The County Sheriff and a mobile compost pile

Sometimes the dirt in your life follows you around for awhile . . . literally!

The weather was unusually warm here in the Midwest of the United States this past December.  By “warm” I mean that it was still in the 50’s and that was all I needed to do a little gardening project still left undone from the prior season.  Factor in the heartache of having been too sick to do it earlier, you can see why I jumped at the chance to get some dirt under my fingernails before the snow was set to fly!

And so I did.  The borders around the flower beds and tree in our front yard were re-cut and tidied up for the wintry freeze to follow. A Master Gardener simply cannot have her front yard unkempt when visitors were set to come for Christmas celebrations . . . even if they are not into landscaping!  Afterwards I felt a little better about the whole thingy.  The cuttings went into the bed of my truck like they always do with the intent of making a quick trip to dump it at the town compost pile.  That never happened.  Such a bummer being sick virtually all of the time . . .

Flash forward two months.  I was headed in my truck to my doctor’s office, hoping that they would see me on time.  Usually we patients can call ahead to see how far he is running behind and to leave our phone number for a call when they have an exam room available for us.  The phone lines were either turned off or unanswered when I had tried to call so I hurried to get on my way, lest I lose my appointment altogether!  This arrangement is a minor inconvenience for most folks but a major undertaking for me these days.  I had a more severe seizure attack waking up that morning and barely had enough time to get ready, grab some of my special food for the day (these appointments require 3+ hours plus I had an IV treatment at the hospital next door for another 4 hours later on), and focus enough to get myself out the door.  Maybe I should have had Steve drive me to the appointment?

Clearly I was a little distracted.  The purpose of the appointment was to re-evaluate the first month of IV treatments for Lyme disease.  I had first treated Lyme disease 4 years ago and it was a disaster; the next 4 years were spent taking down other infections and toxicities to get ready for intense treatment of Lyme that likely had been underlying ongoing health issues for a very long time.  The process has been most difficult.  I would learn in this appointment that the burning in my forearms that occurred during the past 5 infusions of the antibiotic (Rocephin) had caused superficial phlebitis!  All I knew is that they hurt.  More treatment recommendations would follow to add to my already complex treatment regime.  Everything came clearly into focus when I saw that beige-n-brown Dodge Charger sitting alongside Auburn Road.

As soon as I saw him I knew that I was in trouble.  That’s the color of the County Sheriff vehicles and I was traveling 14 miles per hour over the speed limit!  I thought I was only 9 MPH but unfortunately I did not see the traffic sign until my trip home!  He followed me for a block or so before turning on his flashing lights.  I sat stunned by the side of the road.  The Sheriff turned out to be friendly young lad, albeit dressed in his intimidating finery.  He recognized my last name and asked if I knew someone that he did by that name in another town?  Nope.  I could hardly speak.  “May I call my Doctor’s office?  I am running late for an appointment,” I asked.  “Sure,” he replied as he took my ID cards and walked back to his beast on wheels.  If he was friendly did that mean that he would have mercy on my story and not give me a ticket?

Nope again.  The “icy” conditions warranted a citation.  He spouted off more instructions than I could understand then left me with a cheap ticker-tape style TICKET.  All I could do was pull over onto a local street to gather myself to figure out what to do next.  The Doctor’s office finally answered their phone, apologized for not picking up earlier as they were short-staffed and stated that the Doc was running 1 1/2 hours behind schedule (as usual!).  “Would I like to leave my phone number for a call when they were ready?”  Sure, no problem I thought to myself . . .

Somehow I managed to contact my hubby at work and return home.  The struggle to leave the house earlier that morning resulted in a very expensive speeding ticket with funds earmarked for adjunct treatments not the county coffers.  I was upset at myself and upset at this wretched illness.  I was guilty of speeding.  I had not even looked down to see how fast I was travelling.  Driving a truck makes you a little over-confident in inclement weather and that false sense of security had caught up with me.  Gee, did he also notice that I still have a quarter of the bed of my truck filled with dirt, plants, and sod pieces in the middle of winter?  Perhaps not.  The pile has already begun composting into a fertile loam on sunny days!  They should make a nice, top-dressing the vegetable bed by Spring!  Maybe I’ll just leave it in there?

Sigh.  Life goes on and sometimes the State trooper is the one to remind me of this.  Regardless, if it really does get to 57 degrees tomorrow (on February 19th!) I will be digging some, Lord willing.  There’s much to do and the IV treatments are helping me feel some better.  Besides, I have a lot more room in the bed of my truck that needs to be filled dontcha know?  You can never have too much of that “black gold” stuff anyways.  :JJ

compost, gardening, truck, Nissan Frontier, garden, load, dirt,
How the professionals load compost!


A Bed, A Barn, and A Barefoot Woman

When selecting a mattress, one must decide some key factors before heading out to the store:

  1. What size do you need:  twin, full, queen, king, or California king?
  2. How much are you willing to spend?
  3. Do you need a box spring or will the mattress still be comfortable alone if it is to be placed upon a platform bed?
  4. Do you want the comfort of memory foam?  Spring coils?  Pillow top?  Or a combination of the these three?
  5. Will having a 2-sided mattress be important to you and the life of your mattress or do you desire maximum comfort in one-sided layers without the option of flipping it periodically?
  6. How thick of a mattress will work in your sleeping area?  Too high of a bed can cause accidents and require a step stool for the vertically challenged among us.
  7. How long is the warranty?
  8. Will you get a better deal all around if you buy locally from a barefoot woman?womans feet

Whaat?  Did I lose you with number 8?  I don’t really see why because after all, that was a HUGE factor in my purchase of a mattress on Friday!  Well, I didn’t think it would be a big factor until a most unusual circumstance arose.  Allow me to elaborate . . .

I asked some friends on Facebook for a suggestion of a place to purchase a relatively inexpensive queen-sized mattress.  Some additional factors due to my allergy sensitivities were:  minimal outgassing odors from synthetic materials, latex-free construction, plus the overall weight must be reasonable.  I had found a manufacturer in a city about 1 1/2 hours away who offered custom mattresses and was prepared to make a road trip to check it out while carting our old queen mattress in the bed of my truck.  Then when an acquaintance suggested a local business owner “at the corner of Hurshtown Rd. and Boger Rd.” who had provided her family with a great product and price point not too long ago, I decided to check it out.

The problem with this scenario unfolded quickly:  the streets intersected somewhere in the middle of no where by two smallish towns and in the heart of Amish country.  The phone number that she gave me didn’t work and she was unavailable on Facebook Messenger to clarify it.  Of course I didn’t have her cell number with me!  If the place was an Amish business then it could be possible that they would not be in the phone book or have a website.  Both proved to be true.  Yet the possibility was still intriguing  to me.  We have had local Amish craftsman build a cabinet for our bathroom, weld a custom seamless curtain rod for inside our bay window in our kitchen, and create two gorgeous custom trellises for our flagstone patio.  The experiences were fun for me to design and the finished products were excellent at fair pricing.  So to embark on an unknown adventure to find the right Amish-quality mattress was very appealing to me.  I decided to go for it!

My GPS located the intersection of the two streets in a remote area as I had suspected:  right in the heart of Amish country along blacktop roads littered with smooshed and sun-dried horse manure.  No signs were in sight to point the way to Ruben’s Mattress Warehouse!  Ahead of me was a horse-drawn buggy carrying two ladies about to exit a homestead onto Boger Road.  I stopped and asked what I thought was a friendly question.  “Hi there!”  I said as the driver looked shocked, all bundled up in black in the front seat of a two-seater, that this gal originally from Chicago would stop to speak to her from her warm and comfortable king cab truck.  “Is there a mattress business around here?”

“I think there’s a guy who sells them across the street,” was her sheepish reply.  Really?  Don’t all Amish folks in this area know each other?  Aren’t they almost all related either directly or indirectly, through inbreeding or something like that?  There must be a family squabble going on so I confirmed where she was pointing to and motioned that she could exit out of her parking lot of a driveway in front of me.  She bowed her head slightly and proceeded out and down the road.  O.k.  Now for the second part of the adventure:  which barn is it? 

I pulled into the homestead across the street, facing Hurshtown Rd.  Having visited many Amish families when providing occupational therapy home care visits, I was a little familiar their culture.  They are a private people so you don’t just go up and knock on the front door of the house or wander around the barns looking for someone official-looking.  I decided to wait in my truck while trying to contact my friend again via my smartphone and hope someone noticed the sound of a truck driving up.  Shortly thereafter, the barefoot woman appeared.

I confirmed that this indeed was the mattress place, that no, I didn’t phone ahead because I had the wrong phone number, and yes, it was o.k. to drive around the first barn to the entrance and come inside to check out their inventory.  Ruben makes the mattress frames for the Wolfe bedding company in Indianapolis, a 2-hour drive south of Fort Wayne near where we live, and sells the completed mattresses locally.  Their customers are generally from the Amish community and a few folks in the area who find them in a regional courier or by word of mouth.  Well cool beans.  The barefoot woman was kind and showed me her wares in her navy pleated dress:  carefully pinned together with straight pins per the dress code of their bishop and accompanied by a pleated white head covering.  Her adorable granddaughters followed us around the barn as I laid on a few samples that fit my criteria.  One was perfect and I wrote her a check for nearly half of what a department store would charge.  Cool beans again!

The women of this community have always struck me as being particularly hardy.  This was proven true once again when the barefoot grandmother and her tiny daughter loaded the 80+ pound queen-sized beast into the bed of my truck with yours truly helping some too.  The gravel parking lot, 60 degree weather, and risk of a mattress crushing her feet if it slipped made no difference in the order of business completed that afternoon.  I tried to be an encouragement to the girls who had shared that their mom was sick, before I knew that she would be summoned to help with the loading, and suggested that they could pray for her mother to be healed.  Earlier I was amazed that there was no synthetic smell whatsoever to the mattress and offered a spontaneous exaltation of praise to the Lord who surely led me to this expertly crafted barn of sleep-heavenly treasures!  “Praise the Lord” I exclaimed.  Truly my Jesus was providing for my every need that afternoon and I remain exceedingly grateful.

The barefoot woman and the girls retreated back into the house surely to attend to other household duties.  I proceeded home with the mattress hanging out the back end of my truck, musing about the wackiness of yet another adventure here in my beloved home state of Indiana . . .

Most folks who live in the outskirts of Fort Wayne would think nothing of the kind of experience that I have described for you here.  But for me it is still a wondrous process of discovery when a simple purchase becomes an adventure into the back roads of the surrounding countryside, a window into the daily lives of another culture, receipt of a quality product made by local craftsmen, and another confirmation that I might have always been meant to drive a white pick up truck!  It’s fun to haul stuff yourself!

I am so glad that my Knight in Shining Aluminum (aka Steve), my intended beloved brought me here to his home State of Indiana from the bulging metropolis of Chicagoland seven years ago.  I am so grateful that my dad bequeathed my brother and I his Nissan Frontier king cab truck so that I might trade in my Hyundai Tucson for one of my own.  And I am so glad for the ability to slow down and smell the scented barely-marked road ways along the way:  something once foreign to me sitting in big city and suburban traffic not long ago.

So the next time you are seeking to purchase a new bed or mattress set, think about the barefoot woman in the barn.  You too might find a steal of a deal in addition to a great night of sleep!  You might also find fodder for the grist mill for having travelled off the beaten path.  I did and I am glad.  :JJ

Amish buggy