Monday, April 25, 2011

Investing in Life

Today, like yesterday, was a magnificent day. Picture perfect by every measure.

I took an offroad adventure to McDonald's Mill in Strasburg, Va., to secure 12 bundles of slab wood. I mentioned this before in a previous post, but had no luck getting a call back. I figured if I showed up in a muddy Jeep and work boots to place my order, it would show that I am serious about my purchase and have the opportunity to prove that I am in fact a worthy candidate and ok to do business with.

Out here that's generally the way with most of my fellow blue collar, local folk. They say yes, but don't deliver the goods until you prove that you are respectful and not a threat to their way of life. Since I've made this realization, life out here has gone much, much better. People here aren't Fairfaxian snob asses. They are real, basically good, but distrustful of folk they don't know until you prove them otherwise. I assume this is very much the way of the old south in this area. Every place has it's own distinct cultural norms. It's taken me a long time to figure this out, but now that I have, life seems to go smoother.

On my way back from errands, which brought me to Edinburgh, I decided to make my return home via Fort Valley through Edinburgh Gap. Fort Valley is a substantial valley within the valley that is the Shenandoah Valley, occupying the northern part of the region and splitting it into thirds.

Fort Valley is the locale George Washington was going to use as a bug out location if the Revolutionary War saw another winter. It's easy to see why. The relatively narrow valley is fertile, has multiple fresh water sources flowing into cedar creek, and mountains surrounding it on virtually every side and a long narrow gorge at the main entrance. It could be easily defended by a disciplined force and when you are there it seems like the farthest place from anywhere except Eden. Yes, it's breathtaking.

The ascent up the mountain through the gap was glorious, as it followed alongside creek beds making their way down into the valleys on either side. Because of the recent substantial rains, the views include numerous little waterfalls here and there and the top, I discovered has a couple ATV trails.

After a bit of exploring I returned home by way of the Fort's main road, enjoying prime mountain views and spring breezes while making good time in the process.

Arriving back at home and seeing the newly cut grass was refreshing. While cutting it on Saturday I thanked God for being able to live here and prayed that I would never have to leave. And that brings me to the title of today's post.

When you are investing in your life, planning for the long term by establishing roots and making moves to be somewhere permeneantly it changes your vision and how you feel about a place. For example, our new wood floors and furniture have made us feel that we have a new lease on life and that we are here again for the first time. The house also feels more complete and what is more, we all enjoy being here even more. As things continue to take shape, I am feeling more and more connected to my property, the land and dwellings that inhabit it. I hope that in the years to come it will become a place that my children and their children will cherish and always find peace and prosperity here.

So, even though the world spirals into oblivion, I pray that this place remains and develops as God wants it to be: God's Country.

Over and Out,


Friday, April 22, 2011


I've been really into the idea of studying Mikhail Botvinnik lately. Today I happened upon his "One Hundred Selected Games," which is a classic exposition of the Russian School of thought on chess. In fact, Botvinnik is the stereotypical stoic soviet chess master that you probably think of when the words "Russia" and "Chess" come to mind.

First published in English in 1951, his writing is a clear glimpse into the mind of the soviets and how they approached chess and just about everything else. Regarding chess, he unflinchlingly analyzes his own games and gives dominating principles to those who would follow in his footsteps, which might be summarized thus:

"Out-study, out-prepare your opponents beforehand and have the greater will to win."

Botvinnik used to say that if you lose a game, it's because you didn't want to win bad enough.

That's true enough in chess, but the lesson has applications just about everywhere else. Food for thought.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Collapse is Underway...

Not to be a downer, but...

The failure of the Republicans led by Boehner to slam the ebrakes on government spending is the one and only signal I need to know that the Repubics are going to allow the economy to head over the cliff. Maybe not all of them. Maybe the Ryan Budget will pass and be adopted in its entirety, but my own opinion is that the damage is already done and that we are essentially screwed.

It's kinda like the earthquake in Japan. The time is now to get to the high ground before the Tsunami comes ashore.

After watching After Armageddon on YouTube in my down time at work, I can't say I'm psyched.
The time is now to have your stuff in order, before inflation hits the shelves more severly than it already has, and before Saudi Arabia goes up in smoke and with it the rest of our oil based economy.

So my shout out to you at this moment is: Get Your Shit Together before you can't afford to get shit, or there isn't any left to obtain. The first swells are coming ashore.

Over and Out,


Sunday, April 03, 2011


It's been a whirlwind and exciting week!

After 3 years of living with stained, icky unfinished hardwood floors, we finally had them professionally refinished. The effect is really stunning. Red Oak stained a mahogony semi-gloss in the living room and hallway now gives the house a sohpishticated feel. The heart pine in the kitchen--which looked like it may never recover--is now downy and full of depth and resplendent in it's natural character. Mad props to H&H Hardwood for a such a spectacular job!

It really feels like a new house!

And now we have a new kitchen table, standing glorious and imperious on our new wood floors. Sweet.

It took a while to build, but not that long. All of the reclaimed barnwood came out of a barn in Linden, Va. that was built in 1901. The table top and skirt is wormy American chestnut and the legs are made from Sycamore 4x4s of all things. Finsihed with 2 coats of penetrating oil and 2 coats of water polyeurathane by General Finishes, this piece is a testimony to beautiful wood and craftsmanship.

This may be the first table I build, but as it happens it will not be the last. Mike S., the proprietor of Strong Oaks Woodshop, who guided and instructed me throughout the construction process, has asked me to come aboard as a partner in the business. I am humbled and excited, and will now be spending a significant amount of my waking hours building beautiful furniture and having fun doing it, not to mention dismantling barn(s).