Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

1 March

I Want To Be Able To Have A Lazy Day

by Jon Katz

I was reading about the importance of “lazy days” in one of my spiritual books.  It got me thinking about how rarely I do nothing.

I was taught it was a sin to be idle; lazy days were for lazy people. Hard work brought good luck and many rewards. I’ve lived by that creed in many ways.

Maria and I are poor at having lazy days, although she is better than I am at times – like Saturdays. Her idea of a lazy day is to line up a dozen chores and tasks and go to work doing all of them.

(Above, Zip can teach me something about lazing around. He is very good at it.)

Maria and I both find great peace in reading, but that is hardly not doing anything. Reading is essential, but it is not a lazy day.

Doing things all day is not the same as a lazy day, which is theoretically about doing nothing. I’m not 100 percent sure what that means or how I can achieve it, but I’m working on it. Doing nothing is critical for spiritual,  physical, and mental health.

The American idea of energy is working hard and making money. There is no noble word for doing nothing outside of a Buddhist temple. They call doing nothing holy. Catholic ideology suggests we’ll end up in hell for doing nothing. The Jewish Bible indicates it is blasphemy, something to be severely punished.

In our hyper and chaotic culture, and in rough times, the idea of a lazy day is more appealing; we all need to rest and gather ourselves.

I’m increasingly drawn to the idea.

I want a lazy day, and I believe I need one, as we all do. It takes a lot of hard work to do nothing. I’m guessing since I don’t remember ever doing it. My best thoughts and ideas have come through silent meditation, which is almost the literal definition of doing nothing.

None comes from the news or a politician’s mouth.

A lazy day is more challenging than it sounds. For people like Maria and me, living on a farm with a million chores and lots of creative work, a lazy day takes work. So far, I’ve not been able to do it for anything longer than a half hour.

But I’m working on it, perhaps as early as this weekend. I’ve said this a thousand times, but I must be more determined to make it happen. My mind is never still. First, I must sort out what a lazy day is for me. I’m still determining.

Planning a lazy day is difficult; most of us are taught that doing nothing is undesirable, even irresponsible. No one got rich doing nothing, one of my uncles told me. Whenever I try to do nothing, guilt, and voices in my head, stop me and warn me to back off and find something to do. I won’t be rich or famous. Deal.

(Every afternoon, weather permitting, Zip and I do nothing. I like it.  I think he does, too. Does it qualify for lazy time?)

But doing nothing can be the key to happiness, relaxation, and goodwill. Smiling when you aren’t doing something takes a great deal of strength.

Doing nothing is important; it is a valuable and often neglected skill, a matter of mental health and what is called “wellness.” Doing nothing is about the quality of being, about freedom to reflect and feel, rest and find peace. It’s also about focusing on a meaningful life.

It is, I am told, vital to a life with a spiritual direction.

Looked at in that way, doing nothing is doing something, something that is important and full of meaning, especially in the context of a spiritual life.

Doing nothing is something. Using that as a mantra might help.

I will try it tomorrow or Sunday for a few hours. I’ll let you know how it goes.

1 March

Study In Blue And Red: Intimations Of Spring, It Caught My Mood Today. Brighten Yours.

by Jon Katz

The sun is out, my mood is bright, and if I can’t figure out how to have a lazy day, I can at least have a beautiful day.


Zip wants to be part of everything. And he is.

I am so lucky to be a photographer; thanks to the Cambridge Flower Shop, I can start photographing flowers sooner than expected.  I love seeing colors this close.

Maria bought me some tulips today; I will use them well.

The Irises are hypnotizing me.

Some pink colors.



Bird in shadow, copy in a bush.

1 March

Off To Get My Head Checked. Birds, And Tulips. Zip Stole My Glasses. I Want To Hear The Donkeys Bray Again. Aging Gracefully.

by Jon Katz

Ever since my concussion, I’ve felt I’m not hearing things that other people are hearing. Every morning, I used to listen to the donkeys braying when we woke up, but lately, Maria hears it, but I don’t. I find myself saying “what?” to Maria and others speaking to me.

I  twinge at this; I remember my grandfather and his ugly, protruding hearing aid. He had trouble hearing anything I said.

At the same time, I refuse to be one of those old men who keeps asking people what they are saying. Maria says she doesn’t mind, but I bet she would in a while. I want to make aging as easy on her as is possible, since she wants to care for me while keeping her work vibrant. I can help with that.

One thing I’ve learned about aging is that getting ahead of being old is better than falling behind.  My medical efforts to stay healthy have been successful so far. I went to see my primary care doctor this morning – Dr. Dodge – and she told me it was wise to see an audio specialist and figure this out. So I am. Hearing loss is very treatable these days.

A few years ago, I would have been ashamed to write on my blog that I might need a hearing aid. Who would want to read the rantings of an old man?

To me, a hearing aid is one of the ultimate symbols of aging. I couldn’t bear to be photographed when I started losing my hair and looking away from the mirror. I’m over that.

I have a better handle on it now. I feel young and full of energy.

I want to hear the donkey’s bray in the morning again; I want to hear Maria speak to me without asking her to shout or repeat herself. My hearing is good, but I want to hear better. They have made amazing progress in making small but potent hearing aids.

I’m looking forward to it facing this and learning about it; it’s another adventure in this phase of life.

I am not ashamed of getting older anymore; I’m ashamed of hiding and lying about it. Some want-to-be troll wrote me the other day to tell me I am a narcissist and can’t handle criticism or disagreement. I had to smile. Trolls are the least of my worries; nobody is more critical of me than I am. I am narcissistic, of course. Anyone who has writtent hree memoirs must be narcissitic. But not as much as the people who think my world spins on their opinions of me.

Aging teaches me what is essential and what isn’t, and peckerheads and nasty people are not worth much of my time.  I’ve never felt happier or less interested in other people’s opinions of me and what I do—freedom at last.

I’m still trying to figure out what to make of all this, but I’m grateful for it. I was tied up all morning; I’m glad to get home, post some photos, and take some. Maria brought me some tulips, and I will have a good time with them.  We have a social weekend ahead of us; we’re going to have dinner at a neighbor’s house, and friends are coming to dinner at our house on Saturday and Sunday. A whole weekend, I’m looking forward to it.

Monday I’m taking a Leica class in using my new lens.

I put my glasses down to take a flower photo, and Zip grabbed them and started running off to the barn with them. I shouted, and he dropped them. I don’t know what to make of this either. Zip, like me, is not like the other children.

Portrait, Zip cleaning himself.

Maria brought me six bright red tulips.

Zip is always right with me when I come outside with a camera. He is a picture hog and is also insanely curious about what I am doing. I’m happy to have him around. He poses naturally.

Maria took this photo of me taking picture of the tulips while Zip looked on.

A lovely big woodpecker hung around the feeder today. I’m taking a Leika Academe class Monday morning to learn how to use my new 100-400 mm nature and bird lens.

29 February

Color And Light Journal, Thursday, February 29, 2024. Flower Art. Warmer Tomorrow. Ten Minutes Of Meditation For Peace

by Jon Katz

Meditation taught me that practicing a single conscious breath is manageable. The monks say that if I continue to breathe consciously for ten breaths without my mind going away, I have taken a valuable and lasting step toward an actual meditation practice.

If I can practice conscious breathing for ten minutes, they tell me a significant and lasting change will occur inside me. I tried it yesterday, and I’ll try it again tonight. It is working.

I’m using my big bird lens to take these photos. I’m taking Leica lessons to understand the lens and how to use it. I’m writing to inform you that I’m figuring it out.


Irises in the window.


New flowers to watch and love.


Fate at rest makes me restful to look.

29 February

Portrait, Zip Napping In His Blanket And Chair. Who Has Adopted Who?

by Jon Katz

During the day, Zip loves to lie in a wicker chair nestled in the warm blankets Maria puts out. At night, he sometimes sleeps in the heated cat house in the barn. Sometimes, he likes to sleep out with the sheep and donkeys he has befriended. Sometimes, he goes up into the woodshed; there’s a box with blankets sheltered from the wind, rain, or snow.

Two or three times a day, no matter the weather, he sets off to hunt in one of the pastures or the marsh below the farm. We see bits and pieces of his kills. He loves to meet with me, and then he gets restless and goes out to explore. Sometimes, he pops up on the front porch and peeks in.

I love seeing him pop up in a window at odd times. Once he looks things over, he vanishes and goes about his barn cat duties. The rat is gone, the pigeons are gone, and the mice are running for their lives. Good for him.

The animal rights zealots insist in their reliably shrill voices that he is dying to get inside because that is what they would wish to do. Humans have a tough time putting their animal’s needs above their own, but if you know Zip,  you immediately know that inside is the last place he wants to be, or should be.

Two sheriff’s deputies, both cat lovers,  want to visit the farm and visit him. They are welcome.

I love the sweet mail I am getting from the cat people now that I am one of them. They know what their cats need and understand my relationship with Zip. It is precious to me, something new and valuable. He is my farm buddy; he watches over me.

I thought I adopted him and Maria, but it seems he has adopted me.

Zip napping in his special flannel blanket.

My job as a steward is to ensure I put the animal’s needs ahead of mine. That has been the case with Zip from the beginning. Maria loves him just as much as I do, and the love is returned. Zip turns out to be a very loving creature. But also fiercely independent. I admire both things about him.

It is a great life to see him so happy here, especially now that he has charmed or befriended every creature on the farm, including me, Maria, the donkeys, the sheep Zinnia and Fate, and the chickens. He visits or plays with almost all of them every day.

In between, he kills things and eats them. We also feed him twice a day. He’s had a vet check recently, and the vet says he is in perfect health, including ears and teeth. He was skinny when we got him; he has gained much weight.

I am thrilled to know him and to live just around the corner.

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