Archive for the ‘john III is speaking. Please sit down.’ Category

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0246 – That’s what the clock said as I opened my eyes. Why on earth would anyone be awakening at this early hour? Then the mind started wondering about various topics… Work. Garden. Electrical in the man-cave. What happened to my little screw driver for tightening the temple on my glasses. You know. World issues.

Still pondering life – 0317 – still awake.

Then I recalled that the DVR had some shows I’ve recorded to watch later. Well now is later. On with the boob tube. All educational of course. Which causes the brain to function harder and be even more awake.

Is that the sun coming up? What’s it doing awake at this hour.

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Awakened by a calendar notification on my phone this morning. I set it for an hour before the meeting but forgot to use military time. 0530 is much different that 1730 to my tele.

I figured that I might as well get up, grab some caffeine, and head out on to the deck to enjoy the early morning beginning of the day. As I stepped out onto the deck the visual impact of what possibly could be the most breath takingly magnificent sunrise I’ve ever witnessed smacked the sleepiness from my eyes. I immediately turned and returned to the house to grab the Nikon D7000 – which already had a wide angle lens attached – in an attempt to record this phenom.

I set my caffeine on the kitchen table, rushed in to the front room and grabbed the camera, and headed outside, almost knocking over a kitchen chair in my haste. The brilliantly colored sky had not progressed too far. I was in luck. This could be the best sunrise photo of my generation.

Then I noticed it. The switch was left on over night after down loading photos of our progress being made of the cement pour under the porch of the new store here at the farm. Photos that I take for “posterity’s benefit.” Nothing more than mundane images of stakes, string, forms and rocks.

It was only a few hours that had passed since preserving those images to the computer. Maybe the battery hadn’t drained completely I hoped. Possibly the camera gods were on my side. I’ve lived a good life recently – certain karma of the positive should be passing my way… There would be HD video and several incredible photos of this prodigious visual that only our Maker could orchestrate in our heavens above.

Nope… dead as a door nail. Where’s my caffeine?

Something Wicked Cometh...

The greenhouse is filling up. The house (specifically the dining room) is losing it’s classification as a “grow house” according to those that pass our farm after dark. I will miss the over abundance of oxygen emitting from the grow room. More importantly Chirp the house cat can return to the dining room. She was banned due to the large quantity of baby plants that did not need her fat feet on them. Chirp’s a happier pussy now.

As the gardens out here at Jayna’s Country Store and Gardens start coming together – The peas are in and bursting through the soil of what was once our dressage riding ring – I become aware of how much more there is to do…

Between assisting Jayna (my wife) and our friend Nancy with the preparation of the garden areas, building the greenhouse and taking down fences for landscaping in the near future, I believe I have discovered that these 59 year old body parts have a limit to what is allowed by mother nature. Oh to be 20-something again.

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This is my girlfriend of the past 37 years cleaning a saddle in our dining room. It’s not a particularly flattering photo of her (I really hope she doesn’t see this blog or I’m a dead man – “Why would you put that stupid photo up online?” she would ask in that tone of voice only the husbands out there can imagine) but it’s real. Walley is one of the most honest folk I know. She sees the world in ways that cause me to smile.

There’s sincerity in Jayna’s ideas. She takes in her observations and quietly judges the situation(s). I can almost predict how she will react to certain events, people, places, news… It’s probably from observing Walley for these past several decades. She’s not judgmental, she simply has a point of view.

Too many times have I been taught by Jayna to look at things in a different way. Her cogitation(s) are an interesting portion of my life. My existence is better because of Walley.

I can only hope that you have a “Walley” in your life.

I haven’t blogged for quite a while. My Mom passed away two months ago today. It doesn’t seem like it can already be two months but it is. The urge to give her a call on the speaker phone while driving to work at the newspaper in the morning has stopped. It seemed strange at the time following her death when I’d reach for the cellular phone as I drove out the driveway and then realize… Oh yeah… My Sisters and I talked about this. Pam (my older Sister) would call Mom about an hour after I would each morning. We joked about how we’d have to call each other now that Mom was gone.

I don’t know if the missing ever goes away. Dad left us just a couple of years earlier on December 22. It doesn’t seem like it should be that long ago either. The missing continues  daily. I’m appreciative of His and Mom’s spirits both being out of their restrictive bodies. They had been suffering and uncomfortable the last years of their lives. Still. I find myself questioning some date, or family fact, or recipe and then realize I can’t simply pick up the phone and call them for the answer.

Christmas will come and family and friends will share their love with us. The Sisters will all visit with me and I will express my love for them and they for us. But not being able to tell Mom and Dad how much they mean to me and the love I have for them limits the celebration of the season a bit.

Tell your kids you love them. Tell your parents you love them. Mostly. Express your love for them with actions as well.

Merry Christmas

Over this past Labor Day holiday weekend the goal was to finish the pier footings in the barn. They will support the additional columns that I will be using to support the roof. I needed to dig down 4 or 5 feet next to the other columns support/footings, put in the form that allows the top of the pier to be 24″ wide and 18″ front to back, mix the concrete (we estimated 3 or 4  60# bags – adding 1/2 gallon of water per bag), pouring the mix into each hole, and then finishing the cement so that it looks nice and tidy next to the original slab of concrete.

There were five of these pier footings needed. Not a large number it seemed at the beginning of the weekend. It was supposed to be hot all weekend, but I figured I could arise early in the day and work in the mornings. No problems.

DIgging the first hole allowed me to recall the original holes I dug by hand (all 72 of them) for the barn when I started building it in 1982. What an adventure that was. We had the dirt work done in the late sumer and we were ready to build. As they say: a solid foundation is all important. It’s even mentioned in the scriptures. That whole “built on a bed of sand…”

I used a laminated column system. Three treated 2×8’s glued and nailed together in the ground set in concrete. On top of those base columns we inserted columns of regular lumber, glued and nailed to height. Ad the purlins. Screw the steel siding and roof on… Instant barn.

I got the last of the column bases in around the first of November… Then it snowed. Then it ice stormed. Then it snowed again. Then bring back another 3/4″ of ice. Lumber and siding lay under tarps some where in the footprint of the 44″ x 60′ barn. All I could do is drive over to my in-law’s farm and tend my horses that lived in a small set of corrals and a simple barn. Not a long drive, but not like walking out to your own barn behind the house.

Mother nature does not like new barns to be built quickly or comfortably. It was the following summer before we got the steel on the roof. I take pride in the fact that I had built the barn. Sure I had help from my wife Walley along with an occasional neighbor, brother-in-law and his friends, and Jayna’s Mom (helping get the steel up on the joists). Mostly… me.

As I mixed the instant (key word here – “instant” – simply ad water and stir) in our wheel barrel I found that three bags at a time was a bit over zealous. Two bags (60 lbs. each) was a much better idea. If two was good, one bag was ideal. It’s not easy scooping through the mix to get it to a 5 consistency (ask a cement finisher what the 5 is).

The first pier took 10 bags. 650 pounds after the water is added. 96 degrees. Where is the big barn fan. Wooooh.

Pier two went better because I didn’t have to remove the rotted column (don’t water horses next to wood columns for 26 years. Tends to make the wood gooey). Five bags of cement. A true test of my deodorant’s strength. What was it my Mother used to say… Horses sweat. Men perspire. Ladies glow. It was a glowing kind of weekend.

After bashing my head into a sharp piece of lumber allowing large amounts of blood to escape my cranium… as well as several other nasty issues that arose, I was done for the weekend.

This is not to say I was finished with the five pier footings. No, there is still work to do. Luckily I ran out of energy but kept my mental faculties. It’s better to fall back, regroup, and ponder…

It was a much younger man that built this barn. 58 year olds much conserve energy (and hemoglobin) so I made the decision to go to the house. Take a shower. Sit in front of a fan in my air conditioned house, and watch some football on TV.

The celery and peanut butter? That’s what I had for dinner tonight. A semi-healthy meal. I need to get in better shape before finishing the other two and a half pier footings. A similar combination as with Diet Coke and a Snickers bar. Sounds healthier than it is.

Rationalization abilities are acquired with age.

Bloggers are an interesting sort. I follow a few that cover a wide range of topics, talent and ages. It’s not something I planned on doing. You don’t grow up thinking “gosh, some day I hope to be sitting in front of a computer monitor for hours strolling though other people’s thoughts.”

It simply happens.

The corn was harvested from the field out the valley to the northeast from my home the past couple of days. On FB I posted a photo and wrote about how there were corn thieves on the loose here in SW Iowa. Deer I stated. Nasty little corn stealing critters they are. I was surprised at the number of folk that responded to the photo and the comment.

Wow I thought. If we had the ability to better the planet by sharing thoughts and mental treasures with each other, would we? Could we?

Say a farmer in some remote village in the back parts of Kuzerkistania (imaginary country because I don’t want to offend any particular area of the planet) stumbled on to my blog and found that burglars were actually making off with my family’s corn, would they have an emotional reaction? Astounded at the idea of corn thugs. I’m sure they’d be more than – hang on, the phone’s ringing. Who would be calling me at this time of day…

OK, I’m back. Now where was I? Oh yeah, Mr. Farmer from that 4th world country learning of my corn thieves.

A sincere emotional reaction from  thousands of miles away by someone I’ve never met, nor will probably ever meet. Human compassion and caring at the most unfeigned levels. From a joke about the corn harvest on our farm… Human kind can only prosper and benefit from these sorts of interactions. Who knows, maybe world peace is possible. Could we actually cure the common cold? Is wingless flight possible? Where the hell did I put the remote?!?

Feeding the planet is kind of important. My Dad installed the electronic guidance systems on Atlas missiles to carry nuclear weapons to the Soviet block countries and all I have to show for it is a field of corn.