Today we went to the orchard for our pre Halloween outing. There is a local orchard near our home that has hay rides, pumpkins, apple cobbler and ice cream, cider all at no charge just for coming out. My wife and I have been going with our children since my oldest was just a baby. Usually we visit several times just to buy vegetables and fruit but this year with my traveling so much this was our first time out.
It has become so much a part of our family traditions that the farm seems almost like our own. The kids know that every year there will be puppies to hold and play with, yummy food, a hay maze to play in with lots of other kids. My wife and I shop for vegetables and enjoy the excellent cider. We carefully select the perfect pumpkins for our Jack-O-Lanterns and our pies. The hay ride is always the same driver, she has been doing it for a dozen years since before my daughter was born. She travels a long way just to do the hay rides each year. She has two big beautiful draft horses, who are real working animals. When they are not delighting children she has them plowing, hauling and pulling stumps on an organic farm of her own.
This year the farmer and his grandson joined us on the hay ride and we chatted and talked about the orchard and farm. One woman who had brought her grandchildren had been coming to the farm for forty years, before moving away. She had come back from the other side of the state just for a visit. Many like us had been coming our childrens whole lives and there were some who were coming for their first year and loving it. This one little family farm and orchard has touched the lives of so many people. It is this place and other family owned businesses that show me what community is all about.
Yes I will go to Wal-Mart or some other chain store to save money when I need to, but I always remember that there is more to consider than price. Service, quality, integrity, and community are all also considerations. I make a point of patronizing local businesses that have served me well whenever possible. I get my vegetables from my favorite farm. I buy my computers from the same shop I have been using for fifteen years. When I can afford it I buy my wines from a local vineyard, my seafood from the neighborhood fishmonger and meat from a local butcher. I can't always afford to do this and when I must I shop for the lowest price, however I know that if I do not support these local businesses when I can they will cease to exist and that would be a loss I would hate to suffer.
I would encourage everyone to explore your community owned farms and shops and see if there are some worthy of your business. If your community is anything like mine you may find that for a few extra dollars you can enrich rich your life many times over.
I went to a local political event this evening. It is one of those dress up and spend money to help the cause sort of things. This one was a liberal themed one and was benefitting mostly liberal causes and drawing a mostly liberal crowd. There was Entertainment, speakers, a silent auction and all of the usual trappings of this sort of thing.
Although I am active in local politics it is not the sort of thing I would normally attend. As a Libertarian I find that there are few causes that I wish to support. There are a few such as PFLAG and the food bank that are worth contributing to but that is about it. There are others who's goals I support but who's methods I disagree with. Some wish oppressive regulation to achieve a goal that could be accomplished through boycotts and education. Most want or are already receiving tax dollars when they should be privately funded. Anyway I prefer to contribute quietly to those causes I support and stay away from the public fund raisers.
I attended this one not for political reasons but because my daughter was performing. She was dancing and Taiko drumming with a group from her school and My wife and I went to watch her. That part was fun, and I did enjoy the social event as well, largely because of my seven year old son. We walked the silent auction tables and talked about what he would like to bid on. He has a little money and I told him he could make bids, but he wisely decided to hold on to his savings. We ate snacks and free ice cream provided by some local shops. We greeted our mayor and a state senator. My son was far more enthusiastic about the whole thing than I was and that made it fun. My wife was mostly concerned with my daughters performance, although she spent some time socializing with friends from the community and checking out the auction. After her performance my daughter joined us and we spent some time looking at all of the tables and exhibits.
It was a nice family night and hopefully educational for the kids. It did however remind me how out of the mainstream I am politically. I can't connect with either liberals or conservatives. The former are too in favor of oppressive government control and regulation of our lives and the latter are too in favor of oppressive laws and government control of our lives. It seems that there are few people in this "Land of the free" that actually want freedom.
I can understand that, freedom is hard. To be free you have to be strong and willing to care for yourself. You have to have ethics and responsibility. Also freedom requires that you respect the freedom of others. You have to accept that other people will do things you don't like or live in ways you find immoral. Some people can't handle that and I understand. However just because I understand it doesn't mean I respect it. I will always support freedom even to my detriment. As Benjamin Franklin said "He who would trade liberty for some temporary security, deserves neither liberty nor security." That is what keeps me voting Libertarian despite having my candidates lose. That is what keeps me opposing both the social oppression of the liberals and the moral oppression of the conservatives. The fact that Liberty is far more important and worthy of support than material security or moral bigotry.
I just finished off my work season and am going to be on vacation for a couple months until I get started again. Honestly this is just a temporary job until my regular work as an AC tech gets busy again, but it has been a blast. I have travelled all over the Northwest and Hawaii. I missed Alaska but if I am still working here after the new year I will get that trip as well.
Tonight is our big wrap up and we are staying in this excellent resort called Great Wolf Lodge in Washington. It is this huge luxury hotel filled with restaraunts, arcades, bars, a spa the works. My roommate and I have a huge suite with all the perks. Best of all the place has a massive water park.
I just spent two hours riding water slides with my crew. We are a young crew mostly. There are a few of us old guys and ladies but for the most part they are all early twenties, and I tend to run around with the younger crowd. There are several slides the two best are one called the funnel. It has a very steep drop leading into a huge tube that you go up and down the sides like a half pipe and then shoot out the other end, The other is longer and has more turns but isn't as steep. However we took five people in a raft to get the weight up and just flew through it. The water park just closed and I am going to go meet up with some people to hang out and eexplore the place. I am responsible for getting about twelve people home so I get to pick the leave time and we are going to spend the day here tommorow.
This job has been about the most fun I have had working. It has it's headaches as well but it is great. If it paid what I am used to I would probably make a career out of it but I can't afford it. It would take years to get up to the wage I really need to support my family. I wish I had discovered it years ago when I could have devoted the time to work up. I am going to be off work for a while and hopefully will find another construction job, but building is way down in my area and I am unwilling to relocate so I may get another season of this.
Anyway I have some work to take care of and people to talk to but I haven't posted anything in a while and I thought this was something fun to write about.