Ticking

I saw my dad this morning for two seconds.

I wished there would have been some way to capture that image of him in a picture..but since that was impossible, I wanted to do the next best thing and write about it.

I had an early  trip out-of-town this morning,  and my route took me right past the farm.

And there he was…

I suppose he was outside feeding the  cats.

It was just after sunrise.

The artist in me noticed the  shadows.  (I notice shadows all the time)

I noticed he was wearing his bibs.

Keep in mind all of this happened in a moment.  When you’re going 60 miles per hour,  things fly by pretty quick.

Several things stirred in my gut, in that moment.

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12 hours later….

I just got off the phone with mom.  We talked for 15 minutes.

I asked her if Dad had seen me this morning? 😉

Yep, He figured I was going out for breakfast with a neighbor.  I told her no. Son John  and I were taking off on a 6 hour road trip and I had to stop by their neighbors to pick up a stock trailer.

My dad is in the evening season of his life.  Not sure how many more years he and mom will be able to live on the farm.  Hopefully, several more…

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Tell me about an older person in your life that has a special place in your heart…It doesn’t have to be a relative.    Maybe they are still alive, and maybe they have passed on.  What do (or did)  you appreciate  about that person, what do you miss ?  Would you mind sharing a memory or a story?  (The longer/ more detailed the better) 😉  DM

 

Doing Hard Things

What was I thinking ?!?!?

My friend Mary had talked me into going on this trip.  She had talked me into d-tasseling corn too.  I should have known.

Mary was out-doorsey.  I was not.  This was to be a camping, whitewater rafting, climb out of the Grand Canyon adventure.

I didn’t do adventures.  I read adventures.  I was a bona fide, certified, hardcore bookworm.

Mary was my best friend. She was silly, goofy, fun to be around and persuasive.

It was the 1970’s.  I look back on this experience as one of the most thrilling and hardest things I’ve  ever done in my life.  Whitewater rafting was thrilling.

The ascent out of the Grand Canyon was just plain hard.

Up until that trip, my one experience camping was an overnight, under the stars with Mary, in her front yard, camp out.

At this point I must insert a tidbit of personal info.  My DNA shows I am 56% Irish.  Dark Irish. Dark auburn hair,  blue eyes, fair skin with freckles Irish.  I was/am white white, pale white, pure white. As one of my classmates put it, blinding white.

I do not do well in heat.

There was a reason I stayed indoors and read.

When it came time to climb out of the Grand Canyon, Mary set a goal to be one of the first of our group to make it to the top.  She said goodby to me when I started to slow down.  As the temperature rose, I emotionally spiraled.  Looking ahead, there were miles of switchback trail ahead of me.  I hoped just to make it to the top by sundown!  Other than the occasional passerby, some on mules, I was alone.  I honestly didn’t know if and how I was going to make it.

I was athletic, playing several different sports – but this, this was different. This was grueling, testing me to my limits.  I was in a hard place.  In the end it came down to focusing on one thing… one step at a time.

I learned something that day.  Face the hard thing head on, and take one step at a time.  Then take the next step.  I saw what I was capable of.  I do possess determination,  fortitude, tenacity, and courage.

hikersonbrightangeltrail

Google Image  Grand Canyon switchbacks 


I took another journey recently … life changing.  Every bit as hard as climbing out of the Grand Canyon.

I signed up for a class called The Ultimate Journey.

I heard  many positive things about it.  One lady said she had been in counseling for years and this class helped her more than all the years of counseling combined.  Hmm

Was I afraid to face the past? Yes!

Hard Thing- step one.  sign-up for class.

Hard Thing – step two- Go to first class.

Hard Thing-  step three – Go to second class.

Next thing I know, I’m looking forward to class and I was sad when it ended.

I made friends.  I’m more peaceful. There is freedom.  I am more compassionate with myself and others.

 

I wrote this quote on our blackboard as a reminder:

“When it is all said and done, we’re all just walking each other home.” Ram Dass.

 

grand-canyon-backpacking-rim-to-rim

Google image

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This was another in a series of guest posts…this one written by my wife.  DM

Ordering Your Private World

“Throughout the film he contrasts the frantic pace of modern life with a thoughtful interior life….”

French film director Eugene Green in a recent interview

Those words…“the frantic pace of modern life with the thoughtful interior life” jumped off the page to me last night as I was winding down.

I forget  what it feels like to live  life at a  “frantic pace.”

My life has not felt that way ever since I began to intentionally weave “margin” into my life.  I am loath to get myself suckered into the rat race again.

It did  happen briefly last fall.   I had two major construction projects needing to start at the same time, due to weather and customer delays, but that is no longer the norm.

Don’t get me wrong…I have not “arrived” in terms of anything…BUT, I am convinced the frantic/ manic pace of life will suck the life out of me unless I am very careful.

I am a first-born type A personality.  I grew up on a dairy farm which compounded my need to stay busy, so I know what I’m talking about.

There are two young families that I know, (sort of) where the financial and job pressures are sucking the life out of their marriages. (Like  fire sucking the oxygen out of a room)  There is the illusion they have made it.  Super nice homes.  Nice cars.  Both spouses making multiple times more per year than I.

We could live off the income of any one of those four people and  have money set aside.

If that is the lifestyle both of you  love and enjoy…then there is not a problem.

Just different priorities.

If however, one of the people in either one of those situations feels trapped….then it is (a problem.)

How sad to live your life, day in, day out, commuting to a full-time job you hate,  never feeling like there is enough money, not enough hours in the day.  Being married to someone, who (initially) you thought you wanted to spend the rest of your life with, but now..not so much.

That is what I am talking about.

I’m a visual person, so it helped me to have something I could look at to get my bearings.

In my mind’s eye, I felt like I was the captain of a large ocean-going vessel, headed the wrong way….  So  I literally, drew a diagram with a large ship on a piece of white poster board/ taped it to the wall in front of my desk, with different positions on the chart showing the boat changing directions.

I needed to turn my ship around and set a new course….Well, you can’t turn a ship that size around on a dime…but once you move the rudder hard  you do change directions.

Moving the rudder meant setting some new financial, time management, and relational goals and then acting on them.

Just drawing that chart gave me hope.  I knew where we were headed,  even if the circumstances had not changed in the short-term.

There was a new sense of hope and purpose in our home, in our relationship, in my heart.

It all starts in the mind.

There were a couple of books that also helped me re-plot my course. One of them was called “Ordering Your Private World.”

I’ve written on this topic  before…As I find the older posts in  my archives, I will put the link to them here..

Here’s one of those earlier posts.

Everybody Move!

When the kids were growing up  Princess Bride was one of those movies we watched again and again.  We still quote lines back and forth  to each other….

“Anybody want a peanut?”

Either you get it or you don’t.  😉

When anyone leave our place, if you were to glance at the kitchen window, you would see whomever’s home waving.

We got into the habit years ago.  Often muttering under our breath...”Have fun storm’n the castle…” 😉

 

have-fun-storming-the-castle

So, Monday afternoon I got a call from my eldest..

She’d just gotten home from the grocery store.  Said the place was crazy busy.

Came around the  corner pushing a cart and the aisle was block….snarled up like a traffic jam.

Her mind immediately went to a scene in Princess Bride where Fezzik the giant took command of a similar situation.

In her best deep Fezzik voice. it just came out….

Everybody move!

 

People scattered.

Her husband turned red and took off in another direction.

When daughter got home from the store, she had to call her papa.   (Me )  Both of us howled.

Daughter was pretty sure by the look on most of the faces, they had no idea that they’d just heard  a line from a movie.

Eldest daughter…

You rock! 😉

I love your sense of humor.

I love hearing your laugh.

I’m  so glad we share crazy movies like this with each other.

Love you!  The papa.

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

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.”