Gratitude 7/18/2020

I am thankful.

Thankful so many moons ago, my dad (with whom I never ever remember having any deep conversations growing up) put a book in my hands when I was about 16.  It was called The Power of Positive Thinking.  He’d just finished reading it.  I can remember him saying something to the effect like..”Junior, this would be a good book to read.”

Flash forward to today.  That conversation is still bearing fruit in my life.  I am even more convinced now that I am 60 plus years and counting in the power and importance in the attitudes I chose as I approach  today.   A large part of right thinking involves being thankful.  Finding things to be thankful for, even in the midst of chaos.  Even in the midst of heartache and not so pleasant circumstances.  Even in the midst of medical stuff.

What can I identify I can be thankful for?

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Got a call this week from someone in crisis.  Asked if I could take them to the hospital, they were in the midst of a major panic attack. Ever been around one of those?  Lot of people never have.   If you’ve not, contrary to what you might think, it’s not usually weak people that are most vulnerable, rather, it’s often times someone who is a go/ getter/ type a, never take a break, full throttle 7 days a week personality type.  Yep.

I was thankful I was able to get in touch with 2 people on the phone as I was headed to their house…a counselor I know, and a nurse I know.   Both picked up the phone. Both gave me great input as to how to proceed. I was thankful for their input. Thankful I didn’t have to fly completely blind as I took off with my friend to the hospital.

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Thankful to for a book I read 25 years ago on the coaching tips from former Green Bay Packer coach, Vince Lombardi.  I am not into food ball as funny as that might sound. I read the book because I was intrigued by his ability to motivate people.   A quote  from that  book came to mind  this week…

He said, “Football…beyond any game invented by man is closest to war…

it teaches a most important lesson of life…. 

the ability to walk through a storm and keep your head high.”

Yep,  It was a full week for me (emotionally exhausting).

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I am thankful I learned the art of weaving “margin” into my life in my late 20’s.   As a first born,  get-er-done.  Work 7 days a week/ dairy farmers son I didn’t know any different.

Life is a marathon.

It is not a sprint.

We are not meant to be “on” 7 days a week.

You will pay the piper.

Feel free to do otherwise. 🙂

Time  to play in  the shop.  Need to get ready to install another air conditioneer/ coolbot setup in the walk in cooler.

Tell me about your week.   DM

PSA.   I never know who may be reading this in the future.  If by chance you’ve stumbled across this post after googing “panic attack” etc,  Get yourself a copy of The Anxiety Cure by Archibald Hart.   

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. 🙂

 

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

 

Checking In

How are you doing this morning?

What’s it like locally where you live?

I was telling my wife this morning over coffee, one of the harder things to deal with (for me) is getting accurate information,  trying to sort the crazy rumors out from what’s really true so we can make good decisions.

I stumbled across a fresh source of news on Thursday I have good feelings about.  It’s called the Epoch Times.  They are currently running a special.  First month is only a $1.00, then after that, it’s $70 something for 6 months.  What impressed me, well one of the things that really impressed me was their coverage on the Covid-19 (the coronavirus).  They have an ongoing data base that is updated every couple of minutes with statistics on number of confirmed cases, number of deaths, broken down, by country, and state.   Crunching the numbers myself, I saw that in Italy for example the rate of death was over 8%…which is crazy.  When it comes to accurate information from China, I absolutely do not trust the information, from them or the mainstream media in our country.

Got this off their website:

    “The Epoch Times was founded in the United States in the year 2000 in response to communist repression and censorship in China. Our founders, Chinese-Americans who themselves had fled communism, sought to create an independent media to bring the world uncensored and truthful information. We are free from the influence of any government, corporation, or political party—this is what makes us different from other media organizations. Our goal is to bring our readers accurate information so they can form their own opinions about the most significant topics of our time.”

I’ll let you know in a month, whether or not we chose to subscribe.  It’s a little steep, but knowledge is power as the saying goes.

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On a local front here, I have a full morning.  Dropping off a couple of dozen farm fresh eggs to one of our regulars,  then stopping by my mom and dad’s for a cup of coffee.   Their in their 80’s so they are laying low.   At 10 I am picking up our 6 year old grandson.  He get’s to hang out with grandpa today (me), going to show him how to start tomato plants from seeds.   Then as they mature, send several of the plants home with him for him to plant and take care of and eventually show him how to save tomato seeds for next season.

After our seed starting workshop, we are going to pick up beer cans.

Home Schooling PE class at it’s finest. 🙂

Get some exercise, clean up the environment, hang out with grandpa and make money at the same time,

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Here’s a link to the Epoch Times, in case you are curious:

And finally, I’ll leave you with this…I shared it last year:

Take care. DM

Growing up on a farm

Write about what you know they say…..

Growing up on a farm shaped me in ways  I didn’t realize at the time.

Seeds were  planted that didn’t germinate until years later.

Like when you have to borrow your neighbors tractor make sure you top off the gas tank before you take it back.  And if by chance, something breaks, you  get it fixed. Take it back better than when you got it.

Everybody thinks that way, right?

Found out a few years ago, that is not always true.

We invited a young person stay with us for three months, a musician who was trying to get their bearings.  We didn’t have a spare vehicle, so I put the word out  amongst my people to see if anyone would have a spare loaner car?    Well, a few months turned into almost a year, and when it came time to return the car, our guest was incredulous that I insisted we needed to take it to the shop to get some things fixed that had started to act up.

What was I thinking?   Our guest didn’t have any extra money, plus that was a risk my friends had taken when they originally loaned the vehicle out.

Absolutely no way my guest was responsible for any repairs on that car!!!

No way.

Wasn’t going to happen.

They looked at me like I was nuts.

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I moved to the farm when I was  9.

Left the summer I graduated high school and didn’t looked back….until 19 years later…

At that point, we were in middle of raising a family of our own,  things were not going to well.  We decided we needed  to find  a place  in the country, even if we had to rent, to regain control of our lives.

It worked.

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I’ve spent several weeks again  this winter, working on our family history.  I’ve got most of the important names and dates established, going back 4 generations  and in some cases, multiple generations more. My next goal is to flesh it out with stories.  That’s  probably where some of the stirrings for this post came from.

Several of my ancestors were farmers.

Unless you grow up on a farm, you probably never gave much thought to what it is like to milk a fresh heifer (fresh heifer = young female cow who has just had her first calf) by hand? Especially when it’s fifteen times your weight,  has no interest in getting milked, because it has a case of mastitis.

Can you say RODEO?

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Ever had an old rooster come after you?  Not sure about other animals but a mean rooster can sense  if you’re afraid.  Chickens really do have a pecking order and the rooster is usually @ the top of the flock.   Depending on the bird, they may either try to fly up into your face and peck you, or grab you by the leg and rip you with his spurs.

I tell them to bring it on.

Roosters are like bullies.  You just have to let them know who is in charge.  It’s all about boundaries.

 

Dad and I with three of his roosters.

All three of them came after me that day.

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Well, I feel a nap coming on.

Definitely did not learn the art of napping growing up on the farm…just the opposite.

“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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I have a couple of stories about  buffalo I want to write about next.  We raised them until the bull got loose.

Later!  DM

Brother and I back in the day holding a couple of farm cats

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

Learners corner

Got a phone call  at 7:30 this morning from my sister-in-law.  She was standing @ the contractor’s desk at Home Depot, trying to order materials for their basement remodel.  She told me the other day when we were talking, she was starting to “get it”…as in the lingo, construction lingo..the difference between studs, and plate material, white wood, treated,  types of insulation, the purpose of a vapor barrier..fire blocking,  etc. etc.

She still has questions but I have been amazed at how quickly she has picked things up.   Heck I still  run into situations all the time that I’m not familiar with and I’ve been around it for over 40 years.   Life lesson: Better to speak up and ask, than bluff and pay the piper later.

While we were on the phone,  My mind went to  an article I’d been carrying around in my wallet since October.  We’d spent the weekend at our daughters watching the grand kids and an article from  American Hunter magazine caught my eye.  It was about a young home schooling mother and her 10 year old daughter who hunt moose for the tribal people in Alaska.  Fascinating story:

“When a seasoned mother-daughter from Alaska visits our man in Idaho, for some turkey hunting lessons,  the line between mentor and pupil becomes blurred”

The writer talked about taking this mother/ daughter turkey hunting…something totally new to them (even though they hunt for a living.)

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My new friends Martha and Elli  came to Dancing Springs Ranch at the start of last turkey season.  Neither had ever seen a turkey in the wild, and they knew precious little about shotguns.

     “I have a Mossberg youth model pump 20-gauge that should fit you guys pretty well,” I announced, thinking this would impress them.

 “What’s a pump 20-gauge?” Elli asked.

 “You don’t know what a pump 20-gauge is?”  I didn’t really say that, but that’s what popped into my head.  Isn’t this typical for experienced hunters?  We assume everyone should know this basic stuff and being human, we leap at the opportunity to show off our “superior” knowledge. 

Wrong approach.

We win no converts by intimidating or insulting them.

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Having been in the learners corner myself multiple times, I’ve experienced both, great teachers and condescending, arrogant  twits,

My memories are still fresh.

(I tried to get my CDL class A semi drivers license a couple of times a few years go…that world is full of twits, and I still don’t have my license. 😉

Same thing happened when I went to a local gun shop a few years ago.  My ability to talk the lingo is still limited.  Some of the guys behind the counter I encountered were awesome, and one in particular was a class A twit.

When I was gearing up to teach a college level construction program, it was a steep learning curve…but the school I was working for was a class act.  I was surrounded by patient people.)

So the next time you find yourself talking to someone with little or no knowledge of some area that you do know, think before you open your mouth, and get impatient. Think about the person in front of you and the last time you were in over your head in a new area of life.

Be nice. 🙂

Someone will love you for it.

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What areas of life do you have a working knowledge? (You don’t have to consider yourself “an expert.” Maybe it’s a hobby you dabble in, so something you used to do for a job…  really the list is endless… But if someone came to you with a question, you know enough to at least point them in the right direction? 🙂

I would love to get a list of the areas of interest represented in this readership.

Once a few of you have commented, I will add my list in the comment section.  No brag/ just fact.  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?

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