Tuesday, March 29, 2016


                                                   Robert Frost

          It was quite a week leading up to my birthday.  Easter Week was a week in our community that brought a lot of worry, heart break, and terror.  The day that the fire moved into Barber County was probably one of the spookiest afternoons I can remember.  That day, Wednesday, I went to my aunts auction where she sold the farm equipment and officially is now retired from farming.  Not many can say they farmed into their 80's after being widowed.  But then, she is tough as a boot.
     One the way home when we drove through Spivey there was a haze of smoke.  There was no question where it was coming from.  We were back into scanner range of home and the fire was still completely out of control (Anderson Creek Fire, for those who did not know).  The closer to home we were the heavier the smoke became.  Once home the sun was a big orange ball just coming through the smoke.  Once home it became so dark it was like deep dusk.
     Friends, acquaintances, and those we did not know lost homes, buildings, livestock but thankfully no lives.  Frankly I was not even thinking of my upcoming birthday.  Since I turned 61 I don't really look at the day as particularly fun anyway.
     We were thinking what would we grab and run if the fire jumped the highway and creek two miles away from us and headed our way.  It is grassland all the way.  Since I live in a sea of grass and have a bit of experience with fire we always try to keep things around the buildings short, even out into the pasture, and non-combustibles from the yard.  We do have metal roofs but with log siding we are still vulnerable to fast moving flames.  We did not get the hoses hooked up because they were able to keep the fire out of our area and we had a new pressure tank coming the next day and was not sure the old one would hold up to the hoses running.
     The stories of all the losses were and are heart wrenching.  The toll on our emergency workers has to be severe.  Many are not spring chickens anymore.  The equipment is not pristine and new for the fire department either.  We are in a county with low population and strained resources, especially when the oil economy is way down.
     Then there are the droves of people and offers for assistance coming from all over.  The offers are still coming and it is almost overwhelming the generosity of people.  It takes time to sort it all out.
     I have not had the chance to visit with the people who were in the EOC throughout the fire on 12 hour shifts.  I have not had a chance to visit with the firefighters about all the experiences and the frustrations that they had, and have.  Right now they are working on broken down equipment and don't have time.
     I have tried to keep everyone posted on the status of things as I see and hear up here on the hill.  I can put a bit more feeling into them than the 'official' reports.
     So as my birthday dawned, and my facebook happy birthday wishes go crazy, it is a bit anti climatic.  I am not crazy about getting older.  I wish that my health was back so I could have grabbed a nozzle last week.  I would have loved to visited with the out of town firefighters and talk shop.
     There are only two words that we can say down here and they seem so inadequate, THANK YOU!  The community thanks all who have helped, contributed, and prayed.  I thank all who have contacted us to make sure we were OK.  And I thank all the well wishers who sent me birthday greetings.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


                                                      Mattie Stepanek

     It has been said often by visitors about the friendliness of the Kansas people.  There are many times that we face a major life changing event and as a whole we come together to do what is right.  It is just the way we are raised.  Maybe that is why those on the coasts and beltway just don't seem to get what it is that we are, do, and believe.
     From my view up here on the hill the sights that I saw did not bode well for our residents.  Being a retired firefighter/EMT there is one thing that cannot be taken away from me, and that is my scanner.  I like to know what is going on even though I cannot jump into my bunkers anymore and run towards what most run from.
     When the conditions in these hills set up just right there is the potential for a lot of really bad things to happen.  I know the stress and the wear and tear it takes to try and lend a hand when someone is having the worst day of their life.  Kind of fools some who think that I get my attitude and opinions from someone who is on the television or writing their opinions.
     I started fighting fire with a truck that was one year older than me.  And my favorite piece of equipment was actually even older.  As our department matured and the level of equipment improved it was still the skill and training that made the difference.  Sometimes when I see the equipment that our local boys use I flinch a bit.  But as I told the Deputy Chief of my old department once "you need to come down and see how much fire they can put out with these home-built trucks."  (I may have used a little stronger description).
     Now I am reduced to the old fire horse who can tell a good story but really am not taken very serious by the younger crowd.  But those old stories were lived and there is always a point to them.
     Now not to just single out Kansans, we live just north of the Oklahoma line.  In many ways some think that that State Line is a big brick wall.  We just notice the sign welcoming us in and notice the road is a bit rougher.  The people are still of the same stock.
      I started listening to a big fire in the Hazelton area and the county and neighboring fire departments worked all day on it.  Some stayed all night patrolling the area and called out help when it flared up again. The next day the same units worked to overhaul the area so a rekindle would not send them out again.  As they were finishing a call came in that one of the department members out west saw a big bunch of smoke south of him in Oklahoma.  He started down with a brush rig to check it out and before long the call came from Woods County OK that the fire had started by Camp Houston.  This is just north of Freedom along 64 highway.  They needed help and those guys who had been working for two days immediately started west to help.  They did not say they were tired and wore out.  The call came from a neighbor and they went.
     Now we all know that the dry weather coupled with low humidity, high wind, and a huge fire load is a recipe for disaster.  I viewed and listened to a fight moving from Woods County to Comanche County.  It was a fierce battle to stop the head fire which was too big and making stands to save buildings and homes.  It was finally moved to a last stand on US 160 highway.  The distance is around forty miles from where the fire started to 160.  Then the wind moved and so did the direction of the fire.  
     Next thing we know the fires is in multiple fronts and the response comes to the aid of our citizens from all over Kansas and Oklahoma.  Staging areas are set up and incoming units and manpower show up.  The old middle school is turned into a dormitory for visiting firefighters and the Christian Family Life Center is turned into a 24 hour feeding station.  And piles of goods, bottled water, and the most precious commodity, Chap Stick is brought in.  
     Counties from Anderson to Cowley and all others are at the EOC (Emergency Operations Center).  Two portable radio towers with communication systems are set up.  News media comes in from all around and everyone is just concerned with what they can do to help.
     My view from the hill was Kansans, Okies, and just Americans were at their best.  And why?  It is because that is what we do.  This is how we were raised.  I live in a pretty amazing place with pretty amazing people.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


                      SIDE, FOR GOD IS ALWAYS RIGHT
                                                     Abraham Lincoln

     This time in history we are at a point that the actual meaning of our country's standing is in doubt.  There is dissension on all sides and the political process is starting to pay the dividends that has been invested in it for many years, and those who would see our place in the world changed and our way of life altered.
     The anger that is brewing is coming to a head and the actions of many people are not what they were raised to do or what they should be.  Real concern is straining the fabric of our nation.  The trouble is that there is deliberate stirring of a pot of dissension and the dividing of the nation from all sides. 
     And it is just as it was planned.  Since the 1920's the blueprint for what we are going through was published and again in the 1930's it was again published and predicted.  Through the deliberate re-versioning of history and discounting the intellect and intention of the founding fathers their wisdom has been erased. 
     It has only been through the efforts of historians who break the mold of the establishment.  Authorities that use the same tactics that the medical profession did for hundreds of years to nullify their advances, that free thinkers and researchers had done. 
     The same tactics and vitriol are used to disgrace and discredit those who would speak the obvious.  Yet the world has seen this before.  And if free thinking men and women do not seek the truth and stand fearlessly for it we will be set into a generations long period of darkness.
     Any lesson that we should learn through the Easter season is that right will in the end prevail.  Evil will have it's time.  The Israeli people have seen this for thousands of years.  Follow what God sets forth and when they didn't they were destroyed and bound into slavery and servitude.  When the generations pass away that caused the wrath the truth is found again.
     We can only do what our conscience tells us is right.  We need to put the anger behind us, stand and speak the truth clearly, and take the abuse that will be thrown our way.
     If we cannot learn one thing from the season and the greatness of our God and Savior is that things will be alright if we put our trust in them and do the right thing.
      We know that the people of Isis that believe they are bringing about the end times, we all know that that time is known only to God.  No religion, country, leadership, strategy, or anything that mankind can do will out guess what God has told us all along.
     Whatever happens in this political season it is up to each of us to be on God's side.  Those who are not will be allowed to act as they will for a time and then they will pay for their path.
     I am more than certain that the righteous path and supporting the Constitution, is the proper path.   GOD BLESS THE USA!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


                                                Albert Camus

     Respect.  Once we were all taught what respect was.  Some learned better than others.  We were mostly taught by our grandparents, aunts, uncles, and our parents.  It was reinforced by the schools and at church.  At least it was supposed to.
     In the upside down topsy turvy world that we have seen develop in the last thirty years respect seems to have been displace with my 'way and yours is stupid'.
     If you go back into the history of politics you will find that there has never been a real respect for the other party in campaigns in the past.  In fact they were down right dirty.  Of course there were no sensitivities at the time and outrage always seems to be the common denominator.
     So it is down right luxurious when you find that campaign that involves civility and gentlemen (women) and common sense.  So why can't the presidential races become about statesmanship and ideas?
     Apart from the old factors of power, greed, lying, cheating, and stealing, there is the factor that the founders put as not an official branch of government but as still a factor in the course of events, the Media.
     There is a lot of talk, wailing and gnashing of teeth about special interests and political pacts.  But the question must be asked, who makes the most money and profits from dissention, special interests, and self interests in today's politic?  Of course, the news media.
     The relevance of the media is changing and the word 'Press' has taken a new meaning and it was difficult for judicial concepts and Constitutional guarantee's to define what the Press is now that it is off paper and into electronic form.  Even the Press itself has had a hard time adapting to todays world.
      The fact that you are even reading my opinions is something that a few years ago would not happen except when an editor saw fit to print a letter.  The concept of Blogging was something that the most astute professor of journalism could not have seen coming.  But then those in ivory towers are generally the last to see ahead.  The old guard has as it's perceived position the duty of protecting the status quo.
     I agree with those who believe that in the Presidential contests and the state of the party system that we are looking at 1968 this year.  I agree that those who do not base their opinions and actions to the founding principles of this nation are going to contribute to the downfall.  Even when they are rebelling against the perceived wrongs in the system.
      If there has ever been a time to set down with the family and read from two things together, it is now.  That being the Bible and the Constitution.  If the respect is not learned together and handed down together what hope have we to remain what President Reagan called "that shining city on a hill".

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


                                                  Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

     As a society we have been under increasing sickness that has taken the greatest nation of the world to a level of behavior that is beyond what the most patriotic citizen could have imagined just thirty years ago.  From the beginning this 'perfect' union has been a work in progress.  So many for their own agendas delight in the changes that have been occurring. 
      It is no secret that anything man creates is imperfect.  And the concept of a self governing people is a concept that never gained any foothold in world history before we became the United States.  We have had blemishes from the start.  The inadequacies that as a nation have been committed over the last 200 years is a slow learning process. 
     In the fact that the country was taken from indigenous people is a sorrowful part of the story is self evident, yet the history of all civilization is full of such tragedies.  Thousands of lives were butchered in the Civil War that goes even deeper than just the end of slavery, yet we paid the price.
      The industrial revolution was created on the backs of immigrant labor and vast natural resources that unharnessed an economy that would not be duplicated in any other fashion.  The ongoing fact that many super huge corporations have lost the face of the human element is a scourge on a society.
      In the face of what is wrong many take the advantage of destroying what is right to punish what is wrong.  The gripe that politicians and bureaucrats have on the government have allowed the destruction of what that simple document guaranteed us all.
      It has allowed for the education of our citizens to be diminished and the truths and fundamentals are clouded by the many isms that seek to be in control.  Socialism, Communism, Fascism, Humanism, and Agnosticism. 
      It has been my lament that since the 1980's I have not been able to vote for the candidate for president that I preferred.  Both parties have been taken over by those who feel that the country cannot be trusted to the common everyday person.  And they have gone out of their way to accomplish this.
     There is a backlash that is happening and it is pleasing to me to the point that it is even being manipulated by those who would be in control.  There is an anger in the land.  It is not exclusive to either party, there is enough rotten on all sides that they are now threatened.
     But the anger that is building in this country is concealing the first chance we have had to take control of things in decades.  And that anger is being turned on us.
     I do not ever remember making a good decision when I was angry and I am afraid that the country is about to make the same mistake.  Maybe anger works for WSU Basketball but it is not good for politics.
\     When a candidate makes his followers take a loyalty oath to his candidacy there is something very wrong, especially if you are a student of history as I am.  Notice I say student, not an authority.
     I make a pledge and take an oath to God and the Constitution.  Without either our country will fall into the chaos that has been the last 30 years.  If we do not recognize that words have meaning and when someone says that he will do something like HOPE AND CHANGE and that fundamental changes are going to be made, they mean it.
      I hope that the level headedness that the people have had during times of crisis will be found once again.  Those who expect something that they have not earned, those who are disenfranchised, those who instruct non truths and political agendas are as guilty of taking this country down as any spy that Germany, Japan, or Russia could put forth.
     There is a societal cancer that pervades this country from the school, university, state house, capital chambers, pulpit, and especially a news media that is so intent on killing the Constitution that they will cut their own throats.  We have agencies who resort to stealing the livelihoods of families in the west and control of resources by foreign companies.
     If your candidate is not saying THE CONSTITUTION and returning to one nation under God then I would suggest you examine what your really believe.  It may be too late to turn the tide.  It may come down to a constitutional convention to force the reforms in Washington that they refuse to do.  Non treatment has only one outcome.

Saturday, March 5, 2016


                                                     Mother Teresa

     Put yourself in the position of not being able to breath well and get so full of congestion that you are sent to the hospital.  I have had this experience and do not really enjoy being slowed down worse than I already am.  I had wonderful care in the hospital and they acted like the bother I caused them was no big thing.  But I was a problem.  I hate to bother anyone and when I feel bad I just want to be alone.
     I had time to catch up on some reading for my book and they were surprised that I did not keep the TV on all the time.  (I hate the needless drone if there is nothing interesting on)!  It is surprising how you hear so much of what is going on out the door when the noise maker is off.  And it makes you realize how many have it so much worse than me. 
     After burying a friend of mine a while back it seems that death takes on more meaning as we get older and not so full of ourselves and that we will live forever.  Losing friends especially to cancer has been a major effect on my outlook for a long time now.
      I thought as I have for over a year about a former Kansan that made good and created a picture perfect life and great success.  Rory Feek.  Rory met and married a beautiful and talented lady from Indiana named Joey.  I grew to be a huge fan of the act JOEY + RORY.
     Many in my Western Music family have met and performed on stage at festivals and venues over the years and found them to be just as down to earth and Christian as they appear on their videos and TV show.  It had been a goal of mine to meet them someday and try to get them on a show here in Kansas with some of our friends.
     This will not happen now.  Joey suffered for over a year with cervical cancer and we lost here at about the time I checked out of the hospital.  I had still been praying for a miracle while being in there for her not me.  Now I have to pray for the friends, family, and fans that have to trust in God's plan that he has for all of us.
      I am not one that grieves for celebrities like many people do I grieve for a friend I never had the chance to make.  Maybe that means that as a cowboy I am not that tough anymore but I get choked up and a tear when I read the condolences that are coming out.  But then I am not proving to anyone who or what I am.
     Life is short and many, especially the young, don't get it that what you do will effect you way sooner than you can expect.  I have thought this since I started cutting youngsters out of wrecked cars in 1974.  Closeness to death gives an in your face lesson on what it is.  So many do not recognize what they may have just been spared and others just did.
     I treasure the life and the gift that Joey Feek gave the world in beauty, grace, talent, and faith.  I have the chance to offer my opinions and try to give a thoughtful opinion when I do.  I am hoping that you will take the time to get to know Joey + Rory and understand what we have lost.
     Joey had three goals before she died, to have her father give his life to Christ, to make it to Christmas for her daughter Indiana, and make it to Indiana's second birthday.  She made all three, God is good. 
      There are many things that will be said and all I know is that Joey was on loan and God let us have her as long as he needed for her to fulfill her destiny. 
     I hope when you all are facing your toughest times that there are friends and family to share your burden.