Monday, October 13, 2014

Shepherd Of The Gurneys: Rose Fertilizer, By The Numbers

Shepherd Of The Gurneys: Rose Fertilizer, By The Numbers: Despite being shelled for trying to blame the victim in the second Dallas Ebola case, the CDC minions are ceaselessly flailing to try and...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Little Fun

There's a SPAAMFAA chapter in nearby Independence, MO. Their group name is the Harry S. Truman 76 Fire Company. Every year they hold a muster called Firefest. It's small but growing, which pleases me.

Before moving to the Midwest, we lived in the Northeast, not far from New York City. There were - and still are - fire musters all over up that way. My favorite was the one held at the Kensico Dam in northern Westchester County, just north of NYC. There were also parades dedicated to fire apparatus, old and new. The Bridgewater, CT VFD held carnivals for fundraisers that opened on Friday evening with a parade that lasted several hours!

So there isn't too much of that out here. Ok, I can live with it. But, the 76rs do a good job, and like I said, Firefest grows a little bit each year. I'm pleased for that.

I took Gracie, who is 2 now. That's why I don't have many photos. As is any healthy 2 year old, she is very active and very curious. We had a lot of fun.

There was a 1928 American LaFrance drafting from a portable pond, supplying dual 3" lines to a portable monitor that was set up with a fog tip, squirting in the air, like a giant fountain that folks could walk/run through to cool off if they do chose. I don't know the actual flow, but it was decent, and what impressed me more was the engine was at idle! They don't build'm like that anymore!

They also had some kiddie play houses set up with "fire" in the windows, so young'ns could squirt the "fire". Gracie watched the other kids and then looked at me. I gave her the knob (it was a garden hose) and asked if she wanted to know how to do it right, like what we do at work? "OH YEAH!"

So... I helped her "make the stretch" to the front door and I coached her thru hitting "the fire" from there and going in. She was in, until other kids opened up and squirted us (yard breather style opposing streams...). I tried to get her to use the wall for cover and squirt them back thru the window, from the inside-out. But, I think she was too confused. Hey, she only just turned two. I'll give her a break - there's always next year! ;-)

We also rode on the 76r's 1960 Seagrave pumper. She didn't show much emotion during the rides (we rode twice) but she did when we got down - she cried and protested!

Here's a video of us on one of the rides in the back of the Seagrave engine! CLICK HERE!

Here's a quick video of the Seagrave on another fun run for a group of fans! CLICK HERE!

Monday, May 12, 2014


So, it's been a few months. I'm still here, and I hope you are, too.

Still have a bunch of stress, but I'm dealing better with it. Counseling has helped. I'm thankful for that. When I think about it, it amazes me that I let it go as far as I did before asking for help.

On May 9th, my son Billy graduated from high school! I'm VERY proud of him! Gracie and I drove down for the graduation. So did my brother and his family, my parents, and one of my aunts. It was a nice occasion for a mini-family reunion.

Traveling as a now divorced (was final in April) dad with a toddler was a challenge, but she did really well. Had to stop a few times each way, but that's ok. It's how memories are made, right? :-)

We stopped at Morgan's apartment on one of those stops. Gracie and Morgan hit it off! Unfortunately she didn't warm up to Billy that much, however, it's not uncommon for little girls to be shy around men. As her daddy, I hope she stays that way until she's in her thirties (which would put me in my seventies, so I'll duct tape my shotguns to my walker!). Hey, I can dream, right?!?

Gracie and Morgan

 Morgan and Billy, both adults now! :-)
Me and my kids :-)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

FULLY INVOLVED: Daddy's Girl (Explicit)

FULLY INVOLVED: Daddy's Girl (Explicit): By Mark vonAppen So, I’m at this backyard BBQ when this guy walks up… Listing, he points his wine glass at me, “Fireman, ri...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014



We've all heard about it, its negative effects, and how we think we're immune to it. I sure thought I was. That is, until I had a wake up call.

When I was a rookie, my dad and I were on the same volunteer fire department. An Episcopal Priest, my dad also served as the Chaplain. As such, he took a lot of classes on ministering to people who are overwhelmed by stress. My mom did too, because even though she wasn't a ordained minister (she is now :-) ) she did a lot of ministering to people who stress had seemingly overcome. As my dad was a fireman, and at the time I was a junior fireman, they went to chaplain conferences together, and then she and dad discussed a lot of what they learned on the subject of stress. I think they did it deliberately in front of me, so I'd hopefully listen.

The first fatality incident I went to was a fatal car wreck. I was still 16. We responded mutual aid to the county FD. The car was wrapped, roof first, around a tree. Oh, it was also 15 feet off the ground. Nothing like a challenge, right? All I did on that call was be a go-fer for the senior members, which suited me fine.
The driver died instantly.  Her sibling was trapped for several hours. They cut the floor pan off to get her out.  She had only minor physical injuries. I'm certain her psychological scars, however, took longer to heal.

That call was 25½ yrs ago as of this writing. I've seen way too many dead people since then. Car wrecks, fires, plane crashes, homicides, suicides, accidental overdoses, drownings, boat wrecks, falls, electrocutions, hangings, strokes, heart attacks, SIDS, ... , the list goes on. Overall, death doesn't particularly bother me anymore. I believe that we made an agreement with God and came to this Earth to partake, as spiritual beings, in a human journey. With that, we know, before coming to Earth, how we'll die. My friend Jesus assures me that, through a relationship with Him, we'll be back in Heaven after our early adventures are complete.

Back to those conversations with my parents. 

One thing that struck me as particularly odd was that stress can completely take your focus off your job. A fireman under extreme stress could be working at a fire and his mind not be in his duty. I was astounded to hear that. It'd been my dream since I could walk that I wanted to be a fireman. How can that happen?

Well, this year I learned that to be true.
2013 totally and completely SUCKED for me.  Last winter, Amy's grandpa died. He was like a grandpa to me too. A couple months later, a well respected fireman at the FD next door died in a wreck on the way to a call. A couple months later, Matt died. Then in September, Amy left me and asked for a divorce. So you see, 2013 totally and completely sucked.

Last month I had my annual review at work. While overall it wasn't bad, it was the worst one I've ever had. Ever. At any job. Ever.
Am I mad? No. In discussing it with my captain, I told him how I felt overwhelmed and don't know what to do. He stopped short of ordering me to go to the EAP. I think it's cuz I asked about how to initiate it. In either case, I'm going now. Still early in the sessions, but I think it's gonna be good.

Remember how astounded I was to hear that stress can make you not think about tasks at hand, like putting out a fire? I'm living proof. My company has attended several fires this fall and winter. At one in particular, while I stayed at my captain's side and did what was expected (humping hose, pulling ceiling, nozzle time on a fully involved room at one point), I knew what I was doing, but my mind was on my divorce. I'm sure you readers will agree with me that when you're in a combat firefighting situation, your head really should be on the job.

That fire was another topic during my review with the captain.  Not so much critiquing the job - we made a damn fine stop actually. More over on my mindset. He mentioned the EAP should be able to help, which it seems to be. I'll write more about it at a later time.
I never in my widest dreams thought I'd be a member of the multiple divorce club. I sure don't want to be, but here I am.  I'm not the first, and I dare say I won't be the last man to join this club.

The guys on my company have been awesome. Long before I realized I've got a problem, they saw it, and have been helping me thru it. I thank God for them. I've been short tempered (shorter than usual) and they've tolerated it, even helping me through it. I believe I'm starting to work through it. I hope and pray that I am. God sent them to me for a reason, and I thank Him every day.

One good way, according to the "experts", to deal with stress is to have a hobby or two. I love camping.  Sold the old camper a while back, but have recently replaced it. I also like to go to the gun range for "group therapy" - as in putting a nice grouping of holes on the paper targets! No competing, except with my last shot. Quite relaxing.

I find the best relaxation to be watching a beautiful sunset when I'm camping. Close to nature (well, IN nature actually) and watching God's painting in the late afternoon sky.