Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cowboys That Joust !

A fictional yarn told by Hughze.

Years ago, before I changed careers, I worked as a hired hand on a large ranch. There was no shortage of work from day to day and, as I was the only hired hand, it was not uncommon for the larger tasks to carry on into the next day or more. It was no problem for me. I had grown up on a farm and ranch not far from there so the work was no mystery to me.

The day of which I am going to relate to you started like all the others except John, my boss, and his wife, Ida, were preparing to go to town for the entire day. John came to me with the 'to do' list, "Well," he said, "You know the chores. You'll have to run feed to the wracks being as I'm not going to be here. There's a couple of the pickup trucks that need an oil change and lube. There's a couple of planks been knocked off the corrals below the barn. If you'll put those back on. And, if you have time today, there's a little black Angus bull in the creek that I've been trying to corral for the last couple of days. Why don't you see if you can get him in."

"He's not wanting to come in I take it?" I said.

"Nah. He goes for awhile until he gets tired and then he sticks his head in a bush and won't move."

"I see. Well, maybe I'll have a look at him later today."

It was late fall. The grass was brown and the days were getting cooler. It was time for the ranchers to bring in their bulls to pasture them separate from the cows. All of John's bulls, save one, were in their winter pasture.

I hurried through the morning chores, feeding, checking water, and juggling animals around from pen to pen. The wracks went fast. (The wracks are a fence designed to allow animals to poke their heads through to reach feed that has been put out for them on the other side.) I puttered around the rest of the day fixing this and maintaining that until mid afternoon. It was time to go see what this little black bull's problem was.

First I needed a reliable steed. I walked past Buddy Boy's pen. He was a bay gelding which seemed like he was asleep all of the time, even when saddled. Next was the stud, Big Red. He seems like he never sleeps. Whats worse, his feet never seem to touch the ground from the time you first saddle him to the time the saddle comes off. Then there was the sorrel mare, Sally. Too slow. Jackson, the blue roan. Too young and green. Finally as I approached the end of the alley, a choir of angles began to sing. Light began to glow from the last pen. I found him right where I left him the last time I rode him. I threw open the gate and beheld the beauty of his red skin and black frame. His name was clearly branded on his hip, Honda XL 250. He was saddled and ready to go.

I grabbed a stock whip from the barn, jumped on, kicked the starter, and the engine roared to life. I made one stop to prop open the front gate of the corrals before I took off down the road to the creek to find the elusive bull.

John's property consisted of thirty square miles of bad lands. It was miles of land lined with deep gouges cut into the earth from millions of years of erosion. Above these cuts were grassy plateaus. The bottoms were littered with patches of trees and bushes. Clearings, that consisted of grass and sage brush, stretched from tree patch to tree patch. The cattle had cut trails into these clearings that weaved to and fro amongst the sage. It was one of these trails that Honda and I followed up the creek.

I had traveled at least two miles up the main creek bed after leaving the road before I spotted him. He stood alone amongst the sage brush watching me as I approached. I circled him a couple of times, feeling somewhat like a bee circling a large black rock. I just hoped that the rock didn't decide to, all of the sudden, swat the bee. Eventually, I positioned him between me and the corrals and charged, revving Honda's motor and cracking the stock whip. He surprisingly started moving in the direction I wanted. This was turning out to be easier than I had anticipated. Too easy.

I backed off a ways to give him some air. He seemed want to follow a trail that wound through the creek toward the road. I was content in letting him do so as long as it headed in the right direction. All was well for about a mile and then it started. He veered off the trail and headed for a thicket of trees and brush. I gave Honda's throttle a twist to try and head him off. It was no use. He plunged into the brush ahead of me. All I could do was follow, shouting and cursing and cracking my whip.

I swear that cattle have a secret bovine library somewhere and even more, I am certain that, in that library, there is a book entitled "How to Aggravate Cowboys and Drive Them to Insanity". I am also quite certain this little black Angus bull either read it or worse, wrote it. He led me through some of the thickest brush he could find, slapping me with tree branches every chance he could get. This went on for what seemed like miles to me. We went from one patch of trees and brush to the next until finally, the trees ended and before us lay open pasture all the way to the corral gate--open pasture except for one large, lone choke cherry bush, John's favorite choke cherry bush. The bull headed strait for it and crawled into it until all that I could see was his rear end.. There he stopped, refusing to move again.

I shouted curses, revved Honda's engine, cracked my whip. That didn't work. He just stood there. I could swear I heard him snickering. I grabbed his tail and pulled. Nothing! He didn't even try to kick me. I could see I was going to have to settle this problem the cowboy way.

Honda stood tethered a short distance away. He could tell that his cowboy meant business by the way his spurs clinked as he walked and then the way he rolled up his sleeves before he entered the Chokecherry Saloon. Honda knew that only riffraff hung out in that establishment and there was sure to be a fight. His suspicions were confirmed when less than a couple of seconds later there was a resounding, "Splat!", and his cowboy came flying out one of the windows.

Well, obviously the cowboy way wasn't going to work either. Defeat crept into my very bones as I realized that there was nothing I could do except give up. But then I noticed a dead branch on the ground not to far away. It was about eight feet long. I suddenly had an idea and an evil grin stretched across my face. I grabbed the branch, hopped on Honda, and backed off some fifty to one hundred paces so I had a direct path in line with the bull.

The crowd cheered as the flag man stepped up to the rail. He checked the White Knight astride his mighty steed, Honda. The White Knight nodded. Then the flag man checked the challenger, the Dark Knight of Choke Cherry. The Dark Knight nodded. Both knights ready, he raised the flag and dropped it. The crowd roared. Honda, reared and charged. The White Knight leveled his lance studying his advancing adversary for a target. He picked the Dark Knight's large black shield and aimed his lance. He spurred Honda for speed. The distance between the knights closed..."CRASH!"

Conditions had been perfect that day so that sound traveled for miles and echoed throughout the canyons. The neighbors had stopped what they were doing to listen. Even today they still tell stories of the ruckus they heard. Some speak of battle cries composed of words they, until that day, never knew existed. Words they refused to repeat. Some say they saw a cloud of dust explode into the atmosphere and rise above the horizon. Some even say they thought they saw branches twirling amidst the dust as it reached for the sky. But all agree that they had never heard a more fiercer battle between man and beast on the Yellowstone, Missouri divide.

John and Ida returned home that evening finding the little black bull laying in the corrals, chewing his cud like cattle do when they are relaxed and resting. There was no debris on the road for them to swerve around as I had taken the time to remove it on my way home for the day. I never told John how I was able to get the bull to finally decide to come to the corrals and he never asked. At least not until late the next spring when he went down to see the progress of the choke cherries on his favorite bush in the creek. "Where the heck is my choke cherry bush?" he yelled as he roared into the yard on his motorcycle.

I could not tell a lie, "Heh! I don't know Boss. Must of washed down the creek in the flood during the spring thaw!"

© 2009 Kyle V. Huseby

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The 'G' Grade Point Average and Speech Class


by Hughze.

I remember back in high school when my classmates and I were sitting at our desk in English class just minding our own business when the teacher, Mr. Z we'll call him because it always seems like English teacher names begin with Z (Zemple, Zimmerman, Zorkman, Zoundsalot, any way....), dropped the ever annoying bomb of English bombs in our laps, "Five minute speech on anything. Due Friday of this week."

"AAAh maaan! Come on Mr. Z. That's four days from now. We'll never make it in time."

"If you'll all quit your whining, you have forty minutes to figure out what your topic is going to be."

"Can it be sports?"

"I suppose. As long as it's not a play- for- play on some game you enjoyed."

"Anything we like?"

"Yup. Anything."

So for the next forty minutes we spent doing what we did best. We hit the books. We researched. Most of us had our topic inside of ten minutes. Right?

Come on people! We're talking about a room full of high school kids. Sharon and Denise were passing notes back and forth. Roger, Wilt, and Lisa were staring out the window. Most teachers weren't aware of it, but Joey had a stealth method of sleeping while appearing to be busy. The rest of us stared at ceiling tiles and watched for traffic in the hallway and when we weren't doing that, we doodled in our notebooks. Only the Chosen (you know... the ones with high grade point averages) were working on what they had been assigned to do.

The rest of the week Mr. Z grilled us on our introductions, body, and endings of our speeches. We learned how we wood conduct ourselves at the podium. Eye contact with your audience was important. Finally, when we were done, ask if there were any questions. RESEARCH! PLANNING! REHEARSAL! The the last half of the lesson was spent researching and planning by ourselves for our speeches.

It was during this time I discovered many things. I discovered that Lisa would maybe be an excellent date for Prom. I planned on how I would go about asking her and rehearsed it in my mind over and over many times. Joey had improved on his stealth sleeping. He now can sleep with his eyes open. There are just as many Ford pickup trucks in the school parking lot across the street as there are Chevy's. Both out number the Dodge by three to one. And I have decided that Jason has a tumor somewhere in his nasal passage because he is constantly preforming surgery with his finger in an attempt to remove it.

Finally the fateful day came. Friday. Did I have a topic?..... I was working on it. I knew I had time. Mr. Z's tack of order would be alphabetically. I was positioned somewhere alphabetically in the middle of the class. George got to go first. His speech ended at exactly five minutes. Thank goodness for that. It was quite boring. There were no questions after. No one wanted to prolong the pain.

Deidre, one of the Chosen, was next. Her father was a dentist so I pretty well guessed what her topic was going to be. She was a little more long winded than George. There were no questions for her either. We were in high school for heaven's sake. We knew all we wanted to know about oral hygiene; however, I was surprised to learn that there were these neat little brushes available to clean the plaque off your teeth and tongue. I made a note of it and swore to myself that I would give it a try before approaching Lisa about the prom.

Time wore on. Speeches came and went one after the other. I was breaking out in a sweat. My topic? ... Nada. Soon somebody shook Joey awake. I began to panic. I knew I would be next. I hoped Joey would carry on until the end of class, but Joey's speech lasted for exactly five minutes. I had to stall for time somehow. I had no idea what it was about but I raised my hand anyway.

"Ah! Finally! Someone has courage to ask questions!" Mr. Z bellowed from the back of the room. "Joey?"

Joey was giving me the 'You're so dead after school' look when he pointed at me called my name.
That's when I realized..... I didn't have a dog gone thing to ask him. "Um. Ah. Let's see. I forgot what I was going to ask."

"No questions then Mr. Hughze?" Mr. Z asked.

"Um. Oh. I guess not."

"Well alright then.... You're next"

Though I tried to make it so, the trip from my desk to the front of the class was no eternity. My topic?.... Zilch! Or at least until half way to the front of the class. Thank goodness for Johnny Baxter and his constant errands during school hours. (Or as the teachers referred to his errands 'Just plain hooky'.) I heard his engine as he revved it up while he drove off down the street. That's when I had it. Engines! I would tell them everything I knew about engines. My stride quickened. I stepped before the class with confidence. Somewhere in my brain was five minutes worth of knowledge that I was going to share with them. I just had to extract it.

The introduction came easy. The topic?.... Automobile engines. The rest was a miracle. It just poured out of my brain and rolled off my tongue. One minute, two minutes, I unlocked vaults of knowledge in the darkest corners of my brain and emptied them . Three minutes, four, I reached into garbage cans and looked under the rugs of my mind for any useful, discarded knowledge and then: Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Five minutes! But.... I wasn't finished yet. I saw the expressions of my classmates change from indifference to awe as I educated them. Soon, seven minutes rolled by. The expressions of awe increased. Nine minutes. Brows raised higher. Ten minutes. Finished. Even Mr. Z was slack jawed as much my classmates as they all stared at me in disbelief. I felt above everyone else. Today I would become one of the Chosen. I would raise amongst their ranks. Heck! I will be their King. I was going to receive an A, no, an A+, an A++ for my efforts. Or even better yet, I was going to receive the highest grade of all, a 'G' for Genius.

Then Deidre slowly raised her hand. I felt honored. A Chosen one found my speech worthy of questioning. "Yes! Deidre!" I said as I pointed at her.

"Ummm....... Doesn't McDonald's make the Big Mac burger instead of Burger King?"

"Yes! You are correct! Sorry! Thank you for bringing that mistake to my attention." A small error but easily corrected.

"Aaaand..... what does that have to do with engines anyway?"

Blast! My ambitions are being undermined. I had to think quickly. "McDonald's has a drive through. It takes a automobile with an engine to use it. Next question please? Anyone else?"

Jack's hand shot up. Another Chosen one. "Yes, Jack!"

"Diesels don't have spark plugs do they?"

"Next question please?"

Then Lisa, my future Prom queen, my savior, raised her hand. Some how I just knew she raised her hand to save me from the critics of the Chosen. "Yes Lisa."

"I thought Neil Armstrong was the first man to set foot on the moon and didn't they have the lunar rover to drive around up there instead of a Ford Bronco?"

The devastation was unbearable. Lisa, the girl of my dreams, reveals herself as a Chosen spy. The shame of it all. I could take no more. "No more questions", I said and hurried back to my desk.

I did not receive my 'A' or 'A+'. And as far as my 'G', I learned the hard way that day that the grading system unfortunately ends at 'F'. Mr. Z spoke with me briefly after class. He said it wasn't a total failure. He thought it was quite funny. He said, "Maybe you should try your hand at writing humor Mr. Hughze."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Saving on Heating Costs!

Saving on the heating bill.....

The Redneck way!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Do you like to read Terry Brooks?

Now You Can Listen!
A book review on Terry Brooks' "Landover" series.

I was in my early thirties when I picked up the "Magic Kingdom for Sale, Sold" . It seemed like a book written for teenagers but I didn't care. I had just just finished reading all I had of Brooks' "Shannara" series and The "Heritage of Shannara series". I was hungry for more Terry Brooks. The "Landover" series was all I had available to me at the time.

Continued Below:

Terry Brooks' "Magic Kingdom for Sale, Sold"

Book one of the Landover

Ben Holiday is a lawyer who has lost his wife, hates his job, and is ready for a big change. He is your basic man with a mid life crisis. He stumbles upon an ad advertising a Magic Kingdom for sale and checks it out. He finds, like most ads that sound too good to be true, there is a scam; however, the kingdom is real.

Down loadable Audio book. $24.99 US 6 hours (Abridged)

After reading the Shannara books, the Landover books seemed like second class or a compromise between 'that will do' and 'the best'. But I started reading and became intrigued with Ben Holiday and his misfit crew.

Holiday is a lawyer who has lost his wife. He hates his job and has found himself in a midlife crisis. He finds an ad in a catalog that advertises a magic kingdom for sale. He checks it out and finds out that, like all ads that sound too good to be true, there is a scam. He also finds, believe it or not, that the kingdom is real.

Soon I was finished with "Magic Kingdom for Sale, Sold" and picked up the second book, "The Black Unicorn". I found it as exciting as the first.

Continued below:

Terry Brooks' "The Black Unicorn".

Book two of the Landover series.

Ben Holiday finds himself in a pickle when Meeks, the evil wizard that Ben bought the kingdom from, returns to Landover and casts a spell to switch appearances with Ben. Ben finds himself in a position where nobody knows who he is except his powerful enemies. Outcast and no friends to help him, not even Willow, who has set out to find the mysterious black unicorn, what was he to do?

Down loadable Audio. $24.99 US 6 hours (Abridged)

In the "Black Unicorn", Holiday makes a quick trip back to the real world to check on an old friend. He returns to Landover, unknown to Holiday, with Meeks, the evil wizard from which he purchased the kingdom. Meeks casts a spell to switch appearances and places with Holiday. Holiday now finds himself without friends, and no one recognizes him except his enemies. He is outcast with no one to help him, not even Willow who has left on a quest to find the mysterious black unicorn, what is Holiday to do?

The whole series, as odd as it's characters seemed, was quite imaginative and fascinating. I read one after another right up to the last, "Witches Brew". If there are any more after, I have not yet heard of their existence.

I think fantasy lovers, teens and old, will enjoy this series. Those who have maybe already read it can now enjoy it in audio which can be downloaded to your computer and burned to CD (if you desire). I see now that there is a Genesis of Shannara series that I haven't read yet. I'll have to check it out.

Book 3: Wizard at Large

Book 4: The Tangle Box

Book 5: Witches' Brew

Click here to check out Terry Brooks Landover shelf at Hughzebeez Books.

Also Check out the rest of Hughzebeez Books.