Category Archives: responsibility

On Digital Photography and Other Things

Lately, I’ve been taking a cue from the tenants at the property I manage.  After a long day of working in the fields they come home and sit outside.  Sometimes they visit with others, and sometimes they just sit there by themselves. 

 I started doing this more often as a way to just relax and have some quiet time.  I call it “the art of sitting outside,” and think this art is something we all need to practice on a regular basis.  I just came inside from some time at the patio table on this wonderful Southern Idaho evening, and my time outside was delightful.

 As some of you know, and may have grown tired of me saying it, I’ve been writing a book on and off for the last fourteen years or so.  Since this project has spanned over fourteen years, I would strongly argue more off than on has happened in the writing practice.  For a variety of reasons one of my current goals is to finish the book soon and self-publish it.  So, in about 10 years I should have it done!

 Last night I spent a couple of hours doing some good work on this project and realized over the years I have written way too many musings for one book, and some essays that just aren’t book worthy … not yet anyway.  In an effort to thin and improve I thought I would tweak some of them and use them for my podcast I’m planning on starting back up or adapt them for this blog/web-page.

 Here are some thoughts I first wrote in 2006 and have modified over the years.

 Honestly, in some situations, I would love to return to simpler times.  The advances in camera and phone technology are truly amazing, but every now and them I prefer the simplicity of loading a roll of 35 mm film into a camera and talking on a rotary phone.  With photography, I use to love finishing up a roll of film, taking the film to be developed into photographs, and then taking those photographs home and looking through them to remember good and maybe not so good times.

 Shortly after the year 2000 (sing “in the year 2000” from the old Conon O’Brian show), we could have even received the gift in the year 2000, Heidi and I were given a digital camera for Christmas, our first, and we were so excited about our new Fuji and being able to take and store photographs digitally.  As you already know, since we are already 18 years removed from the year 2000 (again Conon O’ Brian), one of the great features, among many, of digital cameras is how many pictures you can take and store.  Storing a countless number of pictures on the camera, on a smart phone, on a computer, somewhere in a cloud, or some other option I haven’t mentioned.  The digital pictures, like any other pictures are fun to look at and because of the technology we now possess we are able to post them on-line in a matter of seconds and share our lives in pictures with friends and family through e-mail, and social media sites.

 One of the problems with digital photography and digital cameras and smart phones, at least when the people owning them are poor, is the pictures stay in digital form and are rarely printed off.  I know digital pictures can be printed off and made to look like a regular old photography by when there isn’t a lot of extra money in the budget, like when Heidi and I first got our camera, the 1000’s of pictures you take stay on the computer and are soon forgotten about and only occasionally viewed.  (I realize some of these thoughts might be outdated in a world of Snap-Face when the goal is for the picture to disappear, or Insta-Crap where the goal of making sure everyone knows how you look 100 times a day from an arm length away, but they are still a reality for me, and they make the story flow.)

 I sat down at my desk at work one morning 14 or so years ago and I pushed the power button on my computer only to have nothing happen.  My computer, like my dad van most of the time, wouldn’t turn on and our technology support person confirmed my worst fear, the computer’s hard drive was friend and none of the files on it could be retrieved.  Immediately I thought about all of the files that had been lost because I failed to back them up and was devastated as I remembered all of our family pictures I had been storing on the computer until we got a computer at home to transfer them to.  I felt especially horrible because there were a lot of pictures on the computer from when our middle son Jacob was born, and now we didn’t have them anymore. No Bueno.

 After this incident I attempted to be more diligent in backing up files to avoid this disaster again.  Unfortunately, I fell back into my lazy habits and as life got busy I had backed up some files but not all of them when we had one of our computers crash again.  Luckily, some of the files were able to be saved but we were not able to salvage all of them.  Unfortunately, once again most of the pictures we lost were of Jacob our middle son and some of his major life moments. 

 Again, as before, I was devastated and felt horrible for a few days until I was reminded I got to see my son every day and could probably scrounge up some pictures from family members.  I also figured when he got older I could just tell him like some conservative Anabaptist groups there were a few years we didn’t believe in taking photos for religious reasons. 

 The funny thing is, now all of our digital photos are backed up, either on a jump drive or a cloud-based storage space, and I hardly ever look at them.  I look at the pictures we have taken and printed off and have around the house, but rarely do I go and look at pictures taken years ago.  Kind of like how I treat the old videos we recorded with the boys where little.

 While the moral of this story was supposed to encourage you to make sure you back up your digital photographs, there are some other lessons we can learn here. 

 1) Enjoy the moment.  We don’t have to capture everything with our phones or cameras, sometimes it is just good to soak everything in and really experience the moment.  I’m afraid we miss out on a whole bunch when we are trying to capture everything for later or to post online, instead of living in the moment.

2) I hardly ever look at the pictures we have captured over the years, the ones we still have, but I have so many great memories and pictures in my head that I can relive.  I know for me remembering is a good way to connect with the past, while am living in the future.

 3) Don’t just take pictures, look at them too.  When you look at them, tell the stories of what was going on.  I have a picture of my first-grade birthday to remind me of who was there that day to help me celebrate but looking at that photograph also reminds me of all the fun I had.  The cool thing is I see some of those same guys every once and awhile in person or on social media.

4) Be grateful for what we do have, instead of lamenting about what we don’t have.

Advertisements

My Old Man Taught Me How to Trap Gophers

gopher-moundTo be clear, I never refer to my dad as “my old man,” opting instead for the more commonly used “my dad” when referencing my father.  I chose to go with “my old man” for the title of this post only because I thought these three simple words would garner more attention in title form than “my dad” would have.  I have nothing against people who refer to their father as “my old man,” or any other title for that matter.  To each, his or her own.

 I apologize for getting a bit side tracked there.  Getting side tracked happens often when I am speaking to someone as a random thought that loosely connects to what I am talking about enters my brain, and my filter doesn’t work fast enough to stop the random thought from exiting my mouth.  I guess the same thing can happen when I am writing, must be a communication issue. 

 We just moved into a rental home that rests half a mile down a dirt lane on the banks of the Snake River.  The property the house sits on belongs to a farmer, and while we are surrounded by hundreds of acres of crops we only get to help maintain five of them.  At this point those 5 acres include the house, lawn, more trees than I can count, and several acres of over grown pasture.  This property is a quiet and restful place, and it is just what are family needs at this moment in time.  (More on that in future posts and podcasts.)

 We also inherited several resident gophers which leads me back to the title and my dad.  When I was a child, growing up on our 40-acre farm, I learned how to trap gophers.  My dad taught me how.  I learned how to kick down the older gopher mounds we wouldn’t be needing after locating the freshest mound.  I learned how to read the fresh gopher mound to decipher where the hole might be so I would know where to start digging.  Once I dug I learned how to fill around the earth to find the hole, if it wasn’t already visible, and I learned how to clean out the hole to prepare it for a trap.

 Once the digging and hole preparation was done I would set the box trap, my preferred trap of choice, and move on from there waiting, and returning daily to see if a gopher had been caught.  We used other methods of gopher trapping, such as gassing them or flooding them out of their holes, but I always appreciated the box trap.

 After being on our new property a few days and noticing there were gophers we needed to take care of Samuel, my oldest son, and I went to Tolmie’s, the local Ace hardware store and purchased two Bower’s Gopher Traps made in Marsing, Idaho.  After getting the traps home I taught my boys how to flatten the gopher mounds we weren’t going to use by kicking them, and to look for where the hole might be on the freshest mound.  As I dug into the ground and deposited a spade full of earth next the mound I got down and showed them how to feel for and find the gopher hole.  Our next step was of course to clean out the hole, set the trap, and put the trap in the hole.

 So far, we have set three traps, and we have caught three gophers.  Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t set a gopher trap in over 20 years.  We even found a post to put the dead gophers on for the resident birds of prey to enjoy. 

 As I was putting an empty trap away one evening after another successful kill and disposal I started thinking about how and when I learned to trap gophers with my dad.  Then I started thinking about how as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children useful skills they will be able to use in the present and well into the future.  When I learned how to trap gophers I wasn’t thinking about how I might someday pass that skill on to my own children, I was just excited to learn a new skill.  Today, I am glad I paid attention so I could pass a new skill on to my sons. 

 Perhaps my recent gopher killing spree is a good reminder for all of us to take the time we need to pass on skills and other useful things to our children.  I’m reminded that so much of what our children need to know in life comes from us, their caretakers, their guardians, their parents.  Let’s make sure and remember to do our best in passing useful skills along, as we seek to enhance our children’s learning and knowledge and in the process make the world a better place.


Stepping Up

Several times I’ve shared a sentiment that I worry about societies who don’t pay attention to their elderly and young people.  At times I feel like those are two overlooked age groups in the United States, and while I’m not up to speed on the happenings in other countries I wonder if this trend might be the same in places that are foreign to me but not to the people who live there.

Last week I went to a dinner at a restaurant operated as a place for seniors, disabled, and veterans to get a decent meal for a donation, including operating Meals-On-Wheels out of the restaurant kitchen, and  everyone else to pay full price.  I don’t mind paying full price, knowing the place is not for profit, and the income goes towards helping others eat.  It is good to know there are other people willing to do the same.  Check out “The Sandbar Restaurant with a Cause” in Marsing, Idaho to get a good meal and to help a good cause.

When adults get to involved in their own “stuff” I worry about the children and youth in their direct influence.  I worry because I’ve seen what happens to the young people.  I guess on the bright side those young people tend to seek out people to give them attention.  Sometimes those people are adults, and other times they are their peers.

My encouragement is for all of us adults who have some type of influence in the lives of young people because we are parents, or because we have opportunities through calling, work, and life to interact with young people, is to continue to step up and pay attention to what is going on in their lives.  Build relationships.  Let them know you are their for them, and then show it.  Even correct their grammar if necessary and teach them when to correctly use there instead of their.  We can’t always rely on English teachers.

Our young people need us.  They need guidance.  They need wisdom.  They need boundaries.  They need good examples.  They need adults in their life who care about them.  They need to be loved.  They need adults to be adults.  They need role models they can spend time with and learn from.  They need us to be honest.  They need us to be ourselves.  They need us to be healthy.

Our young people need us.

Are you willing to be present in the lives of the young people in your direct sphere of influence?718070ec-bd3c-47a7-9fe3-cd0ef9e976cf

 


Not Winner Winner

When I got home yesterday one of my sons met me at the door of my mini-van (#dadvan).

As he began sharing with me about our sick chicken he became a little bit emotional. And I was met by more emotion when I got inside.

Having talked with Heidi, my wife, on the phone while I was at work I had already been made aware of the chicken’s worsening condition, and had made the decision to put the chicken out of her misery when I came home. After I got home we talked with the boys about it and we all agreed this was the best course of action.

We have our chickens for the purpose of having fresh eggs, and while we don’t necessarily identify with them as pets all of our hens do have names, and you kind of get used to having them around. We also, as lovers of animals, don’t want our animals to suffer, and that was hard for some of us to see. You might identify with this and see where a little emotion might come in.

Having pets and raising animals is good for kids because among other things they are able to learn responsibility and companionship. Children who are fortunate enough to be around animals also learn about the circle of life. Some lessons are best learned through life experience with lots of hugs and conversations.

So yesterday I had to ring the neck of the leader of our hen house so she wouldn’t suffer anymore. Her name was Goldie. Her full name was Goldie Hawn. (My apologies to the real Goldie Hawn.)

As parents we often will have to do things that are the right thing to do, while at the same time being hard or uncomfortable. This comes from being the adults in the family, and may have something to do with maturity. Putting a chicken down wasn’t that hard for me, but it just reminds of some of the other things we might have to do as parents that are.

R.I.P. Goldie. Thanks for the eggs!