blue and gold to orange.  She just said, "the Old Man switched companies." Again. 

Because he actually owned his truck he was considered Independent,  always a source of chuckling from Grandma, and the Old Man.  It seems the only truly independent man died a couple thousand years ago and every one since has been reliant.  The joke was over the boy's head. Independent trucking is an illusion.

In the morning early, the Old Man woke the boy and said he was going on a run and the boy needed to get out of the sleeper.  Grabbing his blanket and pillow the boy headed to the bench seat in front of Winston to lay back down.  The sun wasn't even thinking about coming back up yet.  Sometimes the Old Man had a strange sense of humor.  On his way out of the truck The Old Man told the boy to take care of his sister, and watch the clouds at night if  he  decided to sleep out. The skies are unpredictable. Then he got in his truck, fired her up, and drove off taking a right at the end of the driveway and headed down the dirt road to the highway.  He had a trailer to pick up and deliver somewhere in Wyoming.  He would be gone about a week.  The boy waved and went back to sleep.  The bench was pretty comfortable.  It had a quilted mattress that was just long enough for him to stretch out.  Later in the morning as the sun decided to make an appearance the boy was awoke by the smell of breakfast as Grandma was holding a plate under his nose saying softly, "Get up and eat.  Then go feed the horses and milk Bessy."  Every milk cow Grandma owned was named Bessy.  This was actually Bessy number 4, and she wasn't as young as she looked. 

After doing the chores, and finding out that the toddling one was with Mom for the day, The boy packed a bag, grabbed a sleeping bag, saddled Pacos, his horse, and trotted out to the back forty.  The back forty acres of the property had running through the middle of it a nice bubbling stream, to big to be a brook, and a set of large White Birch trees that offered shade.  To one of the trees was set a hook that made a convenient place to hang a fishing rod.  A box at the foot of the tree with a supply of crawlers was kept to bait the hook.  From the back of the saddle the boy unwrapped a mesh net and hung a hammock between the two large trees.  He stocked a campfire, grabbed the rod, baited the hook, cast the line out into the stream.  Setting the pole between a few rocks the boy jumped into his hammock and stared up at the sky listening to the water, birds, and breeze, then slept.  Zen in action.

A little bell woke the boy up.  He looked over at his pole and noticed it was bending at the pull of the water.  The bell tied to the top of the pole was ringing, a sign that he had caught a fish.  He jumped down and checked his line, yes indeed there was a fish on the other end.  He waged a short battle and reeled in what appeared to be a nice rainbow trout.  The boy was pleased with his catch.  He looked up checking on Pacos and said to the horse, "Look, I caught one."  Pacos just snorted and put his head back down in the short grass and nibbled.  The boy got the impression that the horse didn't care one way or the other.  Horses just aren't into fish.  

The boy cleaned the fish and liberated a cast iron skillet he found tied to the back of the other tree.  Throwing a couple more sticks onto the fire he found a small bottle of olive oil in his pack and poured a small amount in the skillet and put it on the coals.  Letting the pan get hot he put the boned and cleaned fish in the pan and started frying dinner.  After eating the fish he noticed the sun was sitting low on the horizon.  Pacos was drinking from the stream.  It was time for bed. He jumped into the hammock and watched the darkness come.  The stars were bright, the breeze was light he was tired.  

The boy felt someone tapping on his shoulder.  He was dreaming and told the toddler to go back to bed.  Again there was a tapping on his shoulder, this time followed by a light tug on his big toe.  The boy finely began waking up and looked in the direction of the campfire.  The fire was out, but he could see the red glow of the embers.  In the glow he saw a shadow.  He couldn't quite figure the shadow out it didn't make sense he had come here alone.  The shadow looked like a small person somewhere between the toddling girls size and his own.  That would be about 5 feet tall.  This was all happening in his head as his conscious mind finely kicked in.  Then he heard it.  

There was a soft voice just over his right shoulder.  He looked in the direction of the voice and saw a soft blue glow.  Standing in the glow was a short girl.  She was wearing a blue jump suit and had what looked like light blue skin.  Her hair was a dark and he noticed she had very large dark eyes.  She looked like she might be about his age.  Then he heard the voice again, this time in his head, "Hello." 

The boy was confused and tried to get out of the hammock.  He landed with a thud.  "Ooof." Followed by an, "Are you ok?" in his head again.  

He stood up and said, "I'm ok."  Then he saw the other one.  A boy a little taller than the girl petting Pacos' mane and rubbing his shoulder.  The horse nuzzled the boy and blew out.  He only does that when he's happy.  

"Holly shit! What the Hell is going on!"  The boy began to panic.  

Then he heard the voice in his head again, "It's ok.  No one's is going to hurt you.  We're friends."  Then the soft blue light became comfortably warm, and the boy was calm.  Pacos trotted away.

He heard another voice, "My name is Marcus, her's is Leta."  

The boy thought his name, but before he could answer he heard, "Pleased to meet you. We can hear your thoughts. We have something to show you."

The soft blue light became brighter, and brighter.  Then on the horizon he saw a disc coming toward him getting larger and larger the closer is came.  Before he could react straight over his head was a huge circular object glowing blue and making unusual music that sounded very much like something the Mammas and the Pappas would play, or even the Association.  The boy had a complete feeling of joy come over him in a rush.

He woke up riding Pacos on his way back to the horse barn.  He looked around him and everything was with him, and even looked like he hadn't even used it.  He arrived and unloaded the horse, brushed him down, fed him some oats, hay, and gave him a bucket of water and left him in the coral with the gate to his stall open so he could wander in and out as usual.  The boy was still feeling very happy, but didn't know why.  

When he returned to Winston he found the Old Man waiting for him.  How long had he been fishing?  The Old Man smiled then winked at him and asked, "How was the trip?"  

Peace and Balance,