R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

Respect covers a lot of territory. Today I'm going to narrow it down to respect for private property. This week has been the RAGBRAI bicycle tour of Iowa. It is an annual bike ride from one side of the state to the other. It has thousands of participants and covers a lot of ground. During their week-long ride they stop each night in a pre-determined location where the city has put aside some land to use for them to camp, park their support vehicles, and generally have set up many venues for their entertainment. They also have people along the routes who provide water, other forms of refreshment, food, encouragement, and support. There are volunteer families who donate yard space and house space to the bikers to camp and to use their facilities.

This is great. This would be even greater if the people who participated on these bike rides could all be respectful of the other people along their routes who may not share in their enthusism for bicycling.

A few years ago the path of the ride took them through our community, as it did this week once again. The last time, a friend of ours who lived in the country near the route was shocked upon returning home to find his yard, barn, shed – basically every nook and cranny of his farmstead – taken over by bicycles. Had he offered his home for their use? No. The weather had turned bad and the rain had caused the bikers to pull off the road and take shelter at his farm. They were everywhere. Up in the hay mow of his barn. The one that was about ready to collapse any day. The one that was unsafe for one or two people to be – suddenly was full of people! When our friend asked people to leave, they got angry at him for not being supportive of them.

He asked them, "Where do you live?"

They replied, "Why?"

He said, "Because next week I want to get fifty or a hundred of my best friends and come to your house and hang around your yard."

The person he was speaking to got angry. They just didn't get it.

This week, the ride went right past my son's house – our old house. The road was blocked off to most traffic. My son and husband were trying to haul grain out of a bin at the site. They had to fight thousands of bike riders who feel it is their right not to obey any traffic laws like stop signs, to be able to haul their grain. Trying to do their jobs.

At one point, my husband came back to find people sitting all over the yard in the shade of the trees. He also saw several men going into the corn field. When he asked them what they were doing, one man replied in a joking manner that they were just "going to fertilizer the corn". When my husband asked him where he lived and he replied a city nearby and asked why, my husband replied, "because next week I want to come to your house and fertilize your bushes".

I grew up in town. I grew up with parents who cherished their little square of grass and sidewalk as if it were the only piece of land on earth that mattered. We lived on a corner and I remember how irritated my parents would get if the kids crossed the corner on the way to school, or the newspaper boy cut across the lawn. I was told from the time I was little to stay on the sidewalks and not to go on other peoples' lawns, unless I was invited. This was not just a quirk of my parents, but the code of the neighborhood. We lived in several different neighborhoods and it was the same everywhere. No matter how ratty someone kept their yard, it was still their little piece of the earth and they didn't want your dog coming over to shit on it, or to pee on their flowers… they didn't want your kids tromping on it unless they were over to play with their kids, and you didn't mess with someone elses' stuff.

Respect. Just because we live in the country and you see the wide open spaces does not mean it is property open for public use. We may keep our large lawn mowed and looking nice and you may see a five acre piece of ground that looks like a park, but it is not a park. It is our home. It is our land. It is our field, our crop, our livlihood you're messing with when you tromp out in it to 'relieve' yourself.

Maybe if you didn't act like such assholes we wouldn't hate you so much. Respect. Earn it.*

*I realize like anything else there are some good people who ride bikes and who do obey the laws and who don't trespass. This is not meant for you.

Sharp Objects

I normally try to avoid sharp objects in my life. I have always been a bit of a wuss when it comes to pain and I don't like to put myself in a position to have to have it.

Unfortunately, I've gone and done just that.

I started a new injectible medication for my diabetes on Friday. No, it isn't insulin. It is a new med that is supposed to help my other medications work better. So far, the injection itself hasn't been horrible. It uses a really fine needle like an insulin needle, and it seems to go in without a hitch. My trouble is, the medication is working too well. Now I'm having low blood sugar attacks, as well as the nausea they warned me may be a side effect of the medication at first.

It's been a fun weekend.

Besides giving myself the shots twice a day, I've been having to take my blood sugar readings several times a day to see how it is working. That's the part I hate. Pricking your fingers. I'm running out of fingers! Some blood sugar meters (as well as mine) say you can take blood from your arm, too, but the nurse told me it isn't as "fresh" of blood from your arm as it is from your finger, so you really should take from the finger. Ugh.

Now I'm having to drop some of my oral medication to try and keep from getting the low blood sugar. It is nice to think of taking less medication – and less expensive. But it is at this time still a juggling act trying to figure out exactly what and how much. I'm only on the half-dose of the injectible for the first 30 days, too! Who knows what happens when I up it again. Oh, yeah, I know. The nurse told me. I'll probably go through this stupid transition phase all over again. Fun times, I tell ya!

So… that's what I've been doing. How about you?

God and Politics

Anybody who has come here for any length of time knows I don't do posts very often on religion or politics. Both of those are subjects I have some very definate opinions about and both of them can generate a lot of controversy in the blogosphere. I'm not one to generate controversy. However, a couple of things have happened recently that have made me want to say a little something.

If I Were God. Part I.

In September, 2007, The Los Angeles Times did a story on Jan Mickelson. He is a radio 'personality' on a local station that goes all over the universe. One of those mega-watt stations that can be heard for a gazillion miles. Normally I am not a fan. I just don't spend much time on talk radio. My Hubs has occasion to listen to them quite a bit as he goes back and forth in a tractor cab and music can get pretty old after awhile. I don't know all the details of this story, only the gist… but it is a good enough example to make my point; Jan Mickelson is a very religious man. I have no problem with that. Recently he went on a trip to ….somewhere… remote. I'm not going to pretend I remember where Hubs said it was, but suffice it to say it was a region of the world that had evidently yet to be disturbed by the likes of Jan Mickelson before. Hubs said he was going on and on and on about how beautiful it was, how pure and untouched and how beautiful and wonderful the people were. Then, in my opinion, he stepped on his dick. He started in with a tear-filled choked up voice about how amazing it was to watch these people seeing their native language in print for the first time…. oh, yeah… and it was, of course, some religioius material that was the media.WTF? If these people were so beautiful in their purity… then why didn't he leave them that way? Why is it, some people must be so arrogant in their religious beliefs that they feel they just have to "save" everyone?

If I Were God. Part II.

Last Friday I spent the day with some of my favorite people. Both of my daughters and my grandson. We spent a few hours at the local zoo, then decided on one of the hottest, most humid days of the year to take it up a notch and go to the local amusement park. Surprisingly enough, we had a great time despite the heat. Of course, the massive water ride that got everyone soaked that we rode almost as soon as we got there – that kept us in wet pants for the rest of the day – may have helped. For the most part, it was a terrific time. That is, until we ran into The Obnoxious Woman. There were a lot of things that characterized this woman as obnoxious, and any one of them on their own would have made her marginally tolerable. Rolled together, they were enough to make me want to grab her and shake her and wish I were God so I could reach down and smack her the Big One. She had a couple of children with her, also another adult friend with a child of her own. The Obnoxious Woman was telling her boy – who looked about 6 – that he WAS going on this ride. This ride that he had no-way-no-how-no-no-no-no-please-mommy-don't-make-me-no. Yeah. He was begging for his life. He was pleading with this woman that he did not want to go on this ride. In our park it is called "Der Flinger"… don't know what you may call it in yours. You sit in a swing that goes around in a circle, gradually getting higher and higher in the air where it then pumps up and down at a high rate of speed. The Obnoxious Woman was trying to tell her crying, pleading child that it was "just like a swing in the park"…. BULLSHIT, LADY. She told him he had no recourse but to go on the ride, that if he stayed on the ground "you will be kidnapped". Forget the fact she and her friend could have taken turns, if you are so damned determined you must ride this ride, why must you torture your child for your own pleasure?

She got the kid on the ride… drug him on, kicking and pleading and crying. The whole ride could hear him begging. We were hoping the older guy running the ride would have some rules that said if someone didn't want to go that badly they had to get off, but nope. He just checked their safety lock like everyone elses. The Obnoxious Woman continued trying to tell her child that it was just like that damn swing in the park… all the way until it took off. Then? Then the gut-ripping, heart-stopping shrieks started. The kid was terrified. He screamed, then whimpered… I couldn't see, but imagined her covering his mouth with her hand at that point. When the ride was over she proceeded in a very loud voice to tell him that he was a "big boy now". Forget the fact that he's just had a traumatic experience that probably will make him hate amusement parks, heights, and all rides for the next several years… all because she had to be a selfish bitch.

Probably a good thing I'm not God, huh?… or that I don't talk about it, or politics, much.

Twenty-eight and Counting

wed_day

Twenty-eight years ago about this time of the day (late morning) I was finally starting to get around for the wedding. I had made my dress – finishing it in the nick of time the evening before, and as luck or fate would have it, when I tried it  thinking all was well, I found to my dismay it was too short! That involved a long night of hand-sewing lace to the bottom of my dress to make it long enough.

The wedding was held in a small local church and it was a very warm day. Hubs had already tried to do his part by telling most of his friends to just "skip the ceremony" and come to the hog roast / kegger in the shop afterwards. We still had a packed church.

Afterwards, we had our first fight as a married couple. Steeped in tradition, Hubs' brother and friends had decorated his car (corvette). We had already decided we would take some cake to the nursing home where his grandfather was since he couldn't come to the ceremony. As we were leaving the parking lot of the church, Hubs started taking some of the decorations off! This dismayed me to no end… nooooo! I wailed! You can't take that off! Unfortunately, it was blocking his view of the mirrors and to make our drive a bit safer, he had to. Looking back? Yes, he was right. I was wrong. There. I admitted it.

There was a break between the ceremony and the reception to give people time to get into their casual duds… but, unfortunately, too much of a break it seems for our photographer. With the heat and the time, he was late getting out to my in-laws' house where the shop is and by the time he showed up I hadn't been able to convince my new husband to keep on the tux for the rest of the pictures. Yes, he knows I was right. He admits it.

So here we are, twenty-eight years later and counting… I've learned better to admit when I'm wrong, he's learned to be quiet when he's right. We've been through a lot together. Raising four kids, an un-countable number of critters, and training sons' and daughters'-in-laws. (Just kidding…they already came trained.) We've learned each others' like and dislikes and aren't afraid to tell the other. He's learned what it is like to live with a woman with OCS (only child syndrome) and I've learned that if I am going anywhere with him I'd better take a book. I've learned he can't remember names and therefore, won't introduce me to people. I've learned to be a braver, less shy person and introduce myself. We've figured out what works and what doesn't.

Happy Anniversary, Hubs. I love you more than the day this picture was taken and, I'm sure, less than I will after I write this…

Small Town

I've lived my life in big cities and small towns. Since I've been married I've lived in the country, outside of a fairly good sized town. Not a big city, not really a small town. It is a college town, so the population fluctuates depending on the time of the year and the number of students who are in town at any one time. Still, at the core it is a pretty small town.

My kids grew up here and so did my husband. Since I was the outsider, I've had to get to know people over time… my husband still knows more people in the area than I ever will. My kids probably know more of the younger generation than I do, too.

When things happen in our little community the news spreads like wildfire.  Especially bad news. Especially shocking news.

It has been a summer of death… for the nation, for people my family know… I don't know how many people my daughter has had touch her life this summer that are gone, but too many for one season.

On Tuesday my husband called me at work with the news that a man who was a former neighbor, farmer, friend, and who had a couple of children who were in some of my kids' classes… shot himself dead. Another death this summer.

His family had been farming in Iowa for years, then in Iowa and Texas for a few years before they decided to pack it in and move the whole operation to Texas. That was about five or six years ago. We'd heard various rumors over time… that he'd quit farming and was selling RV's. That he'd gotten some bulldozers and gone to help clean up after Katrina. Who knows what the truth was?  He had a problem with alchohol many years ago, and don't even really know if he ever got a handle on that. Anything could have been the catalist. He just didn't seem the type. He seemed too determined to be rich and have it all and worked like a dog to get there – working his whole family as well.

My heart goes out to his family. They worked so hard to make this life a good one. They tried to help him when he was troubled and seemed to be a very close family. I unfortunately can imagine the hell they must be going through.

This has been one really stressful year… I'm ready for it to be done now.

Celebrations…and Other Stuff

  • I'm late, as usual… yesterday was Jen's birthday! Go on over and wish her a belated one and tell her Sue sent ya!
  • Hard to believe, but a year ago (yesterday) we were watching my eldest son get married. They are such a lovely couple… it is such a great feeling to see your kids happily married. Second only to being happily married yourself! Congratulations, kids! (Can I still call them kids if they're adults?… eh… I'm the Mom. Sure I can. )
  • Did everyone have a good July 4th? I spent a great deal of it playing WoW (no big surprise) and a little of it listening to the dogs and cats go crazy with all the neighboring fireworks. Youngest son had races on Friday and Saturday night and I managed to even get the house cleaned as well as a few of those odd jobs we always put off – like cleaning the oven. I have a few more of those jobs to do… but we wouldn't want to be tooo productive, now, would we?
  • I'm probably going to regret saying this, but the neighbor didn't even shoot guns this weekend! Whoot! Maybe they were gone? Although, they were there on Saturday night shooting fireworks. Hmmm…
  • We have gone into the hot, sticky, humid weather of summer. We had a good chance of storms yesterday afternoon and evening that ended up drifting north of us and petering out in our area. After all the rain we've had it is strange to hear myself say, I wish it would rain. I'm going to have to water the gardens soon. Should have done it yesterday, but was holding out for Ma Nature to do it for me. I think Hubs would even appreciate a bit of a drizzle on his gardens, too…
  • For those of you wondering, eldest daughter is doing great. I mean, really, really terrific. What a blessing.
  • Catching up on my blog reading a little at a time… hope to get around to you soon! I've noticed my comments are down as are visitors. No surprise there… if I don't come see you, how can I expect you to come see me, right? Plus I've not been posting every day. (Oh, you noticed, did you?) I think it is the doldrums. It has hit everyone. I could take a hiatus, but then I might just want to post… so I'll just leave you forwarned "posting may be sporadic".

Happy Monday everybody~~~

Quick to Judge

I don't know about you, but usually I am a pretty good judge of people. I usually know pretty much right away whether or not someone can be trusted or are reliable or are a 'real' person. Sometimes I am too quick to judge, though.

I laughed when my elder son was explaining his early relationship with his new wife. He said he thought she was fake because she was just sooo nice. She was too nice to be 'real'. As he got to know her, he found out she was just genuinely that nice! We all found that out, too. She is nice. Sweet as pure sugar. Almost too good to be true. Almost.

Another situation where I was too quick to judge was my younger daughter's boss. Years ago she worked for him before she got married and moved away. At that time, I have to admit, I thought he was a bit toooo attentive to my beautiful young daughter. I found out he and his wife were having some troubles and in the back of my mind I started thinking "sleezoid". After she divorced and moved back to town she eventually went back to work for him. Over the years I have figured out that he really is just that friendly and nice… to everyone. He flirts, he laughs, he spends money… on everyone. He is a genuinely generous and nice fellow and there is nothing sleezy about him. I feel badly that I mis-judged him so harshly. He's been nothing but great to my daughter and makes her working life and continuing education schedule a possible thing.

Remember the crazy elderly neighbor lady? The one who came to the door and yelled at me a few years back? Well, her daughter must have either changed her medication, gotten her off the alcohol, or all of the above. She's been just as nice as can be ever since then. We don't really chat and are not neighborly, but she will wave at me and smile if we meet on the road or if she is out in her yard as I go by. Hubs continued to plow snow out of their driveway and every time he does her daughter is quick to rush over with a check from her mom for him. He says he doesn't need her to pay him, but she insists – so he takes it. My opinion is changing on her, too. I would hate to be remembered for one moment in my life when I behaved badly. Heaven knows there have been lots of opportunities!

So… do you find yourself quick to judge? Do you think you are a good judge of people? Have you ever been horribly wrong?

Paah-tee!

Twenty seven years ago today a red-headed pea-picker (as Hubs used to call her) entered our lives. Red heads are known for many things, and believe it, ours lives up to most of the images. As hard headed and stubborn as she can be, she can be generous and loving and sweet. Her wit can cut like a knife and the sarcasm will drip off her chin. She's beautiful and funny and smart … and can be frustrating and irritating with the best of them. She is an ideal representation of what our family can be – a little dash of her father, a little smidge of me… a dusting of brothers and sister influences… all rolled into a very complex package.

Happy Birthday, Em! We love you to pieces…