Keeping the peace

One of my main goals when I started blogging was to keep it real… I have no interest in projecting a sanitized version of myself to the world.

I’m more of a velveteen rabbit/ skin horse sort of person.

Love it when I meet someone who is keeping it real…so on that note, I came across this picture this morning:

I’m posting it as a reminder to myself.

Virtual hugs and clink of my coffee cup with each of  you. 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

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

That is a lot of fodder

Got this  notification from WordPress today:

 

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 13 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. 
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I is hard to believe it has been 13 years  since I  began blogging.
Before I knew what a blog was, I was sending out my thoughts via e-mails to a random group of people   Did that for at least a couple of years.  Out of those early e-mails I eventually published 2 books.
Well, this will be my 1097th published blog post and I’ve toyed with the idea of pulling together  my 30 best and doing it again. (publish a book)
Anyone want to help? 🙂
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I’ve encountered several  amazing beautiful people these past 13 years.
There is one person in particular who has been with me from the very beginning.  Her name is Kristina.  She and her family have visited us numerous times.   She’s seen (and heard)  me at my worst, and still comes to visit.
For me, that has been the biggest gift I have discovered as a blogger.
To have someone know the real me,  accept me for who I am and still want to interact.
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Those of you that are bloggers… Why do you write?  Would love to have you give a brief description of your blog.  Any highlights/ low lights as  a blogger?  A memorable interaction, etc?

Pompous Experts

I keep a writing journal.

It is not for public consumption.  It is an unedited mix.  Sometime diary, catch all for articles that capture my attention,  blog posts,  personal correspondence, recipe’s, etc.  (It is several hundred thousand words long at this point.)

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I’m currently reading through Louisa May Alcott’s personal journal.  It’s one of the ways I unwind at the end of the day. I usually only read a couple of pages at a time, but for some mysterious reason, her journals have a way of grounding me…

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Anyway, in reading through my writing journal yesterday, this entry caught my eye, and I decided to share a portion of it.

5/11/2013

Pompous writing experts

…I am liking keeping a writing journal.

It taps into a different “voice” than  when I write blog posts.  There is definitely this creative pulse I feel inside that wants to escape.  I would love to hone my writing skills and yet @ the same time am not interested in getting feedback from people like S. H. or especially  M. K. who ripped a rough draft of my first book I shared with him several years ago.  

Those two well meaning “writers” were brutal and deeply wounded my spirit, causing me to second guess anything I would write….

Now I get it…writing well is definitely a craft and like teaching,  there are some fundamental principles a person wants to master to be  effective..  The trick is who is giving the feedback and in what spirit.

       I want to learn how to write  clean, crisp, honest, work.  I really do, and I know I have the humility to learn…I’ve proved it in other areas of my life.  Just give me a teacher filled with Grace – like Brenda Uhland.  I would LOVE to have sat under her mentoring.  In the mean time…I will continue to  learn.  No more pompous writing experts for me. 

None.

Nada. 

I would rather go to my grave with just this journal I’ve written for my own personal pleasure than listen to fools tell me what I’ve done wrong….

    At this stage of my life, I have no interest in telling someone else how to live their lives- whether how they raise their kids, grow a garden, tend honey bees,  or whatever-  I aspire to live quietly, to work with my hands, be dependent on no one…. Period.

Ruth Stout is my role model for mentoring others… She had it (deep mulch gardening) figured out.   She did not want to be put on some pedestal.  She just did her own thing and then reported the results, and let people make their own conclusions.

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One more thought.  While this entry is mostly about being mentored in writing, it can really apply to any area of life.  I’ve seen it played out with gardening, raising honey bees, guns, carpentry, small engine repair, computers, parenting, marriage relationships, money management, fermentation,  etc. etc.

Good mentors are hard to find.

If you have one, I’d encourage you to  let them know how much you appreciate them.

Just a thought.

Take care.

DM

 

One of many (thoughts)

I mentioned an hour ago, my mind is a tangled up mass of  thoughts.  There’s a song in my heart so the tangled up knot is not stress related. (For which I’m thankful) 🙂

Thirty minutes later, I was out in the orchard picking up branches.  My mind went to a comment I’d left on a Dave Ramsey facebook group this morning.  (Dave Ramsey in case you’ve never heard of him is a money management, get out of debt author and speaker)

Someone on the group asked the question:

 Where would you love to retire?

Why?

Out of the 82 people who answered, only one person mentioned they loved where they currently lived, wouldn’t mind being able to go somewhere warm in the winter, but 81 of them  said something other than where they were.

While I rarely leave comments on an open forum (except with those of you I know via blogging, I decided to say something….

“Two thoughts.

Love what I’m doing, (I’m a carpenter) as my dad was fond of saying “retirement” is not a word in my vocabulary, so plan do keep doing some variation of that as long as I’m physically able.

Secondly. Love where we live. Plan to stay right where I’m at, as long as I have any say in the matter.

Years ago, when my life was spinning out of control with too many commitments,  small children, work, financial stress..you know, the normal every day, stuff all of us deal with, I remember wishing things were different.  I remember saying to someone, “Peace and contentment are entirely under rated.” 

What I wouldn’t give for a more peace filled life.

Here’s a picture I’ve shared before from that season in my life… I taped it to the wall to remind me business does not automatically equal progress:

When I read later about  Henry David Thoreau  tromping off to the woods to live on Walden’s pond, I remember thinking to myself,  why did he only stay there the better part of two years?  Why not stay there long term?  I made up my mind at that point, to do just that…create my own version of Walden.  I hate water, so I didn’t need a pond 🙂  (I can’t swim, don’t have the patience to fish, plus with standing water you have to deal with mosquitoes).

And so, since  1995 I have been slowly moving in the direction of a life that I don’t need to take a vacation from. Here’s what it looked like in 1995:

…an old run down acreage with a set of 100-year-old farm buildings. Curb appeal it did not have. The house and out buildings hadn’t been painted in 50 years. Nothing appealing except that it was 4 miles from town, and the foundation on the house was still solid.

I  have been  slowly  carving out my own version of Walden here ever since….Laying hens, apple trees, honey bees, lots of flowers,  garden beds, a dog, no TV, lots of books to read.

My vision of Walden  would probably looks different from yours.

But I would suspect it would be built on the same foundation stone.

The stone of living life intentionally.

Talk to me about living life intentionally. What does that mean to you?

It is never to late to start.

Take care. DM

 

Thoughts

My brain is a tangled up knot of thoughts this morning and has been for several weeks.  Ever cut open a golf ball?  A tight mass of rubber bands.  Yep, that’s my brain.

Job related thoughts.

Honey extracting thoughts.

Relationships thoughts.

Ordering Your Private World  thoughts.

Early morning thoughts when I hear  crows talking to each other in the distance.

Photography thoughts.

Fermentation thoughts.

Gardening thoughts.

Henry David Thoreau thoughts.

Louisa May Alcott thoughts.

Older parent thoughts.

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Think I’ll just post a quote call it good.

 

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”

― Henry David Thoreau

 

Not quite sure

I published my first blog post in 2007.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege to meet several of you in person… Kristina, Grace, Brittany, Cheryl, Val, Lisa Maris, Michelle, and I’m a thinking I am missing someone :-).  I’ve connected with a few more of you via facebook   something I’ve never taken that for granted either.

On the flip side,  I’ve watched people I loved to interact with suddenly drop off the face of the earth without nary a whisper…Doctor Victo, Linda, Joy,  Bill, Michael, to mention just a few…their blogs either just  went silent or were deleted without any notice.  Every time, it felt like a friend had just skipped town without explanation.

In my last post, , I mentioned in passing the “writing muse” seems like it is starting to dry up.  When I first started blogging back in 2007, my mind was overflowing with topics and issues I felt driven to write about, but now, 12 years later, I feel like I’ve said everything I want to say.

I actually still have 5 active blogs….this one, my farm blog, a history research project blog, a 4th one  that is unapologetic-ally deeply spiritual, and an earlier version of this one, currently set to private.  Each with a specific purpose.  this blog (heart to heart) is where I tend to process life.  Last count there were between 600 and 700 blog posts between all of the blogs…Many of the posts “clunkers” I’d be the first to admit.  🙂  A few I may revisit and eventually assemble into another book…I’m still not sure.

So I’m not sure what is coming next, if anything…When Kristina  was here last week, we talked briefly about this, and maybe I would be interested in using “prompts” to stimulate my writing.  That doesn’t really appeal to me, I do have plenty to keep me entertained now that the new growing season has arrived.

What would help me out more than anything, would be for those of you that are regular readers (even if you don’t leave comments all that often) is to answer this question- Why do you subscribe to  this blog?    Are there certain topics that resonate with you more than others?  Is there something I’ve touched on in the past, you’d love for me to write about more fully?  Or are you good with  things just as they are? (Even that would help me get some direction.)

Give it some thought and let me know.  Any feedback @ this point would be helpful.

Danka.

DM

Me in the orchard….

Few more weeks and this is what it will look like.

 

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.

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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)

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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.

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I need to get moving.

Thanks for tagging along.

Take care.  DM

Stats

Blogger I follow just passed 40,000 followers.

On a given post, he will get between  100 to 150 comments.

Just for fun, I took the number of followers I have had (223) divided that by the number of comments I typically get, and found you my readers are 10 times more likely to comment than the other blogger, whom I enjoy reading.

Yesterday I was in the office and decided to look at the people on that list of 223 followers….75% of them I’ve never ever heard from, several blogs no longer exist, some were linked to business sites.  Lots of smoke / no fire.

So I went through the list and started deleting.

Now I’m down to 53 followers.

Did the same thing on my farm blog.   Went from 160 down to 70.

It felt good.

It feels good.

I would rather my words go out to 3 or 4 people I know who  read my posts and interact on some level, than have my thoughts go to thousands of places where nobody reads or cares.

I find it hard (sometimes) to write, because of this.  I’m not 100%  sure I can even  tell you why, although that proverb/ word picture of “being careful not to cast your pearls before swine” came to mind…    (Translation:  Don’t place what is precious and valuable before someone who  will  just discard and trample it into the mud)

People write for lots of different reasons.

I write for a couple of reasons….

Any guesses? 😉

By the way, please don’t feel any pressure to comment, (or like this post)…I mean it.

Just the fact you are reading this means you made the cut.   I know you are out there and I value your interactions in my life.

Thank you! DM