….you’re hired

Finding a good handyman can be challenging, and when you finally discover one, you may never let them go. I try to get my driveway seal-coated every year, due to existing cracks. When I first found my handyman he thought he could save the driveway by filling the cracks before putting on a top layer. The day he started, I happened to look outside and see him at the bottom of my driveway, on his hands and knees, examining my mailbox post. He was straightening the post that had been backed into by my neighbor, and was putting shims in between the post and the ground trying to straighten it; he had no idea I was watching from the window.

With that small act of kindness and attention to detail, I knew this man had a good work ethic, and would be my handyman and seal-coat guy for life. I was wrong, after a few years he was no longer able to seal-coat my driveway, it wasn’t profitable. I was sad to hear the news, but understood his decision.

His drill on day one was filling all the cracks. His drill on day two was to refill any cracks that needed additional filling; day three he would finish by applying the final coat. You can imagine my disappointment when I learned this was not normal procedure for most seal-coat operations.

Last year my neighbor Tom and I found another man we thought would work out. He came by to give estimates and set up a time to complete the job. Tom waited around all day and the hired man was a no show. He called to find out what happened and the man came up with some sort of reason, but we booked another appointment, and to our surprise…..ditto….another no show….REALLY? Who does that? Needless to say, it was too late in the season and my driveway didn’t get coated.

I will admit, I get many offers to seal-coat the driveway by people leaving flyers attached to my mailbox and stuffed in my door. How do you trust someone you have never met without a recommendation? I was very reluctant, but was getting desperate…..my driveway needed to get done and time was wasting.

Out of all the flyers and post cards, for some reason one felt right to me…..like I was given a little gem. I decided to give them a chance. As I dialed the number, no one picked up on the other end, I was a bit disappointed, but reluctantly left a message. Within the hour a return call came in asking if the next day would be OK……Ummm…..that would be a big “ABSOLUTELY!”image

While talking to the man….in my…I know what I am talking about voice…ask, “What kind of product do you use?” The man on the other end chuckles and says “We don’t water down our product.” That’s the answer I was looking for……I think….HA! The next day I came home and …..POOF….it was a beautiful jet black color, all even and smooth….they did a great job.

That little post card turned out to be an unexpected blessing, I took a chance on this man and said “You’re hired.” He took a chance on me too. Looks like I found my new seal-coat guy after all……Amen to that!

xoxox…..Sheryl

corny but sweet

Once a year, about this time, everyone waits to taste my Dad’s one of a kind, best you’ve ever eaten, super sweet, home grown, sweet corn.  With golden flecks of yellow and pearly white kernels standing in neat little rows, my mouth waters thinking about it. As long as I can remember, sweet corn has been planted every year, without fail, on the family farm.  My Dad takes pride in planting the straightest rows of the mixed white and yellow corn.image

As a farm girl, having an abundance of sweet corn was a definite advantage.  Dad let us kids sell the plentiful corn, and what we made in sales was ours to keep.  His only condition was we had to do the work. From painting the signs on big scraps of plywood and strategically placing them down the road, making sure they were visible from both directions, to gathering the bags, setting up the stand, picking the corn (the ripe ones, of course) and loading up the #80 wagon and hauling it with the John Deere 110.

Our stand was between the barns and the house under a giant oak tree, that provided us with cool shade and protection from the hot summer sun. My Mom would bring us water or lemonade to quench our thirst. Originally, we sold the corn for $1.00 a dozen, well……a baker’s dozen to be precise, but over the years it capped out at $1.50.  We would pick corn until the wagon was heaping full, and wait for customers.

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We spent hours a day for a couple of weeks or until the corn crop was exhausted. We had repeat customers year after year and many just passing through. Frankly, the reputation of my Dad’s sweet corn sold itself. How ever many siblings sold the corn was the number the final dollar count got divided by. Our biggest haul ever was $345.00, that year it was only split two ways between me and my brother; we thought we were the richest kids alive.

Our selling days have long past, but with my sister in town, we tagged team and put up sweet corn for the family. We had corn niblets everywhere……but it was fun, and we have a wonderful garden treasure awaiting it’s use for the upcoming year. People still come both near and far to enjoy my Dad’s super delicious, corny but sweet, summer delight. It is his gift to share, and oh how lucky we are.

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xoxox……Sheryl

 

….up, up and almost away

During my recent trip to Galena, my days were filled with activities and events, and I wanted to include things that would make my trip memorable by experiencing something new. After hearing about an upcoming surprise a bride was giving her groom, I knew that was the adventure for me too….in a hot air balloon.

I called the company, only to find out they were sold out for the day.  No problem, tomorrow would work…..sold out again…..drat! In fact, they were sold out my entire trip…..ARGH! How often do you have something in your head that you are bound and determined to do, but circumstances beyond your control keep you from the goal?

Time for Plan B, if I couldn’t ride in the balloon, I would get close enough to watch. I called to get the time and location and headed to the launch site.  There I met the captain of the balloon…….I am sure there is a more official title, but for now I’ll call him Captain Andy. We start talking and he assumed I was one of his customers.  I hung my head and tell him my pitiful, yet playful, last minute, no plans, story…..HA! He directs me to the launch site, and away I go.

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I get settled on a grassy hill, just a short distance from the un-inflated balloon. As I watch the men prepare the launch; I am guessing they have done this hundreds of times before. As the balloon starts to inflate, Captain Andy comes over to announce everyone has shown up, and unfortunately I am unable to be a last minute rider, but offers to let me take pictures inside the balloon. Wow….really? He leads me off the hill and helps me open the top of the balloon through a slit……we stick our heads through and I am both excited and amazed at the beauty in this balloon.  The vibrant colors were beyond what I had imagined, and the light shining through made the colors more intense.

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I was so glad I decided to take a chance on Plan B.  I may not have been able to soar over the beautiful landscape that day, but I was fortunate to be able to share in the process.

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So…..if Plan A doesn’t work out, make Plan B or even C an option. Opportunity is waiting to be found around every corner; be on the lookout. Even though I was up, up and almost away, I came home from my adventure with wonderful memories.  In the case of my balloon ride……….I’ll have to go back….note to self…….book the adventure in advance. Here’s to opportunity.

xoxox…….Sheryl

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Table for one

During my recent solo maiden voyage get-away to Galena, IL., one of the challenges I anticipated facing was eating alone in restaurants.  Friends told me to bring a book, but I thought if I was looking down at the pages of a book, I might miss life.  I decided to face it straight on, without any distractions.

The first night was perfect, I asked to be seated on the outdoor patio of the restaurant, which happened to over-look the Mississppi River.  The views were stunning and I knew I wouldn’t be bored.  My plan was to stay long enough to see the sunset. It felt a bit awkward at first, but I acted like this was standard practice, and I leisurely enjoyed dinner while I waited for the sun to set.  It was a beautiful way to spend my first solo dining experience. image

Day two, I spent having dinner at a charming Italian place, a recommendation by a friend. The food was excellent; I stayed present and enjoyed everything around me.  Amazingly enough, the same couple seated next to me over-looking the Mississippi River were seated next to me again. We had a little laugh between us, like “oh, it’s you again”.  With solo meal number two down, without a hitch……I was kind of getting the hang of dining alone.image

Day three, the inn suggested a German/French Bistro and told me to mention they sent me.  I did just that, and was seated at one of the two best tables in the house, near the window to people watch. As I looked over, the couple sitting in the other best location, happened to be staying at the same Bed and Breakfast, and we had shared breakfast together earlier that morning. imageWe laughed and toasted each other from our top-notch seats, and enjoyed the wonderful food and service we received.  While talking to my waiter, we found things we had in common from my home town that made me feel comfortable and connected.

The fourth and final solo meal was at an Irish Pub that was just as I had imagined from the appearance on the outside, heavy dark wood that was ornately carved around the massive bar.  I met a nice couple having dinner and drinks.  imageWe laughed together over a goofy show on TV; somehow our laughter connected us for the short time I stayed.

When I look back at the solo dinners I can honestly say, I enjoyed myself.  Of course, given the option, I would rather share dinner with friends and family, but the next time I  dine alone, I will look life straight in the eye and confidently request a table for one……then, I’ll enjoy the view.

xoxox….Sheryl