Heads Up

From the mid 1990’s until 2007, I used to write the stuff like I write here, in an e-mail that went out to several dozen people from all over the place.  There was still the interaction, just in a different format.  Then I discovered blogging.

Wanted to let those of you that are regulars know I am  pulling the plug on this blog (heart to heart) sticking it in the archives and going back to e-mail interaction.  I plan to keep my farm blog up and running just because there are things happening on the farmstead I want to write about yet.

I have to write.

And I want to write in such a way I don’t have to second guess or censor what I write.

I’ve written a couple of things recently that after posting, stuck them back in the archives for various reasons……

I told someone recently, whenever a blogger I have interacted with suddenly falls off the Internet without notice and I have no way of knowing how to get in touch, it always makes me sad.  Even though I’ve never met most of you in person , in many cases you have become as dear to me as  family.

So, here’s the skinny.   There is absolutely no pressure on you to get your name in the hat for the new format.

None.

Nada.

I hate that when I feel someone manipulates me like that

Absolutely hate it.

If you are interested in getting those e-mails,  shoot me an e-mail.  Most of you that are reading this are bloggers anyway, and my e-mail contact would be on a comment of mine. If for some reason, you don’t have my e-mail and want to sign up, by all means leave a comment here and I will grab your e-mail off your comment.

Most of us have such full busy lives it’s hard to stay on top of reading we want to do.  I get that.

I still plan to read and interact with those of you that have blogs, so I’ll be around.

I’ll  keep this last post up for a week then..poof..this blog will be archived.

The times they are a changing….

DM

view throught the walking trail #2

Sunset behind our barn

Photo by DM

Apfelwein…..already at 5 %

Apfelwein: German for Apple Cider

There is 5 gallons of raw,(  freshly pressed) apple cider,  sitting  in a food grade five gallon plastic bucket, fermenting behind me as I write.  I checked it with the hydrometer yesterday, it is already up to 5% alcohol content since I started.

This is my first attempt at making hard cider (freshly pressed, raw apple cider juice intentionally handled to morph into alcohol.)

I mentioned a few weeks ago, my latest life goal/ project is to become a fermentation master.

Some of it I hope to bottle up for gifts, some of it I hope to make into apple cider vinegar and some of it for personal consumption.

It is almost impossible to find (or buy) raw unpasteurized apple cider. Big brother has made it illegal to sell to the public without first being pasteurized, which is all well and good, but in the process, the good stuff is killed along with any potential harmful bugs. (just like its almost impossible to buy raw milk…unless you own a cow or buy it on the black market, it is not to be had)

I had to grind and press 2 bushel of apples to get 4 and 1/2 gallons of cider. The  #2 apples sell for $30 a bushel.   $60 worth of fruit,  2 hours of my time. and over $1000 of equipment  ( the whizbang apple grinder and a cider press.)   When someone recently suggested I could sell the cider for $6 to $8 a gallon I just kept quiet.    I told my wife, this stuff is conservatively worth $25 a gallon before it’s fermented.

I have no very little tolerance  for people who try to work me over  on a price of something I’m selling.

On another fermentation note…

I wanted to transfer the peach mead that I started fermenting a few weeks ago into another container this week.

Sampled some of it first.

My oh my.

Smooth and mellow.

Again, you can’t buy this stuff anywhere.

And finally, I am experimenting with a batch of what I will probably  call Jailhouse hooch.  Had a guy that used to work with me that did a little time in the Cook County jail.  One day over coffee break he gave me skinny on how they made hooch when he was in jail. …the only change I am making is instead of using a garbage bag and hiding it under my bed, I’m using a food grade plastic pail  😉

I started a batch this morning.

1 pound of firm fresh strawberries, 3 pounds of sugar, 3/4 t of baking yeast, one gallon of cold water and a 1 gallon food safe plastic bucket.   Before the fermentation process started I got a reading on the hydrometer.  It registered 60./ potential alcohol content 15%.

We will see.

I am taking copious notes in case I hit one out of the park. DM

Mr Bulldozer Man

bulldozer

Today I found myself thinking about a conversation I had a few years ago  with  the guy who did the bulldozer work,  on the housing development we were framing in.

He was my kind of guy…

A little scruffy.

Would not put up any guff from the developer we were both working for.

Bulldozer man and I were taking  coffee break together one morning,  catching up on things because  he’d  just gotten out of jail I (again) for driving without a license.   He wanted to show me a berm he had been working on between the pond and a deep ditch before he went to jail.

After we walked over the berm he started to get animated…He started to vent and make some generalized  negative statements about Muslims.  I told him, I did not profess to be an expert on  Islam…but after 9/11 I have tried to get a  basic working knowledge of the religion, and the conclusions he was drawing at that time were simply not true.  These kind of conversations I am very selective about entering.  Having been married for over 35 years to the same person, I know how to have a robust conversation with someone who may not see things the same way…and as long as both parties abide by some basic ground rules,  a lot  of good can come out of them.  If on the other hand, one party doesn’t play fair ( name calling, unwillingness to listen, doesn’t respect, makes “you always” or you never” statements, then you might as well pack it up your toys and walk away.  I had a personal motivation for challenging this burly young mans thinking…one of my good  friends is married to a Muslim, and to remain quiet would have felt like  betrayal, even though she was 1000 miles away, and would never hear about the conversation unless I told her.  (Did I ever tell you  LMS ;-)?) By the end of coffee break, the lights had turned on with Mr Bulldozer man.

I sensed a sigh of relief.  Not all Muslims were terrorists!  In fact, just a small fraction of them were.

Just as not all white conservative Christian men secretly belong to the KKK and like to dress up in pointy sheets.  I know several hundred Christian  men of various races personally  and I have never/ ever met a single kkk member.  So the next time you are tempted to believe some outlandish story about some  “Christian”white guy you’ve read about on the Internet, do me a favor and push the pause button.

Shoot me a note.

Ask me what I think….you may be in for a surprise.

Back to Mr Bulldozer man….His attitude  had been flowing out of some serious mis-information  and when I started to explain there were at least 3 major branches of Islam (and multiple subsets within them).  It was important to know most of them were just like he and I…just everyday people trying to raise  families, pay bills and get along.

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A portion of the following poem hangs in the entryway of our home. It also captures some of what I’m trying to say…

 

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by;
They are good, they are bad, they are weak,
They are strong,
Wise, foolish – so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban? –
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

 

 

Moose Hunting

This morning I had to stop by a farm to check on some possible work. As I was waiting for the hubby to finish doing chores,  I asked his wife if her mom was still living with them?

She teared up instantly.

The words just tumbled out…

Up until now we’ve had a bath aid coming in two to three times a week, but starting next week, I asked for help every day.   I just can’t do it any more…”

I listened. …and the words kept coming….

“I promised her I would never put her in a nursing home..but….but you have no idea how hard it has been.”

“How is your mom mentally?”  I asked…

“Ever since her stroke, she’s gotten worse.  Right now, she probably has the mind of a 5th grader…..

She’s lived with us  seven and one half years…..”

I (DM) remembered when her mom  first moved in.  I assumed she was still with them, but you never know. Her mom reminded me of my mom, the first time I met her….about the same age, body build, both have a twinkle in their eye.   I sensed she (the mother) had mixed feelings about moving in with her daughter, and yet, due to circumstances outside of her control, there was no other option….

Tonight as Mrs DM and I were out on a date, I thought back to this mornings conversation.  In the past an interaction like that would have left me feeling uncomfortable, but it didn’t.

I was humbled she trusted me enough to be vulnerable and tell me what she was really thinking.

Raw, unguarded pain.

Come to think of it,   I had four different conversations like that just this week.

And in none of those conversations, did I feel any pressure to say something wise or helpful.

When a person is really hurting,  the most helpful (and hopeful) thing you and I can do is to listen.  Really listen.  Not fill the moments of silence between the two of you with words.  Yes, there is  may be a time to speak, but mostly, just the act of listening, (or asking a question) does more that anything else to communicate hope.

I really do not have a clue as to what it’s like to be a full-time care taker for more than a few hours at a stretch.

Some of you do.

My dad, who is in his mid 80’s,  will occasionally put it like this…“Once a man, twice a child.” 

Not so sure I want to do the childhood gig a second time.

Told my wife this night I am going to ask my brother-in-law Loren to take me out moose hunting when I start to fail… wait until it’s good and cold, prop me up against a tree, out in the middle of nowhere and  call it good.  We laughed, because  first of all, I don’t hunt, and second of all, Loren is my mom’s go-to person when she needs to dispose of a pesky critter.  I know this is not the politically correct (Christian) way to talk about aging, but, if I am granted a long life (and there are no guarantees) I do not want to fritter those last years away, stuck in some room, needing to have my diaper changed every few hours.

So,  if you ever hear me talking about going moose hunting, you’ll know something’s  up….

DM

In Halting English

Daughter # 3 married into the Hispanic culture two years ago. We love her hubby.    She (daughter #3) speaks less espanol than I do, which is not a lot, 😉  and by the sound of it, doesn’t have any big plans to learn …. Her extended family runs the gamut from fluent English to no sprekenze  English at all…

Last weekend their daughter (our granddaughter) turned one.  Daughter #3  and hubby decided to throw a birthday party for her.  Not wanting to offend anyone, it turned into quite a large guest list.

As I sat across the table from Edwardo,  he and I attempted to have a conversation.  In halting English he introduced me to his family...”This is my son…. and this is my wife.”

At this point, in the conversation, Mrs DM scooted down in the chair next to me and the conversations continued.  Edwardo, as it turned out, was able to understand much of what I said.  He told us his wife did not speak English, however his son Jordon, was your typical American 10 yr old.

Lots of laughs.

That conversation and another one with a shy 6th grade girl, who rarely talks, but opened up to Mrs DM and I when no one else was around were two of the highlights of our trip.

I came across the following true story in the latest Readers Digest after the party.  It immediately took  me back to the feelings I had sitting around the birthday table last weekend…

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A Random Act Of Roadside Assistance by Justin Horner

During this past year, I’ve had three instances of car trouble.  Each time these things happened, I was disgusted with the way most people hadn’t bothered to help.  One of those times, I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep.  I put signs in the windows, big signs that said NEED A JACK, and offered money. Nothing.  Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a Mexican family a van pulled over, and the father bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English.  He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it.  Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road.  We rolled it over and put his jack on top, and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron – snapped the head clean off.  No worries :  He handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a a new tire iron.  She was back in 15 minutes.  We finished the job, and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty.  His wife produced a large water jut for us to wash our hands with.  I tried to put a $20 dollar bill in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could.  I asked the little girl where they lived.  Mexico, she said.  They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks.  they they were going to pick peaches, then go home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the jeep, the girl called out and asked if I had lunch.  When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

I thanked them again,walked back to my car, and opened the fiol on the tamale, and what did I find inside?  My $20 bill!  I ran to the van.  The father saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no.  With what looked like great concentration, he said in English, “Today you, tomorrow me.”