A Vermont Nature Story on the Lamoille River

Barbara and I are in Vermont for some weeks this winter, and last week we witnessed how an ice jam causes flooding during late winter rains, which then created a remarkable winter scene. The story occurred in north central Vermont on the Lamoille River, which is about 85 miles long and drains a watershed of roughly 700 square miles. The river begins in eastern Vermont and flows generally west into Lake Champlain.

Here’s a short version of the story: Continue reading

Down East Maine in Winter

My wife and I recently took a short road trip through parts of Maine. Maine attracts visitors, mostly to the southern part of the coast and mostly in summer. The northern coast, northeast of Acadia National Park, attracts fewer visitors and is much less populated; this is the coastline of Down East Maine. In winter the roads are mostly empty, the coast is windy and solitude is available almost everywhere. Continue reading

Nature Is a State of Mind

Wide open landscapes in the West

Wide open landscapes in the West

In 2003, a year after I retired but when my wife was still working, I took Anna, our dog, and headed west to see some of the country I’d visited in times past. Anna and I camped most of the time, and one particular night I remember finding a small Bureau of Land Management campground on Antelope Reservoir in eastern Oregon. We could see a long way across the reservoir and surrounding desert landscape. I remember preparing dinner while Anna, sitting at the edge of the campsite, watched the landscape for signs of life. Continue reading

Passive Investing: Seniors Near the Edge of Change

New England 2011_001 With Text

I recently taught a course to retirees on passive investing at the University of Georgia’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Many in the class had portfolios with various brokers or financial planners, some local, some far away, and the portfolios were complicated and laden with high-cost mutual funds as well as individual stocks and bonds. They were not making much money, and they wanted to hear about a different approach. Continue reading

Death and New Life: Mary Ann and Harper Grace

One magnolia fading after a full bloom, another magnolia opening to the day

One magnolia fading after a full bloom, another magnolia opening to the day

Yesterday at 3:30 a.m. a dear friend in Alabama passed away from complications following surgery. We were neighbors for several years and our children grew up together. We shared many meals and laughs, helped each other when needed and worshipped together. We’ve lived apart for maybe 18 years now, but we have stayed in touch. Her loss is deeply felt by my wife and me. Rest in Peace, Mary Ann.

Mary Ann leaves her husband, Keith, and three sons, all of whom are grown and married. She and Keith were married for well over forty years, and he now faces a loss that will reverberate through his life for years to come.

Then at 6:30 a.m. in Vermont, one of our nieces bore her third daughter, Harper Grace, and everyone is doing well. We probably won’t see Harper Grace until late fall or early winter. She joins her two sisters who are full of curiosity, hope and love, and her parents, Marc and Amy who are in middle life, devoted to work and family, and spending their own energy as if it were boundless. Welcome to our family and the world, Harper Grace. Continue reading

Images of the High Plains: a Forgotten Part of America

Ranch in eastern Wyoming

Ranch in eastern Wyoming

The West of American myths is the High Plains. The early explorers and settlers had to cross it on their way to better-known destinations. Many tried to settle there and failed. The bison massacre occurred largely on the High Plains, and Indian wars spanned decades in the 1800s. Continue reading

Wrestling Unknown Knowns: Better Investing

Department of Defense photo

Department of Defense photo

Remember Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Secretary from 2001 to 2006? In response to a reporter’s question about weapons of mass destruction, he offered us valuable epistemological insight into known knowns, known unknowns, and unknown unknowns. Here’s a link if you have 35 seconds to enjoy a little history.

Mr. Rumsfeld never mention unknown knowns, with which investors often wrestle. Continue reading

Prayer Threatens Our Turmoil: Monasticism—Part II

Some of the Monastery staff

Some of the Monastery staff at lunch

Visitors are welcome at most monasteries. After my first day, new people arrived and the three men, who had been there a week, headed home.

We had all come to Our Lady with different stories. P. (I’ll use only first initials) recently left a ministry in upstate New York and was spending a year in discernment. She lived mostly in a retreat house in Arizona, and came to Our Lady for one week. D. lived locally, helping care for her aging parents and managing a store owned by her brother. She needed a break and wanted prayer. Continue reading