THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.
In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.
Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.
by Larry Brody
Back when I lived in L.A. I used to hang with a guy named Bob Wall.
To most people, Bob was a successful real estate developer, a builder of nursing homes and shopping malls. But that was just a cover-up. His secret identity.
In “real” life, Bob was a martial artist supreme. Best friend and former bodyguard to Chuck Norris. Founder of one of the first professional kickboxing leagues. Buddy of Bruce Lee and big, bearded, scarred, biker villain in no less a film than Enter The Dragon.
One of Bob’s closest friends was kickboxing champion Benny the Jet Urquidez, a wrong side of the tracks dude so tough that he traveled all around the world fighting every country’s champion in that champion’s style and beating him, and so heroically right that he was the hero of a Japanese comic book.
Another of Bob’s buds was Benny’s brother-in-law, Blinky Rodriquez, also a kickboxing champion and hero in his own right: He holds the United Nations Medaille d’Excellence for his work brokering a peace treaty between 75 different Southern California gangs.
Being anywhere with these three men was like being in the company of superheroes. You knew you were safe. You knew that whatever went down, Bob or Benny or Blinky would handle it, and handle it in a way that would make everyone see what wusses most film and television action heroes really were.
To me, Blinky was the most interesting of the trio. Because he was the most open and honest about himself.
I still remember, vividly, the time I was at a championship match and saw Blinky backstage. I went over to say hi, but he walked right past me. Surprised, I called after him.
“Hey, Blinky! It’s me, Larry B. Bob’s friend. Remember?”
Blinky stopped. Turned back to me. His eyes…blinked. A look of recognition came to his face. “Larry! Larry! How are you?” We did the manly hug thing.
“Oh, man,” Blinky said. “I’m sorry. Didn’t mean to diss you—”
And then he went on, with the words that still stand out in my mind:
“It’s just you know how it is,” Blinky said. “Even when you win you get kicked in the head.”
The reason this comes to mind now has to do with what I wrote here last week. I was talking about our new horse, Rosie, and how Burl Sr., the Farmer of the Year, took one look at her and said, ” That little mare’s in foal.”
Since then, being a good city boy who’s never really certain that what he’s doing for his animals is right, I’ve had J.L. the Horse Vet, out here to have a look at Rosie. So that if she is pregnant I can learn what kind of care she needs—and give it to properly.
My mind was in what I thought of as “Larry B Learns Equine Pre-Natal Care Mode.” I figured it would be cut-and-dried. Feed Rosie this. Supplement her food with that. Worry if you see X. Smile if you see Y.
There was only one problem.
J.L. didn’t agree with Burl Jr.’s diagnosis.
“I don’t think she’s with foal,” he said. “I think more likely she’s got a delicate structure—all Arabian horses do—and the round belly could mean either that she’s filling out because she’s getting the kind of alfalfa and grain that she couldn’t before, or because she needs worming. Or both.”
“Did you say Arabian?” I said. “She didn’t come with any papers saying she’s an Arabian.”
“And she may not be one hundred percent. But you can see it in her conformation. That head. The rib cage. The shape of her hips. Even if you haven’t gotten two for the price of one like Burl Sr. said, you got a good deal. Because you got a very fine horse.”
Like the man said in Cool Hand Luke, “there we have it.” One experienced old hand says Rosie’s pregnant. Another experienced horseman, who I trust with the lives of my stock, says no.
Like Bob and Benny and Blinky, each of these fine gentleman is a champion in this field. But one of them isn’t seeing what’s there. He’s walking right by.
J.L.’s right about one thing for sure though. I got more than I thought. So either way, I come out ahead.
Which is better than being kicked in it, that’s for sure.