Life on Almosta Ranch

Stories of ranch life and other silly musings of an old codger

David McClain

David McClain
Doniphan, Missouri, USA
February 08
I am a simple man who has lived a simple life for sixty years. I have not dined with movie stars nor Kings and Queens. I have not walked the halls of power, nor have I been a mover and a shaker. I have, however, been a soldier, a tinker, a jack of all trades. I have raised five children....I have been loved and I have loved. I do not see grand designs nor do I chase afer them. Instead, I listen to the heartbeat of the land and I rejoice in a bird's song in the morning. Do not come here seeking answers for I have none. I do have questions which I will ask you constantly though. I do not believe in aruging so Politics will not be discussed in my blog. I do not care what your personal beliefs are for you are free to believe as you will...please allow me to do likewise. I have never been rich, but I have always been poor. Being poor however has never stopped me from feeling rich. I feel rich because I have the love of a good woman. Melinda completes me. She gives me the peace of mind and soul required to write about life without regrets and without envy of those who might have more. She is my world. Almosta Ranch is our heaven and we are happiy. This is what I want to share with you in this blog.


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JANUARY 25, 2013 5:04PM

The Winter of my Own Discontent

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I have been online very sparingly over the last couple of weeks. It seems that this blanket of malaise has covered me of late, like a faceless discontent or an itch I can not scratch and has left me with little desire to enter the online circus.

If I had to put a name to what ails me it would be Depression. We are old friends, depression and I and have kept up a more than nodding acquaintance for a good forty years or more.

I know that a part of it is the time of year we are in right now. It seems that if anything bad, really mind-blowing- drop you to your knees- bitch-slap you over backwards is going to happen it will happen between December and March. It never fails with me, this time of year is always my own personal Armageddon season.

I have tried to analyze these feelings lately because that’s just how I am; I want to know the root of any problem. Well today something clicked into place for me like a long sought after puzzle piece that had somehow been overlooked. I was watching the news this morning and I suddenly realized a large portion of my problem: I really dislike the 21st century.

I feel as out of place as a lady of ill repute in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I hate the constant yammering, the instant connection, the molehills made into mountains, all of it. I hate cell-phones on which you can watch movies, send letters, get the weather report and, before long I am sure, cook breakfast.

I detest the Cult of Personality and the worshiping at the alter of the latest trend. I hate how shallow and judgmental we as a people have become, and all the while declaring ourselves all inclusive. I really, really, dislike it when some rock star or movie idol or some politician dies and I see people writing how “Devastated” they are by that death, even though they have never met or interacted with the deceased at all. I find that silly in the extreme and contend that people who say things like that have never truly been devastated before or they would know the difference.

To be truthful, it is not just the 21st Century I dislike, I was not all the comfortable with the 20th century as well. I guess, if I were made to swear on a stack of bibles, I would have to say that I would have been so much happier had I been born in the 19th century.

The 1800’s, where time was measured not in seconds, or minutes, but in hours or days when a task was undertaken. A time when a ten mile trip into a town and back for supplies took planning and a whole day to achieve.

A time when you raised your own food and lived off the bounty of the land. I’ve done this before and would be perfectly happy to do it again. A time when you were not constantly bombarded by pleas to “Buy, Buy, Buy” and with so called experts telling you how you should feel about every topic from who should be President to how you should raise your kids. I yearn for more silence I guess.

There is one thing I am grateful for in this accursed 21st century and that is the ability to listen to wonderful music. I have the luxury of leaving my TV turned onto one of the many music channels and I can sit in my chair when my chores are done and let that music wash all my cares and soreness away. For that I am thankful. The rest I can live without.

So I guess that is the root of my depression, my discontent, whatever you want to call it. I feel out of place, out of time and it is bothersome. I am sure that a lot of that feeling comes from my age and I readily accept that. This world is for the young. That fact is oh so apparent.

Now, since my blog is mainly about Almosta Ranch and the life we live here in the hinterlands, I would like to leave you with an image that remains the same, no matter what century we happen to live in. Here on Almosta the herd has to be tended and the old fashion way, no matter what the weather is like.


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I so absolutely positively hear you. I often wish that I could believe in a religion, because I am so well suited to monastic life. I'd wear the same robe every day, awake early and meditate in the midst of stone walls and natural beauty, observe a vow of silence, except to chant in candle lit halls sharing my voice with my fellow monks. Maybe I'd come out and help you take care of the monastery goats. Sigh.

This time next month, spring will only be another month away.
love and psychic hugs are all i got, david. its a bad time of year, for sure. but spring will be here soon enough, i hope. frigid up here right about now.
Hey, don't feel like the Lone Ranger. I feel like that, too. And so do many, many, millions of others.
Here's Empty Spaces, written by Roger Waters:

What shall we use to fill the empty spaces
Where waves of hunger roar?
Shall we set out across this sea of faces
In search of more and more applause?
What Shall we do Now?
Shall we buy a new guitar?
Shall we drive a more powerful car?
Shall we work straight through the night?
Shall we get into fights?
Leave the lights on?
Drop bombs?
Do tours of the east?
Contract disease?
Bury bones?
Break up homes?
Send flowers by phone?
Take to drink?
Go to shrinks?
Give up meat?
Rarely sleep?
Keep people as pets?
Train dogs?
Raise rats?
Fill the attic with cash?
Bury treasure?
Store up leisure?
But never relax at all
With our backs to the wall
Backs to the Wall...
I hear you. Winter is hard for me, and every year I vow to make it better. I feel more isolated in spite of all the ways I have to connect with people. I've come to the conclusion that it is just a quiet, contemplative season, and let it go at that... ~r
When I lived up North I dreaded the months after the holidays ended. Days on end went by without even a glimpse at the sun. The trees were bare and ugly against the uncolored background of overcast skies. The snow was only beautiful for a few hours before the plows and pollution turned it into unattractive sludge. It was a great move on my part to move to warmer climes.

Aging is difficult and we are definitely drowning in so-called information. I guess I'm lucky to be one who likes the upsides of technology and tolerates the downsides. Feel better soon, my friend.

Having spent a number of winters knowing you I can attest about your dark days. As I read through your thoughts I find myself thinking how incredibly fortunate we are to have a rural life to retreat many have no escape. Nature is the great healer and I have no doubt when she awakens in the coming months you will find your center again. Be well, and thanks for expressing what so many feel.
David, hope you feel better. I love my gizmos so I am happy in this century. Remember they had no antibiotics in the 19th so many of us would not have made it to adulthood. R
greenheron....Sometimes the life of a monk sounds so inviting. Of course I'd have to be able to take Mel with me.

daisyjane....Thanks, I can always use hugs. Hurry up Spring!

Steve Kenny....Thanks for the poem, it makes a lot of sense.

Joan.....Some days I could take more isolation.

Lezlie.....You are indeed lucky to be able to see that upside of tehnology. As for moving to warmer climes, I think I like Key West myself.

BuffyW.....Ah yes, Sheila, you have indeed shared a lot of these Winter moods of mine and I am so happy I have had you as a good friend for so long.
I think you need a little medical pot. It can take the grey out of winter day in just one puff and a whole evening can be spent floating in music and feeling darn good. But sounds like you do that kind of thing anyway. That is all any of us can do. Look for the little sliver of silver in the lining. It is dark and grey in So Cal today. The traffic is nuts and i lost our umbrella. There is always hope tho. Always.
Back in Canada for the winter months I was depressed and then I began to walk every day. No iPod nothing = I just took in the sites. But I can understand how everything is just moving too fast and I cannot keep up.
I'm surprised at just how many OSers suffer through bouts of depression. Maybe it's because those who are fat, dumb and happy are less inclined to write. You piece reminded me of some parts of an early poem by George Orwell. Here a couple of stanzas:

A happy vicar I might have been
Two hundred years ago
To preach upon eternal doom
And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,
I missed that pleasant haven,
For the hair has grown on my upper lip
And the clergy are all clean-shaven.
I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And woke to find it true;
I wasn't born for an age like this;
Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?
I think the 19th century is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Too intolerant. If it's one thing this century is getting right, it's in the area of tolerance.
I understand how winter can leave us less chipper. I live with the same issues. I can see where not all of this century is roses and blue skies. When you talk about living a simpler life. I agree that it would be great.

I am going to give you a little different spin on the death of famous people though. I caught myself feeling extremely devastated at the loss of one or two celebrities and did a self evaluation as I thought, "Wow, why is this affecting me so? I have never met the person." It finally clicked for me. I wasn't morning the loss of the person so much as the loss of entertainment they offered up and the loss of my lack of acknowledgement of my own mortality. (Does that make sense) It basically came down to the subconscious knowledge that if they can die, so can I. I think sometimes people confuse what they are really feeling in the case of those deaths.

Love the picture of you out tending to the animals. At the moment I am basically content to be in the city with Ayron's mother and I know our being here is a good thing for everyone, but I would love to have chickens again and another large garden. Maybe someday down the road. For now, I will work at being content with what I have, because it is good. :)

Write on!
Hugs to you and Mel
Hah! A little depression is good for the soul. Think how much more you'll appreciate the warm days of spring that will come bursting upon you leaking all the juices of renewed awakening!

So dreary up yerself. Wallow in moodiness. Moan and groan and feel sad. It'll all just be a great backdrop in a few more months.

Maybe it's not just depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or maybe it's made worse by those things. Could it be a sickness of the soul? For all the extraordinary things we have in our lives today, things people even 50 years ago couldn't fathom, I can't help but think we've given up so much and we're poorer for it. It's not just all the stuff we're told 24/7 that we "need" to be "better"; it's hard to find silence or simplicity anywhere anymore. I think a lot of people feel the discontent you do although most can't put their finger on it, or express it so fluidly the way you've done here. I know the older I get, the more I feel a craving for something more elemental yet more substantial than what I'm surrounded by. Don't know that I'd necessarily want to go back in time - I like hot showers for one thing - but I can certainly relate to how you feel.
Well, yes, hero worship and the surrogate hero concept, used in America as an economic model, needs to go away.
On the bright side, a recent visit with my family in Chicago has reinforced the idea in all our minds that a few days of quality time, good food and conversation, including a whole hell of a lot of laughter, with the ones we love, is the tonic and the cure for almost all modern maladies...
As the old cowboy once said..."Yup."
Says it all; doesn't it?
Gerald.....Sorry I missed you on my first reply. I envy anyone who is comfortable with this century....don't understand them, but I do envy them. You are right of course, we didn't have antibiotics back then. On the plus side, there was dang sure fewer of us on the planet because of that.

zanelle....Oh to be a citizen of Colorado!

Linda....Walk in Canada, in the Winter? I would hibernate!

Abrawang.....I am not familiar with that poem, but I like it and it certainly fits. Thanks for stopping by.

nilesite....You are right. I think I just yearn for a more insular, simple lifestyle than what this century offers.

Auntyne.....I think I just have a problem with using the word "devastated". I was devastated when my son died. I was devastated and broken after spending a year in war. It is by those standards I judge devastation so you can see how the death of someone I never knew wouldn't really measure up to those standards.

skypixieo....Yup, I think a little wallowing is good for the soul.

Margaret....Thank you! You get it and that is a comfort.

Steve Kenny....I think that is a large part of my angst; all my children and family live at least three states away from me. It has been two years since I've seen any of them.

PlannerDan.....That's what I like; a man of few words. Damn good to see you in here old friend.
I feel you David. On my wife's Facebook page, they are constantly pleading for people to pray to God for all types of things. One wanted her to pray for their mother in the hospital getting a bunion removed. This is true, I kid you not. I hope the weather breaks soon my friend.
Ah, David. Yes. Your points are so well taken. I wonder if our souls sometimes yearn for a past life in another era - who can know?

I applaud your having accomplished a huge life goal in grabbing your dream for hinterland living at Almosta Ranch. You may be as close to a 19th century lifestyle as you might want to be, given that simpler is not always easier and life was certainly tougher, and shorter, 150 years back.

I have a good friend whose husband jokes that if it doesn't crank she doesn't use it. She intensely dislikes and feels discombobulated by this century. She copes by limiting her exposure to the things that irk her the most. Basic cable, no call waiting, no cell and no computer beyond an email account. There are some exceptions, but very few. She declares she misses none of these things and if people feel inconvenienced by it, they can send her a letter or a telegram! I think that's part of the secret. To cut off the noise, especially when we are feeling vexed and vulnerable. (She lives in NYC by the way!)

There is also seasonal depression - the winter blues - that can be successfully addressed with UV light, ionized air, and melatonin. So many of us have this and chalk it up to general depression that will pass. It does, but we shouldn't have to be so uncomfortable in any season that may bring on an affective mood. Thanks for sharing this David -- so many people can relate.
Spring will always follow winter. Hang in there.
Ah, David, such melancholy thoughts. I know you've known your share of dark days and I think those times leave bruises on our souls that seem to become more noticeable when we are slowed by the forces of nature - the cold, the dreary, the dead of winter.

You've been a huge support to me on so many occasions when the devil dog of depression had me in its grip. Please know that you're in my thoughts and prayers and I hope this melancholy lifts sooner rather than later.

Be well, my dear old friend.

Everyone is sympathetic. However, let me offer another slant. People who are depressed are often passively angry at life, themselves, the season, the century or other people,. So it's not all that stuff making them depressed but the depression making them see those things as terribly oppressive. It's a vicious cycle and needs to be broken. Music helps, as do pets, exercise, books, writing, social contact, romance, helping someone else and a vacation. Even writing on OS is doing something to help yourself.
Seer.....I really like the thought of the planet abiding, it is comforting.

Kenneth.....bunions, really? That is just wrong in so many ways.

Gabby Abby....You know it would take me maybe a week to get over my internet addiction and I'm already over TV for the most part. No cell-phones here, so that isn't a think life about circa 1890 would suit me just fine.

trilogy....Thanks, I'm hanging as hard as I can.

Unbreakable...Dear friend, I doubt I would still be writing a blog if it were not for the support I have gotten over the years from you and Sheila, just to name two. This too shall pass, I am sure but I don't think I shall ever lose the yearning for a simplier time. My mother use to laugh at me when I was just a boy and tell me that I was born a hundred years too late. I should have been a pioneer or a mountain man. She was right.

jackie2....Passively angry? Never been very passive with my anger but maybe you are right. I sure do detest most of what I find in this century and maybe that is helping the depression. Something to think about. Thanks for stopping by and thank you for reading.