12-2-17 (The World, Hunters, Homesteading, Remodeling, Family, Photos)

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The World. Two dogs about to fight, while the pack swarms around them, riled with the spirit of it. Except, they’re not really dogs at all. Screaming steel eagles, with Easter eggs, for hell’s pleasure, tucked in under the wings. They screech through space, saying much simply; we are here.

 

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Hunter stopped by, napped a good one. Young buck, right through the heart. Helped me drag it to the back of the pick-up, requested the antlers, told me to spray it out, pack it out with a 10lb bag of ice.

Hands stunk after, and you couldn’t help but smell them. Stare at it. I had to flip it around in the truck to wash it out. Through out the day, bits of blood and spit coagulated on the bumper.

Was told the butcher was a religious man, would only be open for a couple hours in the evening. Call up there to see when. Four to six, a pleasant sounding woman said on the recording, shotgun season. It laid there packed with ice, under my tree, while I finished applying polyurethane to the trim pieces,  intended for the coagulating living room.

Unusually warm, maybe sixty in the sun, a last whisper from Fall. Reflection is the spirit. It’s been over a year, since we’ve had that living room space, couch, table, TV. A place to just sit around and relax. It’s all still surreal, someone’s life I have stolen, or rather a role I’ve snuck into somehow. I walk around the house, can’t imagine all the work I’ve done, and there’s still so much to do, but there’s that light, a new normal, new nest in front of us.

 

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All day, I was sort of nervous about taking the deer to the butcher. Nervous at the newness, I guess. Never hunted. Never washed out a giant deer carcass. Never ran down a highway going sixty with hooves dangling. Figured it would be a spectacle and it was. Whole town filled with trucks, loaded up with deer. Anxious, focused masculine energy. Guy behind me critiqued that they should just have a stack of forms to hand out, make a faster line. Speed it up. It was fine though, lady was nice enough, eighty bucks to be boned and bagged. I plan to process the rest, stews, jerky, etc. Excited for that, spending a winter smoking meat, and doing sunflower shoots inside. Spring feels right around the corner.

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Britney cooks tortillas below me. They make an extra pleasant smell in the cast iron skillet. Ended up with a propane stove out here. Something about that real heat, it’s special, and cooks so much better. Hunters might bring us another deer, that and the pig we got, will almost fill our freezer. Including all our canned stuff, we hold a solid six months worth of food on hand, and really more like a year’s worth. And what’s extra cool, is there’s a lot of food processing in all that, which is expanding our homesteading skills, like learning how to make sausage.

Watched a video on how to butcher a deer today. Didn’t seems so hard. Neighbor said I was welcome to hunt his land. Said just go right over the hill there. Help yourself. Go in the morning. Set up before 6AM, when they come in to bed for the day. Don’t smell like nothing fancy, and be quiet. Aim for the heart. You want a younger, smaller animal for quality of meat. And make the shot clean, so the animal feels no unnecessary fear or suffering. Fear ruins it.

 

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11-16-17 Philosophy Through Family (In Praise of Patriarchy)

 

A Musical Accompaniment

I love and hate mankind in portions which may seem unhealthy. That’s the thing, they’ve made the basic human experience abnormal. Normal activity, inexplicable wave like emotions and experiences, which prompt change and growth,  have become negative attributes. Disruption is the critical marker, but then everything is disruptive, isn’t it? The empty fuel tank light, the nutrient deficient belly after dinner, traffic, red lights, bosses, children.

Parenting is the template to understand everything, Nature, God, whatever you want to call it. It answers all wandering philosophical questions, most importantly God’s alleged apathy. It’s not that nature doesn’t care about us, it’s that we are evolving life forms, who begin life dependent, but must be wired to separate from this life-source and function “independently” and keep the goddam wheels on the thing. I guess, cause that’s the problem, there is an element of illusion in that, limits on free choice, limits on our true independence.

Male and female, and they are real things, provide the solution to the paradox. The positive and the negative give balance to the story. Comedy and Tragedy. Adults are rounded out, settled down through parenting. Patience. Principles. Purpose. These are skills you have to have for Nature to flower and flourish.

There is so much illness and insanity in our culture, you can’t help but analyze some of the basics things, food, sex, employment, and recognize these are the problem areas. As a Father, it seems only right that I view these things through often critical lens. And frankly, when I take that position, it immediately draws you into conflict with the world. Power. Patriarchy. Pride. Potential. Dangerous, possibly prohibited words these days.

It’s easy and right to slip into an US vs. Them mentality though, which objectively isn’t historically the best stuff, but frankly in the small social scale is fundamental.

You should hold your family above others. Or even more yourself above the general thing. I remember that demented thought experiment (that’s basically the best of philosophy, imagine nightmare scenarios and make deductions from them) presented in some college ethic course, imagine you’re on the Titanic, shit goes down, and everyone’s drowning, you see your one kid floating away one direction, but there are like twelve other kids close by, drowning on a bit of wardrobe, who you could save immediately, but then your own kid’s gets a seat in Davy Jones’ locker. What do you do?

No question for me. I’m going for my kid. And curse the boat builder and god itself as I did it, and forever. But it can’t be any other way and it isn’t. More or less we all recognize, there’s nothing we can really do about “it”, is there? What’s worse, this problem is what has society at large in the tank. And it’s because from some quarters (rich and familial) has come the argument of over-population, and the value and pleasure in narcissistic mores of life. Which in reality amounts to shitty television, shitty food, and jerking off. But these apparently are enough, until inevitably they’re not, and so we try to drag the old crusty, models, the skeletons now, out of the heap in the backyard, but they don’t stand right, and we don’t have the tools, nor skills to build them again. Shit…can someone get a six-pack, maybe stop at Mcdonalds, maybe pick Grandpa up from the home, he loves tinkering with this shit….

11-9-17 Nighttime Digestion (On The Paradox Of Being a Good Cook But Sick of Food, Learning to Play Guitar But Being Scared to Sing, And An Unshakeable Routine Which Must Be Questioned)

Got a weird energy, seems too early to be cabin fever, but think it’s something like that. Outdoor homestead activities are shutting down, and I’m feeling sort of cooped up. Feeling stuck in a routine of stay-at-home parenting, domestic leadershiping. I always describe my life as sort of building the parachute as the fall the is taking place sort of thing.

I’ve gotten sick of food, maybe sick of eating is a better way to put it. But when you got great cooking skills and you got to cook for a family, you sort of can’t escape it. It’s also part of our larger plans and goals, being frugal, healthy, etc. And I recognize the need for balance, and we’re not scared to grab take-out if that’s what it comes to, but I guess I have trouble finding that balance before it becomes a problem. And the food is so delicious! I’ve been putting on pounds, all that sour-dough bread! And then Halloween candy ruined me. And the Holidays approach, all about food and eating!

Today I made kids favorite spaghetti and meatballs. I used a frozen bag of tomatoes, that was previously roasted with onions and basil. I sauteed shame shallots and then put the frozen block of tomatoes in, waited til it was melted some added the garlic. It smelled delicious. Sauteed the meatballs in our new cast iron skillets, tossed them in the oven, and poured a couple ladles of sauce on top. My soon to be 3 year old said the were delicious, in the most twisted up, yet understandable way possible. The polysyllabic toddler babble always makes the writer dad proud.

Speaking of that, my seven year old has put the pressure on about the book buy through the school. Want exactly 16 bucks for his bucks. Told him about how he blew his recent birthday money stash on cheap toys, and wouldn’t it be nice to have those funds now. And how holidays are right around the corner, so we’ll get a bunch of new stuff then. And really Chay-Bobby, these damn school sales are a scam! Think about that yo-yo that you bought a month ago, you don’t even play with it. Yes, I do! Okay, still all these school sales, they  just nickle and dime you to death. Dad, gosh, you know I like to read!…So it goes…

I think the energy I got is primeval. Felt it today strumming the guitar as I took my time to self this evening. So much fun to bang on those strings. And I’ve gotten good enough I can play basic versions of a lot of my favorite songs. Love Potion #9 pooped up in the YouTube feed, and Nirvana Come As You Are was up next. Played through both,  and after the Nirvana, I had the urge to smash the guitar, but settled on tossing it on the bed, and flicking the pick. Wisdom, frugality, such precious things, but they can become excuses for not pushing forward, not challenging. I’m trying to learn to sing as I play, and I can feel it there holding me back, being embarrassed to sing, to let it out. And embarrassed about what? My wife hearing me? The kids? Or just sucking in general?

But what I know is it feels good to let go, to use that body and brain while they’re still there. While I still got the breath and spirit to get out.

11-5-17 Morning Briefing

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After the bear ate the Honda, we sat and thought about what to do with its remnants, roughly 7k dollars. The obvious choice to some, would be roll it into a similar vehicle, maybe something a little nicer, and go on about your business. Our ideas ranged from thousands of dollars worth of berry and tree plants, to quitting employment, to eventually paying off a high interest credit card and buying a 1996 Honda Odyssey for a thousand bucks. Old thing had less then a thousands miles, and decent gas mileage, it was fun, gambling. And things have mostly worked out. Took it to the mechanic and he said there wasn’t anything worth fixing right now, put some miles on it. Good enough.
That all to say last night, I noticed the interior light was on. Asked the wife about that, she said oh yes, been on all day. I stood out there for fifteen minutes messing with it, trying to get it turned off, pressing the door censors, trying to pull the fuse, nothing would work. Wife took the plate off, got the bulb out, no problem. I checked it this morning, started it up to make sure it hadn’t been drained, put the bulb back in, fidgeted with it and go it to work normal, so I’m guessing something is wrong in the dome outlet itself.

Then I feed the chickens. Neighbors had stopped by with the remnants of their garden, watermelon, fatty kohlrabi, tons of gourds . Lifted the stinking trash barrel with body breaking hulk strength, a plentiful offering to the gals. We continue to feel beyond blessed with how well the homestead has developed. We’ve spent the last month scrapping the main living room of several layers wallpaper. We got one little corner left to scrap clear, which I plan on finishing today. Then its some of plaster work, and time for a paint job. After about a year now, we might have a living room, with a couch. The deep question, do we need one or want one?

After breakfast, I set the gang to cleaning beans. They love it, smashing open the pods, getting the shiny beans all piled up. We talk about the whole process, what we’ll do next. The different kinds, how we’re eating some and setting some aside to plant next year.

I got garlic planted a couple weeks ago, planting next year food now. I also built a couple more raise beds before winter, they are halfway filled with composted chicken manure, wood-chips and a heavy layer hay, just waiting perfect for next early springs planting of radishes, cabbages, and onions.

A Neighbor supplied us with a hay bail, and sold us a pig, which we got this week. Another use of the bear check, was a new deep freeze. Same neighbor is offering to bag a deer for us as well, so I look forward to make jerky with that this winter.

For breakfast, Britney made fresh biscuits, and we had egg and bacon sandwiches. Somewhere in the year, she’s become an expert baker. I had gotten into starting sourdough cultures, but she came in out of nowhere and became the expert on it all, bread, cakes, tortillas, rolls. Its great eating, and more and more, the idea of food sustainability, eating off our own land, becomes a real achievable goal. A guiding principal in all this has congealed in my mind, the 1800s mindset.

Now this isn’t a dogma, or any sort of strict rule, but before I make a decision I like to think, what would a 1800s homesteader do in this situation. How would they approach it and look at it? So for instance with the car. Thinking 1800s told me I’m not planning on traveling too far on a daily basis, that any transportation I do have has to serve multiple purposes, and that ultimately I couldn’t spend that much, and definitely wouldn’t have or be comfortable with easily accessible and expensive debt. We giggled one night, thinking about how horses would be ideal, get a buggy like the Amish, to haul the gang. Is there anyway they could stop us?

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That’s how it feels mostly. Like I’ve snuck of the reservation and made it to clear land. A place to be and do what I want. Land. Big plans are brewing for the future, and the beauty is it begins and depends on simple things. Fresh eggs and biscuits, the moon when it makes the sky glow, the froth of the Milky Way, little hands moving with archaic deftness separating the beans…

Snippets 109

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This Side of Paradise-F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Well, my first point is that through a mixture of conditions of which the family is the first, there are these two sorts of brains. One sort takes human nature as it finds it, uses its its timidity, its weakness, and its strength for its own ends. Opposed is the man who, being spiritually unmarried, continually seeks for new systems that will control or counteract human nature. His problem is harder. It is not life that’s complicated, it’s the struggle to guide and control life. That is his struggle. He is a part of progress–the spiritually married man is not.”
The big man produced three big cigars, and proffered them on his huge palm. The little man took one, Amory shook his head and reached for a cigarette.
“Go on talking,” said the big man. “I’ve been wanting to hear one of you fellows.” (310)

10-29-17 Ramblings from the homestead…

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(Morning) Yesterday, talked about suffering on the way to see my Grandma, she just turned 86. Brit said the line, about dying being positive, in the sense that a person’s suffering is finally over. I let it rest for a moment. Sit in its truth. Then I said, well isn’t all existence suffering. She had to agree to that too. What does it add up too then? Maybe you say all existence is suffering isn’t true. Try to go a day without eating, or drinking. Doesn’t the alarm clock torture, the traffic, the monotony, the ticking clock of mortality, potential for loss, unresolved desires, etc.?

My Grammy is dying. She doesn’t like it. She kept at it hard for eighty years, but then she busted her hip and everything seemed to go to hell. She was real bad there for a period, had to go do assisted living type thing. I remember visiting her there at lunch. With all the other sick and old people. A younger-older man, late forties, bleached old with death, smiling, a simmering ball of anger and hurt underneath. Smiling at me, at my life, how good that looks from that angle, children, a head of hair. She was bad then, hard to even talk to. I wanted to roll her back to her room, but its sort of like a jail visitation, you know the person’s a ward of the facility, smiling nurse aids. Thank you for coming, for caring.

She made it home though, a miracle, but now she always feels it, chasing her, stopping her. She complains about how she used to just get up and go, how it sucks it isn’t like that anymore. Talks about how she needs a haircut, and that when she goes out she grabs her teeth, those came a year or two ago. Her teeth had rotted with jarrring rapidity. She stopped eating. Everyone was mad at her about that, not eating. She’d drink those lil canned drinks, Insure, Ensure, Censure, I don’t know exactly what. But also it was being on all that dope. Tragedy that, Grandma getting a dope education in the eighties. And now she has that burned out quality, wide eyes, confused. Like a child.

Can’t explain it really can you? An other’s experience. Experiences that haven’t been experienced yet. We’ve decided to anesthetize ourselves to the Greater Mysteries, birth and death. They stab the women in the lower back, numbing the base chakra, the birth canal. Of course this also leads to them having to slice the abdomen open and rip the life from the belly, then it has to be whisked away, so Mom can be sutured, baby transported for measurement and catalogue. Death they’ve damage the body, and dulled the spirit in life itself, the door cannot be traversed, soberly or naturally. We’re ripped back from the brink, forced back into the material realm, the hospital bed, counterfeit dope occulting the predestined cerebral cornucopia of DMT and dopamine. How will we traverse the trans mortal-plane? And not float down to the floor of limbo?

Great Gma Gene, the one who danced with butcher knives in the moonlight, was do not resuscitate. And when the devious white coat ignored the order, he was met with an admonishing Lazarus, let me go! She went right afterwards that. I would like to face it like that. Full in the face. I want the time to savor it, to feel the soft carpet under my foot, run my hand along the drywall, as I walk down that dark hallway. Not ripped like my Aunt was, run down by a semi on an interstate exit ramp. A snap of the finger, a screech of metal and rubber, then nothing, but warm nothing, then real nothing, maybe.

I’m not so sure about it all, to be honest. The way people spit in the face of it, ignore it. Recently in my area, a family of three was killed by a fucker passing on a tight country highway. Mom, kid, Grandma snuffed out in flash, because some piece of shit had to pass on the two lane, to do what? Not be late to work? Get home to scratch his ass? Get to his bar stool before Henry stole it? The fucker was still in the hospital, people working frantically to save him. Something rolls in me, a dark spirit, it yearns for a simpler justice, a simpler morality…

Later, after 9PM, homestead is in full effect. Neighbor invited us to the rest of their apples, amounted to quite the haul, 60-70lbs, so for the last few days we’ve been making apple sauce and apple butter, canning it in the water bath. We have a noteworthy canned stash of tomatoes and applesauce, one jar of pickles, a bunch of jalapeño jelly. There’s something magical about this last year, the wins, the losses. I planted two more hazelnut tree this previous week. I’m rooting for them, but the cold is coming on, and the winds been blowing like its pissed. I buried them in a nice pile of hay though, and I take the water from the canner the night before and give them a drink, waking them up in the morning. We canned a bunch of little jars of apple-butter for gifts for the approaching holidays.

My Dad came over tonight for a Birthday dinner. Britney made beef stew and homemade biscuits, along with our usual three loaves of wild yeast sourdough bread for the week. For a treat we had pumpkin bars, made from delicious pie pumpkins we scored from a noteworthy farm in the area. Had twenty or more different kinds of squash and pumpkins. Everything is like that, infinite number of varieties, manifesting an infinity of different characteristics. Just got to take notice. The pie pumpkin is smaller then your stereotypical pumpkins. You roasted them in the oven, after saving the seeds for your own next year, of course. You’ll be surprised how much pumpkin stuff you get from one. Use it and you’ll realize you can’t go back to that canned stuff. Doesn’t quite taste right anymore.

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10-21-17

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10-21-17

I had to give up on the Bear Story. It was too much. Too fresh. Felt like trying to get a grip on a slippery boulder, only to have to try to lift it to an impossible height. Got tired of writing in 2017, an unfortunate development for sure. Part of it is that there is no external incentive, money, adoration, whatever, in it for me. It’s also cause the Farm/Homestead has become the dominant call. Our initial goal was more food than we can eat, and the bed of radishes I’m feeding my chickens right now is evidence of the achievement of that goal. The writer, content producer in me can’t help but scoff, all this good life material and I’m not even sharing it.

I stand sort of bewildered and blown out, by the world. I think that’s an apt description of approaching middle age itself. Sometimes solitude and time to self feel like a deathly needed glass of water in Death Valley, but when it’s finally gripped, you yearn for the others. There’s god in that.

Finally saw that In The Wild movie, didn’t see it when it initially came out, the hype was nauseating, but I think I read an article telling his story. Even knowing it was coming, the ending made me cry. Having to put down my nine year old laberdoodle Cujo recently has done that to me, made me all blubbery. It sits right there behind a thin film of ego constructed stoicism. I’m still in the truck weeks ago, driving him that beautiful, sunny morning, music blaring, insane. Petting him and crying. Songs were all poignant, topical. Hendrix Along the Watchtower, Audioslave Like A Stone. The later carried a hidden poignancy since I first heard it.  I knew it would pop up like that in the future, its meaning and purpose foreshadowed, long ago and into the future, both at once.

The need to write is strong. But the avenue seems obstructed. I keep trying to restart the journal like one of my cheap, alway needing repaired, riding mowers. It feels like life itself, things work, they break, you work to fix them, defeat, try again, and again, then it works, for a while.

Everything is connected. A sort of sentence you’d read in a self-help book or maybe on a t-shirt. We’ve done that, popularized everything, reduced everything to the “essentials.” When you get that grip though, the correct angle and lens, it can sparkle, however briefly, a light projected through the angles of the mass. It’s all spinning together, one humongous organic organism, withering away in some crippled search for meaning. Crippled because its been detached from any natural process. And you realize, you ride on the mass, staring back at yourself, a reflection of a person, forever pulled and yanked by the whole. Your screams can neither be categorized as exaltation or lamentation, only your ego in breaths between, can look with a selfie-stick of self, and try to make sense of it.

Parenthood shows this. It’s a tragic drama. Child, tabula rosa, utterly dependent, push parent self to its highest, most mature forms, but then roles gradually reverse and deteriorate, around seven or eight, now it’s about learning to let go, letting them be their own person, learning to shut off that attachment, and move on. It’s about control, and your lack of it. You end up back where you were before, you have to cultivate a detachment to it all, recognize it all goes on just fine without you. That becomes a horror of adulthood I think, watching when people die and everyone just goes on about their business.

Writing interrupted, call from Aunt D, my Grandama’s sister. Women. Old women. The way of talking about illness and the burdens of others like it’s somehow your fault. The sort of blame that creeps in your bones, and makes you want to shake it off like a dog. But you know they love you, mean well, but something bad is in that. Time. Saturn. The supposed End. For years been hearing about how Grandma’s going down hill, sort of bugging everyone with it. What do you say? You can almost feel embarrassed if you’re in a good mood, or enjoying yourself. Feel I get that a lot, people being negative and it bugging me. “Being negative” that’s another t-shit type thought, isn’t it? Or the inverse, Be Positive. Like a battery terminal, or an electron. Turned on. And it feels like that doesn’t it, an added something, a buzz, a good mood. Collectively, we’ve had ours stolen, replaced with false promises of shitty food, silicone breasts and tentative safety. Talk about your dreams with others, they’ll ask about health insurance. Man doesn’t live on health insurance, right?

So that’s about where I’m at. Feels good banging the keys. Letting the fingers play. The words are there, but to what end? Half contemplating, saying fuck it and doing Nanowrimo again. Got this character percolating, Horus Rizen. Think middle aged Holden Caulfield. I know that’s a little ahistorical, he’s an old dead fucker by now. But I think the world is very much middle aged Holden Caulfield, or is it Charlie Manson? Actually it’s more like Holden Caulfield’s kid, after Holden got with a hippie chick, ate a little LSD, and ended up working for a software start-up. Holden’s at death’s store (door), he’s flipped, realized how grand life is, and frantically works at plugging his brain/soul into a computer, like Ray Kurzweil. Horus can’t do anything but drink organic coffee from Chiapis and scroll through the terrorizing news thread on his Ipad…anyway, you tell me.

 

Snippets 84

A Farewell to Arms-Ernest Hemingway

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry. (226)

Snippets 81

Neil Gaiman-Trigger Warning-From Short Story “The Sleeper and the Spindle”

The old woman passed a mother, asleep, with a baby dozing at her breast. She dusted them, absently, as she passed, made certain that the baby’s sleepy mouth remained on the nipple.
She ate her meal of turnips and greens in silence. (243)