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La Familia es Todo!

Family is everything….

   Take care of your family… you are entrusted with your role in your family. You must uphold your share of the workload and care. Give honor to your parents if you are a child… listen to them and help them to maintain the family properly… your help as a child will go far toward making your parents’ lives more pleasurable and fulfilling.

   If you are a parent, it is your responsibility to raise your children well… showing them the right way to live.

  There is NO responsibility in life greater than that of stewardship of your family.

  Honor and fulfill your obligations.  Don’t do wrong, nor engage in any activities that may disrupt the family harmony……

   What you do in your family will extend to the blanket of people you surround yourself with..  hopefully some of that goodwill may creep even further into your community.. and your community may extend a gracious hand to outlying areas…. in this way, your own harmony may be shown in far-flung locals and people that you don’t even know of!

   Just be good…. do good, be right and proper, and above all…. take care of your family… because ‘La Familia es Todo’.

Arroyo Grande Home Schooling

  Paul at homeeducatorevents.com asked me if they could plan a field trip to our farm to see how cactus is grown and harvested.. to learn a little about the soil and how to grow things… perhaps some talk on marketing, and making a living by what you know and love enough to do well… sadly we are not open to visits… our location is so remote and the steep hills leave little flat space after I filled it with cactus and gardens…. so we had to let them know it could not be arranged. But I liked their concept of educating their kids, and sharing the responsibilities of educating their children among families to plan hikes and exploratory trips…. that I wish to mention them, hoping it might gain them wider membership.

   Educating kids is more than the ‘Three R’s… education should be looked at holistically…. so kids should be learning about all aspects of life,  from an economic standpoint (woefully neglected in many US public schools) to a moral and ethical vision…. all in addition to the usual subjects.  It looks to me as if these folks are reaching for that kind of education for their kids.. and I imagine it will do nothing but good for those kids.  Rock on parents!

Brokeback Boulder



    I was going to visit a neighbor and was a bit startled when I saw this most excellently cut metal sign that says “Broke Back Boulder”.   I wondered for a second about the significance of this statement, and then I recalled that a neighbor had run into a boulder and down into the creek recently and broke his back. It turns out that his friends and family put the sign up to ‘rib’ him afterwards.



    The accident and his good recovery are a testament to our medical system and his own good health, prayers and positive thinking. Thanks also goes to the cowboys up at The Bull Riding School run by Gary Leffew. Turns out the man’s horn became stuck on after his body impacted the steering wheel, the fellows at Leffew’s place heard the horn blaring, and came to investigate. They summoned proper medical care and the man is off to a good (miraculous some say) recovery.


  From my posting in Jan 2008…. and the man who broke his back is reportedly very well healed….

Gott Sei Danke

Tony the Terrible Kitten and Chica the Chihuahua

Here’s Tony the orphaned kittie and the Chihuahua who adopted and raised him.
He’s now almost five months old, and a bit bigger than his ‘mama’.
Looking at his feet, you can see he’s got a lot of growing to do yet.
I hope he always stays close to his mother.


Tony has grown bigger than his 'mom' in four months!

Tony has grown bigger than his 'mom' in four months!

Rocky on top, Whitey and Chica, and Tony the Terrible
Rocky on top, Whitey and Chica, and Tony the Terrible

Here’s Tony siddling up to his ‘mama’.
Whitey doesn’t know what to make of this kitten who tries to sleep with dogs.

Gott Sei Mit Dir





By Neil Young



   Sep 29, 2004

   The full moon comes over the hills as I drive home early in the AM. A full night behind, the warmth of home ahead of me, the realization that life is full of twists and turns just like the road I drive.

   The full moon often makes me think of the many places I’ve watched that great orb rise and settle down.

   Some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen has been the moon lowering itself into the Western sea. That great Pacific Ocean that lies not too far from home. Great glossy sea, smooth with the oils from the kelp, shining the reflection of the moon back into the dark sky. The moon can drown out the stars with its reflecting brilliance.

   There are times that the moon takes up the reflection of the sun from the earth. These are the times that we see the dark moon, but it has that curiously light aspect to it. Not the full moon shining like we usually associate with the lunar light. This is actually the reflection of the sun off the Earth lighting up the moon in a shallow imitation of it’s full-moon brilliance. This is a parlor trick of God as He plays with His great polished mirrors that He so long ago set spinning in the vastness of space when He took His first days foray into creation. This back-shining is called ‘Gegenschein’, which is German for something like ‘reflected back’.

   As I drive along looking at the moon, seeing the silver light shine upon the fields and hills around me, I can’t help but remember the words that my Grandmother once told me of her life on the farm in Hungary before the Nazis came. They had a large farm, and were well-to-do by the standards of the time and area. They had fields, orchards, and livestock. They did all their farming with animals and human power and all in the family worked long and hard to enable them to have a full larder before the winter snows would drown the fields in a carpet of white.

   When the harvest of wheat was ripening the work would be long and hard. Yet the mid-days were still hot. My grandmother told me they would wake at about two AM, and the old women would have already prepared coffee and baked rolls with lots of sugar for energy. The workers and family would all eat and then climb into the wagons for the ride to the fields where they would work harvesting the wheat by the light of the harvest moon.

   At about six AM the old women would send the young children out to the fields with cooked bacon, rolls with butter and jelly, potatoes and eggs and more coffee. All work would cease for breakfast. And then they would resume work after eating and refortifying themselves.

   The at about ten AM the children would return with a small lunch of rolls, jelly and butter, and other assorted treats. Then they would get back to work again.

   A full lunch would be sent to them at about noon, this would be a large and massive lunch consisting of chicken or pork, vegetables including always potatoes and some Cole crop such as kohlrabi or cabbage. They would also have a fair amount of homemade brandy. This large meal would make them all sleepy, and they would then go to sleep in the shade of the trees or under the wagon. This would spare them from the heat of the day.

   After a four hour break and nap they would resume working again. At about five or so a small supper would be sent out to keep them from hunger. This would be the same kinds of things they had for lunch, but in smaller quantities. Then at about eight or so they would have some more food, something with sugar for energy. they would work until about ten at night, when they would return to the house to stumble bone-tired into their beds to sleep for four hours until they woke again at two AM.


   I think about my grandmother and the hardships she endured in her life. The sadness of having her husband snatched away to die in a foreign land when she was just a young woman. Widowed at twenty-four, and then driven from her farm and the land of her ancestors by the communist government with a young daughter in tow to go penniless to another land where she was regarded with suspicion because of her accent and different clothing and eating habits.

   She was indeed a marvelous woman, and a strong and wise one. She had a tenacity that was amazing, an intuitive knack of being able to find the simple in the complex, to break all down into the simple meanings that a peasant would understand and be able to convey to a child.

   Now as I watch this moon on it’s ascent as I drive this California freeway at a time when all good and honest people should be safely tucked away into their own beds, I reflect that this is the time when she and her kin would be rising from the goose down folds of their beds and rising to the scent of fresh coffee on a cool Hungarian morning, and I am just now heading home to retire for the night.

   How is it that life has taken us all from one generation to the next in a flight from the peaceful bucolic peasant life with it’s hugely manual labor to the frenetic pace of a cyber-ponzi scheme that rushes from one moment to another at all hours of the day? She told me often that I should slow down, and take some time to enjoy my garden, not just work in it. She was trying to tell me to take the time to smell the roses.

   She is now passed on into another world for some eighteen months now, and she walks with the Lord in a land of eternal sunshine in the peaceful fields of her youth, alive with the sounds of the birds in the trees shining with green leaves. The children of a lost time run with her, free from the trauma of war-weary men who break into the house and rip up the bed sheets to make bandages for their fallen comrades and cause unspeakable damage to the innocents around them out of avarice and despair.

   She is free now from all of mankind’s ills and demons. but she left me and other people she touched with so much. So much she told us and taught us. And so much that she did not say. I can still think of her way of saying “uhuh” when she did not agree with something I was going to do. This was her subtle way of telling me that she did not agree with the outcome that I thought would ensue, but she left it to me to do as I wished and experience the outcome so I would more fully learn the lesson. Now as a result of so many decades of hearing her advice, I can imagine what she would say to almost any situation that might arise in my life. If I get that little niggling doubt in my mind I can hear her “uhuh” coming through to me warning me of a dangerous and foolhardy undertaking (I’ve had my share of those).

   So, I drive along, a smile of whist fullness on my lips, a longing to be able to hear her speak again. But I speak to her everyday, and ask God often for His help in her new life. And I know that He loves her much more than I ever could, so He holds her close to His heart always.

   There is a saying I heard once, “when you pray do not say “The Lord is in my heart”, say “I am in the heart of the Lord”". And she is in His heart.

   So, I turn from the freeway, heading to the California hills that are now my home. Two generations from the plains of Hungary, and one life from the next.

   The harvest moon rising in my eyes.

   Gott Sei Danke.


The following little prayer in German was at a site from
Bruder Titus, that I liked enough to want to include.
Because it would have meant a lot to my grandmother,
it means a lot to me.

Gott sei mit dir

Gott sei mit dir, da wo du wohnst und lebst
und schenke dir seine Gnade.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du arbeitest
und schenke dir seine Kraft.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du hoffst und betest
und schenke dir Erfüllung.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du den Frieden suchst
und schenke dir Gelingen.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du feierst
und schenke dir Freude.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du liebst,
und schenke dir seinen Segen.

God is with you

God is with you, there where you live and love
and gives you His grace.
God is with you, there where you work
and gifts you with His strength.
God is with you, there where you hope and pray
and gives you fulfilment.
God is with you, there where you look for peace
and gives you success.
God is with you, there where you celebrate
and gives you joy.
God is with you, there where you love,
and gives you His benedictions.

The End of Rivenrock? Will the tin soldier ride away?

The Law in its majestic equality,
forbids rich as well as poor to sleep under bridges,
to beg in the streets,
and to steal bread

~Anatole France~

   Since 1993 we’ve been an organically certified small farm in California. I had a job with a contractor which paid our household expenses and kept us solvent even when the farm sales were less than our farm expenses. But two years ago when the factory in town closed down, and most of us were laid off, I decided to go into the cactus growing more full time.  We grow a unique vegetable which we’ve shipped throughout the country.  Initially we shipped the cactus leaves as nursery stock, then governmental regulations tightened and we became more aware of the laws and regulations of shipping nursery stock into other states.  So we switched to shipping the younger leaves for people to eat themselves as produce. Our goal has been to ship to Health Food Stores, and restaurants as well as individuals who might be interested in the leaves we grow. Through the years our customer list grew slowly but steadily at a steady 30% rate. As the years progressed the governmental regulations seemed to grow more onerous… and the last year we’ve lost many of our older customers due to the recession. Other businesses have quit, some people seem to have stopped their regular orders. Yet, due to aggressive marketing, our sales this year are the highest we’ve ever had due to many new customers. Yet this was done at the expense of any profit we might have had.  And again the government has come down on us harder. Now we have been notified that we must complete a fifteen hour ‘continuing education’ credits in water pollution and conservation. I’m all for education, but these government-mandated classes for all farms in the state are not provided for free… we must pay for them ourselves.  The worse part is that they are given in the major population centers of Ventura or Monterrey to which we must take ourselves, and pay for our own lodging for the three days of the course.

   It is this extra bit that has me stymied.  We don’t really make any money doing this cactus business. All of our money goes to shipping, governmental fees of several thousand dollars yearly in order to maintain our licenses, permits, and associated fees and overhead expenses.  Knowing that this trip will lead us into negative financial territory makes me reluctant to want to go.  Knowing that due to these regulations, we must take  a sample of our water and have it analyzed monthly at unknown costs…. I am seriously aggravated at the state of our laws and the level of compliance required even for tiny little micro-farms.

   We have some months in  which to take the classes, and maybe I’ll find some classes nearby, but this more personal posting than usual is to let the people know that governmental regulations are  a double-edged sword. While they give the USA good traceability in produce, and  what is perhaps the safest produce in the world, it also makes for stronger economy-of-scale issues that stymie the small grower… right at a time that we are needing MORE small farms, not less.  If we were a huge corporate farm, with many employees, still we would need just one person to go to the classes, but when it’s a one-man operation, the standards are the same. The costs are the same, but they are a larger share of the profit in a small operation like ours.

     My usual outlook is of hope and positive thoughts. Rarely am I dragged into this level of aggravation.    I am sure I will sign up for the classes in Monterrey, they seem very informative and interesting.  But people need to know that excessive governmental regulations strangle small business, they hamper the process of business formulation.  We need to seriously look at what we want for this country, a place where people can transact business legally and efficiently with little governmental interference. If the government requires classes such as this, it should place them within the reach of the people, if it requires monthly water sampling, it should have a method to make such sampling efficient and inexpensive, (the paperwork mentions some samples might cost $8,000 yearly).

   Excessive governmental regulations hamper small business more than the large. If due only to ‘economy of scale’.

    When my dad grew up on an Ozark farm in the thirties and forties, they raised corn and wheat, raised hogs which they sold every fall and winter, and had a hundred or so chickens from which they sold eggs daily. They had five or six milk cows which they milked by hand, using the milk for food and their dogs, and one milk-can daily which they left on the roadside for the milk company to pick up.  They also went to neighboring farms to supply skilled farm labor.  Nowadays they would have to have many more permits, and each operation would require specialized equipment and permits and licensing.  As all these regulations pile onto business, you must streamline your operations, drop aspects that have no profit and require permits,  then you start to specialize. Yet a small family farm should not be a specialist farm, it should have a wide variety of foods and animals to create the ‘loop system’ for bio-diversity.  Yet through the years we have had to drop livestock from our farm, first initially because we did not have proper butchering facilities,  so we stopped the breeding of animals, until we had no more. We stopped using manures for fertilizer years ago because the government is worried about contamination of the soils with bacteria from manures. We stopped bringing in mulches for weed control and soil building because we could not vouch for the exact trees the wood chips came from. We are now a closed system with no outside inputs, and only material going out at a rate of a ton a month. Yet even this production is priced so low, and the shipping and governmental costs are so high, that we make no profit.  One day, it might just get through my head that I’m better off just enjoying the property ourselves, and stop working so hard to make a business out of it.  Yet, I know I can’t, we have such great customers….

   While mulling these thoughts over in my head, I decided I needed to go for a walk. So with my camera in hand, I went down the road and took photos of the things I love about living here.  And it is when in the wilderness, when I am furthest from people and the government, that I am closest to God and nature.  These photos are my world, they are my daily activities and sights…. it is what is most in my heart.



‘One Tin Soldier’


    Listen, children, to a story
That was written long ago,
‘Bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley-folk below.
On the mountain was a treasure
Buried deep beneath the stone,
And the valley-people swore
They’d have it for their very own.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.

There won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgement day,
On the bloody morning after….
One tin soldier rides away.
So the people of the valley
Sent a message up the hill,
Asking for the buried treasure,
Tons of gold for which they’d kill.
Came an answer from the kingdom,
“With our brothers we will share
All the secrets of our mountain,
All the riches buried there.”
Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgement day,
On the bloody morning after….
One tin soldier rides away.
Now the valley cried with anger,
“Mount your horses! Draw your sword!”
And they killed the mountain-people,
So they won their just reward.
Now they stood beside the treasure,
On the mountain, dark and red.
Turned the stone and looked beneath it…
“Peace on Earth” was all it said.
Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of Heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgement day,
On the bloody morning after….
One tin soldier rides away.




A little of what it means to be human

   As humans we are prey to the same physical frailties and infirmities of any animal. But as modern humans we have a social network, technology and learning to enable us to live far beyond the usual lifespan of a wild person living alone would.  We also have the mind that enables us to see our own suffering and that of others, and to have the awareness that this will not cease in our lifetime, and is only relieved on our last day.

   The old song Mr. Bojangles kept coming to me today as I was picking cactus on the terraces this morning…the song tells the age-old enigma of mankind… how to live through loss, and to come to terms with the suspician that things will likely not get better.

   We all have our favorite people and animals taken from us…. and we’ve all witnessed our own friends, family and critters go through hard and tough times, and knowing we really cannot do anything but lend support and a hand to hold is some times the hardest thing to go through.

   Whether it be substance abuse, war memories, physical/mental abuse, physical trauma/disease or just plain old loss of love or loved ones…. what can you tell a person?  We know that in time most wounds heal, although they leave scars…. but scars are the knitted-together and tougher filaments of material, designed to keep that area less susceptible to further injury.  And a broken bone, if well-set and healed, will be stronger than original.  When we cry and experience loss… might it be that then we can more fully appreciate the good times and happiness? Indeed, happiness is a lofty goal to reach for, and I wish all well in attaining a  good amount of it, and the realization when they experience it, to hold onto the memory of it. But there are some who seem to have all, and are mightily unhappy…. perhaps a certain amount of loss will open one to remembering the good times… and any wistful memories of the beloved departed will hopefully include a great many instances of joy… the joy that brings us to the realization that this life is for learning, that there is a great many good things awaiting us beyond this life, and we will be able to more fully appreciate them when we have lived through our travails here.   Blessings of the Creator upon all who wander lost in this life, may they bring their troubled soul to a loving and caring Father. 

~Nitty Gritty Dirt Band~
“Mr. Bojangles’




~Kahlil Gibran~
‘On Joy and Sorrow’

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises,
was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being,
the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine
the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit,
the very wood that was hollowed with knives?When you are joyous,
look deep into your heart
and you shall find it is only that which has given
you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping
for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,”
and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits,
alone with you at your board,
remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales
between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty
are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you
to weigh His gold and His silver,
  must needs your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.



Chile Rellenos and Apple Pie

   The neighbor lady invited Vickie over for a bit, they baked an apple pie together and made Chile Rellenos, and then Vickie brought me a big platter of each. They looked so good, I had to take a picture to remember them always.


Lizards… be aware, and beware

Lizards… be aware, and beware


Back in May our son called us and told us of a litter of semi-feral kittens outside his apartment in Oceano.
The mother had gotten hit by a car, and he’d heard the little ones mewing in the bushes.
When he got them from the bushes, the majority were dead, and the two still alive were just barely hanging on.
We took them in and forced them to take ‘kitten milk replacer’.
We force-fed them as they were dehydrated and wanting to give up and die.
After a couple of days they were able to crawl around a bit, and their eyes had filled out again
(they were sunken into their skulls, they were so dehydrated).While feeding the striped one which the neighbors named ‘Tony’,
I would tell him of the great life he’d have if he lived,
of all the little creatures he could catch,
of the trees he could climb and the animals he could see

Gradually, they grew stronger,
and were adopted by our female Chihuahua Chica,
herself an orphan we rescued.

I hate to anthropomorphize animals, and ascribe human traits and compulsions to them,
but it seemed as though Chica received the ‘mothering’ she never got by giving it to the kittens
and the kittens had a nice warm tummy to snuggle to and knead with their paws.

I suppose in so many ways we give out what we never got but wanted
and it is in giving we receive what we need through substitution


Here’s  photo of  Tony and Chica a week or two after we introduced them
he’s her size now, just four months later.
And they are still close, it is touching to see the way they snuggle together.

Chica has some odd facial characteristics, she looks mean but is actually very sweet
That’s merely a cowlick on her face… not a scar
but I kid people that she got her head caught in a mechanical cactus-picker

but there is no such machine, we pick our cactus by hand

Alligator Lizard in the air
Alligator Lizard in the air

Tony seems to have learned a lot from our little ‘talks’
He’s been bringing lizards into the house now.
Here are two Alligator Lizards he has brought into the house in the last few weeks
We give the lizards a little talk, warning them to stay clear of the kittens
then we let them go back into the cactus garden from whence the kittens got them

I suspect lizards don’t taste good, our mature cats ignore them
the kittens play with them for the fun of it, but don’t eat them (as far as I know)

You can see that this lizard has already lost his tail.
It’s pretty rare to find a mature one with an original tail….
but when you do, they are impressive

Alligator Lizard in the air

Alligator Lizard in the air

The animals here like this place as much as we do.




   Here’s a  video of Chica and Tony together.
It’s cute, but has no audio….
If anyone owns the rights to some nice music you’d like us to put into the video,
let us know
We’re interested in making our videos more appealing by having nice music

Afro Celt Sound System – Persistence of Memory





A beautiful video… We’ve been entrusted with a beautiful world

People are half of the beauty, and half of the curse of the world.

What an intriguing species.