What Have You Done for Me Lately?

June 6th, 2012

Sometimes John gets it right.  I know these halcyon days are just a brief respite, the calm before the storm if you will.  It happens periodically.  I get lulled into a false sense of security because he is on his best behavior and things, for the most part, go well.  I know better than to think it will last forever, but in an effort to be fair and balanced, I need to give credit where it is due.  John’s motivation for some of his recent activities wasn’t entirely altruistic, but if I benefit from them, who cares why he did it.  I’m just glad our interests coincide occasionally so I have a list of a few things that he’s done for me lately!

Obviously, picking strawberries is the biggest task that that he has completed recently.  Unless you raise them yourself in large quantities, you have no idea how time consuming and back breaking that can be.  Our raised beds don’t pose the same obstacle to John that they do to me because he is considerably taller with much longer arms.  He can pick the top tier by simply placing one foot against the edge of the frame and leaning forward.  To accomplish that same feat, I must step onto the top tier, balance precariously on the wooden board, bend to the ground, and find the elusive berries that seem to shrink from my searching fingers.  Not only did he pick the strawberries, he did a good job.  It is very easy to miss some of the fruit without a concerted effort, and I didn’t find many that spoiled because they were overlooked.

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In a Jam

May 23rd, 2012

It’s finally over!  The stress, the late night hours, and the constant pressure to stay on schedule are behind me for another year.  The 2012 Strawberry Crush, aka Jamapalooza, is behind me.  The few remaining strawberries can be picked and eaten casually while passing by the raised beds.  This year’s crop didn’t break any records, but after two years of late freezes, it is the best one we’ve had for a while.  The thing that sets this year’s harvest apart from any other is the fact that John picked most of the strawberries.  Without his help, I would have been in a real…pickle.

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Luck Be a Lady

May 17th, 2012

We have two new puppies.  Yes, you heard me.  Two…new…puppies.  One boy and one girl.  Before anyone reminds me about putting my foot down and other nonsense like that, let me make one thing perfectly clear.  The puppies are not permanent residents.  They are a business proposition.  They were acquired to be trained and sold.  Period.  They are not staying.  At least not without someone else going, preferably not me.  I refuse to become attached to them.  In fact, they don’t even have names.  I don’t intend to name them.  Well, one of them might have already earned a name because of his recent adventure.  Why is it that most of our adventures involve our dogs?  Maybe that is inevitable when you have a pack as large as ours.  One thing I know for sure is that the male puppy is very lucky to be here.

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What Do You Want Me To Do About It?

May 3rd, 2012

This past month has been a trying time to say the least.  First we had a water leak in pipes buried beneath the concrete floor in the house.  After a couple of attempts to solve the problem ourselves, we had one ersatz plumber who looked things over and never came back.  Then we found a real plumber who solved the problem by circumventing the leaking portion of the line with new pipes he ran above ground.  The plumbing issue was fixed on a Tuesday, and the following Saturday the tornado that narrowly missed our house came through leaving enormous cottonwood trees piled everywhere as if they were matches dropped at some giant’s campsite.  After 10 days of cleanup from the storm, the third, and I’m hoping final, catastrophe occurred.

Exactly two weeks after the plumbing repair, I was getting ready to leave the house that morning when I noticed a problem with the toilet in our bathroom.  I got the plunger and went to work on it with no success.  I went into the other bathroom to see if that toilet would flush, and I discovered water all over the floor from an unknown origin.  I threw down some towels, and walked into the living room where John was sitting on the couch reading posts on his coon dog forum.  I told him we were having plumbing problems with one stool overflowing and the other with a mysterious leak.  Even though he has never been quick to spring into action when dealing with home repairs, I was still unprepared when he responded with, “What do you want me to do about it?”  Since my grandchildren may read this blog some day, I will paraphrase the thoughts that went through my head.  “How about getting off the couch and pretending like you care,” or “I know I’m going out on a limb here, but what about calling a plumber.”  Instead I simply said, “I don’t know what to tell you to do about it.  I’m just telling you not to use either bathroom,” and I headed out the door.

When I got back that evening, John had the original faux plumber, who couldn’t resolve the water leak issue, back with his machine to clean out the sewer line.  Unfortunately, they were having problems finding the sewer line which resulted in two excavations in the front yard.  After two days of digging, cleaning, and cursing, the line was cleared, and things could return to normal.  Well, almost normal.  John filled in the deeper of the holes immediately as it was in a high traffic area and posed a significant danger to anyone or anything that might fall in.  The other hole is quite large, but it is much shallower and isn’t in a highly traveled area. I am hopeful that it will be filled in before I start my Christmas shopping.

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Mountain Man

April 26th, 2012

John’s love of the outdoors in general, and fishing, trapping, and hunting specifically, has lead me to remark on more than one occasion that he lived 150 years too late.  If he were born in 1803 rather than 1953, he would have been a young man during the height of mountain man activity from 1830–1840. The longer he is retired, the more certain I am that my statement is true. (more…)

This Is It

April 19th, 2012

I have come to accept John’s limitations in the area of daily communication.  However, I have always hoped that in a crisis, he might somehow miraculously develop the ability to say what he means.  The storm last weekend proved that whether the circumstances are mundane or life-and-death, he will never change. (more…)

You Are What You Eat

April 9th, 2012

“You are what you eat.”  That’s a familiar quotation to most people, but few know its origin.  In 1826, Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, “Dis-moi ce que tu manges, je te dirai ce que tu es.” in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante.  The translation means “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”  It usually is unnecessary for me to tell what I eat because it is only too obvious to anyone who casts a cursory glance my way since I often wear what I eat.

Even when I’m being careful, I often end up with drops or splatters of food and beverage on my clothing.  My morning coffee seems to be the worst offender, but that stands to reason since I have a cup every morning on my 45 minute drive.  The paved portion of the road I travel has its share of bumps, and the gravel road is a sartorial catastrophe waiting to happen.  However, my experience this morning tops anything I’ve done in the past.

I was about 20 minutes into my drive when I hit one of the aforementioned bumps just as I was taking a sip of coffee which caused a surge of liquid that I struggled to keep in my mouth.  Unfortunately, a tiny bit slipped down my throat before I was ready to swallow.  It is amazing that so much dialogue can pass between your conscious brain and your involuntary nervous system in a nanosecond. (more…)

Mr. Fix-It

March 29th, 2012

Home Improvement (Parts I & II) chronicled the adventure John and I undertook when we replaced our garbage disposal last summer. That project left no doubt that neither one of us deserves the title of “handy” when it comes to home repair. That is an unfortunate fact because it is almost impossible to find a handyman these days, especially in rural Kansas. With that in mind, the most recent domicile malfunction left me at the mercy of Mr. Fix-It. (more…)

Quality Control

March 20th, 2012

Quality control is important to the survival of any operation.  In fact, it is so critical that many companies assign a quality control team that focuses on each specific project.  This quality control process places an emphasis on three main aspects:  defined and well managed processes, competence (knowledge, skills, experience, and qualifications), and soft elements (integrity, confidence, organizational culture, motivation, team spirit, and quality relationships).  Since John has been experiencing some quality control problems with his dishwashing, I have been wondering if applying this model would help improve his performance.

I thought I had a clearly defined process when I showed John how to load the dishwasher.  It’s probably not a well managed process because he threatens to quit whenever I offer suggestions of better ways to arrange the dishes.  However, the real breakdown occurs when he unloads the dishwasher because a simple inspection of the dishes and a rewash of any dirty items would render the loading process a moot point. (more…)

Man Eyes

March 12th, 2012

If you are a woman and you have been married to a man for longer than a month, you are probably familiar with the condition known as “Man Eyes.”  Man Eyes is an affliction that renders men incapable of seeing an object they are searching for even if it is in plain sight.  There are degrees of visual impairment, but the disability seems to worsen exponentially in relation to the importance of the object to the wife who has asked him to look for it.  Perhaps the condition isn’t as pervasive among men as I fear, but most of the women I know have husbands who suffer from the condition in varying degrees.

Of course John suffers from an acute case of Man Eyes.  I have learned over the years that if the object is in plain sight, he can sometimes find it with detailed directions along with a little trial and error.  If another object has to be moved to find the item, I’m better off sending the dog to look for it.  The perfect case to illustrate my point happened last Friday.  I went to the grocery store and spent the required 45 minutes finding all the items on my list.  After placing all the groceries on the checkout counter, I opened my purse to retrieve my wallet.  After several minutes of an increasingly frantic search, I had to admit it was not there, and of course my checkbook fits neatly into my wallet so I had no way to pay for the groceries.

My first thought was that it had fallen out in the car, or I had taken it out at the office and forgot to put it back in my purse.  After searching those two spots, I called John at home so he could look there.  As I am listening to his search, my panic starts to build as each area of the house yields no results.  When he finally gives up the search, I have to grapple with the idea that perhaps someone had stolen my wallet.  I had a knot in my stomach as I mentally ran through all the credit cards I would have to cancel, automatic payments I would have to reschedule, and various forms of identification I would have to replace.

Not quite ready to admit defeat, I went back to the grocery store and retraced my steps.  I checked at customer service to see if a wallet had been found.  I had a brief moment of hope when I learned one had been turned in, but it wasn’t mine.  I briefly considered the possibility of asking for that wallet and assuming that person’s identity because it seemed easier than what lay before me.  Defeated and dejected, I spent a few minutes looking through the trashcans outside the store on the off chance that the thief had grabbed the cash and ditched the wallet at the earliest opportunity.  No luck!

I called home to tell John I was just leaving town since my search had taken almost an hour.  I was about to end the call when, as an afterthought, I asked him if he’d checked the bench in the hallway between the kitchen and the living room.  He said he had looked there but not “thoroughly” so he would try again.  To his surprise, but not mine, there was my wallet.  Relief outweighed exasperation but not by much.  The next time I need John to look for something, I’m going to tell him to put Champ on the phone.

 

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