Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Praise for cast iron

Tonight my dear girlfriend made a delicious stir-fry in my cast iron frying pan. I've had this thing for some time now, and I marvel at it every time I use it. In fact every time I use it, the sheer superiority of the thing gives me the strong urge to chuck the rest of my cook wear in the rubbish bin. A cast iron pan is non-stick, heats more evenly, cleans up without soap, scoff at the use of metal utensils, and is basically indestructable.
Where and how did we get sold the cheap junk that is our modern cookwear? The only downside to the cast iron pan is it requires some CARE (something my Slovak hillbilly brother is blogging about right now). It needs to be cleaned in fairly short order after use and then dried off to avoid rust. On the off chance it looses its seasoning, one needs to reseason it. So in exchange for a durable, functional piece of basic household equipment we can hand down to our grandchildren, we've gotten a pan that is easy to clean when we ignore the dishes for a few days.
It really speaks to a larger issue that has bothered me for a long time. Everything is made so poorly these days, as to almost beggar the imagination. The gas grill I brought a month ago is horribly flimsy (and this was not a bottom end grill either). Planned obsolescence is a pernicious doctrine, that only adds more to the bottom line of big companies because we are all too forgetful when our crap breaks and we go out and buy a new piece of crap.
I've heard the economic arguments for why nearly every product is so cheap and lousy these days, and they've never rung true.
One of the few areas where quality still reigns over cost-cutting is in the majority of firearms these days. While there ae "budget" gun manufacturers, most, like my personal favorite Ruger, make it part of their ethos to build quality into their cost-cutting measures.
In any case, I'm hoping to gradually convert my entire cookwear selection to cast iron in the hope that my grandkids will enjoy it someday to.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Lookin' for land...

...in all the right places?
This last Monday my girlfriend (watch this space for developments) and I, along with my Slovak hillbilly brother James and his gracious wife Susan. We were over on the Olympic Peninsula, specifically the area of Jefferson County between Quilcene and Port Townsend. For Valerie and I at least, this area is probably the best compromise between affordable rural land, and a reasonable proximity to civilization. While living further away from Pugetropolis would be fine by me form a philosophical standpoint, what would not be fine would be being so distant from our friends and more importantly being too long a drive from an Orthodox Church.
We looked at several properties, some with homes on them, some bare land (and some not-so-bare land). We've been looking together with the idea of hopefully being neighbors, or at least in the same neighborhood. Ultimately it would be nice to find a few more like-minded agrarian-leaning Orthodox families intersted in a similar arrangement. A couple of the 40 acre parcels we looked at could be neatly divided into four 10 acre lots, or even an mix of 5 and 10 acre lots (and while I am dreaming here, why not a communal- there's that word!- chapel in the center of the community where prayers could be sung together?).
In other news, I've been accepted to the Northwest School of Wooden Boats, AND my student loan went through, so come September I will be learning the ancient and honorable trade of boatwright!

Last but not least

For those of you who have not perused my links on the right-hand column of the blog, I beg your indulgence to do so, if for no other reason than to see the sort of philosophical (more or less) underpinnings of my thinking these days. I would like to cast a special spot-light today on the blog at the bottom of my list. Novae Militae is always a source of good commentary from a paleo-paleo conservative viewpoint, but the particular attraction are his pages of resources, articles, and links as well as his Southern Cross page on the Southern Agrarian movement.

Monday, June 12, 2006

"Communal" living

Like Dreher I have a strong distaste for anything called "Communal", and as I've stated before an "intentional community " can have equally bad connotations. Still some interesting commentary at the Crunchy Con blog
The New York Times artical he references questions why so many communal arrangements fail. My own, decidedly amatuer, opinion is most of these arrangements are strictly along the lines of "lifestyles". The most successful "intentional community", the Amish (and those who live similarly, such as the Mennonites and Hutterited) are tied together by a strong religious bond. While some would argue that the neo-pagan eco-worship of many of the more left-leaning intentional communities constitute a religion, most expressions of paganism these dys have all the depth of a mud puddle (of course I'll not deny that much Christianity these days is similarly shallow, but the difference is there is a depth of tradition to be found in Christianity that is wholly absent from neo-paganism.). In any case, it would be interesting to see how an Orthodox intentional community would stack up.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

"Property" is just a source of Cash Outflow

A couple days ago I recieved a letter in the mail that really boggled my mind. Ever since the property values in the Seattle area went to stupid heights, we've frequently gotten solicitations from real estate outfits looking to make a buck when we slaughter the ol' cash cow. I had never paid much attention to the solicitations, but I read this one and became a tad incensed at the thinking behind it. The letter is in the quoted section below, along with my comments.

Dear Mirko Spasojevic,
Never mind my father has been dead four years, though I have been known to contact particularly obnoxious mail solicitors (like the people peddling pre-paid cremation deals) and tell them "He's dead." with a rather un-Christian satisfaction at their discomfort.

Recently, while doing some basic research, I noticed that you own property in Snohomish.

News to me, unless my parents secretly hold some land out there. Apparently his "basic research" was not thorough enough to tell him we live in Snohomish County (but in the City of Edmonds), not the TOWN of Snohomish some twenty miles to the east.

I've learned over the years that many people don't ever really have the chance to take advantage of their land.
It's either no time or no money.
In the meantime the "Property" is just a source of Cash Outflow every year ie.
Property Taxes
Property Owners Association Fees
Assessments
Possible Liability (if someone gets hurt on your land)
ETC.
Laying aside the bizarre use of quotations around the word property, as well as the inexplicable capitalization of that word and "cash outflow", the entire assumption behind this (and the other solicitations I've recieved) is that the owning of land is simply an economic matter. Sadly this seems to be the way most people think about their property. One generally buys the most expensive place they can afford, and then when the property value goes up it is not a case of if, but when they will sell, reap a profit and move on to the next bigger or better placed house. When your home is seen from the point of view of an economic investment, and not an investment in a "place" and the sense of place that comes with it.

I am interested in buying your property... etc, etc, yadda, yadda...
My girlfriend found the letter sitting on the kitchen table and was so incensed she actually called the people and told them to go pound sand (I've got me a good 'un). This lack of loyalty to a place echos on a slightly larger scale something Rod Dreher wrote about on his Crunchy Con blog. By not being form anywhere, our increasingly mobile and rootless society has replaced a locally-based loyalty and patriotism with a vague and amorphous loyalty to the flag or to "America". At one time a person considered themselves a citizen of their town, or at the most their state, but these days, except in legal matters, very few people seem to identify on a local level. When the US began bombing Serbia in 1999 my father headed there the day after the bombing began, deciding that if his adopted country was going to bomb his homeland, he would rather die on his home soil. Before he left he sat me and my brother down and told us, "Sons, this is your land, your were born and raised here. Fight and die for this land if you need to, but don't fight and die for some dummy politician." Looking back now, I can feel fairly safe in saying that when my father spoke about "this land" he was not referring to the US in general but the actual land we had been born and raised on and the forests, mountains, waterways, and communities that we called home.