The Recovering Farmer

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Keep On The Sunny Side

Looking out the window keeping on the sunny side should not be difficult. Clear skies and sunshine. Looks positive. However, step out the door and one’s perspective quickly changes. A brisk wind. 15 degrees below normal. You really have to ignore the fact that yesterday was technically the first day of spring. It has become rather tedious.

I have thought long and hard about what I wrote last week. There is something that does not sit right with me. Not that I don’t agree with what I wrote. Perhaps it is more of a matter that I should expand on it. Keeping perspective, as we do with the weather, is good. We need to do that. However we also need to be realistic. As much as we have officially entered spring, as much as we know that it will happen some day and as much as we realize that it could be worse we also have certain wants and wishes. We should not ignore them.

Some years ago, after having talked to a group on depression, a participant approached me and began sharing some of the struggles he was having. He could relate too many of the things I had just talked about. But then he said that he really had nothing to complain about. You see. Just the day before Haiti had experienced a devastating earthquake. He felt chagrin, and perhaps even shame, at even thinking he had problems compared to what millions were going through in that country.

This is where we need to tread very carefully. As much as we try to keep things in perspective we must remain cognizant of what we are experiencing. Suggesting that other people are experiencing something worse than us and therefore we should just be happy is not being fair to ourselves.

I would suggest that no matter what we are experiencing we could always find someone that is in a worse situation. And to a degree that does bring about some relief. But it does not fix our problem. Regardless of what is happening in another country, regardless of what my uncle is going through, regardless of what I just heard from my cousin, regardless of the dilemma I dealt with this morning, regardless of how someone else is experiencing health issues, regardless, regardless, regardless. If I am feeling despondent, sad or upset about issues in my life those issues are important, need to be dealt with and cannot and should not be minimized.

We all have a right, we all have the need and we all should feel upset about things happening in our lives that bring pain, hurt or mental anguish. That is normal. However, having these issues fester and stew and control our lives is a problem. That is where the idea of “making it a gooder” comes in. Remember when I talked about mindfulness in the past? Finding your happy place?

Hence the title to this diatribe. Keep on the sunny side. Perhaps that is all we have. I often find that I beat myself up. Think I could have and should have done better. Blame myself for my misery. Becomes a very lonely world. I read some words of wisdom today. They challenged me to be gentle with myself. To never underestimate my own strength. That gave me a sense of comfort. A sense of direction. Perhaps I never will have today, what I think will make me happy, what I think would only be fair. But what I have today can make me happy. That is the key. Keep on the sunny side. Make it a good one.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Make It A Gooder

Last night my wife and I were watching a movie. If you had been fortunate enough to watch through the window you would have laughed. Every time a commercial came on we would run to our separate laptops to check weather. I know. Some of you are thinking that there would be nothing as funny as watching us through a window. The weather was bizarre. Zero visibility. I posted on Facebook that two years ago the golf course had opened and it had been plus 18. Not so much this year.

As I watched on radar and out the window I heard a long sigh from across the room. Another week was beginning and, quite frankly, we had no idea what it would bring. My wife looked at me and said we needed to make it a gooder. A gooder? Not sure that is a word but I knew exactly what she meant. We have the ability to control our destiny.

Okay. That really is a load of crap. We are not able to control our destiny. Do you ever stop and think what the world would look like if you had control? Much different. Let me assure you. However I do understand a quote I read this weekend. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.”

After the blinding snow storm yesterday I took my mother to some medical appointments this morning. The driveway was plugged. Roads were slippery. However I made it. Saw numerous other people that were not as lucky. Came close myself. Ever realize how helpless you are when another car is headed right for you? I saw it coming. I braced for the crash. It didn’t happen. Not sure my heart rate has recovered yet. That would have been a gooder. I don’t think that is what my wife was referring too when she suggested we make it a gooder.

Her suggestion made me think. How often do we or people around us mope through life? We grunt and groan and try to make it from one day to the next. We sit and ponder how life is so unfair. What if the weather was nicer? What if my job paid more? What if I had more money? What if I didn’t have these challenges? I suspect we could always ask “what if”.

In my journeys this morning I stopped in at an uncle and aunt. They needed something to be picked up at the Pharmacy. I did that. I delivered it. I stopped for a fleeting moment for a chat. It was an eye opener.

My uncle had a stroke a number of years ago. It has been devastating for him and for the family. A fellow that used to be active in life. Enjoyed football. A long time season ticket holder to the Bombers. But a life irrevocably changed by a health challenge. A health challenge that confines him to a wheel chair. Trust me. Not what he wants.

As I got up to leave, telling them I needed to get to work, my uncle looked at me at said that he would like to be able to work. He would like to be clearing snow, take out the garbage, and look forward to cutting the grass. But life has dealt him a different card. He can only look out the window and wish. However, the smile on his face was enough to make my day. My aunt told a story that gave me a good belly laugh. I saw a home where there was a real effort to overcome the challenges that this imperfect planet has to offer us.

Gave me a new perspective. As much as I complain. As much as I wish the weather would improve. As much as I wish that I could win the lottery. I know that life is okay. I know that life could be so much more challenging than it really is. I know that at this point I have the ability to make it a gooder. And I know that I will try. Make it a good one.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Diary of a Manitoban

Someone sent me the story below. I think it says it all. My apologies for any language that might offend. Then again, maybe not. Enjoy.

December 8: 6:00 PM. It started to snow. The first
snow of the season and the wife and I took our cocktails and sat for hours
by the window watching the huge soft flakes drift down from heaven. It
looked like a Grandma Moses Print. So romantic we felt like newlyweds
again. I love snow!

December 9: We woke to a beautiful blanket of crystal white snow covering
every inch of the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Can there be a more
lovely place in the Whole World? Moving here was the best idea I've ever
had. Shoveled for the first time in years, felt like a boy again. I did
both our driveway and the sidewalks. This afternoon the snowplow came along
and covered up the sidewalks and closed in the driveway, so I got to shovel
again. What a perfect life.

December 12: The sun has melted all our lovely snow. Such a
disappointment. My neighbor tells me not to worry, we'll definitely have a
white Christmas. No snow on Christmas would be awful! Bob says we'll have
so much snow by the end of winter, that I'll never want to see snow again.
I don't think that's possible. Bob is such a nice man, I'm glad he's our

December 14: Snow, lovely
snow! 8" last night. The temperature dropped to -20. The cold makes
everything sparkle so. The wind took my breath away, but I warmed up by
shoveling the driveway and sidewalks. This is the life! The snowplow came
back this afternoon and buried everything again. I didn't realize I would
have to do quite this much shoveling, but I'll certainly get back in shape
this way. I wish I wouldn't huff and puff so.

December 15: 20 inches forecast. Sold my van and bought a 4x4 Blazer.
Bought snow tires for the wife's car and two extra shovels. Stocked the
freezer. The wife wants a wood stove in case the electricity goes out. I
think that's silly. We aren't in Alaska, after all.

December 16: Ice storm this morning. Fell on my ass on the
ice in the driveway putting down salt. Hurt like hell.
The wife laughed for an hour, which I think was very cruel.

December 17: Still way below freezing.
Roads are too icy to go anywhere. Electricity was off for five hours. I
had to pile the blankets on to stay warm.
Nothing to do but stare at the wife and try not to irritate her. Guess I
should've bought a wood stove, but won't admit it to her. God I hate it
when she's right. I can't believe I'm freezing to death in my own living

December 20: Electricity's back on, but had another 14" of the damn stuff
last night. More shoveling. Took all day.
Goddamn snowplow came by twice. Tried to find a neighbor kid to shovel, but
they said they're too busy playing hockey. I think they're lying. Called
the only hardware store around to see about buying a snow blower, and
they're out. Might have another shipment in March. I think they're lying.
Bob says I have to shovel or the city will have it done and bill me. I
think he's lying.

December 22: Bob was
right about a white Christmas, because 13 more inches of the white shit fell
today, and it's so cold it probably won't melt 'til August. Took me 45
minutes to get all dressed up to go out to shovel, and then I had to piss.
By the time I got undressed, pissed and dressed again, I was too tired to
shovel! Tried to hire Bob, who has a plow on his truck, for the rest of the
winter; but he says he's too busy. I think the asshole is lying.

December 23: Only 2" of snow today,
and it warmed up to "0". The wife wanted me to decorate the front of the
house this morning. What, is she nuts!!!
Why didn't she tell me to do that a month ago? She says she did, but I
think she's lying.

December 24: 6".
Snow packed so hard by snowplow, I broke the shovel. Thought I was having a
heart attack. If I ever catch the son-of-a-bitch who drives that snowplow,
I'll drag him through the snow by his balls and beat him to death with my
broken shovel. I know he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish
shoveling and then he comes down the street at a 100 miles an hour and
throws snow all over everywhere I've just been! Tonight the wife wanted me
to sing Christmas carols with her and open our presents, but I was too busy
watching for the Goddamn snowplow.

December 25: Merry F!=3D@x@!x!x1 Christmas. 20 more inches of the
!=3D@x@!x!x1 slop tonight. Snowed in. The idea of shoveling makes my blood
boil. God, I hate the snow!
Then the snowplow driver came by asking for a donation and I hit him over
the head with my shovel. The wife says I have a bad attitude. I think
she's a fricking idiot. If I have to watch "It's a Wonderful Life" one more
time, I'm going to stuff her into the microwave.

December 26: Still snowed in.
Why the hell did I ever move here? It was all HER idea.
She is really getting on my nerves.

December 27:
Temperature dropped to -30, and the pipes froze. Plumber came after 14
hours of waiting for him; he only charged me $1,400 to replace all my pipes.

December 28: Warmed up to above
-50. Still snowed in. The WIFE is driving me crazy!!!!!

December 29: 10 more inches. Bob says I have to shovel the roof or it
could cave in. That's the silliest thing I ever heard. How dumb does he
think I am?

December 30: Roof caved in. I beat up the snow plow driver. He is now
suing me for a million dollars; not for only the beating I gave him, but
also for trying to shove the broken snow shovel up his ass. The wife went
home to her mother. 9" predicted.

December 31: I set fire to
what's left of the house. No more shoveling.

January 8: Feel so good. I just love those little white pills they keep
giving me. Why am I tied to the bed?

We Wait and We Wonder

I just spent some time reading past blogs. I do that occasionally. Find out what my thoughts were a week ago, a month ago, even a year ago. Very quickly noticed a common thread. We have had winter for close to forever. Windchill last night was -49. I started writing about the brutal winter back in November. Will it never end?

A friend on facebook posted, yesterday, that they were golfing on Sunday and whether I would like to join them. She was just kidding of course. Not much better where they are as they live just up the street. That is cruel. I thought back to two years ago. That is when we moved to La Salle. We moved middle of February. By March 16 the golf course had opened. It was plus 20. I could only envision we had arrived in the promised land. How things have changed. Here we are two years later and by all indications we are living in a god forsaken arctic waste land. My apologies. I sound angry. I should. . . . NO. I am angry. I am tired of this. And so are countless others.

So we wait and we wonder. When will it change? We check the forecast. Even single digits on the minus side gives us hope. We grasp at straws. An old wives tale may be all we have left to provide us with hope. Remember what you heard as a youngster? “If march comes in as a lion it will leave like a lamb.” I think it is safe to assume that March came in like a lion. A hungry, grouchy lion. Probably has a hang nail or something. That gives me hope. Should mean that March will leave as a lamb.

What makes this winter so bad? Why does it feel worse than others? Probably because it is. Worst winter in many years. Then we get a short reprieve and the wind comes back with a vengeance. Add heavy snowfall to the wind and we have ourselves a situation. Travel is difficult. Just getting to and from work is exhausting.

It is getting to everyone. This particular piece has been written over a period of a week. Today is the fourth day in that seven day period that the weather has created significant challenges. That seems to have been the pattern for months. Arctic Vortex seems to be the new norm. The new term used to describe our weather. I am not young anymore and quite honestly cannot recall having heard that before. I think Arctic Vortex sounds like a good title for a movie. A thriller. A movie of survival. I may write the script for that. Just trying to figure out where in the movie we should barbeque the groundhog.

So we wait and we wonder. Wait for the turn around. Wonder why it is taking so long. Folks, there is hope. The forecast shows sunshine and zero for Monday. I know that will change. In fact may have already. But I will not look. In the meantime we can only hope for better things to come. It may be right around the corner. Then again it might take a few months. In the meantime I will wait for something better. It’s all I got. Just saw a picture on Facebook. A picture of a woman up to her knees in snow. The caption reads, "screw it, I am gardening”. Pretty much says it all. Make it a good one.