Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Penny Pincher

I don't always pinch pennies with the likeness of vice grips, 
but when I do it's on necessities and comforts 
such as food and toilet paper. 

At one point last weekend, I set out to pick up a few things. 

Besides the extreme pressure and anxiety I feel during check out, I love shopping at Aldi. They carry almost everything I need, their selection has more than doubled in the last two years, they have unbeatable prices and the store is small and easy to navigate. Avoid that place on the first day of the month and it's an even better experience. I can reorganize stock in search of empty boxes with the the very best of them in order to get $1.79/gallon milk and Sunshine Bay Sauvignon Blanc at $6.99.
However, without fail I get so nervous during check out. 
Is there a cart at the end of the belt?
Should I push my cart around? 
Will I get my quarter back?
Is the cashier in a good mood?
Is there space for me at the packing counter?
Who is behind me?
Why are they buying so much beef jerky?
Why didn't he put a divider between our food? I am not buying his beef jerky...

"How are you today? $34.28. Cash back? Have a good evening."

Where am I?
Did I already pay? 
Before I know it, the cashier is pushing my cart out of the way and asking the Jerky Hoarder how his day is going. It always happens so fast. It's like the Soup Nazi experience of grocery shopping.

After my blood pressure lowered from my Aldi experience, I stopped at the Amish Dollar General to pick up other things I had on an imaginary list somewhat stored in my cray-cray head. The Amish discount store has a reputation for great prices on all items, if you can get past the cosmetic shortcomings...

Last summer I bought two coral Maybelline lipsticks, one each for Momma and I. They were only $.80 and looked great if you could get past how bad they made your lips burn. I also bought Cody a 50-count One-A-Day men's vitamin that was only a couple months expired. Fifty vitamins for $1.50, regularly $8.00! He has yet to break the seal on the vitamins, but I'm optimistic that 2015 is the year. He mentioned something about sterilization. I don't really remember. 

Anyway, while I roamed the aisles aimlessly like a lost child, I was thrilled to find Italian seasoning by the case, two pounds of butterscotch chips and bananas - none of which I had even thought of prior to entering the store. I came in to look around and went out with $.03 change from a twenty dollar bill. 

Minutes later (the real problem with each of these places: convenience) I reached the homestead and began to make trips into the house with my newfound treasures. 

I walked back outside after trip number one to see Cody staring blankly into the back hatch of my vehicle.

"Please let me you did not buy food at either of those places. Tell me you only bought cleaning supplies."
"Food and toilet paper," I responded, holding up my 18-double-roll-super-pillow-plush toilet paper purchase. 

"Linds," Cody said while studying the purchase, "that has tire tracks on it. It's been run over by something."

(UGH! He's such a details guy, I thought to myself.)

"I saw that, but I just need to reshape it then store it somewhere where with won't regress. It only cost like eighteen cents per roll. You can't put a price on that!"
"Yeah, I can. It's eighteen cents....on roadkill toilet paper."
"Oh, there are worse things," I continued as we carried the groceries in. I was trying to think of worse things, but the more I looked at our little flattened rolls of roadkill, I couldn't think of much. Between you and I, I'll never tell Cody that. How was I supposed to get those on the spool? 

"Uhhh, are these bananas?" he asked once we reached the kitchen.
"Uhhh, what else would they be?"
"Did you really buy midget bananas? They're already starting to brown. Why would you buy bananas with cheetah spots already?"
"Because they were thirty-cents per pound compared to sixty-six cents. You do the math." 
And then Cody said something under his breath that had absolutely nothing to do with math. 

That night we had had some good friends over for dinner. I opened the freezer and my two-pound bag of butterscotch chips hit the kitchen floor, busting open and scattering like hundreds of ants scurrying across the linoleum.
I - along with six others - dropped to my knees and started scrambling to snatch up the tiny pieces, one by one. 
"Do you want to save these?" Timmy asked as his long arms extended to corral the rogue candies.
Before I could even open my mouth, Cody yelled, "No! We're tossing them." I didn't even have a chance to ask everyone to put them in a bowl so I could rinse them off for a refreeze! Darn that Cody, always looking out for my reputation. The next few minutes were a haze. With every chip I heard ping into the trash, I simultaneously heard a dollar cha-ching!
Something like $3.00 down the drain. 

Days later and I've found that my pinching pennies did nothing for patience. Being run over by a Peterbilt should have been the least of our concerns when it comes to the toilet paper. These roles are somehow triple-layered, mismatched, uneven and basically a really big pain in the the....neck. One minute we're trying to get a few squares, the next it's like the entire bathroom floor is covered in shreds of paper and half the "value" roll is gone.

Oh, and - the 18-pack value pack only had 16 rolls in it. 
Darn those Amish, always doing things their way. 

The way I see it, I'll continue using my vice-grip-money-saving-practices, like buying a case of knock-off Windex with twelve broken spouts, until one of two things starts happening:
1. Some discount salad dressing that was a victim of an I-70 fender bender causes our hair to fall out or
2. Cody starts doing the grocery shopping. 

See you Saturday at the 
Amish Dollar General, Bertha Yoder. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

If The Boot Fits

If I ever go missing I'm certain my disappearance will first be noticed when I miss a Wednesday blog. 
Thank you for the texts, calls and emails checking on my well-being. Read assured, I was overwhelmed with responsibilities last week, not tucked in a dumpster at a truck stop along I-80. 

Back to 7:00 am Wednesdays...

It's been another frigid few days in Indiana as below zero temperatures and snow coated the area. Per the usual poor timing, Cody was out of town judging the San Antonio Stock Show and really missing out on all the fun back home. Someone hand me a towel, that last sentence is dripping with sarcasm. 

Frozen valves on electric water tanks, calving cows and heifers, frozen pipes in the house and wind so strong we lost siding. Oh, and I watched our 16-month nephew for the weekend, which ended up being the absolute highlight. And in all of my free time I went to work at my real, full time job. 


On Monday evening I went in the house to change into my barn clothes. I suited up, complete with insulated everything, and traveled back out to the barn. I couldn't help but notice the stark differences in my tracks into the old homestead and my tracks out. One reflected the wedge boots paired with slacks and a blouse worn to business meetings throughout the day. The returning tracks represented a pair of Muck boots full of already-cold feet and three pairs of socks.

Such different roles one person can - and must - play throughout the course of a day. If the boot fits, I thought to myself. 

How many different boots do you wear throughout the day?

The teacher turned housekeeper?
The lawyer turned peacekeeper?
The nurse turned one in need of attention?
The banker turned rancher?
The politician turned introvert?
The geneticist turned cook?
The shining star turned coward?
The thought leader turned dreamer?
The designer turned addict?
The addict turned father?
The pastor turned event planner?
The optimist turned pessimist? 
The wife turned actress?
The stockman turned salesman?
The trainer turned glutton?
The stay-at-home mom turned financial analyst?
The assistant turned boss?
Or better yet: The boss turned assistant?
Or do you wear so many different boots that you can't keep track?

And why do those boots change?
Well, for me: I just don't think our CEO would appreciate me tracking calf placenta from one end of the office to the other. 

But other than the obvious - why do we change the boots we wear in a day?
We want to. 
We need to. 
We're made. 
We're asked. 
We're demanded. 
It pays the bills. 
You're too afraid not to. 
It's expected of you. 
You've never questioned it. 
You know no other way. 

A person will wear a lot of different boots in a day, let alone a lifetime. My challenge to you is recognizing those boots and the relevance they provide in your life. The rhyme, the reason. 
What boots can you put in the toss pile?
Which ones should you put on more often?

I returned home from work convinced there was no need to change out of my manager heels and into my work boots. Cody was home from Texas and he would likely spend hours well into the dark outside catching up on things around the farm. 


He gave me a beautiful Charlie Favour cuff and and undebatable invitation to slip into something....- warmer -....and come back outside to help him thaw the ears of the newest baby, born at -6ยบ. 

"Don't forget your hair dryer!" he called across the barn lot. I made the familiar trek up the sidewalk.

At some point in the last twenty four hours I've taken off the manager boots and slipped into assistant - finally and thank goodness. 

I was getting half concerned that I'd have to learn to tag calves in heels to improve efficiencies. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ten Years Later

“It’s amazing what a man 
thought was important enough 
to keep ten years ago.”

Cody made this statement last Saturday as he threw a toolbox down in the yard in an effort to clean out his office. You would think – after moving from Kansas to Oklahoma to Michigan to Indiana – he would have sorted through the contents in his office over the last ten years, several times. 

I guess sometimes, amidst the spirit of a move, emotion allows us to easily overlook the tossing, and encourages us transport everything to the next “home”.

Beautiful Economy, Indiana is the last place the pieces of CS' life stopped, and we aligned our calendars to find a day that we were both actually home - on the same day - and decided to sort. 
Oh boy, did we sort.

Kansas City Chiefs art from the early 1990’s
A Viking helment

Puppy collars for dogs no longer around
Bovine lubricant by the gallon
File after file of things studied at Oklahoma State University

Angus Journals from 1999
A party cone hat - identical to the one below

First pay stubs
Registration papers from cows that first calved in 1994
Letters from gals I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting…

All things important enough to keep ten years ago.

The next day, during the Super Bowl I mentioned to Momma how we had spent our Saturday.
“Oh, was it tough?” she asked, thinking of all the memories being tossed.

By the way:
(I know with confidence (I texted her yesterday to confirm details) that Momma still has Laura’s baby teeth wrapped in tissue paper inside a ceramic jar , a splinter that was plucked from Luke’s little body after a furniture incident and my baby book. Granted, my book is still wrapped in plastic and hasn't been tainted with a dot of ink in thirty years, but she kept it, nonetheless. Tossing doesn't come easy for Momma.)

I responded:
“No, it was mostly Cody’s stuff so I had no problem tossing it,” said the helpful wife. “I did find a box of my birthday cards in the file cabinet I had forgotten about. I put them in plastic and moved them to the storage barn. I have no idea where they’ll go when we decide to clean out the storage barn….” 
My focus drifted to guacamole.

Some things are pertinent to have around in order to get through particular stages in our life. I'm certain Cody couldn't have made it though undergrad or graduate school without a viking hat. But just as time changes paths, it changes priorities,  too. 

Ten years later, I’m not just speaking of “stuff” that may be kept around.
What about the other things we had ten years ago that we’re still in possession of?

Ten years ago, which of these things 
were you desperately keeping within you? 
Which ones are you still carrying, today? 

Some things are important enough to keep.
To store.
To preserve.
To still find among – or within – us ten years later, soliciting a memory.
And others are better left in the past. 
Or the burn barrel. 
Sort wisely. 

Anyone have a burning desire to learn more about Prairie Chicken Management in Oklahoma?