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Jim Hicks

Jim Hicks: The Cowboy Is Drinking From The Brim Of His Hat Again…

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By Jim Hicks, guest columnist

BUFFALO – The Bench Sitters have been “shading up” a lot in the last week while the temperature pushed near the 100 degree mark several times. Brown spots are showing up in lawns and smoke from fires as far away as Oregon is hiding the peaks of the Bighorns from view.

The weatherman is suggesting we might get cooler (if you can call 80’s cooler) temperatures and maybe some rain showers. After several days of hot, dry wind we sure hope he’s right!

If the local traffic is a good indicator, an excellent “tourist season” is underway. Most of us complain about waiting too long at the stop light, not finding a parking spot or waiting too long to get a burger, but it’s good to see local business get a little boost after the dismal summer of 2020.

The Tourist Information Center east of town features a life-sized bronze of a cowboy getting a sip of water from the brim of his hat. 

For several years that stood in the middle of an empty pool and no water was running from the hat. Not sure what the problem was, but this season it is operating properly and often being photographed by travelers. Good for whoever go it fixed!

Traditions are hard to stop or to cure. Getting together to discuss current events and local news is a serious habit, and we notice one group has found an answer as to where to gather. 

They all bring their own coffee and huddle at a picnic table located under a big cottonwood tree some distance behind one of the Hart Street eateries about 7 a.m. It has turned out to be so popular most have to bring along a chair or sit on the ground.

Meanwhile the comment from old “Bad News” this week was interesting.  He said there was a time when negative people in the community could have fun spreading rumors and gossip.  Must be a feeling of power they get when they spread a hurtful story, and especially if they can invent a few more details to add to the shock impact.

Now Bad News says “social media” has ruined all that fun for them. “And that stuff can spread faster and further with this new technology.  It’s a bummer when I have a juicy piece of nasty gossip and someone will say they already read it on Facebook or Instagram or Tweet and Twitter.

Finally this week one of the Bench Sitters showed up with some “groaners” we have not heard before.  We will let you decide which are good and which are so bad they should be forgotten – 

Do infants enjoy infancy as much as adults enjoy adultery?

If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

Why are a wise man and a wise guy opposites?

Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?

“I am” is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that “I do” is the longest sentence?

If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians should be delighted, musicians denoted, cowboys deranged, models deposed, dog trainers debarked, and dry cleaners depressed?

What hair color do they put on the driver’s licenses of bald men?

You never really learn to swear until you learn to drive.

Why is it people say, “It’s only a game” when their team is winning.

And our favorite–

If 4 out of 5 people SUFFER from diarrhea, does that mean the fifth person ENJOYS it?

Keep a smile your face and don’t start any fires!  We’ll write next week.

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Jim Hicks: What To Do When A “Two-Holer” Is In The Passing Lane

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By Jim Hicks, guest columnist

About the time we were all giving up on any chance of moisture, much of Johnson County got some nice showers over the past week . . . and a few cloudbursts as well.

Near as we can tell . . . someone must have washed the pickup and the car, decided to cut some hay and stripped the shingles off a roof. 

Whatever the reason, the moisture was a welcome pause in the worry about seeing the mountain catch fire this summer.

Over the years one of Sven’s favorite subjects has been Larry Brannian, a man of various talents and activities including auctioneering and occasional pranks.

Maybe those farm and ranch auctions have proved the old rule that “one man’s junk is another’s treasurer.” 

So when Larry had the opportunity to assume ownership of two outhouses that were in fairly good shape . . . he jumped at it.  Even in these modern times there is still a demand for a good outhouse.

Among his friends are the Yoders located south of Buffalo.  He called them and asked if they might be interested in owning one of the small buildings.  He had a “one holer” as well as a “two holer”. 

Larry had both loaded on a flat-bed trailer, so he decided to haul them out so they could take their pick.  Both were secured to the trailer with lightweight straps.

South of town on I-25 Larry was doing about 70 when he heard a noise and looked in the side mirror of his pickup.

The two-holer had come off the trailer, was in mid-air and seemed to be gaining speed in the passing lane.

He got things shut down and was frantically trying to move assorted parts of the building off the highway and direct traffic and the same time.

He needed some help . . . in a big way.  So Larry got his cell phone out and dialed 911.

When the dispatcher answered, he must have had “caller ID”.

Rather than the usual . . . “This is the 911 operator . . . what is your emergency?” . . . the voice said . . . “Larry Brannian, we understand you have an outhouse problem on Interstate 90 south of Buffalo.  Is that right?  We’ve had a lot of calls about this. How can we help?”

Once again we learn how wonderful it is to live in a small community where folks know each other. 

Meanwhile, back down on the Main Drag we hear people making plans to celebrate an important holiday next Sunday.  The 4th of July is set aside for us to remember what a treasure we have to live in a country where we can ALL vote to elect those who run the government . . . a democracy.  And we are learning it is fragile, not guaranteed and can erode. 

Over the years Sven has reported on some family celebrations that have been memorable for various reasons.

Many years ago fireworks being sold included some powerful firecrackers later outlawed.  Those “cherry-bombs” and “M-80s” had to come close to a quarter stick of dynamite in power.

And once the fuse was lit, it would not go out even if under water.

When a hole was cut in a large watermelon and one of those pushed deep into the center . . . it can make a family picnic resemble a war zone.  The time is coming close (statute of limitations) when we can disclose what nine-year-old made the decision to pull that stunt.

And finally this week we have another quote from old “Bad News.”  This week he said his mind thinks he’s 20, his sense of humor is 12 and his body is asking if he’s not already dead. 

Have a great Forth and we’ll drop a line again next week.

SVEN

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Jim Hicks: Memories Of A Gourmet Evening In Jackson Hole

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By Jim Hicks, columnist

BUFFALO – A while back Maudie and Sven took a trip over to Jackson Hole.  We found the Tetons are as breath-taking as ever.

It’s good to get away from home base once in a while, and it gave us an opportunity to try some new kinds of food.  We picked up one of those “What–to-do-in-Jackson” books and read the list of places to eat.

Local restaurants have “catchy” names . . . like “Teton Thai” and “Bon Appe Thai.” We talked it over and decided to have an evening meal at a place called “Thai Me Up.”

“I like Chinese food every once in a while,” I told Maudie.

“You must be thinking of Taiwan,” Maudie replied.  “I think this has something to do with Thailand.”

“Close enough for me.”

So, we put the address of “Thai Me UP” in the GPS we bought ourselves for Christmas in 1998.  It had been in a box under the seat until this trip. It directed us to an empty field near Teton Village.

“I guess this GPS is out of date,” I said. Maudie guessed I didn’t punch in the right numbers. So, we asked a guy in a gas station if there was a Thai restaurant nearby.  He sent us down the road. We went in and a tall blonde kid directed us to a table and dropped the photo-copied sheets (Menu) in front of us.

“My name is Eddie . . . Wan som-tin-ta drink?” he asked.

I wanted to act like a sophisticated user of restaurants, so I ordered a “My Thigh.”

“What’s that?” asked Eddie. 

 “You are thinking of a Mai Tai,” says Maudie.

Eddie looked confused . . . so I said . . . “bring me a beer.”

Maudie asked for ice-tea. We started to study the sheet of paper listing the specials at the place I was now calling “Thai Me Down.”

Nothing on either side of the sheet made sense so we asked Eddie for help. Eddie seemed to know his stuff.

He told us “chok” is some kind of rice soup.

And he explained there were no rodents in “kuai tao rat na” . . . only fried noodles.

We passed on the suggestion of snake-head fish served on fresh lemon grass.

I pointed to the menu and said, “how about some of this ‘khao phat moo’. . . can’t go wrong with a beef dish.”

“No,” says Eddie. “That’s pork.”

“Well, why don’t they call it khao phat oink?” I asked.

Eddie didn’t laugh

I could tell he felt he was working too hard, so we told Eddie to just bring us some soup and a nice dinner with some shrimp or pork and a bowl of rice.

“How many stars do ya want?” Eddie asked. 

Thinking it was like ratings on hotels, I said we always go for the “five star.”

Thai food can be HOT!

After dinner we started looking for an ice-cream shop.

Take care, watch what you eat.  We will drop a line again next week.

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Jim Hicks: It Could Be Another Crowded Summer On The Bighorns

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By Jim Hicks, guest columnist

BUFFALO = Most years Memorial Day weekend is a “sure thing” for cool and raining weather on at least one day.

But the 2021 version produced some perfect conditions for all kinds of activities. And, if you happened to drive around some of the local recreation areas, it was evident people have broken out of COVID isolation and restrictions in droves.

Camping at the Mikesell-Potts recreation area was packed full and kids were enjoying the beach in the bay there in spite of some cold water temperatures.

Campers and recreation vehicles seemed to be all over the mountain.

The Bench Sitters are wondering why the Forest Service is allowing campers along the road to Gross Mountain just west of town. That is no doubt the most photographed wild flower meadow in the Bighorns (with the snow-covered peaks in the background). But not any longer.

Some say it’s because they have access to internet signal.  A few years ago, no one camped there.

If early numbers are an indicator, this may be another record year for campers locating in just about every conceivable place on the mountain. If you thought the invasion of out-of-state campers would disappear after the COVID restrictions were lifted . . . it may turn out that was just the beginning.

Last week about 30 members of a local classic car club make a tour to Jackson which included a stop at newly opened National Museum of Military Vehicles at Dubois. Carl and Lois Madden were in the group and they tell us it is a “must see” attraction with over 450 vehicles from Jeeps to tanks.

They recommend calling ahead and signing up for a guided tour.

“Just amazing,” they said.

And from the mailbag this week we wanted to share a few musings by Wes Buckmaster, a retired attorney who lives in South Dakota. If you have a few grey hairs, read it slowly and for most it will generate some personal thoughts.

When older there is an urge to yell at the top of the voice.

Yell for the things gained and lost.

Yell for loss of the things never gained.

Yell for the opportunities squandered.

Yell for the accomplishments realized and then lost.

Yell for the loss of values held dear in the past.

Yell for the worthlessness of long allegiances misplaced.

Yell for the confusion caused by a dimming trail where past aspirations have since dissipated in the mist.

Yell for the weaknesses which left footprints exposing reasons why things are as they are.

The reasons, yes the reasons, some having been in our control.

Some that never were.

And finally, this week we need to share some lines from the late Phyllis Diller sent our way from former residents Ken and Nadine Gross.

As your beauty fades, so will his eyesight.

Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?

Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the sidewalk before it stops snowing.

Best way to get rid of kitchen odors — Eat out.

I want my children to have all the things I couldn’t afford. Then I want to move in with them.

Most children threaten at times to run away from home. This is the only thing that keeps some parents going.

We spend the first twelve months of our children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk and the next twelve years telling them to sit down and shut up.

His finest hour lasted a minute and a half.

I asked the waiter, ‘Is this milk fresh?’ He said, ‘Lady, three hours ago it was grass.’

You know you’re old if they have discontinued your blood type.

That last one gets big laughs at the Senior Center.  Get ready for a hot summer and we’ll write again next week.

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Jim Hicks: Up Here In Johnson County, The Hills Are Turning A Beautiful Green

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By Jim Hicks, guest columnist

BUFFALO – Some of the readers of this column can remember when the Beach Boys were the hot musical group with songs with lyrics like “Help, help, help Ramona.”

That could be the theme song for Frank Peck these days because of a minor “mule” problem he was involved with about three weeks ago.

Frank and Pat have owned, packed and rode mules for years.  Last year Frank decided they needed a new mule and spotted one at a sale.

A middle aged lady rode “Ramona” through the sale ring and she (the mule) showed no sign of being anything but gentle.

Frank bought Ramona and used her in his pack string for the rest of the summer and fall.  She never gave him a bit of grief. This spring he decided to saddle 

Ramona and see just how smooth she might be for riding. Not showing any sign of discontent as he tightened the cinch, Frank was comfortable stepping into the stirrup and swinging up into the saddle.

That’s when Ramona demonstrated the other side of her personality. In seconds Frank was airborne and looking down at some very hard ground.  He learned some bad things can happen when 64-year-old bones hit hardpan prairie. 

Frank had separated his hip, and is walking with a stick. 

Not deterred, Frank bought another mule in Cody and named it “Ron.”  Then he and Pat decided Ramona should stay in the pack string. 

In case you were wondering what caused the very cold weather this past weekend . . . it was an automatic thing.

It seems that every year they plan the state soccer tournament at the Polo Grounds near Bighorn, the weather includes cold winds, rain, sleet, and snow with very short breaks of sunshine.

Last weekend was not exception, and teams (along with associated families) from all over Wyoming gathered for the event. It’s amazing to see a nearly two-mile parking lot that rings some 15 or 20 soccer fields that have been laid out on the polo grounds. 

Most of Johnson County is turning green as a few warm days and a few showers have jump-started grass in this part of the state. More rain and some warm days will be critical to the chances of avoiding a drought this summer and fall.

We never seem to know for sure. Perhaps this is why “seasoned” stockmen and women of this area don’t seem to get excited over the weather. They’ve seen worse.

Talking to a few old timers, we’ve heard them say Clear Creek was no more than a trickle by the end of May in1988 (just 33 years ago). 

That was the year Yellowstone Park burned, and about 16,000 acres of timber west of Buffalo went up in smoke during “The Lost Fire.”

Local hikers had seen the smoke a day or two earlier, but it was not located until it exploded into a major blaze on a hot Sunday afternoon. The Johnson County Fair and Rodeo was underway when people in the grandstands noticed a yellow tint to the light. 

Looking back toward the mountains they could see the huge columns of smoke blocking the afternoon sun. The Bench Sitters recall the fire burned well into September and over $3 million was spent fighting it.

The main fire camp was located at Circle Park. Many local people worked to provide “taxi service” from the camp to town, haul supplies and a number of other jobs.

It’s amazing how Mother Nature can heal things. Young trees have regenerated in the burn area. As another 30 years pass, most signs of that fire will be gone.

If it gets too dry in the coming weeks, we’ll take up a collection so the guy who claims to be “the most unlucky citizen of Buffalo” can wash his car. The Bench Sitters have given him the nick-name of “Bad News.”

He swears it rains every time he washes that rusty old 1972 Dodge. 

We’ve all known people who don’t seem to ever be able to see the bright side of anything.  

You don’t want to get old “Bad News” talking about politics. He can ruin a pretty good day in 15 minutes. 

When Liz Cheney got demoted his comment was . . . “that’s what she gets for telling the truth!”

He makes a huge conflict out of the smallest of issues. 

Bad News thinks a quarterback is a refund, and General Motors was in the army. 

His wife told us he spent 20 minutes looking at a bottle of orange juice at the IGA store because it said “concentrate”.

She also said he sold their car for gas money, and didn’t think he was supposed to use his AM radio after lunch.

We hope you are having a better day that old “Bad News.”

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Jim Hicks: So, What’s Wrong With A Little “Sick” Humor Once In A While ?

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By Jim Hicks

(It’s hard to believe this column was written 10 years ago. But I noticed it in the files and decided it was worth a “re-read” while we each can evaluate how technology is changing our lives.  If there is a “big brother” watching us … we may have identified him.)

 April 28, 2011 — The Bench Sitters have been reading in the paper about how new technology just keeps invading everyone’s privacy.

We saw an article that claimed close to 90 percent of the people living in this country own a cell phone, and more and more people are deciding to drop their “land lines” and rely totally on the cell phones for personal communication.

But we also read technology exists that will keep track of every place you go or visit 24-hours a day, seven days a week if you need a cell phone along.  And, some of the new ones do that even if you turn them off.

We knew the big computers, humming away in some far-off building, were keeping track of every web-site you visit, every purchase you make over the internet, all the activity of your credit cards, and lots of data about your health condition.

Now it looks like that giant data-base in far off cyberspace may be tracking your movements both day and night.

If you start seeing a lot of “pop-up” advertising about stool softeners on your screen, it’s possible the “big computer that keeps tabs on all of us” may have determined you are spending more than 40 minutes a day in bathrooms.

And you may get “cold calls” on your phone from “stock brokers” if you increase the limit on your credit cards.

Young people are growing up with all this technology, and many would rather “text” someone than actually have a conversation.

We can’t just pick on the younger generation. Some adults are jumping right into the techno-world with equal enthusiasm.

Meanwhile, back down on the Main Drag this week the Bench Sitters got in a debate about what is funny and what is not.

Have you ever noticed that some of the best jokes you hear are sometimes the “most sick?”  Perhaps these jokes are really a test of our ability to laugh at tragedy or difficult times.

Whatever the reasons, these certainly are a check on what kind of a sense of humor you possess.

One of the funniest stories we’ve heard in a long time exemplifies this point with amazing clarity.

It was about the man who lived in a small fishing village on the coast of Alaska. His wife had disappeared one weekend and he had the local search-and-rescue team looking everywhere possible.

Finally, after several days of waiting, there was a knock on his front door. When he opened it, the Captain of the rescue team was standing there with a serious look on his face.

“Bob,” he said, “we have some bad news, some good news and some VERY GOOD news for you.

The worried husband braced himself and said, “Give me the bad news first.”

“Well,” the Captain said, “we were dragging Knakic Harbor this morning and found your wife’s body.”

Bob sagged against the door jam, gathered his composure and asked . . . “what in the world could the good news be?”

“When we pulled her up there were three dozen of the biggest crabs we’ve seen in years hanging on. That catch was worth over $1,000 and you are entitled to half of that,” the Captain said.

Bob was still visibly shaken when he asked, “What could the VERY GOOD news possibly be?

Then the Rescue Captain smiled and said . . . “We are pulling her up again in the morning and you’ll get a share of that catch too.”

Next week the boys on the Bench promise to visit about more contemporary news from around the village.

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Jim Hicks: From Shirt Sleeve-warm To Shoveling Snow In 36 Hours Or Less

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By Jim Hicks, columnist

It might be hard to believe we can enjoy a sunny day in the mid-70’s on Easter and then be shoveling snow two days later.

But that’s Wyoming weather, and locals understand the only real safe time to put the snow shovel in the back of the garage is around the 4th of July.

There have been times when it snowed six inches the day the first round of Men’s League Golf got underway here.

Old time sheep ranches always claimed they could bring on a spring snow storm by scheduling a shearing crew to come in.

We understand Meadowlark Ski area has shut down for the season. In the late winter or early spring, the very best snow pack arrives . . . people start opting for other weekend activities like fishing.

The snow machine riders tell us “snow has settled and you can ride anywhere!”

Of course they are talking about “anywhere it’s legal.”  And they also notice their machines will cover a lot more ground on a tank of gas than when they are plowing through deep snow.

We see the Wyoming Legislature has ended their 2021 session without finding any answers about how to fund some important items such as financing education in this state.

The state’s Congressional delegation voted against the last stimulus bill, but the legislature gladly accepted the money. They used it to cover the shortage in the budget and get out of Cheyenne without really solving the big problems with the state’s tax structure.

The Bench Sitters love politics almost as much as second guessing coaches and referees.

And speaking of giving advice, we received the following miscellaneous suggestions from one of our long-time readers.

–Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.
–Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.
–A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.
–Words that soak into your ears are whispered….not yelled.
–Meanness don’t just happen overnight.
–Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.

–It doesn’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.
–The best sermons are lived, not preached.

–Don’t judge folks by their relatives. 
–Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
–Timin’ has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance. 
–The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.
–Always drink upstream from the herd.
–Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.
–Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.
–Live simply, love generously, care deeply, 

–Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.

The Bench Sitters would like everyone to believe that last one, but they know better. It’s almost time to plant some potatoes and think about the rest of the garden.  Take car and we’ll write again next week.

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Jim Hicks: Do We Still Measure Trips In Wyoming ‘By The Six-Pack?

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By Jim Hicks

BUFFALO – Watch out!  March came in like a lamb . . . so we probably shouldn’t hang the snow shovels up in the back of the garage yet.

One of the best stories we’ve heard around the village this week has to do with an “older” local couple who up-graded their transportation recently.

They didn’t buy a new car, but it was new enough to have one of those dash-board screens as part of the equipment.

That was a complete mystery to them, but a younger neighbor (in his early 70’s) volunteered to help them learn how to use it.

He explained one of the biggest advantages was a “navigation system” that would remove the Atlas Map book from his wife’s hands and save on a lot of “rolling” arguments.

He demonstrated how to “punch in” the address of destination and then simply push the “GO” button and a nice lady’s voice would give them directions during the trip.

“Let’s set one up and you can take mamma for a drive and see how it works,” he said.

So, he typed in “10 Hillside Avenue, Buffalo, WY” and told the happy couple to push the “GO” button and follow the nice lady’s directions.

They did that and the voice from the dashboard started telling them where to turn as they progressed.

It took them south of town near the high school and then west on the road toward Klondike Ave.

As they approached Willow Grove Cemetery the voice said “turn left here”. They were a bit surprised, but followed the directions.

That’s when they found out their helpful neighbor had a pretty good sense of humor.

The lady’s voice came over the speaker in the car and announced . . . “you have reached your final destination.”

Meanwhile, at one of those clandestine coffee meetings that have sprung up since the Covid crisis, we were being up-dated about what was going on with the Wyoming Legislature.

A lot of it has been conducted with computers over the internet with something called “Zoom” meetings where participants show up in boxes on a computer screen.

They say they are making progress, but also admit they are millions and millions of dollars short of what they need (mostly to finance education).  Those serious problems make issues in past years seem a lot less dramatic.

As recently as 2016 the lawmakers were struggling with what now appears not to be so important.  At that time Doug Osborn was serving as the Representative in House from Johnson County.

When the session was over he got a letter from one local voter that was pretty funny.

Noticing that the lawmakers had passed a bill to drop the sales tax from grocery items, this guy asked Rep. Osborn why he didn’t have to pay sales tax on olives when he still had to pay it on vermouth.

“It’s kind of like paying tax on bread, but not on butter,” he wrote. 

And the same guy told Rep. Osborn that the bill to ban open containers in vehicles was going to cause a lot of confusion in Wyoming. He claimed that everyone “knows Casper is one six-pack from Buffalo and Cheyenne is a little over a half-case away.”

(It was in jest and not a plea to support drinking and driving)

Rep. Osborn’s response was classic.  He told them age would take care of the problem.

“Soon,” he wrote, “you all will measure distances in “potty stops.”

And it’s probably good to see the lawmakers consider doing away with the death penalty. It’s almost never used and results in costing taxpayers millions as those cases drag out in court for years.

It’s not a new idea. In the late 1970’s the death penalty was being debated in the Wyoming Senate when one member got up and said . . . “well if they are gonna kill one of us we are gonna kill ‘em back.”

Another explained that he didn’t know if it was the right action to take or not, but he had noticed it put a stop to recidivism. (Most of us had to look that one up in the dictionary).

We hope you have a great week and the Bench Sitters will write again if they get time.

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Jim Hicks: And Then It Got Cold . . . And We Mean Really Cold . . .

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By Jim Hicks, columnist

A week ago it got cold in Buffalo. 

And then each day seemed to be a little colder as the low temperatures sank past the minus 20 mark.

Finally it looked like Sunday might be a bit better (warmed to 4 below), but along came wind with gusts of 30 miles per hour.

Going outside to do any chores gave a new meaning to “wind-chill.” 

And this week it warmed all the way into the low 30’s and it seemed like summer was back. We’re surprised we didn’t see some wearing shorts.

Younger people are able to ignore this kind of weather. They load up the snow machines or strap on skis and have a good time.  We can remember those days.

Now winter catches most of the older residents by surprise. We suddenly realize we are moving slower that before . . . and that was already pretty slow.

Nobody says things like . . . “let’s run to the grocery store.”  Now it involves a planning session with “list making”, checking prices in the newspaper insert and taking an inventory of the refrigerator because we can’t remember what looked at for more than 10 minutes.

But senior citizens are almost always positive and believe they will be full of energy when it warms up next June.

That’s when a “new adventure” will begin. Most seniors we know value every day, and also know that wealth has less to do with the bank balance. It’s more about family and friends.

After a discussion on this issue, the Bench Sitters came up with a few thoughts about the “fourth quarter” of life.

One remarked he realized he was getting old when his kids started looking like him and his grandkids had turned out to be perfect.

We all know going out is fun, but coming home is even better.

It’s alright if you forget names. Most of those people thought you had died years ago anyway.

It’s this time of life when you become aware you are not going to be any better at doing puzzles, figuring out how much to tip or playing golf. In fact, you know you are no longer really good at anything.

It’s when you know there were certain things always at the top of your bucket list, and now you don’t give a darn if you do them anymore.

When did you start sleeping in the recliner with the television at 400 decibels? Then you wake up at 2 a.m. and stagger off to bed . . . where sleep is now impossible. You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed.

We won’t talk about the sick jokes Mother Nature plays on your body as the aging process moves along. You know — veins that stand up on the back of your hand, the crepe skin, vanishing muscle mass and thin or disappearing hair.

Freckles have changed to “liver spots” bruises appear with no memory of an injury while toenails grow so fast they seem to need clipping twice a week.

Your clothes closet is packed, and less than a quarter of those items will fit anymore. That’s OK because most of it is out-of-style.

This is the time of life when the actors in movies that are on the television seem to all speak in “whispers”, and so do a lot of people you meet.

It’s hard to find a television program you like. So mostly it’s a diet of re-runs of M.A.S.H., All in the Family, Everybody Loves Raymond and Golden Girls.

Any music later than the 1980’s doesn’t have a melody, and “rap” is an absolute mystery.

But you remember when there were lots of stores downtown . . . places where you could buy dresses, shoes, suits, shirts and even pajamas. When you stopped at Ellis Hardware the items you bought were in a paper bag and not sealed in plastic so tough you need a hammer and a cleaver to open it. It was the same at the grocery stores.

But the best part of these days is the absolute knowledge that old songs, old movies, and old friends are the best.

We’ve got to stop writing about grey hair.  People are going to get the idea it’s on our mind too much. Be happy, don’t worry about aging and we’ll write again next week.

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Jim Hicks: Another Good Reason For Keeping In Touch

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By Jim Hicks, guest columnnist

One of our favorite Bench Sitters said it right this week.  

When a friend asked him about being excited to see 2020 over and the start of the New Year, he quickly replied . . . “at my age any new year is a great accomplishment. Pandemic or not, it’s a gift to be here.”

While we try to remember to stop dating things with “2020”, there have been a few other random thoughts from the members of the “older and wiser” coffee group.

–We can’t help but wonder if John Elway has been kicking himself for not drafting Josh Allen after he watched him play as a Wyoming Cowboy in the Potato Bowl in Boise a few years back. That was a multi-million dollar mistake.

–They tell us it’s hard to sell a 2021 daily planner.  Most of those from last year are still empty.

— To keep a good attitude, we have always tried to avoid negative people.  Now the policy is to avoid those who are “positive.”

— It’s ironic we used to get so mad when the kids snuck out of the house, and now they are telling us to stay home all the time.

— Covid has done what a lot of women have long wanted to accomplish.  You know, cancel sports, shut down the bars and keep men at home.

— The “good news/bad news” part of the vaccines is “there are plenty of doses, but hard to get one”.

Last week one of Sven’s favorite readers shared a poem we’d like to share. We should know who the author is, but can’t find that out for certain.

Jake, the rancher, went one day to fix a distant fence. 

The wind was cold and gusty and the clouds rolled gray and dense.

As he pounded the last staples in and gathered tools to go,

The temperature had fallen, the wind and snow began to blow.

When he finally reached his pickup, he felt a heavy heart.

From the sound of that ignition he knew it wouldn’t start.

So, Jake did what most of us would do if we had been there.

He humbly bowed his balding head and sent aloft a prayer.

As he turned the key for the last time, he softly cursed his luck.

They found him three days later, frozen stiff in that old truck.

Now Jake had been around in life and done his share of roaming.

But when he saw Heaven, he was shocked — It looked just like Wyoming!

Of all the saints in Heaven, his favorite was St. Peter.

Nobody was keeping’ score — In Heaven, time is free.

‘I’ve always heard,’ Jake said to Pete, ‘that God will answer prayer,

But one time I asked for help, well, he just plain wasn’t there.’

Peter listened very patiently and when Jake was done,

There were smiles of recognition, and he said, ‘So, you’re the one!!’

That day your truck, it wouldn’t start, and you sent your prayer a flying,

You gave us all a real bad time, with hundreds of us trying.’

A thousand angels rushed to check the status of your file,

But you know Jake we hadn’t heard from you in quite a long while.’

‘And though all prayers are answered, and God ain’t got no quota,

He didn’t recognize your voice, and started a truck in Minnesota’

Be good and well write again next week.

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