Mom just called

I am blessed.

Blessed: To be content, fortunate, happy,

Just got off the phone with her.

She is 87.

I don’t take these conversations for granted.

She called to tell me she tried the bread I dropped off yesterday. Quoting now, ” You really need to think about entering it in the fair, if they still have that sort of thing.”

Two weeks ago, after 20 plus years of dabbling with bread making, I finally, finally cracked the code on how to consistently make a good loaf of sandwich bread.

Back in my 20’s when my grandmother was still alive (I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this more than once), I asked her to teach me how to make bread.

She was a master bread maker.

Did everything by feel.

Her specialty was rye bread.

She would make 5 loaves at a time.

Used real, freshly ground rye (along with regular white flour)

One of my struggles has always been how to get the loaf big enough (between the rise, and quantity of dough in the pan) to create a respectable sized loaf, but it wasn’t until I watched a video a couple of weeks on You tube, that the lights finally came on and I understood how to shape the loaf.

Duu.

I still contend bread making is an art.

You are dealing with several variables each time.

Temperature variables. ( The room itself, as well as the ingredients, as well as the temperature in the oven.)

Quantity variables.

Liquid variables. (A little change goes a long way.)

Yeast variables, (sour dough, store bought, variations of store bought. Has it died? Started to loose it’s viability? etc)

Types of flour variables. (Freshly ground, as well as the multiple varieties from the store.)

Pan size variables.

Timing variables…(ie how long it takes for something to rise,how long to bake, yada, yada,

Then you run into the wholelanguagething. Just like any hobby, or area of life. For some reason, people love to use words that only an insider knows what the heck in the world they are talking about.

Just stop it sometimes.

Tell me what to do in layman’s terms.

Now that I’ve “figured out” how to consistently make a loaf of what I call, Sourdough, rye Swirl, with onion flakes, I can continue to build off my experience.

This particular bread recipe, is great for making sandwiches, or toasted. The texture will melt in your mouth. One of the problems with this bread is, if you eat too much of it, your butt, thighs and or belly may will expand.

I think it has something to do with the sourdough starter.

You never know

When I got my monthly statement from XYZ lumberyard in February I questioned the balance due. It said I had a credit almost $2,000.00, when I thought, I owed them about $1900.00. I usually have a pretty good idea on who I owe what to, so when I look in the check book, I know now much is really mine. ūüôā

I called and talked to book keeper, just to make sure.

She reassured me, that yes, I had overpaid, everything was correct.

Christmas in February. ūüôā

“Would you mind sending me a check for $1000.00 of that, and keep the rest for credit?”

Couple of days later, I had the refund check.

We were framing walls in a basement, later that week and my phone rang. Didn’t recognize the number so I let it go to voice mail. Turned out it was the secretary at the lumberyard. She was calling me on her personal cell phone. Asked me to call her @ the store, she sounded a little stressed.

I called right back, and she started to apologize . Turned out I was correct. She had accidentally, double credited my account. I did not have a surplus.

She was sick.

I need to mention also, that she had only been working there maybe 4 months.

I said to her “It’s OK. Stuff happens. It was a good thing I hadn’t spent any of it yet.”

So, what is my balance then?” I asked…

You actually owe $54.19.”

When I sat down to pay bills a few days, later, when I wrote the check to XYZ lumberyard, I put a little ūüôā (Smiley face) on the memo area.

Next time I was in to that store, the secretary thanked me again for my response to the whole thing and appreciated the memo.

The next time after that, when I stopped into the lumberyard, the secretary asked me about my last name, “Was I any relation, to so and so?”

Yep”

“Well, so is my dad. She is my dad’s first cousin.”

30 seconds later, we realized her dad and my dad were first cousins.

My grandpa was one of 12 children, and while I knew some of the extended relatives, there are dozens, (my generation) I have no idea about.

My grandpa (Opa‘s) family. He’s in the back row, far left.

My hunch is, the way I responded (or didn’t respond, in this case) to the new secretary @ XYZ lumberyard with the book keeping error, put me on her radar, which in turn opened up a door…

Of Grit and Bone 6/6/2021

Regarding the title, read this first.

Several short stories from the past week.

The centenarian

My wife has a friend Betty who is 106.

One hundred and six!

We stopped to see Betty yesterday for a few minutes. One of her sons and his family were in town, they wanted to see us while they were in town. Betty has spent most of the last year (due to COVID restrictions) sitting alone in her room at a care facility.

This was the first time I’ve seen her in well over a year. She was reminiscing about her days as a teacher. She loved being a teacher. Then she remembered her principal, Sister Lucia. “She was a good principal. Had the biggest laugh. I loved to hear Sister Lucia laugh.”

(Wouldn’t that be a legacy to be remembered by your laughter?)

It made me think.

As Betty was attempting to figure out who was in the room, (there were 6 of us), when she got to me, boy did she light up.

Made me feel like a local hero.

You see, my wife has been the eyes and ears for Betty’s family for the past year. All of Betty’s children live several hours away, all in their 70’s and 80’s. With her loss of hearing and sight, even phone calls have been a challenge. So in order to have something to talk about with Betty, my wife and I often make a list things she can talk to Betty about. (Honey bees, apple trees, harvest tables, baby chickens, wild flowers, starting tomato seeds, etc)

So many of the things they’ve talked about this past year, have involved me in one way or the other.

So there I was, in her room, in the flesh.

I could tell she was trying to find the right words to describe me to her family…“This is the guy who builds tables out of reclaimed barn wood then ships them all over the United States! He has so many interests! He is such an interesting person!

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Roofing

Son and I started another house roof this week. 2600 square feet. Two existing layers that need to come off. 100 square foot of shingle weighs 240 pounds. Doing the math, we will handle close to 4 ton of shingles between the two of us, the next couple of days. Temperatures are in the upper 80’s. Perfect hay bailing weather.

This may sound like one of those “When I grew up, we walked to school, up hill both ways stories”

But I’m going to tell it anyway.

Growing up on a farm in the 1970’s, the weather (hot or cold) was not the big deal it’s made out to be today.

When it was time to make hay, we just did it.

Yes, we listened to the forecast, and might hold off mowing hay if there was rain predicted, but other than that, I had no idea of how hot it was.

“Heat index”… Never heard of it.

These days when the temperatures are in the upper 80’s and 90’s, mentally, I just shift gears.

It’s hay baling weather.

Drink lots of water, wear a hat, If you start to feel woozy/ take a break. Savor the breeze, savor the cloud cover. Just don’t talk to me about how hot it is.

You think this is hot? You ought to be in the haymow.

Nothing more exhilarating than sliding down the hay elevator after stacking a couple of hundred bales of hay.

++++++++++++++++++

Had to put her down

I’ll keep the next story short.

Needs to be told.

We have about 20 chickens. Couple of them I’m especially fond of.

It’s their personalities. The ones that come up to me to say “Hi” when I get home from work. Or they’ll let me pick them up and sit on my lap.

Docile.

And in one case, it was because she was the low chicken on the pecking order. Everybody else bullied her.

Last week I had to put the my favorite chicken down. Wife noticed some blood on her back side. She had been acting a little “off” the past week. Couple of nights when I went to lock them up, she was not in the roost. I had to go find her. That is not normal.

Sure enough, when I went to check her, her back side looked infected. Way beyond the point, of taking her to the vet. I hate watching anything suffer. So I did what any good farmer would do. I put her down. Carried her gently over to an area that I’ve used before to butcher chickens put her in cone and did what I had to do.

This all transpired in just a few minutes. (From the time my wife mentioned seeing blood, to me finding the chicken, then deciding what I needed to do. It was not an act (for me) that I did lightly. But it was the right thing to do.

Then I buried her.

Here’s the thing. We live in such a sanitized culture.

Sometimes life is messy.

++++++++

Speaking of messy

Son and family are camping this weekend.

We stopped by their campsite last night for an hour.

At one point, I noticed the15 month old , sitting on the ground, playing on top old campfire spot.

I watched as he sprinkled fine grey ash over his legs.

Did my heart good.

His parents didn’t just rush in and stop him..

His mom said, “Why is he doing that????

I said “I think it is instinctive. Lots of animals do that.

Horses love to roll around in the dust…and chickens too. Ever see a chicken give itself a dust bath?

Fruit

I wrote a mini series earlier this year on our time living in New Jersey.

Left off thinking I might come back to it, but then I wonder, who is really reading this stuff.

I do appreciate all of you that take the time to read and interact. It’s one of the highlights of my day.

But then this morning I was thinking about my most recent interaction with the lady whose roof I wrote about in my last post...Michelle, made a comment about me being direct, and I thought, you know, that is one of the fruits of our time living @ Gilgal.

The importance of addressing issues head on.

Bible calls it “speaking the truth in love.” Not going to go and quote verses for you on it. You’ll have to trust me on this one…but they are there. It’s a part of the Christian life .

There are two parts to that life skill…

Speaking the truth.

Doing it with love.

If either part is missing, you have a problem.

When I say things that may have truth in them, but don’t do it out of love, it’s like someone trying to prune me with butter knife. I’ve had that happen. I don’t like it.

The other extreme, is thinking we love someone, but we’re not honest, that too is a perversion.

Give you an example.

When we moved back to Iowa, I was not the same person I was when I’d left. When we left. I would say I was pretty passive. A doormat. Not only hated conflict but didn’t go there. I would keep quiet if someone tried to manipulate and or intimidate me. Had that type of relationship with one of my uncles. He didn’t know what to do with me when I no longer took it. It’s taken about 25 years, but I think he finally gets it. ūüôā

There was also a re-calibration of my relationship with my dad, whom I genuinely respect and love. I’d put up with a level of sarcasm for 40 years, until that one morning (after we returned to Iowa). I’ve mentioned it before.

He called 6:30 one morning to touch bases about a job. In the context of our conversation, he sarcastically said “Don’t you listen to the radio?” (Had to do with me not knowing the weather forecast for the day)

Probably had something to do with me just waking up, but out of my mouth came the words, “I don’t like it when you talk to me like that.”

Dead silence on the phone.

Took both of us by surprise.

I didn’t say it, disrespectfully, but I didn’t pussy foot around either.

I just said it.

It was a watershed point in our relationship. Happened 25 years ago. He has never used that sarcastic tone of voice with me since. Couple of times, it was close, and I found myself push back.

Told my mom about that conversation later that week, and do you know what she said?….

“I’ve been waiting for you to do that.”

So there you go. One of the biggest life lessons I came away from that season of my life living in New Jersey was how to cultivate, authentic, deep, honest, relationships with other imperfect people. And less you think, it only happens in the context of your family..

Nope.

Works just as powerfully on the job, with your kids, with the guys in the lumberyard, and even in the blog-o-sphere, it can happen.

Do I do it perfectly.

Nope.

But the quality of my relationships as a whole are on a whole different level than they used to be.

If you’ve read this far, thank you! DM

Did not see that coming

Life is good.

We are busy.

On Friday I stopped by a home to drop off shingle samples.

We’re scheduled to build a new garage for her, but we still need to firm up a shingle color. She lost her garage last Fall in the Durecho, and just heard from her insurance company they will now also pay her to completely re-shingle and reside her house. I had mixed feelings about bidding on this additional work, because I’ve already picked up a few red flags. But, she’s a widow, seems to have quite a bit of stress on her plate, so I figured if I could alleviate some of that stress, that would be the right thing to do.

The roof on her house has a steep pitch and it sounded like the existing shingles would need to be taken off. (stripped) It’s just my son and I, we just finished two other roofing projects, with everything else going on , I knew I didn’t want to do her roof if that needed to happen.

Side note- when a house roof only has one layer of shingles , and there are no pre-existing leaks, you can install a 2nd layer over the first, and save yourself a lot of money at the same time. I mentioned that to her, and sensed she didn’t know whether or not to trust me on that. (There have been several other times as she and I have talked about certain details, that I have also picked up that same vibe )

She’s not 100% sure about me.

I get that. She doesn’t know me from the man on the moon. My son had done work for her son in the past, which is how we got the lead on this project in the first place.

When I was at the roofing store on Thursday, I got into a short conversation with another contractor also in line. Found out he was not overly busy, so I asked him if he would be willing to work with me on this roof project.

Yes!

I would still be the contractor in charge, but hire him and his crew to help us bang out the steep roof.

Win/ win.

Or not…

When the homeowner and I talked about this, she got real testy with me. I told her the buck still stopped with me, but her project was simply too much for just my son and I. (That conversation happened Thursday afternoon.)

I woke up Friday morning thinking to myself. I changed my mind. I am not going to mess with that roof. In fact, I was not really interested in doing anything more than build her garage. I have had it with this undercurrent of suspicion.

So on Friday, when I dropped the shingle samples off and she started in on me with more questions, more suspicions, I looked at her and said, “I changed my mind. Decided I am not doing your house roof.”

“Why?”

I looked at her and thought, Do I tell her the truth or do I keep my mouth shut and just say we are too busy. I changed my mind

I decided to tell her the truth…

“I was just doing this to try and help you out. I don’t need the work. And when you started grilling me about that extra help, well, that ticked me off.

Then I got choked up.

Random bit of trivia about me and getting choked up.

It rarely happens.

But when it does, I don’t get all blubbery. I can be very articulate. It’s like an out of body experience. With my mind I can observe..oh, look, I’m starting to choke up. Isn’t that interesting. And at the same time, I keep talking and say what I have to say.

“I am not going to do your roof.”

“What about the siding?”

“Don’t think I want to do that either.”

We shall see

Very, Very Thankful

I (Doug) was very, very fortunate today.

While driving home from work, the ball joint (or maybe tie rod) went out in my truck. It felt like someone suddenly shoved my vehicle to the right (drivers tire suddenly turned sideways. I was going all of 65 MPH at the time, with cars around me. As I was headed into the ditch, it looked like the truck was going to roll.

Two different vehicles stopped to check on me.

I was very touched by their kindness.

The one lady, asked me to come to her car and sit in the passenger seat while we called for a tow truck.

Kindness is alive and well here where we live.

My mind is still mostly numb…

if I would have been in the other lane, and there had been a vehicle on my right….

If it would have been the other tire/ (would have meant going into oncoming traffic)

If I had been on a corner, rather than a straightaway..

If the ditch had been a little steeper, I would have rolled…

Jumped off the page

Reading through the Parent-Teachers guide of the McGuffey Reader  couple of nights ago, the following jumped off the page:

“The phonics controversy does not need to be an either/or argument;¬† you need not align yourself “for” or “against” phonics.” ¬†

That thought, “it does not need to be an either/or argument; you need not align yourself “for” or “against…” has broad implications for our day.

The discourse in the public square has turned into a bar-room brawl.

Have you ever experienced one first hand? (bar room brawl)

I have.

It was crazy.

+++++++++++++++++

Pick a topic.

Vaccinations.

I’m not 100% for, or against.

Is there a place in the public square for me to say that, or will I be shoved to the side by the thugs from both extremes?

I absolutely believe there is a place for vaccinations.  (Measles, mumps and small pox comes to mind.)

When our kids were little, (early/ mid 1980’s) they were given a series of 12 shots/ 8 diseases.

Here’s a little chart I¬† pulled off the Internet:

 

Today, your child will be given quadruple that number of shots.

During that same time period,  there has been an exponential increase  of autism in children.  You probably already knew that.

Could there be a connection?

In simple terms. when our eldest was born in 1980,  the chance of  her developing autism was  one in 2000.

My eldest

1 out of  every 2000 children had a chance of developing some form of autism in 1980.

Twenty years later, in the year 2000,  you had a 1 in 150 of developing some form of autism.

1 in 150.

Today, 2021, that number is now 1 in 54.

From 1 out of every 2000, to 1 out of every 54.

The medical profession as a whole says, “It’s a mystery.”

What changed during that time?…humm….

I think you can absolutely make a case for parents who are leery of pumping there precious child full of vaccines.

Instead of deriding all¬† parents who have questions about vaccines as “anti science,” I believe it is still we the parents, the mom and dad, not some federal government bureaucrat¬† that has the final say….but for how long?

Someone recently asked… Do I plan to get vaccinated?

No I will not voluntarily chose to get the vaccinations that have been “safely fast tracked.”

That’s my choice. Not imposing that on anyone else, or think less of anyone else who chooses otherwise. These are hard, personal, intimate, potentially life and death choices.¬† We have to start giving each other the freedom to make these decisions without mockery.

I am not anti medicine.¬† I love my local Doctors, absolutely love them, my urologist, my local hospital. ¬† My sister is an RN.¬† She and I talk about all things medical, all the time. I am not anti medicine.¬† Having said that, the only medicine I am currently on is coffee. Just coffee.¬† My job is physical, I sleep like a baby, have never, ever had a vaccination for the flue before the flue season.¬† Made that choice, years before COVID-19 was in the news.¬† Do you think I’m going to change my mind now, just because the CDC says it’s safe?¬†¬† What do you think….

 

++++++++++++

For years, there has been a similar debate in the public square about the link between Roundup and various cancers.¬† Round up and honey bee loss.¬† Round up and…..

Monsanto (the corporation that owned Roundup) did all it could to discredit any nay-sayers.

My neighbor Paul/ the one who used to plow out our driveway after a snow, died five years ago, in his mid 50’s from a rare blood¬† cancer.¬† As a farmer, even with the proper protection, he exposed himself to a butt load of toxic chemicals.¬† I heard later, the Doctors¬† suspected, that maybe there was a link to pesticide exposure and his rare cancer.

++++++++++++

Language is powerful.

Thugs have taken over the public square.

I shake my head.

I really, really would love to interact with some of you on a host of topics, without snark or sarcasm, but probably not in an on line comment thread.¬† I don’t do on line debates in comment threads. There is so much that I don’t know. Maybe via e-mail, or in person….

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This post could just as well be about sexuality…

Stewardship of the earth, of which climate change is one piece,

Mr and Mrs Potato Head,

Election integrity, National sovereignty,  or twenty other topics.

I have decided I can no long sit on the sidelines and stay completely silent.

Honestly I do not know how much longer we who live in the middle will have the freedom to speak our minds.

My take

I’ve been wanting to write something simple¬† on the topics of woke, revisionist history, tearing down statues,¬† how our country is being overrun¬† by a bunch of ______________, (fill in the blank.)

Came across this picture yesterday:

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I did not take physics in high school.¬† Doesn’t mean I don’t have a working knowledge of gravity.¬† ūüėČ

I sensed for a while now,  another  law of physics (metaphorically) at work in my life, and only this morning was I able to identify it.

Newton’s 3rd law : For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Ever since I first read about the Laura Ingals Wilder debacle¬† by the library association, I’ve felt it.¬† An energy¬† bouncing around in my head trying to find expression.

And as my country continues head long on a  mindless rush to throw itself over the cliff,  I find myself moving in the opposite direction.

I saw a clip of a newsman¬† go on a rant, supposedly while on the air, about the Laura Ingals Wilder award.¬† He said what I was thinking, laced with a lot profanities. ¬† As I tried to re- track that clip down, it turned out he’s a comedian from the UK, so it was a spoof.¬† I was tempted to include it here. Most of you are savoy enough with the computer, if you’re curious, you could find it.

Is there a place for profanity?¬† I think on rare occasion there is.¬† I can give you at least 3 examples from the Bible, two where God himself uses a type of profanity to emphasize his anger.¬† First time I came across it, I thought, what the heck?! Didn’t know that was in there!¬† so yea, there is a place for anger, and I think several of the things that are making me angry, should.

 

DM

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Profanity as Wikipedia defines it:¬† Socially offensive language, crude…. It can show a debasement of someone or something, or be considered as an expression of strong feeling towards something

Until the bees came out…

It’s been a couple of years now….

I have a policy, I refuse to argue about current events, religious debates, cultural stuff, etc.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have¬† opinions, and doesn’t mean I won’t talk about them with you,¬† it’s just, 95% of the time those interactions are fruitless and drive people apart, rather than result in something positive, ie. like mutual understanding.

On top of that, I simply do not have the time to be conversant on every current “issue.”

Most of the time, the other party is not interested in understanding, they just want to vent.

I’m not doing it. ūüôā

Last time it happened, I learned my lesson.

++++++++++++++++++++++

In the ¬† 25¬† 23 years I’d known this woman, there had never been any tension in our relationship/ ever..

Until that one day….

Something on the news had gotten her agitated.  I could sense she wanted to vent.

I listened.

Finally told her, I didn’t want it to degenerate into a conflict. (She already knew she and I would look at things differently.)

But she kept going/  prodding, poking, snipping, mocking.

Felt like someone taking a stick,¬† banging on my bee hive. ¬† I was just a bee, minding my own business, doing what I do, making honey and tending baby bees…

And then, things went South.

Fast.

The bees came out of the hive.

I saw a side of me, I prefer to keep in check, and I saw a side of her I’d never seen.

It took weeks, to shake off the negativity of that morning, even though we both apologized.¬† It was like we opened Pandora’s box and all sorts of nasty’s came out.

Taught me a lesson.

All of us have within us a dark side.

Even the kindest, gentlest, sweetest soul you’ll ever meet.

All of us..

++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The other memory I have on this issue happened when our girls were 11 and 12. ¬† We were in the middle of the home schooling chapter in our lives.¬† A new brother-in-law joined the extended family, and it wasn’t long before I¬† got wind of him grilling, (and subtly mocking) the two older girls. He had his own baggage when it came to faith/ a domineering mother, etc) so I¬† chalked it up to him being triggered…and then it happened.¬† It was just he and I, and he pounced¬† (on me) spoiling for a fight.¬† Sixty seconds into his rant, I looked at him and said I wasn’t going to debate.¬† I wasn’t going to go there.¬† I valued my relationship with him and there was no way, he and I were going to come away from that pissing match in a better place.

Pause.

He smiled.

His countenance changed.

It was like a heavy weight had lifted.

We agreed, that was probably for the best.

That was 25 years ago. We still get along. I can still see that knowing twinkle in his eyes.  We have  an understanding.

Now if he would have been in a different frame of mind, (open) I could have told him about my journey from total opposition to the idea of home schooling, (wife’s idea/ not mine)¬† to coming to a place where all of my concerns (socialization,¬†¬† extra curricular activities, how could we teach subjects we ourselves as parents had struggled with, etc)¬† had been addressed head on.

I was now excited about home schooling as a viable educational model.

None of that came out, because it couldn’t.

He didn’t have ears to hear.

Now 20 years later, I would add home schooling is not for every family, nor even every child in the same family.  But to completely write it off, well you do not know what you are talking about.

+++++++++++

Ruth Stout.

Ever hear of her?

She is my role model when it comes to dealing with differences of opinion.

Her claim to fame is how she gardened.

Amazing story.

Completely bucked the status quo, and the fruit of her gardening proved she was onto something.¬† Eventually, people tried to put her on a pedestal, but she wouldn’t have it.¬† Wouldn’t let them.

Refused to tell people what to think, but let the results speak for themselves.

That’s me.¬† DM