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Dancing in the Sky

March 16th, 2009

It was so warm out this weekend that it felt like the middle of spring.  We’re not there yet of course, after seeing the low 20’s last week.  Many trees and shrubs have begun to leaf out, and hopefully everything hangs in there as winter gives way and the days grow longer.  Will we have another hard freeze?  I hope not… with luck we may actually have a little fruit from our small orchard this year.

Meanwhile I’ve enjoyed watching some of our avian friends returning, including several juvenile Red-tailed Hawks.  

red-tailed-hawks

I remember writing two years ago that I worked with raptors quite a few years back.  I worked alone as a biological research technician in a southern swamp for a few splendid seasons… big words for someone who ran through fields and forests gathering data. 

It was a great job, with some key prerequsites, like being okay wading through waist deep water with snakes drooping from branches above looking down at you.  For me it was an amazing experience though- I saw the natural world first hand and thought about what I wanted to do with my life.  It was quiet yet engaging work, and afforded time to watch the unfolding rhythms of nature as the seasons changed. 

In this case my charter was to follow a nesting pair of hawks around most of the day for three overlapping seasons.  Using radio tracking equipment I could tell when they were flying or sitting, and then go find them to observe what they were doing.  Sometimes I would climb trees adjacent to their nest and watch them feed other critters to their young fledglings, witnessing the stark realities of nature each day.  I remember seeing otters in the wild for the first time in my life.  While abundant in Missouri now, they were rarely seen in those days. 

One time I was canoeing down a swampy canal in the middle of the bottomland forest, peacefully watching those snakes glide off branches into the water.  And then while feeling totally relaxed, a loud “Smack-splash!!!” from a beaver’s tail and I nearly jumped out of the canoe.  The beaver non-chalantly climbed up on the bank and sat there licking it’s fur and watching me glide by.  How I wish I had taken a camera along on so many of those days.

On another warm, early spring afternoon in that watery place I watched in amazement as a pair of bald eagles performed incredible aerial maneuvers in preparation for the mating season.  It was like nothing I had seen before- I was enthralled, watching them zooming, climbing and diving towards each other with talons extended, and then doing quick snap-rolls as they passed while their talons touched briefly.  

I had dreamed for years as a youngster of learning to fly, and not just anywhere… watching the eagles was incredible and at the time seemed like a vision or a sign to pursue those dreams.  Through a series of fortunate events, I then met someone and took a job as a graduate assistant at the University of Missouri, studying and teaching biology.   There I was, barely out of college, teaching science labs to over a hundred undergraduates.   That was a wonderful, humbling experience in itself, and as lifetimes go I ended up meeting someone else and fumbling furiously towards my dreams to fly. 

I ended up spending the next 20 years traveling around world, flying off aircraft carriers for much of it, and seeing places and things I would never have believed.  I haven’t written or talked about it much because it was a different chapter of my life.  In some ways it’s almost like a movie that I saw long ago, and wonder about at times.  Parts of it are difficult to share, and others better left unsaid.  I enjoyed most of it, especially the sights and sounds of lives and places I didn’t really understand.   It fulfilled a desire for service and I loved the flying immensely- in many ways it was hard to let go.  Flight became an extension of an earthly life- literally to see new horizons in a given day.  Much more, but with that said I think I’ve been looking for a way to share some thoughts about those days or places, and maybe where I’ve held back at times.  I’m not really sure yet.   But when I might write about something far away, you’ll have some idea of how I got there.   Now we’re here, on a new journey for the past few years and it’s a chance to explore a whole new set of dreams.

I was thinking of that day long ago watching the eagles when I saw a pair of Red-tailed Hawks last week.  They perform similar flight maneuvers and I watched as a juvenile pair circled high above the pond calling to each other.    Here’s a fuzzy picture of one several hundred yards in the air as it dropped towards another hawk. 

red-tailed-hawk-behavior

They too extended talons and flew at each other, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic as that day with the eagles long ago.  Still it is something to watch and I can only wonder why they seem to love dancing in the sky?  Are they showing what good hunters they are with legs and talons thrust out aggressively, kind of “showing their stuff”  to their possible mate?  

Their flying antics continued for about five minutes, with shrieks and cries, and then all at once they separated and headed back over the woodlands towards their nesting site.   One of them dipped quickly toward the treetops, wings tucked and whispering quietly as it flew past me just a few meters away. 

red-tailed-hawk-juvenile

Birds, and raptors especially, have always been part of my life.  I’ve watched and studied them since my school days and there’s a connection with flight that I’ve felt closely through the years.   I loved the change that flying provided too- a physical change of perspective as well as a mental shift.  You can be sitting on the ground, shrouded in fog and drizzling rain… and a minute or two later you burst forth through clouds into a shimmering sky,  with sunlit mountains of white all around. 

Isn’t life often the same?   Stretches of rain and gray at times, and then days filled with light and promise where we embrace our surroundings, finding it a sheer joy to be alive.   We’ve all lived lived through such challenges and bright days.  And I believe we have a great deal of choice regarding whether it’s the gray skies or the sunlight we see the most.  It’s neither the weather or our eyes that really tell us so.

Journeys Through Life

March 2nd, 2009

Time to catch up after a busy weekend- and it has been a cold few days!  The signs of spring continue to surprise me… this morning a red-winged blackbird had joined the gathering of birds at the feeder, returning to its summer breeding site near the pond after a winter somewhere else.  Technically they are listed as year-round residents in our region, but all I know is that by October-November they are gone, and don’t return until March.  I wonder where the blackbird has been and how far the journey was.  It could be just down the street for all I know, but I suspect the southern wetlands of Missouri and Arkansas provide more comfortable winter accomodations. 

The chores are piling up and now it seems spring is coming almost too fast.  Ornamental grasses sure are beautiful to look at but not much fun to cut back!  I need to come up with a better approach- I straddled this big clump between my legs and used a little chainsaw to cut through the heavy stalks.  

Cutting ornamental grasses

We’re almost out of wood completely after such a cold winter.  But that’s a good thing- I don’t like to keep old wood around because it attracts too many critters that live in or around woodpiles.   The next few months will be time to remove several dead trees on the property and to begin the wood-cutting cycle once again.  Of course we’re still thinking about what to put in the garden, and that’s kind of exciting.  If we were really on the ball we’d be planting starts from seeds… haven’t done that very successfully before.  Do you buy starts or seeds each year?  Somehow I like wandering around the garden center looking at little plants, but maybe we’ll try to plant some seeds this week indoors too.

*****

Over the weekend we had our annual cub scout birthday banquet and ceremony for the kids- they received their advancement badges and other awards, and performed some really cute skits.  Makes for a long day, but seeing the excitement and pride in their eyes is so worth it.  We did have one young scout drop out last week and I was disappointed.  He was new and only made a few meetings.  He didn’t really spend enough time participating to have a rounded view of the activities we do, most of which involve character development and learning practical things.   We also play games and have craft projects, and the kids usually love it. 

His mom wrote me an email and said he just wasn’t comfortable and she was disappointed too.   As the den leader, that gave me a little pause for reflection on how to work with the kids in a more constructive or well-rounded fashion.  We started off with about 6 kids last year and now have 10 scouts participating.  I understand people are different, but I wish I knew what I could have done to help him enjoy the experience more.

I also find myself thinking about how we close off opportunities in our lives for one reason or another.  Looking back I’m sure I did that at times when younger, and probably still do it without realizing it.  We put so much “in the moment” especially where emotions are concerned, and if not careful our perceptions are colored in ways that really may not be accurate. 

What if you never knew that green or fall-colored leaves existed? 

Reflections on Fox Haven pond

When we make decisions based on those short-term perceptions or emotions, we may be doing so without seeing what’s really going on.  Sure that could be a good thing at times, keeping us out of trouble or on the right path as we trust ourselves and our intuition.   But are we semi-rational creatures subject to changes in our emotions that affect our experience each day?  Or are we emotional beings that use intelligence and rational thought to help navigate through life?  Depends upon the person perhaps, but certainly a little of both. 

More often I think we miss embracing the fullness of life, especially when we are personally or physically challenged, and we have that little voice inside that knows we’d like to do something, yet we keep making excuses… but, except, I can’t, if only, I wish, I don’t know how, maybe…  and we hold ourselves back.  

I was fortunate as a youngster to have a wonderful family that supported many opportunties to explore and grow.  I also had many incredible experiences and met other people who challenged me in ways that proved very helpful.  At some point in my life I realized there were few absolutes or real answers, and that Emerson had it right when he said that, “Nothing at all will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be removed…”     

So between the fear, the misgivings and the uncertainty, I began to question and seek what it really was that I wanted in life.  All I knew was that some things make you come alive in thought, vision and experience and we are not on this earth forever.  All I know is we can be active creators of our experience- we can be whatever we want to be in our lives!  And that questioning and exploration has been the seed to every aspect of growth… coupled with a willingness to learn of course.   It’s not a journey that ever really has a destination.  Just when you think, “I’m here! I finally made it…” life will surprise you and present some new challenge or opportunity.

The older I get I find myself both more and less certain about many convictions once held.  I feel humbled by so many things, and thankful for so many more.   I walk outside and breath the cool, fresh air of the morning, and hear the birds sing.  It’s a new day,  and regardless of the challenges that exist I feel such an enormous sense of appreciation.  

Cub Scouts

I watched our son fixing his bowl of cereal this morning, and running around feeding the animals.  Is there a pride greater than that of a parent for a child?  I don’t really know.  He carried the flag through the audience before the cub scout ceremony started this weekend.  It was his first time to do that- and afterwards I asked if he enjoyed it.  He said, “Uhuh…”  and I asked if he was proud of himself, “Uhuh….” and I told him we were proud of him.  I asked what he was thinking about while carrying the flag, and he said, “Umm… like 250 people were watching me!”   I laughed, understanding the feeling.  “But you did it, didn’t you?”  And he smiled.

Searching for Tocqueville

February 20th, 2009

Updated 2020.

And now for something completely different, a little consideration of history and our changing life in America.  A bit of a long read, so take your time.

Do you ever wonder the Why of things?  I do that a lot…

Why?

For example…

Why does our government subsidize and reward poor financial behavior by giving millions of taxpayer dollars to some who can’t afford mortgages, student loans,  or other loans? Or to the banks and companies getting bailouts who propped up those loans?  Okay, we’re all in this together.  My neighbor’s foreclosure affects my financial life too. But if somone takes out a huge student loan, and then is unable or unwilling to pay it back- do they just get a clean slate?    Do we just offer everyone “free stuff” and think we can go on forever?  That “free stuff” comes from somebody else!

Imagine how those people feel who worked tirelessly to pay their mortgages, student loans and other bills- they worked hard, saved, scrimped and struggled to pay what they owed… and yet the the other guy gets a bailout?   Why don’t we offer financial incentives to those who are financially responsible?

Why must some local governments allow unlawful disorder to continue day after day in their communities while vilifying those who would stand up for the citizens who live and work in those communities?

Why do we as a nation allow the morally bankrupt and apparently mentally unhinged to lead the noise that the media constantly parrots as reality?

There’s a lot more out there….

*******

So many questions.   I find myself recently thinking about what might be the evolutionary path for this Great Republic we call America over the next several decades.  Opposing views and ideologies will always be present in in our political discourse, and yet I wonder if there really isn’t a quiet revolution of some nature taking place?

In considering my many questions, I happened upon an older but inciteful essay by Christopher Oleson, titled Tocqueville’s Democratic America and Ours, who begins by examining that very question:

“Aristotle, in the fifth book of his Politics, noted that political revolutions sometimes take place unobserved due to the fact that they occur over a long period of time through slow incremental changes in the constitution of a political community. This happens, he noted, through gradual relaxation of the principles ordering a community such that œeven a small change can be a cause of revolution. For when they give up one of the details of the constitution, afterwards they also make another slightly bigger change more readily, until they alter the whole system. Thus, in the end, there comes into being a noticeably different political order without any outward subversion of the official system of government.”

He continues to describe and contrast viewpoints written by Alexis de Tocqueville from Democracy in America.

“Rereading Tocqueville’s magisterial account of the American democratic experiment recalled this [Aristotle’s] passage to me, for after having put down Democracy in America, I could not quite shake the feeling that something like what Aristotle was describing must have taken place with respect to our own political institutions.

Maybe this does not seem very engaging, or too irrelevant to consider in some way.  But I would submit that indeed this is exactly the question we should be asking ourselves right now, especially considering our individual political views and ideologies.   The heart of my own yearning for understanding involves precisely what Mr. Oleson has centered upon: The consquence and long-term ramifications of the evolution away from local, or small government, and the migration to a larger national or central government.  Oleson continues by describing what Tocqueville cited as crucial:

“Tocqueville’s America looked somewhat different, and this difference, he argued, was a crucial bulwark of American liberty. I am referring to the importance of the reality of local government if the people are to be authentically free and self-governing. Tocqueville referred to local government as œthat fertile germ of free institutions. The strength of free peoples, he wrote, œresides in the local community. Local institutions are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they put it within the people™s reach; they teach people to appreciate its peaceful enjoyment and accustom them to make use of it.

As Oleson further describes the local experience of freedom, I find myself very much wondering how America today has moved so far, so fast, from the roots of our liberty:

“In other words, the experience of local and participatory self-government, of citizens of a local community governing and ordering their own affairs in matters truly significant to their common good, is the seedbed of a free society. It is the primary place where a free people exercise their liberty, form socially significant associations, and deliberate together so as to rule themselves in accord with what they think it means to live well.”

It is frustrating, nay, disillusioning to me to see the centralization of democratic power in the national government, and the centralization of media control happening with the major media organizations and communications structures.  The internet has certainly helped foster individual retention of expression, and yet I think we have lost something along the way of the nation’s ideals and founding principles.  I fear a loss of real and ideological liberty, and our understanding of what freedom is, to the continuing detriment of what this nation will become many years from now.   Oleson continues by describing Tocqueville’s understanding of democratic politics of that era:

“This is the meaning, for Tocqueville, of free and participatory democratic politics. And it was precisely because he saw Americans living this kind of local and substantive political life, first in their townships and then in their individual states, that Tocqueville came to regard the citizens of the United States as a genuinely free, self-governing people, and not the passive subjects of a distant, bureaucratic, and centralized power.”

Thinking of life in America today, we live in a rural area with a vibrant small town serving the needs of the community.  It’s fairly close to travel an hour and find more diverse metropolitan pursuits, but we enjoy living where we do, as well as the sense of community and local structures that exist to serve people’s needs.   And yet I find the above passage striking in that we have often assummed our heritage as Americans exists on a similar basis across the nation when in fact it is less and less so.  Oleson also describes a greater fractioning of liberty, where Tocqueville wrote from personal experience how freedoms may erode over time.

“Tocqueville saw this dynamic at work in the dangerous version of democracy that had taken shape in his own beloved France and warned that it was unfortunately the perennial temptation of every democratic nation.  If not vigilantly resisted, he foresaw the emergence of a novel form of benevolent, democratic despotism, œan immense, protective power which is alone responsible for securing [its citizens] enjoyment and watching over their fate.  That power is absolute, thoughtful of detail, orderly, provident, and gentleIt gladly works for their happiness but wants to be sole agent and judge of it.  It provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, makes rules for their testaments, and divides their inheritancesThus it daily makes the exercise of free choice less useful and rarer, restricts the activity of free will within a narrower compass, and little by little robs each citizen of the proper use of his own faculties

Such a vision may seem too surreal or practically extreme on the basis of our individual lifetimes and day-to-day experience.  After all, we seek good!  We want a better country, cleaner air and water, safer streets, financial security, a more peaceful world… we only want what is best, right? To make the world a better place?

And yet how if not for the action of creeping, extreme and misguided despotism did the horrendous events leading to the Holocaust unfold?   And we don’t even see it!  How do millions perish in Darfur and millions more starve across Africa in recent years under the watchful eyes of the United Nations?   How is the world today being shaped by a desire for social equality?  How are countless millions infected and die of malaria in Africa each year when we have great means to combat it, yet do not for fear of the social environmental consequences of pesticide use?  How do the terms “social justice” or “economic justice” fit into the constructs of a free, democratic Republic based on the rule of law?

So many questions.  Through the last century- more recently the last decade, we find ourselves struggling through dueling paradigms, a move toward a more European model of social order, contrasted with a struggle for the very roots of the Great Republic itself.   Today we continue searching to define the kind of nation we will be generations hence.   Personally I find myself struggling to understand why people do not yearn more for independence and freedom, but rather seem to embrace government control and sponsorship of the ideas and actions we should be handling at a more personal or local level.  I do not believe that only government can support long term structural equality.   Big (centralized) government has failed and continues to fail, critically, at the individual level.  And it is the individual level at which all else begins.   Oleson describes what, for me, is the chief concern:

“Tocqueville himself was not unaware of the centralizing drift inherent in democratic peoples whose passion for equality outstrips their love of freedom and thus continually increases the centralization of state power. The problem with such centralization is that it robs people of their freedom, saps them of their capacity for self-rule, and reduces them to passive and needy subjects of a vast bureaucracy.” (Emphasis mine)

A centralizing drift… have we not seen that taking place these past years, especially the past few months, and in terms of the financial tumult taking place?  Is this a temporary occurence, or some quasi-permanent shift in the political and socio-economic landscape?  Is it inevitable?

Oleson concludes by considering the political changes we’ve seen and wonders what Tocqueville may have to offer in light of “…the commitments we have lost, and the threat we face now in a looming, omnicompetent nanny state.”

Perhaps we’re not quite there yet.  Oleson’s use of the word “looming” is a good word however, especially considering the political events of 2016-2020 in terms of agencies and inviduals conducting improper investigations into our own government.

Personally I don’t like the divide we see in America today, and yet there’s nowhere on earth I would rather live.  I’ve seen such a large part of this globe over five decades.  Freedom and the rule of law simply do not exist across the world as it does in America.  Although that “rule of law” is being challenged more and more each day.   For people in some countries, they like their restrictions and government regulation just fine, thank-you-very-much.   But we Americans are different in that way.  I do like the 2nd Amendment for example, but it scares the heck out of folks in some other countries.  I’ll admit America’s not perfect.  But find me a nation that is.  For myself, I believe the good ‘ole U.S. of A. is the best thing going in this big world of ours.  And if you don’t believe it… just investigate a little why it is that so many millions of people outside our borders are trying constantly to get inside our borders!  Some say they come for the “free stuff”… maybe so, but I think they really want to come for the Freedom.

I don’t expect that I may ever find satisfactory answers to my questions.  But I’ll keep asking them.   In addition to asking ‘why’, perhaps it’s time to consider Mr. Oleson’s thoughts toward reading Tocqueville once again.

*******

And as for rewarding poor financial behavior?  Seems pretty simple to my son’s second grade teacher.  She’s got this neat little box in the front of the room.  It’s called the treasure box, and it’s filled with lots of neat little doo-dads that little kids like and, if they do well, they get to pick from each week.  It provides an external reward or stimulus to help motivate young kids to behave positively, and to accomplish tasks, especially for those who haven’t developed their intrinsic motivational skills as yet.  Ideally, we hope our kids will grow up and learn right from wrong, how to do things for themselves, to make healthy choices, and because they want to achieve, grow, etc.  Hopefully they grow up to become productive, contributing citizens of our society.  But should we reward their poor choices and behaviors?  No.

I’m not going to debate the merits of using a treasure box in a classroom to motivate kids, especially since I can hardly imagine what it’s like to be an elementary teacher these days.   But I do like the second grade teacher’s rules…  You don’t go to the treasure box unless you get your work done each week, and you behave properly within the classroom.   Seems to me America’s treasure box is being emptied for a lot of the wrong reasons.

Moments at Home

February 9th, 2009

Sometimes I forget to share the quiet life we lead on this modest page.  But then again, that may be a good thing because it means we are staying busy.  The weekend turned wonderfully warm, as is today, and we accomplished some chores that were long awaiting our interest.   Okay, maybe interest is too strong a word, but at least our care.  

The ice has almost completely melted from the pond, giving way to waves and ripples in the breeze.  I never tire of watching the water.  It speaks to something within, I know not what.  And reminds me of the sea that I spent much of my life upon in years past.  I often wonder how long we’ll be here, and where we might go next.  For myself I hope it is somewhere with a view, and perhaps to share the borders between land and water- maybe the sea again.   For now I feel privileged to share nature’s beauty here in this place we call home. 

As the ice melted this morning a curious bullseye remained floating in the middle of the pond.  If I thought I could reach it I may have thrown a rock. ( Oh! I just saw a bee fly by the porch window… )

Ice bullseye on the pond 

Wandering along the treeline the other day I found some long forgotten fence wire protruding from a large white oak tree.  Pablo writes of such things often, finding them hidden throughout his woodlands.  I was surprised not to notice this one before, and hopefully the tree will continue to grow despite the wounds of time.   Maybe I’ll take a set of wire cutters to remove most of it, yet put a tag on the end.  A woodcutter many years hence might be injured trying to cut the wood if encountering the metal wire with a chainsaw. 

Fence wire protruding from tree

It makes me wonder who put the fencewire there so long ago, and how big the tree was at the time.   I think of the years of my life in terms of the tree’s life, and I feel humbled.   And it makes me think of what interesting times we live in.  The strong warm breezes and sunshine of today will soon give way to thunderstorms and rain.  But the sun will come out again. 

The weather so often feels like a reflection of our lives, or vice versa, and the tumult we see across the globe.  I know it’s only because now we can know so much, so quickly- instead of the small, insulated world outside our door, we see of so many other human events taking place.  I think of the tragedy of the fires in Australia right now, wishing I could help, and of other events on a smaller scale. 

I’ve traveled to many of these places and somehow even though I’ve spent months coursing across the vast Pacific and other oceans, I know that the moments unfolding far, far away are no different than the moments that unfold outside my window…   At its essence, “there” is no different than “here.”   But we humanize, or dehumanize the moment as the case may be.  And I’m very thankful that I’m “here.”

And so we look to home and taking care of life around us.  Often it is all we can, or should, do.   Today, I’ll continue working on that long, unfolding list of projects and humble doings.   And try to enjoy the peace of the world as it is now, here, in this place.   I hear the song of a male cardinal near the treetop saying “I’m here! Lets make this tree our home! It’s almost time for spring!”  And in the distance a redtail hawk soars and calls with the same yearning. 

It will soon be cold again.  But that’s okay, because winter is slowly giving way and I can already feel spring coming.  It always comes.
 

Frozen Ice Circles on the Pond

January 15th, 2009

The cold has arrived, waking this morning to sub-zero temperatures.  Our friends to the north must really be in the grip of this Arctic blast of air- we don’t usually see it this cold in winter.  The kids are totally bundled up for school, and don’t get to play outside in this weather.  Because of the wind chill, quite a few school districts have cancelled classes today.   This makes 20-30 degrees F seem almost balmy by comparison!  I remember as a kid we used to play outside in the snow all day long no matter how cold it was.  If we got a little wet, we’d come in for a change of clothes and some hot chocolate- but then right back outside!  We even went snow camping and backpacking in winter when I was in high school.   I spent some time flying around the Alaskan peninsula in winter years ago too.  That was really cold- we’d wear special suits in case something happened, but to most folks up there this is just a way of life. 

The pond ice has been interesting this week- it almost looks like we’ve had alien visitors making circles in the ice.  I’ve wondered before about why these circles form- any guesses?  Only thing I can think of is that there are warmer upwelling currents of water somehow.    This first picture was from yesterday afternoon.

Frozen circles in the pond ice

This morning they are even more frozen looking, and wider in many areas.  While I was gazing at the pond I heard several sharp hollow sounding expansion noises from the ice- “k-k-eeowp!” is the closest I can think of for how it sounded, but I was amazed how loud they were. I imagine the folks way up north and along the Great Lakes hear such noises all the time.

Ice circles frozen in the pond

I can’t help but wonder how the plants, trees and bees will do in this cold?  It’s part of nature’s cycle to be sure, and if we’re lucky- maybe some of those ticks and chiggers won’t hatch next year!?  I tried to help the bees out last week by putting a foam insulated sheet just under the lid, but above the inner cover.  I cut a hole in it for ventilation- but I had noticed a little moisture under the top wood/metal cover, and moisture is not good for bees.  The bees are so snuggly warm inside their hive that condensation can form just under the top wood/metal cover due to much colder outside air.  Hopefully with a little extra insulation on top of their hive, there won’t be such a cold/warm contrast at the top, and it will prevent condensation from taking place.

Spent some time in the barn this morning and got a fire going just to see how it would affect the inside temperatures.  The outdoor air was around 0-5 degrees F, and after a couple hours the barn showed just above 32 degrees inside.   Still kind of chilly- the stove would probably have to run all day to make much difference, especially since it’s just a metal, uninsulated building.  So I’ll just use it during those times when the outdoor temperature is between about 25 degrees and 40 degrees- and then the stove should warm up the inside of the barn nicely. I hope you are staying warm!

On a personal note, I didn’t write yesterday but it was my Dad’s birthday- he passed away four years ago and I seem to think of these special days more now than I ever did before.  We had a lovely dinner with the young boy’s “Memaw” to celebrate the day, and it was a lot of fun. 

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