40 years ago

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

(We were both  14)

ūüôā

 

 

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That’s Twice Now

It has been a very productive winter for me as I’ve had the time to work on¬† family history.¬† It’s an interest I’ve had for years that comes and goes.¬† I’ve had individual folders with old family pictures, notes¬† from conversations from people now passed, two different family trees books I am descended from…a lot of information that begs to be organized.¬† ¬†Last Fall, I happened to run into Diane at a local picnic for a tour group in the area from Ostfriesland.¬† (Part of northern Germany.) By the end of our conversation, Diane had offered to help me work on our family tree.¬† She had the time, the know how and I jumped at her offer.

She reached out to me this past January and asked if I was ready to get started.¬† I gave her some names and she started setting up a family tree.¬† I didn’t hear anything for several weeks, and discovered in the meantime¬† that since my wife had taken a DNA test there was a free ancestry account already in existence in our name. So while I was waiting for Diane’s results, I started doing some work on my own…adding pictures, uploaded stories, using the search tools in the local newspaper archives.¬† ¬†It has been a great way to break up some of the time these past few months.

Night before last Diane wrote me a note.¬† I’d given her a link to the family tree I’ve been working on,¬† this is a portion of what she said:

“I can tell you that your instincts, Doug as a genealogist and family history keeper are excellent.”

That is the 2nd time someone as given me unsolicited affirmation about that area of my life. (lover of history.)

The first time was in 2009.¬† I’d shared a link to a history blog I was working on with one of my favorite authors.¬† Andrea Seu Peterson.

She wrote me back and said : “You may want to call yourself a contractor, but I think you’re a historian. “

I hesitate to share those two affirmations and yet, I believe there is a place in our lives for personal affirmation.  God knows there is enough negativity most of us battle with that goes on in our private thought life.  So, when  a few words of genuine affirmation makes it into my life, I celebrate. :-).

So there you go.

I am a voracious reader, especially when I get on a topic that interests me.  Heck, I grew up in a home where World Encyclopedias were on a bookshelf in our bathroom.

So for me, to receive two unsolicited affirmations  affirming my work in the area of history,  does as much for me as getting a piece of paper telling me I have a Masters degree.

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I’d never seen any of the following pictures before…(except the one of grandma on the boat.¬† I’ve share that one before.)

Picture of my grandmother (little girl on the left)  She was 13 years old.

My grandma, front row second from left.  Getting together with  her friends right before emigrating to America. March 1929.  She was 23.

Grandma on ship March 1929 coming to America

1949 Picture from my grandmother on her first visit  back to Germany since she immigrated. 

(She is in the center)

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Twenty years had passed…She’d gotten married to an Iowa farm boy.¬† She’ had three children.¬† Her father had passed away while she was gone.¬† She’d endured the Great Depression in America, experienced WW 2 as a German living in America.¬† ¬† I think of the emotions she must have been feeling at that moment.

I miss her.

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I need to get moving.

Thanks for tagging along.

Take care.  DM

Ten Reasons Why You Need To Plant An Orchard

Few years ago, I got an e-mail from a college professor.¬† Seems some of his students at the time had stumbled across the following blog post on another blog of mine.¬† He wanted me to know¬† he’d heard them talking about my blog outside of class around the campfire on a class trip.¬† Talk about honored. Anyway, Spring is in the air.¬† If I want to do any pruning it needs to happen in the next couple of weeks.¬† So, to kick off the 2019 apple growing season, I¬† would like to repost the following musing.

Ten Reasons Why You May Want To Plant An Orchard.

(and if not a whole orchard, at least a couple of trees) ūüėČ

 

Hanging scale in our sales area

1.  Photo opportunities.   Our apple orchard constantly changes with the seasons.   There is always something catching my eye and bringing me joy.

Apple blossoms

2.  It provides the perfect blend of solitude and social interaction.  I love my peace and quiet.  There is nothing more nurturing for me than spending a Saturday morning alone, picking apples.  At the same time, I do love meeting and bantering with the public on occasion, and when the mood strikes, I will load up the pick up and head to our local farmers market.

Hawking apples at the farmers market last season

3.  Supplemental income.   Sure there is some work involved in tending an orchard, but not nearly as much as you might suspect.  One Semi dwarf tree  will cost you  $20 to $25.00 and once it’s mature, it can produce between 2 to 4 bushel of apples a year. = 80 to 160 pounds of fruit @ $1.50 a pound that’s $120 to $240 gross, from one tree…per year..not bad for some additional pocket change if you ask me ;-)

4.  mental stimulation.    While the basics of tending an apple orchard are pretty easy to grasp, there is always something new to learn.   Did you know there are over 750 different varieties of apples in the United States alone, and over 2000 varieties world-wide?

5.¬† Keeps you physically active. ‚Äú Keep those muscles moving‚Ä̬† my grandpa used to say.¬† Between the pruning in the early spring, to the picking in the fall,¬† having an orchard provides me with lots of¬† opportunities¬† to be physically active outside, all the while,I‚Äôm getting paid¬† and enjoying some fresh air.¬† As I¬† get older¬† I will probably do more of that ‚Äúyou pick‚ÄĚ marketing, but for now, I can still climb and honestly, I love picking apples.¬† Last Saturday, I picked about 1200 pounds of apples in about 6 hours.

6.  Provides me with lots of opportunities to bless others.  I’m not going to brag and tell you how this works itself out except to say, I try to sell mostly our #1 apples, which means, what to do with the seconds?    The opportunities  to give are all around.

7.¬† Get to enjoy some varieties of fruit that are hard to come by normally ‚Äď plus if you can find them, you‚Äôll pay through the nose.¬† Sure we have Honey crisp, was told last year they were charging up to $5.00 a pound for those little rascals.¬†¬† So far this year, I‚Äôve picked 11 crates of them and probably have at least another 8.¬† My personal favorite is called the Ginger Gold:

Ginger Gold.

It is every bit as crispy as the Honey crisp and sweet.   Last year we had 32 crates of these little jewels.

8.  Fresh apple cider.    You haven’t lived until you’ve had fresh apple cider pressed from your own apples.   It’s got a texture and taste you’ll never , ever find in a store -ever.  If you come to visit, and the apples are in season, you can help me press out a batch. ;-)

9.¬† You‚Äôll¬† give the bees something to talk about.¬† Ever hear of the ‚Äúwaggle dance‚ÄĚ?

10. Provides me with lots  of spiritual insight.

Life is full of mystery.    I believe God has hidden the answers to some of our questions about life in the apple orchard.

Pruning and suffering.¬† I hate it when people try to slap pat answers onto my life when I‚Äôm in the middle of something hard.¬† It makes me angry.¬† So I will not disrespect you and do that now.¬† Sometimes it feels like I‚Äôm getting ‚Äúpruned‚Ä̬† and when it does, I barely have enough energy to survive, let alone¬† do more.

Fruitfulness (ever see an apple tree grunt?  :-)   Me neither.

Seasons.¬†¬† Apple trees don‚Äôt produce fruit 12 months out of the year.¬† In fact, they need large blocks of ‚Äúdown time‚Ä̬† in the winter..to get ready for the next season.¬† They literally need that time, which is why apple trees don‚Äôt do well in warmer climates.

Variety.  Already mentioned this one, but it bears repeating.    Apple trees vary widely and differently in the type of fruit they produce.  I think people are created much more varied than culture tries to tell us.   I found an apple tree on an abandoned farmstead a few years ago like nothing I’d ever seen before.  Some heirloom variety I’m sure.  It looked and tasted just like it was designed to taste.  Definitely not some domesticated boring apple.  So why do you and I sometimes think we have to look like everybody else?   Nothing more beautiful than someone being 100% alive just the way they were designed:

As always, thanks for reading my stuff ;-) DM

Why I’m optimistic about 2019

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

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

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

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

Well, I feel a nap coming on.

Later! DM

 

 

 

 

Better is….

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

Lots of coffee….lots of laughs…

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

Wish you were here.¬† ūüôā

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Here are a couple of things that I shared…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(ie. how to keep my life “sharp”.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

How about you?

Take care. DM

Jumble of words

Saw the following picture on our screensaver this morning.

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

Grandson helping dad and grandpa cut wood with his chainsaw

Kasen was born with an extra  Chromosome 21

(Down Syndrome)

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

95% positive

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

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

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

I really would…

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

Take care. DM

Parenting Cliff Notes

Parenting.

Just about the time you finally have some sense of how to do it, you’re done.

My thoughts turned toward the art of parenting again last night as I was on the phone with my wife. She is helping out our daughter who has a new baby.¬† As we were talking, I could hear the other grandchild in the back ground throwing a temper tantrum.¬† Since she isn’t my child, it isn’t my place to tell them how to parent,¬† and yet…

“What makes you think I have anything credible to say?”¬† You ask.

Now that is a great question! ūüėČ

Especially since I felt like I was flying by the seat of my pants most of the time.   Those last years  I was in  survival mode.

And yet,¬†¬†I have¬† watched our four kids enter adulthood, start families of their own.¬† They love to come home to their mama and papa and, they get along with each other.¬† That’s the end game.¬† Work yourself out of a job.

I refuse to take credit for how our children turned out,  which in itself is instructive.

Children are remarkably resilient.

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I have been reading gardening comment threads on the Internet the past month.¬† Spring is in the air.¬† I was reminded again, just how many and varied are the approaches to gardening, and just how full of themselves are some of the “experts.”¬† It is such a turnoff listening to someone tell a Newby how to “do it correctly.” (Especially when I come from a completely different school of thought.)

So that is the last thing on my mind when I talk about parenting.¬† I do NOT have it “all figured out.”

The whole parenting experience (for me)  came to a head when our oldest two hit their teen years.

One of the girls (age 14) decided to run away.¬† If I remember correctly, she told us¬† she was thinking about running away because we were too strict.¬† She wanted to spend more time with another girl whose family¬† wasn’t like ours.¬† ¬†I told her to think twice, because if, on the outside chance DHS¬† (State agency that works with families) got involved, you never know..they could even removed her younger brother and sister¬† from the home.

Well,  those words fell on deaf ears, and the next thing I knew, she did  runaway.  She was still in town, but thumbing her nose at us as a family.  She was going to do just what she wanted to do, and that was that.

Well, this was all new, uncharted territory for me. I’d never run away myself although I had thought about leaving home when I was 16.¬† I’d read the book My Side of the Mountain, and magazine articles by¬†¬†Euell Gibbons. ¬† I remember¬† having a craving to eat cat tail root, catch crawdads, find a big old tree and live in the trunk.¬† I had a hunting knife and a hatchet,¬†a sleeping bag, and a pup tent (in case I couldn’t find a big enough tree.)¬† I’d been in cub scouts when I was younger, so I was pretty sure I had what it took to survive….but that was about as far as it got.

We gave her two days, then decided it was time to reel her in.  It was Summer.  Baseball season.  My sources told me she was at a little league game down by the fairgrounds.

I called our pastor at the time and asked him if he wouldn’t mind riding along with me to pick her up.

I went to the game.¬† Saw her sitting on the end of the bleachers.¬† She glared at me when she saw me. I¬† told her it was time to go and to get in the van.¬† She could see I meant business.¬† ¬†We headed to our pastor’s house¬† and sat down at the kitchen table.¬† I told her she had two choices.¬† Boarding school or two weeks at my cousins who lived several hours away.¬† He¬† was married, had a¬† young family.¬† ¬†He had a reputation for being VERY strict¬† and the last place¬†our kids would have chosen to spend the summer….

I told her (with tears) that I would not sit by and watch her or anyone destroy our family.¬† I reminded her again about the very real possibility of DHS coming in and pulling her younger brother and sister out of the house, and that hadn’t mattered to her.

It was a watershed moment in our relationship.

She decided to go to my cousins, for two weeks.

When she came back, there was a  change in our relationship, (for the better.)

You’ve heard about strong-willed children?¬† Yep, she is one and I love her to pieces.¬† The stories she brings to our lives now, well, I could write a book.

The challenge is to break that defiant, in your face, bad attitude without, breaking their spirit.

If you’ve bought into that siren song of being your child’s friend first and everything will all work out, then I wish you the best…I will have to admit, I bought into some of that, which in hindsight was a big part of the confusion.¬† When they start telling YOU how it’s going to be, maybe you will think back to this post and drop me a note and we can talk.

I’ve taught¬† Jr high, high school and college classes, as well as managed a construction crew, all of which has helped me tremendously on the road¬† to be a wiser parent…it’s funny, many of the same principles apply.

Without respect (and it goes both ways) it’s only a matter of time before things¬† get crazy (Home, school and work.)

There is absolutely a place¬† to have¬† “fear of consequences” in the back of a person’s mind, then being willing to deliver on them when you are tested.

When love, respect, clear expectations, and real consequences are in place, then you are at a good place.