Hilde  2011 – 2023

2023 is now firmly in my rear view mirror and I have zero feelings of nostalgia. It was tough losing two of our beloved dogs to cancer. Sundae had been a part of our family for 14 years, leaving a significant void, and even though Hilde was with us for just under a year, her absence is keenly felt.

In 2023 I discovered my driveway is a lengthy 470 feet. That fact came as quite a shock when I was forced to resurface it or risk breaking an axle. Nestled on a sloping curve, three decades of relentless rain had washed all the gravel down to my lower pasture. By the time 2023 rolled around, my driveway looked more like a rugged creek bed, held together only by the tenacity of tree roots.

Drive – Before and After

My initial attempt to find a solution took me to a contractor advertising he specialized in gravel driveways. Despite my persistent calls and filling out his online form, the silence from his end was deafening. While I could have accepted a polite refusal, being utterly ignored was deeply frustrating. Taking guidance from one of my earlier posts, I left a one-star review in his Google ratings. Fortunately, my second attempt found a contractor who was not only punctual but provided a spot-on quote, and, after 11 truckloads of gravel, crafted a magnificent driveway for us. Mercer Excavating received a five star rating from us.

2023 also saw the failure of my deep well pump, the only source of water for my home. It began causing circuit breaker issues in December, but thanks to another great company, Vest Well Services, on January 2nd they had a full crew of people replacing my pump. A quick resolution that allowed my wife and I to take our first hot showers in days.

Old water pump – It served me well

As if these challenges weren’t enough, following a heavy rainfall, I made an astonishing discovery: a beaver had ingeniously engineered an automatic level control for my pond. By burrowing through 10 feet of the embankment, he unintentionally created a natural overflow system. Now, whenever the rain swells the pond above his burrow, water escapes through his burrow, holding my pond level way too low.

Our Supreme Court?

2023 was also a year of profound disillusionment with our Supreme Court. The realization that this institution, which I was taught represented an unbiased judicial authority, is actually nothing more than a mere extension of partisan politics, was heartbreaking. I had suspected this for years but 2023 eliminated all doubt. Government employees can’t accept as little as a donut without severe career ramifications, while Supreme Court members see nothing wrong with accepting free trips, luxurious vacations, and lucrative real estate deals. Feels a lot like the sense of entitlement displayed by royalty during the middle ages. Didn’t we have a war over that?

When you think about it, 2023 cast a heavy shadow of doubt over our entire democratic system. Really, two elderly white men are the pinnacle of leadership our political parties can offer? If this is the peak of our democratic process, then we are truly in a dire state. This lack of viable choices indicates a stagnation in our political process, hindering truly innovative leaders from emerging.

Yet, amidst these trials, 2023 did shine a light on one remarkable advancement: the widespread access to AI. Indeed, AI has been a part of our world for many years, but this year, with the advent of ChatGPT, it became accessible to all. This integration of AI into every new product is amazing and some of these products actually contain AI. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, then again, I’m not a greeting card writer looking for a new career.

Lastly, we welcomed a rescue to our family, Venn. Those of you who know me are already thinking, Venn diagram. Almost but not quire, her name was selected for its meaning, “friend.” The Venn diagram link is simply a bonus. A young energetic mixed breed, despite being less than a year old, Venn had already managed two stints in the Dallas pound. That might explain why she has a special affinity for sirens. There’s not a lot of sirens in rural Texas, but whenever one blares on the TV, it has her full attention.

Venn – Not in Destroyer mode

Like many puppies, Venn also has secret identity and a super power. Turn your back on her and she transforms into Venn the Destroyer, able to convert toys into scattered balls of fluff in a blink of the eye.

© 2024, Byron Seastrunk. All rights reserved.