14 December 2009

2009 Best of List

The Usuals:

1. Best Non-Fiction Book: Why New Orleans Matters by Tom Piazza (this book created a deep desire to move to New Orleans).

2. Best Fiction Book: Confederacy of Dunces by John Kenndey Toole (this book was so good I had to come see the town for myself. I spent at least a half an hour just on the title).

3. Best Children's Book: Who Needs Donuts by Mark Alan Staymay (I took this to #2's class and read it, man was it a hit! I had a blast reading it and they had a blast listening to me read it and looking at the pictures).

4. Best Meal: Going Away Meal at Nancy's. Afterwards me and four other men sat in Adirondack chairs, drank single malts and smoked cigars - it was really something.

5. Best Worship Service: My last Sunday at Lime Rock Baptist, it was unbelievable - the best goodbye of all time (folk are still talking about it).

6. Best CD: Jazz from the Soul of New Orleans by Dr. Michael White.

7. Best LP: The Holy Land by Johnny Cash (I have been looking for this for a couple of years and just found it last week. I also wonder how great the heart attack would be if I asked the choirmaster and organist to have the choir sing He Turned the Water into Wine.)

The Not So Usuals

1. Best Moments as a Father. The first two are closely related. #1 informed her music teacher that her father played the violin - then she volunteered me to come to her class and play. Even though on my best days I am an advanced beginner, I thought okay I'll do it. As I entered the school the secretary casually told me how the music teacher was going to teach her violin. She then casually told me that the music teacher is second chair flutist in the symphony. I about died. I only wish I could have taken pictures of the music teachers face as she winced when I played the notes wrong. Last week #2 informed his class that he was not a Saints fan, he was a New England Patriots fan. The kids started to tease him but the teacher jumped in to assuage the situation. #1 then confided to his teacher that I played for the Red Dragons. In his mind the fact that I played high school football was the same as playing in the NFL. And of course the daily rounds of "tickle time mania."

2. Best Moment as a Husband. An after dinner walk with the VOR around downtown Providence shortly before we left. We held hands looking at the water, the skyline, Le Reve, The Man in the Water. Then I grabbed her tight and kissed her. It was pure bliss.

3. Hardest "thing" to depart with: My Gravely tractors - man that was difficult. Non-things: fiddle class, lunches and hanging out with Darin, five o'clock Scotch with Raymond, laughing with Joe, messing with the SEVN, spying on my neighbor Kevin, and time spent at the Providence based office.

4. Funniest Moment from Craigslist: when a person named Scout came to buy our Davenport. After looking the piece of furniture over she put her face down in the cushion, took a gigantic whiff, then came up and said when you buy a couch it is all in the cushions. How the VOR and I held it together I have no idea.

5. Best Facebook Moment: after I read a NY Times article that one can only keep up with about 100 friends I went through and purged my friend list, (this was before I knew about the "Hide" button). Since then one person has tried to refriend me five times. I know this person is just a facebook harlot, the person has something like 500 friends or something like that. I cannot recall my ever saying one word to this person.

6. Best New Beer Discovery: Red Stripe. For whatever reason I never tried it. After I saw Henry Louis Gates, Jr. drinking one with Obama I thought hmmm I may give it a try. What a great beer.

7. Oddest Occurence: the vendor in Rouses (like a Kroger's for those in WV, or a Wegmans for those in upstate NY or like a Stop-n-Shop for those in RI) who offered me a Rum and Coke sample, at 10:00am. Of course I accepted it, without the Coke.

8. Most Bizarre Pastoral Moment: one day, shortly after arriving in New Orleans, I went to visit a parishioner. Since this person only lived a few blocks from the church I decided to walk. Being new to the city I had yet to fully appreciated the ramifications of tropical humidity and how dangerous it would be to not wear an undershirt. The walk was a little further than I imagined it would be. As I cut through Audubon Park I knew I was in trouble and saw spots developing all over my shirt. I thought if I took off my tie and unbuttoned my shirt I would be okay. Needless to say I was wrong. I arrived at the parishioner's house looking like I had ran back and forth through a sprinkler about ten times. The parishioner offered to take my shirt and put it in the dryer. I contemplated this but thought it a little odd to be sitting in a new parishioner's living room topless. My initial fear was quickly subdued when the parishioner offered me another shirt to wear while the other dried. I simply sat in front of a fan and within a half hour or forty-five minutes I had partially dried out.

09 December 2009

A Strong Possibility

This afternoon the VOR and #s 1-3 along with yours truly asked a church member who is home from college to take our Christmas picture. We decided on taking the picture on a street car. Luckily there was an empty street car on the end of the line without a driver and who left the door open. As we scooted up the steps a woman sitting in the front of the car informed us that the driver had gone over to Burger King. We replied that we were not seeking a lift, we only wanted to take a picture. The woman then replied do you want me to take your picture. We said no thank you, we have some one who will take it. Then the woman said, I am a professional photographer about to go to a shoot. I will gladly take it for you. So we let her.

As she strategically placed in the car, #2 somehow turned the streetcar engine on. After snapping some shots she ran around to the side of the car and started taking shots through the open door. Now that may sound fairly sublime but it aint. She was taking these new shots while standing in the middle of South Carrolton St.! Autos were zooming past, blowing their horns and muttering obscenities (well, I assume they were). And the photographer - cool as a cucumber. In fact, she was swatting at them telling them to be quiet.

Upon returning to church another parishioner, who happens to be the father of the college student, asked if when I have plumbing problems do I open the door and find a plumber who just happens to be asking for directions?

Now I have read Twain's sarcastic War Prayer and I have played Dylan's With God on Our Side many a times during a Wednesday night bible study meeting. I am just as skeptical as they are. And yes of course I know correlation does not equal causation. But you gotta admit here folk...

06 December 2009

A Neighborly/Friendly Christmas

This afternoon the VOR and I went to the Christmas at Loyola event. #s 1-3 did not attend; we were able to obtain the services of a sitter, a fantastic sitter. While we were at the concert the kids watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. After watching they staged their own production of the Christmas story. When the VOR and I returned home we gazed at the props and set up of the production. One piece, a sign whose lettering, particularly, caught my attention. The sign read: King Harold's Bethlehem. All of sudden the umph, the viciousness of King Herod, of the story evaporates. King Harold. I wonder how the story would read if it were indeed a story about good ol' King Harold?

03 December 2009

A Mouth Full of Heaven

This Sunday, being the first of the month, will be a communion Sunday. Being such there will be a table, bread and cup for all to share. Underneath the ritual is the great symbolization: the morsels representing a foretaste of the glory divine.

Yesterday I think I received a better representation of the divine feast: a Mahony's French Fries Po-Boy. Ever since the NYTimes article I have been drooling in anticipaton that sandwich. The VOR and I hoped to sample one at the Po-Boy festival but by the time we arrived they had already sold out (plus they were not selling that sandwich there anyway). Yesterday the chef at church prepared Meatloaf - although the chef cooks with a high degree of tastefulness I still cannot handle even his meatloaf. So after a noon time meeting I snuck down to Magazine Street, walked up the steps to the establishment, and ordered the sandwich.

After a few minutes the server handed me my made to order sandwich. I greedily liberated it from its dual prison of the bag and wax paper. The sandwich thanked me for my liberation with a rich aroma of gravy and an unbelievable flavor that can only be described as a mouth full of heaven.

Indeed this Sunday I will feast on a geometrically shaped portion of bread and a plastic shot glass full of grape juice; I will try to recall a meal with my ancestors a meal of celebration, a meal of grace, a meal of courage; it will be a foretaste of glory divine. But until Jesus comes back or I go over yonder I am fine with the sensory overload of a sandwich laid open with roast beef, cheddar cheese, french fries, and gravy while I wait.

02 December 2009

The Need for Historical Memory

In college I was a History major (interesting how many of my ministry colleagues were also history majors). People always say folk study history so we do not make the mistakes from the past. I have never subscribed to this idea. My main reason for the continual study of history is the for the development of a historical memory. Allow a picture from back in to illustrate my point.

If you were to travel from my hometown to the 1-64 entrance ramp you would pass by a bar, but not just any bar - a bar name Billy Sunday's.
If a historical memory did not exist why not name a bar Billy Sunday's. It is a catchy name. It is the kind of name a sub par 2nd baseman would have. But if a historical memory does exist then irony upon irony is available.

For those who do not know Billy Sunday was an evangelists, a Southern Baptist evangelists, a conservative (at that time in their existence there was such a thing as liberal Southern Baptists) who strongly advocated for Prohibition. Does the owner of this bar have any idea who Billy Sunday was? I doubt it. But when you do you appreciate this fantastic irony.