Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Snagged Sweaters

There are days when I wonder if I forgot to push "English" when I got out of bed. No one seems to understand what I'm trying to say?
There are Farm Work Saturdays when I don't comprehend a single instruction coming out of my husband's mouth.
There are times when the customer service rep on the other end simply doesn't understand the frustration I'm trying to convey through our conversation. 
There are times at Meijer when I'm fairly certain the cashier hasn't spoken to an adult in three weeks. So eager to talk. About weird stuff. 
There are times when I'm explaining an idea and my boss looks at me like a dog hearing a high pitched sound. 

There are times when communication is flat out tough
Anyone else?

Sometimes, people just need to know that they're being listened to. 
No more prelude for this week or the video. 
I think it's a great "watch and consider" in the middle of a draining week.

It's Not About The Nail

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Phil Takes On Alaska & Cody Takes On Phil

Unsure of how to preface this entry any other way, I'll begin here:

In August - after several conversations - husband Cody decided to do what no man on the face of the Earth has ever done before in documented history:

He traveled with my Dad to Alaska. 

And while that may not sound like much of a feat - or even blogworthy - let me give you a little background on traveling with Dad and also he and Cody's relationship:

1. I remember a "vacation" once when we never stopped for lunches. Dad packed a gallon of milk and some cherries (with pits) in a cooler and we ate that. 
2. I remember thinking as a little girl that we were rich because our towels had an embroidered "H" on them. "Howman"????.......nope, Holiday Inn. 

3. I remember "vacationing" in Turnip Hole,PA for goodness sake. 

Every trip with my Dad is a lesson. Or a series thereof. 
Dad made our childhood amazing. 

(Doing so will make you feel better about yours.)

4. Cody and Dad have been alone together very seldom since since we met. Generally, their conversations include Luke and cattle, both in words and presence. My initial thought when Cody told me he was going to invite Dad to the Last Frontier: 
"What on earth could Cody and Dad talk about 
for 6 days in the land of reindeer and rouge??"

Good news: 
They both survived. 
Cody and I are still married. 
I'm still in Dad's will (premature assumption).

Through the duration of this entry, understand this:

  • I will refer to Phil (Dad) and Cody as "Phody". 
  • I will also document this as told by Cody. 
  • I will use real screen shots. 

August 12:
Phody flies from Indianapolis to Anchorage, then rents this deal:

August 13:
Cody spent the day facilitating a showmanship clinic in Palmer with Alaska's youth. Phil disappeared with a guy named Rayne (pronounced "rain") to see the sites around the city. 

Mid-afternoon Phody headed to the Kenai Peninsula, where Cody would eventually judge the stock (beef, sheep, goats, hogs, yak and reindeer). At some point, Rayne told Phil to stop at the Portage Glacier. As true adventurists, they decided to do so along their trek and came upon the path to Whittier: a one-way tunnel shared with a  freight train. 

As Phody pulled up to pay their toll, the toll gate guy took their money.
Dad: What's on the other side?
Toll gate guy: Nothing. 
Dad: Then what the hell are we paying for?
Toll gate guy : I have no idea.........

Turns out, at the end of the tunnel they found a blue-collar-fish-town which may be Phody's personal version of Alaskan Heaven. Phil made friends with locals and Cody made sure they could continue their trek...which eventually turned into a bar crawl southbound on the Kenai Peninsula. 

They saw an Eagle snatch salmon, and Phil got a better look:

Phody arrives at the Captian's Retreat for the duration of their stay. (<- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)

August 14:
Phody headed south to Homer for the day where Cody put on fitting clinic. Halfway through the clinic Cody realized Phil had disappeared. He found him off the fairgrounds at American Legion Post 18, making friends and telling stories of raising cattle in beautiful Indiana to the local men and women. Phody spent the evening at the Inlet Bar, continuing that story-telling. Can you imagine the number and extent of fishing stories?

August 15:
 It was on this day that Cody called me asking if I'd heard from Dad. 

JeanWhat? No. You're with him in Alaska. I'm at home. Why are you asking me that?
Cody: Well....because I  judged the stock all day and Phil was with me, but now it's over and I can't find him anywhere.
Jean: ...........hesitation. Do they have that big beer garden like they have the last two years? Right by the turnip display. To the left of the reindeer meat sausage deal. Did you check there?
Cody: ................I'm walking there now.............Oh boy...
JeanWhat?? I asked, maybe now a bit worried that Dad went on a self-guided tour of the Last Frontier
Cody: Found him.... in the beer garden.......with, actually, the most attractive women I have ever seen in Alaska, sitting around him......
Yeah, Phil! I'll take one - Thanks!

In the same breath that Cody had found Dad, he was ordering a beer with him - and the prettiest women of the Last Frontier. 
It was it that moment that I knew all was right with the world; and that I'd sleep better if I hung up now.

That evening Phody dined at Patty's Fish House (A FAVORITE) then bought beer. They enjoyed the local brews as the waves rolled in during the Alaskan sunset. Phil, 63, got his feet wet and cold. 

August 16:
Phody drove to Seward for a much-anticipated whale-watching boat trip. 

But the waters didn't cooperate and the pair was forced back to beautiful Anchorage early to shop for their wives.  

Legend tells that it took Phil 45 minutes to find something for his wife of 36 years.

Turns out, he may have found several things in that time:

After shopping, Phody enjoyed world-famous Moose's Tooth Pizza. As it turns out, there were leftovers. And - as you may have caught onto - Phil doesn't take leftovers lightly (one of twelve kids). He had the leftover awesomeness packed in a cardboard box, the night before Phody arose at 3:30 AM to fly back Indianapolis. 

(OOC = Out Of Control)
There is more...

Dad just really liked the pizza in Alaska. 

Cody says that he showed Phil the stuffed moose that he bought niece Bayler, and Phil may have felt a bit guilty that he didn't pick up anything for baby Oscar back home. So, as a last-minute souvenir, Phil packed a Delta blanket in his pizza box for his grandson. 

In August - after several conversations - husband Cody decided to do what no man on the face of the Earth has ever done before in documented history:

He traveled with my Dad to Alaska.

It was an adventure.
...One that is over. 
I'm grateful that, at 63, Dad was able to check one major thing off his bucket list. 

They've been home for a month and Cody still stays up late, telling me stories like he has just returned from summer camp. 

Also, he has yet to ask why we're still eating two-week-old leftovers. After six days "vacationing" with Dad, I think cody now 
gets it. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Fiercest Competitor

There was a time in my life when I thought Eli Young Band's song, Guinevere, was written about me. 

She don't hold onto nothin' new for very long
Yeah she writes you in as just one more tale
and then you're gone

But then something changed. 
I found something I didn't want to let go of. 
I found something that completely captivated my attention. 
I found something that I've actually held onto - quite closely - since it came into my life.

A Fitbit.

Yep. A a small rubber bracelet with a tiny chip inside that daily tracks my water intake and  steps, all while basically gauging my self perception and appreciation. 
I'm serious. 
It's come to that. 

Maybe we should rewind. 
I've never been a really competitive person. 
I know what I want, I go after it and all works out in the end. 
I also believe this to my very core:

I think my lack of competitive spirit began in third grade when Torri Richardson and I agreed to race across the gym and the first to reach Jason Ward was his girlfriend (unbeknownst to him). I got half court and realized 1) I was out of breath 2) I had too much to live for rather than have a boyfriend. I lost interest and moved on to the next third-grade-amusement. I think it was lunch. 

But then Fitbit rolled into my life three weeks ago and I've found myself doing crazy things to compete with it, to beat it, to conquer it, daily. You see, a Fitbit tracks your goals for exercise and activity, so each morning I wake up with a blank slate and a bazillion steps to take.
Maybe not a bazillion, but pretty darn close. 

On the weekends I can fly right past my activity goal. Building fence, chasing cows, running errands...all contribute to a gal on the go. 
But come Monday morning I'm as sedentary as a headstone. A heavy, ugly one, going nowhere. 
So I've found ways to increase my walking during the day. 
Working out, you ask?
Using the Cardinal Greenway, you ask?


Two weeks ago I got into the habit of eating my lunch in shifts:
Walk down to the break room, get out my hard boiled eggs, take them back to my office, eat them. 
Walk down to the break room, get out my string cheese, take it back to my office, eat it. 
Walk down to the break room, get out my yogurt, take it back to my office, eat it. 
Walk down to the break room, throw away all of my trash.
= 311 steps and comfortable shoes
(I really hope my boss doesn't read this entry.)

For three straight Sundays I've walked to the mailbox to get the mail, then had to act surprised when there was nothing there. 
=284 steps and some good acting

When we're together, Cody now has to park in the farthest parking spot from our destination. Annoying for him, especially when we got to church late Sunday and someone was in our familiar pew. I guess that's the problem with a service full of back row Baptists? We went up to the balcony. 
= 210 steps, stairs included (which should count for double)

Last week we had lunch at the local Mexi joint and Cody was on the phone when we arrived. He stayed in the truck to finish his conversation. I hopped out of the truck and proceeded to walk circles around it; circling the truck like a shark waiting for a canoe of kittens to capsize. By the time we got into the restaurant I was so dizzy Pedro seated us in the handicap booth. 
= 437 steps and an annoyed husband

But the problem with this strange obsession isn't with my newfound commitment to taking the long way. The problem lies in how often I check my steps. Last Sunday I checked my Fitbit three times during the one-hour service. Turns out standing and sitting for hymns doesn't count towards steps. Dang
I've even checked it while riding as a passenger in a car, and while my steps didn't increase with each mile traveled (dang) I did catch myself daydreaming at the thought of turning the miles into steps...

Just imagine how bright 
those little lights 
of approval and success 
would twinkle

As the song Guinevere says, I generally don't hold onto anything new for very long. I move on. But I have yet to get there with my Fitbit. Being down 7 pounds from the day I began using it may have something to do with it, despite still eating pork rinds for breakfast. 
FACT: I'll stick with anything that cancels out pork rinds.

Now, if you'll excuse me...I'm 417 steps away from beating my personal goal for the day and all of the chores are done. This means I'll need to make 138 laps around the coffee table before I'm allowed to sleep tonight. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Gratitude Challenge

I'm so not into social media fads. 
No matter how philanthropic and brilliant they appear to be...

But then the the Gratitude Challenge - where you're supposed to say three things you're thankful for each day - began.
And the "challenges" began rolling in:

I've read, considered and smiled at each of them. 
And until this morning, I've not yet replied. 

Let's just knock this deal out in one post, shall we?

My Gratitude Challenge

1. I'm grateful for Pyrex dishes with lids to store leftovers: Growing up we used the heck out of foil and rubber bands. As a "newlywed" I take matching lids quite seriously. 
2. I'm grateful for leftovers: Do you know how many men, women and children will never know what it's like to throw away spaghetti with green fuzz on the top?
3. I'm grateful for spaghetti: Thanks, Momma, for teaching me how to add "a bit of this and a pinch of that" to bring comfort food home. 
4. I'm grateful for  home: You don't know home until you look out the window and see (ONE) Shorthorn (I call her Wife Insurance) and Angus cattle in view. I have always wished this for my life.
5. I'm grateful for cattle paraphenila:

6. I am grateful for a riding lawnmower. I remember well times without one (my legs were far more trim!)
7. I'm grateful for a husband who knows how to repair everything I wreck. 

8. I'm grateful for Mr. Lumpkin: The best teacher I ever had in seventeen years of education. He was my small engines instructor in high school, but amongst a classroom full of guys, he taught me incredible confidence. How many young ladies can say they acquired self confidence as an awkward teenager learning something new in a classroom full of boys?
9. I'm grateful for small town education: In our little hometown, we're quite fortunate that our Agriculture Department is one of the best in the state - perhaps the nation. Do you understand where your food and wine comes from?
10. I really appreciate Malbec wine.
11. Later this year I'll travel to Argentina - the motherland of Malbec wine and (not nearly as great as US) beef. I would have never imagined that working for the local cooperative would have opened these doors; I'm grateful for these opportunities.
I'm grateful for my job: It's rewards far outweigh it's challenges. (Ask me again in November - Annual Report Month)
13. I first experienced Malbec wine in Texas, during dinner with a friend of mine. I'm grateful for many lessons from Terri.
14. Speaking of Herefords - I'm grateful I don't have pinkeye.
15. Lauren Echols - I'm grateful for her friendship and spirit. 

16. I'm grateful we found a home in the country. I just don't think neighbors would appreciate me throwing expired refrigerator food into their yard. 
17. I'm grateful that the Greens Fork post office is still operational. I never have to stand in line and Priscilla is the definition of customer service with a smile. 
18. I'm grateful for early mornings, up before the sun, checking on our cows. There is a certain peace to be found when your day begins while the stars are still visible. 
19. I'm grateful for two active, funny, hard working parents who define integrity. 
20. I'm grateful for my two nieces and two nephews. Who knew these tiny little creatures could bring so much joy?
21. I'm grateful we got our water softener fixed before it killed one of us or our houseguests. 

22. I'm grateful that The Original Jean is still around, making us laugh and buying us ice-cream. 
23. I'm grateful that the previous owners of this farm invested in good fences. Good fences make for a happier wife and life. 
24. I'm grateful for fall and all the things - changing leaves, cooler weather, football and harvest - that it encompasses.  

25. I'm grateful for the dictionary/thesaurus and calculator apps on my phone. I know I shouldn't use them, but I do - and often. I also remember Mrs. Dilley making us learn multiplication tables in third grade, telling us over and over - and over - that we must learn multiplication because we'll never just walk around with a calculator in our pockets. Really
26. I'm thankful you're reading this blog. 

(Disclaimer: This list is not a result of everything I'm thankful for. I only have so much time in a day and quite frankly I'm already running 20 minutes late.)