25 June 2009

sunday update

Make that three baptisms for Sunday and an additional fiddler has joined our band (up to 13). Concerning Sunday's service -- a deacon emailed me this morning after seeing a draft of the service to inquire how long it will go into Monday...

24 June 2009

saying goodbye, another installment - part iv, the notorious coffee shop

I spent the better part of the morning in a truck with an 80+ year old man going 35 in a 55mph zone. He is a parishioner and like so many of the folk at Lime Rock Baptist is more like family. I asked him if he would say a few words at the service this Sunday, he agreed. Over breakfast (I'm coming to that in a minute) he said he had composed a 3 minute essay and asked if I wanted to hear it. I said I did not. But he insisted on telling me the first line. Here goes, "How in the hell did we get that bastard up here?" I do not know if he is serious; more than likely he is.

Now back to breakfast. For about five years this particular parishioner has been telling me about this bizarre coffee shop located in one of the five villages on the town of Lincoln. He kept telling me that I would not believe it. Reluctantly I agreed to go to this place. At 8am I was picked up and escorted to this place. We entered; the owner sat, acknowledged us, finished playing the video slot machine then poured us a cup of coffee. In the meantime my associate and I took our seats at the counter. To the right of me were two boxes full of individually "full-sized" packaged donuts: plain and cinnamon; beside them was a box of the mini six pack donuts of various coatings. Across from me on the other side of the counter was a coffee pot, a large tupperware bowl of sugar (a "regular" coffee in New England consist of three spoons of sugar and a good shot of milk), a large jar of grape jelly (Pricerite brand) whose lid was unlevel the last time it was sealed which gave it a droopy and sad look, a four slice toaster which had not been used since Nixon was in office (you pick between governor of CA or POTUS), a plastic bag full of bagels and a griddle/hot plate contraption.

Our coffee was served in scratched and coffee stained cups. After 15 minutes or so some other patrons entered. Now here is the catch about this place: everyone helps themselves. They walk behind the counter, pour their coffee or toast their bagel while the owner sits in the corner and plays on the video slot machine. You dare not ask for eggs or something more substantial; there is no menu; and the owner gets ticked - I was forewarned. It could be the only business where the proprietor gets mad if you ask her to do something that could very easily be interpreted as work.

After we finished our cups of coffee (we were asked if we wanted refills but we said no, in a polite way) my associate asked if the owner would show me the backroom. The backroom? Years ago the establishment used to be a strip club/pool room/bar. And the backroom was pretty much left as was, except for the continual "inside" yard sale that went on. Massive slate top pool tables, a bar (built with pine), and bizarre vanity license plates that read "Don't stare at the bartender you too will be crazy one day."

Am I glad we went? Sure, but for reasons I am unforsureof at the moment.

We finished our coffee and went off to another destination for breakfast. My navigator suggested a place he had not been to in ages; apparently it is not there anymore. We drove on into Franklin, MA (it is right across the border). We drove until we found a policeman (yes, our move to park directly behind him in the middle of the road did not sit well with him) whom we inquired of where was the best place to get breakfast in this town? He suggested the pizza parlor right next to the Mega Lo Mart grocery store. A pizza parlor that has good breakfast in a strip mall - no way. We decided not to chance it and went back to Woonsocket for breakfast at a regular breakfast stop.

While I have you here... Woonsocket lies to the north and west of Lincoln. It is an okay town, could be a first class place. But if you ever enter 295 from Phoenix Avenue you are given two options:

You decide?

23 June 2009

saying goodbye, another installment - part iii

For my sermon this past week I pulled out my calendars of seven years and used my notes to write the sermon. I thought about sharing those stories online but then folk in New Orleans may read this post and know all of the stories from my "go-to" bag. I would have nothing left to say - I would be like Kramer and forced to buy Newman's bunion stories (no one wants that). So I am saving them. The sermon went well.

I was actually allowed to steal away for a 30 minute nap! Then we packed into the van and went to a friend's house for a cookout and farewell jam session.

This Sunday I am referring to as a garbage plate day (please go to link for the history of the garbage plate) : two baptisms in the morning at the state park, baby dedication/blessing, going away service, and a wedding in the afternoon.

The service is shaping up to be a fun time. I asked three people to say a few words about our time together. I also invited the former organist/choirmaster, my fiddle teacher, members of the fiddle class (a couple of fiddlers, a dulcimer player and two banjo players), a jazz drummer, a trumpet player and two guitar players to join us for a hymn melody: Be Thou My Vision, Star of the County Down (in 3-4 and 4-4 versions) and Holy Manna. It promises to be a fun service.

18 June 2009

Around Providence

While my best friend was up last weekend I took some pics that I thought I would share. One day we went down to the Roger Williams National Memorial (a great place to go if you are in Providence), then hiked up college hill, checked out Brown Bookstore, moseyed over to Spiritus Fermenti (only near an Ivy League school would there be a snoody alcohol shop with a name like that) to purchase some drinks for dinner, sashshayed back down the hill to Cafe Choklad to purchase a little something for the VOR (a key lime cupcake with strawberry butter cream frosting), then headed back towards the van. On our way down North Main Street I noticed on the buildings was built by John Updike, not that one, nevertheless i had to take a picture.
The next day we did the usual Saturday stuff: t-ball, swim, lunch, sold stuff via craigslist, then went back to Providence for dinner. While we feasted on the variety of plated portions I noticed a sign across the street which read: "Parking for East Side Towing only, all others will be towed." I wondered if anyone else saw the irony in that sign? I did not get a picture, sorry.

Since the curried chicken made sweat pour from our foreheads we scurried over to my favorite (sometimes) ice cream shop. While we sat and ate I noticed another sign, this one I took a picture of. A special tool...

After our tongues regained consciousness we piled back into the van to view Waterfire. We had been telling our guest about Waterfire for a few years but never had the opportunity to take him (this being our last chance to catch we had to go). We sat on the hill overlooking Waterplace Park, watched kids roll down the hill, various people stroll by, before the floating bons were lit. My friend was curious about what happened once the fire started. I explained to him with great excitement: when the fires go down, they throw more wood on. That is about it folk. A few thousand people all watching a fire. (I suppose this is a symptom of being a dazzling urbanites, they never grew up experiencing large open air fires.) Oh well. After a short while we headed back to the van again, but not before I snapped this picture of the statehouse at night.

17 June 2009

Saying goodbye, another installment

This week I am preparing the last sermon I will preach as the pastor of Lime Rock Baptist Church. The service on the 28th will be more of a celebration. As I prepare I will share a some insights from the past couple of weeks.

I have invited folk to stop by the office to sit for a spell so we can share a proper goodbye. Odd that most folk come late in the afternoon around cocktail time, hmm... I suppose folk want me to share all of the presents they gave me at the Christmas open house. Just one less item to pack.

The goodbyes have gone well. I am glad they are taking place.

Last Sunday was Children's Day - the kids are in charge of the entire service. It is a great day for the kids and a great day for the church. Unexpectedly, the kids presented the VOR/First Lady and myself with a painting. They made a piece of art for us with personal messages on people cut outs. The VOR and I were not prepared for the painting; tears rolled down our eyes. Here is a picture of the painting that will definitely find a prime spot in our new house then in the new office in New Orleans.
After the worship service we went outside for the last kids vs. adults kickball game that I will be present for. My best friend was up from Harrisburg, PA for the weekend which I told the kids he was my secret weapon who promised to kick the snot out of the ball. Nevertheless, we let the kids win the one inning affair then went back in for lunch. It was a great day indeed.

09 June 2009

The Rumor Mill

For years I have been hoping to be the subject of a great spinning rumor here in Lime Rock. A couple of years ago the story/rumor transformed from me playing football against Randy Moss' older brother, Eric, to playing with his older brother, to playing against Randy, to playing with Randy. By the time the local sports reporter contacted me at the church one afternoon he had a pen and paper ready for a juicy story. When I told him the truth he never called me back.

Then there was the time last year when a friend of mine from fiddle class came to church one Sunday. That afternoon a member from Pastoral Relations emailed wanting to know why a search committee was prospecting at worship.

The acceptance of the call to the New Orleans church has created quite possibly the greatest rumor ever. At the yard sale on Saturday a church member pulled me aside to inquire: is it true that the church you are going to is a church with a 2,000 membership? Part of me wanted to affirm this rumor just for the sheer thrill of it. But I did not. I told the truth.

Now what kind of stories can I start seeding for rumors in New Orleans...

07 June 2009

Saying goodbye, probably the 4th installment

This morning I used the day, Trinity Sunday, to talk about the communal aspect of God and the gift of community I experienced at the church. After the sermon, the prayers of the people, announcement, and offering it was time for communion. I used the occasion to tell my favorite communion stories.

Story #1 - When I first served communion as the pastor of LRBC I made some grand liturgical gesture which knocked over the chalice and spilled all of the wine on the table. (Sometimes it pays to be a low-level Protestant).

Story #2 the time one of the deacons used an old bottle of wine which had soured way past vinegar (no one informed me of this decision). Imagine then the aroma that rose up and invaded my olfactory senses!

Story #3 the time one of the deacons forgot to buy a loaf of bread for me to tear and decided to use the loaf in the freezer (without thawing it, again no one informed of this). Imagine me trying with all of my might to tear the body of our Lord and Savior.

Story #4 the time I introduced intinction as a method of communion. One person did not hear the instructions properly. The person came forward, dipped their bread, ate, then dipped again!

There were other stories but I will not share them here. I will only say there were just as many tears shed as laughs.

Saying goodbye aint easy, but it is rewarding. I am glad about the intentionality of this process.