Is This Thing On?

My brain, I mean. On Thursday evening last, at around 9:15 p.m., our youngest son and I pulled away from our home of 27 years for the last time. Three solid weeks of packing up and moving out, as in 8-10 hours a day, me, my wife, and our son, with occasional and much appreciated help from friends. We will need to swing by to pick up the inevitable forgotten items (the router! Oops!) but as we locked up the storage unit after emptying the house, it was no longer our home. This is the only home our 5 kids likely remember from growing up, as the oldest was 5 when we moved there.

Today, Son-in-law the Younger borrowed his dad’s truck so that we could fetch the half-wine-barrel with the California chestnut tree in it. Took that opportunity to take pictures, documenting the end of the Eternal Brick Project of Dooooom! I’m posting a lot of pictures so that this blog may document the entire insane project. I think it took 7 years to complete.

The Garden Gate. The final piece from the original idea of enclosing the front yard orchard.
Another view, as one approaches the front door. The ramp in the foreground may be the single biggest part of the project, completed almost 5 years ago.
Thin bricks installed on the old slab concrete front step, in order to make the look better.
quarter circle planter with the fig tree (and a dying spider plant)
Same features seen from the driveway
From the gate, looking into the garden. The gate is repurposed window bars I picked up at Urban Ore in Oakland about 5 years ago. More woodchips need to be spread.
The (empty) basil box and (not empty) oregano box, flanking the little garden hose area. The flowering plant in the middle is a California native, and is covered in beautiful flowers, to which this picture does not do justice.
The unplanted vegetable beds, with the northern planter/wrought iron style fence. The idea was to get something viny to grow on the fences, thus making this a sort of secret garden, at least from a little kid’s perspective., But the honeysuckle grows slowly, and the one in this bed died.
The latest planter/fence combo on the south side comes into view as you walk into the garden. Peaches, heavy with fruit, are on the top right.
Better shot of the flowering native plant, and the ancient Japanese maple.
The back gate on the south side. My son and I just patched up the fence and replaced the hardware.
The view of the south side planter and redwood lattice fence from the inside. Peaches and apricots on the right.
Same, from the outside.
The corner by the power pole. Apricots on top.
Another view.
From the street, looking north. Irises, which were in beautiful bloom about a month ago, and the surviving honeysuckle.
The water meter niche in the middle of the roadside planters. This year, a nasturtium volunteered. Pomegranate in the middle, flanked by blueberries.
Looking north along the wall from the water meter niche. Any tower with sufficient room is topped by a Mexican tile. Rosemary flowing through.
The other quarter-circle planter, with the Mineola tree our late son started from a seed. This marks the north end of the street side work.
Looking south along the street side.
The ‘bench’ that connects the two quarter circle planters. Irises in the bed behind.
Standing by the bench looking toward the front door.
And we complete the circle: the front door from the driveway.

For some reason, I also built a brick pizza oven in the middle of doing all this stuff:

Pizza oven, front, with its oak door

Thus ends an era. As soon as we find our new hobby farm/homestead, I’ll start planning the Insane Brick Project of Doooom II: Backyard Boogaloo. I need a bigger pizza oven.

End of Eras

Home stretch, as it were, of emptying our home. 27 years of stuff. Confusing thoughts and feelings about all this. But let’s not wallow in nostalgia! Or, at least, not just wallow in nostalgia…

First, the weather. As all 20 long-time readers may be aware, I’ve used this data set to track local rainfall for the last several years.

top of the page.

Our local flood control district has 32 automated rain gages set up across the county, and put up this web page with near real time automatic updates as shown. Over the past 4 or 5 years, I decided to use these numbers to get a more general idea of local rainfall, rather than just using the one local gage for Concord, CA, that seems to provide the go-to numbers for the press.

As discussed in previous posts, these numbers are both beautiful and flawed. Beautiful, in that they provide a real-world snapshot of rainfall over a couple of hundred square miles updated every 15 minutes. But, as a note on the page says:

The District does not warranty, guarantee, or certify the accuracy of the rainfall data. The data accuracy and availability can be compromised due to equipment failure, power loss, equipment defects, loss of calibration, or internet/radio communication equipment failure of equipment provided by others.

This disclaimer is on top of the inaccuracy built into the round numbers used as average annual rainfall totals per gage. Since accurate annual averages are of little use to the Flood Control District, it’s obvious they just took a guess and stuck with it. So, for example, the Ygnacio Valley Fire, Concord, station has an annual average of 17.00 inches. Exactly. They have been tracking rainfall at this station for 43 years; the annual average has not changed over the 5 or so years I have been watching it. And so on, for most of the gages.

Since the annual per gage averages are numbers I use in my fancy-pants spreadsheet to estimate total rainfall as a percentage of average, all my numbers have at least this built-in error. I also watch (this is all for my own weird obsessive amusement) how many stations hit or exceed their annual averages, and by how much. Thus, this year so far, as of this morning – and it happens to be raining at the moment, so this will change – 21 out of 32 stations have gotten at least 80% of their annual averages, while 16 have hit 90%, 7 reached 100% and 1 has even exceeded 125%.

This is where it gets stupid. Or stupider. The Mount Diablo Peak station has, in every year I’ve tracked it, had both the highest rainfall and the greatest amount and percentage over average. This year, it shows over 130% of annual average. There are several other stations that have, in terms of percentage of annual average, consistently run way ahead of the other stations. On the other hand, the Kregor Peak, Clayton, station shows under 50% of its annual average this year – and it is maybe a couple miles, and visible from, the Mount Diablo Peak station. And a number of other stations similarly have fallen ‘behind’ the overall averages each year I’ve watched them.

Such consistent inconsistencies call my whole project into doubt. I don’t blame the Flood Control District in the slightest – all they want to know is how much rain is falling how fast and where, so that they can warn people that the creek’s gonna rise. My whole project makes little sense in that context; the ‘errors’ I’m spotting, that throw my numbers into chaos, simply don’t matter much if at all to the Flood Control District.

Nail in the coffin: this year, 5 or 6 of the stations have failed more often than not to report any usable numbers. Either blank cells, or data that fails the sniff test. That Ygnacio Valley Fire, Concord, station mentioned above happens to be the one physically closest to our home. Today, it shows no rainfall at all for the last several days, while 4″ deep puddles have been forming on our patio. So, not believable.

In order to use the data in my fancy-pants spreadsheet, I have to clean it up by removing stations with bad data. Since not all stations are created equal – annual average rainfall varies from 11″ to 33.50″, in addition to the inconsistencies mentioned above – it matters which stations one removes. Removing any stations because you don’t like the data is bad science. I think we’ve reached a point where even I can’t convince myself my analysis proves anything.

That said, we’ve reached 92% of annual average rainfall! Woohoo!

Next, we had to tell our 94 year old neighbor of 27 years that we’re moving out. This old gentleman has watched our kids grow up, and has put up with our dumb former dog, and just been a great all-around neighbor. He’s the kind of guy who will keep an eye on the whole neighborhood in a friendly way, and even go have a talk with any neighbor who is maybe not being quite neighborly enough. Best neighbor we’ve ever had.

He was pretty emotional, as were we. In the last few years, his dearly beloved wife died, he had a fall and broke bones, and finally, after decades where he seemed to have hit about 60 and just stayed there, he is finally showing his age. He’s almost house-ridden these days, with trips to the doctor and daily walks with caregivers his only outside activates. This, for a man who was forever puttering in the garden and driving himself to church and so on. Please remember him in your prayers.

Next, had my pianos moved yesterday. The upright from the 1890s is sitting in storage; I bit the bullet and had my 1927 Steinway sent in for restringing. Too expensive! But now seemed the time. So, for the rest of my life, at least, there will be a truly fine piano to play in my home.

Finally, this same neighbor has 4 sons but no daughters. He fell hard for our younger daughter, who was born while we lived here. He got to see her grow up from infancy. She became, I think, the daughter he never had. Plus, she’s a cutie and the sweetest kid, and was always kind to him. Well, this daughter of ours, married just short of 4 months, is now expecting her first child. Due in November. Very hard to get my head around.

The gravitational shift of having one granddaughter living 60 miles away was huge; adding a second grandchild makes it totally irresistible. When we move, we plan to be much nearer to both.

House is almost empty; the Insane Brick Project is about 50 bricks from completion; the house will look and be in better shape than it ever was while we lived here; POD in the front drive being loaded up; a storage unit packed to the roof. While a Friday departure date seems to have been a little optimistic, we should be gone gone by Monday. 30+ years in the area, 27 in the same parish. All over.

A Moving Experience

Move out day is now set: April 22. Therefore, we have exactly 2 weeks to finish getting a 2900 sq’ house, 6 bedroom house we’ve lived in for for 27 years packed up and moved out.

“OK. This is it.”

Resources include me, an overweight 64 year old man who used to be a moving commando, of the ‘just grab the couch, pick it up, take it down the stairs, and put it in the microbus’ type. Not so, anymore, but I’m still somewhat useful. My poor, longsuffering wife and our 18 year old son complete the core; our daughters and their husbands, and some friends and volunteers drop by when they can.

We’re doing well. The occasional time capsule, especially where it concerns our late son, can slow things down. Wednesday, we took his old chest of drawers and put it into storage. It was still full of his clothes. Neither my wife nor I was up to going through it when he died, and so there it is. Probably be there when we die.

Put 4 guitars, two amps, a drum kit, and some mic stands into storage. The reality is that I’ll pick up an old nylon string sitting on a stand in the living room put there for just such occasions and pick out some chords once in a while, and that’s it – the semi-hollow body, the old Strat knock-off, and a cheap steel string just haven’t got much use over the last decade or so.

This one. Bought used for $135 in 1986. Not much of a guitar, but I’ve gotten my money’s worth.

Now for the pianos: my 1920s Steinway M, my baby, is going into storage soon; I also have a nice old huge heavy upright from around 1900 I had fixed up 25 years ago. It’s a good piano, my daughter wants to put it in her apartment. Then there’s the old Rhodes Suitcase I bough new in 1977. Still got it. Sounds good, looks terrible, and is just a freaking boat anchor. 1977 me, a strapping 19 year old, could just pick it up one section at a time, and just move it. Those days are long gone. I’ll throw it up on Craigslist, hope somebody wants it. My vintage 2000 Alesis synth was trying to die over a decade ago – cutting out, navigation lights dead – so it’s going into recycling.

I have a lot more musical toys to deal with. About 50 year’s worth. Anybody want a cassette 4-track recorder? Still works, last I checked, about 20 years ago…

Further update as events warrant.

Wait! Finished the largest remaining part of the Soon-to-be-ended Endless Brick Project:

Still need to put the dirt back in; came out OK.
From the street. Not my best work, but OK.

And the fruit trees are setting fruit, the irises are blooming:

Quick Update: Fixin’ to Move, Music, etc.

1.Still crazy busy. The realtor says: you want anything the prospective home buyer is likely to touch to work. Seems reasonable. Trying to fix everything that a prospective home buyer is likely to lay hands on is proving expensive and time consuming – go figure. We’ve lived, sometimes for more than a decade, with:

  • doors with glitchy nobs, like there is a trick to getting them to open and close;
  • a downstairs shower that is broken – have been stashing the cat food, kitty litter and back-up TP in it for so long, we’d almost forgotten it was there. Do have two working showers, but
  • other showers have tricky ‘features’ as well, like one which drips if you turn it ALL the way off, but doesn’t if you turn it ALMOST all the way off, and another which has lost the relationship between the ‘H’ and ‘C’ settings and the actual water temperature.
  • broken light fixtures

And so on. And. of course, a plethora of broken stuff, including

  • cracked windows
  • broken cabinet doors
  • ratty blinds
  • wobbly banisters
  • warped baseboards

And on and on. PLUS – the Endless Brick Project of Doom. On which I’ve made huge progress with the help of my youngest son, younger daughter and her husband. Pics to follow soon. I even added a project, because of course I did:

There was no step by the south side door. So I built one – out of bricks.
Came out OK.
Had some Mexican tiles lying around, so I sort of decided I stick ’em places. Looks kind of cute.

None of this repair/replace/finish work compares in magnitude to the sort/clean/pack work. Can’t even think about it. That’s coming up soon.

2. Turned 64 on St. Joseph’s Day. Threw myself a pizza party, invited some friends and our younger daughter’s in-laws. Big family, in both senses – a good sized batch of kids, and dad’s a about 6’5″ and built like the former college offensive lineman he is; a couple of his teenage sons tower over 6’2″ me. Nice folks, we had a blast. Our youngest son took over the pizza making duties so I could socialize more, and did a great job. Torch-passing ahoy!

64 seems old in a way 63 or even 60 did not. This, despite my being in better physical shape this year than the last several. Lost 35 lbs so far; got another 65-70 to go. I’m feeling the obligation to get healthy and stay alive to help my kids and grandkids in any way possible. Granddaughter #1 is a little over 4 months old, and a real sweetheart. I expect more will be on the way, given our kids love of kids.

3. Realistically, if I can get into shape and lose the weight, I might have another 10 years of more demanding physical projects in me. This is good, as we hope to buy a ‘hobby farm,’ which sounds like a LOT of back-breaking work, if one is to make it work as one hopes. Big garden, big orchard, some chickens, maybe a pig. Youngest daughter wants a milk cow – fine, if she takes care of it. I want a hobbit-hole style root cellar, with a walk-in fridge and freezer space in the back. Because I’m insane, why do you ask? Then get some solar power to make sure it stays cold….

Then, God willing, I might have as much as another 10 years to work on less strenuous hobbies. My mom and dad made it to 87 and 88, respectively; my mom had her complete mental faculties to the day she died. Dad, not so much. So, best case, music and writing can continue for another 20 years.

The take-away: do it now. Don’t stop. Push. Get it done. And thank the Lord for every single day.

4. On the writing front, I’ve begun to pack all my education and history references up into boxes to be moved to our next abode, almost certainly a rental. No plans to do any writing until we get at least a little settled.

Musically, however, I’ve been greatly inspired by the almost 40 year old music I dug up while packing. It’s both inspiring and depressing – I think I have some real talent which, instead of being developed over the last 4 decades, has moldered. So, now, as an old man, I’m trying to rekindle the fire. All I really want is to give it one big try, finish a small set of compositions, and send them off to some real musicians for feedback and – a guy has got to dream – perhaps performance. It either works or it doesn’t, but I owe it to myself to give it a shot.

So, I’ve been working on some pieces, usually in the morning after breakfast before I get going on home projects, and in the evening after I’ve cleaned up the day’s work. So far,so good. We’ll see.

Further bulletins as events warrant. Both Severain and Briggs have been on fire lately, but I have little time to comment. And I still want to comment on the comments made here lo, these weeks ago now. Maybe after the move?

Update to the Update: Dredging up Memories

On a positive note, at Mass today were more people than even OCD I could unobtrusively count, so don’t have numbers, but it looked like over half were unmasked. Progress, of a sort, but we can’t let this fraud and tragedy simply vanish as if it never happened. People MUST face the facts: the news is now 24/7 war in Ukraine (even though 6 other equally tragic and atrocity-filled wars are going on elsewhere at this moment- ever hear about them? Why not, do you suppose?) just as the news media, especially outside the US, is starting to acknowledge the tragedy and farce that was the COVID response. Masks? Never worked. “Vaccines?” Not so safe and effective. Deaths? Overcounted. And so on.

Overall, the obvious is coming out: the lockdowns, masks, panic, “vaccines”, and all the terror and disruption and destruction they inflicted did nothing to stop COVID, but caused irreparable physical, psychological, and political harm.

Nuremberg trials, or bust. We must not forget, and forgive only once people are in jail or dangling.

Sigh.

Next, as mentioned, in amongst a set of old papers were some compositions I’d started back when I was 25 and a private composition student of Susan McClain in Santa Fe. I transferred the music to one partial piece into MuseScore, a setting of the liturgical text

Domine, non sum dignus

ut intres sub tectum meum,

sed tantum dic verbo

et sanabitur anima me

In English (literal)

Lord, I am not worthy

that you should enter under my roof

but only say the word

and my soul will be healed (and healed will be this soul of mine)*

I’d only set the middle two phrases. Somewhere, unless I threw them out, are pages and pages of draft settings for the first and last phrases. I really liked the settings of the middle two, but could not come up with anything satisfying for the beginning and end.

After hearing what it sounded like sung on ‘ah’ by MuseScore, found I still liked it, enough to want to finish it. So I got on it.

I imagine this happens in writing or any art: one’s style or taste changes over time. I remember one piece I wrote in college, where it went through 3 or 4 style changes over the course of a 3 minute piece, such that the ending sounded nothing like the beginning – that piece never saw the light of day. It’s not automatic that one can recapture the style from almost 40 years ago. But I’m trying. Lots of fun, really want to finish this.

On a less fun note, we are now having to deal with stuff and memories packed away almost 10 year’s ago: our late son’s things. We didn’t have it in us to do anything more than pack it away at the time, but now we’re needing to at least put it into storage.

Yesterday, we moved out a bookcase he had made. He was maybe 18? 19? when he made it, with little help from me. He was our oldest, I had no other experience at the time working with my own children. I knew it was good – at least as good as the ones I make – but didn’t realize how amazing it is for a kid with very little woodworking experience to crank out something that nice first try. Very simple design, but the fit and finish are excellent. He went with a dark stain, and sanded between numerous coats, so it was very smooth and even.

No pictures, didn’t think of it. When we move his desk he made just before the bookcase, I’ll try to remember. Kid was a genius and a saint, with a craftsman’s soul. I miss him.

Anyway, bound to run across many other bits that trigger memorie3s. 27 years in the house, with 5 kids raised here.

Our youngest and I and hoping to finish at least the walls on the last planter today. there are also 4 little towers and a sort of connecting wall to be done, don’t know that we’ll get to them today.

I got to get out of this place. But it’s not like all the memories are bad.

* Doing a lot of word painting, so the words in the order they occur matter.

Update, Hurry Up, Already! Edition

1.The Move prep continues. Got the house painted – came out nice – got the range replaced, got the plumbing and electrical work started. Aaaaand – made significant progress on the Insane Eternal Brick Project:

Last section of planter/wall/fence. My youngest daughter and her new husband, and our youngest son did a lot of the work.
Old metal window bars repurposed as a gate
Where said gate will hang, separating the garden/orchard from the from walk.

Not to mention the 6 or so vanloads of stuff put into storage, and the hours spent looking for a rental an hour and a half drive away – the interwebs are both a blessing and a curse, as I’m sure I’m the first to notice.

2. Some Covidiocy progress: at mass this morning, I, OCD as I seem to be, counted 42 people in attendance. Hard to see all faces, but at least 18 were unmasked. So we’re around 40% saner people, but still have 60% cowering, obedient rabbits. This is down from at least 90% rabbits a mere 2 weeks ago.

Problem is, all these people are still almost certainly convinced that some terrible plague has torn through our country and they just were lucky enough not to die, and now can maybe, maybe, dispense with the mask sometimes.

Unless we can prevent the mass memory-holing of COVID and the duplicity of our ‘leader’ and their lapdog press, the scam worked. Nuremburg trials, or bust!

Cockroach Motels

Still super-busy. On the plus side, feeling really good for the first time since the flu/coof/whatever it was back in January; if I’m honest, really for the first time in years. On the down side, I’ve got years’ worth of deferred work I need to get done, most especially home stuff to get the place ready to sell.

My brand new son-in-law and our daughter, married all of 6 weeks, came down to help out, and did about 90% of the work building this brick wall, part of the last Insane Everlasting Brick Project I’ve been working on for, what, 7 years now? Here’s it is, about 40-50% done:

That’s the full height of bricks; the lattice goes on top, with little brick towers in the gaps holding it up. It should be cute. Over the last couple years, a couple hours of brickwork, and I needed a full day to recover; now, one night seems to be enough to get over sore muscles, back, and knees. Trying to both get this done and not end up laid up.

The title above refers to what I was thinking earlier when looking online for houses to rent – there will be a gap between selling this house and buying the next, and we’d like to be close enough to where we plan to end up so that we can just drive over to look at property.

These modern subdivisions are cockroach motels. Big wood frame boxes that fill the lot, no yards to speak off. It looks like you could put you hand on the side of one house and touch your neighbor’s house. Sure, Brooklyn and Queens look like this, but land is scarce and populations high there. These are places in the Central Valley, more or less, where, setting aside the morality of turning prime farmland into suburbs, there is plenty of space. But the homes, at least those built in the last 20-30 years, are packed together with no outside space at all.

Is this part of the project? I would think – perhaps I am delusional – that many – most? – people like a little outside room. We Californians in particular live outside. The house we have now, built in the 1950s, is on an 1/6th of an acre lot – they put 2 or 3 houses on a lot that size today.

Instead of providing a small taste of space, of ownership of land, all you get now for your new home purchase dollars is a place to sleep and, maybe, park your car. To go outside means to share public space – nothing wrong with sharing, but also nothing wrong with having a little piece of land to call your own.

One part of the project, the takeover, the reduction of people to cattle to be managed, has long been the glorification of city people over country people. Many years ago, it became clear to me that this ‘country bumpkin’ crap was totally opposite the truth. In reality, a farmer was a small businessman, land owner, his own repair man and builder. While he cooperated with his neighbors and helped out and was helped out as needed, he worked for himself. Compare to the typical city dweller, who works for somebody else, lives in a box, and is dependent on a society that can completely do without him! The idea that such a life provides any particular wisdom superior to what the farmer must have to survive is – self-serving.

City slickers are trained from the cradle to hold rural populations in contempt. That farmer – a vanishing breed, I know, but there are still some – must be stupid, as he often believes and thinks differently than we city folks. He can be counted on to vote for the wrong people! He believes primitive things we city folks have long since abandoned!

Even back in the 50s, when our current house was built, many people seem to have viewed their suburban house as a surrogate farm of sorts. Outside, from lawns to gardens to a place to plant a tree, was theirs. Now? How can anyone consider the 6′ space between your house and the next, and the concrete slab that makes up the bulk of your back yard, as their land?

It seems we’re being herded by our cockroach overlords into cockroach motels, to be reduced even further into more manageable sheep. Put it this way: men will fight and die for their farms – concrete, real, farms that they, themselves, have worked. The kind of homeowner like me, who has put in thousands of hours making this place nice, might fight for it, too. Would anybody fight and die for 2300 Morning Glory Way, a project of MegaHomeBuilder Corp? Is it home, or just a nice place to sleep and store your stuff? What does this do to a man’s sense of self?

Years ago, read a sci-fi story where a high-end investment exec moved his family from place to place as needed, always to a development where all the rooms were laid exactly the same – no need to wonder where to put stuff or who gets what bedroom. Completely fungible ‘homes’. No roots went down, no feelings of loyalty to place ever grew. Is this the goal? Rootless people cocksure of their superiority? Threatened by any whose live highlight their slavery? Easily and eagerly managed?

I got to get out of here.

Year-End Update (a little early)

A. First of all, gratitude to all the readers of this blog. Not sure why the beloved 100 readers (on a very good day) come back for more, but thanks. Just know that you’re only encouraging me.

The writing here has come out even more unfocused than my original intent, which was pretty broad. “Culture. Religion. Politics. Science. Philosophy.  Music. Art.” was the original charter 11 years ago. We do do that here, but also a lot of Home Improvement Projects and blithering about the books I intend to write. Which brings us to:

B: The ‘I should write a book about that’ books I’ve worked on here on the blog, ones where I might be qualified to have an opinion, are:

  • A book on the origins of the Catholic schools here in America, and how they have arrived at their current sorry (with very few exceptions) state
  • A more general book about the origins of schooling in America, circa roughly 1700 – 1940. An expose of the clowns and poseurs involved, and the paper-thin fantasy world that constitutes the foundation of all modern ‘scientific’ education.
  • The How to Think About Science book.

Starting with the last one first: as the Crazy Years progress, it’s painfully clear that ignorance of how science works is so far downstream from the real problems as to be all but irrelevant. The best case scenario, where someone reads my book, reexamines his world view, and changes how he thinks about things – sigh. Not happening in the real world.

And it’s not even the rejection of logic, which you have to have at least some grasp of in order to begin to understand how science works. Underlying both logic and the science is the notion that the world makes sense. That the world IS. Our well-schooled contemporaries specifically reject the very idea of shared objective reality in favor of a world willed into being by their own narcissistic selves. That any such world is definitionally inconsistent, and conflicts necessarily with anyone else’s similarly constructed world is not a problem for the dedicated narcissist. That they hold both to the sacredness of people’s self-constructed reality AND bow and scrap before the altar of social and political conformity isn’t a problem – they never expected the world to make sense. It’s Will all the way down.

When my teeth are set on edge by patently anti-science claims of ‘settled science’ and ‘scientific consensus’ or people doing as they are told claiming they are ‘following the science’ which they haven’t read and wouldn’t understand if they did, I imagined the problem was the general lack of scientific literacy, and thought I might be able to help a little by writing a book about basic science.

Silly me.

Therefore, I’ve reconsidered the point of this proposed book, why I would write it and who it is for. I’m reading Kreeft’s Socratic Logic now, and perhaps will write this book as a sort of follow-on with a focus on the specific application of Aristotelian logic used by modern science, insofar as it has any legitimate claim to our acceptance of its conclusions.

So, basically, a high-school level book. (Kreeft’s book is also supposed to be a high school level book, but it’s pretty tough. He, an expert, isn’t leaving much out, and there’s just a lot of logic that’s not obvious or simple. Good, but tough.)

Time frame: Once we’re moved and settled.

The other two books I get bugged by my kids to complete. They’ve heard some of the points I make about schooling from the cradle, and have found them to be true in the world. They’d like there to be a book (or two) summarizing these things. These works have been in the works for years now. It is time.

Time frame: Once we’re moved and settled. I’ve recommenced reading source materials. as evidenced by the last post.

#magnus pyke from Old School Science Fiction

C. Then there are the fun books I’m supposedly writing. Well, I set a goal for this past June for the first of several speculative fiction books I hope to write, and got thousands and thousands of words into them…

But I didn’t finish. May 2021 was when the insanity finally began to get me down. It started taking work to just get on with it, whatever ‘it’ happened to be at the moment. As it became clear I wasn’t going to get any of the spec fic done by June, I got distracted by a musical composition. Why? I have no idea. Writing music and writing stories really are very similar: you get an idea, you pound it into some sort of shape, you write the next part and the next part and so on, sometimes skipping ahead to more fun/clearer ideas, and then backtracking to write the connecting scenes. Then read it out loud/play or sing it, rewrite as needed, then get other people to read/listen, and take their feedback…

And I’ve gotten maybe 5 minutes of a 6-part Gloria written, with a minute or so more to write, plus outlines/sections for a Kyrie and Agnus, and a idea or two for the Sanctus. Haven’t even thought about a Credo yet.

Why I found it possible to write music and not possible to write fiction is anybody’s guess.

Time frame: I’ll keep working on the Mass while we pack up and prep the house; the books I’ll take up again once we’re moved and settled.

D. We gotta get out of this place. We had the house tented a month ago; getting quotes for painters. Spoke with the Pods people, looking to start loading out in January.

Yesterday, picked up 10 bags of ready mix; today used 8 of them to put in what I intend to be the last segment of the vast, endless front yard home improvement brick project. Scaled it well down from the original plans – no grotto, less fancy brickwork. Sigh. Need it simply not to look ugly and unfinished. So, simple wall topped by some redwood lattice.

Aaaaand – a million other things need to be done. Not to mention the final pack what’s left up and get out of Dodge push in a couple months. Then finding a new place to live….

E. In a somewhat round-about way, I’m looking for a job, specifically, seeing if a new Chesterton Academy that is to open near where I’d like to live might hire me to corrupt the minds of our youth, after the fashion of Socrates and Aristotle. And quote a lot of Chesterton. It would be nice to teach, and have a little income.

F. All in all, I’m very grateful, and have gotten past letting myself get too down about the current insanity. For the most part. I used to pray in thanksgiving for getting to live in a land of plenty in a time of peace. Now? I pray that God will remember His promise of mercy, and, for the sake of His Name, for the sake of the Blood shed by His Son, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, He will not judge us as our sins deserve, but rather forgive us yet again. That He will send Mary, who crushes the head of the serpent, Joseph, the terror of demons, and Michael the Archangel to lead the heavenly host down to cast Satan and his minion out of our lives, our nation, and our world, bind them and cast them back into Hell where they belong. Then, that He may grant us the strength to endure whatever we must and the grace to die to ourselves and live only for His Will.

Otherwise, who can stand?

Have a happy and holy Thanksgiving!

Update to the Update: Moving Plans, etc.

A. Thanks for all the kind thoughts about our upcoming move. We’re not planning on being out of the house before March, 2022 – our youngest needs to get his Eagle Scout stuff done, and I agreed to teach another year of history/literature. The meeting with the realtor was just to help me establish priorities and a to do list. First order of business: get the house tented for termites (minimal damage, but they’re here) – and that’s not until mid-October. Then, exterior paint, some tree trimming, lots of relatively minor repairs, etc. By end of March, we hope to be out of here. Probably rent a house near Sacramento, to get to know the area. Or, if the insanity escalates, go check out Iowa/Midwest.

We’ve got +/- 6 months to pack up the house. Sigh.

B. Have tons to do to prep for classes starting Tuesday, so of course I did a quick but utterly unnecessary woodworking project instead. Behold! A charcuterie board!

I readily admit I had no idea what charcuterie was maybe 2 years ago. But – it’s good!
Made from walnut form the tree we cut down in our front yard maybe 8 years ago. Chose heavily figured pieces. The wood is too warped to make big things out of, but one can wrestle it into small projects like this.

Walnut is not usually used for food tools – cutting boards, rolling pins, that sort of thing – because the grain is too open. But I figure, one, we’ll call it a board, not a cutting board, to reduce the usage and wear, and, two, I don’t care. Still needs last coat of butcher block oil and good buffing. Looks pretty good now.

C. The writing projects ground to a halt this past month and a half. Sigh. BUT! Hope springs eternal! I again find myself thinking about them – the SciFi work and the Science Essentials book – when doing other things. So:

Rather than just being me venting on our rampant scientific illiteracy, I think I’ll rework the science book into something more like Essentials of Science, and aim it at high school and college age people. Tone it down, introduce a bunch of history, focus on the basics that apply to all sciences worthy of our respect. Then maybe pitch it to the homeschooling/ catholic schooling crowd.

The other book just needs work. Have to ram it through.

But, hey, my life is shaping up to be: teach class, pack up the house, get items off the punchlist, read every day, and – write. I’ll need the change of pace. We’ll see how it goes.

D. Weirdly, out of nowhere, I started writing an a capella mass in Latin about 6 weeks ago. When I was in my 20s, I wanted to be a composer. What I liked to compose was a capella pieces, the market for which is small, to say the least. By my late 20s, I also wanted to get married and raise a family, so I consciously set the music aside. Now, after a nearly 40 year gap, I find myself, sitting at the piano pencil in hand, writing out 6-part vocal works in a dead language.

About 2/3rds of the way through the Agnus, maybe half way through the Gloria. My style (I laugh to myself) is basically a poor man’s John Williams meets a homeless man’s Faure, and has an ugly child. This is a pretty intensely inside joke: Williams loves mediant and sub-mediant modulations and horn-call like melodies, and Faure loves odd modes and half-step changes, and intense dissonances within his voice leading. I love all those things, too! I just don’t have anything near the training and talent of either of those guys. To put it very mildly.

Trying to live well, stay sane, and enjoy life. It’s the only way out.

Movin’ On Out – Update

More Classic SciFi Book Reviews to follow soon, as I am retreating into comfort reading as I deal poorly with the stress of living in insane times. But for now:

Met with a realtor today. Walking around the property, it finally became real that we’ll be moving out. Going through rooms and talking over features and issues, I relived some of the 25 years we’ve lived here, and the childhoods of the 5 children we’ve raised here.

Not as bad as it looks – the roof is the only thing really sad, but that’s enough to condemn it.

I found myself getting quieter and more introspective as the tour went on. I’m going to tear down the three story playhouse above that my two younger sons and I built – it’s not in too good a shape, and it would be simpler to destroy than to repair. The trampoline stays, I guess, since the realtor thinks the dedicated trampoline spot would look funny without it. The pizza oven is a feature, I hope. Need to make the front garden look less unfinished, but I don’t think I can bring myself to finish it as originally planned.

Had this for about 20 years. Kids used to sleep on it with their friends. Is it the same trampoline if I’ve replaced the springs once, the bed twice and the netting three times?

We’ll take cuttings from the little fig tree that has become such a delight to us – delicious figs, and the tree is so peaceful. We must see if we can take grafts from the citrus tree grown from a seed by out late son Andrew, that now sits planted in the front orchard. Have to research how to do this. The dead-looking tree below is actually very alive – another Andrew project, he found a buckeye out walking and asked what it was and what would happen if he planted it. It’s been in pots and now a half wine barrel ever since. We must figure out how to take it with us, and then plant it wherever we end up. It loses its leaves very early every year – it wants to be in the ground!

The native chestnut tree, grown from a buckeye Andrew found. This thing is like 20+ years old!
This Mineola tree is likewise 20+ years old, Started in a plastic cup, IIRC, then moved to a succession of larger pots, until we finally stuck it in the ground 5 years ago. Just trimmed it severely yesterday – it has long aspired to be 30′ tall; I insist on about 8′.
My beloved bought this dwarf fig from a neighbor, it lived in a half wine barrel for many years, likewise planted it 5 years ago. It’s been yielding 20-30 nice figs a day for weeks now.

25 years. A lot of water under this bridge. We never planned to live here this long, it was supposed to be our starter home. But that’s how it worked out.