Monday, March 28, 2016

The result is what counts!

Am reading The Soul and the Barbed Wire from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago.

In some sense, yes, it is the result than counts, ultimately - whether we have run the race faithfully and reached our eternal reward.
In daily life however, we need to make sure that "the result" is aimed towards the ultimate result discussed above or is directed at an earthly goal-and oh how we can get lost from the true direction!
What should the result be, for example, our little homestead? Is it the neatest garden? The most productive garden? The fattest hogs? The sweetest corn? The creamiest milk?
If these are the results that count, this homestead has failed!

Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Best Laid Plans ....

C.S. Lewis writes (via Marcus Grodi):
The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's 'own' or 'real life'. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life-the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one's 'real life' is a phantom of one's own imagination.

Of course this has always been precisely one of my greatest struggles. I live by "the plan", thrive by "the plan" - only it is always my plan - not God's.
Since being married (read into this what you will!) I am getting slowly better (day by day, decade by decade) at being able to deviate from the "the plan" without throwing a fit.
But still I struggle - some of those struggles being recorded in these spaces.
Homestead life is also a good leveler. You can never plan for the pigs getting out, for instance.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


After countless (actually, I counted them) $, and countless hours, and two years, we have finally been licensed by SC for foster care.

Oremus pro invicem!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Backpacking Log

So, son Thomas and I went backpacking/camping this weekend up to Jones Gap State Park. I hadn't been there in over 12-14 years. Thomas had never been there.
We left here early on Friday and returned Saturday afternoon. We got to Jones Gap at 11:00 AM and headed into the woods at 11:45 AM .
We arrived at the campsite at 12:15 PM. After setting up camp, including a new 1-man tent for Thomas, in which we both were determined to sleep, we left for a hike.
Jones Gap trail (5.3 miles) runs along the Middle Saluda River. There are several falls along the trail or on spurs. We had already backpacked in 1.1 miles, so we decide to walk the rest of the trail and back.

Thomas at Jones Gap Falls

We went up to see Jones Gap Falls on a spur. The we stopped for 30 minutes or so at a rock formation in the river. We soaked our feet (coooooooold water); Thomas waded around.

Then we took off again. Just shy of the 4 mile mark I took a spill. Not hurt, but somehow this spill started a blister on one of my toes. Instead of chancing it, we turned around at 4 miles and got back to camp. (3:45 PM)
We gathered some firewood and got a fire going. For supper I wrapped a potato in foil and tossed it in the coals. I grilled some fish fillets. When the fillets were 80% done and I figured the potato was about done also, I removed both from the heat. I cut up the potato, the fish, and added okra in a saucepan. With a bit of water, salt and pepper, I put the mixture back on the fire til it boiled for a bit.
Then we ate.
Me at Jones Gap Falls
It is good that we were very hungry! Not even the amount of salt and pepper I put on could make it good. But it was hearty and we ate it all.
After supper we played cards, prayed the rosary, and talked. Retired at 9:30.
We both squeezed into the tent. It rained cats and dogs from 2:00 to 2:30 AM.  When we rose, we decided that instead of coaxing a fire with all the wet would and kindling (which we COULD do if we had a mind to), we would break camp and find some breakfast back in civilization.
Just part of the scenary!

 We were in the car heading out by 9:00 AM. Great trip.

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, March 18, 2016


I have been planning an upcoming backpacking trip with my son at a state park. In order to make a campsite reservation, (unless making it for less than 24 hours in advance) I had to make the reservation online with a credit card.
It occurred to me that this is an entry barrier to some (many?) who either don’t have internet access or, more likely, a credit card.
Now, there may be a way around this (I didn’t spend the time to explore all avenues), but on the face of it, here is a case of government efficiency (is there such a thing?) excluding a class of citizens.
Thinking of exclusionary policies, I have been musing a bit on immigration policy. I don’t contest the right of a nation from protecting and/or controlling its borders for at least some reasons.
On the other hand, we have historically contested the right of the American Indians to protect their borders. Because we were more numerous and had better technology, we consistently drove them off their land, made treaties giving them other land, and repeatedly broke those treaties to take their land again.
I am not so na├»ve to think the situations heretofore mentioned have don’t have nuances, especially regarding lands of plenty and justice, but in generality, this is something to ponder when considering immigration policy today.
Might makes right? Or is it Manifest Destiny-or these days: American Exceptionalism - that we don’t have to respect borders, lands and treaties because we are God’s people? But others (I guess those who aren't God's people?) need to respect our borders, lands and treaties?
We are able (potentially at least) to stop immigration from Latin America with our technology, but how is the Latin immigrant seeking a better life and/or freedom (at least to the limited extent the USA offers) different from the earlier settlers and pioneers?
No doubt we have a right and duty to our citizens to exclude violent invaders, criminals, and terrorists. This goes to controlling our borders. How about the others? Have we really run out of room and resources?
An economic situation where food and jobs are scarce enough for US citizens may justify limits to immigration, but is this even real? Note that in the recent poor economic downturn the net flow of peoples was to Mexico, rather than to the US.
I have written as if all these things are simple, yet I understand they are not. Not everything is considered in my analysis. It is just something to consider among all the other factors.

Oremus pro invicem!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Some years ago, my then 90+ year old neighbor, told me how the generation after his became enamored of "things" and so left the farm for the city.

I read similar sentiments in Marcus Grodi's Life From Our Land:

As long as they (the rural family - JC) lived untouched by the obsession of the outside world for lesser material goods, the simple contented farm family lived happily, content with their food, drink, clothing, shelter, and the spiritual enrichment of their local parish.
However, when the simplicity of the rural farm family was shattered by the lure of the city, when farm children were lured away to work in factories, or to train in college for leadership roles in factories, trading houses or investment firms, not for the procurement of more bodily goods or spiritual enrichment, but for "wealth and what it will buy" their lives became limitlessly driven.
There is a lot in here. But first, I remind myself of my post below where Pope Benedict (in Spes Salvi) notes that technology and progress are good with virtuous guidance.

Secondly, rural life can be hard. There is no sugar-coating this.

But, I will say this: the satisfaction I gain from a day or a week of hard work on the farm is totally different than the satisfaction I get when I complete a patent case and submit an invoice. I am not sure, but I think the difference is that on the farm the thing I have worked for is direct. In other words, I planted a vegetable garden and that food will be on my table. (as opposed to, I wrote a patent and got money so we could go to the store and buy food to put on the table.)

The connection between the work and the result is definite (as opposed to: the money could be spent on anything).
I think this may be something worth exploring more.
It is not simply instant gratification as the work you do may take months to harvest.
It may be that man was meant both for intellectual labor and manual labor, yet most of us get so little of the manual these days.
It may be that our work, whether intellectual labor or manual is meant to have a definite connection with the fruits of the labor and not an indirect or remote connection.
Something to ponder on. Maybe someone will write a book on it, and I can find out what the answers are....
Oremus pro invicem!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Homestead update

Corn is up! Peas and radishes have been up.

Unexpected rain Monday night.

Still waiting for the Swiss chard, spinach and broccoli to come up.

Spinach plants not looking so hot.

Broccoli plants doing okay.

More corn to plant as well as other things. Seems like not enough time, but we'll make it.

Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Who wrote these lines?

I hesitate to post this, but it struck me. I am not taking sides, as I am not on a side. I am no theologian. I don't usually go around trying to explain what this Pope "really said" or "really meant". I can be upset at times. Sometimes I am confused.
All that being said, sometimes this Pope says some good things too. Very good things. But some can't separate the confusing from the good. I usually don't try to parse these things publically.
And sometimes I read things in other places. For example, I have heard choruses of criticism of Pope Francis for making statements very much like the following:
Jesus identifies himself with those in need, with the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison. “As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). Love of God and love of neighbour have become one: in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in Jesus we find God.
Love of God and love of neighbour are thus inseparable, they form a single commandment.

However, both of these are from Deus Caritas Est (Pope Benedict XVI).

Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Just had a great week with "my" seminarian and 3 others. Here are 3 of the 4 here, just before departing. We need many young men like these who are open to God's will.
Godspeed to them on their trip back to seminary and in their larger (and longer) journey!
Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

I've heard the story before (heard it again last night in a new light): on October 2, 1928, while in prayer St. Josemaria Escriva "saw" Opus Dei.

I have always wondered if this was a mystical experience, a visionary experience, or simply an idea or inspiration which came in prayer.

The last has always seemed impossible to me-but now I am not so sure.

Action should always be rooted in prayer (I read point in The Way not too long ago making this very point.)

So if you do spend this time with our Lord daily and inspiration comes, you need to act upon it. I did that once .... I did that once...

That is the (one of many) difference(s) between myself and the saint. I recall some inspirations from prayer, but my response has been, "I am not the man to do this!"; "I can't do this by myself."; "This is a good idea for someone else to try."

But I forget: God did communicate to someone else-He talked to me! And wants a leap of faith. He wants us to rely on Him-He doesn't leave us out in the cold on our own.

It is good it is Lent ....

I did take a leap of faith in one thing: I planted sweet corn this week. I planted this early once before and was richly rewarded.
Corn can take a light frost, but not a heavy frost. The problem with waiting until April is that the rain here usually quits around the first of June, which leaves the critical weeks for corn dry. Year after year we lose much of the crop to lack of rain.
However, if you plant early and there is no hard frost, you may get the best looking and tasting, and bountiful sweet corn.
Finally, finished The Deerslayer. Such an enjoyable saga.
Oremus pro invicem!

Friday, March 04, 2016

"God's First Book"

If you have every spent much time looking at  Wyoming Catholic College you might be familiar with the phrase and concept of "studying God's first book".
I think I have found what should be their cornerstone book with regard to this saying.
Here's a short excerpt from The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper:
My edication has been altogether in the woods; the only book I read, or care about reading, is the one which God has opened afore all his creatur's in the noble forests, broad lakes, rolling rivers, blue skies, and the winds and tempests, and sunshine, and other glorious marvels of the land! This book I can read, and I find it full of wisdom and knowledge. (Hawkeye to Judith in The Deerslayer, Chapter 24)

Now Hawkeye is surely no Catholic, but just as surely identifies himself as a Christian and exhibits many Christian virtues.
Oremus pro invicem!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Pick the guy who doesn't care ...

So I have seen parts of some of the debates. I have read the literature in the mail. I have seen cuts of speeches by various candidates here and there.
Here is my (long sought and highly paid for) impressions. To almost every candidate running, the most important issue is themselves-whether they can be elected or not.
The exception would seem to be Bernie Sanders. I don't think he cares whether he is elected or not as long as the problems are fixed.
Bernie Sanders also seems to be the only candidate that has a clue to what our problems are as a nation. Of course his solutions are not nearly mine, but he should get some points for recognizing some of the problems which are so hidden from the minds of all the others.
That being said, his stands on life issues and marriage are so abhorrent, one couldn't vote for him in a general election, even if one could hold their nose on the socialism.
We are in a sorry state when the only guy running worthy of the presidency is a Socialist from Vermont. (Nothing against Vermont, I have very fond memories of summers in Vermont at Opus Dei camps during my high school years.)
Oremus pro invicem!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Reading and working

I am just about finished Les Miserables (actually reading it.) (Ho, hum).
I am listening to The Deerslayer (James Fenimore Cooper). Makes me want to get into the woods.
For Christmas, another book I received was Life From Our Land by Marcus Grodi. So far, pretty interesting, but not what I expected and not the book I would have written.
I am re-reading Pope Benedict's Encyclical Deus Caritas Est. I read it some years ago, but I am older now and may get more out of it.
Yesterday we planted broccoli, early peas, spinach, Swiss chard, and radishes. A good start ....
We also finally sold Red, our old boar. He is going to 3 sows, so should be happy and busy.

Oremus pro invicem!