Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Lost Art

I’m a traditionalist. 
I still appreciate at least twenty viewings of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation between December 1 and Dec. 25, annually.

I nearly had a heart attack the day I heard the Steelers were going to be playing on Heinz Field, rather than Three-Rivers Stadium

I had a great appreciation for Paul Harvey at the age of six, mainly because it was what we listened to everyday on our way to kindergarten. Talk about an education, always knowing the rest of the story. 
But please hear me out:

I have a legitimate concern that one day the many traditional arts that were so important to my generation, and the ones that laid the ground before, will be a lost art to the many that follow. 
The first is written communication.
Let me recap for you an instant message conversation I had with a co-worker last week:
Me: Many thanks for printing that agenda off for me....wasn’t sure I’d make it in time
Co-worker: yw
Me: What?
Co-worker: np
Me: ??
Co-worker: nm
Me: Are you having a seizure?
The following message could not be delivered to all participants: 
Are you having a seizure?
I was thoroughly confused. 
Jean’s Boots readers take note:
“yw” is the new “You’re welcome”
“np” means “No problem”
“nm” can be summarized as the 2011 version of, “You’re frustrating the heck out of me - never mind I even started this conversation”
Additional note: "ty" is the new "Thank You" and "pls" has replaced "Please" 
Who knew? 
And another thing. What is so terrible about moving your fingers twelve more strokes to spell out the complete word?
The worst is logging onto Facebook and seeing a “friend” of mine write “hbd” rather than “Happy Birthday” on another person’s wall. I won’t tell you this habitual offender is my older brother. It’s too embarrassing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to text and use blackberry messenger as much as the next twenty-something. Any way to speed up mediocre conversation is usually fine by me. But a dear friend in Nebraska summed it up very well in his response to my question, "In this life, what is something you truly know?"
I know that email and text are nice, but they sure don't compare to a phone call or a hand written letter.
Besides a traditionalist, I'm also a creature of habit. But, let’s be honest, I'm mostly a traditionalist. As for the habit thing, I haven’t flossed in three days, I forgot to set my house alarm Monday before leaving for work and when the trash guy came Tuesday at 7:03 a.m., as he has for nearly three years, I simply waved farewell to him from my side porch, barefoot, holding two CVS bags full of yesterday’s news. The sad eyes didn’t help; he waved right back while pulling out onto the highway. 
When I moved to Washington, DC, I made a commitment to write a letter (the kind delivered in an envelope that gives you a paper cut on your tongue and that has a real stamp that will one day be collected) to my Grandma and Granddad every Wednesday at 7:00 a.m. 
And I stuck with it, every single Wednesday. 
Even when I was on the road, I'd drop a postcard from my surprise location in the mail. I always looked forward to those simple Wednesday mornings when I could sit down and express myself with ink and paper; it was then that I could write about the adventures of a small town girl with big dreams to positively impact lives. It was then that I could thank Grandma and Granddad for instilling such deep agricultural roots in me. Those traditional hand-written mornings made Wednesday, with out a doubt, my favorite day of the week. 
Though Granddad is gone (I read a few of those letters at his funeral; he once told my Momma: "You know, I never make the trip to go out and get the mail these days; it's always bills. But every Friday I'm sure to be the one who picks it up. Fridays there is always a letter from Lindsay."), and I’m out of the big city, you now know why I post this blog every Wednesday morning at 7:00. Because I can share my life adventures with all of you, Wednesdays are still my favorite. 
Because of today's evolving times, we’re changing American tradition, and American etiquette, one email and text message at a time. 
Thank you cards are now half price at Hallmark.
Of the 17 pieces of mail I’ve received this week, only one had a hand written address. 
I haven’t seen cursive writing since I photographed the Original Jean’s quarter-century-year-old note in a blog a month ago. 

Love letters were replaced with promiscuous emails.
Humorous articles once clipped from the the newspaper and mailed to a friend were replaced by

Funny Sports Ecard: Thank God we averted the disaster of not being able to watch football while the country plummets toward financial ruin.

Funny Somewhat Topical Ecard: Let's get our mind off America's debt crisis by maxing out our credit cards on a reckless shopping binge.
Post cards from wild west adventures now sit back seat to picture text messages that are received in a matter of seconds. 

Let me ask you recall the last time you received a hand written letter in the mail?
Do you remember how exciting it was to open the envelope and read through the message revealed inside?
Perhaps more importantly, do you recall how to use a letter opener?
My ask of you is that you sit down in the next week, find a blank sheet of paper and send a letter, or a simple note, to someone you’ve not had the chance to contact in some time. The fulfillment you receive while putting your thoughts and feelings on paper won’t come close to the anticipation they feel as they read your return address while curiously opening the envelope. 
What you’ll be supporting is a lost art, in this day and age. 
What you may create is a tradition that could be worth holding on to for years. 
Why not set aside one day a week, or even one day a month, and write a traditional letter to someone in your life?
What’s it going to hurt? 
Let’s be real; you and I both know your second grade teacher always said you could use all the practice you could get on the cursive, upper case “S”....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It's Never Too Late

Several times since I arrived to this bright new place I've been told by chatty Little Red that I missed my opportunity for a grand introduction to the rest of the whole entire world.

Well, let me tell you something. I've never been one to show off, but between you and me, some of my best performances have been in front of big crowds at horse pulling contests and state fairs. In my younger days, it came real natural to me. 
Let me tell you....there was a time in my life when I knew what it meant to shine. 

Suppose that’s because I had some help.

Maybe before you and I travel any further down this Reminisce Road I should probably let you know: I'm the Original Jean's Boots; that dear Jean wore me to every horse pulling contest and steer show she competed in growing up in the 1940's.

It takes good leather to survive the work and hell that gal put me through. It also takes some real nice care to last this long. I understand you all read this blog about “talking boots”. Well let me tell you something. I’ve never said a whole lot in my years, but I sure speak volumes...

A little braggin’ point - she wore me when her Daddy won the World’s title for Pulling Horses multiple times in the 1940's. 

It wasn’t until recently that I was found in the back of an old closet at Jean’s homestead. And I’ll be real honest, a new life was breathed into me that day. Since Shafers bought that house in 1959, I've been slowly pushed to the back by Asgrow jackets, muddy boots, Hoard's Dairyman magazines and about 100 seed corn thermoses. It was pretty disappointing to realize I was old news as time passed and Jean's life changed. No longer was I her prized possession she packed from show to show; I was replaced by little boys’ cowboy boots, farm toys and rubber boots to be worn in the milking parlor. 

Guess time changes priorities. Doesn’t mean it changes adoration, though.
For decades I sat in a dark corner of that closet wondering if she even remembered I existed. What a feeling to haunt an old sole. When she found me in June 2011, her eyes welled with tears and her fragile hands ran over my tops, then my soles. 

Tell you right now it felt like my soul dropped to the floor when I realized how soft her once-strong hands had become over the years.  But it was so good to see her again. Almost seventy years ago she wore me as a teenager and wouldn’t you know, that Jean is still a pretty blonde.
My goodness the things I've seen in Jean’s lifetime. The things I remember. The things I'd like to forget. 

Me and that Jean - we traveled ‘cross state lines loading pulling horses and competing with some of the best in the world. She’d clean up the show gear, pin her blonde curls back and throw me on. She’d look like a hundred bucks but her Daddy would still always drive the reigns. I always appreciated how she’d take the rag she used to clean up the harnesses and give me a quick run-over before she started on her way. Always thoughtful like that and always took good care of me. We were quite the team back in ‘44.

I remember the night Jean wore me as she beat her older brother Marvin for Grand Champion Steer at the Wayne County 4-H fair in 1943; what a night! It was hot....and humid. And competitive. She knew how bad he wanted to win, and I truly believe that is why she wanted it more. Odd that I remember this, but she kept curling her toes under that night in the show ring....she was so anxious. What a fighter. 

But while time passes, as it has a way of doing, you find out your biggest rival just may be your best friend, after all. You learn their passion for livestock burns as strongly as yours. You realize their roots run just as deep. You figure out that you’re both fighting the same battles at home, so why not stay on the same team? You learn that spending early mornings at the barn are better with a friend, rather than en enemy. 
And, as the years grow up. 
But just as the years pass with out regard to one’s preference, so does life. 

But let me tell you, I will never forget the way she drug me along the dirt path to the barn the morning after they laid Marvin in the ground. Officially the first time Jean went to the barn with out her feeding buddy, her best friend and her big brother. I remember the great hesitation in her step and how it felt like she weighed 500 pounds that morning, as the sun rose along the banks of the Greens Fork River.  Her heart was heavy as a ton of bricks. Her mind certainly wasn't in the work that day. In fact, it wasn't for a long while after that.
In 1945, with Jean I learned that nothing like that ever gets easier, but one learns to adjust. 
I’m not perfect. You show me a 65 year old that is flawless and I’ll show you a real fake. Joan Rivers type of deal.

I have a hole in the top of me because of the way Jean used to turn her right foot in while she rode in the stirrup. 

I have two different soles on me. Her right sole got replaced long before the left did. I’m not real sure why. 

But I'm Wrangler boots, so I can withstand more than most. 

I knew when Jean set me by the door the day she cleaned out that closest this past June that one of two things was going to happen:
1. I was going to the burn pile
2. She was going to give me to her granddaughter who collects and restores boots that tell a story. I remember when my dear love, Ralph, had his boots given to that gal just after he was buried. It was emotional, sad and quite frankly - gut wrenching. Did you know, by the way, that Jean was wearing me the day she realized she was going to marry Ralph Shafer? Sure was a special man. Sure miss him.
But let me tell you, I’m sure glad it turned out this way. Lindsay Jean took me to the boot repair man and had me polished, re-soled and restored. 

I don't mean to brag, but I look like the Original Jean could throw me on at any minute and go show a steer for another seventy years. And the best part: I’m a size 8 1/2; I fit Lindsay Jean perfectly. 
I sit in this old quiet house in Greens Fork and reflect about how life happens. Just when you think your life is drained, someone brings new purpose to you. Truth is, you need not seek it out. And honestly, Jean (the younger one) may wear me very little; that is alright. But the peace in my sole comes in knowing that she will grant the Original Jean’s final ask of me....
“Lindsay?” the Original Jean hollered as young Jean carried me to her car. 
“Yeah Grandma?”
“My only you wear those stupid old that one day, you retire them with Ralph’s. I’d sure like to sit next to him.”

Young Jean didn’t answer. She couldn’t, and she need not. The only thing from Lindsay Jean that July 4th evening was a simple nod and a tear down her face. 
But the Original Jean knew - one day, long ways down the road, she will be right where she needs to be. 

I'll tell you right now, there were years when I assumed my purpose was done and over. I thought I was used up and retired. Funny how life can bring you someone and just like that they dust you off, clean you up and give you something worth looking forward to. 

Guess it's true what they say: 
It's never too late to become what you could have been.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Freshman Year

I remember the day I moved to Purdue. It was my 19th birthday and Mom and Dad hauled me up in our red Ford truck. Mom told me to behave and shook my hand, per usual. Dad kissed my cheek and told me he loved me. I remember being more excited than I was scared and I remember being more scared than I let on. 
I remember wondering what I’d gotten myself into and also being thankful I had a friend, Krista, to start the journey with me. 

I remember wondering if I had anything straight out of Greens Fork worth talking about and wondering if I’d find people who liked me for...well, simply me. I remember thinking, as I laid in my bunk bed that first night, “You’ve just started a journey and you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into....”
I also remember the first time I posted on Jean’s Boots
It will be one year ago tomorrow, July 14, that I started this journey with all of you. 
I remember my sister-in-law asking if I had any interest in learning how to start a blog. I remember thinking, as we drove to the workshop, that going with her to learn how to use some sort of online journal was probably the biggest waste of vacation hours ever known to mankind. 
I remember wondering if I had anything straight out of Greens Fork worth talking about and wondering if I’d find people who liked me for...well, simply me. I remember thinking, as I wrote my first post, “You’ve just started a journey and you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into....”
Many thanks to those who read Jean’s Boots - it’s been one heck of a year.
Welcome to a unique Wordless Wednesday. On this anniversary week I’m showcasing some of my favorite photos I’ve taken over the last year. And, I may not be so wordless...I know you’re shocked. 
Thanks for getting me through my “freshman” year of blogging. I can promise you I’m off to a better start here than I was at Purdue. Of course, this go-round I don’t have a 7:30am chemistry lab or a desire to live only for Thursday nights.....

BSG hauling cows around the country block

Nothing speaks love like a Mother holding her son on Easter Sunday

Hops, being grown for home brew, grow as the moon sets into the Indiana sky

Simple Beauty

Only a farm gal can appreciate chipped nail polish and grass hay

 My goodness, think about the things Grandpa's hands have seen in 60 years compared to what this baby will see in her time...

An old school house in rugged Wyoming. The lessons taught, the memories lost when they shut this place down

My incredible nephew, Harrison. He is such a source of joy in my life

 The Story of Christmas, on Christmas Eve, from Grandpa, as you wear footie pajamas - 
Can you beat this?

 Black cattle and snowy Wyoming Mountains

 Waitin' on a woman....

 Herefords, one of America's greatest breeds, on the 4th of July

Young and wild and free - like Texas in 1880

"What is on my hand?....."

 Exploring the old Moyer barn, where Great-Grandma grew up

God Bless America. And special thanks to the inventors of classic cotton dresses 
and good, full-bodied beer

 I love this photo, taken as three sisters (can you tell by the hair?) join their cousin at the old Moyer homestead, where their parents were born decades ago

God made dirt (and manure) and dirt don't hurt

Her first look at a Holstein with a Grandma who has years of cattle advice under her belt

 A New Day at BSG

Sister and Brother celebrate before she weds

Young bulls at BSG

I thought I was talented when I could write in cursive...

Nothing like a best friend

To the barn she only wears cotton kind of seven year old

These heifers sell September 2, 2011 at BSG's Annual Bred Heifer Production Sale

And finally, my favorite photo taken during Jean's Boots freshman year...

Oh, the anticipation of running into Grandpa's arms....

Many thanks to you - for supporting my passion and fueling my dreams. 
And, for giving me something worth writing about.