If anything has dominated our lives over the past several months it has been music. I never dreamed of having such a musical family, but God seems to enjoy answering the prayers I forget to pray. We started our kids on the piano and violin fairly early, mainly because we knew it would be good for them. I didn’t expect them to like it. Nine years later, it’s hard to keep them away from their music which has become their passion. The walls resonate with the sounds of classical piano, baroque violin, medieval harp, waltzes, hoedowns, jigs, reels, polkas, and lots of improvisation, from morning to night, each and every day. The past weeks have been filled with lessons, contests, recitals, performances, and rehearsals, world without end, amen. Of course, all the practicing can sound terrible, but I suppose that’s the price of a good performance. I have learned (and am still learning) to be more tolerant of the chaotic sounds of untuned strings and pounding keyboards around the house.
Amy won fifth place for her division in the Western Open Fiddle Championships in October, and has recently taken up the guitar. Jonathan, who is fiercely partial to classical music and generally avoids bluegrass, has agreed to play the acoustic bass for a new band we are forming. “The Country Road Fiddlers” consists of our own kids and those of another family led by their guitar-strumming father. Lately they have been rehearsing for the great Orland Christmas Centennial celebration on December 13, marking 100 years of cityhood. Furthermore, the oldest two are serving in the choir for the Latin Mass and are learning to sing sacred polyphony and chant.
My own musical sensibilities were, for the most part, formed by American commercial music of the 1960s through the 1980s. Most of this music (with notable exceptions) was narrow, shallow, and decadent, but also highly stimulating and emotionally addictive. In my early twenties, I decided to force myself to listen to classical music for a while. I didn’t care for the music at first and didn’t really know what I was listening to. Such music required a degree of attention, patience, and sensory perception that was beyond my capabilities at the time. The task was made more difficult due to the fact that some music deemed “classical”, especially post-Wagner, is beset with the same kinds of flaws that characterize modern music in general. But I persisted and gradually learned to enjoy much of it, and also to recognize some of the patterns which distinguish excellent music from good, bad, and mediocre. Admittedly, though, sometimes I still don’t know what I’m listening to.
Despite efforts to shed the addiction, the music of my youth hasn’t completely left me. Nevertheless my goal as a father has been to give my children a much better musical formation. Exposure to good music, I’ve found, isn’t enough. The corrupting influence of modern music will dominate young souls if given the opportunity. Like weeds in a garden, today’s pop “culture” must be restricted before a wholesome and healthy culture can take root. We don’t allow rock music or its derivatives in the house, and very seldom is it heard in the car unless by mistake. When the kids hear modern music out in the world today, they perceive it as it really is: emotional intensity on steroids, stimulation for its own sake, unfocused noise that grates like fingernails on a chalkboard.
That is not to say that music should not, every so often, facilitate a good old rousing pagan funfest. Exhibit A:
As mentioned above, the city of Orland will be celebrating 100 years of cityhood on December 13. The theme of the Orland Centennial will be “A 1909 Christmas”, and residents are encouraged to dress in period costumes. There will be live bluegrass by the Wintons, Christmas music and carols, a barbershop quartet, a western re-enactment, a lighted Christmas parade, and much more, culminating in the entire town gathered in the park to sing “Silent Night” by candlelight. I plan on singing “Worried Man Blues” with the band, and if word gets out you’ll have to come early if you want a good seat!
Speaking of centennials, St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Chico just marked 100 years on November 22. Bishop Jaime Soto was up for the occasion, leading a beautiful eucharistic procession to the city plaza downtown. The local paper produced an excellent audio-slideshow for the event.
On the homestead front, I’m encouraged by what I’ve learned recently about goat meat. I mean the price of goat meat. It seems that some ranchers are getting $6.79/lb for a whole processed goat. A mature goat ready for slaughter weighs 100 to 120 lbs and is good for 40 to 60 lbs of meat. Considering that I can have my goats slaughtered and processed at a USDA approved facility (which enables me to sell the meat directly to the consumer) for about $80.00 per goat, I think we need to get into the goat meat business. A USDA approved goat slaughterhouse – one of only six such facilities in the entire state of California – happens to be located right here in Orland, just five minutes away, where a few of our goats have an appointment on the feast of the Epiphany.
As some of you know we lost our entire flock of 13 laying hens last summer, mostly to the heat, but I suspect that at least three were eaten by coyotes. Those hens were black, a color which retains the heat, and I think that might have been a big part of the problem. So I’ve ordered a dozen chicks from this hatchery down in Texas, shipping tomorrow and hopefully arriving by the end of the week. These hens are Buff Orpingtons, which are much lighter in color.
Seven months ago I was almost certain that, by the end of the year, California would be a state in which homeschooling is outlawed and same-sex “marriage” is permanently established. As of this writing, both disasters have been averted, thanks to the prayers and labors of thousands. Yet I still can’t shake this feeling that California is on the brink of some kind of social calamity, dangling by a thread. Certainly the marriage controversy is far from over, and barring the conversion of California’s well-indoctrinated young people, the homosexual agenda will have the overwhelming support of voters in a few short years. Homeschooling is safe for the time being, but our politicians have promised legislative action at some unforseeable future date. That might be a good thing were it not for our left-leaning legislature. Let’s hope that the financial emergency we now face will make them forget about it.
My dear wife has had her own YouTube channel for some time now. She’s uploaded 46 homemade videos to the site. I decided to get in on that action and started my own YouTube channel, mostly as an archive for favorite videos made by other people.