Saturday, May 31, 2008


On Thursday, while everyone else was napping, Bowden and I went on a bit of an explore. Keeping a sharp eye out for rattlesnakes we crossed Hurkey Creek (jumping from stone to stone) and scrambled up a steep hill. The view from the top with Garner Valley spreading out in front of us, was worth the climb.

Bowden wanted to photograph all of the different flowers we saw on our hike.
There were yellow ones...
white ones...
red ones...
sort of creamy colored ones...
and purple ones...
I didn't know that Lupines smelled so good.
Sarah took a bunch more pictures from our camping adventure with the Whites so you will have to keep checking in on PotentTates for more.


The Tates love Lisa!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Meet Tom Ping.


Kick settled into the familar business of fishing. He was a man of well traveled paths. There was seldom anyting about Kick that would strike you as new or different. He always wore the same tired clothes, and if they gave out he replaced them with similar ones. He always talked about the same things, watched the same TV shows, and meal after meal he ate the same foods. It seemed that in every facet of life he had long since settled into a well worn rut, a predictable channel.

His mind was no different. Criss-crossing his mind were the same old paths that had been there for years. Fishing, the shop, money, girls... the woods between paths were untrammeled, unexplored. There had been other paths when Kick was a child, but those had long since been swallowed up, reclaimed by the forest of a clouded mind. Only the faintest trace of them remained.

Through reptition, the mechanics of fishing came as naturally to Kick as lifting a spoon. It was not an activity that he needed to think about as he did it, and, as he fished, his mind wandered down the old path of lust and longing. Jenny was a new flower that had bloomed along that path, but to be sure it was the same old path. There had been other girls before Jenny.

All paths should have a destination, but Kick's ran in a loop, doubling back, and covering the same ground over and over again without ever going anywhere or accomplishing anything. Paths which should have served to access marvelous things had become an end to themselves, a mind numbing and tedious circle, bringing him within sight of things that he never actually experienced.

Sometimes it takes something wildly unexpected, something totally out of left field, to chase a man off of his established paths, and into the forest. As Kick reeled in his line for the last time that day he had no idea that just such a thing was about to happen to him- something brand new.
Here are some thought of mine on evangelism, which made their original appearance on the blog for the North Chittenden Wesleyan Church, where my Brother Joel is the pastor.

I have been thinking a lot about evangelism recently. I am most comfortable, personally, with the sort of evangelism that proposes marriage. I think that when Christ calls a person to himself it is nothing short of a marriage proposal, and like most relationships it begins with an introduction, which morphs into a time of pursuit, and, when the time is right the proposal is made.

I wonder if the church does Christ a disservice when they approach unbelievers, invoke the horrors of hell, and then offer Christ as a means of escape. Wouldn't that be the equivalent of walking up to Sarah, whipping out a shotgun and saying "marry me in Vegas or you're dead.' She might go with me. She might mumble "yes," but her heart would not be mine, and isn't that what Christ wants- our hearts. Too many evangelists, in my opinion, are in the business of this sort of evangelism. I see it all the time at Camp.

I watched a documentary recently which told the story of a volcanic eruption on a small caribbean island. The island's government had been monitoring the volcano with the help of a team of foreign scientists, and when they became convinced that the volcano was about to to blow they went to the airwaves warning the islanders. At first most heeded the warnings and fled to safety, but as days turned into weeks and the volcano didn't erupt they began slowly trickling back to their homes and farms. When the volcano finally did erupt many perished as the pyroclastic flows raced down the side of the mountain and filled the valleys.

I once saw Billy Graham during a televised crusade tell the audience of thousands "You're gonna live forever the only question is where." It seemed to me that a great many people went forward following that chilling piece of information, and I wonder all these years later how many of those villagers have trickled back to their homes and farms.

Some may say,"...but I came to know the Lord that way." I would answer such a person by pointing out that by God's grace, such conversions are used as a beginning, but that doesn't justify them. There is something healthier and closer to God's heart.

Of course, we should always be honest and unashamed about the consequences of rejecting Christ, but invoking hell as a means of evangelism strikes me as lazy, and smacks of an attitude that goes something like "Christ doesn't actually sell- it's hell that brings them to their knees." It seems to me that many evangelists don't actually believe in the product they are selling, or maybe the problem is that they frame it that way- a product that needs selling. Christ sells himself.
Lord of the Starfields, Anient of Days
Universe Maker, Here's a Song in Your Praise
Voice of the Nova, Smile of the Dew
All of our yearning only comes home to You!
Oh Love that fires the sun, keep me burning.

Bruce Cockburn

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dear Bowden,

What should I do if I see Bigfoot in the woods?

Sincerely, Wondering

Dear Wondering,

Go home.



Friday, May 23, 2008


I took the recycling to the dump today. It probably could have waited, but due to the recent rain we've received the cardboard was getting soggy, and I thought it would be a good idea to get rid of it before it liquified entirely. So I hooked up the trailer, threw some bags of plastic and tin on top of the cardboard, and drove to the dump. they have two big containers there reserved for recyclable material. One of them is strickly for cardboard and the other one is neatly labeled "MIXED RECYCLING." I took my bags of plastic and tin in both hands and headed over to the container for mixed recyclables.

As I neared the dumpster I noticed a large stack of discarded magazines just inside. I am always on the lookout for cool (free) stuff at the dump, and I was curious what sort of magazines they were. I'm a believer in the old saying, "One man's trash is another's treasure." After throwing my bags noisily against the metal back of the dumpster I walked over to inspect the magazines. Initially, I couldn't make out what they were, but as I picked one up and flipped it over I found myself face to face with a Playboy.

Oh, the ancient siren song of naked ladies! Like David on his rooftop I gazed down at the magazine in my hands. I looked right. I looked left. Nobody around. I looked back down at the magazine and beyond it at the discarded stack. I felt a stirring in the pit of my stomach...something truly indescribable. My mouth went dry and my heart quickened. I could never bring myself to walk into a store and buy porn, but here was a whole stack of it promising anonymity. Nobody would know. Just open it- look inside- take it home and hide it. I felt like an animal.

Like Gollum, I stood holding my "precious"- utterly torn between the flesh and the spirit- my mind a cloudy mess- ambushed.

Somehow, the Spirit clawed His way to the surface of my mind, and allowed me a moment of lucidity wherein I sensed the peril of my position. I felt the weight of God's conviction pressing me down. I tried to suppress it, to tune Him out, but He woud not be denied, He would not be mocked. I could not do this wicked thing and feel right with God. Years ago I had purposed in my heart not to entertain the view of Bathsheba again- not to linger on the rooftop.

I set the magazine down, turned, and walked numbly back to the trailer. I unloaded the soggy cardboard, got back in the Explorer, and drove away.

As I drove home I thought about my kids. What kind of men did I want Bowden and Jack to grow up to be? ...and how could I impart to them what is not patterned in my life? I must be the man I want them to be. I must be the man I want Lucy to marry.
Earlier today, while I was walking up to the tabernacle, I saw three deer in the bottom of the gully pulling on the grass down there- Two bucks with velvet stubby antlers and a doe. Before I could snap a good picture they bounded off up the hillside. The picture below is the only one I got.

I gave chase in the hopes of getting a better picture, but I only succeeded in some blurry shots that aren't worth posting. The deer didn't want anything to do with me. I enjoyed the walk back down through the drip-droppy woods. I love days like this.

Unbelievably, they are calling for a possibility of snow tonight.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dear Bowden,

What do you do when you have to do something that makes you scared?

Sincerely, Scared

Dear Scared,

Just try it. One time when I was at my friend Jordan's house he had this slide thing that went down into some water, and I was scared, but I did it and it was soooo much fun. Just try it.




Steve Maxon is considering a visit to the Western Tates in July (possibly).



These two dust bunnies rolled out from under our fridge, and due to laziness we allowed them to grow, and now they are just taking over. They are cute though.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008


What percentage of cell phone users have used their phones as a makeshift flashlight in the past week?

*bonus question of the day

What percentage of cell phone users experience "phantom vibrations" causing them to think their phone is vibrating even when their phones are not in their pockets?

Joel, the trees you planted in the north end are blooming beautifully.

I'm reminded of you every time I go up there.

Lisa, I have finished the schedule for this weekend, and you're not on it.

This is broken...

so I used this...

to make this,

and this.

Bowden helped.

Just when I am tempted to think I have accomplished something though- this humbles me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Gone Fishin' Bait & Tackle was a slightly dingy looking doublewide a couple of houses back from the boat access at Benson landing. There would have been little to identify the trailer as a place of business were it not for an old Pepsi machine set up on some cinder blocks to the right of the front door, and, of course, the weathered sign that hung from a post at the end of a loose gravel parking lot. The shop, as Kick called it, doubled as his home, with a few rooms in the back reserved as his living space.

The front two rooms, which comprised the shop, were crammed with fishing equipment of all sorts, and aquariums for live bait. The spaces on the walls which were not covered with displays and items for sale boasted dusty mounted fish and fading yellow photos of men with fish. A large cooler containing sodas and such hummed next to a counter and cash register at the far end of the largest room.

The shop did fairly well, owing largely to its proximity to the landing, but also due to Kick's encyclopedic knowledge of fishing. The other reason the shop did so well, was that Kick had diversified his business, which is to say that he also sold marijuana. A lot of the guys liked to smoke a little weed when they went out on the water, and it was just convenient for them to pick a little up at Gone Fishin' before putting in.

I can't stop doing the McCain wave.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dear Bowden,
I bought new pants for my husband but he won't wear them. What should I do?

Sincerely, Concerned Wife

Dear Concerned,

I guess just take 'em back.

Sincerely, Bowden

Sunday, May 18, 2008


My family called the East Hubbardton Battle Abbey our home church for several years in the nineties. The flock there was shepherded by an old Saint named Glen Bingham, who went home to be with the Lord within the past year.

Every Sunday, Glen would come in through the back door, clomp across the old wooden floor boards, and deposit his coat and hat on a table in the back, behind the last pew. The hat was the sort a siberian might wear, outlandishly furry with ear flaps tied up.

I'm not sure how the plan unfolded, but at some point my brothers and I hatched a plan to sneak a small figurine into one of the ear flaps while Glen was preaching, and see if it would make it back the next Sunday.

One Sunday I saw my chance while Glen was talking to one of the other congregants, and I tucked Dale inside one of the earflaps of Glen's hat. My brothers and I watched with curious glee as Glen put the hat on at the close of the service and clomped out of the church. "He doesn't seem to notice!"

All that week I wondered about Dale. "What if he puts the ear flaps down?"

But when the next Sunday rolled around, my brothers watched in rapt attention as I snaked my finger inside the warm furry ear flap and produced brave intrepid traveler. He made it!!!

That was the first of Dale's adventures. Over the years that followed I sent Dale on mission after mission. I duct taped him to the inside of people's bumpers. I hid him in the luggage of people going abroad. His fame grew over the years, and people would request his company when they went traveling. This post would be very long indeed if I attempted to recount all of Dale's incredible adventures.

Unfortunately, Dale is dead now. Tyler Rinker killed him.


...but only recently it has been discovered that Dale left a small piece of himself behind...Tom Ping is his son.

Coming soon... the adventures of Tom Ping.
Dear Bowden,

I'm soon to be a first time Grandmother. What is the best thing I can do for my grandchild?

Sincerely, Grandma-to-be

Dear Grandma-to-be,

Just take care of it.

Sincerely, Bowden

Friday, May 16, 2008

“The gods have given me almost everything, but I let myself be lured into long spells of senseless and sensual ease. Tired of being on the heights, I deliberately went to the depths in search of a new sensation. What paradox was to me in the sphere of thought, perversity became to me in the sphere of passion. I drew careless of the lives of other people. I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on. And I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character. And that therefore, what one has done in the secret chamber, one has someday to cry aloud from the housetop. I ceased to be Lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and I did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me, and I ended in horrible disgrace.”

Oscar Wilde
Dear Bowden,

I'm trying to decide where I should work this summer. Do you have any suggestions?

Future Unknown

Dear Future Unknown,

Maybe you should just cook. Maybe at the Red Kettle.

Sincerely, Bowden

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Kick opened a can of beer, took a drink, and set it down on a flat rock a few feet from the water. He knelt down on one knee as he fingered through the clutter of his tackle box looking for a surface lure that resembled a frog. He had experienced good luck with that a few days earlier and wanted to try it again. Finding it, he straightened up and carefully attached it to the end of his fishing line. Then, taking a few steps toward the lake, he sent the frog singing out over the water with an expert flick of the wrist. It landed neatly beyond a clump of reeds, and Kick let it sit for a few seconds before slowly reeling it in. Fishing was Kick’s great passion. It was Kick’s passion for fishing that led him to buy “Gone Fishin’ Bait & Tackle” from Jimmy Rich back in ’89 when he retired and moved to Florida.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dear Bowden,

"I find myself often feeling tired and sleepy. What can I do to get more energy?"

Sincerely, Tired in Tempe

Dear Tired,

"I don't know...just do it!!!"

Sincerely, Bowden

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dear Bowden,

I am considering purchasing a nice cook-set with non-stick surfaces and everything you would need to cook a healthy meal at home. Or, I could continue living off of frozen pizza, peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, ice cream and McDonalds. I am completely torn by this daunting decision! What would you recommend?

Sincerely, Daunted in Illinois

Dear Daunted,

I think...I think you should vote.

Sincerely, Bowden

Sunday, May 04, 2008


"Bloodroot's bloom, white as snow,
First sign of spring to show-
For the bloodroot, spring is coming,
But it is coming much to slow."
Jarudet the Widjiwat


I have selfishly been keeping all of my son, Bowden's, advice and sage counsel to myself these past couple of years. Despite the fact that he is only about to turn five, he really does give excellent advice on a wide range of topics. I have decided to share his wisdom with the rest of the world in a recurring post called, "Dear Bowden." If you are struggling with something or somebody, and you just need some advice send an e-mail to and type "Dear Bowden" into the subject line. Bowden will respond on Hutela AmaDundar. Your identity will be kept in the strictest confidence.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


Jenny Post smelled marijuana just moments before Kick stepped out of the woods and blinked at her in the harsh unfiltered light of the lake shore. The sun, unimpeded by gorgeous blue skies, reflected brightly off the lake. Both were surprised to find the other there in that isolated spot, and for an awkward moment they stared at each other without saying anything. Finally Jenny managed to say, “Hey there, Kick!” Instantly she regretted it. She recognized the man from town, and she knew that his friends called him “Kick,” but she didn’t know him very well at all. She felt it was poor form to call him by a nickname that was probably reserved for use by people who knew him better.

Jenny sized up Kick, looking for a response, but she got none. He just stared at her like a forest creature who had happened upon a hunter or maybe a hunter who had happened upon a forest creature. Anyway, he just stared. Kick was a big man, in his late forties, a little overweight, with a long greasy looking beard that covered the majority of a beefy face. His head was balding, which made his beard look as though all the hair had run down from the top of his head and was hanging limply off his cheeks and chin. Above his beard was a narrow nose, and a pair of dull blue eyes. Jenny’s own eyes ran down his left forearm, past the tattoo of a fish jumping, to the pole and tackle box gripped easily in one of his heavy hands. Jenny was a little scared of him.

“Fishin’, huh?” she asked nervously.

“Yeah,” he answered flatly.

“Alright, well I was just leavin’. Good luck fishin’.”

“Thanks, you too.” (She wasn't fishing.)

Kick felt dumb.

In an effort to redeem himself he asked, “I’m curious, where is your accent from?” (He knew it was from Australia.)

“Oh, I’m from Australia,” she said.

In fact, Kick knew a great deal about Jenny Post, but he acted surprised, and surprised himself by quipping, “G’day mate!”

Jenny laughed like it was the first time she had heard that joke, and Kick thought it was the most pleasant sound he had ever heard. Jenny was the prettiest girl in Benson, and, being from Australia, she was also the most exotic. Like most guys, Kick had noticed her from the day she arrived in town to rent an apartment above the General Store. Everybody knew that she was attending nearby Castleton State, and worked part time at the store beneath her apartment.

To Kick, it seemed like winter couldn’t touch her…like she was walking sunshine...a miracle. It seemed nicer wherever she was. Her accent, her hair, her shape, the way she smiled at you, and when she said, “have a nice day,” after you bought beer or peanut butter or whatever, made you feel like she really meant she really wanted you to have a nice day…just you.

Kick was not alone in making unnecessary purchases at the general store when Jenny was working the register, but he could never get up the nerve to joke around and flirt with her like the other guys did. In fact, in all the time she had been living in Benson he had never said a word to her. And when she said, “Good luck fishin’,” how had he responded?

“You too.”

He felt stupid, and fat, and greasy, and he wondered if she had smelled the dope he was smoking before stepping out of the woods. He also wondered what she had been doing way out at the end of the snowmobile trail by the lake.

To be continued...