40 years ago

Forty years ago today was a big day in our lives…

(We were both  14)

ūüôā

 

 

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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.¬† ¬†ūüôā

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

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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?

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Have a great day and thanks for stopping by. 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.¬† ūüėČ

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).

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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!

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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.

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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. ūüôā

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

 

Why I’m optimistic about 2019

I just ordered  2000 Red Burgundy  Organic Onion seeds this morning.

When they arrive, I’m going to fill a flat with them and watch them grow.

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CS Lewis wrote a little fictional book called The Screwtape Letters.¬† It is my personal favorite of all his writings.¬† He was a master story-teller.¬† ¬†He talks in there about worry, fear of the future, fears of the unknown.¬† ¬†If you struggle with fear, and love a good allegory, I can’t recommend it enough.

I think it has shaped my thoughts on this topic as much as anything I have ever read.

Well, I feel a nap coming on.

Later! DM

 

 

 

 

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.

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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 ūüôā¬† DM

 

Better is….

Got together yesterday with a few friends to catch up and talk about life.

Lots of coffee….lots of laughs…

Wife made a no-bake, blueberry cream cheese pie.

Wish you were here.¬† ūüôā

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Here are a couple of things that I shared…

A week ago, I stumbled across some  words written by an old fool at the end of his life:

“Better is a handful with quietness than two fists full and trouble with it.”

I’ve said something similar myself, probably started saying it about the time we started having children. ūüôā

I would say:¬†¬†“Peace and quiet is entirely under-rated.”¬†

Second quote (by the same guy) I have been chewing on:

Remember: The duller the ax the harder the work…”

We heated with wood growing up. On those rare times when I picked up an ax¬†instead of a chainsaw, I quickly realized a dull ax was worthless….

I was watching a class online  recently on how to build a timber-framed structure.  The first  thing  covered  was tool care, and keeping your chisel sharp, both literally and  figuratively.

Wow.¬† That was deep.¬† I’ve been thinking about what that means ever since.

(ie. how to keep my life “sharp”.)

I am a carpenter and nobody has ever taught me how to sharpen a chisel.   Ever.

In all fairness to me,¬† with the kind of work I do, (framing, siding, roofing, concrete)¬† I don’t use chisels all that often, but on those rare occasions when I need one, i usually end up buying a new one.

So I’ve¬† been on a mission the past week to learn how to sharpen my chisels.

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A friend of ours  recently updated us about  her son. Son  lives on the east coast.   Both he and his wife have great paying stress filled jobs.  Just had a new baby, (that makes 3)  Son recently decided to go back to school to finish his degree, (while still working full-time.)   Made me stressed just hearing about their lives..  I know her son just a little.  Good guy.  I like him.

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Dad is 86.¬† Didn’t stop farming until just 2 years ago.¬† Worked full-time as a general contractor into his late 70’s. One of his few regrets was working too much while the kids (myself included) were growing up.¬† We never saw him except on weekends.¬†Then my mom was diagnosed with colon cancer in her mid 40’s.¬† I had moved out of the house and gotten married by this time. There was definitely a shift in¬† dad’s priorities after that.¬† He started taking each of us kids out on our birthday’s for breakfast.

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It’s all about balance.¬† Finding the balance between work, money, bills, wants, desires, relationships, life…

In my late 20’s as I was chasing my own mechanical rabbits around the track, I came across two quotes that stopped me dead in my tracks…“If you make it to the top of the company ladder, but loose your family in the process, you are a fool.”¬† and , “If you are a hero to others, yet strangers to your own children, you are a fool.”¬†

I’ve written about that season elsewhere on the blog so I won‘t repeat it right now.

 

The fifteen or so of you that regularly interact with me here are in a very real sense my on-line family.¬† I appreciate each and every one of you!¬† If you’re a somewhat regular reader that has never made a peep, I would love to hear from you..even if you just say, “I’m here.” ūüôā

Anyway, this is what has been on my mind the past week.

How about you?

Take care. DM

Jumble of words

Saw the following picture on our screensaver this morning.

(Our screensaver scrolls through the photos I’ve uploaded on the computer)

Grandson helping dad and grandpa cut wood with his chainsaw

Kasen was born with an extra  Chromosome 21

(Down Syndrome)

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My mind is a jumble of  words when I see that picture.

95% positive

I am so thankful my daughter and her husband did not choose to end his life while he was still in the womb.  6 out of 10 babies diagnosed with down syndrome never make it out of the womb alive here in America.   The odds are even worse in Europe (9 out of 10)

Kasen is as much a part of  our family as any of us.

The Thanksgiving holiday here in America¬† is day after tomorrow.¬† Wishing all of you that stay in touch with me on a regular basis here via my blog(s) a great day…and if you lived locally I would invite you to join us for lunch.

I really would…

Then you could meet Kasen¬† ūüôā¬† and the rest of clan.

Take care. DM