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The Beginning

A Journey Through Life

Be completely and totally in love with your life.

100% in love with it.

The above picture is a view similar to mine many days out of the year. Yes, I am the wife of a die-hard trucker. Come join me as I take you along on our journeys. Down winding roads, past shimmering lakes and cascading waterfalls, across snowy mountain passes, and deep into our journey we call life.

Atlanta Bound

A last-minute decision, a few changes of plans, and much rushing around preparing food and packing…and before we knew it, our truck was southbound.

I was thoroughly enjoying the ride after a summer at home on the farm. Wyoming proved fairly barren as normal, Nebraska mostly acres of harvested fields. In Missouri, we took a welcome break at Peasterbilt, a truck shop run by Ross’s uncle. We even got treated to a scrumptious spread for supper!

Across Illinois with fields of soft green wheat, and wind whipping against the visor. Kentucky and Tennessee were proving abit mundane. Not a lot to see but trees and McDonald’s and road winding ahead of us.

The thought crossed my mind that it would be nice maybe to have something exciting happen.

We started dreaming of a hot shower, (Our last Pilot shower experience had been a cold one!) and of a big sit-down supper. A measly chicken thigh lunch had long-disappeared from my hollow stomach and the cupboards of snacks in the truck just weren’t cutting it.

I asked around for recommendations of local favorites, in search of something that would give us a taste of true Georgia cooking. I had quite a list I was drooling over..all 4-5 star reviews. Visions of BBQ ribs, fried okra, and cornbread danced in my pregnant brain which lately can only think about food.

Then Ross noticed the gauge. a telltale sign that the alternator wasn’t charging. We puzzled over that for a few miles, discussing possible options as it was already very close to 5’clock.

A few curves later, his engine light came on. The truck slowly lost power, but thankfully we managed to just coast into a rest area as it sputtered, coughed, then fell silent.

Thankfully my husband is a fine mechanic. He threw on some coveralls, got a wrench out of the sleeper, and set to work. I became the official phone-light shiner.

The problem turned out to be one with a fairly easy solution. If only one could find the parts. We made do with the remaining belts, one of which was in a very unsuitable condition, holding itself together by mere threads.

We called back home where Peterbilt was still open and got part numbers. Then as Ross eased the truck down the road, I turned to the ever-helpful Google for 24-hour truck shops.

We called one family-owned business out back in the hills of Tennessee who thought he might have what we needed. Meanwhile waiting his return call, we petered down the sleepy streets of Jasper. It turned out he didn’t have the right belts but instead directed us to O’Reillys which supported a lot of local truckers and often carried bigger-than-car parts.

Pulling into the empty parking lot of a health/home care building beside O’Reillys, Ross opened the hood. We were in luck finding one of the belts we needed, and a fellow out on his smoke break lent us a better light.

Not long after, an old Tennessee hillbilly complete with suspenders, white beard, and tobacco wandered over from a restaurant across the street where he had seen us.

Turned out to be a trucker himself and he shot the breeze for a good while. A welcome diversion!

Before we knew it, we were backing the reefer up and were again Atlanta-bound! Time flies when you’re having fun. By this time we had crossed into the Eastern Time Zone and most restaurants were closed. We opted for the closest Pilot with good shower reviews and thankfully the Wendy’s inside was still frying hamburgers.

Mary Mac’s Tea House, Chicken and Waffles, Fox Brothers BBQ, and Miss Pitty Pat’s Kitchen will have to wait!

Note to self: Next time, wish for exciting things after supper.

Life is Good

With a snap of its fingers, summer disappeared in a whirl of watering wheat, trapping gophers, and a final soaking of the flowerbeds and lawns.

Fall burst in with vibrant yellow leaves, crisp air, and that feeling of brisk energy infused into everything. Everything except me. Who would have thought one tiny little someone inside you could sap your energy and turn your normal hard-working self into an near-couch potato. I never expected it, but it’s been true for nearly a month.

Thankfully life somehow manages to continue revolving even when the laundry piles higher on the floor, the dishes stack deeper in the sink, and the leaves collect in huge drifts outside. I am so grateful for my understanding husband and my mom who came all the way over to rescue me for a day or two.

Little acts of kindness

go a long way.

This week I feel back to nearly normal. I do believe I appreciate my energy and health more than I ever have before.

Buster is fine, if not more so. He seems to have stolen all my extra energy and spends most his time bouncing around the yard in a constant state of enthusiasm. We dare not leave anything out of place around the yard or it will end up in many small pieces, strewn over the grass. As we found out with a stray flower pot, a towel that blew off the line, and a magazine that got forgotten on the four wheeler. After picking up the 329th page, I realized that he is teaching me to be tidy faster than I can teach him to behave.

The kittens are growing by leaps and bounds. Always running up when they hear the four wheeler, hoping for a freshly-trapped gopher. One night the front door was left open by mistake, and I came out in the morning to a couple cats jumping around my dining room and Buster snuggled on the couch. Not my normal morning view when I wake up, that’s for sure!

Ross has been trucking some…and in between, helping his dad around the shop and working on various truck projects. It’s good to have a little break from the usual monotony of scheduled loads. We’ve spent a couple evenings playing Phase 10 which nearly turns into a free-for-all fight when he wins the game for the umpteenth time. It’s a good thing he’s bigger than me. Lol

The days are feeling more and more chill, with a hint of snow flurries around the valley. Time for Carhartt coveralls, stocking caps, and warm gloves.

We took a jaunt to Halfway, OR to get a load of cows the other week. Beautiful country with picturesque ranches tucked among the hills.

I’ll try to be more diligent with writing here the next while.. I do have a delicious recipe to share in the next few days. Even my particular-palated husband pronounced it delicious. (I’m not sure if “particular-palated” is even a word but it sounded better than outright saying picky eater. Haha!)

If there’s anything in particular, you’d like me to write about..please comment or let me know personally! Or let me know what your favorite of my past blog posts is!

Till next time..

In Memory of Raquel

Sunset tonight,

The clouds trimmed in gold.

Laced in pure splendor.

The evening turns cold.

Dark blue horizon

Speaks nearing rain

Reminds me of sorrow

Whispers of pain.

Across the valley

Spreads far as can be

Glimmers of glory,

Like heav’ns shining sea

I think of her wistfully

And wish that I knew

Her face, her sweet voice,

Her eyes sparkling blue

An angel in heaven..

She’s been there awhile.

Meanwhile her family

Is missing her smile.

I imagine I’m with her

To talk or just be

Together as sisters,

She sits beside me.

Sometimes I pretend that

She comes home to stay.

To be with us all,

Never venturing away.

But it’s all just a wish,

Passing flash through the night

Only a daydream

Whisked out of sight.

All I have now is hope

Of a reunion sweet.

On the green hills of heaven

At last we shall meet.

(In memory of Raquel, Ross’s sister that I never knew.)

Life Down Highway 20

It’s been awhile, I realize, since I’ve let y’all in on the details of our life so maybe this post will be a newsy sort. (Beware.. newsy means long.)

We haven’t run out of work or things to do, and the future doesn’t look hopeful either. Between trucking all week, farming on the weekends, and fixing up trucks during night hours, we manage to stay more than busy.

After much bondo work, spraying primer, tedious sanding, cleaning, and finally painting, we finished another truck project.

The satisfaction of finishing does outweigh the long hours.

The past few weeks, we’ve had a dull overcast gloom of smoke. It got to the point where the hay started to turn yellow, the growth of plants seemed stunted, and the ground stayed wet and muddy for days after watering.

This is the smoke we’ve been dealing with.

Then we had 2 glorious days of sunshine and patches of blue sky through fluffy clouds. I have never been more thankful for the sun in my life. When the smokey haze slowly moves across the horizon and blankets our world again the following day, I sigh and vow to NEVER take for granted the little everyday things.

We shut off our irrigation water for 4th cutting of hay in hopes the ground will dry so we can swath it soon. With my farm duties lessened for abit, I grabbed at my freedom and rode with Ross on the truck for the week.

Needless to say, when we got back from a week of hay hauling, Buster was bouncing 4 feet in the air and nearly unmanageable with delight. Thankfully everything seems intact as far as I can tell. His cat-killing episodes have passed and now he and the 5 felines all sleep together in one big furry heap. Extra warmth on these chilly nights.

Buster in a rare moment of sitting perfectly still.

We swathed our meager cutting of hay and spent more than a few days working up 2 fields. Alternately ripping, disking, leveling, planting, and corrugating. I now get the pleasant task of pushing water down these hundreds of furrows, walking each one with my hoe to make sure the water keeps flowing and doesn’t hang up on grass clumps, dirt piles, or rocks.

It’s beautiful fall weather..warm sunny days with crisp blue skies, leaves merging into yellows and golds, and a chill enveloping the valley the minute the sun sinks below the hills.

I love being outside, so the hours spent on the farm are enjoyable. As long as I don’t let myself think about the grass that hasn’t been mowed for 2-1/2 weeks, the flowers that need fertilizing, the overflowing laundry basket, and the encroaching bookwork.

Isn’t it something…

That mindset is everything?

Sometimes cheery fun comes in little unforeseen happenings. Like the guy at Jiffy Lube telling me I look awesome! Or the time spent exploring the back corridors of the airport and people-watching with my mom while waiting on a flight. Getting the giggles with my hubby on the truck over nothing at all.

One dark night, I dreamed I was in the kitchen mixing up a batch of hand lotion. Ross came in and started relentlessly teasing me; then he tossed handfuls of chopped celery into the lotion. As if that wasn’t enough, he then began splattering lotion all over the cupboards. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I wound up and whacked him as hard as I could. Unfortunately it wasn’t just in my dream. We both woke up instantly. His first thought was that someone had broken in and was trying to beat him up. I attempted a whispered apology but dissolved into giggles, trying vainly to smother them in my pillow. He walked around the next few days with a sore neck and I walked around bursting into laughter every time I remembered. I do feel a twinge of remorse though.

Among all the work this summer, we’ve managed to squeeze in a few trips and excitement this summer. A cousin’s wedding weekend full of family and fun in the Texas panhandle, a few hours grabbed on a Saturday to attend a local truck show, and a night to ourselves with grilled steaks and delicious jalapeño poppers. In August, I flew out east to see family. The 4 days flew by, packed with unimaginable fun of biking, swimming, and quality time at the ocean. My first acquaintance with the Atlantic Ocean proved completely delightful.

We’ve had two batches of kittens born in the chicken coop. It was a little startling to reach inside the nest box for eggs and come out with a handful of kitten instead. The last mother is named Monkeyhead. And for good reason. We used to think she was somewhat mentally challenged. Now she is decidedly mad at the world. Walking around growling at the world continuously. Unfortunately 2 of her littles are following in her footsteps at a very young age. Eyes open but just starting to climb out of their home.. one day I reached down to pick one up that had escaped. The yowling, clawing, and biting that went on made me think twice about ever touching it again. Needless to say, next time I put on a welding glove. Talk about a pocket-sized firecracker. Maybe this is where the brand “black cat” comes from.

Last weekend, a dear aunt came out to visit and we spent a few blissful hours at the lake, fishing. Never mind that among all 9 of us, only 2 fish were caught. The perfect weather and blue rippling water made it worthwhile.

Well goodbye for now.. until the next fit of writing inspiration hits!

Thought Contrails

Don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

Some folks have to climb mountains in high heels.

Never say never.

I’m pretty sure everything I’ve ever said I would NEVER do has come to pass.

“We die once when the last breath leaves our bodies. We die a second time when the last person speaks our name. The first death is beyond our control; but the second one we can strive to prevent.” – Old Proverb

I’ve been listening to a Lisa Wingate novel.. The Book of Lost Friends. 100% worth your time..(no money-involving promoting going on here..just an honest opinion of a well-written book.) And dreaming of writing stories that ought to be told…

Note to self: Don’t leave anything of value outside within puppy reach.

I’m missing two shoes and a sprinkler.

Did you know that humans eat more bananas than monkeys?

I can prove it, too! I mean when was the last time you saw a human eating a monkey?!

This dry joke ⬆️ I overheard an older gentleman tell a police man in the gas station as we waited in the checkout line. His white handlebar mustache hid any telltale grin that might have been brewing underneath.

Wishing you all a fair fall day!

Till next time…

Charcoal-Grilled Meat Globes

These luscious smoky meatballs/hamburgers are a relatively-quick meal, providing you start the grill first thing! Maybe even go mow another couple rounds of grass while you wait for the charcoal to burn down to a white-hot shade. (Thawed-out hamburger also proves helpful although the defrost button on the microwave works in a pinch.)

Learning how to grill is on my list of dreams to accomplish. This recipe is one of my personally tried and true on our Weber charcoal grill. To me, these are a simple item for grilling beginners and a breeze for the experts.

So tonight if you need ideas for supper, go check your fridge and pantry for these ingredients!

  • 1-1/4 lbs. hamburger, thawed
  • heaping 1/3 cup quick oats
  • 1/2 to 3/4 sleeve original Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced onion flakes
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs

You also will need the following for the BBQ Basting Sauce. It’s a MUST!

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

To make the meat globes, combine all 10 ingredients, mixing very well. I often just use my hands to get the spices thoroughly incorporated. Shape meat mixture into 12 globes. (They should look like a cross between a hamburger patty and a meatball.) Set aside.

Mix ingredients for BBQ Basting Sauce in a microwave-safe bowl. After whisking well, heat in microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Once charcoal grill is hot and ready (400º F.), spread out coals into an even layer, and distribute patties over grill rack. Cover grill and let meat cook for 5 minutes. It is important to keep temperature as even as possible, around 400º

-425º F. Flip globes over, and brush or spoon on a heavy layer of BBQ sauce. Close lid and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Repeat process 2 more times or until meat globes are thoroughly cooked inside and grilled crisp on the outside.

These are delicious served with Gourmet Potatoes or Cheesy Baked Macaroni, along with a vegetable of choice for a side.

If possible, be sure to use a wood-fired or charcoal grill for that impossibly-delicious smokey flavor that makes these so divine.

Enjoy!

You Might Be A Trucker’s Wife…

•If the local Kenworth and Peterbilt dealers call you by name when you step in the door.

•If riding in the truck with your husband is a great date night idea.

•If the words “Truck Show” make you tingle with excitement.

•If you’ve ever washed dishes in a truck stop shower with shampoo instead of Dawn dish soap.

•If you eat more meals on the road than at your own kitchen table.

•If you know how to operate a pressure washer, grease gun, and impact wrench.

•If weekends are entirely too short.

•If you spend more time in town running errands and picking up parts than shopping for yourself and groceries.

•If one of your superpowers is making meals in 15 minutes or less.

•If you feel excitement at the sound of jake brakes.

•If your house get cleaned ultra-fast the minute you get that long-awaited phone call that he’s headed home.

•If your Pinterest boards include Lunchbox Ideas, Games to Play on the Road, or How to Organize Small Spaces.

•If it’s hard to fall asleep in a bed that’s soft and still.

•If you’ve ever driven 3+ hours just to spend night with your man.

•If “Be safe!” is not just a shallow parting thought when he leaves..but spoken from a deeply-loving, caring heart that worries each time could be the last time she sees him.

©️Joanie Nikkel

Perspective is Everything

Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon from 30,000 feet in the air?

Or felt the hugeness of the universe in your soul?

Have you ever felt small beside the gigantic stretch of water we call an ocean?

Ever thought just how tiny a passenger plane is compared to a cloud?

Or how small a city of 8 million looks from the sky?

That the Rockies look like mere hills?

Have you ever stopped to realize how very minute… how utterly tiny, life on earth must look from heaven? The everyday things we stress over are completely trivial when compared with eternity’s vastness.

Perspective is everything.

Three-Cheese Potatoes

The first time I tried these potatoes, I also conducted my first attempt at grilling chicken. Let’s just say that I did not have beginners luck of any sort. But Ross manfully choked down the dry, tough chicken and seems none the worst for it. But the potatoes…we will definitely focus on this part of the meal! They turned out cheesy, juicy, and flavorful in the best kind of way.

These tasty potatoes are a delightful change to the normal routine of baked, mashed, buttered, or cream potatoes often found in my kitchen. I am a dump-and-pour cook so adjust measurements to your liking.

  • 3 russet potatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon dried minced onion
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese powder
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup bacon bits
  • 3/4 teaspoon Lawrys seasoning salt (or to taste
  • heaping 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup butter, cubed

Peel potatoes and slice thinly. Layer in a baking dish and sprinkle with minced onion. Mix together cheeses and spread evenly over potatoes. Top with bacon bits and seasonings with cubes of butter distributed over all. Cover and bake at 400* until potatoes are tender and cheese is browned and crispy-crunchy. I forgot to time them but I’d guess it took about 40-45 minutes..?

The past week has been filled with haying. All my time being spent in the swather and driving semi trucks around the fields picking up bales…along with gophering and irrigating, my house and yard are in a sad state of affairs. There are no clean shorts to be found and the lawn resembles our back pasture. I am hoping against hope that there are no overdue bills and that my plants will survive the drought.

Goodbye until I come back up for air!

Magical Moments in Life

Jake brakes reverberating through the open windows of a truck as you cruise through a tunnel.

The sight of a puppy lolling his tongue in happiness to see me come home.

Sinking into a bed freshly-made with sweet-smelling sheets warm out of the dryer.

A swallow of ice-cold water on a hot dry day.

The satisfying click of jars of canned meat sealing.

Realizing that you have made progress on a long-drawn out goal.

An intensely-vibrant sunset, clouds rimmed in gold, deep magenta, fiery orange, and purple madness painted across the sky.

A friend who texts or calls out of the blue…so heart-warming that they think of me enough to put forth the effort.

That brief moment when the laundry is all completely washed and folded.

Planting flowers – watching them grow and blossom.

A surprise gift from a neighbor, an old wheel waiting by the garage door…perfect decor for that empty spot in a flowerbed.

Laughing together with my husband…silly moments that make the world fun again.

Wishing you all a lovely week!