30 May 2008

Saying Goodbye...

Tomorrow at 1:30 I will head to the local Toyota dealership and hand over my Tacoma. Luckily my truck is part of the buyback program Toyota is undertaking. The money we are receiving for the vehicle is already accounted for, so the household is going to experiment with one automobile for a fair amount of time. I plan to ride my bike most places and plan out mine and the VOR's driving routes more efficiently. With gas at $4.05 a gallon not a bad timing.

The other day #1 got word that she is going to be in Nephew Esquire's wedding. Her response was the closest thing I have seen to Brandi Chastain celebration ever in my life. First, she rolled in the floor shouting Yes, Yes, Yes. Second, skipped around the kitchen singing "I'm gonna be in a wedding." Finally, just lots of exclamation. #2 is also going to be in the wedding. His reaction: No. But he is warming up to the idea, perhaps if we can find some dressy tuxedo sweatpants he will be fine.

28 May 2008

Over the Hump Day Reflections on the Weekend

I put the garden in this weekend, it is a mere whisper of past gardens.  This year only tomatoes, peppers, basil, and cucumbers.  (There are some onions still in the ground from last year.) All of the herbs have come back with a ferocity I have yet to witness.  The bees, my lord the bees are doing well.  Keeping my fingers crossed that they do not split this year. (Here is a good story about a NYC cop who is also a beekeeper.) And the strawberries, we are slated for a bumper crop this year.  

If you are thinking of a garden lemme offer some advice on plant selection.  

#1.  A Cost Effective garden.  Go to your local grocery store and look at the most expensive produce items and grow them in your back yard.  For instance, check out the price difference between green peppers and red (or other multi colored variations).  Crops that stay on the vine longer will cost more.  Why?  They take up valuable space and valuable time.

#2.  A Taste Garden.  Think of the produce items that bring you the most joy.  Grow those plants.  They will taste 10 times better than anything you can buy at the store and you will have a greater factor of satisfaction knowing you grew them.

#3.  A What the Hell Garden.  Pick up a seed catalog and find the most bizarre items and grow them just to see how they grow.  I am amazed at how many people do not know that garlic is a bulb that grows underground.

#4.  A Memory Garden.  Recall the vegetables your father, mother or significant person in your life used to grow and grow those vegetables.  Or grow vegetables from the homeland of your ancestry.  Even if you cannot stand to eat them, the memories, aromas and textures brought back will be well worth it.

The weekend also saw the great Memorial Day parade in town.  This year #1 was in the parade.  So the VOR, #1 and #3 (in stroller) waited in line while #2 and myself staked out a spot on the main drag (in the shade of course).  #2 was full of patriotism, as seen in his picture.  (he is wearing my cap, he said look at me daddy I'm dressed like a preacher.)

Here is #1 in the parade:
Here is #3 at the parade:
While #2 and I waited for the parade to begin we were accosted by four young violin players.  They walked in front of our group, put a violin case down with money in it and started playing a song from Pirates of the Caribbean then The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  The kids were great.  As soon as they lined up ready to play, I said okay lets hear Old Joe Clark, a one, a two an three and take me home.  They weren't amused.  We threw a buck in the case and off they went: what a great idea...
On Monday I tried for the first time Chicken Kebabs. I cut up some chicken, put a good splash of EVOO in a dish, threw in a ton of salt and let it sit for a good spell. Then I peered in the frig and found an onion, a red pepper, a green pepper and some cherry tomatoes. I put it all on bamboo skewers, topped it off with some pepper and placed them on the grill. Verdict: Fabulous!

Finally, overcoming fears. Whenever the VOR or I vacuum #3 runs for the couch and cries. When the vacuum cleaner is turned off they are the best of friends, (most of the time we cannot keep him away from it) but when it comes alive through the genius of electricity whatever bond they have quickly evaporates. So this weekend the VOR showed #3 how the dirt sucking contraption works, their friendship is now complete:

19 May 2008

Thoughts from a Couple of Shopping Trips

1.  Official statement: I think that the most genius individuals in American society are beer advertisers/marketers.  Case in point, the other day at the liquor store (in RI all alcoholic beverages are exclusively sold in liquor stores) I overheard a dude ask another dude: Is that any good?  Response, oh yeah - it is great after working in the yard all day.  You know it has real lime in it.  **  Out of curiosity I went over to the cooling refrigerator to investigate, it appears Budweiser has now developed a beer with "real" lime juice included.  I could not believe my eyes, the beer is not for me.  But what creativity on the part of Budweiser, you have to give them credit for that!

2.  This afternoon I had to go to Target to pick up a few supplies: dental floss, mints, insect extinction spray, and headache repellent.  While there I thought how much fun it would be to dress in a red shirt and khakis and walk around the store directing people to the wrong spot. Over the course of a few years I have amassed shirts, jackets, hats and patches of major stores from around the nation.  I have a blast going to Home Depot with my 84 Lumber outfit.  Sometimes I dress in my yard worker outfit at the local landscaping store, amazing how many people want me to cut their yard.  

Here is the invitation, dress like a Target worker and go to Target -- anyone can do it.  Trust me you will enjoy yourself, be over the top nice and see what happens.  Or tell folk the prices are better at Gap.  do not tell me you have nothing to do on a rainy weekend...

3.  A post on The Caucus , #23, tells me that the sign of the Gun Shop in St. Albans that John McCain visited last week reads: Guns, Archery, Salvation is Free.

16 May 2008

McCain in WV & Kid stories

One of my WV sources (this time my sister) reported this morning that Jon McCain will be stopping by St. Albans to visit a local Gun Shop.  This is the same gun shop that advertises on its large sign out front:  Guns, Ammo, Jesus Saves.  I have a real problem with the sign.  I wonder if they changed it before McCain stopped by?  

I also wonder if McCain knows the building violated city code by building an apartment on the building?  

The building used to be one of my favorite stops when I was a kid, "back in the day" when it used to be a Go Mart.  I would stop by for baseball cards, Slush Puppies and an occasional pack of gum.  


Yesterday afternoon I was home working and watching #2 & #3, #3 was asleep and I too was tired.  So I thought of a new game: hey #2 (he loves saying last one {anything} is a rotten egg) how about we play nap?  How do we play that dad?  We both take a nap and the first one up is a rotten egg, #2 did not like this game....
Today I also went into #1's class a worker in the community to talk about my vocation as a pastor.  I took in my tools: my moleskin notebook, an ipod, and my hebrew and greek bibles.  I talked about Hebrew and pronounced a few words then translated a section from Exodus, which I translated as First Graders shall not pick their noses.  I also took in my preaching gown, my preaching tabs and since it was an academic setting: my master's hood.  It was a fun morning.

15 May 2008

Work Obama Still Must Undertake

More superdelegates have swung over to the Obama camp this week, Edwards has endorsed him (think Attorney General) but the thumping he took in The Mountain State leaves major questions unanswered.

1.  He pandered the term "clean coal" while he was in Charleston, does he really believe investment in coal technology is the best route for energy independence -- even Bush now admits global warming is real and is a threat.  

2.  I have unnamed WV sources who are still very suspicious of Rev. Wright, Obama's (former?) pastor.  I assume Rev. Moss is Obama's current pastor.  Folk still need to hear him communicate his view of faith.

3.  Obama had a chance to go to some out of the way communities in WV, to sit and chat with normal people.  Had a cup of coffee in Buckhannon (Jerry Brown campaigned there in 92), or a scoop of ice cream at Dairy Queen in St. Albans (my hometown, JFK did), or skipped a rock across the Ohio in Sistersville (I do not know if any candidate has been there).  A few photo-ops and small town hall style meetings could have gone far for Obama.  He could talk about his faith, about the hardships he saw on the southside of Chicago (I don't think those hardships were that different than in WV), he could have played a game of basketball in Oceana or Welch (this would have gone far).  But he didn't.  David Broder is right, I believe.  If WV is a swing state in '08 Obama had better find a map and not just stop in Charleston, but time is of the essence, five months.  Easier to have visited last week than in the middle of a general election.

14 May 2008


I completed The Jesuit and the Skullthis morning around 9:15am. While listening to Science Friday a few months ago I heard the interview with the author, Amir Aczel. The book is about Pierre Teilhard de Chardin a French (obviously) Jesuit priest and scientist who tried to reconcile faith and science in the first part of the last century. The Jesuit superiors would not allow his books to be published in his lifetime, for he offered a faith based view of evolution.

I would recommend the book for a refresher course on the history of humanity and the still needed reconciliation between faith and science.

12 May 2008

#23 & Question about intelligence

While at my Providence based office this morning I completed #23 on may way towards 100.  The book was A Serious Call to a Contemplative Lifestyle by E. Glenn Hinson.  I believe this was the first book I ever read by Hinson.  Why read it again?  I am finding that there are many aspects of the reading I did in divinity school that I simply did not pick up on, perhaps eight years of parish ministry have changed my perspective, perhaps my mind slowly matured and opened up to certain ideas, I do not fully know.  

I enjoyed reading this book, in some ways a smaller version of Spiritual Preparation for Christian Leadership.  The first couple of chapters are a bit slow going, but once chapter three emerges Hinson has a full head of steam behind his writing.  

At the time I took his classes it never dawned on me how much he used biography in his teaching and theology.  But after thinking about his remarkable examples in his books and his insistence on the transformation individuals can have I should have picked up on it while in his midst.  His positive view of humanity is an aspect of his writings I enjoy.  I also enjoy his ecclesiology (my next Hinson book will be The Integrity of the Church).  Here is a quote on the possibility of church:
The community of believers is the context for developing in the knowledge and skill with which we apply love.  The development will not occur automatically.  Prayer, Bible Study, discussion, and all other aspects of community life should contribute to it.  The ultimate aim is, of course, purity of heart and a stock of things that we have done out of that love that redound to God's honor and evoke praise from humankind.  (p. 74)

11 May 2008

Theodicy, Leisurely Ride and Mudters (Valentines) Day

This morning I tried to tackle the issue of theodicy, specifically God's relation to the tragedy in Myanmar.  Although I find total congruence in my theology with the issue of a self-limiting God but it seems a bit philosophical for a sermon though.  So I took Gilkey's Maker of Heaven and Earth as my main resource.  His basic premises was: acknowledge finitude but also claim God's redemptive and loving work in Jesus.  His work helped me work out my own thoughts in a manner that I found helpful, exciting and approachable in a sermon.  

So how did the congregation take it?  One woman: that was fantastic.  One man: that was useless.  At least both extremes were covered!  

Today the VOR wanted to pack up the kids and bikes and head down to the bikepath.  I was a little hesitant b/c my bike is a road bike made for fitness and fast riding; the VOR's bike is a bike path bike and the kids, well they are kid bikes.  But I went anyway, with my clipless pedals and all.  The VOR, with #3 in town, and #1 went well ahead while me and #2 rode side-by-side.  Fact #1: it was a great ride.  Fact #2: it was the slowest I have ever ridden in my life.  

Today is also Mother's Day.  I do not celebrate it as a pastor.  I instead celebrate Mothering Sunday and honor our Mother Church (FBC in America) and all of those who mothered, nursed and birthed us as children of God.  I think this is a better pastoral option.

(What was Eric thinking giving his immunity idol away?)

#2 was very excited to celebrate Mutder's Day this morning, so excited he exclaimed: Happy Valentines Day mommy.

10 May 2008


Last night sometime after 10 but before 10:46pm (the time I retired for the evening) I finished book #22: God's Secretaries: The Making of The King James Bible by Adam Nicolson.  I purchased the book several years ago when Building 19 was in Cumberland for the grand price of $3.98 - yeah, I miss the store being in the next town over, big time!

I can not tell you why I purchased the book when I did, at the time I did not place a premium on the KJV, did not have the idea of the possibility of language and only had the embryonic ideas of being an anglophile.  But I bought it nonetheless, for $3.98 who wouldn't?  

The book: a slow read at first - took awhile for the story to develop.  I doubt it would have read as slow as it did if I had brushed up on Jacobean or Tudor history before reading it.  Also, if I did not have to pause many atime to look up a word in the dictionary.  Furthermore, the author chose to quote large portions in 17th century English which took some time to understand.

--Bill Clinton just called, apparently someone signed us up for the West Virginians for Hillary campaign, I have my suspects--

The book gave me a deeper appreciation for the creative possibility of the written word, primarily the possibility of the written word heard.  The book also reenforced some of my anti-religious heirarchical sentiments, to read of the tortures, executions, and rooting out of Nonconformist was most displeasing.   Nevertheless I will go on reading the KJV and, thanks to this book, the Geneva Bible as well. 

As the book drew to a close I kept thinking of the tremendous irony of the KJV.  In the bible belt you can easily find churches that proudly proclaim to be KJV Only churches.  I find it ironic that a bible produced by the Anglican Church, the same church that would have hunted down the KJV only folk - if they had been around, you get the point.

While reading yesterday I decided to have a KJV inspired snack.  Scones (Scottish, for King James), Tea (English of course) and Damson Jam (Damson plums were the delight of Jacobean England).

04 May 2008

A Twice in a Lifetime Feeling & A Newfound Delicacy

Last night the Red Tide Ramblers came to the church for our third concert in the Spring/Summer Series.  They were fantastic.  They played Irish tunes, Scottish tunes, English tunes, Bluegrass tunes, American Folk tunes and even a Polish Polka!  After the first two songs I was invited up to play "Old Joe Clark."  OJC is an easy song to learn and to play, one of the first songs folk learn when they pick up a violin or a banjo.  I practiced the song for weeks, so much so that I was able to pick up new bad habits.  About 30 seconds before I was to be called up on stage, I forgot the notes to the song.  When I got up the notes came back.  I messed up a few times, but playing with another fiddle, a guitar, an accordian and a bass hid the mistakes.  

Someone asked me afterwards was I nervous, my response YES!  I can only think of one other time I felt that nervous: when the VOR and I got married.  I am comfortable preaching in front of people, but not playing an instrument and not telling the world how much I love my wife.  I loved playing - the concert has inspired me to practice and play more.

For Sunday Dinner/Sunday Supper the VOR and I made Roast and Yorkshire Pudding (or Yorkies, as the lady who loaned us the cookbook called them).  The roast was delicious, the mashed potatoes were delicious (the VOR uses a method from the latest Cook's Illustrated issue) the gravy was delicious, and the Yorkies were fantastic (they did not overflow from the special cooking tins but they did form deep cavities which begged for gravy).
I suppose I loved the Yorkies so much because they were so much easier than hotrolls - just five ingredients beaten into a smooth batter, poured into tins and  then baked - viola!

01 May 2008

May Day

One of the great skills I have acquired during my one score, one decade and three years of life is the ability to not only misplace things but completely lose them.  A few weeks ago I purchased a swanky thermos, it was blue, had a fancy Swiss name and caught many a eye.  But I lost it somewhere between taking #2 to storytime at the library and getting him home.  I called the library, no one has turned it in.  I do still have the top, so I am hoping someone will find it and see that it is pretty much useless without the top and turn it in.  I could use one of my forty or so plastic travel mugs (by the way only one has a top - you guessed it, lost the tops), but the recent news about the toxins in everyday plastics has me questioning drinking a hot liquid in a plastic cup (heat causes the toxins to leech).  So until I find my new thermos I am taking the advice of Richard Brenshaw:  I am using a glass jar, one with a lid, only I like to call it my eco-chic (to con the VOR's phrase) travel mug.