RIP Funny Whiskers

My wife walked out of the dining room bearing a fish net and a distressed expression. “Funny Whiskers died!” she said. After 15 years our brave little algae eater had earned his reward.*

Funny Whiskers was tiny, maybe the length of two quarters placed side to side, yet he existed in a fish tank full of behemoths. We bought the tank and the fish for our six-year old daughter as a reward for learning to read. We thought we were buying Funny Whiskers as a tool to help keep the tank clean. We didn’t know he would become one of our favorites.

The most endearing thing about Funny Whiskers was how he swam. It was more of a waddle than a swim. While the other fish glided gracefully along, Funny Whiskers wiggled. And he never rested. The clown loaches took naps, and the other algae eater only came out of the caves at night, but Funny Whiskers never stopped swimming from the day he entered our house.

I admired Funny Whiskers for minding his own business. Often there was drama between the fish in the tank. Sucker the algae eater (that grew to become a speckled, 14-inch long monster with dangerously spiny fins) had seizures. Without warning he thrashed and thumped all over the tank, upsetting the clown loaches as they scrambled for safety. During these times Funny Whiskers wiggled over to the leafy corners of the tank and continued his business. He seemed to be a happy fish.

Watching him live his own life in his little world, busily wiggling along doing I know not what, (we never saw him eat), was inspiring. Maybe he was an example of being in the world but not of the world. I don’t know. But he made us feel happy. Just the way an uncle or grandparent who lives far enough away to be fun during short, infrequent visits makes a person feel.

Maybe he was teaching us that we don’t have to save the world to be happy. As long as we take care of the things in our own part of the tank we can let the big fish thrash around all they want. They might be inconvenient at times but ultimately they are pretty unimportant to our own purpose in life. He was a good fish.

What is California-Harvest?

Blogs are like Amway. We all have to write one sometime, even if it tests, or strains, our friendships. And, like most Amway businesses, the majority of blogs are inconsequential. So, welcome to my Amway, I mean, blog experience.

I expect to write about things I know, and promise any readers that I will do my best to be truthful. Keep in mind, though, that one should never confuse sincerity with truth. In the end, it’s up to each of us to determine what has value.

The title of the blog is California Harvest because ultimately I am an agrarian transplant. I was raised in urban California, but grew to be an informed observer of the rural part of the state. My urban friends find the minutiae of raising food interesting, though it seems commonplace to me. I hope to inform readers of facts that will help them recognize the misrepresentations made by those who (for reasons I have trouble understanding) represent agriculture as nefarious, conniving, greedy, and rapacious.

Food production is like any other industry. It has its share of shysters and schemers, but for the most part it is just a bunch of normal people striving to make a good life for themselves using skills that are a mystery to most. We could say the same about the construction industry, computer programmers, plumbers, and Boy Scout leaders. The more we know about it the more it becomes interesting. At least that’s what I hope for.

I will also throw in general posts about other things I do. I’m as complex, simple, and unique as any other person in this world. I’m an agrarian, a businessman, a bicyclist, a Mormon, a father, a husband, an outdoorsman, and adventurer–expert in some, amateur in most. I live in California, in the United States of America, in this world, and in Fresno. I look forward to describing the world I know as I see it, including a bicycle ride or two. I hope you enjoy my perspective.

For Inauguration Day

One year the Easter Bunny brought a moderately large stuffed animal. It was a rabbit of course (not a duck) but something about its face wasn’t right. Without long floppy ears one might mistake it for a dog. Poor thing, it was straight from the Island of Misfit Toys, but it was soft and floppy and our seven-year old daughter loved it. She named it Fluffy.
Most of my daughter’s stuffed animals talk to us through animal sounds which she interprets.
Even though Fluffy was a rabbit, he made little barking sounds and occasionally howled softly. At first we thought it was amusing and slightly strange to have a barking rabbit at the dinner table, but over time we quit noticing. It didn’t stop being odd. It just wasn’t unusual anymore.
Last Christmas break when our daughter returned from college Fluffy somehow emerged out of storage. He still barked and howled and joined us at the dinner table. He was not quite as vocal, but he was there. My wife and I barely noticed.
And so, on Inauguration Day, I would like to advise my friends who are disturbed by the advent of our new unorthodox president, relax! He might actually come from the Island of Misfit Toys, and be a little (or a lot) disturbing, but he’s part of the family now. We will all get used to him eventually. Just give it some time.