A prisoner of my own making!

 

In a couple of weeks and no, I do NOT HAVE A DATE YET, which is of course frustrating for me and all those who keep asking, my life will be changing dramatically.

My first and probably only restaurant will be opening in the beautiful little hamlet of Historic West Middletown PA.   Along with Poor Johnny’s and Pour Johnny’s, I am starting a business revolution in this amazing space.

The last 7 to 8 months have been all about planning, purchasing, curating in my mind, cajoling people to sell me antique furniture at a good deal, charming bankers for credit and loans and designing, planning, creating, producing, lifting and storing and more.  It has been an exciting and nerve-wracking journey and a terrific learning experience.  I have a feeling the learning is only beginning.

I honestly have no idea how to run a restaurant.  I feel like I am faking this and could end up feeling like a complete fraud.  Who am I to open a restaurant while we are still dealing with a pandemic, when the economy is seemingly hurtling to a recession and the cost of goods is sky rocketing?

Photo by Chris Curry on Unsplash

Then the other part of me says hell yeah, I CAN DO THIS!!!  So, as you see, I am waffling back ‘n forth on the confidence wagon.   I believe if I wasn’t a little terrified, I would be foolish, so hoping my self-doubt and worry is all just normal human stuff.  I am naturally an over-achiever, only child who doesn’t like to ask for help and someone who always wants to do her best.  I will be fine.  I will be exhausted, but fine.

For the past few years, I have really made my own schedule.  I have woken up, fed all the animals, made Mitch coffee and gently woken him most of the time.  I usually am up first and like the routine of my early morning rituals.

After all the animals are fed, I make my decaf coffee and start doing the million things that need done.  I usually exercise too, run errands, hike and swim the dogs, then start on the other million things that need done.  Then I make us something to eat, we have some “TV time” to cuddle and enjoy togetherness, then we sleep after loving up all the animals, cleaning the kitchen, whatever honestly.

Often, I like to joke that the only time I sit down during the day is when I have to go to the potty and even then, I mostly just hover.  There is SO much to do.  That hovering is a great exercise too by the way.

Anyway, so the garden looks like S*#t this season and won’t be producing nearly anything for me to take to the restaurant, but I am looking for help for that for next year.  There has got to be an Ag program or FFA group who would like to farm 14000 feet of amazing garden space for me for a fee and for learning about sustainable agriculture and maybe get some credits.  I did this myself with a job in college and turned it into 3 credits by writing a paper on what I learned.  BRILLIANT!  😊

I have not been able to successfully clone myself, so something had to give.  This year it was the garden,

Photo by Amanda Hortiz on Unsplash

In good news though, the berries are MAGNIFICENT this year and I am taking every available minute to pick and freeze berries that I can make into delectable pies soon.  We are currently into blackberries and elders are on deck.  WOOHOO! Next year, I WILL be harvesting elder flower though from the top of the bushes as the birds have totally eaten every visible berry while they are still green.  The underneath berries will be able to be harvested, but those darn birds, have really devastated anything on top.

Photo by Matteo Paganelli on Unsplash

The Department of Agriculture put the cabosh on our using seeds we saved from a previous crop to grow this year’s hemp, so we have to destroy all that we planted.  Lots of bureaucracy.  I won’t say anything else about that, but I am making great batches of my homemade CBD products and spent real money on fancy labels and will be selling all those fabulous natural skincare products in the retail portion of my store.  We grew lots of high-quality hemp and my products are all natural and sooooo awesome.  I love them all.  Not all of my products have hemp in them.  I have two last items to produce; a facial scrub and an itch soap which is terrific for all bug bites and contact dermatitis caused by weeds that irritate the skin like poison ivy and oak, stinging nettles, bug bites etc.  Nature was the original healer!!!!

So, the title of this blog is prisoner of my own making and I have been thinking about this idea a lot.

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I have blogged about my unhappiness with working for 7 years at Merrill Lynch after college.  I feel a little bad about saying that as so many lovely people who worked there then, STILL work there now and LOVE it.  It just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I am GRATEFUL for what I learned there.  For the entire time I worked there, I did really feel like a prisoner because I HAD TO BE THERE at my desk, and I really didn’t like that.

From that job on, even with the hardware store, I was able to make my own schedule and come and go as I pleased, or my schedule allowed.  I like that kind of work A LOT!

So here I am again at 54, chaining myself to a place where I will probably be 10 hours a day 4 ½ days a week.  Will I LOVE it because it is mine? Will it not feel like work because I am living my dream?

As I go about my usual errands and chores, I am consciously aware that in a few weeks’ time, I will be handling things differently.  Perhaps I will rely on Chewy.com to bring the voluminous amounts of pet products to the house.  I will save those boxes to carpet the garden next spring.

I will have to alter my workouts to be quicker, the dogs will be hiked earlier and then I will be gone for most of the day.

We have talked about Mitch working from the restaurant either inside or outside so we can be near each other, and he can have faster, more reliable internet.  I have installed fiber optic WIFI that is still not available at the farm 4 miles away.   I really do like being near my man.  When we both work from home, it is sweet.

We will have dinner at the restaurant then head home to love up the fur babies and settle down to our truncated “TV time”.

It is all going to be fine. I keep telling myself that!!!

Thoughts from my loved ones and readers???? #selfmadewoman, #restauranteur #renaissancewoman, #newrestaurant, #historictowns, #fearoffailure, #eatrealfood

 

 

 

Balls to the wall, Warp speed and all that.

 

Photo by Morgan Sessions on Unsplash

I live my life as a busy little girl. I like DOING, GOING, running like I dare say, a chicken with its head cut off, (and I have seen this first hand and can lament), going at this speed actually keeps me happy.  I am truly not happy only doing one thing at a time. If I sit too long like I did at the farm inspection that I endured last week, I literally can fall asleep.  I am not good sitting, but I am an energizer bunny all day long while on my two feet.   I am a WOMAN and I would bet most women agree, we multitask all day long.  It is simply in our nature and we find it really annoying that many others do not. I mean we get a lot of sh#$ done.

At the moment, I am caring for my two hospice chickens which surprise me every day. What I thought would be a week or two experience for Emma before she entered the great henhouse in the sky became a totally different experience. Whatever illness or malady she had, she is fully recovered and tried to re-enter gen pop but the other girls in their hierarchy said NO WAY and pecked the living daylights out of her so I brought her back to the hospice condo.  She was bullied and told “you are now a reject and must reside with Ellie by the house.”  So, she continues to try and challenge the current regime and moves between both political sides leaving her lame sister Ellie wondering where she is sometimes.  It is a really interesting scenario.  This morning no one was home for corn, yogurt and scraps.  I have no idea what they are doing honestly and that is fine.

 

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In the music part of our life Mitch has really, REALLY gotten into the whole rock in roll ideal.  Since Covid and all his lessons online and hundreds of hours of practice, he has REALLY, REALLY gotten to be an amazing lead guitarist and his talent is inspiring as well as entertaining.  Our band has made countless changes in lineup in the last twelve months and our newest incarnation promises to be the best yet, so stay tuned… I believe we are forming a new band with another existing band and as one great musician has made famous… “the best is yet to come”……hint.. casinos pay big bucks. this could be fun.

Thirdly, I am opening my first restaurant (pictures coming soon) in less than a month and things are crazy.  I am running from day till night to get everything I think I should be doing and learning there are a hundred more things not on my radar that I should be doing.  Oh my GOODNESS.  At some point I will blog about Mac.bid. This place has been an absolute blessing to us.  With the items I have won auctions to for the restaurant and the musical equipment Mitch has won at really good prices, we are truly filling our needed holes with amazing merchandise at great costs.  YES, most everything has needed repaired and thank goodness Mitch is super handy, but this site has been a lifesaver!

With the tasks of all the new insurances, therapy calls which are supposed to be consulting calls with the SBDC of Duquesne University for funding ideas, business licenses, the buying of new and as much used equipment that I can find, the learning about all the vendors who I can buy ingredients from, the idea of finding help in this environment when no one seems to want to work, I am literally having a nervous breakdown.  Then last night, something new happened.

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As much as I am ashamed to mention this, I will admit that a couple days a week when I absolutely NEED to sleep, I kick our dying cat Butterscotch outside with his two brothers, Blue Kitty (Peanut) and Bobo- Beauregard.  Those other two are usually outside but Scotch likes to howl all night and drives me BANANAS.  We have a condo and water outside and Bubba sleeps on the porch so he can MEOW at HIGH decibels outside ALL NIGHT LONG and it bothers none of them, but mama can get her sleep.

Last night was one of those nights, but at 4:48 (I know this because I am a light sleeper and always look) Bubba barked and wanted inside.  So, since we all know from blogs of the past, Mitch is hearing impaired, I got out of bed and let Bubba in.   I came back to bed.  A minute later, Blu kitty who was inside wanted out so I left the bed again to let him out and this time Bandit, our full-time dog, and I will explain this sometime, got up THIS time and instead of stepping over him as he slept, he tripped me and I fell into the door of my closet and whacked the heck out of my head. He freaked, I freaked, I let Peanut out and then went into the bathroom and was sure I was going to throw up.  I lay on the bathroom floor and tried to collect myself.  What was going through my mind was Bob Saget, Natasha Richardson, Sonny Bono, the catering I had to do today, my restaurant and then the rest of my  life. Notice the order of that thinking. Look where my priorities are…. Ugh……

After I did my yoga breathing and the urge to vomit went away, I decided to go back up to bed and continue trying to calm myself upstairs by putting on a podcast that I could listen to. I didn’t want to sleep.  Then I gingerly felt my head where the impact happened and I felt wetness.  In the dark, I brought it up to my nose and smelled the warm blood.  That was it.  I freaked again and was sure I was going to hurl right there in my bed and die.

I was ashamed to do it but I woke up Mitch and told him, I knocked the hell out of my head and if I die tonight, know I love you.  He heard me but was in quasi sleep-mode and quickly went back to dreamland.  Despite my desires, I did fall back asleep and ended up having the most horrid two hours of nightmares about this conceived brain injury and my impending entire failure of the restaurant. This included Mitch leaving me because I was a vegetable mentally and my attempt to cheat on a final that I had not been to class all semester……. I woke up at 7:15 a complete basket case but GRATEFUL to be alive and carried on with my day.   I did feel better as the day wore on but the first hour was ROUGH.

What to learn from this whole thing?  Life changes on a dime, change is constant, you must rely upon yourself mostly to solve issues and when you have help, gratefully accept it.  Life is a wild journey.  Who knows what the next minute brings, but buckle up and be ready.  Whew. I am hoping for a good, peaceful and injury free night.  I NEED IT.

 

 

 

 

 

When I say I am a chicken mama I mean it

When I decided to have a business and design business cards, the first thing I wanted under my name was Chicken Mama.  When I hand those cards to everyone from fellow shoppers in the grocery store, to pretty much everyone I meet, they always comment on the chicken mama thing and laugh.

Photo by Zachariah Smith on Unsplash

I do love my chickens and over 5 years of caring for them, I have learned lots.  I have seen their fun ways of scooping up worms from the soil, to doing their little scratch dance and poking sideways in the ground with their beaks to scavenge insects.  They come running when anything gets scattered and hits the ground.  I love to see them roosting at night under their lamps and poised in the laying boxes extruding the miracle of a perfect egg.

I was alarmed to see their relaxed pose of laying pretty much on their sides in the sun where they look ill and possibly dead, but in fact they are sunning.  Dirt baths are incredibly fun to watch.  Seemingly, much like our bees, chickens really don’t need much from us humans.  I steal the bees’ honey and the chickens’ eggs, but trade for food and shelter!  I think it is a fair trade.

The chickens take care of insect infestations by spreading that dry dusty dirt in between their feathers on their skin and rolling in the dust.  They drink out of puddles and can find food.  They really are pretty self-sufficient and have an entire hierarchy and society that they understand the rules of.  It is truly amazing.  I do think they appreciate the help I provide and daily feed and treats.  We live well together.

The books I read to prepare myself to have chickens left out a whole bunch of stuff which I had to learn by trial by error, googling and asking other people who have chickens for advice.  Some of the lesser fun things I experienced have been mites, molting and other things that make their beautiful feathers fall off and scatter to the winds.   I have also witnessed their murders by varmints and completely selfish and heartless acts of menace they inflict against injured or sick animals, and this is what I am going to write about today.

Last year we had a chicken who was a good egg layer, but she injured her foot somehow.  Ellie never healed all the way and has a pretty significant limp.  When I saw that she was getting picked on by her sisters, and it was getting relentless like they were trying to kill her (Darwin anyone and survival of the fittest), I intervened and moved her outside our house to an old dog cage that I propped up a few feet off the ground.  I put cardboard and bedding down, gave her food and water and placed her in there.  Quickly, she started healing up and when her lacerations healed and her feathers grew back, she wanted to roam about so I took her out of the cage and made her a bin that she could relax in at ground level and she spent her days roaming short distances, eating bugs and seemingly enjoyed her life.  By dark she would put herself back in her cage.  I used to shut it at night but honestly, nothing is going to jump that high to get her, so she roosted in the doorway most nights.

As the weather turned colder, I came up with a plan to keep her warm.  I wrapped her cage with a porch furniture covering to protect her from wind and rain and snow, put a heating pad in under the cardboard that I could program for 12-hour increments and added a heat lamp.  Ellie had a whole condo now that she loved.  Occasionally, one of the other girls came down and would eat with her but no one was bothering her.  The girls up the hill seemed to understand momma would not tolerate mean girl behavior.

About 7 weeks ago, Emma, who was my little sister’s chicken and the oldest of my bunch started acting strange.  She was no longer the one in charge, was not spending time knocking Mitch’s tools off his workbench and she wasn’t coming for morning yogurt, corn and scraps.  When I saw her sitting in the rain looking completely forlorn, I knew I had to do something.

Ellie and laying beside her is Emma

I thought maybe Ellie would like some company.  Emma was getting older and had lived a good life, but she was definitely on her way to the henhouse in the sky.  We were not going to end her as we have done in the past (thank you Mitch)  and since we now had a hospital, we could relocate her to the condo.

I picked her up which she was always good about and deposited her to Ellie’s cage and she settled right under the heat lamp and took a nap.

When she woke up. I gave her some corn and yogurt and Ellie got a bowl too.  They dined and clucked.

There are days that Emma doesn’t seem to feel well at all and sleeps most of the day, but she always enjoys mealtime and both girls appear to like having a roommate.  We now jokingly call the condo a hospice as Emma certainly doesn’t have long to live, but she has lived 7 weeks so far and doesn’t seem to be getting any worse.

Every morning when I take out breakfast, I fear Emma will be feet up in the air, cold and stiff.   I do wonder if Ellie will miss her when that happens.  They cluck and talk together and I see them cuddle up for warmth and possible comfort.  They really aren’t that different from us humans with their basic needs.

So, my chicken hospice is currently thriving.  One day there will be no more chickens on our back lower deck but for now, chicken mama is doting and happy that the spring has brought some bugs out for them to eat and warm breezes to enjoy. #ilovemychickens #birdsofafeather #chickenmama

 

As the Gnarles Barkley song goes, Maybe I’m Crazy…. 

Someone once said, the only thing constant in life is change.  I mean life can change at a drop of a hat.  Look at what the last two plus years have brought with this pandemic.  So many things are different now.  Are they better?  Probably not for most unless you are a mask, plexiglass or hand sanitizing manufacturer. I would add the exercise gear company Peloton too, but apparently, things have turned dramatically for them as of late. Bottom line, it seems businesses as a whole have greatly suffered.

Supply chain issues abound, new variants of Covid-19 are mutating, and repercussions are being felt across every industry.  Staffing issues are horrendous and the list goes on and on.  We have been waiting for a week now to get a propane delivery.  It was totally our fault we let the tank get so low, but it took me 5 attempts to actually get a person to answer the call and figure out scheduling.  We have a heat pump for the main heating, but propane is my cooking fuel, so I am making our Valentine’s dinner in an electric skillet and a toaster oven.  No worries.  I can make do.

We all need to be more patient these days.  Things are taking longer, are costing more money and I am pleasantly surprised when I get a friendly, enthusiastic person to help me in any kind of retail experience.  I am also trying to be SUPER nice to everyone working anywhere these days.  I appreciate their working in the store and honestly can’t believe I could get a job at Burger King today for $15 an hour and get paid TOMORROW. What is going on???

A few months ago, a friend who I don’t see often who works at Meadowcroft Village and is an amazing Historian asked me to meet her for coffee at Poor Johnny’s in West Middletown.  I asked, where is there a coffee shop in West Middletown?  Google maps took me 4.4 miles down the road and is changing my life.

I had driven through this tiny town that you blink, and you miss it, DOZENS of times and always was enamored and disappointed.  The town had obviously been amazing.  In less than a mile and a half, there are about a dozen 200 + year old structures lined RIGHT up to the road and there are some BEAUTIFUL houses, but most of the buildings have been crumbling for a century or more.   Mitch and I would drive through and think, this place must have been so cool.  Someone should do something here.

When I got to the really funky antique and unique store, I was met with an amazing aroma of freshly ground coffee and a charming and beautiful woman named Andrea. She and her beau John are the proprietors.  These “kids” dove into the deep end here and have taken on multiple projects to bring West Middletown back.  They were looking for helpers.

After being incredibly impressed with their plans and attitude, I went home and got Mitch.

I am going to be 54 years old by month end, an age where most people, certainly women were not so long ago considered completely over the hill and less than desirable to hire, but I do think today’s 50s are the new 30s.  If that is the case, I am still DECADES away from actually retiring, right?

So, for the past several months, I have been quietly shopping for and buying up used restaurant equipment and organizing my GIGANTIC collection of recipes and cataloging them in categories to open Marsha Cassel’s Kitchen on Main.  It will be called The Kitchen for short, and I could not be more excited. A large part of what I need and am purchasing will come from my synagogue as they are selling the building.  I am filled with great pride that their dishware and flatware and linens and such will have a new home with me.  My grandparents would be so proud.

I  am researching all kinds of things like home equity loans, liability insurance, POS equipment, and preparing menus, talking with my friends who have opened many restaurants and collecting tea pots from every thrift store around.  I am going to have an amazing selection of healing herbs to make individual pots of tea blends made especially for YOU. Got a headache?  I can make you a soothing tea to help.

My dad has shined up all those teapots and is working on some of the decor pieces that I have picked up at thrift stores and making them display ready.

Finances are certainly not what I had hoped they would be in 2022 and many of you know exactly what that means, but who cares?  No one I know has a bankroll of dough in the bank just waiting for a new opportunity.    Besides a lottery win, there would never be a comfortable financial time and place to do such a thing without risk of complete and epic failure.  And I am ok with that.  Mitch is being 100% supportive.  I love him SO much!

Andrea’s father, Rick, who is an amazing craftsman and lives in Minnesota, is right now over there reconstructing a small restaurant from an 1820’s little 2 story house.  He can do an incredible amount of work in a short amount of time and spends a few days here and there and sometimes a week or two getting this place together.  The daily progress in simply mind blowing.

Yes, there will be a bathtub in the restroom!  See previous blog to understand that one.

The plan is for the place to be ready for me to move in and start decorating during June, schedule inspections, hire help and be open for business July 1st.  Of course, 1000 things need to go right to make this happen, but I am an optimistic person.   I will still be marshawillcookforyou but now you are going to have to come to ME.  I am excited and equally panicked.  I always have a hard time sleeping and now with the thoughts of the added amount of work that needs done and the accompanying stress, I am really exhausted and the old dreams of being in college and not prepared for exams or taking enough credits to graduate have reared their ugly heads.   I am atrociously worried and fretting but also positively imagining EVERYTHING. In my mind I can picture it all. It is going to be really neat.

Personally, I am worried the dogs, cats and Mitch will miss me and the house will get really messy.  I worry I am going to overdo completely and end up in traction. I have been major injury-free a few months now and really trying to be careful.

I am going to have to change the dogs’ daily hike time and rearrange a large part of the efforts I put in at the house, farm and cabin to the restaurant and hire some HELP.  There is a new concept.  HELP.  YES, I have a neighbor who I have posted about who is going to help me with the watering, harvesting, chicken work and such so I can do this. I can find more assistance.   I plan on getting up earlier to I can get my exercise in, and Mitch and I will still play pickleball early mornings with a cool group of people who are so excited for me.  They promise to come and eat and bring friends!! Every person who has been through this town has recognized the possibilities and seem giddy that we are going to be involved in the resurrection of West Middletown.

Jaya will be helping of course, and Mitch will do some meat smoking for me and playing acoustic music on the deck.  I am planning on having cooking classes, book club meetings, there will be a reading and old-fashioned game corner…. the ideas to make this a destination are numbering into the dozens and the food is going to be fabulous!!!!  Farm to table WILL be a reality.

Mitch will come to the restaurant which really is only an 8-minute drive from our farm and eat dinner with me instead of me cooking when I get home.  I will take two days off a week to not lose my sanity and resupply the ingredients.  I plan to be open for lunch and dinner and probably closed for an hour or two in between to ready.  We will see.  I have owned a brick-and-mortar store before, but it was a completely different animal.  I THINK I know what I am getting into.  We shall see. We may never take another vacation or have another party at the farm.  I really have no idea!

The town is having its bicentennial in 2023 and I am chairing the committee for this year long event.  There is so much to do!!!!  So, maybe I’m crazy!

I have been thinking about how to announce this.  Blogging seemed right.  I got to outline some hopes and fears here. Heck, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right????  At the very least, writing this blog was a good therapy session so THANK YOU for your time and attention.

Will you come and see what fun I create? Stay tuned!!!   #liveyourdreams #gocrazyandopenarestaurantduringapandemic #eatrealfood #pittsburghfoodie #allhomemade #farmtotable

 

 

T

 

Gen Xer and proud of it!

I have been thinking about writing this blog for YEARS, even before I blogged.

And I realize that anyone reading this who was born after 1980 or so is going to think that I am a curmudgeon, and it is entirely possible.   I am a proud Gen X-er who is approaching fifty-four, grew up in the 70s and 80s and have been adulting for several decades.

When I was in grade school, shoppers could lay away five items of clothing at Hills Department Store for $5 for back-to-school shopping.  When you paid off the balance after however many payments it took, you THEN took the clothing home.  My parents and honestly no one I knew had a credit card.  I am not sure there even were credit cards back then.  People paid with cash or by check.

I remember being 5 years old and my gramma Feinstein taking me to the beauty parlor.  The beautician had me sit on about five giant Yellow Page books so I could fit under the hairdryer with gramma next to me leafing through a magazine.  This nice woman washed, curled and teased my hair and gave me an amazing coif!  Because it was raining when we left, gramma put one of those plastic babushkas on my head that you unrolled and tied under your chin so my hair would not wilt.  I believe we went to the Maple Restaurant for lunch afterwards.

Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Gramma also applied bright red lipstick to my lips and taught me how to rub my lips together, kiss a tissue to blot and she painted my tiny fingernails bright red too.  Va va va voom!!!  To this day, that is one of the best memories of my entire life! I still remember the gold metal container that she twirled in front of me to reveal inches of red loveliness.  The smell and taste of the thick waxy paste made me feel grown up. I LOVED it.

Sadly, my gramma died shortly after that.  She was only 74 years old.   In my twenties, I bought a bottle of Jergen’s lotion and as soon as I opened it, I smelled GRAMMA.  That cherry almond scent is like getting a warm hug. I keep a bottle in my purse.

I never got my nails done again till after I graduated from college and had a real job.  No one was going to pay for me to have that kind of extravagance.

Photo by Mohammad Hoseini Rad on Unsplash

As soon as I turned sixteen, I worked after school, weekends and all summer and holiday breaks.  I paid for anything that I needed beyond necessities, and I bought groceries and paid rent.  I walked to school and work and did not get a car till I could buy a used 1981 Buick Skylark for $1900 in 1991. I was 23 years old.   Until then, the bus and my 10-speed bike and I were terrific friends.

AS SOON AS I DROVE IT AWAY from the previous owner, the rack and pinion steering went. I had a heck of a time driving it to the mechanic. Larry worked for cash and helped us poor folks. God bless Larry! He was truly a Godsend.

I understand this is a new generation and we are living in a much different world than the one that I grew up experiencing.  Each generation presumably wants better for their progeny than they had, and I get that. I do not have children, but if you read in my blogs about Jaya, trust me, I am understanding about giving to youth.   I enjoy giving new experiences, items of mine and shopping for Jaya.  It brings me great joy.

Jaya really APPRECIATES each and every thing I do for or give to her.  She does not expect things from me.  Jaya works hard for what she has and goes without if she cannot afford it.  She practically asked as a birthday gift for help buying tires for her car rather than wanting an extravagant gift.  She LOVES going thrifting with me and we have pulled things off the side of the road to paint and repurpose and use.  That “headboard” behind her in the photograph above is one of our terrific finds.  Jaya appreciates the value of a dollar and the hard work it takes to make those dollars.  I will never have to worry about Jaya living beyond her means.

When Mitch was a boy like many kids, he would set his alarm for EARLY, get up without his parents telling him to or making him breakfast, deliver papers, ring the doorbells of his customers yelling “collecting”, figure out the money and took care of the whole job by himself. He tells stories of those 4 am wakeups for Sunday paper delivery and he and his buddy helping each other.

He also mowed lawns around the neighborhood and at age 11 started working on a tobacco farm doing HARD work.  As a child he learned to save up for purchases and learned responsibility.  There was also a little money-making scheme that got him into trouble by selling M80s to his classmates. He and one of his buddies, who is a twice retired corporate executive living in Vail Colorado, cooked up this endeavor and have many colorful stories about their youthful exploits to regale.  Those boys now all in their early sixties get together annually at their Boy Scout camp (Mitch and several of his pals are Eagle Scouts), pitch tents, do some community service and then relive their childhoods, talk about their lives, share the news of their families, build and tend to a big fire, consume beer and possibly a bit of whiskey.  How blessed they are to still have each other and this annual pilgrimage back home.

Anyway, Mitch’s mother being a travelling school nurse in the district would hear about her son’s misdeeds within minutes and disciplined appropriately at home and let the school handle things as they needed.  These days, that kind of discipline is illegal, but I dare say, when the boys at my school were sent to the principal’s office to get paddled, they got the message.

Am I to understand that today a child can threaten a parent with calling in authorities if they are spanked?   My generation of kids were respectful and followed rules or there WERE consequences.  Building character is important and learning to follow rules and behave was part of that.

We opened doors for others, respected our elders, was quiet and let adults speak, could entertain ourselves, shared the one telephone and television with the family, ate what mom cooked and we did not earn participation trophies.

We also paid for our college loans. I took ten years to pay mine off of which is an accomplishment that I am still proud.

#generationx #thosewerethedays #lifeslessons

 

Being Jewish in a Gentile world

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash

I was born a Jew but I didn’t know growing up if I was REALLY Jewish or if it was something my parents exposed me to.  My paternal grandparents were Jewish and they adopted my father.  There was a culture of not talking about that apparently and my father never knew anything about his birth parents nor found any records.  There was a lot of rumor and innuendo about my grandfather’s businesses.  He was a well-respected pharmacist in the little town of Ambridge, PA.  He was involved in the Rotary, President of the Lion’s Club and probably others.  Apparently, my grandma was a member of Eastern Star.  My dad tells me he heard my grandfather carried illegal alcohol in his pharmacy wagon during prohibition, ran “numbers” and may have helped unwed Jewish women find homes for their babies in the 1940s and 50s.  My dad could have been one of those babies.  Apparently, my grandparents were unable to conceive children.   Whether or not my grandpa paid a Jewish woman $10,000 for my dad will never be known, but it is an interesting thought.

My dad was raised Jewish and he married my mother who was also raised somewhat Jewish but was not officially in the faith so she went through the conversion process which is pretty intense. My parents married in a civil ceremony but when my mother’s conversion took place, a Jewish wedding was held at the synagogue and I was cooking in my mother’s belly at that time so…..  according to Jewish law, born of a Jewish woman, I’m a Jew.

My first 6 years were spent in Ambridge, PA, a little town along the Ohio River. My mother and I moved to Squirrel hill in 1974 when my parents divorced.  I spent half of first grade through 5th grade with lots of Jews.  At that time, Squirrel Hill was definitely “Jew Town,”, MY words and I honestly seem to remember that Mineo’s pizza was actually closed during Passover when Jews are to abstain from flour.

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Before 6th grade started for me, we moved back to Ambridge and I began school in a 99.8% Christian filled school system.  In fact, there was only one other Jew in town.  As there once was a thriving Jewish community in Ambridge, when the economy started to tank in Beaver County, I think all the Jews moved to Pittsburgh or Florida.  It wasn’t I don’t believe, anything about discrimination or anything, but I honestly have no idea what led that mass exodus.  So, Jews were very scarce around me and I felt very much ill at ease as I grew, admitting to the fact that I was Jewish.  I think being any kind of minority, if you are perceived as “different” expect some bumps in the road.  Not, that I could do much hiding as my name was Feinstein, but being very insecure, I definitely kept my nose down and was not even the hint of the woman that I am now full on OUT and proud.

Did I get bullied in school?  Yes.  Did I keep a low profile so as not to stand out? YES. But my name screamed JEW so there it was.   I pretty much lived my youth as quietly as possible impatiently waiting to make a break for it in 1986 and head back to Pittsburgh and attend Pitt.   In college, I ran into lots of fellow Jews from my elementary school days at John Minadeo and there was a very diverse community of people, religions, cultures and more.

Everywhere I moved during my 20s, 30s, 40s and now in my 50s, I carefully looked around for other Jews near me.  When I co-owned the hardware store with my ex-husband in Sarver PA, I was told there is a KKK group there so to lay low and don’t wear my Star of David.  I would NEVER want to jeopardize our business or alienate our customer base, so I was quiet.  One day I was helping a customer with something in the lawn and garden department and this man said something to me about “Jewing him down.” I literally walked away and asked one of my employees to help him.  I wonder what he thought.  I am betting he didn’t even realize what he said.

Years later, Mitch and I bought our cabin up hear Pymatuning and I met a neighbor who introduced himself as Gene Benkovitz (not his real name) . I immediately filled with excitement and said, I’m a Jew too to which he replied, I’m not a Jew.  My stomach dropped and my first thought was WOW, you look like a Jew and second, I blew my WASP cover as a Cassel and we hadn’t even moved in yet.  I was a bit worried.  Seriously, there are hate crimes everywhere against all sorts of people.  I felt embarrassed.    I can tell you in my heart after reading countless books on the Holocaust and seeing so many documentaries, if we checked his DNA, that man was a Jew but a hidden one for generations back.  After Hitler came to power in Germany, being a Jew was dangerous and caused many people to change names, religions……  Jews went into hiding and many never came out.

So, speaking of DNA, when 23 and Me came about, I asked my dad if he wanted to do it so we can maybe find some blood relatives and learn about family medical history etc.  He was up for it so we sent in both our saliva samples and guess what we found?  Despite us both being blond haired and blue eyes (the ARYAN DREAM combo) it came to be that dad was 50% ASHKENAZI Jew.  I told him, dad, you are OLD school Jew like related to Noah and stuff.  We had a good laugh at that.

We did find out who either his mother or father were.  We were lucky to find a really close relative who did a ton of genealogy work.  We figured either his great aunt or uncle were my dad’s mother or father.  Neither one ever married or had any children that anyone knew of and they were alienated from the family so there wasn’t much there except pictures and names.  They are all long gone now but we have about 1100 cousins running around the world.  Some I have connected with on FB and it is great fun to see their families all over the planet, speaking many languages and all Jews!  I finally have some paternal family!

I am an avid listener to the Howard Stern Show on Sirius/XM radio.  He’s a Jew and I just love his interviewing style and his profuse use of the F word.  I enjoy swearing too.  I apologize to those readers who get offended by curse words, but I do like to cuss and when I am around my friends, I let it fly!!!! Check out the Netflix series on the History of Curse Words with Nicolas Cage.  It is hilarious and educational!!!!!

Anyway, recently Howard was interviewing Sarah Silverman, one of my favorite comediennes who is Jewish and also likes to swear.  She talked about being typecast as an actress and only getting roles as the annoying literary agent or the (really bad word) girlfriend, or sassy friend of the main character and other stereotypical roles.  She also said roles about Jews are mostly played by non-Jews, RBG and Mrs. Maisel.  Winona Rider in her 50s is actually playing a Jewess on a really interesting HBO series now.  The plot is set in WWII and Charles Lindbergh is a powerful politician and a big time Anti-Semite which apparently has factual basis. Sarah remarked with a well-placed F-bomb that Winona would never have gotten the role in Age of Innocence and other great roles in her youth if she had she been Winona Horowitz.  I kind of agree.

This blog isn’t about discrimination though.  It is more about ignorance or lack of interest in anything non-Christian. I will end with a funny story that illustrates that point from the event that actually inspired this blog.

I am having a Passover Seder this Saturday night.  Traditionally, Jews have this meal and ceremonial retelling of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt on the first two nights of this long holiday.

I was shopping at Giant Eagle for some Jew supplies, Kosher for Passover Matzo and Matzo meal, and saw this big display of Maxwell House coffee with Passover Haggadah’s.  If you bought a Maxwell House product you could get one FREE Haggadah.  Maxwell House started doing this almost 80 years ago but I hadn’t seen this in action for decades.

I thought, I needed new Haggadah’s and wanted one for each of my guests so I asked at customer service if I could have 12 copies.  I showed her the booklet and she asked what it was.  I explained.  Blink blink was the response.  So, I asked if she had ever seen the Ten Commandments.  “Let me get a manager,” she said.  GOOD.  Now we are getting somewhere.

The manager comes out and I start again with my request and this time I explain that there are probably 5 Jews in Washington including me and they will most likely toss those out in less than 2 weeks so giving me a dozen, won’t even be noticeable.  She asked me to show her the display.  There were a plethora of copies and she said, take what you want.   So, I bought one Maxwell House product and took a dozen Haggadah’s and now each of my guests will have their very own without having to share.

I am 100% sure neither one of these ladies know what Passover is, what one might do on Passover, eat or talk about yet I and probably every other American Jew knows about Easter and not just about Easter bunnies and chocolates.  The world population of Jews is now only .2%.  That is staggeringly low so no wonder there isn’t a lot of general world knowledge about Jewish holidays and customs.  Jews know about the core beliefs of Christians and WHY they celebrate.  I am not complaining, but merely bringing up a point that if we take an interest in our differences, maybe we can all learn to appreciate what makes us similar too. There is much more that brings us together than divides us.

Looking forward to my Passover Seder and introducing my “daughter,” Jaya to all things Matzo and her first Jewish holiday.

Happy Spring peeps and wishing you all the joys, delicious foods, new growth and holidays coming to your world. #passover2021 #covidseder #weareallhuman

Those Were The Days

I have been thinking a lot about how we lived pre-internet, pre-wireless connections and have decided that despite the massive time saving aspects the technology seemingly continues to bring us, I really wish the kids today were growing up more simply.

 

I grew up in the 70s and 80s and remember carrying change so I could make long distance calls on a payphone.  Remember you could actually make collect calls too and reverse the charges?  That was way before nationwide calling on a cell phone. This was in a little private booth or a bank of phones on a wall where you would make your calls in front of God and everyone.  You would be talking and an operator would interrupt and tell you to put more money in to continue the call and when you ran out of change, that would be the end of your call. I’m pretty sure you could make a local call for a dime when I was a child and then a quarter.  Toby Keith has a song, that goes something like, here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.  The kids these days might not even understand that.

The phone was usually dirty, possibly sticky and intensely gross but it was the way we could keep in contact if you weren’t at home.   They had a little bench to sit on usually and a GIANT phone book cabled so you wouldn’t steal it (really?) where you could look up phone numbers yourself. You could also call INFORMATION by dialing 0, talk to a live person (usually a woman) and ask them to help you connect with people, find addresses and phone numbers.  As long as some hoodlum hadn’t taken the phone apart, it was a very dependable mode of communication.

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Today, if you want to talk to a real, live person and are trying to contact a utility or mortgage company or pretty much anyone for anything, you have to go through menus of prompts and quite often you get disconnected.  It is a very frustrating thing and wastes so much time just TRYING to get something accomplished using the phone.   I usually go the “not a customer yet” route which can shave off a little time and get a real human, then apologize and ask to be redirected.  I think the world is trying to discourage us from actually connecting to humans and prefer us to use online services to do anything. I like to shout repeatedly into the phone REPRESENTATIVE till someone comes along.  This is for another blog but WHY are all the call centers seemingly in India?

I remember the summer between 5th and 6th grade living with my aunt and grandma and cousins and walking to the municipal pool several days a week.  For a dollar a person we could pay admission of fifty cents and then buy greasy fries with tons of ketchup and an ice cream, frozen candy bar or a drink.  We each had a towel with us and maybe some sunscreen and that was all that was required.  Four quarters made for an entire day of entertainment and sustainment.  There were water fountains.  We stayed hydrated!  Those were the days.

When I was a child, I read a LOT.  This was pre-cable and we only had an old TV with a few channels.  PBS was there though and I watched a burgeoning show called Sesame Street, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, Electric Company and Zoom, but I mostly read or played with toys.  I am sure it happened, but I never remember being bored without anything to do.  I also played my mom’s records endlessly.  Being an only child, I was by myself a lot and I guess learned to be independent.  I WISH while I had that time, I learned to play guitar or something.  Looking back now on all that TIME, I wouldn’t say I regret the lounging around watching clouds move across the sky, finishing reading a book and immediately starting it over again, but at almost 53, I am conscious I have less time on earth than I did.  Time is getting short.  Every time I start scrolling on FB, I feel a bit of guilt.  I spend WAY too much time on there and for the past couple of months have made a conscious effort to NOT.  I want to be more productive doing, learning, writing, cooking, hiking my dogs, planning my garden, spending quality time with my husband and “daughter” Jaya……  lots of things to do.

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I want to take my husband and Jaya to the library in my hometown, the Laughlin Memorial Free library.  I remember the excitement of getting my first library card and exploring all parts of this massive library.  The children’s section is downstairs and when I graduated to Young Adult upstairs, I was so happy.  I can sit here writing this and know exactly how that amazing building smells, how it looks, hear the echo my footsteps made as I walked.

I want to show them my old house a few blocks away where I learned to ride a bike and would ride around the block 1000 times because I couldn’t go onto the street nor cross any streets.

I remember being in my bedroom when I was five or so and there was a big box fan in the window.  My mom had a harmonica and I was standing in front of the fan blowing through that harmonica and it made the most entertaining sounds.  I did that for hours.  It was simple fun.  Those were the days.

I worry that today’s life has so many bells and whistles and shiny things that take our attention that we don’t have the ability to just sit and do one thing or nothing for long periods of time.  I hear lots about ADHD and conditions where people can’t focus.  I honestly don’t remember these sorts of things when I was young.  We had some slow learners in special classes who needed a bit more attention and help, and a few hyper kids who may have misbehaved here and there, but those kids were definitely in the minority.  Life was less complicated and different when I was a child.

For almost a year now, COVID-19 has forced people to be inside and not socialize and connect like we used to.  The whole world has changed and things are definitely in upheaval.  People who can are working from home and probably all that expensive office space will be open soon as companies realize employees CAN be productive from home.  The face of business is and will change.  Commercial real estate is going to be CHEAP soon.  Or maybe, the population will get vaccinated and people will be free to roam about the world unmasked and working in towns, meeting in parks for lunches, going to bars for drinks and live music and sitting in restaurants for long, leisurely meals.  It sounds nice, doesn’t it?  That has now become the Good Old Days and it was only a year ago. WOW!

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How are you filling all your time these days?  Are you loving working from home or feeling like a caged animal?  I would love to hear from you and learn about your experiences.  Write me!!  I am currently recovering from COVID-19 and looking forward to starting my seeds!  Spring is coming!!!! #timewellspent #thesimplelife #livelife

Can You Hear Me Now?

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When I met my husband, it didn’t take me long to realize that he had some challenges with hearing.  I would say he didn’t notice, but he has one ear that is better than the other and when he was trying to listen closely, he definitely would turn that ear nearer.

I don’t know how long he had been missing a lot of dialogue and sounds, but considering he had been playing loud music in different rock bands since he was a teen and attended countless loud rock concerts, had served in the military, piloted planes and never in any of these endeavors worn ear protection, it was inevitable that he would suffer hearing loss by his late 40s.

When I came into the picture, I yelled a lot and repeated things to him when we were at parties or in conversation with friends and during TV time.  I became his default ears, but I started to worry.  I wanted to make sure he wasn’t missing any important information for work and other situations so I gingerly brought up the idea of maybe getting him a hearing aid.

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He eventually agreed and we went to this hearing aid center in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.  The audiologist talked to us both and then brought out this machine that looked like it was from the 1960’s.  I am not kidding you, this machine was as large as a suitcase, had buttons and knobs and was completely analog.  As he checked Mitch’s hearing, it reminded me of someone trying to open a safe using touch and intuition.  I think we both had doubts.  Mitch told me after the appointment that his mom, who was a school nurse, had the EXACT same machine with those giant head phones. When she would bring it home, he and his sister played with it.  So, that didn’t exactly give us confidence considering it was 2013.

So, we learned you have to wear two hearing aids to balance the sound and he would have to have one in each ear.  The man took some kind of measurement of his ears by inserting cold, wet wax in his ear to get a mold from which to make a custom hearing aid.   And in about a week, Mitch had new REALLY EXPENSIVE ears.  And I do mean expensive.  My first two cars did not total the cost of these new ears.

I can’t imagine what it is like to have foreign objects in your ears which run on batteries and send out high pitch squeals when dying, but he did seem to be hearing better, so I was happy.

He wore those for a while, but you could tell, he really didn’t like them and he started wearing them less and less.  I started yelling more and more and would say PUT YOUR EARS IN.

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At some point he looked into something more 21st century and found the hearing aid center at Costco.  Now THIS was a modern fix for a common problem and they had some smaller and really cool hearing aids that he could adjust with his smartphone and these worked MUCH better.  There is an APP for EVERYTHING.

Mitch was definitely hearing better; I was less frustrated and things were good.  The only real concern was battery life.  His ears sound an alarm really loudly then stop working when the batteries need replaced and after the first one dies, the second usually goes within an hour of the other and it is ALWAYS at the most inopportune moments of course.  I carry batteries in my purse for quick changes.

Then COVID-19 hit and we had to wear masks all the time.

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A few months into lockdown, one of our dogs had to go to the emergency vet.  We were not allowed to go inside so had to wait in the parking lot.  It was taking a long time so I left and picked up some Burger King and we ate in the grass sitting on a dog blanket.

When Bandit finally came out and we saw he was going to live, we were so relieved and took him home.

Sometime later Mitch noticed his hearing aids were gone.  Oh no.  We took the masks off and on during the vet visit with the doctor and nurses coming out for consultations and when he whipped off the mask during one of those times, they must have caught on the mask and went flying away.  Mitch jumped in his truck and went back to look.  It was getting dark by now.

An hour later he came home without those hearing aids.

Those little guys cost thousands of dollars.  I was going to find them.  I took the flashlight, got in my JEEP and drove back to the vet office.

An hour later I came home with two hearing aids.

 

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Since I have met Mitch, he also needed new eyes. He has these gas permeable hard contact lenses to correct a cornea issue that Lasik surgery decades ago caused.  It is AMAZING what technology has done for artificial devices to help us humans be whole or at least better as we age and our parts wear out.  He has this “claw” type of device to insert them and remove them and that is a whole other story about what happened when he left the claw back home while we were travelling.

I have a bionic husband.  Besides the eyes and ears, all his parts are original but trust me, if he needs a new knee or hip or whatever, I will chirp in those bionic ears to make it happen.  I want him in good condition to run with me, see me, hear me and love me!

In the meantime, if any of your loved ones are having a hard time hearing you, if it is a male, first off speak in DEEP tones as the high-pitched sounds have been documented as passing right on by men’s ears.  This is the TRUTH. Google it!   If speaking in a lower register doesn’t get through, take him to Costco!  It worked for us anyway.  #canyouhearmenow #hearingaidswork #bionichusband

 

Too Much Work?

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As I have written about before, I like to keep busy.  I might even say my desire to DO things and go go GO is maybe a little OCD or ADHD or one of those maladies you hear about all the time.  Perhaps it is in my DNA, but I like to DO.  I’m not really good at just hanging out without a chore.

Part of my DOING nature is all the planting and growing and weeding and harvesting and preserving and then cleaning out the growing area.  Then there is organizing what seeds and such are left, cleaning and storing the useful pieces to start growing again in February.  The farm provides many avenues of chore and profession.  One could literally never have nothing to do here.

Even though there is nothing growing on the farm in the winter, now in early December my mind is busy thinking of the next planting season. I am eagerly awaiting the seed catalogs and fussing over the remaining plants I have set up under grow lights.  I am trying in mostly vain to keep fresh herbs growing in the basement along with some baby trees and such.

During the growing season I have several friends who enjoy coming to the farm and taking produce home.  One friend in particular who I adore, will take one GIANT zucchini every year and several handfuls of the hot cherry peppers I grow specifically for her.  She will take them all the while lamenting about all the WORK I am creating for her.  Once her zucchini has been made into whatever she is making and her batch of hot sauce is done, she feels very accomplished.  I tried giving her more produce later in the season and she always says NO.  TOO MUCH WORK.  She did come to help me when I broke my wrist though.  She wanted to help pick berries but let me tell you, a berry picker this woman is not.  She kept yelling over to me in my patch that she wasn’t very good at this and was so HOT.  After an hour I came to see what all the fussing was about and saw about 7 berries in her container.  See the blog I did about the tribulations of a professional berry picker.  Picking berries is indeed a lot of work and greatly unpleasant work at that.

Another friend messaged me about a whole slew of green peppers she grew and asked what to do with them.  We also talked about juicing celery and the comment came up again about all that work.  This is from a friend who has 14 horses and a big family and a real job and I thought that maybe people consider the domestic tasks more work than the usual or too much to do after all those other things are done.  I wonder.

Years ago, when I co-owned the hardware store with my ex-husband, I was mesmerized by this new paint the True Value paint factory was making.  It was magnetic paint.  Now, I had seen the chalkboard paint, but this was different.  As soon as I heard about it, I thought of all the fun you could have by making walls magnetic.  From early learning of the alphabet to creative artistic ways to hang teenager’s posters and more, this seemed like an AMAZING thing to me.

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To help promote this paint, we arranged to have a table set up in Heinz Hall during a Sunday matinee performance of Scooby Doo.  I considered this an entire audience of thousands of low hanging fruit who would be as wowed as I was and with their kids in tow.  How could they NOT want to buy this paint?  Boy was I wrong.

EVERY SINGLE PERSON who picked up the gallon of paint immediately put it down, said TOO MUCH WORK and squashed my naïve thoughts that this was going to be a lucrative item to sell.  We transported a truck load of that paint to the home show, different schools and barely sold any.  The metal in the paint to make it magnetic made each gallon weigh probably 20 pounds or more.  People were not interested in lugging around gallons of super heavy paint and doing the work of painting.  People usually paint when it is necessary, not just for something cool to do. Hmmmmm…..  what a huge disappointment this was for me.

Are people lazy or do they believe they have a finite amount of energy and enthusiasm within them and when they have reached their perceived limit, they just shut off?  I wonder.

What is work?  Is walking your dog every day work?  Someone recently told me when I asked about the family dog and if he is getting walked that dad said he is “too old for that.”  I asked who is too old, dad or the dog? I was told dad.  WOW.  Dad is young and in good health.  Is the act of taking the dog out regardless of heat, rain, snow or even great weather too much work?  This disturbs me on so many levels.

I’m judging. I know this and honestly on the dog issue, I don’t care.  If you have a dog, you have to walk the dog, EVERY DAY and more than once please.  You should actually ENJOY the walking too.   On the cooking and everything else, to me it comes down to the fact that I truly enjoy the domestic things and I think many people, men or women, just don’t get joy from homemaking.  One of my ex-husband’s friends once said that I have always been a bit strange.  I guess I am a bit DIFFERENT than many, but so what?   My uniqueness has brought me so many amazing experiences.    😊 My response to calling me strange is saying, “I’m receiving what you are saying.  I accept your kind gift.”  I fly my freak flag all the time and proudly at that. I’ve never been accused of being ordinary or lazy! Strange is just fine!

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I like to iron.  This one really throws people.  I like the hot steam that comes out of the iron, the creases coming out of the fabric as I apply pressure to the tool.  As I iron tablecloths and napkins, I remember the meals I have served and start planning the next one.  I get true satisfaction from seeing those linens all lined up waiting for their next trip to the dining room table or even the coffee table and couch if we are eating casual, which we often do.  I am not a “save the good stuff for special occasions” type of girl. Use the good glasses and gramma’s china now and the good towels and soaps.  And yes, create more work for yourself by having to hand wash the china and crystal but try and enjoy that work.  When I am cold, nothing warms me up like handwashing dishes.  Seriously.

So, after I finish this blog, I am going to make a huge batch of Fire Cider.  I ordered little amber bottles yesterday and in about 2 weeks, when the fire cider is good and fermented, I will bottle all this homemade medicine and give them out for Christmas gifts to loved ones along with elderberry wellness syrup, mushroom extracts and who knows what else.  I am going to call it Marsha’s COVID-19-Free elixirs or something like that.

Kathy Lee Gifford has a new book out and when she was interviewed on the Today show the other day she said, DO WHAT YOU ENJOY DOING AND FIND A WAY TO GET PAID FOR IT.  I am still in the figuring out how to get paid stage, but I am certainly WORKING at all this culinary, farming and creative stuff and spending these winter days (after I hike the dogs) really learning about all the healing powers of herbs. Hopefully by next year at this time I will be a full blown certified Herbologist and will hang out my Good Witch shingle and take on clients.  I will start charging for all the free advice I currently give.   But in the meantime, help a sister out and buy my book for you or someone you love.  The healthy recipes and no nonsense talk about good nutrition are bound to inspire you to do a little bit of new work! I hope so anyway!!! http://My Healing Cookbooklet: Recipes for Restoration and Good Health: Cassel, Marsha: 9781734711905: Amazon.com: Books

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#createfunwork #neverstoplearning #believeinyourself #workhard

Taking Care of Yourself Is the Best Medicine

I have always been a person who likes to do more than one thing at a time.  To me it has always seemed efficient.  It never occurred to me that perhaps being constantly active in body and mind might be too much and not really healthy.  What I mean is, in my daily life of farm, house, work, animal chores, volunteering, errands etc., my mind and body are constantly active on what I am doing and what I need to do. In the efforts to get all the things done I want to accomplish in a day, I am constantly busy.  From the moment I wake up, I am on the go.

 

I stage items to move about the house while whisking pet hair on the floor with my foot and will scoop that up on my next trip by.  I water and transplant plants, check on the gardens, harvest produce and herbs, preserve everything, clean out garden beds and endlessly weed……. Clean out the chicken house and gather eggs, water everyone and clean those containers, take out or stock canning jars in my she shed, check on the drying herbs there, then go next door to the garage and pull beef from the freezer for dinner and 100 other things that just need done.    I am not alone.  I am sure anyone reading this can relate to the endless “to-do’ list.

I am so far behind on my reading that I always have a stack of magazine including the latest editions of Mother Earth News or Mother Earth News Living with me in the bath.  Every book and magazine I own is water logged.

For the last decade I do butt scrunches while I watch TV or drive so as to be exercising while I ‘waste” time.  My mind and body never really STOP and I move around at breakneck speed.  This year it caught up with me.

This year I turned 52 but honestly don’t feel any certain age.  I am not sure how 52 is supposed to feel but I have tons of energy, rarely get sick and my body feels like it did in my 20s.  I go to the gym 4 or 5 days a week consistently year-round, and hike my dogs for about an hour pretty much every day.  I cook all of our meals from real, unprocessed food, take high quality supplements via pill or powder form every day, drink lots of water, power and care for my body by consuming herbal teas and lots of natural remedies and I try to sleep enough though at times, sleeping is difficult for me.   I don’t sit for long periods of time; I move my body all day long at chores and schedule errands and volunteering for after the gym. Last year I got a pair of Traq shoes which keeps track of those steps and one day I walked over 14 miles in just normal activity.  I think that is a lot.  That is a little above average for me but I am on my feet A LOT.  I like to joke that the only time I sit down is to go to the bathroom and eat dinner.

After all the planting was pretty much done in late June, I was getting the farm ready to host our annual Summer Solstice Party.  We save our cardboard and paper refuse and burn it several times a year.  I store all that on our lower back deck and wanted it all cleaned up for the party so was taking trips back and forth to the burn pile.  I slipped on one of those trips and fell down injuring my right middle finger.  I could bend it so splinted it and went on working.  There was much to do.

Four weeks later it was still REALLY sore and I had my annual doctor’s appointment with a physician I have had for decades.  She examined the finger and said it will eventually heal.  Tendon/ligament damage but no bones broken.  I asked about a bone density test and she said not yet.  I went on my merry way.

Several hours later I was rushing around as usual and needed to retrieve some light bulbs I had stored in our pole barn.  I didn’t take the time to secure the ladder and box that I stepped on to reach them properly and, on the way down lost my footing and fell backwards onto the ground with the ladder whacking me on the head.  I heard a snap and felt PAIN.

I looked at my dangling right wrist and knew I had broken it.  I ran into the house to my husband who was working in his office.  I said I think I broke my wrist.  He looked at it, ran from the room, got ice, sat me down and said we are going to the ER.   I broke both bones of my right wrist and had to have surgery to repair the one and now have a plate and screws in my body.

Being a farmer, I was devastated that work as I knew it would have to STOP.  This was July 23rd, a VERY  busy time on the farm.  For two weeks I had to lie down and do basically nothing while the gardens grew, the chicken house got pretty icky, the meals were very basic and I SLEPT.  I had NEVER been able to nap in my life unless I was ill, but I couldn’t stay awake now.  I made a little bed on my screened in porch with pillows and a sheet and started reading the Harry Potter books on my settee.  Every day I napped for 2-3 hours and when I resumed the dog hikes VERY carefully, I had to take TWO 2-3-hour naps daily.  The dogs and cats were good company as they will take every opportunity to nap and I got through 5 Harry Potter books.

After two weeks I returned to see the surgeon.  They removed the cast and the doctor said I could wear a splint now. Yippee.  This was much less restrictive.  I had several follow up appointments and each time the doctor has been really pleased with how fast I was healing.  I was on weight restriction of course but as soon as I finished the physical therapy, I could do pretty much everything!  I resumed as much farm work as I was able and accepted help from friends and neighbors.

Last week, in mid-October, after my gym class I took two big boxes of gifts I needed to post.  I could have taken them in one at a time but no, in usual Marsha fashion, I piled them both in my arms and was quickly walking to the door.  People were exiting and considering we are living in the era of Covid-19, though everyone was masked, I moved out of the way to give them some room to pass and stepped off the sidewalk rolling my right ankle like I had never done before.  Down I went like a sack of potatoes, boxes flying and I watched my ankle instantly swell.  The urge to retch was really strong and I was in intense pain.  At this point I cried a bit too as I was feeling like I broke my ankle this time and if that would be the case, I was REALLY screwed.  A wrist was hard enough but this injury would stop the dog hikes and the massive running around the farm.  I had a bit of a pity party right there on the ground.

While I was laying there with my head in my hands, one lady did stop and ask me if I was ok and in about ten minutes, the urge to vomit passed so I got up and hobbled into the post office, mailed the packages then went home.  Mitch was getting ready to leave for his annual camping trip with his childhood buddies and I presented my bruised and swollen ankle to him for review.  He went and got the athletic wrap, tightly wrapped it and brought me some ice and Advil, kissed me and left.  The pets gathered around and looked sad.  This was one day Bandit and Bubba were not getting hiked.  We have 6 fenced-in acres, go walk yourselves.  Mommy is possibly broken AGAIN.

So, I lay there and Googled ankle injuries and agreed it was probably a sprain.  There are 3 degrees of sprained ankles I now know and I thought I was a 1 or a 2.  I did not rush off to the ortho and all my friends were chastising me for this.

After the first 24 hours I pulled off the bandage and had a look.  Lots of swelling and bruising but it seemed stable to walk on.  72 hours in I had my regularly scheduled final post-surgery follow up with Dr. Welker on my wrist and I asked him to look at my ankle.  He examined it and said it was a sprain and if it isn’t 100% better by Thanksgiving I am to return.  Ice and elevation and rest to continue and I am doing all that.  As when I was newly injured on my wrist, every day during that first week, I simply HAD to nap.

Again, I am healing remarkably fast and people keep commenting on this.  I am 11 days in and back at the gym.

I truly believe that all the efforts I put into taking care of myself every day of the year is to credit my fast recovery.   Since I started deeply delving into growing food organically, raising chickens and bees, growing mushrooms, growing herbs for teas, tinctures and herbal extracts and exploring healthier ways of eating, I am not only preventing illness but fortifying my body so it is strong and healthy and able to concentrate on healing.  I also have a grateful heart and I think that is also helpful.

Photo by Kayla Maurais on Unsplash

I need to and am going to make a conscious effort to slow down and take my time.  It won’t be easy for me, but what has happened to me in 2020 has truly scared me.   I did get that bone scan and while I don’t have osteoporosis, I do have osteopenia.  I already take the recommended dosages of calcium and vitamin D3 and ingest lots of collagen, magnesium and Triflex for joint support, but I need to take my speed through life below 70 MPH.  I believe I am doing a really good job at caring for this body but I will be a senior citizen in three years (OMG, really?) and taking careful and slower steps are becoming necessary.

While over the course of a lifetime, we will become ill, break bones and more, I do believe taking care of yourself is the best medicine and we CAN heal our body naturally.  During Covid, I published a restorative and healthy cookbooklet on that subject and I hope you will check it and me out.   https://www.amazon.com/My-Healing-Cookbooklet-Recipes-Restoration/dp/1734711906/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Marsha+Cassel+book&qid=1603832048&sr=8-1

I want to become a real natural healer and expert with herbs and through attending several Mother Earth News fairs, know just the teacher I want to contact to reach that goal.

Winter is coming.  The pace of life around the farm is slowing.  Now is the perfect time for me to get a deeper understanding of all the medicine growing right outside under my healing ankle. #naturalmedicine #herbalremedies