The past several months  “something” has been tunneling  under the floor in our  red barn. We don’t use it for anything except an occasional party in the haymow, but because it is in such fine shape, I would like to keep it maintained as long as I can.

I suspected rats,  because the holes were too small for a ground-hog. There is no grain or feed in any of our outbuildings, which should be attracting rats….hasn’t been for 50 years..  I know those suckers are prolific breeders however, and left unchecked one pair of rats can easily multiply into 200 (to 2000)  in a year, depending on who you talk to, so this is not an issue to just turn my back on.

I bought a large pail of rat bat, thinking that would take care of it, because it usually does.

After the second pail was gone with no noticeable dent in the digging activity, I got on the Internet   and ordered the most lethal brand I could purchase without a permit.

Started using it the day it came, and it seemed to have the opposite effect.   More digging, and in fact,  the bait station had been moved several feet from where I had set it out. That made me think I was now also dealing with a raccoon.  They are smart in their own way.  I had one raccoon that would tip the garbage can full of dog food over to get it, because he couldn’t get the metal lid off.

(A bait station, is a plastic box  with holes in it that will allow the rodents in and out, but keep the bait away from any cats or other animals you don’t want to expose to the poison.)

This morning when I went out to the barn..sure enough..there was a half-grown raccoon sitting inside the trap/ stuck.

Normally I  just “live trap” raccoons and release them several miles away, in a wooded area with a pond.  I used to mark them with  red spray paint..figured if they came back a second time, then I wouldn’t be so kind.

Looking at that raccoon in the trap this morning, made me think about a guy who rents from a friend of mine. Or at least he used to… Friend got a call a few weeks ago from the guys wife, saying he was missing.  Turned out the wife had moved out months before  and there was real concern he’d done himself in.. in the rental house. Friend called the police, to meet him over at his rental house, for fear of what they were going to find when they got there.

Found out the renter, who by all accounts was a great personable guy had racked up $250,000 worth of gambling debt and had an out of control cocaine addiction.   That was why the wife had moved out.  The renters choices  had finally caught up with him and he had reached the end of his wiggle room.

What is it about cocaine, or gambling, or alcohol, or pornography, or an affair or any number of vices?   They start out so quietly and tasty. (depending on your individual bent)

I think I am the exception.  I can indulge and no harm will come.  I get away with it.


Then BAM.  That one time I don’t….and everything I’ve worked for, sometime for years, is suddenly compromised in an instant….

Anyone of us that sits in judgement of another person’s addiction is only fooling ourselves.  I am convinced that all of us, myself included, under the right circumstances, are capable of the same illogical choices.

Have a great day, and for crying out loud, leave that rat bait alone! 🙂 DM


raccoon 2016 (1)

His love for rat poison finally caught up with him.

Survey Says….

August night2012

7:30 last night, our phone rang.  We don’t have caller ID, but since there is a lull in the political calls, I though there was a pretty good chance it was one of the kids.


It was a call from the Department of Agriculture.

The long arm of the law had finally caught up with me….

“Hi, this is Janet… I am calling to follow up on the Department of Agriculture survey that you should have received in the mail… You did get one didn’t you? “

I had but had already decided not to send it in.  It felt like one of those obtrusive meddlesome/ none of their business forms, but now that I was on the phone with a real live person who was just doing her job, I felt like  a little kid who’d been caught skipping school.

So we began.

She asked me a series of questions related to our apple trees, the questions gradually becoming more and more personal.

Pause-  I am not a  rebel.

I pay my taxes, play by the rules, yet have lived long enough now to have watched our government red tape/ bureaucracy    continue to morph and grow like  the thunderheads of an approaching storm.

Its just the nature of the beast, bureaucracy has a built in growth mechanism and unless there is someone in power who intentionally chooses  to dial it back, it will always continue to grow.

I don’t believe Uncle Sam should have any business keeping tabs on my apple growing hobby, other than whether or not I pay my fair share of income tax.

Because it is a hobby.

The department of Agriculture has  already said our setup is not large enough to qualify for a “farmstead exemption.”  It needs to be a minimum of one acre and ours is not.

Anyway, at this point in the conversation, something inside of me welled up and I blurted out to Janet.  “Is there any way you can take my name off your list?” 

Pause…..”Well, no there isn’t…. pause…But...pause, you do know this survey is voluntary..right?”

( I did not)

“I have to tell you, Janet said, In the past, there was a large highlighted disclaimer on the front of the envelop that said it was optional, and as I look at this years envelop, that is missing. (even though it still is optional)

I then voiced a couple of reasons why I  was asking…she agreed and chuckled…I told her she sounded like my mom.

How old are you? she asked…I told her..“Yep, I am old enough to be your mom.”

Here’s a  toast to all of the Janets of the world who, while just doing their jobs, they are secure enough to know when it’s OK to speak up, press the pause button,  and not just mindlessly follow the rules for rules sake.


To Hug or not to Hug…That Is The Question

bees coming in for a hug

These thoughts flow from three recent encounters…

For me, hugging is a boundary issue.

I have three drop dead, gorgeous  daughters who get their looks from their mama…which is fine, although, sometimes, because we live in such a sex crazed culture, it has gotten them more attention than they like.

Quick story….

We used to attend a small local church with the normal assortment of personality types.  Two of the men, (Farmer Bob as he was affectionately called),  and Mark, both liked to hug the ladies…especially the young pretty ones.

At some point, our family was talking about Mark, and his  increasing interest in hugging our two oldest daughters.  Now Mark had emotional issues..some kind of autism as I recall…and all of us in the church made allowances for him accordingly….but when my daughters started voicing their discomfort, I knew it was time to do something. I made an appointment with our young pastor, told him we were no longer comfortable with Mark’s public displays of affection, and if he (the pastor) didn’t say something to Mark quietly on the side, I would, and it would probably happen the next time he did it…in public.

Pastor said something and life went on.

People’s attitudes about a hug run the full range of thought…from not a big deal, to yes it is a big deal.

I know  people  who are just naturally huggers. They hug people all the time.  They probably grew up in a home with lots of hugging.. it is just who they are.  I also know others, to whom  a hug IS a big deal to them, and  to have someone initiate a hug to whom they are not very close to, is definitely a violation of their boundaries. Period.  Because of this,  I as a husband/man have opted to err on the side of not hugging a woman other than my immediate family unless the other person initiates.

And even then, I probably come across as an uptight, unschooled farm-boy, unless you are my wife or daughter. 😉

I have  more to say on this topic, but  before I do, I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on hugging – especially people outside your immediate family.

Danka.  DM



It was time for our coffee break that day as  Jason and I crawled into my truck. We were siding a two story addition  and the 25 to 40 mile an hour wind gusts were taking their toll.   (One of the fringe benefits of working outside in the elements is I normally sleep like a baby once my head hits the pillow.)

Anyway,  my truck was pointed towards the neighbors house  and the first thing that caught my eye as we took our break was a thin, 60 some year old woman raking leaves.  She caught my eye for several reasons.  First off, she looked almost manic in the way she was using her rake.

Secondly, there were multiple trees along her street, and several of them were still hanging onto their leaves, even if the large maple in the corner of her lot was done for the year.  I thought to myself, why in the world was she trying to  rake on a day like today?  She would just have to do it again (probably multiple times) before it was all over.

The word “issues” came to mind.   Even though I did not know her personally, something was not quite right about that picture.

What would drive a person to try to catch every last leaf that early in the Fall.

I jokingly said to Jason, I definitely would not want to do any work for her because of her issues, (whatever they might be.)


Few weeks later, the homeowner I was working for, told me, a neighbor was interested in having me give her an estimate for some work in her house.

Was it so and so,  I asked?

It was!

The homeowner then cautioned me that if I did end up working for her, that while she was a nice person…she paused as she tried to find the right word, she was also  “frugal.” 🙂

I  told the homeowner to have the neighbor get a hold of me if she wanted.  I have a policy now that I refuse to chase work.  I also refuse to play the game of giving someone an estimate and have them ask me if I can knock so much off the bid, in order to match someone else.

It is disrespectful to me as a contractor.

It implies my initial quote may have been slightly out of line.   Better to either take the estimate or not….and another thing, the lowest estimate may not always be the best estimate.  You can pay someone $20 an hour who works like a turtle, or twice that amount to me and come out ahead.

I’ve seen it happen multiple times.

My dad, (who was also a general contractor for close to 50 years) was known for his integrity in our community.  I can trace most of my attitudes when it comes to work directly back to his influence in my life.

(Sorry if this comes across as a little bit testy.)

Growing up in a construction family,  I have had a front row seat to dozens of construction projects, and you better believe I have been taking notes.

No sense learning everything first hand.

Which is why, if I can help it,  I try not to work for certain personality types.


Because certain personality types have  certain issues I would just as soon not have to deal with.

Everybody has issues.  Doesn’t mean I didn’t have compassion for her. (Because I did)

Also doesn’t mean I have to enter into a business relationship with someone who has too many red flags waving over their head.

“An issue ignored, is a crisis endured.”

What do you think?


Like A Goldfish

I just shut down the chat dialog box with customer support at the print on demand publishing company I am working with.

My brain is still smok’n.

I am on the home stretch with publishing a book.

I am still in the game but  feel  like a little  goldfish trying to keep up with a school of tuna….

I am so completely out of my element it isn’t even funny.

Publishing has its own vocabulary  and specs,  95% of which is new to me.

Here are a few of the recent things I have learned how to do:

How to purchase an ISBN number for a new book.

How to work with a book cover template generator.

Trying to open the said template after I get it, only to find out, I don’t have the software on our computer.  It  is a version of Adobe that Newspapers and others in the printing and design business use..surprise surprise. I can lease something for $40 a month….or hire it done. I opted for plan B.

I am learning how to change the margins and manuscript size on a word document..then trying to convert it to a PDF file.

Finding and working with a Graphic Designer.

Last weekend I received two mind-boggling donations on the Kickstarter fundraiser we set up. I am within $50 of meeting the $1850 goal.  One of the gifts that came in, was a $1000 anonymous donation, and a second was a $500 gift from someone I’d worked for in the past. (Plus several $25, $30, and a couple of $50 gifts.)

Writing and then publishing a book, going from raw idea to finished product, when every step of the way is uncharted waters has been a lesson in perseverance.  The biggest obstacle for me was a three years writers block.

I made the mistake of showing a portion of my rough draft to someone who was not a nice person.

Lesson learned.

It is possible to give input without killing the spirit.  I do it all the time in construction when I’m mentoring someone.

Well, time to call it a wrap.

One last unrelated question, that I would really love your feedback on…and this is only for those of you that are regular readers.

Why do you read this blog?  I have been second guessing myself again lately in terms of what and why I write.  There are so many bloggers and so much information each of us are bombarded with daily.  I have gradually moved away from writing about our little acreage in the country and more about the stuff that goes on in my head.

Any thoughts you have would be most appreciated.   Danka.  DM



“Your biopsy results are back.  Could you please call our office and ask for Lynn.”

By the time I got the message, my Gastroenterologist’s office was closed for the day.

It had already been over two months since I started having hoarseness of voice and a swallowing episode , so what was another 24 hours, I thought to myself.

That was a week ago Wednesday.

Everything came back fine.

I did question the test results when nurse Lynn told me the doctor  found one nodule in the small intestine which he removed.


I said to Lynn..wait a minute..I only had the scope inserted down my throat. Are you sure you have the correct results?  I repeated myself three times.  Apparently the  doctor inserted his scope all the way through my stomach and beyond.

Who’d a thunk?

While I never got to a state of panic the past two months, I did have a low-grade concern that my love of strong coffee had finally caught up with me, and the acid re-flux had morphed into the beginning stages of the C word.



Week ago Tuesday our two-year old grandson with downs syndrome was checked into the local hospital, then transferred to the University hospital with pneumonia and the dreaded RSV virus.

Those first 48 hours were scary.

He is home now and according to his mom (my daughter) 95% better.


Friend and fellow blogger Kristina will be with us, two more days, then heads back home on Saturday. While she has been here, we celebrated her birthday with her.   I think this may be her 5th trip to Iowa since she first coming in 2008 with her son. Her second trip , she brought hubby.  The last several she’s come alone, once she verified we were not ax murders.


Tuesday night, we invited Chris and Lindsay over to celebrate Kristina’s birthday with us. Chris used to work with me.    Wife told the  story about  a stray dog that showed up on our property several years ago.

It was the oddest looking dog either one of us had ever seen.  We already had Oscar the beagle so the stray could not stay. Short stumpy legs,  and sad looking eyes. I know it was some kind of  basset hound mix.   Wife mentioned I’d put an ad in the local paper which basically said, if no one stepped forward,  the dog was going to the vet and  put down. (In reality I would not have done it, but drastic situations call for drastic measures.)

The bottle of home made wine may have been kicking in by this point. (The five of us shared a  bottle.)  Anyway, I got to laughing so hard, I could not breathe.

Kristina has done pet sitting the past several years, so you know she loves animals. The look on her face when she heard about my dastardly behavior…well, if looks could kill.

And finally…

The three of us have been doing major decluttering the past two days with Kristina’s help. To set the tone, and keep us motivated,  we watched another episode of hoarders last night.

Since we don’t watch much TV, I’d only seen snippets of the show.

What is it about the human heart and our love for stuff?

I have much to be thankful for….much.



Are you a saver?  Have you ever had a scope down your throat? When’s the last time you really had a good laugh?  If you’re a blogger, have you ever met any of your readers, and if so, tell me details! DM


Dispatched From The Pit Of Despair

Got a note from a friend this morning:

“Thanks for visiting this past week.  I value your input and appreciate your listening ear.  I was encouraged by our conversation….even though my circumstances haven’t really changed….it was so nice to be heard!”

Told Mrs. DM about the note. Said  it reminded me of a time in my life when a friend of mine..(Thomas), did the same for me – ( validated and listened to me.)

At the time it felt like I was free-falling into a black bottomless pit.

Thomas and I started getting together once a week to talk about what was going on in my life @ the time that was causing the angst.   Just having another person really grasped what was going on in my life, to the point where he started to also get angry, in some mysterious way, gave me hope.

Initially, it felt like his validation just caused the free-falling feelings to stop… I was still stuck….but then pretty quickly, a glimmer of hope returned, and I began climbing out of the pit.

The  circumstances didn’t changed at all…and even to this day, (20 years later)  if I allow myself to go there, I can start getting angry.  I’ve written about this before, so won’t revisit the details ..

I also experienced  grief. and same goes with that..My grief would occasionally be triggered by the most random things even 15 years later…a picture, a conversation, etc.

So when my friend e-mailed me this morning telling me she felt heard and validated..that was encouraging. because here I sit, 20 years removed from having those same kind of conversations in my life, and still thankful for the gift of a listening ear.

climbing out of the pit of despair

Climbing out of the pit of despair

Never underestimate the power of a listening ear.

Have you ever experienced the pit of despair?

What got you out of it?

Are you still in it?