July 29, 2006

Carpe Vita

Somewhere in the craziness of pulling long hours for the sake of home renovation this last week, I realized something.

I've been thinking, If I can just get these rooms painted, the flooring in, furniture moved in, family settled - then I can focus on what's important again.

There isn't much I can do about my canine buddy Jasper sleeping alone outside in my parents' shed right now. I can't even say I'd love to have him indoors with us; I'd be too paranoid that something would happen - it's not our house, after all.

Spending time with Nathan and Trent, though, that's a different story. All too often this week I've tried to push through the task at hand with Nathan - c'mon... eat faster! - or put him down for naps early, get him up later. I'm trying to get through this list of tasks at hand so I can get back to living my life.

That's my problem. There will always be tasks. There is always something else begging to be done, to take priority over what I tell myself is most important to me. Every moment like this that I have is an opportunity to set aside the task and live my life.

Nathan won't always be eager to spend time with me.

July 14, 2006

Blog School

And here I thought I was somewhat cool because I have a blog and didn't require the further explanation from long-suffering individuals that it meant "web log".

Once again, I am humbled.

I have no way of knowing if anyone even reads what I write. The chances of someone just happening to come across it are small to none. I've considered putting a counter on the site just to see, but that could just confirm to me that no one but myself and my husband read these posts. If I don't try to find out, I can convince myself that many people wander through the witty verbiage of my phrases, marveling over this or that well-turned word.

Nah... I'm what Electric Venom would call an iso-blogger.

-If the numbers of readers were just about this site, it wouldn't matter quite as much. Writing is primarily for me; it's a safety release. That purpose is accomplished just by thwacking keys on a keyboard.

Trent and I want to generate some income if we can through reference-type sites, though, and let's be honest: building a better web site doesn't make the world beat a path to your door. I'd love to believe we'd hit the Truth-Laid Bear's list, but I don't see it happening in this lifetime.

Wonder how long it would take me to become proficient in Perl or PHP...

July 13, 2006


Nathan stood up for himself for the first time yesterday!

He's been working his way up to it for a while. He'll play with toys on the floor, then push up to a legs-extended crawling position reminiscent of Mowgli in the Jungle Book. Yesterday he pushed himself up to a standing position, legs spread wide enough that we could slide a small dog under him, and arms wavering back and forth in mid-air to maintain his balance.

He's been practicing his new skill regularly ever since. He gets such an excited and pleased grin when he succeeds. It's "I never knew I could be this tall!" crossing over into "I can see my house from here!"

Ten months old. I'm sure walking isn't far behind...

July 11, 2006


I was upstairs sleeping when I heard someone at the garage door. By the time I got downstairs, our neighbor across the street was halfway back to his house. I called after him, and George asked if he could use our phone, since they don't have long distance service.

George is the epitome of a Midwestern American farmer. His kids and grandkids are everywhere in this town. This man taught me how to walk beans the summer I was 14. I was riding in his pickup truck over bumpy country gravel roads when the news came over the radio that United Flight 232 had crash-landed 45 miles away in Sioux City, IA.

More than a decade later, this man still helps out on the farm that was his for many years. It's his pickup truck my family borrows when we have hauling to do. He's the one who uses his snowblower to clear neighbors' driveways, edges their lawns for them (he's out there anyway, he figures; why shouldn't he do it?) and helps pull out stubborn bushes or trees with a chain hooked to his truck. I don't know how old he is, but he must be in his 80s by now - and his energy level puts my generation to shame.

He came over this morning to call a family member; he wanted his wife home, but he didn't want her driving at an unsafe speed. He got the news this morning that the brother he was closest to was killed this morning. Pete was 10 years younger than George. Though he gave the farm over to his boys last year, Pete said he'd still come back and help them out. He was there this morning driving a tractor when he got too close to a ledge. The tractor rolled backwards on top of him. It's possible that he had a heart attack and was already gone when the tractor rolled, but it's still an unexpected shock for his family.

It hit me hard because of how it hit George.

Don't ever make the mistake of thinking farmers are dumb hicks. They're among the smartest, most hard-working, and most reserved and controlled people I know. They think long and hard about things, and most of them have huge amounts of determination and capability.

This morning was the first time I've ever seen George cry. It wasn't sobbing, just tears making tracks down his cheeks and a slight quaver in his voice as told the person on the other end of the phone that his brother was dead.

We talked for a very brief bit, and he went back to his house to wait for his wife to get home. I went over later with Nathan to see if he wanted company while he waited, but he said he was fine and could take care of himself. He was courteous, but there was steel and decades of reserve behind the courtesy. He's a wonderful man, the sort that not only fought in WWII but managed land and family after coming home.

I'm glad I was home this morning, even if there was little I could do.

July 07, 2006

Unheard of

I'd heard of it happening once before, but I've never seen it happen before. Apparently it's even more flabbergasting to the people around my hometown. I doubt they've ever seen it happen.

"So wait a minute... you're saying he likes his job, he likes the people he works with, he just doesn't like the time away from his family?"

No, that's not the unbelievable part. This is:
"He's looking into other job possibilities so he can be with his family more?"

Utterly incomprehensible, especially in this Dutch ghetto, we-work-80-90-hour-weeks-on-the-farm-and-we-thrive-on-it area of NW Iowa.

Me? I do have some concerns, but mostly I'm proud and humbled, too. I'm part of the family that my wonderful husband wants to be with more often.

I think even my parents are shaking their heads at times over us, in thought if not in reality. I hope for their sake as well as our own that we're able to finish the work on our house (mudding, painting, flooring, appliance installation, lighting, trim work, and then moving in) SOON.

[The obligatory picture is of Nathan, happily banging on the piano]