Daniel and Amanda’s Weblog

November 22, 2007

“Every day is Thanksgiving.” -Joe Hehe

Don’t know the author? Yeah, me neither…until yesterday. Let me describe to you my “heroes of the week.”

Amanda and I are visiting her mom and family in Lexington, TN. We had an hour to spare before dinner time, so we went to visit their friend Joe’s hydroponic tomato farm in some tiny little town with a population of about 400 folks. Saltillo, TN. Average household income was just over $20,000 when Wikipedia last checked. Guess I wasn’t expecting to meet two true American heroes there.

Joe and his brother George have been farming for probably longer than I’ve been alive, but the last 15 years they’ve been using the hydroponic method. Greenhouses keep the temperature controlled, and after germination the plants go in little slits in a big 100 feet long PVC pipe. The roots all grow inside the PVC pipe, water soluble nutrients are pumped in in liquid form, and the plants grow beautifully. If one can afford to warm the greenhouses all year round, this system can grow crops all year long in any state. Joe and George have either 3 or 4 greenhouses, the longest 130 feet long, and grow thousands of plants at a time. They sell locally, both to grocery stores and individuals.

They built everything themselves…poured the concrete and built the greenhouses. They recover the greenhouses with plastic every few years, changed the heating/cooling system plastic when needed, and also raise goats! These two guys are hard working American farmers. I grew more appreciation for the farmer yesterday. I wondered what is happening in our country, where the majority of children grow up not knowing how (or having the strength or work ethic to) lift a finger on a farm. Even I, growing up on a small farm and doing chores daily, have probably never worked as hard as these guys do on a typical day. College degrees enable us to go through our entire life and make lots of money and never have to break a sweat.

What really made me deem them the “heroes of the week,” though, was their joyful attitude and unselfish generosity. As they gave us a tour of the greenhouses, they told us about them not being able to grow year round anymore. Reason? Fuel. With growing fuel costs, they said heating the greenhouses through the winter can run $4,000 a month. Which is just too much for a tomato farmer to overcome. When asked why they didn’t raise the prices to reflect the rising fuel prices, Joe replied “Nah, there’s just a bunch of old folks around here, they can’t afford it. Sometimes they don’t have enough as it is, so they just give us what they can.” One in our group offered “But you have to take care of yourself, too!” Joe smiled slyly, and Amanda and I noticed that he really believed it when he said “You can’t take it with you.”

$1.25 a pound. Less than that if a neighbor can’t afford it. George’s house was in complete disrepair. Shutters were broken and out of place bricks sat stranded on the front porch. His house was in huge need of about $20,000 of work including a new paint job. Or is it a need? Maybe they see the true need, and that is to love their neighbor as themselves. To refuse a new house uplift because there are those who can’t pay $1.25 a pound for tomatoes. To continue working hard through their 60s, or even 70s, because they enjoy farming and giving.

“Every day’s pleasant…some more pleasant than others, but every day’s pleasant!” Joe said. These two older gentlemen had smiles on their faces and jokes ready. You could see pure joy in their eyes. Joe and his wife go country dancing a couple of times a month at the community center. They work hard, love their neighbors, and enjoy life. There’s no need to live in big new houses or drive new cars. It’s a simple life, a beautiful life. I have no idea if they are Christ followers…but they probably exemplify his teachings more than most Christians.

When the world went to war and raised oil prices, nobody asked the farmers who need fuel for their greenhouses. Increased gas prices affect us, but not that much. As usual, it’s the poor who always pay. Especially the honest ones, who won’t raise their prices to make up for the fuel increase because their community can’t afford it.

Toward the end of our tour, someone asked Joe if he was ready for Thanksgiving. If anyone has cause to be depressed, it’s these two men who’ve worked hard their whole life only to be overlooked by our government. If anyone has reason to be angry at the corporations, industry, war, greed, and everything in this modern day where the doctors and lawyers are respected and the farmer isn’t, it’s Joe and George. But Joe just smiled again and simply said, “Every day is Thanksgiving.”

Joe and George Hehe, I salute you. Amanda and I have resolved to shop at the Farmer’s Market as much as possible from now on because of you. You deserve to be respected, to be held high, as true American heroes. And yet you remain content, not because of worldly wealth or respect, but because of a simple life of joy, hard work, and selfless giving. America may overlook you, but you are heroes in my mind.


October 11, 2007

I’m old. :)

Filed under: Just for fun,Work — theburts @ 8:47 pm

So yes, Amanda’s right (thanks honey, heheh), I’m 31 today. I’m really glad that I’m married now, though, cause whenever I think about how old I’m getting I keep remembering how incredibly beautiful that wife of mine is, and it makes me feel younger. :)

For my birthday, we’re going out to eat somewhere and then plan on just spending some quality time together. We haven’t had a lot of time this week to be together, and on one night that was definitely my fault. I’m still making up for that one…I was very inconsiderate. So tonight I want us to enjoy a dinner cooked for us and just hang out. I think we might make something for somebody using pictures and words cut out of some old magazines I was about to recycle. I love making creative cards and stuff like that…we actually made a poster like that for Josh and Amy on our first date!

So here’s the latest scoop on the budget…I’m already done with my fun money and it’s only 11 days into the month! Partially my fault, because instead of renting the movie I believed the guy at Blockbuster that I needed to get a “rewards card.” So that was 10 bucks plus the cost of the movie rental (4 bucks). I should have declined it because “my budget won’t allow it,” but I didn’t. So now I have no money for lunches or anything for the rest of the month. It’ll be interesting to see how that works out. I’ll be allowed to use grocery money as long as it’s for buying stuff to make sandwiches or other lunch foods, but I can’t eat out by myself anywhere. eek! I’ll keep you posted as to how this is going…

The great news is that we’re still on track for the school loan part. We’re down to $13,500!!! (Ariah and Mindy, any thoughts on how to post some sort of countdown thing like Mindy did for her last few clinical hours?) :) I also had a patient today who was an auto mechanic, so I bartered a contact exam ($70) for a new master cylinder in Amanda’s car (at Firestone, that would’ve cost us over $300!). I’ll probably pay him the difference in cost just to be fair, meaning if the parts were $100 I should pay him $30 more to at least cover the cost of parts. Does that seem fair? I don’t barter a lot…


October 2, 2007

October 1st – National Equipment Malfunction Day

Filed under: Married Life,Uncategorized,Work — theburts @ 2:43 am

Dang, girl! I convinced Amanda to take the day off today, and I’m so glad I did. Cause I got to work, started this quick upgrade on my refraction system (an automatic version of the ‘which is better, 1 or 2?’ machine), and it crashed. Couldn’t do anything on it, and had one patient waiting and 4 more in a row. Sheesh.

So I did it old school for 2 or 3 hours, survived the morning, and went home. Found out later that they shipped a whole new system and are having a technician install it in the morning. Whew. It’s hard and slow doing exams old school, and today was my early off day anyway, so Amanda and I spent the rest of the day just hanging out. It was great, we got some stuff done, and even cleaned my (soon to be her) car. More on that later.

So thanks once agan to my wife for saving the day. Thanks Amanda, I absolutely love being married to you. ;)

September 20, 2007

Some joys in my life…

Filed under: Just for fun,Work — theburts @ 10:42 pm
  • My talented, giving, intelligent, and beautiful wife of one month and 9 days.
  • My new fish tank that I got for free to go in my office. Especially the funny clown fish…they make me smile quite often at the quirky things they do.
  • Our new end table made for the cost of under a dollar (for the spray paint). From a dumpstered table and scrap wood from torn apart drawers. It’s perfect.


  • Having the guts to take back control of my working life by letting go of one of my leases…and still knowing that, even though it means a financial cut, my wife is proud of me for it.
  • Thinking about having more time with said wife because of said job change. :)
  • Dumpstered Hostess Cinnamon Strudels…especially warmed with butter. Oh, and lots of them. Mmm.
  • Getting to march with protesters for the Jena 6 this morning when I didn’t even know about it…just drove by and saw it, parked illegally, and ran to catch up.
  • Tooth pain subsiding.
  • Catching up with a friend from years ago and remembering old times.
  • Reading the Bible with Amanda by lamp light.
  • Showing my little bro Jon how to get free popcorn and a drink at the theater. oops!
  • Meeting a patient who bikes 10 miles each way to work every day, and hearing him encourage me in my riding. (since Ariah’s not here to do that anymore!)

That’s it for now. I’m very pleased with my decision to go full time to Costco. It will allow me to grow the practice faster at Costco, concentrate more on improving the way things are done there (insurance, appointments, recalls, patient letters, contact ordering, hiring assistant, etc), but most importantly work 5 days a week again and spend more time with Amanda. Can’t freakin wait.

SEE is taking it pretty well, although they’re sad to see me go. I hope to keep great relationships with both John and Michelle and hope not to burn any bridges…wouldn’t want the first bridge burned in my optometric career. But I am working my last half Saturday at SEE on October 13, and hopefully soon after will find someone to take Wednesdays and Fridays. At the most, I’ll work Wednesdays through the end of the year to help them out, but I don’t think it will be THAT difficult to find another doctor to take the lease.

That’s all for now…ok, baby, it’s your turn!!!! :)


September 18, 2007

How to work less…

Filed under: Work — theburts @ 4:48 am

I figured it out today. Are you ready? Quit your job. Well, to be specific, if you’re working 2 jobs quit one of them. :) So I finally decided that I couldn’t keep up with two leases anymore and let SEE know (both Michelle, the store manager, and the corporate folks) that it’s time they start looking for another doc. So I’ll keep working there for another couple of months for at least a day or two a week, helping them find another doc to take my place, but at least the end is coming now…I will finally be able to stop working 6 days a week again. Forget the money, I want my life back. heh

I’ve already been dumpstering and cleaned up all the spoils, and I have a headache. So it’s time for bed. I’ll write more when I’m more awake on the job thing.

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