Thursday, February 26, 2015

Snow Business

On February 13, 2014, we had a great snow. I did all the things I like to do in the snow:
Use a cookie sheet as a snow shovel.
Make a snow angel.
Make a snow woman.
Make snow cream. Actually, a first for me.
Last night, February 25, 2015, we had another great snow. This time I just walked the farm and took pictures. Good thing, because the snow is melting fast!
This one would make a good jigsaw puzzle.
No kitties peeking out yet.
Some people have to work.
I startled a whole poopy pond full of geese!
Flying to the mountain for protection?

Heading down the road.
Looking across a cornfield.
Pilot Mountain. Always stunning.
The old Rambler Classic has seen better days, or so they tell me.
Keep looking up!
And now ... bring on Spring!!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"How's the Book Coming Along?"

Earlier this month, my daughters and I went to Arizona to see my folks, some cousins, and a few friends. We had such a good time. Here a just a few photos:

Salt Lake City. Snow!

Hoover Dam.
Lake Havasu City, AZ, from the island.
London Bridge
California, for a short while.
Las Vegas
and home!
These photos show amazing places, but the real stars are always the people. A few of them asked how my book was coming along. I spent a couple years writing, and now a year of rewriting and editing, and it's still not done. Family and friends are patiently waiting to have the finished copy in hand.

Their enthusiasm prompted me to get back at it more seriously. When I got home, my goal was to finish a chapter a day. That worked on a few chapters that were pretty much edited and fine-tuned already. But for the rest, it's slow going. I've marked about 24 chapters as "Done" and another ten are waiting to be fixed, combined with other chapters, or thrown on the trash heap.

Following is a chapter I finished this morning. (Unfortunately, the layout didn't translate perfectly from my writing software to the blog, but you can still read it.)

The Blame Game

“I’m gonna wash the dishes now,” I say, pushing myself away from the breakfast table.
“No, I’m gonna wash the dishes today,” Weldon exclaims.
“No,” I reply, stepping to the counter, “I can do them.”
“I’ll flip you for it,” and he grabs me and flips me over his shoulder.
“Okay, okay,” I laugh. He puts my feet back on the floor and I step away from the sink. “You win.”
Not long after this little episode, I started complaining of a backache. “Oh, no. I broke your back,” lamented Weldon.
“No, you didn’t break my back. It’s just tired and a little sore.”
For many months afterward, whenever I complained of my back hurting, Weldon would make that same statement: “Oh, no. I broke your back,” and each time I would reply, “No, you didn’t break my back.” Thankfully, he finally gave it up.
In this silly example, Weldon was blaming himself for something that wasn’t his fault. Not quite so funny was the way I started blaming the farm for absolutely everything that wasn’t “just so” in my life.
Keep in mind, when I came to the farm I was 53 years old. It’s quite normal for things to start changing in one’s body at that age, but I would have none of that normal stuff. No, indeed. It was all the big, bad farm’s fault.
Before moving to the farm, I always slept on my side. Always. Sometime after getting settled in my new home, there were many months while some strange pain made it impossible for me to lie on my side. I had never slept on my back before, but my hips were so achy, I was forced to learn how to sleep in this new position. My mom told me she went through the same type of experience with her hips, but that wasn’t good enough for me. My thought: “Farm living. This is ridiculous.” Fortunately, months and months later, the night finally arrived when I could lie on my hips again. Now I’m able to sleep on either side or my back, so I can toss and turn to my heart’s content.
Speaking of my back, when I was younger, I thought it was one of my best features. I remember looking at bathing suits, always choosing one that displayed my back to its best advantage. This is no longer the case. First, being older, I’m not wild about choosing any bathing suit. Second, since coming to the farm, my back often has some sort of little bumps on it. They aren’t bug bites and when I brought them to my doctor’s attention, she said it didn’t appear to be a rash and was nothing to worry about. Okay, I don’t worry about it, but whatever it is, it’s aggravating. When I have an itch, I naturally reach around to scratch it and, in so doing, scratch off a bump. “Oh, crap! Now I’m bleeding!”
Sinus problems, hay fever, and various other allergic reactions were never a problem for me, and I always thanked God for that blessing. However (you guessed it), since living on the farm, I notice that I cough and complain of a stuffy head way too often. Wouldn’t you know, I read that it’s not uncommon for allergies and sinus problems to become more prevalent as one gets older. Not only was I getting older, but the farm had introduced a whole new world of junk to my system - hay, weeds, pollen, cats - so it shouldn’t have been surprising that my body had some adjusting to do. But I had to blame someone or something, right? So I blamed the farm. “Grrr. This lousy farm. Now I have allergies? Sheeesh.”
“My shins are always black and blue from these stupid work boots.”
“Why do I bother mopping the floor or dusting? This farm is so old and dirty, I might as well let the house fall into ruin along with the rest of the place.”
“I was never grumpy before I came to the farm.”
One of my all-time favorite sayings from Haiti just popped into my head: “Se pa fot mwen.” Interpretation: “It’s not my fault.” Drop an egg on the floor and  the acceptable response is, “It’s not my fault. If the floor weren’t so hard, the egg wouldn’t have broken.” Had this Haitian phrase slyly settled into my heart?  Ha! Blame Haiti. Blame the floor. Blame the farm. Blame the rain, the snow. Blame your boss, your husband or wife or kids.
You’re probably beginning to get my drift … and I was beginning to drift into a very negative state of mind, not recognizing how skewed my perspective had become. I read somewhere that we’re naturally conditioned to have a bias for the negative. I don’t know if it’s true, but negativity was certainly making its presence known.
Luke 6:27 in The Message (a contemporary version of the Bible) says, “Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.” I was surprised when I read that verse, because it dawned on me that I was seeing the farm as my enemy. (Not the people on the farm - they are fabulous!) The farm was bringing out the worst in me and had become the scapegoat for my bad attitude. In essence, I was blaming the farm for being a farm.
After reading that verse, I stopped and asked myself, “How can I let the farm bring out the best in me, rather than the worst?” I pictured my dilemma as being the two sides of a coin. First, there’s the blame side. To blame means to find fault with or to hold someone or something responsible for. The examples I recounted above show that I had the blame side down pat. Guilty, as charged.
On the flip side of the coin, there’s acceptance and praise. To accept is to receive willingly, to endure without protest or reaction, or to make a favorable response to.  Praise means to say good things about, express approval, or make a favorable judgment of someone or something. Youch! That’s pretty painful. 
Acceptance. This side of the coin didn’t come so easily, especially when I saw what the word really means. I have to accept the fact that the farm is messy and I’m getting older. At the same time, I must change my perspective so that I can respond favorably to growing old on the farm.
I made the bold decision that blame is not an option. I don’t toss a coin to see if I should blame or praise in any given situation. I imagine the coin affixed to my forehead with the praise/accept side showing. Silly, I know, but it works for me. 
You’ve probably heard, “If God brings you to it, he’ll bring you through it.” To me, that means I can accept what each day brings and determine to be and do my best through it all. If I’m grumpy, I recognize my grumpiness without blaming it on anyone or anything else. Chores are getting me down? There’s no sense in blaming the cows. I will do my chores and do them well, and, in the process, I imagine how much better the cows will feel when they’re rid of all that milk. A pigeon just crapped on my head? Yes, a pigeon actually crapped on my head when I was feeding a calf last night. No problem. Actually, I saw it as a problem while Pat laughed. Only later did she tell me that some people see this as good luck, so, after the fact, I tried to see it as a blessing. Key word: tried.
The blame game. Don’t play it. There are no winners. Adjusting my perspective to see something praiseworthy in even the yuckiest situations isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.
Thanks for taking the time to read. I'd love to hear your feedback.