Gratitude (illustrated)

The SilverSilverado didn’t really need gas this morning. With the fuel gauge reading a tick over 3/4 of a tank, we could’ve let it ride ’til this weekend and it would’ve been fine. I have a thing, however, about topping off before Election Day, 9/11, major holidays and other special occasions.

So off I went down US 65 to Bellefonte, where 87 octane at Harps still was priced at $3.099. That was at least 13 cents less than any other station I passed on the way there.

On this, “the busiest travel day of the year,” the place was packed. The truck took less than seven gallons, which got me in and out quickly.

I turned on the radio, tuned to a local station that plays nothing but old-school Country music. After the farm report — a real farm report, too, not some pithy syndicated slug — Merle Haggard crooned “It’s Been A Great Afternoon” (1978). David Houston confessed to being “Almost Persuaded” (1966). A young Alan Jackson asked the musical question, “Who Says You Can’t Have It All?” (1994).

Back at the campground, I caught myself wishing that it hadn’t been such a short drive.


I have no doubt that Yellowstone, the oh-so-popular Paramount TV series, is very good. Everyone I know tells me it’s great. Deb just started getting into it, from the beginning, and her cousin recommends it.

There’s a good chance I won’t join the herd and watch Yellowstone. I know myself — once I start, I’m sure I’d be hooked. (It happened with Ozark.) Not to put too fine a point on it, but I have better things to do than to plant my ass on the bed for hours at a time and absorb “entertainment.”

For me it’s a by-product of aging. As long as I’m still ambulatory and of sound mind, I’d much rather do things and learn things, preferably learning things that I can then do. I feel like my time is limited, and I don’t want to squander what I have left.

I have no aversion, of course, to incorporating Internet video into my continuing education. Almost every day Deb and I watch a couple of YouTube how-tos on subjects that’ll be useful to us as we build and live on The Mountain. There’s one channel I find particularly appealing.

The guy’s name is Dave Whipple, and his YouTube channel is “Bushradical.” He describes his content as “Rustic Living… the freedom you get from doing things yourself and keeping life simple.” It’d also be accurate to characterize what he does as “off-grid.”

From northern Michigan and Alaska, he posts videos on building and outfitting basic cabins and other structures. He explains fundamental skills and gets into bushcraft a bit. He even delves into knives and knifemaking, including a tour of one of my favorite ‘makers and an interview with a former employer of mine.

Whipple’s low-key personality, along with his straightforward, unpretentious and decidedly non-commercial approach, make him easy to watch. He’s both plain-spoken and articulate. He knows how to shoot, edit and present video in an engaging way that doesn’t waste the viewer’s time.

Whenever I finish watching one of his episodes, I feel a little smarter. Whether it consumes five minutes or a half-hour, it’s time well spent.

That’s a recommendation, by the way — go to “Bushradical” and subscribe.


Check your calendar — it’s time for us all to be grateful. Just as we suddenly remember to honor warriors in May and September and show our patriotism in July, this is the week that we’re supposed to feel a spasm of thanksgiving.

I live in a constant state of gratitude. Now, if something sucks out loud, I’ll say so out loud — I’m no Pollyanna — but I really have nothing to complain about. Years and miles and experience have shown me how truly fortunate I am. I’ve learned to see joy in even the most ordinary moments.

Scrolling this morning through images we’ve captured over the last week or so, I picked a handful of those simple moments.

Every single second of every day, I have reason to be grateful. So do you. Act like it.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB


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