Meanwhile back at the ranch

Every person’s life is worthy of a book. I hope you are writing yours, or saving and collecting the material to one day write it.

I am in the midst of mine.

For those of you who just tuned in, this is the next installment of my memoirs currently in production. The previous installments are available on my web page I hope you find it interesting.

The book is titled, Live Long*,  Learn a Little, Laugh a Lot.

Those of you who go back to the days of cowboy shows on the radio may remember the phrase, “Meanwhile back at the ranch.” The Lone Ranger, or some other straight shooter would be chasing bad guys on their latest adventure. Then to thicken the always thin plot, the announcer would take us back to the ranch for the sub plot developing there.

As an entertainer, presenter, and writer I have done a bit of traveling. As a husband and father I have tried to fulfill my most important role by keeping track of what was going on “meanwhile back at the ranch.”

And incredibly in my absence our children have always behaved with complete obedience and maturity. I firmly believe this. I also firmly believe that our goats never jump the fence and prune the neighbors’ landscaping, and that any child’s squabble in our family was always the other person’s fault. Under the tutelage of my children I almost believe that “F” on a report card means fine, “D” means dandy, and “I” stands for incredible.

So I was taken aback somewhat by stories our children related at one of our annual family conferences. They agreed to share after I agreed that the statute of limitations had run out on all childhood mischief.

One of the rules our family grew up under was that you could watch anything on television. All you had to do was get it approved, and schedule it. We never had to worry about approving because nobody ever scheduled anything ever. Except me; as a public service I scheduled Brigham Young University football and basketball games. This was to show other members of the family that television can be an educational and uplifting experience; unless the Cougars fumble away the game winning touchdown or slam dunk Then the TV can make us grumpy for days.

I thought our children understood and supported this enlightened management of the television set until my wife and I came home one night. As expected, the children were reading, conversing, and studying, as uplifting music softly played in the background. But for some reason, two scenes popped through my mind, one was Jack Palance, one of my favorite gritty actors. In a war movie titled “Attack.” Sergeant Jack looks down from a hill on a sleepy German town, turns to his patrol and mutters, “Quiet down there. Too quiet.” It was.

The second scene was from the old Lone Ranger radio shows mentioned above. LR and his faithful companion Tonto were always riding up on an outlaw camp only to find the bad guys had left. Trail wise Tonto would leap off his pony, feel the ground under the ashes and report, “Not long gone Kimo Sabe. Campfire still warm.”

So Tonto-like, I went into the living room. I felt the top of the TV and announced to the children, “Not long turned off Kimo Sabe. TV still warm.”

That solved the problem. After that, the TV was always cool on top when we came home. Like Sergeant Jack, I should have been more suspicious, something like, “Cool here, too cool,” Or as Tonto might have surmised, “Campfire cold Kimo Sabe. Like maybe they left last winter.”

Turns out, I learned from our family conference story times, that the children would still watch unscheduled TV when we were out, but they would put an ice cube tray on top of the TV to cover their tracks. The famous law of unintended consequences had kicked in. I was teaching obedience. They were learning creativity.

And I was learning that whatever important outside business we may be involved in, nothing is as important as what goes on “meanwhile back at the ranch.”

 Your next installment is: Did you ever misplace a child?

Everybody I know is busy, including me.  Where are those golden years I was planning on of sitting on the back porch picking my guitar? So I will send just one little part of the book at a time. You can give it a quick read and tell me what you think if you would like.

I’ve slimmed that process down to two questions, and four strokes on the key board (six if you count “Reply” and “Send.”)

The questions are these:“A” How much did you enjoy this?“B” How much do you think a person who doesn’t know Duane Hiatt would enjoy this?
The rating is:1. Glanced at it, printed it out and lined the bottom of the bird cage with it.2. Sped-read it and filed it with my tax return receipts3. Thought it was about as interesting as a well written obituary4. Could have put it down, but didn’t want to5. Couldn’t put it down. Put it in a magnetic frame and stuck it onto the fridge door

So your response would perhaps be A-4, B-3, (Or maybe A-5, B-5, I’m expecting a minimum number of those.)

Also feel free to add comments if you like.

Also, also, feel free to forward this material to anyone you want to.