After The Pandemic: We Will All Pay Dearly

It took a large iceberg to sink the RMS Titanic ocean liner in 1912. It took an invisible viral particle to sink the Titanic American economy in 2020.

Oh, I know, it hasn’t sunk yet, but economic activity all around the world is screeching to a halt. Unemployment is soaring. The American stock market has crashed (and has probably not hit bottom yet). Credit markets are freezing up. Banks are having liquidity problems. There are very serious, underlying, systemic issues. An economic recession is certain. Great Depression 2.0 is probable.

Not to worry, though. The stock market always rebounds. It might take decades, but it rebounds. In the meantime the government will bail out all kinds of failing businesses. And they will send every average American a check (or direct deposit) for a couple thousand dollars. They call it “Helicopter money.” Clever.

Free-market economist, Milton Friedman, coined the term, “helicopter money” back in 1969. The idea of the government creating ginormous amounts of money and, figuratively speaking, tossing it out of a helicopter into all sectors of the economy, as a way to jumpstart economic activity, was a theoretical absurdity to Friedman. He saw it as a desperate last resort… that would ultimately fail. Friedman was no dummy.

Our money from the government will be coming soon. Before this pandemic/economic episode is over, we will probably be getting more than just one handout payment. The money must be sent because millions of Americans are seriously impoverished. Millions of Americans are either totally or partially dependent on government handouts. If the government does not distribute the money, there will be riots. The cities will burn.

But these helicopter money handouts are harbingers.

No, not Harbinger, as in the 2012 book by Jonathan Cahn, the Messianic Jew Rabbi pseudo prophet, but harbinger as in the definition of the word: “something that foreshadows a future eventsomething that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come.”

The “free money” handouts, along with the trillions of dollars flushed into failing corporations, and all manner of “free” government services, are a harbinger of hyperinflation and the eventual destruction of the American dollar. That would be something worse than Great Depression 2.0.

It won’t be the first time a paper-money economic system has totally failed. History shows that, in due time, they have ALL totally failed.

With that in mind, back in 2013 I wrote a series of six essays on the subject of How To Survive The Coming Hyperinflation. Much of what I wrote revolves around the historical book, When Money Dies, by Adam Ferguson. The information and perspective I present in the series is still pertinent. It is more pertinent than it was seven years ago. It is also a decidedly Christian-agrarian perspective. Here are the links…

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

President Trump is telling Americans that our economy will boom when this wave of pandemic passes. He might actually believe that, and he might actually be right. Ginormous infusions of government money can goose the economy. But it will be a fake prosperity. It can’t last.

Keep in mind that history is full of examples of people in power assuring the citizenry that all is well right up to the point that all heck breaks loose. I take everything politicians say with a grain of salt.

The fundamental economic problem will not be fixed after the pandemic wave passes. The fundamental problem will, in fact, be significantly worsened. That problem is leverage. Governments, businesses, and individuals are overleveraged like never before. Debt is not just the elephant in the room, it is a whole herd of elephants in the room, and the beasts are getting restless.

There are three kinds of people: Those who make things happen. Those who watch things happen. And those who wonder what happened. My 6-part series (links above) offers practical, positive, proactive, economic self-defense ideas for anyone who wants to make things happen by positioning themselves for the eventual hyperinflation that will come to America.

My How To Survive Hyperinflation series does not focus on buying gold and silver, but I do discuss that in Part 4. If you are one of the few Americans with some savings, and you want to hedge your bets with some of that money, there are very simple ways to get money out of the fiat-money banking system and into allocated precious metals. These ways were not around when I wrote those essays in 2013. Vaulted and Sprott Bullion Trusts are a couple of options for you to check out. Those are not affiliate links, and I am not recommending those companies. I am simply letting you know that those kinds of options exist.

In the final analysis, hyperinflation and the eventual destruction of the American dollar-as-we-have-known-it, will not be the end of the world. People will pick up the pieces of their shattered modern lives and rebuild. Economic activity will continue. The sun will still shine. God’s common grace will still fill the land. We were all born for such a time as this.

Coronavirus Concerns

I assume that everyone in America is following the new coronavirus (officially named COVID-19) as closely as I am. But it so happens that many (perhaps most) Americans have little interest in the science of a virus pandemic, and little concern for the social, political, economic and personal impact that such a pandemic may have on their lives.

I’ve come to realize that people are wired differently when it comes to potential crisis scenarios like this. Some want to know the truth about what they may have to deal with so they can be proactive. Others, for various reasons, have no interest in the reality of details or personal proactivity.

It is what it is, and I have no interest in expending time and energy on trying to convince anyone that they should take any potential crisis scenario seriously. I did that with Y2k in my community 20 years ago. I really put myself out there (which is not easy for an introvert). I spoke to the local chamber of commerce. I gave a presentation at a public assembly. I contacted all my neighbors and communicated my concerns. I will not ever do that again.

But, the way it looks to me, COVID-19 is serious enough to warrant this post for you, my small circle of blog friends. If this virus is not yet on your radar screen, I’d like to provide the following 12 details for you to consider. These details are correct to the best of my knowledge at this time, based on the sources I provide below…

  1. COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus. That means it is something totally new in the human ecosystem. No one in the world has natural antibody protection in their bodies to deal with this virus, as is the case with many other known viruses.
  2. COVID-19 is a Pandemic. It is currently spreading throughout the world.
  3. COVID-19 is extremely contagious. The virus is spread in aerosol form. That means that someone who is infected with the virus spreads it by simply breathing. The virus can spread from room to room in a building through natural air currents, or through ductwork.
  4. COVID-19 virus can survive on surfaces for a long time. At 68°F it can survive for 24 hours.
  5. COVID-19 virus can enter your body through your mouth, your nose, or your eyes.
  6. People who have COVID-19 and show no symptoms (asymptomatic) are contagious and spreaders of the virus. This is the most insidious aspect of this little beast.
  7. 80% of people who get COVID-19 will have only cold or flue symptoms. 15% will develop serious respiratory problems and require hospitalization (to get oxygen into their system). 5% will require lengthy intensive care in a hospital.
  8. Most people who die from COVID-19 die from pneumonia and the resulting hypoxia, which is a lack of oxygen to the cells of the body. There is some indication that those who survive serious cases of COVID-19 have permanent heart damage.
  9. A vaccine for COVID-19 is one year to 18 months away from being available. In the meantime, the virus is likely to mutate.
  10. Children under 12 are not as susceptible to the virus as adults, and if they get it, it is less severe than in adults (but they are still spreading the virus). Men are more susceptible than women. People over 70 are most at risk of dying (but people of all ages are dying from the virus).
  11. COVID-19 is not a virus that will “burn out” when the weather warms up in North America, as typically happens with yearly flue viruses.
  12. There is evidence to indicate that a person can be reinfected with COVID-19 after recovering, and it is worse the second time around.

Unlike Y2k, COVID-19 is not something that might happen in the future. It is not a “conspiracy theory.” It is happening now. According to Dr. John Campbell, in the UK, it is estimated that 60% of the population in the UK will contract the virus in the first year once it gets a foothold in the country.

If 60% of a nation’s population (or even much less than that) gets this virus, and 20% requires hospitalization, the hospital medical system will not be able to accommodate all the people who need care. This is what is already happening in China. The medical system in the United States is no better prepared to deal with this kind of pandemic. Not at all. This is the greatest health concern with COVID-19.

The only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 in a country is with extreme public quarantine measures. Quarantine measures like the United States has not seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918. COVID-19 is not as deadly as the Spanish Flu, but it has the potential to overwhelm the medical system and significantly disrupt the normal operations of our society even more than the Spanish Flu.

My personal opinion: all governments and their bureaucracies have a vested interest in downplaying the seriousness of a viral pandemic. But if it gets serious, the government will have to take drastic measures to deal with it. Mass public quarantine (shut down of everything) for several weeks is likely. There is no other option, except to let the pandemic rage.

Now the logical question: Can you personally get by if quarantined to your home for several weeks? Precious few Americans are prepared for such a scenario. That being the case, the potential crisis will be much more than just a health crisis.

Chris Martinson and Dr. John Campbell are providing some excellent, up to date information about COVID-19 on their YouTube channels. I recommend them to you.

Joshua Sheats, at Radical Personal Finance, has produced an excellent podcast: How To Prepare For Flu-Coronavirus Quarantine. At around 30 minutes into the podcast, Joshua provides the most sensible advice I’ve heard on the subject of inexpensively providing food to feed your family for a 30-day quarantine.

Yes, he discusses the prepper standard of rice and beans, but he has much more practical suggestions. For example, he recommends white flour, oil and salt to make flatbread and a lot of jars of peanut butter and jam. Beyond that, pancake mix and syrup or honey. For $100 to $200 a family could stock up on those items and survive fairly well. In the event that you don’t use the flour and other items, you can just throw them away after a year or two. They were insurance. They gave you peace of mind. He has other practical suggestions beyond peanut butter and pancake mix.

I’ve said it in past blog posts, and it bears repeating: Complexity brings vulnerability. Our modern civilization is the most complex that the world has ever seen. Chris Martinson and his Peak Prosperity organization have long recommended that people in this complex civilization live a “resilient” lifestyle. That includes having what Chris refers to as a “deep pantry.”

“Deep pantry” is a term I like. It’s an old fashioned concept. Rural people used to have a larder where they kept a supply of food. Stock the larder with food you already eat. It’s not a panic response. It’s not radical “prepping.” It’s just old fashioned common sense. Oh, and a garden too!

So there’s some perspective on this potential crisis. Do what you will with it.

God help us all.

So Long To The Boy Scouts… But What About The Boy Problem?

You’ve probably heard that the Boy Scouts organization has filed for bankruptcy. They will soon be history. The organization lost it’s way in recent years. When they compromised on the morally straight part of the Scout Oath, it was all over but the shouting. Oh, and they started letting girls be Scouts. That was just plain dumb.

Unfortunately, the “boy problem” remains.

It was the “boy problem” that prompted Lieutenant General Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell to create the Boy Scouts in 1910. The “boy problem” is well worth understanding, and Albert Mohler explained it very well in his February 19th episode of The Briefing (I listen to The Briefing every morning with the podcast app on my iPhone).

The following two excerpts are from that day’s program transcript. They are insightful…

Back in the early 20th century, it was already recognized that modern, advanced, Western societies, those Western societies in Europe and in North America that had experienced the industrial revolution, had also experienced urbanization. And the two of those issues coming together created what was known in the early 20th century as the boy problem or the boy crisis. It was noted in Britain, it was noted in the United States and, of course, elsewhere throughout Europe and nations such as Canada as well.

What was the problem? When you had boys growing up on farms, they were working with their fathers and their uncles and their older brothers and they were enculturated into a world of manhood there in a largely rural environment. It didn’t take a massive volunteer organization, an organization specifically targeted for the purpose of helping boys to grow up. It wasn’t required back then, but once you had the twin forces of the industrial revolution in which two things happen, not only did you have the shift of so much of the work off of the farm into a factory, but you also had dad, the father in the home, increasingly taken out of the home for significant numbers of hours during the day to work in the factory.

And then urbanization concentrated the problem such that you had gangs and bands of boys who were hanging out together and often up to no good in America’s cities that then had a burgeoning population. There was another concern that was rooted in the early 20th century, and it was a concern about health and the decline of masculinity. Also back in the early 20th century, there was the fear that European and North American boys were growing weak. And the masculinity or the masculine health crisis was seen in the fact that these boys were not out on the farm pushing the plow and furthermore just picking up giant bales of hay. They weren’t engaged in the same kind of physical activity and they were going soft.

And so, there was the ideal that if you could just get boys together in the presence of men who would guide them and you would get them out of doors, get them out of town, even away from the giant chimneys of the industrial revolution, get them out in the woods and teach them the arts and crafts of woodcraft, and hiking, and for that matter, any number of other outdoor activities including swimming, then you could perhaps help to reverse the boy crisis.

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“But looking back over a century of distance at all that now, what would it possibly have meant if you had the opportunity to tell one of those early founders of the Boy Scouts movement that by the time you get to the 21st century, the word “boy” is itself indeterminate, at least when it comes to the cultural elites. And furthermore, the idea that you could have a program just for boys, well that has become just an artifact of oppressive patriarchy. All of that is now just baked in to the cultural worldview of the intellectual elites. But that’s not the way it is still when it comes to the need of boys to have this kind of organization, for boys to have this kind of influence. The fact is that the scouting movement was directed towards a very real need.

One of the primary responsibilities of any civilization is to assist boys into growing into manhood. If that doesn’t happen, the society cannot continue. And the Boy Scouts of America, along with the military, and, of course, Christian churches and other organizations such as the YMCA (that interestingly emerged out of basically the very same concerns) helped generation after generation of boys to move successfully or at least more successfully into manhood. But the Boy Scouts of America could not, or at least they did not withstand the vast moral and sociological changes that came in the United States.

I was a Boy Scout. It was a mixed experience for me, but overall good. Interestingly, I was a Boy Scout when I lived in a suburban housing complex—before my family moved to the countryside (when I was in 9th grade). Scouts was a poor substitute for growing up in a rural setting with close family, shared physical work, responsibility, and manly role models. But the Boy Scouts did the best they could.

When I had children (three boys) I did not direct them into the Boy Scouts (or any organized sports). It was unnecessary. We lived in a rural setting. My work was local, and I was home every evening, if not during the days. We homeschooled. We worked together as a family on various homestead projects. Grandparents were close by. My sons worked on local farms from a young age. Our family chose to live a deliberate agrarian lifestyle.

My sons are responsible family men now. They will tell you that they had a wonderful childhood.

I dare say the “boy problem” is worse now than it ever was. The solution will not be found in any mainstream cultural organization. It can only truly be found in traditional families, with fathers who are wholesome male role models, and fully engaged in giving their sons an upbringing that is as close to the traditional rural ideal as possible.

That’s the way I see it.

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein…”

Jeremiah 6:16

Monetizing My Time In The Heavenstretch

My Planet Whizbang workshop as it was.
Another as-it-was view.

Anything used as an input in the production of goods or services is a commodity. Thus, time is a commodity and, as the saying goes, it is a precious commodity. Using time wisely is everyone’s challenge. It is especially challenging in our modernized civilization, with its many time-consuming and totally vacuous amusements.

As a solopreneur, and sole income-earner for my family, a great deal of my time is expended on making money. While I’m no longer a wage slave, I still have to make a living. At 62 years of age, leisurely retirement is not an option for me.

Fortunately, I love my home-based, solopreneur lifestyle and want to continue working. I expect (and hope) to continue being financially productive for at least another 15 to 20 years. It is with those years in mind that I’m making some big changes.

The two photos above show my Planet Whizbang workshop last month (I had the space half emptied before I decided to take the pictures). The 24′ x 24′ room is going to be transformed from a cluttered, dirty workshop into a clean, organized, inventory storage and mail-order packaging room. The transformation will be dramatic.

The adjoining 8′ x 24′ mail-order packaging room that has served me for many years will become my “new” dirty and cluttered workshop. It’s a big switch, and a big winter project.

The new room will have new windows, new walls, new flooring, new lighting, new heat (no more wood stove). The outside of the building will get a new roof, new entrance doors, and new siding.

Several of the Planet Whizbang products I now make and sell will be discontinued when the current inventory runs out. The more profitable and easier-to-make products will continue to be sold. Poultry shrink bags are what mostly pays the bills around here these days.

Streamlining my work area and business should free up more time for other pursuits. That is the objective. I will then be able to once again spend some time making YouTube videos.

My youngest son, James, has been bugging me about monetizing my videos at YouTube for a long time. I finally did it. I signed up for monetization, was approved, and monetized only those videos that I felt offered some value to a viewer. One day later I had made money…

That $1.48 in earnings reminds me of the verse in Zechariah 4:10: “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”

Successful YouTube monetization involves making more and more videos, and generating more views. It is not a work comparable to the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand. Nevertheless, it is a project that involves initiative, creativity, and time. It involves using the talents and abilities God has entrusted to me.

My YouTube channel currently has 22,055 subscribers. This blog has 63 subscribers. I love you all, and I will continue to blog here from time to time (for the duration of my heavenstretch), but if I’m not here, I’ll be over on YouTube.

If you go to my YouTube channel (Link Here), click on the “Playlists.” I have organized all my past videos into several playlist categories. I plan to add a few new categories in the future. My focus will be on creating how-to content, or some sort of other useful content. Since I am far from a professional video producer, some amusement may accompany the production. I hope to be more authentic and comfortable in future videos.

If you have been to my YouTube channel in the past, you will notice that it now has a new name. “This Agrarian Life” with the Concord grapes background, now looks like this …

I still have much to do with the renovation of my workshop but hope to start adding more YouTube content soon.

Thank you.

Modern Methodists, The Ignorants, and Jesus Christ

The Methodist church is the second largest Protestant church in America. John Wesley is credited as the founder of the Methodist movement of the 1700s that birthed the Methodist church. I was married in a Methodist church, but I’m not a Methodist. I am, however, a follower of Jesus Christ. Just call me a “Jesus person.” I’m good with that.

You may have heard that the Methodist church is coming apart over the matter of homosexuality and other sexually deviant sins. Half the church believes that Jesus is okay with the LGBT lifestyle. They welcome “gays” to come as you are and be “gay” Methodist christians. The other half thinks that LGBT folk should come as they are, then repent of their sin and be Methodist Christians. The difference is significant.

I have blogged about homosexuality before (HERE). That essay upset several readers. They wrote and told me about it. They told me they were no longer going to read my blog. I told them that I was sorry to see them go, and I wished them well.

The main point of that essay was that homosexual activists were targeting children to indoctrinate them into the LGBT lifestyle; that the activists are sexual predators. It is an obviously evil pursuit and objective. It it will lead many children into a life of heartache and regret. Misery loves company.

I’m old enough to remember when homosexuals just wanted people to “stay out of their bedrooms.” To let them be. And they wanted “equal rights.” I took that to mean they wanted the same basic human rights that those who are not homosexual have. That is something I can agree with.

But the homosexual agenda has moved far beyond those reasonable demands. Now they want complete access to children (and very young children at that) through the government schools. They want to teach them that homosexuality is a legitimate and good path in life. And, by the way, so are all kinds of other self-destructive sexual choices.

This is a social and cultural tragedy that will, in due time, if unchecked, be sufficient to bring an end to Western Civilization. There is historical evidence that societal acceptance of sexual perversions has accompanied the downfall of other ( perhaps all) developed empires in history.

LGBT-doctrinal infiltration of government schools is bad enough but homosexual supremacists have moved on to advance their demands upon Christianity and traditional, orthodox beliefs. They achieved great success through the 2015 Obergafeld supreme court decision to legally redefine marriage and family from what God designed marriage and family to be. That was a direct attack on the Christian sexual ethic.

And now the activists have moved into the Christian church itself. They want Christian churches to radically alter their traditional theological beliefs to embrace and promote the LGBT agenda. More accurately, they want Christian churches to totally jettison the gospel of Jesus Christ. And a great many churches are doing just that.

Why would Christian churches go along with this agenda?

There are three basic answers to that question, and they are well worth understanding. First, they are afraid. Second, they are confused (or just plain ignorant) about what Christianity teaches. Third, they don’t believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change lives.

The ignorance and confusion revolve around the matter of “love.” The christian Ignorants assert that Jesus loved and accepted everyone, regardless of their sin. They point to the woman caught in adultery in John, Chapter 8. You will recall that the religious leaders wanted to stone her. Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” In so saying, Jesus pointed out the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. No one threw a stone. They walked away.

The Ignorants will say, “See, Jesus did not condemn the sinning woman and he told her so. He loved and accepted her instead of condemning her. That’s what the Christian church should do with homosexuals and other sinners.”

This is where I feel compelled to clarify some very fundamental understandings about Jesus and that story. First, Jesus did not condemn the woman because she, like all humans, was already condemned. As sinners, all of humanity is condemned. We were condemned by our sins before Jesus came, and we are condemned by our sins after he came.

John 3:17 is often used by the Ignorants: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world;…” That is absolutely true, but the reason he didn’t come into the world to condemn it is because, as I’ve already noted, the world was already condemned. Which brings me to the critically important second part of that John 3:17 verse: “but that the world through him might be saved.” And that brings me now to a proper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the essence of the whole Christian faith…

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, did not come into the world to approve, or excuse, or accept sinners as they are. He came to deliver those who would believe upon Him; to free them from the guilt, the bondage, and the corruption of their sins here on earth, and to save them from the punishment they would otherwise so richly deserve in eternity.

To that woman caught in adultery, who Jesus saved from being stoned, his parting words were: “…go, and sin no more.”

I’ve heard Christians say that the main difference between themselves and non-Christians is that those who come to Christ are forgiven of their sins and the non-Christians are not. While that is true, it’s a terrible distinction. It comes across as arrogant. I don’t like it at all. You’ll never hear me say that.

The much better distinction is that Christians acknowledge their sin, they hate their sin, and they do battle against their natural sinful inclinations. We who are followers of Jesus, do this battle through the conviction and power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

To hate your sin, to turn away from sin, to fight against sin in one’s life is known as repentance. It is not a one-time event. It is an ongoing, daily, struggle.

Is there room in the Christian church for people who love their sin, who flaunt their sin, who promote their sin, who present their sin a something good and admirable? Should the Christian church affirm sin? Should the Christian church be utilized as a tool to advance the homosexual agenda?

Well, of course not. It wouldn’t be an authentic Christian church if it did that.

In my next essay I will provide some visual examples and a brief discussion of how I think Jesus would respond to a LGBT-affirming church were he to physically come to earth and walk among us, as he once did.

Joseph Elbert Miller (1958-2019)

Joe is the guy with the crossed canoe paddles. To his right is Jervis “Jay” Janney.

Way back in 2005 I blogged about my year of school at The Gassroots Project in Vermont, and I mentioned my friend, Joe Miller (you can read it HERE). Then, in 2008 I wrote an essay specifically about Joe (Click HERE to read it). In that essay I told about some of our exploits, including radical downhill skateboarding and running Rocky-Balboa-style through the streets of Burlington Vermont the morning after we saw the first Rocky movie. I also blogged about our canoe trip down the Lamoille River, in which we capsized in whitewater, and how Joe thought I “was a goner” when he saw me go under the churning water (Click HERE to read that essay).

Joe and I kept in touch with each other for a few years after that wonderful school year, but family life and the all-consuming work of making a living, not to mention distance, soon led to decades of no contact. I often wondered about Joe. I often prayed for him. In recent years, using Facebook and internet searches, I tried to find him.

Finding a man named Joe Miller is really easy. Finding Joe Miller, my dear friend, proved to be impossible. Every so often over the past few years I would try again. Last night I finally found him on the internet. More precisely, I found His Obituary.

Joe evidently died of brain cancer on May 6th of last year. He died 42 years after I last saw him in Vermont, and decades since we had last communicated. Nevertheless, this discovery has been an emotional blow. So much so that I’m surprised at myself. I’ve been in a sad fog all day.

The obituary lacks a photo. It lacks details. It lacks humanity. But the humanity comes through in the many comments that people have left there. Thank God for those comments. I could see that Joe was still Joe, and he was still in the faith. I will see him again when I reach the end of my heavenstretch (which seems so much closer than it did before I found the obituary).

Joe and I became friends early in the 1976-77 school year. I think it was near the end of the first week. The friendship started when we were both in the school’s wood shop. He was making a canoe paddle. I don’t recall what I was working on. I remember clearly what he said that started a school-year-long conversation: “Mike tells me that you’ve been talking to him about the Lord.”

I don’t recall talking to Mike about the Lord, but something was said and it led to a very special friendship between Joe and me. I often think of it as something akin to the David and Jonathan friendship in the Old Testament. 1 Samuel, chapter 18 it says: “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”

Many kids raised in God-fearing homes go to a secular college and part ways with the Christian faith. But the total opposite happened to me. I went to college, became friends with Joe Miller, and my Christian faith grew deeper and stronger. The Providential orchestration in this, and God’s amazing grace, are not lost on me.

Joe and I were opposites in many ways. I tend to be a quiet observer (introverted), while he was more of a warm, outgoing conversation engager (extroverted). He was remarkably handsome. I wasn’t. He was a good athlete. I’ve never been particularly athletic.

Joe’s athletic ability was evidenced one memorable time when a bunch of students and teachers had a softball game on the common. When Joe was at bat, the outfielders backed up quite a bit. But when he connected with the ball it went way over their heads. That was sweet.

Our common ground was our shared Christian faith and our love of doing things that were physically challenging. Though I wasn’t an athlete, I was fit and strong. So, push-up cards, skateboarding, and running, as well as whitewater canoeing (that one memorable trip down the river), were some shared experiences that made our friendship more special.

The only picture I have of Joe is the one at the top of this page. It’s from our yearbook. It’s not a clear picture. I wish I had a better one. But 1977 was the old days. No cell phones. No digital cameras. There were film cameras, of course, but I don’t think either of us had one of those. Too bad.

I do, however, have something special from that time period in my life that very much reminds me of Joe. It’s a Rocky poster. It so happened that I left school two weeks before graduation (Explained HERE). I never graduated. The poster was a parting gift from several of my friends. I tell the story in THIS ESSAY.

“Yo, Adrian”

I think Joe bought the poster. Or it might have been a girl named Cindy. I don’t remember exactly, and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Joe wrote on the back of it, along with several other friends from that school year. Here is what Joe wrote…

If you have trouble reading it, here is what it says:

To Herrick,

A friend of mine which I have grown to love & respect within the span of less than a year. I wish you and Mar all the best & I hope you dominate in every ping pong game you ever play.

Eternal love through Christ Jesus,

Joe

Shortly after our year in Vermont Joe wrote to tell me that his girlfriend had dumped him for a pre-med student. Joe was distraught. I remember him writing that the guy probably never owned a pair of blue jeans in his life.

But Joe found another girl, got married, and had a couple kids. Unfortunately, it looks like there was a divorce later on, and he remarried. That was sad news for me to find out.

The last time I spoke with Joe on the phone, he and his wife had a baby. Joe asked about me and Marlene having kids. I told him I really didn’t think I wanted any. That brought an immediate and excited reply: “You have to have kids, Herrick! Who is going to take care of you when you get old?”

Such a thought had never entered my mind. But since then I’ve related it to several young people, including my kids. I realize now that children taking care of their parents in old age is part of God’s plan for families.

Well, I’ve blathered on here at length (and I feel better for having done so), but I have one more thing to share with you. It is what Jervis “Jay” Janney wrote on the back of the Rocky poster. Jay is the guy standing next to Joe in the photo up at the top of this essay. Jay was a classy guy. His sister is a famous actress named Allison Janney. Here’s what he wrote…

“Consistently consistent”…. It’s an observation and a compliment that I really appreciated!

A Big Kimball Baby Surprise!

Jimmy & Bekah’s baby came a couple weeks earlier than expected. That was no big surprise. But the child was a boy, not a girl. That was definitely a big surprise.

There had been a sonogram. The professional sonogram person told them it was a girl. They had a gender reveal party some months back. Her name was to be Annaliese.

And then, after 24 hours in the hospital, Marlene and I got the call. His name was Easton Jay.

“What? It’s a boy? Are you kidding?”

Boy or girl, we are ever thankful to God for such a blessing. Everyone is doing fine. They come home later today. I will head over to their house in a few minutes to get the wood stove fired up so the place is warmed up nicely.

The picture above shows my oldest son, Chaz, in the foreground, holding his new nephew. James is in the background, holding Chaz’s daughter.

My maternal grandfather, Percy O. Philbrick, was born in Easton, Maine, in 1896. Back in 2008 I wrote about his father’s farm in Easton HERE. James & Bekah didn’t know that when they chose the name of this boy. They just liked the name. As for the middle name of Jay, that does have a family connection. Marlene’s father’s first name was Jay.

Having a new grandson makes me happy, and it makes me sad. The sadness comes when I think of my first grandson, now 7 years old. He lived near us for several months after he was born. He was in our home nearly every day. I assumed that I would be able to develop a close relationship with him as he grew up. But divorce and distance put an end to that. Now Marlene and I see him for a day or two a couple times a year. It’s not the same. It is a difficult situation. Such a situation is not unusual these days, but it’s powerfully sad nonetheless.

This new grandson will live only 6 miles away. He will grow up with lots of local extended family (on both sides), and community connections. He will be rooted in this place, knowing Marlene and I as his grandparents. We will have an opportunity to bless this child with our time and our wisdom. We will have an opportunity to make a difference in this life; a difference that can only be made with proximity and frequent family interactions.

I feel like a rich man knowing that I have such an opportunity.