Saturday, October 24, 2009

Going GREEN has been HIP all along

The View From My Front Porch
October 2009
Beth Voltmer, New Virginia, Iowa

My husband and I recently purchased a property for a rental and a part of the terms were that we’d take care of clearing out the personal property that the seller’s (two brother’s selling their father’s place) did not want. Since ‘digging for treasures’ is my thing, I thought to myself, I’m up for this. What I discovered was, recycling, reusing, repurposing…it’s been hip and here all along.

When the Tri-corner had an announcement regarding a fall garage sale in town, I decided I should probably participate…it was time to get things sorted and cleaned out. I would just combine the project with items from home and from the little place we purchased.

Having already sorted, thrown away and cleared items from the home on the property, it was time to tackle the garage. I had an absolute ball! Truly, one man’s junk is another’s treasure. What the sellers left behind, ended up being an adventure for me. The two sons told us that their dad loved to go to auctions and if a box of something wouldn’t get a bid, the auctioneer would just sell it to their father for .50 cents.

I started at ‘one’ workbench. I say ‘one’ because there were several. I unearthed can after can of nails, screws, bolts, tacks…you name it, I found it…I just didn’t always know what it was, that I had found. Empty cans, jars, and box after empty box, just waiting and ready for whatever the homeowner needed it for. I thought to myself…he must have spent hours upon hours out in the garage just tinkering. Tinkering…I’ve decided, is a good thing and something I need to do more of.

Tinkering…I like the word and all it entails: mindless sorting, effortless organizing, fixing, dabbling, repairing and best of all…puttering. Puttering…another good word. As I went about puttering around, I pictured the homeowner in his bib overalls or worn denim jacket (they, too, were in the corner of the garage), just picking up and putting down. Fixin’, patching, repairing and replacing. Just tinkering…puttering, with only your thoughts to get in the way.

Coming from an auction, unloading his pickup truck of treasures, must have given him the same pleasure as this was giving me. Wondering what something had been used for, what an item was and ‘why’ someone would even have it, let alone keep it. Maybe thinking of a way to ‘repurpose’ an item or two. A treasure here and a treasure there…but mostly, just stuff…or maybe even ‘junk’. BUT…one man’s junk…”

My son was helping one afternoon, readying the garage and the items in it that I would be selling. He said to me, “Mom, you do realize, this is just junk, don’t you?” I whipped around and said to him,” this is what I do, this is what I like…” he then said to me, “well, I’m the one going to have to go through it all and clean it out when you’re gone.” A little while later, as we were clearing out a corner, I turned to see him checking out some kind of metal thingy. He turned it right, he turned it left…I saw the look in his eye. When he realized that I had seen him put it with the items he was storing in the garage, all he could do was grin, he’d been caught! Again, I say…another man’s junk…” I clearly would have thrown that metal thingy away!

As the garage sale unfolded and I was visiting with shoppers, a young man came by. He and I were talking about all the stuff I’d found. He reminisced about his grandpa having the same kind of stuff…jars and can after can of nails and screws. He mentioned his grandma had saved every plastic butter dish she’d ever purchased. He found them in the basement one time, while searching for something else. He said, it’s not that it’s messy or anything, they are nicely stored and she knew where they were. He just didn’t know why a person would keep them.

This got me to thinking…AGAIN. There is something to be learned from this. This generation LIVED green. They didn’t throw things away, as it would be useful another time for another purpose. Or NOT. They were raised during a much different time. A time of “waste not, want not”. And so it was, and so here we are…becoming mindful of reusing, repurposing, restyling, re…re…re! Re-learning to live in a greener way…being green is hip…and it turns out, it always has been. So, my dear son, I’ve told you all along I’m pretty hip, and this just proves it!

And this folks, is the view from my front porch.
Beth Voltmer lives on a farm in rural New Virginia

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jack Mack has inspired me!

The View from My Front Porch March 15, 2009/Jack Mack

The rain was coming down…lightning lit up the sky. An early spring rain. Coming home from work, Mackenzy ran from the car into the house. Loud and stern, she was telling Callie, our dog, to stay out…she was covered top to bottom with mud and was wet from end to end. Why she wasn’t under the protection of her dog house, I don’t know. Progressively getting louder, Mackenzy’s screams brought us to our feet. We ran from the sunroom upstairs to see what was going on.

As Steve entered the living room, he exclaimed, “it’s a little dog!” Upon entering the kitchen, after flying down the stairs, I saw my daughter, Mackenzy, on top of the kitchen island. Petrified, she didn’t know what had ran into the house as she was making every effort to get Callie back out.

This is how Jack Mack (named by us) came to live with us. Where he came from, one only knows. How he came to our place is anyone’s guess. A most jovial dog, he has made a home right in our hearts. This, alone, is an amazing feat for me.

You see, dogs and cats just really aren’t my thing. This wasn’t always so. When I was little, I had a cat named, Cartoon. We’ve had pets all my life, but, I prefer them outside to inside. I love having Callie around and I’ve even gotten soft with her, letting her in the house on cold winter evenings. She’s old enough now that she’s easy to have in the house. Not exploring all over the place, wanting to be petted and licking your face. She’s mellowed out, so to speak…my kind of dog. She’s mellowed, and I’ve softened. It must be an ‘age’ thing.

So, this little Jack Mack has been chipping away at my heart, much like my nephew, Camden, suggested to me he does. He is endearing, he minds well, although he has had a few accidents, has a really cute face and whines when my husband leaves to go to work or outside. I’ve gone so far as to let him climb up on the furniture and nap with me on the bed. This is really something for me. What is it about this little dog, Jack Mack?

Knowing he’s really not ours, we’ve taken over the role of care-takers until we find out who he belongs to. I’ve asked around town, checked for ‘lost dog’ signs in the local bank, post office and gas station. Who could he possibly belong to? Why isn’t someone looking for him? Our place would not be the easiest one to find and go hang out at. A trip to the store to get a few things for the dog, has provided food, treats, breath and teeth cleaning ‘bones’, a collar and a leash, and a little stuffed pig that squeaks.

We took Jack Mack with us to go visit my sister and her family (another milestone for me). We were talking about all of my efforts to track down the dog’s owner. I said, “I just can’t figure out why no one has put up a lost dog sign?” My nephew, Riley, said, “Maybe they don’t have a computer” Now, if that isn’t a sign of the times, then I don’t know what is. As soon as he said it, we all giggled…and offered this to him, “they could do it the old fashioned way with markers and paper”. Now that I think about this, maybe I need to go online to the ‘lost and found’ and see if anyone has posted anything on the newspaper websites. I guess it’s a bit old fashioned to look in the newspaper, after all!

Jack Mack has a place with us, if that’s the way it turns out. I firmly believe that things happen for a reason. That’s the only reasoning I can give for this…a couple of days after Jack Mack came to our house, I picked up my husband’s copy of the Progressive Farmer magazine (not a regular read of mine) As I always do, I flip to the very last page of a magazine to read the article found there. The page was filled with little antidotes. The first one I read was this, “Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, filling an emptiness we don’t even know we have.” Thom Jones. Now, what kind of an explanation could you give for that? I’ll leave you with that thought. And this folks is the view from my front porch.

Beth Voltmer lives on a farm in rural New Virginia.

Monday, March 9, 2009

November 11, 2008 The ultrasound

The View From My Front Porch
December 2008

It was such a special day for us…so much anticipation. So much excitement! And, it all started back in August. Just passing the day in the usual way, I picked up the ringing phone and heard this on the other line, “Mom, how do you feel about being a grandma?” I replied, “Do I have a choice?” and we both laughed. Then I said, “what are you telling me?” “Alisha’s pregnant!” Tanner exclaimed.

The questions didn’t really come at me too fast. I just sat their taking the news in. How did I really feel about this? No great emotions…that I recall. Maybe a little giddy, as the news sank in. Then, as I came to my senses, so did the questions. When? How far along is she? I handed the phone to Steve…absolute happiness could be seen on his face. I sat there with a smile on my face wondering: Is she far enough along to find out the sex of the baby? Do I really want to know? Yes, No, Yes, No! and, then finally, YES!

We hung up the phone after telling Tanner we wouldn’t tell anyone. We wanted him to be the one to call his sister’s and grandparent’s, with the big news. This was good news…really good news.

The day that was filled with so much anticipation and so much excitement was November 11th, 2008. Courtney, my oldest, and I, were included in the ultrasound appointment…this was the big one. We, along with Tanner, Alisha (of course) and Alisha’s five year old son, Kobe, and her mom, anxiously awaited the nurse’s coming. Let’s get this show on the road, I kept thinking. Patience would not be one of my virtues!

Tha…thump! Tha…thump! Tha…thump! There it was, the heart beat…good and strong! Oh, and there was the hand…an arm, it’s nose, tha…thump, tha…thump, tha…thump. And the heart beat, some more. Instantly, I loved this little thing. Tha…thump, tha…thump, tha…thump, went my heart. In unison…we were bonded together, each of us, by this one little baby in the safe cocoon of its mother’s tummy.

From my vantage point in the corner, I was able to see the face of my first born, as she watched her first niece or nephew on the ultrasound. I got to see Tanner’s face, up close and personal, and I wondered what he was thinking. Tha…thump, tha…thump, tha…thump. I was sure I knew what he was feeling.

On this same day, November 11, 2008, Courtney was celebrating her 30th birthday. Tanner was concerned that his baby was healthy, I enjoyed watching my children witness such a neat event and we all found out that Courtney would be an aunt to a niece, Tanner would be a daddy to a baby girl, and I would become a grandmother of my very first granddaughter.

Tha…thump, tha…thump, tha…thump. My heart beat, is her daddy’s heartbeat, and her daddy’s heartbeat is hers…and the love continues one heart beat at a time... Tha…thump, tha…thump, tha…thump!

And this folks, is the view from my front porch
Beth Voltmer lives on a farm in rural New Virginia

Monday, February 23, 2009

I just finished reading my youngest daughter, Mackenzy's Ethnic Autobiography and am inspired by her last paragraph:

"One other very interesting thing that I have learned just from doing my research for this paper is just how mixed I really am. When I look at all of my ancestors from all sides of my family, I am part German, Italian, Swiss, Swede, English and French. This just supports my thought that for as discriminating and manipulative as Americans can be of other races or ethnicities, we are probably the most mixed group of people in the world. We have no right to shun someone for their color or beliefs because we are the mutts of the world; we have every type of blood running through our system, and I stongly believe that inthe end we are all intertwined with one another at some point in our family's history. I may not be an African American or Latin American on the outside, but I could very possibly be on the inside. Most of the sterotypes and beliefs we have come mainly from two things, one being parents and family, and the other being the media and society. I come from a family that does not discriminate against anyone, whether we believe in the same things or not. I also know that some of my ancestors had beliefs that were probably very racist and demoralizing, but I think as new generations form and society evolves and becomes more accepting of everyone, the younger generations become more tolerant and understanding of the people around them. I think that as a younger generation, we understand who was wronged in the past and are more willing to make peace with the situation because there will be no way to survive ourselves if we cannont unite together." Mackenzy Voltmer

What a wonderful thing, to see your child's viewpoint in print. For me, her openness and ability to see so deeply is inspiring...who could ask for anything more?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

From starkness comes light

I'm in the sunroom. It's a cold, blustery day. One would think we're at the beginning of the short days of winter, instead of the longer-each-day ones of the springtime. It'll be here sooner, rather than later.

Inspired by the intermittent rays of sunshine...the room warms, it cools off...and so our days go. Shadows of bent and frozen tree limbs dance across the furniture and floor boards. Soon, these lackluster appendages will give way to green leaves and the shadows will take on a whole new quality. I'll welcome the shade from the trees from the sweltering heat...heat that is longed for now. This, too, will change!

As the ground warms, I'll be in search mode for the first inspiring signs of spring. We've seen a robin or two...surpising us in a most splendid way. Removing old leaves, a piece of paper that has gotten away and rested in this quiet spot, I search for the green tip of the first tulip, daffodil or hyacinth. They too, are inspired by the suns warmth and come to life.

Spring and all it inspires in me is a welcomed friend...what once was old is new again. What left us in death will reemerge with life...and the circle continues, one inspiring ray of sunshine at a time.