Lost Dogs and Tall tales

We watched the movie Dog the other night. If you haven’t seen it, you should, especially if you are a dog or pet lover. It chronicles the trials and tribulations of two disabled veterans. One was human and the other canine.

Together, they were on a road trip to the funeral of the dog’s fallen handler. The best way to describe the movie might be to call it a comedic near-tragedy. Many will have tears of laughter, and some of sorrow before the credits roll.

However, this is not a movie review. Rather it is to share some memories. Yes, a silly movie about a disabled veteran trying to prove he was still capable of being a soldier and a disabled dog just trying to survive took me down a path I did not expect.

I first cried over the body of a beloved pet at five. A neighbor poisoned her, and as she was dying, she dragged herself home. We found her lying in our driveway. Yes, she roamed free a bit, but this was long before leash laws and other governmental intrusions into our everyday lives. Also, she was somewhat of an escape artist, and the old fence around our rent house was not hard to breach.

The yard where Lady was supposed to stay.

Perhaps my folks should have done more to keep her home when the neighbor complained. However, he reportedly complained about everyone’s pets, kids, cars, and yards. It meant nothing to David, my little brother, and me, whatever the reality. Lady was gone, and we were heartbroken.

We lived in a “no pet” zone after that. We tried to domesticate a raccoon once, and we rescued several litters of rabbit kittens, feeding them by hand until they were old enough to put back in the field. We also had a few parakeets and an aquarium or two, but baby rabbits, crazy raccoons, goldfish, and birds cannot replace a dog. Then Groucho came into our lives.

Groucho, Mom, David and me.

I cannot remember where we got Groucho or who named him, but he was a piece of work. He was a mutt, but he was a loveable mutt. He also thought he was the king of all he surveyed.

He tolerated us because we’d scratch him behind his ears and play chase with him. He was our four-legged little brother until the day we came home from school, and he was gone.

The story of Groucho’s disappearance is a bit complex, and details are of little consequence. The facts are these. Dad had a chance to take in a registered German Shepherd with great lineage and obedience training, Sven.

Groucho did not take well to a new alpha male, and within a short time, he disappeared. Supposedly, Dad gave him to another family. David and I seriously doubted that story, but the truth made little difference. We were in shock and mad at Sven and Dad for a long time.

David & Sven

Eventually, we forgave Sven. I’m not certain we ever forgave Dad completely, but he was our dad. Besides, Sven was a great pal and protector. There was no way we could stay mad at him. Once, he saved my brother from a bad situation by annihilating a very large cottonmouth water moccasin.

He also stood guard regularly when dad was away at night. He was always ready, beating us to the door if someone knocked and letting them know he would not tolerate any nonsense with a deep growl.

Then, we came home from school, and he was gone. This time there were no tall tales about a new family. Sven injured himself as a pup, which is why we got him.

He was always in some pain, and as he aged, it was worse. Finally, the vet told our folks there was nothing more they could do, and my folks agreed to have him “‘put to sleep.”

We were teenagers and old enough to know what that meant. We even understood why it was necessary, but it took a long time to get over not being able to say goodbye.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

Posted in Daily Life, family, Old Fort Worth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Road Trip Flashback

The story you are about to read took place at The Point, a restaurant on Bomber Road, just west of Lockheed Martin. If you are not familiar with The Point on Lake Worth, let me introduce you to one of the best places for fried catfish on the west side of Fort Worth.

Of course, the joint serves other good down-home favorites, but the catfish is outstanding. Also, the place has been there in one form or another since I was a kid.

Every time I go there, I look out over the lake and smile. I spent a lot of time on Lake Worth, fishing, water skiing, and just hanging out. Looking down from The Point’s patio lets me revisit some of those memories, but this time it was not the view that made me smile.

This time, my smile, probably more of a grin, broke out on the parking lot. Sitting right there on the end of a row of parked cars was a beat-up old thing that might have been waiting for the wrecker. I mean, it was rough looking.

Thankfully, it was not a junker when I took a closer look. It was just partway through restoration. Even if it had been a clunker that was waiting for the tow truck, it would have gotten my attention. It was a Hudson!

I know a lot of folks reading this will read that last sentence with a puzzled look on their face. They’ll be thinking, “What the heck is a Hudson? I would be in that group, except we owned a Hudson when I was in grade school.

Sadly, the brand disappeared when the Hudson Motor Car Company merged with Nash Motors in the late 1950s. Still, in the picture below, the one we owned was a legend in our family. It was a great car, and we used it for one of our more memorable road trips. That trip and the stories told for years afterward are what made me grin when I recognized the Hudson on the parking lot.

Me, cousin Jimmie, and my brother with our Hudson.

The road trip was in the summer, with no coats required, unlike the picture above. Also, it was a combination business and pleasure trip. Dad was an engineer and helped develop an after-market air conditioner for automobiles. The trip was primarily to test the A/C unit, but since he wanted to test it over a long haul, he made a road trip to Arizona out of it.

Most of my memories from that trip come from stories and photos. We took a lot of road trips during that period, remembering all the sights, adventures, and what have you was difficult as a kid. Today, only bits and pieces stand out, and only a couple are from the trip in the Hudson.

Still, finding the old Hudson parked at the Point was an unexpected delight. My only regret is I did not know who owned the thing until I saw him and his family drive off in it later. I believe he is a regular, so I hope to see him and the Hudson again soon.

I restored a car or two in my younger days and would love to visit with him about the car and swap stories about cars, trips, and hanging out at the lake and The Point.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

Posted in Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Food, Old Fort Worth, Travel | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Of Bluebonnets, Flower Beds, and Politics

Years ago, I wrote a piece titled “A Blind Eye.” The title referenced humanity’s ability to turn a blind eye to the signs of something larger than themselves. Depending on your belief system, something larger than humans might refer to the god of the Bible, a higher power, mother earth, or a state of consciousness beyond what most of us can imagine.

Whatever belief system one has, or doesn’t have, has little to do with closed minds, closed hearts, and the blind eyes that support them. For example, consider the title of this post. It is clear two of those things have something in common, but politics? What in the world does politics have to do with gardening and wildflowers? Hopefully, I can shed a bit of light on the idea.

The Bluebonnet happens to be the state flower of Texas. The fact it is the state flower points to a problem of sorts with politics. Often, the people in charge, politicians especially, only see one aspect of a situation. The Bluebonnet is a pretty and plentiful flower for part of the year. The rest of the year, it is less than adorable. You see, the Bluebonnet is essentially a weed.

Bluebonnets and Paintbrushes

It can beautify a large area and become the site of many gorgeous and heartwarming photographs when it is blooming. Unfortunately, once the bloom is off the weed, its weediness comes into play. If it is not dealt with properly, it will become an eyesore, if not worse.

Now that I’ve denigrated a state flower, let’s think about flowers in general. The picture to the right is a “flower bed” that brings oohs and ahs from many folks in this neighborhood. The homeowners spend many hours taking care of the bed, even though they cannot see it from their house or yard.

To be fair, the residents spend a lot of time on their yard in general. It is, in some ways, a very attractive bit of residential property. In fact, from the street in front of the home, it looks like a small mansion. Unfortunately, if it were not for the flowers, the side street view would be a vine-covered fence hiding a driveway and storage area.

All right! Pretty weeds, a heavily planted strip of flower bed, and politics, where am I going? Here is my point. The government often talks about the big picture and the long-term benefits of its work.

In that way, it is a bit like the folks who spend hours, if not days, every year working on a flower bed that will look like the picture to the left, or worse, much of the time.

However, their efforts distract passersby for a time and outright hide the less attractive parts of their property. And, the neighbors and passersby overlook the dead, ugly months, waiting for the beauty they expect to return.

That is how government works. Politicians keep us looking at the shiny objects of new benefits, green energy, and what-not planned for the future. They hope that keeps us from noticing the crime, destruction, and chaos surrounding us. Sadly, for many, it seems to work.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

Bluebonnets and flags courtesy of lorimalhiot from Pixabay

Posted in Daily Life, Leadership, Political Extremes, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Snow, Sleet, and Neighbors

Texas is a special place in many ways. It has miles and miles of miles and miles. It has a storied history that many love, while others think it is an example of Texas narcissism. And, like the rest of the United States and the world, it has its share of blowhards, smart-alecks, and just plain jerks. Still, it has some of the most neighborly people in the South, unless you get on our wrong side.

Here, I want to share a little story of neighborliness I found amazing when it happened. Heck, I still find it amazing in a way.

In the winter of 2000, we bought a new house in a small development of semi-custom homes. This little neighborhood was at the far south end of a street full of large older homes and was to some degree isolated, with one way in and one way out, a ski-slope steep hill.

Less than two months after we moved, in February 2001, a winter storm paid us a visit. Our neighborhood might as well be somewhere on the Iditarod Trail in Alaska when that happens. There is simply no way in or out until the ice melts. In most cases, like the February 2022 winter storm, that is not a problem.

Everyone is prepared. The pantries are stocked, emergency supplies, if needed, are handy, and the kids are just waiting to be unleashed on our steep snow-covered driveways. Not to mention, our snow and ice-covered street. This time things were a bit different.

Two of us had important business meetings in other states that we could not miss. We were both flying out the same morning if we could get to the airport, which did not seem likely. Then the neighborliness kicked in.

The nearest snow shovel was likely somewhere north of Oklahoma City. Yet, there were gardening tools in every garage and a neighbor ready to wield them. A few hours after sunrise, our neighbors had chiseled a path up the hill so we could make our flights. When we drove out to head for the airport, the only thing missing from our little two-car parade was ticker tape showering down from the surrounding yards.

Twenty-one years later, some of the neighbors moved on, and new ones moved in, but the mood remains the same. We look out for each other, we help each other, and if one of our older neighbors, my wife and I included, needs a hand, three people, at least, seem to appear out of thin air.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

Posted in Daily Life, family, Family Vaules | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

That Last Hundred Meters!

Okay! If you’ve ever watched a foot race of any length, you’ve likely seen more than one runner straining to make that last hundred meters. Whether it is to better their own time, catch the runner in front of them who is faltering, few give up and walk that last part of the race. In the writing sense, I am in that last few meters.

As far as I can tell, I am within a gnats whisker of completing the WordPress Bloganuary writing challenge. To be honest, I am quite proud of myself since I didn’t find out about it until two or three days after it started. Then I was laid low by a back injury for four days in the middle of it. However, if my brain is back to even 75 percent, I am two topics short of completing the entire challenge. So, if I fudge a bit on the different aspects of this challenge, I hope you will forgive me.

On Advice Giving

One reason for my asking for some leeway is this. The first prompt was, “What advice would you give to your teenage self?” Here is the problem. Other than chronologically, I was never a teenager. Oh, I had the pimples, goofy grin, wandering eye, and that sort of thing. Still, I went from being the oldest child, responsible for the well-being of his little brother, to the peacemaker, caretaker, and confidant of two highly unstable parents almost overnight.

I know! That sounds like a stretch and a cop-out to a degree. Unfortunately, it is true, and I spent many years in therapy coming to terms with that reality. So, the response to such a prompt is simple.

I learned a lot more from my teenage self than he could learn from me. He was studious, a survivor, hardworking, a voracious reader, someone with the imagination of several fiction writers, and everyone’s shoulder when they needed to cry.

Sadly, he was also everyone’s emotional punching bag when they needed to vent. He, and the lessons he learned, helped me be successful as an adult. If you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to one parent justify their behavior and blame it on the other, and a short time later hearing the same kind of venting from the other parent, you’ve never lived.

On the Road Again

Of course, that leaves the road trip prompt. I cannot tell you how many road trips I have taken in my life, starting as a kid sleeping in the backseat of our car while dad drove all night. Those were the days. There were no seat belts, no airbags, just Mom, Dad, my brother, and me on what passed for highways in those days.

Dad made a wooden base for a pallet that let David and me sleep the night away while we headed west, south, east, or north depending on his mood. When I became the head of my own family, that vacation travel was still the norm. So, there is no “road trip” that interests me.

I love to drive, and I love looking at the scenery. I also like to fly to wherever it is, pick up my rental car and go to the different sites or attractions. Once you’ve driven all night a few times to reach a destination everyone else will enjoy while you sleep, road-tripping loses some of its appeal. And, please do not get me started on driving cross-country or even a small state with two wide-awake kids in the backseat.

So, there we are. Two quick, dirty and honest responses to the Bloganuary prompts. I may not have won the prize, but I made it to the finish line, staggering a bit, but done.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

#bloganuary #oneoldcop

Posted in Family Vaules, Humor, Travel, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Stargazer

Okay, if I complete this piece, I will have kept my commitment to myself concerning the WordPress Blogaunary challenge. If I don’t, you won’t be reading it.

The question of the moment is, “How do you feel when you look at the stars?” Often, I look at the night sky and feel like Charlie Brown crying out into the night, “I’m significant!” in one cartoon panel and in the next saying, “Screamed the dust speck.”

On the other hand, I mostly see the night sky as a thing of beauty and magnificence beyond our comprehension. Certainly, we can speak of lightyears, galaxies, novas, dark stars, comets, planets, and the possibility of life on other worlds.

The reality is even the most studied and educated astronomers, astrophysicists, and others cannot be certain what is out there or how it came to be. Yes, there is evidence that many quote attempting to support one theory or another. Still, the reality is a bit different.

There are certainly scientific principles that seem set in stone. Yet, new information arises regularly on various issues, and likely will continue to arise as more sophisticated instruments, recent studies, and new phenomena are noticed. In 2021 alone, discoveries involving two black holes supported the theories of two noted scientists. Yet, there is still the possibility some future findings will alter the latest results.

So, until the first Celestial Being or little green humanoid shows up on one of the morning shows, I’ll revel in the beauty and magnificence of the Milky Way, the constellations, and meteors spending their last few moments of existence, entertaining me and others who love the night.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

#bloganuary #oneoldcop

Posted in Science, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Best of Me?

Okay, I posted the prompt for today (on the left) to make certain anyone seeing this knows I am responding to something, not simply touting my attributes.

So, my favorite part of me is certainly not my waistline. Nor, is it my less than ramrod-straight posture. According to at least one doctor, I have voluntary scoliosis, which shows that jumping to conclusions is dangerous, especially for a medical professional.

With that said, my favorite part of me has nothing to do with physical appearance or any aspect of anatomy. My favorite part of me is my sense of humor. Admittedly, it can be a bit weird at times, and not everyone gets me, but that is their problem, not mine.

I am the kind of wit who can sit in on the edge of the conversation listening to the give and take without saying a word. Then someone will say something that leaves an opening, and with one line, I can have them falling out of their chairs with laughter or stalking out the door incensed. To be honest, I do not know if this is a gift or a curse, but it is a great deal of fun.

Also, my face is normally set in the “what have you done now?” look, or possibly “the first person who opens their mouth gets cut off at the knees” look. For several years one of my department heads would regularly slide into my office about ten minutes after I arrived, with a bit of a plea. She would say, “Chief, could you come out into the lobby and say hello to some people with a smile. Everyone thinks there is something wrong today.”

Another one of my fun little ways of breaking the ice with seminar groups or when leading a continuing education class dealt with my facial expression as well. As part of my opening remarks, I would stand in front of the room surveying each face with my “relaxed look on my face.”

Then I would say something to the effect of, many people looking at me now may wonder if I am having a bad day or am upset about something. Please be reassured, I am quite happy at the moment. In fact, I am laughing on the inside as I speak. If I become upset, I mean seriously upset, you’ll know it. There will be no guesswork required.

Needless to say, I play a pretty mean hand of poker as well. Bluffing comes naturally to me.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

#bloganuary #oneoldcop

Posted in Humor, Uncategorized, Verbal Communication, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Worldly Speaking

Changing the world? Now, that is an imposing thought for someone who, at the moment, has trouble changing his socks without at least 400mg of ibuprofen. Thankfully, after spending most of my adult life trying to make a difference, I realize the only way I can change the world is one heart, mind, soul at a time.

Yes, there was a time when I spent a great deal of time offering others strategies and techniques that would help them help others in areas of inclusion, diversity, life skills, and controlling our inner demons. The thought was if enough of us were reaching out to others and teaching them to reach out, we could have a significant impact on our society, if not the world.

Over the decades, I realized the problem with organizations, mass efforts, movements, and other such activities is how easy they are to infect with evil. If not evil, at least bad intentions. So, my plan changed.

I still work within or support groups and organizations dedicated to helping and lifting others. However, I’ve come to believe the best way I can impact the world is one person at a time. First, by being the best example of a human being I can, and second by supporting those trying to achieve the same goal.

Don’t let that last paragraph fool you. I do not claim the title of “perfect example,” but given what I have to work with, I give it my best shot, most days.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

#bloganuary #oneoldcop

Posted in Daily Life, Ethics, Leadership, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Acacia and Me

When reading the prompt for today’s writing exercise, my first thought was, “hardheaded.” Then I realized the prompt was to describe myself as a tree, and trees do not have heads. However, the hardheaded tag continued to resonate in my mind.

One reason that term sticks with me is I can be pretty hardheaded. Which, by the way, does not mean thickheaded. I was reminded of my hardheadedness not long ago when chatting with an old police colleague. He said he remembered I was a bit hardheaded. I think he was joking, but who knows.

Our relationship was strange as he was my field training officer when I became a police officer. Not long after training me, he left our department and moved to another state. I have yet to figure out if he went because he wanted to live in the mountains or wanted to leave because I’d worn him out. Either way, he rejoined our department a few years later, and my training officer was now my subordinate.

Reminiscing aside, the observation of hardheadedness seems to fit. This brings me to the Acacia Tree. Acacia wood is one of the densest and most durable woods available. It is mentioned in the Bible multiple times because carpenters used it for items that needed to be strong and long-lasting, sorta like me.

Also, it seems to be pictured as somewhat standoffish and isolated from other trees, again sorta like me. Yes, I can be social, even the life of the party, if your sense of humor is a bit warped and you like puns, but I can also stand off to the side and people watch for hours.

So, that’s me in a nutshell, though I don’t think Acacia trees have nuts. Hard, durable, standoffish, and welcoming, all in the same package.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

#bloganuary #oneoldcop

Posted in Humor, Police, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Lee, Fact or Fiction

Hello! If you’ve been following me, you know I am trying to complete a writing challenge and post a piece on a random topic daily. As luck would have it, I was also part of the first effort, of which I was aware of this sort a few months ago, and I have already written on one of the current topics. So, in the interest of my sanity, I am resharing Of Red Lights, Sirens, and Old Friends.

I hope you find it amusing. And no, I do not normally have conversations with inanimate objects, except for one girlfriend during my high school days.

© oneoldcop.com – 2022

#bloganuary #oneoldcop

Posted in Humor, Police, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , | 2 Comments