Life Before We

The stories. There were so many stories about everything from music to movies, jobs to car troubles,  and were usually hilarious in an after-the-fact sort of way.

Like the time he was chasing a calf around a silo and cold-cocked himself on a handle crank. Knocked himself clean out, but when he came to, he got up and finished the task. He left his ball cap on the truck seat, and the next person to attempt to wear it (I guess that’s a boy-thing – sharing hats) found a nice little patch of hairy scalp in the crown.

Like the time he was giving cows antibiotic shots. Somehow he hit a bone, maybe a rib, and the needle flew into the air. He found this annoying, he said, because that meant he would need to go back up to the barn and get another needle. I order to avoid that, he spent some time searching the near ground for it, without any luck. Until, he stood up, and something was bouncing in and out of his vision.

That would be the needle; stuck through the hat, stuck into his head, bobbing wildly. Worried about infection, he figured he’d better head to an emergency room. When he got there and shared his story, the doctor had something like this to say.

Doctor: “So… what you’re saying is, you were giving cows antibiotic shots, and accidentally got the needle stuck in your head?”

Jeff: “Yes.”

Doctor:  “… and you’d like me to… what? Give you antibiotics? I think you covered that.”

Like how when he was once working on a non-family farm; living on-site in a bunk-house with only a bathtub. It would take a couple of baths to remove the mud and manure, hay grime and sweat. On Friday nights, after he’d cashed his pay, he’d stop at a market to buy Better Made (Michigan brand) chips, and Country Fresh or Dean’s (Michigan brand) Onion Dip, take multiple baths, pull out his VCR copy of Footloose and settle in for the night.

I liked the movie. I liked the music from the movie more. I rarely watch movies more than once. The exception to that is The Lost Boys. 3 times in the theater and anytime it came on TV, years later.  I loved that there was an Echo and The Bunnymen poster in the bedroom. Years later, in Nashville, I met the fella who put down the drum for “I Still Believe.”

Anyway, we watched Footloose a number of times over the years. It was more than a movie to Jeff. It represented farming, had great music and dancing (which he loved), an outcast turned hero, overcoming odds and of course, getting the girl.

Quote for the Week:

2016 01 26 love vs lonely jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Watch This:

Watch This:

The Common Man’s Crown:





Fair & Marvel

I’m getting impatient with my own story. There’s so much to tell, but I want it to make sense. Stuff pops into my head. I capture it by texting myself. So, I have all of these random “that happened” thoughts to share, but I want it to make sense. So, I have to go slowly.

I could go on about how many county fairs, car races and parades we shared.  I didn’t really understand The Danbury State Fair, and I think I only went twice while living in Connecticut. It wasn’t until years later headed towards my 30th high school reunion that I began seeing remembrance posts from my school mates. Truly, I had no idea there was stock car racing and or such an avid fan base in Danbury.

The main reasons we went were Jeff was 4-H proud, was an officer in his club, had been to national conference, and they made for some inexpensive, long, hand-holding dates.

I learned a lot about animal competitions and tractor pulls, because Jeff was knowledgeable, truly. He led me through the histories of events, told stories of the most outstanding things he’d seen. He enjoyed being the teacher, and I was captivated.

We’d travel around Jackson, Lenawee, Ottawa, Fulton counties. We had our own little circuit that included rodeos, too. I was already a rodeo fan, had attended many PBR events, and had a little something in knowledge to offer back.

Long before I’d met Jeff, I had made plans to attend the 1998 National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas with a girl friend from New Jersey. After 2 months of full-time, never-missed a-weekend dating, I flew off for a long weekend and flew back with a souvenir.

Ball caps; Jeff had many. The NFR hat was my first gift to Jeff. Remember, I’d already received flowers and a squash. Thinking about it now, I guess you could say I’d made reciprocity a must in my own mind. Jeff had a collection, so I knew he’d like and probably use a hat. Would he like the particular one I’d chosen? I had no idea.

His enthusiastic response tickled me. “This is nice!” he exclaimed, immediately removing the Dale Earnhardt hat he usually wore, replacing it with the new.

But, then, he just kept standing there with a hat in hand and a hat on his head, rather intensely staring at me.

“You thought about me,” he said with a grin, “…while you were away!”

And that’s how I learned the real value of gifts.

Quote of the Week:

love is a disposable camera jakorte 01 19 2016

(PS – Jeff took these photos at Charlotte Frontier Days with a disposable camera and knack for good timing. In 1999, I ran them through a rudimentary photo edit program. I have the originals… somewhere.)

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

The 4-H Pledge:

Fair-ing 2016:




Summer into Fall, Fall into Winter: we kept going and doing and being easy.

For Fun:
Flea markets
Dirt track races
Antiques stores
Dining out / Dining in
Grocery shopping
Auto shows
Live music
Day dreaming
Small town events
Racing stores

The holidays brought more getting to know you parties, dinners, family gatherings.

Liver pate, pickles & ham, cheesy potatoes were buffeted in the tiny galley of Nanny’s ‘Cape Cod’ bungalow. Traffic flowed a bit awkwardly back and forth through the no more than one person at a time narrow door frame leading. While entering from the cozy living room or returning from the sweet little kitchen, most favored the step-sideways while passing dance.

If the sofa, the one upholstered and the one rocking chair were full, which was inevitable, there was plenty of space on the floor. Jeff would end up there often, letting however many kids showed up roll over him and tickle him. His laugh would make them laugh, and we’d laugh, which would make us laugh more.

Since Christmas wasn’t my holiday, I fully expected to be an observer. I hadn’t expected the inclusion or the participation. I was told to go the basement and bring up some napkins, like I’d been there a million times and it was no big deal.

I was surprised with gifts from Sally and Nanny with a lot of Jeff’s input.  Jeff figured out the chicken thing pretty fast, and passed that information on. Chicken towels, a salt chicken, and a stocking stuffed – my own stocking – with an orange, an apple, and a candy cane. 

Dessert was a two-layer yellow cake with colorful twirl-striped candles and the inscription ‘Happy Birthday, Jesus’ around which most people sang the well-known birthday song. A gloppy plop on my plate is how I learned Jeff adored cake, but despised frosting.

The bustle, the jostle, the stories, the loud and continuous laughter; there were many other, but still too few, Christmases. That first one is still the most memorable. And still my favorite. 

 My own stocking.


Quote for the Week:

2016 01 12 memoriesarethe best giftsbluesaltchicken jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Link:

Proof I Don’t Have Too Many (scroll to page 4):

About Stockings:

Relationship Gifts (pardon the GC curse):

An Un-Cautionary Bite

He took a bite; not a cautionary nibble, not a hesitant taste. He took a real big bite followed by a big smile and enthusiastically declared, “That’s good!”

I have no idea what would have happened if it wasn’t palatable. I actually don’t recall anything being unpalatable enough for him to spit it out or drown-out by liquid guzzling. He appreciated every opportunity, and took the chance to try.

After we had finished eating and lingering, Jeff excused himself to use the rest room and the observation was shared that Jeff’s fore-arm was larger than most people’s thighs.

What I remember most, besides the lox, was the easy conversations, the laughter, and how much my face hurt afterwards from smiling.

Meeting my parents came next. Jeff wasn’t sure about that, but I insisted it was a good time.

My parents were living in Florida, had only come to Michigan to visit, were about to go home and probably wouldn’t be back for a while. He was a lot happier when he found out my brother and sister-in-law were coming along, too.

We all met up at a pub, sat at a table with tall seats, and Jeff unintentionally set out to prove once again, if he met you, you were his friend. He and my father had a little back-and-forth about the correct pronunciation of ‘Tecumseh’ and whether or not it  got less snow than Lansing because it’s a bit  farther south.

Jeff politely won the pronunciation argument. He patiently explained about the Lower Michigan Snow Belt and every facet of his life that he was asked about, made everyone laugh with some of his answers, and pulled out his wallet when the check came.

My father waved him away and said he was treating, to which Jeff replied, “I didn’t expect you to pay for my meal, but, thank you.”

Later my dad would tell me that he was impressed. He liked Jeff a lot, enjoyed his great sense of humor, and most importantly, he loved the way Jeff looked at me.

It’s the best feeling in the world when the people you love, love the person you are with.

Quote for the Week:

2015 01 05 Funsomnia jakorte

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:


The Look of Love:

The Opposite: