Sunday, November 29, 2020

Dog Day Saturday

It was a spectacular Saturday.

The weather was brilliant. Once the sun came up and began to chase the morning chill away air temperatures came up nicely and the morning breeze was short lived, as if it just couldn't be bothered.

One of the things I'm working on is my attitude toward nature's predilection to moving the air mass around. I seem to be willing to accept her wind only when it's not inconvenient or uncomfortable to me personally. When it's warm and the wind doesn't feel chill I mostly pay it no mind, except when it causes wind noise in videos. When it's cold I tend to curse it for the discomfort it causes me. And when it's very hot and there's no wind at all I curse its lazy-ass absence.

At the same time I recognize nature's glory and the beauty of the way she moves air mass around. If I persevere and dress properly I find I can not only endure, but revel in the wind. There's a bonus (or 10,000). It's only on sunny but cool and windy days when I get to experience and appreciate the delight of little pockets of wind shelter. There are places along treelines and in canyons where I can soak up toasty sun-warmth in calm air while nature's air mass howls over and around me, only a few feet away. Such moments are incredible. It's the yinyang thing again, standing in the place where chaos meets order. It takes dedication and work to journey through the discomfort and place myself in those little bubbles of beautiful comfort. It takes more dedication and work to leave and head home to my human-built shelter. Bookended by effort and discomfort, nature's bubbles of ease and warmth and comfort take on the flavor of a supernatural gift. When I am there, living in that moment of wonder only, I feel as if I am standing on a higher plane of experience. These are moments which can be had only when they are earned, and that's exactly the way it should be.

All of the manifold best parts of life exist in these places; moments of bubbles of exquisite wonder and delight which can be experienced only when earned. The wonder of my life with Alexzandra is a case in point. I existed for six decades certain in the knowledge that my path should be solitary, stoic, and self-contained. I knew in my core that the sea of love is actually the sea of dragons, and those dragons would rend and tear and destroy me, that dropping my shields would be too big a risk, leading to certain destruction. When I found someone to work and dare and risk for, I found that I was right. Selfish, self-contained, stoic Shaun would have to be destroyed in order for me to step into the ultimate bubble of wonder and joy and life. When the dragons attacked and took Alex away I found I could survive the wounding, that I could survive and thrive. Selfish, self-contained, stoic Shaun could not have survived such a thing, but the point is moot, for that fellow would never have visited the sea of love to begin with. The wounding is great and the deepest scars will never heal, but they do not interfere with or take away from the wonder and beauty of sailing the sea of love.

I wasn't really intending to go there. SMH. Yet this is therapeutic for me, unpacking this stuff in written words and throwing it out there for all to see. I hope it's not too uncomfortable for any of you kind readers. On the one hand it feels like I shouldn't just throw this kind of burden out there to potentially harm people. On the other hand it feels right to share these thoughts and concepts, perhaps in an effort to provide a small service. I don't know -- can't know with certainty -- the "right" thing to do. Well. There we are.


And all of the above just to get to puppy dogs and the beauty of a late-November day here in shortgrass prairie country on the Front Range High Plains of Nebraska.

Yesterday was one of those mornings when it takes a bit of extra effort to get to doing. This morning is much the same. Sometimes mind and body have the capacity to charge ahead with seeming effortlessness, sometimes not. The effortless days are fun and easy, the harder days are, well, different. More of a challenge. They often yield a better reward, if only I can bear down and do the work.

My tentative plan was to take the dogs out to the ranch and do some hiking and hill running. Mark mentioned the puppy dogs in his latest comment, so I aimed to please. I'd only once taken Tommy to the ranch and that was not much of an excursion. Anyway, after the struggle of completing cals and lifting, Nona, Tommy, and I headed out to the south googie pasture.

I parked down in the canyon bottom and tried running the windmill hill. It was a challenge. I was fighting pain and Tommy was excited enough by my activity to nip at my heels and jump on the back of my legs. He's a who-knows-what. There's obviously some trailer park pit bull in him, but there might also be a bit of border collie the way he seems to like to herd things.

Oh by the way, Tommy is named after Alex's heartthrob movie actor Tom Hardy. Not seein' it myself -- lol!

Nona is pure border collie. She's also 9 years old, my age in dog years. So she appreciates the experience at a more reasonable pace. Or something like that.

They are a great pair of dogs.

There's good and bad in Tommy's efforts to share my hill running. The bad is obviously the potential for a running wreck. The good is at least twofold; joy for Tommy and the potential for a running wreck. I had to work harder to maintain balance, and harder work brings more reward. Another thing to consider is that us olden folks need to fall down a lot, need to be intimately familiar with being on the ground and the process of falling correctly and getting the firetruck back up. It's a yinyang place. There will be a time when I can't do stuff no more, but that time is not yet, and being good at falling and getting up is likely to push that time at least a little bit into the future. As is all the hard and painful effort of recapturing fitness. It's a long video with hill running and climbing up out of the canyon toward Vader Hill, which I intended to run.

As it turns out, I did not run Vader Hill. Too much ice and snow on the north pitch, which is also particularly rocky. Therefore I decided not to practice falling. What of my grand thesis on the utility of falling the firetruck down and getting the firetruck back up? It's a good question. Part of me was up for the challenge, part of me was willing to forego the discomfort and press on to accumulate steps at a lower and more comfortable heart rate. Go figure.

Blessings are everywhere.

Light and shadow are blessings, beautiful experiences which fill the heart and soul with unspeakable wonder and bubbling joy. Rewards which are more sweet when earned in the pursuit of livin'.

Other saying on my desk are these.

Despite fighting pain and choosing to not fall, the hike was remarkably delightful. As they tend to be. This video is another long one. Livin' (and babbling!) in the moment with the dogs and the prairie, sunlight and shadow, warmth and ice and fences and busy noise and motion on I-80.

I've walked this ground for essentially all of my life. I knew it intimately, with much certainty that I knew it all. I walked it with Alexzandra and she showed me the rest of it, the 99.9 percent I had never seen.

The homestretch of the hike included poop!

And much more beauty.

Driving home I stopped to get images of Alexzandra's roadside cross. One of the fabric sunflower blossoms had torn loose and come to rest in a patch of sagewort, a plant that I've always appreciated but never really seen until she showed it to me. What does such a thing mean, other than she is here with me?


After the hike it was time to run steps. I hungered for the cardio workout. Fortunately for you kind readers I didn't make a visual record. But thirty minutes of hell was sublime.

I ran steps while my washing machine was busy churning through lots of laundry. It's a blessing to do laundry. Again, no visual record.

I spent the day in busy effort, but the backdrop of the day was anticipation. I had a 6 p.m. date with a tattoo parlor in Cheyenne. My first tattoo.

It might seem odd, and it probably is odd, that a sailor would be tasting the needle for the first time in his sixth decade of life. I tried to get a tattoo way back in the stone ages; it was in Pensacola and iirc I was in either Aerospace Medicine or Aerospace Physiology Class C school at the time. Regardless, the kind tattoo lady wouldn't work on a drunken sailor, and that was my only try. God bless that lady. Another tattoo memory from around the same time comes from reading Jim Webb's Fields of Fire, a novel about Marines in Vietnam. One of the main characters, Snake, is a tough street kid who decides to join the crotch one jump ahead of the law. He spends his last paycheck on a "Death Before Dishonor" USMC tattoo, and Webb gives a very interesting description of the kid's experience. For some reason the description has stayed with me over the years, and I must say (40 years later!) that he nailed it. Perhaps that description shaped my experience. Doesn't matter, just interesting to think about.

As I drove toward Cheyenne the post-sunset glow spread magic across the landscape. In particular, where I-80 runs cheek by jowl with the Union Pacific railroad line between Bushnell, Nebraska, and about Egbert, Wyoming, the tracks glowed like four parallel strings of liquid gold. All around the landscape trees and barns and houses and livestock were silhouetted against a sky glowing in as yet unnamed colors. As the Rockies hove into view I saw them for the first time. Yep, she was riding with me, in that seat she said she loved, and she showed me yet again how to really look, how to really see. The looking and seeing and driving took everything I had, and a single thought of grabbing some video evaporated. It would have killed the experience, and the video would not have captured the important stuff anyway.

At the T.R.I.B.E. Scott the artist was superb. The job I'd given him was a tiny bit of a thing, just six words. But he crafted Alexzandra's name in her own hand, and added a Dave Matthews line in a perfect cursive expression.

The bite of the needle was exactly as Snake described, and the bliss of pain and purpose yielded an endorphin/dopamine embrace of livin' in the proper moment. The thing is devilishly hard to photograph left handed and through the transparent dressing.

My next appointment is set for December 12, again at 6 p.m. This time "ALEX LO💗E across the first joints of my fingers. In proper anatomical description, across the posterior aspect of the proximal phalanges of each hand. Why? Batshit crazy. Perhaps those words will be the last things asshole ogres see before they go sleepy-time. Almost certainly not, but it's a satisfying thought for one beset by asshole ogres.

I've also asked Scott to work up a couple of designs for the forearms, incorporating Alex's hands and the rocks she's holding here on the inside of my right forearm. There's a reason for that, which I'll share at some point.

As well as her roadside cross on the inside of my left forearm.

Same reason. Maybe batshit crazy is the livin' expression of a sane navigation of the rocks and shoals of reality.

This post has gotten out of hand, so I'm going to quit while I'm behind.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.


Friday, November 27, 2020

Merry BlackRifleDay!

Warning: This post derives from a deep well of batshit crazy.

I keep working on this thing, adding pictures and video and words, and not getting it published. What's the problem?

It really comes down to not pushing the publish button. Clicking on it. Whatever. Just finish adding, copy edit, and publish. How hard can it be?

In my defence these things can be hard to write and construct. It takes time. I have to get my head approximately right, and then write, and then clean up the writing. I also have to plug in videos and images, and blooooooooger makes that challenging, difficult, and time consuming.

Plus too also as well, I've got manifold irons in the fire, and they suck up a lot of time. Some of them are "drop everything and attend now" tasks because they are executed in support of the most important people in the world. Others must be done because that's the way the world works. These things take priority over the blog. You kind readers know all this, so I'm not sure why I'm expanding on the topic, other than it popped into my brain and like a squirrel sighting captured every bit of my consciousness, such as it is.


Oh, it's also been remarkably fine and pleasant November weather. Being old, it takes me a lot of time to properly appreciate the fine and pleasant. Also, I have to go there to capture images and ideas to share here. 

I wanted to get this thing published yesterday, on Thanksgiving Day. My thought was that I could publish both my 2020 Thanksgiving Day Gratitude/Thankfulness list and images/observations about the feast and festivities.

Well, that didn't work. I spent several precious hours as the prisoner of little ones. When the stars line up like that there's nothing more important in the universe than livin' the moment in that bubble of love. I am so blessed.

An amusing consequence. The little ones watched videos on my phone with me, the two year old more than the four year old. The littlest is cracking smart and when she has the opportunity she works very hard at figuring out how to run my phone. This morning I find that I am subscribed to several u2b kids channels. I did not notice her subscribing, but she has very fast phone fingers. I wonder how many toys she bought while I was looking but not seeing. Here's one of the videos the kids (including me) found fascinating.

I intended to blog after bedtime, but when that arrived I was plumb wore out and needed my sleepies as much as the little ones needed theirs.

And now it's the morning of November 27, 2020, the dreaded black death shopping day, and here I am keybabbling once again. I still haven't downloaded pictures and video from yesterday!

Well. Let's get to it. While the phone downloads I have to decide whether to rewrite the stuff before or leave it as is. And if I leave it, should I annotatively 'splain why the past is reading like the present? Hmmmmm. 


I started this a couple of days ago and have been hitting it sporadically. It's tough times but also good times.

It got cold and snowy on Monday night. Which is, hey, November!

Today is Thanksgiving. What am I thankful for?

I'm thankful I'm alive and stupidly healthy. That I'm stupidly fit and getting more stupidly fit. That I have a job at the widget factory. That I don't have a need to sit in the electric chair with my feet up, and perhaps more importantly that I keep busy enough to avoid the opportunity to spend too much time in the death chair. At the same time I'm thankful, oh so thankful, that I have that purple leather monstrosity of a recliner, for my sweet, beautiful, Alexzandra gave it to me and I had a couple of epic phonecons with her while sitting in it. Therefore I'm thankful that I can sit there when it's appropriate and wrap myself in a physical expression of her love and remember the sound of her voice and the reality of our love for one another. I'm thankful for her kids and the unconditional love we share, for the oh-so-precious time the little ones spend sitting in my lap and telling me about their stuff. I'm so incredibly blessed and thankful for Allie's sister and her husband and the wonderful things they do for me and the kids; for how brave they are and how hard working and dedicated and loving and caring.

I'm thankful for the sunshine of today and the mostly still air which will make running in the November chill a delight. As for running, I'm thankful for the secret knowledge passed on to me long ago by grand shipmates -- the certain knowledge that I can always do more, I can always do much more than I think I can, that so long as I draw breath there's always more in the tank, and that it's soul-killing death to chain myself to imagined limitations.

I am incredibly thankful for my friends, those I know in the flesh and those of you I know only virtually. You all lift me up and your kindness and loving friendship mean more than I can ever say in this limited language we use.

I'm grateful and thankful for my pain and for my troubles. I am grateful for my grief and for the hard challenges it brings. I am thankful for the attacks from people who choose to behave as feral ape-lizards, for they illustrate in stark and fearsome ways that I too can behave as a feral ape-lizard, and that such a living death would truly be a life of hell on earth. Navigating these hard things is a vital part of livin', and I choose to live rather than exist. I'm thankful that I choose to face pain and trouble with eyes wide open, to embrace the bad and the good with the courage given me by God and by my wife.

More than anything else in the mortal world, I am so very thankful that Alexzandra allowed me to love her without condition, to give all of me to all of her. She woke me from a limited life of virtual blindness and led me by the hand and heart into a world of true living color. This is no small thing. This is everything. I am infinitely blessed and infinitely thankful for the everything that beautiful woman gave to me. These tiny and limited words cannot adequately describe my thankfulness for and to Alexzandra.

At the top of the list I am thankful for the blessing of my relationship with God; for each and every blessing He bestows upon me, for each and every living breath He gives to me.


Since there's no widget production today I got to turn off the alarm when it rang and sleep in until 0530. Yeah, 90 minutes of bliss! I also got to run sprints and steps. I can work harder and longer on days off as I'm not limited to a pair of 15 minute breaks.

This morning I did my usual sit ups, pushups, squats, curls, and presses. Nothing major, just muscle warmup and toning. Well, I guess I'm trying to make the arms look good since I insist on wearing sleeveless tee shirts. Chicks dig that kind of thing.

Once I was warm and loose I took the dogs, Nona and Tommy, and ran two miles. Dogs are sprinters and don't have the juice for distance, so they were both completely smoked by the time we got back.

Then it was time for "thirty minutes of hell," which turned out to be almost 36 minutes of step running. I had the rubber legs at the end...

It was a remarkably beautiful Thanksgiving morning.

After I finished 30 minutes of hell, I did six more minutes, which was more of a cool down really, and provided me with the opportunity to babble endlessly (while still moving!) and present a common sense approach to surviving the wuhandromeda strain. For certain values of common sense. Fair warning, the video exceeds seven minutes. Gag.

Did I mention how remarkably beautiful Thanksgiving Day 2020 was? Pardon the fuzzy bits, there's two year old finger glop on the lens.

And more finger glop.

Ditto. The kids all enjoyed their feast.

And it was a feast! Glop and all.


Are we shadows cast by a reality we cannot see, or are we real people navigating a real landscape in the reality of a real universe?

It's a question which cannot be answered. It can be known though. I cast a shadow because I am real.

Regardless of the unanswerables, we seem to exist in space and in time. We each get to choose how to proceed. We can be NPC's existing in someone else's game, or we can live in reality. November's reality in this place and at this time is not a pretty picture in the tee-vee, it is what it is, where it is, and it is spectacularly beautiful.

November is a juxtaposition of warm and cold, ease and unease, comfort and discomfort. November is an opportunity to choose existence or livin'.

Three frogs sitting on a log. One decides to jump into the pond. How many frogs are left on the log?



Yes, three. A decision is not action.

Action requires work and effort and risk.

Acting to live is fraught with danger. It brings pain, and the pain of livin' is unavoidable. But it also brings unspeakably beautiful reward. The two are as one, the yinyang of livin'. Chaos and order meet in that place, and that place is where I must properly be to act on my decision to live.


Monday was one of those days when the grief was close and heavy, wrapped around my heart like mud encrusted anchor chain.

At the same time it was a glorious day. Cold and overcast and Novembry. Damp with overnight snow on the ground, slowly and painfully melting because the ground is still above freezing for the most part. Kissed with pesky and chill breezes, but also kissed with warmth in sheltered southern exposures where the sun's infrared radiation continued to deliver magic through the clouds. Widget work was good and working around widget people was better. I had occasion to take a two hour break, and much of that time was spent with little ones in my lap, alternately wriggling and snuggling, delighting in living precious minutes of close contentment.

The way deep hurt can coexist simultaneously with profound joy is a very odd and puzzling thing to me. In my orderly (?!?) mind these things cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Yet they do. In so many ways this is a terribly hard landscape to navigate, but it is what I have. More and more I realize that I am doing what I should, and doing it the way I should. Hard as it is, it is also deeply satisfying and deeply rewarding. Alexzandra is the most important thing in my corporeal existence. Her kids and her family are part of her, so they are part of most important. My priority is to love them, and everything else follows naturally, falling into place properly.

I am in exactly the right place and in exactly the right state. It is a place and state I could never have imagined, could never have known.


On Saturday I plan to get tattoos. How's that for batshit crazy? Silly sailor, you get tattoos in your youth while sailing the Seven Seas! I'll show you the work when it's done.


Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Finally! Press the damme button!

Monday, November 23, 2020

Sun dogs and other funomena


Sun dogs?

Glorious day.

The sun is bright and warming and slanting November-style through a deeply blue, nearly cloudless sky. There's a pesky south wind which makes the low-40's air temperature feel chill and a touch uncomfortable. Therefore, I choose to wear a sleeveless tee shirt, shorts, and shoes. For my dedicated workout I wear cross training sneakers, for my hike and shooting excursion I wear trail running boots. Both shoes and boots are Salomon, both made in veet-nam. For whatever that's worth. For me they're both comfortable for the task at hand, they hold up well to the pounding I give them, and that's good enough.

When I got out of bed this morning my plan was to take a rest day. It's been a long week and the weariness I felt was real, produced by real exertion in a real world.


The plan didn't survive first contact with the coffee.

I stretched good and knocked out my 150 sit-ups and 80 pushups. I exited the house and did a few warm up blocks; walk--speed walk--jog--sprint. Then it was time for the new step running challenge.

This new set of steps is located on the north (back) side of the county gubmint (meh) annex building.

The flight of code-compliant emergency egress steps features 21 steps, each slightly smaller than I'm used to in rise or step height. You'd think that would make it easier, but it does not.

A slightly lower rise means more steps, and it also means a change in gait. Smaller steps mean taking smaller steps, and those smaller steps change the lever geometry of my running hardware -- joints and bones and sinew and muscles. Old muscle memory is out, new muscle memory must be developed. Fortunately for my limited brain, I don't have to "think" the process through. My miraculous body does all that automatically. Perhaps autonomically. Something like that. Regardless of the how, running and pushing and working presses me into a zen-like state of dedicated exertion, and as always I find that pushing past comfort limits brings a deep satisfaction. Rubbery legs, dizziness, and seeing stars, too. It's great. No, really! Limits are for pushing.

The steps have an eight-inch rise and there are 21 of them. The straight line distance from bottom step to top step is 22.5 feet, and the angle is something less (but not much less!) than 45 degrees. From the bottom concrete pad to the top landing the height is 13 feet, six inches. So what? It's a flight of stairs.

The good thing is that it's a longer and higher set of steps than I'm used to running, and there are more steps. Therefore it's more physical work to run them. And that is a good thing. It's more efficient for exercise, yielding a better workout in less time. It's important to be efficient. Or something like that.

This morning I ran them as hard as I could for a continuous 30 minutes. I wedged that thirty minute set in between a 20 rep warm up set and a 10 rep cool down set. I did video during the warm up and cool down portions. For what it's worth. If my watch is right, and I think it is, I ran 137 flights.

When I was done I was seeing spots and very wobbly on rubbery-feeling legs. It was a good one.

Then I grabbed my rifle and chest rig and headed out to do some hiking and shooting. On the way I checked cows.

Cows are cool.

With all that ammo and a pair of solid shootin' irons, the gear comes in at more than 40 pounds.

More weight equals more better exercise.

Had to eliminate a wuhandromeda enforcement patrol.

A word on the wuhandromeda. What are people going to do about this enormous government overreach and shredding of the Constitution? I suspect that 99.9 percent will simply comply and wait for people with real balls to put things right. And the 99.9 percenters will bitterly complain about their victimization all the way.


For a rest day, it was epic.

One of the cool things I noticed today was how very fresh I remained throughout the day. There was a time not so long ago when I could put a hell of a lot of effort into a workout -- which was great -- but I would be wrecked after the workout. Spent and with very little gas left in the tank. Today my combined step running and hiking totaled 12.88 miles. As I write this I'm pleasantly tired but feel quite fresh.

Another cool thing is that while I continue to contend with radiculopathy and pain, it's less intense. The steroid injections have helped a lot, but my body is also doing what it can to repair things. I've learned how to assist my body by figuring out how to properly work out with the chronic injury, and I seem to have hit the proper recipe for increasing my overall fitness while supporting healing.

It's a pretty cool thing.


Most of the above was written yesterday, November 22. I'm off to the widget factory in a few minutes. If the weather forecast is right it should be a beautiful day. It will be a blessed day.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.


Monday, November 16, 2020

Odds and ends, Go in Beauty

Busy sneaks up and has its way with life, eating time like popcorn. Not-busy comes as a surprise, often an unwelcome surprise.

Saturday there was a howling wind. Throughout the day air velocities averaged in the 40 mph range with gusts as high as 62 mph.

Such winds make doing stuff a little bit difficult, even for cattle. These cows chose to hunker down out of the worst of the breeze and wait it out.

On the upside, while the wind was a bit miserable the air temperature was okay-ish. In the 40's at midday and falling to about the freezing mark by evening.

Occasionally a bit of stinging rain or hard snow fell, but it didn't amount to much.


Many years ago I read a bunch of books written by a fellow named Tony Hillerman. Set in the southwest, Hillerman's work might be described as a modern-ish take on the classic western. He is said to have gotten much of the reality of the Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo peoples right. Not being anything of an expert, I have no idea if this is true or not. I found the novels highly interesting and entertaining. Part of the thematic glue holding the tales together was the notion of living in nature's real world. From this perspective, many of Hillerman's characters appreciated and embraced nature's reality for what it actually is. They took the time and made it a point to appreciate nature's beauty for what it actually is in reality, and to appreciate and cherish their place and existence in the natural world. This spiritual path was sometimes called "the way," or perhaps "the blessing way," and also perhaps "the beauty way." I'm going by memory here, so I could be wrong on the naming of the thing. The point I took from this slice of Hillerman's work is that one always has a choice of where and how to bend one's path through nature's reality, and that nature's beauty can illuminate a proper path through life itself, along the "outer" path we navigate out in the world and the "inner" path we navigate cognitively, emotionally, and spiritually. One who walks this path is said to "go in beauty."

The beauty is always there. It always illuminates the way. Do I always go in beauty? No. Do I often charge off the path and ricochet around in the land of egocentric ugliness? Yes.

Over time though, with God's strength and grace providing the power, I spend more and more time on the lighted path. Even in very hard times. Especially, I suppose, in very hard times. Leaving my desires aside, all is right with the world when I choose to go in beauty.


I can't even begin to describe how beautiful is the morning. It's cold and crisp and clear as a bell. The east is beginning to glow with dawn and a waning crescent moon floats three-quarters of the way to zenith as it roams along its ancient sky path. I stride out to fire up the pickup and I'm mobbed by a pack of two dogs who are filled with zest and velocity and a vector aimed squarely at my knees. Our commingled exhalations fill the still air with clouds of vapor. The cold is stinging on my bare arms, yet it's a good sting. An alive sting. Minutes ago I groaned about rolling out of bed. In this magical, beautiful morning I look forward to the day with anticipation and a genuine level of delight. There's a tingling, savage joy bubbling inside. I will not yield, nor will I fight on the ground of my enemy's choosing. I chart my course and take my path and God is with me as I go in beauty.


The four year old tells me about a computer game he watches his big brother and cousin play. It's something very important to him, and he works very hard at trying to make concepts and observations and feelings and discovery come out properly in words. It's a monumental struggle. He's four, and he doesn't know all the words. He probably hasn't realized that the proper words often don't exist. It's frustrating for him. He's filled with all this wonder and delight and learning and growing, and he wants to share it. He wants me to feel what he feels and understand why it's so important. I struggle too. I know nothing of computer games, so most of the concepts are completely opaque to me. Does that matter? Perhaps only a little bit. My job is to listen and try to understand. To witness and appreciate the struggle, to know it for what it is, which is livin'. To share in the livin' of life. To participate in the magic of livin'.

The two year old pulls a folded piece of paper from my shirt pocket and opens it like a miniature book. She begins to read to me. As I listen, I realize that she is describing a rule set. "It's okay," she recites, "to eat candy in bed. But... not if you messin' around."

"Ah," I say, "if you're being good it's okay to eat candy in bed, but if you're being bad it's not."

She looks at me with enormous blue eyes, filled with all the solemnity there is in the world.


The eleven year old is spare and economical with his words. He is deeply hurt and there is no magic balm to ease the pain. His shields are almost always up, and I know why. When the shields come down a bit the most important thing I can do is listen and try to hear without preconception or judgement.


Socrates is said to have opined that the unexamined life is not worth living. I agree with that.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I am working hard to examine this thing called unconditional love. Loving unconditionally is not something I ever experienced before. I was always far too selfish and far too guarded. When it came to me -- when I suddenly found myself loving unconditionally -- it was the most astonishing thing ever to happen to me, the most important and wonderful thing I've ever experienced. In a very real sense it was, I believe, the moment when I actually became a human being.

I don't understand this thing. Like the children, I find that there are no words which come close to fitting the concept. I feel like I should be able to properly describe the thing. but at the same time and more importantly I understand that describing it is unimportant. The important thing is to live it, experience it, give it.

I'll always wonder how it is that the ability to love came to me, and curiously, why it came when it came. I will never know.

It's okay that I will never know. The knowing isn't important. Loving is important.


The little ones and I played outside. It was not quite cold and the sun felt quite good, even quite warm. Where the sun doesn't touch there is still snow on the ground.

Proof of the sun's warmth was in the grasshopper we found.


At times the struggle looks to be much too big. It is. But it's what we've got. And it's not all we've got.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Take a trip and never leave the farm

A week of brilliant weather provided for much out-of-doors pleasure. I got in a lot of fence work, a lot of miles hiking, and did my support part while the cattle owners weaned calves.

That last part is the physical separation of calves from cows. The calves need to go do their growing up stuff, and the cows, who are pregnant with calves due in April, need to concentrate on growing babies, putting down fat reserves, and shifting to winter survival conditions.

The cattle owners brought all the cattle into the corrals, separated cows from calves, then hauled calves to a different location. The cows left behind "missed" their babies and made a good bit of noise for the first 24 hours. The "missing" comes from both the maternal bond and the fact that their udders get tight with unsuckled milk and they have some discomfort while lactation shuts down and their body reabsorbs the milk.

It's all part of the natural cycle of things.

Sunday brought a weather change. Temperatures fell and a cold front blew through with damp and wind and scudding clouds and rain.

Uncomfortable compared to the lazy loveliness of a pleasant mid-autumn, but stark and beautiful and refreshing.

These are the things I get to see as they happen in nature's reality. I'd never get to see and experience the changes and contrasts were I chained to the recliner. Such things happen out there, not in the house or on the tee-vee. I am blessed.


My farmer friends from Herefordshire got away for a few days to visit Carbis Bay and Land's End. They shared some video with me which represents another blessing.



Low tide.


Yesterday was extremely rough. Loss and longing exploded in my heart and every single thing reminded me of what is gone. Most of the day I felt as if I were barely hanging on. At such moments the self-pity is overwhelming and even ugly, yet I can't just shut it off. It has to be endured while it runs its course. God keeps me sane, but that doesn't make it any easier. Livin' can be hard, but it's also a choice.

Life goes on, and that's a fact. Everything is different now, but that doesn't mean that what we had is gone as if it never happened. For some reason I don't understand there are a few people around who feel the urge to rewrite history. It's kind of an ugly thing to do. Fortunately, they can't. We win, they lose, end of story.

Be well and embrace the blessings of liberty.