Wednesday, March 31, 2021

TB The Elder And Mom: A Moving And Insurance Update

 This last Sunday we (I say we - it was really my sister and my brother in law) moved my mother into the same facility as my father.   This was where we had been hoping to end up the whole time, it just took us almost two months (and multiple hospital visit to get there).

My mother, from what my sister has related, is doing well with it.  She has a roommate who seems as active (and talkative) as she is, so we have every reason to hope that things will work out well.

My father has been struggling a bit more.

He had been much more vocal when we had seen him and talked to him about leaving and going "home".  We explained that it was really better if he stayed here because there were people around.

It is interesting - he likes the place well enough ("The people are nice", he says) but he complained multiple times about having nothing to do except sit in his room and watch television.  We have encouraged him (multiple times) to get out and do some activities or even just sit out with other people, but he has remained resistant.  He has said (again, repeatedly) he would prefer to be back home at The Ranch where people would visit him. We have to remind him that no, there were even less people around there.  Here is better.

It seems to have reached a pitch last Friday when we got a call from the Director, letting us know that he had tried to leave the facility twice for different locations (once his [deceased] brother's house, once the fire station).  I suspect if you get too many of those, you may get asked to consider "other options".

But we are hopeful that my mother being there will help.  She even told him on Sunday that he needed to stay there to help her.

Insurance update:  After multiple attempts to get an answer, we have had to resort to hiring someone to write a letter to the insurance company with the specific language to get them to fully pay out the policy, or rather "do what you said you would do".   The insurance company apparently now knows that they potentially should 100% cover this and so has been asking their questions and responding in such a way as to avoid getting the answer that would commit them to actually having to pay out the policy - to the point they will no longer talk to my sister about it.   Frankly, the whole thing just reinforces every bad impression of insurance companies I have.

On the whole, things seem (finally) to be moving consistently in the correct direction.  As always, thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

A Few Words From...Tides Of War

Last week, overtaken by a nostalgia for The Peloponnesian War (who is not, from time to time), I re-picked up Steven Pressfield's Tides of War, which is a fictional history of the war as seen through the life of the Athenian Alcibiades.  Pressfield, if you have not read him, is an amazing author - his Gates of Fire, which is a fictional account of the Battle of Thermopylae, may be the best historical fiction I have ever read.

In re-reading him, I was re-confronted with a number of quotes, really about leadership and the state.  They are presented in no particular order - given the last time I read the book (2-3 years ago) and the current state of the world, they seem even more poignant in some cases.

"Men hate nothing worse than that mirror held before them whose reflection displays their own failure to prove worthy of themselves."

"The man of the land," Grandfather rejoined, "is in the business of peace, he of the city in the service of war."

"A commander's role is to model arete, excellence, before his men.  One need not thrash them to greatness; only hold it out before them.  They will be compelled by their own nature to emulate it."

"Man's predicament is that he dwells as the intersection of Necessity and free will."

"Always assign a man more than he believes himself capable of.  Make him rise to the occasion.  In this way you compel him to discover fresh resources, both in himself and others of his command, thus enlarging the capacity of each, while binding all beneath the exigencies of risk and glory."

"As we seek to make our enemies own their defeat at our hands, so we must make our friends own their victories. The less you give a man, and have him succeed, the more he draws his achievement to his heart.  Remember we may elevate the (Athenian) fleet in two ways only.  By acquiring better men or making those we have better.  Even were the former practicable, I would disdain it, for  a hired man may hire out to another master but a man who makes himself master stays loyal forever."

"The prophet perceive truth, Pericles, but the politician brings it into manifestation, for his countrymen and often in the face of their bitter opposition."

"How lead free men?  Only by this means:  the summoning of each to his nobility."

Monday, March 29, 2021

Upgrading Irrigation?

One of the ideas I am seriously considering at this point is upgrading our irrigation here at New Home.

Our subdivision (built circa mid 1990's) has decent sized lots for the time period (not like those ridiculous "zero clearance" homes they are building now, where one is - literally - cheek in jowl with one's neighbor).  About 50% of the homes have in-ground sprinkler systems and 50% do not, leading me to believe this was an option but not a feature (currently all new homes are built with at least a front yard watering system; the backyard is left up to the buyer).

As a result, any and all watering is by hand or by moving a sprinkler hither and yon.  It leads to rather inconsistent results as well, both in watering and in the fact of what survives from year to year.

This would be the year to do it - thanks to Snowpacalypse 2021 the yard is mostly gone at this point (whatever grass we had planted, it apparently does not do well with a long stretch of freezing temperatures) so any digging that would be done would be inconsequential in the long run.  

It is an investment, of course - but one that would actually be worth something when we sell the home.  It would also lend itself to a larger remodel of the yard, which it appears is pretty needed and would serve to increase the overall home value (as well as, hopefully, some additional garden beds).

(I know, I know - I write of the end of the world and yet I am speaking of investing in a home improvement.  Plan for the worst, hope for the best).

It would be money, of course (sprinklers are something I could do in two months or pay someone two days to do - but perhaps money well invested, both in terms of the ultimate investment in home as well as in month water bills (which could be made much more regular in the summer, which here lasts at least 6 months).  

The fact I am thinking about this at all, given the nature of the world, makes me chuckle a bit - but looking at an essentially dead lawn which, if not cared for and improved, which just break apart and start to degrade with the heavy rains we get here, convinces me I will need to do something.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Your Society Is Doomed

Ayn Rand is an author I came late too in life - I first read Atlas Shrugged only about 13 years ago, and was shocked to find how much it resonated with met (although to be fair, I do not know that if I had read it 10 years earlier I would have understood it or had the patience for it).  Her fiction is as logical as it is frightening; you can literally see the events playing out from the facts that she presented.

The part I always found most amazing about the fictional account she wrote - really, the most frightening- was that it all seemed very real, like it could happen in real life.  Now, looking at events, it seems that we may be almost there.

When a society reaches the points that she lists above - when society reaches the point where the expectation is that individuals will sacrifice their industry and their creativity for the good of the society - when government has become nothing more than an enabler of itself in the name of the people -one knows that sooner or later, that society is indeed over.

It would be un-notice at first, perhaps:  individuals who could do more in the "work world" but do not, instead spending their energy and creativity on the side; people who quietly step aside when the plate is passed or volunteers are sought to help alleviate societal ills; people of skill and effort who quietly disappear from the major operations of society.  The sort of thing that is not noticed, until suddenly things are not working quite as well, or there are not as many goods and services available, or the great creative and business talents of the age have all seemingly disappeared and the remaining culture is homogenized.

We seem so very, very close to this.

Sadly that I am aware of, there no "Galt's Gulch", no place where the skilled and independent and makers can flee to - or perhaps if there is, I do not rate.  It seems more likely that such people - more of us out there than many believe, perhaps - will move away if we can or if we cannot, slowly sink into the pavement and soil, being outwardly as  unremarkable and non-enthusiastic as the rest of the society around us, reserving our real callings and gifts for our internal lives or a very small group around us.

Much like in Atlas Shrugged, if it comes to that such people will be missed and called for.  And, like in Atlas Shrugged, they will not be found.


Thursday, March 25, 2021

When One No Longer Believes In The State

 At what point does one lose one's belief in the existence of one's state?

Is it something like a bad first date, when in the midst of the salad course you realize that this is really going nowhere but now, having ordered, you are committed to the entire meal? ("Really?  Collecting mold and fungi.  How interesting..."<signals waiter for another drink>).

Or is it more like the moment when twenty years into the career or marriage, you realize that things are going nowhere at this point and more of the same is not going to solve anything? ("No, really it is not you.  It is me.").

The moment comes for all states at some point:  The Roman Empire, The Hapsburg Empire, Somalia, Russia/The Soviet Union/The Commonwealth of Independent States.  Czechoslovakia.  Yugoslavia.  Our 19th and 20th century constructs of states as immovable items that are fixed in size and territory is somewhat of a historical aberration.  In reality, borders and control have been much more fluid in large parts of history than what we (or really, state governments) like to believe.

But a moment comes, a moment when suddenly "the state" is no longer the thing that you thought it was.

I suppose for me, this has been building for some time.  But I have effectively reached the point that while I live "here" and am a citizen of "here" (and as such, will continue to pay may taxes and obey the laws at the moment), my heart and loyalty are no longer "here".  

The state could continue to exist.  Or completely break apart.  And I would not care either way, really.

Part of the benefit of the state - beyond a shared identity - is that there are benefits:  economic, social, philosophical, rights.  When those benefits fail to outweigh the issues and pains of living in the state, the reason for the state begins to disappear.

If I no longer really share an identity with my fellow "citizens" (which I really do not in a lot of meaningful ways), if I no longer benefit from my financial inputs (that stimulus package and the proposed infrastructure package will have to be paid for by someone and with acurrency that is not in the process of debasing), when my ability to believe things begins to be questioned and looked down upon, and when the government begins to have doubts about me because I have questions about them and their philosophy and beliefs, then I am not really reaping benefits from the state.

At that point, what is this state really for?  And why should it continue to exist?

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

A Failure Of Foreign Policy

 While not (in general) a purveyor of politics on this site, I do have more than a slight passing interest in International Affairs.  Call it a holdover from a Minor in International Relations (which has done precisely nothing for my life) or that lingering nostalgia of applying - and failing - the Foreign Service hiring process, I still maintain a moderately keen interest in the goings on of the world "out there".

Suffice it to say, this last week the last week has been a rather large, fat foreign policy failure for the country I currently reside in.  Somehow in the period of a week the current administration managed to blatantly insult a sitting head of state (Russia) and then got played in return, initiated the first round of talks with another country (China) starting with preceding the meeting (within hours) by sanctioning persons in the government just prior to having the meeting and then having a rather public argument, and starting to create questions about an agreement put in place by the precious administration (Afghanistan).  Add to this another round of attacks abroad (Syria), and it was a pretty cringeworthy performance for an administration, no matter Red or Blue.

Let us be clear:  I do not particularly agree with any of the countries mentioned above or the leadership.  But that is a separate issue from the performance of the leader of the country I live in.

In general in life, one does not begin a relationship by insulting your potential partners, questioning their motives (or outright calling them a "killer") unless one is either a) supremely confident in one's own cause; b) supremely confident in one's own power, or 3) a fool.  Insulting people first under the guise of "speaking truth to power" works only when those in power care to hear your opinions, value them, or are in a position where they have to listen to them (e.g. a domestic constituency).  For countries where this is not true, there is no need to pay attention to such foolishness.

And this is what it is, foolishness.  Make no mistake.  Were the situation reversed, a Red in for a Blue, we would non-stop here how things were being "badly mishandled", words were "culturally insensitive", and the "amateur attempts at diplomacy" derided.  Instead, tellingly, we hear nothing both silence.

I would like to believe it is the silence of embarrassment.  I fear it is the silence of agreement by people who should know better and by those that have willingly sacrificed everything on the altar of partisan policy.

However, the most alarming thing - at least for the policies of the country I currently live in - is the appearance it leaves with the rest of the world.  These are not the worlds and policies of a country secure in its foreign policy and view of the world.  These are the words of an administration that is weak, looking to prove itself "strong".  In real life, we would call this a bully, and what may even worse, a bully which apparently is spoiling for a fight.

In the current state of affairs, we apparently just name it "business as usual".

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Alpacalypse and Llamageddon

 (HT to Borepatch, who inspired this silliness.  In this midst of a world gone mad, we should at least have a hearty laugh once in a while.)

Monday, March 22, 2021

Keeping To Yourself

One of the best pieces of advice which I probably did not take until later in life (hopefully not too late) is "Keep to yourself" - or perhaps, :"Keep to yourself (and carefully chosen friends)."

We live in a world where the expectation is that we will be spreading ourselves all over the place, like quilts on a summer day for a picnic:   activities, social media, organizations, employment.  That this is something that we need to engage as part of a free, 21st Century society. That somehow this is "freeing".

To suggest that one does not want to be part of this great exposure is to commit a form of heresy.  There is something wrong with you. When someone asks about social media, try mentioning that you do not have accounts or you have not posted to them in several months or years - the looks you get will be amazed, surprised, and astounded.  When asked about the latest entertainment attractions - streaming, movies - mention you do not use them or go to them.  It is as if you have lost the ability to entertain yourself.

But I would argue these are merely surface indicators of greater intrusiveness.

More and more in my experience, participants in any group or conversation are somehow expected to "open up":  to share their thoughts and feelings, often with strangers; to somehow be "transparently honest and vulnerable" about things that many people scarcely discuss amongst their close family and friends, let alone a casual stranger.

I would guess some of this is fueled by the idea that we now have the freedom to say and express anything we want - and therefore we should.  The accompanying axiom is that if some feel the need to say and express everything, everyone should feel free to - or be "encouraged" to.

The rather sad accompanying reality of this, of course, is that freedom to share is not willingness to accept. To expose an opinion or thought which is not currently in vogue is to unleash the forces of  "polite distancing" or "wrong headed thinking".  And thus individuals are thrown into situations where they are suggested to, pleaded with, even almost bullied into communicating, only to then be thrown under the bus for said communication.

Do not make the mistake I am discussing something as mundane as politics or social issues here.  Anything - beliefs on agriculture, philosophy, religion, even hobbies - are open to this sort of push and pull, this sort of "I want to hear your thoughts" followed by "Those are terrible thoughts."

And thus, the realization that the advice "Keep to Yourself" is real form of wisdom.

There is nothing - not one thing - that requires me as an individual to express an opinion or a thought to anyone.  There can be some things that compel me to speak out, but those things are relatively few and far between. For the most part, I get to make a decision about whether or not I want to participate in a discussion or offer an opinion.  

Once upon a time, a thought or opinion or relationship that allowed the communication of such was considered to be a privilege, not an expected right.  Somewhere along the way we upended the expectation and now those that wish to live private lives of thought and action are at best considered selfish, at worst considered dangerous.

Of course, groups of people that think the same, discounting any other sort of opinion and demanding a single voice, are mobs.  And mobs, as history shows us, are dangerous.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Afternoon Hare


The Afternoon Hare
churns across the road and climbs,
evading my eyes.

(if you are having trouble, look to left of the Manzanita tree, right below the edge of the pine branches)

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Revolt Against The Modern World


(Hat Tip:  Glen Filthie)

Revolt is a sturdy word.  It implies action. It is not as ethereal as "disdain" or "ignore"; it implies active engagement.  It is the sort of thing that you would see in books from the 1950's and 1960's:  Revolt on Janus, Revolt On Mesa Gordo, that sort of thing.

Of course, revolt also implies a sort of short term of local event.  Long term revolts we call revolutions or civil wars or war of independence (depending on who wins, of course).  

There are plenty of things not to revolt against modernity, of course.  I like my morning coffee, and treasure the fact that virtually anything that is in the world can (within reason) get delivered to my door in a matter of days.  Electricity is useful too, as it having the availability of modern medicines and a way to get tomatoes if the plant does not bear them (as happens to me every year).

But  trinkets (and I would argue some of these are such, and others are simply conveniences not necessities) are not all there is to life.

There is a deadening of modernity, a splitting of the soul.  People crowd into urban environments ("human feedlots" as Hobo says), yet take the weekends to drive their cars out to the wilderness to "get into nature".  We have far more things, but far less humanity.  Too often our neighbors - at least in urban areas - are only known by the cars coming out of driveways and garages in the morning and going into them in the evening, while our friends and acquaintances live far away.  We deny the existence of numinous, yet then try to pour eternal meaning and value into things and systems that cannot bear them.

Modernity deadens instead of enlivens, bifurcates instead of unifies, and turns all things into the marketed to and the product:  any aspect of the person is now a potential source of power and profit for a government or corporation or anyone that feels they are not "heard".

So revolt.

A revolt can be a small thing:  Not using television.  Reading.  Making something with your hands.  Actually speaking with your neighbors.  Building a haven of nature in your urban world instead of leaving your urban world to inflict yourself on Nature (or even better, just moving to a more rural location).  

Even the simple act of failing to pay attention to one thing in the modern world that "demands" attention is an act of revolt.

Imagine.  A nation, a state, a world of revolutionaries, quietly going about building and living lives of meaning and significance and purpose instead of being a product or customer, of being a partner of the real Natural world instead of a consumer of Nature on their terms, of knowing the seasons and the chance of a good crop of garlic or the next handcraft product but not knowing (and frankly, not giving a damn) about what the powerful or glamourous say or think or demand that we listen to.

Long Live The Revolution.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Rainy Thursday Afternoon

It is a rainy afternoon as I write this.  Off in the distance, the cattle are over in the Upper Meadow eating through drizzle, having finished up the good hay and are now picking up everything else.

It is more green than brown now, more living than dead, as has undoubtedly happened every year I have come here although I do not remember it as such always - for many years (most of my childhood anyway), there was only "green" or "brown".  The subtleties of life renewing itself were lost on me.

When it rains, the clouds always hem us in here.  It is if the world has been reduced to the border of trees, while outside - "Here There Be Monsters".

New Home is not like this.  Even when the fog and clouds come, one always is aware that one is surrounded by a pulse of life around.  Always, there is traffic running in the background.  The bark of dogs, the sounds of people - there is never the sense that one can get away from the world; the world is too much with us there.

I am more than aware that in reality, even here the "world" is still out there.  I have been following the news, and from the view of someone that has tried to keep the world at arms' length for a while, it seems that we are rushing toward the Abyss as quickly as we are able - economically, domestically, internationally, religiously, culturally, in every fashion and and on every front.  

Yet all of that seems strangely remote here - indeed, if I were not connected to the InterWeb I would scarcely know that any of it was happening as I have dispensed with television long ago and the radio is, as often as not, just a ceaseless chorus of yammering and music I can scarcely recognize or listen to.

True, at this moment - or this one, or this one - fire could descend from the sky and kill us all or I could simply die from a natural condition.  But even then, I would know no different than I would if I would continue to look out the window and away from the world, watching the cows graze and the grass slowly turn to green.  Yet in this topsy-turvy world, I would be considered the fool for ignoring the world and "hiding" from it.

My response, of course, is that I see the world perfectly fine.  It is those who look everywhere else that can see nothing.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Read Hard, Read Well, Read Often

"For a long time also, we should read none save the best authors and such as are least likely to betray our trust in them, while our reading must be almost as thorough as if we were actually transcribing what we read.  Nor must we study it merely in parts, but must read through the whole work from cover to cover and then read it afresh, a precept which applies more especially to speeches, whose merits are often deliberately disguised." - Marcus Fabius Quintilianus (Quintilian), Institutio Oratia

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Brief Moment Of Gloom

One of the things I have tried to commit to in writing here is that I am honest about myself and where I am.  In a way, I am also relieved (although saddened as well) that my father will likely not read them:   one of the original reasons for doing this more intensely over the last years was as much writing for him as for myself (until all of you lovely people showed, up, of course).  But it also relieves a certain need for reticence on my part lest my father worry too much (I know that I can be gloomy and still pull out of it; I do not know that he always understood that).

In that spirit, yesterday I was hit by a wave of discouragement.

It started out innocently enough.  I have been working my way through my e-mails partially just to get it done and partially just because of the fact that I currently have not a great deal to do:  my projects are all effectively on hold awaiting decisions above my paygrade.  I attend a few meetings, take a few supplemental notes - and keep grinding away at my e-mails.

For some reason, it sent me down a rabbit hole of despair.

I am not really sure why.  Yes, it is about that time of year last year that I got re-assigned.  So for some unknown reason, I had to go through my e-mails to find that letter (yes, thankfully they are all organized now and readily available).  Which then sent me down the road of the other people I had known that had left the company, including my friend that I had to let go.  So of course I had to go run down that series of e-mails as well (thanks, again, for the wonderful organization).

Which, frankly, left me in a funk.

Yes, I can agree to the fact that the previous evening - for reasons unknown - I lay awake most of the night.  And yes, I know that without sleep, I rapidly degrade in functionality.  And yes, I am more than willing to acknowledge that the last month has been hard and the going and coming back and going and coming back is leaving me feeling as if I am a bit rudderless and neither "here" nor "there" no really "anywhere".

But at the same time, I keep looking at that stack of e-mails as it continues to dwindle and wonder "What happens after I am done with these and none of my projects restart?"

Yes, I know.  "What happens after I am done with these and all of my projects restart?" is just as likely a scenario, and then I will have more than I know what to do with (and a nicely organized in-box to boot).  But the feeling of being isolated on the fringes of activities, of quietly staying busy until the next round of busyness comes, and hoping that no-one starts to ask those sorts of questions (again, lesson one:  Attract no attention to one's self) are hard to keep at bay.

Is this what obsolescence feels like?

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

A Little Taste of Winter

 I woke up this morning to something I have not seen here in 11 years:  Snow!

(I know for my Canadian viewers, this is a sort of "Look at the cute Baja Canadian.  For us, this is like May/September" moment.  This is about the right amount of snow for me.)

The camellias did not mind the weather.

It was all gone by the middle of the day...

Although it did still spit snow from time to time.

In my world, the best place snow is viewed from:

Monday, March 15, 2021

A March Update On Mom And TB The Elder

 As always, thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers.  I am back at The Ranch and saw both my mother and my father yesterday.

Mom:  My mother is doing well health-wise.  We did comment that when we saw her today, we did not remember either the sweater or the glasses she was wearing.  We assume she got them from somewhere?

Sadly, the insurance appeal was rejected. We may have a slightly modified back up plan:  in the re-reading of the rejection letter, the insurance company noted that it was either a 24 On-Call RN or an onsite RN at least 5 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The current location of my father (which has a memory care facility)  says they meet the requirement.  Best case, we relocate my mother there.  Less best case, there seems to be one facility in our area that meets that requirement so we will try that one as well.

The policy is good and pays 100% - if you can find a location that meets the requirements

TB The Elder:  TB The Elder was released from the skilled nursing facility on Saturday and went back (literally across the parking lot) to the location we previously moved him into about a month ago.  This facility allows outside visits, so I was able to see him for the first time in month not through a window.

His voice almost sounds like it is back to normal, but he is still weak - the RN that helped bring him out said that he had almost fallen once or twice getting into the wheel chair.  The conversation at first was pretty bland - he did not remember the fact that my sister and brother in law were there the day before to help him move over, he is not that enthused about the meals, he did actually change his clothes at the suggestion of an attendant.

And then, things got a little rough.

He announced to us that he did not want us to be angry with him,  but he intended to go back to The Ranch.

No Dad, my sister told him, you have to stay here.  You cannot live there any more because it is out and you cannot drive.

I can get a car here and drive was the response.

The conversation went downhill a bit from there.

My father never got angry or yelled, but he was very firm and insistent that 1)  He did not want to be here; 2)  That he was concerned that the Ranch be taken care of; 3) That he wanted to be living back there, not in the current location; 4) That if we would not do it, he would drive himself there.

What followed was a sort of circular argument:  1)  We understood that he did not want to be there, but that given his health (and memory), he had to be here and we need him to try to make a go of it; 2)  The Ranch was being and would be looked after; 3)  Even if somehow he could physically do it, he cannot drive and thus cannot be there alone and it will be a while before someone could be up there at all; 4)  He cannot be driving.  End of story.  Hopefully we would be able to take him up to The Ranch or other places on day trips once The Plague has ended, but not until then.

This is going to be hard, harder perhaps than the last month has been.  

My fear - and I think my sister's fear as well - is that he is going to be difficult and if difficult, eventually will be asked to leave (as my sister told him, "If something happens, I get that call.  Or TB does".  That either in what can only be classified now as his dementia or his stubbornness, he will not be willing to make a go of it.  Truly, I do not know what we would do if something like that happened (we would have to figure it out, of course).

The one thing I need to work on - and something I suggested to my sister - is working on not engaging him when he is like that.  Just nodding and saying "Okay, let us just give it a few days more and see how it works out".  Do not engage in the argument. I am not smart enough to understand it fully, but I suspect that in some way the argument is a way to engage us and draw us in.  We need to find other ways to engage him - and us - that does not involve re-covering the same ground over and over.

And hopefully, does not involve us (either by insurance or request) having to relocate him.  I cannot now at all imagine how we will manage that.

Friday, March 12, 2021

A Regular Job

As I have working through the fact that my calendar has somewhat cleared out and my incoming e-mail has changed to a dull roar, I have been combating the fact that I do not feel that I am actually contributing enough to my job to continue to justify it.

I mentioned this to a friend, that with a change in priorities my meetings are now about 25% of my work time and that I have no meetings before 0900 and after 1600.  

In other words, my friend said, you have a normal work schedule now with a normal level of activity.

I scoffed at first:  Normal hours?  That was ridiculous.  If one was working, one had to be working at least 40 hours a week if not more.  And a constant stream of e-mails and tasks were evidence that one was busy.

But I thought about it a bit more.  This very week, due to my early meeting being ended, I had suddenly made the decision that I would start trying to write another book.  And that I was actually taking a break and lunch and setting aside a formal study time for language.  And I have changed my blogging times to the evening, instead of trying to rush through things in the morning.

In other words, I am actually starting to try and live a normal life.

I have been grappling with this thought, as hard as it is to imagine.  I am beginning to wonder to what extent the last 4 years (prior to my transfer) have impacted me, and in not good ways.  I have a number of lingering impacts - less ability to sleep, more tired, less able to focus, even less able to remember - that I am now wondering how much of that was due to my previous position.

It strikes me as odd that I have to relearn the ability to work which most people take for granted.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Wasted Electrons And How Nothing Gold Can Stay

Things have turned a bit slow at work, as the projects I am working on are in a weird state of being "in limbo" pending decision which are a great deal above me head.  To make myself useful, I have restarted the "Operation Organize E-mail" to hopefully push through to the end.  72% of the e-mails are now organized, leaving only 28% to go.

As I have been reworking my way through documents and chains that are two to three years old, I am struck by two things:

1)  The amount of time and energy that were spent on things that, looking back upon them,  did not matter as much as people thought they did.  For some things (blessedly few, as it turns out),  present successes were built on these past achievements.  For many others however, the evidence seems slim that they mattered in the long run.  Five e-mails on a simple office relocation?  We may have passed the point of sanity.  "Paperless Office" improving our lives, indeed.

2)  I am reminded again, as I have been in the past, that there are certain moments in any environment which are magical and golden, where the perfect combination of people and circumstances combine to make situations which are savored long after the situation has passed.

The odd thing is, you cannot "make" them.  You cannot force people or circumstances to combine to make the situation - there have been as many "dream team" failures as they have been random successes.  And they do not happen all the time - in looking back I have found jobs where during my entire reign of employment, nothing came together.  

I have had more than my fair share at places of employ:  1994-1996, 2009-2011, and most recently 2018-2019.

It is hard to truly date such things except by when they end.  For the most recent (and reminding myself via e-mails), it was around May 2019:  I had just been promoted, we had finished our campaigns with success, the personnel operational issues that came up later had not yet started, and there was just a sense that it was a good group to work with and a good place to be.

It never lasts, of course: like trees, the color is always the most brilliant just before the leaf falls.  But to look back on those moments in time now - especially now, with the intervening 2 years - touches a note of sadness within my soul.

Nothing Gold Can Stay (Robert Frost)

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Color of Winter... brown.  Dead brown.  As in dead leaves.

I arrived back in New Home for the two week post mortem of Polarcalypse 2021.  Fortunately, we were blessed (and yes, I do use that word intentionally) with no damage at all with the sole exception of a downspout that had separated due to the weight of the ice.  No burst pipes; no collapsed ceilings; no wasted food in refrigerators or freezers that went bad.  

But we are now awash in leaves.

Every tree in our yard - and every yard around ours - that had leaves left has shed almost every one.  In our case, we have live oaks and so there were leaves on the trees.

Were.  Notice the past tense.

Now, there are leaves all over the ground, along with what appears to be dead shrubbery and dead plants.  And a vast swath of very brown looking grass.

My lime trees - the ones I was so proud of last year - are now brown sticks with dead leaves that mock me when the breeze blows.  Our Rosemary bush that was blocking the path along the back of the house is now blocking it with dead leaves and branches.  The Basil plant, that had managed to make this far, expired. 

 Only the garlic and onions, buried beneath soil and snow, made it unharmed.

I raked on Monday and filled up 10 lawn bags of leaves.  I estimate I am about 50% down with the total amount that needs to be raked.  Each of those bags is 30 gallons, so that is something like 600 gallons of leaves, dead grass, and random other dead things to be pulled up and disposed of.

I have no real concept of how much of this will come back.  We have a few - very few - shrubs that have retained their leaves and coloring (by which you can tell the natives, I suppose). And the oaks are at least native, so I assume for them this happens once in a while.  

For the rest, we will either be at the point where it comes back or we are looking at a spring and summer of serious re-landscaping.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

On The Finishing Of Buying Of Things

Last night I made essentially my last purchases beyond needs (and books) for quite possibly the rest of my life.

The purchases themselves were pretty minor - two of my beloved "Gamma World" Miniatures by Grenadier (circa 1980) and a couple of sword maintenance items (Choji oil - mineral oil scented with cloves - and a tool for removing the hibaki, or sword collar).  There is a modern Japanese Print that I want to procure next month simply because it pleases me.

And after that, there is nothing on my list.

Part of it is simply that I have reached the limit of things that I can actually have - yes, there is always more that I can desire but truly, do I have the room for it or the time to enjoy it?  The other part is simply the realization, especially after coming back last week from The Ranch, that there is a point at which stuff becomes too much.

I have a list, of course, of items that will be necessities, both one for here at New Home and one at The Ranch, and whether here or there will need to be procured.  And a continuing list of supplies and handy things to have in the event that, say, the electricity and water somehow magically go away (I understand that happens in certain places).

But those are relatively minor things in the scope of the whole picture.  If the economy is looking for a recovery from me, they will be hard pressed to find it.

It is rather odd - having made the decision that I have reached that point, I find it rather freeing.  There is no sense that I am "limited", but rather that like with any other activity, I am done.

It has yielded a rather surprising sense of relief.  And indirectly, of money.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Book Review: The Long-Legged House

I was introduced to Wendell Berry by Gene Logsdon in his book The Contrary Farmer, where he started out the book with one of Berry's Poems "The Contrariness of the Mad Farmer".  Logsdon was a great fan of Berry (they were of the same mind about many things, Logsdon farming in Ohio and writing, Berry farming in Kentucky and writing, both living on land that they had grown up on).  Logsdon also credits  a work of Berry's, "A Native Hill", as the single work that convinced him and his family to leave their life in urban Pennsylvania and return to Ohio to farm.

I have read Berry before; his book The Unsettling of America (originally published in 1977) asked a series of questions about agriculture in America that resounds to this day.  And I have another book - The Gift of The Good Land - which I also remember enjoying at the time.

That said, Berry is an author I approach with caution the way a young man or woman approaches someone they think they want to date:  cautious, optimistic even, but at the same time not wanting to commit to much lest they find out that deep down they hold deeply different world views and thus are to be disappointed.  I have this with Berry, things I can agree with him on but the sense that deep down, we are very different.

That said, I like Gene Logsdon and a writing that could inspire him to restart his life was worth investigating.

The book - his first - was originally published in 1969 - is series of essays separated into three sections (Berry is an essayist, an author, and a poet):  The first section ("The Tyranny of Charity", "The Landscaping of Hell:  Mine Morality in East Kentucky", "The Nature Consumers") reflects issues concerning state programs and the coal strip mining industry.  The second section ("The Loss of The Future", A Statement Against the War in Vietnam", "Some Thoughts on Citizenship and Conscience in Honor of Donald Pratt") deals with (not surprisingly) current events and to some extent the subject of pacifism.  The third section ("The Rise", "The Long-Legged House", "A Native Hill") are written about Berry's experience in growing up and then living along the Kentucky River.

Berry is an excellent writer - no surprise, he has an M.A in English.  And he writes passionately about his subjects:  "The Tyranny of Charity" decries the fact that the 1960's government will not fund a man who makes chairs by hand, the old way - and how terrible that is; "The Landscaping of Hell" paints in vivid detail the destruction wrought by open pit mining.  His last section - "The Rise", "The Long-Legged House", "A Native Hill"  - are as much travelogue and love letters of his part of Kentucky as they are essays.

Some quotes:

"It is not possible to escape the irony of the fact that the furniture maker - a man of skill and industry, whose craft is itself one of the most valuable resources of his region and nation, and who is engaged constantly in making products of great beauty and usefulness - is destitute in America, now.  This, it must be remembered, is the very man whose promise the American government was established to redeem.  By all our public claims he ought to be one of the prime beneficiaries of our system.  As it is, he is its victim.  And if he, with his skill and his devoted effort, has wound up under the heels of the exploiters, what hope can there be for those who are less able?...If a man continues long in direct and absolute dependence on the government for the necessities of life, he ceases to be a citizen and becomes a slave." ("The Tyranny of Charity")

"Knowing this valley, once one has started to know it, is clearly no casual matter.  Like all country places, it is both complex and reticent. It cannot be understood by passing through.  It does not, like Old Faithful, gush up its inwards on schedule so as not to delay the hurrying traveler.  Its wonders are commonplace and shy.  Knowing them is an endless labor and, if one can willingly expend the labor, an endless pleasure." ("The Nature Consumers")

"When the people have neither the incentive nor the moral means to resist and correct their institutions, they are poorly served by them.  They have become their servants' servants." ("The Loss of the Future")

"If one deplores the destructiveness and wastefulness of the economy, then one is under an obligation to live as far out on the margin of the economy as one is able:  to be economically independent of exploitive industries, to learn to need less, to waste less, to make things last, to give up meaningless luxuries, to understand and resist the language of salesmen and public relations experts, to see through attractive packages, to refuse to purchase fashion or glamour or prestige.  If one feels endangered by meaninglessness, then one is under an obligation to refuse meaningless pleasure and to resist the meaningless work, and to give up the moral comfort and the excuse of the mentality of specialization." ("Some Thoughts on Citizenship and Conscience in Honor of Donald Pratt")

"We haven't accepted - we can't really believe - that the most characteristic product of our age of scientific miracles is junk, but that is so." ("The Rise")

"I began to see how little of the beauty and richness of the world is of human origin, and how superficial and crude and destructive - even self destructive - is man's conception of himself as the owner of the land an the master of nature and the center of the universe." ("The Long-Legged House")

"Every man is followed by a shadow which is his death - dark,  featureless, and mute.  And for every man there is a place where his shadow is clarified and is made his reflection, where his face is mirrored on the ground.  He sees his source and his destiny, and they are acceptable to him.  He becomes the follower of what pursued him.  What hounded his track has become his companion.

That is the myth of my search and my return." ("A Native Hill")

This is a smattering.  There is more.

The thing that comes across most in the section three is the concept of Berry being committed both to the world at large, but really to this one specific place on the Kentucky River.  "The Long Legged House" is the story of a cabin his great Uncle built, which he restores as a youth as a camping site and then restores again as a house to bring his bride home to. "A Native Hill"  tells of his returning to his home for good from the lure of urban and "civilized" living.

As you can guess from this smattering of quotes he is a contrarian, a conservationist, a poet, and a man who is well grounded in the concept that a piece a land and a humble living can be the art of a lifetime (Ichiryo Gusoku, one of the mottos around here:  "One section of land (enough to feed a family), one suit of armor (minimal possessions but enough to defend it).

Would I recommend this book?  Yes.  Berry is a joy to read (speaking as one who reads and writes).  He uses his words well and with purpose, and in many ways (perhaps more than I had imagined) he and I share beliefs and points of view.  I do not know that this has relieved my caution any less, but at least it has made me more willing.

Wendell Berry is a writer, like Gene Logsdon, that not only wrote about returning home a making a life, but did it.  That alone deserves tremendous respect in an age where so many perceive the only place to find a life is surrounded by people in an artificial environment.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

28 Day Retrospective


As you are reading this missive, I am undoubtedly on my way back to New Home, whether driving to, waiting, flying to, waiting at again, or driving home from the airport. It has been precisely one month since I arrived here.

What a long, strange trip it has been in 28 days.

In 28 days I have gone from both of my parents being in the home they have been in for over 20 years to moving my mother into a memory care facility followed by my father into an assisted living home followed by (in less than 24 hours) my father going into the hospital for 9 days and then into a skilled nursing facility where he is waiting for clearance to move back into the assisted living home.

I have not spent this much time at home in almost 12 years.  I have not done a lot - been to visit my parents, to see my sister, to see a few friends.  Other than that, I have largely just been here, alone and in the quiet.

I found some things out about myself - for example, the skill of bringing a fire back from a few coals is one that is very much like riding a bicycle in that it does not take a lot to bring it back.  That stacking wood is also something that you do not lose.  That I can live surprisingly content and well here at The Ranch, alone by myself (largely) if need be.  And that those lines I try to draw between work and home in terms of time need to be drawn a lot more firmly:  whether here or there, I can still spend too much time at work.

I go back, in some very fundamental ways, a changed man.

What is next?  I wish I had a better crystal ball.  For the short term, continuing to return here at least once a month.  See my mother and father.  Sort things.  Build that list of things that need to be done here now, and start to address them.  Talk with The Ravishing Mrs. TB about what we want to do about the near term.

Sometimes life gives you moment like this, hard stops that simply make everything else grind to a halt and give one nothing to do but sit and think and take stock.  There has been a fair amount of thinking and stock taking in the last month, walking around in a world where there are far more birds and trees than people and one can go the bulk of the day without seeing a single soul.

The "real world" seems very unreal to me right now.  I wonder if it will ever seem "real" again.

Friday, March 05, 2021

Move In Silence


One of the more beneficial events that has occurred as a result of being here at The Ranch, largely alone for three weeks, is that one has a great deal of silence.  It does make you ponder about speaking.

Yes, speaking in any time or venue.  But in these times more than ever, saying anything at all.

A sword, it has been said, is most dangerous when it is in its sheath, because everyone else does not know what the next action is.  Draw the sword, and one has committed, not only to a course of action but to a limited series of attacks and cuts.  Show me how how have your sword held - high, middle, low, behind you, to the right or left - and I will have a fair idea of the number and kind of attacks you can make.

Words are like this.  

Not merely in the dredging up of old comments (although that is a real fear now), not merely in the off comment that spills unthought from our lips, but in the conversations and discussions (and more and more, screaming sessions) that dominate our public and in some cases, our private life.   Expose your words thoughtlessly, let them run like a river either from a lack of care or too much, and you have given all your unfriends all they need to know and predict how you will act.

Remain the King on the Board.  Remain the sword in the sheath.  React only when you are ready to act, and not before. 

Until then, be silent.

Thursday, March 04, 2021

Book Review: Wyeth People

I am not particularly an "art" person.  I took an art history class in college as my mother recommended it to broaden my horizons (and it did), but frankly I never got or took to modern art:  I like realism and beauty and determining the meaning of the painting, not abstractness and having the art dictated to me.  As a result, my artistic delights tend towards the realistic of the 18th and 19th Century, Orthodox iconography, and the Japanese woodblock prints known as Ukiyo-e

Somewhat to a lot of people's surprise, Gene Logsdon - The Contrary Farmer - was an art person.

Logsdon was a fan of the arts - in fact, he published a entire book about the impact of agriculture on the arts: The Mother of All Arts:  Agrarianism and the Creative Impulse in 2007.  But long before this, Logsdon was a farm magazine journalist inspired by Andrew Wyeth.

This was not a surprise to me:  Wyeth and his paintings figure prominently in many of his books, and a few of them have interviews with members of families that Wyeth painted.  What I did not know - until I read it - is that once upon a time, Logsdon actually met Wyeth.

The story reads almost like a mystery:  A young reporter, idealistically enamored of a childhood hero whose art he admires, sets out to meet the artist.  He actually manages to meet the artist at a local diner, and tries to have an interview, but it goes nowhere.  He still has an article to write, but has nothing novel to say.  His solution:  find a way to connect with Wyeth when an interview is not sufficient.

And so Logsdon goes on an adventure of sorts through New England, in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania  and Cushing, Maine (apparently pronounced "Cushin") look for the people and places that Wyeth paints (at one point, he spends the better part of a day trying to locate Wyeth's house in Maine, only to find himself lost on a beach at the end of the day).

And he finds them.  And the book becomes a series of stories about people and places that make up both a small world and a world beyond imagination.

We meet Karl Kuerner, a German from the old country whose farm and cattle figure into many of Wyeth's pictures; Adam Johnson, handyman and last keeper of Mother Archie's church; Willard Snowden, Wyeth's handyman.  In Maine, we go to the place where Christina's World (below) was painted, and meet two Maine men who were subjects of his paintings, Forrest Wall and Ralph Cline.  This is the 1960's, before the deluge of the paparazzi, where individuals who had been painted by the famous were still willing to talk with a young reporter, still willing to invite him into their house for dinner or pie and a story.


Each of the stories - vignettes really, they do not go more than a few pages each - are not only about the individual, but their interaction with Wyeth.  In sparse linguistic strokes, Logsdon attempts to draw with words a relationship and a feeling of the individual, in a way reflecting what his hero did with paints.

Finally, Logsdon goes home, somewhat defeated by his encounters.  He went seeking someone who inspired him; he comes home feeling that he has discovered nothing new.  Presenting his manuscript to his sister Jenny, he asks her for her opinion:

"Well, we - all of us living around here, at least - are the kind that Wyeth paints.  What is in his subjects is in us.  But we take it for granted.  After he paints them, we suddenly realize there are many, many people in America who are like us."

"You discover that you have a culture" I suggested.

"Yes, maybe that's it." She smiled.  "A Silent Majority culture.  But that tag rankles in me because it lumps us all as ultra-conservative.  A mistake.  If conservatism we have, it's not the kind that politicians understand."

"It's endurance that we have.  Ingrained in our culture is the patience to endure.  Each day I stand here and look out my window and watch the season's pass - life coming, going, coming again.  We live every day with this truth.  We are the ones that learn to resist change least of all.  Is that conservatism?  To take comfort in endurance?  To know that endurance is better than change?   Change runs in circles, repeats itself.  We are the rock; the wind blows one way, then another.

"That is why Wyeth is our artist.  He paints people who have learned this basic lesson in life:  to endure.  Critics who claim that paints only the sentimental past miss the point completely.  He doesn't just paint the past.  He paints endurance.  He paints eternity.  Or rather each painting shows an instant in time so utterly real it becomes eternal.

"That sounds corny, but that's what I decided I'd tell you.  And that's all I have to say on the subject, too.  If you have to worry and work for a living every day, you understand what Wyeth says in every painting.  We endure!""

I will be honest.  I have many of Logsdon's books, but put off purchasing this one because this seemed so far afield from what he usually writes on and what I read him for.  Frankly, I was wrong to delay as long as I did.  

This book is as much a labor of love as it is a story.  It is the quest of a young man - Logsdon would have been in his early thirties during the writing of it - who is seeking out a childhood hero to meet and write about.  When confronted with the inability to truly understand his hero, he goes to the next best thing:  the things his hero loves, the people and things his hero paints in hopes of finding in those things the answers from his hero he could not find in speaking to him.

Was he successful?  Successful enough to me that I would actually be interested in going to Wyeth's studio - now a museum - in Chadd's Ford, Pennsylvania, and the Olson House in Cushing, Maine.  

And maybe actually, for once, buying a piece of art.

Andrew Wyeth Museum

Olson House Museum

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Update And Bulbs

 Update:  My father continues to improve.

He has become more and more coherent - evidenced to both my sister and myself.  He is remembering more things and his conversations are becoming more focused.  He still has difficulty with the fact that my mother is not dead, and it appears he does not remember the last month, as if it was expunged from his mind.  I am no psychiatrist nor a neurologist, but I wonder perhaps if this was the way his mind decided to help relieve him of any guilt or sadness by placing my mom in a memory care facility - that combined with stress, poor nutrition, and a lack of sleep anyway.

I was able to speak with his case manager today as well.  Per their commentary, they are attempting to get him physically better - "functional mobility", yet another new term - and hope to release him at the end of this week or next week to the facility he was living in - conveniently (and literally) across the parking lot.  Interestingly there was no comment on any cognitive issues whatsoever.

No update on my mother's appeal.  My sister will call again tomorrow.

Finally, thank you all so much for your continued thoughts and prayers (and yes, I still covet them).  The change in my father from even a week ago, let alone two weeks ago, is dramatic.  I am certain that your prayers and thoughts and God's hand are very active in this.


Karen (Hobo) got me thinking about bulbs.  My parents planted two kinds here.

The first, Daffodils, are one of my mother's favorite flowers - good heavens, they are even one of mine.  They also bear the privilege of being the only flower of which I know in a foreign language - Jonquil - which seems to capture them perfectly, a sort of jolly sunny bright flower that returns year after year.  They bring a smile to my face every time I walk by them now.

The second, Irises, are coming up but will bloom later.  These bear even a deeper memory for me.  Irises were the favorite flower of my material grandmother and these bulbs were actually taken from here backyard.  My parents have been here at least 20 years so they are at least that old here; perhaps add on another 20+ years for their age in their previous home?

It strikes me as odd - and at the same time "homely" in the old sense of the word - how such a simple thing as flowers can bring back such memories.  We do not do these sorts of things as a culture so much, I trow:  we have moved more and more to virtual representations of our memories, ions and pixels that live on our small screens and computers and are there only when we remember to pull them out and look.

The flowers, of course, bloom year after year, disregarding any such nicety as being pulled out of a pocket to be viewed.

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Ranch Walk: Almost Spring In the Upper Meadow

 Almost all of my pictures to date have been of The Lower Meadow and the road that runs by it.  There is still a whole half of The Ranch that is at almost Spring!

Note how the underbrush is clear here.

Above is always my standard warning (you all know this of course, but just as a public service:  The large manzanita behind the fence is not our property and this has not be properly cared for.  When you here about out of control wild fires, this is why:  massive amounts of overgrown underbrush, tinder ready to burn.

Interestingly, I have no idea why this is called "The Upper Meadow".  It is not so much upper as it is a bit more northerly and always on the right when you come in.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Update And Resilience

Update: My father is getting better - slowly.

He has continued to at least look stronger every day that we see him.  His memory seems to be coming a bit more in focus as well - for example, he remembered a hat I was wearing was his and told me I should just take it.  On the other hand, he cannot remember the last month:  he cannot remember my mother moving into a Memory Care location, he cannot remember moving into the assisted living facility (although he was only there a short 14 hours), and he cannot really remember being in the hospital for 10 days.

So we wait for a call from the case manager to find out where we are in the process and how much improvement we might be able to expect before we reach the new reality.  With luck, we can reach something that may not be quite what was there before, but close enough to it.

Resilience:  So The Great Polar Vortex of 2021 (Otherwise known in previous times as "A Hard Winter Storm") has retreated to the history books, leaving behind a wake of death and burst pipes and upcoming insurance increases for everyone in a wide swath of states.  A rather large state - Texas - was without power and water for much of its population during this period and the hippest city in the United States, Austin, which heretofore had been getting all kinds of press as an up and coming great place to be, suffered from rather pointed comparisons to the Third World.  Finger pointing and blame and plans to winterize everything, including probably cattle at this point, abound.

No-one is asking the correct question.

The point of today's exercise is not to parse out blame - after all, blame in the current environment is 110% a function of political based thinking, the us and them of seeking go gain power.

The real question is this:  why is no-one talking about resiliency?

Resilient:  "Capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture; tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change".    As opposed to Fragile:  "Easily broken or destroyed; tenuous; slight".

Yes (to use this example), resiliency is having winterized windmills and gas equipment to withstanding freezing temperatures.  But it is also having multiple inputs of power so that if one system goes down, another one is in line to take over.

Two examples, both recent for me:

Here at The Ranch, we are largely electrical.   The heat  and water heater are supplied by propane.  However, my dad (within the last year) also bought a bang up generator to manage through the electrical outages.  And of course, we have a wood stove with a stone top that will heat water for tea, coffee, and oatmeal just fine.   (I suppose if we truly wanted to have more resilience, we would move the stove to propane as well and have some level of solar or even wind here. Oh well, there is always a little more to do that than you have time for).

Or another example:  my parents and their planning.  Beyond their reliance on government retirement, they provided for their own.  And also bought long term care in the event that they had medical issues (like they do now).  And hadsavings.  And created a trust years ago to help manage the whole thing through probate and through their own final wishes.

In both of these (admittedly personal and limited) examples, there is a back-up to the system such that if one thing fails, something else can take over.  Perhaps not as effectively, but certainly not the same as loosing something completely and going back to zero.

One of my biggest complaints about the modern world in general and cities in particular (and to a lesser extent, the ex-urbs around them) is that they are nothing but fragile resource sinks that cannot supply their own food, water, or energy, and cannot deal with their own outgoing products of refuse and waste.  Any natural environment that exhibited this behavior would be called "unsustainable".  We call it "normal" and continue to pack people in at an alarming rate, and then suddenly feel like we need to call for "sustainability", which really is just another word for someone's planning vision of the future.

(Yes yes, I know:  "Physician, heal thyself".  I too live in a city/ex-urb).  But I am doing my darndest to get out of it at this point.)

Extend this to almost anything needed to live - food, toilet paper, sewers, lighting - and as recent events demonstrated, most folks are one really bad event away from having food, water, lighting, or the ability to dispose of their waste.

Why are we not coming out of this screaming at the top of our lungs "This fragility has to change!"?

Governments, of course, hate this sort of thinking.  It is the kind of thing that chips away at their power and their reason for existing.  Governments like independence like most people like tequila:  in small shots, properly administered with salt and lime.  It also strikes at the chord that there is usually only one "acceptable" solution, that which the government endorses.

It is up to the individuals then.  The question is, will the individuals do it - not only ask the questions about their own personally resilience and take action, but ask the not unreasonable question "Why would we live somewhere that can pretty quickly turn into an effective death trap?"

On the whole, knowing my audience, I suspect I am largely preaching to the choir here.  And yes, I more than understand that there are limitation that we all have.  For example, for us a woodstove in New Home is a remote possibility.  A generator - before a month ago - was a possibility; who knows when supplies may return to normal.  But there are other things that we have done in the past and can do in terms of short to mid-term power supplies and possibly things other things we could do (provided we stay that long).  But my point is that we can all do something to put us in a better position than before.

The reality is we have spent the last 100 years building up a technologically advanced but fragile civilization based on the concept that resources, power, and water will always be available.  To paraphrase an old Mafia term, "Nice civilization you have there.  Be a shame if something happened to it..."