Monthly Archives: July 2020

Hello Fresh

Using a Groupon coupon, I tried HelloFresh delivery service recently.

And I was quite pleased.

The packaging was minimal and mostly recyclable or compost-ready. The directions were clear. The portions were large (three meals easily, our of what they said would be two). And the food truly delicious.

Tuscan chicken breast with garlic mash and lemon zested carrots.
Creamy Parmesan chicken spaghetti with roasted Roma tomatoes.
Pork burger with caramelized onions and pub fries served with a spicy mayo.
Pork tacos with charred corn, pickled shallot and pepper, and spicy crema.


Pork burger with sauteed mushrooms and mozzarella, plus potato wedges.
Chicken breast with balsamic fig sauce, roasted potatoes, and roasted green beans tossed in lemon zest.


Highlight headlines from this morning’s Washington Post:


God help us all, as we are surrounded by liars, lunatics, and a leaderless void.

Taking away the breath

Tunnel Hill, Illinois.

7.25 a.m.  I step off the back porch to give Nelson a moment after his breakfast.  We walk to the fence line.  He is interested in the cows in the distance.  I look up.

And gasp.

The little valley is shrouded in morning fog.  But it’s sun-kissed just enough that I can see the distant tree line, then the hills, and then a receding curtain of translucent white.

There’s a lyric in a song I teach: “This is the closest I’ve been to being part of a painting.”  And I sing that truth aloud.

Had the Impressionists ventured to this little vale in southern Illinois, they would painted this.

Sadly, the fleeting moment disappeared as I stood transfixed, giving way to the inexorable sunrise.  Such visions are gone too soon, never to be captured again except in memory.

But another day will dawn, equally as vivid and alive.  Oh that I could be here to see it too.

This is the vista.  Imagine this as a lake of thin morning fog.  I don’t recall the last time I was so effected by a landscape.

Looking west.

Farm life, part 2

Looking south, from the bedroom.

Tuesday dawned wet with rain, and the rains fell off and on all morning.

By noon, the sky was clear, and my meetings were finished, so Nelson and I took a ramble.

The cows were up by the fence today, just a few yards from my back porch:

Nelson thinks cows are something at which to bark.


I didn’t try the swing, but I can imagine how fun it is for a kid, or an overgrown kid.

After lunch (ham salad sandwich, pineapple, grapes), I went the front porch to read.  Here’s the report:

I was sitting on his leash and reading a book.  And he jerked so hard that the leash went flying, he went flying to chase cattle, and I went flying to chase him, and we ended up panting (both of us) and sweating (me) only after a kind driver stopped a full 1/4 mile away, stepped on his leash, and he (the dog, not the driver) walked with me in shame back to the homestead.  He’s an adventurous and brave little shit, and also supremely unaware of danger.

And Tuesday’s dinner:

Tuesday morning

Tuesday morning on the farm.

I have a candle lit to dispel the gray gloom and to bathe in light the weathered yellow plank walls of this cozy kitchen. An oil lamp is on the sideboard, but I have no paraffin oil to burn, so a candle must suffice.

The walls in the kitchen appear to be original planks.  Over the stove is an original brick flue, with a twin in the living room.  This was where the coal or wood stove was vented; the stoves would have provided the only heating in the house, back in the day, with a stove in the front room and one in the kitchen.

Nelson has now spotted the horses in their enclosure to the east of the little white farmhouse.

The problem with Nelson on a farm is that he has apparently never seen a big animal, so the bull on the other side of the (electrified) fence seems to him to be a challenge.  And challenge to perhaps engage.  I had him on a leash, of course, so no engagement took place, and the bull, brought in from a neighboring farm in hopes of making bullocks, as it were, munched on grass and completely ignored the little varmint.

Now it’s the horses that need engaging.  We shall see.  I brought apples to feed them, so we will take a (leashed) wander over there soon enough.

We both had a restless night.  Nelson seemed to be disturbed by a couple of moths flying around, a price we pay for life on the farm.  He was up and down all night.  Truth be told, so was I, thanks to a noisome chattering fan that seemed slightly out of kilter, and my poor decision to turn off the air conditioning on a muggy but cool night.

We had a rainstorm come through around 5 p.m., and at 11 p.m. we were still getting a shower.  The pond was glorious in the rain, and mist-shrouded this morning at daybreak.

Our first morning walk in the dewy grass led to me doing battle with a horsefly that was determined to dive-bomb.  Fool me once . . . fool me twice . . . but the third time . . . well, the string of expletives I unleashed upon the little flying creep must have scared it away.

Nelson meanwhile sniffed and peed (and pooped) thoroughly.  There isn’t a fencepost that hasn’t been marked by the little terrier.

Connie, my host, has a wee dog too.  Sugar.  She’s black with some white markings, and looks like she has some poodle in her.  She’s a sweety.

Today is, in the communion of saints in the Episcopal Church (USA), the Feast of Johann Sebastian Bach, Georg Frederic Handel, and Henry Purcell.  Reading their hagiographies at Morning Prayer reduced me yet again to tears, something that seems a near-daily occurrence.  I think the tears are a release from the weariness with uncertainty, our national devastation of leadership, the pandemic, the state of the world, and much more.  I’ll own these tears if they keep me out of therapy. (And so far, they have.)


Reynoldsburg Cemetery

People who regularly read my blog know that I enjoy a good tromp around an old rural cemetery, or an old urban one for that matter.

I call this necro-tourism.

I’m fascinated by the short poetic inscriptions on tombstones.  And I enjoy trying to put together the who-relates-to-whom in old church graveyards where generations of intermarried families are all buried in a jumble.

Reynoldsburg is a tiny hamlet off of US Highway 45 in southern Illinois.  The one church, simply called Reynoldsburg Church, was founded as part of the Methodist Episcopal denomination, according to its cornerstonre.

In these rolling hills near the Ohio River, more than two centuries of pioneers, farmers, teachers, soldiers, homemakers — all are buried on a wide, well-kept patch of land hemmed in on three sides by forest.  On a July day, the scene is peaceful, and sun-parched.

Plenty of Reynolds are buried in this sacred ground.

The oldest couple I found, born in the late 1700s. Think about it — George Washington was still president when Mr. Harper was born, and John Adams when his wife was born.

Notice the spelling of Mrs. Harper’s given name: Phebe.  The Lawrence tombstone, elsewhere in this posting, has the same spelling of the wife’s name.  A daughter? Grand-daughter is more likely given the birth years are 1799 and 1838.

This man died in WWI. The top of his stone has the Masonic symbol at left, and crossed rifles at right. He was artillery, and died two weeks before the end of the war.
And this man in WWII.

Elisha and Nancy Reynolds were in their 80s when they died.  Their photos are symbols of a time and place — severe clothing and severe hair parting.  They likely lived a hard life too.

“In labor and love allied. They here sleep side by side.” The inscription indicates he fought in the Civil War as a 2nd Lieutenant, a commissioned officer.
“In that bright, immortal shore we shall meet to part no more.” And “Gone to a bright home where grief can not come.”

First read

First read of the holiday is racing planes by Webster University rising junior Joseph Oliveri.

I devoured the collection of thoughts and poetry in 45 minutes.  While lying in a hammock.  Under a maple tree.  Nelson by my side.

Oh . . . and the cover art is by my wonderful Webster student Josh Lee.

The poems are an honest and generous look into the heart and soul and experience of a young man who is quite special.  His journey is worth the read.