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

It’s just a glass

Heard this story last night from my brother in law Brian….

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Dave and his wife Marilyn ran a bed and breakfast in our community for several years.  Their house was (and is) on the historical registry.  Built by a general after the Civil war, is a big  square white house with massive white pillars,  wrap around front porch,  2nd floor balcony….   you get the idea  😉

Anyway since they never knew how many guests they might be entertaining on the weekend,  Marilyn had several sets of antique dishes/ matching plates, to go with the theme.

I met Marilyn a couple of times.  Classy lady. We stayed there once while we were gearing up to open our own bed and breakfast.  She was also an artist, had a sense of humor.  Great combination, don’t you think? 🙂    I remember  standing in their kitchen seeing a broken egg on their kitchen floor. It looked so real but she’d painted it there!  Same thing with a set of  keys on the counter top.

Anyway,  I guess Dave was doing dishes one morning and dropped a glass from one of Marilyn’s  fancy set of dishes.

It shattered all over the floor.

He

was

sick.

When Marilyn came down a few minutes later he went on and on about how clumsy he was.

Marilyn told him it was OK!

 “Get over it.  It was just a glass!”

Dave was so distraught he couldn’t let it go, he kept going….

At this point Marilyn picked up another glass and threw  it over her shoulder.

It shattered all over the floor.

She looked at Dave and said it again,

“It’s OK,  it’s just a glass.”

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I love that story.

DM

 

 

 

 

Love your neighbor as yourself

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

On the gardening front…

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

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

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

I am still savoring Mark’s generosity.

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On the honeybee front…

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

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

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And finally on the construction job front.

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

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

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

I was humbled by their trust.

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

 

Thoughts

My brain is a tangled up knot of thoughts this morning and has been for several weeks.  Ever cut open a golf ball?  A tight mass of rubber bands.  Yep, that’s my brain.

Job related thoughts.

Honey extracting thoughts.

Relationships thoughts.

Ordering Your Private World  thoughts.

Early morning thoughts when I hear  crows talking to each other in the distance.

Photography thoughts.

Fermentation thoughts.

Gardening thoughts.

Henry David Thoreau thoughts.

Louisa May Alcott thoughts.

Older parent thoughts.

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Think I’ll just post a quote call it good.

 

“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.”

― Henry David Thoreau