What shall I muse about that will bring positive 'feels' to anyone who takes the chance and uses a few minutes of their valuable time to ponder my ramblings? Today, for my PCT's-Positive CJ Thoughts, I'll explain a bit about life on the farm.
Yes, there will be an important social message somewhere within. Personally, I think we need to laugh frequently and there is a time to be serious. Turn on the news and there's plenty that is so far from funny. Most days it's downright terrifying.
On the farm, there are just times when the mud never seems to go away.
It's very fitting that a few days ago, it was national mud day...not kidding in case you missed it.
The rain certainly hasn't given us a break this month. We've had close to ten inches fall in the last thirty days. Thus, there are a lot of puddles. My wife wants me to slow down as we come up on mud puddles to not get her vehicle dirty. I, on the other hand, want to 'hit'em hard' and watch the water splash out from under my tires->>> (which makes the holes bigger that this wife has to then fill with gravel!)<<<<-THIS is what happens when you ask your wife to read through your blog for errors and she takes editorial privilege. I still love her.
My nephew used to HATE, and I do mean HATE, getting dirty. Living on the farm changed that. The other day, he was supposed to be picking strawberries. After about ten berries made their way to his bucket, he got "distracted".
They tried again to get him to pick and he again couldn't quite accomplish the task. His excuse was "the mud distracted me."
Mud distracts me too and frequently hitches a ride on me somewhere. It's become a custom for Christmas, to buy the kids the next size muck boot they will need to tromp around the farm because there is ALWAYS mud somewhere to be found.
You can ask my wife to confirm it, but dirt jumps on me. I can sit almost perfectly still and somehow get dirt or mud on me.
My wife on the other hand, can work all day and look like she just put clean clothes on. It's maddening. Sometimes I just want to rub dirt on her. She has a lot of boots too.
Muck boots are a part of our everyday life and we have them all over the place.
I believe that every lesbian farmer, needs a good pair of boots and plenty of easy living clothes. Fashion has very little meaning in our world. The clothes need to be comfortable and functional. Whatever it is, needs pockets (lots of pockets), and has to be machine washable.
THAT is a must. Oh, and there needs to be a baseball or cowboy hat. I only own ball caps, but my wife has her eye on a particular style of cowboy hat she's been thinking of.
A few years ago, one of the nationally broadcast radio jackasses that I refuse to name, made a statement about 'lesbian farmers'. Yeah, if you don't believe me, google it. After that, came the Lesbian Farmer Musical video…THAT one, I'm going to give you the link to, because…I believe, that's some funny stuff.
I've posted several pictures of me rocking the 'lesbian farmer" look. Yes, before you ask, there is flannel and denim involved. Oh and Carhartt, lots of Carhartt for the winter.
I probably own more pair of work jeans and shorts than should be legally allowed-ask my wife. Hey, when I find something comfortable, I buy enough of it to not have to wash clothes every day..or lately, make my wife wash clothes every day.
Remember, five days a week I wear a uniform, and then there are the workout clothes and the tank-tops I sweat through nightly when the hot flashes from hell take over. That's just my laundry. With her on the farm full time now, she uses more clothes too because the mornings start out cool and damp, then end up sticky and sweltering. She dresses in layers and does the lesbian farmer version of a strip tease- long sleeve button up shirt falls down her arms to reveal a T-shirt, the T-shirt eventually gives way to a form fitting tank top and the rest….well, that's for my eyes only. Remember, I put a ring on it.
Suffice to say, it's a lot of laundry and thank heavens for our new fifteen-hundred-gallon water tank and the ability to take a shower longer than three minutes, but I digress…squirrel, shiny thing...
Back to my lesbian farmer look. For summertime work, there's usually a pair of shorts and a T-shirt with the sleeves removed to avoid the dreaded Farmer's Tan. You know what I'm talking about, the tan lines that start midway down your thighs and about three inches down on your bicep. Now before you go getting any ideas…I am soooo not the Daisy Duke type, under any circumstances. I'm not rocking high heel sandals, and a shirt knotted under my, well, you get the idea. I'm wearing some kind of cargo short and …boots with socks until everything dries up or it gets hot, then I switch to the oldest pair of hikers or tennis shoes I own. You know the ones I'm talking about, they are held together with duct tape and shoe goo.
I can tell you, I am allll kinds of sexy in those outfits. (I can see my wife rolling her eyes now.) Most of the time, no one sees me anyway while I'm weeding and I just need comfortable….with pockets…and my ballcap….and my earbuds….and my audio book. OH and don’t forget my shades. Yes, I am one hot mess.
Like I told you, there is also ALWAYS some kind of dirt on me. On my face, on my legs, and definitely on my arms, there is dirt.
When I shower, I leave half the produce field on the shower floor. Dirt never hurt anyone, trust me. My nephew finally figured that out, now he usually ends up with a lot of dirt on him too. I am so proud to have been a positive example for him to aspire to. Again, I can picture my wife rolling her eyes.
I have a soft green flannel shirt that I throw on when it's cool… until the hot flash hits.
It's very possible to see me in a pair of long swim shorts (because they are cool and have pockets), a tank top, boots and that flannel shirt. Folks, it's just not pretty, but..it IS functional. Oh, and the ball cap.
I have more ball caps than should be legal.
Yes, it's nearly as desperate a situation as the T-shirt issue that my wife has already had one intervention on.
Hand in the air, yes, that actually happened. I walked into the bedroom one day to see every one of our T-shirts pilled up six deep on the bed-covering the entire surface and mostly in the color blue. My wife stood with her hands on her hips and I knew I was in trouble. I get T-shirts as part of my uniform, three to four a year. Now…remember that I've told you, I've been working for the fire department for twenty-five years. (CJ madly starts trying to use the math skills we've been working on with our nephew..three times twenty five is???) ((((…five times three, carry the one…))) Yeah, seventy-five-navy-blue-fire department t-shirts. This picture is only a small portion of the navy blue shirts I own.
Now add in the, navy blue t-shirts I receive as instructor staff uniforms for junior fire camp…five per year for seven years….that one I got..thirty five. And then are the t-shirts I pick up from places we've been, the breast cancer awareness shirts, the 'I'm Irish' T-shirts, West Virginia Mountaineer, Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers T-shirts.
Oh and the white T-shirts for dressing up, black when it's a formal occasion. Yeah, you get the idea. She staged an intervention and enacted the rule…for every one blue T-shirt I bring home, three have to get pitched, turned into rags, donated or something that doesn't involve them still being in our closet. I relented but stole back a few of the T-shirts she had piled up for destruction. Hey..don't judge me. That same night, we went out to have a beer in our favorite bar on the anniversary of them opening business. I…..talked her into buying a commemorative T-shirt…No lie, true story. It's now a classic in our closet. I later got a hat on another trip. So not kidding you. (Love you Jess.)
The last two T-shirts I acquired have special meaning. One is a royal blue T-shirt with TeamStadelman on it that I wore during the Run for Your Life in tribute to my friend Chris. I walked with his wife, their dog and about forty of his friends in tribute to his life and to raise funds for cancer.
The other T-shirt is in support of my friend Cathy, a fellow firefighter who got a cancer diagnosis at forty five. For years, her motto has been.."It ain't easy being Weezy." (her nickname) Now her motto is #kickincancersass. Yeah, I'm going to rock that shirt as I do whatever I can to help her get through the toughest firefight of her life.
I'm not even going to begin to get into how may pair of black socks I own, both calf length, above the calf and ankle socks. Hey, my boots at work destroy them, so I have to have a lot of them and I so dislike white socks with my tennis shoes. I ran out of short black socks the other day and put a pair of white one's on. My wife laughed at me because trust me, it was an unusual sight.
I know, I know, I'm beginning to show you hoarder tendencies, but we won't talk about the amount of user manuals for things we no longer have that just recently got cleaned out when we moved. (Not my obsession, just saying.) Lesbian Farmers need stuff I tell you.
I do clean up nice though and occasionally, I think even my wife thinks I look snazzy. You should see me in my Class A Uniform for work.
Even with all that, I still prefer my cargo shorts and sleeveless T-shirts or a soft Pink Floyd tank top to the majority of my clothes, with boots and a ball cap.
Hey.... not everyone can make this fashion disaster look like it should be rocking the runway show at Tractor Supply. Hey, there's a sale on muck boots I think there are still a few muddle puddles to splash in. Who's with me?
Now for the serious part of my blog this week. Some of you will have seen part of this before, but I wanted to share it with those of you who interact with me on a totally different plane of existence.
Every morning I have a routine of walk, an hour walk, around my parking lot at work. I started noticing how many wildflowers were around my fire station.
Then I noticed all the invasive weeds and vines that were creeping out from the fence line toward the pavement.
The flowers could be found in among those weeds.
As I was walking, I saw a number of weeds springing up out of the blacktop. No visible soil to feed the plant, but I knew the most evasive part, the root system, was alive and well beneath the layer of asphalt and rock.
Those roots were constantly spreading to find the next crack to spring up from. The whole tableau reminded me of people and the society we live in.
All around us there are fantastic people, the wild flowers if you will. Every shape and color, beautiful in nature...
....and then there are the weeds. They are larger in number and frequently overtake the flowers. They are more prolific because they can survive on next to no nutrients or draw them from far away. They spring up almost anywhere, even in places it seems impossible. Left to their own devices, those weeds will take over everything and choke out the beauty, as do hate groups hell bent on turning back time. Just like these weeds, they have to be exposed and removed.
They have to be pulled and the root system destroyed. Unfortunately, some things that masquerade as flowers, are actually weeds.
Now some weeds, years ago, were considered helpful and we even tried to repurpose them, think about multifloral rose bushes that were touted as "natural fence lines". They were so prolific, that farmers couldn't keep up with cutting them back while trying to accomplish every other chore they had. Farmers got busy having to go to work a secular job to pay the bills and the MFR was completely ignored. Eventually, they choked out entire hillsides and made the farmland unusable. My point to this musing is this. There are "weeds" everywhere. Left unchecked, they will choke out the flowers and make the land untenable. (Believe me about this-- most of my efforts on the farm involve removing a weed that's coming up where the produce is supposed to be drawing nutrients and water. The weed will steal from the useful plant if not tented to.)
To make sure there are less weeds, plant ferns, they will change the landscape and choke those ground level weeds out. They too are prolific but don't have a thorn to snag you and draw blood.
Ferns don't hide a poison oil that will cause your skin to blister then itch for days.
Don't be fooled. The weeds are good at protecting themselves and very good at making their way into every aspect of our lives. Put good people in office. I don't care if they have a 'D' or an 'R' after their name. Pick good people, -then the flowers can find their way back into the sun.
(And yes, I know some of the flowers pictured, are considered weeds...but they were pretty. Work with me here.)
Yup, I'm going to tell you again, my new book, The Bucket List, is in the editing phase. I want to share the blurb with you so you will start getting as excited about it as I am.
Professor Jordan Armstrong, a biogenetic engineer, is at an impasse in her super food research. In order to move forward, she is adamant that her former professor, Noeul Scott, is the key. The problem is, Noeul vanished after a personal tragedy. Jordan stumbles upon a coded 'bucket list' that she hopes will reveal clues to where she's gone. With the help of her cryptologist sister, Jordan follows clues to several National Parks where hidden memorials to Noeul's deceased wife, contain the next set of coded ciphers. Jordan must decode each in order to reveal the next location. Along this expedition, she is guided by something, or someone, she can't see. Unexplained happenstances continue to direct her steps.
Retired professor, Noeul Scott is alone, living in her mountaintop home in West Virginia. After the loss of her wife, Aggie James, she believes she is meant to live a solitary life, existing and not truly living. The love of agricultural research helps her pass the time as she experiments with unique grafting techniques in her primitive lab. Noeul begins to be visited by Aggie from the afterworld, who reminds her that life is meant to be lived in the present, not in the past. Her solitary days are interrupted after she reads about a former student who is advancing her research in a promising new direction.
Two jaded souls walk a similar path that puts them on a collision course. Pain, old hurts, and uncertainty may keep them on parallel paths without intersection, unless they can seize the opportunity before them.
I've started writing a different book using my experiences and that of my wife, from our emergency service careers. I'm hoping it will turn into a series filled with adventure…and of course love. Until then, my debut novel 'frame by frame', is available at your favorite outlets.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to these mindless musings from someone who is probably currently wearing cargo shorts and a sleeveless T-shirt….and a ball cap…and some sunglasses….and boots….and…..I'm probably stomping through a mud puddle, harvesting or planting something in the mud.