When a setback meets good people

A recent adventure has lead me and my family to learn when a setback meets good people, that setback soon melts away and becomes a cherished memory.

Camping. You either love it or hate it. I don’t think there is any in between. I happen to love camping. I love primitive camping and I also like the little mini-homes-on-wheels all lined up in a park somewhere. Some piled in a small pop-up camper some in campers that are nicer than my home, complete with granite countertops and every size and shape in between.

When I was a child my family camped in tents primitive style. My parents woke up, started a fire and boiled water in a percolator pot for coffee, everything was cooked on an open fire, homemade treats were plenty. My husband’s family camped in a camper when he was young, mostly on the riverbank in the middle of nowhere. I used to make fun of him for his more cushioned style of camping, but I have since grown used to having a bed, refrigerator and everything you need all neatly packed up in the big white box we call a camper.

Our most recent trip started like most. I spent Friday baking up a storm. Blueberry muffins, apple hand pies, rice crispy treats and spaghetti for campfire spaghetti sandwiches. We were packed and ready when the kids arrived home from school. Soon my husband was home from work and we were on our way.

We made our way south and up a rather steep hill. My husband decided, since there was a passing lane, he would pass the slower moving camper in front of us. He jokingly asked if it was a Chevy or Ford as we began to speed up and move around it (we drive a Dodge truck). It was another Dodge.

As we reached the top of the hill something began spraying from the front of the truck. The truck began overheating. He found a place to pull off to accommodate our convoy. It was the parking lot of a hydraulics company. It also happened to be directly across the road from a good friend of mine.

As we pulled in and the truck engine resembled an old locomotive; steam rolled out from under the hood in a billowing cloud of antifreeze scented doom. My husband opened the hood to assess the damage. I did the only only natural thing any girl would do in these circumstances, I called my brother. He jumped into action immediately, went to pick up my vehicle incase we needed it to haul the kids to a better location, then he ran to the nearest auto parts store and picked up the new radiator we needed.

I texted my friend who lives across from where we broke down. The kids were worried we wouldn’t make our camping trip and were beginning to panic. I got them out of the truck and took them to an empty grassy lot and played dodge ball, ante over and jump the creek while my husband worked on getting the busted radiator out.

Several people stopped by to see if we were okay. My good friend from the paper, and photographer extraordinaire, stopped when she and her husband were coming back from a photoshoot. She caught me up on news from the newsroom and said I looked happier despite my current circumstances. I am. I’m so much more healthy, the stress headaches, panic attacks and anxiety are almost distant memories.

Soon, I saw my friend coming across the road with her husband, who also happened to have been a mechanic before he acquired a job with the county. We joked about her setting her phone down after my initial “Hello, what are you into?” text and me not just coming over and knocking on the door. Apparently, people still knock on doors, good to know. She kept me and the kids company as we ate our little roadside picnic of lunchables, rice crispy treats and pork rinds. My youngest son immediately made friends with her handing her one pork rind after another, then they played a riotous game of catch.

In no time the truck had a brand-new radiator and we were on our way. We arrived at the campground well after dark, tired and relieved the radiator decided to go out in such a perfect location.

Life is made better when good people come along and lend you a water jug or socket wrench, stop to check on you, keep you company or drive an extra 40 miles to pick up a radiator. I am blessed to have such people in my life.

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So much more than a desk

My desk at home was mostly non-existent. When I had worked from home years ago, I was in a basement office with a makeshift table/desk, an upholstered office chair, baby toys, a comfy rug and soft music. This was where I locked myself away, along with my walking 11 month old son, to do design work.

When I began a full time career in the newsroom I didn’t have a need for my makeshift office/playroom. The newspaper provided a laptop for any weekend writing so my computer and little office/playroom went into hibernation. I did all the big no-nos you should never do with a Mac. I didn’t update, not one single time, for two years.

Because we’re busy (or haven’t felt the force of necessity) we still haven’t fixed the fact that our basement has zero power. Thus, the office is out of order. One afternoon, soon after I put in my two weeks notice at the paper, I brought my iMac upstairs, set it on the only logical surface in my house, an end table. This has been my desk for almost a month. This is where I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning cursing my neglect of my computer as I tried to update my OS. It is where I typed my last blogpost. It’s where I warned my kids nearly one hundred times “DO NOT TOUCH!”

My friend/boss/farmer had made some purchases at a liquidation sale at a school. He only wanted file cabinets, however, because of the bundling that was done at the sale he found himself the owner of a couple desks he had no need or place for. After taking out a bucket of rotten tomatoes from the grading room I admired one desk with a pencil sharpener mounted on the corner. I love using pencils, there’s something about the sound a No. 2 pencil makes when you are jotting down notes or writing out a grocery list. I know, it’s weird. A really good pencil sharpener is either expensive or hard to come by so when I saw this metal hand cranked Boston KS I was a little excited. I asked him if he would mind parting with the pencil sharpener. He asked if I wanted the whole desk. I didn’t really know I needed a desk, but what the heck. We haggled a little over the price and next thing you know I was bringing the truck back on my next work day to take home a hefty piece of furniture.

My husband knows by now that I can’t pass up a nice piece of old furniture. By no means am I at hoarder status, every piece I’ve brought in has found a nice place in our home. He eventually grows to like, even love, the pieces I’ve brought home. However, it has become our tradition that he complains about unloading it and moving things around to accommodate it. He’s not entirely comfortable with change, poor guy, he didn’t know when we got married that he was marrying a furniture rearranging mastermind.

We moved the living room around a little and set up my new little corner. I stepped back admiring the new living room. The thought struck me that this is a step in the right direction. I needed this more than I knew. I’ve muddled through these last few weeks not really knowing that deep down I’m still trying to find a place. I know I have my place with my family, no one can ever change that. Family and faith have been my rock and my foundation. But my soaring thoughts and ideas need a place to go.

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What I guess I’m trying to say is this desk is more than a new piece of furniture in our home. It is a permanent symbol and physical manifestation of me grabbing ahold of something and reclaiming what I knew was always mine, a part of my being I thought I lost: My love of writing and my ability to create. It’s just an old school teacher’s desk with an iMac and a few antique relics, but this is the space where I will take back what is mine, where I can start to feel like me again.

That camera takes good pictures

Yep, that’s right, that camera finds the best composition, focuses itself, it adjusts its own exposure, waits for the right clouds to pass in the background and just at the right moment it takes a great picture. At least that’s what I was thinking when yet again I heard that deplorable phrase from yet another close family member (my husband has been one to say this, but quickly learned the error of his ways). I just want to hand them my camera and say here have at it. I want to say that to a lot of people in a lot of situations; here take the machine see if you can produce the same result; here take the computer and the programs and don’t forget to check for typos. I don’t get hurt with comments like these, I just find if funny that people believe it is so simple and easy to produce something that looks nice whether it’s a picture, quilt, great piece of writing or what ever it may be. I admire photographers’ work,  writers’ well written literature and all those beautiful things I know somebody has poured their soul into. To all my friends and blogging friends out there whose talents I so greatly enjoy, thanks for the hard work. 🙂

Pictures the camera took:


On a side note we have begun our house building. My husband is so anxious to start framing it. He is going to be working with his friend who is a builder to frame the house. Can you imagine the excitement of a man who loves building things and working tools I can’t name, when he knows he is going to be building his family’s home with his own hands, nail by nail board by board. It’s been like watching a kid before Christmas, he can hardly contain himself.

The other kids “at Christmas” with the giant toys.

New beginnings

The one beginning that has the most emotional impact on me is my oldest son is starting Kindergarten this week! It is the beginning of his 13 year long adventure ending in a high school diploma. It is the beginning of my adjusting to him not being home during the week with me for the first time since he was born. It will be a first for the little one too; this will be the first time he is with out his brother every day for several hours at a time. He will also be getting to know a new baby-sitter with out his big brother there all day with him. Not that they get along well enough to look out for each other, but the familiar face in an unfamiliar environment would, I think, be some comfort.

We finally have arrived at the point where we have begun the process of building our house. We’ve started getting numbers together for the bank, getting all the planning and zoning stuff straightened out and contacting all the subcontractors, etc. We are contracting it out ourselves so I think anyone that is looking to invest during the next 6 months, Excedrin or Advil might be a good one to go with… 😉  I will update with pics of the progress, but I may be MIA here and there for a while.

Finally, I have come to the conclusion that I need to de-stress — I think of this now as all these major stress causing things are getting ready to happen. There are another thousand other things going on that I won’t go into as well. It took good ol’ TMJ getting aggravated to the point of a locked jaw (from teeth grinding at night) for me to realize, even though I don’t feel stressed out, my body is telling me to slow down and change some things. Today was day one of exercising, eating better, reading more, making time to create music again and just focus on some outlets for whatever subconscious stress may be there.

And of course having more fun with my kids, they are growing so fast. It seems like they were just born and now our oldest baby is going to school. sigh.

This weekend we went to Bernheim Aboretum and Research Forest. Here are some pictures from our adventure:

A really amazing sculpture, Snake Hollow by Patrick Dougherty. The boys enjoyed exploring the many tunnels, windows and doors that weaved in and out and lead them to a different ending with every turn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I whine and give him the sad puppy eyes I won’t have to walk!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we are again, attempting to get a family picture.  Attempt with the mini tripod… I like how my oldest son and husband look completely annoyed and youngest is looking for an opportunity to run, while I point at the camera at just the right moment (lost count) trying to get the kids to look in the general direction of the camera.

Again a well intending stranger approaches and says “I’m an Amateur Photographer, would you like me to take your picture?” My first thought was, yeah everyone with a camera thinks they are an amateur photographer, myself included. But what the hey, it couldn’t get any worse could it? At least I wouldn’t get shots with me pointing at the camera and an aggravated husband at my forcing the unhappy children to keep posing until I get it right.

 

 

 

Here goes…

I guess he knew what he was doing after all! 🙂

 

 

 

Finally here is the big guy on his big day.

Opression, Hope and what the 4th of July means to me

Yes, I’m two days late, but the other day was the 236th Birthday of my country. Not everybody likes the USA and in certain aspects I can understand. One thing is certain, however, over two hundred and thirty years ago the odds were against a group of colonies, people who had left their homeland and everything they’ve ever known to make a new life and with a fresh start. Imagine the overwhelming feeling of taking on the most powerful military in the world in the Revolutionary war. Then the daunting task of creating a government from scratch with the sparring and debating involved, while the founders carved out what we now know as the Constitution. Through Faith, Perseverance, Divine Providence and a deep conviction that we have inalienable rights which cannot be denied, they succeeded and won their freedom from the most powerful empire in the world.

Being a great grand-daughter of immigrants, I am grateful my ancestors were able to come to America to be part of the freedom that courageous people had won. I am grateful that when my ancestors decided to escape oppression there was somewhere for them to come and there was hope for a new life. When I celebrate the 4th it is not just for pride in my country but for hope in humanity. Hope that someday it will universally be realized that ALL are truly created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The following are pictures of my great-grandpa Paul Jacobs. He came from Slovakia to America when he was 14. Years later went back to bring his parents to America who didn’t want to leave the grandmother (Bábuška in front of the house in a dark dress). They later left Slovakia after the grandmother passed away, I think in the 1940s. Beatrix Mana, my mom and author of the blog http://babydogogos.wordpress.com, will correct me if I’m wrong.

 

Great-Grandpa Jacobs (left) in front of his restaurant in Cleveland.

 Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma “Jake”

Great-Grandpa Jake with his two sons Leo (center) and Ray (my grandpa Jake) (left).

Along with countless other people like him, Paul Jacobs was given a chance to work hard and give his family a good life; a life that probably would have been completely different in his homeland. I am grateful that I am here today, an American with my own family to raise and make a good home for and celebrating the hope that American Independence means to me.

Black and Blue and Wining About It

Black and blue berries that is. The grandma, the boys and I went to pick some berries at a local winery. Grandma is friends with the owner and they let us pick some (second crop) blueberries and blackberries. I am not one to rave about something if it isn’t worth the raving, so the fact that I am writing at all about their wine says something about the product.

McIntyre’s Winery makes some of the best blueberry and blackberry wine I’ve ever had. Established in 2011, they are a small winery just southeast of Bardstown in a beautiful little area called Botland. Tommy and Debbie McIntyre are the friendliest people and they truly enjoy what they do, it shows in their product.

The blueberry wine sort of dances on your tongue with a slightly playful hint of blueberries. The blackberry, a more robust fruit, has a fuller bodied taste. Anyway, both are really good, especially if you are looking for something a little off the beaten path.

http://www.mcintyreswinery.com/index.asp

Here are some pics from our latest berry picking adventures.

Grandma keeping watch.

I’ll just take some from your bucket, mine seems to have a hole in it or something.

Tommy McIntyre, the owner

Camping

There’s nothing like unplugging from the rat race and taking a weekend to enjoy my family and the outdoors. Most of the time we camp primitive and by primitive I mean no electric. My husband was raised camping in a camper and I grew up camping in tents, in true primitive style. Alas, my love for roughing it has been put aside for the love of my husband. We have a small “cross over” camper (half pop up, half travel trailer). None the less we camp and as often as possible, the kids enjoy it and it is very relaxing to get away from the TV, Computer and cellphones.

This past weekend we went to Green River Lake State Park. This reservoir is not quite as impressive as some of the lakes out west, but we like it and it is close to home. We also camp on a local river on some property my husband’s family owns, where we swim, canoe, kayak and the kids attempt to relocate the gravel bar from the river bank to the furthest their little arms can hurl rocks into the river.  🙂

Here are some photos from our latest camping adventures.

It takes a while to get it just right. You can’t simply fill the pot with water and the basket with grounds and press a button and magically get good coffee in 5-10 minutes (depending on your coffee pot). But percolated coffee is some of the best tasting and well worth the wait.

 

 

These dump trucks are the BEST toy we’ve ever purchased. I’d be willing to bet there are nearly 100 miles on these things!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting at the Kids Outdoor Day while Dad learns more about Flintlock and Wheellock Rifles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things about camping is I am always the first one up in the morning. Yes, I have to make the coffee, but it is worth it to relish in the beautiful sunrise, start my day off with quiet reflection and praise to the Almighty for a new day.

Do you camp? What are your favorite things about camping?