Can’t get to A Gentleman in Moscow because I have too many New York Review of Books to make it through. So my small pile of issues I’ve held on to (some since 2011!) remain atop Amor Towles’ book, which I will perpetually “get to later.” Jenna is reading the same book, and she promises me she’ll finish before I do. She’s likely right.
And then there’s the issue with the weather. These days it can either be cold (below freezing), moderate (in the high 30s to low 40s), or even unseasonably warm (mid 40s to mid 50s). Today’s forecast calls for clouds and a high of 57. I’ve kept to wearing either a plaid red Bass & Co. jacket or my old stand-by, a Canadian Tsunami fleece I purchased in Sun Valley, Idaho in 1999 when I quit my pastoral duties at Hopewell Presbyterian Church in New Jersey and lit out for the western territories to try to rescue my first marriage, to no avail.
I’m towards the end of the Middle Period of our home-building project (or possibly the beginning of the Late Period—I’ve opted for geological time to describe this project; somehow seems more appropriate), which has been fraught with many more challenges than I was prepared for when I set out, naively, to build my own home in 2020: a 32-sided, two-and-a-half story cedar round home with attached garage (connected by a breezeway with an underground wine cellar) on a hill overlooking a valley of farms 2500’ below. I should’ve known, of course, but was too stupid and inexperienced to even hazard a guess as to how foolish it was to think I could tackle such an ambitious project. And yet, here I am, 18 months later, almost ready to move my family in. Can we make it in before Christmas, which is less than a month away? Or before the official start of winter on December 21st?
We went to church and listened to a good sermon on the end of the world. Not our pastor’s usual fare, and one you’re more likely to hear in any one of the non-denominational churches we pass along the way on the rural highway we take to church. We are deep in the Yankee version of the O’Connor backwoods rural settings of her stories. Here in northeastern Washington State, QAnon reigns supreme, black flags fly from pick-up trucks at regular intervals, and gun shots can be heard as the locals fire off their AK47s. Such are the indulgences of men (and women) who are like children with a tool that comes with the promise of providing said owner with instant uplift, a sense of purpose, immediate power, and the illusion of control over their otherwise powerless and impotent lives.
But such purposelessness pervades in every strata of culture, even to the present lives of so many of our fellow patrons here at the local Starbucks, where I am right now, so many of whom are on their devices and titillated by the latest headlines, sports news, and political conspiracies. Distraction is, of course, the name of the game, and while much of the world slowly turns back into dust from marathon droughts, becomes more divided as immigration tragedies pile up (all while actual boundaries become more porous), and opportunistic power grabs by the rich and well-connected are offered to the highest bidder, the rest of us lose all sense of time in a Derridean loop of endless distractions. Go to a local Starbucks to see for yourself.
Of course, there are those who are sitting and talking, thank God, so the need for human connection continues to reign supreme. And I hope it always will. Something tells me so, and so I continue to believe—and continue to believe that this deep-seated, primal need will spell the end of social media as we know it. Ha. We’ll see about that.
Went up to the house to work a bit on the Sabbath, a cardinal rule I’ve been breaking more often lately. Alas. Things move ahead. All the while, life outside the yurt continues unabated. The gang of 50 turkeys (exactly 50) continue to leave their footprints and droppings around the property, maybe as a way of claiming prior ownership of the land. The small family of deer, a doe and her two fawns, make their visits to feed off the wild grass, and sometimes they converge with the gang of turkeys and the two species comfortably co-exist. How long have they been co-existing? A thousand years or more? Longer?
Time moves slowly for us these days, as it does today, even as our days end sooner and sooner. Today’s sunset is scheduled for exactly 4:00pm. And like clockwork, the sunsets we are gifted with are, each of them, worthy of being placed on a postcard. I’ve stopped taking pictures of them, as each new one outdoes the one before until they all bleed into one giant Impressionist canvas of red and orange, blue and green.
I’ll go to sleep early tonight. I get tired around 9pm, not sure if it’s related to the manual labor that has become a daily rite or the existential weight of living in such a world as ours with all its sorrow and hatred and lies. So much venality and beauty on the same day is exhausting and exhilarating, and that cycle makes me tired at 9pm. And so it goes, round and round.
I go into my son’s room and give him a hug, a light tickle, and a quick prayer. Then I say goodnight to my daughter before she descends to her bedroom on the first floor, in a bedtime ritual the two of us have shared since she was about 5 years old. Such things bring the necessary weight to each day that gives each day its small purposes. Then I flop down next to my wife, who is dutifully reading her book, which, no doubt, she’ll finish before me. Before I know it, I’ll be asleep, and November 29, 2021 will be another day for the books.
And yet there’s so much more I haven't said...