Tag Archives: noise

Big, Loud, Machinery…and Me

4 Oct

I love this shot. She was playing "baseball" with her bubble-wand.

I have told you before that I am neither a farmer nor the daughter of a farmer. My husband doesn’t farm, I have no relatives who farm, none, that I know of, who ever did. Well, probably small-time farmers, scratching their living in the Scottish highlands or the Wisconsin cheese-scented air, but they were not owners of the big, loud machinery that I’m talking about.

Nope, I’m not a farm-girl at heart, nor am I a fan of loud, jarring, noises. I don’t like motorcycles or jack-breaks, or smoothie-machines. I am, however incongruously, a big fan of the enormous combines that are taking over my little corner of the world at this time of year.

The inside scoop on corn oil.

I don’t know why I love them. If I was a logical, predictable person, I wouldn’t like them at all, loud, dirty, rumbling things that they are. But out here, where I have no neighbors within shouting distance and the corn fields aren’t much for conversation, I get a huge kick out of the gi-normous green combines.

"Dumping on the go."

True, they’re not all green John Deere varieties, some are red International Harvesters, or yellow New Hollands or gray Gleaners. (Yes, I’ve lived here long enough to learn a few things! Though, in the interests of complete honesty, it was my husband who remembered the Gleaner!) But the majority of them are green and yellow and sport a black buck sticker somewhere about their hoods. Around here, yellow and green doesn’t just mean the Green Bay Packers, or, even better, the University of Oregon, it mostly means what kind of farm machinery you believe in!)

Lucy got a ride last year. She LOVED it!

The thing, actually, that is the weirdest reason for me liking them is that they remind me of the army tanks I used to see in Berlin. I came up, one day, out of the U-Bahn station, expecting to cross the street uneventfully to the base, but instead came face to face (and ear to ear) with a convoy of tanks rumbling past me and blocking my route. I had no choice, really, but to stand there, hands over my ears, as tank after tank roared past. I. Hated. It.

It wasn’t just the noise, nor was it the inconvenience as I waited for a LONG time for them to go by; it was the meaning of it all. It was the images that flashed through my mind of just, exactly, what these things were for. It was living there, in Berlin, the war-destroyed city, where the tallest hill is made of rubble from the war. Imagine! A hill made of destroyed buildings and bombed churches and lost homes. That is what tanks like these (or at least their predecessors) rumbling past me had done.

And yet, as I stood there, tears pricking at my eyes and my ears blasted by roaring engines and creaking tracks, I knew that without those tanks, a terrible man would have been free to murder and destroy and tear his country apart. I was terrified of what those tanks represented; and terrified of what would have happened without them.

Told you it gets dusty.

But here I’ve done it again. I meant to write about combines! About the dust that rises behind them and fills your nostrils with brown-tinged snot. About the two times of year – planting and harvest – when I have neighbors to spy on. About the thrill of seeing them come up over the gentle hills at night, their headlights rising like the sun over the waving corn. About the way the kids love to glean any stray soy beans, popping their dry pods to reveal the small, tan beans – so gourmet, so hip.

Soy beans...au naturale.

Tofu, anyone?

Finicky? Me?

12 Jul

This has nothing to do with anything...other than I love it! This was taken in my parent's garden a year or so ago...I don't even know what flowers they are. Any ideas?

I am like a cat who fusses to be let out…then, after five seconds, fusses to be let back in. I am not proud of this fact about myself, but I’m afraid it’s true. At least where writing is concerned. I like the idea of writing at home as opposed to spending coffee money at a cafe…but when given the opportunity, I fuss to be let back in.

Right now I am alone at home. The house is quiet. I can actually hear the fan, the birds out the window, the wind in the trees. I am breathing air untainted by shrieks or arguments or Super Mario Brothers.

I am alone. And I am a little bit lonely.

I wrote last week about the writing process being a solo, and it definitely is. But this quiet-at-home weirdness is why I don’t like to write at home. Home isn’t SUPPOSED to be quiet. I have grown used, over almost 12 years of kids in the house, to tuning out noise. Home is supposed to have laughter, radios and sibling rivalry (well, I could do with a little less of that, thank you very much). It’s freakish when it’s so silent. Not even the washing machine is running. I feel like I’m in a time-out.

When I write at the café in town, I am alone…in the middle of a crowd. I am never lonely. It is never too quiet. I need background noise. I need something to tune out. And, living in a small town, I always see people I know, which I love. I enjoy saying “hi”, exchanging a few pleasantries, then going back to my work. I’m an introverted extrovert. Cafés work for me.

The trouble with tuning out noise at home is that the noise asks questions. (That sounds philosophical…but it wasn’t really meant to be…just representative!) The noise fights with its siblings and has to be reprimanded. The noise interrupts constantly and telling the noise to watch TV isn’t really a valid response.

Yes, at home, even when alone, I am distracted. The laundry. The dishes. A shower. The mail. Facebook. The mess. The couch. The book I’m reading. At a café I don’t need to worry about a thing except what words to type next. I smile occasionally. I pour myself coffee (that I didn’t have to be distracted in order to make). I sit in my corner and spread out my notes and I immerse myself in this alternate reality that I am creating. Occasionally, I question their choice of music.

But right now I’m at home, where the coffee is cheaper, albeit worse; my hair is messy, and nobody cares; and my computer battery won’t die on me because I forgot to bring my chord. (Yes, I speak from experience.) I guess, after all, there really is no place like home.

“Ok,” I tell myself. “Just enjoy. Use your time wisely. Be thankful for this moment with which Colin has gifted you. Keep your mind off the couch and the cozy, inviting thing that is naptime. FOCUS!”

“Ooooo…,” say the voices in my head. “Just look at those crazy birds, fighting over the grape jelly. Remember the time a pig wandered across the front lawn – right there – and into the corn field? And the time a pheasant flew into the living room window, breaking the double-paned glass the week before Thanksgiving and how you threw couch pillows at him to get him out of the house…and he survived? Ha ha! That was funny. You were alone then, too. Well, Lucy was here, but she was napping…” (Oh, a nap sounds good!) No! Focus! Lucy napping = writing time. Quiet time. More precious than gold. An empty house also = writing time…


Well, what do you know? I guess I have been writing…albeit in a stream-of-consciousness manner. I like to write like that…the way I talk. Yes, conversations with me tend to wander. Wander…wonder…I wonder what’s for dinner? Shoot. I’m the one who has to decide these things. (That still sometimes takes me by surprise, even after 15 years of marriage.) I wonder when they’ll be home? Oh. There’s the garage door opening.

Shoot. Sure is loud in here. How can a girl write?

PS – This may be a star magnolia! That’s our best guess so far!

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