Saturday, January 30, 2010

Of normal life

Having discovered that it has been entirely too long since a lot of people (you know who you are) updated, I decided that I must take initiative and update my blog as an example. Thus said, I take my keyboard in lap (just doesn't sound the same as "pen in hand") to inform you all of the latest happenings in our lives. Um, now what? I sometimes get writers block. As is often the case when I post on my blog, this finds me seated in my living room, at my computer (how interesting). The stove is billowing forth heat waves (with a little smoke occasionally for variety), the lights are turned down throughout the house and the only sounds are that of a fan running, my wife quilting (you can actually hear the thread zipping through the little quilt thingy), and of course the plunking of the backspace key between intermittent tapping sounds from the keyboard.

There, I managed to fill an entire paragraph. Did I say anything? See, even though I wanted to put something up tonight, I didn't necessarily feel inspired. So I just started typing out random nonsensical drivel. Which (I'm beginning to suspect) is a good way to lose readership. Someone please tell the New York Times.

Today started a little earlier for me than a typical Saturday morning. I had to go and play hockey at eight. Well, I didn't have to but it was the first chance for me to do so all year. So I did. And while married life certainly has many positive things about it, I would just mention to any seriously contemplating that important step that it very likely may result in a decrease in effectiveness at the sport of hockey. But I wouldn't let that stop you, it's worth it anyway. Actually, they're both worth it. But on different levels. As I was saying, we played hockey. And it was fun. And now I'm sore.

Jenny and I went to an auction the rest of the day. It was up at the Seward Ag Pavilion, and we had fun. We managed to buy a reasonably serviceable pressure cooker (sorry for your loss, Arla), as well as other odds and ends. Such as a pile of random length and width oak boards, a tent that may or may not hold up to light use, several antique irons (one cute little 2 1/2 pounder and two with the wooden removable handle), not to mention a hand mixer for a dollar. That last one may have been overpriced. But when plugged into 110 it makes satisfactory whirring noises and brandishes wicked looking little beaters which I suspect would cause significant pain if applied to the fingers. It looks like it may be older than I, so I was only a little surprised that it worked. Hmmm, I guess I work sometimes too, so I'm not sure why that's a surprise. Of course, if you plugged me into 110 I imagine I'd make funny sounds and brandish things too.

I do apologize for taking up your time with this rather boring post, but at least you know I haven't forgotten about you all! Until next time....


Friday, January 22, 2010

Mrs. Burkey's Version

So how has my life changed in the last two years? Well, it has changed a lot, really :)
Two years ago, I was here in Nebraska, helping Amy, since she had just had a baby, Keagan Michael.
The first week and a half of my stay was rather dreary and emotionally unsettling for me. You see, there was a certain young man, who was causing me much distress and anguish of heart.
When I had been in Nebraska a few months earlier, I had become quite impressed this young man. An excerpt from my journal during that time says this... " Gabe came over and played "Acquire" with Dad, Matt and I. It was good to see him, even though he hadn't shaved his whiskers all week". Actually, that was the same evening when Gabe backed into Mom and Dad's car...
So here is my version of the story...
After getting to know Gabe a little bit, when I was here in Nebraska in the fall, I really thought he was a pretty nice guy, but did my best not to admit that to anyone. Mom and Dad had their suspicions that something was going on, because they asked me what I would say if Gabe would ask me... I told them "It would be pretty dumb to say 'no', wouldn't it?" I thought it was kinda mean of them to ask me that, since I didn't think there was any hope that this would actually happen.
I spent the next few months and home in Wisconsin, going about my normal life and trying to forget about Gabe.
I went back down to Nebraska in January, and I guess that is when things really began to happen. :) I was enjoying helping Amy, but I was having an awful time getting my sleep... I remember lying in bed, trying and trying to sleep, and then, at 3 AM or so, I would get up and write in my journal or read my bible and pray. Of course there were some tears being shed during these little nocturnal sessions.
On Saturday, after I had been in Nebraska for about a week, I went with Matt's to Lincoln for the evening. Coincidentally, Gabe happened to be in Lincoln the same evening and joined us for supper. I had been extremely hungry, until we got to where we were eating. I think I did manage to choke something down anyway.
When we were leaving, Gabe gave me an extra mint that he had... I still have it somewhere, it was much too precious to eat of course!
That evening, Amy finally worked up the courage to ask me how I was doing and told me that she was pretty upset with Gabe for being so friendly and not getting serious about it. She was worried that I was going to get hurt. I still didn't really want to let myself believe that Gabe was showing me any special attentions... I wrote this in my journal that evening, "Amy is worried that this is really upsetting me and I don't think it really is, unless that's what is keeping me awake at night". Silly me.
Well, I endured Sunday and Monday and Tuesday yet. Tuesday, Gabe stopped by with Pat's and Thad's and ignored me all evening, so I pretty much decided that there was no interest there on his part.
Wednesday morning, I learned differently! Here is what I wrote in my journal...
"I just can't believe what is happening to me! This morning I got a phone call from my Dad... he said that Gabe called him!!! At first I couldn't quite believe him... I had to ask if he was serious. Ok, so I told Dad that he could give Gabe the go-ahead to talk to me. I am quite nervous. I guess Gabe is going to stop in here after work to talk to me.
Dear God, please give me calmness and peace and the right words to speak... Thanks so much!"
Gabe did stop in that afternoon, and we went on a short walk outside in the wind and snow, and he had a beautiful little speech that I had been longing to hear, and I said YES! He was a little surprised that I said yes just like that I think, because he said "Really?". Then, of course we had to go meet his mom and dad, which was little embarrassing, but I lived through it. And Gabe all the sudden had a whole bunch of phone calls to make to various relatives and friends. He was pretty pleased with himself I think :)
So that's my story... and it is really only a very, very small portion of our story. We were in love, of course, and loved to be together and talk together and it was wonderful, but it only gets better.
I may have thought I know Gabe 2 years ago, or 1 year ago, but it changes and grows and matures and gets better. Some days it's not all the gooey, warm feelings, but that trust and commitment and faithfulness, that is what really matters when the gooey, warm feelings are hard to find. I thank God every day for my wonderful husband, who takes such good care of me and who loves me even when I am cranky and unreasonable. Or when I laugh about dumb things. Or drive the car into the snowbank. And he even still loves me when I'm fat and awkward and want to eat ice cream.
Now we are nearing our first anniversary... it seems that time has gone by so quickly! We are looking forward to having our new baby and hoping to have "normal" life and no trips for a long time now. Gabe has work at the shop right now, and we are thanking God for that too. We haven't had a blizzard for a few weeks now, so that is nice.
On Sunday we plan to have Mom and Dad Burkey, Grandpa Burkey, Karen, and Steve and Wanda Kremer, over for dinner. Gabe has taught me to enjoy having company and I am glad about that. We always enjoy having people at our house.. so come and see us sometime!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

So how has your life changed in two years? I thought about that today, and remembered what my day was like just two years ago today. I remember quite a bit about that day, actually. It's probably within the top five of my "most memorable days ever". Here's why.

The night before, sleeping hadn't gone too well for me. I had come to the point where I knew I had to make a decision. I'm sure you all know by now just what the reason for my dilemma, but if you don't, I'll let you in on the secret. My brother Matt and his wife had a certain someone staying at their house, helping out with Keagan, their newborn baby. And this particular female person had invaded my thoughts quite a bit, to the point of the aforementioned insomnia. Praying about what I should do only seemed to drive me closer to making the leap into the point of no return, as it were. Which didn't help the sleeping much.

That day I was working in the truss shop, as usual. For some reason, Patrick (my cousin) stopped in at the shop before leaving on a trip to Indiana. Before he left the shop he asked if I had anything I needed to tell him. I said no. He said, "well then, I guess I'll tell you. That niece of Matt's is a really nice girl, and I think that you should get on the ball and talk to her dad." This was NOT something Patrick would ever say. Ever. Period. He even offered to help me make the phone call to her dad, which is downright unbelievable if you know Pat. At that point I decided that God was serious about having me ask this girl.

About that time, I got a call from Dad that he would like some help moving a sweep auger into a bin over at Willius', and so I went over to help him. As I recall Matt was there too. Previous to this day, Dad and I had discussed the possibility of my starting a courtship with Jenny, as had Matt and I. I think that they were attempting to help me realize that I needed to make a decision on whether to pursue it or not. After not sleeping very well (as mentioned) for several nights with this weighing on my mind, and after the totally unexpected encouragement from Patrick which I took as confirmation, I was ready to do it. First I made one more call to my dad, asking once more if he thought I should do it. He encouraged me to do it if I felt it was God's will. I then called Matt, who offered to call Elv and see if he was available, after which he gave me his number and told me to call him in the next fifteen minutes, as he would soon be out of cell service very soon. Talk about being put on the spot! I made the call to Elv, and when he answered I said, "Hi, you might not remember me, but I'm Gabriel Burkey, Matt's brother." He instantly replied, "Oh yeah, I remember you, you're the one who backed into my car!". Hey, it was a start! The rest of the conversation doesn't seem to be recorded very well into my memory, but the end result was that he would talk to Jenny and find out if she was open to hearing from me. She was, and he called me back to let me know that.

Work that day didn't go well for me. We ate in Beaver at the cafe, and for the first time in memorable history, I left the remains of a double bacon cheeseburger on my plate. I didn't feel well.

I managed to come up with some excuse or other to leave work a little early, and after stopping at Millers to pick up my deer meat which they had processed, I had one more phone call to make. I called over to Amy's and asked to speak with Jenny. Can you imagine Amy not asking what I was calling about? But she didn't, which was very nice of her. When Jenny answered I attempted to nonchalantly ask her if I could speak with her in about twenty minutes or so, and she agreed that it would be possible. It was one of our more strained phone calls.

When I arrived at the house, Jenny suggested that we go for a walk (I found later that Amy just wanted us to go away somewhere to talk). We started walking down their lane, and the fluid speech I had been practicing jerked roughly out of my mouth. Don't know what I said for sure, but apparently it was okay, because the next thing I knew Jenny was telling me that she was actually willing to be my girlfriend! Somehow, I just hadn't expected that. I don't know what I expected. Probably that she'd tell me she needed time to think about it. But I think it was nicer this way.

As they say, the rest is history! I sure enjoyed showing my new girlfriend to my folks and all my friends. I think they'd seen her before, but she wasn't my girlfriend then. It was amazing how well I slept that night too. I found out that Jenny hadn't been sleeping so well herself. But we seemed to cure that too.

Well, a lot can change in two years. I can't say that everything has been perfect in those two years, but I wouldn't change that particular day two years ago, for anything.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to normal life....?

What is normal life? I have vague memories of a routine that Jenny and I had a month or so ago. And I'm pretty sure that it involved schedules such as work, meals, church, etc... But over the last three weeks, things have been about as un-normal (I invent words when I don't know one to use) as they could be. It seems all our plans since the day before Christmas have been changed so much that we don't know what normal is anymore.

Let's see, it's January 13. My wife informs me that we've spent a total of four days and nights in our house since December 24. Perhaps that tells how it's been. Oh, we've been enjoying the ride, but I think we're ready to settle back into a routine. Here's a brief rundown of our lives lately.

Snowed in over Christmas (you can read about that, I'm not going to share anymore on what I've written about).

We went to Wisconsin several days later than planned, due to the snow.

Stayed in Wisconsin one day longer than planned, and came home Tuesday after the New Year.

After being home for a few days, we got word that my Grandma Zook was not expected to live through the night. She'd been suffering from cancer, and we'd been expecting that phone call. We made hasty plans to leave in the morning for Maryland, and did so, heading out there last Saturday in Pete's van, along with Peter and David Millers. It's a 20 hour drive. We made it there early Sunday morning around seven and after finding lodging we slept a few hours. The viewing was on Sunday afternoon and evening. Monday morning we got up and had an hour or so to visit some favorite stores (Marks Harness Shop, Hilltop, Shady Grove....) and then went to Grandma's house for dinner. After dinner we changed and went to the church, as the funeral was set for 2:00. After the funeral we ate, then went to Grandma's house for a time of family memory sharing, later going to Bernards house. Tuesday morning we packed up the van, and left for home by way of Morgantown, West Virginia, where aunt Rhoda was having surgery. We saw her, said good-bye to the family and left for Nebraska. We drove straight through to get home. I drove last night (after a two hour nap) from midnight until we got home, which was about six o'clock this morning. That brings us to the present, or nearly so (my day was spent sleeping and getting the grain truck un stuck so that I can haul corn for dad).

My Grandma Zook was an incredible woman, if I may say so myself. Widowed after 12 years of marriage with six little girls of her own and step children in her care, she worked hard at her bakery to make ends meet. She worked baking bread and cinnamon rolls from 1955 through 2000 (I believe I have the years correct). Unfortunately I don't have as many memories of Grandma as my cousins who lived in the same area as she did, but all the ones I have are good.

Grandma always had Fruit Loops (cereal) on hand when we came, because she knew that Peter and I liked it (and generally only got it at her house.)

Grandma always looked on the good side of life, and people. She always trusted God to meet her needs. I never heard her complain. Even in the last months when things were very painful her standard answer when asked how she was doing was "Pretty good for the shape I'm in".

She also said(and I think I have it correct): "There's so much bad in the best of us, and so much good in the worst of us, that it doesn't behoove any of us to talk about the rest of us."

As Aunt Gertrude shared at the funeral, she never wanted gifts for her birthday, Christmas, or Mothers Day. When asked, she would always say, "all I want is good girls."

I'll always remember the sign that hung over the kitchen door, "Seven days without prayer makes one weak".

As hard a worker as Grandma was, and as good a person as she was in so many ways, the thing that I appreciate the most about her is the faith that she passed on. There was never any doubt in my mind that Grandma believed strongly in the Bible, and had a personal faith in Christ that moved her to live in a Christlike way. And as many nice things as we could say, as many warm personal things we can share from knowing her, in the end her Christian life is all that matters. I'm very grateful to God for the wonderful heritage I have, and for the examples of faith I have in my grandparents on both sides of the family. And though I now have no living Grandmother on either side, I'm glad that we don't "sorrow as others who have no hope", but know that we who love and serve the Lord will meet again one day in Heaven.

Some of the memories I have of Grandma are "borrowed". Because I didn't spend a lot of time working with her, I don't remember as many things as others do, but I'm grateful to share in the memories of others.

So now we're home again in Nebraska. Here's a picture I took today of a bulldozer and grader still working on moving snow back from the roads a week after the last storm.

Now you've read about our life for the last few weeks! You may agree that we've a reason to be a little worn down and ready for some "normal" life. Until next time,


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Camera In My Pocket

To those of you who know me, the idea of me fitting my camera in my pocket is ludicrous. That's because my camera is a bulky digital SLR (single lens reflex for the uninitiated), with a lens that outweighs your average digital wonder several times. And so you'd think I'm definitely not the person to defend using anything with less than professional quality. But what about when I don't have that bulky piece of equipment with me? Well, I settle for the next best thing because to quote Ken Rockwell, the best camera is the one that's with you.

I mentioned in a previous post that the photo above was taken with my cell phone. That's because it was the most convenient camera at the time. Now I don't pretend that my cell phone can take pictures with anywhere near the quality of my 'real' camera. Nor is it anywhere as easy to use. The controls are difficult or impossible to adjust (if they need adjusting) and my little finger gets in front of the lens. It takes time to get the camera up on the phone, and it doesn't work well for moving subjects. So it's a pain. But on the other hand, when there's a picture to take I often don't have my 'real' camera in my hand. But my phone is always in my pocket. So I have the choice of not taking a picture, or taking one of slightly lower quality than I prefer. My choice? I generally take the picture.

I didn't feel like dragging my DSLR out tonight to get this picture of the house in the snow, and frankly if I didn't tell you, you'd probably never know the difference! As far as quality, I downsize my DSLR pictures so much to post them that they're smaller files than the ones coming directly from my phone! I even downsize the phone pictures most of the time, since they're bigger than necessary for posting on the web. Megapixels are just a sales gimmick, but if it really matters to you, the phone has a 3 megapixel camera. That's good for a phone, but no camera salesman would ever admit that you can take a picture like the ones above or below with a measly 3 megapixels. I'm not pretending these shots are worth framing on the wall, but if I wanted to make a 4X6 or 5X7 to scrapbook or put in an album, you'd never know they came from such an "inferior" source. As far as editing, I try to edit pictures as little as possible. I prefer to take them the way I want them, rather than try to make them what they weren't. These shots are unedited except that a few are slightly cropped.

Why bother bringing a camera worth several hundreds out in the snow to take a picture of an old junky wheel barrow load of wood? It's not a great picture, but it struck my fancy so I took it. But it wouldn't be worth the bother to go get my 'real' camera.

How about my cheap insulation? It's not exactly the most orthodox way to go perhaps, but I've had trouble with my kitchen pipes freezing when we get these cold north winds. So I'm hoping that a little snow heaped against the side of the house under the kitchen window (where the problem is the worst) will keep things warm enough so they don't freeze. I know it warmed me up! Okay, who thinks I took this one with my phone? Sure did, why risk getting my good camera full of moisture on such an unfriendly night?

I don't mean to give anyone the impression that I'm going to just quit using the DSLR in favor of a camera phone. When I go out with the intention of taking pictures, in great light with beautiful scenery, I'm not going to favor a dinky camera phone over my Nikon. That's just not happening. Most of the reason for this post is that I'm trying to make a point. The point is something that I also mentioned in my previous post. Cameras don't take pictures, people do. The following anecdote makes that point far more clearly than my pontificating, so perhaps I'll just add it in and bring this rant to an end.

There was once a photographer who was invited to a friends house. After supper, he showed his friends some slides he had taken, and the lady of the house said, "Wow, those are really good! You must have a very nice camera!" To which he quipped, "And that was a really good supper we had, you must have a very nice oven!"


Monday, January 4, 2010

Happy New Year

Just a quick note to point out the picture I put on top of my blog. This drift is across our front walk, as you can see and is about shoulder high or so. This drift was one of the smaller ones left over from the storm I last wrote about. I took this picture as we were about to leave for Wisconsin, from my cell phone. As a side note, cameras don't take pictures, people do. Such thing as composition and lighting are much more important than camera quality, although I'm the first to agree that a nice camera is to be desired. Perhaps that would be something to blog about sometime....

Jenny and I plan to leave for Nebraska in the morning. Perhaps once we get home and back into normal life I will find time to update this more. Until then, Happy New Year folks!