Welcome, Ruth!

It was hard to walk into the humane society and look at all the kitties yesterday, as it brought up so many memories of Lokie who passed away last May. But I have missed having a cat, and after looking at all of the options, we found a beautiful 2 year old girl that we’ve named Ruth.

She met the dog Stanley earlier today, he sniffed, she hissed, he cowered, she smacked him in the face. Now Stanley is worried about why we have a demon in the house. 😆 She’s still getting used to the new situation but we already love how sweet, playful and soft her fur is.

Welcome to the family!

One Year In

One year ago I posted my first post on this new blog. I haven’t published posts quite as frequently as I had hoped or planned, but it’s been fun to put some words down and hear from people on the internet.

I’m under no delusions that this blog is widely read. 😆 But hopefully those of you who have found my little internet corner have (mostly) enjoyed it. I have heard from a few of you and always look forward to reading what you’re up to! Drop me an email via aj at bourg dot family.

Cool Personal Sites

I’ve been finding some really cool personal websites that are inspiring me to try to do more with my own site.

First is Henrique Dias. Really dig the clean appearance, and all the content. I also really dig the More section where he posts things like his impossible list of personal goals and accomplishments. Bonus points for the guest book powered by web mentions.

Next is Barry Frost. His main blog entry is a weekly journal entry on his blog. I’ve never met Barry and only know him from these posts, but I really dig these little peeks into someone else’s life. He also posts bookmarks and checkins (like the old Gowalla) fairly regularly which is pretty cool though I only follow the blog.

Next is Aegir which I have posted about before. Every post is a different photo and page style to match.

I don’t know about Aegir, but I know Henrique and Barry both have their own blogging software as the backend running everything. I’ve just been using WordPress to focus my time less on the tech, but I’d really dig to run a blog on Cloudflare workers or AWS Lambdas. And I also would really dig having a section for different post types such as bookmarks, checkins and photos. 🤔 Maybe I need to write my own blogging engine. Maybe.

Existential Pinch

People talk about having an existential crisis and it is amazing to me how often I feel some version of that, but rarely does it feel like a crisis. More like a little pinch.

I feel like I’m a fairly driven and motivated person (even though I don’t know if I want to be) — I always want to make forward progress. And rarely do I feel like I’m making negative progress, but there are seasons in life where I feel like I’m just standing still. And that makes me feel like I’m wasting my life.

I was telling Alissa about this and that I feel like what am I really accomplishing. Am I just living one day to the next? And she gently and lovingly but firmly rebuked me by reminding me that I’m helping raise two boys and helping them be better men. Okay point taken but is that it?

Well first of all, if that was it, that would be more than enough. That has been the focus of my life’s work for the past 4 years since we started as foster parents and while I’m infinitely aware of all my short-comings in a million different ways, I’m also really good at this. And Alissa and I are really good as a team at this.

And it isn’t all that I’m involved with or doing. I’m treasuring up all the things that I’m doing and just remembering that God is so good.

I think it’s really easy to read other people’s blogs or watch YouTube videos and think — I don’t have the time to build projects with wood like I would like. Or, I’m an okay photographer, but I’m not a really great one like that guy. Or how cool would it be if I was great at cooking, but my 14 year old said my spaghetti sauce this week was good so why isn’t that enough?

Basically, my existential pinch is because I don’t have time for normal people hobbies? I don’t have time to invest in woodworking because instead I’m spending my time working on training materials for this trip I’m leading to Uganda later this summer and I want to equip 31 mzungus how to think about poverty and I’m having an existential difficulty because I also don’t have time to progress on my woodworking backlog?

Brains are weird. One of these will have a lasting (I hope) impact on the lives of the poor and vulnerable, and one of these will be sold at a garage sale for like twenty bucks when I’m dead. And my brain is questioning whether my life has enough meaning because I won’t have another piece of junk my kids have to get rid of when I’m dead.

Okay, brain. Go be weird. I’ll ignore your existential questions until you stop being dumb.

Fiddle-Leaf Fig Update

Bartholomew, our fiddle-leaf fig that I’ve written about before (yes we named it. It’s such a distinguished plant it deserves a name) has really started to thrive.

It lost a lot of leaves and we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make Bart happy. Here’s the routine we’ve used:

  1. We water it on an exact schedule of once a week.
  2. We now have a set watering can that we use that ensures that we cover all the roots and thoroughly water it, but a small enough amount of water that it completely dries out.
  3. We add a splash of fish fertilizer (pictured below) that we found on sale when one of our local gardening businesses went out of business. It smells TERRIBLE.

And then we don’t do anything else. We keep Bart in a spot where he gets lots of morning sunshine, and he’s in front of a heating vent that I’ve pointed right at his pot which I think helps dry the roots out. And he’s thriving! Lots of new leaves, the young leaves are shiny, and we really stopped losing leaves all of the time. Hashtag relief!

Getting Past the Brick Wall

Love this post quoting Randy Pausch’s last lecture:

It’s very important to know when you’re in a pissing match, and it’s very important to get out of it as quickly as possible.

Professor Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

I don’t generally think about it in these kinds of terms, but I can’t tell you how many times I find myself “stuck” with someone who won’t budge from an insurmountable obstacle.

Whether’s it’s a work colleague, one of my kids, or someone I’m trying to work with in the community — one of the most clarifying questions I ask in these situations is, “What do I want, really?”

It’s easy to form an adversarial relationship where what I want is to win and for the other person to lose. That’s human nature when you don’t get what you want. You’re not giving me what I want, so I’m not going to give you what you want, nanner nanner nanner.

But rarely do I really want them to lose. And recognizing that neither of us are getting what we want right now enables me the freedom to think outside the box and give something I don’t care about in exchange for something I really, really care about.

Ivory for Mastodon

The new Ivory client for Mastodon was just released for iOS and I was skeptical if it would be that much better than the official Mastodon app, but it really is great.

This just makes me wish we had a similar app for blog publishing. The WordPress app is fine but it would be nice to have something a little more polished.

Repair

From Alan Jacobs:

We get angry at broken things, and want to throw them out — and this impulse often governs us even when the broken thing is not a car or a drain but democracy or education. (Maybe democracy and education are not objects but rather hyperobjects.) But what if we were to think not that our education has betrayed us but rather that its need is greater than ours? What if we were to think that towards even something so vast and complex we have the obligations of friendship? And, if we meet those obligations, perhaps we could even enjoy the benefits of friendship. 

The Friendliness of Objects

While this is focused on objects — who among us has tried to repair a shoe instead of buying new shoes? — I think our cultural values around objects are starting to shape our views of relationships and people. It’s easier to get new friends then it is to repair friendships. It’s easier to throw a relationship out then to do healing repair work.

Foster Care

There’s a hundred things I want to say about this but I don’t have the words. We are fostering again, a wonderful teenage boy. Who knows what the future holds though we hope to do everything we can to help his hopes and dreams.

Parenting has been one of the best and hardest things I have ever done. It’s revealed a million flaws in my own life and my own heart. Pray I can do it. Not by my own strength.