31 July 2007

House and Senate Energy Bills Covered in Soot

For a fleeting moment last year I was excited about the Democratic switch of the House and Senate. I thought that the Energy Policies of the new leadership party would support more earth friendly ways. But that all changed when I saw the prominent proposals of coal in both the House and Senate bills. The House wants to pass a bunch of bills this week before their summer hiatus. The Energy bill is a big part of their goals for the week.

Speaker Pelosi seems set on forming a unified bill with broad support, therefore, she is including clean coal technology in the bill. Recall that clean coal is an oxymoronic statement, there is nothing clean about coal! The Senate bill, which will come after the summer break will too contain clean coal, and coal-t0-liquid language. This morning's papers all lead with a story of how Pete Domenici of NM is sponsoring language for billion dollar loans for nuclear and presumably coal industries.

The fight goes on...

Additional Information on Furniture Makers

Thanks to an article in the Pawtucket Times (I wish I could link up to it, but the newspaper is a low key local one) last week I was able to retrieve not only correct spellings but also full names of the two individuals who will be making our dining room table. They are: Sylven Medysey and Mark Gower. We've always just referred to each other by first names.

I'm doing my best to showcase their work and let as many people as possible know about them. I plan on giving table updates as they are available.

30 July 2007

Some What Have Yous...

Yesterday morning I began the day with some a fresh egg on a bagel with bacon and cheese. The egg was from some neighbors. Why eggs before Sunday services? Pragmatically speaking eggs are full of protein, you need something that will stay with you for a good while; the last thing a preacher needs to be is hungry on a Sabbath morning. For good luck, Gardner Taylor always eats eggs on Sunday mornings and goes over his sermons. I figure anything I can do that can channel some of Dr. Taylor's magnitude - I'll take it.
Sunday services were hot, extremely hot. I had the picture of the Simpsons episode when Bart put a chocolate bunny in the offering and it started to melt when Rev. Lovejoy received it. The First Lady made a blackberry cobbler - wow.

After church we went to the pool to cool off, but had to leave: thunder, no funder according to #2, and lightning. I tried to tell the lifeguard that it wasn't thunder but the roar of the motorcycles (there really was benefit ride going on). For a moment the lifeguard believed it, so did several parents. So then we came home and got ready to go to our neighbors for dinner. These are the same neighbors who have the chickens.

Now these neighbors are supposedly vegetarians. I didn't believe them. I had suspicions. For dinner: grilled sausages. Here is a picture to prove it.
If it weren't for pork I could be a vegetarian. Speaking of the magical animal, on Saturday I made eggs, toast, pancakes and sausage. Editorial note, breakfast sausage in New England is hideous! I had to make do with frozen Jimmy Dean. Nevertheless, the First Lady and I were able to have an almost forgotten treat: sausage slathered in maple syrup, a great wedding of north and south.

Instead of spending my morning at the usual hangout, I went up to the ANTS library to drop off some books. While coming home I stopped by NEMBF. I have tried to express the enormity of the place, so today i took in my camera. I placed it on the floor and aimed it upwards, perhaps this will give you some context for just how wonderful this place is.
The supposed vegetarians are out of town and we are in charge of their chickens, dog and fish. The female partner of the neighbors is worried that I might roast one of the hens, several times she referred to the SEVEN hens we are leaving you in charge of. Before dinner we fed, gave 'em some water and then put them up for the night. The kids loved it.

27 July 2007

Took Them to Get Their Ears Lowered

Seeing that #3 is one now and seeing that he has yet to have his haircut I rounded up 1-3 and took them to the barber. (No, I do not take my daughter to a barber to get her haircut, but she insists on going - he gives them a lollipop).

#3 sat in my lap while Jim attempted to give him a haircut. #3 is really ticklish so he had a hard time tracking him down with scissors and comb in hand. #2 wanted a buzz cut, so he got one. I'll go next week.Its the best I can do, #3 does not like to stay still. If no one holds him, he goes after the camera and the photographer!

Garden Update, Pollinators, Hoola Hoop Tricks, and A Possible Use for Old Corn Water

This time of year harkens back to the two-a-day regiment of high school football practice. I hated the first session, not because I had to get up early, but because of the dew dampened grass. No worse way to start the day than to lay down in wet grass for 20 minutes of stretching. To this day I hate to go out in the garden in the morning, I wait till midday or after dinner.

Yesterday I spent some time supporting the Mortage Lifters, mine are about four feet right now, dad once grew one 18 feet tall (no foolin'). This year I can not get over how well the Amish Paste Tomatoes are doing, they are crazy. The row of potatoes are doing well too, as is the celery. Here are some pictures (again blogger wont lemme flip the pictures, bother):Here is a picture of #1's and #2's flower garden
This is also a great year for blackberries, we spent a good half hour filling up a gallon and a half bucket of 'em. This is a good time to talk about the differences between southern and northern gardening. In the south you can plant earlier but you have all kinds of bugs. In the north you plant later but no bugs (five years of planting potatoes and no bugs). In the south if you went to pick blackberries you have to watch out for snakes. In the north snakes are around but rarely, if ever, seen. After five years of living here I've only encountered one snake.You've probably by now read or heard something about the collapsing honey bee population. In the west the circumstances of a declining honey bee population are severe, primarily due to the dependence of almond tree pollination. Here in the northeast folk aren't too worried. Why? The region has an abundance of native pollinators. Perhaps the best pollinator for crops and flowers is the bumble bee. I read recently how beneficial they are for tomatoes. They pollinate primarily by the vibration when they buzz from bloom to bloom, whereas honeybees pollinate by collecting pollen on their two hind legs. The other day while digging in the big dirt pile behind the parsonage I noticed a bumble bee or two, a closer look revealed a nest. You can't see 'em but trust me this cave looking hole is an active bumble bee nest.For #2's birthday the wife thought it would be fun to but hoola hoops and play some hoola hoop games.A couple of days after the party we went outside after dinner and performed hoola hoop tricks. We twisted at the waist, we twisted on our neck and arms, I even did the one foot kick, hop and twist. The wife had so much fun she suggested that we form a family act and perform at the next outdoor concert at the church.

Finally, by late July and August yellow jackets have established thriving populations. I have left one nest in front of our house continue for sometime. I wanted to see how the nest developed. But I've had enough of them getting after me when I mow, so I disposed of them. But I fretted over how to do it. I didnt want to use a chemical spray (that would kill the flowers beneath the nest). I tried a vinegar spray, but they can fly quicker than I can squirt. I tried smoking them with my honeybee smoker, but this got them really ticked off. Bees like to have a constant environment with little as possible disturbance from the elements, I could manipulate their surroundings but that was too much work.

A solution: my neighbor proposed hot water. Last night we had our first corn of the year. As I cleaned up the kitchen I looked at this large stockpot of corn infused water and the light bulb went off. I brought it up to a boil and dumped on the nest, instant disposal. This was a relatively small nest, so it did the trick. I wouldn't advise doing this if you have a large in-ground nest.

24 July 2007


Yesterday was an exciting, #3s first bday, and wrestling day, 1st anniversary of Pop's death.

On both fronts it couldn't have been a full year, but it has.

On Saturday night, '06, I talked dad, he was too weak to hold a conversation so I told him I loved him and goodnight. The next morning I called to see how he was doing and that the wife was in labor. He was asleep when I called, when he awoke he told mom he knew it was going to be a boy and that the wife and I would name it after him. He died about two hours later, fours hours after that #3 was born. We did name him after you Pop. I wish you could see him, hold him and watch him laugh. He is a great boy, you would like him. #3 is a lot like you Pop, he is fussy but will eat anything you put in front of him, and he may even be a lefty!

Yesterday I fixed a memorial meal, my dad's favorite: steak (fillet mignon), baked potato, garlic bread with two ice cold Bud Lights.

After supper we celebrated #3's 1st. The wife made a wonderful carrot cake, it had five large carrots! Here are the highlights:

The arrival of the cake
Didn't take him too long to get the hang of it.

The card was a bigger success than gifts, go figure.

Our best chance of getting all three in one picture
Now backtrack a few hours. Yesterday two woodworkers came to pick up wood to make us a new dining room table. The wood: it is cherry and black walnut. But there is more, the wood is at least 50-60 years old. My granddad had it in the basement, when he died my dad put in a shed, and when dad died I brought it up to RI. Dad and I were supposed to turn the wood into some nice pieces of furniture.I know that my woodworking skills are nowhere near where they need to be to make a focal piece of furniture and that my skills will not develop for a few years. In the meantime we need a dining table and my dad loved to eat. So we turned over the wood to Sylvian and Mark and we'll see what they come up with. The wife and I gave them complete artistic freedom to fashion what they so choose. The wood will be mixed, knots left in, checks held together with pins, etc. Sometime before the holidays we should have it!

Thanks to U2 for the musical benediction.

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say...

One love
One life
When it's one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don't care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it's...

Too late
To drag the past out into the light
We're one, but we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it's all I got
We're one
But we're not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can't be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt
One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other



We got to carry each other for 31 great years. Yeah we had some great times. Love ya Pop and miss you like crazy.

16 July 2007

Its Monday, what else can you say

L. R. Bapt. averages around 45-50 folk for summer worship. I felt like changing the summer pattern up a bit and decided to focus on the stories from 1 and 11 Kings. In order to spice it up we have sword drills (someone should offer a wikipedia entry on sword drills, (amazing that these folk never grew up with them, also amazing that they have trouble each week finding I and II Kings) and I provide a Hebrew word (great free Hebrew and Greek fonts here) for the week. So far they have ate it up.

Yesterday I was just about to introduce the Hebrew word for the day (I think a Mortimer Pen would be great to have for this) when a lady, a guest from our neighboring UCC congregation, passed out and started to drool. We called the rescue and all of that, when she came to she felt better and said it was my sermon...

Last night I finished a biography of Gene Tunney. He was my father's favorite boxer, even though he retired from boxing a good generation before dad was even born! My great-uncle, by marriage, Harry Ellis was a prize fighter in West Virginia and other parts. He too loved Tunney and passed his love on down to dad, who passed it down to me. I believe the first book I read from cover to cover just for fun was Tunney's first autobiography. Tunney was not your average brawler, he was a real boxer - smart, athletic and strategic, well worth your reading pleasure.

This morning I was able to finish James Forbes' Beecher Preaching Lectures titled: The Holy Spirit and Preaching. Good book, I believe his writing was a little scattered, but lots to digest on the presence of the Holy Spirit in the pastoral life.

This morning I was also able to eat a bowl of oats with fresh peaches. True they are hard as rocks this time of year, but if you peel and slice them and immediately put them on hot oats they cook and soften up nicely. Try it...

I found that you can search the entire NRSV at oremus, I've used this before but for some odd reason it slipped my mind.

14 July 2007

An Anglican Over-Soul

The other day I was finally able to bird-dog down the 1996 New Yorker profile of Peter Gomes, by Peter Boynton, the minister of Memorial Church of Harvard. In the interview Rev. Gomes described himself as a Baptist with an "Anglican Over-Soul." Wow, if that aint the coolest way to describe oneself I dont know what is.

His description is exactly what I have been searching for.

I love Rev. Gomes, he is an American Baptist, he wears three-piece suits, also adorns himself with a dog collar style clerical garb, on Sunday morning he wears the "low" Anglican style of a cassock with a gown and preaching tabs, he smokes a pipe and cigars, uses multi-syllabic words, preaches well over 20 minutes and carries a high view of the preaching practice. He has definitely inspired me to take my sermons more seriously, to remain baptist, and to cultivate an Anglican Over-Soul. I only seek to wed together more of the pre-Revivalistic New England Baptist presence with the evangelistic rough house Appalachian Baptist tradition. If I can figure out how to do this with the Ang. O-S, watch out...

My hero other than Gomes for this method is the Rev. James Manning, first president of Brown University. His portrait, with preaching tabs, give creedance to my desire to wear them as an authentic baptist style.I figure the A-Ber will appreciate Rev. Gomes' moniker.

On the topic of Baptist self-esteem, I was delighted to read Rev'd Amy Butler's appreciation of her baptist walk.

On Being Cheated as a Kid (no mom this is not about your and dad's parenting)

At an early age my parents taught me the love of chocolate; my father used to eat a piece of dark chocolate after breakfast, no foolin'. I loved pretty much all things chocolate, except when folk would ruin it with a banana.

Fast forward to divinity school days. One long weekend myself, the wife and another couple went to Toronto. We walked up and down the streets and went into several candy shops, as my friend looked for PEZ dispensers. When I first walked into a Canadian candy shop I it was more than I could take, all these candies with cool wrappers and difference confections. I bought one of everything and put them in a special bag to delight myself once we were back in the states.
(side story: as we drove back to the states I heard an odd ruffle of a bag from the back seat, I turned around only to discover that my wife had opened each candy bar to sample each. I was livid, for several days {she would say months, if not years}).

I have always felt cheated that as a kid I never was able to sample and enjoy British style chocolates. Imagine the memories reignited when I read this article in The Times this week asking which is better: US or UK candy bars, no question the brits win hands down.

13 July 2007

A Friend from High School making it as musician

Back in high school a friend of mine: Charles Dodrill, a red-headed Presbyterian, straight A, artistic wahzoo, popular and a tight end who could catch anything you could throw at him. We went to different colleges and our separate ways. I always saw him as going to Princeton Seminary and making it as a great liberal mainline Presbyterian pastor. But his path was different, he was a monk for sometime, learned how to play the guitar, worked at some more evangelistic churches in the south and mid-west and somewhere along the way he became a christian musician. I dont know what exactly to make of this. But I got to say that his lyrics and music and purpose are alright. So far he is playing at campus events, churches and coffee houses (as far as I can tell). But I think he would fit in just about any venue.

Charlie Dodrill

his blog link is under the living room category.

12 July 2007

Overheard Yesterday Evening at the Creamery

About once a week we go down to the Lincoln Creamery, the locally owned ice cream shop. Last night, after the wife and kids got their selections, I waited to pay and receive my order of a hot fudge sundae with cookie dough ice cream, caramel sauce, malted milk, heath bar bits, nut, and whipped cream (if you're gonna get ice cream you might as well go all out) - back to the story - as I waited I heard a kid, presumably 12, say I now understand that Bert Reynolds wants to be known as Turd Ferguson.

I busted out laughing as I recalled the SNL episode. But then I looked at the kids father with a look of how in the hell does that kid know about Turd Ferguson? I was amazed at the seriousness of the kids demeanor, I believe he really thought Bert Reynolds wants to be called Turd Ferguson.

11 July 2007

So Long Mr. Marlette...

Sad to learn about the death of Doug Marlette, political and regular cartoonist, and fiction writer. Several years ago the Roger Williams Fellowship brought Doug up to D.C. to talk to us about religious liberty. He had some great words to say about free speech, his transition from icon to written word media, and baptistdom. I enjoyed reading his first novel, The Bridge, and will miss his whit, biting sarcasm and baptist heritage. His webpage contains links to his novels, cartoon, political cartoons and articles he has written or been written about him.

this is my favorite:

09 July 2007

Like a Frog Slides Off a Log

Where to start...

Sermon - preached on Naboth's vineyard. It is a parable for modern life, you could easily read it as a Bush-Cheney abuse of power, but I chose to take an even more poignant reading by using my own personal story of coal companies.

In the late 1980s the Island Creek Coal Company (i.e. Ahab) began buying up land of the Ten Mile community in West Virginia. The family farm was there, a beautiful hilltop place. But my great aunt and great uncle (Naboth) would not sell. So the ICCC went on without them by blasting away the earth around them. The blasts blew out the windows of the farm house. My uncle died before the blasting started, my aunt couldn't take it and was moved to a nursing home. The displacement from the farm, disorientation and grief of home caused a rapid dementia, she died within six months. After the earth was blown up, obliterated and overturned ICCC was forced to stop due to contaminating run-off (sins being passed on to future generations). I hate coal companies!

Work in the garden. Spent the weekend weeding, planting fall vegetables (cabbage and cauliflower) . I was pleased to see an article on BBC news that organic vegetables seem to be better than conventional crops. Although I would say that organic apples shipped to the states from New Zealand is a bit of a lost cause.

From the kitchen. The wife made some delicious, out of this world, strawberry and blueberry scones. She even made some cold brewed iced coffee - props to cooks illustrated for the scones and the ny times for coffee.

Recipe: Cold-Brewed ICED COFFEE Time: 5 minutes, plus 12 hours' resting

Time: 5 minutes, plus 12 hours' resting

1/3 cup ground coffee (medium-coarse grind is best) Milk (optional).

1. In a jar, stir together coffee and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover and let rest at room temperature overnight or 12 hours.

2. Strain twice through a coffee filter, a fine-mesh sieve or a sieve lined with cheesecloth. In a tall glass filled with ice, mix equal parts coffee concentrate and water, or to taste. If desired, add milk.

Yield: Two drinks.

NOTE: To make hot coffee, dilute concentrate one-to-one with water and heat in the microwave.

Last week for communion (we employ the intinction method for summer worship) I noticed that folk were having a helluva time tearing off the bread. Reason: the crust was too crispy and chewy (great to have with pasta but not for communion). So I emailed the bread superman for some help. Here is his response:

Here are a few suggestions regarding communion bread: make a round loaf rather than long (you may already be doing this--I'm referring to a lean dough, crusty bread French bread), and when it is nearly cooled, with just a touch of warmth left, wrap it in plastic wrap for about an hour. Then, unwrap it till it completely cools down and then re-wrap it until use. This should keep the crust soft. Another option is to use a milk dough, such as any good white sandwich bread recipe rather than French, or lean dough. These loaves brown up nicely, because of the milk and sugar, and stay soft.They can be baked free standing, like a round "boule" at about 350 degrees until done. Finally, if you have my recipe for Struan, the multi-grain harvest bread, it too bakes up nicely with a soft crust and has a nice spiritual connection as the traditional bread of Michaelmas. I've attached a single loaf version as a file, but a larger version is in "Brother Juniper's Bread Book." It is my single favorite bread (and you can leave out the cooked rice if it becomes problematic--it works just as well without it).

I'm gonna make some Struan this week for coffee hour and see what type of reaction I can get from the folks.

Sabbath Day trek. It was hotter than blue blazes yesterday. So we packed up the kids, towels and lunch and headed to the beach after church, a great amenity of RI. We thought by leaving around 1 we would bypass most of the beach traffic. Guess again. I even thought ahead this time and brought my own beer to have with some fish and chips at Igbys, not a chance. Oh well, so we drove home (took 3 hours) and picked up a pizza a Caserta's. All is all, great Sabbath.

Glad to see ye ol' Anglobaptist had a good time at the Biennial.

Anyone listen to Mike Huckabee on On Point this morning? If I were a Republican I may vote for the dude, sure we differ on all kinds of stuff - major stuff, but I appreciated his straight-forward approach. I was surprised.

Finally, happy to see that Billy Joe Shaver will be in concert later this month in a Boston area club. If you are wondering about the title for this post? Listen to Hard Headed Hearts.

04 July 2007

The Value of Work, Mike Gravel and Gin and Tonic

Yesterday the Bath supply house delivered our new gas boiler. While the dude unloaded it the kids sat in the back of the van watching the lift move up and down. The delivery man was in his fifties, overweight, unshaven and rather grizzled. He looked at the kids and told them they better stay in school or they'll end up like him.

Like him...overworked, unsatisfied, bored and tired.

Yesterday a master plumber came to the house to install the new heating system. He is in his early 20s, thin, in good shape and full of spirit. While we were chatting I asked when he graduated, he told me then that he didnt go to college. He also mentioned in the course of our conversation at the monotony of putting in systems like this.

Why is it that we devalue work here in America? What makes individuals without a college education feel inferior? Here is a kid, able to buy a house, has his own business on the side, makes the prevailing wage (which here in New England is quite high) and full benefits but yet doesn't feel totally adequate. Here is a man past midlife and looks back with disdain as to what he has contributed to society.

I dont have any answers but it does scare me that folk are feeling so unfulfilled with their labor. If I were Mike Gravel I would say "end the war on drugs" (that is his answer to everything) Did anyone see the debate on PBS? End the war on drugs was his answer to almost every question, quite comical.


Last night I didn't get around to making a Manhattan, instead I made a JBWS, a friend, style Gin and Tonic. It wasnt bad, a little too sweet though before dinner - felt more like a midday drink. His recipe.

Pint glass full of ice.
Two shots of Tanqueray Gin
Fill up the rest of the glass with Tonic Water
Squeeze of Lime

03 July 2007

New Postage

While searching for a title the other day I discovered that Peter Reinhart has a blog! This guy has written amazing books on bread: Brother Juniper's Bread Book, Crust and Crumb, The Bread Baker's Apprentice and American Pie. He has also written a spiritual autobiography/bread baking book: Bread Upon the Waters. I love his writings, his recipes and approach to bread making.

I discovered him by chance while perusing the new books at the library. Then I found out he taught at Johnson and Wales mothership here in Providence. But by the time I found him he had moved south to one of their satellite campuses in Charlotte, NC.

So click on over to: peter reinhart's blog and see what the dude has to say.

Over the weekend a piece in the West Virginia Gazette told about Kathy Mattea's new project titled Coal. While perusing her page I noticed a link to the NPR program Living on Earth. LOE has a great section of stories on the Coal Industry. If you go to Mattea's web page you can listen to her interview on LOE. I must express my deep gratitude for Mattea's willingness to speak out against Mountain Top Removal, ie mountain death; she is one of if not the only mainstream musician to speak out. As the they say here in Rhode Island: Good for you.

While you are on the Living on Earth page you must, and I again I say you must listen to the story of the Mortage Lifter Tomato. I have six of them in the garden this year. We will see how they do.

The garden is coming along. Tomatoes and Potatoes are doing great, finally harvested some peas yesterday with #1 and #2. We've had a salad with our lettuce, so did the rabbits. I should resow some but haven't yet. French Breakfast Radishes are delicious. Onions and shallots look good so far. Winter squash is up and almost ready to run. #1's Black Eyed Susans look absolutely fabulous, i'll post a picture later.

The hot water heater went yesterday. Two steps forward one step back here at the church. We surpassed our goals for the concert series and yard sale by about $500. Then the hot water/furnace went. So we are now $6,000 in the hole. But God has pulled this congregation out of worse circumstances, God will see us through this one too. This episode brings to mind how diligent the wife and I are going to have to be when we do finally own our own home. We'll have to plan and budget a portion each year for the eventual replacement of appliance and emergency home repairs.