Categories
Writing

Shifting Gears

Interstate 80 in Nebraska, Winter 2012.

Beginning today, I’m spending less writing time here and more on other projects. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve gone long stretches of posting every day. The uninterrupted string of posts may end soon, even if the pandemic doesn’t.

I’ll continue to cross post from other platforms, although my main work lies elsewhere, at least until spring.

Now that the end of year holidays kicked off with Thanksgiving, I’m ready to go. However you celebrate year’s end, have a good one.

Thank you for reading Journey Home. Hope to see you on the other side.

Categories
Home Life

Walkabout

Abandoned bird nest.

I added a walkabout to my daily routine. Once the sun rises, and after I finish daily writing, I leave by the garage door and walk the property line of our 0.62 acre. Each day I saw something unanticipated.

The condition of trees, activities of squirrels and birds, and windblown trash deposited on our lawn. The walkabout provides an opportunity to take stock of our land and consider what needs doing, what should be left alone. I’m discovering a lot of neglected work.

There are at least three bird nests I’ve found. I’m amazed at how they take found objects and craft them. Anything pliable seems a likely building material, including plastic wrap and bits of fiber. I don’t remove the nests unless they fall from the tree or bush. For the most part they are woven into live branches with a sense of permanency.

I’d forgotten how large our yard is and how many distinct landscapes are in it. As we head into winter the walkabouts will be a time for observing, thinking, and planning our landscape. I don’t know how I went so long without this as part of each day.

Categories
Kitchen Garden

2021 Kitchen Garden Successes

Last apples, 2021.

2021 has been a great year of progress in the kitchen garden. As the seed orders find their way to us via U.S. Postal Service, some reflection on the positives seems in order.

Apples

This has been one of the best years for apples. In our yard the three legacy trees bore abundantly and we used them for everything we needed. At the orchard (by this I mean Wilson’s Orchard and Farm, where I worked from 2013 until 2019) there was an abundant crop to supplement the two varieties that yielded here. The pantry is loaded with everything we need in terms of processed apples. We should have enough apple butter, applesauce, dried apples and cider vinegar to last two years until the next big crop. If our trees bear next year, that will be a bonus.

We had enough to take what we needed, let our neighbors pick some, and plenty for the deer once we harvested the best ones. The combination between our trees and a nearby commercial orchard meant we didn’t have to buy a single apple from the grocery store.

Vegetable broth

Each garden year begins with a couple dozen quart jars of vegetable broth. As I grow a diverse number of greens, I switch which ones dominate. Turnip greens have produced a consistently tasty broth, yet they all are good. We use this broth to cook rice, in soups, and as an alternative to using oil when frying vegetables for some dishes.

Guajillo Chilies

It took a few years but the integration of Guajillo Chilies into our cooking is complete. The main product is a cooked and preserved pepper combined with garlic, salt and apple cider vinegar in a food processor. Once the fresh chilies are gone, this becomes the main way I use chilies in cooking. I tried the technique with jalapeno peppers and while a little hotter, it also serves for our culinary needs.

Polish-style Soup

When growing up, Mom’s cooking was pretty “American.” That is, outside the occasional Polish-style ravioli brought home from visits to LaSalle, Illinois, Polish heritage cooking was absent. That was also true of memories of my maternal Grandmother who often found paid work as a cook in settings where American cooking prevailed. It was discovery of the cook book Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans by the Polanie Club that enabled me to come to terms with my heritage.

Based on studies of the soup chapter, I developed a consistent soup recipe that uses vegetables grown in our garden. The ingredients in the book were the same as what I have been growing for years. The main characteristics of the soups are they are thickened with barley, I add lentils as a source of protein, and use onions, celery, broccoli stem, parsley, grated zucchini and other frozen vegetables from the growing season. I use whatever greens are in season, and frozen kale if they are not. I also add potatoes, turnips, and whatever root vegetables are on hand. Settling on a soup recipe has been a long time coming.

Sweet Bell Peppers

After years of experimentation I finally produced enough bell peppers to eat raw, use in cooking, and preserve in the freezer. This was a watershed year.

Tomatoes

I grew the largest number of tomato plants ever and had plenty to eat fresh, can, freeze, and give away. The main successes were:

  • Developing a method to extract moisture and freeze the pulp into small servings using a cupcake pan was a breakthrough. The idea is to use a couple of tomato “buttons” to make pizza sauce for our weekly, home made pizza. I use them in everything to add a small amount of tomato sauce when needed.
  • I learned to grow enough Roma tomatoes so I can use them to can whole. I’m still working off a backlog of preserved tomatoes, but the system is in place for growing to match canning needs. Romas are the best to can whole.
  • Our local food bank welcomed my extra tomatoes. My weekly seasonal donations took the pressure off of using tomatoes in a timely manner.
  • I grew a wider variety of tomatoes this season, maybe 25-30 varieties. The benefit was I discovered some new favorites and we had tomatoes for every dish throughout the season.
  • I can extra liquid from tomatoes if I don’t use it fresh. I try to use everything and the canned liquid goes into soups.
  • I planted earlier than my peers in the local food movement and because of that, I had tomatoes earlier than they did. I risked frost only once or twice and using old bed sheets to cover the plants, was able to make it through without damage.

Squash, eggplant and cucumbers

I’m pleased with the way the squash came out. There was plenty of zucchini, and pumpkins and acorn squash produced beautiful fruit that tasted good. A little goes a long way with zucchini and I grew and preserved enough for soup all winter. I also froze cooked pumpkin flesh in one cup sized buttons to use in pumpkin bread.

A little eggplant goes a long way for us. I had six or seven varieties of seeds and planted some of each. I’m looking for enough to make one or two eggplant Parmesans and roasted rounds for the freezer. I had plenty this year.

The cucumber crop wasn’t as big as we’d like although it produced enough for plenty of canned sweet pickles to last us until next year. I’m on the way to striking a balance of varieties to meet our needs and this will be an ongoing experiment.

Garlic

The garlic crop was the biggest yet with large heads, about 75 of them. The disease that was prevalent last year was absent this year. That’s because I was particularly diligent to pick clean cloves for seed. The main uses are fresh in cooking and in the prepared chili sauces mentioned above. I still harvest enough green garlic from the volunteer patch I planted decades ago.

Celery

There was a new celery seed this year and it produced a better crop. We eat celery fresh in season and use it in cooking. The extra gets sliced in soup style and stir fry style and we produced a lot of it this year. We’ll be eating it all winter.

Greens Patch

I set aside a plot for cooking greens and the concept proved to be useful. We had greens for the entire season. The main change was cutting back the number of kale plants and planting chard , collards and mustard as alternatives. I also grew several kinds of cruciferous vegetables like kohlrabi and bok choy. I plan to further develop this concept.

Onions

I grew seven varieties of onions and shallots and would term it a success. It is the second year of having a big crop and the quality was quite good. I used a mixture of plants I started from seed and starts from the seed store. The starts from the seed store, along with the shallots, did the best. The challenge is picking storage varieties and then using the shorter storing onions first. This all worked out in 2021.

Herbs

I successfully grew parsley for the first time. There was plenty of it to use fresh and I used the cupcake pan method to freeze some in water to add to soups during winter. I also had plenty of chives, savory, rosemary and basil. I froze many parsley stems for use in winter cooking. I feel more confident after this season and will likely expand my herb growing next season.

Row Cover

I bartered for some row cover and used it to grow an eight foot row of lettuce and herbs. It made a huge difference. It enabled succession planting in a way I hadn’t had before. More planning is in order for 2022 to make row covered vegetables a bigger part of the garden.

Categories
Writing

CCS Push Back & Climate Change

Field Corn

When we took the land after the 1832 Black Hawk Purchase, it was decimated to make neatly cut rectangles of farmland. People are used to that now. Today Iowa farmland is used mostly as a production landscape for hogs, cattle, corn and beans. For too long, Iowa’s air, water and land have been used like an open sewer to support these operations. Farmers are used to what they know and don’t want to change. That’s true for people besides farmers.

Iowa is not an empty place where someone can do what they want with the land. A utility should not be able to build pipelines and transmission lines, or construct large-scale wind farms and solar arrays with impunity. The current crop of Iowa farmers is possessive of the right to their land and to use it as they see fit. They believe they know better than government what works here and what doesn’t. They don’t want infringement on their rights. The myth of farmers as the original environmentalists persists despite evidence to the contrary.

When solutions to the climate crisis require cooperation between large corporations and Iowa farmers there is resistance.

The new carbon capture and sequestration proposals of Summit Carbon Solutions and Navigator CO2 Ventures will confront these well-established beliefs. Even though a prominent farmer, Bruce Rastetter, is behind Summit, the rollout will follow a path familiar to anyone who knows the history of electricity transmission lines and oil pipelines here. Farmers will push back.

Donnelle Eller of Gannett stated the obvious about Summit in Monday’s Iowa City Press Citizen, “The company, a spinoff of Bruce Rastetter’s Alden-based Summit Agricultural Group, says the project would help ethanol and other energy-intensive ag industries remain viable as the nation seeks to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 to address climate change.” The Iowa governor spoke about a low carbon economy, but failed to mention climate change or how CCS fits in such a framework. This underscores a key problem with CCS. They are just out there and bottom line, it’s backers don’t give a hoot about climate change. It’s another opportunity for capital investment which could yield big profits.

The sides are already lining up for this fight.

Opponents of CO2 pipelines have also been opponents of the Rock Island Clean Line and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rural Iowans do not speak of one mind on this yet a common theme is big money, not farmers, are behind these transmission schemes. They claim the voices of farmers are not being heard. They also claim climate change is a lie.

What is the purpose of CCS if not to address climate change? That’s the wrong question. These projects are about investing capital to get a return on investment. If the government is a source of start-up capital, more’s the better for investors. The words “climate change” aren’t needed in this transaction.

“The world must reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050 in order to achieve the 1.5 degree Celsius global average temperature increase limit,” according to Summit’s website. “A dramatic increase in carbon capture and storage (CCS) is crucial to achieving net-zero CO2 emissions.”

The second sentence is unlikely to be accurate. The problem is Summit and Navigator seek to change nothing about industrial use of fossil fuels. They seek a profit from ethanol plants and other CO2 emitters who keep on doing what they are doing now. CCS has become a gigantic boondoggle instead of a solution to climate change.

“Climate and other environmental and public safety concerns about CO2 pipelines are important,” Ed Fallon wrote in a Nov. 11 email. “But as with Dakota Access Pipeline, in terms of mobilizing the broadest possible coalition of opponents, the strongest argument is the abuse of eminent domain.”

In a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board, Janna Swanson, whose land the Summit pipeline would cross, had this to say about the project and climate change:

There are a whole bunch of plans to mine our tax money for revenue and the excuse is Climate Change. When using that as an excuse then any action against humans is justified.

Summit Carbon Solutions will want the right of eminent domain. They will say that because of Climate Change that their business model is for public use.

When one paints with that wide of a brush then no one’s property is off limits for anything. No one has rights.

Iowa Utilities Board filing ID 4277288 under HLP-2021-0001 by Janna Swanson

Let’s be clear. Summit and Navigator are in the CCS business to make money, as much of it as they can. Comments like Swanson’s are setting up climate change as a talking point instead of the reality of extreme weather it is and that must be dealt with.

It is early in the process yet already many comments have been made to the Iowa Utilities Board regarding the potential CCS proposals of Summit and Navigator. If you’d like to make a comment, here’s the information.

Written comments or objections to the proposed pipeline can be filed electronically using the IUB’s Open Docket Comment Form, by email to customer@iub.iowa.gov, or by postal mail to the Iowa Utilities Board, Attn: Docket No. HLP-2021-0003 (Navigator) and/or Docket No. HLP-2021-0001 (Summit) , 1375 E. Court Ave., Des Moines, IA 50319.

The downside of the CCS approval process is it turns rural Iowans against a second science-based phenomenon. Only 56.5 percent of Iowans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. There is no inoculation against extreme weather made worse by climate change that Iowans already experience.

The resource page I wrote recently has been updated with new information. Check it out by clicking here.

~ Written for Blog for Iowa

Categories
Environment

Don’t Pass the Climate Buck to the Next Generation

Finn Harries and All Gore at the Climate Reality Project leadership training in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on May 7, 2015. Photo Credit: Finn Harries Twitter account.

In 2015, Finn Harries sat at our table during former vice president Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth presentation in Cedar Rapids. I didn’t know his history as a YouTuber with his identical twin brother Jack. I was assigned as his mentor during the training yet Finn didn’t need a mentor to work on the climate crisis.

Friday, Nov. 26, Finn Harries made this statement on Instagram after attending COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland:

One of the responses I often hear from older people when I talk about the work I do is “your generation gives me hope”… but this is the wrong way to think about how we go about tackling the climate crisis. In effect, this is the same strategy that has got us so deep into this mess… just passing the problem down to the next generation. What’s different this time is that we don’t have enough time to wait for our generation to be in institutional seats of power… we don’t have any time at all. So we’re flipping it around. We’re passing the problem back, up to those who can actually instigate change. Our role as young activists is to hold people in positions of power to account. To make sure they do what they’ve said they will do. In this way, we all have a critical role to play.

Finn Harries Instagram Account Nov. 26, 2021.

Harries is right. It will take all of us to make a difference during the climate crisis. In the U.S. we are not doing enough to hold people in positions of power to account.

According to a recent Washington Post – ABC News poll, “A clear majority of adults say that warming is a serious problem, but the share — 67 percent — is about the same as it was seven years ago, when alarms raised by climate scientists were less pronounced than they are now.” What will move the public opinion needle and lead to effective climate action?

In Iowa, the effects of climate change are clear. I outlined some of them in a letter to my federal elected officials. What are the two Carbon Capture and Sequestration pipelines to transport liquefied CO2 from Iowa to North Dakota and Illinois but a response to the need to reduce CO2 emissions into the atmosphere? Our political leaders don’t even acknowledge the climate crisis while supporting CO2 removal from the atmosphere.

We do have a critical role to play to prevent the worst effects of global warming. Implementing a solution will require us all.

Here is the YouTube video Finn’s brother Jack Harries made for the Conference of the Parties 26 in Glasgow, Scotland. It features an interview with former president Barack Obama. Young people like the Harries twins are not buying much malarkey. We, as a society, need to act.

Categories
Writing

2022 Garden Seeds Ordered

2015 Seed Catalogs

In between kitchen duties of helping prepare our Thanksgiving meal, I spent time finalizing a seed order for the 2022 garden. Between Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Totally Tomatoes, I found most of what I needed to adjust the seed inventory before next year’s planting.

When our daughter left Iowa we lost our way during the holidays. Old habits fell away and Christmas decorations we displayed each year after Thanksgiving remain in storage as they have for the past several years. Given the changes, it is hard to determine the meaning of the end of year holidays. What they meant isn’t any longer. For the most part we embrace the change… and plan the next year’s garden, and other activities.

Behind these blog posts, a lot is happening related to my writing. Last winter’s work was one of getting words down on a page, an average of 1,218 per day during the first half of this year. This winter I’m putting together the structure and plugging drafts into slots on the narrative frame. I cleared a shelf which now contains a dozen empty three-ring binders. Inside them will go the draft book, along with key reference material. I hope to fill those binders during the coming months. I will have a better idea of what progress is possible after the first pass.

The days after Thanksgiving are a quiet time. We all need a break and thrive in peacefulness. On April 21, 1996 we bought our first home computer. During the last 25 years, we learned how to spend long periods of time in front of a computer screen. Most of that time is dull, yet occasionally we find something of interest. Something engaging is always a click away, or so we believe. The information comes at us so quickly on line. One story after another piles up, invoking rage, happiness, and joy, but seldom denouement or catharsis. When we are sitting, looking at a screen, we often get tense or anxious. Sometimes we are outraged, which causes us to stand up and converse with others, to let off steam, to slow things back down to a normal pace. We appreciate the relative quiet in between times.

This Thanksgiving weekend is an in between time. Now that seed orders are placed, the next main event will come along soon enough. It’s getting so I no longer look forward to “main events.” I would much rather be in between.

Categories
Writing

Retro Post: Day After Thanksgiving

(Editor’s Note: The events in this retro post occurred on Friday, Nov. 25, 2011. I refer to my photo blog on Flickr, yet that has been deleted like all of my Yahoo accounts. I remember this home town adventure like it was yesterday. Many thanks to my friend Dan for taking the photos).

For a number of years, a grade school friend and I have been getting together in Davenport to talk and go to Blain’s Farm and Fleet the day after Thanksgiving. In a change of habits, except we did go to Farm and Fleet, we created a project to visit some of the places I have been posting about in my photo blog on Flickr and shoot photographs. We started at 8 a.m. when I picked him up at his parent’s home. A cup of coffee in tow, we got right to work, driving past his former home on Fillmore to my birthplace in this parking lot.

At My Birth Place

The parking lot is actually an upgrade from the vacant lot that sat for a number of years where the old Mercy Hospital was torn down. We both shared our experiences there, and then moved over to the church where I was baptized two blocks away.

Holy Family Church

When I secured a copy of my baptismal record to apply to the Bishop to attend seminary, I found they got my middle name wrong. In my experience in dealing with record keepers, this type of error occurs frequently. What is a person to do, as the wants of historical revisionists are not wanted by record clerks, most of the time. The historical record is what it is. After this, we continued South on Fillmore Street.

At the intersection with Locust Street, I pointed out the place where I heard JFK had been shot in Dallas. Continuing South on Fillmore we passed the duplex where I lived during my first year.

Fillmore Street Duplex

Continuing on, we came to the building where I attended grades two through six. It looks abandoned and the window in the room that was second grade was broken.

Broken Second Grade Window

We walked around the building and headed back to the church where I had parked my pickup truck.We drove by the former Geifman Foods, Northwest Bank and Trust and headed to Five Points where the Spudnut Shop used to be. It was gone, as were so many other neighborhood businesses from the old days.

We ended up by the old Turners Hall, which was a combination gymnasium and social club created by German immigrants and modeled after the Turnhalles in Germany. It too had fallen into disrepair.

Near the Turners Hall

Next we went to Fejervary Park which has long been a place for family gatherings. We checked out Mother Goose Land and Monkey Island and both looked to have renovations in progress. I found the stand of woods where my great grandmother’s family used to set out a picnic and converse in Polish.

Traditional Family Picnic Area

We drove past the place where my friend’s first house in Davenport had been located. It had been torn down. We drove past the Bishop’s old residence wondering if the Catholic Bishop still lived there. Next stop the place we moved after Fillmore Street at 919 Madison.

919 Madison Street

The hill is so steep on Madison I set the parking brake for the first time in over a year. We took lots of photos here, and the brick-paved street was particularly photogenic.

Madison Street

Next we drove downtown to River Drive past the old city cemetery where the cholera victims are buried in a mass grave. Turning left, we headed to Oscar Mayer.

Oscar Mayer Davenport Plant

I posted another photo of Oscar Mayer on my photoblog.

From here, East on River Drive, past KSTT Radio to where we lived behind the Wonder Bakery, now called Continental Baking. The house had been converted to a parking lot. Leaving there, we drove to Mississippi Avenue and stopped at the building where I had an apartment before leaving for the Army. I lived in the apartment in the second floor, far right window.

Apartment on Mississippi Avenue

As long as we were in the area, we stopped by the apartment on Walling Court where I lived with a high school friend while I was waiting to enter the seminary. It is located near where the jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke was born. From here, we wove our way around Grand and Farnum to Central Park and then the Village Inn on Harrison where we stopped, drank a cup of coffee and had bagels while we loaded the photos on my computer and reviewed them.

From here we went to Farm and Fleet and browsed the farm clothing. My friend bought some tins of popcorn for work presents and we dropped them back at his parents home where the women of the family were having a wedding shower. Threatened with our lives for intruding on the long planned, all female event, we headed over to the other family house, a few blocks away, where the men were gathered watching the Hawkeye v. Corn Husker football game, eating Kielbasa, bologna and ham salad sandwiches and drinking Kamikazes. We had lunch and I headed back to Big Grove around 1 p.m. It was a day about as good as they get.

Categories
Home Life

Postcards from Iowa #15

The bean feast, Jacob Jordaens (1593 – 1678) Wien, Kusthistorisches Museum.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our vegan menu:
Assorted homemade pickles
Wild rice pilaf
Baked Great Northern beans
Acorn squash
Hummus
Peas and carrots
Brussels sprouts
Cranberry relish
Apple crisp
Fresh, local apple cider
Filtered ice water
Final presentation.
Categories
Environment

Here Comes Carbon Capture Technology

Contains 10 Percent Ethanol

Let’s be clear about Carbon Capture and Sequestration: it is an unproven technology to enable fossil fuel use when society should be turning away and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. Among the problems with the technology is our government supports it to the tune of $8.5 billion in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. There is more money for CCS in the Build Back Better Act as currently written. Why would our government do that?

The answer is a familiar one. Oil, gas and coal interests have too much invested to let go of their extraction and distribution operations. During negotiations between the White House and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, support for CCS was included in both bills. Manchin’s vote was needed to pass the legislation.

In addition to funding CCS technology, the Biden administration appointed a prominent supporter of it, Brad Crabtree, a coal ally and longtime carbon capture advocate, to serve as the Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. While negotiations over the infrastructure bills were private, Manchin is said to have had a hand in Crabtree’s nomination. Oil, gas and coal advocates let loose a loud cheer of approval upon the announcement.

The question is whether substantial government investment in CCS via the infrastructure bills was a poison pill for environmentalists. Only a few people are asking that question here in Iowa, and fewer still knew what was in the bills. Inclusion of CCS was apparently not too toxic for environmental hawks in the U.S. Congress as it was accepted as part of the sausage-making process of creating legislation.

The partisan lines are clearly drawn. The Republican view of climate action is “with innovative technologies, fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution.” Most Democrats “support increased domestic renewable energy development, including wind and solar power farms, in an effort to reduce carbon pollution. The party’s platform calls for an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including clean energy, natural gas, and domestic oil, while wanting to become energy independent.” It’s no wonder CCS made it into the first infrastructure law, and will into the second if it is passed by the Congress.

The Iowa governor’s task force on carbon sequestration quickly led to Iowa going all-in on the technology, with two proposed Iowa projects. The Iowa Sierra Club opposes them.

We want real climate solutions – not greenwashing schemes!

Iowa has two new pipeline proposals. Both are centered around Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). The lines would carry captured carbon from ethanol plants. CCS is very complicated but when you boil it down, the basic premise is that it captures the carbon and stores it underground (CCS) or it captures the carbon and uses it for industrial purposes. Both Summit and Navigator pipelines claim that they are going to permanently store the CO2 underground, but we have strong evidence that Summit will use the CO2 for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR). EOR is the process of pumping CO2 into dwindling oil fields to get the last bit of oil out of the ground. The two pipelines in Iowa are being offered as false climate solutions, especially if they will be utilized for enhanced oil recovery and extending the life of coal-fired power plants and the ethanol industry.

We already know the solutions to our climate crisis – we must end our dependence on fossil fuels and invest in solar, wind, battery storage, conservation and efficiency!

Sierra Club website.

Click on this link to learn more about actions you can take to oppose the Iowa CCS projects. Click here to sign the Sierra Club petition on CCS.

Categories
Writing

November Trail Walking

Lake Macbride State Park trail, Nov. 21, 2021.

Days of the week have been differentiated. Defining a “week” with no work outside home seems essential to emerging from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Where are we on the pandemic?

According to CDC, less than 10 people died of COVID-19 in our county during the last seven day period. The actual numbers were “suppressed” on their website. The rate of admission to hospitals for COVID-19 is three per day for the same period. Our county has a high level of community transmission of the virus compared to most other counties in Iowa which are described as “substantial.” The percentage of positive tests for COVID-19 is on an upswing and expected to get worse as the end of year holidays are upon us. The county health department encourages us to get vaccinated if we aren’t, and to get a booster shot before December if we are eligible. The vaccine is available on a walk-in basis at pharmacies. We appear to have reached a period of stasis in the pandemic.

Some days of the week are better defined than others. Mondays are about catching up on desk work and starting new projects. Wednesdays are for shopping in person if needed. Fridays are for finishing up the week’s work, and the weekend is back to being the weekend with less travel and most activities occurring at home. Without effort on my part days would have continued to blend into an endless series of indistinguishable sunrises and sunsets. It is important to impose structure on our lives, so I have.

Every day I attempt to exercise. Of late, most of it was walking on the state park trail. When we chose to build our home here, proximity to the state park was an attractive feature. Not only is the trail well-maintained, the abundance of wildlife can be astounding. Waterfowl and birds alone are a constant source of wonder. The point is the exercise, though, and the trail serves.

We don’t know if or when the coronavirus pandemic will end. What you see is what you get, I suppose. Maybe it is over and we just haven’t said so. I plan to continue to wear a mask in public, especially when shopping, long after the threat of COVID-19 has diminished. There are plenty of other colds, viruses and contagions to avoid. If this is an eccentricity of the elderly, then so be it. I embrace it. I’m at a point where I don’t care that much how people view my appearance. I do want to fit in when in social settings, but there are lines to be drawn. I have plenty of N-95 masks.

The weather has been delightful this fall, with more temperate, clear days than we deserve. I’m planning to hike the trail again today, partly for the exercise, and partly to see the activity of a society of people and wildlife in transition. Here’s hoping there is change for the better.