Friday, September 16, 2016

My Friend John, Et. Al.

During the past few years, I've had a recurring theme in mind should I ever decide to write another book.  Entitled It's the People, the book would include a collection of profiles about people I run across in my travels whom I admire, love or appreciate OR all of the above. 

Of course, the book would have to include a few folks who make my life easier because of their dedicated and reliable service over a long period of time. 

One such is John Fuller.  John has been trimming hooves and tacking shoes on my horses' feet for at least 25 years.  Over that time, he established great relationships with Rambo, Casey, Heather, Lily and Lefty as well as hundreds of other horses in the area.  He's got the hands to prove it too. 

Whenever my horses see John's van pull into the driveway---on time, every time---they actually seem to express expressions of excitement, at least as best as horses can do. 

Granted, they probably show a lot more more animation at the sight and sound of a grain can, but I think they actually like to see John coming in the driveway.

That doesn't mean, however, that they always behave while John is working with their feet. Sometimes they'll lean on him with their full weight, sometimes pull the foot away just after he's put it in place and sometimes they'll exert downright obstinacy no matter what he tries to do.

Usually this behavior is pretty subtle, like yesterday when he was shoeing Lily. I could not tell she was making life miserable for John much of the time when he was bent over trying to trim the hoof or fit the shoe or to nail it on.  

But Lily was definitely being a pill, and John put up with her behavior for so long, finally grabbing the lead, giving it a jerk and hinting to her that she'd better knock it off. 

When John Fuller comes to the place, there's much more than equine hoof work involved. Except for those moments during a shoeing session when he has a line of horse shoe nails pressed between his lips, he's pretty conversational.  

Well, maybe that's an understatement. 

There's never shortage of conversation during horse shoeing sessions and, with John, the subject matter always includes a refreshing amount of positive outlooks and gratitude about life. 

"Vickie and I have gratitude sessions every day," he told me yesterday as he's done pretty much every time we get on the subject of how lucky we both are with our health and our ability and desire to take on all that life has to offer.

I often like to refer to this man as my favorite philosopher, especially because we share so many of the same beliefs and outlooks on life.  Years ago after I retired, he shared with me a poignant thought he'd heard from one of his friends:  we're in the last quarter of life and we'd better make sure we don't waste what time we have left before the buzzer goes off.

So true! 

My friend John is an avid reader, and sometimes, as I stand there holding my horse, I'm embarrassed with my insufficient reading practices as he lists off the book titles he's picked up during his stops at the local library.  

He's also an athlete who has a prolific background as a skier, swimmer, bike rider and horseback rider. Among his professions, he tended bar in Sandpoint at the Garden Restaurant. 

Yesterday's conversation involved a lot of Chicago talk, thanks to our recent family trip to the Windy City where both of us have strong family roots.  

John grew up in Chicago and then, as a young man, moved west to Aspen, Colorado.  As soon as he saw those mountains, he says he wondered why he had ever stayed in Chicago that long. 

He eventually found Sandpoint and has lived here since the '70s, never leaving 'cept for his yearly winter stays in Mexico where he and his wife Vickie live in a rental house, take in the local culture and read those books. 

John's leaving for Mexico Oct. 8 this year, so we won't be seeing him until late March but we will be seeing him when the horses need their feet trimmed and/or shod. He says he recently purchased a substantial amount of shoeing inventory, so he'll be nailing the shoes on next year----for his customers only.  NO NEW CUSTOMERS, as his answering machine message emphatically states, along with "and DON'T FORGET TO LEAVE YOUR NUMBER."

Not one to share his age, I can assure you that John looks and acts a heckuva lot younger than his chronological age, and he'll defend his active lifestyle with one of his characteristic quotes.  Yesterday it was from legendary baseball player Satchel Page: How old would you be if you don't know how old you are?

Seems like a good way to approach every day, and John certainly sets a great and inspirational example of Mr. Paige's wisdom.  He also exemplifies that book title I have in mind.  It's the People (and their stories) who so enrich our lives---including all those draft horse folks who haven't missed a day of practicing up and down our road. 

Happy Friday. 

Another reason I like John; he has great taste in dogs.  That's his sidekick Soshi. 

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