Thursday, July 26, 2012

It's a Hard-Knock Life

An acquaintance recently commented, "Well, his life hasn't been as hard as mine."

"How presumptuous!" says Virginia.

This set me thinking as I hauled two pickup loads of heavy maple to the woodshed, "windfall" from the derrecho. What makes one life "harder" than another?

Think of the alcoholics who struggle with their life-long illness. I'd bet that's hard, whether managing to "recover" by avoiding drink, or giving into the temptation that may be easy but hard on both the alcoholic and those who choose to live nearby.

Someone who suffers from depression may have a hard life, so does anyone with a catastrophic illness or injury, I would guess. I don't really know. I suppose I could ask.

A person's own trials do not make another's life "easy." If someone chooses to make life "hard," that doesn't make it any less hard. Instead of hauling firewood, I could have sat in a recliner with a mint julep, milkshake or soda. Someone I know could have chosen not to ride the donkey that threw her.

Others could have continued working jobs they disliked. That would be hard. The fact that they chose to move on to a different life doesn't mean they took the easy way out.

Some people might think it's hard to run more than 40 miles per week, create a full-time business, maintain a large garden, teach part-time in a university, and practice an instrument enough to perform now and then. Others might say that's easy; he or she should have chosen one of these things, done it very well, and worked harder to make this world a better place.

"Hard" is in the eye of the beholder, I suspect, which makes it totally irrelevant to anyone else and perhaps meaningless even to the one living the life. My life is hard, my life is easy. That's for me to decide, if I even want to consider the question. Whether my life is hard or easy, I'll take my pick or maybe not....

and keep it to myself. As for yours, it's up to you.

"Easy for you to say," says Virginia. "Make mine hard or no one will care."

She's probably right.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Feeling Chipper?

We harvested a beet this afternoon.
"Wow!" says Virginia. "How did you get it to grow so round?"

Ummm. I said "a beet, not two." It's red mangel, grown for the donkeys and goats.

Here's what it looks like cut in two.
And here are some more still growing.
Rain, rain, beautiful rain. We may have to hunt up a lawnmower, but first I should re-stack our woodshed. Let me show you what the derrecho gave us -- some crabapple:
...pine (for the Pompeii brick oven):
... and maple:
I also need to find a mulcher-chipper or the Lady of the Manor (Virginia, too) will not be pleased.

Saturday, July 14, 2012


This is a public space. When I read what some people write (and sometimes my own material) I cringe at what the future may bring. In 1984 we feared Big Brother, now we invite him in. A body of law has grown up around "a person's legitimate expectation of privacy." I wonder if we have voluntarily surrendered any expectation, nude pictures almost nothing compared to unloading our innermost thoughts for public consumption.

So I won't mention the possible end of a friendship, one might say two autocrats re-entering orbit after colliding into a double triplet. Or have I already? "Managing People," a Citicorp course pretty much mandatory for managers, pointed out that people under stress tend to revert to child-like behavior. Maybe it wasn't "Managing People," maybe it was a Personalysis session or an article in Psychology Today. And maybe I've been reading too much Woolf, Proust and Joyce. James Joyce.

Nine piglets nibble people. Green beans grow big. Mammoth donkeys must diet. Wire grass worries gloves. Japanese cucumbers jam crisper. Tall parsnips take planning. Sweet corn soon coming.

This week, our visiting niece and her boyfriend seemed to look forward to harvest day, every day this time of year. We gather bowls or buckets and grocery shop in our garden, today's solar power fueling today's and winter's table, goat ice cream for dessert. Thank you, dirt.