He’s Soooo Cheap…

How Cheap Is He? Those of you who are old enough to remember Johnny Carson, will get it.

I have a co-worker. He is cheap. Not just frugal, mind you (this is MIL’s word – she, too, is cheap, but refuses to be called cheap), but cheap. Those other of us in the office occasionally bring in treats of some sort, or even provide lunch. Nothing fancy, but one of us will bring a crock pot of chili or chicken and noodles, grill burgers, you get the idea. Not B. Twice a year, almost by clockwork, B will bring in a pan of brownies his wife has baked. He takes credit, although we all know his wife has done it.

(He calls her Mother. I don’t know about you, but I have a Dad and my Husband is NOT my dad, so unless I’m talking to my children I refuse to call him Dad.)

The rest of the time, B feels not one bit of shame at helping himself to whatever goodies we bring. I’m talking helping himself. If he had a wooden leg, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him stuffing it full of chocolate chip cookies!

Occasionally he brings treats. For himself. He brings them into the office and sneaks them into his desk drawer. The other guys go in when he’s outside and see what he’s brought. Just for fun. We have a pop machine twenty feet from his office door and the pop is 50 cents. Pretty cheap in this day and age. He brought in a little refrigerator and keeps his pop in it. Same kind. HIS.

One day he brought in a big, mouthwatering cinnamon roll. Two of us saw him bring it in… something, anyway. He snuck it down by his side and tried to act nonchelaunt (sp?) as he walked through the office. It only made us suspicious. We checked his drawer while he was in the bathroom. Oh…how good it looked! Two hours later, I saw him sneak it back out of his desk and over to the storage room, where I presumed he ate it as he didn’t have it when he came back out ten minutes later.

He’s always up for free lunches if one of the salesmen are buying, but if it’s up to him to buy his own lunch he’ll just go home where “Mother” will make his lunch. (Yes, she works full time).

When you pitch in to buy a gift from the office, he’s always the last one to contribute and often has to be reminded several times of the amount – as though he can’t remember it’s ten dollars. Uh huh.

He was on vacation last week, but had to stop by the office one evening for something. One of the other guys had a newspaper laying on his desk he’d not gotten around to reading yet. When he came in the next day, the paper was gone. Who could have taken it? B. Only he is too cheap to go buy his own. He wanted the grocery ads.

The only guy cheaper that him that I know is my BIL. That’s another story.

Back In the World

Hi everybody! Thank you to all of you for your kind words. “Ye warm the cockles of me hart…” Oooo…that was bad. At any rate, I’m back in the land of the living. It’s been a crazy week. I’ll try to nutshell it for you:

Monday: Work for a few hours, then Hubby asks me to go trucking with him to Cedar Rapids hauling corn. As weird as it sounds, that usually turns out to be quality time with him. He doesn’t have TV distractions, or phones ringing, and we just ride along and visit. I enjoy going.

Tuesday: Turning inside out. Why? Who knows. Throw up so hard I pull a muscle in my back. WTF? I didn’t need THIS!

Wednesday: Ice. Pack. Sit. Read.
Thursday: ditto
Friday: ditto
Saturday: ditto

See? …and you thought I’d been having fun without you!

I must mention I read a good book (well, I actually read 5, but I’m only discussing one). If you haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife , you should. That’s all I’m saying, ’cause I don’t want to ruin for you if you haven’t read it, but it’s much better and more interesting than I thought it was going to be.

Saturday, Youngest Son won his race! Whoo hoo! He’s back in the lead on track points and there is only one more “official” race to go. If he finishes the race – even if he doesn’t win – he should be the track champ. Don’t tell anyone – we’re planning on camping at the track next weekend. If you tell MIL I’m gonna hunt you down and punish you severely!!! Yeah, we’re being sneaky. We’re going to try and go without telling her. Of course, she goes every weekend to the race with Hubby, so he’s going to have to get reeeallly creative with his story. I’m not sure what he’s going to say, but supposedly he’s got it all worked out. Between you and me, I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m sure there is going to be some glitch and we’ll be thrown back into the twilight zone of MIL and the RV, but we can hope, right?

Hubby is sitting on the deck last night: Do you ever get the feeling things are going tooo good?
Me: Quite a change from a week ago, huh?
Hubby: Yeah. Scary.
Me: Glad we don’t live in New Orleans. Those poor people. Can you imagine having to leave your home and not knowing if it’s going to be there the next time you see it?
Hubby: Yeah. Some newscaster said this could be the end of New Orleans!
Me: We’re very lucky.

We’re so thankful for our family, friends, and good fortune. Take a minute to hug the ones you love. Thanks again, blogfriends… it’s always amazing to me how people can connect over this weird thing called the internet.

Welcome to the Roller Coaster

Warning: There is somewhat of a lecture here. Please read it anyway.

My life is anything but boring. It goes from terrifying lows to equally terrifying highs. All the medication in the world doesn’t help.

In the world of farming, things are a little shaky right now. Thank GOD we are blessed with what appears to be a good crop. In Illinois and Missouri, the crops aren’t looking very good – they pretty much burned up this summer. We got some timely rains and that helped immensely. However, as you out there are preparing to put gasoline in your vehicles to go to work and are in sticker shock about the prices, I would mention that we not only have to put gas in our pickups and small go-to-work cars, but in our farm equipment. Diesel fuel right now (off-road) is over twice what it was last fall at this time – almost three times as much. Tractors that easily burn 200 gallons a day while working. The cooperatives want us to fill our on-farm barrels before the price goes up further. We’re talking $8,000, people. We purchase LP gas to use in our grain dryers. It, too, has gone up…. as have the fertilizers and anhydrous we use to produce a crop… they are made with natural gas and therefore the price has increased for those too.

However, the price for our grain right now is at an almost all-time low. We spend more for a gallon of gas than we are paid for a bushel of corn. Think about that. Everyone wants cheap food. People, more often than not, blame the farmer for any increases in food costs. Believe me… we are not the ones seeing the increase! The people on both ends of us are the ones that see the increases. Our production costs keep skyrocketing and the middle-men tack on the increases that you see. We get squeezed in the middle.

Another thing I’d just like you to think about a minute. Do you know right now how much money you’re going to make this month? This year? Is your insurance subsidized by your employer? Do you worry when it hails that you will lose your whole years’ income?

We pay our own insurance. All of it. It isn’t cheap, but is critical as we also work in one of the most dangerous jobs there are. We don’t have the luxery of knowing what we’ll make from year to year. Oh, we can make guesses, but they are based on how much grain is raised per acre, and how much that grain is worth – minus the costs of production. When we started out this year, we didn’t even know if we would have a crop. Would there be a drought, like hit Illinois? Will we have pests that eat the crop? We do what we can to prevent such things, but some like the weather are totally out of our control, and if we do have to spray for pests that is another cost added to the production. Mid-year our fuel prices leapt into the air (as did yours), but diesel is still more expensive than gasoline and our tractors, combines, semi-trucks, all run on diesel. If we do have a crop, then we have to rely on someone in Chicago (the Board of Trade) to determine what our grain is going to be worth. Will China be importing? Will Russia be exporting? Will there be rain in Chicago? How much is on hand? It gets nuts trying to figure out what prices will be and why. There used to be some kind of a rhyme or reason to that, but even common sense has gone out the window where marketing is concerned.

It’s a good life, don’t get me wrong. I love living in the country and some of the freedoms it provides. You have to be a very self-motivated person, however, which my husband is. He’s done this his whole life, except for the four years he served his country in the Navy. You have to be disciplined and get yourself out there every day to do what needs to be done – and in the fall and spring when there is planting and harvesting to be done, you won’t be home for dinner. Ever. They are long days. But it is good. It would just be nice to have a fighting chance at making an income that is reasonable. To get a good price for our grain that would pay all the input costs and possibly give us some extra, instead of feeling like we’re living from hand to mouth some days.

End of lecture.

Yesterday we talked about selling our new house. We’ve only lived there a little over a year and we love it. It’s our dream house. It isn’t huge, but compared to what we came from, it is. It is ours (well, the banks’, of course)… instead of living in a house that came with the farmstead and is a rental where you are constantly at the whim of the landlord as to when the house can be painted or repairs can be made, unless you want to pay for them all yourself. My husband lived in the old house practically his whole life and now our son lives there. We raised our children there and though it feels like our (old) home, it was never ours. This is ours, but hasn’t felt like it because we both feel we don’t deserve something this nice…. and we’re always afraid that something will come along and take it away.

Yesterday we thought we were to that point. We looked at the bills we still had to pay to get through the rest of the year. We looked at the increase in fuel costs, fertilizer costs, seed costs… and what our grain is worth today. We cried. A lot. We hugged. A lot. We told ourselves not to love anything that can’t love you back. We called our son and told him we might have to move back to the old house. We all sat in shock and stared at the beautiful house we may not have much longer. Hubby said he would sell the whole field, as he wouldn’t be able to go by it and know someone else was living there. He wept for what he feels is his failure. He says he wishes we’d never built it – it would have been better to never have had it then to have had it and lose it. My heart broke with his pain, more than for my own.

This morning we went to the banker and laid it all out. We told him we thought we’d have to sell the house. He stared at both of us and said, no…no…no…NO. He looked at our financials and said we still had plenty of equity in equipment and land and even some room to play with the cash flow and he could give us more money to see us through the rest of the year until crops start coming in. He reminded us he is conservative and he wouldn’t extend it to us unless he knew it would work. He gave us some suggestions to free up some grain for delivery that had been stored and sealed to pay off our old operating note. He saw the tears well up in my husbands’ eyes talking about me offering to sell the house, and he looked at me and said, “You will die in that house“. (I know that sounds ominous, but believe me, it was a good thing.)

We left the bank back on top of the rollercoaster. We called our son and rejoiced. We talked and hugged and cried and thanked the powers that be for the intervention that just had happened. We were exhausted. We went home and sat on our deck and looked at our house and my husband was finally able to say, “I finally feel it is ours and we are going to be here forever”.

Me too.

Empty Nest – Again

The nest is empty – again. Our eldest son graduated from college and moved to a nearby town week before last, and our youngest daughter who was here visiting this week on vacation is safely back at home. Tonight is race night, so Hubby is with MIL (all-together now, everyone say, “poor guy”) and Youngest son and probably DIL2b (I’ll just refer to her from now on as DIL2b, ’cause if it doesn’t happen it will be a miracle) at the track going for his 5th or 6th win in a row. (I say 6, Hubby thinks 5)

Friday daughter and I went to get haircuts. She got about 12″ taken off and looks very cute and mature now. She worried all day about what SIL would say, but when she got home it met with his approval. The mantra for the day, was “It’ll grow back”. It’s just at her shoulder and is rather choppy-cut and is something different for her. She’s not had hair that short for years. Me, I just got trimmed. Now that mine is pretty short it has to be trimmed more often. Hubby still says he likes it… but that got me thinking.

He always has claimed in the past that each time he tells me my hair looks nice… I change it. Usually a new cut. So… I’m trying to decide if this is reverse-psychology. Is he voluntarily telling me my hair looks nice and he likes it because he really does like it? Or is he saying it in the hopes that I’ll run right out and change it? Hmmm… I asked him that, and he claims it’s because he really likes it. Hope so, ’cause it’s lots easier to take care of and is way different than I’ve had it forever and I’m going to keep it this way until I get tired of it. Guess if he starts hating it he’ll step on that land mine when he gets to it.

After haircuts, we went to a neighboring town for some parts for her vehicle. YS was doing some minor repair work on it for her (what a guy!), so we picked up the parts. Then off to the local restaurant. This is one of those itty-bitty places that’s been in the family for several generations and has the best homecooked food. All you have to do is look at the cooks/waitresses (they take turns cooking and serving) and you can tell this isn’t diet food. This is mmmmm mmmmm good food. Not someplace you’d want to eat daily, but is the local farmer coffee shop in the morning, and normally the local hot spot at lunchtime, too. Occasionally we get supper there – next to eating at home, it’s the best… and far enough away from the bigger town that the crowds aren’t horrid. Hubby claims nobody in this town owns a stove.

After being stuffed with hot beef sandwiches (with potatoes and gravy, you know) and large pieces of homemade pie with ice cream, it was time to go home and have a power nap!

Daughter and grandcritter loaded up late afternoon and headed home, where we heard later she arrived safely. Eldest son is still phoning and e-mailing me for recipes. One of his old roomates took his recipe book I’d made for him with all the family recipes. Suppose I should have gotten another one made before he moved out, but forgot that it should have been on my list. After awhile he’ll have them all at this rate, anyway!

It’s sure quiet around here… Oh, wait… I hear puppies barking…

The Other Side Update

In a tragic turn of events, I found out something last night about the female in this relationship that has turned me cold. A little over a year ago a co-worker of mine got married. This was a few months after this couple got married.

The woman went to the brides’ bachelorette party, the man to the groom’s bachelor party (at a strip club – no surprise). The man and grooms’ co-workers were at his party, along with male members of the grooms’ family.

The woman leaves the bachelorette party, goes to the bachelor party, and proceeds to sit down and disrobe! For no rhyme or reason that anyone could fathom, she sat at the bachelor party in front of her husband’s co-workers and friends and all the grooms’ male friends and family members, topless.

The bride just found out a few months ago at our daughter’s wedding. The groom got a snootful of booze and it came out.

Can you believe this? I sure couldn’t! Unfortunately, the people who told me wouldn’t have made it up. I really felt for this guy before – now I really feel for him! Wow…

I.Don’t.Do.That.

Hubby and I went to a dinner tonight with entertainment. This was being sponsored by a company who does business with my company, so although it was required, it was something that it didn’t hurt to make an appearance at.

The guy who runs this other company is rather a gregarious sort. Almost extreme.

We had some drinks, they grilled some food, and we had a nice dinner. Sat at a table with co-workers of mine (where are all the wives, guys?) and Hubby chatted with them all. He knows most of them from other things at work.

After dinner, there was a small speech, then the entertainment portion of our evening began.

Shoot me now.

The three-man band was good, don’t get me wrong. They could play. They could amuse. But, DAMN! Does there have to be audience participation? Can’t we just sit here and be, like, entertained?

We slipped out during intermission. Yeah, I know, party poopers.

Tire Update

6:00 a.m. Wednesday. Morning. The phone rings.

Hubby: Hello?
MIL: Well, it’s flat now.
Hubby:…
MIL: I just went out to get in the car and the tire is completely flat.
Hubby: Oh.
MIL: Are you coming over to fix it?
Hubby: Well, I suppose so. Can I get up first?
MIL: I have to get to coffee with the girls
Hubby: Now?
MIL: No, not until 9:00
Hubby: So, I can get up and maybe get dressed and have my coffee before I come over?
MIL: It’s flat now. I can’t go anywhere. I have to get to coffee.
Hubby: …

Me: I’ll call Sindy. She knows how to bury bodies.