29 April 2007

Lord's Day Stuff and An Open Letter to Randy Moss

Sermon on prayer went well for this morning. I decided to take a different approach and explain the classic Christian Disciplines via a sermon series. So far, it seems well. So far I spend about five minutes describing the inner life then 10 minutes on practical ways to practice the spiritual life. Last week it was lectio divina, this morning it was ways on how God speaks to us.


#1 asked the other day how to spell CVS, yesterday she asked how to spell PJs.


Tonight after dinner I made the Super Natural Brownies that was in the Times a couple of weeks ago. They were good, but not super natural. The recipe says they are better the next day, I'll see about that.

Adapted from ''Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers,'' by Nick Malgieri (Morrow Cookbooks, 1998)
Time: About 1 hour

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional.

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.
2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.
Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.
Note: For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped.


Today I looked on the web to see the homeplace for sale. Go here to look at the listing:

I imagine it will sell easily. Sad to see the place that was your house, the only home you knew, up for sale. It is also odd to go back to WV and not have a home to stay at. Sure we stay with our mom at her new house, but aint nothing like home.

Here is a picture of the house dad built with his own hands and built 98% of it by himself.
See you later home.


Back up article

Dear Mr. Moss,

Hello Mr. Moss don't try and remember me - you dont know me. We have never met, ever talked or even bumped into each other.

I am an American Baptist minister in Lincoln, RI - about 20 minutes south of Foxboro. I am from St. Albans, WV, just down river from Belle. I graduated the same year your older brother Eric did from DuPont. In our senior years we played across each other, I on offense, he on defense. He was at least 6 inches taller and 65lbs. bigger, he could have easily put me in the hospital with one swipe of his paw, but he took it easy on me.

Mr. Moss I am writing to invite you to become a part of the L. R. B. Church. Yes you will be the only minority in the congregation. But at least the one doing most of the talking, myself, will sound more like you than folk in Boston will. Plus my family will have you over for all the delights of WV cooking on a regular basis.

27 April 2007

The Fall Guy

Lemme first say it was an accident.

And #3 is fine.

Lets switch those

Lemme first say #3 is okay.

And it was an accident.

You've heard refer to a baby as a bouncing baby boy or girl. And when you pick up a baby you notice that they are quite soft and pliable...

Sometime around 2:15pm this afternoon I heard #3 giggle, a mischievous/here's my chance giggle. (I committed the ultimate sin: I left the baby gate open at the top of the stairs) When I heard the giggle I sprinted towards the steps, yelled as I watched #3 roll down the stairs. He landed at the bottom with a soft thump. I picked him up, comforted him - he calmed down within a couple of minutes. I did a complete body check, made sure his eyes dilated, gave him a cheerio to make sure he could chew and swallow, made sure he could crawl, stand up, grip my fingers, follow my fingers, and laugh.

Amazing, no injury. Amazing.

Here is the coveted view #3 has been after ever since we put the gate up:

Little bit of Friday

Lots of rain for today, that means an inside cleaning day - yuk. Yesterday the new floor for the downstairs was put in. Several weeks ago the downstairs room was baptized (the ground and the french drain froze, therefore lots of water came in). So the carpet folks came, ripped out, cleaned and billed us. For several weeks then we had a concrete room with the futon and the tv. For Lent we had to give up television, oddly we didnt miss and neither did the kids. Yesterday the contractors put in the floor (the same fellows who did the renovations at the church). They did a great job, take a look:I took the picture with the flash so you could see the room color - kinda pink aint it!

When we were in the process of moving here the church gave us free reign to pick out room colors and carpet. We chose an off white for the downstairs but the painters painted it pink. They painted over it, but it will always be pink!

If we had known about laminate wood floors five years ago we woulda asked for them throughout the house. Living in a parsonage aint the best situation, however, it is a great way to learn about living in a house - what you dont and do like without having to pay for it.


Book I recommend: Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership by E. Glenn Hinson. This book came out after I transferred from BTSR. It is "E's" classnotes for his Intro. to Spirituality class. I checked it out the other day as a refresher. It was good to read some of E's words, thoughts and stories. I figure if that dude can remain Baptist I can too.

I also saw where E has a book out for the Companions in Christ series.


Living in New England I have observed some of the traits that folk have described as Yankee. The other night I sat in bed and thought that it is indeed ironic that the one sports team named the Yankees have the highest payroll in all of sports.

While on the irony of sports team names I think it is fair to say there is nothing Jazzy about Utah.

26 April 2007

Bacon Steaks

Once a week the wife and occasionally theobilly (the wife says I wonder as I wander and end up adding about a half hour to the experience) travels the 8 miles from our front door to the front doors of Whole Foods. I love the place, especially the bacon. It is the best bacon I have ever had. But the bacon aint always consistent. Sometimes it is cut really thin, sometimes is quite fatty, sometimes they cut it a bit on thick side (which I like). But when the wife arrived home the other day from her latest Whole Foods excursion, she brought home the thickest bacon I have ever seen. This selection of pork easily crossed the bacon threshold into the pork belly steak category.

Take a look for yourself. That is a checkbook beside it for context and perception.
I dont know exactly how I am gonna fry it without burning it or carmelizing it too much, nevertheless I am excited to have at it.

23 April 2007

Easter Picture Catch-Up

I never did get around to posting these, so here they are:

after their baskets
First try
Second Try
Third Try
Final Try

Amazing Weekend

This weekend the temperature soared to almost 80. I believe the warmth and saturation of sunshine did all kinds of wonder to the flora in the area! Forsythia bloomed, Thomas Laxton peas emerged, Rhubarb is going crazy, and finally the tomato seeds germinate and sprouted!

Did they know it was Earth Day?

21 April 2007

Big Day Today

This afternoon we packed up the fam, headed down to the field for #1's first day of T-Ball. #1 loved it! She did great, wow.

Here she is fielding a grounder

Here is an action shot of #2

Here is an action shot of #1 and the Old Man. I was given the all important job of pointing to third base as the kids came from second and rounded towards home.

Thanks to my direction, she made it home - and so did everyone else on the team.

And here is a bunch of them with their backs against the wall. About 15 minutes some kid, not a player, was up climbing this wall. Did he fall or not? I dunno, I was concentrating on getting kids to third base!

The kids all worked up a sweat, and a little bit of farmer's tan. The sun shone and it was 78 degrees, dont believe me take a look at the van thermometer!
We came home, played in the yard, cleaned up and made some dinner. Tonight's fare? Chicken Pesto Pizza. The wife chose to place on it grilled chicken (made last night - when you marinate chicken try a healthy portion of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, great marinade), pesto, fresh mozzarella, parmesan cheese, and plum tomato.I chose to make one with the same ingredients plus hot italian sausage and garlic.
They were fantastic!

19 April 2007

Thursday Thoughts, I suppose.

I considered posting thoughts over the past few days but the craziness just wouldn't stop. Our power was out on Monday so I didnt hear much about the shootings till later that night. I didnt know anyone at VT, but I figured I knew someone's kid or someone's sibling - many folk from WV go to VT. But there was no emails, phone calls, blogs or newspaper reports to suggest that I had any connection. Tuesday afternoon I received an email from a parishioner stating that a one of the victims was a Lincoln, RI resident and her personal friend. It turns out three of young adults, now, went all through K-12 with the gentleman. The local news went crazy with the story, they were at town hall, the high school, interviewed friends, and told all the information they could about him. It seemed cheap and nothing more than a chance to have a lead story.

By now the headlines are all about a challenged young man who shot everyone. I don't know what to make of his actions. The question that keeps coming to my mind is the question Cain sarcastically posed to G-d: Am I my brother's keeper?

11 April 2007

Tomato Seeds Are in the Mix

Yesterday afternoon me and #3 started our tomato seeds. This year 18 Mortgage Lifters, they were dad's favorite and a WV heirloom, 24 Amish Paste, 12 Large Red (a New England heirloom I thought would be worth a shot), 12 Pantano Romanesco, and 6 Tonadose Des Conores (a French cherry heirloom.) That will probably be all I start this year. I usually start way too much then cant keep up with them. Other than those I will probably sow seeds directly into the ground and go from there this year.

Off to ANTS to the library for some research.

10 April 2007

A Call for the National Observance of Easter Monday

Yesterday I took the day off to get some rest, spend some time with the family and to look around for some gear to train for triathlons. As I sat down on Sunday evening with a full belly I realized how much the observance of Easter Monday is not just a good idea, but a great idea.

I have often thought that clergy should organize and form a union. But what happens if we strike? Well, folk dont have to go to church on Sundays, they can sleep in and watch Meet the Press, they can mosey on down and get a cup of coffee and donut. Not much leverage there. Plus if the laity start to poke around the attic of Protestant Theology they find the statement of the preisthood of the believer. Uh oh, they dont need us for forgiveness, weddings, burials after all. But most people are lazy and would want someone to do that stuff for them, so maybe we could organize with some leverage.

So lets go on strike until we get Easter Monday as a rest day.

08 April 2007

Now You Can Say Alleluia

This morning we celebrated Easter at L. R. B. Church, it went well; we had about 30 over what we usually run. The choir was amazing, the kids did a great job with the bells, the flowers - my god the flowers, the kids again signed the Lord's Prayer and the sermon, well the sermon wasnt too shabby.

This was my 6th Easter sermon, and I am just now comfortable doing one. There is the temptation to say it all to the captive audience, there is the temptation to try and make the church better than it really is, there is the temptation to say how tacky it is folk only come to church twice a year, there is the temptation to be funny and warm. This morning I took a different approach, a little bible study that went with my holy week theme, then I simply said forget about Easter. Easter happens once a year, church aint like this every week. So if you want to meet Jesus, be born anew well then your gonna have to do it yourself, I'm not gonna do it for you and the church aint gonna do it for you either. Oddly enough this was the one Easter sermon that seemed to fit the most right yet.

Then after the service it was time for some serious work, eating.

We go to a family from church every year for Easter supper. It is a semi-Italian family I guess you could say. First you gather downstairs for appetizers, buffalo wings, shrimp, nacho dip and chips, beer, nuts, cheese and crackers. Then we move outside for the egg hunt. Then we move upstairs for the real deal. The first course, Italian wedding soup, then the main course: Grilled Pork Shoulder/Leg (couldnt tell) Grilled Lamb Rack, Roasted Potatoes, Mashed Potatoes, Asparagus Wrapped in Ham and Cheese, and Bread. Dessert: Banana Cream Pie, Chocolate Cream Pie, Tiramisu and a Fruit Flower Arrangement. That was five hours ago and I can barely move still.

In the by the way department:

Donnie Jones is now the new head Basketball Coach at Marshall, so much for Mr. Marshall. Odd that both Div. I schools in WV now have alumni as head coaches in both bball and football. You wonder why folk are so eager to return "home?" The institutions are not the same as when they left. Did they have such an extraordinary time there that they hope to rekindle some of the flame? And further, what the hell was the governor doing at both the WVU and MU press briefings for the new coaches? Any thoughts Ron?

And Newsweek interviewed Sam Zygmuntowicz, The Violin Maker.

The CSMonitor did a nice piece on the mysterious honey bee problem. I think it is the overworking of bees and our tendency towards monocultural farming.

07 April 2007

Easter Anticipation

Tuesday morning during Bible Study I reviewed the week events of Holy Week. After finishing the presentation I realized how little folk know about Holy Week. This realization changed my entire approach to Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. I decided to use the two services for Bible Study. I simply walked through the events of Holy Week as Bible Study. I reckoned that was the best preparation for Easter that I could offer. For Christmas Eve most folk can walk into the service, sing the carols and hear the stories and that is enough. But can you do that for Holy Week? I don't think so, it is too thick, too much going on.

Good Friday is the traditional day to plant potatoes
but it was too cold here in RI. So, we bought potatoes: Katadhins, Red Pontiac, All Blue, Shepoby, Irish Cobbler, Yukon Gold and Norwis. We also bought some yellow and red onions and shallots. After the purchases we headed north to the next town and stopped at Allies Donuts (the best donuts in the universe, period.)

Then after all that the kids tried on their Easter outfits. The picture didnt turn out, only #3 was in focus and clear - here he is:


I am a big fan of contrasts, most of my sermons end up contrasting two, three or four ideas before arriving to the main point and delivery of good news. The other day I saw a contrast in my life worth sharing.

The first, here is a picture of me reading my Consent to Sterilization Operation (Surgical Vasectomy).

The other part, here is the wife reading I'd Rather Eat Chocolate: Learning to Love My Low Libido:
Some how I just cant but help sense the irony of these two contrasting pictures.

03 April 2007

Signs of Spring

I spent the weekend mainly in the yard preparing the garden. As I strolled around the grounds I saw several signs of Spring:

The Wilbur Lilac (the Wilbur's gave it to us 4 years ago) was in bud. (I took a picture but it was out of focus)

The Tucker Rhubarb (the Tucker's gave it to us 3 years ago) was pushing its way northward - north is always up.
The bees, my god the bees are doing fabulous. I flipped the hive on Thursday and could not get over at the health and vitality of the hive this year. In three years they have never been this healthy or this active this early in the year. (They better not even think about swarming!)
A promising sign of Spring is the first burn of the year:
Finally I made my soil less mix for the seeds on Saturday. I used the Cornell mix:
vermiculite, peat moss, crushed lime, super phosphate, bone meal. Dont ask what portions I got mixing and seemingly forgot to look at the specific amounts, but I'm sure I'm in the right ball park.

Kids in Motion

Here is #3 in various stages as I tried to take his picture:

The little man in black.

While #2 and I were walking through the yard, he asked why are xmas trees are so small. #2 then showed me which of the blue spruce trees in our side yard he wanted me to cut down for next year.
Little hard with 8ft ceilings.

On Palm Sunday #1 and #2 played the bells during the service:

02 April 2007

Earth Day Preparations

Usually I go into church meetings totally unprepared. I have a bunch of ideas but no organization of information not only for myself but also for those present at the meeting. Tonight's Deacons meeting is no different. I suppose that we will discuss Earth Day and my proposal to show An Inconvenient Truth. So this morning I have tried to amass a body of information that shows some of the work going in this state, in the denomination and in ecumenical/interfaith bodies.

First on the state level:
New England Climate Coalition
Rhode Island Interfaith Power and Light
Rhode Island Greenhouse Gas Process

On the denominational level
ABC Resolution on Global Warming
ABC Resolution Environmental Concerns

Ecumenical Bodies
National Council of Churches, USA Ecojustice
National Association of Evangelicals Press Release

I figure this is a good start for the conversation. Interesting enough several folk have expressed interest in the movie night for Earth Day.