Tuesday, June 30, 2009

On the Road

On the road yesterday six hours out of eight. Such is necessary in these parts if you want to get where you need to go.

Three hours there, two hours there, three hours back. Apart from the need to stop for an occasional bathroom break along the way -- that's what I get for having coffee with breakfast.

When I got home in the evening, I was somewhere between exhausted and disoriented. Had supper. Had several glasses of ice cold green tea. The book I ordered came in the mail; I lay around reading it.

Last night I slept with the windows open, and it got down into the 50s for the first time in weeks.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Book Hunting

The other day I ordered a book I've been thinking of getting. Ordered it from Amazon. Or rather, ordered it from one of those countless third-party booksellers who offer used copies for sale via Amazon. The precipitating factor was, I received a gift certificate from my brother. So I up and ordered.

How different this is from years ago, when I would've added that book to my floating mental book list, and waited probably years until I stumbled across it in a used book store. If it ever turned up. Twenty, thirty years ago there was no shortcut. Just keep looking and waiting. Fortunately I knew and visited a large number of good used book stores in the part of the country where I lived then. But even so, the time it took to find a book was often measured in years. Sometimes many years.

Nowadays the only real constraint on book hunting is my budget. Because almost any book I may think of getting, I can turn up online in a matter of minutes. And it's that way with a lot of things I buy. Living out here in the middle of nowhere, finding and buying items, even obscure items, is orders of magnitude easier than it was for me living in the city years back.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


I have to confess that I really like olives. Green olives. Olives with pimiento, though I'm not wild about the pimiento. I snack on olives. I can easily finish off an entire jar, almost before I know it.

I suck on them, I chew them, several olives at a time. It's the salt. It's the olive taste. I've had this thing for olives ever since I was a kid.


Last night I ran into a neighbor who was a regular reader of my old blog, which had a minor following of sorts both in the blogosphere and here in my neck of meatspace. He asked me, as he occasionally does, whether I've begun blogging again.

For some reason, don't ask me why, I admitted to him that yes, within the past few months I'd begun blogging again. He's the first person to whom I've disclosed the existence of this new blog of mine. And I'm wondering now if that was a mistake.

I didn't tell him the name of the blog, or the URL, only that I was now blogging anonymously (on my old blog I openly used my real name) and that so far this new blog has been more generic and less colorful than my old blog.

I also said that finding this new blog of mine probably wouldn't be hard if a person googled for it. And that's true. I've shaded a few details here, but someone who knows me in real life might well be able to find this blog if they tried. And this neighbor is good with a computer.

It's also true that my old blog was considerably more colorful than this one. That doesn't surprise me, on my old blog I just got into a schtick of blogging on certain highly colorful topics. I could hardly blog on those same topics here without rendering the task of finding me trivial.

When I began this new blog I wondered if I might be more self-disclosing here. Though so far, with the exception of a few posts, I haven't been trending in that direction. And after what I admitted to my neighbor last night, that may turn out to be for the better.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Heat Wave

I guess the summer weather had to arrive sooner or later. Heat index yesterday up into the triple digits. Even hotter today.

I have to go out into the heat and do some work this afternoon. Note to self: self, take along some fluids and stay, what do they call it, hydrated?

Meanwhile for the morning I get to enjoy air conditioning.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ten Years Here

It was ten years ago next week that I moved here, to deep rural America. Moved here from the city. Moved out here to a big old house on a gravel road, so far from the centers of population that in the daytime the bottom half of the AM dial is dead. Yes, during daylight hours you can't receive any of those big urban 50 kilowatt radio stations out here. That's how remote this area is.

Ten years ago that I moved to deep rural America. Ten years now that I've been living here. Gainfully employed. Became a member of the community -- which, you know, isn't easy in a remote place like this where everyone's lived since their ancestors arrived here as pioneers. But I did it. This has become my home.

And these past ten years have been the best years of my life.

I came here out of a mix of motives. To find and make a home. To set down roots, the roots I never had in my wandering young adult years. To get out and away from the mumming madness of the city. To find a traditional and fairly sane community, far away and far off the beaten path, and there live out the Benedict option if-and-while American culture at large goes down the tubes. Become a part of this community. Contribute by God's grace as best I can to the ongoing breath-of-fresh-air sanity of this remote rural area.

I found all that and more. Best move I ever made. Ten years on in my life and ten years further downhill toward craziness in America at large, I can't imagine living anywhere else.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Brown Scapular

How's this for another true confession from this lifelong Protestant tinged with Catholicism? For several years now I have worn the brown scapular.

Yes, the scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Since it's hidden beneath my shirt, nobody need ever be the wiser. Two little rectangles of brown wool, one on my chest, one on my back, joined by brown cords. Sewn on them, embroided images of Our Lady of Guadalupe. And attached to it all, several small sterling silver religious medals.

The scapular is vurra, vurra Catholic, though in these post Vatican II days I find it's obscure even among the Catholic faithful. I recently asked a Catholic friend of mine, and he only just barely knew, after cudgeling his brains, what a scapular was.

Suffice it to say that my mariology is more Catholic than Protestant (though not even Luther, you know, dared disavow devotion to the Blessed Virgin). This is another one of those points where, I myself know not quite how, I find myself pulled more and more Romeward.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Flat Tire

Over the weekend I made the long drive to visit my folks. Was planning to stay till Monday. Ended up not getting home till yesterday afternoon.

Well, I pulled into their driveway and discovered that I had a flat tire. I'd been running on it flat. No idea how long, as it hadn't felt flat. But the tire was pretty well done for.

So. Car to my dad's mechanic Monday morning, "Looks like I'll need a new pair of tires in back."

Late Monday afternoon, the word came that it needed more than just tires. Seems I'd been running on that flat for longer than I'd guessed. Lugs, stems, whatever they are... one big heavy metal pin was broken, half of it they pulled out, the other half they had to drill out.

So the Jeep wasn't ready until Tuesday morning. Then came the long drive back home, and I arrived here without further incident.

You wouldn't believe how often I have car trouble when I go to visit my folks. Just about enough that, over the years, I've paid that mechanic enough to endow a car repair stall in my name.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Lemonade for Breakfast

I've given in to the utmost in decadence. I've begun drinking lemonade for breakfast. Lemonade instead of orange juice.

Lemonade for breakfast. Talk about ruinous wastrel loose degenerate decadent!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Yesterday UPS delivered the old binoculars I ordered. Ordered from sort of an "international army surplus" catalog. Old Swiss Army binoculars, World War II vintage, made in 1940. Wonderful old binoculars, Kern 6x24 Porro prism binoculars, made of solid brass. The binoculars and their leather case have obviously seen lots of use, but they're built solid, cleaned and reconditioned, and (as the catalog says) "optically and mechanically like new."

I took the binoculars outside and tried them out. Redwing blackbird across the road looked close enough to touch. Stop sign a quarter mile away, down at the end of the gravel road I live on, easily read. In fact I could read the road sign down there from a quarter mile away.

There's a new tower to the north of us, I can see its light blinking at night. A new microwave tower, or cell phone tower, or whatever. (A neighbor not very helpfully tells me it's an "emergency tower.") It's several miles away, up beyond the next valley to the north of us. Yet through the binoculars I can make out the individual metal struts in the tower.

For years I've been wanting an old pair of binoculars like these, simple, used, but finely crafted and built like a tank. Finally ran across what I was looking for. And like all things of true quality, it is a joy.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Here's a nifty little critter I just picked up. A badger, made of black marble. He's taken up residence on the end table in my living room.

These badgers are carved and hand etched by Zuni Indians. Rather cool, I dare say.

Friday, June 5, 2009


I wish I lived in a world where the means of communication did not include the telephone. I really detest telephones!

I mean, yes, I use the telephone. I make phone calls. I answer the phone. Like most of us, my life is so arranged that I can't get around it. And there are times, such as the rare emergency, when a telephone can be a life saver.

But in general I only just barely tolerate the telephone. How many times in a free and leisurely moment has the phone interrupted, for no good reason and to no good purpose?! I'm on the national do not call list, and that helps a lot. But even those phone calls that remain are, for the most part, a blasted nuisance and an unwarranted intrusion. I much prefer to deal with people face to face, by handwritten note, by email... by almost any medium of communication but the telephone.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Thanks for ordering from hydropinecone... your online source!

Evanescence of Email

I was up late last night, browsing through a thick stack of old computer fanfold paper I found lying on a dusty shelf. A thick stack, hard copies of emails I sent and received, dating back into the 1990s, none of them more recent than 2001.

Of course many of the emails were trivial. But even with those that were not, what surprised me was how utterly unfamiliar these old emails were. I don't remember them. I don't remember ever writing and sending such emails. Emails filled with topics I don't remember ever thinking of, much less discussing with anyone.

Makes me wonder how many of my emails today will prove similarly evanescent in ten years' time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

No Asparagus

I always enjoy asparagus this time of year. Picked fresh from out beside the old shed.

But not this year. I forgot to put up a fence around that spot of ground before the person I hire to mow my lawn showed up for the first time this season. Forgot the first couple of times. They mowed right over it. End result, here we are into June and I haven't seen a stalk of asparagus yet.