Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Fantasy Pinterest

I was trying to get on my shoes and brush my teeth before church Sunday when I passed Cody in the living room, grabbing his iPad. 
His iPad, rushing out the door on a Sunday morning?

"I'm going to need you to drive to church this morning, if you don't mind. I need to update my fantasy football team," he said.
I got one foot in and laughed. "Are you kidding me?" 
"No...all of my players are injured. Except for that Martavis - the Pittsburg Steeler - he's out for drugs."
That stung a little
"Fantasy Football is so ridiculous!" I continued, giving my hair one final spritz (fog) of FrizEase. 
Cody defended his hobby as he filled two travel mugs of coffee. "I mean, I'm sure there is a fantasy Pinterest or something that you could play in."

I stopped dead in my boots. 

He, actually, didn't know how right he was
There was a Fantasy hobby I could lose myself in. 
It's called Pinterest. 

Someone else does all the work - and makes it look good. 
Guys are spending time drafting players that would never realistically be on the same team. 
They're talking about playoffs four months in advance. 
They're investing time, energy and effort into crafting a line up that they'll track closer than a trophy buck this fall. 
But they'll never step foot on a football field. 
And you. 
Look at where your decisions have led you. 
You think you have enough time/patience/stamina to recycle your old toilet paper rolls into customized greeting cards?
You think you have enough time/patience/stamina to turn peanut butter and jelly sandwiches  into cake pops?
You think you have enough time/patience/stamina to recycle your kid's basketball t-shirts into a tent? 
You think you have enough time/patience/stamina to make a button necklace?
Let someone else throw that pass, make that tackle or super glue their fingers together - and to the dog - while you just sit back and watch. 
That's what HGTV and ESPN are all about. 

It makes us strangely competitive.
All of the sudden, Cody is talking about players' performance like he personally trained them. Like he has a true stake in this running back's performance. 
"He should have had that!"
"Why in the world would he have done that?!"
And, he talks to his friends about where "his team" lies compared to theirs. 
Still reeling from Luck's performance during the first two games of the season. (Calm down. He did this last year, too. I think the wind blows his beard in his eyes.)
And Pinterest has created and stimulated this strange need for us to create the most perfect family photos, most perfect wedding, most perfect fall outfit, most perfect meal, most perfect mud room, most perfect engagement photos and most perfect birthday cake for the princess at home. 

Who are you trying to impress?
It did not work. 

Stop. I can't even. 
Stick to Cinnamon Toast Crunch. 

It's expensive. 
I have no idea what kind of investment (do you see the sarcasm dripping off of that word?) Cody has in Fantasy Football. Does it cost money? Don't answer that. 
Let's talk about all of the money you've spent on powered sugar, scarves and chalk paint. 
Enough said. 

Name cropped to protect the innocent. 
You're welcome, Emily. 

It's not real; None of this is real: 
Actually, sir, Andrew Luck doesn't even know you exist. Why are you so hung up on his Sunday performance? And Martavis doesn't care who you are. Which is probably a good thing. 
And "your team" realistically belongs to m(b?)illionaires like Robert Kraft, Jim Irsay, Martha Ford and Dan Rooney. Do you think they get hung up on a pass interference?
No. They have another cocktail. And fire someone. 
And you, Pinterest Pam, the reason your outfit doesn't look as amazing as her's?
You're a real, beautiful size 10. 
She's a 0. 
Which is only a size if you still shop at American Eagle. 
The reason your make up didn't turn out like her's?
You don't have a make-up artist, professional photographer and studio. 
The reason your wreath doesn't look like her's?
Well, frankly, you're not crafty. And that's ok! That's why Hobby Lobby exists. 

And, you're Pinning quotes like this, trying to find your true heart. 
Or something?
Honey you need to step away from the iPad and get some rest. 

Listen, I love Pinterest as much as anyone
But I've come to realize that - frankly - Fantasy Football has nothing on Pinterest when it comes to removing us from reality and planting us smack dab into an unrealistic, candle-lit, burlap-covered life. 
Fantasy Football or Fantasy Pinterest: Which is worse?
I mean...
You're making your husband eat salad out of mason jars. Get ahold of yourself. 

Photos courtesy of Pinterest and Pinterest Fail. Thanks for submitting them.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

A Halter Broke Life

Caution: Objects in the pasture are larger than they appear.
And they're kinda spirited.

'Tis the season. 
We're halter breaking calves in our tiny part of the world.
Trying to teach the animals that we're not fixin' to kill, brand or ear tag them. 
Trying to teach the spouse that we're not fixin' to kill, brand or leave them. 
It's a real fun time. 
In fact, I've come to realize how closely it ranks up there with trying on swim suits. There is dread and anxiety when it begins, and such relief when it's over. Usually. Sometimes. 

The further we get into the process, the more I've learned that halter breaking calves - spirited, black, large calves - can parallel one of life's greatest lessons:

Don't buck the system and expect to end up on top. 

Just kidding. 

This process has become a get-home-at-5:28-every-evening-and-report-to-the-barn-to-tie-up-calves project. 
I feel like I'm 14 again. Except for the size of my jeans. 
It's daily. 
It's tiring. 
It's stressful. 
It's repetitive. 
It's for good reason. 
It pays off in the end. 
Halter breaking calves is a lot of things that life is.

A Halter Broke Life: It takes persistence. 

This process - attempting to rope the wind and make it your friend (welcome to the early stages of Cody and I's relationship, by the way) - chronicles the importance of persistence and how it can really change lives. 
For the better, for the record.

A Halter Broke Life: It takes persistence. 

And time. 
Time is tough to figure out:
A 30-minute nap lasts just 37 seconds. 
A 30-minute meeting can last up to five hours, dependent upon the topic, attendees and cell coverage. 
The halter-breaking process has reconfirmed this thought: 

A Halter Broke Life: It takes persistence. 

And repetition.  
Don't give up. 
I heard once that Michael Jordan got cut from the basketball team and Steve Jobs hated the taste of apples, or something. 

A Halter Broke Life: It takes persistence. 

Persistance from you. 
And yes. I'm talking to you. Quit breaking eye contact. 

Trying to forget. 
Losing the weight. 
Eliminating the debt.
Asking for forgiveness.
Trying out for the team. 
Submitting your resume. 
Reorganizing your priorities. 
Dialing the digits on your phone. 
Attempting the recipe one more time. 
Proving yourself. Wrong or right. Proving. Yourself.
Reading through the instructions, slowly and carefully. 
Trying - just once more- to start the family you've dreamt of. 
Untangling your tongue and stomach to come up with the words. 
Washing down the sink what you've started and working through it again. 
Going back to the doctor's office because you know something just isn't right. 
Trying. Again. One more time. The last time. Maybe. Because you know. In your heart. 

The persistence that you need to incorporate into your life
parallels what these rogue cattle at our homestead need to understand: 
Don't be afraid. 
- what you're going through - 
is all part of a plan Bigger than your own. 

Are You Living A Halter Broke Life? It takes persistence. 

And courage. Yours. 

And, really great leather gloves, patience of steel, quick feet and a show stick you're willing to sacrifice. 

But mostly, persistence. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Thing About Gates

My Dad has a way of feeding me blog fodder. Pieces of insight striking enough to stick with me. I have no recollection of anything he told me when I was 14. 
But now, I listen. 
Now might be a good time to check out Dear Ol' Dad to understand where I'm coming from. 
He has his quirks. 
He loves good food, good beer and good products that don't let him down. 
So, in an effort to enrich the lives of his sons-in-law and son, after dinner Monday Dad gifted each of them a bar of his favorite soap. The soap that he's used for years because it lathers well with the washcloths he and Momma got for their wedding, 37 years ago next month.  

You really should attend our Christmases. 

But it wasn't the soap that got me thinking over the weekend. 

Time ran short; it seemed we had just received our marching orders and before I knew it, folks were packing stock trailers, trucks and carseats. Dad reflected on all that he was able to get done having an extra pair of hands helping him. 

"It's amazing how much more work you can get done when someone opens the gate." said Dad. "When you work alone you have to stop the truck or tractor in front of the gate. Climb down. Open the gate. Walk back to the truck or tractor. Drive it through the gate. Then stop the truck or tractor behind the gate. Climb down. Close the gate. Walk back to the truck or tractor. And finally get to work."

He was right and I was feeling a tick guilty. Every time CS calls me out of the house, the garden or the flower beds to simply "open a gate" I get a bit frustrated. If I'm working along side him it doesn't bother me. But to alter my work to do something as simple as opening a gate? 

For the record, this is how I shut a gate. 

And this is how CS shuts a gate. 
He didn't grow up knowing the fear that 
coincides with cattle raised around cornfields.  

We prefer Homestead Gates 

The thing about gates is that they can make or break productivity. 
The thing about gates is that they control speed in which you move forward. 
The thing about gates is that they become a passage to better places.
The thing about gates is that they wait - patiently and silently - to be used. 
The thing about gates is that they are only as good as the folks who use them - dragged across gravel, climbed with dirty boots,  hung as they should be or lifted up so they perform perfectly. 
The thing about gates is that they are a newly discovered way to greener pastures (if not secured). 
Opening gates - though such a small gesture - can really move a person forward. 

So you. 
Yes, you. 
Reading this. Right Now. 
What gates do you need to open?

What gates do you need to open for yourself - what is standing in your way?
What seems to be the most insignificant obstacle that needs to move before you can pass through to the next phase?

Or even more - 
What gates do you need to open for someone else - what is standing in their way that you can help with?
That person in the back of your mind that needs your help, phone call, attention, understanding. Isn't it time that you opened their gate?

"It's amazing how much more work you can get done when someone opens the gate."

Something as simple as opening a gate. 

And for goodness sake, latch it while you're there. 
And don't forget to plug in the fence. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Little Garden That Could

If the above title sounds familiar, it's because this is the second blog I've done that tells the story of something orange that we've rescued from the trash pile. If you don't know the story of our alcoholic lawn mower, now might be a good time to click here and read that story. 
We were just dating then. 
I should have known. 

Anyway, back to the garden...

I'm not good at giving hard advice.
Go after it now or  wait until it's right: I can usually nail that. 
Left or right at this stop sign: I need time to think.   

I told Cody when we bought the farm that I wanted a garden. He seemed to blow off the idea, seeing as how - since we've met - I've wanted to learn to quilt, paint the old hutch in Momma and Dad's barn, write a book and lose fifteen pounds. He knows my goals are high and my ambition sometimes gets washed away in a flood of obligation. 

But this spring I was serious. 

And we had a really serious conversation (it may have mirrored the Corn Crib conversation) about the garden. 
And how it's an obligation. 
And it needs attention. 
And it needs water.
And tilling up the yard we've worked so darn hard to replant would be a new commitment. 
Why would I want to till it up? ....blah blah blah. 
One by one, I saw a quilt, a hutch, a book, and fifteen pounds roll through my mind. 

But then - he agreed to it. 
With a compromise, of course. 

Rather than till up the yard we'd worked to hard to re-seed, we decided to do "raised beds"...straight out of Pinterest?
Straight outta used Vitaferm mineral tubs. 

We took the empty mineral tubs that had already served their purpose in the pasture quite well and drilled holes in the bottom. 
Then we cleaned a feed floor and filled our "garden" with three parts: dirt/manure/straw. 
Unconventional, but has anything about our marriage been considered the "norm"?

Green beans, lettuce, tomatoes (x4), peppers and zucchini

And then we waited for rain. 

We didn't have to wait very long...

 And that rain did really great things for my fake green thumb:

Week after week, our Vitaferm garden provided.

And then I spotted this guy.
 Can you see the finger-size predator, 
munching on our cherry tomatoes?

We enjoyed this spread often 
this summer, with a side of beef. 

So many tomatoes, you'd think I had a country music album in stores. 

This little garden, built out of tubs in the toss pile and waste that could have fertilized a field, has done so well for us. In fact, besides the the two of us, it's fed my parents, a neighbor, two fat rabbits and an unruly heifer that found it one July afternoon. 

We know now what we did wrong:
Planted the tomato tubs too close together. 
The soil is so fertile, but drains too quickly. 
The lettuce never came back after one cutting - no idea what we did wrong there?

You know that thing in your life that you've wanted to do, take on or accomplish?
::That thing that your heart desires:: 
Whatever captures your mind for more than a fifteen mile stretch on your drive home. 
Whatever you wonder - or wander - about. 
Should you start it? Yes. 
Do it. 
Make a plan. 
Try it out. 
Invest in it. 
Use your five free hours on it. 
Seriously, Do It. 
Try something new. 
You're not going to live forever.
One day you'll look back and wish you would have started sooner. 

I know I did. We took a leap, did things differently and have enjoyed watching this garden grow. And, I'm already stock piling Vitaferm tubs for next spring. But I refuse to rinse them out; I'd hate to mess up a good thing. Doesn't every garden need the Amaferm® advantage?

For real gardening advice, that doesn't involve cattle production, you should check out The Blog Bloom.