LOCAL VIEW –Early Snows–

Nothing gets your attention like an abrupt fall of snow in October, when, as you can see, the oaks haven’t dropped their leaves, so you sure as heck haven’t put your rakes away, if you have even started your raking.

Election? Possible Civil War? Who the heck cares about piffling details like that? There are a hundred details to be done before winter, but here winter is, arriving early and uninvited!

October snow is like someone slapping you in the face. It gets your attention in a way intellectual arguments can’t.

Of course, I’m old enough to avoid completely panicing. If I was going to do that I would have done it in during the “Halloween Storm” of 2011. (Photo credit “Fellows Family”).

On that occasion our east-facing slopes were perfectly placed to catch the moisture, and we got an amazing three feet of snow. Out of sheer stubbornness I managed to snow-blow the drive of the Childcare, and we retained our record of being open when schools are closed (as we have done during the coronavirus), but as I recall only a single child showed up the next day.

I figured I was in big trouble, in 2011, because I had a lot more than leaf-raking undone. I had firewood out in the woods and not on the front porch, and three feet of snow makes the job of moving the wood about thirty-seven times harder. Other undone tasks I could ignore: You can ignore the potatoes and carrots undug in the garden, but heating is pretty important in these hills, where temperatures drop below zero (-17 Celsius.) It might prove so hard getting the firewood that I might even have to resort to fossil fuels, and that can get expensive.

However the old lady who directed the church choir I was part of back then, (when I say “old”, I mean roughly my age), told me not to worry. She raised an index finger and stated, “Snow before Thanksgiving never lasts.”

Boy! Was she ever right! All three feet were gone by Thanksgiving, and what’s more, we hardly had any more snow all that winter. At my Childcare, the snow was so thin we destroyed many cheap, plastic sleds scouring over acorns and gravel. It was a bad year for sledding, (but, as I recall, a good year for skating, once the cold set in after Christmas). And I did get the firewood from the woods without needing to mine it and sledge it.

If three feet was nothing to worry about back then, I probably shouldn’t fret about four inches now. While it is suppose to remain cold for four days, (and the rain on Sunday could turn to snow), by the end of next week it suppose to hit sixty, and the snow will vanish.

In other words, I’ll get another chance to check off things on my list; to rake leaves, dig potatoes and carrots, and build winter quarters for the Childcare’s duck. But one thing I cannot do, and am glad I can’t do it. I can’t worry incessantly about the election, because “incessant” means “non-stop”, and the snow stopped me.

Have I fallen or risen? Once the snow
Was my joy, but now it’s my nemesis.
I’m made hypocrite. The older I grow
The more I growl at what was my bliss.
Poor God! From eternity he hears my prayers,
And my entire life’s the blink of His eye,
Yet He hears my blisses become despairs
And opposite pleadings from the same guy.
But one thing stays the same. Snow’s sweep of white
Erases all that I had planned to do,
And faces me with a new page to write.
Life knows a pause. You cannot continue.
And within that pause, when routine must cease,
The hubbub must halt at a hint of God’s peace.


I’m home from a vacation which was very relieving, as it was a sort of middle-finger to all who say we should hide under our beds due to the coronavirus. We did all the ill-advised things and nobody got sick, let alone died.

One thing I noted, during our time driving about California and Oregon, (seven all crammed together in a rented car), was that in only some places were people obedient to the orders that all wear masks. I would glance about as I got out of a car, and knew very swiftly whether I was among compliant “Karens” or scofflaws.

In my view, because the law itself violates the U.S. Constitution, the law is against the law, which makes the scofflaws lawful. Therefore I very much appreciated seeing I was not alone, and that there are large pockets of fellow Americans who are freeing their faces.

Now that I’m back in New Hampshire I’m suppose to self-quarantine for two weeks.

Two weeks. That was how long the original quarantine was suppose to last. We all agreed to it, despite the fact it hurt us, because we wanted to create a breathing space to avoid what was occurring in Italy, where the hospitals were overwhelmed. And that breathing space was created, and our hospitals were not overwhelmed. That is when the quarantine should have been lifted.

We should have gotten back to handling the virus in the way mankind always has, through going to work and taking the risk of catching it, and going to bed if and when we caught it. Instead a make-believe danger was created, as if we were dealing with a terrible plague with a 90% mortality rate like New England’s Indians faced in 1618, rather than a ‘flu with a 0.5% mortality rate.

And the “Karens” bought the balderdash. It is really rather funny to see how outragedly indignant their expressions are when a person walks by without wearing a mask. The concerning thing is that I imagine the same outrage filled faces here in New England when we brought witches to trial. The oddest thing is that the Karens like to say they stand by “science”, and I don’t. This is odd because Karens never do the most rudimentary form of “fact checking”.

As a Global Warming Skeptic, I’ve been up against such Karens so-called “science” for nearly twenty years. It is old-hat to me. I’m sick of it. After all, I already have been patient for fifteen years, and only in the past five have I started becoming rude. Only slightly rude, but I do ask disconcerting questions such as, “When you say ‘science’, which studies are you referring to?”

Karens seldom can name a study, for in most cases they have never cracked a book nor studied a paper, and instead have been completely seduced by a fellow wearing a white lab-coat, who clears his throat a lot in an upper-class manner, preferably speaks in an upper class, (preferably British), accent, and who predictably utters politically-correct poppycock. Karen’s are more impressed by the gentleman’s manicured finger, as he raises it to make a point, than the validity of the point he is making. Karens never question the authority, and in fact glare at you if you do question. They would rather nod and nod like a bobblehead, because to nod is to agree, and it is rude to be disagreeable.

In actual fact it is not rude to ask questions. To question proves you are interested. It is agreeable to be interested in what another is talking about.

Therefore the truly disagreeable people are the Karens, who get so bent out of shape when I ask questions.

True scientists are happy to see me, because I ask the sort of penetrating questions which show I actually grasp the subject, and am as interested in the topic as they are, which, in the case of many scientists, is rare. After all, if you study something as obscure as the algae that grows on the underside of arctic sea-ice, you are not often the life of a cocktail party, and in fact the sophisticated tend to avoid you, and you feel sad and alone until I come along to a corner of the cocktail party and make you feel worthy, because I ask questions and am rivetted upon the obscure subject of the algae on the underside of sea-ice.

It follows that, because I do ask questions, I know a lot more about algae that grows on the underside of sea-ice than Karens do.

At which point you are perfectly justified in mustering your best British accent and saying, “Oh pish-tush, old chap! Who cares about algae on the underside of arctic sea-ice? That tis mere trivia, my man!”

The problem is, you have no idea of my appetite for trivia. I suck it up in a manner that makes a Hoover look like it is wheezing. I am the repository for colossal amounts of trivia, simply because I’m inquisitive and always asking questions. As a result, I know about all sorts of obscure stuff you’ve likely never thought about. And, should you ask, “What’s the use of that?” I respond that trivia is very useful.

How so?

Well, it turns out that, while true scientists are very happy when I ask questions, some who wear the white lab-coats of scientists become very uncomfortable when I ask questions that are sparked by the trivia I know.

Now, I ask you, why should my questions make them uncomfortable?

The answer is, because they are well aware their arguments have weaknesses which might be exposed. Even if I question with the innocence of a child, I might expose that the emperor has no clothes. Any question therefore becomes a threat, as if the questioned was facing the cross-examination of a hostile lawyer.

But, if one truly believed they stood by the Truth, how could any question be a threat? Rather a question would be an opportunity to gush about the beauty of Truth. Therefore those who are hostile to questions tend to be those who in some way, shape or form already know they differ from the Truth, the Whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.

In terms of the coronavirus, such people tend to be those who delight in the power of bossing others about, even to the degree where they dislike their fellow man enjoying freedom.

The initial “lock down” of two weeks was like a hit of a powerful drug that made such people become addicted, past all norms of civil behavior. Like a heroin addict who will sell his grandmother’s false teeth for his next hit, they went to crazy lengths to retain “control”. They destroyed small businesses, closed forever little restaurants that had pleased people for fifty years, deprived children of education and school lunches, and even demanded church-goers stop worshipping the Almighty, all to cling to the big-frog-in-a-little-pond self-aggrandizement of being a big-shot.

Such people fear some important questions. For example, “Is what you are doing lawful?” It is not, according to the U.S. Constitution. Nor is it lawful according to Hebrew, Islamic, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other scriptures. No wonder they avoided questions.

As far as I can see the best way to avoid questions is to attempt to keep the Karens convinced we are at the verge of death and destruction. After all, in a crisis, all drop what they are doing to attend to the emergency. Therefore, to retain emergency-powers given to you, you must keep the emergency going. God forbid that you do what those powers were granted to you to do, which was to end the emergency.

But I have some sad news for such puffed-up people. The emergency is over. We have to go back to the humdrum life we once knew, where faces were free.

The Karens might still be made to utterly quiver in fear about “spikes” in the number of people with Coronavirus, but a person like me seldom quivers and instead wonders, and asks inconvenient questions, for example, “If you mass produce testing kits, and are able to test millions more than before, are you likely to detect more cases?” The answer is, of course, “Yes.”

My follow-up question is then, “Is this spike in the numbers of people known to have the coronavirus indicative of an increase in the infection rate, or merely indicative of increased testing?”

At this point any person whose self-worth is dependent upon being a self-aggrandizing big-frog-in-a-little-pond is between a rock and a hard place. If he answers honestly he loses more than his five-minutes-of-fame.

What does he lose? Well, you can have no idea how desperate his situation is.

You see, when I ask my follow-up question all the Karens are nodding even before the so-called “authority” answers. They already expect his answer to affirm their own self-worth, as they ruthlessly nag everyone to wear masks. They are certain he will state the spike in numbers (largely due to to increased testing, but slightly due to people staying indoors more in cooler weather) will kill many. In fact statistics show the “spike” in the numbers-infected resulted in next to no increase in the numbers who died.

In other words, the emergency is over. We can return to normalcy. This means those who were given “extraordinary powers” can get the hell off their high horse and go back to being ordinary. However I think some are reluctant.

Some may be reluctant because they are utterly drunk, completely intoxicated by the “extraordinary powers” they were given. However I think others are wearied of the burden of power, and would very much like to go back to the ways things were before the virus, but can never go home again, because of the Karens.

I have faced the nasty anger of Karens, both in terms of Global Warming and in terms of the Coronavirus, but it was always with me as a foe. I never pretended to be a lover. Therefore I am not at all fearful of the wrath they may display, when those who pretended to love them scorn them.

For, in essence, this is what saying “the epidemic is over” will do. It will scorn all the Karens’ sneering; it will scorn all their nastiness, it will scorn all their bullying, all their ostracizing, all their hatred; and instead will make Karens themselves the objects of ridicule and scorn. People will start to say, “Weren’t those Karens backwards? Weren’t they stupid? Who in their right mind could have believed their balderdash?” Poor Karens will become the objects of laughter and ridicule.

I would not like to be in the shoes of a man in a white lab-coat who must inform a Karen of the fate that awaits them. “There is no fury like the fury of a woman scorned.”


I gain a strangely wistful feeling
From the window of a jet. There’s so much
Geology; lands scarred and lands healing;
Farms I’ll never know; soils I’ll never touch;
But God knows. God knows each and every one
And the small problems each can’t truly share
For each farm’s unique: Servings of sweet sun
And rain and soil and salt and joy and despair
And deep wells drilled for water striking oil
I’ll never know; brave friends I’ll never meet
But God knows them all, how they sweat and toil
And then laugh as small town’s times turn sweet.
I long to know all, as I’m passing above.
God already knows, and showers His love.


I have never been big on touring. Not that I don’t like the sensation of travel, and peering over a ridge into a new valley, but there must be a greater goal. In my younger day the “greater goal” that budged me was usually a woman who I thought might be my “unmet friend”, or, (more rarely), a writer, editor or publisher who I thought might be my “unmet friend”, yet, looking back, I have always preferred people to places. Even during my days as a drifter, when I traveled the United States top to bottom and coast to coast, and touched Europe and Asia as well, I tended to bog down once I arrived at a certain place, and got to know the people.

This perhaps is demonstrated by the mileage of my first car, a 1973 Toyota with a miniscule 1200 cc engine, which I brought brand new in May 1974 for a sale price of $2390.00; (it was literally the cheapest new car in the market back then; I couldn’t afford a Volkswagen “bug” at $2800.00 or a Fiat at $2600.00). Fourteen years later its amazingly rusted body and frame was about finished, and its little engine reincarnated as the engine for a rustic Navajo sawmill. At that time the vehicle, which had served me well as I lived in Massachusetts; New Hampshire; Maine; New Jersey; Ohio; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; briefly in Galveston, Texas; Santa Cruz, California (all the salty places-by-the-sea helped rust away the body); and finally at many locals in and near the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona, was a vehicle which had accumulated a pathetic total of only 89,900 miles. I have friends (salesmen/deliverymen) who have driven more than that in a single year.

The fact of the matter is that once I arrived at a place I had to do what tourists don’t. I had to get a job. Even when I was a young artist and abhorred jobs, I had to mooch, and one reason I started working Real Jobs was because mooching involves more work than working does. But in either case I found work close to where I lived. My longest “commute” was five miles, and often I found it possible to walk to work. This allowed me to understand the people I lived midst in ways tourists can’t.

Furthermore, I was not studying the “other” culture like an anthropologist does, from a podium, peering down a long nose. Usually I was down and out, and desperate. One finds it hard to be high and mighty when desperate for work. And this turns out to be a good thing, when it comes to getting to know a so-called “people”, whether they be an official “people” like the Zuni tribe, or an unofficial “people” like the rednecks of South Carolina. What one gets to know is that, even if the particular “people” can never get past seeing you yourself as an “alien”, you yourself can learn to see we are all created equal, and are all brothers and sisters under our skin.

In a sense I agree with Will Rogers, who once said, ““I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.”

When younger I disapproved of joking about others, always seeing the better side of people and expecting the best, but, after learning the hard way that people are not always the saints they could be, I learned to joke.

Few of us achieve Perfection, and, perhaps after a few drinks, most of us can confess we have succumbed to temptations in our time, though we prefer to call our moral failures “foibles” to admitting they are “sins.” Hand in hand with our growing awareness of our own ineptitude at achieving sainthood, comes a growing awareness that most others are not so hot at being saints, either. Then, as our songs slip from what William Blake called “Songs of Innocence” to “Songs of Experience”, we perhaps stop optimistically seeing only the better side of people, and instead see good and bad is in every man. At this point a choice must be made. It is this: Can you still meet a man and like him, despite his imperfections?

(I sure hope so, for otherwise no one will ever like me.)

At this point a sad side of human nature can rear up. Some develop a superiority complex, and fail to see all are brothers and sisters under the skin. They are repelled by unity, and cannot follow the Christ’s example of washing the feet of a leper. They instead want their own feet washed, preferably by beautiful servants and never by a leper.

A superiority complex is a nasty ailment, for it causes the afflicted to divide, utilizing a variety of incisors to separate people in terms of skin color, sex, religion, fame, accumulated income, political power, military might, physical and emotional attractiveness, occult ability, or what-have-you, with the aim being to keep themselves “on top”. It is due to such division that some Americans refer to others as “bitter clingers” and “deplorables”, rather than correctly: As brothers and sisters within an union which is “indivisible”.

I have done a lot of thinking about that word, “indivisible”. After all, it is in the United States Pledge of Allegiance I recited several thousand times as a boy. “…One nation, under God, indivisible…” Even if Atheists remove the words, “under God”, it is still,”…one nation, indivisible…”. And what does this suggest? It suggests that any who divide are breaking the pledge.

Sadly, there are people to whom a pledge means nothing. They place their hand on the Bible and promise, but it means nothing. At the alter they promise to be faithful to their spouse, but they find excuses to break their word. They can marry ten times. The word marriage becomes meaningless. Their word means nothing. Yet they feel they are the “elite”.

It seems odd that the “elite” think they are so high and mighty, when they can’t even keep their word, whereas those who they deem “deplorables” and “bitter clingers” keep their word, even at great cost.

This is borne out by a simple statistical analysis of who donates a higher percentage of their income to charity, the rich or the poor. The working poor are far more generous than the rich are. (People reduced to leeching off welfare are not included in such analysis, although they too can be generous with their welfare checks.)

To envision the generosity of the working poor it is best to see things in terms of so-called “disposable” income. That is the money you have left over after paying for a bare minimum of food; rent and/or mortgage; clothing; and transportation to and from work. For the fellow and gal working to pay a mortgage on a trailer in a trailer park, with two children to feed and clothe, the “disposable” income is a small amount. But they may save that small amount, reducing or going-without luxuries such as beer and cigarettes, hoping to save for some special item that means a lot to them (even if not to others), (for example, a ticket to a ball game.) Then, just when they nearly have enough saved, they hear of a neighbor whose trailer burned down. What do they do? Put a ball game ahead of a suffering neighbor? No. Over and over you witness them go without, to help others.

Compare this with the behavior of a fellow who has lucked into a good job that pays big bucks. His paychecks are so big that he pays for a penthouse with ease, and he has a “disposable” income every week which is larger than the poor could accumulate in a year. Therefore every week he is able to donate far more than the poor can, but every week he delays his donation. Every week he faces some “elite necessity”, which argues it must come first. For example, he “needs” to buy a thousand dollar suit, to fit in with the other elites. He “needs” to attend a conference in Bali, not that the conference has anything to do with the nuts and bolts of his business, but it is “image enhancement” to jet to Bali and hobnob with others about Global Warming, for that is where the jet-setters decided to hold their conference, regardless of the huge “carbon emissions” involved. (Yes, this has happened on numerous occasions, if not in Bali than in other luxurious places.) As weeks pass the elite “needs” always come first, and, even if they initially had good intentions, those intention to help those in need of help are never realized, until the phenomenon warps into a strange hypocrisy which puts elite “need” so far above what the poor truly need, that the hypocrisy becomes a derangement.

Such hypocrites love to appear sophisticated, without researching the word “sophist”, or understanding the glib logic of sophists is too often specious. At times the elite become as mad as addicts, snarling they “need” the very poison which is destroying their life.

In any case, despite all the “disposable” income the elite have, they have little left to actually donate to the poor, and in fact in many cases the elite wind up deep in debt, which means they haven’t even helped themselves. Then they require pity, and charity.

In my life I’ve had the odd fortune to hobnob with both the rich and the poor, and the best thing to do is to avoid division, and simply say, “good and bad is in everyman.” However it is also said that, “It is easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get into heaven”, and, “Blessed are the poor.” This demonstrates division is even in the scriptures that seek to unify us. Therefore, though I’ve met spiritual rich people unlike the “elite” I describe, and have met poor, savage desperados who could have killed me simply because their mood was sour, I have found, as a general rule, the poor are more kind and more giving.

You may scoff, “It is easy to give all you have when you only have a dollar,” but I’ve yet to see a rich person give everything they have. And what is worse, some rich people actually make money from poverty. They cry out we need to help the poor, but rather than their own wallets getting more slender their wallets grow plumper. They have the charity of a fox and offer the honey of a Venus fly trap.

Excluding the occasional spiritual rich-person, and also excluding the worst desperados among the poor, who would you rather associate with? Speaking only for myself, I prefer the working poor. In other words I prefer the exact same people the elite sneer at as being “deplorables” and “bitter clingers.”

They are also called the “masses”. Even the “sheeple”. They are deemed easily swayed and controlled, by the adroitly manipulative elite. Nothing could be more dangerous than such disdain, for the rabble you rouse can turn on a dime and come stampeding towards you. Those who live by misleading die mislead.

In actual fact the “sheeple” get that name because they are trusting their shepherd. They are faithful and loyal, as a wise boss understands and greatly appreciates, and he attempts to shower them with kindnesses.

One kindness shown around here involved the soaring price of a ticket to a baseball game. When I was a boy it was a couple dollars, and I could take the subway to Fenway Park and pay my own way, with my spending money. But the salaries of players soared and things reached a point where not only a boy couldn’t afford a game, but an ordinary working man couldn’t afford a game. At that point smart bosses, who could afford far more, bought blocks of seats as “season tickets”, calling it a “tax deductible business expense”, which allowed them to treat potential customers from time to time, but also allowed them to splurge on their hard working employees. Where an employee would have to scrape together weeks worth of “disposable” income for a single ticket, the boss (who wasn’t going to use the season tickets for that particular game) might give them four tickets for free, so an employee could bring his wife and kids. The employee’s gratitude was all out of proportion to what it cost the boss, but he was well aware, (even if he himself thought sports were stupid and a waste of time), that his employees liked him more and became more faithful and loyal.

In some cities it was not the general public paying for the tickets that paid for the player’s huge salaries, but a multitude of small businessmen, who bought blocks of season tickets. Therefore only very stupid players would support mobs that looted and burned such small businesses. However it seems many player have decided they too are members of the elite, removed from the plebian Hoi Polloi. They live on some hoity-toity cloud, divided from the sheeple, rather than seeing themselves as members of a single, unified, indivisible city.

It is not merely the athletes who seem to have forgotten who pays their bills, but all of the elite. Somehow such people seem prone to forgetting that, without people working in the fields, we don’t eat. Clothing does not grow in closets. Lightbulbs don’t glow on their own, and when power returns in a storm some unseen lineman is out working in the wind. All around the elite, the “deplorables” are feeding and clothing and sheltering them, preserving and protecting them like the benevolent and compassionate hands of God. How can they then have the utter audacity to call themselves “elite”, to divide “ordinary” people from themselves, supposedly “on top”????

I assert they are separating and segregating themselves from the very salt of the earth. Even if the rest of us are sheeple, they are unfit to be our shepherds. They have no idea how a herd even works, and remind me of an expert on the mechanics of the old-fashioned, non-electric, ring-a-ding cash registers taking the back off a new and modern cash register, with complex wiring and boards, and exploring with his screwdriver, and promptly producing a bright blue spark and cloud of smoke. (I knew such an old expert, and he told me he left in a hurry.) In like manner, concerning the sheeple, the elite assume the herd is all lambs, with some meek and easily-panicked ewes. Then they see their first ram. Next they notice the ram is not the only ram. Lastly they notice all the rams are lowering their horns and digging at the earth with their right, front hoof.

It is only at this late date does it occur to the elite that maybe the idea we are all of one herd, indivisible, is better than being able to look at others as mere sheep. The sheep don’t look so sheepish when it is a multitude of angry rams between you and the door. Yet so it was in the French Revolution, when the elite began by leading the lambs and ewes to the slaughter of the guillotine, and ended with their own heads thrust and bowed before that plunging blade.

Far better it seems, to me, to tour a land that is indivisible. A land where, like the eyes in our own skulls, we believe two views are better than one, and United We Stand. After all, having two eyes gifts us with depth perception, a gift which a cyclops sorely lacks, and which a cyclops cannot even conceive, because sadly, (like some elitists), you cannot conceive what you have never seen.

But I have seen it. Even in California, which some think is beyond redemption. If you tour this land, getting boots dirty rather than listening to pundits, what you see is the salt of the earth, with good at its core. You might even say we have God in our guts.


I confess I’d heard so many bad things about California that it came as something of a shock to miss all the ugliness (so far) and be struck by the beauty.

I am reminded of a tale I heard of a drunk who was cheerfully staggering down a street. All the people were pointing at him and laughing, but just then there was an earthquake, which caused all the people to stagger about. The people were all weeping and cursing about the situation, but the drunk found things completely normal, so he was the only one who remained relatively calm, helping others up when they fell down, as cheerful as ever, as others wailed.

In like manner, to those who have come through many a calamity, the California calamity does not looks as hopeless as it does to those experiencing the crashing of pot-headed idealism for the first time. One knows such travesties can be learning experiences, and one can pick up the pieces and do better than before. And in California the pieces seem to be beautiful pieces.

I was struck by the care that has long gone into the gardens in front of houses in the “old” part of San Diego. We were only there long enough to catch our breath after a cramped and crowded flight. (So much for “social distancing”; perhaps due to the indifference of congress, the airline decided to make some money and combined two flights into one.) At the hotel people did obey and wear their masks, but the masks were loose, and many seemed to disbelieve they did a lick of good.

We had to try the Mexican food at places recommended to us, (both for dinner and breakfast), and it truly was so much better than so-called “Mexican” restaurants in New Hampshire that it was ridiculous. We stretched our legs, walking to the shore for the sunset.

But what really fascinated me, as a old farmer, were the arid gardens. In front of one abode was a prickly pear which must have been decades old, with a trunk bigger than most east-coast trees. My Brazilian son-in-law was stopped by passion fruit plopping down from a tree into the street, and told us this was unlike the fruit bought in stores, and like how the fruit was suppose to taste. Then my oldest grandson scrambled up a chain link fence to pluck a ripe pomegranate from an overhanging branch, as his grandmother scolded that he’d get us arrested. We made no bones about the fact we were a bunch of rubes from far away, marveling over all that the locals likely found ho-hum and everyday.

All too soon we had to rush to an Air B&B we had rented for the wedding, northeast in Temecula.

Temecula is a place that has grown from a population of 1500 in 1980 to over 50,000 in 2020, which is a growth I would have called “cancerous” as a young man. However it is funny how the years can change you. When young I had no idea of the work that goes into building a dream house and creating a home, and was far more critical of people doing so. Now I am far more aware of the sweat and sacrifice that goes into even a shack. But this place was no shack. It was completely out of my league.

We set to work, lugging around tables and chairs to prepare for a wedding against a beautiful backdrop of a valley below.

I’m not as young as I used to be, and while I could help move the chairs I accepted the truth that I was more in the way than helpful when it came to the heavy tables, so I began snooping about the place, in a sort of Sherlock Holmes manner. I wanted to see if I could figure out the abode’s history, and find any clues as to why a millionaire would turn his place over to a peon like me, for even two days.

My wife likes to poke fun at the way I “make things up”. When two people walk by us on the street I may write a short verbal novelette about why their faces are grumpy. And in the case of this lovely house I concocted several good tales, about millionaires falling into deep debt due to California taxes, or fleeing the state due to riots, but the only real evidence had been traced into the concrete of the patio, when it was poured. The year was 2001, and the couple had five young children, and the children’s little handprints were in the concrete.

Now twenty years have flown by, and those little hands have grown up. For better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, I cannot know. But it does seem nice to me that, rather than mothballed, the lovely place can be shared with others just getting started in life.

Someone must have prayed well, for temperatures were up over ninety just before we arrived, and forecast to soar nearly to a hundred just after we left, but a merciful wind shifted to the west and temperatures dropped to the seventies as we prepared for the wedding.

The morning of the wedding dawned misty and cool.

In the distance not only the sun was rising.

I suppose I could wax morose about California’s problems, but that simply won’t do, the day of a wedding. Hope springs eternal, like a phoenix from the ashes, and should I see homeless in miserable tents of blue plastic, I’ll remember I was homeless once, and look at me now. God is great.


It’s been a time since I just took the time
To sit and watch the sunset paint the waves.
I had to make myself stop writing rhyme
As if verse was on a list, and what saves
A soul from sorrow was a tiresome task
Recalled just as you sit: Jerked to your feet;
Rushed to do. I couldn’t hear surf’s hush ask
It’s soft questions, with so much to complete.
Too many tasks will make Jack start bitching
When sunshine’s soothing could make us be saints.
Next on my list’s to stop spastic twitching.
Don’t let to-do lists be only complaints.
A moving molten scarlet sun
That plays upon the waves
Uplifts the drooping poets
From their fate of early graves.


Life sounds rough these days out in California, with fires and riots, which is why it makes little sense that I am heading out there at the end of this week. But my youngest son is getting married just north of San Diego, as that is where his fiancée’s family lives.

Due to the coronavirus nonsense, air fares and hotel reservations are amazingly cheap. I just wanted to go to the wedding and then flee back east as fast as I could, but the rest of the family wanted to tour, stating we might as well look around while we are out there (especially as we face a two week quarantine on our return). I grumbled we’d “just be taking a last look around before the civil war begins”. They then argued that to tour is an act of defiance, and a refusal to be cowed.

That did tickle my rather old and tired heart, though I fear Yosemite will just be a view of smoke, if it is even open. But the long range forecast hints at rain. So, if it rains, be sure to give me credit. It always rains on my vacations.

My middle son is in charge of renting a large van, and figuring out the itinerary. We will steer clear of cities, as we meander north to Oregon and then fly back from Portland. I’m tempted to cruise through Portland to see the riot’s devastation, but I highly doubt my wife will go for getting within fifteen miles of Portland center. And actually I’d only be curious if I didn’t have women and children in the car.

It is amazing to watch my son plotting our course using his laptop, figuring out where to stay and which rates are reasonable, and showing me what we will see before we get there. When I see the views a facetious voice in my head says, “If we can see it from here, why go?” At my age I do a lot of my exploring from an armchair.

My son didn’t get his planning and organizing genes from me. When I was young I just followed my nose from place to place, with only the vaguest of plans. What plans I had usually involved finding a pot of gold, and things never went as planned. I had a blind optimism tantamount to thinking I could walk on water, and usually found myself in over my head.

I usually managed to arrive in the general vicinity of where I aimed, but seldom found what I hoped for. I then had to be resourceful, which can be interesting when your resources consist of an empty wallet and an old car to sleep in. But now I’m getting a bit old for such adventure. Hopefully my son will have everything figured out, and I can just dodder and do what I’m told, though in some ways I expect a major California earthquake, the “Big One”, to wait until my arrival. It might be interesting to see if I’ve still got the resourcefulness and resiliency I always seemed to have when young. (Also to see whether I still have the good luck, though I didn’t call it good luck back then; I actually felt unfortunate, but that God watched over me.)

I never planned to “settle down”, when I returned to New England thirty-two years ago, but apparently I have done so, though some might say my married life has involved far too much insecurity to be called “settled.” However I do have a slightly irritated feeling about being pried from my armchair, which conflicts with a contrary delight, about escaping that very same armchair.


In a sense we are headed the wrong way, with most traffic headed the opposite direction. New Hampshire is seeing a flood of escapees from New York and California. They are buying up land in the foothills and even the mountains, and property values are going through the roof. Builders can’t keep up with the demand.

My middle son says none of his age-group can afford houses or land, or even rent, in many places, especially as so many are already saddled with the veritable “mortgage” called “a college loan”. Therefore my son reports there is a new movement to build what he calls “tiny houses.” They are basically sturdy shacks, often built on wheels to get around zoning regulations. Youth will find a way.

I must say I prefer youth that seeks a way around regulations by building “tiny houses”, to youth that seeks to burn things down and defund the police. I prefer youth that choses to marry and start a family, to youth that seek to abolish the institutions of marriage and family. But then, I’m a father, and fathers tend to think their sons are the best, even after sons have past the age when they think their dads are the best.

Me? I definitely am not young. The young drive fast, but I’m in no hurry to get where I’m going. The short sentence, “We all have to go sometime”, is actually a death sentence, and even if you curl up in the most comfortable armchair, it isn’t forever. Therefore, considering I have to go sometime, I might as well go to California.

Hmm. That paragraph was more grim than I meant it to be. In actual fact a wedding is a celebration of youth and life and especially love. Such things have a quality of the eternal, and defy death. California needs that. And rain.

Over the next week I hope to manage a few short observations as an Easterner out west, but I will be no Andy Ngo. I may not find time to post at all.

Keep the faith.

Long past are the days I delighted to roam.
In armchairs, old maps are now my delight.
Yet, though I like fires and to stay safely home,
Past my map’s edges there’s always some white.
Though I’ve mastered arts of afternoon snoring
My heart finds it boring; I jolt from sleep
Aware of white space needing exploring;
Aware of a wolf unseen by the sheep.
Then I can’t sleep, and feel my heart racing.
I need to fill up the lack that I know.
It’s then that midnight sees me start pacing
And proving that old men still have to grow.
All have to go, and there’s no exception
Made for soft chairs of fondest reflection.

LOCAL VIEW –Dead Vines Blooming–

I could tell, even when planting, it was going to be a year I’d have to chose my battles, and the garden might lose out. Though no one got ill, the so-called “cure” to the coronavirus nearly closed my Childcare and made everything harder. The cure was worse than the cold. Often I had to cover for members of my staff who felt it wisest to stay home, and also I had to assist family members who lost their jobs. However in April there were still shortages in the markets, and I figured I should cover for the off-hand chance of famine, so I did start the garden. Then the grocery stores restocked their shelves (in the American manner other nations envy), and the threat of famine retreated to next year.

As the garden began to lose out to other urgencies, I couldn’t keep up with the maintenance. A big garden requires daily diligence. If I potter happily every day I keep the weeds at bay, but if I so much as take a day off to go to the beach the weeds seemed to clap their hands and spring upwards three inches. If you have your way then you must pay, and by June the weeds were winning. I attempted to delegate, but the people I delegated to also had crises, and in late June we had a scorching hot spell when I had to be away a week, and no one took my place. The garden was never watered, and many seedlings withered as the soil became powder dry in blazing heat. But the weeds? Drought didn’t seem to bother them a bit. In only a week the garden was knee deep. Once weeds get that large their roots mingle with the roots of desired plants, which are damaged as you pull the weeds. I looked about my sad garden and came to the instantaneous decision to abandon large sections. The weeds had won. Now the weeds are chest deep, and are brown and dry.

The weather has continued hot and dry, for New Hampshire. Rainfall is ten inches below normal, and reservoirs are shrunken

One town away, the mill pond (which supplies a small amount of local electricity) was lower than I’ve ever seen. (Second picture is from atop bluff in background of first picture.

Though the garden was producing pathetic, shrunken carrots, onions and potatoes, the lone redemption was the one plant I found time to care for, a morning glory at the entrance of the Childcare.

Part of our “curriculum” involved counting the blooms each morning. The record kept increasing, up to 42, with hundreds of buds promising a glorious future!

But then, along with the dryness came an early freeze, though the waters were still summer-warmed, and steamed in the cold daybreak’s sunshine.

The cold arctic high withered all the morning glories leaves, and the entrance to the Childcare went from my pride and joy to ugliness. The high pressure also bumped Hurricane Teddy’s heavy rains away and out to sea, and our drought continued.

The frost killed much that was green and increased the burned look of the landscape, and even as the sky dimmed with smoke from west coast fires, our fire-danger became high. Old-timers murmured lore of 1947, “The Year Maine Burned”.

It was hard to stay cheerful when even the sun was made drab. My garden was full of tomatoes that hadn’t had time to ripen, on withered vines. They seemed a harvest of hurt, and my mood was made all the worse because every day the news was foul, full of reports of riots and lost liberties and false facts and mudslinging and Truth warped; election-year politicians all lying as if the public was complete idiots. It seemed well worth a grumpy sonnet.

Victory speeches I had long rehearsed
Yellow on the page. My ruins smolder
As cruel men cackle. Peace can’t be coerced
But my patience fades as I grow older.
Kindness seems a limp sword before the bombs
Of cruelty; the hope called family
Is called old-fashioned; even Dads and Moms
Are deemed obsolete. Slaves sneer at the free
From their cubicles, and I want to yell.
But my yelling can’t make tomatoes
Ripen before frost, or cause green buds to swell
And bloom brilliance before they freeze. God grows
A secret crop, and while I see but crime
God’s plot matures in the fullness of time.

Then, as the smoke left the high sky and the sun brightened, something nice happened at the entrance of the childcare.

The dead vines bloomed, and now the children count them in the morning again.