Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who Is Sixty?

Momma turns 60 today, April 24, 2013. 

Not much has changed since this photo was taken. 
She still loves livestock, has the flip in her hair on the right side and she never did get rid of those kankels. 

I can laugh about that. It's genetic. 

Linda - Debbie - Susan

Granddaughter Marlee, 55+ years later

Momma has had a hard time wrapping her mind around turning 60. 
30 was fun - she was still having kids. 
40 was easy - we forgot to celebrate. 
50 came and went in a flurry of preparation for someone else: her youngest was about to graduate from high school. Finally, an empty nest. 
But at 60, she has begun to read the obituaries just to keep up on what everyone else "her age" is doing these days.
Have you seen my mother? She has a lot of years left in her. 

But I'm not going to discount the amazing woman she is today because of those 60 years that have flown by. 
More than a stupid number, in 60 years, who has Momma been?

The Multitasker - Kind of
Momma still packed my lunch well into high school. As in, until the day I graduated from high school (guilty). Every day, second period, I would take a sneak peak into my lunch bag. One Thursday I got a great surprise.   
A cube steak. 

Quite surprised and a little freaked out, my lunch bag went straight into the trash and Dustin Dickey gave me a couple dollars for lunch that day. I got home that evening to a frazzled mother. She had been searching for the cube steak she laid out for supper, and all she could find on the counter was a thawed ice pack. My thawed ice pack. The one that usually kept my yogurt cold. In the morning rush, she laid out the ice pack on the counter and packed the cube steak in my lunch bag. We had left overs that night. Things happen. 

The Trend Setter
Momma wore coral lipstick before coral lipstick was cool. I'm serious. For decades she has kept a few tubes in her purse (should she lose one), one tube in the truck (should company arrive), one tube in the downstairs bathroom (should company arrive), one tube in her coveralls (should company arrive) and another in the same location where our spare house key has lived for 30 years. I've never understood that one, but at 60 I'm not about to question it. 

The Chef
In forty-five minutes I have watched Momma pull together a four-course meal for twelve using nothing more than yesterday's beet salad (homemade), canned beef (home grown) and Frankie Valli on the radio. She has an amazing ability to stand in the pantry door, look around for eight seconds and develop an entire menu for our family, plus unexpected guests. The only use she has for measuring cups these days is to ensure she's drinking enough water daily and at dinner last weekend she recited to me the recipe - and timing, and stirring techniques - for the best all-purpose gravy I've ever had. Her mind is a cookbook with an incredibly accurate assessment of what lurking leftovers are in the fridge that can still be served when Luke shows up for lunch. 


The Cowgirl
Let's put it this way: The only difference between my Momma and John Wayne is that he didn't use Frizz-Ease hairspray.
But she can - and has - pulled calves, hand milked stubborn, free-standing cows, given her breath to a calf on it's way out, missed social obligations (that she bought a new outfit for) because she was trying to confirm a heat, gotten an entire herd in and off the road, played chicken with a bull and sat up all night with a calf, holding it's little frozen body in a blanket. She's maternal. She's also one hell of a worker. 

The Detective
Our family has lost PTA fundraiser checks, spare keys, passports, pompons, living pets, registration papers, show halters, hub caps, insurance cards, mower belts, receipts, hitch pins, bobby pins, good luck charms, remote controls, baby dolls and even wedding rings. Somehow Momma has always been the first to find them. I haven't lived in her house for almost ten years and I called her last week because I couldn't find my favorite red heels. I thought I'd give it a try. Didn't work.

A lot of experience and love is packed into the 60 years we celebrate with Momma today. I remember being a very young girl and Momma lifting me onto the washing machine so she could put shoes on me. We were going somewhere special; I studied her perfectly painted red nails.With her red sweater, denim pencil skirt, white button earrings and red flats, she was the prettiest person I had ever seen.

Twenty-five years later and I see the exact same, incredibly beautiful woman, who has traded in those "clean" clothes for full-time Muck boots and mom jeans. And because of that sacrifice for Dad, Laura, Luke and I, she is exponentially more admirable and beautiful than she has ever been. 

Happy 60th Birthday, Momma!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Little Mower That Could

Like most men, Cody is a man of projects. 
He dreams them up. 
Then starts them. 
Then usually finishes them. 
Then moves on to the next.

But when he told me he found a lawn mower in one of the barns at BSG, I had reservations. I couldn't remember a spare lawn mower in any barn, but if you read a previous blog, you remember that there are many things in BSG inventory that may not be accounted for. 

Then I remembered the lawn mower. 

The orange lawn mower. 
And the tenant that rented a house off of Momma and Dad. 
And how he would drive that junker orange mower to town for necessities. Like alcohol. 
Because he had lost his license for certain reasons. Like alcohol. 
And years ago he left. Without his lawn mower. stayed.  

Cody was pretty excited about this restoration project. In fact, Sunday afternoon he was completely out of sight. Mainly because I was cleaning out flower beds, but also because he wanted to salvage this beast. 

Yep. This bird-poop-covered, hoodless, beltless, oil-less, and other things-less beast. It did have a string. It was holding on the blade deck. It also housed many nests. Nice little mouse resort. 

I tried to talk Cody out of taking on this project. The mower was known around Clay Township by many because of the fellow who brought it to town. He held up traffic more consistently than the Amish and he swerved more than George Jones. But he sure didn't sing like Jones; more of a slur. 

But one of the things I adore about Cody is his determination. Nothing I could have said (about my reputation, his reputation, the diseases you can get from excessive bird poop exposure) was going to change his mind. 


The next evening I was packing a suitcase for work when I heard the neighbor dog, Liberty, going nuts. 
I went to the front door just in time to see this beauty rig pull up in front of my house. 
My jaw dropped. 
He really did it. 
(Do you see the string?)

And if you look closely, you'll see Cody chatting with my neighbor, Rick, who welcomed him to the Greens Fork Lawn-Mowing Club by giving him a cold Natural Light for the task at hand. 

Cheers to good neighbors. 

Cody came back across the road and stood behind the trailer. 
"You ready to to hear this hog purr?!"
If there was one nearby, I would have crawled under a rock. 
"Cody!" I yelled from the front porch, trying to advise, jaw closed. "You cannot call that thing your "hog" - I live in a town with a biker bar. My neighbors all have motorcycles. This is a spark plug with a orange pop can wrapped around it!!"
I think I offended him. 
I felt bad. 
I encouraged him to "fire up his hog" and unload it...

Listen to that baby purr...

For the next hour Cody was in man heaven. 
Drinking free, cheap beer. 
Mowing a little piece of green land that he doesn't have to pay taxes on. 
All on a piece of equipment he brought back to life with his own two, dirty hands. 

He wasn't a big fan of my photo documentation 

I learned a few things Monday evening from this orange drunk-man-hauler turned 
second-life Husqvarna:

1. Never underestimate the motivation, determination or 
work speed of a man on a mission if it involves tools.

2. A little supportive faith goes a long way. 

3. Everyone deserves a second chance.

4. Crap will buff out, always does. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Did You Know?

I was sitting in an agronomy meeting a month or so ago when the presenter began his discussion with this video. I've come back to it on days that I either feel defeated or empowered; it can go either way. 

His motivation behind showing this to 13 young, progressive growers (I was simply there observing) was to remind them that this world is ever-changing. So while farmers have a reputation of sitting in a local diner and complaining about the world changing too quickly, they're also running amongst the most progressive group of innovators this world has ever seen. If those in agriculture don't change with the times, the times forget them. And people get hungry. (Somehow it always goes back to food at Jean's Boots?...)

But you sure don't have to be a farmer to appreciate this video. The clip also puts things in perspective and shows how fast-forward we're living these days. It is a reminder (once you're over the initial "What?!" factor) to slow down, live in the moment and embrace certain things while they're around. Whether that be people, places or things

Watch it. 
Re-watch it. 
Take a deep breath.
Live your life in a changing world. 
What does it all mean to you?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Red Barn

In my head, as I picture the wedding reception I've always imagined, only one big, red thing stands in the way. Literally.

Our red barn. 

This barn, finished in 1990, holds a lot of memories for our family. 

And a lot of bikes with rusted chains. 
And one-legged Barbies. 
And glassware. 
And faded floral arrangements. 

The red barn was the ideal building for a young family. In the red barn we learned how to operate a shop broom and a hula hoop. We found great value in a punching bag and an air compressor. We allowed the red barn to house our prized 4-H trophies, now scattered with dust. We've thrown halloween parties, birthday parties, graduation parties, anniversary parties and baby showers in the red barn. It's hosted a lot of "moments". 

But it's kinda full... 
Of the pieces of our life. 
And...(dare I say it? Momma reads this blog)....junk.  

We've talked so much about wedding plans for August. And for the most part, things are really coming together nicely. But instead of the elephant in the room, there is the huge, red barn in the yard that Momma and I have avoided for some time. 

It needs cleaned out. And we are terrible about throwing things away. By "we" I mean Momma, Dad, and myself - Laura and Luke are tossers.

I dedicated 3 hours a few weeks ago to "starting on the red barn" with Momma. We sorted through Christmas ornaments, welding rods, cassette tapes, plastic placemats and Taste of Home magazines from 1982. All things that have no value to anyone else. 

Somewhere between the tote of socks awaiting darning (for 15 years), the records, the baby buggies and the prom favors, Momma and I threw a few things away. But not the Writers Express. Or the really big fish. Or any of the things I've already mentioned. 

I've often wondered why Mom and Dad do keep so much. Dad grew up 1 of 12 children. Momma was 1 of 5. When they were raised, if something broke they learned to fix or re-use it, rather than throw it away. Personally, I have no real excuse other than a bleeding heart for things that have a memory tied to them. 

We created an even larger pile of things "on the fence". We just really feel like there is sentimental value in the cracked basketballs. I mean, I'm sure one of us kids learned how to dribble using one of them.

At the end of 3 hours of diligent sorting, Momma and I had tossed a total of 2 empty shoeboxes, 1 VHS tape from the 2002 WHR sale, a the cover of a book with no pages, 7 dried up ink pens, a candle with no wick left, 2 floppy disks and 4 faded silk sunflowers. And, a broken vase. And a smashed styrofoam ball that Dixie found; I have to give credit where credit is due.

As for all the aformentioned "stuff" - please call if you'd like anything. We have a wedding to pay for.