13

In Hogan’s translation, he says don’t worry about the score, just do what you have to do. Star’s translation says honor is founded on disgrace and disgrace is rooted in honor, so both should be avoided. 

Fame and misfortune are both fleeting and depend on other people, who are doubtless wrestling their own demons and so are hardly objective. Making the opinion of others the measure of my worth is a snare I find myself in over and over. You would think that having to disentangle myself would teach me a lesson, but evidently I need to learn some things more than once.

4

Tao.

In one translation, Hogan says use all you want; there is more than we’ll ever need. In another, Star says it is empty, yet fills every vessel. Hidden, but it fills every corner.

Evocative, to say the least. Also to say the most, which I guess is the point. 

One thing all the translations I have looked at make clear from the beginning:  Don’t try to pin it down. If you can define it, you’re leaving something out. I find that at once refreshing, frustrating, and liberating. 

Celebrate the mystery. You might as well. 

The Gift That Keeps On Giving (I Hope)

My sister and I decided that a good present for our parents would be to use Doordash to deliver meals to them throughout the upcoming year. I set up an account (website visit #1) and we told them about the gift.

We knew they liked Cracker Barrel, so we decided to start with that restaurant.

Monday I called my parents (call #1) and asked them to think about what day would be good and what they would like. I called my sister (call #2) to let her know.

Tuesday I called my parents (call #3), who had forgotten about my previous call, and we decided on Thursday. I called Jane (call #4) to let her know and ask what she thought they would like.

Wednesday I went back to the website (visit #2), placed the order, added a tip, specified the time, and paid. Called Jane (call #5) to let her know the details.

Today I called my parents (call #6) to let them know what time to expect the delivery.

I got a text from Doordash confirming my order (text #1).

Another text from Doordash saying the order was being picked up (text #2).

A call to my parents (call #7) to tell them the food was on its way and to watch for it.

Called Jane (call #8) to let her know she might need to go by and make sure everything went okay. 

Text from Doordash (text #3) saying the delivery person – Jack – was approaching the door, and asking that we please wear a mask if we were meeting them in person.

Phone call to parents (call #9) to let them know. Dad said, “I’m looking at him right now.” Too late to pass on the mask request, but hopefully he was wearing one. We’ll be sure to cue him the next time before the delivery arrives, or ask Doordash to leave it at the door.

Phone call to Jane (call #10) to tell her it worked.

Text from Doordash (text #4) saying delivery had been made.

Repeat of text #4 (text #5).

Phone call (call #11) from Doordash confirming delivery.

Phone call from Mother (call #12) telling me how good the fried chicken was.

Now that we know it works, I think the next time will run much smoother. Doordash and Cracker Barrel were cooperative and efficient, and my parents loved it. There are enough restaurants within the delivery radius of their house to give them some variety. So far, a good present to two people who are difficult to buy for.

The next thing is to find out if Doordash will go by Yassin’s and pick up a gyro for me and a falafel for Suzanne. I’m afraid I might have to meet them somewhere, given our location. We’ll see.

A Lost Year?

I am beginning to see more people voicing disagreement with the characterization of our children as having lost a year of school due to the pandemic, and I’m glad that is happening. While it is true that they have lost classroom time, it is not the case that they have gone a year without education.

We can, if we choose, regard these children as having been through an experience that is not quantifiable or measurable by any standardized test, a lesson in adaptation and resilience that could not have been planned or fit into a curriculum. We can try to be alert and sensitive to the emotional, physical, and spiritual damage that might have been done and also help them understand what new skills and strengths they have now. 

The above is true for the rest of us as well, and surviving this gives us all a unique opportunity to reinvent the world and our place in it. It would be a shame if we let it slip away from us while we tried to hang on to the way it used to be. There are things we have set aside, and soon we will begin deciding whether or not to pick them up again. Those decisions are better done on purpose, rather than without consideration. We all change the world in small ways every day, sometimes in one direction, sometimes another. Here is a chance to do so deliberately.

The pandemic has not offered us many silver linings, but this is a big one.

Thoughts on Christmas Eve

I love the quiet that descends on us when it snows. I’m doubly grateful because this has been a particularly noisy year.

The snow is falling as I write this; we might be looking at a few inches up here on House Mountain. I am thinking about all the different ways my friends celebrate this season and want to extend my best wishes to you all as we move from darkness into light with longer days and a new year approaching. May you have hearts wide open to joy, strength enough to endure suffering, and friends and family in abundance to help see you through. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Stay safe and keep in touch.

Litter Zen

Today as I was doing my morning chores, I found that treating the litter box as a Zen garden and doing a post-scooping smoothing of the surface does not contribute to my inner peace in a meaningful way. Perhaps I’m not enough in the moment. Tomorrow will be another opportunity. I think I need one of those little rakes. Or a mantra.

Appalachian Fiction

Looking for an alternative to Hillbilly Elegy? The Boone series (three books; the fourth is in process) is a first person fictional account of the life of an Appalachian teen in the aftermath of his abusive childhood. Pushing Back, Matching Scars, and Keeping Secrets take Boone from 16 years old through 19, stumbling toward adulthood after his family disintegrates over the course of a single weekend. The fourth book (no title yet) is 40k words into the first draft.

Links on my website, under the catalog tab, along with links to my children’s books (available in English and Spanish).

Stay safe and keep in touch,

Jim

The guns of autumn

Echo in the naked trees

A hidden shooter

Give the Gift of Reading

Bookshop is an excellent source for books of all genres, and includes many curated lists of recommendations. Get your holiday gift orders in early so they’ll get to you on time. Bypass Amazon and support local bookstores. Free shipping Friday through Monday!

https://bookshop.org/shop/housemountainviews

In addition to the lists on my Bookshop page (disclaimer: as an affiliate, I will earn a commission if you purchase through my storefront), there are many other titles and storefronts to explore. Check it out, spend some time, buy a few books (or a few dozen).

Crested Hens

According to the Session website, this tune is also known as Cockscomb Bouree, Como Poden Per Sas Culpas, The Crested Hen, The Crested Hens, Les Poules Huppees, Les Poules Huppés, Poules Huppées. There’s a couple of stumbles here, but it’s a nice tune and I wanted to share it. Hope you enjoy it.