“Darcy, We’re Not In Kansas – Yet” – or The Tornado Trip

Well, those of you have been following me should know enough about my past to know there is damage.  The fire of 2014 was the worst.  July 29, 2018, comes in a pretty close second – F2 Tornado.

The whole trip was wicked.  We have a huge living room window that I judge when it is time to put the chickens in by.  As it starts turning darker out, I know it’s time for me to move.  Well, at 4:30 p.m. I got up and my phone weather warning alarm went off (I remember cuz I jumped – it vibrates and rings a nasty sound – I made it that way), stating that it was a tornado “warning.”  Those of you that do not know, a “watch” means conditions are right, a “warning” means the suckers on the ground.

As I went to my car (I use my car to close things up at night because I do not trust my new knees yet – tripped and fell too many times and it really hurts), the south side windows showed a clear sky.  Got into my car and rounded the house going north and my stomach turned.  That darn woman’s intuition kicked in HUGE.  I quickly closed up everything and glanced over the chicken barn and freaked out – something massive was coming.

My first thought was another wicked dust storm like we got back in April of this year.  But my intuition would not back down.  I got back up to the house and found my sister stretched out on the couch watching movies like no big deal.  I yelled at her to get downstairs NOW!

Instinct kicked in again – turned everything off, had my phone, grabbed my tablet, thought about my laptop but last minute decided no (great time to not listen to myself – idiot!!).  Let the dogs in and grabbed the cat and we all went down to the downstairs living room – north end of the house.  I closed all the doors in case of windows breaking (there is only one small one in that living room area).  Note: My bedroom door opens to this downstairs living room.  All other doors are in the hallway.

I sat in my fav crafting chair while my sister and grandson snuggled on the couch.  Dogs wouldn’t lie still, and the cat was hiding.  I pulled up the weather radar on my phone and watched the ugly colors flow across the screen, and the stuff outside the window flew.  I distinctly remember my bedroom door rattling – THE WINDOWS WERE ALL CLOSED IN THE HOUSE – this was tornado pressure.  Our ears were popping and plugging like we were going up in a jet.

I think initially, part of me just thought (or maybe hoped) this was some more of our severe winds.  I was not scared – which is weird.  At about 4:45 the power went off.  Around 5:00pm-ish I called our insurance company and told them we were in a tornado and would most likely have damages (after the fire, I learned that Insurance should be the first one a person calls when you own stuff that is insured).  By 5:30 pm we were sneaking back upstairs to check.  The majority of the storm was past, still, some strong winds going on, but the sun was showing.  The first thing I spotted was this:

tornado-pic-1.jpg

The window was blown in, glass and heavy water everywhere. You can see my tablet with the mess on top – and yes, it’s shot! (I cried – silly me lives for writing, and I had some great stories on it.  Hope I can have my friend save the hard drive as he did after the fire?)  My grandsons mini-tablet was thrown off his stand (on the right) and was sitting soaked in his chair.

Then I went to check the office, but the door was jammed.  It took us a bit, but we finally got it open to this:

tornado-pic-2.jpg

We could definitely tell which way the wind blew.  This is our office/sewing room and I also use it to keep track of my yarn goods for sales.  They ended up trashed as well.  Not just soaked, but bits of glass shards embedded in them.  Then I cried again – all that time and effort shot in less than one hour.

The next thing I did was go outside to check the damage.  This was the most noticeable in the front yard:

tornado-pic-3.jpg

It is/was our gazebo.  In the pic, it is facing southeast.  It is supposed to be facing west toward the house.  The twister (appropriately named) picked it up, turned it, then set it down on top of the fence (looks like the vinyl fence is going in the door )..but it left the fence post intact – go figure?

Then the north end of the house:

tornado-pic-4.jpg

This really shows how freaky (or picky?) a tornado can be…both the living room window (to the left) and the office window (right) are blown in/out – but the door window is just beautiful?  The door itself is metal and has massive dings from the large hail, but the glass is untouched – how?  Even the porch light (little black one by the door) had its glass busted on a couple sides – but the door window is ok??

My grandson’s trampoline was the next thing that caught my eye.  Because we have such awful winds, we had it not just staked in the ground in several places but tied to both the tree and the fence.  The weird part on this is that the rope on the tree snapped, but the sucker is still hanging on to the fence.  The fence was not even cemented in?

tornado-pic-5.jpg

The cage is shot – too many busted screen poles, but the tramp itself looks ok.  It did smash into the house above my bedroom window and left a mark – but that was all it did to the house.  I expected a lot worse – guess all the stakes and ropes helped.  If you look close in the center of the picture, you can see the far pole is actually shoved over halfway into the ground.  We tried to pull it out but can’t…gonna have to use a jack.

The big barn had a massive piece of its sheet metal roofing flapping in the breeze, and several pieces of roofing in the back are gone.  Same with the big gray shed.  Our chicken barn roof is gone.  Then there is our greenhouse:

tornado-pic-6.jpg

If I didn’t know better, I would think we were constructing it (my  Helbergfarmstories blog was started because of this.).

You may be wondering what all this has to do with life lessons lived – it’s about finding the humor when there appears to be none.

The first thing my sister said to me was “we’re not in Kansas Dorothy.” And we both bust out laughing.

  • The three of us survived.
  • The critters are all good.
  • The gardens are shot, but the majority of the house is intact.
  • We have full coverage on the house and our possessions.
  • We don’t have insurance on the outbuildings (never got to it.) but we can fix those.
  • Tried to get coverage on the greenhouse, but no takers since “the weather we get out here is too much of a risk to cover it.”  Funny, I always thought that was what you paid insurance for – risky situations?!?

We have seen some of our neighbors and their homes/properties have been devastated by this twister.  All-in-all we did not get it as bad as some of our friends, but we have a fantastic little community here, and we all pull together!  The biggest reason for us to keep pushing forward.

Yes, I had a good cry when I first sat and thought about it (so did my sis and she NEVER cries).  Then I pulled up my big girl panties and got things done.  The barn front and large gray shed are done.  The part of the chicken barn that is over the chickens (other ½ used to cover goats) is covered and they, with the kitties, are all dry and safe.

The greenhouse is what it is.  We cannot afford a new roof right now, and the base 2″x12’x12′ boards have to be reinstalled first.  So, for now, we are going to use it as is   :

  • The far end with the swamp cooler wall managed to save the north end crops – zucchini, strawberries, small tomatoes and some hot peppers – oh and the melons (and they are in the middle of the area – have no clue how they were saved?).
  • I also pulled back some plastic on the west side and found my eggplant and pickle vines were all ok. A bit beat up (smashed) but still good.
  • My grandson’s flowers are next to my Rosemary bush, and both got nailed by the scaffolding (from trying to repair before), but they are good.  So is the Basil next to them…but the rest of the row is trash.  Our big heirloom tomatoes took a beating as well as the other sweet and hot peppers.  BUT as of this morning (8-9-18), I see sparks of life.  Some of the main stalks/vines are showing new leaves.  Now we just need to set up row covers and heaters to keep them going long enough to produce.

The best news after all this mess is that I am a new grandma – sort of.  A couple of chickens that have been setting for the last month are now proud moms.  I love how they puff out to cover the babies.

Well, once again, life goes on.  You can either let it eat you up, or you can bite back.  I choose to bite back!  Hope you do the same.

How Did This Happen?

There I was, minding my own business.  First of the year and I thought I was paying attention – but no.  Before I knew what happened, I stepped right in it – exercise – EEEEK!

I do NOT ever make dieting or exercise as part of my New Year Resolutions; it would just be a huge waste of time.  I never keep those two things throughout the year.  I usually start out with good intentions, but by Valentines Day I am stuffing chocolates into my mouth and finding unique places to stash some for later (then I usually forget several until they get really old and yucky.).  Due to this weak-will of mine, I chose not to do those for resolutions.

Well, that sneaky sister of mine pulled the wool over my eyes.  I had purchased a stationary bike as therapy instruction from my knee surgeon.  He said to get any kind to keep them mobile and to help strengthen the muscles and tendons that he had just attached to my new fake knees.  So I got this one:

my stationary bike

I placed it right outside my bedroom door, so it was the first thing I saw in the morning, and the last thing I saw at night – perfect incentive, right? Wrong.  I was stupid and used it more for strength instead of therapy.  My grandson also helped by hopping on it whenever he could and race like the wind.  He was always cranking it up to the hardest level; then I would jump on it without checking and come to an aching halt after just a few minutes (duh!).

Here’s where she got sneaky.  The place she works at penalizes employees that are not majorly fit.  Now, I am all for incentives – but penalties are just not right.  She is a smoker.  Has been since she was about 14 years old.  She did quit once (cold turkey), but that’s another story.  Anyway, her employer decided that if you did not “ace” the yearly physical, you would be given other ways to make up for it:

  • A special call to the health center which just reamed her on the dangers of smoking – no real help.
  • Work out regularly at a local gym – ya, that’s not going to happen when we work on a farm.
  • Then somewhere she got the idea of a pedometer. If a person walks 10,000 or more steps in a day, they will lose weight – LIGHT BULB!    So, she asked me to pick up a cheap one when I went out shopping.  I purchased the second lowest one on the rack, brought it home, and she began using it.

No clue at allA few days went by, and she came home with an upgraded model she got free from a friend at work.  She handed me the cheap one and said I should try it “Just for fun,” sure.  When I got dressed the next morning, I shoved it into my pocket.  Every time I bent over to do something on the farm, the darn thing fell out.  I don’t know about my foot mileage, but I can tell you that my anxiety level went up.

Then she, ever so politely, asked if she could bring my bike upstairs.  She wanted to place it in the window, so we could see out – “WE??”  Yes, she got me hooked on walking.  I hated my stupid cheap meter, so I finally decided to check online – WOW – who know they had so many freebie apps for this, amazing!  I picked the one with the highest good review numbers and away I went.

Since a majority of my sister’s job is walking around, she set her goal at the 10K steps per day.  Since I have two fake knees, 1-1/2 fake shoulders, and a fake foot, I took a lesser goal of only 5k.  To date, her highest was almost 8,000, and my highest was 3989.  It actually made me feel really good almost to reach my goal.

HOW DARE SHE BE SO SNEAKY AND TRY TO MAKE US HEALTHY!

I guess I will have to start watching her more closely.  First, it’s the physical stuff, next thing you know, she is stuffing tofu into my cookies.  Oh – wait – I like tofu…oh well, you get the picture.

I just wanted to share how you don’t have to set resolutions to get something accomplished.  Sometimes it happens when you least expect it (or asked for it).

MP 100 yd dash

(FYI: If you have never heard of, watched, or just miss Monty Python – click on the above picture for some great laughs!)

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MPFC dvd cover       

MPFC box dvd set

Are Small Towns Just Big Families?

I was at our local Walmart the other day. It was about mid-morning, and I was in no rush. I got to the checkout aisles, and there was only one checker available (they are trying to push us into the automated ones – yuck!).
I was just about ready to start unloading when a weathered older man popped up in line behind me. He looked pretty tired and only had about three things in his arms, so I politely told him he could go first. He looked a bit shocked and said: “Are you sure?” I just smiled and said yep.

crazy skip generation

The checker smiled and took his items. I went back to unloading my cart onto the conveyor belt. The man was talking to the cashier, and as I turned he caught my eye and said:
“I can’t believe how friendly the people in this town are.”
I giggled a bit and replied: “I am actually from Brush, I just shop here in the Fort Morgan Walmart. But, we are all in Morgan County – does that count?”
The Cashier was also giggling and agreed with me. The Trucker started laughing and went on to say he will have to stop in Morgan County more often and left.
This got me thinking. Are small towns just like big families? I believe the answer to that one is a definite yes. No matter where I have lived, I made it a point of getting to know my neighbors. How many of you do that?

family like fudgeI think there is a certain amount of the safety in numbers statement when you get to know your neighbors. Even when we lived in Denver (huge city), I got to know my neighbors. Maybe not over several blocks, but at least in the immediate vicinity. My Real Estate Agent tried to talk me out of buying my first stick home because of the people in the area. She was worried about the safety of my daughter and me.
I spent month and miles looking for the right home. I was not about to give up on it because the neighborhood was supposed to be bad. I pushed through the closing, moved in, and proceeded to get to know my neighbors. The only thing that proved to be bad about anyone on my block was because of a rental house. All the neighbors that were owners were fantastic. We all shared the same concerns:

• Paying the mortgage.
• Putting food on the table for our families.
• Making sure the heat and electric kept running.

Anything after that was just icing on the cake. The families that owned took care of their homes and the land around them. Lawns were mowed. Flowers and gardens were planted. In winter, sidewalks and driveways were shoveled. I could not say the same for the rentals.

I’m not sure it is the size of an area that makes it a family atmosphere. I think it is more about getting to know those around you. I had an abusive boyfriend when I moved into that great house. When I finally got a restraining order on him, I told all my neighbor friends about it. If they were to see him anywhere around our home (after he got out of jail), they needed to call the Police immediately.

Roughly six months after I threw him out, he showed up unannounced at my door. He asked if we could talk. The minute I stepped outside, three of my neighbors were out on their front porches, and one hollered over asking if I was ok? I smiled and replied, “For now, thank you.”

The whole time I talked with the jerk, they all calmly sat and watched – I loved it! All he wanted to know is what went wrong because he had recently lost another girlfriend (After our main discussion, I dawned on me that he had to have been seeing her while he was supposed to be with me – double jerk.). My only reply was that he needed to grow up, and I walked back in the house. That was the last time I ever saw him.

bunch of crazies

I think we can find family where ever we choose to do so. Big city, small town, country farm; none of it matters if you just get to know your neighbors. Once you have that, it is impossible to not include them (at least part of them) into your extended family group. When you have that feeling of closeness and security, you can’t help but want to share the love. It was nice to know, through the Trucker, that I have this in my community.

thankful never give up

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Will You Wear Purple Now?

I stopped making big bedspread size works years ago.  I would find the colors I liked, or that I thought a friend/loved one would like.  Then I would spend months crochet or knit it together.  When done, everyone seemed under-whelmed.

Yes, they were grateful, but the darn thing had exhausted me from completing (or even wanting to complete) other projects.  They would also end up so heavy that no one could even lift them up on the bed to use.

star-magnolia-2083798_640(note: it’s a lot easier to paint than to crochet)

I made an outstanding cream-colored chenille spread with two huge, beautiful magnolia centerpieces in it.  She loved it.  She spread it out on her bed.  She never slept in the bed (she has been a TV-Couch sleeper most of her life – need that background noise – yuck.).  Then the beautiful piece of work was destroyed in our fire which was about four years after I completed it.  I cried (ok for more than the missing blanket, but you get my drift.).

We still have a smaller throw that I made out of awesome fall colors.  Got lucky with that one because she had it and a couple of smaller lapghans stored away in a container.  They did not get the fire, the heat, or the smoke.  However, those are STILL stored away.

My mother shared something with me before she died which I will never forget.  It is called Warning by Jenny Joseph:

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me. And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my stick along the public railings And make up for the sobriety of my youth. I shall go out in my slippers in the rain And pick flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat And eat three pounds of sausages at a go Or only bread and pickle for a week And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry And pay our rent and not swear in the street And set a good example for the children. We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now? So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

warningpurple

This is a great little poem.  Then I asked mom why she loved it so much.  She went on to tell me that when she gets old, she wants to wear purple because she had always been raised to do the “traditional” stuff:

  • Only use the good silverware for the holidays.
  • Only use the good china for the holidays.
  • Do not take out or use the handmade table covers unless it is the holidays or a very special occasion (it was allowed at Confirmation and Graduation).

When she got older, she still carried that poem around with her.  One day we were discussing it.  She had been very sick all year (cancer), and we were doing a bit of reminiscing.  She told me that she wished we had used the above things much more often.  She said it was stupid to keep such great items of family hidden away – she was right.

She passed away never knowing our little farm or her great-grandsons.  I do think that she is smiling – maybe laughing – at us now.  We do not hide any of the good stuff (except my sister’s tiny obsession with keeping my creations for her private?  Maybe she secretly hates them but is scared to tell me?).  We lost her original silverware set in the fire, but got lucky and found the same pieces in an antique shop (at a great price too – yeah!).  We use it as our everyday ware now.

Maybe the fire was a great eye-opener for “wearing purple?”  We held fifty plus years of precious items in our home.  Many of those items were packed away, waiting for some prize moment that never came.  Now, we don’t have them to share with anyone over anything.

So, my gift to you today is to:

  • Drag it all out.
  • USE IT NOW!
  • Let it get stained, dirty, old, worn, and yes – let it get broken.
  • Share it with love – don’t hide it.

Because you never know when it will be gone.

empty bench

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WERE YOUR FOLKS BRILLIANT?

My last post got me thinking about my parents a lot.  They supported us in so many ways, especially in ways that we never even knew.  The last bit of my last blog talked about why I do not do major alcohol.  This was formed by my parents and a well-played evening on their part.

When I turned eighteen years old, it was the legal drinking age in Wisconsin.  They have since upped the age which, after you read this story, you may understand why.

My folks owned a little place called The Wagon Tongue Café back then.  Half of it was a little restaurant by day.  The other half that did not open until afternoon was the bar.  I only had to go to school half days during my Senior year, so the other half of the day was spent waitressing and cleaning up when closed.  I want you all to remember something I hold to be very profound.

EVERY TEENAGER (or early 20-somethings) SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO BE A WAITRESS, BUS PERSON, OR DISHWASHER.

No matter where I have traveled those jobs, along with bartending, have gotten me through the hardest of times.  They are excellent fall back jobs.  I have done some fast food joints to get by or earn extra money.  I never have, and never will feel that they are jobs that are “beneath me” no matter what.  I firmly believe that it would be, to all middle teen to early twenty people, a great service in their life.

On my 18th birthday through my folks, their establishments, and the people connections, they allowed me to create; I just knew I was going to have a great birthday.  This was, after all, a mile marker – number eighteen!

keep calm 18 pic

I had no clue that my loving parents had already spoken to every other bar owner in town warning them of my upcoming celebration.  Yes, spoken to as in told them exactly how to handle me when I stopped in.  They had it all planned out way before I even had a chance to think about it.

The glorious day finally came.  I had to wait tables that morning, then got cleaned up and ready to go out on the town by around 4:00 p.m., everyone was in our bar waiting for me.  Then came my instructions from mom and dad:

“You do not have to pay for a single drink, however; you have to drink what is put in front of you before moving on to the next one or place.”

enjoy your booze

I DON’T HAVE TO PAY FOR MY DRINKS!  That was the only part I initially heard.  Dad started me off with my first shot – blackberry brandy.  Not too bad, this is gonna be fun I thought.

My party group proceeded to lead me from bar to bar, meeting all the owners, shaking hands, laughing and drinking whatever was put in front of me.  I thought I was doing pretty good until about the fourth establishment.  Someone bought me a thing called Tooties Roll.  It did taste exactly like the candy.  I don’t remember all the details after that.  I walked into a parking meter and said: “Excuse me.”  I thought it was a person.  I remember waiving at some friends driving by. Apparently, they had to stop because I was waiving at them from out in the street.

I remember getting back to my parent’s bar, and dad served me a shot called A Flaming Angel.  He mixed it up and set it on fire – I had NEVER seen such a thing before.  He told me to drink it by downing it really fast, as I lean back it will put out the flame.  Well, cool, young, very wasted me just grabbed that shot glass, flung it up to my mouth, and as I threw back my head to down the shot I just kept right on falling backward.  I did the shot perfectly (except for falling flat on the floor on my back) and began laughing.  The next part is hazy.

I was told by numerous participants, that this is what happened:

  1. I stopped laughing.
  2. I turned completely white as a sheet.
  3. I rushed up and ran to the bathroom (apparently someone was occupying it, but that did not stop me – I just told them to move quickly.).
  4. I proceeded to throw up (at least I hit the toilet – I think?).

I spent the next three days in my bed or throwing up.  Since that glorious evening, I think I have maybe taken two shots of peppermint as an after-dinner drink on two separate occasions.  When I get strong alcohol up to my nose, I get a knee-jerk reaction to throw up again.

MY PARENTS WERE BRILLIANT!  They knew way back then how to stop me from ever possibly becoming an alcoholic, and it worked.  I hope you do not think they were bad parents for doing this to me; I don’t.  I have known too many friends that would sneak drinks in fear of getting caught.  Later in life, I saw some of them, and it was not good.  I have learned this lesson from all that:

Be upfront, open, and honest whenever possible, and hope that it will help in the long run.

guardian angel

(This pic hung over my bed as a child – I guess they knew back then it would take more than just a Guardian Angel to keep me out of trouble – LOL.)

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CAN YOU FEEL IT?

It’s out there.  You cannot see it.  You cannot taste it.  You cannot touch it.  But you can feel it and you know it’s there….

THE HOLIDAYS ARE COMING – EEEEK!!!!!

I get both excited and scared at the same time.  If I did not have custody of my grandson, it might not feel so extreme?  Then again, maybe it would.  I am a crafter by passion, and I work on my crafts all year long.  With that said, I still get a “major stress on” every year about this time.

  • The kids are back in school.
  • The stores have out the Halloween decorations. (Some are also doing Christmas already-grrr.)
  • The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer.
  • The full course of fruits and veggies are almost done with our mega processing.
  • Pull all that together with the impending tasks of holiday stuff, and you can go crazy.

So, how do I handle all of this mess – laughter!  As much of it as I can muster!

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I try to remember the better holiday times of my life.  Most were from when I was very young, but some (the better ones I think) are from later in life.

FALL:

  • Stepping outside on the first deep freeze. Breathing in real deep and having my nostrils stick together.  For some weird reason, I just loved that?!
  • Digging up the last of the potatoes out in our garden. Here again, I was a bit strange as I would always keep a couple hidden in my pocket for later.  Just loved the taste of a garden fresh potato (yes – crunchy and sometimes a bit dirty but delicious).
  • Playing outside when the winds kicked up just to dance in the falling leaves.
  • The smell of hot chocolate when we came in from a cold day of play (still love this one).

HALLOWEEN:

  • I don’t remember doing much trick-or-treating when I was little as we lived in the country. Running from house to house sucked up a ton of gas with little returns.  Some years we would drive into the local small towns, but not often.
  • I did love the Halloween television shows: Charlie Brown Halloween was (and still is) one of my favs. There were some odd ones too, The Monster Ball and one about a mean Pig creating Frankenstein’s monster – both were in Claymation (this is still my favorite animation form).
  • Then, as we matured (and I do say that lightly), my two sisters and I loved dressing up and bar-hopping.
  • One year I was a black widow spider, eight legs and all, and no one knew it was me.  Loved it as I was completely covered in dark black material and body paint.
  • My younger sister had a party where she dressed as a unicorn (oh, by the way, we made ALL of our own costumes as that was part of the fun of it.)
  • Our older sister dressed as her husband, and he dressed as the Grim Reaper – couldn’t tell them apart – ok, maybe just a bit.
  • o   The most favorite of all was when were still in Wisconsin and owned a little bar/restaurant establishment.  The basement was the place for the younger crowd.  We held our costume party in which our older sister went as a Lobster.  She was head-to-toe deep red – – –for several weeks after!  We still reminisce on that one, especially when we need some great laughs.  (Along with, never at.)

lobster

CHRISTMAS:

  • When we were younger, the routine was the same. Christmas Eve was going to church for our pageant.  After we put on our little play, the church gave everyone a large brown paper bag.   The bag held some of the greatest gifts of Christmas:
    • Always one large navel orange and one huge red delicious apple.
    • A huge variety of fresh nuts – never shelled as that was also part of our Christmas fun…cracking the nuts open.
  • And last, but my very favorite of all Angel Food Candy!  Man did I (and still very much do) love that stuff.  Some people call it sponge candy.  I have heard it called other things, but it will be Angle food for me forever.  Decades later I wanted to surprise my family for Christmas and buy some, but I could not find it anywhere.  I was lucky that computers were becoming very handy then (early 90’s), and I found a website called Wisconsin Recipes.  I do not believe it is still around.  I did find these:
    • http://www.oldwisconsin.com/recipes has some great (looks like mainly German, Swiss, and Swedish foods) main course meals.
    • I also have a childhood friend with which I recently reconnected. Come to find out she loves to cook and to blog about it.  She is not in WI anymore, but I bet she has a ton of recipes from there.  If you are interested, you can find her here: https://indianeskitchen.com/  Her recipes are yummy!
    • The last I found after a ton of searching, cooking, tasting, and comparing. It is the (apparently) secret recipe for Angel Food Candy.  This is one of my most favorite candies ever, and I only make it up for Christmas.
    • The last one popped up by accident. I only saw the Wisconsin Old Fashioned part and didn’t realize until I clicked on it that it was a drink.  I found this as my daily omen as it was my parents drink of preference ( Brandy Old Fashioned ).  Yes, we grew up with Pabst Blue Ribbon beer (kind of have to in WI), but as they aged, they went to the B.O.F. for their drink of choice.  Since we owed a couple of different bars and restaurants while I was in my tween-teen years, it was all good.

The funniest part of that candy recipe hunt was the last.  I do not do hard booze at all.  I like my beer during our Friday game night or at family get-togethers, but no strong alcohol. This was also due to my parents and our bar rearing.  But that is a story for another time.

 

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DO YOU KNOW THE SECRET ART?

I don’t say this to sound like you are a beastie that sits behind doors and jump-scares your kids.  I am talking about doing something (or things) that your kids will go: “MOM??!!”  (You do have to drag out the “o” part with the sound of “ah” to get the full effect.), once you have done it.

My fault is gifted from my mother.  My father did not know how to converse until he met her.   (Pretty sure of this fact.)  She, having been raised in the 1930’s without anything but radio and the art of conversation.  I know, I know…this sounds impossible (especially to those under thirty), but it is true.  She loved music, dancing, singing, and the art of conversation.

old radio

Lucky me – I received her gift!  It was not always this way.  I was a very shy and scared kid when I was younger.  Now that I think back, I guess part of my coming out also had to do with my father.  He forced me to go to work at about age fourteen selling sweet corn off the back of an old truck with a local farmer he knew.  The farmer was about as old as his truck and found it hard to attend to people like he wanted, so he hired me to do it.

selling corn off trk.jpg

He watched me the first day, cowering at the back of the wagon, and on the way home he said,

Do you want to know the secret of selling stuff?”

Mousey me answered yes, so he went on to share his secret.  I will now share this once-in-a-lifetime, old sage advice with all of you:

Find something about that other person that catches your eye.  Then compliment them on it.

That’s it.  I thought that couldn’t be all there is to it and decided to try it out the very next day.  A Cadillac pulled over, and a very well-dressed lady got out and came toward the back of the wagon.  I happened to notice her ring was really catching the sunlight.  Before she could utter a word, I looked her square in the eye and said,

That ring is beautiful!” (with a genuine smile on my face)

She instantly smiled back, held out her hand so I could get a better look, and told me how it had been in her family for decades.  We chattered back and forth about family heirlooms for a bit, and she ended up with two-dozen ears of corn.  I was so squirrely I thought I would explode with joy!

I used his tactic all the rest of that afternoon and could not thank him enough on the way home.  I did not feel shy anymore, but surprisingly confident.  The rest of the fall I would spend weekends with the old farmer selling his goods and loved every minute of it.  Not because of the sales part of it, but because of the conversation.

In all truth, I am a lousy seller.  I cannot bargain with anyone about anything.  If you tell me that’s the price, I will pay it with no dispute.  I make my younger sister do all the wheeling-and-dealing because she loves it, and is good at it.  Even to this day, I cannot sell anything unless I believe in it, like my crafts or our preserves.

However, if you would like to discuss something – ANYTHING – pick me.  I love the art of conversation.  I hated getting my first cell phone.  To me, it meant the end of proper, decent civilization.  Then the phone turned into a smartphone and death to the art of conversation.

You can:

  • Text for your groceries and pay for them too. Then just go pick them up.
  • Text for a pizza and have it delivered.
  • Argue or talk nasty about someone and never look them in the eye while you do it.
  • Brake up with someone
  • Fall in love with someone
  • Play games all by yourself, or with others, and you will never see your enemies eyes.

A part of me loves our modern convenience, but a bigger part of me is very saddened by it all.  You see it everywhere:

  • Cars
  • Bars
  • Coffee shops
  • Restaurants
  • Standing in lines anywhere
  • Driving (really ticks me off!)
  • Walking (ok, I do find this funny on Facebook posts when they walk into stuff while texting)

All the while none of these people are looking out at the world at all.  How can you text someone out to dinner with you, then spend the whole time looking at your phone?  I caught my daughter and one of her old boyfriends sitting next to each other at our table.  Both were texting and when I asked who they were talking to they said EACH OTHER – WHAT?!!?

Since that moment I have become obsessed with watching people and their “phones” and what they are missing during their obsession.  So, for those of you that do that…this is what you missed:

  • The best smile of your life.
  • The most beautiful sunset shared with a person you love.
  • Seeing the reaction, in real life, of a baby that gets introduced to a kitten or a puppy. Their laughter and the way they react to touching it for the first time is amazing.  You can’t get that wonderful feeling via a picture or video.  It must be experienced.
  • Touching a Rhino (yep, my nephew works at a zoo and did that, I am so jealous) or holding a penguin (yep, he did that too).
  • Hearing your child say, for the very first time – I love you.
  • Sharing a warm hug and tears with your best friend when their loved one dies. Sometimes no words are needed at all, just a hug and a smile.

I guess I got a little longer than normal here.  I just wanted to try to impress on everyone that the art of conversation must not die!  Keep your phones, social websites, and games; but look up once-in-a-while and smile at someone – even if they are a stranger.  You may be surprised to find that they usually smile back.  Oh and – BONUS – it makes you feel great.

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DOES FAILURE HIT YOU LIKE A LEAD BRICK?

I’m not sure exactly when or how it happened, but I turned my fear of failure into an anger to make it right.  I do not seem to concentrate so much anymore on the fact that I failed, but more on the where did I go wrong and what can I do to fix it.

I am glad that I don’t see failure as a life-stopping omen anymore, although I would appreciate a whole month (afraid to ask for a year) of no failures – just once.  But I guess I will just accept the fact that I have been able to turn fear into anger to make it right.

I feel like I have to fight to make or get anything good in my life.  If I don’t fight for it, I feel like it came to easy and it will not last.  Even worse, I feel like I do not deserve it.

make a meme-slay the red dot(Don’t you just love makeameme.com – LOL)

Now, how stupid is that?  Get something good and think you need to give it back because you don’t deserve it.  I have been through hell in my short life (yes, 58 years is short to me) and I try to think that maybe a part of me, by now, should be allowed to appreciate and enjoy a bit of easiness.

I have purchased several self-help books to try to help me overcome this ridiculous feeling of non-deservingness (yep, that is now a word, I just made it up).  I love to read so I begin to follow their plans, guidelines, rules, ideas, whatever; only to fail again.

Instead, I am now trying something new.  This is not new to life in general, but it is new for me to use it.  I want to start my days by listing at least three things I have that are:

  1. Good for me and in my life now.
  2. Bring me happiness or at least make me smile thinking of them.
  3. Realize that I have earned them and do now deserve them in my life.

I am not forcing myself to write them down, even though I am a very visual learner.  I just wake up and, before I even get out of bed, I lay there and purposely think about the current good things in my life that I have.  These are some of them:

  1. Our small farm. I have found that it is apparently very hard or maybe just very scary for people to obtain one.  It took a ton of effort to get ours, and it continues to be a day-to-day struggle in many areas, but we have more good than bad things here:
    1. Critters to love and care for that, in return, give us good clean food.
    2. Space to grow all our own food naturally. We practice as much of the natural methods as possible for our area.
    3. Ability to have a small firepit  in our yard and actually see stars at night (missed that in Denver).
    4. Being able to look back at the end of my day and see the work I have done. I could never feel that way in my office, factory, restaurant, or other jobs.
    5. Every spring I look forward to playing with new baby critters. Every fall I look forward to processing all the food we grew.  Every winter I look forward to a bit of rest and planning for the next year’s surprises.

grn-hs-in-sept-2017.jpg

  1. Caring for my grandson. This one is actually a trick good thing.  The poor little pooper has been through so many horrific things in his little nine years of life, that I just want to provide as much stability and love that I can for him.  There are day’s that he drives me crazy.  But then we have a few daily games we play, and my favorite is when my sister tells him,

I love you.”

Then he responds I love you.” Back.

Then I chime in with “I love you more.” 

To which he very quickly responds “I love you less.”

And we all giggle.  We all know full well that he loves me to the moon and back the little fart.  It’s just a fun game just between us.

I do worry that I am too old to care for him properly.  After my many joint replacements and surgeries, I cannot run, jump, and play like he deserves; but I can watch him and give loving words of encouragement every chance I get.

my right shoulder replacemnt xray

  1. A cluster of family and friends that love me. I should also clarify that they all have the same weird sense of humor.  Our standard family motto lovingly passed down from our parents, is that if we are not picking on you – we don’t like you.  Sounds a bit wacko I know, but it’s true.  I know somewhere in my past posts I shared my father’s pet name for me was Dumb Shit.  This was never shared in anger, disgust, or hate; but always in love and usually with a smile or laughter kicked in.  It was his way of making one of my failures a little less painful, and it always worked (pretty sure he is in heaven laughing at me right now and using that nick-name).
  2. An older sister to share (or compare) our pain with.
  3. A younger sister to share day-to-day life with.

I also don’t care if it is the same thoughts every day.  I just try to remember different situations in which they made me smile.  Things like the grandson saying he loves me less.  Then the next day is tricking me into playing an indoors game of badminton with a large balloon and fly swatters until he fell on the floor laughing.  Maybe it was just the huge ear-to-ear grin on his face when he snuck a new baby kitten away from its mama so he could show me he found them. (FYI-it is very hard to get mad at him for pulling them away from their mom when he is so proud that he found them.)

I have shared all this in the hope of you finding your anger to battle your failures until you can either get them into winners or believe that you have given it your best shot and move on with confidence.  Know that you have done the best you could.  After all, some of life’s best failures have been the best creations.

northern lights

(P.S.  Thinking of the good stuff first in the morning, is making me have a happier day.)

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DO YOU HAVE A BLACK MARKET IN YOUR COMMUNITY?

This question came to me under some unusual circumstances.

I grew up with depression-era parents.  They did not like to discard anything.  If we did not need it, a family member or friend might; so nothing was thrown away.  Well, in keeping with this family tradition I tried to donate my grandson’s car seat to the local thrift stores.  Guess what?  THEY CAN’T TAKE THEM.  It is not even a matter of won’t take, but can’t take.

I found out that it has something to do with Government safety issues (go figure – our government butting in again – grrr.).  We used to ride in the front of the truck with our father.  He would purposely go really, really fast up and over the hills of Wisconsin because it would lift us up off the seat.  This, of course, brought great joy and laughter to all involved! (I can feel our mother turning over in her grave as I type this.)

The only time we were told to put on our seatbelts was on long family vacations.  Just a trip to church, the store, or even another city in Wisconsin; was never due cause for silly seatbelts.  If we were just moving around on our farm, the back of the truck was the spot for the kids to reside.  No belts of any kind back there.

I know of some lower-income families in our community that could have used the car seat.  Then there is the matter of price.  Free is always better than what they cost brand new (have you seen the prices?  DISGUSTING!).  I then had a wild thought:

I wonder if there’s a Black Market out here somewhere for this kind of stuff?”

Why not?  We could start by using code on our social websites.  Keeping it simple so that any small community would get the hint, but big government would overlook it.

  • Garage sale could mean “freebies” on things like car seats.
  • Taking a day off could mean available for babysitting.
  • Going on a trip could mean children,s cars seat for sale

I lived in the big city of Denver for a while.  When there anything that sat at the end of your driveway was considered trash.  Thus, anything you wanted to give away free was simply placed out there in the morning.  It was practically guaranteed to be picked up by someone else in need of it by the time you got home from work.

Here in the country, we are not so lucky.  Our trash either goes to our own dump (if biodegradable), or onto our compost piles (mainly old newspapers, food scraps – no meats, egg shells, and coffee grinds),  or we have a huge container for miscellaneous stuff that gets picked up for a price once a month.

I am thinking about setting the car seat and a few other unused items out at the end of our driveway just to see what happens.  Just my luck, someone will either hit it and sue me, or the cops will give me a fine for littering.  Oh well, maybe fun just to give it a shot.  I will let you know how it goes if I do it.

child car seat

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IMAGINE THAT? – Finale.

Mr. Rotten’s wife moved back to Denver with their kids and found someone else to be happy with.  Mr. Rotten and the daughter began to fight – a lot!  She,  at this point, saw very little of her son.   The son, however desperately wanted to see (and live) with his mother.  The Aunt and mother decided to try to keep moving forward with the boy’s life, and in the process purchased another pet for the family.  It was a teacup pig.  The boy, as young as he was, misunderstood that it was not to be treated like a puppy and ran it to death.  The daughter took this as a sign of something wrong with the boy and got him shipped off to an institute in Denver – the old woman (grandma) did not have any authority to stop her as she did not have custody.

Seven days later, the Aunt and the Grandma were allowed to pick up the boy.  He had received some help, but the Grandma received the best help.  The first night the boy was there, a Therapist called the grandma to see if his scream fits were normal.  The old woman told them all of the quirks the boy suffered from since moving in with them after the fire.    The Therapist told the woman to obtain the books called The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson which turned out to be the best help ever!

The old woman read that book, and others of the same, and was then better able to understand what was going on in her grandson’s head when he reacted.  His were not just fits of rage, A.D.H.D., or proof of his mild autism; but a total mental overload.  The poor little guy of only six was simply being overwhelmed by the world and could not get it to settle enough for him to process it.

The daughter did not bother to entertain getting to know any of this.  She and Mr. Right continued to live together through all of her trials.  In April of 2015, the daughter allowed custody of her son to be assumed by the grandmother.  She was tired of having Social Services on her back (her exact words).

In March of 2016, the courts were finally over with a final decision giving the daughter a misdemeanor child neglect with community service to be done.  The daughter, several months later, decided to check herself into a rehab facility in a wish to untangling her mind.  The mother went to pick her up from there after only ten days.  The daughter appeared happy – the first time in years.

The old woman took her daughter back to Mr. Rottens place, as requested, and within days the daughter was a mess again.  The fights began to escalate.  Then the daughter was told to move out!  She found another friend who was giving up her apartment to move back to Texas.  The daughter took the apartment then the next bad decision:

  • The daughter told her son of the apartment and said, “Once I get settled, we can live there together!”
  • Then when the grandma and son went to drop off mail to the mother, Mr. Rotten was already moved in and living there with her daughter. The daughter’s son was furious at his mother for days, taking it out on his Aunt and grandmother.
  • The daughter got a new job, but Mr. Right lost his (of which he is also part owner), so the battles intensified more.
  • One late Saturday evening (8/13/17) the daughter showed up unannounced during the family game night of the Aunt, Grandma, and her son. She stated that she had been beaten up by Mr. Rotten – right there a bawling mess in front of her now eight-year-old son.
  • After spending the night in the hospital with the daughter, the old woman signed a statement to watch her for the next 12-24 hours, and the hospital released them. One of the police officers requested to view the apartment for evidence (pictures).  They all went to the apartment so the daughter could retrieve clothes etc. and found a disaster.  Mr. Rotten had broken everything and trashed the whole apartment. (He was now in jail).
  • The daughter decided to go back to her home and try to clean up a little. She was also planning on going to work that evening (she worked graveyard shift).  The mother thought she should give it another day due to the size of the lump on the back of the daughter’s head, but the daughter insisted she would be fine and left.
  • A few days later the daughter popped over to the old woman’s home unannounced again with gifts for the son. She once again made a promise to come back the next night to do something with him (she had done this too many times to count anymore).  When she walked in, the Aunt and mother both noticed the hickey on her neck.

o    “Where did you get that from?” asked the mother.

o   “You don’t want to know.” Was the daughters reply, with a smile on her face.

The Aunt and old woman both looked at each other and instantly knew it was from Mr. Rotten who was apparently out of jail with no restraining order.

FINALLY – the crushing disappointment happened just a few days ago.  A man and woman pulled into the old woman’s driveway around 5 pm, claiming that she just left the daughter in the county jail.  She went on to say the daughter request that the old woman bail her out.

THE OLD WOMAN SAID NO!  She now had aged another million gray hairs worth and felt very tired.

my pic 2017 (notice I kept this pic small so you don’t see all the gray hairs)

The moral of this story:  to be continued…

(If, after reading all this, one of you – my wonderful readers – can come up with some type of moral; I would love to hear it.)

happy ever after??????

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