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2017 in Big Grove

Coffee Station

BIG GROVE TOWNSHIP — I found a quart jar of whole bean coffee in the pantry, ground a quarter cup, and made a pot with my French press — a bitter yet delicious treat while reflecting on the past year.

I will need a second pot.

2017 was a year of treading water in a sea of challenges.

National political culture mattered this year. The inauguration of Donald J. Trump as president set a sour tone as his conservative and sometimes unqualified picks filled out the judiciary. His cabinet ate away at the foundation of our Democracy the way termites invade the weakest point of a structure to consume and thereby weaken it. If Barack Obama’s 2008 election freed me from the constraints of a transportation career, the 45th president fouled the air of creativity with his every move — spoken and unspoken. It was a time when capital was valued more than labor, with no better expression of it than the tax bill signed into law on Friday. Repression of Democratic ideals could be found everywhere we live.

My response to the toxic environment was to engage. I re-joined the county party central committee, our home owners association, and the Macbride Sanitary Sewer District. I also wrote: seven letters to the Solon Economist, two columns published in the Cedar Rapids Gazette, 24 posts on Blog for Iowa, two on Bleeding Heartland and 159 posts here. I finished reading ten books this year, most of those in the first few months of the year. I followed the circus that has been Republican control of the federal and state government, and developed some new friends. Moral: when the nation goes sour, get involved locally.

My work at the home, farm and auto supply store has been a physical drain. I applied for and was approved to start Social Security benefits with the first check arriving in late January 2018. I’ll be transitioning out of low-wage work before Memorial Day.

Wild Woods Farm and Sundog Farm kept me busy spring weekends, and I worked the fall apple season at Wilson’s Orchard. There were bits and pieces of other income. By the end of the apple season, I was ready to rest from farm work. Our balance sheet was unchanged year over year.

My health has been okay. I got a crown and transitioned to a new dentist as Dr. Erusha retired. I avoided seeing a physician and am past due for a checkup. The physical work at the home, farm and auto supply store, and on the farms, has been tolerable. My plantar fasciitis remains present, but subdued going into 2018. I’m in reasonably good health for a soon to be 66 year old male.

On a positive note, Jacque and I marked the 35th anniversary of our wedding this month.

“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,” German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said. I’m still here. We’re still here. We managed to sustain our lives in a turbulent year. That alone is hope for a better future.