There is a story I first heard of in a Jerry Pournelle novel. A thief named Nasrudin was caught by the Caliph's men in the act of stealing royal property and sentenced to die along with a similarly misfortunate miscreant of the streets of Baghdad. Hauled before the Caliph, he was asked by the Royal Presence: "Is there any reason at all why I shouldn't have your head off right now?" Nasrudin replied: "Oh, mighty Caliph, may you live forever! But before you pass sentence you should know that I, the mullah Nasrudin, am the greatest teacher in your land, and it would surely be a waste to kill such a great teacher. So skilled am I that I could even teach your favorite horse to sing, were I given a year to work on it." The Caliph was amused by this boast, and replied: "Very well then, you move into the stable immediately, and if the horse isn't singing a year from now, we'll execute you very unpleasantly, more so than merely chopping off your head."Nasrudin was escorted out by the palace guard, with the other thief beside him. Nasrudin was going to live in the stable. His fellow thief, Hamid, was headed straight for the executioner. Before they parted, Hamid blurted out, "You know you can't teach that horse to sing, no matter how long you try." Nasrudin smiled and replied "Truly you are right as things usually go. But I have a year now that I didn't have before. And a lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. The horse might die. I might die. And, who knows? Maybe the horse will learn how to sing."
Looks like the first chance for everyone will be the first weekend in February -- the 5th, 6th and 7th. There will be some preliminary stuff that has to be done and I've got some volunteer offers from local friends and readers to do specific tasks like, dismantling the hulk of the above ground pool and hauling it and other easy to reach trash off to the dump. They will schedule those tasks as they can between now and 5 February. The jungle (and the lower deck) will remain to be removed and there are a small host of specific smaller tasks that will remain to be done (from malfunctioning electrical circuits within the house to tearing out the front shrubbery so that they can no longer be a pathway for heavy rain that periodically soaks the basement to cleaning the front gutters to tearing off the back gutters and preparing the back wall on the second floor where the rotting deck connects, etc., etc. etc.
I am ashamed at how much I let slide over the years. To the extent that we are able to do these things depends upon the volunteer labor (I can barely lift twenty pounds these days) that y'all will provide and the funds that you have donated in response to David Codrea's appeals such as this one this morning:"A Few Words of Clarification on the Vanderboegh Fundraiser." Rosey got a loan from her 401K to pay for a desperately needed new roof, but we were worried that it wouldn't be enough. Thanks to you, we no longer worry about that.
In addition to the generous donations, I have been getting volumes of wonderful thank you notes from many, many people and frankly I have wept at the sincerity of them. I never understood just how many folks my written and spoken words had touched over the years. Some of them make epitaphs to be immensely proud of.
For example, one long-time reader wrote, "You can pass over to the other side and rest secure in the knowledge that you taught us how to fight on every battlefield." It left me speechless and weeping. So too did this note from an ATF whistleblower who himself has been through fires hotter than any I have ever experienced:
Mike,I know you are struggling with your health. My prayers are for your health, comfort and peace. I wanted to take a moment of your time to say thank you. You helped change things for my life. You have made my life better. You have helped me find some peace. You believed in me when everything inside you probably told you not to. You have stood up for good and right and change and justice and truth when many simply can’t and don’t, some just won’t. You have displayed courage and resiliency that is admired by all who know you. You have educated and informed people with a patriot’s heart. Your spirit for a strong and fair America shines through. Your will to keep moving forward, keep pressing, when everything and everyone stood in your way has impacted many, many lives. Many of those you may not know. You have made America a better place. I hope that you and your family are immensely proud of that. You have done what very few ever could have. You’ve made a difference. I wanted to make sure I communicated that. Your work has not been unnoticed or unappreciated. Thank you. I consider it my honor being able to call you my friend.
It is a strange comfort to hear words about yourself in living obituaries -- words that are usually reserved for the service after you are gone when you won't be able to hear them. It is humbling and moving beyond belief. This doesn't mean that I'm giving up on the struggle, far from it. Indeed, it makes me want to hang on and continue fighting until I disappear beneath the waves with flags flying and all guns blazing. Six months is a long time and there's always the possibility of the power of prayer-inspired miracles. And there's always the possibility that the horse may learn how to sing.