Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Summer 2016 Garden Planted

So I got the rest of my garden in this weekend.

I have drastically (at least this year) cut back the among of space I am growing in.  This for two reasons.  The first is practicality:  With this space (the long strip in back behind the house) I can more easily manage it for weeds and care.  The second is financial:  I can easily water this strip (and with a little creative arrangement, catch my citrus trees as well) in one fell swoop instead of having to water multiple places.

What did I plant?  Beans.  Lots and lots of beans.  Some peppers (three kinds).  Okra. Corn (every year with the corn, even if I have not yet hit on the combination that will grow for me).  Some lettuce  some hot weather greens.  And Black Eyed Peas (which have already sprouted).

It is certainly not the biggest garden I have grown.  And (if pressed) I will confess I have limited anticipation of a truly successful harvest.  But this is an experimental garden in a number of ways.  The soil has been greatly overlain with the outcome of the rabbits cages (broken down wood pellets, hay, and rabbit poop) and I have more to add.  The area means that I can daily control for weeds and growth. It is exposed to direct sun for most of the growing day.  And the watering is as about as controlled as I can get it this point (barring an automatic sprinkler and drip sprinkler heads).

So I am hopeful, in nothing else perhaps that I am starting to work a little more towards a sustainable garden that I can manage.  If I can get to the starting point here, I can more intensely manage.

I hope, anyway.  If not, hope springs eternal.  And fall is not too far away.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On Recent Economic Turmoil

I long ago gave up any pretensions to predicting anything.  I have been through my own set of "The Sky Is Falling" scenarios which have seldom manifested themselves in anything other than my mind.  As a result of this hard won experience, I have been less inclined to give my thoughts on any such matters (or really, much of anything at all any more), content to watch and listen and quietly nod as other opine.

And neither am I an economist.  I sat through Micro and Macro economics and to be honest, all I really learned is 1)  what elastic and inelastic are; and 2)  The the modern economy is a very fragile thing, a thousand connections built in such a way that potentially a failure in one are will ultimately break the entire mechanism.

As a result of all of this, I do not really understand the financial shenanigans that have erupted following the Brexit vote.  I do grasp the fact that markets do not like uncertainty and there is plenty of that right now, but the loss of value - around the world - escapes me.

But I do get the fact that there are connections and implications.  I do not necessarily understand what is causing this, but I do understand the results of it - and none of them work out well for us in the end.

More practically for myself, market turmoil means less products from my company are being sold.  If less products are being sold, that means that that eventually our revenue stream falls.  At best it means that we will have a minimal bonus or maybe no bonus at all; at worst it means that a number of  us will be looking for jobs in an environment where a lot of people will be.

All of sudden everything takes on a new cast.  At work, I begin to carefully watch the activities of those around me, looking for signs that decisions are being made or signs are being given off about cut backs (having been laid off once, I am especially sensitive to anything that looks like management is tightening its belt - and usually that includes lay offs); at home, I begin to question expenditures - including my own - in the context of "Do we really need it?, of looking more closely within to fill the time instead of to without.

It is not that I have a sense of immediate financial doom; I have long ago given up on that.  What I am left with is that rather omnipresent sense of dread that follows one around everywhere, the sense that we are constantly living on a precipice.

And that one day we - or at least I - will go over.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Little Gomez Adams Monday

You know, we do not do humor a lot here at The FortyFive.  A friend of mine sent this to me and I greatly enjoyed it.  So instead of everything that is undoubtedly going on during a Monday, both the  usual items as well as the continued activities from the Brexit, enjoy this instead.  RIP, Raul Julia

Friday, June 24, 2016

Depth of Soul

There are veins that run within our souls,
veins that if we follow them lead to either
the very depths of thought
or the doors of despair.

It takes strength to go deep:
to look inside a soul and see the failures,
the weaknesses, to be reminded
of every single thing that has ever gone

To ponder such things; to think on them.
To wrap our hands into them and weave them,
warp and woof,
into a useful tapestry of our lives.
This is the challenge of depth.

Any fool can look into the mirror of the soul,
sigh, and walk away.
But only a person of depth can look into such a mirror,
sigh - and then continue to stare until the blurry
becomes clear.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

On Depth

One thing that reflecting this week has brought to my attention is that I lack depth.

I lack of depth of knowledge - about my career, about my family, about my varying hobbies, even about God.

Oh, I have a great deal of knowledge, some of it rather detailed.  I study a lot of things.  I have a lot of experience.  But what I find is that I missing the depth that it would feel like such study and experience should bring.

Depth is frightening to me, of course.  Depth indicates that one is going to take a period of time - years, in most cases - to really come to understand a subject.  In some cases, it means sacrificing new information in exchange for concentrating on the things that are currently in one's life.

Perhaps make my Rule of Five started this process. For the first time in perhaps a long while - maybe ever - I have a road map of the sorts of things that I want to spend the rest of my life working on.  It is right there: the subject, and by extension the knowledge about the subject.

Take my career, for example.  I have done it over 18 years now.  But do I really know what I should know about it?  Or do I too often skate around the fringes, trying not to burden myself too much with knowing about something that I perceive as not being that relevant to my life?  (Except, of course, it pays for everything).

Depth is costly.  Depth means that investment - perhaps of money, most certainly of time - needs to made.  It is road of choices, of moving beyond the off ramps because the thing has not been pursued to its limit.

Rhetorical question:  What would it look like if I took the items on my Rule of Five and subjected them to a depth test, a listing of what I really needed to know to exhaust the issue, to become an expert?  Not for the sake of being recognized as such of course, but to truly come to a knowledge of these things?

I know the answer, of course.  Investment of time.  Investment of energy.  A willingness and a commitment to persevere until the knowledge is obtained, the expertise achieved.

Rhetorical question two:  And what would such a thing feel like, to truly know instead of knowing around the fringes?

Rhetorical question three;  If insane is defined as doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different outcome, why do I choose to pursue insanity?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Open Hand

Last night at Iai we did open hand.

Open hand is the equivalent in our art of karate (which, literally, means "Empty Hand") and is the extension of our art into the realm of hand to hand combat.  The belief of our Soke is that if one knows the sword, one will know all other weapons.

So last night was open hand.

Open hand is largely blocks and punches and falls and locks.  Lots of locks:  ankle locks,wrist locks, arm locks.  Falls and recoveries.  Up and down,

As you can imagine, I am a bit sore.

It is good.  I love the ebb and flow of open hand.  Frankly (and perhaps oddly), I love being taken down for the sheer sake of learning.  I especially love being hip thrown - there is something above being flipped over onto a mat that is just mesmerizing to me, even after so many years.

It is a mental challenge for me of course.  Prior to 2009 I had never really performed martial arts and so the concept of engaging someone in combat is always a little difficult for me.  I worry about injuring others unknowingly or accidentally.  But this is part of training as well, not just learning to trust others but to trust yourself and to learn control.

When this publishes, I will probably be creaking out of bed in the morning and muttering about sore muscles.

I foresee a great deal of stretching in my immediate future.

But life is very good.  Martial arts has made a very positive impact on my life.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Being Glad To Be Small

There are days like today when I am glad I am small.

I have the sense that the world is moving quickly to a conclusion that does not work out well for anyone.  There seem to be so many places where one small thing - one thing - need only go slightly wrong and I fear the world as we know it begins to ignite.

On days such as these it is a relief to be small and know the problems of the world are not mine to solve - or worry on.

Arguably it is a humble life - and probably will be for the rest of it, to be honest.  In mapping out my Rule of Five for my life, I realized that I have mapped out everything I pretty much want to work on for the next 30 years that is realistic for me to do.  Remarkably, most of them are doable right now, just where I live. We could stay here and I could still make most of them work.

Our needs, beyond living, are few.  My wants are few as well - I have the "bigger ticket" item like I suppose most of us do, but mine are within the realm of reaching with a little economy and patience.  Beyond those, there is not much to want - except more of the time to do them and less overhead to pay for.

In such days, to be big - to be noticeable - is to be responsible for things beyond one's control.  It is to be higher up on the radar of others, to be one of the first to be focused on instead of one of the last.

Maybe tomorrow will ignite.  I cannot fully know.  But now I - for perhaps the first time, or at least certainly for the first time in a while - get that where I am right now makes my life both possible and attainable.

That is not a bad place to be.