Saturday, December 31, 2022

Thank You, 2022 Edition

 Dear Friends:

Once again, the end of the year is upon.  This things always seem to take me by surprise, no matter how long ahead I think I am planning for them.

In years long past, I tended to fill up the last part of the year with all the big plans for the next year.  Those are all still out there of course:  I have to over-plan my year so I can feel unaccomplished at the end of it.  It is something of an annual ritual for me now.

In more recent years, I have taken the opportunity to thank you, my readers - which seems like a more productive use of the post (after all, I can feel unaccomplished anytime).

So thank you.

Time is the stuff of life, the only thing we can only spend and not save and of which we earn not a second more.  We all only have a specified amount, rather unknown to us (until it is not) - and life is endless in its opportunities to spend (or waste) it.

Your commitment here - be it an occasional stop in, a regular stop in, and commenting never, occasionally, or frequently - is spending of that most precious of resources.

Thank you for trust.

According to  Ye Olde Estimator, last year I had something like 199,000 views - which is something like 28% of all views since this was officially "tracked" in 2010.  Not that I get paid for any of this of course, but it is a little staggering to think of that amount of increase.  Hopefully for a good reason, and not because I have showed up on yet another government's "list" (Looking at you from years past, Russia and Ukraine).

Ultimately the reason 99.9% of blog writers write is, I suspect, because we love to do so and want to share something, be it a story or information or vision or just an interest.  It certainly not that we are reaping any sort of physical rewards from this - were that to be true, the Blog-O-Sphere would look a lot more like social media with people more interested in drawing in views than communicating (it may be like that on some blogs, but none that I follow).  

To the extent that I have learned something from you - and I have learned a great deal over the years - thank you.  And to the extent that you continue to stop by, thank you.

In a significant and real way, this blog and the readers of it have and those that I in turn follow have become "my tribe" - a fairly loose association of individuals - perhaps a bit screwy at times - but all the more beloved for your being here.

This year was good year.  Next year, come what may, will be a good year for me as well as I remain privileged to share it with you all.

Your Obedient Servant,

Toirdhealbheach Beucail

Friday, December 30, 2022

You Make It Feel Like Christmas

 While we technically are in the 12 days of Christmas, the sense of Christmas fades a little bit with every day as we ramp up to New Year's and through to the restart of "life".  To that end, before the season entirely slips away, I wanted to pass along this cute song and video that I recently became aware of.

Like most "current" things, it is actually at least 3 years old.  The song is "You Make It Feel Like Christmas"; the singers are Gwen Stefani (with whom I have a passing knowledge of from her years with No Doubt) and Blake Shelton (who I have no knowledge of prior to this).  Apparently they are now married, which makes the song and video a bit more fun.

Run time is 3:03.  Watch it to the end.  

It is not a bad way to exit the season.  Would that we might all endeavor to make it feel like Christmas every day.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

On Giving Account

 "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." - Hebrews 4:13

Hebrews 4:1-13 was one of the readings that showed up in my lectionary.  As I am trying to slow down and practice a more thoughtful and engaged process in my Scripture reading in 2023 (Lectio Divina, in case anyone is wondering, and on which I should probably post a separate article).  As part of the consideration of the passage, one reads and meditates and sees what sections or portions come to fore (for Christians, God's Word represents God's thoughts and so, it should speak to us). 

Give Account.  

We humans have lost this practice of giving account, or rather at least the practice of giving account to something or someone beyond ourselves.  Protagoras the Greek philosopher is credited with the statement "Man is the measure of all things: of the things that are, that they are; of the things that are not, that they are not."  We live in the apotheosis of this statement.

One can make an argument that the belief in a higher power or force may or may not have been believed by the powerful, but it had enough moral force to sway the powerful in at least the outward appearance that they must give an account at some point for their lives.  The religious of their day at one time could (not always, of course), appeal to the divine power of their experience to force accountability of those in power (the Popes and Kings of Western Europe; the Heian era of Japan with the Monks of Mt. Hiei able to call even the Emperor to account in the name of deities).  And to those that lived under or even suffered under mis-rule or bad rule, there was always the belief and indeed, the expectation, that ultimately all deeds, good and bad, would be brought to light in the afterlife.

We no longer truly believe or practice that.

We live in an age where the only account given is to those that have the power and temporal authority to enforce their will, in service to their philosophies and beliefs.  For them, there is no "giving account" as a two way street -  think on the structure of the world and the power in it right now.  The politicians of every stripe parrot "accountability" to the voters every election cycle, then disappear into the higher planes of government, leaving the voters behind.  Policies are set by bureaucracies within countries or trans-national bodies outside of countries which are give account to no-one (lest one argue, remind me of a significant government or trans-national agency that has significantly changed its operations based on its accountability to the elected body it in theory serves).  And religious for Christians (as I am a Christian, my arena), too often account is no longer given to God, but rather to the church body that has reinterpreted Scripture for the times.

Those in power, it seems, need only give account to the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age.  For lesser beings - the common folk - we must give account in everything to those above of us for all that we think, believe, and do.  But for Our Political And Social Betters (OPASB), there is only the need to give account for that which either 1) embarrasses the current structure and thus needs to be "dealt with"; or 2) becomes inconvenient.  In all other matters, Machiavelli's dictum "The ends justify the means" have become the fait accompli of modern life; the account to be given is to the ends - the means matter not and thus are not to be accounted for.

Oddly enough, this discomforts me less than it should.

The first reason it discomforts me less than it should is because all that I have written above does not change the fact that I, too, must give account, that all of my deeds are "naked and open".  It is easy enough to look all around me and look at everyone else that needs much give account; it is much more difficult to look within myself and see the same thing.  I am enough of a project for the rest of my life.

The second reason it discomforts me less than it should is because the more it becomes self-evident, the less account is given to those above them by those that live in the system - the less the system gives account where it claims it should, the less that those in the society trust in and are invested in it.  Friend of this blog ERJ has helped to clarify my thinking on such matters with his discussion of a Low-Trust Society:  account is given to those that matter in our lives (family, friends, tribe), the rest are endured with as little interaction and enthusiasm for the structure and those that run it as possible.  The overall structure of such a thing becomes weak and fragile as the constituent parts are not invested in the system - in a way, like a Jenga tower:  one keeps pull blocks out, until the structure crumbles.

The third reason it discomforts me less than it should is because an account will still be given to Him who sees all naked and open.  Yes, I am impacted by that - but yes, so is every single person of every Age.  What a horrible and terrifying moment it will be - as it has been, for the history of man - to realize one moment after nothing can be changed that all that you thought had been done for best of reasons was completely wrong and that now one has to explain it all to the only truly Just Being in existence.

Because ultimately, that is what giving an account will be:  explaining our actions and the reasoning behind them, why it was "the right thing" to do - or why it was it was the wrong thing to do and we did not realize it.  If we thought more on giving account for all we do rather than just doing, likely we would do less things or do them differently.

Better to learn now - even today - than to find ourselves under the unyielding gaze of Him who we believed not to exist and discover that all actions are paid in full, justly and exactingly.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Book Review: The Land That Calls Me Home

 Among the many failings of the Western church in the late 20th and earliest 21st Century is its benign negligence to rural America.

Were rural America - small farmers, small agriculturalists, or those that make their living by them - to be an impacted urban group or a population in foreign lands, likely the Church would be up in arms speaking, praying, and proposing ways to support them.  But to those that are their fellow citizens, albeit buried in small towns or slowly being buried as the land about them turns into housing tracts, they scarcely give a second thought.  Food continues to appear in the stores; why any need to intervene in what is obviously an example of progress and freeing people from the drudgery of labor?

Enter Reverend Hughey Reynolds and The Land That Calls Me Home:  Connecting God's People to God's Land Through God's Church

The book was suggested to m by friend of this blog Leigh Tate at Five Acres And A Dream.  Her recommendations, when given, are something that I immediately pay attention to - and once again, I am glad that I did.

The thesis of the work is to be found in the introduction:

"The church has a key role to play in restoring the viability of small farms in America.  No other organization or entity is better equipped or positioned than the church to lead people to overcome our increasing estrangement from the soil and help us reconnect to it physically and spiritually through small-scale diversified farming (Note: Small scale diversified farming is defined elsewhere in the book as "one that produces food for the household that lives on it to eat with enough in addition to sell at market for a modest income").  I have come to this conviction as I have reflected on my life experiences in light of the Biblical story in which a healthy relationship between humanity and the soil is indispensable to a right relationship with God".

Reverend Reynolds - at the time of the book (2012) a 40 year clergyman in the United Method Church in Alabama - divides the book up into four sections. In the first, he recounts his own history as the child of a small-scale farmer and the conflict he felt growing up as his own family moved farther and farther away from the land as the times changed - and of his own call back to the land (Of note, his history would like reflect in some ways my own father's history and those of other readers or their parents here).  In the second, he discusses the growth of agribusiness and its impact on small scale farming, both at a high level and at the scale of his local parishes.  In the third, he talks over a series of questions to help an individual evaluate their interest and ability in farming (one chapter is very practical:  "Managing Finances on the Small Farm").  The fourth section is what the Church's responsibility and response should be to enabling all of this.

One of the key things about this book is that Hughey's belief is not that "everyone should farm".  He understands that not everyone wants to or can; what he does feel is that it is the church's responsibility to connect small scaled diversified farmers with people that are not farmers through the mechanism of farmers' markets, direct sales, and supporting small agriculturalists.  For Hughey, this is just as important as any other aspect of the Church's ministry and should be practiced with the just the same vigor as any other outreach program.

What would that look like?  As mentioned above, farmers' markets are one example (and something that Hughey's church created locally as discussed in the last chapter of the book).  Community Gardens are another mode, as well as working to give farmers a voice:  "I want the church to raise awareness of the impact of government actions and corporate practices on rural communities.  I want the church at a denominational and judicatory level to inspire and equip local churches with the training they need to speak to and resist powers that diminish their lifestyle and drain resources from rural communities".

One may recall that recently reviewed another book - Almost Amish - and there decried the fact of a sort of high level review of a somewhat similar subject with no research. That is not the case here:  the book is reasonably footnoted and has 6 pages of 10 font, single spaced references.  When statistics and information are quoted, it is based on data.

The book was written in 2012 - how successful was Hughey's vision for his church?  That is hard to assess: a web search does not indicate any other books by him and a single blog that is effectively defunct.  That said, the farmers' market started by him and his congregation is apparently still an actively going concern 10 years later although Reverend Hughey is no longer there (he currently is shown as "retired clergy", but he apparently still posts on The Book of Face).  That is actually not a small thing, given the last 10 years and in some small way, hopefully his vision survives.

It is probably no surprise (if you are a long time reader) that I enjoyed this book.  It matches two things that I am passionate about, Christian theology and small scale agriculture.  For those that are not of the Christian persuasion, it is not at all preachy or using the book as an apologetic.  It is directly facing inwards at the Church on its own failings and what it can do to act in conformance with itself as it would for any other group in distress.

I leave you with two quotes, both which I found thought provoking:

"Not knowing much about agriculture is my friend's prerogative.  Yet, that choice separates him from the soil and makes his food security very dependent upon others to grown, select, process, package, deliver, and many times cook, the food he eats.  He does not go hungry because of his income and access to food.  He would go hungry if eating depended on his knowledge to grow food."

"The American economy will remain sluggish, uncertain, and volatile as long as it relies on the greed of investors, on foreign or domestic petroleum, and on profit-driven food distributors who, in order to keep prices lower than their small-scale farm competitors, offer empty-calorie-food that is mass produced and processed.  The church has a role in the economic recovery of America that is more than reading last rites to the dying and binding up the wounds of the injured.  The church can rally, organize, and empower those who choose to farm on a small scale in rural communities to stand up to the organized effort of government and corporate powers that drove most American famers from the land and made their way of life untenable."

Monday, December 26, 2022


In the aftermath
of the impacting cold front,
life still finds a way

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas 2022


"Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign to you:  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manager.

      And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:  "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill towards men!"  - Luke 2:  10-14

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:  and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Price of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6

Nollick ghennal erriu! (Merry Christmas!)

Saturday, December 24, 2022

On The Benchmark Of Christmas

 Christmas, among its many benefits and uses, also serves as a benchmark for our lives.

There are two different kinds of Christmases.

The first  - perhaps the most common - are simply the Christmases that "just happen".  They are the same as they were the year before, perhaps a little different, but not so different that they stick out particularly in our memory except as "that one great present I got" or "Do you remember the time Uncle Bob.......".  There is a flow and fashion to them as we go about the traditions that have come around it for us and those around us, a sort of comforting warm blanket we use to mark the years.

The second - hopefully less common - are those where something changes which makes all the Christmases after them different.  Not somewhat creatively, these divide into "good" and "bad".

The good ones are the Christmases where the last of their kind knowing that something will change in the future:  the last Christmas before a child is born and all Christmas change or the start of a new thing which becomes a tradition.

The bad ones, of course, are the last of their kind where one does not realize that something changed until after the fact.

These are the ones where Christmas is never the same again.  The Christmas before the unexpected move which means Christmas "at home" is never the same (for us, 2008).  The Christmas where you realize that you will never spend them with the same people or in the same place again (for us, 2019 before The Plague arrived and family members died or 2020 and the last Christmas with my parents at The Ranch).  The Christmas where adults know that things are falling apart but the children do not know, confident in the warm glow of the holiday that may burn coldly in later memory.

What happens in microcosm at a personal level happens at larger scale as well.  Christmases after 1913 were never the same in Europe, and the same could be true of Christmas following 1932 as well as Christmas 1940 in the United States.  The world changes, and suddenly Christmas - along with many other things - is never the same.

This is not intended as any sort of soothsaying or prophecy or mad guesses about the future - as with Amos of the Old Testament, I am neither a prophet nor the son of prophet.  But I have become increasingly conscious of the fact that every Christmas has the potential to be the last Christmas of its kind, in some cases forever.

So on this Christmas Eve, as we go about the traditions that we have - or if we have no traditions and it is simply another day - I would humbly offer up that we drink in the wonder and experience of the season and the day.  We do not know if we will never see its like again.

Friday, December 23, 2022

The Last Argument With My Father

The last argument I had with my father occurred in  a December in the mid-1980's.

My post-high school existence was not necessarily something to write home about.  Having been accepted into a "name" college in the state in which we lived, I only made it a single semester before the combination of being away from home and having my first girlfriend while I was away resulted in me packing up and returning home (also, quite probably, to my parents' and my relief as the tuition was far and above what we could have afforded).  I enrolled as a student in our local technical/junior/community college full time and found myself a series of odd jobs - handyman, heating/cooling duct installer, gutter installer - to generate income while I took classes. The goal was, of course, to transfer to State U after two years of requirements completed.

My transportation at that time was a 1970's Datsun truck, gifted to me by my maternal grandfather when he had gotten a new one.  It was a small, cramped thing painted a now-faded red with a camper shell and a a standard transmission and engine that began to quake the whole truck when one exceeded 60 miles per hour.  It was cramped in the cab - literally only two normal humans could sit comfortably or perhaps three, if one in the middle did not mind have shifting occurring between their legs.  It was the perfect sort of truck for the young man who was just sort of inching his way through life towards a hinted at but not yet seen goal.

It was in the evening on the day in question in December when the initial incident occurred.  I cannot specifically remember why I was where I was but I remember where I was:  On the overpass above the Major Interstate that bisected our town, which likely means I was driving back from the grocery store on one side to our home on the other.  It was snowing, which was not unheard of in my hometown - not the wild blustery flakes of a Midwestern snowstorm which whites out all that is around us, but significant enough that snow was laying down on the ground, the overpass, and the road - which explains why I hit something.

I do not recall what I hit - I believe I have a memory of every car I have run into and nothing leaps to mind, but that does not mean another automobile was involved. It literally could have been the overpass as well.  Whatever it was, what resulted was no injuries - and a small, bend on the driver's side, right in front of the door.  Small, but noticeable.

The next stop was home.  And home meant my father.

The joke between my sister and myself is that our father, TB the Elder (who passed this year), was as a grandfather to our children not the man we grew up with as a father.  As a father, he had the tendency to over-react when something went "not well", going from zero to 60 in about 0.1 seconds - never physical violence or swearing or derogatory language about you, but definitely a great deal of voice raising and yelling, to the point that even today I cannot stay in a room with any sort of conflict or raised voices in it.  What that lead to, of course, was learning to attempt to hide anything that went wrong until either it could be "fixed" or it could no longer be hidden.

My arrival at home was likely quiet, I suspect:  I walked in, talked with my mother and father, and began looking for an opportunity to slip out and try to repair the damage:  likely in my head was the idea of using a hammer or screwdriver to lever out the dent.  My father, who went outside to get firewood, beat me to it.

In retrospect as a father myself, I can understand where some of his rage and frustration came from:  without knowing anything else, he had no idea what had happened.  Was I hurt?  Was anyone else hurt?  Was there a hit and run?  - I write all of this a father now who has thought same things when I have gotten "the call".  But some of it was simply the way that he had always reacted to things:  anger and raised voice.

I stumbled in my responses - I always did when he was that way, and to this day I still am reluctant and hesitant to speak in such moments as I do not react well and I do not trust myself to respond in moments of anger - after all, I am my father's son.  At one point he roared "You never tell me when things go wrong."

"You always yell when I do" I roared back - and then promptly turned and left the house.

This counter-response was so unlike me up to that point that I do not know where it came from - even now, I am surprised that such a thing came out of my mouth.  I never, ever contradicted my father in anything in common speech, let alone when there was this sort of thing.

And so I wandered off down our street into the snow.

I have no idea what I was actually thinking at the time.  I really had nowhere else to go, as it was evening and snowing and late.  And so I walked down to the end of the street, crossed the road, and went over to the recently built municipal park where I just stood with my hands in my pockets, watching the snow.  Perhaps I was just planning to wait it out until my parents went to sleep and I could creep back in to the house and go to bed or perhaps I was waiting for some kind of divine revelation about what to do.

What I was not waiting for was what actually happened:  the crunching of snow behind me as my father crossed the road.

In all my years, I can only recall my father coming after me after a traumatic event once, when we had had to put our dog to sleep and I (much younger at the time) had gone up the back hill at our house to grieve.  The last thing I had expected now was to see him out in the snow, coming for me.

The words of what we said specifically are now lost in the winds of time and snow. He apologized, I apologized, we both walked back up the lane together.  We never spoke of the incident again and the small dent remained a permanent part of the truck as long as I held on to it until later the next year when, as my sister and I were both off to State U, he bought a more reliable car to manage the trek there.

We never had an argument like that again - partially, perhaps, because after that I was off to college (it took the second time) and partially because two years later he had a significant brush with death in the form of Staph Pneumonia that literally almost killed him; when he came out, he was a very changed man and most of what seemed to have fueled whatever caused that anger had dissipated on the hospital bed.

Likely - and I will never know it now - there was a conversation between my mother and father after I had stormed out.  Likely it involved mostly my mother talking and father not saying anything. Likely it involved her telling him he needed to get back out there and find me. It is all likely, of course, but this side of Heaven it now remains a mystery as to its origin.

Which is, I suppose, ultimately irrelevant to the story.  

What is relevant - and what I recall now with vivid force even as I write - is not the accident or the words or even specifically how I felt during all of it.  What is relevant is the picture I always hold in my heart of my father crossing the street to find me, the snow trailing down in the not-quite darkness that only snow clouds seem to hold, a benediction of sorts during the season of The Greatest Giving.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

A Perfect Use Of The Social Internet

It may come as a surprise only to those in the US whom are completely divorced from all media that a pretty significant storm is moving in and down through much of the U.S.

While the Meme Wars will always undoubtedly continue between Northerners gently mocking Southerners about their inability to handle "cold" weather and Southerners gently mocking Northerners about their inability to handle "hot and humid" weather, these sorts of weather events pose significant risks on either end of the spectrum to those who live in locales where their systems and structures are not designed to handle such extremes.

Eaton Rapid Joe, friend of this blog, actually did something about it.

He specifically made a post soliciting such information entitled "Bulletin Board: Tips for Surviving Cold Weather" and opened it up to the InterWeb, specifically asking for recommendations for those that regularly deal with such things for those that do not.  What ended up was a list of tricks and techniques to help manage cold weather, especially intruding cold on structures and plumbing not designed for such things.

I note this post as this is a prime example of The Social Internet at its best: People across the country (or world) giving suggestions and information to others, without rancor or mockery or sly suggestions (the mockery can come later, of course).  Undoubtedly someone will use something in that series of responses to somehow make them a little more secure in the upcoming bad weather.

Would that there was more Social Internet and less Social Media.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Stewardship, Conservation, Environmentalism, Creation Care

As I read through Almost Amish (see yesterday's review), one of the notes from the Authoress on their non-profit organization was that they worked to promote "Creation Care".

I had to stop for a moment and compose myself.  If there is a word combination that will set me off, that is it.

Once upon a time - within my lifetime - we discussed caring for the world as "stewardship of the Earth".  The concept, which had somewhat improved itself from the old understanding of "have dominion over the earth" in the bad sense of "use it all up without thinking of any of the consequences" was more or less commonly understood as a Biblical concept as the concept of stewardship was pretty wide understood in Christian circles.

In secular circles, the word was "conservationist" - again, a word I remember being used within my early lifetime as the only word used to discuss the concept.  The conservationist was one that worked to conserve the environment for future generations, much like the concept of stewardship.

In time that term also fell by the wayside and what we were left with was "environmentalist".  Working hard to avoid any pejoratives, environmentalism encompassed the concept of environment first and only.  There was no sense - at least in the early days that I recall - of any allowance of the human race as a either a participant of value or as a manager.  Humans had done awful things to the environment (in fairness, they had in some but not all cases) and so, sotto voce, they were unworthy managers of the world they lived in. 

Unfortunately as the past 30 or so years has demonstrated, an unmanaged environment is an uncontrolled one.  Population imbalances which result in die offs or disease, invasive species which destroy entire ecosystems, unmanaged forests that become fire holocausts waiting to happen - there has to be a balance of preserving the environment as well as managing it with people in the world.

After the effective fall of stewardship and the rise of environmentalism, Christian theologians (apparently) went back to the drawing board. One of the elements of environmentalism which can come to the fore is an effective worship of the environment.  To the Christian, the world and the environment are a creation of God, but not the Creator.  Thus - perhaps - the term "Creation Care" was born.

"Creation Care" seems to encompass many of the concepts of the old stewardship:  managing things for future generations, preserving existing wilderness, making things better than what they were.  So in theory, it is an acceptable term, correct?

I hate it.

The term "Creation Care" represents, at least to me, just another example of the Western Church infantilizing a Christian concept - in this case stewardship or conservation.   Whenever I hear the term, I almost immediately expect a show with brightly covered shapes, happy music, and some sort of childlike figures named "The Tubbie Wubbies" to come out and cavort about.  It is the sort of term that may be appropriate to introduce as a concept to young children, but not as a serious discussion among adults on such weighty matters.

It reflects a trend, at least in my own mind, the trend of making Christianity "more accessible" to the masses not by than lifting people's education and intelligence up to meet the loftiness of God and Scripture but by making it simple and "modern".  We rightly decry the denial of Scriptures to individuals in their own languages which was a policy at one time and which was modified to allow people to lift up God in their own tongue and understand Him through their own tongue.  The Church now makes the same error, by taking difficult and weighty concepts and somehow managing to reduce them to an almost cartoon-like status.

What term do I prefer?  Environmental stewardship is a good one to me, as stewardship implies that we manage something for someone else (God in this case), not our selves.  Conservationist I find is equally good or better - again, the idea that we are conserving that which we have (oddly enough, we are encouraged in the modern world to conserve many other things - energy, fuel, food.  Why this one thing is different is beyond me).

But what do we call someone that follows creation care?  A "Creation Careist?"  Besides just being a made up term, it would seem to be an issue either for discussions or to represent the panel - imagine, if you will, a debate on a matter where we have "Professor X, Environmentalist" and "Bob Y, Creation Careist".  Sometimes we Christians set ourselves up for failure.

Besides - it underlies yet another weakness in modern Christianity (and indeed, modern society):  this need that we have to label and package everything in such a way that we can then point to how we are doing it - the hideous cancer of "virtue signaling".  Should Christians be 100% about caring for the environment and managing it both because God created it and it is a fantastic example of showing our love for our fellow man by helping to preserve and provide such a thing?  Absolutely.

But please, let us refrain from the need to have catchy concepts designed to inspire programs, conferences, and merchandise, or design entirely new terms and things to cover old, practical concepts because it is "hip".  Christ never said "Go and design Thou a program"; he said "Go and do".

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Book Review: Almost Amish

 My knowledge of Amish culture is pretty thin.  I, like many Americans at the time, watched Harrison Ford in "Witness" (my traditional sending off of people, "Be careful out there among the English", dates from that time).  Gene Logsdon has impressions of and interviews with the Amish woven in through several of his books.  The Ravishing Mrs. TB and I took a vacation in Ohio that included Amish country in the early 2000's.  And, of course, I am a reader of Patrice Lewis' Amish Romances (yes, even us mid-fifties guys can enjoy a happy ending).  

That said, the culture and their way of life is fascinating to me - not just because many of their principles, at least as I understand them, are similar to my own, but because they have managed to maintain an effectively thriving counterculture in the press of the modern world.  So imagine my joy when I found a book called Almost Amish:  One Woman's Quest For A More Sustainable Life

Nancy Sleeth and her husband Mark, a former MD, formed a non-profit organization called Blessed Earth, which originally focused on Christian involvement with the environment (but seems to have branched out in their website). In the backstory, Sleeth explains how she and her husband were faced with a series of events - death of her brother at a family gathering, a talking patient, and a particularly hard death in the ER - that caused them to re-evaluate their life choices and decide to go into Christian Ministry full time.  

The book divides Amish beliefs into eight areas - homes, technology, finances, nature, simplicity, service, security, and community - gives a high level application on Amish beliefs, and then applications of these beliefs in the Sleeth's life as well as biblical teaching that correspond to each section.

I really wanted to like this book.  But I went away with almost nothing new.

The book set me off on the wrong foot in the first paragraph of the introduction:

"'What are you, Amish or something?' a large man with a booming voice asked from the back of the room.  I was not surprised by the question, but the tone rattled me a bit.

Open your eyes!  I wanted to reply.  Am I wearing a bonnet?  We arrived in a Prius, not a pony.

The question came at the close of a long day, at the end of a demanding speaking tour.  I was tired, but that's no excuse for my less-than-gracious thoughts.  It was not the first time my family had been compared to the Amish, nor would it be the last.  So why did this question stay with me, long after the seminar ended?"

The Authoress obviously feels that ultimately her response was the wrong one - but to start out her book with both assumptions about people (Large man, booming voice, rattling tone - one can almost see the "person" being described her) and what feels like virtue signaling ("We arrived in a Prius, not a pony") almost immediately, in turn, gave me an impression about what I was going to read.  Simply put, there were other ways to phrase this that would have conveyed the same information without setting the tone that was set - as a blogger, I myself spend a rather surprising amount of time choosing words to communicate precisely what I want to say and avoid giving a different impression than what I intend.  Words, as it has been said, mean things.

The reality is that I had purchased the book under the assumption (mistaken on my part) that this was a book about a woman and her family that had been directly exposed to Amish culture and had made changes in response to it.  Instead, it was a book about decisions their family had made and how it mirrored Amish culture.

The structure of each chapter is as follows:  A story about the section from the authoress' point of view is related. Then high level concepts about Amish culture is relayed, then applications from the authoress' life about how they had already implemented these practices.  Lots about the authoress and her family, not a lot about how the Amish culture influenced it or them.

Another fairly disturbing thing about the book is the apparent lack of actually interaction with actual Amish.  I do not know if the Amish or Mennonite cultures have an issue with interviews or research, but the book seems to be almost completely devoid actual of actual interviews or practices by actual Amish or Mennonites.  Attendance of a Mennonite church service is discussed, and a very brief reference to critical books of the Amish - The Ausbund (Hymnal), The Martyr's Mirror, the Dordrecht Confession of Faith, and the Ordnung (the order of the Church and daily life) - is mentioned as well as brief (two page) history of the Amish - and some interview and listening which is alluded to but neither of which are specifically defined.  The Acknowledgements section seems remarkably free of any thanks to Amish or Mennonite sources (that I can tell), and the references largely consist of a website a single text, Amish Society, and a reference to the movie "Amish Grace", covering the 2006 shooting in a Amish school in the community of Nickel Mines, PA.

I suppose all of this bothers me because it is as if I, with my limited knowledge of Japanese culture, proposed to write a book on the subject having read a single study, some articles, and watched the movie "Shogun".  It would be correct to suggest of my book that it had done nothing but take limited secondary sources and proposed to present them as definitive when a plethora of primary sources are available.  It is at best a weak research methodology.

The book is less about actually Amish practices and thoughts and more about the how the authoress and her family lived according to principles which they decided were important to their family - and how they realized that they were "almost Amish" principles.  Which was less about at the Amish and much more about them.

As I said, I really wanted to like this book.  The ideas that are presented as "Amish" - homes, technology, finances, nature, simplicity, service, security, and community - are ones that I actually resonate with (and I think many of my readers do too, as well as the bloggers on the right over there).  For me at least, it is also written from a Christian point of view - again something I value.  But other than the presentation of some concepts, there was nothing new here I did not know.  Literally, I knew more just based on fictional reading from Lewis and interviews and impressions by Logsdon.

So why does this book exist?

Interestingly the authoress makes an almost throwaway comment in the first paragraph of the first chapter: 

"Last Summer, our daughter interned with a publishing company.  Emma's mentor assigned a wide range of challenging projects, and she learned a lot from them all.  But the assignment where she felt that she felt as though she had the most editing input was an Amish Romance novel."

She then goes on to discuss the popularity of the movie "Witness" and the overall popularity of the so-called "Bonnet Romances" as well as the continuing popularity of tours.  

All of a sudden, what came across to me is this was less of a passion project and more of a suggestion by the publisher of a way to capitalize on a trend.  And capitalization on a trend, especially a surface treatment of it, just never sits well with me.

I really wanted to like this book.  

What will I do with it?  I have not fully decided. There were some sections that really did get me to think and so the book - at least for me - is not without some value.  At the same time, it is highly unlikely that I would consult this book again as I will likely go back and review the other books I have or find some additional primary sources (Amish Society, as it turns out, is still available as a used book for a very reasonable price).

The assessment?  Save your money and start with Logsdon and Lewis, who treat the Amish in the actual context of their practices, not as a comparative study.

Monday, December 19, 2022

The Bias Against Agricultural Careers

 Last week in a discussion of Masanobu Fukuoka's book One Straw Revolution, an almost spicy discussion (or as spicy as they happen around here, anyway) happened on the question of if Fukoka's sort of organic farming could feed the world.  One of the things that was mentioned in passing - and my subject today - is the perception of farmers (or really any of those that work in agriculture).

The point that came to my mind immediately when I was thinking on this was the fact that our society lives in a sort of dichotomy:  on one hand, the concept of "organic" and "small farms" and "farmers' markets" and "Think small" is both popular and (from what I can see and listen to) a desirable thing to support.  On the other hand, we view the places that such activities could take place (e.g., land to do it on) as only having the greatest and highest value when is developed for something other than farming (or ranching or forest products, etc.) and those that proclaim that they want to follow an agricultural career as having committed some form of professional and career suicide.  

I have more than a little interest in this matter, in both cases personal.  One, of course, is simply that my sympathies (and at some level, my desires) comport with the agriculturalists of the world. The other is that I have such an example in my own family:  my Great Uncle B, the original owner of The Ranch, only ever wanted to be a Rancher growing up.  He worked in the sawmills as his "paying" job for many years, but his heart was always with cattle since he was 12 years old.

Stereotypes of course play into this, as they play into any association of any social groups - I say this is a world where we are enjoined to "confront stereotypes".  Sadly, the stereotype of the  agriculturalist - either red-necked and bitterly conservative or "back to the earth" and bitterly liberal - is one that magically seems to almost never be confronted.  In point of fact, agriculturalist thinking spans the gamut, explaining why you can have people as varied in opinions as Wendell Berry and Joel Salatin and Gene Logsdon and Masanobu Fukuoka in the same field.  

But stereotypes in and of themselves do not fully explain this, at least to me.

Deep within modern Western culture - or at least American culture and I presume Western Culture in general - there remains a thread of the inherent "less-ness" of agriculture as a career.  Oddly enough, this may be represented in no better place than The Great Gatsby, which gives a sense of the modern world that effectively sprang into existence in the 1920's, the industrial and exotic world that called young people of the era off the farms and ranches and into society.  Buried within this perception of progress and the technology is the idea that the best and brightest went on to such technical things while those that could not simply "stayed on the farm"  and performed low end, menial tasks.

Low end, menial tasks - which underlie all of our ability to eat and therefore do anything else.

On one hand, I speak of course as someone who not performed agriculture as a career.  I can read of all the challenges of such a life (by some of the good people over to the right there on the "The List"), but cannot say that I have experienced them:  I have seen low temperatures, but not low temperatures and trying to birth cattle or get a crop in; I have had gardens die and animals pass, but not the sort where I was depending on them as my livelihood; I have faced unemployment and loss income, but not to the point that it was a genuine threat to my way of life.

Were I to express such things to those who practiced such things that I know, I doubt they would accept my empathy much beyond a quiet "Thanks" and "It is really just part of the business".  For those that love their career or way of life - like anyone - they would just consider it part of the package - but likely would appreciate the respect behind the comment.

And that, I think, underlies the entire discussion.

We have lost respect for those that practice or would like to practice agriculture.  How that respect has been lost is probably a dissertation of its own  - although even within the history of the Roman Republic, the farmer went from valued member of society to an outlier, to be replaced by the industrial farmers of day.  Perhaps within our own modern societal structure, we have made the grave error of connecting greatness of intellect and drive only with technology and modern thinking.   Or perhaps it is the mistaken belief that "nothing new is happening in agriculture or ranching or forestry or aquaculture" - which reveals more about us and our lack of education of such things.  Or again, perhaps, we have reached the point that "hard physical labor" is seen as a something to be avoided - we, who face a modern epidemic of out-of-shape, overweight individuals and who have made several industries of fitness and wellness due to our inaction.

"The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy:  neither its pipes nor its philosophy will hold water (John W. Gardner)."  Substitute agriculture for plumbing, and I would propose the following to be true:

"The society which scorns excellence in agriculture as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good agriculture:  neither its food nor its philosophy will feed the body or the mind."

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Battling The Proffered Upgrade

 My laptop computer is the third laptop I have owned.  The first was one of the first remnants of The Firm, my one (and only) business venture.  The second was a replacement that TB The Elder and Mom bought for me when that computer had virtually died and there was no money for a replacement.  The third unit is the one I am using now, a Christmas present from The Ravishing Mrs. TB when the second computer, in turn, started to fail.

Three computers in almost 20 years.  I hold on to them until they, like our cars, fail.

In terms of programs for my computer, I am (frankly) cheap.  I will use whatever operating system is present.  I will only pay for things that I really perceive as needs, which is mostly security rated software (Shout out here to NordVPN for a fantastic, reasonable VPN software). Some security software (Glary Utilities, Avast) I use the free versions (but, to be fair, should probably upgrade).  But for other things - thinking especially Microsoft Products - I will not pay.

Once upon a time, one could purchase the Microsoft Suite of products and use them freely. Now - like everything else - they are subscription-based models (Shout out to LibreOffice, which does everything Microsoft Suite does, and can even save in Microsoft formats).  And their free items - their InterWeb Explorer, Microsoft Edge - grates on me purely because I hate giving information away for free and do not like my "choices" guided (although, to be fair, I did download Microsoft Mahjong, which is actually a pretty good adaptation).

The current operating system I have is Windows 10 which - in 2014 - was considered top of the line and is what came with the computer.  Since then, of course, Windows 11 came out.

As my computer frequently reminds me.

Periodically - and Good Heavens, the periodicity  seems to be getting shorter and shorter - the start up screen of my computer brings up "Do you want to switch to Windows 11?"

No, I reply and hit the "Not now" button.

"Are you sure?  Windows 11 does amazing things.  It is like the most best thing out there."

No, I mutter to myself, trying to click the "Really, not now" button repeatedly.

"Are you really, really sure?  It has a lot of functionalities that will make your life better."

No, I mutter again out loud to the computer.  I surf the InterWeb, I write and keep spreadsheets, and I play Mahjong.  I do my taxes once a year.  That is it.  I am hardly the power user you think I am.

"Okay" the computer finally concedes, almost grudgingly - then as an afterthought, puts up only two options:  "Convert now" or "Remind me in 3 days".

I search for any other button with an option, then wearily ask it to remind me again, so I can refuse it again.

I admit, in the scope of what the world is going through and the issues on the horizon, a recalcitrant computer trying to offer me something for nothing is a pretty minor and First World issue.  At the same time, it annoys me beyond all reason.  I have said "No".  I have said "No" repeatedly since the option was first posed to me.  Yet somehow, in this world of "nothing ever disappears from the InterWeb", my computer cannot remember a simple response.

Yes, I know:  At some point there will be no choice but to convert.  Even then, to the end, I will bitterly be looking for the "Do I really have to do this?" button.  

There are many things I can choose to do, but ultimately I hate being "told" to do something - be it from a person or a box on my lap.

Friday, December 16, 2022

The One-Straw Revolution

 "I believe that a revolution can begin from this one strand of straw.  Seen at a glance, this rice straw may appear light and insignificant.  Hardly anyone would believe that it could start a revolution.  But I have come to realize the weight and power of this straw.  For me, this revolution is very real." 

Thus begins Masanobu Fukuoka's One Straw Revolution.

I came to Fukuoka late; my purchase of One Straw Revolution was in 2010.  I had read other books before - many of Gene Logsdon's books and some of Wendell Berry's books, as well as a bevy of the "how to" books written by reasonably engaging folks - but few of them (mostly Logsdon) caught my attention and indeed, my enthusiasm, like Fukuoka.

"I tell the young people up in my orchard again and again not to try to imitate me, and it really angers me if there is someone that does not take this to heart.  I ask, instead, that they simply live in nature an apply themselves to their daily work."

The book itself is about one quarter backstory of Fukuoka's life, one quarter his practice of "do nothing" farming, one quarter his philosophy, and one quarter his attempts to spread his agricultural philosophy in his native Japan.  It has the benefit of being a self contained history and philosophy and instruction manual of Fukuoka's practices; while he has written other works, one could understand him from this single volume.

"Humanity must stop indulging the desire for material possessions and personal gain and move instead towards spiritual awareness."

The principles of Fukuoka's farming practice are clearly described:  No cultivation, no chemical fertilizer or pre-prepared compost, no weeding by tillage or herbicides, no dependence on chemicals.  Simple practices - developed by a lifetime of trial and error.  Like many other Japanese practices, it seems deceptively simple in its presentation, but filled with the potential of a lifetime of improvement.

"The narrow view of natural farming says that is good for the farmer to apply organic material to the soil and good to raise animals, and that this is the best and most efficient way to put nature to use.  To speak in terms of personal practice, this is fine, but with this way alone, the spirit of true natural farming cannot be kept alive.  This kind of narrow natural farming is analogous to the school of swordsmanship known as the one-stroke school, which seeks victory through the skillful, yet self-conscious application of technique.  Modern industrial farming follows the two stroke school, which believes that victory can be won by delivering the greatest barrage of swordstrokes.

Pure natural farming, by contrast, is the no-stroke school. It goes nowhere and seeks no victory.  Putting "doing nothing" into practice is the one thing the farmer should strive to accomplish.  Lao Tzu spoke of non-active nature, and I think that if he were a farmer, he would certainly practice natural farming.  I believe that Gandhi's way, a methodless method, acting with a non-winning, non-opposing state of mind, is akin to natural farming.  When it is understood that one loses joy and happiness in the attempt to possess them, the essence of natural farming will be realized.  The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings."

The above quote represents to me one of the reasons that Fukuoka resonates with me.  Not just because he likens farming to Japanese Sword schools (although that is pretty amazing), but that he is able to turn to the philosophical end of farming:  in the end it is people that farms should be growing.  The farming is just the means to that end.

Fukuoka's humility comes through in these pages in a way that such a thing often does not - but, like the head of my own sword school, I suspect that if one were to have asked him what he was, he would have said he was only ever a student - "I have made a lot of mistakes while experimenting over the years and have experience failures of all kinds" he writes, and then shares some them:  how when he first started his "do nothing" farming, he killed almost all the fruit trees in his father's orchard or how, when he scattered ashes in the fields as a soil amendment, he disrupted the webs of young spiders in the fields.  He only writes of himself as a simple man, try to find better ways to attune himself to the natural way of the world.

"A person can analyze and investigate a butterfly as he likes, but he cannot make a butterfly."

Fukuoka passionately believes in his methods throughout the book, and he relates some stories where he attempts to convince others to adopt them - and while he always sad when they do not, he somehow seems to maintain his hope that someday, such things will be adopted.  In the meantime, he continued to practice his simple way of farming and life, somewhat immune to the world going on around him.

"Stepping out of the hut into the afternoon sun, I paused for a moment and gazed at the surrounding orchard trees laden with ripening fruit, and at the chickens scratching in the weeds and clover.  I then begin my familiar descent to the fields".

Every time I read this book, I am more taken with it.  It is the rare agricultural author that can write not only of farming practice, but of natural theory and philosophy and poetry and who ponders the great meanings of live through the medium of agriculture (and somehow links sword schools and farming).  Fukuoka comes across as student of nature, trying to learn from it the best way to work in harmony with it so that he can benefit from it without harming it; he has the humility of the learner and the courage of the practitioner. He sees himself as a provocateur of change - not change by force or decree, but by example and message.  

"If you hit the mark on the wrong target, you have missed."

Every time I read him, I become even more inspired to seek to life a life as he lived his:  quiet, welcoming of seekers, humbly living a simple life as an example that such a thing can be done, and done well.

"Lao Tzu, the Taoist sage, says a whole and decent life can be lived in a small village. Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen, spent nine years living in a cave without bustling about.  To be worried about making money, expanding, growing cash crops and shipping them out is not the way of the farmer.  To be here, caring for a small field, in full possession of the freedom and plentitude of each day, every day - this must have been the original way of agriculture."

Thursday, December 15, 2022

False Snow


The white hoarfrost,

with delusions of grandeur,

pretends to be snow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Nexus And Thinking: Initial Results

 I was able to get through all of the books that I took with me on my trip last week, with the exception of Atlas Shrugged, which I am still chugging along on (it is a re-read, but clocking in at 1069 pages, it is by far not a "consumed in an afternoon" event).  By the time I am done, that will be 2148 pages in a little under two weeks.  Once upon at time, this was not at all unusual - at the moment, I cannot remember the last time I gave myself the luxury of reading so much.

The books, as you may recall, were:

A Christian Manifesto, Pollution and The Death of Man, The Great Evangelical Disaster, How Should We Then Live? - Francis Schaeffer

The One Straw Revolution - Masanobu Fukuoka

Micro-Eco Farming - Barbara Berst Adams

Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand

It is an interesting mix, intellectually speaking:  Schaeffer, the Christian apologist and social thinker; Rand, the atheist and Objectivist; Fukuoka, originally a biologist who surrendered modern life to live on his family farm and practice "do nothing" farming; and Adams, who moved to a small farm in Washington state and created a life for herself and her family.  All, in their own way, spiritual (even Rand, even if it the spirit of "the best that is within us").

I do not always get my selection of books right when I travel - sometimes they are so disparate in interest and subject that I gyrate wildly from Stoic philosophy to sheep to 10th century Byzantine history - but for some reason, this was the precisely right mix for cogitation.

All of them, in different venues, pinpointing the issues of aspects of the larger Western Civilization.  All of them, in different ways, proposing resolutions to those problems.

To be honest, realizing that thread between them all surprised me.

I do not know that I should be surprised by that, though.  Schaeffer and Rand both deal with the outcome of societies based on then arising trends at the time of their publication, trends which have manifested themselves in full today.  And Fukuoka and Adams are two sides of the same coin: one (Fukuoka) published in the 1970's when the concept of ecological sound farming was really appearing in the U.S.; Adams writing 30 years later, of how that had manifested itself in practice.

This gave me a great deal to ponder and think about - things which, of course, need a lot more in place than an introductory "What I Read This Summer" sort of post. But maybe, at a higher level, I can at least pick out two general observations

1)  Good books continue to be relevant - The most "recent" of the books I read was from almost 20 years ago (Berst Adams). Fukuoka was even farther back (almost 50 years ago), Schaeffer between 40 and 60 years ago, and Rand almost a staggering 70 years ago.  Yet each of the books is not "out of date" - whereas I am pretty sure, based on the titles that we see for current events now, most of the current event books written at the same time are also now of historical interest only, not able to inform the future. (Hint:  Read good books.)

2) I probably do not read nearly as much as I should - As I posted above, this was a great many pages of books which were not just entertaining (although they are), but have the sort of thought in them that requires underlining (sometimes on top of my previous underlines) and thought and, hopefully, application.  I do not prioritize this as much as I should, which is a shame.  It makes my thinking, my writing, and my actions more meaningful.

Monday, December 12, 2022


I am sitting in a major urban airport as I write this on Saturday past, mid-transit between Old Home and New Home.

My flight has been delayed midpoint and thus I find myself with an additional 45 minute wait – or two hours overall – until I board to complete the journey. This is not the first time a flight has been delayed for me, although flight delays can feel very different depending on what airport you get delayed in. In some airports – the smaller, older ones – a wait on a travel can feel packed in among everyone else awaiting transit elsewhere, humanity’s seething mass impatient, loud, and packed in

This time though, I am lucky. It is a large airport and there are a handful of flights – maybe 12 – leaving between now and the end of the day. I can tuck myself away near the gate I am to depart from and wait, greedily sucking power from the provided outlets – for some reason I have an unreasonable fear of running out of power, and insist on having my phone highly charged at all times.

Airports, no matter where they are in the US, are largely the same: stores selling highly priced merchandise, food stores – some recognized chains, some local – selling food at higher than average prices, and the ubiquitous airport bar, with sportsball games blaring and travelers drinking to take their mind off the travel or off the wait to travel. In some ways it is less about travel and more about the American shopping experience in microcosm.

I have become shockingly familiar with many many of these airports in a five state circle on the route to Old Home and then back over the 2.5 years that I have been traveling once a month. I laugh at that statement – there was a time, many years ago, when traveling once a month for work to a foreign destination was a burden. Now, I do it monthly and do not think of it much more than an inconvenience that is to be borne.

The darkness fall early in Winter: from the time I exited the plane to the time I walked the length of the airport twice and then found this spot to sit, we went from the fading beams of sunset to the sparkle of lights and planes of the city surrounding the airport. The airport is temperate but not warm and the air is filled with boarding announcements and the public service announcements that seem common everywhere one goes anymore – do not smoke of course, but does anyone really accept packages from someone they do not know? Apparently the airport authorities still consider this a major point of concern, judging by the number of announcements about it.

I am not much of people watcher: that would imply I (on the whole) enjoy spending time with them. Airports are generally reasonable environments for being somewhere with people if one has to be there if for no other reason that everyone is the terminal has a reason to be here. There are stories I see as I sit here and watch, which I am sure that I could ponder about if I had the inclination. 

Here a man slowly meanders in circles, talking to himself in a phone conversation that only makes sense to him as the rest of us only hear the half; there an older couple seems to have some kind of debate about some fact, stopping and gesturing back and forth at one another. People stroll by and stop, checking the travel board – it can only be for departures at this point – and then continue to meander on their way. Occasionally someone stops, looks, and hurries on, late for a boarding.

At best I can only muster the interest to ask why where Crocs or slippers is considered acceptable traveling attire.

In every airport one sees the maintenance staff as they make their rounds, emptying garbage and recyclables and generally cleaning up. I wonder, briefly, what it would be like to work all day at a transit hub like this, surrounded by people that are going around the world while you are likely going to be here tomorrow and tomorrow and the tomorrow after that. Those that travel often – and this is a common thing in a time and place where travel is still relatively inexpensive – take these sorts of things for granted. I can remember a time where a single plane flight a year was a big deal; this year I have made 14 round trips and I almost do not think of it.

I wonder, as I watch the lights reflect off the linoleum floor and the bags and people roll by, what air travel must have been like before it was “democratized”. Was it like the images that one sees in the movies from the 50’s and 60’s? Was it an event like it appears in the movies and the ads of the time, with people dressed up and formally uniformed staff everywhere? I can remember a day where meals were still served and headphones had to be rented and there a single movie to be shown – and that only on international flights. We walked to the gates and saw people off or waited by the gates for their return. Now we take our meals on ourselves or chew our snack mix while having a drink only, we stand outside the main entrance and wait – although even this almost never seems to happen anymore; much more likely we walk out to the front and wait for our pickup. Less time and certainly less parking cost, we tell ourselves.

Like almost everything, we have moved into the modern world, and lost something in the process.

A women walks her dog by. This is one of the more interesting things that has happened in air travel over the last ten years. I like dogs (and the occasional cat I see), and their presence inevitably brightens up my mood. I wonder what they think of this circulating mass of humanity and its accompanying foods and bits they buy and the thundering voices that rumble from above. Do they question any of it, or do they simply take it in stride as a new environment?

The dog at least seems excited by all of it; the rest of us, with the exception of the very young, take it all for granted.

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Last Calves of 2022

 When I got here this week, The Cowboy let me know they had not one, but two new calves!

My father always enjoyed it when the calves arrived.  It was a regular topic of conversation when I would call.  He would often take the time to wander down and just "check up on them".

Friday, December 09, 2022

December 2022 Ranch Walkabout

Although I should have gone a couple of days ago (as it was sunny) the as- promised walk about.

Looking down across the driveway:

Down the Middle And Lower Meadow...

...and across the road to the Upper Meadow.

From the top of the Upper Meadow looking back towards...well, really an extension of the Upper Meadow:

The Woodlot:  This is second parcel which somehow is almost a third of the value of the entire property (if subdivided).  But why would a sensible person do that?

More of the Upper Meadow:

Along the Lower Meadow...

...down the Lower Meadow...

...and back towards the Middle Meadow:

The seasonal pond is filling up again:

The road back.  Technically, this longer way (2 miles or so) is the deeded access to the property:

Climbing Home: