Caton's Clumsy Confessions

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Mornings with Mike

The best part of the day for Mike is the morning after milking. This is when he is the most talkative, most opinionated, and most hilarious. (Yes, Boston and Nashville friends, milking can be a verb. Don’t freak out.) 

This could be due in part to the fact that I am not a morning person. By the time Mike gets back around 8:15AM, I am just waking up. I groggily enter the kitchen, mutter something incomprehensible, and reach for the coffee. Meanwhile, Mike regales me with news items, texts he has received in the wee hours of the morning from his farming friends, and words with friends updates and nudges.

I call this time Mike in the morning, because it is so opposite to Mike in the evening.

Mike’s dialogue, or rather monologue, consists of plenty of adages and sometimes pieces of advice.

Recently, I was trying to convince Mike that we should set up my friend with his friend. Mike concluded that his friend needs to follow his simple recipe for “getting a dream girl,”

This is how he broke it down:

  1. Make eye contact.
  2. Make her laugh/smile.
  3. Touch her. He was quick to specify that the gentleman caller should not do purple nurples or “honks”. Apparently those aren’t very successful with picking up women. Instead, a gentle touch of the hand, shoulder, etc. lets her know you’re interested in something more than friendship.
  4. Don’t talk “shop.” Explore something that’s interesting to her outside of work and ask her about it. Show you care.
  5. Make a plan for seeing her or communicating with her. Get her number or ask her on a date.

After this surprising list of recommendations, I asked him if this helped him get a lot of lovely ladies.

He replied:

Just one. The proof is in the pudding.

Colloquialism Count- 4,760 and counting 🙂


Making Distance Doable

*Disclaimer: This might be too romantic for some. Please don’t read, it will probably make you want to poke your eyes out with a fork. Believe me, this would have made me gag even a few months ago. But you know, love…or something…claims even the most cynical sometimes.*

I live in Boston, MA.

Mike lives in Madison, NY.

Although not an impossible distance…the five hour drive is pretty formidable for a relatively new relationship (officially 5 months Saturday!) This week I’ve spent my February break with my favorite person, (thank goodness I’m a teacher), but on Sunday we’ll be back to trying to swing it long distance style.

Here are some things we do to keep us feeling “close.”

1. Distance Dates

This usually takes place on Tuesday nights while my roommate is at soccer. We will rent one of the new releases at redbox and watch it simultaneously. We alternate who gets to choose the film each week. Mike likes to really make an evening out of it and will often order out and get ice cream and a couple Saranacs as well. I will usually take this opportunity to fill my insatiable appetite for sushi and wine. During the movie we’ll text our reactions to certain scenes and afterwards discuss our thoughts and takeaways.

So far we’ve watched the following movies (with our ratings):

1. To the Wonder- 4/10

2. The Spectacular Now- 8.5/10

3. Man of Steel- 2/10

4. Despicable Me 2- 5/10

5. Captain Phillips- 9/10

6. The Notebook- 10/10 (Don’t judge me. This movie is my favorite. I might be biased)

7. Don Jon- 7/10

8. The Hunger Games- 8/10

2. Book Club

We both love to read, so we’ve merged our passions by choosing a book to read at the same time and discussing it at predetermined stop pages along the way. So far we’ve only read two books together, Mike is choosing the next one. Any suggestions would be welcome.

1. Angels and Demons, by Dan Brown.

2. Garden of Eden, by Ernest Hemmingway

3. Pinterest

We love pinterest. Mike would probably be embarrassed that I’m even mentioning that he has a pinterest account, but whatever. On pinterest we post anything that would make the other person smile. We have a variety of boards that we pin to:

1. Lovescapades– any places/ideas for our travels. These range from local breweries, art museums, zoos around Madison, NY to tourist attractions/restaurants/etc. for our upcoming trip to Austin, TX.

2. Mr. and Mrs. Right boards- Any saying, quote, or picture that reminds us of the other person and our love goes here.

3. Future House- This is where we post pictures of how we imagine our dream house to look. I’m not sure if these will ever come to fruition, but it’s really fun to think about…and the pictures are really pretty.

4. Love and Making– I’ll leave this up to your imagination, but it’s mostly relationship tips and dating ideas.

Mike just called him to help at the barn, since we’re going to try to see Philomena tonight in Oneida. Oh, life. Read the rest of this entry »

Dating a Dairy Farmer…

Although I grew up on a “hobby farm,” was an active member of FFA and 4-H and went to the Cornell University College of Agriculture, I’ve never really considered myself a farm girl. My three sisters embrace the stereotypes that come with country living, but I refuse to be categorized. My family will attest to my gradual mainstreaming and subsequent distance from my agricultural roots.

Now, I’ve known several girls (*cough Jenny), who pine after handsome farm boys. I have never been one of them. “For I know the joys and discomforts of agricultural life…”  but I do not necessarily hold an inborn fondness to make it my life’s pursuit. Sorry E.M. Tiffany.

So, yeah, I never meant to fall in love with a farmer. That was never in my plan.

But then Mike entered my life again, and I was quickly swept back into the agricultural fold as quickly as he swept me off my feet.

Some things to note since “re” agriculturing my life:

1. There is a definitive wave/hand signal given to truck, tractor, and sometimes even snow plow drivers. It’s like a curt flick of the wrist back and just the index finger and thumb make the hand motion in greeting/acknowledgement. Anything more than that would be considered “over the top.” I tried the nonchalant “claw motion,” as I like to refer to it, but I was driving my Toyota Yaris. Epic fail.

2. There is a difference between first and second cutting hay, and I do not know what it is. (Oh, the horror!)  My family would be so ashamed.

3. Mike knows every single person in all of Madison and Oneida County by first and last name,  where they live, what their back story is, and what they do. I’m convinced. I think this knowledge is creepy.

4. Farming is excellent exercise, but I am not the best farm hand. Mike usually allows me to help him with three things: sweeping, scraping, and shoveling corn silage into carts. The last one is a huge responsibility, but according to my sister Betsey and her boyfriend Rocco, I’m probably contributing a lot of “shrink.” I shovel two tons of corn silage into carts from Mike’s trailer almost everyday while I’m home. I love doing it, because I feel like I get my arms/back/ab workout in. Unfortunately, I dump quite a bit of corn accidentally….and on windy days, I’m completely hopeless. Trying to push the full carts back into the barn is another story completely. I have to use every ounce of my body weight to heave the heavy carts…resulting in several bruises on my knees and legs from where I try to get leverage. I’ve gotten soft in my non-ag days.

5. It’s impossible to go from the barn to another social event without the aroma of sweet hay and manure making its presence as your perpetual perfume. No amount of hand sanitizer, soap, febreeze, or body spray will do. Showering is the only solution.

6. Riding in the tractor to spread manure is “almost” as much fun as a ride at Disney World. This is what I’m trying to convince myself, since currently my mom, dad, and Jenny are enjoying themselves at the “most magical place on Earth.” But seriously, a tractor ride over snow banks and frozen mud is terrifyingly exhilarating. I’m almost 99% sure the tractor is going to fall over every single time. That math works, right?

7.  My farmer speaks in colloquialisms, and I find it absolutely hilarious. Here are just a few of his favorites:

Living high on/off? the hog

…. maybe 100 pounds soaking wet.

….driving slower than molasses in January.

I have a terrible habit of mimicking accents/antiquated phrases/etc. and recently told my mom she was “rubbing salt in the wound.” Who am I?!? Stay tuned for more Mike phrases. I’m thinking of making it a weekly blog special 🙂

8. It’s OK to go to church and the Colgate Inn with a trailer full of corn silage. All the cool kids are doing it these days.

9. It’s hard to keep track of which cows have been milked and need iodine dipping. They all look the same from the back. Seriously, that is my only job during milking, and I’m pretty sure I have dipped the same cow multiple times. On an unrelated note- I’m not a very good farm hand.

10. Any activity after 8PM is probably going to result in a very tired farm boy trying hard to stay awake. At least he’s trying. He does get weird when he’s tired, and I find his actions/delirium hilarious.

Bonus Note: My farm boy texts me “hay,” pretty frequently. I thought he was really bad at spelling. I just recently realized that he is not actually misspelling “hey,” it’s a nod to farming! He’s so clever 🙂 Again, I’m an idiot.





Reunited…AT LAST (Etta James style or Ella Ftizgerald…you choose).

Fast forward to August 24th, 2013. I’m living in Boston, entering my second year of teaching 5th grade writing at an inner-city charter school. I’ve been invited to a college friend’s wedding in Burlington Flats. As I make the four-hour drive to the wedding, I realize that Mike lives somewhere in Central New York, and I decide to shoot him a text.

Hey! I’m in Richfield Springs for a college friend’s wedding.

Whose wedding?

I tell him, but he doesn’t seem that excited, and there is a lot of wait time between texts. I know I deserve a lot worse. He continues to send a few texts about how Richfield Springs smells like sulfur, but no attempt is made to see each other.

When people gets back from the rehearsal dinner, everyone starts playing games (a recurring pattern in my life). We are in the middle of a hilarious round of catchphrase in which Max is trying to get us to guess “petit fours” but thinks they are small pants. Needless to say, the time runs out, and Jenna announces abruptly that Martin would like me to stop texting Mike.

Strike two Martin.

Why? OK fine. I won’t.

Like a guilty child caught with her hand in the cookie jar, I stop texting Mike. They’re right. I shouldn’t lead him on especially since I live in Boston, he’s looking for a serious relationship, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The next day at the wedding, I have a great time catching up with college friends touring a winery and brewery, and then enjoying a delicious dinner at the reception. As the night continues, the guests begin to make their way to the dance floor. Read: the guests follow myself and Jenna to the dance floor.

After a few fun fast songs, and the obligatory wedding dances, the slow dances commence. I groan. This is the worst part about going to a wedding alone. I begin to make my way off the dance floor when I notice a familiar face. Mike has just entered the reception venue and is making his way over to the outdoor patio to see Martin.

Jenna comes running over,

Mike Conde is here, and he has gotten so hot!

She grabs my hand, and we run like little girls toward the boys lounging on the bales of straw. I give Mike a giant hug. I can’t hide my excitement. My heart jumps as I meet his eyes for the first time in over four years.

I drag Mike to the dance floor, and we spend the rest of the night swaying in time to the music. We are inseparable.

Mike drives me back to Kristin’s house (where I was staying) in his new truck. I hold his hand the entire way. I can’t stop talking. It’s either my nerves or the wine. I ask Mike why he decided to crash the wedding. He says,

I came for you.

This simple statement melts my heart, and I invite him inside to play ____________…I feel like I don’t even need to finish this statement.

I change into more comfortable PJ’s and sit on Mike’s lap as we play another round of catchphrase. Everytime Mike gets an answer right, I reward him with a kiss on his forehead. James, Naomi’s boyfriend/now fiancée quips,

What happens if he wins?

Finally around 1:30AM, Mike tells us he needs to go home because he milks at 4AM. I don’t want the night to end.

I accompany Mike outside to his truck. Caught in the magic of the night, I kiss him under the moonlight.

Our first kiss.

At that moment I know I won’t be able to convince myself that what I’m feeling isn’t worth fighting for. Destiny or coincidence has been weaving our stories together for years. Just as the strands were at its thinnest, we were reunited, I finally realize that it’s him I’ve been searching for all along.


Yesterday Mike was explaining to me why he’s so happy it’s Monday again.

Me: You know basically everyone else in the country despises Mondays, right?

Him: I know, but for me it’s a return to normalcy. The mail comes, the snow plows plow, the traffic is predictable, the newspaper arrives. Everything is right with the world.

Me: I feel like I’m dating an old man.

Later in the morning…

Him: Hey, will you put the return address and stamps on all of these envelopes while I take a shower?

*I look dubiously at a pile of mail*

Me: You do know there is technology developed and readily available where you can pay your bills online, right?

Him: I know, but I like the idea of the post office. I also feel like my mailman would take it personally if I didn’t use him anymore.

Me: OK, but it is a holiday, so these won’t get sent until Tuesday.

Him: Drat! I hate Sundays and holidays.

How we met…

I’ve met a man who has stolen my heart. It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but I think it’s a good story anyways…Wait for it..Alright the suspense is killing me, here goes:

Our story starts circa summer of 2007? I was studying at Cornell, and I was on summer vacation. Jenna’s boyfriend/now husband’s twin sister Ingrid was graduating from West Point, and they were having a party at their house on Kendrick Rd to celebrate. I arrived after dark and remember talking to a group of people I could hardly see. This was ideal for me since I could regale everyone with humorous stories without making eye contact. My stories are often wildly exaggerated, ask Jenna, but no one was stopping me under the party tent. I remember one guy in particular laughing heartily as I told a story about barely escaping a rabid raccoon (*only a little hyperbole there*). He was at the end of the table next to Martin, and seemed to be an old college buddy. I liked his sense of humor immediately. He found me funny, ipso facto, great sense of humor, however, I was a little wary of his plaid shirt.

Apparently this guy asked Martin about me, to which Martin replied something along the lines of:

Don’t get involved with her unless you want your heart-broken.

Nice. Thanks Martin.

Fast forward to fall 2007. I was helping out at the Cornell University Dairy Sale, and I noticed the same guy from Ingrid’s party was there. I went over to say hi, and sit with him for a bit. Since I make everything into a game, I asked him if he wanted to make wagers on the auction price of each cow. He obliged me. He also lost. No real surprise here. Because Mike is a true romantic, he still has the sale catalog from that day with our score tallies written in it. He’s either sentimental, or he’s a hoarder. I prefer the former (and now a farmer- cue drums).

I told Mike he should come to the after-sale party, and he said he might.

Hey, should I have your number?

Asked like a true player. And I gave it to him. Of course.

Mike never came to the party that night, but he did go to Jenna and Martin’s wedding in the summer of 2008. I briefly recall spending a little time with him towards the end of the night…and might have given him a kiss good-bye (on the cheek) when I headed home. I think Mike caught the garter that night…so he might have been a little preoccupied.

In the fall of 2008, I was a little more involved with the Cornell Dairy sale, so there was no time for wagers. I did ask Mike to come out to dinner and games with us and a few other people after the sale. He accepted my invitation. I asked him to call me when he got home safely.

His call and subsequent texts went unanswered. At the time, I was a flutter of energy, flirtation, and non-commitment. I was in my senior year of college and heading to Nashville to teach in an inner-city high school after graduation. I had no time for relationships or good guys like Mike.

Mike persisted through my ice queen treatment with sweet “Hey, thinking of you” texts, that I would respond to if I was lonely or sad after I moved to Nashville. One text scared me with its honesty:

Caton, I think you are the only girl I could ever love.

We were over 900 miles apart, and I just wasn’t ready to be the type of girl Mike deserved. He continued to pursue me through mailed notes (with his favorite mint chocolate chip gum) and flowers delivered to my doorstep. I responded with a terse text, “Thanks!” I didn’t want to lead him on anymore than I already had. I stopped talking to him completely until we reunited in August, 2013.

I told you our love story is a long one. Wait for the “reunited” blog in the next post.





I love making lists.

I always use the first bathroom stall because I read somewhere that it’s the cleanest.

I really despise matching socks and usually just grab two unmatched socks and put them on.

I read magazines from the back cover to the front cover.

I am a master at Disney trivia.

I used to be good at spelling, now I’m atrocious. (I wanted to spell the word atrocious wrong…but that would be cheesy).

I hate washing silverware (more than just watching dishes).

I talk about characters in books like they’re my friends.

I love fuzzy socks (and they are easy to match).

Late at night when I’m alone, I think of what would be the easiest, most convenient weapon to grab if I was getting burgled.

I rub my sock feet together (I also whip my hair back and forth).

I love cracklin’ oat bran, but it’s too damn expensive.

I never take the recommended dose of advil.

I own 14 journals. I’ve written in each, but never completed one.

I never clean my plate.

Sometimes when I run, I put in earbuds but don’t bring my ipod.

I’m really competitive in zumba.

When I paint my nails, I feel like I’ve accomplished something.

I measure my intelligence based on how many questions I get correct on Jeopardy (and everyone else’s).

I make up words to every song I hear on the radio (I’m terrible at remembering lyrics).

If I had a superhuman power it would be to know the lyrics to every song.

I only get pedicures at places where they give free wine.

Kisses on the nape of my neck and ears give me goosebumps.

I am never prepared for the weather.

I rarely cry in real life but find it hard to sit through an episode of wife swap with dry eyes.

I am not a snacker.

Sometimes I tell the truth.

Pictures of Dallas and other things maybe

I’m at a conference in Atlanta.

Alone. Kind of. Except Elly is here.

So, I bought a bottle of chardonnay to accompany me.

Here are some picture, since it’s Monday.




Recently I travelled to Manchester Tennessee with four of my closest friends. Why would we travel to such a remote destination as Manchester?

Bonnarooooooooooooo!! (of course)

For those of you who are unaware, Bonnaroo is an epic music and arts festival that takes place on a 750 acre farm in the middle of nowhere (I know because I walked all 750 acres).

Thursday morning we rose bright and early to make the hour drive. We thought we were prepared with our food and our tent and our sunscreen. Thought being the operative word.

When we pulled in to our site after two hours of waiting in a dusty trail of road rangers and station wagons we found that our sun gazebo was in fact nothing more than a wind protector (to go around our now noticeably absent gazebo).

The hot sun beat down on our dirty, sweating bodies as we sat, unprotected in the relentless sun. We finally fashioned a haphazard shade from that useless wind panel and collapsed underneath it. Dirty, exhausted and sweaty (the temperature remained in the mid 90s for the entire weekend).

That afternoon we made our way to Bonnaroo Center. Here there are several large and small stages to accommodate the performances. We made the trek to and from the center a few times each day to catch our favorite artists. Our campsite was the farthest possible distance from the center, and we spent much of our two mile walk discussing the similarities of our condition to the trail of tears or a civil war march. (we knew we were better off, but still…)

Once we arrived at the center we were immediately enveloped in dust and music. Some of you might wonder why we would endure such trials for music that you can listen to in the comfort of your air conditioned homes.

It’s for the experience dude.

There’s something about seeing The Black Keys drummer sweat on stage and Lil Wayne shake his dreads that is impossible to replicate through the dead speakers of your headphones. The crowd, the blaze, the dust, it’s unparalled.

The music comes to life in such a different way at Bonnaroo. All of your senses are stimulated. You can even taste the music.

It tastes a lot like dust and sweat, but it’s totally worth it.

The performances I got to experience were:

  1. Florence and the Machine
  2. Matt and Kim
  3. Neon Trees
  4. Lil Wayne
  5. Wiz Khalifa
  6. My Morning Jacket
  7. Arcade Fire
  8. The Black Keys
  9. Eminmen

10. Alison Krausse

I haven’t decided whether I’ll go back again next year. I’m considering it if for nothing else than to get another delicious black bean quesadilla (to die for) and strawberry lemonade.

At first, I did not know it was your diary. I thought it was a very sad, handwritten book.

Bridesmaids!!! Let’s face it, anything with Kristen Wiig in it, I’m going to watch. She is hilarious. Every performance on SNL from Gilly to the Target Lady has me rolling! I pretty much want to be her. I’ll be honest, when I saw she was doing a feature film, I was like, is this another MacGruber (please God no), but to be honest, I was pleasantly surprised.

I met my good friend and coworker Rebekah and roommate Stacey at Chili’s for happy hour specials before the movie (I feel like such an adult- please say that with an emphasis on the “ad” for good measure). Our waiter was especially tall, and when he made a move on me by sprinkling some salt on my napkin so my drink didn’t stick to it (if that doesn’t say I want you, I don’t know what does), I confessed my distaste for tall men. We fell into this very animated conversation about how I have an aversion to guys who are above 5’10 or so because they make me feel beneath them, physically and emotionally. I just want to be equal, in everything. I also feel like maneuvering the height difference in the bedroom could be challenging. The girls heartily disagreed with me, but they both love tall men, so they’re biased.

After great conversation and mediocre drinks, we made our way to the movie theater.

The film had some elements similar to The Hangover, like the gross graphic humor (food poisoning scene was a little unnecessary) and token funny chubby character, but the similarities end there. Sidenote: I want the comic relief character for a movie to be really attractive and just, really gross. Is that too much to ask? I’m over the fat, unattractive actors/actresses always getting cast for the “laugh at their lack of social couth” roles.

Anyways, this movie is not the typical, “girl gets jealous of her friend who is getting married because she wants to get married too,” rather with a slight twist, the movie focuses on the realities of wedding stress.  The maid of honor (Wiig) faces financial hardship, and she has a difficult time affording all of the additional wedding expenses. Because of her money issues, it is especially infuriating to her character that “Helen” (one of the other bridesmaids) can sweep the bride off to Paris and buy a couture bridesmaids dress without hesitation.

Throughout the wedding process, Wiig begins to unravel until she hits rock bottom. In one scene, Melissa McCarthy’s character consoles Wiig.

I don’t associate with people who blame the world for their problems. You are your problem. You are also your solution.

The scene was so surprisingly sweet, that I couldn’t help but cry. Everyone needs friends like that. The ones who will tell it to you straight no matter how hard life gets. I’m lucky to have several friends like that!

I also appreciate friends who have memorable conversations like this one (from the film) often under the influence of alcohol:

What kind of name is Stove anyways? Are you a kitchen appliance?

No, my name is Steven, and I’m a man.

You’re a flight attendant.

Overall, I give Bridesmaids a 7. Not quite up to my comedic standards and Wiig was rather unbelievable in the romantic role, but the strong message and realistic dialogue made up for it.