Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

19 May

Two Clouds: My Daily Cloud, And The Thursday Cloud Of The Cloud Appreciation Society

by Jon Katz

Welcome to a safe zone.

Today was a rich day for daily clouds. I took the one above while sitting out with the donkeys. It’s stratocumulus, one of the most common of clouds. I took the photo with my Leica2.

And the Cloud Appreciation Society sent me their choice of daily cloud, cumulonimbus painted by the famed landscape photographer William Bradford.

It’s called “a thunderstorm,” and it hangs in the Cleveland museum. The CAS also sent a lovely poem to go along with the cloud by Canadian Poet Archibald Lampman.

I love this group. I’m going to start sending them some of my cloud photos.

From ‘A Thunderstorm’ (1899) by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman.

(Detail from Labrador Coast (c. 1860), depicting a Cumulonimbus storm cloud, by American marine and landscape painter William Bradford, in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio.)

18 May

Photo Journal, May 18, 2022, My Life: Back To The Mansion, Sitting With Donkeys, Sleeping Seven Hours, Re-Imagining My Blog, Figuring Out My Leica 2, Getting A Lesson

by Jon Katz

I had a day in the whirlwind, the morning seems like 100 years ago.

Andrew, who has been guiding me in my photo editing and masking work, made time for me this morning and we brought some Leica Q2 color photos into Lightroom.

(The photo above is of Lulu’s eyes. A donkey’s eyes are deep and beautiful, they see everything, and reveal their deep souls.)

It was challenging but productive, we touched up two photos I took yesterday, and both of Maria and I liked the results. I’ll put them up here.

(I really liked this portrait of Jake, a Gargoyle replica of one on the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I got him 15 or more years ago from a woman who traveled to Europe to bring back classy and famous statues for our lawns and porches. He is formidable but even-tempered, like a Lab He has been with me ever since and lives on the steps on the front porch that nobody uses.  He watches over me and chases evil spirits away. The Leica 2 struggles in bright light, I need a filter)

I made a point to go out and sit with the donkeys and the sheep, I wanted to get close to them and perhaps take a picture or two. I enjoyed it very much, and the donkeys were very happy to see me, both of them came over and demanded scratching on their ears and necks.

During my troubled foot time, I didn’t go out to the pasture much, my boot wouldn’t permit it, and I got out of the habit. I missed it a great deal and Maria and I resolved to get two chairs out there and sit together with the animals at least once a day, weather permitting.

(If I sit out with the animals, they soon relax, they are quite used to me, and once they see I’m not bringing food, they visit me, sniff me over, try to eat any Iphone or camera, and they go to sleep. They are very calming, a powerful meditation, I will be doing that every day from now on, with Maria if she is able, or without. It is just something I very much love to do and need to do. It is, in one way, why I am here. Life can’t be so rushed that I don’t have time.)

I’m very happy about that.

I worked with the Web designers on the changes to bedlamfarm.com and I also write a new mission plan for the blog. I want to call it: The Bedlam Farm Journal, Love, Care, Hope.

(Andrew and I took this photo into Lightroom. There was no light in the woodshed. I was able to brighten Maria and also show more of the wood she was stacking. It was very little work with just the right effect.

That’s what I want the blog to be about from now on. Zero tolerance for nastiness, from outsiders or from me or anyone else. I’m very clear about it, my therapist and I worked on my own anger issues quite intensely, some years ago, and again now.

I am ready to deal with it head-on. As I wrote on my blog today, the best way to deal with hatred and cruelty is not at all. There is no winning and losing, just pain.

(When the Leica lights into something, the color can knock your socks off. These new maple leaves had the sun beaming right on them, and they fairly glowed. The Leica 2 caught the glow.)

I want the blog to be a safe place, a peaceful place, a place of affirmation, hope, and sometimes – perspective.

A place that distracts and restores.

I will write about politics from time to time when I think there is some perspective I can offer that might be useful and that is not appearing elsewhere.

But I won’t be contributing to the hatred and anger sweeping the country. People can get enough of that, but not enough good, compassion, and empathy. It’s important to also share my life with Maria and my life with animals.

There are lots of lessons in both.

(This is my first portrait with A Lieca. As a rule, I’ll use the monochrome. Today marked my return to the Mansion, they are opening up again after another round of Covid-19, the pandemic that won’t quite die. We stayed outside in the garden and I took a portrait of Ann Quinn, a retired nurse who’s been at the Mansion for more than a year. I’ll be writing about her tomorrow, once a nurse, always a nurse, she says, and she dedicates herself to helping the residents of the Mansion in any way she can. Tomorrow I’m bringing flowers and gardening tools. I’m glad to be back there again, regular visits combing up.)

This afternoon I was pretty worn out but I went outside and tested the camera some, identifying my problems and issues and searching for the camera’s strength. Color and feeling are the strong points, I am learning what it does brilliantly and what it doesn’t.

I have three photographic choices now. The Iphone, which is better than either Leica for sweeping landscapes, and the Monochrome, which is great for portraits and images of contrast, and the Leica 2, which is also an amazing camera for color photos, a camera that will once again test me and challenge me to move up a notch or two on the ladder.

It’s getting dizzy up there. That’s my life today. Maria is home from belly dancing, and I’m scrambling to feed her something before she staggers off to sleep.

18 May

Announcing A New Farm Journal, a new bedlamfarm.com: “Love, Care, Hope.”

by Jon Katz

As you know, I’m re-imaging bedlamfarm.com once again; it’s something I do every couple of years when I can afford it. It is never cheap or easy but has always turned out well.

It’s not a radical change, I’ve been drifting in this direction for a few years now, but this week, it finally crystallized. I know where I want to go.

At breakfast, I looked at Maria and said, “Love, Care, And Hope.” She blinked but quickly got it.

“This is what I want the blog to be about,” I said, “I want that  motto to be somewhere near the logo at the top of the page.”

We’ve never had a motto before; I think it’s time we came out of the closet.

I’ve often been hypocritical, something I intensely dislike; I often succumbed to the lure of anger and cruelty even while railing at it. Something broken inside of me was and sometimes still is, drawn to it. Hatred and rage attract more of the same, like bees to pollen.

The way to deal with hatred is simple: don’t.

Let it go, and it goes away. I don’t know how or why, but that’s how it works. My therapist and I – she is iron tough and intelligent – worked hard on it, and I’m much lighter and happier for it.

Anger, like fear, goes right through me sometimes and is a trigger.

I’ve had enough of it in my life, sliding towards the end. I don’t want to carry hatred and anger to the end.

Anger is a part of being human, and I am too human. But our humanity is defined by our compassion and empathy, not our ability to hate.

The blog is, to me, a shining star; it has helped me and many others. It lifts some people and inspires others. That’s what I want.  It is a safe place or getting close. That’s the path. That’s the idea.

I messaged Mannix Marketing today and asked what they thought and if they could make it work, along with some graphic changes – lighter, brighter, more colorful, and more readable.

I value their opinion; I hope they like it and can squeeze it in.

I want the blog to be a hate-free Safe Zone for a world in troubled times. There is a 100 percent ban on nastiness, rage, and stupid arguments from anyone outside or from me.

We can argue and disagree and challenge and question all we want, but we must be civil and thoughtful and sensitive to other people. If not, the hater’s message will never see the light of day on my pages.

I know much of the world is going the other way.

All the more reason for us to swim against the stream.

I reject entirely the idea that I am morally or ethically or otherwise obliged to enable cruel, full of rage and grievance, or rude people to come into my house and crap on the people who read me or me.

It’s my blog, I pay for it and write on it, and I feel no obligation to peckerheads, toothless ducks, and tiny minds to invade my space overflowing with hatred.

Everyone else is welcome—a safe and hopefully uplifting place.

In 2016, I resolved not to spend any significant part of my life arguing. I would instead do good. Thus came the Army Of Good, the best idea I ever had in my life, next to getting Maria to marry me.

I am not close to being perfect or wanting to be sainted. But we kept our promise. We did good.

I’ve often fallen off the wagon, but we have done a fantastic amount of good together. I’m proud of that. That’s where I want to go, only, even more, when I can.

I never succeeded at creating an online creative community, I wasn’t ready for it, and it wasn’t prepared for me.

But I did succeed at creating a different community online, one that has helped hundreds, if not thousands, of people who needed help.

Christ could not have done much better than the Army Of Good. I have no desire to be bigger,  just to keep on doing more. It works.

The original inspiration of the great moral philosopher Hannah Arendt’s last book, The Life Of The Mind, examined whether human thought could help us resist evil, even when that was dangerous.

Arend’s answer was yes; thinking was perhaps our only and best shield against evil. She wrote that thought is the only natural barrier to sin, if one studies the history of corruption in our world after the Dark Ages came the Enlightment.

That seems to be the pattern.

I have faith in thought and truth; that’s what I want the blog to be about. I don’t believe in telling people what to do, only what I think I should do. You have to take it from there.

I am so grateful to be living among animals; they have taught me more about being human than humans have. They will always be a focal point of bedlamfarm.com.

My life is structured around three ideas – my daily life, work, writing and photography, and marriage – love, care, and hope.

I want people to find and see this next iteration of Bedlam Farm and perhaps the last version of bedlamfarm.com.

The news here won’t be all good, as always.

Being a Pollyanna is not in my nature.

But it will be marked by love, caring for others, the wisdom of the animals, and for hope, always. The world is not coming to an end, not just yet.

I can’t predict the future any more than anybody else, but I promise to offer hope; without it, we lose humanity’s best and most unique gift.

If you believe in God, thank him for that. I will never waste it or throw it away.

Thanks for staying with me so far; I intend to make the blog even better as we move forward. The plan is pretty much the same – good works, my life, my marriage to Maria, the dogs and animals on the farm, my photography, and the blog itself, the centerpiece and crossroads of much of this work.

I renew my pledge to be authentic. You will get the good Katz and the bad Katz. Both are very real. But you will always get the real one, and he is always working to be better.

I will continue to ask for donations, contributions, and your moral support.  This can’t happen without you, and this is America. Change is expensive, so is doing good.

I am not a saint or trying to be one.

I am as flawed as most humans are, probably worse. As I  have made clear.

If you are looking for the perfect person, or one who claims to be perfect, I’d advise you to look elsewhere. Don’t even try to come here if you love demagogues and liars and traitors or care nothing for truth.

You won’t be welcome or happy. There is nothing here for you.

Our lives are real, health is natural, and the truth of any life is sometimes ugly and cruel. I won’t hide anything. I will continue to be honest.

So thanks for coming this far, and keep an eye on the blog in the next week. The change is designed to make it brighter, a bit cleaner, more colorful, easier to navigate, and safe, a respite from the insanity tearing our country apart.

And most of all, to be a safe place for you and me,  where you are welcome to drink from my potion of love, care and hope. As always, it is free.

18 May

Army Of Good: Therapy Dog At The Mansion Garden

by Jon Katz

Despite all of the Covid interruptions at the Mansion and Bishop Maginn High School (we’re going there next Tuesday), Zinnia has evolved into a natural and wonderful therapy dog.

She visits every person she sees, goes away if they are not interested, and offers some licks and cuddling if they are. One way or another, she makes the rounds of every aide and resident.

When she does, she goes sniffing around for food or smells, and then, lies down to sleep. She has never jumped on anyone or banged into anyone, she seems to have a sixth sense for fragile people.

The residents love her, all Hell breaks loose if I come alone.

She loves everyone who wants or needs to be loved, she simply knows what to do. Today, we visited the Mansion garden to see what they need in the way of help, and Zinnia circled around, checking on each of the residents sitting out in the shade.

I am lucky to have a dog like this a testament to wonderful breeding and much love and care and good work to do.

The aides work hard all the time. Until Sunday, the residents were under quarantine, everyone is happy to be outside. I was sorry to see the aides using their hands to dig holes and plant seeds.

Some better tools will show up tomorrow, I know a great place to get them. They are planting the seeds we got them a month ago, nice to see.

18 May

When Garden Beds Boom

by Jon Katz

Good news. My garden beds are booming this year. And it’s just mid-may. An ironic gift from climate change.

I call the Donkey Manure my nuclear-powered fertilizer and I think that is holding up this year.

Even mushrooms are popping up all over the wooden beds. Gladiolas,  Poppy seeds, and five different kinds of bulbs are sprouting just a few days after planting.

We got plenty of rain yesterday, and plenty of sunlight today. Our hearts go out to the drought-plagued people of the West and Southwest.

I’m moving some of the onion plants to Maria for her garden. They are growing rapidly, but I don’t want onions to crowd out any of the flowers, they are already tall and with deep roots.

I’ve started watering every day and plucking out mushrooms and maple tree seeds. Everybody wants in if you are a seed.

I predict a lot of flowers this summer for our farmhouse and friends.

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