You never know

When I got my monthly statement from XYZ lumberyard in February I questioned the balance due. It said I had a credit almost $2,000.00, when I thought, I owed them about $1900.00. I usually have a pretty good idea on who I owe what to, so when I look in the check book, I know now much is really mine. 🙂

I called and talked to book keeper, just to make sure.

She reassured me, that yes, I had overpaid, everything was correct.

Christmas in February. 🙂

“Would you mind sending me a check for $1000.00 of that, and keep the rest for credit?”

Couple of days later, I had the refund check.

We were framing walls in a basement, later that week and my phone rang. Didn’t recognize the number so I let it go to voice mail. Turned out it was the secretary at the lumberyard. She was calling me on her personal cell phone. Asked me to call her @ the store, she sounded a little stressed.

I called right back, and she started to apologize . Turned out I was correct. She had accidentally, double credited my account. I did not have a surplus.

She was sick.

I need to mention also, that she had only been working there maybe 4 months.

I said to her “It’s OK. Stuff happens. It was a good thing I hadn’t spent any of it yet.”

So, what is my balance then?” I asked…

You actually owe $54.19.”

When I sat down to pay bills a few days, later, when I wrote the check to XYZ lumberyard, I put a little 🙂 (Smiley face) on the memo area.

Next time I was in to that store, the secretary thanked me again for my response to the whole thing and appreciated the memo.

The next time after that, when I stopped into the lumberyard, the secretary asked me about my last name, “Was I any relation, to so and so?”

Yep”

“Well, so is my dad. She is my dad’s first cousin.”

30 seconds later, we realized her dad and my dad were first cousins.

My grandpa was one of 12 children, and while I knew some of the extended relatives, there are dozens, (my generation) I have no idea about.

My grandpa (Opa‘s) family. He’s in the back row, far left.

My hunch is, the way I responded (or didn’t respond, in this case) to the new secretary @ XYZ lumberyard with the book keeping error, put me on her radar, which in turn opened up a door…

Fruit

I wrote a mini series earlier this year on our time living in New Jersey.

Left off thinking I might come back to it, but then I wonder, who is really reading this stuff.

I do appreciate all of you that take the time to read and interact. It’s one of the highlights of my day.

But then this morning I was thinking about my most recent interaction with the lady whose roof I wrote about in my last post...Michelle, made a comment about me being direct, and I thought, you know, that is one of the fruits of our time living @ Gilgal.

The importance of addressing issues head on.

Bible calls it “speaking the truth in love.” Not going to go and quote verses for you on it. You’ll have to trust me on this one…but they are there. It’s a part of the Christian life .

There are two parts to that life skill…

Speaking the truth.

Doing it with love.

If either part is missing, you have a problem.

When I say things that may have truth in them, but don’t do it out of love, it’s like someone trying to prune me with butter knife. I’ve had that happen. I don’t like it.

The other extreme, is thinking we love someone, but we’re not honest, that too is a perversion.

Give you an example.

When we moved back to Iowa, I was not the same person I was when I’d left. When we left. I would say I was pretty passive. A doormat. Not only hated conflict but didn’t go there. I would keep quiet if someone tried to manipulate and or intimidate me. Had that type of relationship with one of my uncles. He didn’t know what to do with me when I no longer took it. It’s taken about 25 years, but I think he finally gets it. 🙂

There was also a re-calibration of my relationship with my dad, whom I genuinely respect and love. I’d put up with a level of sarcasm for 40 years, until that one morning (after we returned to Iowa). I’ve mentioned it before.

He called 6:30 one morning to touch bases about a job. In the context of our conversation, he sarcastically said “Don’t you listen to the radio?” (Had to do with me not knowing the weather forecast for the day)

Probably had something to do with me just waking up, but out of my mouth came the words, “I don’t like it when you talk to me like that.”

Dead silence on the phone.

Took both of us by surprise.

I didn’t say it, disrespectfully, but I didn’t pussy foot around either.

I just said it.

It was a watershed point in our relationship. Happened 25 years ago. He has never used that sarcastic tone of voice with me since. Couple of times, it was close, and I found myself push back.

Told my mom about that conversation later that week, and do you know what she said?….

“I’ve been waiting for you to do that.”

So there you go. One of the biggest life lessons I came away from that season of my life living in New Jersey was how to cultivate, authentic, deep, honest, relationships with other imperfect people. And less you think, it only happens in the context of your family..

Nope.

Works just as powerfully on the job, with your kids, with the guys in the lumberyard, and even in the blog-o-sphere, it can happen.

Do I do it perfectly.

Nope.

But the quality of my relationships as a whole are on a whole different level than they used to be.

If you’ve read this far, thank you! DM

Another Love Story

Last week I wrote a short ditty on how I (DM)  met my wife.  I asked one of my regular readers  (Paul) about how he and his significant other met….  I had a hunch they had an interesting story, and I was not mistaken.

This is Paul’s story….

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Another Love Story.

Here’s my story….
Marriage down the pan and I’m kinda holding it together BUT have you ever noticed how going for a drink, a meal, to the cinema, or just out for a walk along the beach on your own, people look at you funny.

Table for one? Sorry full up.
They aren’t but I wasn’t exactly the nice looking, respectable, rich guy.

Go into a pub, and the stares during the 39 steps between the door and the bar stool sort of got to me.
Eventually to the extent of looking round at the inquisitive faces and saying “What, private club is it!?!”

So, fed up of being single, i.e. alone, I put an advert a paper for someone (female) to join me in going out, food, drink, movies.
Just a friend, that’s all, AND I MEANT IT TOO.
Why female? Dinner for two used to be accepted as normal if it was a heterosexual couple.

Anyway, the advert. A couple of ladies answered.
Err the short list was extremely short i.e. one of them in fact and that didn’t really go anywhere because they wanted “companionship”, I just wanted a friend.

Resubmitting the advert was me on the edge of packing everything I owned into the trunk of the car and go traveling.
I had some vague idea of round the world using my skill-base to make money.
How daft was that? My skill base was what had screwed me up but hey, you work with the tools you’ve got don’t you.
Way I saw it was me probably ending up in a ditch somewhere.
Quite frankly I didn’t give a damn which ditch either as long as it wasn’t in the UK.

Then the second post arrived.
One in particular made me smile.
SWMBO (to be).
She kinda made me laugh and that stopped me dead.
A sense of humor? Wow.

So, one ‘nervous’ phone call later we met.

As above SWMBO will explain what happened (sort of).

For some reason this girl got right under my skin, past the firewalls, into my head.
No slushy bit, well the occasional holding hands. Call it being friendly if you like.
Yet there was something about her and it was driving me MAD!
It’s her manner with people, her ways, those 101 little things that you like, or dislike, yet can’t get enough of.
Then I reached the stage of dashing home to get changed to meet her.
Then she came to my works on a Saturday to sit and drink coffee while I worked!
It somehow dawned on me that we were a couple.

Aw hell! How did that happen.
The car got gently unpacked and the rest, as they say, is history.

However what SWMBO got was a raw deal.
An almost divorcee, but with her help that was finalized.
Yippee. The celebration was heartfelt and fun!

A basket case through combat stress.
I just had two pennies to rub together.
The rules of my life were:-
Look after and fill the car with gas, pay the rent, and anything else got spent on food and living.
Not quite broke the whole time but peanuts and boiled rice figured heavily on the menu.
And a warning about health issues which may put me into a wheelchair in later years.

Yet she just shrugged at all of that.
We’ve all got baggage, everyone has, but to us this was a new life we had started.
So no questions from either side, no doubts, This is day one.

We must be doing something right after 28 years of togetherness, 26 of them married.

Ultimately I got the best out of the deal although my investment has shrunk over the past year as SWMBO has lost weight.
One objection. I never knew she was so bony.

And finally some notes.
We became an ‘us’. Never one, we come as a pair.
“What’s mine is ours, what’s hers is hers”.
Funny thing? That’s SWMBO’s words.
Although she does draw the line at pinching my skivvies (shorts)..

Lastly there is a phrase I use to describe what I feel.
I’m as happy as a pig in the mire and and looking forward to growing old(er) together.

From nothing to everything yet still with little in material wealth.
Does that matter though? Not to me.
Tis the prerogative of the poor to say they are richer in other things.
In our case that’s true and I wouldn’t swap one tiny second of what we’ve got.

And here is a link to  SWMBO’s version of this love story. 🙂

A Short Love Story

True story

He sat in the front row of the class room every morning. Directly in front of the door, so that the second the alarm bell rang he would  be the first to shoot out the door. Small for his age, he wore nerdy glasses, loved to go to the library and read, played the trumpet.

He was shy,  cripplingly so. Had no idea how to carry on a normal conversation with  a girl.

When he was 16 his brother and he were talking about girls one night.  The boy realized if something didn’t change, he was destined to be single his entire life.

There was this girl in home room, he had a secret crush on.  She was a year younger, sat with all of the popular kids in the back of the room.  She had long dark hair.  She was athletic. Played varsity basketball her freshman year.  She came from a well to do family.

Totally out of his league.

One day in Spanish lab, the cute girl and her friend asked the shy boy a question about a homework assignment.  The conversation lasted all of thirty seconds.

Would you believe through a series of serendipitous circumstances that boy eventually did get a date with that cute girl…..and then years later…they were married.

I was thinking about that kid this morning.

Because that kid was me.

 

 

In Halting English

Daughter # 3 married into the Hispanic culture two years ago. We love her hubby.    She (daughter #3) speaks less espanol than I do, which is not a lot, 😉  and by the sound of it, doesn’t have any big plans to learn …. Her extended family runs the gamut from fluent English to no sprekenze  English at all…

Last weekend their daughter (our granddaughter) turned one.  Daughter #3  and hubby decided to throw a birthday party for her.  Not wanting to offend anyone, it turned into quite a large guest list.

As I sat across the table from Edwardo,  he and I attempted to have a conversation.  In halting English he introduced me to his family...”This is my son…. and this is my wife.”

At this point, in the conversation, Mrs DM scooted down in the chair next to me and the conversations continued.  Edwardo, as it turned out, was able to understand much of what I said.  He told us his wife did not speak English, however his son Jordon, was your typical American 10 yr old.

Lots of laughs.

That conversation and another one with a shy 6th grade girl, who rarely talks, but opened up to Mrs DM and I when no one else was around were two of the highlights of our trip.

I came across the following true story in the latest Readers Digest after the party.  It immediately took  me back to the feelings I had sitting around the birthday table last weekend…

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A Random Act Of Roadside Assistance by Justin Horner

During this past year, I’ve had three instances of car trouble.  Each time these things happened, I was disgusted with the way most people hadn’t bothered to help.  One of those times, I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep.  I put signs in the windows, big signs that said NEED A JACK, and offered money. Nothing.  Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a Mexican family a van pulled over, and the father bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English.  He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it.  Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road.  We rolled it over and put his jack on top, and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron – snapped the head clean off.  No worries :  He handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a a new tire iron.  She was back in 15 minutes.  We finished the job, and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty.  His wife produced a large water jut for us to wash our hands with.  I tried to put a $20 dollar bill in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could.  I asked the little girl where they lived.  Mexico, she said.  They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks.  they they were going to pick peaches, then go home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the jeep, the girl called out and asked if I had lunch.  When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

I thanked them again,walked back to my car, and opened the fiol on the tamale, and what did I find inside?  My $20 bill!  I ran to the van.  The father saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no.  With what looked like great concentration, he said in English, “Today you, tomorrow me.”

Silence In The Presence Of The Opposite Sex

pride and prejudice

Last night, wife and I finished watching Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen  (again.)

Even though we’ve seen the series before, enough time has passed that I forgot most of it. 🙂

There was so much about Darcey I could relate to, especially his silence in the presence of Lizzy.

He would become tongue tied around her.

Early on, some of it may have been due to his pride, but at the same time, you find out later, his brain would freeze and nothing came out.

That is a struggle I am all to familiar with.

Shyness.

Crippling Shyness.

Rather than rewrite that whole chapter of my life again, here’ s a link to my story that I wrote a few years ago, for a blog called The Shyness Project.

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Well, time to get to work.   I’m burning daylight. DM

 

 

 

Winston

Sitting here in the kitchen just now, a picture on our frig caught my eye….

poster

Picture of Winston and I

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A passing comment by my dad  when I was 14, is still bearing fruit to this day. Dad was reading The Power Of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale in his stuffed leather chair after work one night, and as I walked by he said..”You need to read this Junior.”

So I did.  Up until then, it never entered my mind, I had any control over what went on in my head. I gradually discovered  I could influence my emotional well-being more  than I realized, just by paying attention to my mental responses to life.  (Does that make sense?)

So you might say, I have become a seeker  on how we as humans can cultivate a more healthy thought life, all the while staying rooted in the reality.

I have no time for simplistic Polly-Anna type drivel, nor spiritual “name it and claim it”nonsense not tried on the anvil of life….

Having said that,here’s a link to my favorite quote about attitudes.

…skipping….skipping…skipping.

In my 40’s I came across the story of Winston Churchill and realized there was  a man I wanted to know more about.  Almost single handedly  (it seemed)  he had been able to inspire of the people of England  in the midst of their battle with Nazi Germany…

churchill quote

How did he do that?  I wanted to know.  Later I realized he was not always up, he too wrestled with the dog days of depression..but he also had some hobbies  to encourage himself and recharge his batteries emotionally.

Some of the activities  he used included slipping away to his farm in the country, painting, and feed apples to his pig.

Churchill said this about his pig:

“Dogs, look up to you, cats look down at you…but a pig looks at you as an equal.”

I told my wife, I wanted to get a pet pig and name him Winston. (We already live in the country,  had the apple trees planted, and since Winston Churchill was now one of my heroes.. it only seemed natural that I should get a pet pig.

I called a local farmer who raises pigs and asked if I could buy a baby pig next time he had some for sale. I forgot to mention I wanted a male, so we came home with a female piglet, whom I tagged “Winston.”

She started out as a 20 pound piglet, and two years later when I finally had to tell her “good-by,” she was pushing 650 pounds.

Here’s some random things about pigs you may or may not know…..

They are highly intelligent…right up there with dolphins and chimps.

They  love to have their belly rubbed/just like a dog.

They are social.

That stereo type about them being dirty is not 100% accurate.  They  don’t have sweat glands so in the summer, hanging out in the mud hole is a way to keep themselves cool.

When pigs are forced to live  in a confined area, they will do their bathroom duties in one area- and keep their nesting area clean.

Here’s another picture of her eyes that I find almost haunting….

There is intelligence behind those eyes.

beautiful eyes2

I miss her still….

 

 

 

Appointment With Love

I can still remember a Christmas eve, doesn’t seem that long ago…I was @ my grandparents, talking with Uncle Bill.

I remember telling him I wished I had a girl friend.  In my heart of hearts, I had the strongest urge  to settle down and start a family….I didn’t voice all of that to Uncle Bill  but it was there, and it was real.

The ironic thing was, there were absolutely no prospects on the horizon…none...nada…

Bill said to me, “You never know...that special someone might be just around the corner!”

Would you believe less that two months later, I met her.

Mrs DM and I celebrated 36 years together this past April.  I could write a blog post (book?)  on the life lessons I’ve learned during this time….

The humbling thing for me is, we are closer now than ever.  It has not always been like that and has definitely not been easy.

I am not the easiest person in the world to deal with on a daily basis.  You can fool the people you only see once in a while, but the people you live with on a daily basis…not a chance.

Came across the following story in A  3rd serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul.  DM

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      Six minutes to six, said the great round clock over the information booth in Grand Central Station.  The tall young Army lieutenant who had just come from the direction of the tracks lifted his sunburned face, and his eyes narrowed to note the exact time.  His heart was pounding with a beat that shocked him because he could not control it.  In six minutes, he would see the woman who had filled such a special place in his life for the past 13 months, the woman he had never seen, yet whose written words had been with him and sustained him unfailingly.

     He placed himself as close as he could to the information booth, just beyond the ring of people besieging the clerks…

      Lieutenant Blanford remembered one night in particular, the worst of the fighting, when his plane had been caught in the midst of a pack of Zeros.  He had seen the grinning face of one of the enemy pilots.

     In one of his letters, he had confessed to her that he often felt fear, and only a few days before this battle, he had received her answer: “Of course you fear…all brave men do.  Didn’t King David know fear?  That’s why he wrote the 23rd Psalm.  Next time you doubt yourself, I want you to hear my voice reciting to you, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”  And he had remembered;  he had heard her imagined voice, and it had renewed his strength and skill.

     Now he was going to hear her real voice.  Four minutes to six.  His face grew sharp. 

       Under the immense, starred roof, people were walking fast, like threads of color being woven into a grey web.  A girl passed close to him,  and Lieutenant Blanford started.  She was wearing a red flower in her suit lapel, but it was a crimson sweet pea, not the little red rose they had agreed upon.  Besides this girl was too young, about 18, whereas Hollis Meynell had frankly told him she was 30.  “Well, what of it?” he had answered.  “I’m 32.  He was 29.

     His mind went back to that book- the book the Lord Himself must have put into his hands out of the hundreds of Army  library books sent to the Florida training camp.  Of Human Bondage, it was; and throughout the book were notes in a woman’s writing.  He had always hated that writing-in habit, but these remarks were different.  He had never believed that a woman could see into a man’s heart so tenderly, so understandingly.  Her name was on the book-plate  Hollis Meynell.  He had got hold of a New York City telephone book and found her address.  He had written, she had answered.  Next day he had been shipped out, but they had gone on writing.

     For 13 months, she had faithfully replied, and more than replied.  When his letters did not arrive, she wrote anyway, and now he believed he loved her, and she loved him.

     But she had refused all his pleas to sent him a photograph.  That seemed rather bad, of course.  But she had explained: “If your feeling for me has any reality, any honest basis, what I look like won’t matter.  Suppose I’m beautiful.  I’d always be haunted by the feeling that you had been taking a chance on just that, and that kind of love would disgust me.  Suppose I’m plain (and you must admit that this is more likely) Then I’d always fear that you were going on writing me only because you were lonely and had no one else.  No, don’t ask for my picture.  When you come to New York, you shall see me and they you shall make your decision.  Remember, both of us are free to stop or go on after that- whichever we choose…”

      One minute to six- he pulled hard on the cigarette.

     Then Lieutenant Blanford’s heard leaped higher than his plane had ever done.

     A young woman was coming toward him.  Her figure was long and slim; her blond hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears.  Her eyes were blue and flowers, her lips and chin had a gentle firmness.  In her pale green suit, she was like springtime come alive.

     He started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was wearing no rose, and as he moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips.

      Going my way soldier?” she murmured.

      Uncontrollably, he made one step closer to her.  Then he saw Hollis Meynell.

      She was standing almost directly behind the girl, a woman well past 40, her greying hair tucked under a worn hat.  She was more than plump; her thick-ankled feet were thrust into low-heeled shoes.  But she wore a red rose in a rumpled lapel of her brown coat.

     The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.

     Blanford felt that though he were being split in two, so keen was his desire to follow the girl, yet so deep was his longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companion-ed and upheld his own; and there she stood.  Her pale  plump face was gentle and sensible;  he could see that now.  Her gray eyes had a warm, kindly twinkle.

     Lieutenant Blanford did not hesitate.  His fingers gripped the small, worn, blue leather copy of Of Human Bondage, which was to identify him to her.  This would  not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even rarer than love- a friendship for which he had been and must ever be grateful.

     He squared his broad shoulders, saluted and held the book out toward the woman, although even while he spoke, he felt shocked by the bitterness of his disappointment.

      “I”m lieutenant John Blanford, and you- you are Miss Meynell.  I’m so glad you could meet me.  May…..may I take you to dinner?”

      The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile.  “I don’t know what this is all about, son,” she answered.  “That young lady in the green suit- the one who just went by- begged me to wear this rose on my coat.  And she said that if you asked me to go out with you, I should tell you that she’s waiting for you in that big restaurant across the street.  She said it was some kind of a test.  I’ve got two boys with Uncle Sam myself, so I didn’t mind to oblige you.”

Sulamith Ish-Kishor

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“One measure of a man’s relationship with the Almighty can be seen on the countenance of his wife’s face…” 

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Mrs DM and I in Grand Central Station