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… 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.”


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

Climbing The Uber-Ladder

Uber:  German for  ultimate, supreme, outstanding, amazing.

We only see Edna Moehl a couple of times each year, so when I got a phone call from her it piqued my curiousity. She said she was moving off the farm and had something she thought I should have…. antique apple picking ladder. Now normally, I  will pass when someone offers me something free or extra, or its too good to throw away because I’m tired of stuff.  But in this case, I said I would consider it.   It is a one of a kind contraption, made from an old windmill frame.  Two steel wheels and a set of handles to push it around.  It is surprisingly balanced.

I said I would take it.

The ladder is parked in the East orchard all year round, I only use it to pick the apples I can’t reach with my 8 ft step ladder.

Tuesday I  had one last Ginger Gold apple tree to pick.  There were fifteen to twenty beautiful  apples way on the top, that the Japanese beetles hadn’t found (yet.)

view from the ladder (3)

View from the base

As I got about 3/4’s the way up, a little tinge of fear started rumbling around in my gut. It’s the last couple of rungs that can get a little interesting.

Anyway, as I was picking those beautiful apples on the top of the tree, it triggered a flood of thoughts, other times in my life when I felt the fear, but kept going anyway…and the result was I got to experience something I otherwise would never have experienced, had I played it safe on the ground.

The biggest memory is getting a date with that girl in homeroom, who used to sit with all of the popular kids in the back of the room, while I sat in the front row, ready to scoot out the door, the second the class bell rang.

My values have changed since those days, but just to give you an idea what I was up against… She was cute, very cute.  Her dad was a doctor, She was an athlete.  Played varsity basketball, her freshman year. She was genuinely a nice person.  Eventually, the student body elected her homecoming queen….You get the picture.  Me on the other hand, well, I was shy.  So shy  I can count on one hand,  the number of conversations I had with girls up until that time. I loved to read, had a musical bent.  We lived on a dairy farm, so my life pretty much consisted of work, school, and more work.

There was a guy who worked for my dad, whose name was Lowell.  Nice guy, probably in his 40’s …single and shy.  I did not want to wind up like Lowell.

So the short version is, I asked that cute little girl in my home room out on a date to a movie.. she said she’d go.  Only went out on one date originally…and it took a couple of more years and dating several more girls, before I was able to shed more of the shyness..but it was a start. After I graduated high school, I happened to run into that girl who was my first date. She was working in a local pizza place.   The guy who was with me that night knew about my first date with her…and how I wished I’d handled things different, but at the time, I was just too socially, clueless. He leans over the table and whispers …“If you don’t ask her out, I will…”

And the rest is history….we celebrated our 37th anniversary this Spring.

There will be opportunities to climb the Uber-ladder sprinkled throughout our lives.



We have been on a BBC, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Larkrise to Candleford, Cranford, Bleak House, Downton Abbey kick.   Watching several of these period stories, back to back has opened my eyes to what it must be like, running in those social circles…. the attitudes, the temptations, the pressures.


Closer to home….

The other night I was curious as to where an internet business I am working with was located.   I discovered the company is part of a much larger set of companies owned by a family whose wealth is measured in  billions.   Those currently running things are my age and younger.  They attended ivy league colleges, sit on multiple boards, are well known for their philanthropy, play polo, etc. Made me realize that there is still a form of aristocracy  today, right here in America.

How well would I  handle it, if I had been born in that setting? (I hate dressing up and I am allergic to meetings, so I would not be a good fit) 😉


Last week as we were replacing a driveway, the neighbor came over and told me about the history of an adjacent house.  A hundred years ago, the guy owned a large clothing store, had his fingers in four area banks,  had a reputation for being promiscuous. The house had separate stairways for the servants.

You can’t tell me that was a happy household to  live in.

Then last night I read the following:

“People were poorer and had not the comforts, amusements, or knowledge we have to-day; but they were happier.  Which seems to me to suggest that happiness depends more upon the state of mind – and body, perhaps- than upon circumstances and events.”     Larkrise To Candleford 

Twenty years ago, in my desire to get ahead (financially)  I saw a mobile home for sale.      Only $3500.

Heck, in little more than a year, it would be paid off, then we would have additional $250 a month!


Next, a cute little fixer upper came up for sale for $28,000.  Our credit was good, and now that we were land lords…why not?

Felt like I was playing real life Monopoly.

We were on the fast track to get ahead…..

But then we started to get phone calls @ 10 PM. So and so wanted to let us know  the police had been called…something about a fight, some drugs, etc.  Then  we had an alcoholic tenant stop paying rent. He moved out but left all of his things behind. It took me two months of jumping through hoops before I could legally do anything about it. He’d got behind on his electric bill after he left, so they shut the electric off to the house, which resulted in a freezer full of putrid meat and a trashed apartment we had the opportunity to  clean.




Still remember the big black flies buzzing around my head, and  the stench of rotten meat in the chest freezer  as Paul, Matt and I carried it out to the curb….Talked with the daughter as we placed  her dad’s things on the curb.

His collection of toy tractors,  clothes, furniture.  My heart went out to her. Sheriff sat across the street to keep peace while we did the eviction.


Last week while I was pouring cement with my nephew, his phone rang (He’s making payments on a rental house) Got a call from a tenant.  Water bill suddenly went to $400 a month because of a leaky something or other.

Made me thankful I no longer own  am making payments rental property…because it does come with a price.


Morning Commute

As I went through an intersection this morning on the way to work, I thought I heard something roll off the top of my tool box and hit the pavement…like a metal pipe.

I quickly checked my side mirrors to make sure all of the tool box doors were shut (they were) and continued on for  two more minutes…

Then it dawned on me.  The aluminium  handles from my siding break would make that kind of sound. (They are  a round pipe attached  by cotter key’s so they shouldn’t be popping off)

But just to be sure,  I pulled off to check.

Sure enough, the back handle was missing…. sitting in the middle of an intersection, two miles back 😦

It was 7:30 AM, on a Friday morning, right in the middle of  work traffic.

I  called my co-worker to let him know what I was doing and would be a few minutes late.

When I got back to the intersection,  there it was, right in the middle of the road..a four way intersection where two major highways cross. Traffic clipping through there at  a healthy 35 mph.

“This will be interesting,” I thought to myself as I sprinted over to the first median. Looked both ways, then made a bee-line for the handle. The cars closest to me were stopped for a red light, so I  ran back  across 4 lanes of traffic.

I smiled at the guys in the front of the line, as if to say.

“Don’t run me over OK ?” 😉





The rest of the day was equally intense.

We were working on a punch list for a newly sold condo for an elderly widow.

(A punch list is a list of misc. items needing to be taken care of when a house sells.)

I’d already swapped out two ceiling fans, installed a new kitchen  counter top, new sink, repainted several rooms…etc. Today’s list included two replacement windows, swap out a utility sink, hang three mirrors, install a set of vertical blinds, attach two thresh holds on a laminate floor, and hang two shelves above the computer.

I had hoped to get everything done before she moved in, but it didn’t work out that way.  The replacement windows were the biggest challenge.  I’ve put in several hundred of these over the years, so one way or the other, the window was going in. Well,  the old ones did not want to come out.  It is a brick condo, and the nailing fins were behind the brick.  I told my sister later, it was like pulling impacted teeth that had to be cut out, one chunk at a time. 😉

Nasty dirty work.

I went through a dozen saw-zall blades.

It took me twenty minutes   to figure out how to get the first window frame out…all the while my customer was sitting on the bed watching me.

After the first window was finally installed, the guy in charge of the general upkeep of the grounds stopped by and told me, the windows didn’t match the rest of the windows in the complex and were not going to work.  (Keep in mind I had several thousand dollars I needed to collect  on the completion of today’s punch list.)

I had matched the interior of the windows rather than the exterior, because there was more than one shade of brown throughout the neighborhood….

In the end, it all worked out.  I got my check.  Customer thanked me for doing a great job on everything.

It’s a good thing I love what I do.

How was your day?

I want details! DM



I hesitate to write when I’m in the state of mind I am of late.  I am battling  a mixture of anger, shame and fear, springing from financial pressure which leaves me in a low grade funk.

But then I think to myself, many (not all)  of my long time readers initially stumbled across this blog  after reading a deeper/ darker entry.

So  if you’re looking for light, positive, and sanitized, you’ve come to the wrong place. 🙂


My mind has been on priorities and choices I made  twenty years ago when our kids were young and still in the house.

When our kids were little, my wife and I used to argue about  the use of my time, money, work, etc.  We knew better than to attack and cut each other apart with our words. but it never felt like anything got resolved.

Nothing changed….until that one day.

I heard her.

Through tears she said:  ” I need more of you and your energy helping me  raise our  kids.”  We had three under seven and a newborn at the time…how in the heck she made it that long I will never know.  I wasn’t intentionally trying to be negligent.  I just didn’t know any better.

family photo


I have only so much energy.

You have only so much energy.

We all get to choose how to spend it. I can spend it on my job. I can spend it on myself. (blogging, hobbies, etc)  I can spend it on being a do-gooder and attempt to change the world.  I can spend it keeping other people happy. etc.   The list is long.

Energy = life.

I decided, I needed to  have more energy  life left over at the end of the day, even if that meant less income.

This is how I view all relationships:

Relationships are  like  plants.  Tend them.  Water them.  Weed them.

Or watch them die.

I have a new screen saver on the computer…

It gives me joy every time I look at it.


immediate family - Copy

“Behold, children are a gift …
The fruit of the womb is a reward.

Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.

How blessed, (happy, fortunate, to be envied)  is the man whose quiver is full of them.”

3000 year old proverb


I am a rich man.

Even if that hasn’t  translated into more dollars in the bank. 🙂