The wind howled drearily around the truck cab, sometimes making the sleeper rock slightly. The sky was overcast and sullen.
Ross and I donned our Carhartts and gloves and set to work undoing the ropes that hold the tarps on the hay.
It was miserably difficult pulling the 29’ x 27’ tarp off. 140 pounds of heavy-duty canvas billowing in the wind makes for a fine kite. Or not.
The drivers of the orange Freightliner beside us were having just as much fun. One tall swarthy fellow and one short midget of a man. As I walked around the truck, the tall one intoned, “Beautiful morning, tho, ain’t it?”
I don’t know if there was sarcasm or truth in his words. But we each continued on our separate ways, and no more conversation was exchanged.
But his words stayed with me. Even as we sat for two hours waiting to get unloaded at the press.
I thought of them as we strapped down the steel pipe in the misting rain of Seattle. And as I jogged down the sidewalk to a dingy corner gas station.
No matter the weather, circumstances, people around me, or any factor in life, I can have a “beautiful morning”.
My Week in a Pea Pod. (It’s like saying “in a nutshell” only way more interesting.)
— One day I received an email. It began “Hi, I am Chuck, the Truck Duck.” Too bad it had to be spam after such a great introduction.
— “You are not a chicken,” I told Buster Bear as he crunched on the piece of red cabbage that I chunked into the chicken pen. He only wagged his tail and crunched louder.
— Lesson learned – The faster you try to climb through a barbed wire fence, the more clothes will get caught on the barbs. At one point leggings, dress, and coat were all hooked.
— Breakfast is much better if eaten with your best friend on the floor with a blanket draped over the furnace vent to make a warm cocoon.
— Relationship Tip: You can’t possibly please everyone, but if you have love in your heart, and you’re doing the best you can, your inner happiness does not have to be dependent upon others. (Thank you “Mom” for sharing this wisdom with me. I was needing it.)
— LIFE HACK ALERT!! DO NOT EVER (I REPEAT, NEVER EVER!!) ACCIDENTALLY SPLASH WHITE VINEGAR IN YOUR EYE. LIKE EVER.
— fear (fir), n. the feeling in the pit of your stomach when a stout wind comes up as you’re out burning fencerows
— <Quick Menu Idea>– Cook spaghetti noodles to al dente. Heat a bit of Classico Four Cheese Alfredo sauce along with some leftover canned chicken out of the fridge. Layer cooked pasta and alfredo mixture on plate. Garnish with some powdered Parmesan cheese. Dig in! Not too shabby for a 10-minute-meal!
It had been a long day in the truck. We wound our way over White Pass and happily found a parking spot on a wide spot along the highway. Inside the city limits of Packwood, Washington, Ross and I settled down in the bunk for a cozy night’s rest.
Somewhere in the wee morning hours, I awoke with a jerk. “WHAT was that?!” I mouthed to Ross who was as wide awake as I. Thoughts tumbled over each other in my mind as I ran over all the possible options of what was happening to us. A thud, scuffling of feet and the truck shook slightly. “Was somebody trying to rob us, slash our tires, or was I going to hear gunshots next?” It’s amazing how much can flash through your mind in a split second!
We peered very cautiously around the front curtain but saw nothing in the dim moonlight. So Ross quietly peeked out the back window, holding up the corner of the curtain just enough to see. I hung on to Ross, my heart thumping. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I knew it couldn’t be good. He dropped the curtain like a scorching hot baked potato and whisper-yelled, “There’s a man by the truck. He’s bent over.”
This nightmare had just became real. You never know how quietly you can communicate with your husband until there’s a need to. If the truck had been running, we would have quietly slipped it into gear and squealed outa there. But that wasn’t a option with a cold engine. Eventually we decided to look out again.
What a relief! My heart returned to its normal position in my chest and the oxygen levels in the truck sleeper slowly came back up. This time the figure had changed position and now it was evident that the robber was not a man at all but an elk. In fact there was nearly 35 of them! And believe me, they were robbing us all right. Great chunks of hay were missing out of the bales. The elk were all gathered around our scrumptious load of alfalfa like company sitting down to Sunday dinner.
When Ross had looked out the first time, there had been one right by the frame rail with its head down. All Ross could see was this flat back. In our mutual terror, assumptions were easily procured for when you are thinking down spooky lines, spooky things are seen.
After much hollering at the four-legged thieves, they slowly meandered away from their delicious midnight snack and headed off down the sidewalk and away through Packwood.
So to begin with, here’s the recipe I promised to share with y’all..
Here’s what you will need to get started on this simple delicious dessert.
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 oz. Cool Whip
1/2 of an angel food cake (already made and baked and cooled)
3 to 4 (2.1-oz.) Butterfinger candy bars, crushed
To begin with, melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add sugar, cream, and flour, whisking thoroughly until well-combined. Keep stirring constantly until mixture boils and turns thick. Remove from heat and set aside. After cooling for 3-4 minutes, stir in vanilla. Continue to cool until room temperature.
Next, fold in Cool Whip until completely combined; set aside. Take the angel food cake and tear/crumble into very small pieces. In a trifle bowl or individual dishes of your choice (I used margarita glasses to obtain an elegant look), make a thin layer of the angel food cake crumbles. Spread approximately an inch thickness of sauce mixture over the cake layer. Then sprinkle a hearty spoonful of Butterfinger pieces on top. Repeat these layers in the order given until desired dish is filled.
Cover and chill until ready to serve. I love to prepare this dessert as late in the game as I possibly can, so the cake doesn’t have time to get soggy.
NOTE: If you’re feeling extremely virtuous, you can make your own angel food cake from scratch, if you’re feeling semi-virtuous, use a mix. If you’re feeling lazy (like I was), use boughten angel food cake from your local grocery store bakery.
Keep a fork with you at all times.
Just in case cake happens. (Or Trifles.)
Because they most likely will happen. They are on my list of most simple yet elegant desserts. And can be whipped up at the very last moment, which in my life is a big bonus.
Now for the topic of babysitting.
One of my friends asked me to keep her small son the other day while she went shopping. As we were planning to be home that day, I readily agreed.
Thankfully I have enough nieces and nephews and have spent enough time with them all that I was not easily fooled into thinking that this is how having children would be. For this chubby blond tot was the model of childhood. He took to us like a hawk takes to the sky. When he was tired, he howled until I sat down in the recliner with his blanket, stuffed giraffe, and his trusty thumb. Then he promptly feel asleep to tunes of Twinkle, Twinkle and Jesus Loves Me. When he was hungry, he went to the well-stocked backpack and proclaimed his needs with a lusty yell. The rest of the day he meandered around this non-child-proof house of mine and entertained himself with a few toys, the recliner (which appears to be fascinating when rocked furiously back and forth), and just looking up at ceiling fans. I had no idea mundane things could be of such interest.
I will say though that I now have more empathy for these moms that can’t seem to get a lot done in a day other than the necessary feeding and washing.
And I had only one child for one day. You moms out there…you have my full applause. You just keep doing what you’re doing! Because it’s amazing and it DOES make a difference in the world.
You also have my full admiration for the muscles in your upper arms. After holding this chunk with my left arm while I whisked gravy, folded laundry, and carried water out to the chickens, I realize I may need to start lifting weights more regularly.
Valentine’s Day is a special day for us as a couple. It all started 4 years ago on a sunny Oregon day.
I stood beside my silver Honda Accord, my fingers wrapped around the door handle but too scared to open it. I was really hoping there would be some roses or a card inside, but I realized that my hopes most likely were sky-high and would come crashing down in a shatter of dreams the minute I looked inside.
Finally I got up my nerve, yanked open the door, and plopped onto the seat. No roses. I felt my heart beginning to plummet. Then my eyes caught a glimmer of red underneath some paraphernalia. THERE WAS A CARD!
And it was from HIM!!! The tall blond good-looking Texas-drawling HIM!
And that’s where it all officially began. The moment I realized that this was serious. The-rest-of-my-life-kind-of-serious.
And it’s only gotten better. Love truly gets better with time. The electric touch fades slowly, the sky-high emotions ease down, but the love…the real true deep love only gets better. The friendship tightens. The memories stack up.
Tonight we celebrated in our favorite style. A romantic supper for two in our own kitchenette. Grilled Bacon Burgers Exquisite, Scrumptious Twice-Baked Potatoes, Wonton-Smoked Almond-IceBerg Salad, with Butterfinger Trifles to top it off.
WHY I LOVE BEING MARRIED:
There is someone to talk to at any given time about anything.
I always have someone to tease, to hug, to love.
It’s like having a personal massage therapist except cheaper and I don’t get massages as often.
Having someone to cook for.
It’s having a built-in road trip buddy, a partner in crime, and a personal cheerleader.
So here’s to my husband! For being all that and so much more.
I love how he takes care of me, how he keeps working to be a better man…
Even on days I fail to be a better woman.
Stay tuned to my blog..recipe for the Butterfinger Trifle coming in next post!
Comment below! I’d love feedback from my readers. Tell me anything…what you are doing for Valentine’s Day, your love story, if you like chocolate or roses, your favorite food, or if you liked my blog!
What’s Your Tuesday Like? In my life there seem to be no normalities. One cannot plan in advance beyond the next day (if even that far) as all things in my world are subject to change. In fact if I want to plan on something, I can plan on changing my plans. With that being said, here’s a glimpse into one of my lives.
A Tuesday On The Truck
The shrill ringing of the alarm startles me into consciousness. I reluctantly wriggle my way out of under the warm comforter and out into the 20º F. air to turn the key and push the start button. The cold Caterpillar engine sputters, then roars to life. I burrow rapidly back into the warmth of the bed and snuggle up to my husband. It’s not hard to snuggle when both of you are squeezed onto a twin-sized mattress. We drift back off to sleep until the second alarm signals that a half hour has sped by. The wonderful heat blowing through the vents is a welcome sign that the engine is warmed up, ready to drive onto the scale at the hay press where we slept overnight.
Combing hair is optional. Often a stocking cap gets thrown on over a quick bun and no one is the wiser. A bathroom is a welcome treat but often not available until we get unloaded and down the road to a truck stop. We bundle up in our Carrhart coveralls, gloves, and insulated boots and climb out to pull out the ropes, unhook the straps, and roll up the massive hay tarps. Sometimes when we drive in snow the night before, untarping is nothing short of a nightmare. The trailer being a solid chunk of ice, it’s hard to undo anything. Gloves get wet, fingers become numb, and visions of sitting at home by a warm fire dance in my head. But somehow it gets done, and the squeeze comes to grab blocks of bales and move them into the shelter of the hay sheds. After we sweep off the trailers, get the necessary signatures and weigh tickets, and load all the tarps, straps, and ropes back into the trailer boxes, we head out for the nearest gas station with truck parking.
After that welcome break, I get a simple breakfast of bacon strips and banana bread out of our ice chest for a quick eat as we drive. We head out to our next load appointment which could be anywhere in the Northwest Region. This time, let’s say we take the scenic route over White Pass. A two-lane winding ribbon that wiggles up and around and over a snowy mountain. The towering pine trees stand guard solemnly along the edges. Unfortunately a blinking sign comes into view. “Chains Required” it reads. So back on go the coveralls and winter attire. We take 8+ sets of chains out and lay them on the snowy shoulder, making sure nothing is twisted. After laying them over the tires, Ross drives the truck forward a foot or two so the chains are underneath and can be hooked together and tightened with a small metal apparatus.
Then on we go. In a few miles, the reason for chaining becomes evident. I sit on the edge of my seat, clutching the handle on the door. If only that would help. Something about going down a 6% grade on sharp mountain curves on snowpack and ice gets me nervous. An hour or so later with only a few close calls, we end up safely down at the base of the mountain on the opposite side. I pull out a book to read or hook up the audio system. The miles fly by and before we know it, the steel warehouse will soon be in view.
Ross handles the Seattle sea of traffic with ease. I often just gaze at the vast amount of humanity rushing about in awe and try to imagine what each person is doing and where they are going. They each have a life that is important to them, just like me. Each one has a soul and feelings. And what can I do? I’m just another one of them, sitting in a vehicle rushing about our life. Sometimes I wish I could get out there and actually make a difference in the world.
We pull in the gate at the steel warehouse with a throaty honk from the train horn announcing our presence. Inside it is a flurry of activity. Forklifts cruising up and down the aisles, workers operating huge machinery, and trucks being loaded. Ross and one of the forklift drivers study the paperwork, trying to decide how much each piece of steel weighs and where on the trailers would be best for the weight on each axle.
I try to appear invisible inside the truck, often escaping to the bunk. Some places have strict rules and regulations about passengers. After the steel coils, pipes, or flat metal bars are loaded, we pull forward to strap and if required, we pull the tarps on. Tarping steel is a whole different story. How to make them lay nicely and remain tight when you have un-uniform pieces sticking out at strange angles and different heights is a good question.
I pull out two tinfoil containers of food from the trusty ice chest and stick them in the little food warmer in the truck cab. Tada! Lunch is made! I help Ross or at least try to act like I’m helping. Then for the long drive back home. We take a different route by way of Portland and the roads are much better. We stop for fuel at Pendleton, Oregon at our favorite big truck stop where everyone calls us by name. Grabbing some snacks that look tasty, I pay for them with fueling points.
Back on the road and up over the notorious Cabbage Hill. The engine lugs down and pulls its heart out. The road is wet and the temperature is just below freezing, but there is still mist spraying off the tires of the vehicles around us. So I remind myself that at least its not black ice and try to relax. Unfortunately as we near the summit, the road turns to snowpack. Chains are required to continue down the other side. So we find a empty spot among the dozens of trucks lining the side of the highway and throw some iron.
Up and down the hills we go and out across the valley. Snowflakes are still drifting down and the road stretches white before us. But eventually we come to clear pavement, so off come the chains. An hour or two later, we face another major hill, the last one standing between us and our much-longed-for destination. So we repeat the chaining process. At this point we don’t even bother to take off our coveralls when we climb back in the truck; we just open the windows to cool down. The clack of the chains on the road grow fainter as we climb upward, into deeper snowpack.
At long last, we pop over the last ridge and see the lights of Ontario glistening just ahead. We have a mid-morning appointment so Ross decides it will be worth it to go the extra half hour home to our own soft bed and a shower instead of spending night in the truck at Love’s. 15 minutes later we were regretting our decision. The hilly road to the shop had not been plowed yet. We knew we had to keep up our speed going downhill so we would make it up the other side without spinning out. But what we hadn’t accounted on was the bumper acting like a snowplow on the pavement and sending several inches of snow over the truck, completely obscuring all vision. All Ross said was “BABE.” But the tone of voice and the situation was of such, that my heart dropped clear out of me. On either side of the road were 15-20 foot drop-off’s. God must have took over the wheel for a few moments there because we are still alive!
Around 1:30 am we pulled up the driveway to our dear little orange house on the hill and my sweet puppy Buster curled up by the dryer vent. He nearly went crazy with the excitement of seeing us, so I let him in the laundry room for a bit and let him sit on the rug. A delicious hot shower and a huge soft bed to stretch out in seems very blissful at this point. Who knows what may happen tomorrow but that is no worry of mine.
Meet Buster. He entered our life a few months ago and wiggled and licked his way right into my heart. He is good at terrorizing the felines around the place, barking at strangers, digging deep holes in flower beds, and melting hearts with his endearing eyes. Oh and also, he is excellent at cuddling and being an exercise buddy. His boundless energy is a great incentive to get out and take a brisk walk. Buster and I are pals.
Meet the truck. This is where we spend hundreds of hours. Our wheels around the country. The “girl” that vies for my husband’s attention…who tries to get him to spend more time with her than with me. But I don’t mind too much because she is my means to a life of travel. Of seeing sights and places that before I only dreamed of on a map.
Meet the felines. They are the official mousetraps, dog swatters, and all-around good-natured friendly creatures. They are great companions for working in the yard.
Last, but not least, my husband Ross. The love of my life, goofy entertainer in hours of boredom, excellent listener, and fix-all-man. I would be incomplete without him. We are a team. He’s the driver and mechanic. I’m the cook, housekeeper, and bookkeeper. We both help each other out where needed. I spend time getting my hands greasy in the shop, and he fixes my dishwasher and washing machine when they break down. I think he’s a pretty good guy. (In fact, he’s the best out there! Sorry for the rest of you all!)
Oh, and then there’s me! You’ll get to know me through my blogs, I imagine, little by little. I am adventurous with a touch of old-fashioned ways in my blood. I love being outdoors; nature and fresh air make me feel alive. Baking and cooking are not just a chore to get over with, but a chance to be creative and spread some love. I love sitting down to eat at a restaurant filled with atmosphere. I love dark chocolate and fresh homemade bread straight out of the oven smeared with butter and honey. It’s hard to beat the sight of a freshly mowed lawn, straight manicured lines stretching out across the green expanse. I come from a family with creativity running in their veins, and whenever time allows I find it spilling out of me. In the form of writing, scrapbooking, crafting, or in my flowerbeds. One life is much too short to fit in everything I would like to accomplish. I will need about 8 lifetimes.
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.