Mine would say 7

 

++++++++++++++++

I can still remember his name…. Keith.  Showed up unannounced with his girl friend  one evening 38 years ago.  Discovered that night he was a talker.  He talked, and talked, and talked, and talked.  Gave no indication, he was planning on leaving any time soon.

We had 2 little toddlers, and I was ready for bed.

Suddenly something shifted in my brain.  Some filter must have tripped a breaker.

It just came out of my mouth.

“Good night please…”

My wife was aghast, but I had finally had enough.

Saw that picture tonight and thought of Keith.

Come to think of it, I read  a proverb this morning that goes along with this meme..

Proverbs 25:17

Google it if you’re curious.

Well, time to go  and lock the chickens in.  It’s going on 7.

 

DM

 

Overlooking Main Street and other short stories

I’d heard my urologist was a fellow bee keeper, and that he’d lost all of his bees this past winter, so when I went to see him yesterday for my annual visit,  that’s the first thing I asked him about.

“I heard you lost  your bees?”

“Yep.”

He said this was his 4th season as a bee keeper.

He told me he bottled 185 honey bear last year.

He asked me how mine did?

“They came through great!” I told him.

I struggled to find the words….I’d never seen anything like it, this thick mass of bees, just milling around in the middle of February. (On a rare 50 degree day in February, I  had opened the hive to slip in some extra winter pollen patties.)    I told him, on a hunch, I’d  put a couple of extra inches of Styrofoam on 3 sides of the hive when it got really cold, and since it was their first season, I decided not to take any honey.  I suggest to him that doing those two things, plus the mite control in the fall  all contributed to their surviving.  Who knows.   It sounded good. 😉

Then we moved onto the reason for my visit.

My psa number had dropped again for the 4th time in a row. (Happy dance.)  The psa  number is a reference point urologists use as an indicator for possible prostate cancer.  It is not an exact science.  You can have a low psa number and still  have cancer, or as in my case, a high number and no cancer present.   Mine was off the chart 2 winters ago (26) which resulted in a biopsy where they  put me under.  (They took 40 some core samples.)    Six months later my psa dropped to 17, then 11.5 and yesterday 10.

As I was leaving his office my doctor came around the corner with a honey bear. He said he had just two left…

Made me feel special. 🙂

+++++++++++++++++++

Since I still had  a good hour before I was supposed to be on the job, (we’re repairing a deck,)  I called my sister  just to see how her weekend went with my parents?   Sister mentioned she was down at her store, and since I was in the area, wondered if I had time for a cup of coffee….?

When I got to the store, there was nobody there except her, so we sat in her front window over looking main street.  Just my sister and I.   First, we caught up on her weekend, then  we started talking about childhood memories growing up…..the good and the not so good.  We also talked about various “what if” scenarios, as my parents age.  Not saying this is how things will ultimately shake out, but how much better to have these conversations, before.   Ended up having  a 40 minute therapy session, right there in the front store window over looking main street.

It was awesome.

I texted her last night  to tell her again, how much I enjoyed our visit.  She texted me back,  said she felt the same way.

One of my life goals is to age gracefully.

I’ve known both types , so I know what it looks like.

Absolutely, there needs to be a place where I can process the loss of my youth, and it will probably be right here on a personal blog post, just so you know.  🙂

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Got time for one last story?

Last Tuesday I was invited to take one of my chickens to school.  Grandson was studying farm animals, and his mom asked if I would be willing to come to school with a chicken?

“Absolutely” I said.

As I thought about what sort of things Kindergarten kids would get a kick out of, I decided  to tell a couple of stories, then let them pet the chicken.

I told them about how my last batch of chickens and their love for cat food…Told them how when I let them out in the morning to free range, the first thing they did, was run around the back of our house, into the entry and clean out the cat food bowl.

First thing/ every morning.

 

Then, at some point they discovered our neighbor, an 1/8 of a mile west of us, also had cat food in a bowl, so that’s where they would head next.  (It wasn’t long after that, that I sent them packing.)

So as I was wrapping up my visit, I asked the kids that age old question, “So, why do you think,  the chicken cross the road?” 

One little girl said,  “Because they were going to the neighbors to eat cat food.”

Now you know.

Henny Penny and I visiting school

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Well, I better to get to work.  DM

The Wedding Dance

One of our nephews got married this past weekend.

At the reception, the DJ announced a dance for “All the married couples.”  And then he said,  “You know how this works…keep dancing until your year is called, so we can find out who here has been married the longest…”Wife looks and me and says, “Let’s  do it!”  I’d already been out on the floor dancing with one of our granddaughters so I was OK with the idea.  I’m going to guess there were about 20 couples on the floor.

“5 years or less, please leave the floor…”  “Dang,” said a young couple off to my right.

“15 years or less…please leave the floor..”

“25 years or less…

35 years or less...(the parents of the bride and groom left at this point.)

40 years…. (It was at this point we made a bee line to the edge of the floor.)

I could hear the DJ saying something about that last couple, turned out it was us. We were that last couple.  Then I felt a hand on my shoulder, thought it was one of my brother-in-laws, for a second, then realized it was the DJ.

“Any words of advice?”

My mind went  blank.  Completely  blank.   And then, a thought began to take shape, but I wasn’t sure I should say it.

What the heck, he asked me again so I blurted it out: ,“It takes a lot of work” (not the most romantic words, but he’d asked, and as far as I was concerned, it was the truth. 🙂

He asked the question a third time? ” What words of advice would you give a younger couple after being married for 40 years?” 

Fortunately, my wife had her wits about her and she said,  “Well, coffee in bed…He brings me coffee in bed, and has done so for years..” (I could hear a collective awe) 🙂

“It’s the little things that matter.  Kindness..”

After we sat down and the microphone was no longer in my face, my wife added…“I wish I would have said a sense of humor…a sense of humor in marriage goes a long ways!”

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The year we marked our 25th anniversary,  I did  write down some thoughts on marriage.  They are as true today as 15 years go and if you’ve never read my list,  here is what I wrote:

#1. A marriage relationship is a living thing, very much like a plant.  There are things you can do to enhance it, make it flourish, and there are things you can do in terms of neglect.  It can go without water and sunlight for a spell, but make no mistake…the principle of sowing and reaping is just as relevant in marriage as in any area of life.

#2.  A “healthy” marriage takes work.  You don’t feel the “warm fuzzies” for each other all the time.  Don’t panic…that is normal. Wife and I like to spend time together, we enjoy each other’s company.  But, as Dr. Dobson puts it, “Emotions come and go.  Do the deeds and the feelings will follow.”

  Make the phone calls from work just to say, “Hi. I was thinking about you.” Bring her coffee in bed.  Get out one-on-one, just the two of you , even if it’s just for a cup of coffee. Help out around the home with the dirty dishes, dirty, diapers, and here is a big one…pick up after yourself!

#3, Take time to listen and stay “current” with each other.  Don’t pour all your energy into your job and have nothing left over for your family.  Don’t become “married singles.” (two people living in the same home who no longer have anything in common.)  If your job does take all of your energy, all of the time, then Buddy, you need to find a different job.  There is nothing more tragic in life than a man who makes it to the top of the company ladder and loses his family in the process.

#4. Use these words often (You will need them):

“I’m sorry.”

“I was wrong.”

“Please forgive me.”

“You are right.”

#5. Dance…have fun…keep doing the silly things you did when you were just dating or courting.

#6. When (not if) you find yourself having an unresolved conflict in some area (money, sex, parenting, work, church, etc.) work at it until you find an answer! (God has used everything from books to other couples, to paid counselors, to help keep our boat afloat over the years.)

#7 Get out (or stay out) of debt.  There are a lot of spin-off ramifications that come with financial pressure.    Just a side note on this one-  for the most part, we have been a one income family, and since I have chosen to make a living with my hands (I am in construction)  we have made financial choices including…renting instead of owning the first 15 years of our marriage,  driven an older dependable car, shopped @ garage sales, discount grocery stores, etc.

These are choices we all have to make, but as children enter the picture, Dad needs to have some time and energy left over at the end of the day or be willing to “pay the piper” later in life. (Remember the song, “Cat’s in the Cradle”???)

#8. Give each other some space and freedom.  Trust and respect are foundational issues.

#9. Pray and share with each other spiritually.

#10 Be a forgiving person.  Let’s face it, you are not perfect, your mate is not perfect, “stuff” happens.  Cut each other some slack….practice grace….be the first to initiate reconciliation.

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If you have any thoughts you would like to add to this list, absolutely feel free to do so.

I feel a nap coming on. 🙂 It’s raining here today.  I took off work early in order to take a couple of our chickens to do a program for group of Kindergardeners before I sat down here at the computer.

What a hoot.

Take care.  DM

 

Dancing with the granddaughters.

 

Did not see this coming

Did not see this coming.

Once a year, our 4 children agreed a couple of years ago, as it is hard to get everybody together at the same time, it would be great just to set aside a couple of days each year where we knew everyone would be able to be back.  (2 of our 4 kids  live out-of-state).

So everyone was back in town this week to celebrate their mama’s birthday.  5:15 we had planned to get together for a cookout @ one of the daughters homes.

Walked into the garage and I was confused.  Saw my brother, my mom and dad, heck, all of my siblings were there and their spouses….I thought..ah, neat..they’d been invited to help celebrate my wife’s birthday with us….but then  a cake caught my eye.  A Princess Bride themed cake… It was a good 45  to 60 seconds before I realized this was a surprise anniversary celebration, and I was one of the guests of honor.

I have never had a real surprise party in my life…never.

Two days later I am still in shock.

If it would have been possible,   I would love to have had each of you that read this blog, to have been invited.  I mean that.

The Princess Bride is one of those goofy movie’s from the 80’s that has taken on a life of it’s own in the fabric of our family’s life.

 

Princess Bride themed cake

Group photo

 

Growing up with big ears

Yesterday son John and I worked together hanging drywall.  He said he liked the picture I’d put on Facebook  the night before….(my grandpa’s baby picture).

I said to John,  I just wish someone would have told me when I was growing up, big  ears ran in the family.   🙂

Growing up I hated my ears.  I was ashamed of them. Kids called me monkey.  I swore that I would have plastic surgery when I grew up.  Funny thing is, when I could finally gets my hands on the $3000  I needed for plastic surgery, I had to stop and think about it.  They no longer bothered me.  My ears are just a part of what makes me, me.  -)

I’ve been working on family history this winter as I’ve mentioned recently and one of my dad’s baby pictures caught my eye.

I posted this series of photos on Facebook for my peep earlier this week:

Grandpa

Dad

Me

Son John

John’s son

++++++++++++++++++++++++

Growing up, my self esteem sucked.  No other way to put it.  I had a terrible case of low self worth.  I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I became an adult.

I hated my ears, I hated my name.  I hated the fact that I was small for my age growing up, not good at sports like my little brother.  I was different than him. I had a musical bent.  A sensitive heart. And I was clueless when it came to girls.

Low self esteem casts a long shadow.

It affects all your relationships.

Low self worth is  a festering wound in the soul.

I no longer battle with the self esteem issues I had growing up.

Restoring self worth in others is one of my passions.

A part of me would love to start a support group for kids who think they have big ears.

Question for you…What would you tell that little boy who came to you and said, the kids in school are making fun of his big ears, calling him “monkey, monkey, monkey,”  and picking on him because he is so small?

*********************************

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by. DM

 

That’s Twice Now

It has been a very productive winter for me as I’ve had the time to work on  family history.  It’s an interest I’ve had for years that comes and goes.  I’ve had individual folders with old family pictures, notes  from conversations from people now passed, two different family trees books I am descended from…a lot of information that begs to be organized.   Last Fall, I happened to run into Diane at a local picnic for a tour group in the area from Ostfriesland.  (Part of northern Germany.) By the end of our conversation, Diane had offered to help me work on our family tree.  She had the time, the know how and I jumped at her offer.

She reached out to me this past January and asked if I was ready to get started.  I gave her some names and she started setting up a family tree.  I didn’t hear anything for several weeks, and discovered in the meantime  that since my wife had taken a DNA test there was a free ancestry account already in existence in our name. So while I was waiting for Diane’s results, I started doing some work on my own…adding pictures, uploaded stories, using the search tools in the local newspaper archives.   It has been a great way to break up some of the time these past few months.

Night before last Diane wrote me a note.  I’d given her a link to the family tree I’ve been working on,  this is a portion of what she said:

“I can tell you that your instincts, Doug as a genealogist and family history keeper are excellent.”

That is the 2nd time someone as given me unsolicited affirmation about that area of my life. (lover of history.)

The first time was in 2009.  I’d shared a link to a history blog I was working on with one of my favorite authors.  Andrea Seu Peterson.

She wrote me back and said : “You may want to call yourself a contractor, but I think you’re a historian. “

I hesitate to share those two affirmations and yet, I believe there is a place in our lives for personal affirmation.  God knows there is enough negativity most of us battle with that goes on in our private thought life.  So, when  a few words of genuine affirmation makes it into my life, I celebrate. :-).

So there you go.

I am a voracious reader, especially when I get on a topic that interests me.  Heck, I grew up in a home where World Encyclopedias were on a bookshelf in our bathroom.

So for me, to receive two unsolicited affirmations  affirming my work in the area of history,  does as much for me as getting a piece of paper telling me I have a Masters degree.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’d never seen any of the following pictures before…(except the one of grandma on the boat.  I’ve share that one before.)

Picture of my grandmother (little girl on the left)  She was 13 years old.

My grandma, front row second from left.  Getting together with  her friends right before emigrating to America. March 1929.  She was 23.

Grandma on ship March 1929 coming to America

1949 Picture from my grandmother on her first visit  back to Germany since she immigrated. 

(She is in the center)

+++++++++++++

Twenty years had passed…She’d gotten married to an Iowa farm boy.  She’ had three children.  Her father had passed away while she was gone.  She’d endured the Great Depression in America, experienced WW 2 as a German living in America.    I think of the emotions she must have been feeling at that moment.

I miss her.

++++++++++++++++++++++

I need to get moving.

Thanks for tagging along.

Take care.  DM

Winter Sketches

I have two stories that rumble around in my head  each winter, when the weather gets testy, this year I added a third.

First story

(And you may have heard this one before).

Growing up, my Grandpa would talk about a train  that derailed south of his farm in the dead of winter, January of 1929.   The train derailed and “turned turtle”  (went over on it’s back)  when it hit a hard snow drift.  One of the engineers (Roscoe Stevens) was trapped in the wreckage for over 3 hours.   Grandpa said, (and I have this on tape) ” I can still see that man…had a damn rod as thick as my arm over his arm…he was laying there, couldn’t move. Both engines were lying in the ditch. then the doctor hollered,” Does anybody got some whiskey??? Come on, get some! If you got nothing, get some! We’ve got to have whiskey for this guy.” they poured the whole pint in him. He was suffering….It was 35 to 40 below. You don’t ever forget those things…”

Here are a couple of pictures of that train wreck:

 

Second story

You may have heard this one before too,  that can happen around here.  😉

Back in 2011 I  stumbled across the poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong on-line. She was a pioneer mother who lived from 1789 to 1891.  She wrote a series  poems called “Sketches Of My Life.”  One of the most powerful accounts happened in 1831.  They lose their provision of salt, which in that time apparently was a life and death situation. ( I know it had to do with food preservation for the coming year, but not sure how that all works…)

“Our salt was in a gum,

And was standing on the loft,

But met with a bad accident,

when the cover got shoved off.

I had some in a box,

That was standing down below,

Not enough to last till spring,

And we knew not where to go…

Elsie asks  a man who had been selling salt if he had more to sell?  He didn’t, and didn’t know when more would be in.  He said...”If I go for salt, I’ll freeze to death, and perish in the snow.” 

She goes home,  and tells her children the situation.

When I got home, I told my children

What the man had said,

Then William said, I’ll go myself,

And take that big old sled.

“Mother do not be uneasy,

None but lazy people freeze,

Because they will not exercise,

They are so fond of ease.

There is no fear for me Mother,

I will jump and kick the sled,

I will keep myself in exercise

Run, and kick the wagon bed….

Their team was good and active,

All four year olds and strong….

The account goes on…

Fifteen year old Will and his little brother take off on a 90 mile trek in the dead of winter with their team. They have to cross a frozen river, deal with winter storms, not get lost, be on guard for  roving Indians, (all while mom is at home second guessing herself, with the rest of her brood).

+++++++++++++++++++++

This week, just to make sure I was on my game  because the weather man said we were in for it, we were going to get a “Polar vortex”,what ever the heck that was, I decided to add a third story to my winter attitude folder.

I decided to reread a portion of  novel The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

It was perfect!

It was just what the Dr ordered!

+++++++++++++++++

Pause.

I am torn.

Torn because I love winter.

I love winter storms.

I love being snowed in.

I love busting through drifts with my 4 wheel drive pick up.

Last thing I want to do is mock someone to whom the winter storms are a heartache.  (My parents are in their 80’s and I know it can be hard on both of them).   The thing is, from my vantage point, all of the negative, naysayers are the only voices I hear.  Fellow lovers of winter weather  seem to be either a dying breed or keeping their thoughts to themselves.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

I grew up on a farm.

On the farm, when you have livestock, you don’t get to stay in the house when it gets cold.  Sometimes just the opposite.  Those are the times when stuff starts to break. Water lines to the cattle get frozen or the pilot light to the tank heater won’t stay lit, etc. etc. Christmas morning if you have milk cows (like we did)  the cows still need milking, haying,  might even have more manure to pitch than normal if you keep the cows in the barn overnight so they don’t freeze their utters off. 🙂

So here I am now in the year 2019.

All of our children are grown.  No longer have cows to milk, tank heaters to keep lit. none of it.

Predictions of winter storms stir up within me feelings of thankfulness.   I feel like some little creature tucked away deep in my burrow,  Cozy.  My larder is full.  The house is staying warm. Smell of freshly baking bread is in the air. Garden seeds have started coming in the mail.  The new little heating pad that goes under the seed starting tray is working like a charm.

I  feel better.   Now you know.

I got into a conversation yesterday with a young mom  about this past weeks weather.  She asked me what I thought about it.  I paused, looked her in the eyes and told her the same things I’ve just told you here.

She smiled and said, “I feel the same way.”

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Here’s a picture I took earlier in the week in front of our house:

Got to run.  Need  to go to the bank before they close.   Take care. DM

 

Mom’s Birthday Gift

My mom turns 85 this month.

I wasn’t sure what to get her.

What do you get for someone who doesn’t want or need more stuff?

Decided to take her out on a date.

A coffee date.

I am scheduled to pick her up tomorrow morning at 9.

Just the two of us.

+++++++++++++++++

I’m her first-born.

If you were to ask me to summarize my relationship with my mom in a word, I would say Confidant. (And it goes both ways.)

Confidant:  One to whom secret or private matters are disclosed.  A person with whom you confide things.

Mom lost her father when she was three.  Raised by a single mother.  Grew up during the Depression.  Told me once, “She never realized she was poor, because everybody was poor in those days.  Her grandmother helped to raise her while her mom worked. There was no social security in those days. Your family was your safety net. They ate pigeon pie.  Fish her grandpa would catch.  Her grandma has a big garden.  Took turns sharing the bath water with half a dozen other kids on the back porch every Friday night. ”

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Here’s where you (my blog readers)  come in… 🙂

Mom and I will have no trouble carrying on a conversation when we are together. It never is.

BUT, I wouldn’t mind taking the opportunity to ask her a question or two about something of substance.

Any suggestions?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Early picture of my mom and three of us.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

24 hours later….

Coffee date with her eldest

As it turned out, it was the perfect outing.  We did talk family history, but it wasn’t forced.  Found out mom initially went to college to become a teacher. (I never knew that.)   Two different local businessmen offered to help her out with her tuition. (Never knew that either) 🙂

 

Lois

I met Lois 13 years ago.

She and her friend Floe had signed up for  a class I was teaching at our local community college  called “Bible for Dummies.”

Lois was 80 years old.  Farm wife.   She had a couple of hundred chickens/ sold eggs on the side.  Sharp mind.  Quiet, sweet personality.  I remember thinking no way is this lady 80 years old…65 maybe. Floe told me on the side Dave her husband could be a little “overbearing.”  Said Lois didn’t get away from the farm much.  Hard worker.  It was “good she was able to take a break and get away from the farm for a few hours.”

After that class ended, wife and I would occasionally stop by Lois’s farm and buy eggs.

We read in the obituaries a few years ago, Lois’s husband had died.   I think we may have gotten eggs from her one time after that.  I think of Lois every time I drive by her farm.   Christmas night, feeling nostalgic  I googled her name to get the address of her farm.  I was thinking about dropping her a note.     Two addresses came up for Lois.  Her place that I knew about  and a 2nd local address.  It was a care facility.  White pages said she was 93 years old.

As I was driving past the exit to the care facility  this past Thursday morning I thought, what the heck, I’m going to stop and ask if she lives there.  No harm in that.

Walked up to the front door. Doors were locked.  Needed a security code to get in.  Off to the right, were the instructions and code numbers.   Punched them in, sure enough, this time the door opened.  Straight ahead was an office with two secretaries and a resident, so I popped my head in the door and asked, “Does a Lois, so- and so lived there?”

The secretary in charge looked at me as shook her head slowly  and said “Nope.”

I went on to tell them the details of why I there…It was spur of the moment.  Wasn’t even sure she was there, just that the computer said so.  Told her about the class Lois was in years before with me.  Told them I’d occasionally stop by her house to buy eggs, but it had been a while…

At this point, the secretary does some non-verbal signals with her eyes toward the resident sitting in the chair next to her desk, three feet in front of me….

It was Lois.

I did not recognize her.

Different hair style and her face was puffy.   I’m guessing she’d put on 20 pounds.
I asked how long she had lived here?  Secretary guessed maybe 3 years.

All this time Lois just sat listening to me banter, then reached up and grabbed my hand…didn’t let go until I left.  I looked her in the eyes and asked “Lois, do you remembered me? 

 “Yes” she said in a quiet voice.

We all  had good laugh.

Secretary said she thought I was joking initially.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

I’m still processing that little adventure.

I did write Lois a letter last night and pop it in the mail.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine going from the  active lifestyle that I have currently… where I can do whatever I want to do, make home-made bread, have a big garden, tend 80 apple trees, build furniture in my wood working shop, ferment sauerkraut, have a dog…..to moving into one room where all of my earthly possessions have to fit.

(And I couldn’t bring my dog).

Libby (our dog)

I watched a friend of ours (Helen) transition from living on her own, to moving into two different care facilities as her health declined…She pulled it off with amazing grace.  I’m not so sure I want to wind up like that.

(Not so sure I  have too much say in some of those details either.)

Radio DJ Friday morning was talking about her grandmother.  Grandmother lived through the depression of 1929-1939.  She said her grandmother had a remarkable cheerful disposition, in spite of all she went through. She asked her grandmother how she did it?

Grandmother told  her… “It is a choice.”  

Would love to hear any thoughts any of you have on this issue of aging, transitioning from one  season of our lives to the next.

I am taking notes 🙂  DM