31 July 2006

A Few Words About Pop

I read these words during the graveside service for my father.

My dad died on Sunday morning as a happy and peaceful man at the house with his wife of 39 years. Some of you knew him as John (by the way he couldn't stand the name and all its deviations) if you grew up with him Johnny, Uncle John, his first grandchild, Cole, named him Pap Pap, to me he was Pop.

Pop liked hotdogs, steaks, barbeque, Johnny Cash, trout fishing, butter pecan and chocolate chip mint ice cream, and the news. He loved the homeplace at Ten Mile, Mortage Lifter tomatoes, sleep, getting a bargain, his friends and his family. He was a stone mason who took great pride in his work. While flying in on Wednesday I looked at the window and saw his work throughout the valley: the Columbia Gas building, the Cultural Center, adn the Veteran's War Memorial. He would refer to himself as a dumbass bricklayer, but we all knew better. Once I saw him tear apart a project that was one inch out of square; he said he never wanted anyone to ever say that John Norvell built something out of square. He was also impossible to shop for; he was never satisfied and always took items back to exchange them.

He lived his life his way with his hat creased on the top and cocked to the side. When I arrived in Rochester, NY to attend Divinity School they all wondered how a kid from a dirt road in WV got there. Pop always thought he had no impact on me; I point to Pop that's how I got there. He would always correct folk when they would ask why I was a clergyman and I would point to Pop. But his legacy will always live on in me. I am who I am because of him. It wasnt much of a leap to go to Christian Social Justice when your dad schooled you in the importance of labor unions; to go to Christian environmentalism when your dad went to painstaking efforts to clean up the streams we fished; to combine faith and reason when your dad would quote his aunt Artie who said, rather bluntly, God gave you the gift of a brain: use it; and its not hard to inclunde humor in my ministry when you had a dad who loved to laugh, tease people, tickle kids and tell great tales with a straight face leaving people never knowing if he was serious or not.

In the hospital during the week he recovered from surgery we talked and talked and talked. He said we had some good times, indeed we did. I didn't think cancer would get him, the ordinary man sure, but Pop, no way; but it did. I asked him how he made it through life when he lost his dad at age 31, my age. He said it seemed someone always came along to replace them. Pop died around 10AM on Sunday morning, @ 2:41PM our third child whom we named after you Pop was born.

Pop you can't be replaced, we will live with good memories of good times, great laughs. God, thanks for sharing John with us. I wish he was here with us longer. We sure are gonna miss him.

Peace of Christ be with you Pop.

While at the homeplace I found this picture, it is blurry sure, indeed there are better pictures, but I thought this was a fitting for the eulogy.

24 July 2006

In Memoriam

Yesterday around 10:00AM Dad died.

This picture #1 and #2 refer to as Long Boots, because of dad's waders. If you ever go to Big Laurel Creek outside of Richwood, WV you will find this old railroad bridge, below it is a great fishing hole.

Yesterday at 2:41PM our 3rd, was born.

22 July 2006

Boys and Girl Day Out

Yesterday the wife wasnt feeling too hot, so I took the kids out for the morning. We first stopped by the library to pick up a pass, then headed off to bread and more for munchins (the new englandhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif equivalent of donut holes back home) but they didnt have any so we went to the ubiquitious donut place. We headed into downtownhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif Providence, saw the cranes at G-Tech, The Westin and condos at Waterplace before crossing at Chapel Street, went past FBC then turned right onto Benefit St. Luckily, we found a place to park, and had to walk only a couple of blocks to the RISD Museum.

I wanted them to see the Hurd display before it past. They were the makers of Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, My World, you know. The display was neat. It was interesting to see how they changed illustrations for children's books. It was also neat to see the process of their drawings. They had a shelf of the 50+ books they wrote, most I had never heard of or seen. One a collaboration with Gertrude Stein, and a great book titled Christmas Eve, I will read this one for the Xmas eve service this year.

When we got home the kids wanted to paint. Here is the Friday Photo:

20 July 2006

Lack of Sarcasm

When the President first proposed then signed the No Child Left Behind Act, I thought okay - I'll see what all it entails. Now some years later I can easily say it has completely failed. How so?

It has failed to give our young people an adequate sense and appreciation of sarcasm/dry humor. Ironic, indeed, seeing that the president is such a smart aleck.

One example: the other day the wife bought two outfits for #3: a boy's and a girl's at Target, but then she found two more outfits, on sale, at Children's Place that she liked better, so she bought them too. I was assigned to take back the Target outfits. So I went to the register with the outfits.
The kid asked: anything wrong with them?
Yeah. They're too small for me. I said.

Nothing. Not even a small crack of a smile, he didnt get it.

Example Two: I went to the local meat shop to pick up some perceives. While I was checking out I noticed a yellow legal pad cut in two. The cut was made by an errant paper cutter, so the cut kind of zig-zagged a bit. I asked the girl behind the register if they sent the pads out for a custom cut. Oh no, she says, someone here did that.

Again no detection of my sarcasm.

At least two kids left behind.

Even adults dont get it sometimes.

On April 1st the church had a concert. I went forward with my violin told a long story about the instrument then announced that this would be my first public performance. Everyone readied themselves, a lady even took a picture, I stroked an awful chord. Instead of raucous laughter some almost cried feeling sorry for me. I had to announce April Fools!

18 July 2006

Seed Pods

A King Richard Leek in full blossom. I let a few of them go to seed each year so they can re-seed themselves. If you think it looks kinda like a bloom you see in other gardens you are right, the allium. The leek, onion, garlic are all the same family.

Speaking of garlic. Last year was my first stab at garlicing. I fared quite well. This year I planted some 200 garlic bulbs. This is that curly seed pod from a couple of months ago. Last year I was like hmm, is that the garlic bulb? No, it is the seed pod, the little bulbs are quite tasty.

And here is that little bastard, the groundhog. My dad tells me about a dog he once had that loved groundhog, he would eat all of it.

17 July 2006

graduation gift

Last month a couple of youths graduated from high school and college. As a pastor what do i get them other than the patent bible? I found it the other day: A Pro-Con pad. This ought to help them in their decisions in the future.
You can pick them up at exit 9

yard sale adventure, part ii

On Saturday we had the second go at our Church yard sale. The weather was beautiful and folk came out of the wookwork for it. We made a $1000 with both we made $1800. Last year we made $2500. For that kind of success you need good products, bake sale, plant sale, raffle, and lunch items oh yeah and a bouncy house.

As I perused the books I was proud of our folk. In the midst of the reader's digest volumes was a Max Weber, some Franz Kafka, and Kurt Vonnegut. I found this wonderful pocket sized book of Psalms:

boys day out

Friday was a boy's day out for dad and #2. We started off by going to the Captain Kelly House, then to the Library, then to the market for some chocolate chip cookies and chips. Then we headed back home to make peanut butter sandwhiches and refresh our water bottles. Finally we were ready for our picnic at Lincoln Woods.

I once heard that a dragonfly doesnt rest. bullshit.

Finally the Friday Photo:

Norvell's Pie Wager

Two Fridays ago we stopped at Maxies for bread. The owner, Ron, told us all about his famous blueberry pie and its ability to send women into labor. He claimed 8 out of 13. Naturally we jumped all over that and ordered one. We picked up the pie last Tuesday and here we are almost a week later and no baby, but a good pie (he packed it 3.5lbs of blueberries). Eating the pie was very much like Pascal's wager: eat the pie and if the baby comes great, if not you still had a great pie.

13 July 2006

V: A Hundred Highways

On July 4th the latest JC cd was released. I rushed out with the boy, #2, and got it that day. It is a good cd, not the best. I particularly like the two songs JC wrote, 309 and God's Gonna Cut You Down. The previous post spoke of God's Wrath. Here is a wrath of justice that I can appreciate:

God's Gonna Cut You Down

by Johnny Cash
You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler,
The gambler,
The back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down

Well my goodness gracious let me tell you the news
My head's been wet with the midnight dew
I've been down on bended knee talkin' to the man from Galilee
He spoke to me in the voice so sweet
I thought I heard the shuffle of the angel's feet
He called my name and my heart stood still
When he said, "John go do My will!"

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler,
The gambler,
The back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut 'em down

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin' in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What's down in the dark will be brought to the light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God'll cut you down
Sooner or later God'll cut you down

Go tell that long tongue liar
Go and tell that midnight rider
Tell the rambler,
The gambler,
The back biter
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut you down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut you down
Tell 'em that God's gonna cut you down

From the liner notes it describes the daily communion ritual JC and Ric Rubin practiced after June's death. Rubin, a follower of Eastern mysticism, taking communion with JC, that is a picture of folk coming from the north and south, east and west to be fed at the table to the Lord.

Thrusday Meanderings

This was the forecast I saw printed in the Providence Journal this morning. The wife, with only 8 more days (hopefully) until the child emerges, said I wish.
Todays NYTimes has a great article on the use of a front lawn. I remember reading a story in one of Michael Pollan's, either The Botany of Desire or Second Nature I believe it was 2nd Nature, about a Japanese gardner who came to American and couldn't believe that we waste so much of our yards on grass. Grass, why? Why not use all that space for vegetables and fruits? Grass is just a pretty weed, that is all!!

Speaking of weeds. Yesterday while driving through town I saw a resident watering weeds. Watering weeds! Not only was the person watering weeds, but it was forecasted to have a flash flood that afternoon! Oh well, at least weeds are green.

For the summer I decided to preach solely from the Old Testament. Why? I happen to like the OT much more than the NT. Why? It is full of great stories. It took a lot of time to come together. It was filtered and refined to a greater degree than the NT. The NT was a book written too quick; it was rushed. This week's lection, 2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 focuses on David's bringing the ark to Jerusalem. David was a slick, political and risky dude. I am liking more every day. By the way, Robert Pinsky wrote a book on David, not too bad. I am focusing on the presence of God, how it is on the one hand a life giving blessing but at the same time part wrath.

I have always had a hard time grasping the wrath of God, I dont like it. But it is part of the story. I remember my theology prof at BTSR, Elizabeth Barnes, talking about the balance of love and wrath. I get the love part, but the wrath part gives me the willies. But we should respect God as whollyotherness, I find most folk concentrate on God's immanence and not God's transcendence.

10 July 2006

English Titles

This morning I put an order for a couple of shirts that were on sale from Charles Tywright. Why an English company? Well I figured that not too many folk in my area will have them and it satisfies my Anglophile tendancy (although I have never been across the pond I do hope to go there next summer). While I placed my order I was asked to chose my title. WOW. The English system of salutations: not only the American minimal of Mr. and Mrs. and Ms. but they had Bishop, Rev. Admiral, Baron, Viscount, etc.

What an enjoyable shopping experience.

04 July 2006

#2's iii birthday and the Anglican attempt to take over the good ole USofA.

On Saturday #2 turned 3. It was a big day for him, a birthday extravaganza! He only wanted mommmy, daddy, and sissy at his party.
The wife baked him this cake:

He received a bike:

and some Thomas the Tank Engine stuff: (that is a picture of a bunch of thomasesque tracks he got for his bday and ones from previous holidays.) This gives me an excellent opportunity to feul my paranioa of an anglican takeover of the US. I think it is perfectly obvious that the Anglicans have long had their eyes on a takeover of the US for quite a while now. They were poised to turn us back into redcoats around the time of the First Great Awakening by sending over Whitfeld and Wesley, but it turned on them; the baptist and methodists seeds were planted and spread like wildfire.
The Anglicans then couldnt figure out what to do next, so they waited and waited and waited. Then it a light from the old industrial age shone bright: Thomas the Tank Engine. We all know that a certain Anglican priest invented THomas to teach morality and godly lessons to his son. I dont doubt that original impetus. But the Anglicans used this as a way to get into the minds of children here in the good old USofA. Look at all the Thomas stuff, it is everywhere and it is expensive. We are just funnelling funds for an eventual Anglican takeover. All the while the Anglicans have us snowed thinking all of their real energy is trying to reconcile a church in the west with a traditional church in Africa and Asia. Oh brother are they jolly smart! But this Baptist isnt falling for it. How so, you ask? Easily by buying my thomas friendly tracks from IKEA and funneling money away from the Anglicans to the Swedish Lutherans. More on them later.

01 July 2006

Oh a Nature It is a-changin'

If I hadn't seen, with my own two eyes, pictures of the former farm and talked with folks who grew up and remember the farm that the parsonage is now located on I would easily bet this is a superfund site. Why?

Last year I accidently placed a sausage link in the compost pile. The next day I saw a squirell darting across the yard with that very same link.

Perhaps you have heard that if you plant marigolds around the perimeter of your garden some animals will be detered due to the smell. Not here. The other morning I sat on the back deck and watched a team of rabbits chomp my marigolds down to the ground.

Perhaps you've also heard that deer do not eat onions. Not here. The other morning I went out to check the garden only to find several onion plants chomped to the ground with deer tracks all over the place.

The garden this year pretty much stinks. Looks like it will primarily be onions and potatoes. The tomatoes are barely doing anything, beets and chard are right up the rabbits alley, regardless of my attempts to sprinkle dried blood, hair, etc. THere may be a bit of hope for lettuce and some fall crops. But just the other day I saw one. One, what is that? A groundhog. The wife asked: what do they eat? I said everything!