True…That

 

Yesterday morning on my way to work, I passed through the town of XYZ.

A young friend and former co-worker lives in this town, and sometimes I will  call (or text him) just to let him know I am thinking of him.

That happened yesterday,  🙂  I texted him once I got to the job-site.

Several years ago he  played the part of the tailor in the play Fiddler on the roof.

Remember that story?

I texted him:

“Blessings on your head, mazel tov, mazel tov.”

Forty five minutes later he replies: “Morn’n Tevya!”

To which I said: “If I were a rich man…”

An hour later he replied:“Ah, but you’ve been blessed with beautiful daughters, (and son) plus that pesky fiddler on your roof!”

His words made my morning.

Made me think about my four kids…

I am a rich man.

I am thankful for these relationships for several reasons.

When I was younger (and they were young) I didn’t “get it.”  I poured too much of my time and energy into other “good things”.  ie helping other people, youth group, work,  instead of cherishing the ones closest to me.   So I am thankful for the relationships I do have.

I am thankful for each of their diverse personalities.

I am thankful for the  adult version each of them has turned into (in spite of us as parents feeling like we were flying by the seat of our pants, the whole time.)

I am thankful I get to work with our son currently.  He has his own masonry  and commercial business, and I have my own construction and remodeling business.  Some days, he’s the boss, and other days, I am in charge.  What a blessing!

 

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How about you.  Tell me something (somethings) you need to be more thankful for.

You know me, I love details…..details.

If you can’t think of something right now on the spot, give it some thought, and come back.

 

 

Ode to the blue collar man (ie. my father)

Ode: An ode is a kind of poem, usually praising something. … An ode is a form of lyric poetry — expressing emotion — and it’s usually addressed to someone or something, or it represents the poet’s musings on that person or thing.

(Long time readers may remember a version of this post from 2016.  It showed up on my “blog stats” this morning and I thought it was worth reposting. DM)

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My dad graduated high school in the early  50’s.

A local attorney  (Remley) who at one point owned the farm my dad  lived on,  offered to pick up the tab on his college tuition “because  he had a knack for math.” My grandparents were not rich.  They’d raised a family through the great depression, then after WW 2,  shipped, case after case of canned food and clothing to grandma’s relatives  back in the old country (German).. .so grandpa and grandma never really got ahead financially. Dad opted not to go to college, instead went into the service, then went to work at a packing house. After that, he started  driving a cement truck for a local cement company.   At some point, he was asked to come into the office and help behind the counter in the lumber yard portion of the business, eventually rising through the ranks to manage both the lumberyard and the concrete plant.

(Remember what I told you about math.) 🙂

In the early 1970’s dad went into business with his brother as a general contractors. They built up a multi-million dollar construction company, employed one  hundred eighty men over the course of a 30 year span, one of which was me.

This is an ode to the  blue collar man that shaped my life..

 

Ode To The Blue Collar Man

He

had

 the

hands

of a

farmer.

The heart of

a musician,

the mind of

an engineer.

But somehow..

between raising a family,

paying the bills and farming the land,

his steel guitar  got misplaced in the mix.

Life is a pendulum.Sometimes we learn

by example, and sometimes we choose

a different path.

Checking In

How are you doing this morning?

What’s it like locally where you live?

I was telling my wife this morning over coffee, one of the harder things to deal with (for me) is getting accurate information,  trying to sort the crazy rumors out from what’s really true so we can make good decisions.

I stumbled across a fresh source of news on Thursday I have good feelings about.  It’s called the Epoch Times.  They are currently running a special.  First month is only a $1.00, then after that, it’s $70 something for 6 months.  What impressed me, well one of the things that really impressed me was their coverage on the Covid-19 (the coronavirus).  They have an ongoing data base that is updated every couple of minutes with statistics on number of confirmed cases, number of deaths, broken down, by country, and state.   Crunching the numbers myself, I saw that in Italy for example the rate of death was over 8%…which is crazy.  When it comes to accurate information from China, I absolutely do not trust the information, from them or the mainstream media in our country.

Got this off their website:

    “The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in the year 2000 in response to communist repression and censorship in China. Our founders, Chinese-Americans who themselves had fled communism, sought to create an independent media to bring the world uncensored and truthful information. We are free from the influence of any government, corporation, or political party—this is what makes us different from other media organizations. Our goal is to bring our readers accurate information so they can form their own opinions about the most significant topics of our time.”

I’ll let you know in a month, whether or not we chose to subscribe.  It’s a little steep, but knowledge is power as the saying goes.

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On a local front here, I have a full morning.  Dropping off a couple of dozen farm fresh eggs to one of our regulars,  then stopping by my mom and dad’s for a cup of coffee.   Their in their 80’s so they are laying low.   At 10 I am picking up our 6 year old grandson.  He get’s to hang out with grandpa today (me), going to show him how to start tomato plants from seeds.   Then as they mature, send several of the plants home with him for him to plant and take care of and eventually show him how to save tomato seeds for next season.

After our seed starting workshop, we are going to pick up beer cans.

Home Schooling PE class at it’s finest. 🙂

Get some exercise, clean up the environment, hang out with grandpa and make money at the same time,

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Here’s a link to the Epoch Times, in case you are curious:

And finally, I’ll leave you with this…I shared it last year:

Take care. DM

Better is….

“Better is one hand with quietness, than two fists full, with  stress  and the chasing after the wind. ”   3000 yr old proverb

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We got home last night about 7:30.  Spent  850 miles in the car yesterday.

Boy is it good to be home.

Spent the last three weeks in the Denver Colorado area framing walls and hanging drywall for family. There was very limited access to the computer (not to mention, very little time) which was why I have been quiet.

One of the things I was acutely aware of the last three weeks was the contrast between the pace of my life (now) and the pace of life of those we were staying with.

Seeing those bumper to bumper car lights  of people  heading home from work on Hwy 470 one evening made me thankful that is no longer part of my routine.  We used to live in Northern New Jersey. I can still remember the work traffic that went past our place on the way to New York City.

Quick story.  In the early 1990’s I started a new job framing houses for JP construction.  I would say there were 15 to 20 of us on the crew.  JP’s brother-in-law Al was a part of that mix. Wasn’t too long before I realized Al loved to stir the pot.  He was always looking for ways to instigate drama and conflict.  I’d never in my life worked around someone like that.  One day he tried to embarrass me in front of several of the other guys for no other reason than our personalities didn’t play well together.  He asked me a trick question,  and rather than take the bait, I asked him why he wanted to know.  “Don’t answer my question with a question.”   I smiled and that was the end of it.

I thought  of Al this week when our host family turned on the “news” each night after we ate.   The  suckers were doing the very same thing as Al used to do..,..attempting to stir the pot between the rest of us.

I’m not taking the bait.

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Another quick story.

We are related to someone who loves to send us links to various alarming current event issues.  He sent three this week.   In person, the guy is full of himself. 95% of the conversations are about him and his interests.  He talks down (and over me) when we’ve seen him.  I used to find him a little bit quirky but  endearing.  Not so much anymore.    So  when we get these pushy unsolicited links via the computer, it is a complete turn off.  If I felt there was even a little more humility and genuine interest  in little old me, that would go along ways.  As it is,  he scores zero in terms of influencing my life. Zero, absolute zero.

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I was also struck by kindness of strangers.  From the guy that helped me at the Lowes  store in Brighton Colorado, to the check out girl in Kearney Nebraska.  Kindness is still  alive and well  across the Fruited Plains.

I have missed all of you the past three weeks.   Our interactions are apparently one of the ways I keep myself grounded.    I suppose I could quit blogging entirely,  put in longer days at work, and (maybe), have a few more dollars in my bank account.   30 years ago, that might have sounded like wisdom.

“Better is one hand with quietness that two fists full with stress and chasing after the wind.”

Well, time to get my duff away from the computer and plan the rest of my week.   Take care. DM

Learners corner

Got a phone call  at 7:30 this morning from my sister-in-law.  She was standing @ the contractor’s desk at Home Depot, trying to order materials for their basement remodel.  She told me the other day when we were talking, she was starting to “get it”…as in the lingo, construction lingo..the difference between studs, and plate material, white wood, treated,  types of insulation, the purpose of a vapor barrier..fire blocking,  etc. etc.

She still has questions but I have been amazed at how quickly she has picked things up.   Heck I still  run into situations all the time that I’m not familiar with and I’ve been around it for over 40 years.   Life lesson: Better to speak up and ask, than bluff and pay the piper later.

While we were on the phone,  My mind went to  an article I’d been carrying around in my wallet since October.  We’d spent the weekend at our daughters watching the grand kids and an article from  American Hunter magazine caught my eye.  It was about a young home schooling mother and her 10 year old daughter who hunt moose for the tribal people in Alaska.  Fascinating story:

“When a seasoned mother-daughter from Alaska visits our man in Idaho, for some turkey hunting lessons,  the line between mentor and pupil becomes blurred”

The writer talked about taking this mother/ daughter turkey hunting…something totally new to them (even though they hunt for a living.)

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My new friends Martha and Elli  came to Dancing Springs Ranch at the start of last turkey season.  Neither had ever seen a turkey in the wild, and they knew precious little about shotguns.

     “I have a Mossberg youth model pump 20-gauge that should fit you guys pretty well,” I announced, thinking this would impress them.

 “What’s a pump 20-gauge?” Elli asked.

 “You don’t know what a pump 20-gauge is?”  I didn’t really say that, but that’s what popped into my head.  Isn’t this typical for experienced hunters?  We assume everyone should know this basic stuff and being human, we leap at the opportunity to show off our “superior” knowledge. 

Wrong approach.

We win no converts by intimidating or insulting them.

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Having been in the learners corner myself multiple times, I’ve experienced both, great teachers and condescending, arrogant  twits,

My memories are still fresh.

(I tried to get my CDL class A semi drivers license a couple of times a few years go…that world is full of twits, and I still don’t have my license. 😉

Same thing happened when I went to a local gun shop a few years ago.  My ability to talk the lingo is still limited.  Some of the guys behind the counter I encountered were awesome, and one in particular was a class A twit.

When I was gearing up to teach a college level construction program, it was a steep learning curve…but the school I was working for was a class act.  I was surrounded by patient people.)

So the next time you find yourself talking to someone with little or no knowledge of some area that you do know, think before you open your mouth, and get impatient. Think about the person in front of you and the last time you were in over your head in a new area of life.

Be nice. 🙂

Someone will love you for it.

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What areas of life do you have a working knowledge? (You don’t have to consider yourself “an expert.” Maybe it’s a hobby you dabble in, so something you used to do for a job…  really the list is endless… But if someone came to you with a question, you know enough to at least point them in the right direction? 🙂

I would love to get a list of the areas of interest represented in this readership.

Once a few of you have commented, I will add my list in the comment section.  No brag/ just fact.  DM

 

I am officially A Keeper Of The Stories

This morning it dawned on me… I really am a Keeper Of The Stories.

This is the 2nd winter I intentionally set aside a block of time to work on family history.  I’m trying to tie together the collective stories of both, my and my wife’s family history.

And once I am satisfied I have a fairly detailed representation from each root, I’m hoping to put this information together in 5 hardcover books.

Either you get it or you don’t….(this interest in family history.) I can tell when I’ve  met another person who has been bitten by the bug. There is an instant connection.  I’m guessing only 10% of the population has been infected.

I’ve tried to analyze the draw.

Heck even googled it this morning.. “What is the fascination with genealogy?

Speaking just for myself, here my draw:

As I think about what my parents, and grandparents, and their parents and grandparents went through the past hundred and fifty to two hundred years,  I am grounded.  They’ve lived through multiple world wars, the Great Depression,  a severe depression in Germany,  the Irish Famine… immigrated to a foreign land, dealt with alcohol addiction, attended college 100 years ago, death, abject poverty, discrimination because of their background, raised large gardens, raised large families, butchered their own meat,  and on and on and on….

I hear these stories and it grounds me….right here, right now.

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I’ve never been 100% happy with the way family trees are typically displayed…The closest thing I’ve ever seen that I liked was a room in one of the Harry Potter movies with someone’s family tree….a mural on a wall, with winding branches, pictures, etc.

It finally clicked in my mind last week, my version of a family history display. It is part mural, and part book.  5 books to be exact.

A main trunk (which represents the family my wife and I have created)  4 branches (each representing one of our  four children, and  4 roots. Each  root, tied to a book.  A root tracing my dad’s families of origin, a root for my mom’s, and two roots for my wife’s parents.  The trunk will have a book  entitled “The Story of Us”.  Each book, a combination of pictures, narratives , newspaper clippings, and notes on world events at the time.

For example, my  dad and mom’s  formative years were right during The Great Depression. Neither one had indoor plumbing,  etc.  so definitely going to have some stories about that.  Dad’s  father, my grandpa,  as I’ve written about before, used to make moonshine with his brother Meno.  I found out a few years ago, Meno and Opa as I called him, had a Moonshine route.  In addition to including their moonshine recipe, which I have, I want  to spend a little time talking about prohibition, don’t you think? 😉

Grandma (my dad’s mom)  immigrated from Germany in 1929. Some of you have seen the picture I’ve posted before of her on the boat coming to America:

Oma, 2nd from the right, on the boat coming to America  1929

You can bet, that will be in the book….

Anyway,  This morning the creative juices started to bubble over.

We’re getting together with my wife’s 2nd cousin on Monday who has a stash of old family photos and stories to go  with them. I can’t wait.

Feel free to share any tips/ thoughts you might have… DM

Me…A life coach?

Took my dad to the dentist this morning.  Dad is 87.  On the way home dad  mentioned G. W., a former employee of his who he’d taken to a rehab center, back in the day.

Dad said the day he took GW in, the guy at the front desk said:

        “Look at the door…There are no locks on that door.  You can leave the same way you came in.  On top of that,  if you’re not interested in dealing with your problem, you  might as well leave right now, and not waste any more of anyone’s time.  Real change has to start between your ears .”

The guy checking GW in, was himself an former alcoholic and knew what  was what.

That conversation made me think about some thoughts I’ve had rumbling around in my head the past month as we’ve begun a new decade.

This past year, I had two different people suggest to me  I would make a great “life coach.”

To be honest, after the second conversation, I did do a little looking into that idea, because it did stir something inside of me.

After doing some reading,  I decided I am not interested in jumping through all of the hoops  that would get me certified.   I love my current job too much to give that up completely, not saying I wouldn’t be open to doing a little coaching on the side.

Heck,  in an informal sort of way, I have been doing “life coaching” for  years anyway.

Just for fun, I decided to identify  areas of my  life  I have had to work on, and would feel comfortable working with someone else with…

Dealing with a low self esteem.

Dealing with crippling  shyness.

Dealing with poor boundaries.

Living a balanced life and living with margin.

Marriage and relationship issues.

And finally, I  have presented several workshops on  identifying and pursuing your life passions and interests…

Wife has told me multiple times she could see me being a motivational speaker.

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I’ll close with this thought:

One of the secrets to a  (my)  happy life is coffee.   That’s right, coffee.   It’s from the vegetable family, it’s full of antioxidants,  and doesn’t leave  you with a hangover the next day.

 

If someone were to approach you and ask you to deal with  certain life situations..which areas of life would you feel  comfortable giving input?

Christmas Eve Morning 2019

It’s Christmas eve morning 2019.

My heart is full.

Got to spend a day and a half with our daughter Rebekah and her two girls this past weekend.

The highlight for me was when  the oldest and I crossed a busy street. (She just turned 4).

I asked her if she would hold my hand to help me cross the street.

Not only did she hold my hand the whole distance, but kept holding it until we got to the front door of the store we were going to.

Think what you will.  That 60 seconds of joy will stay with me for a long time.

Hugs and well wishes to all of you this holiday season.  DM

The whole tribe this past April when everyone was back to celebrate our 40th anniversary.

 

When Someone’s “Hitting” on your spouse

I ran into “Jackass” Friday at  a buy fresh workshop.  Here’s his picture: 

He mentioned he and his wife hadn’t seen us for awhile  (it’s been two years).  I’m not sure what to do with him  them relationally.   He suggested we needed to get together again.

Every time we are with them- Virtually every time  “Jackass” will say some form of …”It’s too bad you are here (meaning me ) …MM  (my wife) is who I really enjoy seeing“.   😉   (or some variation of that statement)

We’ve known this couple for 8 years.  He’s a 60 year old hippie, been married a time or two….he’s a big flirt with every attractive woman he sees…not just my wife… to be perfectly honest, for the first 5 years we knew them, I thought to myself..he’s harmless enough..that’s just “Jackass.”

Scripture talks about how the words  we use are an index of our heart…both good and bad…we give others a glimpse into our hearts by what we  talk about.

Anyway, 3 years ago, in another friendship we had as a couple…I kept insisting  that the boyfriend of my wife’s good friend was an out and out pervert.  Guys can pick up on things in other men, I swear women are sometimes blind to.   My wife wasn’t so sure,  so I  had to bite my tongue, so not to rock the boat.  One day my wife comes home and says…”You were right about Wilbur.  He is a creep.   He tried to kiss two  women who stayed over night @ so and so’s house.” 

     I wept  from  the pent up turmoil I’d been carrying for over a year. 

My wife and I had a heart to heart talk, we  both agreed “Jackass” while not cut out of the same cloth as Wilbur,  was a flirt.  Why submit our marriage to that?   So we backed  off.  It was hard because we did enjoy his wife’s company.

Have you ever had to deal with this sort of thing?

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I wrote that post in 2008 .  It touched a chord.  Had 22 people comment.

 

Yesterday, I ran into Steve as I was coming out of a local gas station.   I have been listening to his flirtatious comments toward my wife for 40 years, writing him  off as another harmless jackass.

(Every single time I run into Steve, he has something to say,  and it happens at least twice a year.  (At my wife’s last class reunion a year ago, he tried to  kiss her on the cheek).  Couple of years ago,our daughter K ran into Steve uptown. She called our place to tell us, Steve and she had talked, and he told her, he was her mom’s first kiss.  You get the idea.  Harmless, but, non stop.)

Steve  was just coming in the automatic door as I was leaving.

I knew it was coming..some, comment about my wife, I knew I needed to suck it up, write it off as harmless….

Sure enough…

“Tell your cute wife I said “hi”.”

I looked at him and before I could say, twinkle twinkle little star, a breaker must have tripped in my brain.   I could hear myself saying  “I don’t like it.  Every single time you have to make some comment.”

He looked at me, I could see his brain was trying to process what was going on.    I wasn’t smiling, I wasn’t joking, I was dead serious.  We  stepped back out of the entry so the door would shut, and continued the conversation for another 3 minutes.  (It ended on good note.)

Wife and I have been married now for 40 plus years.  We’ve talked about the Steve’s and the Jacks, and the Wilbur’s  and Tony’s, when they’ve crossed our paths for any length of time.

In a long term healthy relationship, there has to be room to have these sort of conversations.

Have you ever had to deal with this sort of thing?  Would love to hear your thoughts. DM

 

Found it in an old box of family photos….

Last winter, my sister Karen and I spent a morning going through boxes of old family photos  after we moved our parents into town.   My box of pictures and keepsakes has been sitting here next to my desk for the past month.   Decided last night to start sorting.  Came across  a couple of pieces of paper in my dad’s handwriting.  It was a story he’d recopied on the topic of  parenting.  (I’ll post that at the end).

Things were very tight the whole time our kids were growing up.   Sometime after we started home schooling, we decided to start a commercial cleaning business on the side with the older ones helping out.

I remember having conflicting feelings, a part of me thought it was brilliant,  and a teeny tiny part of me felt like a failure.  Asking our kids to help  out by empty trash cans, cleaning toilets, vacuuming, etc. so they would have  money to buy their clothes,  just seemed a little______?

Now that our youngest is 30, (and owns a commercial cleaning business of his own),  and I am  30 years removed from that season of our lives, I can see the fruit of those parenting choices in our children’s lives.   I have a completely different take on all of those memories.  All four of  our kids have turned into hard working, caring, loving adults, and it’s not because we were so brilliant and knew what we were doing.

Hardly. 

I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants

the

whole

time. 🙂

Life lesson:  Asking our kids to work/ not just dabble, but get in there and hustle, did not hurt them.  Those were their formative years, and being able to work hard as an adult now is something that sets them apart.

I ought to know.  As an employer, i t gets harder and harder to find people who know how to work.

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Here is that story I came across:

Thoughts on Work, family, sacrifice from my dad’s perspective

A young man went to seek an important position at a large printing company.  HE passed the initial interview and was going to meet the Director for the final interview.   The director saw his resume , it was excellent, and he asked, “Have you received a scholarship for school?”

The boy replied, ‘No.”

“It was your father who paid for your studies?”

“Yes” he replied.

“Where does your father work?”

“My father is a blacksmith.”

The director asked the young man to show him his hands.   The young man showed him a pair of hands soft and perfect.

“Have you ever helped your parents at their job?”

“Never.  My parents always wanted me to study and read more books’, besides he can do the job better than me. “

The director said,” I have got a request.  When you go home today, go and wash the hands of your father and then come see me tomorrow morning.”

The young man felt his chance to get the job wasn’t high.  When he returned to his house, he asked his father if he would allow him to wash his hands.  His father felt strange, happy, but with mixed feelings and showed his hands to his son.  The young man washed his hands, little by little.  It was the first time that he noticed his father’s hands were wrinkled and they had many scars.  Some bruises were so painful, that his skin shuddered when he touched them.  This was the first time that the young man recognized what it meant for this pair of hands to work every day to be able to pay for his study.  The bruises on the hands were the price that he paid for his education, his school activities, and his future.  After cleaning his father’s hands the young man stood in silence and began to tidy up and clean the workshop.  That night, father and son talked for a long time.  The next morning, the young man went to the office of the director.

The director noticed the tears in the eyes of the young man when he asked him.  “Can you tell me what you did and what you learned yesterday at your house?”

The boy replied,” I washed my fathers hands and when I finished I stayed and cleaned his workshop.  Now I know what it is to appreciate and recognize that without my parents, I would not be who I am today.  By helping my father I now realize how difficult and hard it is to do something on my own.  I have come to appreciate the importance and the value of helping the family.”

The director said, “This is what I look for in my people.  I want to hire someone who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the hardship of others to do things, and a person who does not put money as his only goal in life.  You are hired.”

A child that has been coddled, protected and usually given what he wants, develops a mentality of “I have the right.” And will always put himself first.

If we are this type of protective parent, are we really showing love or are we destroying our children?  You can give your child a big house, good food, computer classes, a big screen TV.  But when you’re washing the floor or painting a wall, please have him experience that too.

After eating, have them wash the dishes with their brothers and sisters.  It is not because you have no money to hire someone to do this, it’s because you want to love them the right way….