Friday, May 30, 2008

McDonald's and Vienna

I've been a bit morose lately (and the chorus says, when is he ever really not morose) - the economy has been much on my mind lately. Fuel prices have been the highest thought - I happen to have gas receipts going back to February 2 of this year, when I paid $3.06 a gallon. I just saw tonight that the "cheap" gas in town is $4.16. This now means that my daily commute is running me $16.00 a day, or $80.00 a week, or $320.00 a month.

The bad part is, I've taken just enough economics to know that any economy is actually a fairly fragile thing, based on feeling as much as fact - and generally limited to the least input. Right now, that input is fuel. The global economy, in some form or fashion, is built on fuel - from "Just In Time" manufacturing to the fact that virtually every product I buy, whether food or oil or books, is shipped from somewhere else. Fuel prices will affect everything - including, eventually, employment.

So to assist The Ravishing Mrs. TB tonight (as she was having an in-home spa party), I took Na Clann out to dinner tonight - McDonald's, a treat. As we sat outside in the play area, the girls running around, I was overlooking one of the main roads into town watching the cars go east and west as I picked through the remains of dinner. It suddenly hit me, in the slowly setting sun, that given all factors being the same, this was a thing and vision that was doomed to perish - and the system which built it as well. And not in the time frame of my life, but much, much sooner. It reminded me of being in Vienna in July of 1914, just prior to the start of World War I, when the feeling was the 800 year old Hapsburg Empire would last forever - that the civilized and elegant life that Vienna represented at the time would go on forever, unassailed by the world outside.

The image haunts me ever now, as I sit down to write about it. What does one do at the end of the world - or at least the world you knew?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Good News/Bad News

A bad news and good news day.

The bad news? My father called - apparently one of the three colonies we bought this spring is failing. They had brood in when I checked them two weeks ago, but apparently the queen failed after that. We're going to try to transfer the remaining brood and frames to one of the stronger hives, in hopes that we can strengthen the one and save the current brood. We'll see how it goes.

The good news? I got to work with my garden tonight, working in steer manure for finishing planting of beans and corn. It makes me happy because I have really worked hard on this soil, enriching it, rotating it, taking care of it. It is dark brown, rich, crumbly - just the way a soil should be. It bothered me last year when we had the house up on the market that I might have to leave the soil, because it was so good. This year, I once again get the pleasure of working with it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fallen Again

The problem is me.

I was reminded of this this weekend, by once again managing to fall (rather handily) into another gray area. The nature of it is not important - because, as I discovered as I was feeling (rightly) condemned by my sin, it really doesn't matter what the temptation is, it is I that am the one that goes for it, time after time.

It brought to mind the fact that truly, I am never really free of my sin nature. Redeemed yes; freed from the bondage of sin indeed; but still the flesh is ever with me, ever ready to yield at the drop of a temptation.

The key - or at least the key for me - is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, which says "Hold fast what is good, abstain from every form of evil". It is the second verse that I need to listen to and practice more: to abstain from every form of evil. Not to dance around it, not to dip my toe in it, not to "Go only this far and no more". It is not to start in the beginning.

I have never regretted the drink I never had, the lust I never indulged, the money I never coveted, the food I never overate on. Not once.

Sunday, May 25, 2008


A very confused - and random week, loaded with things of portent and activity:

- First of all, the Ravishing Mrs. TB and myself celebrated 15 years of marriage this Thursday. It truly doesn't seem like it has been that long. Certainly of itself, it is a matter of some reflection, if for no other reason it seems that sometimes it is the exception rather than the rule. We celebrated by having dinner by ourselves (no children) at a brew pub, eating like adults and not having to fight to get anyone to eat anything.

- I have had more discussions at work (about leaving work), as well as some guidance in the idea of leadership. Leaders have to lead actively, not passively. I don't think I got that before.

- Nighean bhan and I finished threshing out all of our barley and the bulk of our wheat this week. I have one more cutting to do, then we can begin the summer garden in earnest.

- We traveled to the Ranch today to visit parents - surprisingly, it was a cloudy and rainy day for Memorial Day weekend (.8" of rain when we left). I went to peek into the bees - sure enough, the overwintered hive is putting honey into the supers. Honey for sure this fall!

- Finally, I filled up my tank with under $4.00 gas, probably for the last time. This one is bothering me particularly, as a general indicator of the economy to come. It now costs me $16.00 a day to commute to work. Long term, this is not tenable.

- (Okay, I lied) I also started giving some thought to goals, short term and long term. The short term ones were easy - I finally made myself focus on 10 to accomplish this year (I just have to let the rest go until next year). The long term ones were much harder, as they were much more general. It's kind of a difficult thing: I need to create these goals, yet given the current state of the world, it is difficult to create goals which may have no basis in reality.

And that, as they say, was the week that was...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Check in and a Haiku

Sorry I haven't posted regularly - been a bit busy. I will post more this weekend, as it is the holiday.

As a partially downpayment, please accept this haiku:

Reflecting window,
A light next door is drowned out
By the full white moon.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Bee Update

Yesterday we went up to the Ranch - to visit the bees, among other things. At the least, I was hoping that I at least no colony had died.

I got that - and more.

Of the three colonies we put in new, they were all in a state of growth - not all the same, but in every one there was sealed brood, emerging brood, larvae and eggs. In one we saw the queen, in the other two not (which, as a subtext, means I'll have to try and mark queens next year just to pick them out. They're easy enough to see when they're in the cage, but harder when they're mixed in with 10,000 other bees.

The real surprise was the overwintered colony. When last I saw them (almost a month to the day), both the top and bottom deeps were about 30-40% occupied (3-4 frames out of 10). When I opened them up this time, every frame on the top was completed filled with honey and loaded with bees - in fact, I don't know if we could have gone much longer before we had a swarming issue (in point of fact, this means the hive is probably close to it's high point of 60,000 bees). They were relatively mild, only getting a little cranky when I had to lift the hives up to remove the entrance reducer. In confidence of a bumper crop (it is still green there, and wildflowers probably have another month to go), we put not one but two supers in place.

It looks honey for sure this year!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Whole Seed

I was struck this week, as I started to thresh my barley, by the fact that each individual barley berry (seed) I was knocking out would provide a whole plant by itself, given water, sun, and soil. The second thing that struck me is that the barley has to be completely destroyed.

The only way for the barley to produce the next crop is for it to completely die, to be transformed from a seed into a plant which is both useful and reproduces, is for it itself to completely lose what it is - a seed - and metamorphose into something else that is different indeed.

Do I apply this to my own life? Do I seek to completely commit myself - to die to myself, my wants, my desires - so I can be something that gives life to others?

"I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." - John 12:24

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Barley Harvest

Last night was the Barley harvest. I have always been concerned about when to start it - I want to get the maximum amount, and not cut it too soon - yet it holds up valuable gardening space (although I believe I've finally started to figure out seasonally what to put where). The nice thing about this barley is that it turns black when it is ready to be harvested. That makes it pretty easy - even for me.

The other interesting things is that some volunteer wheat had crept in. I'm not one for ever wasting where I do not have too, so I had to cut around and through the wheat as well.

There is something calming about harvesting any grain: cutting it off near the stalk, hearing and feeling the semi dry or dry stalks as they come off into your hand, anticipating the final grain in your hand after all is done. It is, of course, easier if there is nothing to cut around - just go from right to left, grabbing the stalks in your left hand and cutting with your right, pulling them up, and then stacking them; then, going back for more. The cool evening breeze, the gradually reddening of the sun as it goes down, the rustle of the other barley and the wheat yet to be cut.

It doesn't get much better than that.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Another reminder today that I should really think about finding another job.

Yesterday, I had a dental and medical appointment, so I didn't go into the office - instead, between appointments and after, I worked on documents, checked my e-mails and responded, and telconned in. I felt pretty good, one of those "Ready to plan and take on the world" kind of days. The same was true today as I left late to have blood drawn: I was ready to go in, make a difference, and accomplish something.

I crawled home at 7:30 physically and mentally exhausted. After doing other things in the day, I got sucked into an emergency for someone else which took me an hour to resolve - then caught up on the items from the day before yesterday that I didn't discuss with my boss. Even now, there is a pile of work on my desk just waiting to ambush me tomorrow.

The funny - or frustrating - thing is that there is no sense of purpose or success to this work. If we complete it, more will come right after it. In a client based business, one never sees the completion - you're already on to the next project, and in my business, we're hardly doing things that truly make an impact.

If I feel this way day after day when I come home, something is just not right.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

An Iron Will

This week I got a book that is one of those that I think I can say will change my life. The book: An Iron Will by Orison Swett Marden. It was originally published in 1901, and so may suffer from the accusation that it is "hokey".

It is a book about developing the power of the will, harnessing it to achieve as much as you can. He uses short paragraph length biographies about how individuals who were in far more dire circumstances than I have ever been, and how they used their willpower to overcome their difficulties and succeed.

I read a similar quote this week from author and consulting Brian Klemmer: "The energy used to power a light bulb and a laser are the same. The difference is how they are focused."

Which is part of Marden's point: to use your will effectively, it needs to be focused on whatever you want to achieve - which has always been part of my difficulty, as I have problems both deciding what I want to focus on (afraid by making a decision I will lose the power of choice, which is true, but may open up other vistas) and then sticking to it.

But, says my mind, we've passed 40 now, so the time to start deciding and focusing is now - before time runs out....

Buy the book. It's short enough to read every day, yet profound enough to mentally chew on for a while afterwards.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


I had breakfast with He Who Must Not Be Named (HWMNBN). It was of course a good time - being with HWMNBN always is - but a strangely refreshing in a way I had not anticipated.

HWMNBN's brother is dying - literally within the next few days. Yet HWMNBN is not at all dismayed with this - He is resting his whole weight on the promises of God. I was privileged to listen to a phone conversation between him and his aunt. He said that they were looking at it as a new birth - his arrival into heaven - and that he was jealous, as his brother was going to get to ride the perfect carbon fiber bike before him. He said that when his brother moved on, he was at such peace he didn't feel he would cry - that he knew where he his brother would be, and that it would truly be with the Lord.

It was privilege to hear this conversation - indeed, to be involved with this situation at all. HWMNBN's faith was so vivid and real at that moment, that I was put to shame. I need to have faith like that.

Pray for HWMNBN's family - even with his faith, it will undoubtedly still be hard. And pray for all those who have loved one dying, that they might have the knowledge and peace of Christ in their hearts.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


A special round of congratulations goes out tonight to Bogha Frois and L'Acadien, who got married tonight! A long time coming, and a very happy thing indeed!

"Marriages are all happy - It's having breakfast together that causes all the trouble." - Irish Proverb