Searching for contentment

An appetizer

His competitiveness and self-centeredness cut him off from any thought of shared life. He wanted to have more because he thought having more would make him able to live more, and he was lonely because he never thought of the sources, the places, where he was going to get what he wanted to have, or of what his having it might cost others. It was a loneliness that sometimes even he felt; you could see it. A self-praiser has got to accept a big loneliness in order to accept a little credit.
– Wendell Berry, Jayber Crow. Counterpoint, Berkeley, 2000.

Reading: Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry

Jayber Crow by Wendell BerryBeautifully narrated by Paul Michael

I have enjoyed many of the Port Williams books by Wendell Berry. Some, like this one, are made even better by Paul Michael's narration, which suits these stories to a T.

Jayber inhabits his life fully, while always being an observer, even of himself. Through his eyes, we see life unfolding, as well as the way the inexorable forces of modernity change things over the course of his life throughout the twentieth century.

Wendell Berry is a wonderful storyteller, infusing his tales with the humor, tragedy, ignorance, wisdom, clumsiness, and sometimes pure gracefulness that is life.

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Using technology versus being used by it

Home screen of my phone

I've enjoyed technology and the internet over the years, and have profited from it, having worked for several technology-related companies. In the late 90s, as I began to understand and appreciate some aspects of the internet's potential, I launched this website, wanting to participate in this blossoming communication medium, as well as to learn hands on the nuts and bolts of creating a website. Motivated by a desire to create something beautiful in a fashion similar to my woodworking, I've found this to be an invigoratingly enjoyable endeavor over the years.

Yet more recently this technology that now permeates our lives has lost much of the luster it once held for me. This results from factors that have been gaining momentum for several years and reached a tipping point last year. Events early this year are only emphasizing this tipped over, screwed up state.

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Living in the Rockies

What a graceful way for nature to end the year. Since I posted the last photos of the snowy dawn in early November, it has been very dry and mostly unseasonably warm. Then, for this last week or so of the year, we experienced more normally cold weather and gratefully received some light snowfalls.

This morning, we awakened to a light snow of very small but feathery flakes which had coated all the needles and fine tree branches. As I was driving through this winter wonderland later in the morning, I passed the nearby and half frozen Burch lake where hundreds of geese and ducks lined the edge of the ice shelf. It was such a breathtaking view that I drove home, grabbed my camera, and returned to find that the ice was still lined with these beautiful birds, with small formations flying overhead. Ah, life!

Geese flying away from Burch Lake

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Woodworking: A few rough cedar projects

I was at the lumber yard a few weeks ago when I spotted some beautiful 2″ x 6″ cedar planks … I love cedar!

That led to three projects: refurbishing our deck stairway, then using the cutoffs to replace a little wooden walkway between our house and shed, and finally using the cutoffs from that to build a birdhouse for our local songbirds.

Turns out I actually had just enough wood left over for two bird houses, with about 8 inches of 2″ x 6″ remaining! The leftover piece is so nice that I'll keep it; I'm sure I'll figure out something to do with it someday! By the way, I made the roofs—and the top tread of the stairway, which is even a bit wider than the other threads—from a beautiful cutoff piece of 2″ x 12″ that I squirreled away 16 years ago when the deck originally was built, just waiting for the right project to come along.

Small cedar walkway between our garage and our shed

Note: While the birdhouses are relatively smooth on the exterior from the planing, the interiors retain their original rough-cut faces, which I read makes it easier for the little birds to climb out when they are ready to fly the nest. Also, the fronts swing open (outward and upward) for the annual clean out.

I'll hang the birdhouses this autumn to be ready for tenants next spring.

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Tool review: Weeding fork

Each spring, we do battle against invasive plants on our property, many of which (like thistle) are tough plants with even tougher tap roots. Fortunately, I found an equally tough battle axe to wield in this fight: a hand-forged, long-handled weeding fork made by Red Pig Garden Tools in, I kid you not, Boring, Oregon.

Red Pig Gardening Tools weeding fork

This tool makes it much easier to get down at the tap root even in our rocky soil, and it's strong enough to easily pop the gnarliest ones.

We have several of Red Pig's tools, actually, and they're all well-made, tough, quality tools. A couple favorites: the 2-Tine Jekyll Weeder, a weeding fork inspired by Gertrude Jekyll, and ´╗┐the Warren Hoe, which is a mini furrower.

Red Pig Garden Tools

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CQ: Zooming around with the ZUMspot

MMDVM boardAfter I saw an interesting ZUMspot Review video by Craig, W1MSG, about using the ZUMspot with Pi-Star, I was convinced to give it a try, and I'm really glad I did, it's a brilliant little board!

I mounted the ZUMspot + RPi Zero W on a similarly small board with a rechargeable battery, the Alchemy Power Pi-Zero-UpTime, which functions as an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and portable battery pack. I also added a 3.2″ Nextion display for fun. Then I made a custom mahogany case for the whole thing.

ZUMspot, Pi-Star, DMR, in mobile mode

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