Gratitude 7/18/2020

I am thankful.

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

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

What can I identify I can be thankful for?

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

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

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

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

it teaches a most important lesson of life…. 

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

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

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

Life is a marathon.

It is not a sprint.

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

You will pay the piper.

Feel free to do otherwise. 🙂

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

Tell me about your week.   DM

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

Trust me, you’ll be glad you did. 🙂

 

Rumblings

I had a friend do some welding on my truck this morning.

I’ll call him Dave.

While we were working,  Dave was reminiscing about the time  he worked for Harnishfeger.

(Harnishfeger  was a local manufacturing company that built cranes)

Dave worked 2nd shift.  He worked in their experimental lab building prototypes.

Their shop was several hundred yards away from the main plant.  Company had an old pick up truck the guys used to shuttle back and forth to the main building. Guys were always playing practical jokes on each other, and one day, Dave had this brilliant idea of parking an excavator next to the shuttle, resting the bucket  in the bed of the truck, then hiding the keys.

Well, things got busy, and the whole prank slipped his mind until next day when his shift was walking out to the lab.  Someone came up to him (and the rest of the crew) and said, “Whatever you do, don’t say anything, even if you know who did it…. The shift foreman is livid, The hydraulics settled overnight, and the bucket of the excavator punched a hole right through the bed of the truck.  When they find out who is responsible, that person is probably going to loose his job.”

I said, “Then what happened?”

“I went directly to the foreman and confessed the whole thing.  Took complete responsibility.  Told him I had no intention for things to get that far out of hand, I was just stupid.   I owned it.”

Dave got his butt chewed, but didn’t get fired.

Two months later, Dave was promoted to foreman of that 2nd shift.

Lesson there. 🙂

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Had this story (and other ones) rumbling around in my head the past while.   They don’t seem to quite “fit” my farm blog, so I decided to take this blog out of cold storage yet again. 😉

I have to be honest.

There have been several times I’ve  wanted to give voice to something , but squelched it because, I knew I would rustle  feathers.

Life is too short to get into pissing matches, on line or in person…but especially on the Internet.

So I keep my thoughts to myself.

I used to get together a couple of times a month with a self professed anarchist.  He was a few years older than myself.  Did a tour in Vietnam  and came back angry.  Long story short, he and I were on opposite ends of the spectrum politically, spiritually, etc.  yet we shared a common interest in history.  He was articulate, and I honestly wanted to understand his thinking when it came to current events…

It worked.

Over coffee, he and I would get into the most robust conversations and I think we both came away richer for it.

I love conversations like that, if they happen in the context of mutual respect.

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Currently I am sleeping like a baby.

Even in the midst of the current craziness.

Some of it has to do with my job.

There is an old saying  “The laborers sleep is sweet.”   

Most days, I come home physically spent.  So that’s part of it.

Another big part for me is what I’ve been taking into my mind.

I have become even more ruthless (and selective) if that’s possible, when it comes to staying informed.

I refuse to spend my life going from one “crisis” that consumes me to the next.

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There is no pillow as soft as a clear conscience.

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Thanks for stopping by, on this 4th of July 2020!

Take care. DM

 

 

 

Ode to the blue collar man (ie. my father)

Ode: An ode is a kind of poem, usually praising something. … An ode is a form of lyric poetry — expressing emotion — and it’s usually addressed to someone or something, or it represents the poet’s musings on that person or thing.

(Long time readers may remember a version of this post from 2016.  It showed up on my “blog stats” this morning and I thought it was worth reposting. DM)

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My dad graduated high school in the early  50’s.

A local attorney  (Remley) who at one point owned the farm my dad  lived on,  offered to pick up the tab on his college tuition “because  he had a knack for math.” My grandparents were not rich.  They’d raised a family through the great depression, then after WW 2,  shipped, case after case of canned food and clothing to grandma’s relatives  back in the old country (German).. .so grandpa and grandma never really got ahead financially. Dad opted not to go to college, instead went into the service, then went to work at a packing house. After that, he started  driving a cement truck for a local cement company.   At some point, he was asked to come into the office and help behind the counter in the lumber yard portion of the business, eventually rising through the ranks to manage both the lumberyard and the concrete plant.

(Remember what I told you about math.) 🙂

In the early 1970’s dad went into business with his brother as a general contractors. They built up a multi-million dollar construction company, employed one  hundred eighty men over the course of a 30 year span, one of which was me.

This is an ode to the  blue collar man that shaped my life..

 

Ode To The Blue Collar Man

He

had

 the

hands

of a

farmer.

The heart of

a musician,

the mind of

an engineer.

But somehow..

between raising a family,

paying the bills and farming the land,

his steel guitar  got misplaced in the mix.

Life is a pendulum.Sometimes we learn

by example, and sometimes we choose

a different path.

Keeping the peace

One of my main goals when I started blogging was to keep it real… I have no interest in projecting a sanitized version of myself to the world.

I’m more of a velveteen rabbit/ skin horse sort of person.

Love it when I meet someone who is keeping it real…so on that note, I came across this picture this morning:

I’m posting it as a reminder to myself.

Virtual hugs and clink of my coffee cup with each of  you. DM

 

Checking In

How are you doing this morning?

What’s it like locally where you live?

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

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

Got this off their website:

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

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

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

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

Home Schooling PE class at it’s finest. 🙂

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

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

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

Take care. DM

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Went to a new writers group last night

Wasn’t sure what to expect.

Got a Facebook message a couple of weeks ago, asking if I would be interested in a  writers group getting started at our library.  Only three other people expressed an interest in coming, so I thought maybe I had the wrong room  when I walked through the door and saw  9 people.

They ranged in age from 18 to late 70’s,  4 men and 7 women.

Description of the group was: ” a low pressure, open group for people with an interest in creative-self expression…provide a supportive forum of like minded people to provide encouragement and helpful feedback…whatever level of proficiency. age or level of interest, you are welcome to come and either share your piece (of writing) or listen to what people are working on….such as narrative therapy, prose, poetry, short story, blogging, family history/ memoirs, journaling, comedy, Obituaries, etc.”

When it came time to share writing samples….all I can say is WOW.  

It touched me deeply.

One girl, I put her at about 18,  had written something on grief. She’d lost her mom when she was 16, and wrote an essay on what not to say to someone who’s dealing with loss.

Another person had written about his recent experience dealing with their autistic daughter having a melt down in public.

It was raw.

I did share a portion of a blog post I’d written back in 2014 on why you don’t want to move to Iowa.  🙂

At the time, Hillary Clinton had come to town  for the Democratic primaries… Our local newpaper editor was on a bus with a bunch of reporters from the east coast.  She heard quite a bit of mocking derision about our community, and  the Midwest in general.  That stirred the following in me:

Why You Don’t Want to come to Iowa 

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I’m already looking forward to the next meeting.

I guess if I came away with anything it was this….

I need to decide if I have any long term writing goals. 🙂

Well, better get moving.  Starting a new duplex this morning and I need to get some breakfast.   Take care. DM