Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's nice to be home

Most summers when we visited Morgan, Utah for summer vacation, my cousins and I would go on a horseback ride up into the "range."  The range was open land up in the mountains to the west of the Whittier farm in Milton.  Most farmers would take some of their cattle up to the range and just leave them there to freely graze until they needed them back at their farms to sell.  It was a fun trip for Dee and Dick Whittier and I to saddle up some horses and spend a day riding in the open range.  Aunt Barbara would usually fix a lunch for us and we would load it into our saddle bags along with some water.  I remember one year I got to ride Jumbo.  Jumbo was the Whittier's Shetland pony.  Shetland ponies are little miniature horses that never get very big.  Though small, Jumbo had a competitive spirit and never liked having the larger horses ahead of him.  Whenever we decided to gallop the horses, Jumbo would shoot forward as fast as he could to take the lead, despite my efforts to keep him reigned in.

A trip to the range would usually included time spent playing in a creek.  We would take off our shoes and socks (and sometimes more than that) and play in the cool water.  It always felt good to cool off on a hot summer day.  We would also race the horses.  As I mentioned, Jumbo did not like being behind, and a race for me was sometimes pretty scary because I wasn't that experienced at riding horses.  In an effort to be in front, Jumbo would cut across some pretty treacherous terrain and leave me wondering if I would fall off and into a ditch.

On this particular trip as we started for home, Jumbo could sense when we were getting close to the barn.  We were on a gravel road and still had several miles more to go.  All of a sudden, Jumbo broke into an uncontrollable run.  He wanted to be home and there was nothing that could stop him.  I remember pulling back on the reigns as hard as I could, over and over again, with no success in getting Jumbo to stop.  He just kept on running.  It seemed like this went on forever.  I just knew I was going to be thrown off and hurt.  But I held on.  Then almost as suddenly as he started his breakaway run, he just stopped and began munching on some grass on the side of the road.  I got off as fast as I could.  By then Dee and Dick, on the bigger horses, had caught up to me.  Jumbo's saddle blanket and saddle had worked their way toward his back legs and were not far from sliding right off of him.  I don't remember what happened next.  Dee, being the oldest, probably adjusted the saddle back into place and finished the ride home on Jumbo.  I probably rode one of the calmer big horses the rest of the way.

It always amazed me that Jumbo was so anxious to be home.  But years later, I can understand it a little better.  Whenever I am gone from home for an extended period of time, it always feels so good to me to be home again.  There is no place like home.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It feels good to do a job well

One Saturday my mom asked me to clean the garage.  I wasn't all that happy about having to do this chore and I only gave half an effort.  When I told my mom that I was done, she came out to inspect my work and let me know in no uncertain terms that I had not done a good enough job.  Then she proceeded to show me what a good job looked like.  Where I had just swept around moveable stuff like food storage cans or bicycles, she pulled all of those things away from the wall and swept behind them.  Where I had just straightened up things that were on the workbench, she put everything in its proper place.

I remember feeling upset that my mom had taken me to task, and made a vow that I would clean the garage so well that she could have nothing bad to say about the job.  I worked for hours (as I recollect) to get the garage as clean as possible, all along thinking, "I will show her."  When I was done, the garage was something good to behold.  My mom was pleased with how well I did the job, I did show her.  But more importantly, I felt good about myself and learned for the first time about the good feelings that come after doing a job well. 

Since then, I can't say that I have always done my best with every job, but when I have, I always get that same feeling of self satisfaction.  It is well worth the time and effort to do a job right.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Finish the Job

Before we got our new vinyl fence, the west side of our backyard was bounded by a 6-foot-tall cedar picket fence.  Since every house in our culdesac has white picket fences, I painted the cedar pickets white.  Every few years I had to repaint the fence because the paint would start peeling and look pretty bad.  Each time I did this job it was the same.  I would buy new paint and brushes and get started some Saturday morning.  At first, I was excited to put on a new coat of paint and make things look better.  But after painting seven or eight of the pickets, my arm would get tired and I would want to quit,  especially when I would look down the fence and see how much more still needed painting.  But I didn't want to have a fence that was only partly painted so I would push on and continue to paint.  I would switch the paint brush to my left hand for a while to give my right arm a rest, and switch back and forth as I moved down the row.  Before long I was half done with the job.  After reaching the half-way point I began to feel that I might be able to finish the job after all.  This added hope helped me to persevere until, at last, I was done!

I remember how good it felt to have accomplished the goal that I had set for myself.  And it felt really good to see how nice the fence looked.  A job well done always helps us feel good about ourselves.  Most jobs in life are hard.  Sometimes we may feel like quitting before we are done.  But if we push on and find ways to finish we will never regret it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's not fun being lost

When I was young, we visited Utah every summer.  I loved staying at my Grandpa Dickson's farm because it meant I got to help milk cows, feed chickens, haul hay, ride horses, and shoot a 22.  I also got to spend time with my cousins in Morgan and do all of the farm chores with them.  Uncle Short would wake us up really early and we would hop in the back of their pickup truck and ride out to Milton where they had a farm.  Chores involved milking their cows, feeding their pigs, and collecting eggs from their chickens.

One day we were given the chore of following the irrigation ditch from the floodgate next to the Milton road out to my uncle's field to make sure the water would reach it when the floodgate was opened.  As I recall the field was about a half a mile off the main road.  Depending on whose turn it was to get water, farmers would put temporary canvas dams across the main ditch to divert the water to the right field.  Uncle Short wanted us to make sure that there weren't any dams blocking the flow of water to his field.  Somehow we missed a dam.  We followed the ditch to their field and waited for the water to come after Uncle Short opened the floodgate.  We waited and waited for the water to come, but it didn't come.  We finally decided to head back to find out what happened.  Eventually we came to water in the ditch, but it hadn't come to our field because there was a dam in the way (somehow we missed this dam on the way out).  At the dam we took the left fork thinking it would take us to the road (we should have taken the right fork).  We walked and walked and walked, but no road.  I remember feeling so scared because I knew we were lost and I didn't have any idea how we would ever be found. That feeling of being lost is not a good feeling.  I remember how relieved I felt when Uncle Short figured out what must have happened and finally found us.

Grand kids, stay close to your parents and you won't get lost.  Even when you grow older and are on your own, stay close to the things they have taught you and you won't get lost in your journey of life.  Also follow the teachings of the prophets and the scriptures.  Don't get lost.