Friday, April 28, 2006
Of course, I probably shouldn't have told all of you that I'll be gone till Sunday night because now somebody will probably break into my blog and steal my ideas. I hope my corner of the blogosphere has a neighborhood watch program.
If you cross the lake to the New York side, and follow the shoreline north, you will come to a place where the lake is separated from an extensive swamp by a gravel berm. The berm supports a set of train tracks that run across the mouth of the swamp. The Widjiwats call this place “Krennel Marl”, which means “Skeleton swamp.” It is so named because the dead and dying trees which rise out of the swamp’s shallow water resemble disembodied skeletons wading through the reeds, cattails and water lilies. The swamp is bordered on the north by a large apple orchard whose neat and orderly rows stand in stark contrast to the wild and chaotic looking swamp. A channel of open water winds its way in serpentine fashion through the middle of the swamp, and connects a brook, which issues into the western end of the swamp, with the open lake. On the south and west, the swamp is bordered by dense hardwood forest and rocky ledges, and to the east, of course, it is bordered by the aforementioned berm and the lake. A large metal culvert runs under the berm and allows water to flow back and forth between the swamp and the lake. For years Widjiwat vessels have used this culvert to find safe anchorage in the sheltered waters of the swamp.
Every time I think of the swamp I am reminded of an old Widjiwat frog hunter named “Erp” who used to live there. I don’t think “Erp” was his proper given name, but probably a nickname of some sort. If I had to guess I would say it probably came from a stanza in a popular Widjiwat children’s song which goes:
“If you surprise a frog
It goes “erp”, hop, kersplunk!
Into puddle, pond or bog
It goes “erp”, hop, kersplunk!”
Erp made a living for himself by trading fresh frog meat for supplies and such with the ships that anchored in the swamp. Frogs, of course, are very abundant there, and even now, if you visit the swamp on a summer evening, the din of their croaking is so loud you can barely hear yourself think. It was a very pleasant sound to old Erp though. He lived for the frog hunt, and he probably knew more about frogs and their ways than a room full of herpetologists. Most people found him dull because he was almost incapable of talking about anything else, but I thought he was kind of interesting.
He was not only considered one of the best frog hunters of his time, but he was also generally regarded as one of the handiest men around in a dugout canoe. A dugout canoe is a necessary piece of equipment for a serious frog hunter, or for anybody living in a swamp as Erp did. He plied a canoe like it was an extension of himself. He was famous for crossing the broad lake in his dugout regardless of the weather, which was considered a suicidal act even when things were calm. Dugout canoes are prone to tipping and it takes a steady and experienced hand to keep dry even in the sheltered waters of the swamp, but so far as I know, Erp never tipped a canoe.
Erp’s appearance sort of reminded me of a moose or a stork in that he had a massive upper body and skinny, rather underdeveloped, legs. I believe this was due to a life spent traveling by canoe. His broad chest and muscular arms were constantly at work maneuvering his dugout through the swamp, while his legs lay at rest. I suspect that he probably traveled more by canoe in his life than on his feet. I guess that isn’t so unusual considering how much we travel by car, but there was something impressive about Erp’s mastery of the dugout and his intimate knowledge of the swamp. No one knew the swamp better than Erp.
He could also be graceful on his feet though. You have to be to sneak up on frogs. And he could move as silently as a cloud over the face of the moon. He was an old man, but he was steady and strong. His face was swarthy and deeply wrinkled with icy blue eyes and a sharp beak of a nose. He never said much, but somehow, he was very good company. Above all, I remember him as a humble man who sincerely enjoyed life and who loved the Lord. I don’t think I have ever met anyone who was as comfortable in his own skin as Erp.
The last time I saw Erp he was paddling out onto the broad lake towards Munger brook. Earlier that day, he had hauled his dugout canoe up onto the shore beneath the house, and announced that he had brought me some extra fine Indian beads that he had found. I had told him two weeks earlier that I would give him whatever he wanted in trade for some truly fine Indian beads, because I wanted to make them into a necklace for Bowden. He carefully unloaded 4 beautiful beads, which were wrapped in a mouse hide. All Erp wanted in trade was some salt, which I gladly gave him.
Before long our conversation turned, as usual, to frog hunting. He asked me if I had ever eaten a frog, and I had to admit that I hadn’t. He offered to cook me one sometime, and I said that would be nice.
I asked erp if he would spend the night at my house before heading back to the swamp, but he declined. He said he had some relatives he wanted to visit who were passing the summer up on the Munger, and he said he would spend the night with them. I thanked him again for the beads, and we said our goodbyes. Just as Erp was shoving off I commented that his dugout canoe would make a perfect bath toy for a little boy. He thought that was awfully funny and he was laughing as he paddled away.
I learned about a year ago that Old Erp had died in his sleep at Overfick. Don’t be sad, he loved Jesus, and although he enjoyed the time that God gave him here, he knew that his true home would be with Jesus in the new Jerusalem. He left instructions that his dugout canoe be given to me with the idea that I would give it to a little boy as a bath toy. So I entrust Erp’s dugout to you. It’s not the most handsome boat. Nor is it the finest crafted vessel to ever turn a wake, but it served Erp well, and I hope you enjoy it at bath time.
P.S. Jarudet helped me clean out all of the crusty frog guts and accumulated stains. We also sanded out some of the rough spots and fixed it up a little. Don’t just put it on a shelf or stick it away somewhere. Erp would have wanted it to be a useful thing. Welcome to the world- I love you!
(This is a picture of Erp's swamp from atop the berm)
I put 'em on as a shocker!
Man, I love these blue-blockers!
Everything is cool!
Why they block out the sun-
Oh yeah! I gotta get me some!"
Oh, those are some good memories. Thanks for the tip "Geek."
I started my St Rugglin's day off right! Woke up on the floor, cold shower, and now I'm wearing sweat pants and a ripped T-shirt ( a few strange looks as I came into the office this morning). I plan on eating nothing but puffed wheat (sans milk, honey, or anything delicious... I may add sand though.) I am still trying to come up with what I will do for my parade. Of course, in a few short hours I will continue my own personal St Rugglin's day tradition, which is have my hair cut and then I don't change my shirt or take a shower for the rest of the day (It's like wearing burlap). Job, why do we do this anyway. I find myself wavering a little this morning. Bowden is also celebrating this year apparently. As I left the house he was throwing a marathon fit for absolutely no reason. It appears that he follows your own brand of the holidy, Uncle Job.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Thank you for taking the time to read this important message.
(A.P.D. Founder & Visionary)
Your diaper’s filled
With Lucy Juice
I see boogers
In your nose.
Wipes his nose
In doing so
He dirties his Clothes
Than to wipe his nose
Upon his clothes
But he does so anyway
In the glow
Of the pale moonlight-
A prowling cat,
Sleek and fat,
Is stalking through the night.
By edge of field,
In and out of light,
Soft and silent,
Swift and violent
Stalking through the night.
* * *
"A cat on the prowl
Is prey to the owl"
(or coyote in Molly's case)
* * *
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience, and it will prove good material for your blog."
How cool would it be if after each portion of scripture in our Bibles there was a comment button. Paul would be all like "Sweet book James! Truly this was divinely inspired! Continue to dominate!" (Were they even contemporaries? I don't know, and I don't have time to research it.)
The real Job 12:19 was "He leads priests away stripped and opverthrows men long established."
Sarah wins this round by being the only participant to guess the correct verse, and also because Steve guessed her fake verse.
Verse A belonged to Sarah
Verse B was the real Job 12:19 (obviously!)
Verse C belonged to Job
Verse D belonged to Chloe
Verse E belonged to Steve
Who will host the next round?
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Three cheers for baby Obadiah!
Now I must start scheming on how I will get back to the 802 to see the wee little man-child.
"My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unfomred body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139: 15 & 16
Please note that I broke the story before "Rocket Surgery."
So here they are:
A. Job 12:19 "Why should I seek the shade only to have my covering ripped away. The sun will seek me out and I can not hide from it."
B. Job 12:19 "He leads priests away stripped and overthrows men long established."
C. Job 12:19 "And as such, as a lion's roar comes from its belly,the wrath of God comes from the heavens itself."
D. Job 12:19 "He takes gold from kings and offers beggars this present. He makes his enemies become his friends."
E. Job 12:19 "Let him tear his clothes and cover himself with ashes in that day."
P.S. I will be posting the different Job 12:19's later in the day. I have a lot of work to do around the camp today. Adam and Eve didn't do us any favors.
Monday, April 24, 2006
This afternoon Sarah and I took Bowden and Lucy for a walk into town. This time of year the weather is just perfect here in Idyllwild. It felt good to get away from the camp and stretch our legs a little. It's spring here and the air is flavored with pine. In town, we walked in and out of the shops like tourists. The shops up here mostly carry wares that are priced way beyond our meager budget, but we enjoyed looking at all the things the clever artists and craftsmen had manufactured for persons richer than we. It's like a poor man's museum. Most of the shops sell art to weekend tourists up from the desert and other places. Pottery, paintings, handbound books, woodworking, handblown glass, sculptures, etc... Sarah and I get endless enjoyment from discussing which ones we like and which ones we don't. We also like to talk about where we would put the various pieces of art in our house if we had the means to buy them (Frankly, even if the Lord saw fit to trust me with millions I couldn't justify spending a penny of it on such ostentatious stuff, but it is fun to look at and critique it like we are a pair of sophisticates). I think we enjoy disagreeing more than agreeing because it leads to more spirited conversation. "What! You really like that?" Of course, Bowden is a concern in establishments such as these. He's a rather grabby little boy, and many of these fragile and expensive items are on display at his eye level. So Sarah and I watch him like a hawk. One lapse on our part could leave us the owners of a damaged work of art, and put us thousands of dollars in debt. "You break it you buy it!"
We stopped into one store which deals in minerals, stones, fossils and such and marveled at an IMMENSE skeleton of a prehistoric cave bear, which was on display there. The owner had recently traveled to Russia to acquire the skeleton, which was authentic. The size of the thing! It towered over us, and it's immense head with gaping jaws nearly touched the ceiling. Of course, it cost more than I make in a year, which is to say it was very reasonably priced. The owner had to take a special class in order to acquire it. It is impossible to ship an intact skeleton so he had to learn how to reassemble it correctly. Once it arrived in Idyllwild he was able to reassemble it. It made my hair stand up when I touched the tip of it's claw, and thought about how in another place, years and years ago, it would have meant certain death to be anywhere near those claws. It was very impressive, and I'm sure it will make a very interesting conversation piece in someone's home. I'm just glad they're extinct.
After leaving the Cave Bear, we went to a coffee shop and ordered two steamed milks. While they were preparing our steamed milks Sarah and I both realized that we had no means of paying for the drinks as she had left her purse at home and I had left my wallet there as well. So I ran home (literally) grabbed the purse and wallet, and then began a frantic, yet unproductive, search for our car keys. Finally I gave up, changed into my running shoes, and hoofed it back to the coffee shop. Somehow a hot steamed milk is less appealing after runnning about a mile and a half. I may be fat, but this chubby little boy can move!
After leaving the coffee shop we started walking towards the Post office to check our mail. This route took us past the Idyllwild Inn, which our friends Josh and Emily White own. We stopped in and talked with them for a while before moseying on. At the post office we found that I had recieved a letter from my Dad, which reads as follows:
Here's one entry in the 'rhyme with licorice' challenge. While "fish" and "licorice" may not technically rhyme, they nearly rhyme enough to mostly trick the ear.
Happy As a Kid in the Candy Shop
"Black Jack gum, a tootsie pop,"
I told the man in the candy shop,
"Atomic Balls, a charelston chew,
And chocolate-covered raisins too;
A quarter lb. of swedish fish,
of cinnamon hearts and licorice.
I've lots of coins 'cause just today
I turned thirteen and got an 'A';
I mowed a lawn and lost a tooth-
Oh yes!, and please a Baby Ruth,"
I love it! That's definately going in my book! I can't explain why, I just really love children's verse. I like reading it, writing it, and sharing it with my kids. It's just so much fun. Thanks Dad! The picture above is of me reading Dad's poem to Bowden on the bench outside the post office.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Okay... so here goes. I'm closing my eyes, opening my bible, and ... oh that's no good!
Let's try again.
Okay, one more shot.
We've got a winner!
The Bible verse in question is Job 12:19
No Peeking! For a version let's all assume the NIV.
Have all of your fake Job 12:19's to me by Midnight (EST) on Monday.
Saturday, April 22, 2006
I bought this boat after I graduated from college. Sarah and I (we were engaged at the time) drove over to a marina on Lake Bomoseen, bought the boat, and then lashed it to the top of my Grandma McCuen's buick Century. We nearly lost it on the side of Rt. 22A when one of the boards it was resting on shifted, and then once again as we turned off of the main road into Benson. It was a relief when we finally unloaded it and slid it down the hill to Lake Champlain. I am pining for Vermont this morning.
Friday, April 21, 2006
9. Your pine cone needs will definitely be met.
8. We’ll cry if you don’t.
7. You’ll get to spend quality time with nature- especially mosquitoes
6. You’ll make lots of new friends- comparing mosquito bites
5. Thought you’d heard every version of the story of dead man’s cave? Well, think again.
4. It’s like survivor only nobody gets voted off.
3. Learn important things like integrity, self-discipline, and gopher-killing.
2. You can buy jeans from American Eagle that are pre-torn and splattered with paint or you can do it yourself on staff.
1. All the pine cones you can eat!
The lodge typically measures 7-8 inches at its base, and stands approximately 5-6 inches talls. The size of the lodge is dictated by the size of the shell that can be found for its roof.
Summer lodges are not permanent structures, and must be abandoned at the end of each season. That is why sometimes you will find a mussel shell lying on the forest floor far removed from the lake. The lodges wooden supports have long since rotted out, and the shell has fallen to the ground.
A summer lodge is generally occupied by a single family, and quite often stands alone wherever its builder’s whimsy led him to build it. Sometimes however a small cluster of lodges will stand together. The lodge will serve as a Widjiwat’s base of operations during the warmer months.
When the air turns cold Widjiwats begin settling into their winter digs, which are called Ficks. Unlike their summer lodges, Ficks are more permanent, and many have existed for hundreds of years. They are also much larger and can accommodate hundreds of families. Being nearly six feet tall and two-hundred pounds I have never seen the inside of a Fick myself, but I am told that they are built on a grand and marvelous scale.
Entrance to a Fick is gained through hidden doorways. Once inside, shafts descend 5-6 feet down below the frost line where they connect to the Fick. The Fick itself consists of a warren-like series of subterranean passageways, chambers, and store roome.
Each successive generation of Widjiwats add and improve upon the Fick, and many are adorned with ornately carved doors and wall panels, floors of polished mussel shell, elaborate tapestries, etc… A Widjiwat takes great pride in his home Fick. As a matter of fact when two Widjiwats meet for the first time they typically introduce themselves by giving their name and the Fick that they hail from. For example “I’m Dobwin from Dundarfick.”
For a Widjiwat every winter is like a big family reunion. The long winter is passed swapping stories, feasting, and gaming. Weddings are usually held during the winter, and most Widjiwat holidays fall during the cold season as well.
There is always work to be done, and an industrious Widjiwat will make good use of the long winter underground. Tools, which were damaged during the preceding summer must be repaired, and everything from bird saddles to fishing nets must be manufactured.
In addition to the Fick and the summer lodge A Widjiwat may occasionally seek shelter in an abandoned bird’s nest, hollow log, or under a rock. These will do in a pinch, but to live in such a shelter for an extended amount of time is generally considered Griftish.
The view from atop the roof of my folks' house looking south toward Putnam Station New York. "The pitch of the roof is not so steep- yet steep enough I dare not sleep." Jarudet
The view from some cliffs north of the house looking south. "The lake is green and blue, and kind of brown in places too." Jarudet
The road into my folks' house. "A journey is only pleasurable when you have someone to return to. Half the pleasure in venturing out lies in returning to those who love you." Jarudet
Okay, part of my job as Assistant Director at Camp Maranatha is staffing the kitchen. We have kind of a patchwork payroll consisting of volunteers and part time employees. During the Fall, Winter, and Spring we host guest groups primarily on the weekend. However, every once in a while we have a weeklong college intervarsity group. This poses a perfect storm of staffing problems for me. The older saints who form the backbone of my schedule have a hard time working 3 meals a day for 7 consecutive days because of various medical conditions, family obligations, doctor appointments, their grandkids are coming to town, and so on... Also the teenagers and college students from the local churches who are equally important to my staffing needs are still in school so I can't lean on them at all. I am always able to somehow patch together a rag tag schedule every weekend, but the prospect of filling an entire week is kind of scary and I would say impossible if I didn't know that all things are possible through Christ (Happy Hank just told me so).
So I am sending out a Hail Mary appeal to all Christian Servants who read this and feel the tug of the spririt directing you to Camp Maranatha for the week May 15-21, 2006. No experience necessary. We can't pay you much (or possibly anything at all), but Sarah and I will provide the entertainment in the evenings, and the camp will provide meals and lodging.
I'm not joking! I'm serious!
In His Service, Josh Tate
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Here she is (in the center) with her imasginary band "Sepulveda". She is flanked by her best friend Lisa (left) and her sister Rosie (right). There are a lot of things I love about Sarah, but I don't love her "if," "because," or "as long as" - I just do.
Here is a short list of things I love about Sarah-
She loves the Lord
She loves our kids
She loves me
She loves her extended family (which includes her family in Christ)
Here is a short list of things I like about Sarah-
She has a nice laugh
She doesn't mind being poor
She thought our marriage counselor was "ridiculous" when he tried to talk us out of getting married. (It'll be five years in June Dr. Lastoria. Take that!)
She buys me canned beets even though the very smell of them makes her kind of nauseous
She wants the Lord's will for our family more than anything else because she knows that true joy and satisfaction can only come from a life lived pleasing God and in sync with his will.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
A few weeks ago Misserose authored a post on her blog wherein she layed out some very interesting facts about our sense of smell. I have always been fascinated by how closely our sense of smell is tied to memory. I think it is probably the closest we will ever come to time travel. While I was at the beach I went for a walk late on night along the ocean. As I was walkin I caught the faint odor of marijuana on the wind. I looked around, but didn't see anyone. It must have drifted from the dunes or from one of the houses that line the beach front. It is so strange that the odor of marijuana holds pleasant associations for me from my days in St Albans. I have to admit that I miss my old job sometimes, but I do not miss that awful patch. What is up with the Canadian leaf and that cartoonish looking train. It isn't apparent from this picture but the blue background was actually kind of a pale pastel. It was a very sassy patch.
Sarah and Bowden were still sleeping, so I quietly pulled on my clothes and laced up my boots in the dark. I get a thrill out of being the first person to walk through a virgin blanket of snow. I get the same feeling when I dip a knife into the uniform surface of a new jar of peanut butter, or when I lob a rock into the still surface of a placid pond.
I slipped downstairs, avoiding the third stair- the one that creaks- and stepped out into the hush of early dawn. I enjoyed the “scrunch-scrunch” of my boots as I walked through the snow and admired the way snow softens and rounds every surface. Every tree was drooping and heavy-laden with the stuff. The two little trees by the shuffleboard court were doubled over under the weight of the snow so that they looked more horizontal than vertical.
After meandering my way through the camp I came to the stream, which was gurgling and splashing its way down the mountain. I thought about how the stream would change in a couple of days when the snow melts. Then it would be a roaring and rushing thing, but this morning it was calmly picking its way between the rocks.
I walked along the stream for a while taking note of the different animal tracks, which crissed-crossed my own. Deer, coyotes, and rabbits had all passed that way before me. I decided to follow a set of deer tracks, which turned to the left and set off up the hillside. I had wanted to see the view from the ridge above and I had read that wild animals usually follow the path of least resistance. I hoped that was correct as I looked up at the steep rugged hillside. After squirming my way through manzanita bushes, and clambering over several fallen trees I decided that the deer did not have my best interests at heart. At one point a squirrel, scurrying along a branch, caused a shower of heavy wet snow to rain down on my head. I was beginning to think that the forest creatures were having a little fun at my expense, so I decided to quit the deer’s trail and strike out on my own.
I walked for about another ten minutes through the snowy woods before I emerged at a spot where the trees cleared and there was a truly incredible view of the mountains. The slope, which I had just climbed, dropped away below me and rose again on the other side of the stream. In the distance rose the peaks of Mt. Tahquitz and Mt. San Jacinto. In the light of early morning the mountains were covered in a sparkling blanket of white.
I was reminded of Isaiah 44:22-23, which reads, “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing for joy, O heavens, for the Lord has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath. Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the Lord has redeemed Jacob, He displays His glory in Israel.” It seemed to me that the Lord’s glory was on full display this morning in these mountains. What a wonderful and gracious God we serve! As I walked back home, retracing my steps down the slope and along the stream, I joined with the mountains, and forest in singing His praises. “This is my Father’s world; And to my listening ears, All nature sings, and round me rings The music of the spheres.” Lord, I am so grateful for the beauty of your creation, and thankful beyond words to be numbered among the redeemed.
Monday, April 17, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
Saturday, April 15, 2006
maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord:
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
He is Risen!
One last question before I go...
If you could only eat for a half hour each day when would you schedule your eating time? I would eat at 11 am.
and one last poem for those of you who enjoy them (but never comment)...
The old tree was there before the town-
When forest stretched for miles around
And moccasined feet traversed the ground.
Before the farmers and lumberjacks
Came out this way with saw and ax
To harvest the woods and clear their tracts
The old tree was there.
It is dying now beside the way.
When will it fall? I cannot say.
But it will fall down, for sure, some day.
Perhaps it will fall by weight of snow
Or maybe the wind will lay it low
More likely an ax will deal the blow
For it is dying now.
They say it’s a hazard to passersby
With its rotting mass sixty feet high-
Gravity laden against the sky.
I’m sentimental about that tree-
More sentimental than I should be,
And my neighbors say they all agree
For it’s a hazard.
“You should cut it down, remove it so
It won’t block the road or worse you know
It could fall on someone passing below”.
But they’re respecters of other’s lands
And on my side of the fence it stands
So the job must fall to my own hands.
I should cut it down.
I should cut it down. It’s true I should,
And chop it up for firewood.
They’d be relieved if I would.
For many times they’ve quickened their pace
As they were passing by that place
With it’s heavy shadow on their face.
I should cut it down.
Our forefathers left the job undone.
Of those ancient trees they left just one
And I should finish the work they had begun.
Yet, at the thought, I hesitate.
Some voice within me urges debate,
But in the end I simply restate
I should cut it down
The old tree was there since long before
Even the pilgrims stepped ashore
Maybe four-hundred years or more,
But I will finish the job.
Have a joyous and victorious Easter! He is risen!
Saturday, April 08, 2006
In the beginning when the land was new there lived a Grift named Skookum. Even for a Grift, Skookum was exceptionally homely, and it is generally accepted that he was one of the most repulsive creatures that ever lived. He had breath so fowl it could wither a flower, curl your hair, or even make your hair fall out all together. His own hair grew in rank scraggly patches, and his few remaining teeth were crooked and yellow. His pale splotchy skin hung loosely over his bones as if it had been tailored for a larger body, and it sagged in loose rolls around his joints, midsection, and jowls. His nose was perpetually runny, and the sleeve of his left arm, which he favored, was hardened stiff as bark with dried snot. The rest of his shirt, and his pants too for that matter were badly stained and tattered. He was hunch backed. His arms hung below his knees, and he walked with a pronounced limp due to the fact that one of his long spidery legs was shorter than the other.
Skookum did not even have the benefit of a kind spirit or warm personality to offset his repulsive appearance. His watery bloodshot eyes shined with a feverish intensity, and revealed a soul full of malice and mischief. By all accounts Skookum was mean, shifty, lazy, self-interested, conniving, and like all Grift he was easily offendedand tended to hold grudges.
All this combined to make Skookum something of a celebrity and chief among his Griftish kin who celebrated such things, but to the Widjiwats and all other prudent creatures, he was something terrible to be avoided.
Skookum made his home in a soggy depression overgrown with skunk cabbage and fiddlehead. He had found there an old rotten log, the remains of a birch tree, which had long since crashed to the forest floor and gone to rot. He had pulled and hacked at the decaying log’s soft spongy flesh till he had created a cavity roughly the size of an apple. This dark damp hole was Skookum’s home.
It was his habit to begin the day by scouring the nearby lakeshore for fish, which had washed up during the night. If he was lucky enough to find a fish before the sea gulls and beetles did it would make a nice breakfast. He especially enjoyed the eyeballs.
One morning Skookum emerged from his home, and began making his way toward the lake. As he walked the grass and weeds wilted and shriveled away from his offensive breath like snowflakes on a hot stone. Jarudet once told me that the grass of the field parted before Skookum’s breath like the Red Sea parted before Moses and the Israelites.
As Skookum walked he could hear the sound of ants laughing. Now I can’t claim to have ever heard ant laughter myself because it is a sound too subtle for a Dindi’s ears, but Jarudet tells me that it sounds very much like ice cubes tinkling against the sides of a glass.
In those days ants had beautiful wings like butterflies. In fact, the ants we know today are really just butterflies without wings. At one time they were the smallest of the butterflies and they possessed a delicate twinkling beauty. If you had seen a meadow full of them you would have thought God had shattered a rainbow causing its tiny fragments to lightly settle to the earth.
It will probably never be known what the ants were laughing about that day, but Skookum, being a Grift, convinced himself that they were laughing at him on account of his appearance. Every day as he walked to and from the lake he heard the faint tinkle of ant laughter filtering through the forest and along the meadows. With every giggle and snicker. Skookum became angrier and angrier. The wheels in his evil mind began turning and he hatched a plan to get even with the ants.
One morning as Skookum was limping along he came upon a group of ants admiring their reflections in a puddle. He walked up to them and announced in his most pleasant voice (a stretch for Skookum) that he was going to throw a party in their honor. In his words it was to be a “celebration of beauty”. All the animals would be invited, and it was to be held in a clearing deep in the forest. The ants, of course, were delighted with the suggestion, and felt that it was high time they be recognized. So Skookum went back to his home and began making preparations for the party.
All that week the ants busily prepared themselves as well. They practiced their speeches, and were very careful not to get any dust on their wings. Finally the day of the party arrived. It was a sight to behold as the ants took to the air and flew towards the party. As if a great dazzling and sparkling cloud, all aswirl in color and brilliance, had taken shape, and was passing overhead like so much fairy dust.
However, when they got to the party they were disappointed to see that no guests had yet arrived. The meadow was festooned with banners, ribbons, and all the trapping of a party. Food and bowls of nectar were carefully laid out as if in anticipation of the arrival of guests, but not one creature could be seen in the meadow save Skookum.
The ants sounded disappointed as they asked Skookum why there were no guests at the party. He did his best to look perplexed and said “I don’t know. I personally invited all the animals I could find, and told them the exact time and location of the party. I simply don’t know why no one is here. Except, perhaps, they may not think your beauty is exceptional enough to celebrate.” Well, with that, the ants all began to protest, saying that they were the most beautiful creatures in the forest, and that there was no creature anywhere that could rival their beauty. Skookum then responded, “Oh, I quite agree. As a matter of fact I think the creatures of this forest are beginning to take your beauty for granted. Imagine if for one day they were not reminded of your beauty. Why, I bet then they would say ‘where are those ants that used to cheer our day with their beauty and charm?’ Oh yes, the creatures of this forest are some of the most ungrateful that I have ever known, and if you ask me I think you should give them exactly what they deserve.” “And what is that?” asked the ants. “Why take them off of course” responded Skookum. “I’m sure that once you take off your wings they will be reminded of just how drab their miserable lives are without your beauty, and they will beg you to put them back on. That’ll teach them to take you for granted. In the meantime I would be happy to hang onto them for safekeeping if you wish.” The ants complimented Skookum on yet another good idea and agreed to leave their wings with him.
After a few days the ants, which now resembled the ants we know today, returned and asked Skookum for their wings back. An evil smirk spread across Skookum’s face as he hissed his response;
You thought yourselves so pretty-
So much better than uglier things.
I heard you laughing behind my back
While you hid behind your wings-
Well, I’ve pounded them to dust,
And now you’ll always feel their lack.
From now on it is I who will laugh
At your retreating back.
Skookum had pounded the ants’ wings to dust and had cast them over the land from the back of a goose. This is why you will sometimes see a glint and shimmer in the dirt along streams or in a farmers field. It is the dust of thousands of ant wings, which were carried by the wind and streams and deposited wherever the currents took them.
The ants protested and denied ever making fun of Skookum’s appearance. They pleaded with him to return their wings, but the deed was done, and even if he had wanted to, Skookum could not have returned them. Without saying another word, Skookum slinked off and returned to his damp pungent home in the rotten birch log. To this day ants are without their beautiful wings, and Jarudet tells me that the sound of ant laughter has been seldom heard since that time.
In the beginning when the land was new
There lived a Grift named Skookum.
It’s because of him ants have no wings
Because, you see, he took ‘em.
* * *
“It’s true that I’m repulsive
On both sides of my skin
But these are the cards, which I’ve been dealt,
And with them I will win.”
Friday, April 07, 2006
A well-spoken Widjiwat will also speak in rhyme on momentous occasions or when conveying ideas of great significance or importance. It would be unthinkable to propose marriage or announce a baby’s birth in plain language. Likewise, Widjiwat sermons and speeches are laced with poetry, and their prayers always rhyme. To do otherwise would demonstrate a blasphemous lack of respect for God.
I don’t believe it is difficult for Widjiwats to speak in rhyme as their minds are infinitely more agile in this area than our own. However, my sluggish Dindi* mind prohibits me from keeping up with their quick little tongues in conversation. On a few occasions I have prepared clumsy little poems for special events or when making a formal request of Burden Jarudet. These poems were generally well received, but they good-naturedly permit to speak in plain language on all other occasions without offense.
*Dindi is the Widjiwat word for a big person
The trash bag, which I had been hefting, was one of those 60-gallon monsters that service the camp’s kitchen. It had been ensconced amongst its slimy brethren in the mysterious depths of the camp’s trash trailer for nearly two weeks. From experience I knew that when you are tossing a bag of that size you must muster all of your strength. Then in one smooth motion pull it from its berth and hurl it towards the dumpster. This is the best way to minimize contact with the bag, and gain sufficient momentum to carry it all the way to its destination. This I have learned over the course of many successful dump runs, and I had executed exactly the same maneuver on many occasions without incident. But this time was different, for when I pulled the bag from its slimy dripping nest the jagged end of a broken broom handle caught against it- gutting it like a fish. The bunched muscles in my arms, back, chest, and thighs had already committed to the throw, and with all of my strength I brought the compromised bag up to chest level. At that very moment the coffee filters and spaghetti, which a moment ago had been pressed against the opaque inner lining of the trash bag, spilled forth. The space within the trailer was too cramped and mobility too constricted to avoid being covered with the stuff.
I was in a dark mood as I finished unloading the trash trailer. I couldn’t escape the sickly sweet trash smell, which had soaked into my clothes. I thought about all the people who had so carelessly thrown things into that trash bag, and I secretly blamed them for what had happened. It didn’t make sense, I know, but I did it anyway.
On the drive home the smell emanating from my sweatshirt, which was wadded up on the passenger side floorboards, forced me to roll down my window. As the road climbed it’s way towards town and back to camp the Lord reminded me of Romans 5:8 which says “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us”, and also 1st John 2:1-2 which says “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
I thought about how God came down into the trash trailer of this world and willingly and intentionally took my sins upon Himself. The whole stinking mess of my life, which if it were written out on the pages of this newsletter, would cause me to slink off in shame and never be heard from again. I thought of all those secret shameful things. All the harm I’ve inflicted on others. All those evil thoughts I harbored and acted upon. All of it spilling forth from my life like a ruptured trash bag, and running over Christ. Him stinking of me. Stinking of my sin. Not only my sin however, but the sin of the whole world. The whole landfill! And He didn’t do it because it was His job, or because He had to. No, He did it because He loved us. He loved us even though we were oozing putrid sacks of sin. He didn’t try to minimize contact with us either, but came down among us. He clutched us to Him in a loving embrace, and became trash in our place. What a God we serve!
Lord, I am so unworthy of your sacrifice on the cross, and I am amazed that you love me. I owe you everything, and I offer you the meager sum of who I am. Take me Lord and use me. It is my greatest desire to serve you, and there is even satisfaction in getting dirty in your service.
If you had to choose between wearing flip-flop sandals or heavy winter boots for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
And a bonus question of the day because the above question was kind of lame. If you could only use one eating utensil for the rest of your life would you choose the spoon, the fork, or the knife?
I choose winter boots and spoon.
10. Pink Eye (I gots to rub it.)
9. The welt left after a bee sting
8. pushing on a bruise
7. the feel of a rug burn rubbing against my trousers
6. When I use a muscle that hasn't been used in a while
5. slight to mild sun burns (I don't like severe sun burns)
4. The pressure in your ears (and they just won't pop) from flying, or driving up and down a mountain. (I also like when water gets stuick in your ear after swimming.)
3. canker sores (or as my Grandma called them- "Gum Boils")
2. slight skin abrasions and cuts. ( I don't like being cut anymore than I enjoy being stung by a bee, but the sore (society's word not mine) left afterward is what I enjoy. Mercy mixed with punishment.)
1. Athletes Foot (My Favorite)
In college I worked hard to develop a new strain of Athletes Foot. I would still be infected (Also society's word) were it not for my wife who said "It's me or the fungus!" I relapsed a few times over the course of our marriage, but Sarah always found me out. Once she surpirsed me as I was using a sock like a piece of dental floss between my toes. It felt sooooo good. Another time she came to me with tears in her eyes, and told me that the skin between her toes was cracking. She demanded to look at my toes, and when she saw the evidence she went straight to the pharmacy. She returned with a nightmarish assortment of treatments and topical medicines. For weeks she administered a shock and awe campaign against my fungal friends, and I am sad to report that they perished. I have been clean (Sarah's word not mine) for almost two years.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
As I walked into the room, my 8 month old daughter, Lucy, was sitting on the floor giggling uncontrollably. Lucy drools when she laughs, and I watched as a shiny pearl gathered on her lower lip before dropping to a soggy spot on her shirt. She was laughing at my two year old son, Bowden, who was rolling around on the ground yelling “Pookie-Pookie!” over and over again. “Bowden is such a ham”, I thought to myself, as I watched the spectacle from the doorway. Bowden loves making Lucy laugh, and it was obvious that he was enjoying himself. He was growing louder and wilder in a bid to keep Lucy laughing, but despite his best efforts, Lucy’s attention was returning to her toys. In one last desperate attempt to keep the good times rolling, Bowden grabbed “Happy Hank”, a stuffed dog who shares encouraging words from the Bible when you press on his stomach, and hurled him across the room. I watched as Happy Hank sailed over Lucy’s head and landed face first against the dresser. As he landed, Happy Hank declared “Give thanks to God for everything!” I had to laugh myself at the irony of that. Lucy also rewarded Bowden by laughing and slapping the ground. Bowden, seeing that he had his Dad and Sister in stitches, proceeded to abuse Happy Hank with greater savagery. He jumped-on, kicked, and squeezed him, and all the while Happy Hank responded with “Smile, God loves you!”, “Praise the Lord!”, “Let your light shine for Jesus!”, or one of fifteen other prerecorded sayings.
The scene reminded me of something that the missionary, Amy Carmichael, once said; “a cup of sweet water cannot spill one drop of bitter water- no matter how suddenly jolted.” James 3:10-12 puts it this way; “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.”
Just as is the case with Happy Hank, sometimes our true programming is revealed in the midst of a trial. I want to respond like Happy Hank, but I confess that all too often when the world jumps-on, kicks and squeezes me with the vigor of a two year old I respond in ways that are not pleasing to God. I respond in like fashion. When the bills pile up, when people talk behind my back, when catastrophe and injustice knock on my door- it is during these times that my true programming rises to the surface, and I don’t always like what I see. I am sick of conforming to the patterns of this world. I want to be like Happy Hank. God, transform me, renew my mind through the study of your word, speak to me in the quiet places of my heart, please show me your good, and acceptable, and perfect will (Romans 12:2). Lord, help me to be more like you.
If you were selected by invading alien overlords to choose an additional place on the human body where longish hair would grow- which region of the body would you choose? Current locations are head, underarm, and groin- where else could you see longish hair being acceptable or possibly even attractive. I think a nice fuzzy thatch on the back of the hands would be kind of nice.
A bird for whom I feel no small affinity.
For when it comes to size a smaller bird is hard to find,
But the chickadee is bolder than most any other kind.
* * *
A stray hair fell from off your head,
And, in the garden, came to rest.
A cardinal picked it up and said
“I will use this to build my nest.”
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
And a small town flirt
Walkin’ down the street-
Feet slappin’ in the dirt-
And a store-bought skirt
* * *
How are things with your sweetheart?
Smooth as ice and twice as nice!
And how are things with her Mother?
Not so bad. The trouble’s Dad.
And what’s the trouble with him?
He’s not sure my motives are pure.
And how will you convince him?
I’ll treat her well and time will tell.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
It was a good day. Check out the Rocket Surgeon as my best man! God is good! I'm sorry for posting so many pictures today. You'd think I just learned how or something. Job- Sarah has some videos of the kids on her digital camera. Do you know how to post a video like that on here?