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

 

I am officially A Keeper Of The Stories

This morning it dawned on me… I really am a Keeper Of The Stories.

This is the 2nd winter I intentionally set aside a block of time to work on family history.  I’m trying to tie together the collective stories of both, my and my wife’s family history.

And once I am satisfied I have a fairly detailed representation from each root, I’m hoping to put this information together in 5 hardcover books.

Either you get it or you don’t….(this interest in family history.) I can tell when I’ve  met another person who has been bitten by the bug. There is an instant connection.  I’m guessing only 10% of the population has been infected.

I’ve tried to analyze the draw.

Heck even googled it this morning.. “What is the fascination with genealogy?

Speaking just for myself, here my draw:

As I think about what my parents, and grandparents, and their parents and grandparents went through the past hundred and fifty to two hundred years,  I am grounded.  They’ve lived through multiple world wars, the Great Depression,  a severe depression in Germany,  the Irish Famine… immigrated to a foreign land, dealt with alcohol addiction, attended college 100 years ago, death, abject poverty, discrimination because of their background, raised large gardens, raised large families, butchered their own meat,  and on and on and on….

I hear these stories and it grounds me….right here, right now.

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I’ve never been 100% happy with the way family trees are typically displayed…The closest thing I’ve ever seen that I liked was a room in one of the Harry Potter movies with someone’s family tree….a mural on a wall, with winding branches, pictures, etc.

It finally clicked in my mind last week, my version of a family history display. It is part mural, and part book.  5 books to be exact.

A main trunk (which represents the family my wife and I have created)  4 branches (each representing one of our  four children, and  4 roots. Each  root, tied to a book.  A root tracing my dad’s families of origin, a root for my mom’s, and two roots for my wife’s parents.  The trunk will have a book  entitled “The Story of Us”.  Each book, a combination of pictures, narratives , newspaper clippings, and notes on world events at the time.

For example, my  dad and mom’s  formative years were right during The Great Depression. Neither one had indoor plumbing,  etc.  so definitely going to have some stories about that.  Dad’s  father, my grandpa,  as I’ve written about before, used to make moonshine with his brother Meno.  I found out a few years ago, Meno and Opa as I called him, had a Moonshine route.  In addition to including their moonshine recipe, which I have, I want  to spend a little time talking about prohibition, don’t you think? 😉

Grandma (my dad’s mom)  immigrated from Germany in 1929. Some of you have seen the picture I’ve posted before of her on the boat coming to America:

Oma, 2nd from the right, on the boat coming to America  1929

You can bet, that will be in the book….

Anyway,  This morning the creative juices started to bubble over.

We’re getting together with my wife’s 2nd cousin on Monday who has a stash of old family photos and stories to go  with them. I can’t wait.

Feel free to share any tips/ thoughts you might have… DM

Me…A life coach?

Took my dad to the dentist this morning.  Dad is 87.  On the way home dad  mentioned G. W., a former employee of his who he’d taken to a rehab center, back in the day.

Dad said the day he took GW in, the guy at the front desk said:

        “Look at the door…There are no locks on that door.  You can leave the same way you came in.  On top of that,  if you’re not interested in dealing with your problem, you  might as well leave right now, and not waste any more of anyone’s time.  Real change has to start between your ears .”

The guy checking GW in, was himself an former alcoholic and knew what  was what.

That conversation made me think about some thoughts I’ve had rumbling around in my head the past month as we’ve begun a new decade.

This past year, I had two different people suggest to me  I would make a great “life coach.”

To be honest, after the second conversation, I did do a little looking into that idea, because it did stir something inside of me.

After doing some reading,  I decided I am not interested in jumping through all of the hoops  that would get me certified.   I love my current job too much to give that up completely, not saying I wouldn’t be open to doing a little coaching on the side.

Heck,  in an informal sort of way, I have been doing “life coaching” for  years anyway.

Just for fun, I decided to identify  areas of my  life  I have had to work on, and would feel comfortable working with someone else with…

Dealing with a low self esteem.

Dealing with crippling  shyness.

Dealing with poor boundaries.

Living a balanced life and living with margin.

Marriage and relationship issues.

And finally, I  have presented several workshops on  identifying and pursuing your life passions and interests…

Wife has told me multiple times she could see me being a motivational speaker.

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I’ll close with this thought:

One of the secrets to a  (my)  happy life is coffee.   That’s right, coffee.   It’s from the vegetable family, it’s full of antioxidants,  and doesn’t leave  you with a hangover the next day.

 

If someone were to approach you and ask you to deal with  certain life situations..which areas of life would you feel  comfortable giving input?

Christmas Eve Morning 2019

It’s Christmas eve morning 2019.

My heart is full.

Got to spend a day and a half with our daughter Rebekah and her two girls this past weekend.

The highlight for me was when  the oldest and I crossed a busy street. (She just turned 4).

I asked her if she would hold my hand to help me cross the street.

Not only did she hold my hand the whole distance, but kept holding it until we got to the front door of the store we were going to.

Think what you will.  That 60 seconds of joy will stay with me for a long time.

Hugs and well wishes to all of you this holiday season.  DM

The whole tribe this past April when everyone was back to celebrate our 40th anniversary.

 

When Someone’s “Hitting” on your spouse

I ran into “Jackass” Friday at  a buy fresh workshop.  Here’s his picture: 

He mentioned he and his wife hadn’t seen us for awhile  (it’s been two years).  I’m not sure what to do with him  them relationally.   He suggested we needed to get together again.

Every time we are with them- Virtually every time  “Jackass” will say some form of …”It’s too bad you are here (meaning me ) …MM  (my wife) is who I really enjoy seeing“.   😉   (or some variation of that statement)

We’ve known this couple for 8 years.  He’s a 60 year old hippie, been married a time or two….he’s a big flirt with every attractive woman he sees…not just my wife… to be perfectly honest, for the first 5 years we knew them, I thought to myself..he’s harmless enough..that’s just “Jackass.”

Scripture talks about how the words  we use are an index of our heart…both good and bad…we give others a glimpse into our hearts by what we  talk about.

Anyway, 3 years ago, in another friendship we had as a couple…I kept insisting  that the boyfriend of my wife’s good friend was an out and out pervert.  Guys can pick up on things in other men, I swear women are sometimes blind to.   My wife wasn’t so sure,  so I  had to bite my tongue, so not to rock the boat.  One day my wife comes home and says…”You were right about Wilbur.  He is a creep.   He tried to kiss two  women who stayed over night @ so and so’s house.” 

     I wept  from  the pent up turmoil I’d been carrying for over a year. 

My wife and I had a heart to heart talk, we  both agreed “Jackass” while not cut out of the same cloth as Wilbur,  was a flirt.  Why submit our marriage to that?   So we backed  off.  It was hard because we did enjoy his wife’s company.

Have you ever had to deal with this sort of thing?

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I wrote that post in 2008 .  It touched a chord.  Had 22 people comment.

 

Yesterday, I ran into Steve as I was coming out of a local gas station.   I have been listening to his flirtatious comments toward my wife for 40 years, writing him  off as another harmless jackass.

(Every single time I run into Steve, he has something to say,  and it happens at least twice a year.  (At my wife’s last class reunion a year ago, he tried to  kiss her on the cheek).  Couple of years ago,our daughter K ran into Steve uptown. She called our place to tell us, Steve and she had talked, and he told her, he was her mom’s first kiss.  You get the idea.  Harmless, but, non stop.)

Steve  was just coming in the automatic door as I was leaving.

I knew it was coming..some, comment about my wife, I knew I needed to suck it up, write it off as harmless….

Sure enough…

“Tell your cute wife I said “hi”.”

I looked at him and before I could say, twinkle twinkle little star, a breaker must have tripped in my brain.   I could hear myself saying  “I don’t like it.  Every single time you have to make some comment.”

He looked at me, I could see his brain was trying to process what was going on.    I wasn’t smiling, I wasn’t joking, I was dead serious.  We  stepped back out of the entry so the door would shut, and continued the conversation for another 3 minutes.  (It ended on good note.)

Wife and I have been married now for 40 plus years.  We’ve talked about the Steve’s and the Jacks, and the Wilbur’s  and Tony’s, when they’ve crossed our paths for any length of time.

In a long term healthy relationship, there has to be room to have these sort of conversations.

Have you ever had to deal with this sort of thing?  Would love to hear your thoughts. DM

 

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

That is a lot of fodder

Got this  notification from WordPress today:

 

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 13 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. 
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I is hard to believe it has been 13 years  since I  began blogging.
Before I knew what a blog was, I was sending out my thoughts via e-mails to a random group of people   Did that for at least a couple of years.  Out of those early e-mails I eventually published 2 books.
Well, this will be my 1097th published blog post and I’ve toyed with the idea of pulling together  my 30 best and doing it again. (publish a book)
Anyone want to help? 🙂
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I’ve encountered several  amazing beautiful people these past 13 years.
There is one person in particular who has been with me from the very beginning.  Her name is Kristina.  She and her family have visited us numerous times.   She’s seen (and heard)  me at my worst, and still comes to visit.
For me, that has been the biggest gift I have discovered as a blogger.
To have someone know the real me,  accept me for who I am and still want to interact.
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Those of you that are bloggers… Why do you write?  Would love to have you give a brief description of your blog.  Any highlights/ low lights as  a blogger?  A memorable interaction, etc?

Still feeling the magic 43 years later…

Action photo from work this week.

“Do what you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”   My father

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Most days I love what I do.      I would be lying if I told you every day is like that…it’s not.  Once in a while I do have a  job that will suck the life out of me, but it’s usually not the work itself but some people related issue.

I can still remember standing in the doorway at my grandma’s house  back in 1976… the day I told her I had chosen not to go to college, but instead work full time for my dad. (He owned a construction company with my uncle Johnny.)

“Oh Douggie ” she said..sadness on her face, sadness in her voice…   I knew she only wanted what was best.  Thing was, already at age 18 I knew I loved construction.  Absolutely loved it.

That was 43 years ago and I still feel the magic.

Most many days I come home physically exhausted, which makes me sleep like a baby.

Hard to put a dollar amount on that.

Well, better call this good enough.

Wife is probably wondering where I am with her morning  cup of coffee.

Take care. DM

 

 

 

 

It is not my responsibility

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

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

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

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

Pause.

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

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

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

I have felt like a race horse pulling a skid.

 

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

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

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

He knows.

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

It

is

not

my

responsibility.

 

It is not my responsibility.

 

It is not my responsibility.

 

But it’s hard when you care.

 

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

Felt good to be home. 🙂

Anybody relate to any of this?