It was another rainy, chilly, dreary day in a string that had been going on a long time. Patches of dirty snow pocked the yard below. The ridgeline across the lake was barely visible.

I almost couldn’t get my fire going. The dry wood was not all that dry, and the kindling was out in the rain. If I had failed completely, I would have gone to the hardware store as soon as it opened for fire starters. A warm stove or an open fire is the first line of defense against Seasonal-Affect Disorder.

During the night Trump had ordered a missile barrage on Syria. It felt good to have responded with force to Assad’s use of sarin gas. How was it possible that Assad (or anyone) would cause lethal lung muscle paralysis in children? Yeah, keep those missiles going.

But wait. It was an act of war. Acts of war require Congressional authorization.

Still, if there ever was a case for a “muscular” foreign policy action, this was it. On the other hand, the Commander-in-Chief likes to claim he has a big dick. A man so insecure about his manhood is unlikely to have thought much about responses other than military action. He was probably watching Fox when General McCaffrey was on MSNBC offering some nonmilitary responses.

Lyndon Johnson, who oversaw the Vietnam War, was similarly proud. A story has been going around for years that he once challenged a bunch of reporters to “”flop ’em out” and see where they ranked. It happened when he was at his ranch. There’s not much to do out there. He’s also supposed to have claimed that he’d gotten more pussy by accident than Jack Kennedy ever got on purpose.

There’s no telling how effective Bill Clinton would have been if he’d kept his pants on.

Maybe it’s time for a Constitutional amendment to limit the Presidency to women. That would probably make us less war-like and a lot safer.

Too many dreary days in a row and your mind goes every which way when you’re working on a wet-wood fire.

Now that the extreme cold of winter is over, the monastery is doing a funny thing. When the temperature outside is in the thirties and forties, the temperature inside seems to want to match it. Something to do with a sensor out by the driveway that talks to the computer that controls the boiler. When it’s zero in the driveway, the boiler does a fine job. When it’s forty, the heating system sort of goes to Florida along with half the people in the village. I could turn the thermostats way up and make the house as warm as in January, but something about doing that in April just doesn’t seem right.

So I keep a fire going in the stove in my study and spend the day by it, mostly reflecting on Seasonal-Affect Disorder and the state of the nation,

As I write this, a rather impressive snow squall has just begun, and my thoughts turn to additional defenses against Seasonal-Affect Disorder.

Coffee, for sure. An ever present help in time of trouble. While struggling to get the fire going, I had started it, and now, first cup in hand, I bless it like a Thanksgiving feast.

I like it hot. Ann laughs at me because I heat the pot before starting the brewing, I heat the cup during the brewing, and I only pour half a cup so that it won’t get cold before I’m done. Since the pot is downstairs in the kitchen and I’m upstairs by the struggling fire, I have to make a number of trips. That bit of exercise is, I guess, another small defense against the feelings fostered by all that gray ugliness and falling April snow.

When I’m able to stop poking at the wet wood, I read the service of Morning Prayer in the 1928 Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. (Usually that’s the first thing I do upon waking, but today fire building got in the way.) The stately antique language can fight off minor SAD almost without regard to the content of the words. Besides that, the Psalmist’s 3000-year-old admonition to “sing unto the Lord” is a call to duty.

“We bless thee for all the blessings of this life” calls forth a list. My Ann. My vocation. Coffee, of course. A cat who loves a warm stove as much as I do. (Maybe I imagined it, but she seemed impatient as she watched me fight the wet wood.)

Later in the day after the temperature comes up to near-sauna level, she and I will take a short nap (maybe more than one) in the leather chair next to the stove. On days like this one, naps can be lifesaving; fatigue, a sure visit of the blahs.

With these tactics I’ll fight my way out of this enveloping grayness and worrying about the state of the nation and the world without getting clinically depressed. It takes a good deal of time, though. I don’t know how people who have regular jobs are supposed to cope.