Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

When you experience spiritual depressions, the answer is clear: Put your hope in God. Be faithful in getting to worship. Open your Bible daily and you will find many answers for your questions. Pray a lot. Attend the Lord's Supper and feel His divine presence. Gather with your Christian friends and you will see what a gift Jesus Christ has given you in His church.

Rev. Steven Kramer

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday Farm Report

It's been a while. I took a blog vacation. I could catch you up on all the doings around Pine Ridge Farm, but you want to stay awake. I'll just hit the highlights.

I've been busy mostly with family things. Miss Mary turned 15 this month, and we spent last weekend driving to Iowa and the Chicago suburbs to pick up her best friends and bring them here for a little party. When I think about it, I could have driven to Wyoming in the same amount of time I spent on the road! I also spent some time visiting my mom, who is spending her late winter in the hospital. She's been getting weak, but, hopefully, this time there will strengthen her.

We'll be heading to a state fair speech competition at the end of April. Mary gave a presentation on Tack Cleaning 101, and impressed the judges enough that they sent her on to Springfield. She spent a pleasant hour talking to a man at a new tack shop about cleaning her saddle, so she has some more information to add to her presentation. We're looking forward to it, and we'll let you know how it goes.

Finally, this morning, John and Mary headed out to clean stalls and feed critters. The dogs were going crazy in the hay tent, barking at The Thing in the hay. John reached in to pull out The Thing...and found out it wasn't the cat he thought it was. Thankfully, it wasn't a skunk, either. He got a little target practice in today, and this guy won't be shacking up in our hay tent anymore!

Friday, February 26, 2010

By Way of Explanation

I've been asked lately about my political views. More precisely, I've been harassed about them.

One area, and only one, in which I have been required to explain myself, has been my viewpoint on national health care reform. I've told stories of experiences of friends, and been told that those are isolated incidents. Here is another isolated incident.

Isolated incidents are those things that happen seldom, infrequently, almost miraculously. I've heard of many of the types of incidents you can read about at the link I shared. By definition, they are not isolated incidents.

I'm sorry that I refuse to drink the Kool-Aid.

Well, OK, I'm really not.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Paradox

It is a fact of blogging life that, when you have the most to blog about, you're too doggone busy doing stuff to write about anything!

Until things slow down, I may have to make use of the tried and true "Post a Video" method of blogging. So, for your Tuesday edification...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Speaking of Snow....

This Ain't Hell, But You Can See it From Here is just one of the military blogs I follow. They've had a couple of interesting videos/photos on the past few days, as Washington, DC suffers through some awful weather. I wanted to share two with you.

Poor Teddy Bear.

And, when you think about being outside, in the cold, to shovel your driveway, think about the Old Guard, at Arlington National Cemetery. Those funerals are held with no regard for weather, and the guards at the Tombs of the Unknowns have stayed through hurricanes. This Ain't Hell received a picture of one of the guards still on duty during the recent blizzard. You can see it here.

Wordy Wednesday

I have some really great shots of our most recent snowstorm, of horses in the snow, of puppies playing in the snow. I have a shot of a goat in the moonlight, wandering in the snow. Of a rooster scratching in the snow for grain he can smell there.

But someone spent so much time looking at her puppy on my camera that she ran down the batteries. I am out of batteries, so I can't take those photos off of my camera and put them on the computer.

In fact, they're not on the camera, because the camera had no batteries! They are in my mind.

Imagine them. It works for me!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Year 1000; Three points, point 3

Did you know that the Vikings settled in Canada? For many years, scholars knew the the Vikings spoke of "Vinland," a place of green vines, frightening Skraelings, fierce people who lived in the woods, and good fishing. Many refused to consider those stories as anything more than publicity for the Danish colonies in Greenland. It wasn't until the 1960s that archaeologists began excavations at L'Anse-aux-Meadows in Newfoundland, uncovering cookpits, boathouses, houses, and evidence of vine cultivation.

Actually, three thoughts are being inspired by this one point; that the Vikings were seafaring ramblers, much like the Phoenicians.

The first, vines were being cultivated in Newfoundland. Grape vines, really. The kind of vines that need some good weather to flourish. Newfoundland doesn't seem the likely climate. But, at this time, England was also growing wine grapes. When we think of English climate, we think of London fogs; cool, wet weather. A thousand years ago, though, it seems the climate this far north (England, Newfoundland) was of the warmer, drier type which helps grapevines to thrive. Many think that the weather underwent a change at the end of the Middle Ages, becoming wetter and cooler. Here is a good place to read about some of that. But this would be speaking of weather going through natural cycles of warming and cooling, and, in this fascinating modern age, we can't be thinking that way. No, Man the Destroyer must be somehow responsible, and must have been then, too. After all, the diesel engines of the Viking longships gave off much in the way of greenhouse gases.

Yes, I like me a little sarcasm.

Second point; as they sailed and voyaged, the Vikings did, from time to time, come to land. They really preferred sleeping onshore every night, rather than on the decks of their ships, for example. Some were even out rambling because they were looking for new places to live. If you read the other posts about this book, you read about the Normans being Vikings who settled in northern France. Well, would it surprise you to learn that that band of Vikings was not the only one to cause trouble for other leaders? No? Well, think on this.

Ethelred, king of England at the end of the 10th century, was plagued by Vikings. They would pillage and plunder, annoying his subjects to the point of forcing them to complain to him. Well, Ethelred decided to do what some before him, including the famous King Alfred, had done; buy off the raiders, most famously, Sweyn Forkbeard, king of Denmark. He would pay them money to go away, or pay bands of them to serve as defenders against other bands. The payments became known as Danegeld. I thought of them the other day, when Mary and I watched Hamlet. Hamlet's stepfather/uncle sends him to England, accompanied by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. These worthies are carrying letters asking the English king to kill Hamlet; Hamlet, no fool, finds the letters, and substitutes letters asking that Rosie and Stosh be killed instead. But why was Hamlet going in the first place? Well, yeah, to allow things to die down after he killed Polonius. But also to pick up the Danegeld that the English owed them.

So the Danes collect money from the English, who count on the Danes to disappear. Now, if you were receiving concessions or even payments from a government, would you just go away? Would you give it up to just find another place to go? Or would you continue to take and take, reserving the decision whether to go elsewhere for another day? Now, I would suggest that there is a large, happy country, much like England, in today's world, giving payments and benefits to people who are foreign to this country and its inhabitants. Some in this country want to help, to be charitable, and see this as a way. Some, however, look at the Danes of the past and wish they payments and benefits would stop. We know what happened to England.

From 994 to 1000, and then on for another dozen years, Sweyn's forces kept returning to England in ever better organized expeditions. His goal was now total conquest...Ethelred tried every angle...he concluded a diplomatic marriage...He called for a national fast...he gathered the largest navy that England had ever raised, only to see it turn against itself...It was all in vain. In the summer of 1013 Sweyn disembarked...and the whole of Danish England immediately accepted him as king...(further areas of the country surrendered to him) and Ethelred withdrew into exile in Normandy.

My last thought is just that, a thought. In the past, I've been told lots of stories about the backward people of Columbus' time. Superstitious people who believed the world was flat, and that, if you sailed too far, you'd fall off the edge. Well, there may have been some who thought that. I've even heard it told that the people of the East were always aware that the earth was not flat. That it wasn't until the sack of Constantinople, and the subsequent migration of the learned and their books to the West, that the West became aware. Anyway, it seems that these Western people were not the backward fools spoken of. Lacey and Danziger make this point somewhere near the end of chapter 7; remember that Alfred was king in the 9th century, long before the sack of Constantinople in the late 15th century.

It suited some thinkers in the eighteenth-century Age of Reason to look down on the Middle Ages as a primitive and backward time when men believed that the world was flat, and that venturing too far away from Europe might entail the risk of ships dropping over the edge. But King Alfred's explanation of the solar system in one of the classical translations which he commissioned, and may even have carried out himself, talks in unambiguously spherical terms, comparing the earth to "the yolk in the middle of an egg which can move about [within the confines of] the egg"...the idea of the revolving heavens argued for similar roundness in the earth...When Charlemagne and the emperors of the time wanted to symbolize their earthly power, they put their hands upon an orb...Bede compared the earth to "the ball that boys play with"...

Not such superstitious people, after all.

Yeah, I've been thinking. Reading can do that to a person. This Medieval Bookworm Challenge has been that...challenging.

Italicized quotes from The Year 1000, 1999, Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Skye Update

She has gained 1.6 pounds in a week (hey, she took on my last month's weight loss!) She's 26" long and 12 1/2" tall. She and Guinness like to wrassle.

That barking that stops them at the end? That is crotchety old man (all of 5 years) Henry. He doesn't like them to play. But he was too lazy to come up from the family room and make them stop--which he can do. He just barked. I can translate. "You kids up there! Knock it off! How many times do I have to tell you?"

BLOG HACK! MUA HAHAHAHAHA! She already knows sit/stay to get her food....Sort of.-Mary

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Pro-Life Corner

"It may not always be true in the sports world but for the Christian, 'chastity' and 'champion' do go together. God makes us champions through Jesus Christ. Champions can make good decisions that honor God. Champions can make good decisions that honor others. Champions can be a positive influence and bring change within the church and into society. Chastity! It is the choice of champions."

Rev. Dr. James I Lamb

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Year 1000, Three points, point 2

Yeah, I got around to it.

In this "fascinating, modern world we live in," (quick--which movie?) information has become so plentiful we avoid it. When we look for peace and quiet, we get away from the TV, the computer, I almost said the radio, but that would show my lack of tech savvy. We avoid the bustle and noise.

And when we need information, there's a glut of it. For example, I just searched on Google for "the year 1000. There were 36,500,000 results. At ten results per page, that's 365,000 pages. How many would you check? 2? 5? I bet most of you would check the first page and call it good.

We have so much information, we can pick and choose. Want pages that talk about the panic and concern about the possible Millennial return of Christ in the year 1000? Look here. Want to learn about how women were treated at that time? Look here. Was the year 1000 a leap year? Wikipedia's entry can tell you. We can find information on most any subject from so many sources that we don't have to take it or leave it; we can be fussy.

But, you know, most of that information would be second, or even third-hand. First person accounts of the era, primary sources, are almost nonexistent. That's because the people of the time were backward, illiterate souls who didn't value education and wrote down little.

NO. They did value education, and they wrote down many things. At least as far as we can tell. Unfortunately for us, Anglo-Saxon England was conquered in the year 1066 by William the Conqueror and his nasty Norman Frenchmen (who were actually Vikings who, early in the 800s, struck a deal with the king of France, who allowed them to settle in northern France in exchange for not pillaging northern France.) The Normans, like conquerors before and after them, began the process of destroying the records of Anglo-Saxon culture. Henry VIII continued it when he dissolved the monasteries in the sixteenth century. Monks were turned out to become "everyday" citizens, their property seized for the Crown, and, as a result,

Priceless ancient manuscripts were burned, used as drumskins and roof insulation, or to line beer barrels and bind books. As a consequence, it only takes a morning to read all surviving Anglo-Saxon poetry.

Compare that to information about

sexual behavior at the end of the second millennium...thirty-six cartons of documents to cover the high jinks of the President of the United States alone--which is thirty or more than the storage space occupied by the modern transcripts of everything surviving in Englisc.

(Why thirty-six cartons? Never mind.)

So we live in an age of information, trying hard to understand those who came before us, with little or no information about them. Reminds me of that old, wry comment about being treated like a mushroom. You know? "They keep me in the dark and feed me bull..."

Italicized quotes from The Year 1000, 1999, Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Year 1000, Three points

So skipping merrily through three chapters, and finding three points very interesting...I'll just hit one of them today.

April is the month for Easter, and the Easter feast, coming after not only the Lenten fast but also the cold winter months, was most welcome. Yes, it was a time for celebrating that most wondrous of events, a time to party with everything you had. Not only that, but

The Easter feast was appreciated the more by people who had encountered the reality of famine. Today we watch famine on television but it is scarcely the source of personal anxiety to those of us who live in the developed West. It is another of the crucial distinctions between us and the year 1000, where the possibility of famine was ever-present and haunted the imagination.

Piers Plowman, fictitious hero of the late medieval fable, said, "I shall provide...the necessities of life, unless the land fails." Do we in our enlightened, modern age even think of food as a necessity? It's a burden, costing too much and produced in ways that cause guilt for some of us. It's a joy, tasty, fun, an indulgence...until we realize it has landed squarely on our hips or bellies. But a necessity? And do we ever consider the possibility of the land failing? We have years worth of stuff put up in cans which we can subsist on, if the weather doesn't allow us to get much harvest from our gardens. Even if we grow gardens; how many just rely on Aldi, or WallyWorld, or Trader Joe's for our sustenance?

These people in the year 1000 worried year after year about the crops failing. People knew what year they were born based on which famine was occurring, or which drought. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded, in a yearly format, the events of the centuries leading up to 1000. Many of the listings say things like, "Came a very great famine...Here the great pestilence among cattle first came to England...In this year on St. Michael's Eve that great sea-flood came widely throughout this country..." Remember reading here about giving your head for food? These were those kind of years, when fathers could sell their children under 7 as slaves, when killing an infant (another mouth to feed) was not a crime, when cannibalism might have been a recent memory. People would devise suicide pacts;

Bede tells an affecting story..."frequently forty or fifty emaciated or starving people would go to a cliff, or to the edge of the sea, where they would join hands and leap over to die by the fall or by drowning."

Have you ever had to worry about that, just because TJ's is out of muffins today? Certainly not.

On the other hand, medieval people, maybe because they had these fears in the back of their minds, knew how to throw a party! Most of the action of the medieval poem Beowulf is set, like many other stories of the time, in a banqueting hall. Elaborate foods, beautiful serving pieces and drinking horns (no forks!) set the scene for dish after dish of mostly meat. Low-fat meat; grass raised or even wild game was the most prevalent. And the beverages...Milk was seasonal and perishable. It became cheese. Water was often foul, carrying who knows what pathogens from who knows where. Mead was the main event of the meal, a supersweet alcoholic beverage made from crushed honeycombs. Wine and beer were less common, and less alcoholic. In fact, their low alcohol content is just what made them so uncommon; they couldn't be stored long. Wine, at the time, was light and fruity, and drunk soon after harvest. Beer was also drunk quickly. Ale was the major daily drink of choice. It was boiled, killing some of the nasties that would contaminate the drinking horn. It wouldn't remind us of Sam Adams, though; it had a consistency more like a watery porridge.


Italicized quotes from The Year 1000, 1999, Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Fresh From the Henhouse

Egg #1, at the top of the picture is a normal-sized egg with one yolk that came out of our henhouse this morning. It was made into scrambled eggs with extra-sharp cheddar cheese, and was very tasty.

The dollar bill, at the bottom, is approximately 6" long.

Egg #2, in the middle, came out of our henhouse this morning too. It had two yolks. It was, by far, the largest chicken egg I've seen. It was blown out, so Mary can save it for posterity, and its yolks will be mixed into supper for Henry, Guinness and Skye.

Somewhere out there is a very (understandably so) sore and grumpy chicken!