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Old Dogs and Children

  When I was a kid there were still a lot of the old-folks who were born in the eighteen hundreds. Back then not too many people got into their seventies…. my parents donated some time with the old folks as volunteers with ‘Meals On Wheels’. So I met a number of the old folks. They usually liked to speak of the old days when our area was open range… they’d speak of taking wagons to the beach to pick up the boards and planks the ships would throw overboard. Our local tow didn’t have a wharf or harbor… just a long beach curving along ten miles of coast. So with no mooring for offloading, all cargo had to be rowed to shore (a VERY dangerous undertaking on our local beach) or simply chucked overboard if it would drift to the shore.
   They’d speak also of the horse races they’d have up and down our main street every Fourth of July, or how the horses got spooked when the first cars came to town…. and how eventually the streets got paved making riding a horse more and more difficult.

   I recall this one old fellow who always drove a rickety bike up and down some of our roads…. he was so unsteady on his bike that everyone worried he’d swerve into the path of their cars… I never spoke to him because he always seemed scary… and I was a kid… there was another house in a nearby wooded area that had an old man who had a chain attached to his ankle and the porch post. He had dementia and would go wandering off… the people of the house had work to do, woods to hunt and fields to plant… they couldn’t afford to have him wander off and get hurt. A friend of mine once told me the old man often peeled his clothes off and sat naked in the sun. One day he found the old man wandering down the road naked, his pants caught in the end of the chain dragging from his ankle twenty feet behind him.

    So sad that the life and hopes and dreams and experiences of a person should disappear upon their demise… and even sadder when it should become locked in the vault of the mind… irretrievable except on those rare moments when some door opens and allows cognition before it slams shut again.

    I am glad I took the time I did to listen to old folks…. but now that those people are gone… I know that I didn’t do nearly what I now wish I had. Old folks seem to like to sit and speak of the past… perhaps that is because they have more of a past than they can perceive of a future. Kids don’t think about past or future… they just are ‘now’.  I guess like much in life, it is the middle that seems the logical place to go. A little of the past without dwelling on it… a little of the future, because if you don’t plan your route who knows where you’ll end up… and a whole huge amount of ‘Now’, because that’s where you are now, along with all your family and friends and the myriad creatures we exist alongside.

   There’s something about old folks, kids and old animals…. young animals too… what would life be without puppies and kittens.


Tribes, Assimilations and Horror

   This world of man is made of tribes. We tend to hold into our little enclaves, among the people we know. We stick to the groups with which we have an affiliation through culture. It is comfort to roam among ‘your own people’.  Even criminals and killers tend to stick to their own kind… perhaps this is because they have familiarity with the actions their victims will take… what weapons they might have to defend themselves… will they fight or flee?

    An exception to this is when one tribe invades another…. when this happens we call it ‘war’. War has many faces…. and as in any other aspect of life, every action will have several choices proffered. When your tribe is invaded you can resist and risk death… or you can give up, and hope the invaders are decent enough to not kill non-combatants.

    Tribal groups have been expanding for thousands of years… as our own tribal sphere of influence expands, the assimilated tribes become fellow tribesmen… the strength of the tribe is increased.  Sometimes these assimilations happen without bloodshed, more often it is done with the conquest and total political capitulation of the conquered. You cannot ‘half-way’ conquer any people…. until assimilation occurs, you still have the potential for an uprising among the conquered people. This is the situation the Germans and French found themselves in during WWII.

   During the invasion of France by Germany, the seemingly fast French capitulation allowed the Germans easy entry into the country, without the heavy bloodshed and loss of life one would have expected.  The French assisted the German military in rounding up anyone the Germans wanted…. political people, Jews, Gypsies and more groups were rounded up by the French and handed over to the Germans. This all changed however in 1944 with the successful invasion of France from England. Once hope proffered itself, many French turned from the Germans, and tried to join the resistance… and that is the history we try to look to, for hope and encouragement on the rights of Man, the will of Man to resist tyranny and despotism…

   But when it comes to the interactions between individuals during war… everything becomes murky.   And like the thick dark liquids of a swamp…. the deeper that it is, the darker the shadows, yet there is more deeper down.  You can feel around in the dark depths… knowing there is something there you must find….

   And it is family…. invading armies always leave little children in the wake of their passage. Sometimes this is done in a deliberate attempt to destroy the social structure of the invaded people, such as we find happening constantly in some parts of Africa.  If the occupation is long…. there will be women hoping to gain food and security for their family by aligning themselves with the invaders. And people being people, sometimes it is the intrigue of the invader, the stranger, that exotic appeal, and the power of the conqueror.

    France was occupied for four years…. that is plenty of time for many thousands of relationships to develop in France among French women and German men. After the withdrawal of German forces, many thousands of ‘collaborators’ were executed by locals…. women who were associated with German men were paraded through the streets, their heads shaved publicly as a mark to display wherever they went. And the progeny of these relationships were shunned as if they themselves had been invaders.

   Now that almost all of the people who were adults in those days are deceased… people can look at the times with a bit less passion, we are the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the Second World War.   We know that the children born of such unions are innocent of the transgressions their parents commited. And now even France is starting to open up…. Germany has offered dual citizenship to the children of German soldiers born to French women.

   I suppose it is natural that it takes a long time for such wounds to heal.  When you have a bad cut, you must keep it covered for a long time…. and the children running through France were like a scratching at the cut Germany had made into France. They tried to cover it up…. thick padding so no one could see it. Deny, hide, obfuscate… but once the wound starts to itch, it needs to be opened to the healing power of the sun…. it needs to be aired out…. and touched tenderly…. happily, the wound is now starting to heal…. sadly, it is when all the children concerned are passed-on that the raw scar will be no more.  It is at that time that people will be able to be dispassionate about it.

   But we are people, humans…. failed, fallen….

   But remember… we are healed by the Power of the Son.

A chasing after the wind

   Life is so odd… we all move through our own lives, and it continues one generation after another…. pretty much things are the same regardless of the age. Sure there’s societal and technological developments, but still people are people.


  History should be told through the lives of people… to see the life of someone long ago, and to see the generalities that we share and at the same time to see the differences in life makes history come alive.

  I was reading old stuff from the Forrest City Times Arkansas Newspaper of 1905,  and came upon someone in my family getting married.  This is not a direct ancestor of mine… but it was funny reading the public statement.. and you know if it’s this open in public, it must have been a huge fight in real that you have to read between-the-lines.

11-10-1905 – DICUS – CLARENCE – - – - NA – FCTIMES – DICUS-FRAZIER=Mr. Clarence
Dicus, night operator of the Rock Island depot here, and Miss Mary Frazier, of
Little Rock, were married on Thursday of last week at Lonoke. It was a ‘Gretna
Green’ affair, the parents of the bride being opposed, so they went to Lonoke
where he has relatives.

  Well heck, reading that made me wonder what the term ‘Gretna Green Affair’ meant…. so I searched the term and came up with this little tidbit from Flyawayweddings

Gretna Green is a popular place to get married, there is something very romantic about saying that you have ‘run away’ to Gretna Green for your wedding.

The village became synonymous with weddings after 1754, when a law was passed in England which meant that only marriages solemnised in a church and between those aged over 21 were recognised. However the law didn’t apply in Scotland and to make things even simpler, all that Scottish law required was that there were two witnesses to the marriage, no religious or other official celebrant was reuired.

Young English lovers dashed to the first town over the border – Gretna Green – where marriages were usually performed by the local blacksmith, in his forge with the anvil acting as the ‘alter’ – hence the expression “marrying over the anvil”.


   Yeah… the more things change, the more they stay the same.


(Eccl 1:3-18 NIV)

{1} The words of the Preacher,  the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
{2} Vanity  of vanities, says the Preacher,
 vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
{3}What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?
{4} Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever.
{5} The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises.
{6} The wind blows to the south and turns to the north;
round and round it goes, ever returning on its course.
{7} All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from, there they return again.
{8} All things are wearisome, more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.
{9} What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
{10} Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
{11} There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.
{12} I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem.
{13} I devoted myself to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under heaven.
What a heavy burden God has laid on men!
{14} I have seen all the things that are done under the sun;
all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
{15} What is twisted cannot be straightened; what is lacking cannot be counted.
{16} I thought to myself, “Look, I have grown and increased in wisdom
more than anyone who has ruled over Jerusalem before me;
I have experienced much of wisdom and knowledge.”
{17} Then I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom,
and also of madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is a chasing after the wind.
{18} For with much wisdom comes much sorrow;
the more knowledge, the more grief.



Tao Teh Ching
Chapter 20

Discard relentless learning, and put an end to the anxiety in your harried mind.
What is the difference between yes and no?
What is the distinction between success and failure?
Must the quester fear what all others fear?
How preposterous, these questions can be asked for as long as one seeks knowledge.
It is to the sage’s advantage that he need not fear what others fear.
But it is to the advantage of most that they can enjoy the feast,
and celebrate in the terraced parks in the springtime.
I alone seem tranquil and still amidst the smiling revelers.
I am as expressionless as an infant before it learns to smile.
I do not know the minds of other people,
My mind is that of a fool, muddied and cloudy.
I am alone, with no true home.
Other people have enough and to spare,
I alone seem to have lost everything.
Other people enjoy all they need and more,
I alone have left everything behind.
Other people appear bright;
I alone seem wrapped in darkness.
Other people seem razor-sharp;
I alone am dull.
Other people are lucid,
I alone am obscure.
Everyone seems to know everything,
I alone have no knowledge.
I am like a wave on the ocean;
blowing as aimlessly as the wind, with no place to rest.
Others have purpose, taste and a sphere of action:
I alone am purposeless, unrefined and uncentered.
I do not share the fears of the people,
For creation nourishes me.


  On and on it goes.


May Flower in November

Mayflower in November
Wir sind alle….Ein
We are all… One


    The descendents list of Mayflower website has a listing of some famous people who have ancestors that came over here on the Mayflower. On my dad’s side we’ve got our family traced back to arriving in Massachusetts in the 1650′s, which means that probability is high that some ancestors of mine married into the Mayflower people also. In fact, the stats say that some twelve percent of Americans have some ancestor who was on that small ship so long ago.
    On the Mayflower website I see that Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, Marilyn Monroe, Orson Welles, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and William Cullen Bryant, all had a common Mayflower ancestor; one John Alden.
    That is what is so interesting about geneology, we see that we are all related at some time, near or distant. We are all one.
    USA Weekend Magazine has another fine article on this phenomenon. I do consider it a phenomenon because never in history has such an amalgam of diverse cultures existed in one spot with a high degree of blending and ease. When two dissimilar metals are fused, the blending can often be a stronger metal, and I do believe it is this blending of many cultures and blood-strains that makes this country the strong energetic beast it is and has been since before it’s inception.

A Gift of Chocolate-A Glimpse of Freedom


Happy Veteran’s Day
kudos to so many in my family who served….
thanks Dad, without you, none of it would be possible


A gift of chocolate, a glimpse of freedom, and an introduction to America

Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some….
Who knows, maybe you were kidnapped, tied up and taken away for ransom….
It don’t really matter to me,
Everybody’s got to fight to be free,
You don’t have to live like a refugee,
You know…you don’t have to live like a refugee
Tom Petty


    My mother’s first encounter with an American was in war-ravaged Europe in 1946. Here she was; a thin, hungry kid in Germany as a refugee, a Displaced Person (DP) from Eastern Europe. She was hungry and malnourished; she had known nothing but war all her life.

    She lived in a small village in Germany that was spared the heavy bombing of the industrial cities. Her family was living in rooms given up by the resentful Native German families. One day a small squad of American soldiers came by that small village. She and many of the children of the town came running to the town square to see the strangers in their green uniforms. One of them was carefully giving a square of chocolate to each child, breaking it from one of several bars of chocolate he had in his hands.

    He broke a square off and held it out to her, smiling as he did so. She hungrily and happily took it from his hand, and smiled back, speaking in a proper manner “Dankeshon”, thanking him for the gift of the rare chocolate. He continued breaking off pieces of chocolate, making sure each child got only one square, so there would be enough for all.

  Then the soldiers finished their break, and headed off in their jeeps and trucks to parts unknown.

   This first meeting with an American seems to me an emblem of our national character. The peace loving, generous and thoughtful Americans, who sometimes are forced to fight when really they would rather not have to. We as a nation are not unfamiliar with war, but we do not look forward to it in a general way. And we would rather enter a battle firmly, decisively and with proper timing and sufficient strength so as to finish the hostilities quickly and avoid a protracted war. Yet when the shells stop ejecting, and the lead is no longer flying we are so happy to spread our largess around, to help the poor afflicted ones left in the wake of the battles. The innocent ones, the young, the non-combatants are generally treated by Americans with compassion, and largess. We feel sorry for the poor people taken along by despotic or maniacal leaders, the ones who’s countries economies and National Character were lead astray by evil ones. So our country as a whole generally helps out to one degree or another. And the people of the USA are usually quick to send aid through individual charities.

    This faceless American, the nameless soldier who dropped that piece of chocolate into my mothers hand that day gave her a lot more than chocolate, he gave her a glimpse of another land. A land where people got to eat chocolate, indeed they had so much that they could even give some to people they did not even know. He opened the curtain displaying for her a place, indeed an idea of freedom and plenty. A concept unknown in the world centuries before, and a new concept to her from the years of war and poverty. This concept grew in her through the years. The education, the opening of the Fortress Europe to American concepts and ideas matured the concept, and later when an adult the marriage to my father, an American soldier himself brought her to these balmy shores. The land that enshrines the concept of immigration in one of the best-known statues in the world. “Give me your poor, your huddled, your teeming masses ready to break free.” She was one of the poor teeming huddled masses, and she made it to this country and became an American, and she helped raise some American children. 

John's Mom and Grandmother, Germany, 1946

John’s Mom and Grandmother, Germany, 1946

The song lyrics below are from an Elton John song,
they speak to me because of my time on the Iron Curtain in the 70′s.
I worked the border areas of West Germany…..I’d look across that wide ‘No-Man’s Land’
watching the Eastern soldiers smoke their cigarettes in their towers 
and looking back at me through their scopes…
Often we’d wave to one another….
soldiers, away from home…
each defending from the other….
yet each of us realizing we are people….
those waves are something I’ll never forget

Hey Nikita is it cold
In your little corner of the world
You could roll around the globe
And never find a warmer soul to know

Oh I saw you by the wall
Ten of your tin soldiers in a row
With eyes that looked like ice on fire
The human heart a captive in the snow

Oh Nikita You will never know anything about my home
I’ll never know how good it feels to hold you
Nikita I need you so
Oh Nikita is the other side of any given line in time
Counting ten tin soldiers in a row
Oh no, Nikita you’ll never know

Do you ever dream of me
Do you ever see the letters that I write
When you look up through the wire
Nikita do you count the stars at night

And if there comes a time
Guns and gates no longer hold you in
And if you’re free to make a choice
Just look towards the west and find a friend

   We are all people, failed, fallen. We have not risen to the heights we can…. perhaps someday we will.  

‘La Misión del Gloriosísimo Príncipe Arcángel, Señor San Miguel’

Mission San Miguel
‘La Misión del Gloriosísimo Príncipe Arcángel, Señor San Miguel’ 

In: San Miguel California
San Luis Obispo County
in the ‘taint’ of Calif
Halfway ‘tween San Francisco and Los Angeles
‘Tain’t neither Frisco nor El-Lay

Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel adobe wall

Mission San Miguel adobe wall

This close up view of a wall at the mission shows the consistency of adobe. You can see a rocky clay soil was formed into sun-dried bricks, then wet clay was used as a mortar to make the bricks stick together. It is not actually the best material to use in an earthquake prone area. For outdoor walls and animal shelters it is fine.  But human quarters should be made with safety as a paramount concern.

Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel

A view of one of the side walls of the mission.

Mission San Miguel bell tower

The Belltower at Mission San Miguel.


Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel

Side view of the Belltower.
All the plants here are the same types we grow, they are common in this area.
My guess is that these plants are never watered, and yet they survive.

Mission San Miguel La Puerta

Mission San Miguel La Puerta

La Puerta de la Mission San Miguel
A Mission Wall, with ‘La Puerta’ (the door)

Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel

The Belltower and the Gate. A windmill peeks around the bricks.
The unbaked sun dried mud bricks are susceptible to rain and other environmental damage.
It is for this reason the missions used to place the oven-fired red clay
(terra-cotta) roofing tiles on top of the walls,
to protect them. You can see where the roof tiles are missing,
there is serious degradation of the adobe bricks.

Mission San Miguel

Mission San Miguel

A lonely Opuntia cactus climbs the wall in the shade of a lone pine tree.
They share company, and the pine acidifies the soil,
and shades the plant so that it can more easily survive the neglect
of this lonely corner of the world.

Mission San Miguel outbuilding

Mission San Miguel outbuilding

Bars were put on the mission windows as protection
from the grizzly bears that used to roam this area.

Laetitia Vineyard nighttime harvest

Our neighbors Laetitia Vineyards have started their grape harvest.
They work around the clock and through the nights so they can get
all the many hundreds of acres harvested on time.
At nighttime they truck in these large lights operated by generators.

In general I know they try to adhere to sustainable practices.
They use bio-fuels where they can. They use drip systems and install raptor perches.
They have been inspected and found to be holding to sustainable ag principles

However sustainable agriculture has different interpretations.
And I don’t like that they seem to be sucking up all the water.
Sustainable means it can be sustained at that level indefinitely
(that means generation after generation for like… a thousand years!).

I also start to get an uncomfortable feeling when local ‘big-business people’
actually spend much of their time a hundred or miles away on another place…..
and when they have several of these large farms here and there….
Maybe that’s the European Kulak in me…
and the Southern small farmer

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

When I drive this road at night, usually there are miles I go with no lights to be seen…..
then to all of a sudden come around the bend and see these lights,
like some movie being filmed is disconcerting.

But I am glad to see work being done, production etc.

Yet a number of us have allied together to fight the latest expansion of these fields….
an expansion that includes a ‘Dude Ranch’
with stables, private houses, and rental cabins.


Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

Yet I am also conflicted with all the fuel used for lighting,
and the massive use of water the vineyard takes.
Since they put in the vineyards, the water level in the creek lowered,
and it has now stopped running for several months.


Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

My sense of capitalism says a person can do what
they want with their land within limits….
but do those limits extend to overdraft of the limited local water supply?

Lao Tzu
Chapter 53

The gentry wear elaborate richly embroidered clothes,
eat and drink in excess with their sharp swords at their sides,
these are surely the robber barons.
This is not in keeping with the Way.

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

These several thousands of Corporate acres are owned by one person,
and many of the people in that field are given work
for a short time during this harvest season.
How much better off would they and me all be if this land
was held by several hundred small growers?
Each trying to live a regenerative low-impact lifestyle, growing local foods…
and pooling resources to send co-operative food to further areas.

Lao Tzu
Chapter 77

The way of nature is much like the drawing of a bow.
That which is high is lowered,
and that which is low is brought up.
The excess is removed,
and where there is deficiency more is added.
The way of nature is to reduce the excesses
and spread them to where there is deficiency.

The way of Man is otherwise,
Mans way is to take from those who have little,
and give to those who have much.

Who is it that can offer more to the world, and have still more to offer?
Only the person of the Tao.

Therefore the sage acts without laying claim to the act.
He can accomplish without boasting.
He has no wish to appear superior.

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

They could be using water-capture techniques to hold rainwater
so they’d pull less from the ground.
Individual small landholdings of five acres of good soils like this
can be effectively and intensively farmed.
Resulting in overall less water use than currently, more infiltration,
less water run-off and more of a diversified environment.
The mono-culture of hundreds of acres of one plant encourages insect and disease issues.

No wonder grapes are one of the most intensively sprayed crop in California.

Luckily, although we consider them neighbors…
they are still some four miles from our place.

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast

Nighttime grape harvest at Laetitia Vineyard on Calif Central Coast


Tao teh Ching
Chapter 80

I see a small country of small population.
A simple folk, who even if highly skilled work simply and easily.
Tools are seldom used. They do not bother to invent time-saving appliances.
They would dearly love life, and would take care to avoid death.
Since they would love their homes and land, they would not care to wander.
Even with their horses, boats and carts, they do not wish to travel about.
Though they may have armor and weapons, these are kept out of sight.
These people would return to simple techniques for record keeping.
Their food would be tasty but simple; their clothing would be unpretentious.
They would be content with their simple homes,
and the simple pleasures and customs of a simple people.
And even though there might be a neighboring land within sight,
so that the crowing of roosters and the barking of dogs can be heard from it;
these people will have lived their entire life without ever having gone to that country.



Controlling Hearts and Minds

    I took a lot of  ’AgriBusiness’ classes in school. They tried to impress on us the importance of ‘economy of scale’. “Become a giant farm, have specialists for everything, and ‘mine’ the soil for all the nutrients you can, bring in all the inputs that allow you to grow the foods you need, use the pesticides so the produce will be blemish-free and appealing to the consumer.”  Then I went overseas and spent some time in Third-World countries, eating the fresh local produce…. I remember being at a market in Morocco and seeing scabbed oranges for sale…. I thought to myself how these would never sell in the USA and we were so lucky to have such great produce in the States. But when I peeled the rind away, the orange was as nice as any I’d seen, and the taste was better than oranges I recalled in the USA. That was the beginning of a desire in me to produce organically.  It is the taste of the food, the nutrition, and the food safety in it that really counts.

   But organic methods don’t work so well on the large scale of a huge agribusiness with its economy of scale. An organic operation must have patches of unworked land with bugs in them, and a variety of foods grown, not the large scale ‘monoculture’ that makes for such economy in the case of a large farm.  Yet the small scale of the standard small family organic farm means those people lose the economy of scale that a large operation has. For instance, marketing and compliance with food safety regulations can both be done more efficiently with a large farm.

   We are going through hoops right now with the local regional Water Quality Control Board  who want to do monthly testing of our well water. They say the costs will be ‘insignificant’. But over one thousand dollars yearly is not insignificant to us.  It means we must reduce some other costs that we can control, something like marketing.. which might reduce our sales. 

   While I understand the issues related to food safety, I also would like to see this country become less one of huge corporate mega-farms, and more of a hodge-podge of small family farmers, each selling locally or shipping on a limited basis some unique vegetable that cannot be grown efficiently in other places.

   North Carolina is a place I have some family, so when I see NC articles, they jump out at me. One such recently was about the Feds starting to examine small farms in NC.  The small-scale growers there are concerned that the proposed new regulations will drive them out of business.  I understand their concerns. But I have a prediction…. our government and people tend to move in cycles…. fear becomes hysteria, and then rules and changes out of all proportion to the threat are soon enacted … then years later cooler heads prevail, and things ratchet down some. Still, once you give the government the reins, they tend to keep tight fingers on them and never relinquish power.

   There’s a movement afoot to build small farms in the inner cities. Some propose bulldozing entire near-empty blocks and replacing them with farms to provide healthy nutritious foods for the local people. There will also need to be farm managers for these places, and many workers. I expect the federal government will give a large amount of assistance to these enterprises, and non-profits will be rushing to fill the spots, for which the government will pay them (we’re working with non-profits regarding our water testing, but still they charge, and everyone in the line there is making money, non-profit does NOT mean free).  These groups will be getting funds and assistance to meet their payroll and goals… but it seems that rural dwellers will still remain paying on their own…. but we’re used to being ignored by the government, except when they want to get their fees and revenue and now code-enforcement money.

   Believe me, the only thing the Federal Government can do is protect the country from invasion and fight wars, it is the only thing that is large enough to do that.  But pretty-much, that is the only thing the Feds should be doing… it is too large and unwieldy an organism to be able to see the small.  And so I expect it will in general wipe out small farms…. except for the ones that are willing to go ‘hat in hand’ and let the government take over their operation, and run it as a non-profit. In this way, the government will control the food supply.  Control their food, you control their hearts and minds.


Chapter 17

When the Master governs, the people
are hardly aware that he exists.
Second best is a leader who is loved.
Next, is one who is feared.
The worst is one who is despised.
Such as these have no faith in their people,
and the people in turn become unfaithful to them.
The Master doesn’t talk; he acts.
How sparing he is with his words!
When his work is complete and the purpose is achieved,
the people regard the triumph as their own.



Chapter 22

Yield, and maintain integrity.
If you want to become whole; let yourself become partial.
If you want to become straight; let yourself become crooked.
If you want to become full; let yourself become empty.
If you want to be reborn; you must let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything; you must give everything up.
The sage accepts the world as the world accepts the Way.
He is free from self-display; and therefore he shines.
Freed from self-assertion; he is distinguished.
Removed from self-boasting; his merit is acknowledged.
removed from self-complacency; he acquires superiority.
It is because he is free from striving that
no one in the world is able to strive with him.
When the ancient Masters said,
“If you want to be given everything, give everything up,”
they weren’t mouthing empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Tao can you be truly complete.


Chapter 44

Fame or integrity, which do you hold most dear?
Your wealth or your life, to which will you cling?
Gain or loss, which one increases your anxiety?
In fame and wealth and gain can be found the seeds of failure,
And in integrity and life and loss can be found the root of treasures.
Thus it is that a contented person is never ashamed of what they have,
Having self-restraint he can avoid trouble,
In this way he can endure long, and live contentedly.


Chapter 53

If I possess even the smallest bits of wisdom,
I would walk the great way, and my only fear would be in straying from this great road.
The great way is wide and the going is easy, but how people seem to prefer the side paths.
When the offices of government, the palaces and temples are richly adorned, and lavishly outfitted…
when the ministers are concerned chiefly with pomp and display;
the fields will be dusty and overgrown with rank weeds, and the granaries of the land will be bare.
The gentry wear elaborate richly embroidered clothes,
eat and drink in excess with their sharp swords at their sides,
these are surely the robber barons. This is not in keeping with the Way.


Chapter 57

Rule the kingdom with justice. Use surprise tactics to fight a war.
But it takes letting go to win and hold the world.
How do I know it is so? Through this: -
The more restrictive the laws in the kingdom, the poorer the people will be.
The more sharp weapons the people have, the more troubled and chaotic the state will be
and the less secure the people will be.
The more clever and advanced the people, the stranger the contrivances they will invent.
Law after law promulgates robbers and thieves.
Therefore the Master says: “I will let go of the law,
and the people will act rightly of their own accord,
I will love tranquility and the people will act with righteousness.”
“I will make no effort, and the people will prosper.
I will let go of all of my desires, and the people will return to native simplicity.”




Chapter 58

When a government is unobtrusive and tolerant the people will be happy and prosperous;
when a government is suspicious and strict the people are dissatisfied and crafty.
Good fortune is linked to calamity; misery is tied to happiness.
So who can tell when the end of this will come?
Is there no measuring-stick for the norm?
What is seen now as right and true will certainly someday be seen as wrong and false.
The people have labored under this sea of vexations for a long time.
Therefore the Master is square without sharp cutting corners.
His straightness is not strained; he is pointed without being piercing.
And he is bright but not blinding.


Chapter 72

When the people have no more fear of oppression; that is when oppressive forces will overtake them.
Do not restrict the people in their dwellings.
Do not oppress the people with heavy taxes and burdens.
If you do not wear the people out, they will not weary of you.
Therefore it is that sages know themselves well, but this self-knowledge is not displayed for all to see.
The sage respects himself, but does not try to become admired.
He will choose self-knowledge and love, and set conceit and opinion aside.


Chapter 75

When the nation is in want of food,
it can be seen that the government officials are eating too much of the grain in excessive taxes.
And why are the people restive and hard to govern?
They are in a state of near rebellion due to the intrusive machinations of the government.
The people learn to make light of death when they strive to obtain goods and extravagant items.
They are relentlessly working to acquire more, and look to death as a release from pursuit of material gain.
In this wise it is easy to not place too high a price on life.


Chapter 76

At birth a person is soft and supple; at their deaths they are firm and strong.
All creatures, plants and trees are born tender and flexible,
when they are dead they become brittle and dried.
Thus it is that people who are stiff and hard are companions of death.
The soft and yielding are the followers of life.
It can be seen that a great inflexible army will fall under it’s own weight,
just as a stiff unyielding tree will break in the wind.
Dwelling in an inflexible unyielding manner will bring downfall.
The pliant and supple will survive.



Chapter 77


The way of nature is much like the drawing of a bow.
That which is high is lowered, and that which is low is brought up.
The excess is removed, and where there is deficiency more is added.
The way of nature is to reduce the excesses and spread them to where there is deficiency.
The way of the world is otherwise, Mans way is to take from those who have little,
and give to those who have much.
Who is it that can offer more to the world, and have still more to offer? Only the person of the Tao.
Therefore the sage acts without laying claim to the act.
He can accomplish without boasting.
He has no wish to appear superior.


Chapter 81

Truth is not spoken with rhetoric;
rhetoric does not embrace truth.
The good do not quarrel; those who quarrel are not good.
Those who know are not widely learned, those who are widely learned do not know.
The sage does not hoard for himself. The more he does to help others, the more he can do.
The more he gives to others the more his own treasures increase.
The way of Heaven is to cause benefit, not harm.
Therefore the sage observes this and imitates it.
He acts, serves, and does without relentless striving.




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.