We had hopes of a summer rainstorm, as a coastal low did not head out to sea, but instead curved northwest off the tip of Cape Cod and into the Gulf of Maine.
Indeed, the forecast all day was for rain, yet in an uncanny manner it never fell. As the weak low came north some fairly robust rain showers came across Massachusetts Bay from the east, but the moment they hit the shore they vanished from the radar map. We saw purple clouds pass over, but they were flirts, and didn’t give us a kiss. Only when they hit the Berkshires of Massachusetts and the Green Mountains of Vermont did uplift cause them to unleash rains. This was insult to injury for we not only got rains to our east but also to our west.
As the weak storm moved up into the Gulf of Maine our winds shifted to the northeast, and all those showers you can see up in Maine in the above map started to be pushed down towards us. Yet again they dried up as they approached. Only the showers that hugged the coast retained enough moisture to give the south shore of Boston a few sprinkles.
It almost seems that the very dryness of our landscape discourages the uplift that brings about rain. Or perhaps the uplift does occur but is full of bone-dry air that squelches rain. In any case, that is my final attempt to be scientific. For when drought gets this extreme you tend to drift towards superstition, and the desire to burn witches.
Who do I blame? I blame the voters of Boston. They are the ones who brought this punishment from God upon us. Me? I’m an innocent bystander. I just happen to live too close to Boston. Maybe I’m just across an imaginary line, in New Hampshire, but imaginary lines don’t make good walls, when it comes to stopping a drought.
Whew! I’m in a rough situation! The only way to stop this drought, and get some rain for my garden, is to go into Massachusetts and convince those voters to choose differently. I’m not looking forward to such a task, for it is said (not in any scripture I know about) that, “If Democrats listened to reason there would be no Democrats”.
Likely I’m not up to such a task. Likely I should just pray.
Even the weeds are shriveling, and grass
On the lawns is brown, and when walked upon
It crunches. The sun's starting to harass
With its too-friendliness. I look to dawn
Hoping for gloom, but all I get is cheer.
Some lesson's being taught, and I've a hunch
It's to do with when I prayed skies would clear
When sick of rain. Now that the grass goes "crunch"
Dare I complain my prayer saw answer?
I know the danger of drought, how one butt
Dropped careless can release that orange dancer
Who makes her own wind, how both mansion and hut
Become mere ash. Did I pray for this doom?
I only know I'm now praying for gloom.
It has been a very dry summer, and an alarming drought is growing in New England.
When I was young, normalcy bored me, and any weather outside the norm seemed better than Camelot weather. I had a yearning for thunderstorms, and even tornadoes, and was very annoyed hurricanes never seemed to clobber New England anymore. But, if we couldn’t get storms toppling trees, maybe the sunshine could become a hazard, and drought could cause forest fires. Anything seemed better to me, as a young man, than the stultifying oppression of a Boston suburb. (Parents may have intended to create heaven on earth, but emerald suburbs were boring, boring, Bore-Ing.)
But now I am not a young man anymore. I am an old man, and a bit of a wet blanket on such youthful thirst-for-disaster. For one thing, where disaster once meant extra work, which I could profit from, now disaster means extra work I can’t afford paying others for, and must hobble about doing for myself. For another thing, thirsting for disaster nowadays always seems to involve Global Warming, and the politics of taking away people’s liberty and replacing it with a Globalist Big Brother. Heck with that. When I was young, I could thirst for disaster, and it didn’t cost the taxpayers a trillion dollars.
For example, if I wanted to thirst for a hurricane I had only to research the 1938 hurricane. If it happened before, might it not happen again? I had no need to involve men in white coats blaming CO2. In the same way, if I wanted thirst for drought and terrible fires, I had only to research the 1947 drought and the fires that burned nine towns from the map of Maine.
In the above picture the distant pines are likely at least fifty feet tall, so the sheet of flame arising is likely approaching 200 feet tall. Such fires might be ordinary among people in California, but it is completely outside the experience of modern New Englanders.
Oh, how I yearned for such excitement to return! The suburbs of Boston were so dull, dull, Duh-hell! And the trees grew so close together in the richer neighborhoods. A good fire with a southwest breeze of 25 mph would sure liven things up! But Alas! God had mercy and my wicked wishes never occurred, until….maybe….this year. If you look at the above drought map you will see the most tinder-dry forests are those fat-cat suburbs of Boston, where the suburbanites allow trees to grow right beside their houses, which the old Yankee never would allow.
Why not? Because every fifty years or so there might be a forest fire, and you sure didn’t want your house in such a forest as it blazed.
In fact, if you look back up to the picture of 1947 above, you will notice the people are standing by a house which is a heck of a long way from the fire. The house is far from the trees for a reason. People had common sense back then. People in the suburbs of Boston have no such common sense now, and the most expensive homes are midst the thickest trees.
Should the current drought result in a forest fire in the suburbs of Boston, many expensive homes will be involved. Yet will the wisdom of the builders and maintainers be so much as questioned?
No, Global Warming will be the culprit. Global Warming will get the blame. Why? Because of a political agenda which wants to do….. whatever…. but it has nothing to do with common sense.
Common sense just looks to the past to see what can be expected. This shouldn’t be any big deal. However, the past is politically incorrect, when the past does not affirm that the current situation is the “worst ever” and caused by “Global Warming”.
Now that I myself am an old-timer I inherently carry a certain political incorrectness. Why? Because I remember. I know the current drought is not the worst, for I lived through the worst.
The worst drought in New England history was not a single, extended period without rain, but season following season with below-normal rainfall. Slowly but surely it all added up. In some areas it began as early as 1960, but by 1964 it was becoming extreme. The water supply for the city of Boston was threatened. The chief reservoir for this water was the Quabbin, and in 1965 it hit an all-time low.
The above graph shows the severity of the drought, and also that, even when rains returned, the reservoir was slow to recover. Back in those days they could not blame Global Warming to raise taxes, but some politicians were deeply concerned Boston would lack water, and as I recall there were even suggestions that major rivers, such as the Connecticutt and Merrimac, should be diverted to the Quabbin Reservoir, so people in the suburbs of Boston could water their lawns.
Back then it turned out we did not need to divert major rivers. In like manner it may turn out we do not need to destroy our economy with a Green New Deal, when the current drought affects the plush suburbs of Boston.
As I say such things I confess I feel sorry for modern youth, who likely want disaster to liven up their lives, just as I once did. To such youth I say, you do not need Global Warming, to foster hopes of exciting ruination. You can do what I once did, and be a troublemaker.
A drought actually can be fun. I can prove it to you, for I lived through that 1960’s drought. I can show you my old diaries and tell you of the mischief I enacted, involving reservoirs it was illegal to fish and swim in. I managed to experience some exciting stuff at those shrunken reservoirs, despite the fact I lived in a boring suburb. People who know me have heard my tales too many times: The quicksand tale; the run-in-with-the-State-Police tale; the nearly-burn-down-the-neighborhood tale. But you’ve never heard them. Would you like to hear them?
What’s that? Do they conflict with the narrative about Global Warming? Well…maybe…just a bit. They do supply evidence the current drought isn’t the worst ever, and that the current drought may be caused by natural climate cycles, such as a 60-year AMO cycle. After all, the last drought was roughly sixty years ago, which suggests…. what’s that? I need to be censored? My blog should be shadow-banned? I’m a racist? Does that mean you don’t want to hear my three stories?
Oh, all right then. Have it your way. I’d hate to see you lose your nice, taxpayer-funded job, or be unable to afford your nice house midst the crowding trees in the emerald-green suburbs of Boston. But…what’s that I smell? Smoke?
Amendment 4 – Protection from Unreasonable Searches and Seizures
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.
Note the word “particularly”, and then compare that with the amazingly general and vauge description of what is to be seized in part “C” of the warrant.
Basically, the warrant allows the FBI to seize anything Trump wrote or received while president.
I’ll leave it to others to state whether this is a “fishing expedition” or not, and whether or not the possibility exists that evidence could have been “planted”, (especially as people were banned from serving as witnesses and onlookers), and whether or not the FBI has a shred of reliability left after it has been exposed as culpable to the processes that led to prior unfounded attacks on Trump.
Instead, I would like to address the question, “Why should Trump want to hide even a single paper?”
The simple fact of the matter is that we mortals are not perfect, and often need to go through a process of “feeling things out” before we arrive at a decision. During the “process” we may say things we would never say “in public”. We may stamp around and be wall-bangers. Those who love us wait until we are done ventilating, and then say something along the lines of, “You don’t really mean that.” And, speaking for myself, I tend to respond, “No, but it’s how I feel.”
Such emotional honesty is only possible with those who love you. It is a thing called “intimacy.” Such emotional honesty is not wise among those who hate you, and who want to harm you, for they will use such honesty as a proof you are a sinner.
The word “sin” has become politically incorrect, but the sad fact of the matter is that it is human to err. Saint John stated, “If we say we have no sin then the Truth is not in us.” It follows that our ability to confess our sin, in some safe space, is vital to our ability to grow, and even to exist, as humans.
This is not to say we accept sin as behavior we want to follow. After saving the adulterous woman from being stoned by telling the angry mob, “Let you who is without sin throw the first stone” Jesus told the woman who he had saved, “Go, and sin no more.”
There needs to be the recognition that sin is undesirable. If one attempts to justify sin and perpetuate sin, one faces a danger Saint Paul described as being “given to your sin.”
In fact, the good are as prone to sin as the bad, but the good fight what the bad promote.
To return to the subject of private papers, I have kept a diary since I was nine, and if the FBI wants to dig up evidence that I am not always sweet and saintly, or even sane, all they need to do is seize my private papers. In fact, just to tantalize them, here’s a page from 1965:
(The FBI might like to know why my older brother, who was 18 at the time, was coming home at two AM and entering the house through a third story window.)
I think it might do the FBI some good if they were forced to read my writing. All 60 years’ worth. If my poetry didn’t make them more sensitive, it might gag them, and either would be better than their current state.
But as far as your private papers are concerned, they are nobody’s business but your own. The U S Constitution defends your right to work things out in your own time and in your own way, and anyone who wants to limit or infringe upon that liberty can go take a flying leap.
Some of the most constructive time I spend with small children at my Childcare is time that is not “organized”. It has no specific “curriculum” other than “hanging out”. Basically, the kids just tag along as I potter about doing chores in my usual disorganized manner. Sometimes they help me, but usually not.
I tend to be hit by a non-stop stream of questions, and sometimes I answer them seriously, and sometimes with an absurd answer, and sometimes with an answer that becomes so long and elaborate that the children start drifting away.
As I potter about I often stop to pull a few random weeds, and each time a child will ask “What are you doing?” After answering, “pulling a few random weeds” the first hundred times, during the early days of the Childcare over a decade ago, I got a bit fed up, and began answering in a spurious manner, just to entertain myself by watching how the children responded. For example, I might answer, “making a fudge cookie.” Some children would look at me with owlish innocence, while others would think a bit and then a slow smile would spread across their faces and they’d exclaim, “You’re fooling us!”
Rather than slowing the onslaught of dumb questions, giving facetious answers increased the questions, because the kids liked some of the absurd answers I’d come up with. And I confess I rather liked it myself. It could make dull weeding a time of jocular hilarity, if I stated that I pulled a certain weed because it had magic powers and could turn my dog into an elephant. Sometimes we’d even sidetrack over to the dog to see if the herb worked. When it didn’t, I’d scratch my head and say, “That’s odd. Elephants look just like dogs, today.”
Of course, I had to take care to judge the nature of the child. Some children were totally trusting, and I’d need to make sure they knew I was joking, or they’d be misinformed. One time I misinformed a gullible child without intending to, and he came in one morning and folded his arms and greeted me with the challenging statement, “My Dad says there’s no such thing as walking trees.” Other children were simply serious by nature and didn’t like jokes. However, I was usually surprised by the adroit ability children had (and have) to enter into nonsense. The world of make-believe is second nature for many children.
My wife didn’t always approve of my ability to get children “stirred up”, because she felt I was not so good at getting them to be serious again. I disagreed, but she said my way of getting things back under control involved too much growling.
Anyway, after more than a decade just hanging out with the kids, (and getting paid for it), I am very certain children absorb like sponges, when they hang out with pottering old men. They are not merely learning a slew of factoids but are learning social skills such as how to tell a joke, and how to challenge a person who may be pulling their leg. Maybe they learn how to spot a liar, which is unfortunately an important skill to have in this fallen, modern world. Perhaps most important of all, they, by being outside so much with a person who loves the outdoors, learn how complex and amazing nature is. The green things are more than “plants” and the wiggly things are more than “bugs.” “Plants” and “bugs” turn from two nouns to a hundred interacting species, and the kids get to increase their vocabulary by a hundred in a single summer.
Some might say all this could be done by watching videos indoors, but there is no substitute for hands-on experience. Also, there is no predicting how the children will react to the so-called curriculum of a setting, both individually and as a group. Two years ago, I could not keep the kids away from the garden’s patch of edible podded peas; this year the children were relatively indifferent, only occasionally munching a few. In like manner, most kids don’t mind watching me pick the potato bugs from the potatoes, but dislike actually touching the bugs, especially the slimy larvae, and they are in no hurry to help me. Yet there was one particular boy who just loved waging war on potato bugs. He would plead with me to be allowed to do the job. I’d set him to it, and he’d easily spend an happy hour in the sunshine, moving down the long row meticulously removing the bugs.
Some tasks, such as digging the potatoes, are always a hit, and I have to ration the plants to make sure everyone gets a turn experiencing the delight of digging up a treasure:
So, I suppose “digging potatoes” could count as an official “curriculum”, and as something you could put down on paper in the manner bureaucrats prefer, as a scheduled “activity” of the Childcare, but to me that seems more like an exception than a rule.
For example, in the process of seeing the noun “bird” divide into numerous species the kids tend to scrutinize various birds and see things that simply can’t be matched by videos. This is not to say that I might not turn to a YouTube video to let the kids hear a particular birdsong when that particular bird is refusing to sing, but there is nothing like the real thing.
The other day it was very hot and humid, and I sought out the deepest shade I could find with a cluster of grouchy small girls. I had only a short time before they could rush to the pool, and then their petulance would be cured, but sometimes twenty minutes can seem an eternity. It was while we were in the deep shade that I pointed out a catbird. Catbirds are very curious, investigative birds, and, though they always try to always keep a bough or cluster of leaves between you and them, they can come quite close as they investigate what we humans are up to. This bird came close enough to distract the girls from their crabbiness. They exclaimed it was “practically tame”, and then, because I said it was called a catbird because it had a squeaky, scratchy caw something like a cat’s meow, all the girls started meowing to the bird. I said, “Not like that; more like this,” and did my best rendition of a catbird’s meow. All the girls began copying me and then, with perfect timing, the catbird hopped onto a nearby twig and showed us how to meow properly. All the girls looked utterly amazed, looking at each other with eyes round as owls, and then burst into gleeful laughter.
That can’t be matched by a video, though I’ll try:
An even better example involved an eastern phoebe.
We have several families of phoebes nesting in outbuildings around the farm, and I likely have bored the older boys pointing them out as they hop about in my garden, praising phoebes for eating so many bugs. Phoebe have a very distinctive way of twitching their tails up and down as they sit on a fencepost, and also an interesting way of sometimes fluffing the feathers on top of their heads into a small crest, and I’ve likely bored the boys pointing that out as well.
I had a group of particularly jaded five-, six- and seven-year-old boys around me one hot morning last week. I wasn’t actually “on the schedule”, but I could see that they were giving a member of my staff trouble as she tried to organize the smaller children for a hike. All the children must be swabbed with repellant and sunscreen, and mischievous boys can complicate the process, so I asked them if they’d like to come in the garden and see the first ripe broccoli and cauliflower. They always seem eager to hang out with me (if not to help), so they came over, and a few accepted samples of broccoli, while some announced they hated broccoli. I rambled away in my gravelly voice, saying some people have tastebuds that that taste the bitterness in broccoli, while others don’t, and then telling the old joke about the difference between green broccoli and green boogers being that small children won’t eat broccoli, and then pointed out a phoebe hopping in the dirt down at the end of the row. I was moving on to saying broccoli was in the cabbage family, and I was likely boring the boys by pointing how the nearby cabbage and cauliflower and Brussel sprouts all looked the same, when suddenly the phoebe began flying towards us.
The bird flew clumsily and erratically, bumping into plants on either side. My first thought was that it must be sick, perhaps with the dreaded avian ‘flu, but I had no time to talk, for the bird swooped up and came to an awkward landing directly on top of one of the boy’s baseball cap. Only then did I say, “It is a fledgling. Just learning to fly.”
Meanwhile the fledgling was looking about with a rather alarmed expression. You could almost hear it thinking, “Holy crap! Look where I landed.” Then it bolted, flying straight into the side of an above-ground-pool and crashing to the ground. The boys rushed over and formed a circle around the bird as I said, “Don’t touch it! Let’s see what it will do!”
The bird seemed to be shaking off the effects of a concussion (do birds hear birdies?) and then it looked up at all the faces looking down, and again you could imagine it thinking “Holy Crap!” It panicked and shot straight up around fifteen feet, before it wobbled away to the peak of the roof of a nearby shed. The boys were all laughing and commenting when another phoebe came gracefully flitting over and landed by the first phoebe’s side. Without any prompting from me one of the boys exclaimed, “It’s his mother!” whereupon all the other boys began cheering, “It’s the mother! It’s the mother!” almost like they were spectators at a horse race. Then a staff member called them off to hike, and they rushed away to tell her what they had seen.
I knew I could claim no credit for “showing” the boys anything, and just looked up to the sky and was thankful. It’s amazing what you can see by doing nothing.
Off the beaten path long trampled by those
Thirsting for fortune and hungry for fame
I sit by myself and twirl summer's rose
And wonder if being unknown is a shame.
I don't make fame queen, nor the dollar king,
But am like a boy who has escaped school,
And classmate's shaming, and teacher's hollering.
I forget how it feels to feel like a fool.
I just bask in sunshine like it is a bath
Washing away aches of schooling's cruel wrath.
Though I'm just sitting I progress a path
Which adds up to healing. You do the math.
Soon bells will toll, and they'll resume classes
But I'll not be schooled by roomfuls of asses.
It seems the United States is in a state of being denied, wherein what people want is not what they are getting. In a sense it is like fasting. People hunger and thirst for righteousness, but never seem to be fed.
Fasting is supposedly spiritual, when it isn’t done out of vanity, merely to improve appearances, but rather is done to break our addiction to worldly cravings.
I must confess I was never big on fasting. When young I had a revved-up metabolism and couldn’t put on weight even when I tried, (and I did try, attempting to increase my bulk for football.) Having this sort of metabolism makes you into a sort of eating machine at times, which doesn’t look all that spiritual. Yet then I might go a surprising period of time on nothing but coffee and cigarettes (and sometimes whisky) utterly indifferent to food, because I was “a writer”. (I will confess I learned to add lots and lots of powdered milk to my coffee, so I suppose the milk kept hunger at bay.) However, after one of these spells of being “a writer”, I’d be hit by a ravenous appetite and completely disgrace myself, in spiritual terms, by wolfing an entire large pizza like it was a cracker.
Therefore, I am no one to seek out as an authority on self-denial, and how it benefits the spiritual aspirant. To be quite honest, a lot of my “writing” is me complaining about how I don’t get what I want. (I am rather good at such complaining, if I do say so myself.)
Oddly, even though I never really sought self-denial, I did manage to wind up in some situations where I was a “suffering poet”. Largely this was because I was offensive. I didn’t mean to be offensive (most of the time) but there is something offensive about taking the attitude that you are special and should get what you want, especially when what you want is for everyone else to go to work nine to five as you stay home smoking and drinking coffee (sometimes spiked with whisky) being “a writer”. In any case, let it suffice to say I did not get what I wanted, and people made me feel less than welcome, when they didn’t just throw me out on my ear. This placed me in a position of self-denial even though that was the last thing I wanted.
One crisis I got myself into involved leaving New England in a sort of self-imposed exile, at age 27. I had offended just about everyone, including myself, and just packed all that seemed valuable into a tiny 1974 Toyota with a 1200 cc engine and headed off into the cruel world. I slept in that tiny vehicle fairly often, which I suppose is self-denial. And, (as even exiled Romans such as Ovid and Cicero admitted), exile had its benefits. Self-denial can uplift the spiritual seeker.
In any case, while thinking about the current suffering occurring in the United States, I recalled a poem I wrote before I left New England on my exile. In Rome people often accepted exile as a way to escape a more severe punishment, and the old poem was about the punishment (self-inflicted) I was enduring before I left. Something about America’s current suffering reminded me of that past, and I went searching for the old work in my yellowed papers.
Found it! It is an unusual poem for me, in that I reworked it several times. The first draft was from November 1978, the second draft from July 1979, and the final draft was from October 1980. In other words, this poem expressed the passion of a young man in his mid-twenties.
Anger's a sabre thrust into my heart;
My heart is a scabbard of pain.
I would draw out the long, bloody blade
And see all my enemies slain,
But blood is a terrible stain.
My fingertips shake with the strain.
Foolish men fawn for a dollar a day
And artists are driven to hiding.
Generals are riding fat horses that bray,
And therapists yawn at confiding
While counting up dollars deciding
What beaches to ruin residing
Within aluminum siding,
Then they go back to their guiding.
Where is the handle? I must draw the sword
And see that the dragon is thoroughly gored,
Yet how can I haul out that head-hacking blade
When the charger you sold me so recently brayed?
Sorrow, sweet sorrow, is clotting my throat
With stabbing I never could swallow.
I want to bail out. We're in the same boat.
Excuses have always been hollow.
Where is the scalpel a surgeon would use
And where is the surgeon who knows how to choose?
The enemy has to be slain
But blood is a terrible stain.
My fingertips shake with the strain.
Besides being a fairly good indication that I chose correctly, in deciding to depart a situation which was driving me bonkers over 40 years ago, the poem traces some depths of feeling one may experience, when the situation that is driving them bonkers is difficult to escape. And the current situation in the United States is driving people bonkers. It is also difficult to escape. People who are nowhere nearly as offensive as I was in my mid-twenties may be feeling like I felt, all those years ago.
This makes me wonder if there is any advice I can offer.
In one sense I have no advice. I have never figured out how to make the people driving me bonkers stop doing it. They are what they are. The only thing I can stop is to stop myself. I’m the only one I can change.
In 1980 the biggest change I made was to stop retreating to my mother’s basement, when I felt hurt, and instead to retreat in an outward direction. It seemed a very brave thing I was doing, but even little birds do it, when they leave the nest. My departure was actually retarded, when you consider I was in my mid-twenties, and few took it all that seriously, considering I had “left home” many times before. Few knew how serious I was, and that I was truly gone for good.
Leaving the nest is self-denial because one is denying themself the very real comforts offered by a mother. Such comforts are provided in a nigh instinctual way and can be addictive. For example, my dirty socks would vanish and then reappear cleaned in the top drawer of my bureau neatly balled. This may seem like a little thing, but it never happened again, and, after forty years, recalling such kindness makes me nostalgic. But at the time I took it for granted and it made me lazy, dependent, and disgusted with myself. Moving from my mother’s basement was like leaving a dank dungeon and soaring into the open sky. Where is the self-denial in that? (I suppose it is in the fact the open sky can get stormy, and then one wants to head home.)
In the above example it can be seen that self-denial is closely associated with freedom. It is part of a tension which forever exists between security and freedom, wonderfully portrayed by a couple of Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell which appeared on consecutive weeks: (Notice the face is the same.)
In some ways this tension is as simple as the fact we get up in the morning and go back to bed in the evening. Life involves alternating desires. However, the factor I want to focus on is the self-denial.
In order to be a sort of yogi and to qualify as “spiritual” the self-denial must encompass both sides of an alternating duality; IE: when you want to get up you must stay in bed, and when you want to stay in bed you must get up. This sort of “fasting” is annoying as heck. It is a swift way to turn even bright spirits into sourpusses. It can only be done when the yogi involved is fiercely determined to reach some preconceived transcendental state, and, even then, is full of hazards.
I did try some of this self-denial when in my twenties and I learned something of the hazards. It is a bit like enduring the pain of jogging to get yourself in shape. One problem I ran into was that I tended to lose my desire and to see my resolution fade, and to in a sense “fall off the wagon”. (This was not like falling off a horse, wherein you get back on where you fell off, but more like the game of snakes-and-ladders; you go slithering down a slippery slope and have to start over from the very bottom.) Then a second problem was that the very few times I did bungle into the periphery of some sort of transcendental state it tended to scare my socks off; I wanted to run away and be normal again. Lastly was that, (most of the time), such self-denial wrung the joy from my life and left me a sourpuss, and a crank. This was so far from the nirvana I was seeking that it actually was what propelled me from my mother’s basement.
This brings me to the subject of what was propelling me. I felt as if I was to some degree out of control. This seemed irresponsible, but to some degree we cannot take control of everything. Some days the fish simply are not biting, and no amount of yelling at the water can change their minds. And the same is true of hitchhiking. Some days the traffic will not stop, and neither yelling nor smirking convinces anyone. It is at such times one finds themselves muttering to the sky, and to the possibility of a Power besides ourselves, who controls.
As a young intellectual I strove to be logical, and to doubt the existence of anything which could not be scientifically replicated, but my Atheism was troubled by a series of events which could not be replicated but could also not be denied, for they saved my life. Midst my “bad luck” were odd experiences of “good luck”. Eventually this led to a series of inner crises and I “got religion”, which made me in some ways even more offensive than before. I was even more likely to sit around writing as others went to work when I thought God would care for me. But eventually I became aware God didn’t automatically gratify my desires, and was as libel, and in fact more libel, to utilize self-denial. For example, the only time God washed my socks and put them in the top drawer was when God manifested as Mom. The rest of the time the socks stayed dirty.
It is upsetting to some when God doesn’t respond to prayers like He is some sort of vending machine, wherein you put in your prayer and the answered prayer plops out at the bottom. After such disappointment, one must take matters into their own hands. This is fine when the problem is dirty socks; one simply learns to wash their own socks. However, it is not so easy when things get out of control, and your best efforts come up empty.
In my case, (along the lines of fishing when the fish weren’t biting, and hitchhiking when nobody stops,) coming-up-empty often occurred when looking for a job. Many times, I was one of those fellows who waits outside an unemployment office hoping for spot labor. I didn’t feel in control of my destiny, especially on those days when there was no work, and, on those days, God heard a fair amount of grumbling.
I well know the temptation one then feels to be corrupted; God may say you’ll earn no money that day, but one is tempted to rob a bank.
To be honest I suppose I must reluctantly confess that I have succumbed to temptations to some degree.
As a teen I sowed some very wild oats, but once I “got religion” my moral failures never progressed much beyond smoking and drinking too much, a few failed romances, and some petty theft, (and I did repay the market I shoplifted cigarettes from). While I did feel the urges to be corrupt, they never won me over to the degree one sees among politicians in “The Swamp.” I tested the waters of corruption and was repelled.
I’m not sure why this was the case. It could be that I simply wasn’t deemed worthy of spending the time, by those who do the tempting. One good thing about being flat broke is that few see you as being worthy of seduction.
It also could be I was protected. After all, once I “got religion” I had given my life to the Lord (to some degree), which means I had admitted I couldn’t control life and needed help. And what happens next?
Once you have such a Superman watching over you, perhaps you get protected even when you don’t want to be protected, as was the case when certain gorgeous women walked by. When lonely I was not at all inclined towards self-denial, but had to endure it. The Good Shepherd was guiding his sheep, even if the sheep was a black sheep.
Eventually it sunk into me that a lot of the self-denial I was experiencing was actually good for me. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s I endured a fair amount of mockery from even my closest friends for being something of a prude. Then, starting around 1982, a lot of the fellow “writers” who had mocked me started dropping dead of AIDS (which was a reletively swift and unpleasant way to die back then, with no cure). Then self-denial didn’t seem like such a misfortune, and indeed more like a miracle.
Of course, I always wanted the miracles to be more pampering. One story I often tell involves a Christmas miracle. I was five dollars short on my rent and a green, rumpled piece of paper came blowing across a parking lot. As I stooped to pick it up, I could see it was money, and was fairly certain it was a five, which it was. Even though I felt a warm glow all over I felt comfortable enough with my Creator to joke, “Couldn’t You have managed a hundred?” But I’ve heard it said that when you are thirsty God gives water, not lemonade, and to me this has seemed true.
This brings me back to the subject of self-denial, and the fact I seemed to get more self-denial than gratification, which must mean that, if the Good Shepherd is in charge, there is more good in not getting what you want than in getting what you want.
Why should this be?
I think this is true because getting what you desire seldom satisfies. You usually just want more. We tend to be creatures of habit, and the way to freedom from addiction is not to get what you are addicted to. This is not to say some habits are not good habits: When a bad habit enslaves us we tend to call it “being stuck in a rut” however a better habit is described as being “in the groove”, but even good habits limit our freedom, and I think God wants us free.
It helps me to understand how habits enslave when I describe a “desire” as a “craving”. Craving sounds more beastly, and even undesirable (which is wonderfully ambiguous, as you are saying desire is not what you should desire.) People who can admit they “desire” are less likely to confess they “crave.” But, if you don’t think craving controls you, just hold your breath for sixty seconds. Soon breathing, which you ordinarily don’t even think about, becomes the only thing you can think about.
Craving can be seen as a distraction. It is like when you have a job to do, but just then a very attractive person walks by. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a woman, nor what your sexual preference is, you are distracted. And from God’s perspective, humanity is a herd of distracted cats. He is the only One able to herd them.
One thing God seems to seek to do is to free us from our cravings. And it turns out that such freedom is far more likely to occur when we don’t get what we desire. For example, when even the most zealous suiter is disdained over and over, and is finally arrested as a stalker, the zeal must seek a different channel, even if it doesn’t completely fade like the final ember of a fire. Typically, the suiter settles for second best, and rather than a “lover” becomes a “friend”. If they can’t be number one in the beloved’s life, and can’t actually massage the beloved’s shoulders, they must settle for making this a better world for the beloved to live in, by uplifting other people they formerly wouldn’t bother with.
Having our desire frustrated is painful, but it frees us from needing to have a specific desire fulfilled in a specific way. One thing I have noticed in people who have been through great suffering is that they are less demanding and are more able to be happy with less. They are satisfied with water and don’t demand lemonade. Rather than restless they know more of peace. Rather than post-traumatic-stress they know post-traumatic-resignation.
I have had trouble being resigned because I am a battler and tend to be more inspired by pep talks, like Winston Churchhill’s famous “Never Surrender” speech when England was threatened by Hitler. I also liked the prophet Issaih’s defiance of the Assyrians when they besieged Jerusalem. I did not like the prophet Jeramiah’s advice when the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem a few decades later, for his advice was, “Surrender, for this time you are up against God’s Will. You must accept the punishment of captivity and exile.”
Surrender is a bad thing when it is a surrender to slavery, but God does not want us to be slaves. God is the only One worthy of surrendering to, for He knows best when our desires should be thwarted and when they should be gratified, and how best to move us to a point where our minds are unclouded by cravings, and our hearts are free to love.
One interesting thing about the relatively poor people who the “elite” call “deplorables” is that the poor seem more able to put their own desires aside. A factoid which never made sense to me is that the poor give more to charity than the rich, in terms of a percentage of their income. (In fact, some rich will not give to charity unless they themselves profit in some way, which is not charity at all.) How can this be true?
It has occurred to me that the poor, without the slightest wish to be yogis, have had to see their desires denied over and over again, until the habit of craving is worn down, and they no longer expect gratification. Then, because their minds are not clotted with cravings, they are more able to hear their hearts. The poor workingman’s heart defies his intellect’s banker’s-budget, when he impulsively hands half his sandwich to a hungry, onlooking child. In this and a thousand other small ways the so-called “deplorable” are not deplorable at all, and in fact are more loving than, and are spiritually superior to, the so-called “elite.”
Blessed are the poor. Because they do not require gratification to be happy, they are often happier than billionaires. They live in a world wherein quaint values the elite call “old fashioned”, but which are actually ancient and eternal, rule. So maybe not getting your desires gratified is a good thing.
The elite, who are constantly sating their desires for wealth and power and fame and sex and drugs, discover gratification does not lead to freedom, and instead become more and more addicted to their desires. In spiritual terms this insidiously matures into a colossal mistake, for even when they imagine they are enslaving others they in fact are enslaving themselves. Even when they think they are smarter they are in fact becoming increasingly ignorant. Even when they think they see clearly, they are blinded by desire. And even when they think they gain control they are losing self-control; in seeking power they become spiritually powerless.
Hopefully you see where my thought is leading. It is a complete contradiction of the values which rule the elite. It denies that which the American mainstream media attempts to say is the only sensible way to think.
The foxes push saints from pulpits to preach
To the chickens, but their sly idealism
Is cynicism. They actually teach
The opposite of what they say. To them
Hypocrisy's second nature. They don't know
How fresh and clean Truth is. They cannot see
How blind they are. They think it wise to sow
Thistles, and create their own tragedy.
See them now, puffed in pulpits, so sure that
They're collecting dainties, like gamblers sweep
Winnings from a table, chewing pure fat
That drips from chins. Meanwhile chickens keep
Their distance: In fact, the pews are now empty.
The outfoxed fox snarls, for he can't tempt me.
Tired of this anger I'm carrying
I turn to You, my Lord, and plead my case:
Mankind creates divorces out of marrying
And turns the sweetest blush into disgrace.
Your generosity is met with greed.
Your colossal kindness met with hate.
They snatch away the milk that babies need
And dream their tyranny will make them great.
Am I to sit and turn the other cheek?
Must goodness zip its lip as hellfires singe?
How is it You in silence will not speak
As bigmouths blare the bull that makes me cringe?
I pray my suffering's like that of fasting.
I hurt today for joy that's everlasting.
As nations such as Shri Lanka run out of money and their people are told they can’t buy fuel or fertilizer, it seems events are teetering towards situations where the blunders of a few elites can bring about the misery of millions.
The government of Shri Lanka was hard hit by the covid fraud, for the cessation of tourism robbed the nation of much of its income, even as it still had to pay its expenses. As a small nation, its income besides tourism was largely “exports”, as its expenses were largely “imports”. The problem it faced is obvious when you see both their top export and top import was “Mineral fuels including oil”. They exported $695.2 million, which seems like a goodly amount, until you see they imported $2.1 billion, or three times as much.
The doings of a distant island caught my attention because I’m interested in organic fertilizers, and their government decided they could balance their budget a little by stopping the import of chemical fertilizers, and instead using locally-produced organic products. Didn’t work. Maybe they merely didn’t do the substitution corectly, but switching to organic fertilizers resulted in reduced crops, reducing the rice crop which feds the people, and also harming two major exports, namely cereal crops, ($241.4 million), and cotton ($232.8 million). In any case the nation wound up flat broke, and so deeply in debt no one would loan them any further funds.
This demonstrates two things.
First, it demonstrates that the well-meaning ideas of the elite can be badly researched and poorly thought-out, whether they be cancelling tourism or shifting to organic fertilizer. Hunger and the inability to buy gasoline, for millions of the unwashed masses, might not bother the elite, but when those millions stormed into the elite palace of the leader, and they swam in his private pool, the millions got the elite’s attention.
Second, rioting about a problem does not solve the problem. One prays to God to raise up new leaders who are more able to avoid simplistic solutions and who are more able to face the intricate details of complex issues. In the meantime, millions will continue to face the consequences of allowing simpletons to rule.
In the Netherlands the Dutch elite came up with an idealistic plan to reduce problems caused by the nitrogen in fertilizer by simply banning it. Didn’t work. In fact, it was a step too far, for the farmers (who would be bankrupted) immediately rioted, joined by a surprising number of non-farmers. The seriousness of the situation seems underscored by the fact the elite-ruled mainstream media seems determined to ignore the story, or else to fact-check it away.
Again, we see the consequences of allowing people, who feel they are elite and born to govern, invent rules which are bound to create suffering for millions. The millions rise up and say simpletons can’t be allowed to rule them.
Even the price of chocolate candy bars seems to hint at troubles for farmers in faraway Ghana. A candy bar that cost five cents in my boyhood is up to over two dollars, but the increase has not worked down to the farmers of the cocoa. (In this case the simpletons seem to be greedy middlemen).
As the United States is currently ruled by a simpleton, and as one consequence of his misguided energy policies may be famine, I decided maybe I should be more serious about making my garden productive this year. You’d be surprised at how intricate the details of gardening get, even on the small scale of my garden. I have seen I am just as capable of bad judgement as the leaders of Shri Lanka or the Netherlands.
For example, to fight high energy prices I burned a lot of wood last winter. This produced lots of wood ashes. I had heard wood ashes are good fertilizer, so I spread the ashes in my garden. Mistake. Ashes make the soil alkaline, and if the soil is too alkaline some plants are stunted, with leaves that are yellow rather than green. So, I am now conducting experiments involving turning alkaline soil acidic, (“souring” “sweetened” soil), right in the middle of a growing season. This is work which would be unnecessary if only I had gotten things right in the first place.
Considering I am past my prime, I am not fond of unnecessary work. I’m slow enough just doing the necessary. And what really irks me is when it becomes necessary to do work which I never saw coming.
For example, a drought. Last year was so rainy my potatoes rotted, but this year nearly every rain shower or thunderstorm misses us. (In other words, I never saw this coming because it didn’t come). The drought is particularly aggravating when I must water when I should be weeding, for I am watering the weeds.
Also, I had to divert my already-low levels of energy to building fences, for first my chickens and then my lone goat invaded my garden in unhelpful ways. I hate fences. But then, when I thought I had my own beasts corralled, I nearly turned my goat to goat-burger when I saw hoofprints down a row of beans and carrots, with all the plants neatly clipped to stubs. I swore softly and tried to figure out how the beast was getting past my new fence. But then I noticed that besides the goat-sized hoofprints there was a set of tiny hoofprints. Dawn broke on Marblehead. It wasn’t my goat. It was a doe and her fawn.
Oddy, the sight of those tiny prints quelled my anger. How can you get mad at Bambi? At the same time, I recognized the fact I wasn’t angry was likely because I wasn’t hungry. If I was hungry my tolerance would fade. In besieged cities famished citizens have eaten their children, if history can be believed, so maybe I could eat even a cute little Bambi. And maybe venison would supply more protein than beans and carrots. But I went to work putting up more fences, all the same. They were low and flimsy, but I figured a doe wouldn’t jump over them, if she had to leave her fawn behind.
(I hope you are noticing this situation is becoming more complex than one would imagine, when first planting some carrots and beans. Are you gardening vegetables, or venison?)
My garden also had successes, involving benefits brought by the cool weather, and also the fact watering is a job even an old man can do. I like standing about and spraying with a hose, and the deer and her fawn apparently were not fond of peas and lettuce. Those crops prospered. My crop of edible podded peas was especially bountiful, considering the fact not far away the parched lawn sounded crisp when you walked on the grass.
So, I had far more lettuce and peas than I could use, and I decided a good way to defy the government-created inflation was to lower my prices rather than raising them. I lowered prices to zero and had good fun being a philanthropist, giving away lettuce and crunchy, juicy, sweet edible podded peas for free. (Hopefully this rebellious behavior topples the government, or at least slightly decreases inflation.)
As I fought my little war with weeds and deer and potato bugs and drought and the government, I gained a small victory by allowing a certain small patch of weeds to thrive by my peas. (The weed was lamb’s quarters, which is easier to grow than spinach and tastes better, so it is hard to call it a weed,) however this particular patch was infested with aphids. Aphids are the favorite food of ladybugs. I caught every ladybug, (of at least eight different species), that I saw in my garden and brought them to my weeds. To my delight soon there were ladybug larvae on the lamb’s quarters
And soon afterwards not only were there far fewer aphids on those lamb quarters, but there were also fewer potato bug larvae eating my potatoes. Not that there were thousands of ladybugs swarming my garden, but they were around, and had their effect.
There were also other predators, including some small wasp which apparently likes potato bug larvae. I can’t claim to be intentionally breeding such wasps, but maybe I accidentally did so last year, when I allowed potato bugs to get out of hand. The wasp prospered last year, and that means this year they are all over the place, and a potato bug larva often may shrivel due to eggs the wasp laid in its back. In any case, as I walk down my lush row of well-watered potatoes, I’m surprised by how much less time I must spend picking potato bugs from the leaves. In fact I may even get a decent crop. I also have more time to spend weeding and watering other crops.
I bring this up to show that not all ideas involving being “organic” are stupid. I prefer to label myself a “conservationist” rather than an “environmentalist”. The difference being: I get my hands dirty while environmentalists live in ivory towers far from the dirt. I prefer to suffer and learn from my own mistakes, while their mistakes cause millions to suffer, and they only learn by being chased down the street by a howling mob.
The potato patch may well be a small victory, especially if the supply shrinks and the demand grows, and potatoes are in short supply by December. God wiling, I’ll have some big ones to give away for Christmas.
You can’t win them all, and my popcorn patch is a battle I may lose. Corn needs lots of water and is a heavy feeder, but does not like being fed wood ashes at all. The drought prevented the wood ashes from being diluted, and in places the soil was so caustic it burnt the corn at the base. So besides losing some seedlings to cutworms I killed some with my care. What a dope I can be! However, I won’t go down to complete defeat without a fight.
My counterattack was to replant, making sure to dilute the soil, and even including some dilute vinegar to counteract the wood ashes. This created new problems, for when you focus on watering you neglect weeding, and the weeds loved how I had soured the overly sweetened soil. Not that I neglected weeding right by the corn seedlings, but the rows of corn were like alleys between skyscrapers of weeds.
With the weeds becoming such a problem, I had to shift away from watering, yet as I weeded, I was amazed by the roots of the weeds. They formed a thick mesh just below the surface, rather than diving deep to find water in a drought. The weeds did this because their way to find water in a drought was to exploit my watering, and to grab the water at the surface before it could get down to the roots of my corn. These crafty weeds had to go!
With the help of a member of my childcare staff I not only weeded the corn, but raked up grass after mowing and used it to heavily mulch the row, to prevent new weeds. Take that, you suckers!
But solutions create new problems. As corn and grass are closely related, you might think a mulch of rotting grass would release nutrients that corn needs. Wrong. The exact opposite occurs, for the intermediate step, wherein the clippings rot, requires nitrogen the corn also requires. Therefore, you must fertilize not only the corn but also the clippings with a high nitrogen fertilizer.
At this point my eyes strayed to my chicken coop. Chicken manure is so high in nitrogen that you usually have to let it rot for a year and be rinsed of some of its potency, or it will kill plants with kindness. Also, it usually is a disgusting swill that splashes like brown paint when you clean the coop. This year, due to the drought, it was crumbly powder. For that reason alone, it seemed a good time to clean the coop. Also, it seemed that, if I sprinkled this powder well away from the corn, to avoid burning the corn, I could fertilize both the decomposition of grass and the corn. Lastly, I again watered the mulch-concoction with highly diluted vinegar to sour the sweetened soil.
Hmm. My garden sounds more and more like the test tubes of a mad scientist rather than anything remotely “organic”. Also, it would not surprise me much if my chemistry killed my corn. Yet maybe, just maybe, we will witness a late season rally, and the comeback of an underdog, and I will harvest some popcorn, which is easy to store for the winter, as you need only to convince your wife to make the dried ears a pretty ornament she hangs on her walls as fall decor.
I belabor you with all this to demonstrate how even an old-timer like myself is still learning, and how a garden is not a completed thing but rather a work in progress. I am constantly running up against new problems, and consulting other small gardeners for their ideas, seeking solutions. In like manner, if you want to formulate a sane government policy you need to gather many such minds, so you know of many solutions, and also of many problems that solutions reveal. It is through sifting through many ideas that a government can come up with a route, (or perhaps ten routes) to try, and these routes are only trials. If you want to formulate an insane government policy you walk into a situation certain you already know the answer, and you order wise people, who know better, about.
Oddly, this brings me back to the doe and fawn chowing down in my garden. This is seen as a bad thing by some globalists, for they (in Africa) apparently feel “bush game” allows “indigenous” populations to eat even when their gardens are taken away, when they should be forced to move from their homelands to allow for some monoculture which elitists feel is wise. For example: planting oil palms which are supposed to replace oil wells. Such policy is reminiscent of the clearances of Highlands in Scotland in the early 1800’s, because sheep seemed more profitable than people. In the short-term sheep indeed were more profitable than people, but such policy seemed less smart at the start of the Crimean War, when soldiers were needed. The Highlanders had been the best fighters, yet few were now available, and sheep were a lousy replacement.
It follows that one aspect of a monoculture of oil palms is that it wrecks both the natural and social environment. It not only drives away the “bush game”, it also drives away the “indigenous” people. Yet the elite investors growing square miles of oil palms insist they do so because they love the environment. They destroy an environment that once held five native villages, twenty species of native animals, and 200 native plants, because oil palms are better “for the environment” than fossil fuels. Such madness is why I refuse to call myself an “environmentalist”, and prefer “conservationist”. (It should be noted that some who invested in oil palms only did so to walk away with buckets of money from subsidies, and cared not one hoot about either society or ecology.)
In any case, I figure I’m an “indigenous” sort of fellow. My family has lived in these parts for four hundred years. So that makes the deer munching my carrots and beans my “bush game”. And together we represent riffraff the highly educated elite will wish removed so they can establish a National Park “for the foxes” (IE: because they want to go fox hunting.) (I have noticed the elite never say they do anything “for themselves.” If it isn’t “for the environment” it’s “for the children”. They see themselves as altruistic. That is why they are so puzzled when they’re chased down the street by a howling mob.)
Now, as an “indigenous” person one characteristic I should have is a nigh mystical closeness with nature. Not that I notice it all that much, but I do know the correct facial expressions. I used to hang out with the Navajo, and they showed me how to act when the tourists were about. And that is what elitists are: Tourists on their own planet. However, when no elitists are around, what should I do?
I decided I should have a talk with the deer, and an opportunity presented itself when I weeded late into the twilight, one evening, past the time the deer thought I should have gone home.
When I popped my head up in the corn patch and began talking, the doe did not seem surprised, and just listened to me rant.
I ranted on at great length about how, if the deer persisted on eating my garden, I would feel justified to eat them. After all, if I fed them all summer, they should feed me all winter. The doe did not seem the slightest bit offended, and stood listening. But then I noticed something, and said, “Hey! Where is your fawn?” Only then did the doe turn and walk away.
I then did what indigenous people do, which is to act as if family and community are real things. The elite, who seemingly know only divorce and abortion, are somewhat mystified by such earthy behavior, but all it boils down to is “comparing notes”. In the process of ordinary chitchat, the subject of deer was raised, and I swiftly learned of two events.
First, an animal lover had, to their own great dismay, struck and killed a fawn with their vehicle on a highway a third of a mile from my farm, two nights before. Second, that same night, and the following night, a lady who lived a half mile away had let her dog out to pee before going to bed, and the dog had walked out into a spotlight-lit lawn and been met by a doe who came out of the woods. The dog was young, skinny, had short, reddish-brown fur, and was roughly the same size as a fawn. As the woman watched amazed the doe and dog pranced and frolicked together for fifteen minutes, before they called it quits, and the dog came in for bed. That this happened one time seemed odd, but the second time it happened made it all the more bizarre. Was the doe in need of a foster child?
Now, if you are of the elite, I’m sure you will recognize the above tale as one of those quaint but fictitious creations regurgitated by primitive peoples. However, if you are afflicted by indigenousness, it is just one of those relationships you notice, like the ladybug’s relationship with healthy plants in the garden. Just as you don’t call the doings of ladybugs fictitious, you don’t call the doings of deer and dogs fictitious either.
Nor does the story stop there. Just as fawns can be struck by cars, leaving does aggrieved, does can be struck by cars, leaving fawns orphaned.
A child arrived at our childcare and described how she had seen two men hoisting “road kill” into the back of their pickup truck only a quarter mile from my garden. (Why waste the meat?) My initial (and unspoken) thought was that the poor doe who had lost her fawn had followed her fawn into death. But later that same day a fawn without a mother startled the children as they hiked, by bolting across their path, at my Childcare.
This would suggest that, within the proximity of my garden, was a doe missing a fawn, and a fawn missing a doe. Apparently, this cruel modern world causes broken homes among deer as well as humans. The question then becomes, is there any social worker in nature who can unite the lonely-heart doe with the lonely-heart fawn?
Heck if I know. All I know is that, with all this drama going on, they stayed the heck out of my garden. Not that it will last. The children rushed up to me today with the news they had seen a doe with not one, but two, fawns, just across the pasture from my garden. I sense an imminent threat.
What is the threat? Is it that the doe will bring her two fawns into my garden to browse? Or is that the elite will step in to help?
Judging from prior behavior, the elite response to the situation will favor deer over farmers. They will ban automobiles, for killing a fawn and a doe. They will not ban deer, for wrecking my carrots and beans.
Me? Well, I may work a bit more on my fences, though I hate fences. Putting them up is hard work, and I’m too old for blisters on my palms, but will likely suffer a few more. But a few more blisters before I die seems worth it, if I avoid banning deer and banning automobiles, while getting the job of growing my carrots and beans done.
Elitists? Isn’t it odd how, when they erect their fences, they never get blisters on their palms? All they get is chased down streets by howling mobs.
I’m home from a two-week vacation, and I must say I don’t see why people want vacations so much. Life can be rich and beautiful without them. Or maybe life itself can be made a vacation, to some degree, so we needn’t go on one.
My wife and I have basically gone most of our married lives working 52 weeks a year. Our vacations have largely been long-weekends of three or four days, and even they have been few and far between. Our jaunt to California for my youngest son’s wedding, described on this blog two years ago, was the first exception to the rule, and that week-long-outing was made interesting as it was during the coronavirus panic and we were not exactly relaxing, even as we did ordinary stuff like go to a wedding. We were radicals to be ordinary, breaking coronavirus laws.
The past two weeks were similar. As a family we have trouble being ordinary, because being ordinary is in some odd way against the flow of political correctness. To be ordinary is to be extraordinary.
I have mixed feelings about being extraordinary. I dislike it because it enflames the ego. Being puffed-up divides one from others, from the so-called “normal”. Rather than brotherhood and oneness one feels they are Brahmin, of a higher caste. Whether it is purple hair or piercings or the absurdly long fingernails of the elite gentlemen of long-ago China, people want to set themselves apart from their fellow man. They want to stand in some safe place, removed from all the danger of closeness. Then they slowly freeze in their icy heights as those (who will live to replace them) prosper in the warmth of the valleys.
In the valley there is less emphasis in setting yourself apart, because it gets in the way of getting things done. Anyway, we are all different whether we like it or not. We are different whether our hair is natural or purple. Just compare fingerprints. We’re different. If that is what thrills your ego, be thrilled, but meanwhile we have a job to do so get cracking.
The odd thing about the valley is that, in getting the job done, people have to put their egos aside, and in getting their selfish self out of the way they are doing, (without yoga and often with a haphazard disregard for spirituality), what spiritual Masters have urged humanity to do for thousands of years, and what humanity has mocked. However, because these salt-of-the-earth bumpkins are actually being selfless, they get the extraordinary rewards promised by the Masters.
I think this reality pisses off the elite. The elite have worked long and hard to set themselves apart, to climb above the riffraff, and they are irked to see the riffraff rewarded as the elite are penalized. For the snobs truly are penalized. They deserve it. And deep down they know it. All the same, it irks the hell out of the elite to see the writing on the wall, like King Belshazzar of Babylonia .
How does this apply to the two-week vacation planned by my wife and I? Well, to some degree we wanted a brief rest. After 32 years we figured we could use a rest. But as we planned a blank two weeks on our calendar, the blankness started to fill up with scribbled appointments. Though we wanted to set ourselves apart for two weeks, stuff happened.
In my case the stuff involved my garden. I can’t just neglect it for two weeks. But this is no bother, for part of my definition of “vacation” is to be free to potter in my garden, without interruption. And in like manner, one part of my wife’s definition of “vacation” is to dote on grandchildren, without interruption.
But when such stuff intrudes too much, it hardly seems you are on vacation at all. I found myself wondering what it would be like to have such a fine staff of gardeners that I could get a complete break, and in some way my wife also contemplated a break from doting on grandchildren. But I would never want an end to gardening, nor my wife want an end to doting. Just a retreat, a time of rest.
Oh well, we are still learning, because we are inexperienced when it comes to vacations. In some ways we failed this time, because our calendar failed to stay blank. Stuff happened.
There was a court date smack dab in the middle of the vacation, due to the foolishness which I described in my last post. Then there was a wedding at the start, which took up time and energy, and then there was a potential divorce among family members to walk-on-eggs about, as well. These are not things which are conducive to a serene mind being at peace, on vacation.
The wedding was, for me, one of the most beautiful events of my life. It seemed so unlikely: That a man who knew nothing but hardship should ever meet a woman who also knew nothing but hardship, and together find happiness. It was like when, in mathematics, a negative multiplied by a negative equals a positive. I was glad for him and glad for her, and glad for the two complicated families involved.
It also seems impossible to me that I, a selfish, lonely artist sleeping in his car, flat broke, 33 years ago, am now a grandfather with five children, ten grandchildren, and three daughters-in-law, and two sons-in-law. Add in my mother-in-law, and that makes 23 in the oneness of the bride’s side of the wedding photos. The husband’s side was equally complex, and added twenty more, so the wedding in a sense increased my family to 43 people. Yikes! I will need a chart simply to keep things straight!
But this just seem to verify what Jesus said would happen to bums like myself who were nice to fellow bums on the street. If I was faithful with the small things, I would be given greater things.
Hmm. Do I really want greater things? Do I really want 43 people to worry about? Or do I just want a vacation, where I don’t have a worry in the world?
The trick seems to be avoiding worry. For example, my daughter wanted her wedding’s “bride’s entrance” to involve all her nieces and nephews, including some as young as eleven months old, and I worried this was a bad idea. They would screech and wail and spoil the ceremony. And it seemed I was right, as we formed a sort of pre-parade in a corridor of a building next to the outdoors auditorium. Every child was complaining. I no longer worried. I was certain: The parade coming down the aisle to the alter would be a complete train wreck. And I would be the caboose, linked arm in arm with the bride. But my worry, and even my certainty, was utterly wrong. Why? Because exiting the low-ceilinged corridor seemed to uplift every little child with fresh air and sky, and they were in a state of wide-eyed, smiling wonder as they came down the aisle. What’s more, they were so awe-struck they behaved themselves through the entire ceremony.
Of course, because I was last in line, arm in arm with the bride in the din of crying children in a cramped corridor, I knew nothing about how the children behaved in the fresh air, and only experienced the pre-parade deafening of squalling toddlers and infants, even as the same toddlers and infants were amazing the wedding audience with their good behavior outside. So, I worried the worst, an even was certain of the worst. Therefore, the tearfully euphoric expressions on the audience’s faces made no sense to me, as I brought my daughter down the aisle.
It was only at the reception afterwards that I came to understand how stupid my worry was. Person after person told me how amazed and touched they were by all the awed little children preceding the bride, and how not one child misbehaved.
I bring this up to show how foolish worry is. Not that I am not guilty of worry, but I also often doubt its validity, even as I experience it.
The fact of the matter is that, in my life, I have seen my worst worries come true, and have always seen that, even in a worst-case scenario, reality is not as awful as worry suggested beforehand. For example, at age 21 the idea of being homeless and sleeping in my car was a fate to be dreaded, but when it actually happened to me at age 31, it wasn’t as dreadful as I imagined, and now, at age 69, I actually look back on my destitute period (between age 28 and age 36) with a peculiar fondness, (though I hope I don’t have to do it again.) Why fondness? Because at that time I saw that, even when your worries come true, you can still be good. Worry loses its power when you’re hit by its best uppercut, and you don’t fall down.
(This likely can be applied to the current political situation in the United States, where the elite are hitting the non-elite with their best uppercuts, but the non-elite are not falling down.)
But me? I’m just an old bumpkin who wants a vacation. And in a sense I got one, for a true wedding celebration is a vacation from the drag of ordinary, banal, humdrum reality. Rather than the testing of faith involved in ordinary life, it is an affirmation of faith. And is that ever a relief!
In ordinary life I am always wishing God would manifest, and in a wedding He does. Differences are overcome by understanding. The power of love is revealed, announced, and displayed.
Of course, as we look at the wedding photos in the future, we might see a particular married couple who are only faking their smiles, for they are secretly nursing the powers of divorce. But this tends to be part of what is called “family”, which is a soap opera I told my wife should be called, in our case, not “As the World Turns,” (an actual soap opera) but rather “As the Worm Churns.”
But such drama is just ordinary life, wherein we wish God would manifest but, though He is as ever-present as always, He seems to fail to manifest, so our faith gets tested. Yet even in this dreary and ungodly existence, the process of getting-by can involve “stuff” which, midst selfishness, is selfless, and releases the joy Masters promised us.
For example, when I went to court for my arraignment, I met with the prosecutor beforehand determined to prove my innocence, for I felt I had a “good case” and felt I likely would “win”. But it would take time and money. Hiring the attorney to plead my case would cost me roughly $2,000.00, to start. And it would likely involve three separate appearances in court, and who has time for that when their garden needs weeding? In the same manner, the prosecutor didn’t much want to spend a long time persecuting an innocent man. So, we sat around and did what I suppose is called “plea-bargained”. My charges were reduced from a “misdemeanor” to a “violation” (like a parking ticket) and by pleading “no contest” I didn’t even admit guilt. In the end the “plea bargaining” took roughly two hours of my vacation, plus a fine of $248.00, which was later reduced to $124.00. Furthermore, I found the prosecutor interesting, and he seemingly found me interesting as well.
A defendant is never supposed to be too open with a prosecutor, and vice versa, but we slipped up to some degree, in that respect. Rather than “plea-bargain” we did what locals call “chewed the fat”, which is to exchange information in a trusting and open manner, quite unlike the manner usually seen between a prosecutor and defendant. And why did this happen? Well, apparently, I made it happen. How so?
Well, it turned out the prosecutor had received a call from the arresting officer, who told him what an usually polite, honest and engaging criminal I was. This was no trouble for me. It is not every day you get handcuffed and brought to the police station for fingerprinting, and I found it fascinating, and was full of questions and interest. (See last post). I wasn’t behaving in that manner to gain some future advantage or benefit. It is just that, in a life with its fair share of hardship, I’ve learned it doesn’t do any good to make hardship harder by snarling and hissing like a collared cat, but that it makes hardship a lot less hard to bear if you treat it as an interesting experience. And apparently I made the experience interesting for the arresting officer as well. And one thing led to another, until it led to my experience in court being rather pleasant.
Perhaps this is what the Masters have been trying to tell us, millennium after millennium. If we have interest in others we forget about our selves, and things turn out better than they do when it is all about us. Of course, the non-elite are more likely to see this than the elite are, because the non-elite are facing hardships the elite adroitly avoid, and therefore the non-elite are better at facing hardships, and better at not being a sourpuss about troubles. Not that the non-elite are necessarily as cheerful as Snow White cleaning up after seven piggy dwarfs, singing “Whistle While You Work.” (My wife informs me I was not all rainbows and roses, the evening after my arrest.) However the non-elite do tend to work, and work hard, while the elite feel being “independently wealthy” frees them from odious toil, and they then sadly become in some ways allergic to work. They are deprived of experiencing what the Masters have been trying to tell us: It is better to give than to receive, and, blessed are the poor, for they are strangely more able to give than the rich.
This ties neatly into the difference between marriage and divorce, but I don’t want to delve much more into that topic. After all, this post is supposed to be about a vacation, and a vacation is supposed to be a break from hard work. And there is no getting around the fact marriage involves hard work.
At the start of marriage people notice they differ, but opposites attract, and “Viva la différence!” However, differing evolves into disagreeing, at which point things can become disagreeable. It is then marriage involves front lines between the powers of selfishness and the powers of selflessness. As I stated earlier, it doesn’t do any good to make hardship harder by snarling and hissing like a collared cat, but it makes hardship a lot less hard to bear if you treat it as an interesting experience. For there are some differences you will never agree upon. After 32 years my wife and I still can’t agree on how to make a bed; (she refuses to fold down the sheet up by the pillow). What one must decide is: Are such disagreements grounds for escalating nastiness and eventual divorce, or are they petty things which can be overlooked? Love is a great overlooker.
“Love bears all things” states the part of 1 Corinthians 13, which even non-churchgoing people like read out at their weddings, but it is easier said than done. Having done it, there is no way I want to revert to doing it. I want a vacation. When the young move in the direction of a quarrel, and I can escape the role of a councilor, I flee as fast as I can for the fish.
Or I watch the young fish, at the end of a day at the end of a life.
But eventually the long, summer days end. Even at the North Pole, where the summer sun never sets, summer ends, and darkness falls. Darkness is part of life, a time for rest. In Eden the night knew no fear, like sleep in a mother’s arms. But on earth fear creeps in. Worry arises.
I tend to side with light over darkness, reconciliation over divorce, but there are many examples of a pebble of badness starting an avalanche of evil. Evil escalates. A single bad apple can rot the entire barrel. Therefore, when the mind gets tired and needs rest, darkness can loom.
Light remains superior, for there is no darkness light cannot penetrate, whereas darkness can never penetrate light. However, this also means that when your own mind grows weary and dark it cannot penetrate to the very light it longs for. All crumbles. Rust never sleeps. Decay triumphs even over the pyramids.
It was at this point that King David, a mighty warrior, became weak and fragile. In his psalms he aptly describes how bad his bad moods were, and how stressful was his post-traumatic stress. And then, over and over, his psalms show him turning to God as the One who does not crumble, as the “rock” who is everlasting. Then the mighty warrior becomes like a toddler clinging to a father’s pantleg in a crowd. And then, every time, his tested faith is restored, not due to any deed on the part of David, but because it is in the nature of the Father to love, to preserve and protect. And this happens to all of us, when we sleep. What do we do when we sleep? What do we achieve when we do nothing? How is it rest rewards us?
I don’t know. I just know that, like it or not, I fall asleep, and then wake to find decay reversed, winter giving way to spring, darkness giving way to light, and wounds healed.
As the end of our vacation neared, we decided to do something loony, a bit like herding cats, and that was to get all six of the younger grandchildren in a single picture. In a way this was a divorce, a divorce from common sense, for getting even a single toddler into a picture is challenging, especially when they are seated on a couch and are determined to wobble off and land on their heads. The following picture is proof anything is possible.
In case you are wondering what so fascinates the children that they all sit still, it was the antics of their parents. I took a video where I pan back and forth as this picture was set up, and to me my grandkids are less interesting than my now-mature kids, all hopping about and singing songs. The cooperation was amazing, especially when you realize it includes two who are contemplating divorce and who ordinarily can’t agree about anything, yet whom I have proof of, on video, that that they can cooperate, when they forget themselves and are focused on something other than themselves, (in this case a good picture.)
And then everyone began leaving, and suddenly there was silence: Just my wife and I, all alone by a lake. I had no garden to weed, and she had no grandchildren to dote over. There was no loony behavior to deal with, but off in the distance the beautiful cry of a loon inspired us to contemplate if there was anything slightly loony which we old folk might do together, and we decided to kayak off to a distant island and explore it.
The island was barren of topsoil and blasted by winds that at times must scream down from the nearby mountain and across the flat waters to flatten the island’s weaker trees. Yet as we walked about, I was struck by how lush the island managed to be despite all it had going against it. The trees were pathetic compared to trees on the west coast but had a might all their own. Simply to survive hinted at heroism, and there were many hemlocks with bases eighteen inches across that were barely twelve feet tall. Counting the whorls of branches suggested they were like banzai trees, over a hundred years old but still small. Many trees were warped and twisted in a loony way. Many others, which had dared grow taller, had been blown down or snapped off. But the rotting stumps of the snapped-off fatalities didn’t stop life.
Nor was life defeated when the fatalities involved the shallow subsoil giving too little dirt to keep trees from being uprooted. Seedlings grew atop the uprooted roots, and even when the roots rotted and the dirt washed away, the loony seedlings didn’t quit.
And some of these trees that refused to quit grew to a decent size, (though not by west coast standards.)
But of all the loony trees perhaps the oddest was the lone white pine I saw on the entire island. It was loony not only because it was the lone white pine, but also because it dwarfed all the other trees. What a tale it must be able to tell, to grow so tall where no other trees can tower. I can’t tell the tale, but I greatly admired the tree.
Perhaps I liked the tree because it seems a sort of proof great things can spring from soils that seem sterile. That likely seems loony to the elite, despite proof all round us. They insist they must be independently wealthy first, and even then produce little.
In any case, our vacation was coming to a close. We had to head back to clean up the rented house (or lose our security deposit.) So, we somewhat reluctantly left the island and started back. But, as if to emphasize what is loony, two loons appeared in our path.
There is a law which states boaters aren’t supposed to approach closer than 200 feet to loons, and my wife was able to paddle around them. However, the birds seemed determined to increase my criminal record, and swam and dove directly towards me. Ordinarily shy, these loons seemed determined to get me in trouble, and even added a third to the mix, and soon I was studying loons more closely than I have ever done before, in my 69 years.
I was able to study them, but my phone went dead, and I had to stop taking pictures, and just enjoy the given gift. One thing I wish I could show you is how, when one loon dove, the other two looked down, burying their faces in the water, and how their heads slowly turned as they watched the third pass beneath. The one thing they didn’t do, that I wished for, was to sing their lonely luting, but perhaps such a song at such lose quarters would have capsized my kayak. In the end I decided I had learned two things.
1.) What the elite call loony behavior is actually quite natural.
Ordinarily, when you write an introductory paragraph, you have already arrived at some sort of conclusion, and you are just preparing for the body of the writing which will develop along preordained lines and arrive at the preordained conclusion. However, I haven’t figured everything out, so this is more of a diary entry. It just describes a bad day, which, like most bad days, has a funny side.
I suppose I should begin with a description of my bad mood. I’ll try (and likely fail) to keep it short.
I have been perplexed by the fact a single letter can alter the word “weeding” to “wedding” and make such a difference. “Weeding” no one wants to help with; you have to pay people to help, but “wedding” sparks more generous impulses. Everyone wants to help.
It just so happens I am far more serious than usual about my vegetable garden this year. Usually I can laugh, if the experiment results in amazingly fertilized weeds towering eight feet tall. I just notch it up to experience. “Next year I’ll handle weeding differently.”
But this year is different, with people’s retirement savings shrinking by 50% even as their retirement costs increase by 50%. I myself am not retired, but at age 69 most of my friends are, and I am well aware this is a disaster for people who worked long and hard, and trusted the “system”. It now looks like the “system” was not trustworthy.
With inflation so bad, people are looking for things to invest in that will not lose value. Some take their money from stocks and invest in gold. I don’t have that much money and own no stocks, but I invest in a sort of gold I dig from the dirt, called “carrots”. I am a gold miner.
How is this a good investment? Actually, it is a bad investment, at April rates. You see, if I plant eight feet of carrots it will see me and my wife through next winter, and I can handle weeding eight feet. But not thirty-two feet. Thirty-two feet involves hiring weeders, which raises the cost of the carrots. At April rates such carrots would be absurdly expensive, perhaps as much as ten dollars a pound. But, with the Swamp malfunctioning so grotesquely, April rates don’t even apply to June. In a worst-case scenario, carrots might be a hundred dollars a pound by November, in which case my bad investment mysteriously becomes a good one.
I have planted long rows of all sorts of stuff which will be handy to have, if we are in dire straits by Autumn, but I’m having a hard time finding workers. It’s hard enough finding workers for my Childcare, which pays my bills, and the extra work of the garden stresses me out.
Worst is that few see things as dire as I am seeing them, (though a few are starting to come around to my way of seeing). Most townsfolk are wonderful, for nothing phases them. They can be buffeted by life, and they are like the “Whos in Whoville”, who were not bothered when the “Grinch” stole Christmas and they sang carols anyway. I like such people very much, and they are one reason I plant extra carrots. A carrot might be a nice gift to give them, next Christmas.
But just because I like and admire them doesn’t mean I should have to give up on my garden. And that is the point where the frustration and irritation start to perturb my mind, and I find myself grumbling to God. And praying He help me stop muttering to my Maker, and instead sing “This is the day the Lord has made” when I arise.
But I want to garden yet am under a sort of pressure to be a family man and do family stuff, for example attend a grandchild’s ballgames. Not that it is a bad thing, especially when the class displayed by both the players and the crowd (on both sides) makes professional athletes look shameful. It was an excellent game, 2-0 with tension in every inning, and my grandson’s team came out on top.
Yet the whole time I’m thinking about my garden. I’m even thinking that, if I really cared, I’d sacrifice the ballgame for the garden. After all, it would be a terrible thing if my grandchild lacked a carrot next January, and it was my fault.
Thinking along these lines not only sours a delightful ballgame; it sours life in general. I was frowning at speeches at a granddaughter’s graduation. And it even was souring the approaching wedding of my daughter. I felt divided and irked by the fact my help was wanted even as few would help me. For example, the wedding involved all sorts of stuff arriving via UPS and Amazon, which resulted in a towering stack of cardboard boxes at the Childcare. Someone had to take them all to the recycling center, and that someone was me. It intruded upon my Saturday “day off” schedule of weed, weed, weed, transplant, and weed, and I confess to being a bit frosty, when I was asked to dispose of the cardboard. But I did it, muttering to my Maker. And my reward?
Lydia, my lone surviving goat, who lives a life as pampered as a cat, chose to use the time I was absent from the farm to carefully pick her way through all sorts of edible weeds to my pride and joy, (and favorite vegetable), some cauliflower plants which promised to grow heads a foot across, and chomped them down to mere stubs protruding from the earth.
All my warm feelings towards that goat vanished, and I considered turning her to goat-burgers. In other words, I was becoming unreasonable. It didn’t help when someone stated I should not blame the goat and instead should tend to my fences. Like I have time! I can’t even weed, when there isn’t rain and I have to water my long rows, in which case I am also watering the weeds!
In a way that could be my motto for the past two years: “Like I have time!”. Just as I have to choose between weeding and watering, there have been all too many situations wherein, in doing one thing, I neglect another.
For example, last week I took my 2000 Jeep Cherokee to the local garage because the brakes of the old clunker were making a scraping sound, (“Like I have time for this!”) and, while fixing the brakes the mechanic observed the vehicle wasn’t inspected. I felt a sort of shock. That was a job I should have done in February! The fellow said he could inspect it quickly, if I had the registration, but, when I checked the registration, I realized the vehicle was also unregistered. How could I miss that!? Thinking back, I vaguely recalled attempting to do it on-line, but running into some glitch where the computer refused to cooperate. Somehow that exasperating attempt manufactured a feeling in my mind that the effort had been made and the job was done, when it wasn’t. (I recall wondering why nothing came in the mail, and no money vanished from my account.) In any case, I told my mechanic I’d be back in a few days, when I found time to stop in at the Town Office and register the Jeep.
In case you are wondering how I could drive around unregistered and uninspected, blame the coronavirus. Our small-town police-chief has had between two part-time officers, and zero part-time officers. An airhead like myself could drive about in flagrant violation of the law and never be reprimanded.
Come to think of it, the coronavirus had me as hard-pressed as our police-chief, as I kept a Childcare open despite the Swamp’s efforts to shut everything down. However, that was old news, and we are facing new news, which is crazy inflation and crashing markets and the fact we might be running out of food by November. Thank you, Brandon.
However, my little town, in its efforts to recover from the coronavirus, had recently sworn in three young officers to help the chief. They were from out of town, which meant they had no understanding of why an old coot like me might be driving around with no registration and no inspection. (I mention this to create what is called “Foreshadowing”)
My first dim awareness that things had changed occurred when I was trying to snatch a nap after lunch on a day when I had to cover for an absent worker at the Childcare in the morning. Though I lay down I never napped. First, I got a call that a child had a finger caught in a sleighbell at the Childcare. (The metal had a hole created by turning metal inward, which allowed a little finger to slip in, but caught the finger when it tried to slip out.) As the child was weeping, this was a critical crisis, but the adroit use of tip snips freed the finger, and I settled back to nap. Then a second call disturbed me to remind me to attend my grandson’s championship game. I already knew that. And then the third interruption was a loud crashing, scraping sound in front of my house. When I blearily went to the window, I noted the driver leaving the car and running away. It looked like his car was not pulled-over to the side, but was in the middle of the lane on a sharp curve.
I gave up on my nap and went outside to see. Yes, he was stopped in the center of his lane, on a dangerous curve. His jury-rigged tie rods had failed and dropped his front axle on the right side, flattening a tire. I dialed 911 and reported the situation, and then directed traffic, including two school buses, to avoid people pulling out into the opposite lane (to get around the stopped car) from crashing headlong into cars coming the other way around the sharp curve. Most people assumed the car was my car and asked me if I needed help. That irked me a bit. It was like I was getting blamed. I figured I was actually a sort of minor hero, though I was mostly irked I hadn’t napped and might be late to my grandson’s game. But rather than the chief taking twenty minutes to arrive as usual, a young officer arrived in only ten minutes followed by two more five minutes later.
The young officers seemed inexperienced, as if it was the first time they’d seen such a predicament and weren’t exactly certain of how to handle it by-the-book. Likely it wasn’t covered in school. They disagreed about the correct procedure and seemed to be a little rude to each other, and also to me. One fellow was offended by my inability to describe the driver, who I’d only blearily and briefly glimpsed through a screen. I supposed they were learning on the fly, dealing with their own inexperience in such situations, but I vainly thought I myself had handled the situation pretty well, without schooling. I shrugged, left them to their learning, and went to get ready to my grandson’s game.
By the time I came back out to hop in my Jeep and leave for the game the officers had set out cones and positioned the two policecars, with lights flashing to alert traffic to the problem. They also were dealing with the driver, who had returned with the help he’d run off to find. Rather than understanding this was how we deal with problems in our rural way, they were giving him a hard time for “leaving the scene of an accident.” I blithely forgot that my sticker was expired, cheerfully waving while weaving my way through all the parked vehicles on the curve to go to the game. The police were too busy to notice the criminal in their midst.
(This is further foreshadowing.)
To skip ahead past the delightful ballgame, the next day found my reason failing. I was at the point described as, “losing all reason.” The goat eating my cauliflower was just the final straw. Further irritations came from things which should have pleased me. For example, all my hard work, (and the cool weather) resulted in a bountiful growth of lettuce. How could that irk me?
Well, I was irked because having all that lettuce meant I had work more, figuring out who to give it to, and how to do it. Would I never be free of further work? In a fit of independence, after taking all the boxes to the recycling center I decided the heck with both weeding and weddings, and drove to a local greenhouse to buy cauliflower seedlings. It was very selfish of me, but I do like cauliflower.
Even though I was civil and polite with the industrious woman who sells seedlings, part of my mind was in rebellion. Despite all my religion I was thinking of nasty and hurtful ways to make the point that I felt like I was giving and never getting. Even my goat was against me.
It was as I returned from the greenhouse with cauliflower seedlings waving from the dashboard, grumbling to God because I knew I was thinking nasty and hateful thoughts, and suggesting He should have created creation and me differently, that I passed one of the young policemen, heading the other way, eager to prove he was good at enforcing the law. As I continued up the road, I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw his lights come on, and thought, “I hope that’s not for me. I hope he got called to another crisis.” Just then I saw a little lane ahead. It occurred to me that if I pulled into that lane I’d be out of his way if he was off to another crisis, and also that, if he was after me, he might not find me. Big mistake.
He must have turned around with adroitness I never expected. Last thing I saw in my rear-view mirror he was headed the opposite way. I was pretty much pulled into the narrow, shaded lane, but the butt of my old jeep was still visible from the main road, when I heard the police car’s modern siren make that weird noise sirens now make. It reminds me of the flying saucer in one of the first video games, (“Space Invaders”); (twenty-five cents per game, in 1969.) I figured he had seen me, and was after me, so I pulled over.
The young man came whizzing into the side lane practically on two wheels and had to brake hard to avoid smashing into me. The lane was a narrow one. He stopped dead center in the street, blocking traffic both ways. I thought he looked a little flushed as he came to my window. Pulling me over was likely the most exciting thing he’d seen, in our sleepy little town. An actual pursuit!
He asked me for my license and registration and I sighed deeply for I knew the registration was expired. I deserved a ticket. Instead, I got arrested and handcuffed.
It happened like this: He asked me, “Why did you accelerate into this lane?”
“I did not accelerate.”
“But why pull into this lane?”
I said, “I know people who live down this lane,” which was no lie, but for some weird reason I decided God would not like it if I insinuated that I had pulled into the lane to see an old friend, so I added, “But if you want the truth, I was hoping to avoid you.”
“You saw my lights?”
I noticed the young man’s face became much redder, and thought to myself, “Big Mistake.”
He announced, “I am going to have to ask you to step from the car. You are under arrest for resisting arrest.”
“I have to cuff you and take you to the station and charge you.”
“This is rediculous.” But, as it seemed I’d be resisting arrest if I said I wasn’t resisting arrest, I got out of my Jeep and was told to stand facing my Jeep, and, at age 69, for the first time in my life, felt cold steel clamp around my wrists. I did say, “Aren’t you supposed to read me my rights, or something like that,” and the officer replied, “We do that at the station.”
I think I may have been the first person the young fellow had the chance to handcuff, for they were much too tight. But I now commend him for choosing an old geezer to practice on, and not some drug-addled musclebound punk of nineteen who was full of hormones. (Having run a Childcare, I know even when you have another’s hands under control, considerable damage can be done to your nose with a forehead, even by a four-year-old). But I didn’t butt, and instead, despite the pain in my wrists, was extremely polite and well-behaved. The young man was swept up in a whirlwind of procedure, making the correct reports on his radio, and asking me all the correct questions, and seemed so inexperienced and over-his-head I did my best to be helpful. I sat as he wanted, in the rear of his police car.
I must say that seat is designed to be uncomfortable. Hard plastic. No cushions. No place you want to sit with your hands behind your back. I sat sort of sideways, as the pain in my wrists diminished slightly when I sat that way, and I must have looked uncomfortable. The young officer suddenly paused and asked me, “Do those cuffs hurt?”
“Well, if you agree to obey, I can cuff your hands in front.”
“Sure. I’ll agree. Don’t worry. I’m a good guy.”
(There may have been some sarcasm hidden in my statement, for policemen are supposed to capture bad guys, and perhaps I was suggesting he had arrested the wrong guy. But never mind that. Such subtlety was over Barney Fife’s head.)
In a fit of unexpected compassion, the young officer unhandcuffed me and then re-handcuffed me with my hands in front of me. As I held my wrists forward to be re-handcuffed the red dents in my skin caused by the prior handcuffing were plain to see, and he handcuffed more gently the second time. Live and learn. I am proud to be part of the education of a young officer.
But the world sure does look different from the back of a police care, on your way to the station to be booked. My fret about the one letter difference between “weeding” and “wedding”, and the crises about carrots, cauliflowers and lettuce, abruptly seemed removed and far away.
I did remember to consult God, which I was glad to see myself do. Usually, when I am abruptly in some tornado outside my ordinary experience, I forget the very One I should be thinking of, and instead am engrossed by the interesting turn my life has taken. Even if I stepped into an elevator with no floor, and was falling to my doom, rather than my final words being “Oh God” I fear they would be “Oh Shit!”. But in this bizarre situation I actually did remember God, and my conversation was a mix of “What is going on?” and “Help!”
Next, I got to see how hardened criminals are treated at police stations. I was handcuffed to a bench for around an hour as legalities were attended to: What were the actual charges, and what bail should be set, and who would be my bail-bondsman. One of my hands was released so I could sign certain papers, but my other hand remained handcuffed. I asked the young officer if he could allow me to use my cellphone to take a picture of my handcuffed hand, and he said it would be OK. (I was thinking it would make my blog more interesting than pictures of my hand, picking green lettuce.)
(By this point I think I had persuaded the young officer I was not a dangerous threat, and actually am a kindly old man. I thanked him when he brought me a glass of water. I mean a plastic cup of water. (Glass would obviously be too dangerous.) And I found things to chat about. For example, as he fingerprinted me, using old-fashioned ink, I told him that when I got fingerprinted by the state police because the state requires it for my Childcare, they had a new-fangled, ink-free computer screen to press fingers on. He begrudged our town couldn’t afford that update yet.
Mentioning my Childcare made him curious, and he asked me a few unprofessional questions pertaining to my Childcare and not my case, and I cheerfully regaled him with a few recent episodes.
As I studied the three sets of fingerprints he was required to take, I mentioned my prints sure had a lot of scars, but that I supposed I hadn’t kept track of all the cuts my fingertips have received, as a hands-on sort of worker, now pushing seventy. (Too much information? Not sure. I was painting a self-portrait for the young man, hopefully making him feel a little ashamed for handcuffing such a sweet, old man.)
We even joked a little. He had to ask me a long list of careful questions he read from a sheet of paper, such as, “Do you have diabetes, high blood-pressure, cancer…” and so forth, an then he paused, looked at me, and said, “I’ve got to ask these…Are you pregnant?” I made some politically incorrect comment that made him laugh, though he said nothing, because we were being automatically filmed by a camera by the ceiling, and cancel culture is so rampant even policemen obey unwritten laws.
Next I had to raise bail, which involved getting a bondsman. After a long wait my tax accountant came walking in, and cheerfully said, “Hi Caleb.” As I replied, “Hi Brenda,” the young officer looked surprised. I added, “I got in trouble trying to avoid trouble. Sorry you had to drive all this way on a Saturday.”
Brenda replied, “No trouble. I have another job, next town over, so I have to drive down this way anyway.”
The young officer looked mystified. How could such a familiarity be? Was I such a habitual criminal that I knew the bail bondsman on a first name basis? (In an area of small towns a single person can have five or six jobs.)
After that we were pretty much done. The station-computer produced twelve sheets of paper and I signed five of them. The other seven involved my rights, and a form to fill out if I wanted court-appointed lawyer, (involving a lengthy interrogation about my income), and lastly the date of my arraignment.
The officer also gave me two warnings, one for no inspection and one for no registration. I stated I’d take care of it right away.
Then he said he’d drive me back to my jeep. He could only then return the boxcutter I’d had in my back pocket. I joked, “Now I have to think of what I’m going to tell my wife.”
He looked curious. “What are you going to tell her?”
“I’m thinking maybe I won’t go home.”
(To be continued)
(Memory: in 1985, out west, I asked a Navajo how he dared drive around without plates, and he replied, “Do they make your car drive any better? Your white-man-laws are stupid.”)
When I was a small boy in the 1950’s our next-door neighbor was a man who struck me as a bit spooky, likely because he lived a frightening life. He was somehow involved with designing a missile which was supposed to blow up Russian missiles as they approached with an atomic warhead, an antimissile-missile. He therefore knew too much about the doom which superpowers flirted with at that time, and how close we were to war, and the fact his factory was a prime target, and that he himself might be a target of the KGB. Lastly, he was forbidden to talk to anyone about what likely scared him. He had good reason to walk around looking spooked. But, as a merciless child, I just found him creepy.
One habit he had was to walk about his lush, green yard hunched over, a weed digger in hand, peering about like a hawk for dandelions. He was death on dandelions, and his yard was nothing but grass. He would look in dismay over our yard, which held very little grass, and was largely trampled dirt, white clover, and dandelions. His dismay was greatest when our dandelions went to seed, and the seeds became airborne, heading towards his pristine lawn.
In my eyes they looked like little parachutes, but in his eyes, they probably approached like Russian missiles. I felt like, if looks could kill, I’d be dead, though he probably was directing is murderous gaze at our lawn and not at me.
In any case I grew up feeling there was something not quite right about people who fussed too much about dandelions on their lawns, and in the 1960’s, in the emerald suburbs of Boston, I felt I was in a distinct minority. For some reason people bought into the belief a lawn was contaminated if it included anything but grass.
I was not entirely against this belief, for I could make jingling silver dimes and quarters if I rid people’s lawns of weeds such as dandelions, but I also couldn’t muster much loathing towards the dandelions I pulled, due to my father. As a doctor, he was aware many weeds have uses in medicine, and he was always curious about such medicinal benefits. He might pluck a dandelion leaf and say, “This stuff is like bitter lettuce and is loaded with vitamins; folk used to eat it in the spring to recover from a long winter; they say it is good for your guts.”
Or he might look at another disdained weed such as plantain:
And he’d say, “This stuff is loaded with vitamins too, but tastes a bit mushroomy. When I was a kid boys used to chew it and smear the chewed cud on cuts and rashes, saying it made healing faster. I wonder if there’s any truth to that?”
In any case, I had a different attitude towards a weedy lawn than most suburbanites, and in the 1970’s tended to side with the tree-huggers who were violently opposed to pesticides and herbicides, but who also were generally too poor to live in suburbs and have any lawns. The people with lawns kept seeking the perfect lawn, which was a lawn free of any plant but grass. This eventually led to weedkillers such as “Roundup”, which may or may not have caused cancer in gardeners and suburbanites, (and has made many lawyers wealthy).
Rather than exploiting this lucrative longing for the perfect lawn, I, as a landscaper, tended to attempt to convince people to skip the bother of seeking such perfection, claiming Mother Nature knew what to grow and grew it, and it wasn’t wise to mess with Mother Nature.
One time a customer was bothered by moss. I charged her only twenty a week to mow her lawn, for the grassy part was small and the mossy part never really needed mowing, except for now and again because some invasive grass might send up a few strangling strands. But then the customer, who tended to worry too much, began to press me to work more, promising to pay more. When I explained the moss grew because her beautiful shade trees made so much shade it created a habitat more suited for moss than for grass, she worried I might just be lazy and making up excuses to avoid extra work.
I had to then be careful, for it is not good practice to offend a customer. I shrugged and said maybe she was right. I would look into finding a grass that grew well in the shade. If I found one, I could then rip up the most beautiful moss lawn in town and attempt to replace it with an ordinary grass lawn. Lastly, I added it would likely cost hundreds of dollars to do; far more than the twenty per week I ordinarily charged. Then I promised to get back to her. (I had hopes the way I said “the most beautiful moss lawn in town” might make her think twice.) Her response was to say she’d be making inquiries of her own.
When I stopped in to mow her lawn the next week, (far too busy to have done the investigating I had hoped to do for her), she greeted me with a surprisingly broad smile, and told me she had asked a friend about moss in lawns. Much to her surprise she discovered her friend had paid a landscaper to make her front lawn be moss. It had cost her friend ten thousand dollars. I laughed and said my customer’s much-larger lawn must be at least a twenty-thousand-dollar lawn, (which is what we called it, from then on). Rather than being embarrassed by her mossy lawn my customer became proud of it.
This only added to my feeling that all-grass lawns were merely a fad and fashion, fleeting and due to a copycat tendency among suburbanites, wherein somebody somewhere says something is “politically correct”, and everyone else follows without asking why.
Now I’m old and run a Childcare whose playground is thick sod enriched by two hundred years of manure from farm animals. It is likely 50% grass, but much grass is not lawn grass, but rather is rank grass like witch-grass, or seasonal like crabgrass. The rest of the lawn is perhaps 30% white clover, and 20% an assortment of many plants which can withstand mowing. This includes the aforementioned dandelions and plantain, but also many swift wildflowers which can survive mowing, though their flowers can’t.
This brings me to an interesting detail in many old poems, written back in the day when mowing was done by sickles and scythes. Often it is merely a passing mention, an aside, but it adds a certain mood or flavor to the poem. It is that, in the business of cutting grass, the grass-cutter avoids cutting a blooming (or even merely budding) bunch of wildflowers. In “Ode to Autumn” John Keats mentions,
...While thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers...
Now, rather than using a sickle or scythe, I whiz about in a rider mower. I might not be able to write like those old masters, but I can mow better than they, and also, I can spare flowers with the best of them.
This is especially true of daisies. A few years back I noted their foliage is very different from the look of other plants on the lawn, and that, by swerving my mower, I could avoid cutting a patch of two. This led to a patch or two of daisies waving in the wind, for a few weeks, before they became brown and ugly and I mowed them down and the lawn reverted to a lawn in its entirety.
This experiment was such a success I expanded it. This was partially due to the fact the daisies spread, and partially due to the fact I left areas too small to be edged by a big rider mower for edging with a smaller hand mower. Rather than two patches I wound up with many more.
This was wildly successful for two reasons. The first is that it looks very nice, for a couple of weeks, after which it starts to look very ugly, and I mow it all down. During the two weeks it looks nice I receive many compliments for flowers I did not plant.
But the second reason is because the lawn, being the playground of a Childcare, is full of children, and it is fascinating to see them interact with the daisies.
Early on I do teach them not to rip off the buds, explaining they soon will be flowers, but once the flowers are blooming there are so many daisies that I let the children pick all they want. Children seem to like this. They get to pick blooms without being scolded for it.
Also, because the daisies grow in patches, and I use the hand mower to cut pathways between the patches, the children skip up and through and around the daisies inventing all sorts of imaginative scenarios only young minds can envision.
Daisies become a wonderful playground toy, better (and cheaper) than any “education stimulating” plastic object on the market, and good for my teachers as well, for they have only to stand back and watch. The daisies are the curriculum. I also like to just stand back and watch the children in the sun.
What is interesting to me is that rather than something I did, this is due to what I didn’t do. Where I could have mowed, I did not mow.
I think that, when people first start to pay attention to sea-ice, they tend to be shocked by the amazing amount of melting that occurs every summer. I know I was. Initially it dismayed me, for it seemed to fit into the narrative of man-caused Global Warming, but then I looked deeper, and studied history, and became aware such melting occurred every summer, as far back as records go. For example, back in the early Cold War records of military outposts out on the sea-ice, (in places like Fletcher’s Ice Island), there are requisitions for hip-waders, because the slush got so deep in July. In any case, my alarm turned to wonder.
My wonder increased when I became aware of a fascinating factoid. The North Pole actually receives more heat on a given day than the equator, during the height of summer. This seemed impossible, and it was difficult for me to get my mind around the idea, for the sun at noon on the equator is so hot that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out into it. Meanwhile at noon at the Pole the sun (at the equanox) is only at 23.5 degrees, and beats down with nowhere near the intensity.
However, that is only at noon. At a location in an equatorial time zone where the sun rises at 6:00, by 4:45 in the afternoon it has sunk to 22.5 degrees, and is actually lower than the polar sun, and at 6:00 it is setting, and abruptly not shining at all. The next morning it rises at 6:00, but is lower than the polar sun until 7:30. Meanwhile the polar run rolls around and around the horizon, neither rising nor setting (visibly), but simply shining from 23.5 degrees constantly. What this means is that the equatorial sun only outshines the polar sun nine hours a day, and the other fifteen hours the polar sun dominates the scorecard. In essence it is like the race between the tortoise and the hare. The equator races ahead for a while, but the plodding Pole wins the race.
I found an interesting chart which shows how powerful the Polar sun gets in terms of Watts per square meter per day. The first chart shows that by around May 12 the Pole is matching the equator, with both areas receiving around 412 w/m2.
By June 2 the Pole has increased to over 500 w/m2, while the equator has actually decreased slightly (due to the sun drifting north towards the Tropic of Cancer.)
By the equinox the Pole is receiving 550 w/m2 a day while the Equator dips below 400 w/m2, at which point we should ask ourselves, “Why aren’t palm trees growing at the Pole?”
Or at least we should ask, “Why doesn’t the sea-ice melt completely?”
The answer is that it very nearly does. When we look at the “volume” graph it swiftly becomes apparent that a colossal amount, roughly 20,000 km3, melts every year, leaving barely 5,000 km3. I’d like to see a calculation involving how much heat is used up simply moving all that water through the phase change from solid to liquid, changing available energy into potential energy, without changing the actual temperature a single degree. A fabulous amount of heat must be sucked up. Of course, all that heat is released when the phase change goes the other way in the autumn, and roughly 20,000 km3 of sea-ice is recreated. But that is what is so fabulous and wonderful about the yearly undulations.
The downward blips in this year’s line in the above graph occur because some goodly surges of thicker-than-usual sea-ice have been expelled down through Fram Strait, especially compared to last year. (In fact some of the ice was thicker precisely because it was held back last year.) This will effect the Atlantic to the south, which I may wonder about later in this post, but the focus of this current wondering is the enormity of the melting that goes on up there every summer.
Back when I was first learning about sea-ice I liked to peruse old aerial photos of the polar ice. I noted some showed meltwater pools that formed wandering channels on their way to some weakness in the sea-ice, where the water vanished down through a crack or a hole. At times these channels would approach a hole in the sea-ice from all sides, creating a look like a spiderweb, except spiderwebs don’t usually have so many branches, nor do webs get smaller and finer, away from the center of the web. I also noted that as soon as the sea-ice began to crack up these ice-geological formations ceased to be, and even meltwater pools found it harder to grow to a significant size. I was not particularly political; I was merely observing.
In those days there were wonderful cameras drifting about the Arctic Sea, sending us pictures via satellite. In 2013 the “North Pole Camera” witnessed the formation of a particularly splendid meltwater pool. Here is a time lapse of that pool’s creation:
The media got wind of the pool and dubbed it “Lake North Pole” and suggested it was alarming, leading to sensationalist posts on websites such as “Treehugger”. Here is a post from that time from their archive, (although it lacks a little of its authenticity because they “updated” it in 2021.)
At the time I commented at the “Treehugger” site what I had observed from aerial photos, stating the sea-ice was particularly thick at the “Lake North Pole” location, or else the water would have drained down through a hole or a crack, and adding such drainage likely would soon happen. To my astonishment my comment was deleted. It was not rude or scornful at all, but I suppose my observations did oppose the idea the meltwater pool was especially alarming. I felt a little sad about being excluded from an interesting discussion, but there were other websites where discussion was allowed, so I abandoned “Treehugger.” Also, I had started an obscure website of my own, and could post observations (even silly ones) to my heart’s content there.
Shortly thereafter a crack or hole did form, and Lake North Pole vanished in a twinkling. Furthermore, the NorthPole Camera showed the buoy draped in a fresh fall of snow. The media lost interest with amazing speed, but I noted my observations, and got quite a surprise. My obscure website, which seldom got more than 20 views, abruptly got 300 in a few hours. Here is the post where it happened, and I haven’t “updated” it, so it retains authenticity.
Considering my writing had brought me nothing but rejection slips for a half century, perhaps it is understandable that I was swayed by the attention I received. But it is also a little embarrassing, looking back, especially because I was not an authority. I was merely an observer, and wondered about what I was witnessing, and while I had been right about Lake North Pole vanishing some of my other conclusions were dead wrong, and I to admit it, which is never much fun (unless you are among especially good-hearted people.)
A lot of good discussion occurred, and I met good people who corrected me and who also shared wonderful observations of their own, but, sadly, there were also people who could never confess their conclusions were dead wrong. “Winning” the debate was more important to them than seeing the Truth. I think “winning” became overriding because “winning” brought money, fame, and power among a particularly repulsive bunch, now disparaged as “The Swamp”. In my view the “winners” sold their souls to the devil, and lost their grip on Truth, which is beauty and power and all we need.
In any case, a decade has now past, and now if you type “Lake North Pole Vanishes” into the “Bing” search engine you will see it is I who have vanished. In the “google” search engine “Lake North Pole Vanishes” still allows my old post to come up as around the eighth link, but if you search “Lake North Pole” I am nowhere to be found, even ten to twenty pages in. “Arctic Sea-ice” will not find me either, which is ironic, because initially I put “Arctic Sea-Ice” as a heading to all my sea-ice posts because it originally tended to raise my standing on search engines.
This is sad, for being shadow banned in this manner gets in the way of having discussions with non-political people who simply want to share observations, and to wonder. Now it seems hard to find that sort of innocent discussion. And at times all current wondering seems to be about political ploys, rather than about the sea-ice at all. But there is a good side to being shadow banned as well.
The good side? I suppose it is that I was originally drawn to sea-ice for reasons that had little to do with drawing attention to myself. The focus was upon sea-ice, not me. But once you become infatuated with “clicks” you unconsciously gravitate towards drawing attention to yourself, hogging the spotlight, and tap dancing across the sea-ice with a top hat and cane. Shame on me! I confess. I did it, and what’s more, at times it was jolly good fun!
Other times? Well, preening in a mirror gets boring. Therefore, it was good that I was “marginalized” and “shadow banned”, because it got me away from those who encouraged me to make a spectacle of myself. And this allowed me to again focus on sea-ice, and furthermore to realize that sea-ice was never actually my primary focus.
Actually, my initial focus was Greenland Vikings, but when I thought about it, I realized that too was but a side-focus, part of a greater focus on sea-faring men of all sorts, which also was a side-focus on a greater focus on adventure in general, which in turn was a side focus on….Hey! What is my focus, anyhow?
This led to an interesting period of reflection, which reminded me a little of being small and being asked what I wanted to “be” when I grew up. I always felt a little awkward, for it felt a little like a trap. If I answered honestly to the grown-ups, (which I seldom dared do), I likely would have responded, “I want to be free.”
In a sense it is like the Cole Porter song Will Rogers liked to sing, “Don’t Fence Me In.” Only rather than riding across the open range, I am riding across the world of thought. Sea-ice is but one topic of many. If I got stuck on sea-ice I would be like a bee stuck in one flower, (perhaps a pitcher plant or Venus-flytrap).
I lack the discipline it takes to be a true authority. Even in the realm of sea-ice it seems that there are specific areas and fields of study, so that one person may be an authority on icebergs and another on the algae that grows on the underside of ice. Scientific authorities are specialists who have amazing focus and discipline and attend to meticulous details, and I simply can’t match them. I haven’t the time for that. I’d rather pick their brains like thieves pick pockets, and then go hopping off like a happy-go-lucky Brer Rabbit with the cream of their ideas, the culmination of all their hard work, as a bit of trivia to add to my vast store.
When I think hard about it, I am not a true scientist, though I love Truth. I bounce about from topic to topic too much, (as this post is doing). Thus, what I know is factual, but not deeply researched. It is disparaged as mere factoids, and trivia, and I agree it is factoids and trivia, but feel it has value. Perhaps I’m not a scientist, but, to coin a word, I am a “triviaist” (as opposed to trivialist), and to be a triviaist is not a trivial thing.
How so? Well, if you know a little about a lot of topics you may not have the depth of knowledge a scientist has in his specific cubicle, but you can spot when that same scientist is straying outside his cubical into “an area outside of his expertise.” Why? Because your casual knowledge of Greenland Vikings and the Medieval Warm Period torpedoes some statement he makes about “modern warming being unprecedented.” Or perhaps your knowledge of tree rings, because you have actually cut down trees and counted the rings and have seen which are widely spaced and which are not, discounts some claim they make about a particular tree proving the “hockey stick graph” is accurate.
As an aside I should mention that, years ago, I was not paid to count tree rings. I was paid to cut trees. In fact, the boss back then was likely annoyed I was wasting time counting rings, but didn’t fire me because I worked hard otherwise, and a boss has to put up with a certain amount of weirdness in his employees. But a triviaist has that weirdness. He gets off track, and counts rings when he’s supposed to be cutting wood.
As a further aside I’ll state some do not like people who don’t stay on track, as if people were trains. If you “can’t look at hobbles and can’t stand fences” they describe you as being “off the rails”. They love regulation and dislike liberty, which means they miss what a triviaist has to offer, for a triviaist demands the freedom to be fascinated by whatever fascinates, even if is tree rings when he is supposed to be cutting wood.
I don’t doubt a triviaist is a royal pain when young, if you are a boss and trying to train him, but if that same triviaist has managed to survive fifty years the sheer bulk of the trivia in his brain starts to have unforeseen benefits. Let me give an example.
As my mind jumps from topic to topic it can arrive at places that truly seem “off the rails”. For example, a casual study of a battle in America’s Revolutionary War focused on the essential aid given by a certain general from Poland, which made me curious about the general, which made me curious about Poland, which made me curious about why the rest of Europe wanted to wipe Poland off the map, which made me curious about democratic societies which monarchies didn’t like which were favorable to liberty in eastern Europe, in the general area of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, back into the mists of history. So now, if I meet a person from Poland (or Ukraine) they are amazed I in some ways know more about heroes of their land than they do, due to all the trivia I’ve collected.
What has this to do with sea-ice? Well, the last good pictures we got from the arctic sea (not including MosaIc Expedition pictures) were from the final Barneo blue-ice jetport, which was a Russian base served by Ukrainian jets. One became aware the man masterminding the unique Barneo experience had to walk a razor’s edge of diplomacy, concerning certain frictions between Russia and Ukraine, and that his death would leave a void it was unlikely could be filled. So maybe my trivia included knowledge of impending trouble, which an on-track person would not have seen coming.
Not that I’m a prophet. I am no better at forecasting humans than I am at the weather, which is not very good, (though better than some.)
What I think a triviaist does, in following his mind hither and yon “off the rails” is actually in a way “on track”, albeit a sidetrack. The various subjects are usually related, though often to onlookers they seem so dimly related the leaps of logic cannot be followed. But the triviaist is following something. I often wonder what prompted me to veer far from my intended subject, but there can be no denying the prompting is there. Call it a psychological problem, such as avoidance, or pretty-it-up by calling it “intuition”, the triviaist sees more broadly than a specialist.
So, personally, in my younger day I was not a master of any particular skill, but rather a Jack-of-all-trades. If you wanted a job done expertly you would hire an expensive plumber, but if your pipe was leaking and you couldn’t afford a plumber you might hire me. (I could handle the easy jobs, and also could say when you needed a real plumber.) (But if I really needed the money, I would do jobs I didn’t know how to do, learning as I progressed, which lead to some hair-raising problems I always seemed to find the answers to, sometimes at the last second and by the skin of my teeth, sometimes due to asking for help from experts, both worldly and Divine.)
I suppose a triviaist is what is described as being: “A Jack of all trades and master of none.” It involves humbling shoes to walk in, for most everywhere you look you see people superior, but the ego can cling to one bit of pride. One has more “general knowledge”. Then one asks, “What good is general knowledge?”
Rather than predict the future, what a triviaist gains through “general knowledge” is to see the Now. One sees the present tense in a far broader way than a specialist can. A specialist tends towards myopia and must struggle against being prone to being one-sided, while a triviaist can see from many angles because that happens to be what he or she likes to do. This is helpful, when it comes to seeing the Now, because the Now has an enormity which cannot be comprehended from any one chair. Despite all the scorn “committees” get (and sometimes earn) the real purpose of a “committee” is to look at an issue or problem from more than one angle, and to broaden the view. For this same reason kings had advisors.
There is very little prediction and prophecy involved. The simple fact of the matter is that the solution to a problem first involves taking a hard look at what the problem is, in the present tense. The future will take care of itself; first you must see the problem in the Now.
The problem with the Global Warming mind-set is that it is so pretentious, assuming it possesses prophetic powers, that it fails to see the Now. In essence it tramples all over the present tense, flailing at a future when it cannot see the Now.
I don’t much care about anything else but the Now. The future tends to be worry. What good is worry? The Now is enough for me, as it usually gives me a boot in the butt and determines what I do next. If my triviaist tendencies have me studying Poland when I should be making money, a threatening letter from a bill-collector is the Now, and the trivia that interests me next is my next way of paying the bills, whether it be to focus on hard work, or studying the value of my coin collection before selling it. The future takes care of itself when you attend to the Now.
Despite all evidence Global Warming is not a dire threat, the Global Warming mindset has gotten so completely out of hand that its illogic itself has become the Now. How so? Because its believers are doubling the cost of oil, and fueling horrific inflation which is crippling the fixed income of elders and reducing the life’s savings of younger people.
Today I saw a poll which indicated that a majority of ordinary people felt that the believers in Global Warming fully intended that all the hardships (which ordinary people are now suffering) to occur. It was no accident. The people of the so-called “Swamp” fully intended to inflict suffering. It was their solution to a problem which they, as prophets, could foresee. Ordinary people lack their prophetic powers, and their ability to control the weather and heal all viruses. They, as gods, must not be bothered by the observations of mere ordinary people.
What amazing arrogance! What audacious gall, to suggest you control the weather and control disease! They don’t. All they are doing is hurting the backbone of society, the salt of the earth. They are sawing off the branch they are seated on, expecting a couple of doves at the end of the branch to hold the branch up when they are done. They are in for a crash, cruising for a bruising.
I honestly feel that the worst of these arrogant people never really believed Global Warming was a threat. It was just a tool they used to scare people into compliance. Now they are somewhat relieved, for they no longer have to pretend sea-ice matters. They increasingly are showing their true colors. Sea-ice never did matter to them. When they acted interested, it was pure pretense. Their real interest was power. Not Truth.
As a triviaist I could offer them historical examples of what happens to people who put power above Truth, but, considering they couldn’t hear simple Truth about sea-ice, I doubt they can hear Truth now that they are going for broke. I could tell them that when they go for broke they will end up broke and broken, but they won’t listen, so now the main aim is to avoid going down in flames to a smoking ruin with them.
Earlier I stated that, while I am not an expert, a triviaist has an ability to see when an expert is “outside his area of expertise.” In like manner, while confessing I am not a prophet (and am certainly not a god), I have an ability to see that, when a politician becomes so drunk with power that he deems himself a prophet and a god, and when he will bully anyone who dares suggest otherwise, he is “outside his area of expertise.” He has no idea of the powers he is messing with, like a little child playing with a hand grenade.
The frustrating thing is that I am in no position to dole out what the bozos deserve. I am an unwilling pacifist. I am not made spiritual because of this scripture:
“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”
Rather I am made spiritual because the truth is I can’t do a damn thing about lunatics in Washington but cast a single vote, and they can negate my vote with evil fraud.
Therefore, as a triviaist, I just go to what next fascinates me. Currently growing food interests me more than sea-ice, (because I don’t want to starve), and most of my posts this summer will be about dirt rather than the North Pole.
Sadly, there are not even the cameras on buoys up there, which once gave me great relief when a heat wave was hitting me “down south.” I can no longer leave a sweaty garden and bask in views of cool sea-ice. However, true to my triviaist nature, I’ll likely annoy my boss (myself) by not weeding the garden on occasion, and instead wandering off to look at the sea-ice situation, even if it only involves graphs.
While there is no excuse for skipping work, I could attempt to justify my behavior by stating I was looking for hints next winter might be going to be especially cold. (Not that knowing would do me much good.)
And indeed, there are some “concerning” examples of cooling, the greatest of which is the fact the cold La Nina won’t quit, and in fact is stronger than it was on its first year. It is interesting to compare September 2020 (end of first year) with now, (start of third). (The maps I use are anomaly maps, and red does not indicate warm but rather above-normal. Blue does not indicate cold but below-normal. IE: They blue water at the equator is warmer than the red water at the Pole.) But here is September 2020:
And here is now:
Likely it is unfair to compare September one year with June on another, for they are at opposite ends of the melt-season. Therefore ignore the brick red arctic in 2020 compared with the white sea-ice of 2022.
But the equator is different, and knows no summer and winter, and I find it interesting that in 2020 the La Nina was mostly south of the equator, but in 2022 the cold has crept up to the coast of California.
Also notice that the waters south of Greenland, which were a hot spot in 2020, are now below normal. Very Interesting. I wonder if all the sea-ice jettisoned through Fram Strait (and to a lesser degree through Nares Strait on the other side of Greenland), may be cooling the Gulf Stream, which could cool Europe eventually.
Back before shadow-banning I had a wonderful on-line talk with an alert individual who awoke me to the idea that a “freshwater-lens” might not be a phenomenon restricted to the arctic but might also include waters around sea-ice ejected into the Atlantic. After all, while sea-ice is flat bergs seldom thicker than ten feet, glaciers calve amazing icebergs as huge as a mile long and a hundred feet tall, (which means they have keels nine hundred feet deep.) Sailors say that as you even near such massive bergs the air gets colder. So too the water must get colder. And the phenomenon of cold fresh water on top of warmer saline water could occur well south of the arctic.
Such a discussion would involve the Now, and have value because a chilled Gulf Stream may influence the productivity of European farms. Then informed farmers might alter what they planted, in order to be more productive with cold weather crops. (A huge discharge of sea-ice in 1817 may have caused “The Year With No Summer” in Europe, and the consequential famines.) But having such discussions would be problematic if the topic countered “Global Warming”.
Rather than bicker with Alarmists and cancel-culture, I’d rather just move on to a different topic: The “extent” and “volume” graphs. They disagree with each other, for “extent” shows sudden loss, as “volume” shows a complete cessation of loss. How is this possible? Before I explain, check out the two graphs. Here is the “extent” graph showing a drop from nearly “normal” levels to what has been more “normal” in recent years. (red line).
And here is the “Volume” graph for the same time, showing that the volume, which had been dropping, now refuses to drop even a bit. (black line)
This seeming contradiction is explained by the fact “extent” is not the same as “area” or “volume”. IE: A patch of sea which is 85% open water and 15% sea-ice may only be 15% covered, in terms of “area”, but it is 100% covered in terms of “extent”. However, should that same area be swept free of ice “area” only loses 15% while “extent” loses 100%. Meanwhile the place where all the ice is swept-to becomes crowded and perhaps is 90% ice, which increases “area” in that spot to 90%, even as that spot, in terms of “extent”, was100% ice-covered before, and remains 100% despite the increase of crowding. Lastly, if the winds are cold and the water is cold, not one bit of the ice may have melted, which means the “volume” stays the same despite the ways the other numbers change.
Coming up with these numbers is very difficult, and I pity the scientists stuck with the drudgery of such toil. They likely suffer eyestrain, scrutinizing satellite photos, and they make me glad I am a triviaist and can just pickpocket their work and skip away avoiding the work they do.
But what is especially fun is to become a lurker, and haunt the periphery of an Alarmist website where people are totally sold on the dogma of Global Warming, and watch how deeply concerned they are by any indication the sea-ice is not melting away at an unprecedented rate. They were especially upset when the “extent” graph touched “normal levels” briefly, but wildly enthusiastic when it soon plunged. Then one of their members noticed the “volume” graph didn’t drop, and innocently wondered if maybe they were just seeing how a fortnight of north winds spread sea-ice south in Barents Sea, and then a following fortnight’s south wind compressed the sea-ice north again. I cringed, for I knew what was coming. It is why I lurk and never comment on such sites. The innocent fellow got pummeled as a “denier”. But all he had done was see the Now.
I prefer the community of gardeners, for you are not accused of being a “denier” nearly so much. True, you can run into politics if you praise chemical fertilizer and pesticides, but largely you are among people who are desperately trying to keep their plants alive midst an onslaught of bad weather and bugs, and everyone is equal. It is so refreshing, after being called a “denier” for simply telling the truth.
The truth is that there is a slight chill in the air. It appears in the temperatures at the Pole, which, after the last spike of warm Atlantic air surged up that way last winter, have spent more time below normal than I remember ever seeing.
I don’t claim to know what this means. I just collect trivia. And a lot of trivia is not as warm as it was. The UAH temperatures for the planet dropped nearly a tenth of a degree in May, to .17 above recent normals, from .26 above in April.
Chances are that graph will drop further in June, if certain climate models are correct. Usually, such models are inclined to exaggerate warming, but check this model’s forecast out for June:
I selfishly like how this model shows New Hampshire as slightly above normal, for that bodes well for warmth-loving crops in my garden like corn, squash, beans, tomatoes and peppers, but it unnerves me slightly to see such a swath of the tropics a little cooler than normal. This model is usually as warmth-loving as my beans. What is it seeing? Especially southeast of South America. That big blue blotch is (I assume) an obvious model mistake, but the model must have been seeing something to make such a mistake, especially as it is usually mistaken in a warmer direction.
Chill in the tropics unnerves me because things there are usually so stable. The Pole gets six-month days and six-month nights, but the tropics get twelve hour days all the time. My neck of the woods gets wild swings in temperature due to warm fronts and cold fronts, but such fronts are washed out if they can even reach the periphery of the tropics. The tropics have no wild swings in temperature, and therefore it is disconcerting when Joe Bastardi, on his blog at the Weatherbell site, puzzles over the chill forecast over Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.
Mr. Bastardi noticed a similar chill over tropical Africa quite accidentally. He was merely investigating media reports of a heatwave on the north coast of Africa. The north coast was bright red on the anomaly map, but the tropical guts of the continent was blue and even green, on the anomaly maps.
To be looking at Africa in a post about Arctic Sea-ice may seem off track, but that is how a triviaist mind works. It knows the Now knows no boundaries, and that there may be some correlation between the equator and the Pole.
In any case I wish my friend Robert Felix hadn’t died due to an adverse reaction to the covid vaccine, and his “Ice Age Now” site hadn’t been effectively “disappeared” from the web. His site was a treasure trove of information about where on the globe it was cooling, which the media does not report.
In the current case some unexpected cooling is appearing, and I sure wish we could talk about it like sane people, witnessing the Now and deciding what would be best to do. The fact the mention of any cooling has become a politically incorrect subject (which some of the cancel culture are appalled by) strikes me as absurd. It is what it is. I note it and move on.