Monthly Archives: November 2010

Longevity

I did it!

I managed to post something every single day this month.

However, that is not normally what I think of when I see November 30th on the calendar.

Today is Slim’s birthday — or rather, it would be if he were still alive and turning 102 years old. But he isn’t. He died 9-1/2 years ago.

Slim was an interesting character. He was my husband’s grandfather who threw himself a “kick the bucket” party and made a grand entrance riding a mule into the party hall (this was about 4 years before he actually did “kick the bucket). He was also a farmer for his entire adult life, growing and harvesting wheat and lentils (among other things) in the Idaho panhandle. Slim was 100% Swedish American who dunked his bread in milk and his cookies in coffee.

Hay rows on the Ridge

1989, Idaho farm
Turning hay rows in the field — like Grandfather, like Grandson

When we visited as newlyweds and I watched my husband working alongside his 82-year-old grandfather on the farm, I could see what kind of man I had married.  And then last night, I looked across the dinner table to see SuperDad dunking his bread into his milk.
The mule can’t be far behind.

Musical Monday: Small Town Saturday Night

This is the band I went to see in concert on Saturday night. They were recording for a live album. (Do we still call them albums?)

Yes, there is a bassist there behind the mandolin player! He was home from college over the weekend and I saw him sing some backup vocals.
The young man on the right plays a variety of instruments, sings vocals and writes original songs. The mandolin player sings, plays guitar and banjo.
And the banjo player, who is only 15 years old, also plays the fiddle!

What a talented bunch of teenagers!

My family hopes I’ll outgrow my bluegrass phase soon, but I don’t think that’s likely… I expect these guys to be famous someday.

Change of Season

The Thanksgiving decorations are still in full view — the pumpkins, the Indian corn, the “Harvest” scented candle. I’m not ready to jump into December.

Yet today is the first Sunday of Advent, a day of expectation and longing for change.  So I will light the candle and read the scripture verses, and I will wrestle with the change and hope and expectation.
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Prizeless

We are probably the only people in the country to actually be kicked out of a travel sales presentation.

I mentioned yesterday that we were going to some kind of sales presentation last night. SuperDad read up on these sorts of things in advance and learned about the various sales techniques, plus he read up on complaints filed with the BBB about such ventures.   Thinking that we were going to be pressured to purchase a time share, our main defense was the fact that we actually enjoy tent camping (even when things go wrong). One of my dh’s dreams is to visit every single one of the 392 National Parks in the United States.

At 6pm, we arrived at the meeting place and signed in, but they weren’t ready to begin because no other prospective clients showed. (FAIL #1)
At 6:15pm, they decided to go ahead with just us. Our first sales person was a friendly young woman from Russia. She was pleasant, but the music in the background made it difficult to hear her. (Apparently the loud music is a sales technique designed to disorient us, but it merely served to annoy me and make me less likely to interact. FAIL #2)
At around 6:30pm, the friendly young woman introduces us to the sales pitch guy. He’s clearly used to (or at least prefers) a room full of prospective clients. He wants interaction while making his presentation but we are beginning to show ourselves as duds. He’s not selling a timeshare; he wants to get us to buy into a travel club. Perhaps there is a small glimmer of hope since we’ve been to NYC, but he quickly learns that we prefer camping and National Parks. What the heck is he going to do with us? (FAIL#3)
By 6:43pm, my dh has pointed out that their company concept of the deal going straight from the industry to the consumer is what we already do. SPG claimed they get a bigger discount because they buy in bulk, and we do not argue his point so he moves on.  Since we are the only other people in the room, the sales pitch guy notices* when I pull a few folded papers from my purse and hand them to SuperDad.  Suspicious, SPG asks what they are and my dh tells them they are for taking notes (true!), but SPG points out that they have already provided a tablet of paper and pen for note-taking. Clearly, the sales pitch guy is on the defensive. At this, SuperDad –who had already alluded to doing some research into sales presentations like this– confesses to SPG that he has a list of known sales techniques and is going to check them off as presented. SuperDad tried to say this in such a way that SPG might find it quirky but perhaps funny. Instead, the sales presentation guy is greatly annoyed and he calls my husband “a smart aleck.” (FAIL#4)

Now, I don’t deny that he was being a bit of a smart aleck. Heaven knows, I live with the man! But we had been actively listening to his presentation up to this point, following his logic and asking appropriate questions. I’m pretty sure that it is bad form for a sales person to call the prospective client a derogatory name.

SuperDad turned to me somewhat incredulously and said, “Did he just call me a smart aleck?”
SPG heard this and said, “If you don’t want to be here, you can leave.”
SD to SPG: “Did you just ask me to leave?”

And that is how we ended up getting kicked out of a travel sales presentation.

*Had there been a few more people in the room, this might have never come up because it wouldn’t have been noticed, but we were the only ones there. From what I could tell, there was only one person at the presentation immediately prior to ours. Yesterday was not a successful day for the company.

All was not lost, though. While we didn’t end up with any airline tickets, free weekends at a resort, or $600 rebate vouchers, we found a busy street to take a pleasant walk and people-watch.  For about $10 –the cost of gas and 2 coffees from Starbucks– I had a 5-hour date with my smart-aleck husband. _____________________________________

Today is Small Business Saturday. It’s a great way to support your local small business owners and keep dollars in your local economy. I’m heading into town (population 6,000) to do a little shopping in the stores there after stopping at the farmer’s market.


Black Friday? No No No!

...visions of sugarplums...

1. We have made it past Thanksgiving here in the USA, so I am declaring it officially acceptable to deck the halls and over-play the songs that will be blessedly absent from the airwaves one month from today. 

2. Please don’t think that I hate Christmas music. I actually like it very much, the classier the better! But too much of anything — be it candy canes, chocolate, egg nog, or dogs barking “Jingle Bells” — is bad for you. I speak with the voice of experience.

3. That goes for shopping, too.  Too many people, too much focus on spending money and finding the “right” gift  (which of course seems to cost way too much money)… it makes me stressed just thinking about it!  The crowds and the greed take away from the joy, the lights shining in the darkness, the focus on God and family — and aren’t those the things that we truly treasure about this time of year?

4.  I’m not all Bah Humbug! I’m still enjoying looking for the perfect t-shirts for family members. This one didn’t make the cut, but it did make me laugh:

5. SuperDad and I plan to trek into The City this afternoon for one of those 90 minute presentations that supposedly will earn us free airline tickets and 2 nights free at some hotel/resort.  We have no intention of purchasing a time-share, which I assume is the purpose of the presentation; we just hope to score free transportation and/or a weekend getaway. Now that I am writing this and sharing it with you, it all strikes me as very funny (funny-peculiar, not funny-haha). If I recognize the contradiction here, does that keep me from being a hypocrite? Because while I am not out participating in the madness referred to as “Black Friday” and busily pointing out the greed that runs rampant this time of year, I fully intend on wasting several hours of my afternoon and evening trying to wrangle a too-good-to-be-true deal.  

Giving Thanks

I’m counting blessings today — a baker’s dozen for good measure.

1. GOD
2. SuperDad, my dh
3. My 4 sons
4. A secure job for my husband. I do not take this for granted.
5. Friends
6. The undeserved blessing of being born into a country where I have many freedoms.
7. Family that lives beyond our walls:  grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, brothers, in-laws and out-laws.
8. Faith Family — blest be the tie that binds.
9. Education — not everywhere in the world has free education for all children, but it’s there for my children, and I am grateful.
10. Beauty in the world around me — may I always take notice of it.
11. Food and Shelter
12. Music — it brings joy to my life.
13. I’m thankful for the new guy who showed up to practice on Sunday morning with his banjo and his fiddle.  There was joy on the faces of the rest of the group when he started playing along with us.
For him, we’re just a fun side gig, a way to enjoy church. He’s already in a real band. I’m headed over to the local concert hall (also known as “The Barn”… have I mentioned I live in the exurbs?) on Saturday evening to hear his band play. I suspect there will be a Musical Monday post about them soon.  🙂

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Busy Day

Making Pies.
Working on the newsletter.
Thinking I should have started thawing the turkey a week ago.

Bright November

leaves become bright gold
camouflage for school buses
for one week only

Musical Monday: golden

I’ve probably said this more than once before, but I cannot get over how incredible the colors are this Fall. With the first bit of cold weather, yellow tinged the green leaves. The rest of the color seems to come in waves: orange, rust, red, scarlet, and gold.  A week ago, I was nearly a danger behind the wheel of my minivan, so arresting were the reds and scarlets.

The color I’ve been following these past few days has been a bit safer, since it perfectly matches the yellow lines down the center of the road, the caution lights of the school zone, and even the school bus that stops to pick the kids up for school.

Marc Cohn has a beautiful song called “She’s Becoming Gold” on The Rainy Season CD. I searched for a link on YouTube but since it never had the popularity of “Walking in Memphis” (from his first, self-titled CD) I’m unable to provide you with an easy way to hear it now.  You can listen to a very short bit of the song here, and the complete lyrics are below:

She runs down the staircase
And into the yard
And she goes down to the end of the drive
With her friends on the phone
And her angels on guard
She’s just recently feeling alive
After all of the tears and the changes
Now there’s something that’s taken ahold
She’s becoming gold
She’s becoming gold

She thinks of a boy
That she knew back in school
And she wonders if he’s doing all right
The man of her dreams
Isn’t all that he seems
And the baby don’t sleep through the night
Something is moving inside her
And the weather is turning so cold
But she’s becoming gold,
She’s becoming gold
She’s becoming gold (I’ve seen her)
She’s becoming gold

She can hear in the distance
The sound of the cars
And she sees the snow falling down on the hill
Now the trees and the houses
Are white as the stars
And she doesn’t wanna cry
But she probably will
As she thinks about all of life’s mystery
And how slowly the answers unfold
She’s becoming gold
She’s becoming gold

_________________________________________

Is there a song that you connect with this time of year?

Sunday reflections

It may appear calm and serene, but there is movement under the surface. Clutter catches on the rocks. There is splashing and sometimes things get carried away.

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”  ~Psalm 42:1