Rumblings

I had a friend do some welding on my truck this morning.

I’ll call him Dave.

While we were working,  Dave was reminiscing about the time  he worked for Harnishfeger.

(Harnishfeger  was a local manufacturing company that built cranes)

Dave worked 2nd shift.  He worked in their experimental lab building prototypes.

Their shop was several hundred yards away from the main plant.  Company had an old pick up truck the guys used to shuttle back and forth to the main building. Guys were always playing practical jokes on each other, and one day, Dave had this brilliant idea of parking an excavator next to the shuttle, resting the bucket  in the bed of the truck, then hiding the keys.

Well, things got busy, and the whole prank slipped his mind until next day when his shift was walking out to the lab.  Someone came up to him (and the rest of the crew) and said, “Whatever you do, don’t say anything, even if you know who did it…. The shift foreman is livid, The hydraulics settled overnight, and the bucket of the excavator punched a hole right through the bed of the truck.  When they find out who is responsible, that person is probably going to loose his job.”

I said, “Then what happened?”

“I went directly to the foreman and confessed the whole thing.  Took complete responsibility.  Told him I had no intention for things to get that far out of hand, I was just stupid.   I owned it.”

Dave got his butt chewed, but didn’t get fired.

Two months later, Dave was promoted to foreman of that 2nd shift.

Lesson there. 🙂

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Had this story (and other ones) rumbling around in my head the past while.   They don’t seem to quite “fit” my farm blog, so I decided to take this blog out of cold storage yet again. 😉

I have to be honest.

There have been several times I’ve  wanted to give voice to something , but squelched it because, I knew I would rustle  feathers.

Life is too short to get into pissing matches, on line or in person…but especially on the Internet.

So I keep my thoughts to myself.

I used to get together a couple of times a month with a self professed anarchist.  He was a few years older than myself.  Did a tour in Vietnam  and came back angry.  Long story short, he and I were on opposite ends of the spectrum politically, spiritually, etc.  yet we shared a common interest in history.  He was articulate, and I honestly wanted to understand his thinking when it came to current events…

It worked.

Over coffee, he and I would get into the most robust conversations and I think we both came away richer for it.

I love conversations like that, if they happen in the context of mutual respect.

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Currently I am sleeping like a baby.

Even in the midst of the current craziness.

Some of it has to do with my job.

There is an old saying  “The laborers sleep is sweet.”   

Most days, I come home physically spent.  So that’s part of it.

Another big part for me is what I’ve been taking into my mind.

I have become even more ruthless (and selective) if that’s possible, when it comes to staying informed.

I refuse to spend my life going from one “crisis” that consumes me to the next.

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There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.

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Thanks for stopping by, on this 4th of July 2020!

Take care. DM

 

 

 

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.

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

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.

 

This time it was different.

Caught up with someone last night we hadn’t visited with for  5 years.    Over the years whenever we’ve talked,  I would come away from those conversations feeling like I’d been interrogated.   (And judged.)

Last night was no exception,

Since it had been five years, there was a lot we caught up on….

Another grand child on the way, my good health compared to my peers in  construction, honey bees, wife’s involvement with hospice work, personal debt,  the normal every day stuff you might expect…

At some point, the topic of conversation came around to retirement,  She’s looking forward to retiring this Spring.  Where was I at with all that?  The pro’s and con’s of drawing social security early?

And that is when that sense of having to justify myself, rather than just catching up for catching up’s sake kicked in….I could hear that familiar slightly judgmental tone in her voice.

But this time it was different.

I laughed.

We were talking about me wanting to take an active roll in how we handle these choices, rather than turn it over to an expert.  Our accountant has been a lot of help, because that stuff is always changing..but other than that, I am very interested in personal finance.

Side note… I think with a little more education, I would make a great financial planner. JMHO 😉

I said ,”Listen,  It is not rocket science.   Years ago, I picked up a book called Sound Mind Investing, that  is what’s next after getting out of debt.  It was  highly recommended by Larry Burkett (Pre- Dave Ramsey/ Mary Hunt/ get out of debt guru’s) )…  At the time, Larry, said a person needs to be thinking about goals after getting out of debt, or there is a good chance you’ll go right back where you started if you don’t….

(So the Sound Mind Investing book, has been sitting on the shelf for at least 10 years, as we’ve moved in the direction of getting debt free, and in the last several months I have been rereading it again.  (I ordered the updated copy  which I would highly recommend if you’re at all curious about this topic)

I then rattled off a handful of other things that gave me confidence I have some sense of what we’re doing….

I have been talking with our tax guy.

The fact that my construction business is a Sub chapter S, gives us way more options.

The fact we home schooled the kids for 9 years, gives me  confidence  I have the ability to learn something new, and do it well.

I  talked to her about our risk tolerance when it comes to money management (neither one of us are risk takers), so we’re not doing this blindly.

And finally, I said, “Well, check back in 10 years and ask me how it went.” 🙂

I love the confidence that has come with getting older.

DM

It is not my responsibility

Talk to ten carpenters and you’ll get 7 different ways to frame a house.

Same goes for bee keepers, I’ve discovered. Talk to ten bee keepers and you’ll probably hear 10 different ways to manage your bees.

Have you found that to be true, my fellow bee keepers? 🙂

My cousin approached me in July and asked if I could help him frame his house the end of October,  which is  where I have been working the past two weeks.  Cousin  asked a friend of his,  ( a finish carpenter)  to head up the crew  so my role was just to be an extra set of hands.

Pause.

On rare occasions, when I have had a new guy on my crew with a construction background, it was draining if the new guy constantly had a “better idea.”

Get’s old fast, so I have made a concerted effort to not be that guy.

I love  framing houses but the past two weeks have left me mentally exhausted.

I have felt like a race horse pulling a skid.

 

We’re getting about half as much  done that we should be and it has had been bothering the heck out of me.

My suspicion is the foreman does not have a lot of  experience managing a 5 man crew.  Compounding that is finish carpenters typically do not make good framers and vice versa…they are used to working at a certain pace.

Yesterday I got to work thinking we were going to button up the bulk of the remaining roof (snow was predicted again last night).   The first 45 minutes when it was just myself,  and a couple of helpers  we kicked butt.  One of the guys looked at me as we finished  the west hip and said, “Now that was fun!”

He knows.

45 minutes later the lead guy showed up, and that was the end of a productive day.  No additional roof went on.   I had to step back and mentally keep  telling myself,

It

is

not

my

responsibility.

 

It is not my responsibility.

 

It is not my responsibility.

 

But it’s hard when you care.

 

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Today was the last day I’ll probably be on that job.

Felt good to be home. 🙂

Anybody relate to any of this?

 

 

 

 

It’s just a glass

Heard this story last night from my brother in law Brian….

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Dave and his wife Marilyn ran a bed and breakfast in our community for several years.  Their house was (and is) on the historical registry.  Built by a general after the Civil war, is a big  square white house with massive white pillars,  wrap around front porch,  2nd floor balcony….   you get the idea  😉

Anyway since they never knew how many guests they might be entertaining on the weekend,  Marilyn had several sets of antique dishes/ matching plates, to go with the theme.

I met Marilyn a couple of times.  Classy lady. We stayed there once while we were gearing up to open our own bed and breakfast.  She was also an artist, had a sense of humor.  Great combination, don’t you think? 🙂    I remember  standing in their kitchen seeing a broken egg on their kitchen floor. It looked so real but she’d painted it there!  Same thing with a set of  keys on the counter top.

Anyway,  I guess Dave was doing dishes one morning and dropped a glass from one of Marilyn’s  fancy set of dishes.

It shattered all over the floor.

He

was

sick.

When Marilyn came down a few minutes later he went on and on about how clumsy he was.

Marilyn told him it was OK!

 “Get over it.  It was just a glass!”

Dave was so distraught he couldn’t let it go, he kept going….

At this point Marilyn picked up another glass and threw  it over her shoulder.

It shattered all over the floor.

She looked at Dave and said it again,

“It’s OK,  it’s just a glass.”

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I love that story.

DM