It’s gotten easier

Here begins the story of a former rule follower.

When my wife and I decided to get married (42 years ago now) one of the spin off issues, right out of the gate was our different spiritual backgrounds. Won’t bore you with all the details, only to say, I decided to defer to her in that department, because she was worth it.

On a practical level, I was just going through the motions.

I hadn’t really given it (the spiritual component of my life) too much thought.

Period.

Until I started to.

I started asking “why?” questions.

The more I read, the more questions. I was like a coon dog on a scent.

I finally had a list of 8 to 10 questions that I needed answers to.

I made an appointment to meet with the guy who was our pastor at the time. Took my questions, along with a few handouts I’d come across along the way. He was a sharp, younger man as I recall, he really listened. By the end of our meeting, I was convinced it was time to move on. The official answers I was given that day just did not add up nor satisfy my intellectual curiosity.

The good thing was, during all of those months and weeks leading up to that meeting, I had been processing out loud. Asking my wife what about this? What about that? So by accident, she too had begun to question some of the fundamental things she had been taught from her youth.

We decided it was time to make some tough choices that we knew might not set well with some of her extended family. But staying where we was not an option.

The fear of what other people think is a snare….it’s called “The fear of man” It is a tough place to live.

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10 years later, I found myself in familiar waters.

(This would have been in the early 1990’s.)

Wife was concerned, even back then, on some of the trends happening in education.

She had heard a program on the radio about home schooling, an interview with Dr Raymond and Dorothy Moore.

My first thought was, no way, no how. That’s just plain crazy talk.

Thing about marriage and parenting is, it’s a joint effort. and over the next while, she continued to read and get more information. She didn’t nag, didn’t talk too much about it, but my lack of support and encouragement, didn’t stop her from doing her own research. It finally came to a head (that whole issue of possibly home schooling our kids) With tears in her eyes, she shared her heart with me. At the end our meeting, we agreed we were not going to just jump because this was not some simple thing. We didn’t know anyone else locally at the time who was doing it. We agreed we would take the next year to learn about it, and then decide.

Looking back, that was one of the best decisions we made while the kids were in the home. Ended up doing it for 9 years. Involved the kids in the decision making process as they got older. I could write a blog post on that season of our life.

Actually I have… here.

Emotionally, those same people pleasing fears were in the air. They were in my head. Especially in the early 1990’s, there were a lot of people who thought we were nuts. We’d stepped off the deep end. We probably thought the earth was flat.

Didn’t matter.

The rule follower in me had already tasted the freedom of making decisions not based on what other people might think, but on what make sense to me intellectually after weighing the information. There are relatives to this day, who probably think we were nuts.

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Got time for one more?

COVID-19 and the plethora of spin off issues and questions.

I like that word plethora. Like how it rolls off my tongue.

I have to be honest.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, I have been intellectually lazy on this one.

Hasn’t meant I haven’t been dealing with stuff, just like the rest of you, because I have. It’s just I’ve not been motivated to learn. So I’ve been quiet.

The vitriol once you step foot in the public square, feels like someone has a wood chipper outside my door. Last thing I want to do is get anywhere close to that sucker.

Then I read something in one of the McGuffey readers I bought for fun last winter… It was an essay on the value of Time and Knowledge

“The…value of mental cultivation is another weighty motive for giving attention to reading. What is it that mainly distinguishes a man from a brute? Knowledge…

Knowledge is power. It is the philosopher’s stone, the true alchemy that turns everything it touches into gold…and opens to us the treasures of the universe…”

Knowledge.

Knowledge is power.

So I have started to peck away at the mass of information on the current virus, the history of viruses, prevention, treatment options, vaccinations, and get a working knowledge of it for myself. My baby sister is an RN, works in a local hospital. She has been a good starting place, and continues to let me ask her hard questions.

This feels familiar. Digging in. Reading, Thinking. Asking hard questions.

I will say this,

Once you step away from the wood chipper, there are some things that just do not add up.

OF Grit and Bone 8/7/2021

Phone rang about 5:40 AM a week ago Friday.

When the phone rings @ 5:40 AM, that’s normally not good.

It wasn’t.

Our neighbor to the west was calling. I could hear panic in her voice.

Doug, can you help me?

D. (her sister) had fallen again.

D lives alone. She is in her 80’s. Sharp as a tack mentally, but her body is falling apart.

This was the 2nd time in a week, I’d gotten a call to ask if I could help with D. A week ago, I built her a couple of ramps so she could maneuver her walker into the bathroom, and a second larger ramp to get out of the house:

Before

After

D is wrestling with the same issue some of you and all of us eventually get to wrestle with if we live long enough. Physically no longer able to live alone yet unwilling to relocate to some type of care facility.

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On a completely different note. I had another successful “walk away bee split” this week. That makes three for three.

What a rush to pop open the hive and see new brood! (Brood are eggs that have been capped)

Capped brood (photo by others)
I was telling my son about the inner workings of a honeybee hive, and how they instinctively sense when there is no queen.

It has not lost it’s magic…. the gentle manipulation and management of honeybees.

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On Wednesday, I made a trip to the University of Iowa hospitals to see a retina specialist. (I had cataract laser surgery and tri-focal implants late February and early March.) Left eye has not been right ever since.

It turns out I have a large blob of normal age related protein that has somehow “folded in on itself” and is floating in the jelly portion of my eye, right in the line of sight. (It moves back and forth, and blocks 1/4 to 1/3 of my vision. There are three options…

#1 Do nothing, it “will probably eventually settle.”

#2 Attempt to blow it to smithereens with a laser.”

#3, “Make some small incisions and scrape all of the jelly out of your eye and replace it with some made made solution.”

Options # 2 and 3 both carry with them a fair amount of risk, and are not guaranteed.

Compared to my friend “D” whose ramp I built a week ago. my quality of life is right @ the top of the scale. Funny how that works. It’s all about perspective.

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Last night our family got together to celebrate my parents 65th wedding anniversary.

65 years!

It seems almost surreal.

We had a house guest live with us back in 2013. Liberal young woman from the East coast. She could not get over how many long term relationships there were in the people she met in our area. We were talking about the 5 serious relationships she’d had up until then, was single again, and wondered if she’d ever find someone else.

Before we left the party last night I attacked by one of my grandchildren: She snuggled and hugged me profusely. It was the highlight of my night. ūüôā

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Thanks for staying in touch. Always enjoy bantering with each and every one of you!

ps We also had a serendipitous visit from a fellow blogger last week. She was traveling from Colorado to Pennsylvania. She spent two nights our B and B suite. It was good to catch up.

You probably already know this, but if @ any time you that I regularly banter with are in our neck of the woods, don’t hesitate to reach out. I get that some of you prefer to keep your identity obscure. I get it. If on the other hand you’re like me, and love to meet your fellow bloggers, we’ll leave the light on.

The Coronavirus,the Bible, and I

Quick story…

I was about 18 years old the first time it happened. I was not a religious/ spiritual person @ this point in my life.  I was living my version of La Vita Loca. work crew 1977

Anyway, one evening, I was just  randomly thumbing through the good book, and a sentence  jumped off the page:

     “ Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise;
    when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”  Proverbs 17:28

Bam/ right along side the head.

My mouth had been getting me into trouble fairly regularly at that point. and I was tired of it.  I resolved right then and there, to take this pithy proverb to heart.  I would keep quiet the next time I was temped to spout off.

Ever so slowly my interactions with people began to improve.

Side note… On this blog, I assume most of you  do not necessarily share my understanding of the Bible, spirituality, etc.  although a few of you do.  I rarely go there on this space.  I have another blog specifically devoted to spiritual stuff, just like I have a “farm blog” more geared to farmish stuff….but I woke up this morning thinking,  I would really like to write something that touches on  the   the coronavirus, the Bible  and our current situation, so I am going to go there….

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The bible has quite a bit to say about the  coronavirus actually , but not in the way you might expect.  For example, right now these words have taken on a whole new meaning to me the past month:

For the righteous  (righteous = a person of faith)  will never be moved: ….
He is not afraid of evil tidings;
    his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steady, he will not be afraid.”  Psalm 112

I have those words on a 3 by 5 index card on the dashboard of my pickup.  I’ve been chewing on them the past few weeks.  Evil tidings is a great way to characterize most of what passes for “news” these days.

Not going to let it suck me in if I can help.

(side note:  In case you didn’t know, the Psalms are actually a  compilation of various styles of writings… part song book, part personal journal,  personal prayers, etc.  (think blogger from 3500 years ago).

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One last verse on the media..

 “…. whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” 

I (DM) learned my lesson after 9/11.  I continue to watch my media intake.  No binge watching.  I have no interest in keeping up to speed on the day to day updates.

PS.  I appreciate each and every one of you that has written and continues to write  about what has been happening in your neck of the woods  in terms of the coronavirus.

Would much rather read your stories.

Take care. DM

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My take

I’ve been wanting to write something simple¬† on the topics of woke, revisionist history, tearing down statues,¬† how our country is being overrun¬† by a bunch of ______________, (fill in the blank.)

Came across this picture yesterday:

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I did not take physics in high school.¬† Doesn’t mean I don’t have a working knowledge of gravity.¬† ūüėČ

I sensed for a while now,  another  law of physics (metaphorically) at work in my life, and only this morning was I able to identify it.

Newton’s 3rd law : For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Ever since I first read about the Laura Ingals Wilder debacle¬† by the library association, I’ve felt it.¬† An energy¬† bouncing around in my head trying to find expression.

And as my country continues head long on a  mindless rush to throw itself over the cliff,  I find myself moving in the opposite direction.

I saw a clip of a newsman¬† go on a rant, supposedly while on the air, about the Laura Ingals Wilder award.¬† He said what I was thinking, laced with a lot profanities. ¬† As I tried to re- track that clip down, it turned out he’s a comedian from the UK, so it was a spoof.¬† I was tempted to include it here. Most of you are savoy enough with the computer, if you’re curious, you could find it.

Is there a place for profanity?¬† I think on rare occasion there is.¬† I can give you at least 3 examples from the Bible, two where God himself uses a type of profanity to emphasize his anger.¬† First time I came across it, I thought, what the heck?! Didn’t know that was in there!¬† so yea, there is a place for anger, and I think several of the things that are making me angry, should.

 

DM

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Profanity as Wikipedia defines it:¬† Socially offensive language, crude…. It can show a debasement of someone or something, or be considered as an expression of strong feeling towards something

Until the bees came out…

It’s been a couple of years now….

I have a policy, I refuse to argue about current events, religious debates, cultural stuff, etc.

Doesn’t mean I don’t have¬† opinions, and doesn’t mean I won’t talk about them with you,¬† it’s just, 95% of the time those interactions are fruitless and drive people apart, rather than result in something positive, ie. like mutual understanding.

On top of that, I simply do not have the time to be conversant on every current “issue.”

Most of the time, the other party is not interested in understanding, they just want to vent.

I’m not doing it. ūüôā

Last time it happened, I learned my lesson.

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In the ¬† 25¬† 23 years I’d known this woman, there had never been any tension in our relationship/ ever..

Until that one day….

Something on the news had gotten her agitated.  I could sense she wanted to vent.

I listened.

Finally told her, I didn’t want it to degenerate into a conflict. (She already knew she and I would look at things differently.)

But she kept going/  prodding, poking, snipping, mocking.

Felt like someone taking a stick,¬† banging on my bee hive. ¬† I was just a bee, minding my own business, doing what I do, making honey and tending baby bees…

And then, things went South.

Fast.

The bees came out of the hive.

I saw a side of me, I prefer to keep in check, and I saw a side of her I’d never seen.

It took weeks, to shake off the negativity of that morning, even though we both apologized.¬† It was like we opened Pandora’s box and all sorts of nasty’s came out.

Taught me a lesson.

All of us have within us a dark side.

Even the kindest, gentlest, sweetest soul you’ll ever meet.

All of us..

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The other memory I have on this issue happened when our girls were 11 and 12. ¬† We were in the middle of the home schooling chapter in our lives.¬† A new brother-in-law joined the extended family, and it wasn’t long before I¬† got wind of him grilling, (and subtly mocking) the two older girls. He had his own baggage when it came to faith/ a domineering mother, etc) so I¬† chalked it up to him being triggered…and then it happened.¬† It was just he and I, and he pounced¬† (on me) spoiling for a fight.¬† Sixty seconds into his rant, I looked at him and said I wasn’t going to debate.¬† I wasn’t going to go there.¬† I valued my relationship with him and there was no way, he and I were going to come away from that pissing match in a better place.

Pause.

He smiled.

His countenance changed.

It was like a heavy weight had lifted.

We agreed, that was probably for the best.

That was 25 years ago. We still get along. I can still see that knowing twinkle in his eyes.  We have  an understanding.

Now if he would have been in a different frame of mind, (open) I could have told him about my journey from total opposition to the idea of home schooling, (wife’s idea/ not mine)¬† to coming to a place where all of my concerns (socialization,¬†¬† extra curricular activities, how could we teach subjects we ourselves as parents had struggled with, etc)¬† had been addressed head on.

I was now excited about home schooling as a viable educational model.

None of that came out, because it couldn’t.

He didn’t have ears to hear.

Now 20 years later, I would add home schooling is not for every family, nor even every child in the same family.  But to completely write it off, well you do not know what you are talking about.

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Ruth Stout.

Ever hear of her?

She is my role model when it comes to dealing with differences of opinion.

Her claim to fame is how she gardened.

Amazing story.

Completely bucked the status quo, and the fruit of her gardening proved she was onto something.¬† Eventually, people tried to put her on a pedestal, but she wouldn’t have it.¬† Wouldn’t let them.

Refused to tell people what to think, but let the results speak for themselves.

That’s me.¬† DM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Door Opens #7

36 years ago, come this July, we picked up, lock, stock and barrel, and headed East,   Gilgal Bible Chapel agreed to let us stay in one of their apartments while I returned to school.

I have been reliving that season in our lives the past several posts. This is the 7th installment.

I knew my dad would struggle with our decision, although he and my mom have never meddled in any of our decisions,¬† (and still don’t).

I wanted to break it to him easy and give him another perspective.

When we got back from our week on the east coast spying out the land, He asked, “Well, what did you decide?”

I’d given it some thought (what to tell¬† him) so I said, “We’ve decided¬† to move to Africa as missionaries.”

Dead silence.

I let the words hang in the air for about 15 seconds, then,¬† “Just kidding.¬† All the details have come together so we are moving to New Jersey for a year.”

(That was SO out of character for me, as his compliant first born).¬† ūüôā

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Shifting gears….

To my regular readers,   Thank you for being so gracious and reading along the last several posts!

I don’t plan¬† to relieve the whole 5 years we lived on the East Coast with you here.¬† Just knowing¬† several of you have been following along has encouraged me to take the time to get this stuff down in print.

I do plan to write one or two more installments  on a few life lessons that were drummed into me while living and working in New Jersey.

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Any of the following interest you?¬† (If I threw in a few short stories.)¬† Just trying to get a feel if any of these would be interesting to anyone but me. ūüôā

 

Addressing issues rather than ignoring them. (house meetings)

Transparency. (Living life w/o a mask)

People pleasing and boundaries.

Balance or (living with margin) for the long haul.

Mentoring.  (A lot like what goes into good parenting)

 

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Take care and have a good week! DM

 

 

 

 

Living In Community? #6

You’re reliving with me (if you’ve been reading the last five posts) our move to New Jersey in 1985.¬† Not going to repeat any of that.¬† I am assuming you’re up to speed.

I love history.

I loved thumbing through a very old McGuffey Reader, where I discovered the name Sara Ann Strawn in the front cover.  She had also written  Hopewell Township District number 8  1838 where she was attending school.  That sent me off to the Genweb ancestry website to see if I could find her.  I did, and much, much more.

Later, while reading a book with the  personal correspondence of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)  she wrote about  her time living in a Unitarian Universalist community with her family.  What a nightmare that time in her life was.

It’s called original source material,¬† not revisionist poison pablum where someone from today takes their current worldview prejudices and tells me what to think about something written 100 years ago.

Back when we were doing the home school gig,  we were doing  unit studies on early American history.  I remember reading  about original source documents (from the Pilgrims) being stolen from the Library of Congress.

Several of them.

Who would do such a thing, I thought?  Why????

Sometimes it was as simple as greed. They would sell old manuscripts on the black market.

Other times the purpose were more nefarious. Revisionist history/ erasing/ removing/ censoring…..1984 here we come.

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Shifting gears slightly,¬† when I started reading portions of the Bible, (filled with dozens of original source documents)¬† the letter written by Luke, usually referred to as “Acts” stirred something in me.¬† I¬† remember being struck by how different ¬† 1st century Christianity seemed compared to what is currently called “Christianity.”

They (the early/ 1st century Christians) had a depth of relationship with each other, I rarely (if ever) saw in to days setting, and I wondered why?

Why not?

What is the disconnect?

Going to give you just one example:

Acts chapter 2:¬† Selling their possessions and goods, they shared with anyone who was in need.¬† With one accord, they continued to meet daily…to break bread from house to house, sharing their meals with gladness…. “

I remember having a conversation on the construction site with Lester Zimmerman when I was younger, about this disconnect.

“Why don’t Christians today have that depth of relationship/ interaction as those 2000 yrs ago?”

Lester,¬† a semi retired farmer who attended a small local church said he didn’t know.

Couldn’t really give me a good answer.

So in the back of my mind,¬† I’d had these questions, wishing I could experience¬† life/ relationship/ on the order of what I was reading.

Next thing I know, I am in New Jersey, sitting in the dorm room of a place (church?) that has some of the ingredients of the early church….

This place sat on 10 acres of prime real estate.¬† Several families living on the same property,¬† plus a men’s dorm, a woman’s dorm, communal kitchens,¬† etc. etc)

It felt a little surreal.

And you better believe the word “cult” flittered through my mind a time or two.¬† ūüėČ

Absolutely….

After the Fourth of July picnic where Dorothy suggested I could work for her son who had a construction business,  there were still a couple of days left on the calendar before it was time to get on the plane and head home.

Sunday was the turning point in our time there. They had a traditional church service in the morning,¬† (sit in chairs/ sing/ listen to a message/ etc.) then broke for lunch (a pot luck), then back to a second more informal gathering that was called “an open meeting”.

I had no idea what to expect, fortunately, a young lady, Nancy Hunter,  took us under her wing, sat by us and explained the format.

Not going to unpack that part of our time right now, not sure how interested you are in some of these details…Other than to say, there came a point in that meeting where I felt it was now or never,

I remember standing up and¬† saying something to the effect…“It says, ask and you shall receive, knock and the door will be opened..I’m knocking…we were wondering if you (the church assembled in that room) would consider renting a room to us for a year, in order that I could attend classes @ CCEF?”

Dead silence….

Then one of the pastors responded:¬† ‘We’ve been discussing this,¬† I’ll talk to you more¬† after the meeting.”

to be continued…

Spying Out The Land #4

Picking up where I left off on my earlier post ¬†of January 6th 2021…

So there I was,  married with two toddlers,  entertaining thoughts of walking away from the family construction business and go back to school part time.  The program I was looking at was 1000 miles from home, in a suburb of Philadelphia.

There were three things that needed to come together if this would become a reality…

Money, housing, and a part time job

We had absolutely nothing in savings.

Secondly, housing.¬† While I didn’t want to live in some rough part of Philadelphia , that was a real possibility.

Thirdly,  I would need to find a job with  flexibility, preferably construction related.

About this time in the decision making process, an account from the Bible took on a whole new meaning. It is the account of the 12 spies sent out by the newly created nation of Israel, to spy out their possible future home land.  (Book of Numbers chapter 13, and part of chapter 14.)

Like I mentioned a couple of posts ago, if you’re tagging along and are curious about our move to New Jersey, you’ll have to permit me to tell you what was really happening in our lives, including references to my faith.¬† If talking about my faith is a turn off, you’ll probably want to exit this series right now and check back¬† later.

12 representatives (spies) (one for each tribe),  were sent to check out a new land that the God of Abraham, was asking them to move to, after just leaving the slavery of Egypt. (Ever hear of the story of Moses?)

Twelve men are sent to “spy out the land.”

The twelve, discovered it was  a land overflowing with bounty.

Just one small catch.

The people living there were a tough lot, with no intention of moving (obviously)¬† so 10 of the 12 spies come back and say, “Nope.”

“Nada.”

“Not going there,”

“The place is too dangerous!”

¬†“What will happen to our wives and children????

Only 2 of the spies, (Joshua and Caleb) have a different perspective.

Yep, it is an intimidating place, but if God is in this move, then we trust that he will work out the details.”

“Let’s do it!”

You’ll have to read it for yourself, if you want to know what happens next. ¬† It’s not good.

So there I was thinking, if, (and it was still a big “if”) God was in fact asking me to consider moving East, then I didn’t want to let fear be the deciding factor.

I wanted to be neither irresponsible nor make our decision based solely out of fear.

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Side note….

Most of us have probably never given much thought to the training of therapists and counselors.¬† I know I’d never, until this point.

Dirty little secret. -There are literally dozens of schools of thought when it comes to the “how to” of counseling.¬† Depending on your worldview of how people look at life, that will determine how you counsel.

In simple terms, if you believe that your brain is the end product of a brain evolved from a lizard, that will affect how you counsel an addict.  If on the other hand, you believe there is a spiritual component to change, that too will affect how you approach addictions, (or any other issue.)

I already knew,  I wanted training that incorporated the Bible and had a spiritual component to it, which was why I was looking @ CCEF.    

(Remember that spiritual stirring I alluded to earlier)

The school was located in a northern suburb of Philadelphia, attached to campus of Westminster Theological Seminary.

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My thought was, let’s take a week, fly out to Philadelphia, spy out the land, figuratively speaking and see if the details come together so we could move there for a year.

In preparation for our visit to CCEF and the Philadelphia area,   I asked the school, for the names of local pastors who were attending  classes.  As I recall, I sent out about a dozen letters, explaining we were coming to the area the first week of July.  Did they know anyone in their congregations who might be interested in hiring me part time, or have any rental property?     I felt  if God was really in this whole idea  then it was reasonable to believe He could bring together the details we would need for it to happen.

On July 2nd 1985, my wife and I flew into the  Philadelphia International Airport .

We picked up our rental car  and took off in the direction of CCEF

Our route took us down town, on Broad Street where I ran into the biggest round-about, I had ever encountered in my life.¬† It is actually square. ūüėȬ† ¬† I know we made at least one complete circle before I spotted the correct exit.

A view of North Broad Street in Philadelphia.

photo compliments of Google

to be continued….

Snapping turtles and a stop at the bar #3

As I have been reliving those years we lived in New Jersey, my mind has been thinking about our time leading up to our move East.  As I mentioned in my last entry, we were living just behind our local county home (Care facility).   I could probably do a mini series just on those 3 and 1/2 years, but that will have to wait.  I did have a couple of memories connected to another one of the residents we got to know pretty well.

His name was Don.

Don Kibbermeier.

Smallish man.  He moved with a quick nervous energy.  Wore bibs all the time.   You’d see him out and about, scurrying here and there.

One of the things Don loved to do was catch snapping turtles.  There were (are) 7 ponds on the farmland surrounding the  County Home.

Don would bait a treble hook with chicken liver, attach it to a wire fishing leader, stake it to the bank, and attach a  plastic milk jug for a bobber.

One day he stopped over to our house and told me he had something he wanted to show me.  It was in  the garage.   In the bottom of a garbage can was a humongous snapping turtle!   Filled up  the bottom of the can, and  boy was it was pissed off.

“How much?” I asked.

“Five Dollars and it’s yours,” he said.

“Does that include killing and cleaning it?”

“Nope, that would be another $5“,he said.

“Deal.  I’ll take it.”

I bought it in honor of my grandpa Conley.  He was an outdoors-man who knew how to catch and clean snappers.  I can still see my Grandma Conley standing over her stove frying turtle, dipped in eggs and cracker crumbs.   The leg muscles still moving, I am not kidding you….

Have you ever eaten snapping turtle?

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One other quick story about Don and I.

He approached me one Saturday morning and asked if I could give him a lift into town. (The care facility was 6 or 7 miles from the nearest town)  I was required to sign him out @ the front desk, meaning I was taking 100% responsibility while he was in my care)  The guy was in his 60’s  and I was in my 20’s.

It seemed a little weird and degrading for Don,  but I did it.

As we were driving down main-street, he said,  “Could you pull over?  I’d like to run inside and buy some chew.”

“Sure,” I said.

Sat there a couple of minutes before he came back.  We made one more stop and headed home.

Later in the afternoon, I got a call from the head nurse on duty.  Don Kibermeier was drunk and out of control. 

“Did I know anything about that?”

Had I given him alcohol?

Was I with him 100% of the time while we were out????”

“Well, no, I said, he had  asked me to stop somewhere so he could run in and get some chew.”

“Well, that’s not all he bought.”

To be continued…

Why (Second in a mini series)

The Winter of 1984, construction slowed down as it often would, so I enrolled in a correspondence class¬† on¬† marriage and family¬† counseling through CCEF.¬† (This was way before on line classes. ūüôā )

We were renting a house just behind the County Care Facility at the time.  (see picture below).

The County Home as it was called locally, housed the young, the old,  the physically and mentally disabled, those struggling with alcohol addiction, etc.  It was a safety net for people who might otherwise have no where else to turn.

Our two girls, both toddlers at the time, would go with their mom over to the kitchen window of the care facility  and visit  the cooks.   The kitchen was in the basement, and Sandy, or  Lori, (the cooks)  would hand them a cookie through the window.

County home

We lived in that little house 3 and 1/2 years. Got to know many of the residents on a first name basis.¬† Hap Steiner, Don Kibermeyer, Freddie, Melvin,¬† Jerry…and Dan.

Dan was just a couple of years older than myself.¬† At the time I had no idea why someone like him would be living at the County home.¬†¬†¬† He wasn’t retarded, nor physically disabled.

Dan and I got together every Monday night after I got home from work for two years.  He and I would sit at our kitchen table while I mostly listened to him.  I secretly had this hunch that if we talked through some of his life issues long enough, he could be set free from whatever in the world it was that had him living here in this care facility, and then he could go on to enjoy a normal life.

That day never came.

I do know Dan consumed  an awful lot of my Nestles Quick chocolate milk as we sat at the table.

Then there was a second person in our life at the time who was also a mystery. Her name was Jodi.¬† She was in her late 20’s.¬† Walked with a slight limp, slightly overweight.¬† I think maybe she had a mild case of Cerebral Palsy¬† She lived just a couple of miles from our place with her mother.¬† She too struggled with an assortment of mental and physical issues and at certain times would lapse into this sing-songy voice when talking.¬†¬† Her struggles (it seemed to me) were more in the realm of negative thought patterns.¬†¬† I had a hunch maybe she’d been bullied as a young girl.¬†¬†¬† Jodi would stop by randomly for a visit, and sometimes we’d go to her moms.

There is one more piece of this story I need to tell you, otherwise I’m going to keep tippy-toeing around it, and it will drive me bonkers.

I am not a religious person.

Never was.

If that is your thing and it helps you navigate life, more power to you. No disrespect intended when I say that.

But I was experiencing a spiritual stirring in my life that wasn’t always in play.

Shortly before we were to be married, we were required to attend a pre-marriage workshop through the local church my wife attended.  Workshops on everything from communication skills, insurance,  money management, etc.

There was one guy that got my attention that afternoon.¬† He did not look like a “church guy”¬† He looked more like a college football coach or a construction worker.¬†¬†¬† He looked at this auditorium full of young couples in love and said he was going to give it to us straight.

He said,¬†¬† “If you want your marriage to have a chance in this day and age, when one out of two end in divorce, then Jesus Christ, needs to be in the center of your relationship, the cement in your marriage.”

I had not idea what that meant practically speaking but as someone who was pouring a lot of cement at the time, that word picture really resonated with me . It left me wanting to know more.  The best way I can put it, is a  year and 1/2 later,  the lights came on spiritually.

The more I grew spiritually, the more I wanted to know…

What would it take to help someone like a Jodi or Dan, both of whom seemed obviously stuck?

I finished my first class through the mail and wanted more.

To be continued….