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

 

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Love your neighbor as yourself

Here’s three short stories from my life this past week…

On the gardening front…

I texted my  neighbor Mark on Friday : “Next time you are hauling manure, would you mind dropping off one or two bucket loads? … whatever $25 would buy.”

(I’m planning ahead for next seasons garden and fall is the perfect time to apply manure.)

He wrote back, “OK  Yea, how about $0?”

I am still savoring Mark’s generosity.

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On the honeybee front…

My bee mentor has been managing bees for about 40 years.  His name is Curt.  When I checked on our two hives earlier in the week, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing.  It looked like  capped brood (that’s up and coming new honey bees) above the queen excluder and a dark uncapped substance lower in the bowels of the hive.  I was concerned I may have some nasty  disease getting a foothold in the hive.  The excluder is a screen that (in theory) prevents the queen from  going where you don’t want her to go.  Normally, queens are slightly bigger than her smaller worker bees and she can’t squeeze through, although once in a while, it happens.  There is just so much I can learn via the internet or a phone call.  What I really needed was someone who knew what they were looking at to make a house call.  Texted Curt, Next day we set up a time for him to stop.  He manages a 120 hives of his own, and I didn’t feel right about having him stop without compensating him something, so I addressed it right up front.   All he asked for was a few yellow apples when I start picking.

I was SO appreciative of his generosity of time.  I’ve mentioned it before but Curt is the perfect mentor.  He doesn’t come across like a know it all. He asks great questions and doesn’t feel like he’s in a rush when he’s here.

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And finally on the construction job front.

I’ve been  framing walls on a commercial project the past month.  Couple of weeks ago, the electricians were “trying” to pull their main wires through some buried conduit.  There were two of them (Brian and Joe), and  Joe was having a heck of a time.  Joe didn’t ask, but  I stopped what I was doing and grabbed onto the pulley rope with him.  Couple of big tugs later and the first wire was through.   He really  appreciated it. He told me that final joint at the end is always a bugger.  He had one more wire to pull, and It turned out to be even tougher. The two of us, side by, side, both covered with sweat, pulling with everything we had.  I’m not an electrician, and it wasn’t my responsibility but  he needed a hand.  I didn’t do it for any other reason than that is how I was raised.

Met Fred (the owner) of the electrical company later in the week.  Introduced myself and told him how much I enjoyed working with his guys.  (There have been other random interactions throughout the week. besides me helping pull wire.)  On Thursday I asked Brian if need be, could I borrow one of their scissor lifts to install a handful of hangers?  (Ours was going back to the rental store the first of next week.) Absolutely he said.  He showed me where they hide the key in case their crew were not around.

On Friday Brian told me they had their weekly shop meeting  and was told not to hide the key on the lift.  Fred the owner told Brian to “give Doug the combination to the job trailer, s where I could find  the key for the lift.”

I was humbled by their trust.

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I had a great encounter @ the Lowes customer service desk this week as well.  This post is getting long enough, so I’ll save that story for another time.  How about you?  Any good encounters lately that left you encouraged?  I would love to hear about it, and I love details 🙂 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

 

Of Grit and Bone 7/8/19

Jason, his son Josh and I were building a deck today.  As we were having  coffee,  Jason’s phone rang.  I could hear him talking to someone about his birthday. which is this week.

“How old will you be?” I asked him when he got off the phone.

“Forty eight.”

Out of the blue, Josh looks at me and asked “How old are you”?

“Sixty one.” 

“No way, he said.  I thought you were about fifty.”

Ah, the simple things in life….

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There are so many things that can factor into aging well, especially the mental component.

Right at the top of my list is a sense of humor.

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About 13 years ago, I cut off the tip of my ring finger with a skill saw.  As a large black lady was wheeling me down the hallway  to the operating room, we got to talking.

She asked me what had happened?.

“Oh, I cut the tip of my finger off with a saw, “I said with a smirk.

“Oh! Don’t tell me that!” she said.

(I can still hear her southern drawl in my head).

“Yep, one of the guys found it and brought it to the hospital, just in case  they can sew it back on.”

“Don’t tell me that!” she said again.

“Yep, and it’s here in this bowl” (I had a metal bowl on my lap with that little chunk of my finger).

“Don’t tell me that!”

I smiled,

She smiled.

A sense of humor can go along way in a medical situation.

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Read the following this week and posted it on facebook:

“A well developed sense of humor reveals a well-balanced personality….the ability to get a laugh out of everyday situations is a safety valve. It rids us of tensions and worries that could otherwise damage your health….you think I’m exaggerating the benefits?

Maybe you’ve forgotten this proverb: “A joyful heart is good medicine…”

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And finally…work keeps coming in. (Which is why I have not been doing as much writing).

The bee split was a success.

Had our first new potatoes this weekend from the garden.

Decided to re-fire up our Bed and Breakfast for a little extra income.  Just about ready to reopen the doors.

95% of the people we’ve had stay, were not looking for the  B and B experience as much as just a place to stay.

Well, about time to call it a day.

Thanks for stopping by. DM

 

 

What she said/ what I said

When I got to the job site on Wednesday,  Sherry and her husband were sitting on their back deck.

“You are a slave driver!” she said.  “I was up until midnight,  so I could have those boards you needed ready. “ (I am paneling her 4 seasons room with car-siding.)

“Waaaaaaaa.” 

Did I just say that, I thought to myself?  . 🙂

She laughed.

I laughed.

It was all good…

Been working off and on for this couple the past couple of months.  A lot of health issues going on.

A lot of heartache.

I’ve had great talks with both of them.

Deep stuff/ fun stuff.

Wife and I share a love for the Little House on the Prairie series, so we’ve even had conversations about that.

Took it to the next level that morning.

Don’t remember if Dale Carnegie mentioned teasing in his book on people skills.      😉

Felt like I was in slightly uncharted waters.

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There’s definitely a balancing act when it comes  to coming along side someone who is going through suffering.

My job is not to “fix” or take away their pain with some words of wisdom.

I see it more as willing to listen…really listen and be present if they trust me enough to open up about what is really going on inside…

Had a friend recently take a risk and share with a group of us, about some grief they are still dealing with 15 years after the fact.  First thing they said was, “Now I don’t want anyone to try and fix me….just listen.”

Well, someone in the group didn’t get the memo, and lapsed into the “fix it” mode…right there on the spot.

I was SO uncomfortable.

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Have you ever experienced some heavy duty heartache and had someone(s) in your life do a great job of helping you regain your bearings?  How did they do it? What did they do?  What didn’t they do?….or, if you want to,  Have you ever experienced the  opposite?

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I had a good week.  Great week actually.  Received (3) unexpected tips from 3 different customers….plus a huge lead on two potential  projects for next year.  One of my customers from last year, was  bragging about me to this potential client…she even repeated  to me some of what she said about me.

That was neat.

Met with them in person yesterday morning.  Had a great rollicking conversation.  At one point, the husband looked a little uptight, (His arms were crossed, and there was this look on his face).  🙂

I asked, “What are you thinking about right now?”

“I feel like curling up in the fetal position.” 🙂

I laughed,

He laughed.

I think this would be a fun project.  (it’s a mother/ daughter addition to their house plus a new garage).

I will keep you posted.

Well, time to get moving.   DM

 

 

 

Historical perspective on money and personal debt

Hey John, ( and anybody else who cares to listen) 🙂

This picture caught my eye the other day and I wanted you to  see it.

I wanted to plant a financial seed in your minds eye if I may. 🙂

It is the home of Dr Lebron Lackey, still standing after a 250 mph hurricane.  Notice his neighbors…

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When I was studying early Iowa history one of the things that struck me, (and we never covered in school), was the number of other recessions and depressions that had taken place.

All I had ever learned about was The Great Depression of 1929.  

We never talked about the Panic of 1837, that lasted until 1843 – (6 years).

“The Panic of 1837 was one of the longest and deepest depressions of the 19th century. It was a period of pronounced deflation and massive default on debt.”

Then came the the Panic of 1857  that  didn’t really turn around until after  the Civil War – (7 years).

“…the years immediately preceding the Panic of 1857 were prosperous, many banks, merchants, and farmers had seized the opportunity to take risks with their investments and as soon as market prices began to fall, they quickly began to experience….. financial panic”.

Or The panic of 1873 that lasted until 1879   (6 years).

Since you didn’t bring this topic up, I am kind of reluctant to get too preachy,  but knowing what I know,  it would be just wrong of me to not say something.

Back in  January of 2014, I was  at my wit’s end (financially).  To use a word picture at the time,  I felt like I was flying a 747 and we were about 10 to 15 feet above the ocean.

Yes we were still in the air, and yes we were still moving, but the waves were lapping at the wings, and I was tired.   Being self employed, my income can vary a lot from year to year…as much as a 1/3.   I  sat down, crunched some numbers and realized we had been spending $700 a month more than I was making for a couple of years.  Our budget was based on the incomes of better years. Those extra expenses were going  fun things like heating bills, medical bills and medical insurance.

We’ve never been big on going out to eat, yada, yada….

So there you go, and it was right in the midst of that craziness that I came across the book by Mary Hunt called  Debt Proof Living.

Within a month of reading it, I had hope.  Finally had some practical ideas on how to get some distance between myself and the water.

Our income hasn’t change all that much, but (knock on wood) we’ve been able to pay off all of the credit card debt, our car loan, a line of credit loan, and the loan to build that little extension on my shop.  Over $30,000 worth of debt, on the same income…we switched medical health insurance coverage that saved us $400 a month, and replaced the 20 year old furnace/ shut off the heat to the 2nd floor of our home and whacked another $300 a month off expenses.

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So when I see that picture of the house still standing when the neighbors have all been blown away, I see someone making different financial decisions than the rest of the culture.

Pop culture says, debt is just a normal part of life.

I say we are living in a fools paradise.

Historically, things go in cycles.

We are way past due for another financial $@#% storm.

Get out of debt and stay out of debt.

It is possible to raise a family on one blue collar income.

You can take that to the bank.

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.