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“If my thought dreams could be seen, they’d probably put my head in a guillotine” 

We moved the cows the day after that picture was taken. It’s back to the north pasture for them. And later this winter, when everybody’s cows have been out of the pasture for months, maybe then I’ll have the south perimeter line up and we’ll move them across the dam to finish out winter over there in what we call ‘the hay field’.

We’ve experimented with making dandelion wine and it tasted like shit. Tried making ‘milk vodka’ too and that didn’t work. I like the persimmon wine though, vintage last week. Drink it fast if you need to, to quench your thirst. But be careful, it sneaks up on the wife. There is no sneaking up on me though. I stand out in the open, head on a swivel. Ain’t no damned persimmon wine gonna get me.

We went camping next to the culvert on Sunday night. It was right next to where the beaver works. Beaver was swimming around even when we went into the tent. I had my shotgun with me though. And I took a shot at him before we tried to sleep. That didn’t bother him much. I don’t even think he took a break after that. After the shell hit the water I heard a strange sound like an animal wreathing in pain, but then we discovered that it was some kind of duck or water fowl I’d startled and he circled low and flew away. It was a moonless night. I shouldn’t have tried shooting him on a moonless night.

I heard the water flowing as I ‘slept’ in the tent that night. I heard it flow until 2:50 am. That’s when the beaver stopped up the water and the culvert stopped flowing. Nothing else interesting to report from the night camping. It was just another almost sleepless night for me. I cuddled with my boy and listened to the night sounds. I’d like to know what every one of those insects that make noises are. A barred owl was calling (this is usual).

The best thing I heard was the sound of a chinquapin oak (Quercus muehlenbergii) acorn falling in the water. That is a good noise, a satisfying noise. We only heard one drop in the water while we were sleeping there. But I’ve heard them drop a few other occasions while I’m cleaning out the beaver’s work. The sound always startles me. It’s not really a sound that you can be prepared for. If I heard a mink barking at me while I was throwing sticks from the beavers dam to my discard pile I’d be less surprised. A mink family is using one of my discard piles for a house this winter. That’s fine with me. Any rodent but the beaver is fine with me. I’m not a fisherman and I’d take a gang of river otters over the damned beaver. Yes, the wife is pushing me to get out there with my new rifle and hunt them like a real man. No, not sit out there for a few minutes before bed but hunt them.

It’ll get to that point, I’m afraid. The winter rains will set in and there won’t be any choice. I’ll have to go at the lodges.

I often wonder what the point of it all is. I know, you’re sick of hearing about it. “Shove me in the shallow water before I get too deep” and all that. Too deep is a natural tendency here. What else am I supposed to talk about? Anyway, read this by my friend Gigi.

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One day it really sinks in that every thing that has happened in your life was done for you and not against you. One day it really sinks in that nothing could ever be bad and no one could ever be guilty. One day you dance in the realization that everything that happens must be perfect, must be in service to where your evolutionary impulse wants you to grow next. One day you will know what the masters and shamans and messengers knew—You are always Flying and never Falling. Live your life in this knowing moment by moment and it will be revealed to you. You are not separate from the universe, from nature, from the Great Spirit. You are That and so how could That ever flow in the “wrong” direction? Simply not possible

Yes, I love Gigi. We’ve been to the same place and back. And sometimes when I’m clearing the beaver’s work. I’ll wonder about this kind of unfolding perfection mentioned above. You know, it’s all right to wonder. It’s all right to talk about it. It’s all right to come to conclusions and back away from them. It’s okay to meet utter certainty and illusion in the same breath. No big deal.

Back a number of years ago, when my boy had just turned five (he is 8 now) and we’d celebrated his birthday in the spring by inviting the neighbors over. And the forsythia and magnolias were flowering like they do at that time. We all walked out to the pond, the neighbor’s family and ours, on that bright spring day. All the kids were sitting on the dock while the parents chatted (like parents do) on the dam. And one of the neighbor boys lost a boot in the water.

Our neighbor is a good man. He’s got a big family and I’ve seen him jump into some wild things. Like when he came to help us move a bull from another neighbor’s house to ours. He just grabbed that thing around the neck and it took off across the pasture while he held on but our friend never let go of that bull. So when he started making like he was going to take off his clothes and go into that chilly, April water I believed him for sure. It was only six feet deep. I had no doubts he was going to go in after that boot. It is just something that he would do. He’s not afraid of stuff like that. I’ve seen him squeeze into a nasty, old crawl space with who-knows-what kind of spiders without a second thought.

So somehow his wife talks him out of diving in the pond after the boot. And we give up trying to fish it out with a long stick (weren’t even able to poke it or find it exactly). And we thought about that boot occasionally and about how our friend was ready to dive in after it. And then just the other day, about three and a half years since we’ve seen that boot, the beaver brought it up an laid it next to the culvert for me. And I had a good laugh. I had a good laugh imagining that beaver picking up the boot way over by the dock and swimming with it half-way across the pond and then carrying it up the mud and putting it there for me.

The beaver has given me some pretty rocks before and some nice walking sticks, but the boot was the best gift yet. I’m going to put it in our friend’s mailbox on my way to work this morning. I don’t figure I’ll leave any note or anything. They’ll recognize the boot. We can tell them the story of how we got it later. For now we’ll let them wonder.

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After a day of sun the rain came and spoiled camping.

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I see a shock of wheat gathered for harvest.

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This photo reminded me of those ‘coexist’ bumper-stickers.

I keep coming back to the idea of action – action is the only thing that matters. Beautiful intent broken by action. Beautiful belief spoiled by living.

I find no sustenance in intent and nothing fulfilling in belief.

 

 

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This is a quick post about breakfast. Breakfast is perhaps one-third of your daily intake of food. Some say it is the most important meal. Me myself, I’m more of a lunch fan.

In an ideal world, breakfast is 20 minutes out in the bramble rows and a quick, 10-minute pass through the grapes, cherry tomatoes and strawberries. But this ideal world only happens in the Indiana hill country late June and July.

In winter and at other times, we break the fast with oats. Usually, we buy bulk, organic quick-oats from the Amish grocery down the road. Maybe one day we’ll grow them, like the Amish in Kingsolver’s book. Maybe one day we’ll abandon oats all together and feast like yogis all year long on dried fruits and nuts.

Funny, we stayed the night at Grandma’s house in the suburbs and she had this packaged, packetized ‘oatmeal’ that was supposed to be more ‘civilized’ than the oatmeal we make. Grandma’s industrial packaged oatmeal tastes funky and unnatural. It’s supposed to be easier and more convenient. It isn’t. It’s weird.

The oatmeal we eat is quick-oats and water (add heat) and add milk and some fruit.  For a long time, the easiest fruit to add was California raisins. They were easily available. I could buy organic if I felt flush (or I had just watched some inspiring documentary about the evils of non-organic food). I threw the raisins in with the quick oats, cooked it and poured a little milk on top. That was breakfast.

Now, it should be said that I’m like a dog. I can eat the same thing every day. Sure, we mix it up and have eggs once a week or so. But I’m perfectly happy to eat oatmeal most of the time. It doesn’t cost much, even for the organic stuff. But it was always the raisins that threw me for a loop because the oatmeal and milk needed that extra sweetness.

So we planted a lot of grape vines, 20 or so vines of about 15 varieties. Most of them are bearing consistently now. I think that I thought I would make raisins from those grapes and then if I grew my own oats 1/3 of my food would be self-sufficiently grown on our own property, or so the thinking goes anyway.

I don’t think raisins from our grapes is going to happen anytime soon for a number of reasons that I don’t care to go into. The point of this entire long-winded launch into the topic is that I have finally found a suitable and better alternative to the raisins – persimmon pulp.

It has been a pretty good year for persimmons here on the farm. We have an over abundance. But then, we usually do. And we’ve mostly stayed on top of food-milling persimmons from our favorite tree. So we’ve got lots of pulp.

Long story short, now I put two heaping spoonfuls of persimmon pulp on my cooked oatmeal when I add the milk and it is just the right sweetness (I’m not vouching for your variety of persimmons – ours are American and my tree of unknown parentage, maybe Yates or Prok are as good, but I don’t know).

So, for a dog like me, that’s one meal down. One-third of my diet is mostly solved. And for now, I just need to buy quick oats from the Amish folks. But once our grafted varieties of persimmon start to bear maybe we’ll trade the Amish store pulp for oats. They’d probably be down. No money would be exchanged and if the whole earth is holy, this could be our little way of throwing over the changing tables, a step in that direction anyway.

Plant your persimmon tree.

 

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I’m biting my thumb at myself on this blog. I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir…

 

It is true that what I write some of the time is honest.

What’s honest is the movement, that’s all.

And how am I consistently moved?

Palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss.

And even so, I am consistently moved.

 

This Sunday past I watched a number of babies and children taken to the alter. None went of their own accord. They stood with their parents between the alpha and the omega. (Here I am too, between the alpha and omega – such will all that is ever written be, fancy that) Parents in ritual, worried about where they’re going.

We went to a bruncheon afterwards at a fancy house. And fancy food was laid out. Attention was called brusquely before serving the guests. Be quiet, they said, we’re going to have a blessing. And so the guests were quiet.

I looked out there at the fancy house, like looking on the sea.

Afterwards, we went downtown and picked up our books on hold from the library. Walking through the building, passing people, smelling them, seeing them, I felt comfortable and happy, like sitting beside a stream in the mountains.

I prefer the mountain stream, the poor people of the earth.

If you are worried about where you are going then you are on no path at all.

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I have a project due at work.

I can’t concentrate until the deadline is upon me.

Remind me to tell you about this:

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar:
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace más que el mar.

Written under duress,

Eumaeus

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“This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul; and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.”
–from Preface to “Leaves of Grass” (1855)

My Grandfather was a drunk. He disappeared for a while when my mother was in college. I heard he was in D.C., among the throng, when King gave his speech. He started a company in Chicago afterwards and made a lot of money. He gave me a book of Walt Whitman’s collected works. I’ve not read it. But I read Leaves of Grass when I was sent away, institutionalized in Utah in the 1993. It is time that I read Leaves of Grass again. I should also read the collected works, right Grandpa?

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My youngest son had what we think was an allergic reaction to we don’t know what. On the other hand, he could have just bumped his top lip just right. But the result was really radical swelling of first his top lip and then, after we got back from the doctor’s office, the bottom one started ballooning too.

I didn’t sleep much. And it was just one of those incidents that takes all of you away in the moment: no farm stuff matters, nothing at the office matters, none of this digital life matters.

You breath a sigh of relief when it all passes (and that is now mostly the case, the swelling is way down). You’d be amazed if I showed you pictures. The doctors were amazed. We went to an office that we don’t usually go to and saw a young doc we’ve never seen and it kinda blew her mind and so she brought in another doc to look at it and it blew her mind too. I was online at 2 am looking at everything the internet had to offer on swollen faces and wending my way through Google Images to no conclusions whatsoever. Maybe angioedema?

Maybe it’s nothing or just one of those weird confluences of events. He didn’t seem much troubled by it in the least. But man did he look strange. And the only thing that we knew for sure was that we didn’t want the swelling to continue to the tongue or throat. So we slept and listened carefully to his breathing at the same time.

So that’s the resolution behind the medical emergency and I still don’t know what the hawk was trying to tell me.

It was just one of those things that reminded me of the house of cards that a life (my life anyway) is built upon: health, wife, son, daughter, son. Take one of the cards away and you don’t know how the cards will crumble.

I realize that I am overly dramatic and take things too far into worst case scenarios, but this is life. And life is the only real teacher that exists. Every thought, philosophy, book, belief or idea is just a toy compared to the truth that, seemingly, only life can provide.

Still, I thank God. And I wonder if it was the incense this morning, or the prayers. Or maybe it was the hawk.

Anyway, there were lots of lessons in last night. Truth comes out when you act in crisis.

Maybe the lesson is to not take things so seriously. So there’s your carrot penis as a visual reminder.

Don’t take your life seriously. Easier said than done.

 

 

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