Louis L’Amour

In 1981, there was a center column article in the Wall Street Journal about an author who wrote about the Old West — Louis L’Amour.  Having spent some formative time out West when I was young, I read the article with considerable interest.  A few weeks later, while walking near my house with my 5 year old daughter,  we happened on a garage sale and went in.  In rummaging through the books, I found a battered paperback copy of Shalako by Louis L’Amour.  Hmmmm . . . . . Louis L’Amour.   For one thin dime, I bought the book.  And read it.   And was hooked. 

In the ensuing years, I read all 105 or so of his novels.  I think I still have them all – in a box – in the attic.  Some I’ve read twice.   What drew me to Louis L’Amour (1908-1988) was more than the tales of the Old West.  It was his inimitable style.  The good guys were good.  Good men.  Tough yet compassionate.  The women were always good.  Nurturing.  And sweet.  But mess with them and they’d carve you up one side and down the other. . . .  And the bad guys were very very bad.  And I relished when the bad guys got their just reward.  Which they usually did.   Whiskey for my men and beer for my horses. . . .

Some of L’Amour’s books have become movies.  Ironically, Shalako – my first read – had been a 1968 movie starring Sean Connery, Brigitte Bardot and Honor Blackman.  I’ve never seen the movie.  It’s still on my list.  If you’re looking for a light – meaningful – read, give Louis a try.  You won’t be disappointed.   

Hakuna Matata

It’s in the Bible – “Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you.  He will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22).  And Proverbs 12:25 “An anxious heart weighs a man down but a kind word cheers him up.”  And then there’s John 14:27 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  This is good counsel for all.  The message?  Don’t worry.   

Numerous sages have offered comment on the subject of worry – “Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight” (Benjamin Franklin).  “Drag your thoughts away from your troubles.  By the ears.  By the heels.  Or any other way you can manage it” (Mark Twain).  “Sorrow looks back.  Worry looks around.  Faith looks up” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).   “You’re only here for a short visit.  Don’t hurry.  Don’t worry.  And be sure to smell the flowers along the way” (Walter Hagen).       

 While there is wisdom in these quotations, there may be a better way to convey the message.  I can think of no better way than “Hakuna Matata” (Swahili for “there’s no problem“).  “Hakuna Matata” is a song title in Disney’s “The Lion King.”  My granddaughters associate me with Pumbaa (which means “silly” in Swahili) – the odoriferous warthog who “sings” the song.  But listen to his message.  Watch for 3 minutes and 49 seconds.  You’ll smile.  I promise.   Oh watch it.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbY_aP-alkw     

My “Take”. . . .

When Kavanaugh’s appointment was announced, every Democrat immediately responded that they would vote against him.  The interview process meant nothing.  His background?  Zip.  Nor advice and consent.  It’s been that way for other Republican nominees:  Alito, Bork, Thomas, Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh.

Democrats are driven by power.  And a single troubling issue.   No compromise.  No conciliation.  Now Democrats are encouraged to assault Republicans.  Drive them out.  And deny conservatives a right to speak – as has been de riguer on college campuses.  Demonstrators are paid to create turmoil.  And attack conservatives.       

It’s different if Senator Ed Kennedy kills a girl while he’s drunk. It’s great for Senator Bob Byrd to head the KKK in West Virginia.  The Clintons (need I say more?).  For Senators to lie about military service or ethnic heritage. But for a Republican nominee to be accused (zero corroboration) of groping a girl when he was a juvenile (remember –those under 18 are not “adults”), then he must be unfit.  When Kavanaugh defended himself he was decried as having no judicial temperament.  If he had taken the accusations quietly.  “Oooh. . . he must be guilty.” 

In my post of September 20, 2018, I commented that a third of Americans believe that a civil war is imminent. Well Pilgrims – raise that number.  Because a lot more folks are really angry.  Those who care nothing about truth.  And those who do.   Can we do anything to stop the madness?  Can you?  


Mister Lucky

Call me Mister Lucky.  I find pennies, nickels, dimes, cash, wallets, watches, jewelry and diamond rings (see August 2, 2012).  Our local paper had my picture under the heading “Mister Lucky” after winning the Illinois Lottery with an office group (see January 4, 2015).  

So. . . . last month, we were on a cruise in the Baltic.  Wonderful experience.  On the first evening, Donna and I walk from our stateroom to the elevators.  To go have dinner. WHOA!  There on the floor is a wad of greenbacks.  I pick it up.  I look down the halls.  Not a soul around.  It’s five twenties.  A hundred bucks.  My Boy Scout mentality compelled me to report finding “some currency” on Deck 8.  I did not add the detail of denominations or nationality (I am not as dumb as I look).   So with this newfound stash of cash I decided to hit the shipboard casino.  The first night, I surrounded our lucky number with chips.  Half hour later – I was $855 richer.   My number had come up four times. . . . . .

With this increased largesse I visited the casino on a few additional nights thinking that before too long I would own the ship and the Regent Cruise Line.  But that didn’t happen.  The $855 slipped away and I debarked in Copenhagen only twenty bucks richer than when I started.  Oh – and no one claimed the twenties . . . .    

Cold Desserts

I have a righteous mind (see September 3, 2017). I am right on everything.  And so it is — when it comes to food.  And desserts.   

I like blueberry pie.  Cherry pie.  Bread pudding.  Carrot cake.  But desserts are not meant to be heated.  They are intended to be served cold.  Like – out of the fridge.  Heat your filet.  Or mashed potatoes.  Or French toast.  Or scrambled eggs.  But dessert?  Never!! 

Those of you who have been with Donna and me for dinner know that if I order dessert (“if” . . . . HA!) I will order something that will be delivered COLD.  I love bread pudding and so I will ask for the bread pudding delivered from the refrigerator.  Or freezer.  Wait staff look at me like I’m a moon rock.  Room temperature?  Yuck.  Warmed?  I’m gonna be sick.  All desserts should be served cold.   

So when it comes to desserts, it may be de gustibus non est disputandum (see August 3, 2017).  But I know I’m right. . . . .

I told you so. . . .

In my post of March 11, 2018 (“He’s Back“), I shared my elan for Tiger Woods.  And I predicted that he would make a come back. Well Pilgrims. . . . fasten your seat belts. He’s back.  Big time.  Tiger won the Tour Championship this last weekend. And he missed winning all the marbles in the FEDEX Cup Championship by one stroke (a birdie on the 18th by Justin Rose gave him the title).

As I mentioned in that earlier post (and one on January 31, 2013), Tiger is the best thing golf has ever seen.  Last Sunday, did  you see the crowd following him!!??  Did you hear the cheering?  Did you sense the spirit for the game?  In the post-win interview, Tiger laughed that he thought he was going to be “run over.”   And that’s the way that some of Tiger’s competition felt (witness Rory’s sheer drop from second place). 

Tiger is 42 years old.  And still has tournaments to win.  On to the Ryder Cup!  Spend five minutes and 42 seconds and watch – Tiger’s greatest shots (see  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2AvRfxgpL4   ).   And then spend two minutes on  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DpRmF__A33U   OH MY!!!  


“Don’t get off the train ’til Denver. . . .”

When I was 10 years old, my parents put me on a train with two other 10 year old boys – my friends Kurt and Steve.  We were headed for Denver. And a camp in Estes Park.  Skyline Ranch.  The  three of us were alone.  No adult supervision.  My father admonished “Son – don’t get off the train ’til Denver.”  He handed me a ten dollar bill for food.  And that was it. 

Once there, every day, I rode horses, shot BB guns, hiked, swam and shoveled sand. Yes – sand. After winning a junior rodeo, I was given the task with Marvin B. (also age 10) of rounding up the horses each morning.   We had to rise at 5:30 a.m., walk out past the corral, fence off a dirt road and walk into a high plains pasture of several hundred acres. There were cows, horses and a bull. “Flap your poncho at the bull if he charges you” was the advice given to us. So two 10 year old boys headed off alone.  On foot – into the high grass.  Looking for horses in the gray twilight of dawn.

The cows paid us little mind.  The bull mercifully stayed away (“it’s those punks“).  When the pack of horses would see us, they would cock their ears back (“danger”) then forward (“huh”?) then normal (“oh it’s them“) and begin galloping past us toward the corral. They knew we would feed them. So we hiked the mile or so back to the corral with a weather eye on the bull – who kept a weather eye on us. All the horses – Arab, Bubbles, Chief, Dakota, Eagle, Hi Boy, Indian and the others – would be standing at parade rest in the corral. Marvin and I would put 2 cups of oats in each feed bag and slip it over their ears. Then we’d lead them (“come on Bubbles“) to the fence, tether and saddle them.  No adults were ever around. 

Kids today have a tough time developing independence.  You don’t need to do it on a ranch – at dawn.  With a 900 pound bull giving you the evil eye.  But I believe there must be challenges for kids to face or they will have trouble as adults.  Today, we move in the direction of no grades (“oooh – it can damage ego“), no playing tag (“too rough“), no dodge ball (“too violent“), no pointing your finger like a gun (“eeek!”), safe spaces (you are nuts if you believe in safe spaces), teachers cannot raise their voice at or touch a child (“don’t you dare raise your voice to my little Dwarfus”), and of course no – often well-deserved – corporal punishment (see posts of 11/23/11 and 2/1/12).  It’s one thing to protect.  It’s another to insulate.  As I see it, insulating kids from challenge has negative consequence.  For everyone.