Saturday, February 27, 2010

Sunday Funnies

A minister delivered a sermon in ten minutes one Sunday morning, which was about half the usual time. He explained to the congregation, "I regret to inform you that my dog, who is very fond of eating paper, ate the remaining portion of my sermon and I will be unable to deliver it this morning".

After the service, a visitor from another Church shook hands with the preacher and said, "Pastor, if that dog of yours has any pups, I want one to give to my minister".

(Thanks to Maddie)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Growing Or Fire?

I’m not sure what to title this story. It happened at a point in my life where it could go into the Growing up Ralph series. Yet, while it has nothing to do with the forest fires I can also see it fitting into the Ralph on Fire series, because – I was, or at least felt like it.

Working at the same forest service office, I quickly became friends with Alan. We still are to this day. Every day on my way to work, I would pass the apartment complex where Alan and his wife, Debbie, lived. I offered to pick him up once and it resulted in me stopping by the apartment and having morning coffee on a regular basis.

One morning I arrived at the apartment complex and noticed smoke coming from the rear passenger side of my car. Kneeling down I started looking under the car when I heard and felt an explosion. I was thrown backwards and everything went black. Opening my eyes all I saw was black. I literally could not see.

Going by feel, I made my way up the stairs and frantically started pounding on Alan’s door. My face was covered with hot, smoldering rubber fragments. Even my eyes were black. Alan has told me he didn’t recognize me until I spoke.

Debbie started washing out my eyes while Alan ran outside to keep the fire from spreading to other vehicles. Of course, I didn’t have a lug wrench and the one Alan had wasn’t the right size. So, with a socket set he managed to get the still burning tire off the car and put out the fire.

Alan then put me in his car and we sped off to a hospital. But, there was a problem, Alan didn’t know where a hospital was and I couldn’t see. We came across a highway patrolman, Alan explained what had happened and asked him to escort us to the nearest hospital. He said he would have to clear it with his boss. The patrolman returned and told Alan he couldn’t do that but he could call an ambulance. Alan got mad, really mad. He was mad then and thirty years later it still upsets him.

I was in a lot of pain but told Alan if he could tell me where we were, I thought I could guide him to a hospital. I’m sure it wasn’t the closest hospital but it was the only one I knew of. Between him telling me where we were and me telling him where to turn, we made it to the hospital.

Being wheeled into an emergency room, I knew there were many people in there. I couldn’t see them, but I could hear them and could feel numerous hands touching my face. Some hands were removing embedded rubber. Other hands were washing my face and still others applying ointments.

I remember them talking. I cannot recall what they were saying because I was focusing on the intensity and the seriousness in their voices. I laid there not knowing what had happened but knowing most likely, it wasn’t good.

I’m not sure how long I was in the emergency room or for that matter the hospital but later they taped double thick pads of gauze over my eyes and released me. Alan says whenever we would walk by a window I would cringe. Light, any amount, any type caused excruciating pain.

For a few weeks, I sat in darkness. I went to the doctor, prayed, and listening, really listening to people. Many people said they would pray for me. Alan told me the wheel bearing on the car had frozen up and that is what caused the tire to catch fire. The doctor informed me I was considered legally blind for at least three days.

Back at the doctors’ office, the bandages were removed. Everything appeared blurry. My eyes were washed out and they applied some drops. Laying there for what seemed like eternity, I was scared to open my eyes. Light caused intense pain, but the pain was minor compared to the fear of what I would see, or better put, wouldn’t see when I opened my eyes.

Opening my eyes, everything was blurry. Then slowly, ever so slowly, things started coming into focus. For the next several months, my eyes were extremely sensitive to light. Over time, the sensitivity decreased but because of the scarring, I will never be able to wear contact lens.

It could have been worse, much worse. But that is one of the reasons our kids get flashlights, first aid kits, and yes, even fire extinguishers as gifts.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunday Funnies

A lady walked into the Post Office with a package to mail. The package contained an old family Bible she was mailing to her brother.

The postal clerk asked, "Is there anything breakable in here?"

"Only the Ten Commandments," answered the lady.

(Thanks to Maddie)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sunday Funnies

Here are a few Sunday Funnies thanks to Char.

Lot’s Wife
The Sunday School teacher was describing how Lot 's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt, when little Jason interrupted, “My Mommy looked back once while she was driving,' he announced triumphantly, 'and she turned into a telephone pole!”

Moses and the Red Sea
His mother asked nine-year-old Joey what he had learned in Sunday School. “Well, Mom, our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge and all the people walked across it safely. Then he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. They sent bombers to blow up the bridge and all the Israelites were saved.”

“Now, Joey, is that really what your teacher taught you?” his Mother asked.

“Well, no, Mom. But, if I told it the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!”

Untimely Answered Prayer
During the minister's prayer one Sunday, there was a loud whistle from one of the back pews. Little Tommy's mother was horrified and pinched him into silence.

After church, she asked, “Tommy, whatever made you do such a thing?”

Tommy answered soberly, “I asked God to teach me to whistle, and He did!”

Monday, February 08, 2010

Ralph On Retirement

Well, it’s official. After thirty-five years with the forest service, I have decided to retire. My retirement letter was released in late January and since then I have learned some valuable lessons and tips on the retirement process. I’ve been passing them on to others who are considering doing the same.

One of the tips is get ready for questions. The top three questions are:

“So, what are you going to do?” Answer: The answer varies depending on who is asking.

“What advice do you have for someone who CAN”T retire?” Answer: Keep working.

But my favorite question is, “What was the highlight of your career?” When I tell people without a doubt the most remarkable and amazing thing I did in the last thirty–five years was coordinate the seedling tree program without exception everyone gets a blank look on their face and stares at me. Most people are expecting to hear about one program or another, a position I held, or a fire story. Few people even know I worked on the seedling tree program for two years. So, they are shocked by the answer. It usually results in getting a cup of coffee, finding a place to sit, and answering the follow-up question, “Why?”

Seedling trees are grown by our nursery and sold to landowners throughout the state to help reforest their property and establish windbreaks. Most district offices work with the extension service. For a percentage of the sales, the extension service publicizes the program and consolidates the orders. The forest service would help unload the trees (usually one or more semi trucks full) and be available at the distribution site to help fill orders and answer questions.

In 1977, I was a field forester assigned to one of our district offices. When asked if I would coordinate the seedling tree program I whined and cried. I was young (24 years old) and had a lot to prove. I tried explaining seedling trees weren’t real forestry and the extension service had changed drastically in the last couple of years. Now, most of the people working there were elderly women, in their late forties or early fifty’s. I mean really, I didn’t want to work with a bunch of “old ladies”. Looking back on it now, that might not have been the best argument to use. I was assigned to coordinate the program.

I was mad as . . . . well, I was really mad. I found out the person coordinating the program was a women by the Charlene. Finally, I drove over to the extension service office. As I walked into the extension office, there at the receptionist desk was one of the most beautiful creatures God ever made. The lighting was bad so I can’t say for sure, but I think there was an angel’s halo above her head. I told her who I was, why I was there, and that I needed to speak with Charlene. She introduced herself as – Charlene. Immediately, I started loving seedling trees!

While I won’t admit to achieving ‘stocker’ status, I found reasons to call her over the next few weeks. “How are sales going?” “Do we still have everything in stock?” “How many people will need to unload the trucks?” She answered the questions directly. There was no idle chitchat. No personal information deluged, this woman was all business, and it truly was a little frustrating.

Finally, distribution day arrived. I showed up at the site ready to help distribute seedling trees. But, there was a problem. My current girl friend, who was the receptionist at the district office, came along to help. She and I had been going together for a while. She wanted to get married and I wanted to . . . well, it’s really not important what I wanted.

Throughout the day, Charlene and I made eye contact but rarely talked. The day ended and everyone started to go home, including my girl friend. It was just Char and I. We started closing up when it happened. The garage door opener on the west end of the “barn” broke. The “barn” is the building in this picture and where the trees were distributed.

Char said she would call the repair service and wait for them. I said I would wait with her. She said she was a big girl and I didn’t need to wait. I told her I was staying. She told me to go home. I told her no. She told me she would be all right. I told her I wasn’t going to leave her there alone. She told me to ... well, if you haven’t figured it out we weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye.

We sat there for the most part in silence until the repairman arrived. He fixed the door, Char signed the bill and then in silence we each went to our respective car.

A few days later, the silence between Charlene and I had to come to end, we still needed to finalize the books and close out the project. Somewhere, I worked up the courage to ask her out. To my amazement, then and now, she said yes.

We went on our first date, then our second. In the end, we were married.

So, when anyone asks me, “What was the highlight of your career?” I tell them honestly, “The seedling tree program, because of it I have a wonderful wife and two great kids. There’s no better reason to work thirty-five years."

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Sunday Funnies

A small boy approached his father and told him proudly, "I know what the Bible means!"

His father smiled and replied, "What do you mean, you 'know' what the Bible means?"

The son replied, "I know!"

"Okay," said his father. "Okay, what does the Bible mean?"

The son smiled and said, "B = Basis, I = Instructions, B = Before, L = Leaving, E = Earth."

(Thanks to Maddie)