Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Reunion in Washington, DC

The summer between my junior and senior year of college was spent interning in Washington, DC through Purdue’s College of Agriculture. My role served as the liaison between ConAgra Foods (at the time) and the USDA, though not limited to food science. At one particular event I was tasked with visiting with a congressman regarding the fuel tax on corporate air travel.

That summer I got to know the three other Purdue College of Ag interns so well. The four of us, three coming from Indiana farms, one raised closely to Indiana agriculture, defined “when country comes to town”.

We lived on the Georgetown Law Campus in the heart of DC.  

We tried everything and went everywhere. 

Asked all the questions. 

Got ourselves in really odd situations and engaging conversations.  

We drove the wrong way down one way streets, ended up on the wrong side of the city when the metro shut down for the night, and learned how to prepare meals on a dime. 

We navigated without GPS, sent postcards home to our parents (because we were trying to conserve our cell phone minutes) and attended every political fundraiser to which we were invited to ensure we’d have supper that night.

We took photos with a camera because we were still operating off flip phones. 

On Saturday night we’d visit bars where we couldn’t speak the language and on Sunday morning we attended churches that none of us were affiliated with. 

We grew tremendously. 

All four of us went broke that summer, but the good news is that August came back around (much too quickly) and we had jobs waiting for us back home – all including livestock and farm machinery. By September we were back on Purdue’s campus studying agriculture.

It was one of the best experiences of my life.

Sixteen years later, I was texting with one of the four who spent that summer together. Today, she spends her time travelling the world as a manager of digital aftermarket deployment for John Deere. My life of babies, blogging and beef is about as opposite of hers as one can get.  It was high time we reconnected to visit the city again.

You can probably imagine what it was like telling our children that Mommy was leaving for a couple days – 48 hours to be precise.

“Why are taking a dress?” Caroline asked while I packed.

“Because Chrissie and I are eating at a restaurant where sports coats are required.”

“So….why aren’t you packing a ports coat? ….What even is a ports coat?”

Cyrus was less curious about my suitcase and more concerned about my intentions.

“When will you be home?”

“In two days. When you get home from church on Sunday, I’ll be here,” I assured him.

“Is that before Christmas? Will you be home for Christmas?” he asked.

Give me a break! I was leaving for 48 hours!

A trip of such brevity required an agenda. So in August we began planning the excursion: what to eat, what to see, where to sleep. You must know my friend Chrissie to understand the necessity of an agenda. She travels internationally quarterly, drives to the Moline, Illinois headquarters on a whim if she thinks she wants to discuss something with a coworker face-to-face. She does not let the grass grow under her feet. She also walks incredibly fast.

By 8:15 AM on our first morning in Washington DC my Apple watch asked if I wanted to begin tracking my workout. I declined the offer as I was not working out; I was simply trying to keep up with Chrissie while on vacation.

We ate breakfast at a hole-in-the-wall diner just off Pennsylvania Avenue. The syrup bottle on our table was labeled “non-fat”. Chrissie called over to the waiter and asked for full-fat maple syrup (this is why we’re friends). The gentleman proceeded dump the contents of the non-fat bottle into a bottle labeled “Original” from the adjacent table. He slammed it on the table and mumbled something about marketing.

The diner, the building where Chrissie once interned, The Georgetown Law campus to see our old apartment, The United States Postal Museum, Union Station, The Capitol Building, The Ronald Reagan International Building food court with approximately 800 field trippers, the National Cattleman’s Beef Association (my first place of employment following graduation), Freedom Plaza, The World War 1 Memorial, The White House, Hotel Washington and CVS: All places we visited before 2:30 PM on day one. We walked over nine miles and spent $7.36 on Band-Aids for our feet at the final stop. We were in bed by 9:30 PM.

The next day we knew our limits, mostly because our body was quickly revealing them. We took it a little slower, enjoying brunch then shopping in Georgetown, a city with magnificent architecture. While there we stopped in a quaint cupcake shop. A man held up the line because he wanted to ensure his carrot cake cupcake had vegan carrots in it. Chrissie and I exchanged “GET ME BACK TO INDIANA” glances.

Our old apartment building on the Georgetown Law campus

Out where the ports coat was required

By 6:00 AM on day three we were on an airplane headed home.

Cody welcomed me home with a nearly spotless house, Caroline welcomed me with open arms, and Cyrus greeted me with, “That wasn’t long. What’s for supper?”

Turns out, mom can leave the farm occasionally, after all and no one freaks out. 

Except for mom. 


Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Phone Storage Space

Every so often my phone alerts me I’m out of storage space. I find this rather annoying because I’ve downloaded apps to aid me in these efforts, where I can upload my photos to the cloud (don’t ask me the details on the cloud, it sounds dark) and then delete them off my device.

In theory, this should work. I should have plenty of space. But I also have a six-year-old.

Receiving the alert that I’m out of space triggers to me to check out my media album to see what kind of gems I may discover:

Exhibit A: Cat breeding video, Total time: 8 min. 12 sec.

At some point, the children got ahold of my phone and discovered some interesting action out the south windows. The shaky video camera finally focused long enough to spot two cats in a predicament.

The scene pans around the backyard, stopping sharply out by the cattle corral system.

“Cyrus! Come look at this!” Caroline yells. You can hear the patter of his feet come to the window.

“What they doing?” Cyrus asks, perplexed.

“Piggyback rides,” she matter-of-factly explained. “Cats play too.”

The scene keeps rolling and the cat racket can be heard on the film. Both kids giggle.


“Gary Gray Tail (probably should have named her Greta) does not like that!” After a few minutes, the children lost interest and left my phone on the dining room floor.

Minutes later you can hear me asking where my phone is. Both children deny knowing. Recorder shuts off.

Exhibit B: Teeth Brushing Tutorial, Total Time: 9 min. 2 sec.

At some point, Caroline got ahold of my phone and decided to put on a tooth brushing tutorial which included a whole lot of spit. She covered basic principles such as getting the tops and the bottoms, counting to one hundred while brushing (she got distracted at 24), and how – if you’ve made too much of a mess – it’s best to use 400 Kleenexes to clean up the counter rather than the washcloth mom has provided for such events. That tutorial was followed by an abbreviated synopsis of her morning routine, which included brief, but not rare, footage of Cyrus eating breakfast without using any silverware. The video was only brought to a screeching halt when you hear me yell “KIDS. FOR THE THIRD TIME. GET YOUR BOOTS ON, NOW!”

Not my finest work.

Exhibit C: Walk Through Home Demolition, Total Time: 6 min. 48 sec.

This Academy-worthy piece took place last summer, when we were in the trenches of the home renovation. I, again, set my phone down somewhere and tiny hands with the swift ability to get to the video function found it before I did. Caroline recorded a walk-through of the current progress of the home. It was a disaster zone, full of insulation, tarps, plastic wraps, lumber, sawhorses and wiring. Every so often Cyrus would move across the screen, hauling plaster and lath on a trailer across the wooden floors. He’d dump it down the in cracks within walls, which had been exposed by the demolition. Caroline talked of what used to be where.

“So…this is a bedroom. Or, it was. Grampie and Grammie used to sleep in this room when they come stay. But now it’s just this bad area….so……...,” she’d find herself questioning just what kind of dusty, disorderly mess we’d found ourselves in.

Weren’t we all?

Today, I sit on the couch and delete photos and videos off my phone, in awe of how our home turned out, keeping us warm on this February day with a wind advisory. Not too long ago we’d feel a draft move through the living room on days like this!

I’m also in awe of the number of cats running around this farm. 

But now we know the rest of the story.