Mushrooms Aren’t Just For Casseroles Anymore…

When DM sent out a call for guest writers my interest was piqued, but my world is a bit dark right now and he specifically requested that no negativity be a part of any guest post. Even with some suggestions I just felt that I had nothing to say.

Then, in true DM fashion, he posted a story about one of his current interests, and along with that topic, began interweaving aspects of his past and present. Have you noticed how he can do that almost seamlessly at times? He’s also great at asking questions about his readers lives. And he really wants to know the answers. So because he asked about jobs, and because his question made me remember, I’ve put together a post.

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I was a teenager in the 1970’s. I think one of my biggest ambitions at the time was to own my own car. I had access -thanks Dad- to a very old, very ugly Ford pickup that I was allowed to use and drive to school. I parked that truck not in the school’s parking lot, but down the block so as not to be associated as the driver of that vehicle. Learning gratitude as an adult has made me appreciate the fact that I was given the option to use that truck, ugly or not. At 16 I could not easily understand just how lucky I was: Me, a rather nerdy girl just trying to fit in, was no longer a walker, or worse, a bus rider. I drove to high school, slightly embarrassed, but I drove.

However, I set out to purchase a car that was my own. That choice meant working at something more lucrative than babysitting. I had a steady, but very small, regular income from those jobs. I was even afforded a bonus from one of my regular babysitting assignments- chicken pox at the end of my Freshman year! Babysitting took a backseat quickly after that. Two very different jobs helped me to reach my goal.

Through a deepening friendship with my 9th grade Home Economics teacher, I not only watched her kids on occasion, but also began cleaning her house. Mrs. H was amazing. I never really said anything about my home life to her, but she knew. Somehow she figured out enough to realize that I needed a stable adult and someone who was simply available. Her husband was a football coach at the local high school. She had three daughters. They had horses, and dogs. I honestly can’t remember how often I would go to her home to clean but my motivation wasn’t all focused on money. They were the family I didn’t have. I loved it there. Somehow vacuuming and dusting and picking up after 3 kids and scrubbing showers and toilets didn’t seem so bad.

Through this job, I was able to find more clients. A few things stand out about some of those jobs/clients.

-My very first encounter with a refrigerator vegetable bin so neglected that the old vegetables had turned to a gelatinous, stinky mass in the bottom of the bin.

-A stove with oven and burners so caked with crud that no matter how much I scrubbed, it never came clean.

-Shower scum. Thick shower scum and grout mildew. I would sweat trying to clean that stuff. It would have made sense to actually clean naked and then take a shower when I was done.

-Cream of mushroom soup, utilized as a stand alone bowl of soup to be eaten for lunch. I knew cream of mushroom soup. My mom used it in tuna noodle casserole. I never knew that anyone would serve it for lunch. In a bowl. By itself. To me. It took me a long, long time to eat anything with mushrooms after that.

-Ironing. So much ironing. Except for underwear everything this family wore ended up in the ironing basket. I ironed upstairs in a small room. This elicited more sweat.

-Cat hair. Dog hair Cleaning stairs with cat and dog hair wedged into corners and crevices.

-Fear. Somehow I accepted a job cleaning for two guys. As my first meeting with them approached and I drove to their home my radar started alerting. Somehow I managed to ‘inadvertently’ get lost and just never show up for that meeting. I never scheduled to go back.

I also spent two summers working as a cashier and customer service rep. Many things stand out still about this job and this post is running long as it is so–

Was it easier than cleaning houses? Of course. Did I feel grown-up? You bet. Did I earn my way into this job? Nope, and I am not proud of the fact that my position came about as a direct result of privilege. My dad was a manager in the company. What do I remember most about this job? 1. Learning to drink coffee at break time with lots of sugar and creamer because that’s what the other adults did. 2. Sexist remarks. I was 17. It was the late 1970’s. I worked with men who had very high opinions of themselves and their skills. Enough said.

In the end, I got my car. I was the proud owner of a 1969 Buick Skylark 2-door Coupe.

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Worker Bees…a meditation

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Google Image

The life expectancy of a worker honeybee is 6 weeks.

Just 6 weeks!

Do you know what eventually kills her?

She dies because  her wings wear out, and she is unable to get back to her hive.

This past Thursday night  was my first bee keeping class.  I enrolled in a  6 week, 18 hour course titled First Lessons In Bee Keeping.  Class didn’t start until 6 PM.  I didn’t get home until after 9:30, which is way past my normal bedtime, so you know I’m motivated. 🙂

By the end of these six weeks, I will know whether or not I want to take the plunge and become a bee keeper.

Here are a few more bits of bee trivia….

In a healthy hive there can be, between 60,000 to 80,000 worker bees at the peak of the season.

A healthy queen honeybee may live 2 to 3 years, although due to the chemicals on plants these days, you’ll be lucky if she makes it a year.

There are 3 different types of bees in a hive:

A queen,   the worker bees and the  drones.

In a good year, you can expect to harvest 40 to 80 pounds of honey off of one hive.  Last year our instructor Bill told us, was not a good year.  He averaged  40 pounds of honey per hive. ( He has 300 hives.)  A gallon of honey weighs about 12 pounds.  Bill recommended a minimum of 2 hives for starters…for reasons I am not going to get into here…but even if it was a bad year, that would potentially = 80 pounds of honey or 6 and 1/2 gallons of local honey.

Side note- this past year we have made the transition from white sugar to honey.   Not going to go off on a bunny trail right now, but the more I learn about  the white pure cane sugar many of us grew up on (and  corn fructose)  the more I am motivated to replace those  sweeteners poisons with honey.

 

” Anyone can plop a bee hive out in the back forty over the summer.  You are not a bee keeper until your bees have survived through the winter.”                Bill the bee keeper

Pause

And on a related note…

I did not get home until 2:45 AM this morning.  Went in to work at 11 PM last night to clean, then set up a banquet hall for a Ducks Unlimited meeting.

I’ve always said, if I had to, and work was slow, I would go to Hardees and flip burgers.     Well, I finally got my wish 🙂

Construction work is  slow.   I have a friend who works part time for a commercial cleaning company.  His boss told him, if I ever needed work, to give him a call.

So last night I got up close and personal with all of the toilets, sinks, and urinals in a 400 seat conference center, as well as an introduction to dry mopping, and reading a table placement diagram.

Last night the story of the Prince and the Pauper flittered through my brain…You remember that story right? A prince and a pauper trade places..and each gets to experience life in a whole new way….

Here I am a self-employed business owner, used to hiring and firing, bidding work, collecting, dealing with customers, and all that goes into being self-employed…

and last night…

I was a worker bee.

(Notice I didn’t say “just” a worker bee.)

There is nothing  degrading about cleaning bathrooms for a living.  Talk about job security.

Woke up this morning with a song in my heart.

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Tell me about some of the types of jobs you’ve had over the years..(even if it was 50 years ago)….DM

 

Fallow

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Fallow field just outside my window

Fallow: Dormant, Inactive.

Fallow field: Intentionally giving a field a rest, a break from crop production, in order to replenish soil moisture and nutrition.

The same can apply to writing…. whether I am writing  a blog post or a book…

          “for he thought I was idle…. perhaps I am,  and perhaps I am not.  He forgot that a plowman’s mind wants to lie fallow a little, and can’t give a crop every year….”                                                                                                                              John Plowman

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The country mice and the city mouse

This is the third guest post installment….written by Lucy,  I mean Kristina the Home Engineer    DM

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I wanted to write about feminists and abortion or the Kingdom of Heaven. But Doug said no, so I will write about them (D and his wife,  M) . A subject a little less divisive and hostile.

I met D many moons ago whilst blogging, he commented, I commented, he asked me to read his book, I read his book.

Our family was going through some very trying times and I needed a vacation. They had a bed. and breakfast.

So doing something very uncharacteristic of me, I took my son and we ventured from Seattle WA to Eastern Iowa.

To let strangers take care of us for a few days.

They had a farm! They had a pig! They had apple trees and crickets and quiet and woods and quiet. They had chickens in the basement.

As extremely weird and awkward as it sounds, it quickly became fun and easy, relaxing and safe.

They had a little potluck music get together called the Apple Jam and families came with crock pots and desserts and curious people asking where we were from and feeding us. They have sloppy joes but they are called Maid-Rites!

I have visited these two people pretty much every year for seven years [?] now. Once they came here, to the big city, by train.

Just wanted to give you all a different perceptive of these people I have grown to know and love.

I saw their last family picture and envied at how I was not in it.

First the house… Its old, its a farm. It is real wood. It has the old original house attached to it with the old wallpaper and creaky stairs. I am still trying to convince them to remodel it so I can run away and live there. The barns are huge, and bats live there. It is quite a sight to see a billion crockpots and food lined up on  makeshift ledge table upstairs. Workshops, garage, land, apple trees, built-in freezer, apple press. Cellar for safety, buckets of dry good ready for an emergency. I could go on and on but suffice to say it is the opposite of what this city girl grew up in and exactly where this city girl wants to be.

As I said I was going through a bad time and this place was my run away dream, the opposite of all I was going through, no drama, no court dates, no crying, no anger, no having to explain all the discord. Heaven.

We have joked around about us being the country mouse and city mouse, but by no means is this a slam or disrespect in any way. A different way to live. Not better, not worse. I would drop everything and pack and live in that dusty farm community in a heartbeat and enjoy the rest of my days hanging out with Mrs. M and Doug, their friends and family.

Being with them has actually helped with my ”my way or the high way anal retentive” way of living I had grown accustomed to.

Even if that meant no fine restaurants or grocery stores with vegan options or quick access to, well, everything.

Doug: big personality, he is the humblest person he knows, I’m not buying it. I call him Pig Pen [He, is turn, calls me Lucy] for he leaves messes wherever he goes. He drinks too much coffee. He cooks and takes out the garbage.  He is eclectic, he writes, he builds, he creates. He has many ideas rolling around in that bald head, much to the dismay and worriment of his bride. If he were my husband, he would have me in the fits. lol

He has rough hands and a soft heart. He loves people, he wants to help people, but he also doesn’t take much crap from people. He loves his kids. you can often tell a person’s personality by the way they dress… he wears jeans, boots, t-shirts. Bright t-shirts. By the bright t-shirts, he wants to be seen [his way of standing out] but is a plain and simple guy dressed for the work he does. Labor. He thrives on connection. He lives life as it comes and sometimes throws convention out the window. He and I could be siblings, we argue and pick at each other like that. I sometimes think of them in a parental way and other times as friends.

To this day it amazes me that they can walk into any store in any small community near by and everyone knows them!!

It’s also funny to tell people where I’m from and that I don’t eat meat. They look at me like I’m crazy…and I am..when I’m sitting in the middle of farm land.

Mrs. M  : she is shy, simply beautiful, kind, old-school wife and mother. She struggles with the same things I do. Mothers and wives worry about their family regard of geography. She is soft-spoken. She is curious and is eager to try new foods, unlike Pig Pen. When she laughs it’s from down deep. She makes her own detergent.  She finds the good in everything. She cooks, she cleans, goes out of her way to help others. She writes notes. Lots of notes. She loves thrift shopping. Maybe a bit too much. But who doesn’t love a good bargain AMIRIGHT? I think with the line of work her husband is in and maybe her childhood she saves things. I understand the need. I never had to worry about those things, but I understand it.  The last visit I was informed I was to stay a longer period of time and help D with his book. So for 2 weeks I stayed. They offer me their best bed in the warmest room and turned on the shower upstairs so I don’t have to take baths. I hate baths.

We go to thrift stores, Amish discount stores, Walmart and lunch. We take walks with the dog. We decided this last trip that the house needed some sprucing up and emptying of accumulated stuffs. I tested my ‘clutter clean-up’ job skills. [I’d actually love to be one of those, but I’m a bit too hard on folks..so I’m told] we gathered everything up in one spot, wrote out decluttering plans, bought some storage stuff and went to work. Mrs. probably had the hardest time getting rid of stuff. I know I do. She did great tho and got rid of dusty forgotten duplicate things and made a promise to have the rest of the house done by the time I get back this year…which is coming up soon, girl!

Something I told her she remembers…. two things to think about .. do you need it and do you have a place for it [not hidden away] if not..don’t buy it. I don’t know if it’s a woman thing, or a people thing, but we tend to have things scattered and not in the same place, like bathroom goods stored in 3 places or important paperwork in different rooms. Sometimes we don’t realize how much stuff we have until we can get it all together.

We talk of life, love, hardships, relationships. The good, the bad. We have made charts on the chalkboard, lists and talked how to make a better world.  They live a slower life, a quieter life. No TV, just a computer. They had never seen the show Hoarders, we watched a few episodes. They both love books. They have wallpaper on a wall that looks bookshelves. They keep ‘the books’ on paper.

She would never tell Pig Pen that he leaves his stuff around. When I brought it up, he asked her if she agreed. She did. He put that in his mental file and helps more around the house.

Does it seem like I’m being weird about these two people? I probably am. They fascinate me. Because they are different yet the same. They are so kind. Everyone I have met there is so damn kind. In the city it’s so easy to lose that. I miss it. Even in our little church fellowship community it’s not as common.

I’ve met the kids and have nothing but nice things to think and say about them. They’re kind and funny and sweet just like their parents.

Doug’s mom and dad are the best. I wish I could move in with them and let Janet cook for me and tuck me in bed and let Don shake his head in wonderment that I keep a pig inside my house. He has a farm and still grows soybeans and corn.

One visit I actually carried homemade cinnamon rolls home to my son from Janet! Can you believe it? She is the quintessential mom/grandmom who wants to feed you and love you and remembers what you tell her!

They do not attend a conventional church. They have a group of friends that get together once a week to pray, read over scripture, exhort, encourage and listen to each other. And there again…I just wanted to embed myself into their lives. Doug doesn’t like to impose his faith on anyone, doesn’t mention it much on his blog, but he and  M keep the greatest commandment:

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Thanks for letting gush on and on about your family and lives. I could think of many more things to crow on about them.  I’m not a creeper honestly. I crave the simple quiet real life you all have and am blessed beyond measure to know you.

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Kristina the Home Engineer when she met Winston the pig

You have been served

Next post in this mini series of guest bloggers comes from my friend Paul…

He writes at  Thoughtfullyprepping 

DM

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A true story of trusting your gut.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover“, said my dad.
As I commented on two hippy’s walking along in front of us holding hands.
Way I saw it was two boys, or girls (difficult to tell from the back), but the same sex.
That was something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

Then they turned to cross the road.
One hairy faced male was wearing a priests collar, the other was a blind girl being led to safety.

“OK, got that dad, don’t be so quick to judge”.

Yet in later years I found myself having to make a judgement about people as I worked with various security agencies in public venues across the world. Only what worked in the UK didn’t work in deepest darkest Europe, or Singapore, or Hong Kong.

Culture and tradition can cause all kinds of ‘misunderstandings’ without language adding to the mix. The science called Body Language doesn’t even touch the nuances of personal behavior at those times and you have to ‘trust your gut’ most of the time.

Now I’m old school security and also trained in profiling.
‘Groan’, I can hear it now, ‘stereotyping groups to draw a conclusion’.
‘That’s wrong and sometimes positively nasty!’
Yet it works in the main so ‘lump it’ is my usual response to criticism.

Only it can go spectacularly wrong!

For instance, I was helping access control at a wedding.
Big affair, diamonds and champagne, the worlds beautiful people, and of course with money and egos to match.

Simple job. With an invitation, you got in.
Right, profiling criteria begins.
Diamonds, beautiful people, obvious money, and that inherent arrogance that group seem to have. Plus of course the beautifully printed invitation (Gilt printing, NICE).

Only this little old man with a REALLY badly fitting suit, mop of hair that looked like it had been arranged by the local cat, and dirty shoes comes up. No invitation. Quietly spoken, mild, almost embarrassed in his manner.

Simple, eh? “Nope, you’re not coming in”.
“But if you call my daughter over she will vouch for me.”
Daughters name was the newly married.

I’m thinking “Stranger things have happened!”
So leaving the little old man with our pet Hulk, the daughter was summoned.
Yep, you’ve guessed it, it was her dad.
A multi-billionaire.
Still he did thank me for being so careful and considerate.

Feeling like a complete pillock I went back to the gate.
That was the first time ever I’d got it wrong.

My boss wasn’t upset, the right thing had been done.

Only up comes a little old lady.
Scruffy, same hair dresser aka the cat, looking like a bag lady.
No invite and claiming that her son would vouch for her.

What’s the chances of two in a row?
450 to one (the number of guests present) I later calculated.
Once again the name proffered was one of importance and once again they were summoned.
Now I never gamble, but professionally I KNEW this one was a ringer!
No way in hell was I letting this one though.

On the other hand the boss didn’t want another ‘incident’ so despite my objections I was sent to get the named person.

Mr. Big comes marching up.
Ever noticed that about some rich people?
Big movements to match their pompous ego.

Only the little old lady kept her back to him until he was almost right up to her.
Then she turned around, whipped off the wig, and gave him an envelope muttering those immortal words, “Court bailiff, consider yourself served!”

The place went into an uproar.
The bride broke down, the groom socked his new brother in law (Mr. Pompous) and a  full on fight ensued, and during all that I’m propped up against the wall laughing remembering my dad’s immortal words.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”.

Oh boy dad, you never, ever, worked security!

Checking out the checkout….

Over the next couple of weeks, I (DM) will be sharing this platform with a few guest writers from time to time.  There is still time to get your name in the hat if you’d like.
Wanted to thank Pensitivity101 for being the first one to get back to me on the offer…. She and her hubby hail from across the pond. (England)
DM

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Checking Out The Checkout
One of our past times is people watching, and there is nothing more fascinating than watching someone else’s shopping going through the scanner. I confess I’ve got really nosy and if I have time, will get behind the person with the fullest trolley just so as to see what they are buying and how much their bill is at the end.

Usually you can tell the family Mom doing the weekly shop, crisps, bottles of pop, biscuits, bumper pack of loo and kitchen rolls, several loaves of bread, veg, fruit, meats, milk by the gallon, chocolate type cereals etc. Weekly bill around £125 -£150 for a family of four I’d guess.

Single people tend to buy for a couple of days at a time, and those in a hurry just pick up whatever they pass en route to the check out.

I have noticed lately that more wrinklies (OAPs) are buying bottles of wine or spirits.

We always chat to the checkout staff as they’re processing our purchases, and I sometimes wonder what they, or those in the queue behind us, make of it.
Somehow 4 packs of rice, 3 packs of pasta, 6 cartons of UHT milk and some fruit don’t exactly give you visions of an appetizing meal. In a way it was so much better in the cottage as we would buy 24 cans of tomato soup (9p per tin at the time), 36 cartons of milk, 12 tins of spam,  12 corned beef, a dozen packets of instant mash and instant custard, take full advantage of the three trays of meat for a tenner (at least 14 meals), 12 cans of pineapple, 12 cans each of potatoes, carrots and peas, 12 cans of baked beans, 3 boxes of cereal, a tray of 30 eggs, plus the pasta, rice and spaghetti. Our bill would be around £60 (oh those were the days) but then that would have been our basic month’s shopping and anything else later would just be topping up. The highest One Shop bill was just under £70, but then that included the washing agents and toiletries.

Food prices here are on the way up, and we can’t take advantage of the multi buys like we used to as we simply can’t store them. I am trying to keep our weekly bill down to around £25 -£30. Maggie’s food has been in short supply for a few months, and now it’s back on the shelves with new wrapping (but not less weight, yet), it’s gone up by over £1 a bag. If we see it on special, we buy at least two, as one 2.7kg bag will last her just under a month.

Veg is still relatively cheap though, but going back to the beginning of my message here, Paul’s digestive system can’t cope with too much of the healthy stuff. Stew is on the menu again, but this week I’m really pushing the boat out and we shall have meat in it (cue chop for about 70p) !

Baby Steps

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Dear reader of this blog,

I wanted to  plant a seed in your heart….

I would like to ask you to consider writing a guest post.  If you’re a blogger, you can link it to your blog (if you want) or write anonymously…and no one (but me of course) would know who you are…Topic would be completely up to you.  Only stipulation is, that it is fresh, not something you’ve had laying around in your archives, or something you wrote 6 months or 20 years ago and that it not be negative or snarky.

If you’ve never blogged, then this would be the perfect way to share something, near and dear to your heart on the Internet without having to create a blog…

think baby steps. 😉

No pressure what so ever, but if the idea does stir something inside of you, don’t just blow that off.  Shoot me an e-mail or leave a message and we can talk more.

 

DM

Baby step image compliments of google.