When (Not If) The Flower Falls

going to seed

“All flesh is like grass…and it’s glory, like the flower of grass…the grass withers, the flower falls…”

Growing up, I secretly thought I was ugly.

(I don’t feel that way  anymore.)

(Although I am on the fast track to losing what’s left of my petals)

Petals = my youthful look.

The interesting thing is, the longer I live, the inner person of my heart continues to grow more and more contented and secure, even as the exterior husk which is my body, continues to dry up.

As I was setting up our self serve apple wagon this morning, my mind was thinking about the various motivations that drive people….ambition, greed, lust, anger, love, self sufficiency, quest for knowledge, justice, religious ferver, physical beauty…and my mind went to a brief encounter I had with a nurse on Friday as I was walking the halls of a local clinic.  I’ll call her Jean.

We knew Jean before she was a nurse.  Haven’t seen her in years.  Always liked her.  She’s sharp, articulate, and I’m sure makes a great nurse.   I’ve always felt a little sadness when I’ve interacted with her.   She’s  projected this neediness with her beauty.  On a scale of 1 t0 10, (physical beauty)  I would give her a 10.   That’s all well and good when you’re 20, or 30, or in her case 40, but now that she’s getting into her 50’s  that same aging process that has been working me over, has finally started showing some effects on her perfect body.   Her face was puffy.

I’ve said it more than once to my wife...”How is Jean  going to deal with it, when  she looses her youthful look? ” At that point, she better not have all her eggs in the “I am beautiful” basket.

There is external beauty and their is an inner beauty. (This applies to both men and women.)

Have you ever met a 70 or 80 year old person who radiates beauty?  I have. It’s the hidden person of the heart.  I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know, but just like an ice burg, where 70% is below water,  so too, the bulk of who we really are is hidden, below the surface, and it has absolutely nothing to do with our exterior body.

So, if you’re concerned about the aging process and how you are going to deal with it…I have some good news for you.🙂  You do have control over how you respond.  If until now if your self worth has been wrapped up in your looks, it’s time to let that go.  By all means, do your best to make yourself as physically attractive as you can, but it’s a loosing battle.

Here’s a suggestion…if you’re game🙂 Find an older person who radiates beauty, (they’re out there) and ask them what makes them tick.  Ask them how they dealt with the loss of their youth…

or go talk with a counselor.🙂

We had a friend named Helen who passed away last Fall.  She was well into her 80’s. I’ve written  about her before.  Helen was one of those people who radiated inner beauty. After the death of her sister, husband and grandson (by suicide) in less than a year’s time,  in a candid moment, I asked her how she was able to deal with all of that heartache???

I really wanted to know.

Because she was not living  in a state of denial.

Here’s what she said…“Doug, it’s not like I don’t grieve (because I do). It’s just that I’ve learned you have to let things go…or they will consume you.”

 

 

EverClear

everclear

 

Back when I was eighteen, I used to bum a menthol cigarette off Mike Cooper at break. It  started when he teased me and offered me one, knowing I didn’t smoke.  Not wanting to look like a sissy I  smoked it.
This  went on for ten days.  I can still remember the day,  I went from doing it to fit in, to actually thinking about it, and looking forward to having a smoke at break.

Right then I knew something had shifted in my mind….I was on the precipice of taking up smoking as a habit…did I really want to do that????

Naaa….better quit while I was ahead…sissy or not, in the eyes of my construction co-workers, I decided to back away from the ledge.  No  more cigarettes…that’s not to say, I didn’t try a few other things, but those are conversations for another day.

Pause-  (I hope those of you that smoke don’t think I’m judgmental, because that is not where I am coming from.)

I’ve never regretted that decision to stop before I really got started…especially after watching my grandpa Conley, laying in a hospital bed, hooked up to oxygen struggling to breath. He whispered, it felt like someone had a pillow over his face….all because of a lifetime of smoking.

Anyway, a new interest,  has gradually been  creeping into my life the past few weeks.  It started  when I got a call for a gallon of freshly pressed apple cider.    Merle, who is a foreman at a business I occasionally do carpentry work for, wanted to find some fresh apple cider for his wife.   She was making “apple pie” for a labor day get together.  Legally, I can’t sell fresh cider, but I can give it away..so I  pressed a bushel of ginger-golds  for Merle,  and quipped, “I wanted a sample of this “apple pie” when it is ready.”

.  The following Monday, Merle called and said, he wanted to return my plastic jug, and send home a quart of apple pie..

Oh my.

It was the sweetest, most tasty drink I have sipped on, since I don’t know when….

His wife also sent home the recipe.  Fresh apple cider, cinnamon sticks, a little sugar…and…190 proof alcohol.

Moon shine…Ever clear…and one of the things about this concoction is you can not taste the alcohol.

I had one small glass of it, the night I brought it home ….

and been thinking about it ever since….

In my worldview, having an occasional drink of alcohol in and of itself is not wrong. The issues lie more in the areas of self control, moderation, financial,  addiction, and the butt load of spin off issues that come with it.  Alcoholism runs in both sides of my family, and my wife’s as well.  I have experienced first hand (some of) the long term heartache that comes with alcoholic addictions.

Do I really want to go further down that road?

At some point,  and I’m not sure where that point is,  our physical body, and the alcohol start calling the shots, and and as a friend of mine who struggled with  this addiction told me, “It’s like there is a monkey on your back, and when he pulls the chain, you feed him.”

So, right before logging on this morning , I dumped the rest of the apple pie down the sink.

Side note- I’ve written before about my grandpa sharing with me the family recipe for making moonshine.  It is a piece of family history I found intriguing.  There is a little part of me that feels some sort of connection with the past, (by entertaining the idea of cooking up a batch or two of my own apple pie)…  but then I think, you know, that same grandpa that shared that recipe with me, also had his battles  with the bottle…

and that is a part of my family history, I would just as soon not repeat….ever.

 

Uncorked

Have you ever gathered eggs?

To this day, it feels like Christmas morning every  time.

Our Austra white’s have finally started laying.🙂

I still remember when I was  nine  and the excitement of gathering eggs.  The chicken nests were along the south wall of our old chicken house.

The sound of fifty nervous clucking birds wondering what you were up to.  Dust…and chicken feathers. The smell of chicken feed.  The dirty glass on the windows…chicken wire over a rickety screen door.

None of that mattered.  All that mattered was finding the eggs.  Once in a while,  a hen would still  be sitting on her nest. I was too young to realize (or care) that I was interrupting her in a most private  moment….

I (who had grown up in small town USA) had never experienced any of these things before moving to the farm at nine.

I remember slipping my  hand under the sitting chicken, feeling around for eggs..Sometimes, the hens wouldn’t have any of it, and gave me a peck.

Pause….

Feel like I just popped a cork off a bottle of early farm memories….

The smell of fresh curing hay in the summer.

The smell of a freshly plowed field in the spring.

Siding up next to a nine hundred pound Guernsey with my two-legged milking stool, with the intention of milking her by hand.  The feel of her letting down her milk as I washed her utters.  It  took five minutes to milk all four quarters. The farm cats knew when it was milking time and  hung out, hoping for a squirt.  Rich Guernsey raw milk. After we strained it and put it in the frig,  there would be an inch of cream float to the top. Sometimes mom would let us make butter with it.

The biting raw subzero cold in the dead of winter doing chores.  Pulling the small square bales of  hay out of the mow.  I remember my hands feeling like my finger tips  were on fire.

Then later… raising pigs…The contented grunting sounds of the mama sows nursing their litter. The warmth of the barn. The radio tuned to  AM 600 WMT so dad could hear the farm markets.

Side raking hay. Clipping along listening to Band On The Run. Dust. Insects with big wings trying to fly into my ears as I turned the hay over.  To this day, whenever  I hear that song, it immediately takes me back in time.

Did I ever tell you about the first time I hauled manure?  Ancient manure spreader pulled by a John Deere A.  Two bangers  the old farmers called them.

Put put put put….

Dad said to spread the load just behind the barn.  Made it to the field no problem and saw where he’d been working.  Got the tractor facing west,  pushed the hand clutch ahead without killing the motor..and I was off!  Then reached down to my right and pulled up on the power take off lever…the rumbling sound of the power take off…engaging the manure spreader…and like magic..the chunks of cow dung and hay flying fifty feet in the air.

I was bonified!

And then…chunks of cow manure began to rain down upon me like fire and brimstone. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was the wind….

 

doug-and-steve

Life lesson:  Never spread manure with a stiff breeze at your back.

 

What song (s) take you back to your summers growing up?

Keep It Simple

When I stopped by our self serve apple wagon on Saturday, there was a van parked in the road, with eight Jr high girls milling around  and a mom trying to take their picture.

The mom said to me….”So you’re the guy who always wished he could have had a lemonade stand when he was growing up?”

Her question took me off guard,  then it dawned on me, she’d read the instruction sheet on the apple wagon:

 

General Instructions

This is a self-serve stand because…

  1. We trust you
  2. We’re busy
  3. Inside of me lives a little boy who always wished he could have had a lemonade stand.

     We  do spray so make sure you wash the apples before you eat them.

The apples are $1.50 a pound, just put them on the scale leave your $ inside the chicken.

There are plastic bags in the hanging dispenser if you need them.

Thank you for your business! DM’s Orchard

___________________________

The wagon and how it’s run does several things for me.  It is a social experiment…. I am convinced the majority of people today will live up to your trust in them if given a chance.  And that trust is validated week in, week out, where I live, and has been for the past five years.

Second, I like to mess with peoples heads and challenge their ability to trust the next guy.  Here’s how it works:   When you buy apples off the wagon, you stick your money  in an un-attended peanut butter jar, sitting inside a metal chicken🙂

If you’re like me, you’ll probably think as you drop your money in the jar…

What about the next person ??? Can they be trusted to leave that $5 or $10, or even $20 bill alone when they stop?  And the answer is most of the time yes.

Finally,while yes, we can most definitely use the income from the apple sales, at the end of the day, this is a hobby for me.  This is a fun way for me to spread a little serendipitous joy in a world that is seriously in need of it. There is more to life than the almighty dollar.

Here is a picture of some Cortlands after going through the antique polisher equipped with horse hair polishing brushes that you will find on the wagon:

crates-of-polished-cortland

I didn’t know this until just last year.  Apples naturally have a wax on them but due to the way  commercial orchards process apples, many times that is removed and an artificial wax is reapplied.

I like to keep it simple.

Simple is good.

 

 

 

Al

At the beginning of the day, when I was working for Jeffrey P. we would meet at his shop.  At the time, we were building  twenty to twenty five custom built homes a year. There were a dozen of us on the crew.   We did everything except the plumbing and electric.

I enjoyed the work.  Jeff would regularly allow me to pick which house I framed next, and who would work with me….

I enjoyed all of the guys on the crew except one….

Jeff’s brother in law Al.

Now I had never met Al before in my life.  He was about my age.    Short of stature and a big mouth.  He loved to stir up trouble.  There could be four or five of us working together, getting along beautifully, and then Al would join the crew, and the backstabbing, nit picking, and the not getting along would start.

When Al wasn’t around, 90% of the drama left with him.

I miss Al like a tooth ache.

It has been over twenty years  since I’ve worked with Al….

 

I was reminded of Al again this morning when I saw some stuff on my news feed about the latest drama, about a football player refusing to stand for the national anthem… this morning,  a group of veterans were saying they supported so and so’s right to express his opinion.

I don’t want to talk about whether or not so and so should or should not stand for the national anthem, because next week it will be something else…then something else, then something else….

Since Al was so well connected, there was no getting rid of him.

I could choose to not get sucked into his games.

 

So to all the Al’s sitting behind newsroom desks this morning  where you are deciding whether or not to stir things up…..you really do need to find another job.   Get some counseling while you are at it.

The world really can be an awesome place, most of the time, contrary to what you are trying to do to us by fanning the flames of conflict and strife.

Most  of the people in my life really are good willed folk, who, when given a chance, will  do the right thing by me.

For every “Al” in the world, who likes to cause trouble, there are a hundred  who do not.

 

The Nines Have It

“I can’t read your writing…. What is this?” (said in a sarcastic tone)

 Me :  “A nine.”….

Hummm… I had no idea that is a nine…

Here is how you write a nine…”  

 

“How much per hour do you need?”

(I told him and he rolled his eyes….)

Excerpt of a job interview I went through  Wednesday morning.

_______________

 

“Rebuke a fool and he will hate you…rebuke a wise man and he will be wiser still.”

Proverbs

The jury is still out on whether or not I am a fool.  My nines look a lot different since Wednesday.  The first several  times I thought of Pat (he’s the guy I interviewed with)  a few  choice words begin to tumble out of my mouth.

A few days removed from that encounter, and my anger has been replaced with a quietness.  He did me a favor.

Compared to some of the mean spirited bosses and supervisors some of you have to put up with , that exchange ranks right down near the bottom…

I have been on both sides of the authority equation.  I work really hard to be respectful, even when I have to correct someone , so when I hear stories of supervisors abusing their position, my first reaction is to get angry.

Do you have any tips for someone who is working in a hostile setting and for various reasons, has to try and suck it up, rather than leave?

(If you have time,  would also be interested in any abusive situations you have had to endure..if you’ve written about it on your blog, feel free to leave a link) DM

 

 

 

 

Stories In Need of Fleshing Out

Multiple things happened this week I need to write about (they continue to rumble around in my head) ….but since I am expected on  the job in less than thirty minutes I need to come back to these later…

#1 What happened to Miss Kitty this week  (our resident feral cat). It’s a story that needs to be told.

# The   ninety some  year old woman and her daughter I saw walking into the county courthouse while I was there, attempting to renew her drivers license.

#3 The job interview I had this week and what the owner of the company said (and did) to me.

#4 Random  news on the home front (farm related)

Stay tuned🙂 DM

libby and miss kitty

Libby and Miss Kitty snuggling in the entryway