January 30, 2019

Grape Conserve
Circa 1900

(click the picture to see an enlarged view)

The grape conserve recipe above was in the pages of a cookbook that was published in the 1920s. There are other handwritten recipes in the book, but they are in pencil and the style of writing is much different. That makes me think the recipe above is much older.

I'm showing you this old recipe for a couple of reasons. First, the handwriting is so nice. I've thought about framing this and hanging it on the wall in my kitchen!

Second, I'm not familiar with grape conserve. Offhand, I would have thought it was just another name for grape jam. But it is altogether different.

In searching on the internet about this, I came to THIS LINK, which provides some insights into grape conserve. Here's a quote from the article...

Conserves, which combine fruit and nuts, are traditionally served as a condiment with a meal or in desserts. This converge, made with the foxy-tasting Concord grape, is not overly sweet and marries very well with chocolate and pastry of all sorts. It’s also good served on a cheese platter. ... Grapes and oranges are both high in acidity, and since spoilers cannot thrive in the moisture less environment of dried nuts, this product is safe for water bath processing. The conserve keeps for up to a year.

I have a row of Concord Grapes that produce an abundant harvest almost every year. My wife preserves most of the crop as juice. It's powerfully good. But I think we need to make a batch of grape conserve this year.


Here's another recipe, this one from inside the cover of the book. If you are bothered by neuralgia, you might want to try this...

(click photo to see a larger view)

January 25, 2019

When The Government Becomes Wicked

This is Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York State. This is a very wicked man. 

You've probably heard that New York State has just passed the  most liberal abortion laws in the nation. We who watch the political balance in N.Y. knew this was coming. I blogged about it HERE after the election last year.

According to New Yorkers For Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF), the new law makes the following changes:

1. It redefines what a human is. Any child not born is not human, and has no human rights. Thus, there is no longer any crime committed against unborn children in cases where pregnant women miscarry after being assaulted. 

2. It allows abortions up to the time of birth for any reason. No ambiguity.

3. It allows abortions to be performed by medical personnel other than physicians.

4. It makes it legal for viable babies born alive following late-term abortions to be denied medical care. 

So now, in my state, unborn children can be legally killed at any time before they are born, and if they happen to survive an abortion (which occasionally happens), they can be left to die. Furthermore, abortion is no longer "a matter between a woman and her doctor" because non-doctors will now be able to do the killings.

This law is so evil and so grievous that it boggles my mind. In a recent e-mail, Jason McGuire at NYCF wrote the following:
By passing the [Reproductive Health Act], the State of New York has embraced the proposition that some living human beings do not deserve the protection of our laws. This proposition flies in the face of our American tradition of respect for human life. Without the right to life, the other rights guaranteed in the Constitution have no meaning. Contrary to the rhetoric of RHA advocates, abortion access does nothing to advance the rights of women; rather, it invites both women and men to view unborn children—their own unborn children—as disposable objects.
Instead of celebrating the passage of the RHA as a milestone, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms views the passage of this bill as an occasion for mourning. Our state needs a course correction—not just legislatively, but also morally and spiritually.
May God have mercy on our benighted State of New York, on women, and on the unborn.

I had to look up the word "benighted." 

One definition is: "in a state of pitiful or contemptible intellectual or moral ignorance." Another definition is: "overtaken by darkness."

The word is so appropriate.


One of the mostly legitimate functions of government is to establish and enforce just laws, and to punish evildoers. But what happens when traditional understandings about right and wrong are changed? What happens when government goes from punishing evildoers to protecting evildoers? And furthermore, it even promotes and  encourages evil through it's laws? 

Answer: Nothing good.


I was 15 years old in 1973, when the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision was made. At that time I was ambivalent about abortion. I really didn't see any problem with it. But I really didn't know the facts.

When I actually read about the abortion procedures, and I saw the pictures of aborted babies, I knew in an instant that it was wrong... I knew that it was evil. 

Today I went looking for a YouTube video showing in close detail an actual partial birth abortion. I couldn't find one. You can find all kinds of actual surgery videos on YouTube, but you will not find one showing the actual graphic images of a live baby being systematically killed and extracted, often in pieces. I did, however, find this...

That video breaks my heart like nothing else can. Only a psychopath could watch that and not be impacted by the wickedness of it. 

In a previous blog post I made the observation that humans have an incredible ability to justify the worst kinds of behavior. You won't find a better example of this than abortion. 

Unfortunately, that video has precious few views. But I understand why. I really didn't want to watch it either.


My wife and I have financially supported our local pregnancy care center for many years. And we have supported other such organizations from time to time. Many thousands of Christians have done this since 1973. Why? What do we gain by trying to save the lives of unborn babies? Do we profit from this? 

No. Not at all. We do it because we're horrified by the abortion industry. It lies to women, it kills their children, and it profits immensely.

Last fall my wife and I, along with a few people from our church stood for a 1-hour "shift" across the street from the abortion provider in Ithaca, NY. We stood silently, holding signs. Ithaca is a liberal enclave in the middle of conservative upstate NY. Some people driving by expressed their anger towards us. It was an uncomfortable experience.

But, in reality, I have not done that much to battle for the life of unborn children. I feel guilt and remorse about it.


I like to watch Greg Hunter's YouTube programs at Watchdog USA. He was once an investigative reporter for CNN. Greg is a passionate guy. 

I don't always agree with his interviewed guests. For example, I don't even listen to the interviews with Mark Taylor, because I'm just not interested in anyone's prophetic prognostications. But Greg gets some good economic insights from some guests.

Every Friday, Greg Hunter does a "Weekly News Roundup" and in today's roundup he discusses (among other things) the new abortion law in New York. If you have an interest, here it is...

Greg always ends his YouTube shows by telling his audience to "fear not, because God the father and his son Jesus Christ are in control." 

I agree with part of that. I believe that God is sovereign over His creation and intimately involved in history, down to the smallest of details. But fear not?  That part I question.

Frankly, I fear God. I fear His justice, His judgment, and His wrath on nations that have turned their back on His law. Nations that not only exalt unrighteousness in so many ways, but flaunt it. Nations like America.

I harbor no illusions about the goodness of America. We have forsaken the Godly foundations of the American Republic. We have squandered our inheritance. We are a wicked nation. God owes us nothing but smoke and ashes. 

Laws, once passed, are not easily reversed. From my human perspective, I see my nation in the midst of collapse on several fronts. It is accelerating. I'm not optimistic about the short term prospects. But I still have hope.

My hope is that the inevitable consequences of national sins will eventually lead to national repentance—that out of the ashes America will return to being a nation that fears God. 

Time will tell how it all plays out. Meanwhile, I am thankful for the mercy and grace God extends to his people in the midst of the storms of life and history.

January 24, 2019

If You Are Ugly, Try To Be Good

The editor of the 1851 almanac essay above states, "if good looks are confided in, they often deceive." That is an old aphorism worth ruminating on.

I've come to the conclusion that exceptional beauty in a woman, or handsomeness in a man, is, more often than not, a moral disability. 

That's because "the blooming charms of ... beauty" feed the pride of life (1 John 2:16). And flower blooms, as we all know, last only a short while.

In the final analysis, the world we live in places a lot of value on exterior appearances, but God does not.

I think it best that we all consider ourselves "pieces of deformity" and work on cultivating "the beauties of heart and soul."  That's actually a biblical admonition.

It has often occurred to me that a homeschool curriculum based on of the wisdom expressed in pre-1900 farm almanacs would be a very beneficial resource.

Click the almanac page photo above and you should see an enlarged view that can be more easily read.

January 23, 2019

A Short History Of Usury
From The 1894
Maine Farmer's Almanac

One of the recurring themes in the old farm almanacs of 19th Century America was a caution against taking on debt. Debt was understood to be a form of enslavement, and the independent-minded rural people of that day loved their freedom too much.

In the above Farmer's Calendar excerpt from the Maine Farmer's Almanac of 1894 the editor provides a little history of Christianity and usury. Usury was once very severely condemned by Catholic and Protestant church leaders. It is a history that few know about.

Usury was once understood to be the loaning of money at interest. These days, the meaning has been changed to mean the loaning of money at too high of an interest rate.

I have loaned money to people in my life, but I have never loaned it at interest. Well, in one instance I had no choice but to charge interest, but not really. Here's the story... 

Several years back, when my wife and I sold my parent's house to one of our sons, we set it up so he would pay us every month for a number of years until the total sale price was paid off. To our surprise, the attorney handling the sale informed us that we had to charge interest to our son for what amounted to a mortgage loan. He told us that the law requires it. And the law also dictated what the minimum interest rate we had to charge would be!

Not wanting to charge interest, we simply lowered the price of the property so that the total amount (including interest) when the loan was all paid off would equal the selling price we originally wanted.

But, of course, the government wants me to pay income tax on the interest portion of every payment my son makes. So, from a financial perspective, I'm losing money. 

Four and a half years later, my son (and his wife) have not missed a payment and they have made great improvements to the old house. It's gratifying to see. That gratifying feeling more than offsets our financial loss to income taxes.

If you click on the picture above, it should come up large enough on your screen that you can read the 125-year-old essay, thus saving me the time I would otherwise have to spend transcribing. 

January 19, 2019

Dying Churches Of America
(My Own Included)

For two centuries the cultural stability of America came from it's deep Christian moral identity, but that is no longer the case. We are now a nation adrift. 

Thus, in the foolish new world of post-Christian America, fewer and fewer people attend Christian churches. According to Kevin Swanson, church attendance in America has been declining for the past ten years. He says that, "given the current trends, only 4% of Americans will identify as Christian by the year 2045."

And so it is that churches by the thousands are closing their doors. This Recent Article states that 6,000 to 10,000 churches a year are shutting down. The church I attend is probably going to be one of the casualties. The handwriting is, as they say, on the wall.

My church is only a few miles from my house, on Oak Hill Road. I remember when it was the Ettinger Farm. Back in 1978, when I had a chimney cleaning business, I cleaned the fireplace chimney for Joe Ettinger.

In the early to mid 1990s the property was sold. The house, and a few acres were purchased to start a new church: New Hope Bible Fellowship.

The large farmhouse (pictured above) became the parsonage. A very large pole barn behind the house was transformed into the church building. 

My family started attending this church in 1999. Our three boys were 11, 8 and 5 years old in 1999.

A lot of people attended the church in 1999. But things have changed. We no longer have services in the cavernous sanctuary. Instead, a remnant of less than 20 people gather in the fellowship hall. My sons are not among them.

The few people who still attend my church have our Sunday service in this fellowship room. I sit near the center of the picture, where you can see two hymnals on top of each other. 
Actually, it's a lot less than 20 that now attend. That's because Lois Weed, our oldest churchgoer, passed away last month at 95 years of age. She was there when the church started up, and she was in church 3 weeks before she died in her home from brain cancer. 

Another woman who was always in church but isn't any more is "Aunt Ginny." She is 94 and recently went into a rehab center. It's unclear if she will be able to come back to church.

Aunt Ginny's younger sister (by only a few years) is Marion. She has had a lot of surgeries in recent years, but always gets back to church as soon as she can. She comes with her daughter, Debbie, who was a class ahead of me in school. Marion always sits to my right, and she often asks me if I've been behaving myself. :-)

Floyd and Charlene are an older couple who come to our church. They went to the local Methodist church for a long time, but left a year or so back because, as I understand it, the woman minister there is a homosexual. Biblical Christianity and homosexuality are not compatible. 

Floyd was a dairy farmer for many years. He got into farming when he was a young man by working as a hired hand on a farm. In time, the farmer he worked for helped him get a farm of his own. Floyd farmed with horses in his early years. I like Floyd a lot.

There are a few other folks who attend. For the most part, they are people I've known for 30 years or more.

This is a view from the kitchen into the fellowship hall.

Only one young couple with three children (the only children) attend our church. The father, Jonathan, is Lois Weed's grandson. His children would be her great grandchildren. 

I have a picture in my mind of Jonathan's youngest, Erin, a boy of six, going over to talk with Lois during our Sunday morning greeting time, which takes place after we sing a hymn, have prayer requests, and a prayer is said, and before the sermon begins. 

I see Lois sitting in her chair, facing Erin, who is standing just a little taller than her. Lois has her hands up, holding each of his arms at shoulder height. She is looking upwards into his face and speaking words I can not hear from where I am on the other side of the room. But I can see Erin looking directly into his great grandmother's eyes, listening intently. I mentally burned that image into my memory. And a month later Lois was no longer with us.

Jonathan and his family have decided to leave and start attending another church. It was so good that they stayed until Lois was gone. Lois had 17 grandchildren and 51 great grandchildren. Two great-great grandchildren (that I know of) are due this year.

So, we will be down to around 12 people for Sunday services. I feel like our church is a metaphor for America.


I haven't told you why no one comes to my church like they once did. That's because I don't want to get into all that. Suffice it to say that there are a multitude of things that conspire in little congregations to, in time, diminish their attendance and close the doors.


I experienced the drama of a once-vibrant rural church being ripped apart by factions within the church when I was a teenager. It was traumatic for me. Didn't the adults realize what a horrible example they were setting?

I have come to realize that we humans have an incredible capacity for justifying any kind of really bad behavior and, sad to say, Christians are not immune to this reality.

The root of the problem is, of course, pride, along with multiple layers of self-deception and self-justification that pride feeds. Love and forgiveness take a back seat when pride is driving a person's attitudes and actions. 

There is a verse in Proverbs that comes to my mind...
"These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."

So it is that I hate church drama with a passion, and avoid it like the plague. I resolved as a teenager to never join a church because of that early experience, and I never have.


They had the calling hours and funeral service for Lois Weed in our church, on a Sunday afternoon. Me and Debbie, and her husband, Jerry, spent a few hours cleaning, vacuuming and setting up chairs the day before. 

There isn't a lot of parking space so, on the day of the event, me and Jerry helped get cars parked. It was raining. I got good and wet. A couple hundred people showed up for the service. It was real nice.


The following Wednesday I headed over to the church to clean the bathrooms and get the fellowship hall back in shape for the upcoming Sunday service. There was a meal after the funeral and, among other things, I had to scrape dried bits of chocolate brownie out of the carpet. 

Those brownies were good, but it's not good when little (and some big) brownie bits fall on the carpet and then get walked over.


As I was there, on my hands and knees, in the reverie of my brownie scraping, it occurred to me that I should take a few pictures. They are pictures for me to remember, and for you to see...

The sanctuary is cavernous. There are 200 chairs in there and it isn't even half full. Lots of room for kids to play in after church. And it was an ideal place for the once-active AWANA program.

January 18, 2019

The America I Once Knew

There was a time in this country when political truisms were perpetuated by the media, as can be seen in this 70-year-old cartoon. But those days are history. 

America has gone so far down the rabbit hole that this cartoon in another YouTube clip is now being mocked and reviewed as fascist propaganda and a "Nazi film."  

This country is experiencing a surreal and disorienting collapse on so many fronts. I find myself increasingly disturbed by the foolishness, the ignorance and the depravity I see happening all around me.

God help us.

January 6, 2019

Snow Angels In The Road

For today's blog post I have lifted the photos and text from my wife's personal Facebook page. Posted this morning...

"Once in awhile here in CNY we get a snow storm on a Sunday and the plows don’t come through until later. Church was cancelled so we went out walking. I love walking down the center of an unplowed road. Hubby decided to let the child in him out and made a snow angel. I'm thankful today for the simple things, and things we take for granted—country living, unplowed roads, snow angels, but especially for good health, the ability to walk, and a warm home to come back to."

January 3, 2019

Richard Lamm's Prophecy

Richard Lamm was the governor of Colorado from 1975 to 1987. He is now 83 years old. He was and is a liberal Democrat. But he is an "old-school" Democrat, not one of the Marxist-Leftist, America-hating Democrats that now control the Democratic Party. This is evidenced by his famous speech that most Americans have never heard.  The speech is titled My Plan To Destroy America.

I learned about the speech today when a reader of this blog sent me an e-mail with the text. I did some research and found a recording of the speech. It was given 15 years ago.  It was given at a conference where Victor Davis Hanson was speaking about his then-new book, Mexifornia

Victor Davis Hanson is an agrarian and a historian. Back in 2009 I wrote about his book, The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (Link Here). In my 2013 essay titled, Rural Americans: Cannon Fodder For The New World Order, I quoted Hanson at length from another book he wrote.

Richard Lamm's 2003 speech was not his own plan to destroy America. It is the long-game plan of the Marxist-Leftists. With the passage of time, it has proven to be prophetic. 

It is not a long speech. I recommend it to you. Here it is...

If you would rather read the text of the speech, here it is...

I have a secret plan to destroy America. If you believe, as many do, that America is too smug, too white-bread, too self-satisfied, too rich … then let’s destroy America. It is not that hard to do.

History shows that nations are more fragile than their citizens think. No nation in history has survived the ravages of time. Arnold Toynbee observed that all great civilizations rise and they all fall, and that "an autopsy of history would show that all great nations commit suicide." So here is my plan:

1. We must first make America a bilingual/bicultural country. History shows ... that no nation can survive the tension, conflict and antagonism of two competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. …

Scholar Seymour Martin Lipset put it this way: "The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy."

2. I would then invent "multiculturalism" and encourage immigrants to maintain their own culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal ... there are no cultural differences that are important ... and the black and Hispanic dropout rate is only due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out-of-bounds.

3. We can make the United States a "Hispanic Quebec" without much effort. The key is to celebrate diversity rather than unity. As Benjamin Schwarz said in the Atlantic Monthly recently: "… the apparent success of our own multiethnic and multicultural experiment might have been achieved not by tolerance but by hegemony. Without the dominance that once dictated ethno-centrically and what it meant to be an American, we are left with only tolerance and pluralism to hold us together."

4. I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture. I would replace the melting pot metaphor with a salad bowl metaphor … I would make our fastest-growing demographic group the least educated. I would add a second underclass, unassimilated, undereducated, and antagonistic to our population. …

5. I would then get the big foundations and Big Business to give these efforts lots of money. I would invest in ethnic identity, and I would establish the cult of victimology. ... I would start a grievance industry blaming all minority failure on the majority population.

6. I would establish dual citizenship and promote divided loyalties. I would "celebrate diversity." … It stresses differences rather than commonalities. Diverse people worldwide are mostly engaged in hating each other … when they are not killing each other.

A diverse peaceful or stable society is against most historical precedent. People undervalue the unity it takes to keep a nation together, and we can take advantage of this myopia. Dorf’s World History tells us the [ancient] Greeks believed they belonged to the same race; they possessed a common language and literature and worshiped the same gods. All Greece took part in the Olympic games in honor of Zeus and venerated the shrine of Apollo at Delphi. A common enemy, Persia, threatened their liberty. Yet all of these bonds together were not strong enough to overcome two factors … local patriotism and geographical conditions that nurtured political divisions … .

7. Then I would place all these subjects off-limits and make them taboo to talk about. I would find a word similar to "heretic" in the 16th century that stopped discussion and paralyzed thinking. Words like "racist," and "xenophobe" halt argument and conversation. I would next make it impossible to enforce our immigration laws.

I would develop a mantra: because immigration has been good for America, it must always be good.

8. Lastly, I would censor Victor Davis Hanson’s book, "Mexifornia." This book is dangerous. It exposes my plan to destroy America. … This guy is on to my plan.