Month: January 2015


streetsign.jpgTriggered Memory

You ever hear something that triggers a memory from early childhood? That happened to me this morning while reading “Why I Hate the Super Bowl.”

I have never understood why anyone cares about professional sports. I must have been seven or eight when my father shocked me by explaining that not everyone who plays for the New York Yankees is from New York. “What?” I remember thinking. “They let people from Boston or Chicago play with the Yankees? The whole thing is a fraud.” Why do New Yorkers care about a bunch of strangers who are going to defect to some other team if they get a better offer?

The same thing happened to me when I was a little kid. I don’t remember whether it was my dad, older brothers, or a friend, but someone revealed the same truth to me and I was highly disappointed. The thing is, I had completely forgotten about the incident until I read that passage a few minutes ago.

And by the way: I don’t like the Super Bowl, either. I’ll watch it because I like to get together with my brother’s family and my kids, and because it’s an American cultural event, but otherwise, I’d opt for a good book or Roku action. … Read the rest



Kinda interesting: Hops-growing workshop for Ohio growers. I’ve wondered about the economics of hops growing. It looks pretty good: “Ohio State researchers estimate that within the first year growers can expect dry hops yields of 200 to 1,800 pounds per acre, depending on the cultivar, with an estimated value of $2,000 to $25,200. In the second and subsequent production years, yields should increase to 500 to 2,200 dry pounds per acre valued at $7,000 to $30,800.” * * * * * * * If you liked my dandelion post last week, you’ll like the Dandelion Festival that will be held in early May: “Dandelion sausage, dandelion bread, dandelion gravy, dandelion lasagna, dandelion ice cream and dandelion sangria will be available both Friday and Saturday.”… Read the rest


I made my first planting of 2015 last weekend: three trays of microgreens. It felt good to get back in the gardening saddle and take my mind away from office concerns for awhile. * * * * * * * I actually do a fair amount of garden stuff during the dead of winter. I grow sprouts (using two nifty Victorio systems (expensive, but they’re exceedingly easy to use, should last me years, and reduce bacteria risks)), I tend to my small worm farm (I should have nearly 200 pounds of vermicompost by early May; I ended the 2014 growing season with zero after emptying my vermicompost on my asparagus bed last Fall), we cook non-gmo squash from the 2014 growing season, and I do a few trays of micro-greens. * * * * * * * One of the best things about gardening: Now that I have a small store of knowledge and supplies, such things don’t take up much time at all. I was able to set up and plant those trays in about twenty minutes. It took nearly thirty to retrieve the grow lamp and set it up, so that kinda sucked, but that’s a once-a-year hassle. Now that it’s up, I’ll leave it up until Memorial Day (much to Marie’s delight). * * * * * * * I’m thinking about starting full-blown lettuce or spinach in a few weeks, then put them into a portable greenhouse on my front porch, with heat maps under the trays. The heat mats will raise the temperature in the greenhouse from, say, ten degrees to 35, which works well. But if temps drop below zero, things start to get grim for the greens. I don’t mind bringing them inside once or twice, but if it becomes a quotidian thing, … Read the rest

GKC Wednesday

Background: When I was the editor of Gilbert Magazine, I was responsible for the “Tremendous Trifles” column. It was occasionally hard to find a sufficient amount of interesting GKC material to fill the page, so John Peterson sent me a file full of Chesterton ancedotes. They were idiosyncratic, historical, and Chestertonian. He gave me permission to use them here. I hope y’all find them as interesting as I have over the years. Most of them have never been published.

Chesterton Short(s)

In 1900 the Boer War was debated vigorously in Bedford Park and everywhere else. Chesterton attended a debate held in the studio of the painter Archie Macgregor in April of that year, and wrote Frances (then his fiancée] about one of the speakers who had held the floor for an hour and a half. “I thought it was five minutes,” he said. It was Chesterton’s first encounter with Hilaire Belloc. [A.N. Wilson, Hilaire Belloc, New York: Athenaeum, 1984, p. 98].

Mont Blanc, the tavern where Chesterton and Belloc were first introduced in May of 1900, was located at No. 16 Gerrard Street in Soho. In the pre-war years, the place was also a retreat for such literary luminaries as John Masefield, Norman Douglas, Ford Maddox Ford, William Archer, John Galsworthy and Joseph Conrad. [George Williams, Guide to Literary London, Batsford, 1973, p. 210]… Read the rest


Miscellaneous Rambling

Yes, two straight days of “Miscellaneous Rambling.” Though perhaps I should’ve ran this one as “Autobiographical Reflections” . . . * * * * * * * When I first read Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture, I was sold on Pieper’s argument: The modern world is a world of total work, where everything is devoted to labor. Even hours that aren’t spent at the office are dedicated to some form of productive enterprise, and even those few hours that are set aside for strict relaxation have to be justified as “down time” to “recharge” for one’s work. It’s not a good thing since the best things come to those who have leisure, but it’s the state I’ve found myself in for the past seven month and I can’t break out. How does a wage earner put aside relentless labor without being disloyal to that primary vocation? Nearing age 50, I find myself with fewer and fewer answers to such fundamental questions. In this, I suspect I’m not alone for people my age. Maybe that’s why “the highest suicide rate [is] among people 45 to 59 years old.” * * * * * * * By the way, don’t cry for me. I’m bummed out about this, but not remotely suicidal. Inclined to grab a bottle more often? Yes, but not suicidal, and even the bottle comes off the shelf only once or twice a week. I just keep waiting for this work pattern to “cycle out” and things will return to normal. Besides, my work requirements haven’t exactly reached coolie levels. I’m still watching about two hours of TV per week (while I eat), take Sundays off completely, and even do a little bit of gardening (more on that later). * * * … Read the rest

On the Eighth Day

Back in the 1990s, I bought a lot of books from Eighth Day Books. I’ve always wanted to take a pilgimmage to that famed Wichita bookstore. In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy Rod Dreher’s description that I found last weekend:

I was reminded of something a conference attendee from Wichita told me about Warren and Chris Farha and their Eighth Day Books, which has been there for almost three decades, I believe. “If you go to the Orthodox cathedral here, just about any non-Lebanese person who is Orthodox is a convert who came into the church because of the work those two have done with the bookstore,” the conferee said. You can find lots of Orthodox books and icons at Eighth Day, but it’s not really an Orthodox bookstore. There are lots of Christian books there, but it’s not really a Christian bookstore. What it is is a place where people who love books can come and browse, and sit and talk, in a space that (as one aficionado puts it) “smells like a book store should smell.” Nobody’s trying to evangelize you there. If I were to wander into a place like that as an unbelieving twentysomething (as I once more or less was), I would be so drawn in by the eclecticism of the place. It is a place of wonder, by which I mean you go there, and start browsing the shelves, and getting the vibe, and you may find yourself wanting to know what kind of religious and cultural vision creates a place like this. If Tolkien or Lewis were to come back to life and live in Wichita, they would be found there. In fact, they are found there, in spirit.

Link.… Read the rest