57 Reflections
or
Calcified Faith

Dateline: 30 January 2015

I love this picture.

Tomorrow marks another trip around the sun for me. Back in 2010 I blogged about how I was pulled into this world by an instrument of cold steel clamped on my head. I think about that every year at this time. I wonder if that traumatic birth experience might explain, in part, why I am adamant about not going to a doctor, unless I absolutely must (it has been a very long time).

I am a reflective person (it’s part of being an introvert, I suppose). For example, I reflect daily on how blessed I am. And how thankful I am. I'm not just thankful in general. I am thankful in particular, to the Giver of Blessings. I know that every good thing in my life has come to me as a result of God’s grace, and mercy, and love.

Oh sure, I’ve had my share of disappointments and regrets but, thus far, the disappointments have not made me bitter; they have not robbed me of my joy. I hope that will never be the case.

I’ve come to recognize that God is sovereign and actively involved in every aspect of His created order. Nothing happens by mistake or chance. The events of my life have come as a result of the ongoing orchestrations of God’s Providence. I believe that. And I embrace it.

Life is short. Then we die. Then comes life eternal. I think about the by-and-by fairly often. As a follower of Jesus Christ (my testimony is Here) I have a faith that transcends the temporal concerns and troubles of this earthly realm. 

I used to think that eternity for the Christian would be an amorphous experience. But I’ve come to understand that eternity will be, to a greater degree, physical. Perhaps "material" or "tangible" would be better words. 

The Bible says that God will one day create a new earth. A material earth. And His people will inhabit it. This new earth will not be cumbered by sin (or sinful people), as is the current one. 

Furthermore, when Jesus Christ was in His resurrected body, it was a material body. So, I’m inclined to think that the resurrected bodies of God’s people will be the same.

Thus it is that I‘ve come to believe that my eternity will be active, creative, worshipful..... and down-to-earth. You might call it agrarian. 

After all, when God created the earth we currently reside on, and he put his created man in the garden of Eden (before the forbidden fruit episode that changed everything), He stated that it was “very good.” God liked the agrarian world he created. It makes sense that the next earth would be similar.

Will I be disappointed if it happens that the new earth of my eternal dwelling is not agrarian? That it is, instead, full of starships, and robots, and all manner of advanced technology? No, I won’t be disappointed. I will be surprised, but not disappointed.  

I won’t be disappointed because those things are, of course, not all that important. The important part of eternity is spending it in the presence of Jesus Christ, and to be in a place where love permeates—where there is no pain or sorrow. That is powerfully appealing to this 57-year-old man.

The other eternal option (hell) is described as a place where misery is fully felt and physically experienced (e.g., thirst). I’ve actually heard people joke about hell and how they are going to be there with all their friends. That may be true (that they and their friends will all be in hell) but it won’t be a party. I’ve never seen any humor in hell.

To the modern, “enlightened” mind (a mind that relies on the knowledge of men-only) such thoughts on my part are like ruminating on “fairy tales,” or wishful thinking. Transcendent realities are not allowed (and increasingly not tolerated) by the dominant secular culture.

But the Christian faith is a remarkable thing. It comes small, like the grain of mustard seed Jesus mentioned in Matthew 13:31-32. If if you sow the tiny seed of faith in your field (your life) and care for it, faith grows much bigger. It transforms your whole outlook on life, and eternity. It sustains you. It gives you hope, and peace, and joy, even in the darkest of times.

Aside from the concept of small faith growing larger, I like to think of faith in terms of soft and hard. Soft faith is not fully informed or mature. It has not been properly cultivated (Romans 10:17). It moves easily, like a soap bubble wafting in the air, and if it is poked, it pops. But a hardened Christian faith is calcified

Calcified is not a word normally associated with faith, but I think it it a right word. It means “to become rigid or intransigent.”  Intransigent means inflexible, unchanging, stubborn, entrenched. 

Calcified faith is what we see manifested in the life of Job in the Old Testament. A godly man, Job was greatly blessed by God. Then everything changed. God allowed Satan to take away the blessings. Job suffered mind-boggling loss, and pain, and despair. His wife advised him to curse God and die.

But Job responded to his travails by saying “Though He slay me, Yet will I trust Him.” (Job 13:15). That is calcified faith.

We see calcified faith again in the person of Habakkuk... 

Habakkuk was a prophet in the Old Testament. Here was Habakkuk’s situation (as explained by one online commentary):
Habakkuk was perplexed that wickedness, strife and oppression were rampant in Judah but God seemingly did nothing. When told that the Lord was preparing to do something about it through the “ruthless” Babylonians, his perplexity only intensified: How could God, who is “too pure to look on evil,” appoint such a nation “to execute judgment” on a people “more righteous than themselves?”
(I wonder... could there be parallels between Habakkuk’s Judah and America? Hmmmm.)

So Habakkuk has a conversation with God. In the end of the book (the bottom line with Habakkuk) he writes:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”

What Habakkuk describes in that verse is utter devastation for an agrarian civilization, which is the kind of world he lived in. 

In the end, Habakkuk expressed his acceptance of God’s sovereign will, no matter how bad life got. And in the midst of such devastation, Habakkuk even says that he will “rejoice in the God of my salvation.” Yes, that’s calcified faith. 

I would like to have a calcified faith, and I think I do. But only time will tell if I really do.

I’m not talking about calcified faith in a specific doctrine, or denomination. 

Beliefs about points of doctrine are important, but many outlying doctrinal beliefs have a way of changing over time. When I think of calcified faith, I think of the core beliefs that have always been at the heart of authentic Christianity... Belief in the supremacy of God, the truth of his word, the reality of sin, and a proper understanding of God’s only plan of salvation, by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ. 

I’m not a theologian, or a preacher, or an evangelist. I’m just a thankful old guy who writes about what he thinks. And these days, as you have seen, I’ve been thinking a lot about the world as it is, calcified faith, and eternity. 

Thanks for joining me on the journey.







Making Dried Greens
For Winter Nutrition

Dateline: 27 January 2015

Salad Flakes, from Machado Farms

I was nearly seven years ago that I blogged about Rick Machado's excellent agripreneurial idea of Salad Flakes. If you are not familiar with Salad Flakes, and you are looking for some homestead-based, cottage industry inspiration, check out that link. Rick Machado is a down-to-earth innovator and I think innovation is an important part of making it as a small-scale farmer these days. 

As my old essay shows, I made some of my own dried greens, much like Rick's Salad Flakes. I utilized them as a homegrown nutritional supplement, especially in the winter months. But for the next five winters after that, I had no dried greens.

Not until last summer did I finally get around to "putting up" some garden greens again for the winter, and I'm now having a good dose of them every day. I typically mix them into plain yogurt, with some granola and maple syrup. Occasionally I'll put a pinch of dried greens between my cheek and gum, let them slowly rehydrate in my mouth, and enjoy the flavor (dried beet greens are especially nice for this).

In addition to making some dried greens last summer, I took some pictures of the process (click pictures to see enlarged views)....

First, grow some greens.

Next, pick a pail of greens.
Here we have a pail of beet greens.
(my favorite kind of greens)

This picture shows my greens "colander." It's made with a piece
of porous fabric suspended inside a clean pail. Note the
high-class clothespins (ClassicAmericanClothespins.com). 

I wash the greens by putting them into a pail
full of clean water, then agitating the greens.
Particles of soil on the greens will settle
to the bottom of the pail.

After agitating the greens in the water, I let them set for
a minute or two and take them out. This picture shows
the water after a first washing.

When washed greens are removed from the bucket,
they are placed in the fabric colander.

The colander fabric is square in shape. Fold the corners
up and you have  a tidy bundle like this
picture shows. Now you can swing the bundle around
some and centrifugal force will remove most of the water.

I wash and rinse three times. The pail on the right was
the first wash water. The pail on the left was the
second wash water. Notice that pail on the right has dirty
water, while the pail on the left (2nd wash water)
has cleaner and greener water.

This picture shows a pail of beet greens after the third and final
washing.They are a bit bruised, but clean.

I heap the washed greens on a dehydrator tray, like this.

One pail of picked and washed greens will fit into my
Equiflow food dehydrator as shown here.

A few hours later (not long) the greens will be dried and crispy.
Note that they are still green. I keep
the heat down low to preserve the nutrients.

Here you can better see the nicely-dried beet greens.

I put the dried greens in a bowl and crumble them by hand.

This picture shows the beet green stems that aren't fully dry.
They don't crumble and are easily removed.

I put the crumbled beet greens into a canning jar.

One pail of picked beet greens, dried and crumbled,
will fill a quart canning jar half way.

This pail of fresh-picked kale was
dried in like manner.


Homemade
Contra-Industrial
Green Multi-Vitamins...

The industrial system has done a very good job of training their consuming herds to think that the best nutritional supplements are "scientifically formulated" and neatly packaged. Surely, these well-presented products are superior to a nutritional product, like dried greens, that any gardener can easily make himself, or so the marketing geniuses would have us believe.

I don't buy it. 

I believe that something as simple and good as homemade dried greens are far better than any synthetic daily multivitamin you can buy in a store. 

Homemade dried greens are also practically free, but they do take some time and effort to make.





—Martin Armstrong—
Deflation
&
2015.75

Dateline: 26 January 2015

Martin Armstrong

I like to listen to a lot of different economic analysts. But I don’t listen to anything presented by the mainstream media. That’s because the mainstream media is clearly a propaganda arm of the government-corporate cartel that now runs America. You know this already, right?

So I listen to (and read) alternative economic discussion on the internet. To a man (and woman), all these independent economic analysts are expecting an economic catastrophe in America's future. For so many economists to agree on something of such magnitude is rare, because economists are well known for having different opinions.

But there is certainly no consensus among these people about exactly how the economy will eventually implode. For example, many have been predicting a hyper-inflationary crash, while a few have been predicting a deflationary crash. 

Among the deflationist minority has been Martin Armstrong. 

Martin Armstrong is a fascinating fellow. When you first see him, or to listen to him, or read his writings, you might not recognize him for what he is, which is a high level (governments and institutions), world-class economic advisor with an amazing track record of accuracy in his predictions (so the story goes).

Martin is a long-time student of history and, if I understand correctly, he has developed a computer program (based on pi) that looks at historical cycles and predicts upcoming economic events with uncanny precision. I know it sounds a little crazy, but stick with me here. 

Martin Armstrong’s computer-model predictions were so correct that he attracted the attention of the FBI. To make a long story short, he spent 12 years in prison, seven years of that time he was in prison for contempt charges. Martin says the government wanted the source code of his computer program, but he wouldn’t give it to them. They accused him of manipulating world financial markets. 

Martin Armstrong’s story is being made into a documentary titled The ForecasterHERE is the link to one trailer of the movie on YouTube. HERE is another trailer link. I'm looking forward to seeing this movie when it is finally out.

You can listen to a recent interview with Martin Armstrong At This Link.

And you can read Martin Armstrong's blog HERE. I get all Martin's blog posts by e-mail (several a day lately). I suspect that every economist in the world is reading Martin Armstrong.

Martin Armstrong's computer model has been telling him that we are in for a significant crisis event on 2015.75. That is his way of saying the 3rd quarter of this year. Specifically, on or just after, October 1, 2015. 

We will find out if The Forecaster is right on this call soon enough.

###

Martin Armstrong 
Quotes About 
Empire & Deflation


"Empires do not die by hyperinflation – that is reserved for the fringe. When an empire dies, it historically has ALWAYS been by deflation/stagflation. How? Real wealth is driven from the aboveground economy into the underground economy where it is hoarded and tucked away. This is why we find hoards of Roman coins. This reduces the velocity of money and commerce collapses. This is ALWAYS AND WITHOUT EXCEPTION how empires die."

### 

The British Empire did not die of hyperinflation. The pound collapsed in value. It did not inflate into oblivion. The British Empire simply rolled over and died. The decline of the sterling silver penny of England was no different a path than the decline and fall of Rome. The United States will follow the same path and that means there is a risk that it will break apart into regional sections ONLY AFTER the dollar is hit very hard following Europe and then Japan.

###

This is fairly simple. All the hyperinflationists can point to is Germany and Zimbabwe. They can offer not a single historical example of how hyperinflation ever destroyed any empire. I have no vested interest in hyperinflation or deflation. I simply do the research and let the evidence speak for itself. This is just not a personal opinion issue in the least. Both will lead to the same end result – the death of an empire. Why must there be an argument over such nonsense? It is DEAD from fiscal mismanagement!

###

When an empire dies that is the major reserve of all nations. We must be concerned about a complete meltdown and the breakup of the nation long-before hyperinflation would even be possible.





Vintage Clothespins
(My Newest Web Site)
&
Marketing Your
Home Business Ideas

Dateline: 24 January 2015




As most everyone who reads this must know by now, I make Classic American Clothespins. To help spread the word about my high-quality, American-made clothespins I sent some samples off to the editors of a few different magazines. If you create a new product, you should do the same.

Not every publication will acknowledge your sample, or the brilliance of your idea. The fact is, print publications are flooded with free samples. This reality became clear to me once, years ago, when visiting The Taunton Press in Newtown Connecticut (back when I wrote articles for Fine Homebuilding magazine). One editor's cubicle was crammed with samples of new products, some from large companies, and some for small-scale entrepreneurs. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the stuff.

Editors are overworked and often harried people. They have a lot on their plate. Your sample may get lost in the shuffle. In fact, more often than not, I suspect it will get lost in the shuffle. But don't let that deter you. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. That's my motto. One review of your product in a print publication can make all the difference. I know this from experience.

When I think of the power of a product review, I think of Chris Pasto. Back in the mid-1990's I was self-employed as a remodeling contractor and my focus was on cabinet refacing (I wrote This Book on the subject). One spring weekend, in an effort to promote my business, I had a before-and-after cabinet refacing display set up at a home show in Ithaca, New York. Chris Pasto had a display there showing and demonstrating his BoWrench tool.

I was immediately intrigued by the tool and started asking questions. Chris told me the story of how he was a college student and he came up with the idea. He had spent several thousand dollars getting it patented, and was making the Bowwrenches himself. That home show was his first attempt to market the new tool.

I expressed my admiration for the brilliance of the idea and the usefulness of the tool. I told Chris that I wrote articles and tool reviews for a magazine called Fine Homebuilding. He didn't seem impressed.  I told him that a review of his tool in that magazine could really launch his business. He expressed mild interest. I realized that he wasn't going to just give me a BoWrench, and I realized that he really didn't grasp the importance of a good review of his product in a national publication.

So I handed over $50 for a BoWrench, did some evaluating of the tool and mailed it off to my editor friends at Fine Homebuilding. I told them it was a great tool and that I'd like to do a review of it. It took some months for the review to make it into the magazine, but when it was published, Chris Pasto's idea was launched onto the national stage. It made all the difference. No amount of money spent in advertising can compare to a good product review (absolutely free of cost) in a national publication.

I see the BoWrench is still selling and Chris has come out with some other neat tool ideas (BoWrench Link). I'm not sure what happened to the BoWrench I bought that day some 20 years ago. Maybe it is still in an editor's cubicle at Fine Homebuilding.

All of which is my long-worded way of saying that Mary Jane Butters at Mary Jane's Farm magazine saw the value of my Classic American clothespins when she received them, and promptly blogged about them. There was no internet  (that I recall) back in the mid 1990's. Things are different now.

Mary Jane's blog post sent a lot of customers to my web site. Then she mentioned my clothespins in an early 2014 issue of her magazine. And, again, in the most recent issue of Mary Jane's Farm, my clothespins are given national exposure.

Other people have mentioned my clothespins in internet reviews, which are probably just as good as a magazine review. Who knows how long print publications can survive with internet competition? The world is changing. But national exposure in a popular print publication remains a powerful marketing tool.

This has been a long-worded rabbit trail to simply announce my newest web site, Vintage Clothespins. The web site is something akin to a clothespin museum. If you like old clothespins, you'll appreciate the new web site.

The new web site is, like all of my web sites, made using the Blogger format, which is absolutely free. It's free. It's simple and easy to use. And it is effective.

Why take the time to create such a web site? Well, I do like old clothespins, but my motives are more practical. The new web site serves to attract and funnel internet searchers to my Classic American Clothespins web site, and my Make your Own Clothespins web site. In other words, it is a marketing tool.

If you have any kind of a product to promote, this is a marketing idea you can pursue at no cost... except the time and effort it takes to bring it to reality.


###

By the way, those clothespins pictured at the top of this page are probably the best example of an American-made clothespin. They were made by Penley Brothers in West Paris, Maine. I think they were made around 1950. The price for 12 clothespins was 29-cents.










Blessing Marci

Dateline: 22 January 2015



I was sorry to find out yesterday that Marci Blubaugh has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. For those who don't know, Marci and her husband, Mike, live a deliberate agrarian lifestyle in Ohio. Marci started blogging back in early 2006 (around the same time I did). The Blugaugh's have a web site and blog at Amazing Graze Farm.

Scott Terry has written about Marci and the difficult situation she is facing at this link: Prayers and Help For Our Friend Marci.  Quinn, at Reformation Acres has also blogged about Marci: Some Sad News.

To "bless" someone is to "invoke Divine care" (as the dictionary puts it) and to provide that person with something good or desirable.  

In this case, anyone reading this can bless Marci Blubaugh by praying for her, sending a card, and sending a gift. I intend to do all three. 

There is a Caring Bridge site for Marci HERE. Scott Terry has posted a mailing address for cards and donations at his blog post (link above).

I hope that many of you who read this will make time in your busy day (today and in the days ahead) to remember Marci Blubaugh, and bless her as much as you can.






More
Dandelion Root Tea

Dateline: 20 January 2015


If you live close to the earth and pursue a lifestyle of self-reliance to some degree, there are definite times and seasons for doing things. When a task is not done in season, you miss your opportunity. This was almost the case for me last fall when it came to digging dandelion roots for making my yearly supply of "root-tea" (as I call it around here).

In This Past Essay I told how, after years of thinking about it, I actually put some initiative into digging, drying, and roasting dandelion roots for the first time in my life. It so happened that there was nothing hard about any of it and the finished product is something I like very much. I like the flavor, and I like the fact that the tea is good for a body (the liver especially).

Based on that experience, I determined that making my own root-tea must needs be a part of my seasonal routines, like making apple cider in the fall, and maple syrup in the spring. My understanding is that the dandelion roots are best dug in the late fall, after a frost, and before the ground freezes.

But late last fall, with a snow storm approaching, and knowing that the ground would surely freeze, I had still not dug a supply of dandelion roots. It was nearing dusk, the wind was bitter cold, snow flakes were in the air. I grabbed a garden fork and a bucket and headed off, on foot, through the woods, to my field.




My field is chock full of weeds, including plenty of dandelions. They are healthy, organic, wild dandelions. I dug roots until there was so much snow on the ground that I could not identify which weeds were dandelions.

I processed the roots exactly as I showed in the essay link above. But instead of roasting the ground roots right away, I thoroughly dried them in a food dehydrator. Then I roasted them later.



I am confident in my digging, washing, chopping and drying abilities. But the roasting part seems to be one of those skills that requires some time and experience to know how it is best achieved. I think I have a tendency to over-roast, to the point of burning the little bits. But I haven’t yet ruined a roasting. Just come close.

I equate this roasting of the roots to the first few times Marlene and I made maple syrup years ago. Finishing it off on the stove was something of a mystery and we were plenty nervous about it. But, in time, we’ve come to “understand the syrup.”  Now finishing and jarring maple is a familiar process that we do with knowledge and efficiency.

One of the nice things about having a cup of root-tea in the evenings is that I can share the routine with my grandson, Futureman, when he is here. I add cream and maple syrup to the tea, and he loves it.

To Futureman, the root-tea is "fawky" which is his word for coffee (he doesn't drink real coffee, of course). We're working hard at learning him how to pronounce the word more accurately. Since he has no problem saying "cow" we are referring to root-tea as "cow-fee." The strategy is showing promise.


I suppose that learning to properly pronounce words at nearly-three is much like learning to roast your own dandelion root tea at nearly-fifty-seven. These things take time. And then, one day, it’s an easy, natural part of life.