February 2.0

February is already a short month and this one truly felt short. Between the weather and work I have been kept away from doing the outside things I need to get done. The few good days of weather I did accomplish some good stuffs – trees cut down and cut up. We still need to get them hauled over to the neighbors. It has rained for like the last 2 weeks. Rivers are jumping their banks; my drive way is washing out – which adds a new project for this spring/summer – get rock/gravel/fly ash for the driveway. When it wasn’t raining it was ass biting cold…I guess I should expect that for February.

I turned 42 this month. That’s a huge accomplishment since there were times when I didn’t think I would make it this far. Tomorrow I hit the 2-year mark on the job. That’s not that big of a deal for me (I worked like 14 years at a previous job), but it is a little different here – I am 4th in plant hourly seniority. There are only 3 others who have been here longer, as hourlies. There were some the management that were here for a year before they hired any hourlies. What this really means is vacation resets! Already got one weekend planned for vacay – Nephew graduates this May.

Ok, for so goal updates. These were my stated goals for February:

  1. Create/Develop a personal mission statement
  2. Read (at least) 30 minutes every day
  3. Write in my (private) Journal everyday
  4. Finalize the garden plans
  5. 8 blog posts

Here is how I did:

  1. I did not finish my personal mission statement. This is more involved than I first thought. I have a working draft, but it is not finalized. I will be working on this until it is done.
  2. I read at least 30 minutes 20/28 days.
    1. I finished started and finish one book – “The View” by Terry Unger.
    2. I continued reading the 7Habits book
    3. I started “Project Management for the Unofficial Project Manager” by Kory Kogon, Suzette Blakemore, and James Wood
    4. I read a few different professional journal types that concerned my job – mostly updates on interpretation on regulations
  3. I did write some entries in my personal journal 18/28 days – though not all were substantive the goal and purpose was to form a habit and I am getting better at that.
  4. We have finalized the garden plans, but no actions have been taken at this point other than planning
  5. I made 4 (including this one) blog posts with a goal of 8. I’m good with this. I still wrote things this month
    1. I researched and wrote an essay on Thor for consideration to become a content writer for The Asatru Community website. This would be awesome to be selected as one of the content for this organization. I will post the essay as a blog post whether or not I am selected, but it will wait until I know for sure.
    2. I wrote some tech stuff for work that involved some research and time. Thinking about starting a second blog that would be centered on work stuff..

February was a short month, but I still got much accomplished. Not necessarily what was planned but needed none the less. I will post up a March outlook post in the next couple of days.

Verðandi

The cycle of life is something that has perplexed man for as long as man has existed. The concept, the mythology, of the Ancestors discusses a complex idea of how this works. They used an analogy of the great ash tree, Yggdrasil – the tree that connects the nine worlds. Yggdrasil is rooted in the Well of Wyrd (Urd or Destiny) and acts as a conduit to all life in all the nine worlds. Connecting everything back to the Well which describes the fate of all living beings. The three Norns – Urd, Verðandi, and Skuld – write, also seen as weaving, the fate of all living beings. The three sisters are often associated with a linear time line – Past, Present, Future – but the Ancestors seen this as a much more complex concept. Time is cyclical not linear. The present, Verðandi, can influence the past and absolutely influences the future.

Norns 2

Urd is the oldest of the three sisters, and the most powerful and most worked with. She is the controller of history. That which once was, or what has already become. We work with her when we read a history book, when we explore our family tree, whenever we look to the past. Urd was once the sole Norn who controlled all three aspects of time/life. Therefore, she can influence, have dominance over, her sisters. That which once was, that which has become, is a powerful influence over that which is (now). Indeed, we build the foundation of our life on the past, on that which was that made us who we are now.

Skuld is the youngest of the sisters. She is what should be, what shall be – necessity and obligation. She is also the Norn who marks and cuts the transitions in our lives. The births and deaths (including our own birth and death). She is seen as the youngest because she has yet to happen, yet the foundation is already set. She exists because there is a “what once was”; because there is a past and because there is a that which is now. There are always consequences for our actions, for our choices, Skuld is the controller of those consequences.

Verðandi, that which is now – the present, is the Norn which I try to do the most work with. Understanding the here and now is important in my life. It is the present in which I have the most influence, where my influence has the largest effect. What I do today, while influenced by that which was, is how I direct my future. I know how to influence my future. The Ancestors believed that Verðandi has influence over Urd. I don’t fully understand this, and I have little desire to work with the magics, which is how I understand that the present can affect the past. I, instead, choose to learn the past so that I can understand how to work with Verðandi to create a path to the future I desire.

I do not believe that we have absolute freedom in our choices, but I also do not believe that the future is stationary. Ørlög is the name given to the concept which describes fate of a person. Ørlög is the combination of luck and fate and is cumulative through our ancestry. Yes, this means that what our father and his father…and so on…did influences the choices that we have now. This is not to blame our parents, our ancestors, for our problems today. We still have the responsibility to make the best choices and to grow and make the best life we can. What this means is that choices our ancestors made influences the choices available to us. For example: If the parents move the family to a new town, state or country, the child has no choice but to move with the parents. No real choice anyway. Once relocated the choices of that child is affected – restricted – by their environment. As simple as the friends they can hang out with – they no longer can spend as much time with their friends “back home”. They can now choose to make new friends, or have no friends, or try to maintain a long-distance relationship with their friends. Their choices have been limited, reduced. This is an extremely simple example of ørlög, but the concept of ørlög is not the focus of this post so I am not going into full detail, only to set the stage so to speak. There are some places where this concept is better developed. If you would like to read more try here or here.

The point is this: we start life with a specific number of choices. A finite number, choices that are set by Skuld based on Wyrd. As we grow and begin making choices – even before making our own choices our parents make choices for us – every choice we make sets us on a path to a specific end. That end is not absolute, it is one possibility of many. Each choice we make, or allow to be made for us, reduces the choices available. We can never return to the exact place we were when we make a choice. We can only learn from bad choices, own the choice and reset ourselves. Making a different choice, even if the same choice we could have made is presented to us it is not the same as it once was. It cannot be because we made that choice already. By influencing the present, working with Verdandi, we can direct that path. So, I choose to work with the Norn of the here and now.

This choice has lead me to the life I try to convey in my postings here. Has led me to study the 7 Habits which led me to examine the correlation to the 9 Noble Virtues. This leads me to developing a principle centered life, centered on the 9NV. Working with Verdandi, working within the area of my influence, I can create the future I want to create. This will influence my ørlög and will affect the ørlög of my children and future generations. It is my duty, my obligation, to do this.

What is right with this world

There is so much wrong with the world. We see it every day. The past few days we have seen some the worst. Another school shooting. Kids killing kids. Does it get much worse than that? Our government…I don’t even know where to start or what to say about the politics today in our country. It seems that we are living in the end of days. Are we seeing the beginning of Fimbulwinter?

Then something right happens. I am reminded that there is still right in this world, I just must open my eyes and see it.

Tonight, it was just the second born and I for supper. The wife and oldest are at work, the daughter is at a sleep over/birthday party. The boy and I went to a little diner for supper. I had only been to this diner for breakfast and the boy had not eaten there before. They have good food – its comfort food for me. Not so much the food but the atmosphere. It reminds me of the diners I grew up knowing. The places where Grandma Max owned and worked, where my mom worked…where I worked. Not fancy, just simple food made well. A friendly waitress who knows the regulars and greets them by name and with a smile. The owner’s family having their evening meal together in the back corner where they are rolling silverware and filling salt shakers while eating. Regulars enjoying the company of other regulars. Friendly exchanges like “Wow those boys have grown so fast” “How is your mom?” “I saw your aunt/uncle/cousin yesterday” … All said with a genuine frith.

She came in with her two young boys. The older one with obvious signs of Downs Syndrome and the younger one barely of walking age. The older boy came in with a huge grin on his face. People greeting him by name. He makes eye contact with me. I smile. He smiles and waves. They take the booth behind the one my son and I are sitting in. She smiles, and the room is brighter. The two boys are well mannered but also quite active. She handles the two with a patience and smile. The love of her children was so easy to see that I almost cried. Truly Frigg was dining with us in that diner tonight. She caught me making faces with her youngest and her and I made eye contact. She smiled, and her eyes sparkled, and I knew that the world is ok, we are ok.

This is what is right in the world. We need to focus on the good. We can’t ignore the evil, but we must not dwell on the evil. Love, the love of a mother like Frigg has for Baldur, the love I saw in the young mother tonight, that is what we should dwell on. That is what we should, no must, seek out.

frigg

This is what is right in the world. We need to focus on the good. We can’t ignore the evil, but we must not dwell on the evil. Love, the love of a mother like Frigg has for Baldur, the love I saw in the young mother tonight, that is what we should dwell on. That is what we should, no must, seek out.

 

The Sound of a Chainsaw…

I arrived home from work early Friday morning. In the distance I could hear the sound of the neighbor running his chainsaw. The sound of a neighbor running a chainsaw is a neighbor inviting you to come help with some good, hard work. I knew he was working on cutting up one of the trees he had brought down last week. Art (the neighbor) and I came together to have a professional tree cutter bring down 6 trees between our two properties. Four on his and two on mine. His four were dead or dying but were too big for us amateurs to mess with. Mine were dangerously in need of being taken care of, again not something for weekend warriors.

I had a hickory that was rotting at the base and was about half gone from the ground up to about four feet. It was leaning towards my shop and we were concerned if we tried to cut it would fall on the shop. The other was an oak that had been hit by lightening a few years prior to me buying the place. It was close to the power line. Max, the neighbor on the other side of me, spent a couple decades cutting trees for a living but is in no shape to be doing that business now. He said that oak would come down in at least three pieces and there was no telling which direction any of it would come down. This actually prompted bringing in the tree cutter with his bucket truck.

Friday promised to be a good day for working on this stuff. Weather was great, especially for a day in February. About 40 degrees at 8am and got to almost 60 by the end of the day. I changed from my work uniform into home work clothes. This meant jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots traded for jeans, t-shirt, button down work shirt, and steel toed work boots. My company pays for my uniforms so I don’t feel it is right to tear them up at home. I grabbed a cup of coffee, changed the chain on my saw, gassed it up and topped off the bar oil reservoir. Threw it all in the truck (saw, fuel, oil, bar wrench and chain sharpening file) refilled my cup and went to play with my friends.

We are giving almost all of the wood to Max. He uses an Outdoor Wood Burning furnace. Wood is burned in a firebox outside of the house which heats a water reservoir. The heated water circulates into the furnace. The air blows over the hot water coil. The air absorbs the heat and blows out into the house. Same way a gas fired furnace works which is what us “industry pros” call a direct heat whereas Max’s furnace is an indirect heat. It is a very good system and something that I am looking at putting as a backup or “off grid” option for my house. For now, the propane is a better option for me.

I say almost all of the wood because I plan to keep about a “rick” for my wood burner in my shop and the smaller sticks will be used in my smoke house (when I get it built). A “cord” of firewood is a stack of wood that measures (about) 4 feet deep x 4 feet high x 8 foot long – stacked neatly and compactly. It is 128 cubic feet of compactly stacked firewood. A “rick” is 1/3 of a cord. Typically, cut and split firewood is cut between 16 and 20 inches, with 16 inches being the “standard”. A “rick” would then be 4’x4’x16”. I do not know how many cord of wood would typically be used over the winter, but if you cut your own wood it can be a very cost-effective method of heating. Wood heat is very common in this part of the country. Back home (Southwest Kansas) it is not as practical because we just don’t have the trees.

Friday, we cut up two of Art’s trees and my oak. We got the tops – the smaller branches – moved to the burn pile. I worked until about 3pm. At that point I had been awake for about 20 hours and I hit that proverbial wall. A good day’s work and well-earned sleep to end it. Saturday, Art was over at about 7am burning the brush pile. We had a little rain Friday night so it was great timing to burn. Less chance of setting the whole yard on fire. I got the two boys up and out and we started on the hickory. Got all the tops moved to the fire and would have got the tree cut up but I cut in at the wrong angle and damaged my chain. Max’s son and grandson showed up around 9am to cut up the large trunk pieces of the oak and to start hauling it to Max’s wood pile. About noon I had to call it a day – I had to work Saturday night.

Good, hard work shared among neighbors creates friends. We all had a good time. Joking with each other, sharing stories – probably mostly lies (except mine were all true enough) – and all while making my place safer and helping out Max. So, remember, if you hear your neighbor running a chainsaw go see what they are doing. They may welcome the help.

February

I am a little late in this post, but life happens. I hope that as this blog/public journal continues you, my readers, will see that I am a man who neither accepts excuses nor makes excuses. When I feel appropriate I will offer an explanation as to why I prioritized one task over another – noted that this may be seen as a type of excuse, which I guess is true enough.

One of the purposes I stated that my blog will serve is to be a way of being accountable for my goals. I will post my monthly goals, well, monthly. We are now seven days into February and I have not done this. It has been 7 days since my last post of any kind. I am aiming to post something twice a week, so I have stumbled on that goal already.

Currently, I work a 3rd shift job. I am a senior Refrigeration Operator at a chicken processing facility. Recently I was “promoted” to Process Safety Management (PSM) Coordinator. I was hired (2 years ago at the end of this month) for 1st shift but due to staffing issues I was needed on 3rd shift. The plant I work at is brand spanking new, we just started running in 2016. I was the first refrigeration operator hired. As one of three qualified senior operators (this just means that I am well experienced and trustworthy) I was tasked with developing shut down and start up procedures for our new plant. No one had done this here yet and it required someone with experience. Three experienced operators have taken four green rookies and built a working, though still growing and learning, refrigeration crew. I will soon be transferring my Senior position to another operator and moving into the role I was hired to fill originally. I was hired to fill the PSM role, but we knew that would be a secondary role until things were running and we were staffed with qualified operators. In the mean time we used a contractor for the PSM. However, the operator that will be the new 3rd shift senior operator is out on a medical leave. This leaves me and the other 3rd shift guy working seven days a week. I have been working my PSM job, while also performing the Senior operator duties – kind of like a shift lead. That leaves me with little time for things like blogging.

Since I have a meeting in the morning that will keep me at the plant until much later than I would leave I decided to go in an hour later and write this. I normally work 10pm to 7am, tomorrow I will be there until at least 10am.

Ok I have rambled on enough. February goals: (in no particular order)

  1. Create/Develop a personal mission statement

Habit #2 in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “Begin with the End in Mind”. Mr. Covey recommends developing a personal mission state to help get and keep the important things in mind. The personal mission statement is a guide, a set of goals, it is the documented “Me” I want to be.

According to Mr. Covey, an effective goal focuses on the results rather than the activity. It identifies where you want to be and can show you where you are presently. It tells you how to get “there” and lets you know when you have arrived. It unifies your efforts and energy. An effective goal translates daily activity into a proactive being that enables you to fulfill your personal mission statement.

  1. Read (at least) 30 minutes every day

I have set the goal to read two books this month. One personal development (in addition to 7 Habits) or something of historical value – like a biography from one of the founding fathers. One spiritual development(ish); something about Heathenism. The more important goal here is to read everyday for at least 30 minutes.

  1. Write in my (private) Journal everyday

Here is where I do my deeper introspection, rant about things I don’t need to publish, maybe a little ego stoking or ego dampening (this is more likely) … Just a general journal to record my thoughts. I may share of this, most I won’t.

  1. Finalize the garden plans

This is our second season on our “Farmstead”. Last season we were just moving in, doing some remodeling and making this house our home. We didn’t plant anything last year. This year we will have a garden again. I need to get everything ready so that we can plant in time. This will mean building grow beds, turning the soil where we will be planting directly in the ground. It will also mean needing to finalize the decisions on what will be grown. It will also mean converting the old chicken coop into a nursery for our seedlings. The people before us had partitioned off a section of the shop and used that as a chicken coop. I will be using it as a garden shed/nursery.

We will also be building a new chicken coop and getting our chickens this year. I want to get the plans finalized for this project. The new chicken coop will also have a run/yard enclosed for the chickens. We have too many threats to let them free range, unfortunately.

  1. 8 blog posts

Keeping with the idea of 2 posts a week and 4 weeks this should be doable. I will probably utilize the daily prompt word.

Tuesday my neighbor and I brought down two trees in my yard – well we had a professional to get them. He had three or four trees on his property that were too big for us to bring down on our own and I had two that were to dangerous to bring down. One hickory was rotted on the lower part of the trunk and leaning towards my shop. If we tried to do it there was a strong chance of it landing on my shop. The other was an oak that had been struck by lightening a few years before I bought the land. That one was going to come down in three (or more) pieces and was too close to the house and power lines. So, over the next couple weeks we will be processing all 5 or 6 trees for fire wood for our other neighbor. They are in their 70s and not in great health. They have a wood furnace – pretty nifty set up. I may look into setting one up for my house. Maybe look at combining that with a radiant floor heat system… Anyway. We are going to stock them up with wood for next year. I will be keeping a little for my smoke house, but most will be going to the neighbor’s.