Taking Leave...

Dateline: 5 November 2015
Edited: 24 November 2015

A Dead Elm
(click picture for larger view)

I've decided to take leave from blogging here for awhile and devote my writing time to posting updates to Jimmy & Bekah's Diner Dream project at GoFundMe. 

The campaign is off to a great start. Several readers of this blog have contributed. I greatly appreciate it. The project runs to the end of the year and I expect to be writing regular updates there until then.

I invite you to stop by the GoFundMe page and read my updates (if you make a donation of any amount, you will automatically receive the updates by e-mail). The most recent update will be at the top, and there will be a link at the bottom of the update to read previous ones.

They say that updates are an important part of a GoFundMe campaign. People want to know more about the story, how it plays out, and how their contribution is being used. I can do that. I'm into it.

I had not planned to take this break, but I can see that it is necessary. Something has to give, you know? 

I have so  much to write about from the Deliberate Agrarian perspective, but this little project is actually part of my deliberate agrarian life. It's important to me and my family. 

Lord willing, I'll be back.

Dropped Elm
(55ft long)

Elm Stump

Elm Branches in 12A
(Leland pulling)

Jimmy & Bekah's Diner Dream
(a gofundme campaign)

Dateline: 3 November 2015

Jimmy & Bekah in their future diner.

My youngest son, James, and his wife, Bekah, are buying The Gathering, a small-town diner here in Moravia, New York. It will be officially theirs on January 1st of 2016. That's two months away. James & Bekah are pretty excited about it. 

They don't have the money to buy a diner, but they have been given the opportunity to purchase it for a modest down payment and regular monthly payments for as many years as it will take to get it paid off. This opportunity has come by way of Bekah's parents who own the diner, and who have operated it for the past nine years.

The diner seats 80, is on the main road just outside town, and has lots of parking. The location really couldn't be any better. It's a nice little diner and has a good customer base.

I'm real pleased with this new development. A properly run small-town diner can support a family. And when a husband and wife work the business together, you have something rare and special in this day and age— a family economy. 

Besides that, if you want to see a great example of community in action, stop by a busy, small town, rural diner (like The Gathering) some morning for breakfast, or at lunchtime. It's a beautiful thing.

Bekah's parents will help with the transition. Marlene and I are looking for ways that we can be a help too. I expect I'll be poking away at various small remodeling projects, and probably posting about them here on this blog. But the first thing I've done (earlier today) is set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise some money to help James and Bekah get off to a solid start with this new opportunity.

Go to Jimmy & Bekah's Diner Dream and you can read all the details. I hope that many readers of this blog will feel like helping with a donation. It doesn't have to be much. A lot of smaller donations can add up. And every one will be a big encouragement. 

Get a "Free" 
Planet Whizbang Hat

Readers of this blog who donate $50 to the GoFundme campaign will receive a tangible thank you in the form of a Planet Whizbang cap, like this....

click picture for an enlarged view

These Planet Whizbang caps are not an official part of the GoFundMe campaign, so if you donate $50, make sure you send me an e-mail letting me know that you'd like the cap (and give me your mailing address).  My e-mail is Herrick@PlanetWhizbang.com

We are currently awaiting the first shipment of these hats. You'll be able to purchase them (for less than $50) next year. But for now, they're only available as thank-you gifts.

By the way, I've been wearing one of these new Planet Whizbang hats for a couple of weeks and I like it very much. However, I should make it clear that, if you wear one of these hats while shaking the lower branch of a big apple tree (to get food for your pigs) and an apple falls on your head, the hat does not offer much protection.

Back view of the new Planet Whizbang hats. The lettering should be a darker green on the shipment of hats we are awaiting.

You may also send a donation of any amount to James and Bekah to help with their Diner Dream. Make the check out to James Kimball and mail it to me at:

Herrick Kimball
PO Box 1117
Moravia, NY 13118

And we all thank you very much!

5 November 2015
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the GoFundme campaign thus far. I have decided to stop blogging here and, instead, use my writing time to post updates to Jimmy and Bekah's GoFundMe site for the duration of the project (to the end of the year). What will I write about there? Well, Click Here for an explanation and some insights into topics of discussion.

Isaac Phillips Roberts
(Part 1)
Recollecting his Mother

Dateline: 2 November 2015

Isaac Phillips Roberts

"I was born In the Roberts' farmhouse, on the west bank of Cayuga Lake, July 24, 1833, at sunrise of a fine harvest morning."

Thus begins, Autobiography of a Farm Boy, by Isaac Phillips Roberts. The book was written in 1916, when Roberts was 83 years old. You can read it online At This Link.

Roberts is pretty much a forgotten figure in history, but he played an important role as an agricultural educator at Cornell university for thirty years. The college even named one of their new (in 1906) agricultural buildings in his honor. But Roberts Hall was demolished in the 1980s. 

Roberts achieved a great measure of success as a professor even though he never attended college and had no educational degrees. 

A NY State historical marker (click the link for a concise biography) is at Roberts' birthplace in East Varick, NY. It states that he was "representative extra-ordinary of the American farmer." 

As Isaac Roberts states in his book, East Varick is on the western shore of Cayuga Lake, directly across from the village of Aurora. Well, if you look on a map and track about 20 miles due east of Aurora you will find my house. The professor practically grew up in my neighborhood... 182 years ago.

This area of central New York state was largely unsettled back in those days. It was a land rich in resources, and well suited for an agrarian society.

Autobiography of a Farm Boy is a historical gem for modern-day agrarians looking to better understand what life was once like in the agrarian nation America once was. 

For example, the following description by Roberts of his mother gives us a glimpse into the role of women in the agrarian culture of early 1800's America. She was not highly educated, but she was highly literate. She did not seek to have a career and be an income earner outside her home. Instead, she was a helpmeet to her husband, performing the important tasks of managing her home economy; providing for and nurturing her children. Her life energy was focused on being a mother, as well as a friend and caregiver in her immediate community. In other words, she did not endeavor to be a leader in the society of her day, but to raise sons that would one day be responsible leaders. 

This is an old concept that is clearly biblical. But, of course, in the industrialized world, motherhood is not the high moral and social calling it was once universally considered to be. Managing a home and being a mother are, at best, now a part time task in the industrial order. 


"My mother, Elizabeth Burroughs, was also born near Harbortown, New Jersey, August 16, 1800, and came to East Varick with her parents when they settled there in 1812. It was she who stood at the center of the household. It was she who made It possible for me to go forth strong in body and of purpose, to work patiently and bravely for the farmers—for science, for justice and for truth. 

As I look upon the picture of her strong, rugged, placid face, I recall her self-sacrificing life for the good of everyone within the sphere of her influence; and I know that she was a Christian, although she belonged to no church and seldom attended one.

Soon after marriage at twenty years of age, her toils began, and as the years passed, griefs and burdens followed on one another's trail; but she bore them all quietly, lovingly, even smilingly. 

I see her now, the central figure in that numerous, growing family —commanding, handsome, but not beautiful, with that large benignity which comes to middle-life and age, from a well-spent, unselfish life. From the youngest to the oldest child, we all looked to her for comfort in trouble, for instruction and advice in all our undertakings, and for appreciation in our successes. 

After all these years I cannot forgive myself for having wantonly disobeyed her when she forbade me to attend a dance at a tavern of doubtful reputation. This was the more inexcusable since I was allowed to do almost anything that was not positively bad.

Such education as she had she received In the schools of Harbortown, but she never went to school after she was twelve years of age. She was, however, a great reader—considering her cares and opportunities—had a remarkable memory and was clever at mathematics. She could figure a problem "in her head " more quickly and accurately than any of her sons. She was particularly fond of Rasselas, Aesop's Fables in Rhyme, Thompson's Seasons and Scott's Lady of the Lake, the greater part of which she was still able to quote In her old age. She could not sing at all nor could any of her generation of the Burroughs family; but she had an unusual love of poetry and occasionally wrote letters In verse to her children.

My mother died at the ripe age of seventy-nine years In the house where she had lived for more than fifty years and In the midst of loving children and grandchildren. She had been"Aunt Betsy" to the whole neighborhood and a friend to everyone who needed anything she could give or could do for them."

Agrarian Criticism...
And My Response

Dateline: 1 November 2015

Yesterday’s blog post, The Christian-Agrarian Work Ethic, brought a comment that I am going to post here and reply to. The reason being, it reflects the modern mindset towards agrarianism in the 21st century, and the common misunderstandings about agrarianism. So, this is a great opportunity to clarify some things. I’ve written about this all before but it has been awhile, and few people have read all my writings here over the past ten years :-)

The Comment
"You do realize that if everyone returned to an agrarian lifestyle that we wouldn't have transportation, communication, healthcare, and a whole lot of other fields that make life healthy, pleasant and livable. Yes, we need farmers, and ranchers, but we also need almost every other worker also. I appreciate all the hard workers out there, not just the farmers. My husband in a retired Marine, now a school teacher; my father was a school teacher; his father was a painter/paperhanger; another grandfather owned a dry cleaning shop and was a tailor; another great-grandfather was a carpenter. I have brothers who are engineers and nephews who are in many of the trades (electricians, welders, plumbers). Unless you want to live like they did in the 18th and 19th centuries, we need workers of all kinds, and all honest work is honorable. We live in rural Iowa (though I was raised in suburban San Diego) and watch in wonder and amazement at the miles of fields of corn and beans raised here. I would not enjoy trying to raise all my own food; it would be too much work and never allow me to sew, quilt, write and enjoy travel. While I admire you in all your efforts to live the life you want, I don't wish that kind of life for everyone. Diverse specialization enhances life for the majority. Just an opinion here, from my 58 years on earth."

My Response
First, the excerpts from Mr. Nutting’s essay were primarily a celebration of the autonomy (freedom) and satisfaction found in the down-to-earth work of a homestead. Such work is vastly different from the common drudgery that so many modern-world workers experience as dispensable cogs on the wheels of various jobs in the industrial order.

Yes, there is honor in honorable, industrial-world work, but there is rarely the freedom and satisfaction that comes with honorable, creative, productive work done on one’s homestead.

That is no secret. Dissatisfaction with industrial-world jobs (“working for the man”) has been a driving force behind every back-to-the land movement (of which there have been many) since the industrial age started.

Willis Nutting’s essay does not imply that everyone should be a farmer, or that one need be a farmer to experience the human fulfillment found in agrarian work. He himself was an educator and, according to his biography, lived an agrarian lifestyle. His essay speaks of men working their industrial-world jobs for the necessary income and then, instead of pursuing industrial-world amusements, recreations or leisure in their spare time, they pursue productive, creative work on their homesteads.

That pattern for living an agrarian lifestyle is the one I have pursued most of my life. One can be a healthcare worker, engineer, teacher, tradesman, et., etc. and still pursue an agrarian lifestyle.

As for the world not being pleasant and livable if everyone returned to an agrarian lifestyle, that’s not an issue at all. Everyone will never (voluntarily) return to an agrarian lifestyle. Only those who see the wisdom of it. Or, from the Christian-agrarian point of view, only those who are called to it.

When it comes to understanding modern agrarianism, the matter of modern context must be taken into account. Modern-world agrarians can not live in an industrial world just like pre-industrial agrarians, and few would want to. The fact is, in many ways, it’s easier today to live an agrarian lifestyle than ever before in history. Electricity, the internal combustion engine, and all the helping mechanisms that come with those two world-changing technologies are something I happen to really appreciate. I also like it that I can use the internet as a creative, entrepreneurial tool to be able to break free from an industrial-world job and be home on my land every day.

I think it is worth defining what it means to be an agrarian, or to live an agrarian lifestyle. My fundamental definition of an agrarian…

An agrarian is someone who deliberately husbands (responsibly cares for) a section of land, working to make it productive, and drawing sustenance from it, while improving and preserving it for future generations. 

That definition is like a seed. You plant it in your life. It puts down roots. It grows bigger. In time, it becomes a tree that bears all kinds of good fruit (the tree needs to be continually pruned, but that's another story). 

"A section of land" can be something as small as a home garden, or as large as a farm. "Drawing sustenance" can mean  harvesting food, fuel, fiber, building materials, etc.

You don’t have to raise all your own food to be an agrarian, but agrarians naturally love to work the soil and grow food. You can be an agrarian and still sew and quilt and write and travel (though it’s hard to be a serious agrarian and travel a lot, or so it seems to me). Agrarian people are hands-on people, They naturally gravitate to being busy and creative in many different ways.

And a final clarification…. The typical modern mind is historically parochial. That is, it assumes that life in the old days (before electricity and internal combustion engines) was unbearably terrible; that we nowadays are intellectually superior and better off than our poor, brutish ancestors. 

Well, America today has it’s share of poor, and brutish people. But, more to the point, people of old got along just fine without electricity and internal combustion engines. The agrarian village-society of early New England had a lot going for it. It was a flourishing culture. And, lacking all manner of electronic amusements and distractions, there was more time for creative pursuits, human interaction, and true community.

Agrarians (especially Christian-agrarians) are people who look at the “old paths” of previous agrarian cultures with respect and curiosity, seeking to rediscover wisdom and worthy ways of life that were lost through the ravages of industrialism. The goal is not to create the old agrarian way of life, but a neo-agrarian way of life. Everyone who pursues this way of life for themselves and their families creates an island of grounded sanity in an insane industrial world that offers no real hope, and is coming apart at the seams. 

The Christian-Agrarian
Work Ethic

Dateline: 31 October 2015

The words and thoughts that follow come from an essay titled The Better Life, written by Willis D. Nutting. They are an excellent analysis of the beauty, the inherent value, and the "rightness" of autonomous agrarian work, as opposed to working as a drone in the the industrial system. 

I found this essay in The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going "Back to the Land."  The book is thin, but pithy. It is a clear and compelling call for Catholic families to flee the cities and suburbs and return to the land.

I have written here in the past about the Catholic Land Movement and the book, Flee To The Fields. And I have written about C.F. Marley, a remarkable man who introduced me to the Catholic-agrarian movement (my opinion of Catholic-agrarianism is expressed in my C.F. Marley essay).

The following excerpts refer to men but, of course, you can (and should) substitute the word "woman" for man, for this discussion equally applies to all of mankind.


"One of the most dismal things about the truly urban man is that he does not understand work, for he has not experienced it. Of course he knows physical exhaustion and mental drudgery; he has nervous breakdowns and high blood pressure, and he dies of coronary thrombosis—but all these things happen to him not because he works but because he does not work. This requires explanation.

For real work to be done several elements  must necessarily be present: (1) the mind conceives something to be done; (2) the hand, aided by tools, carries out the conception through the manipulation of certain (3) raw materials. The result is (4) a new creation, either something made, or some change brought about in the physical situation. 

When a man presides in this whole process—when his mind and hand work together, using his tools and his materials, to produce something which, when it is produced, is his, then he is really working. And this work is one of the greatest things man can do, both in the way of education and of satisfaction, for in it he is realizing a part of his likeness to God. Man is not only homo sapiens; he is also homo faber, man the maker. It is his nature to work. When he can not work he is restless and discontented.

In our modern world, with craftsmen almost extinct and artists an infinitesimal and professional minority, the rural home supplies almost the only setting in which a person can do work. Elsewhere the planner does not carry out his plans and therefore performs only part of what he is fitted to do. The man who toils does so by carrying out the plans made by someone else, and he performs only a mutilated function. Neither of them possesses the thing made as a result of the planning and the toil. That belongs to someone who has done nothing but furnish the money. Thus all the people concerned with the production of things are acquainted merely with isolated aspects of the work process. They are not doing what by nature they are designed to do. And as a consequence their labor is a chore, an unpleasant necessity which they indulge in as little as possible. They become abnormally interested in recreation and live for the weekend and the vacation."


"The opportunity for real, soul-satisfying work, so rare in our day, is found abundantly in rural living. Here a man can make long-range plans and can carry them out without exploiting his fellow man; for the things that he uses are things that exist to be used: soil, plants, animals, building materials, etc. he can live a whole life of work without once using another man as a mere means for carrying out his plans. And neither does he become a tool of someone else. With the materials at hand he can employ the splendid coordination of mind and hand to create something of value for his family. He can fulfill his real nature in real work. And this work is much more joyful than any mere recreation. As a matter of fact this work carries with it its own recreation, so that the man who works does not have to worry about how he is going to have his good times. The work itself is a good time even though it be hard. There is a joy in toil which the football player knows not. It is a quiet joy that comes from the knowledge that one has accomplished something, something of real value, and that the accomplishment is his own.

Around me live several men who are "homesteaders." They work in town or in school and live in the country. They spend long hours in the evenings working on their land. Their companions on the job or at school go to the movies or play poker in the evenings, but these men work at home. Their companions spend money; they save it. And when you talk with these men you come to realize that their interest, their real life, is in what they do at home. On the job they carry out someone else's plans. That is drudgery. But at home they are their own masters. They are exercising their autonomy which is necessary to human dignity. These few hours of autonomy constitute for them their real life. Their rural homes give them their one chance to be human."

A Deliberate Christian Response To An Agrarian Tragedy

Dateline: 30 October 2015

White Zimbabwean farmer, Ben Freeth, in 2008

Zimbabwe has become a recurring topic on this blog (like HERE and HERE, for a couple of examples). The reason being, the recent history of the country provides examples and lessons that we can all learn from. This became  more clear to me as I listened to this week's McAlvany Weekly Commentary podcast, titled Zimbabwe Inflation: "How We Survived." 

The show begins with David McAlvany talking about his book, Intentional Families, which will soon be in print. David's book is not about Zimbabwe but, evidently, part of it is about the importance of forgiveness. And that's where Ben Freeth comes into the broadcast.

Ben and an associate named Craig Deall are interviewed by David McAlvany about the history of Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia), the recent economic and societal collapse, and how they and their families were affected by the crisis.

The picture above gives you some idea of how Ben Freeth was personally affected by it. He and Craig were prosperous, white, landowning farmers prior to Robert Mugabe's rise to power in Zimbabwe. 

With Mugabe's takeover came a breakdown in the rule of law. Farms and other personal property were forcibly taken from the white landowners. White farmers (and many of their black workers) were beaten and killed. Their homes were burned.

You can do a Google search and find the story of Freeth's harrowing ordeal in 2008. His father and mother-in-law were also severely beaten in the incident. His father in law, Mike Campbell, eventually died from the injuries sustained in the attack. In a prior incident of home invasion, Freeth's six year old son's leg was broken. This episode of societal breakdown and persecution was a living nightmare for Freeth's family, and many others in Zimbabwe.

Before Mugabe, Zimbabwe had been a prosperous, agriculturally productive nation. After the farms were taken, the national economy tanked. The now-infamous Zimbabwean hyperinflation came. It is very interesting to hear about what life was like in the Zimbabwe hyperinflation. And now, according to the interview, Zimbabwe is experiencing severe deflation. That's interesting to hear too.

But, what I found most interesting about this interview was the break from financial discussion (which is what the McAlvany podcasts are primarily about). Ben and Craig give their personal testimony about how the terrible ordeals they experienced have impacted their families and how they have chosen to respond to it all.

In short, it was their Christian faith that helped them to deal with the crisis events as they were happening, and it is their Christian faith that has compelled them to forgive in the aftermath. 

This matter of forgiveness and, in particular, choosing to forgive, is something I have written about here in the past—in my essay, How To Forgive Others

In the wake of the events of 2008, and the death of his father-in-law, Ben Freeth has started the Mike Campbell Foundation. I was pleased (but not surprised) to see that the Mike Campbell Foundation supports the Foundations For Farming ministry (another recurring topic on this blog). Ben Freeth has written about the ministry At This Link (I found out later that Craig Deall is part of the Foundations For Farming ministry). 

There are alarming past parallels, and potential future parallels, between the history of Zimbabwe and that of America. Prosperity and decline. The loss of agriculture. Racial animosity. The disregard for established rule of law. Dictatorship. Societal collapse. The scapegoating and persecution of certain classes of people. 

I recommend that you listen to the McAlvany podcast. Here's the link again: Zimbabwe Inflation: "How We Survived"

Ben Freeth today.

Old Tools

Dateline: 29 October 2015

If you love old tools, as I do (agrarian and otherwise), you need to go to the Martin J. Donnelly web site and sign up for their twice-weekly e-mail newsletter. You won't be disappointed. 

The corn sheller above was sold by Donnelly Auctions and featured in their most recent newsletter.

A Christian-Agrarian Magazine!

Dateline: 28 October 2015

Issue #2

I found out yesterday that there is a "new" Christian-agrarian magazine. Four issues have already been published, but I just found out, so it's new to me. 

Stewardculture does not identify itself as a "Christian-agrarian" publication, but it appears to be written for Christians who feel a calling to farm, garden, and otherwise work the earth in a responsible, contra-industrial way.

The magazine is published online. It's very well done. It's free. I encourage you to check it out at this link: Stewardship Magazine.

Issue #1


Seeing this new magazine, coupled with the newly published book, Organic Wesley, has me thinking that the Christian-agrarian "movement" is growing. Or, at least, one important element of the movement is visibly taking more shape and getting a "voice." That is, the aspect of proper land stewardship and the ethical production of food by people who have a Biblical worldview.

There is, however, a second important aspect to the Christian-agrarian path, or so it seems to me, and that is the matter of separation from the ungodly industrialized culture we live in. While proper stewardship of the earth should be important to Christian-agrarians, so too should be the matter of separation.

Clearly, personal involvement of Christians in ethical land stewardship is a degree of separation, but I think there is much more to this biblical and agrarian mandate. 

Take, for example, the matter of debt. Should Christian-agrarians assume usury-debt in their mandate to steward the land? And what of materialism, which is an important aspect of the industrial culture. Should the Christian-agrarian ethic reflect a high level of materialistic accumulation and consumption beyond what is needed to properly steward the land? What about the education of children and our choice of vocation? What about the Christian-agrarian view of modern medicine?

Hmmm. I think the Christian-and-agrarian ethic can and should address such questions (and others), but these things can be much more difficult than land stewardship to parse and definitively resolve to everyone's satisfaction. 

So, it may not be necessary (or wise) to "officially" propound Christian-agrarian ethics beyond proper stewardship of the earth. However, I do think that the matter of deliberate separation, especially from industrial-world dependencies and cultural expectations, should be an important part of the thought process (and actions) of all Christians who embrace the concept of ethical stewardship of the land. 

How Dave Brown Surprised Me
In Corning, New York

Dateline: 27 October 2015

"Material Culture"
By: Beth Lipman

It was one month ago yesterday (September 26, 2015), right next to an example of modern art titled "Material Culture" when Dave Brown surprised me.....

Marlene and I were in Corning, New York that day. She had planned a rendezvous get-together with some old high-school friends at the Corning Museum of Glass

Peggy and her husband, Dick, came from out near Buffalo. Anne came up from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Roger came from Moravia, NY, which is where Marlene and I live, and where we all went to high school (Class of '76), but I rarely see Roger. Fact is, I rarely see anybody, because I really "don't get out much," which is what makes this story all the more amazing.

So we met our old friends in the entrance lobby. It had been four years since we were last all together for a nice visit. We did the hugging thing and meandered into the museum. It's a pretty big museum, and it's a nice one. I thoroughly enjoyed the blend of glass history, glass technology, and even glass art. There is old glass art and modern glass art. 

The modern glass art was first up on our self-guided tour. Some of the modern glass art is kind of strange. In fact, most of it is kind of strange, and hard to understand. But when I came upon Material Culture, I got it. The whole thing resonated with me.

As the picture above shows, Material Culture is a small black table piled with an odd assortment of clear glass pieces—glass goblets, and bowls, and plates, and such. The little table is crammed with more glass than it can hold. The glass objects are all jumbled and precariously balanced. Some  have fallen off the table and broken to pieces. In short, the little table is overwhelmed with excess.

Discussions of Material Culture revolve around the "fragility and transience of life and earthly delights." Well, okay, I can see that. But I also saw cultural excess, vanity, chaos, and the impending collapse of industrialized civilization. 

I was reading about the display and taking it in and telling Marlene about it and I said to Anne, "Anne, it's about cultural collapse." She looked for a moment, realized what I was saying, and said, "We've already collapsed." And I said, "Yes, but after it all falls apart, the little black table will still be there."

I was thinking on this—about the little black table and what it might represent—as we all started to move on to another display, and then I heard someone behind me say my name.

I turned around and, if I remember correctly, Dave Brown said, "Hi Herrick." I looked at him and tried to figure out who he was, but my memory wasn't helping, and he said something about reading my blog, and I realized that I didn't know Dave Brown, because I had never seen Dave Brown before in my life, but he knew me because he reads The Deliberate Agrarian.

Wow. This was a first.

A brief discussion ensued. Dave introduced me to his wife and two children. The old high-school friends looked on in amazement. Then Dick took a picture of us all with Marlene's iPhone...

Marlene, me, and the Brown family,
with "Material Culture" in the background.

The Browns are from Warriors Mark, Pennsylvania. I'm from Moravia, New York. We met, by chance or Providence (depending on your world view), at the Corning Glass Museum, right next to a piece of modern art depicting the impending collapse of industrial civilization. It was the highlight of the day for me.

Maybe I should get out more often.