Riding out my first Derecho

I am thankful.

About noon today a severe storm system that nobody saw coming  (at least not initially) ripped a wide swath of destruction across Eastern Iowa.

Son and I were just starting to pour a footing for a retaining wall when the homeowner came over and asked if our phones had alerted us to a major storm that was heading our way.  It hadn’t.    She pulled up the weather channel , it said we had about 30 minutes before it would be on top of us.

It was packing wind speeds of 100 mph (160 kilos).  Not to mention, the neighborhood we were working in was surrounded by large trees.

We were able to finish the pour, and get on the road about 10 minutes before it hit.

I have never in my life experienced anything quite like it.

Found out tonight this kind of a storm is called a Derecho (which means straight in Spanish/ as in straight line winds.

We pulled next to a gas station and watched power line poles snap,  shingles get ripped off the apartment building across the street.  The winds lasted at least 45 minutes, and when it came time to try to get home,  most of the streets in the area, were blocked by downed trees, and power lines.

Saw two of these large metal high power lines in a twisted heap,  with wires across the highway.

Photo compliments of google

Once we finally got out of the city, we saw (3) overturned semis, metal grain bins, twisted and blown onto the highway, and lots, and lots of mature trees down.

The cornfields in the path of those winds were a total loss

(grabbed this off FB tonight):

Neighbor said she’d heard 40 some cell towers were down in our area.  I can believe it.

Pulled this off the news channel this morning:

We were working about 45 minutes away from home, and our town was in the path of the storm. I told my son, that if our place was hit, there was no doubt in my mind, the 3 bee hives were going to be blown over.  I have one of them cinched together with a strap, and the other two smaller ones, just have a large rock on the top to keep the lid from blowing of.  No way in the world they would have been able to withstand  a 100 mph sustained winds.

As we got closer to home, I could see, some of the corn fields had been spared, and by the time we were within 10 minutes of home, I was pretty sure  (somehow) the storm had went around us.

Talk about mercy…

As we passed our third overturned semi we saw a deputy directing traffic.

I looked at my son and said,  

And to think there are people who want to dismantle  law enforcement….

“They are a  bunch of dumb a@#’s!  

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.

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

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?

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

 

 

 

 

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?