Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Appointment Pooping

 NOTE: If you do not want to read about my healthy bowel movement, well too late you just did.

I recently became you-better-get-a-colonoscopy-years-old. So after giving the doctor a Midwest response of yeah no, she suggested Cologuard(R).

Have you seen the happy little commercials of the anthropomorphized friendly box that tells you how simple it is to send away a sample to screen for colon cancer. Well, I was under the mistaken impression that the sample was just a swipe, a schmear if you will, of sample. 

NO. That happy little Cologuard box is meant to contain a little crock of your shit. A. Crock. Of. Shit. At least if you can get the appointment pooping right. 

Ladies, maybe I am alone in this. But I don't make appointments to shit. Do you? Or do you just take a seat and whatever happens, happens. 

In order to make the Cologuard process work correctly you have to 
1. have to shit 
2. open the crock 
3. get the plastic doo-hicky that keeps the crock up near the source situated under the seat
4. have time to immediately take this crock of shit to a UPS store (in a box)

So today was the day. I felt step #1 coming on in the form of a #2. So I got out the 26-PAGE instruction booklet. Have you ever read 26 pages of instructions while you are actively needing to get through steps #1-3 of a #2?

Oh, and ladies, I forgot to mention, you aren't allowed to pee in the crock. It is to be a crock exclusively of shit.

So I read the instructions, got the crock situated to collect and sat down. Unlike the time I had trouble producing even a teaspoon of lady urine in the Kroger bathroom, today I provided a very healthy sample.  It was probably too much sample. And some pee got in. How do you keep it out? So anyway, this probably means I have cancer, or perhaps I did until I emptied it all into this crock.

Can we just pause for a moment of silence for the poor people (hopefully well compensated) who have to open these literal crocks of shit that have been in transit for a few days.

After referring to the second instruction booklet (only 4 pages) on shipping, I headed out to the hardware store in town that handles UPS pick-ups. 

On my way out, my Husband, who was oddly uninterested in hearing about my sample while he ate his lunch, said "What are you going to tell them is inside?" Husband, who regularly ships pig semen across the country via UPS, knew that they often asked that question. 

I contemplated just skipping the whole thing, but then I thought that taking this box to the hardware store was the simplest way I knew to get rid of this crock of shit. And also, these people had heard my husband answer pig semen every time he handed over a box, so could this really be worse?

Miraculously, I did not see anyone I knew as I carried in my box. And even more miraculously, no content questions were asked. 

So to anyone I've traumatized, with our regular shipping of pig semen and our irregular shipping of shit samples (hopefully not TOO irregular), I apologize. To make it up to you, I will send over a box of chocolates via UPS. Don't worry if they seem melted.

UPDATE: The results are in. My healthy sample was a healthy sample! Preventative medicine FTW.

EPILOGUE: I entered this in the prestigious Erma Bombeck writing competition and received the following feedback: 

I am not sure how the swearing will play with judges beyond me, but I think your storytelling and humor is masterful! The end made me chortle.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Reach Out

Someone I admire and love often makes me cringe by being the person who never shies away from talking to people about their troubles. 

Did your barn burn down? They will ask you about it at the next 4-H banquet, when everyone else is trying to ignore that sore subject.

Lose a loved one? They will march over to your house with a basket of chicken, and probably attend the funeral, when others are giving the family space. 

You or a family member in a socially awkward situation (divorce, pregnancy, drugs, etc.)? They will ask about it when they see you in town, when others are trying to pretend they don't know.

You might think (I certainly have) that this person is going to step in it sometime. That their outreach will be perceived as nosiness, or that they will get shut down by the person they approach.

But that's not what happens.

People want an outlet to share. Going through tough times can be lonely, and feeling that someone cares is a wonderful release. The support network of immediate family is always important, but they are often going through their own feelings.

Sharing your story, your feelings, your frustrations with someone--even someone who by most counts isn't in your top people to confide in--is freeing.

This idea of reaching out jumped into my mind today, and so as someone who is usually in the they don't want to talk about this with ME camp, I decided to test it for myself.

I sent a message to someone I don't know intimately who I knew was going through a tough time. I didn't ask questions, just offered supportive words. And they responded immediately and enthusiastically, offering up some details on their situation.

This made me think of some missed opportunities. Times where I could have (should have) simply reached out, and not assumed someone facing a difficult time was already being helped, or was unwilling to talk about it.

I also had to think about my feelings on receiving outreach. I consider myself pretty private, a circle-the-wagons kind of individual. But in reality, when I have faced tough times (loss of my father, career challenges), it has helped to have people to talk to. And if I am honest, talking to someone who wasn't in my inner circle, who brought a fresh perspective and a little distance from the trauma, it was helpful.

So I challenge you to think about the people you know, and those you barely know who might need a kind word and a caring ear. And reach out. 

Saturday, March 20, 2021

7 Things You Can Get Away With if You are an Experienced Writer

Before we get to the marketing stuff, here is your pig farming moment of zen:

Their pen may have been escapable, but their cuteness is not.

7 Things You Can Get Away With if You are an Experienced Writer

Good writing is in some ways like pornography. Both are difficult to define conclusively, but you will definitely know it when you see it. If you are a good writer, you can "get away" with things that are beyond your basic assignment that will make your contribution more compelling.
  1. Good writers can extrapolate content from other sources without it sounding like a plagiarized book report. I mean that you can pull a phrase from the CEOs last speech, a paragraph from the last blog post you ghost-wrote for the VP, and the speaker notes from the sales presentation and knit it together in a new way that makes a fresh and compelling point and reiterates your key content themes.

  2. You can do your own research to supplement materials provided. I once had a client who wanted me to write an article for a trade publication on her behalf. She helpfully provided me with--I am not making this up--two dozen links to pages on their blog that featured 5-word definitions of industry terms. That's a lot of knitting. So, confident in my knowledge and abilities, I researched the topic myself, looking both within their own materials and in the industry to create a great, insightful article.

  3. With skill comes efficiency, which translates to the ability to wait until the last minute to bang stuff out. Like many creatives, experienced writers thrive on the pressure of deadlines and still get away with producing high-quality content on tight turnaround.

  4. Good writers can mimic another's style. Whether it is writing in the "voice" of an executive, or just ensuring you are using industry terms and phrases, a good writer can adopt writing styles to suit the situation.

  5. You can write something from nothing. Similar to #2, you can start with the blank page and create something from sometimes literally nothing. Clients/bosses ask you to draft messages they can't articulate on topics they can't define. And you do it. 

  6. You weave in the essence of company branding, strategy and messaging without ham handedly shoving the stilted words of the vision directly into the text. More difficult than starting with nothing is starting with something that you are required to incorporate into the text--and make it seem natural.

  7. Experienced writers have tricks up their sleeve. Tricks like using lists to grab a reader's attention and also jump from topic to topic without needing fancy paragraph transitions. Don't forget the headlines and headers. Good writers can create punchy headlines that will drive interest and use headers to help break up long text.
Good, experienced writers are often victims of our own success. We make all of this look easy, so it's important we make sure not to sell ourselves short.

Need an experienced writer? Hit me up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Oh Cincy Tree, Oh Cincy Tree

2020 is CRAP. And no where is that more apparent recently than the Christmas Tree erected on Fountain Square in Cincinnati. Yikes. It looks like they fixed it up, but with what? The corpses of 20 other trees?

Every woman reading this knows what happened. They sent men to get this tree. The men drove to the place where they were supposed to procure the important symbol of the holidays for a major metropolitan area and said, "how 'bout this one." They all agreed that this one was the easiest to cut and easiest to load, so back they went to Cincinnati. Somewhere outside of town they lost half of it, but still it was a tree. Mission accomplished.

If women had been involved in selecting the Cincy Tree, they would have viewed all the trees in southwest Ohio, made multiple visits to each. And then selected the first one they saw originally. But also bought a second one in a smaller size, in case it would fit better later. But at least it would not have been that janky thing.

I am a Christmas purist. I don't like decorating pre-Thanksgiving. I won't listen to the music until the calendar says December. I must have a real, actual Christmas tree in my house that I decorate with a curated set of decorations reflecting family memories. Not matching bulbs. Are you a Macy's?

But last year I waited a little too long to get my real tree. After putting off his suggestion that we go ahead and get our tree in November, NOVEMBER! I finally sent Husband unsupervised to pick out the family tree for our fun, old-fashioned family Christmas. 

Oh, I forgot to mention that my Christmas purity is only upstaged by my unwillingness to pay $70 at a tree farm. Anyway, heading out in the family truck to pick the perfect tree from the Tractor Supply parking lot and then heading inside to get some raccoon traps and heat lamps for your baby pigs is very authentic and very country.

Except for last year. I have to imagine Husband recreating the scene from Charlie Brown, wandering through the lot, past all those fake commercial trees to see the stars shine down on this one. It's not such a bad little tree, is it?

Yes it was.  It was the Charlie Browniest of trees. Even when decorated it wasn't that great, but I will give it credit, it created a LOT of room for gifts.

Husband would like me to note that even though "supply" is the middle name of the Tractor Supply Company, the actual supply of Christmas trees was next to nothing at the "late date" of... checking calendars... the first Saturday in December!

So we will head out earlier this year to get our fresh pine and we will cut off the end, stick it in a bucket and then use the blower (hair dryer for livestock) to get 1,000 of the 1 million dead pine needles out of the tree. And then we will bring it in the house when I have decided Christmas can commence. 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Good Old Days

We've had to cancel our annual pig auction. This is a financial blow and a loss of a 25-year+ family tradition.

Usually the whole family chips in to make this happen. My job is to handle the auction clerking, which includes logging the sales, collecting payments, and convincing someone else to notify Husband should there be an error in any of that.

My tools for that task included a Windows 95 laptop and a dot matrix printer--the kind that uses the attached paper with the pin holes on the side. If none of that last sentence made any sense to you, then see this pic and know that the technology we used before 1999 was index cards and stuff called carbon paper. We only stopped using this computer in 2019!

For the kids, every year meant a new coming of age milestone of being allowed to go help wash pigs, or old enough to stay for the whole auction, sometimes until nearly midnight.

Every year we load up the pigs at the farm and truck them to a local fairgrounds where we hold the auction. The pig loading itself is full of tradition, including supervisory Grandmas and lots of donuts.

Looking through this blog, I found these unpublished photos from about 5 years ago. Here are the trucks leaving for the fairgrounds.

Here is the barn crew that helped load the pigs. These kids are now old enough to drive the fairgrounds themselves!

There are so many memories from over the years. There's the times that internationally renowned pig groomer, Claude', visited the farm, the time a pig peed all over my jeans, the time some people took their pigs home in the back seat of their car, the time a family lost their new pig at McDonald's, and the time Husband yelled at us (oh, wait, that is every time!).

We know that health and safety are important, and we are glad the farmers and their feed suppliers are considered essential businesses. If you are in the market for a pig to show at the fair, then follow us on Facebook and let us know. We have several to sell.

I'm back to blogging. Check out my earlier 2020 posts:

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Young, Scrappy & Hungry

Today, my Mom and I did not go on a walk. It was raining and we thought about being rebellious and going shopping at one of the little boutiques we heard was still holding out.

But we got word via The Aunts that Grandpa had BEEN TO THE GROCERY. Something that just two weeks ago was not a problem, even though Grandpa is 92 and Grandma has dementia. But talk about horrible children, what kind of good caregiver is allowing vulnerable seniors to head out into the world of germs.

So we sprang into action. We heard a nearby meat market had hamburger. They had HAMBURGER. Again, just two short weeks ago that wasn’t news. We booked it over to the meat market to snag our ration of meat (two pounds per family allowed). We even bragged to the owner how we were getting this for our Grandpa, a regular customer.  And then we got some coleslaw and ham salad. If you have not had the ham salad from Jerry’s Meat Market in Farmersville, Ohio, then you are not a country person. And if you are like my friend from the big city who has also never been to Cracker Barrell, then you need to add it to your redneck bucket list.

Sorry. Anyway, we were so proud of our purchases and how we are keeping Grandpa off the streets and safely at home in a germ-free bubble. And then we turned around in this very small meat market and there stood… Grandpa.

Me: Grandpa, you shouldn’t be here
Grandpa: Why?
Me: G E R M S !
Grandpa looking around: Germs? There are less than 50 people here.

Me in the car with Mom: AHHHHHHHHHH!
BARELY Senior Mom: Still want to go shopping?

I'm back to blogging. Check out my earlier 2020 posts:
- Time to do Unprecedented Things

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Time to do Unprecedented Things

It is a time of change here in Ohio. A time when we must hoard toilet paper and the barbers are closed. A time when old people are being told they must shop at the grocery at 7 a.m. for their safety. A time that every church lady has been training for, for decades: staying home and calling people to see if they are OK and have had enough to eat.

It is a weird time.

So why not start blogging again.

I am working at home for the foreseeable future. Husband is here, tracking in about half of the farm filth that he usually does when I am not here to witness it. And the kids are doing home school in between also tracking in filth.

So many things are sad. But there are moments of humor in everything. Like when my mother who is BARELY a senior citizen got calls to check in from two different church ladies in their 80s. I'm not sure what that says about ME. It is a small town and they know she has me to look after her. Do they think I will suck at that? Do they think I am some deadbeat daughter who won't offer to buy her groceries? (Also, she doesn't need anyone to take care of her. I have been told).

Also, I have already resorted to serving Husband and the kids a meal I call smorgasboard, which is where I lay out all the leftovers and if you refuse to eat this meal, you have to make your own dinner. It is not popular. Maybe the church ladies got wind of this and are worried my mother will survive the virus but succumb to chicken with mystery sauce that has spent approximately three days worth of dinners on my counter.

Mom and I are doing a daily walk when it's not rainy or too cold or we are busy with something else. But it is a new routine. I pledge to give the same amount of commitment to blogging.

Stay safe out there.

Appointment Pooping

  NOTE: If you do not want to read about my healthy bowel movement, well too late you just did. I recently became you-better-get-a-colonosco...