Monday, August 31, 2009


So yesterday, Sarah and I got a babysitter so we could both attend a fantasy football draft party. That's right, I said "we." Sarah is the only girl in our league, and although she doesn't know much about football, she handled herself very well. I liked it when all of the guys were telling her to draft so-and-so and she stuck to her guns and took somebody else. She did her homework prior to the party and thus all of the papers in her lap in the picture above. I was a little steamed when she stole Chris Cooley out from under me, but I had to admit it was cute too. She's my favorite.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I am an avid reader of Chris Cooley's blog. For those of you who don't know (most of you probably), Chris Cooley is a tight end for the Washington Redskins. Chris' brother, Tanner, is a regular contributor to the blog, and I found his latest post about a run in with Patriot's Wide receiver, Randy Moss, so amusing that I wanted to share it with you. He also had a laugh-out-loud-encounter with Redskins coach Jim Zorn, which you can read about here. I wish I could just wander around Redskins Park. That might make this blog a lot more interesting.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Stay tuned...

PILE OF METAL by Barry Tate

One sees a pile of rusted junk
But me, a Roman ruin,
Or a landscape scar
From a fallen star,
Or an alien cab,
Or a madman's lab,
Maybe gizmo scrap
Or a secret map
Or a monument raised
For whom they praised
As a character named McCuen.


...Keith took the staff out to dinner at la Casita. Here, Lisa is flanked by our last remaining summer staffers. Ryane (to the left of Lisa) was here for the first meal of the summer, and ended up staying through the bitter end. Kristin (right) came all the way from Germany to serve on staff.

Miles was a little bit cranky so I wandered off from the party and strolled behind the restaurant.
I decided to go see what lay over the edge of the bank at the end of the parking lot.

In the nondescript gathering of trees at the back of La Casitas parking lot I found this stapled to an Oak Tree.

I thought it was an interesting find. Thanks to Keith for the nice staff dinner and a great summer!


On Friday night we joined a growing crowd of curious onlookers out at inspiration point, which afforded us a view of the "Cottonwood Fire," which is the latest conflagration to threaten the Idyllwild Area. In case you didn't know our home is situated squarely in the midst of a vast tinder box.

From an initial report that the fire had consumed 20 acres, it quickly grew to 150 then 450 then 1200 and as of last night 2200 acres. At this time the fire, which is located 5 miles south-southwest of Idyllwild is only 10% contained, but mercifully the wind has shifted and is now pushing the fire away from Idyllwild. Outside it smells like burning mountain. I kind of like the smell.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


...and now she's waking up with a vicious hangover. The details of last night are kind of fuzzy- a national lapse in judgment- and in the harsh morning light, Obama does not appear as he did in her addled memory. He's not cute at all. In fact, he's gross! It's hard for her to reconcile the smooth-talking player who seduced her with the disingenuous and unsubstantial man she woke up with, and she wonders if the unfortunate events of last night have left the bastard child of tomorrow growing inside her. She asks, "What was I thinking?"

Oh, America!

Eric Holder and all of this disgraceful business with the CIA are nothing but a hair of the Dog cure for the national hangover. He sees regret on her face, she's shaky and nauseous, he pours her another drink, "Remember last night?"

I say kick him out, sober up, and get yourself tested, America.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I am partisan enough that I never celebrated the late Senator during his life (He was, after all, the "liberal lion of the Senate" and I was, and I remain, opposed to just about everything he stood for, and that without apology), but I find myself mourning his passing today just the same.

Here are three things I thought were cool about Ted Kennedy-

1. His voice- I just really liked hearing him talk. It wasn't just his accent either. He didn't speak in measured language. Everything seemed to be said with vim, vigor and energy. I liked that. His accent was undeniably cool as well though, and even though I rarely, if ever, agreed with what he was saying I always liked the way he said it.

2. His consistency- The man had ballast. He knew what he believed, and those well-established principles allowed him to respond to thorny issues with the ease of a reflex, and he championed his views openly, loudly and without apology. I respect that. Such a man gave his opponents a fair target and his supporters a standard to rally behind. he was one of the few politicians of our day who wore the label "liberal" with pride. He was not an indian fighter, sniping from cover and out of sight, but a redcoat marching in the open with sunshine clearly illuminating him in all of his glorious error.

3. His family- I think most conservatives secretly wish the Kennedys had played for their team. Even I entertain a certain fascination with them. No other family in America is surrounded by such mystique, and conservatives, like me, can resent that but they cannot deny it. With Teddy's passing the last King of Hyanis Port has died and that marks the end of an era that I am observing with surprising sadness.

Monday, August 24, 2009


On August 28th at 8:00 pm (EST) the Redskins will square off against the new England Patriots in a rare nationally-televised preseason game on CBS. The Skins and Patriots do not meet during the regular season so this may represent the only opportunity for real trash-talk between the Tates and the Pecks.


Upon completion of the Trans Taresh-Dafare Railroad in May of 1843 the only organized settlement in the vicinity of the Jogues Valley was a ramshackle collection of shacks and tents called Le Mur, which sat atop a bluff of the same name at the extreme southern end of the valley. Since its discovery in 1834, the valley had remained relatively quiet as it played host to an assortment of scientists, army personnel, and railroad workers, but by July of 1843 the colonial government had cleared the spot at Le Mur to make way for an ambitious building project. Using pink sandstone quarried near the base of nearby Mt. St. Pierre, the government constructed an imposingly grand train station, as well as a number of other buildings including a hospital, army barracks and a school. Later, two additional buildings, flanking the train station on either side, were added to house government offices, as well as prisoners. Around this nucleus the town sprang up and thrived. By 1855, Le Mur boasted a growing population of approximately 4,000, and was the principal settlement and administrative center of the vast Taresh-Dafare desert.

In 1963 a crude, hand-drawn map of Le Mur was found amidst the personal correspondence of the late Colonel Bardonne of Marseille. The map was apparently drawn by one Jean P. Theberge, a soldier assigned to the barracks at Le Mur from 1895-1898. The map, which was drawn on the back of an advertisement for a piano concert at the Hotel du Ciel, was dated 1897, and depicted a sprawling, prosperous town established between the railway and the rim of the valley. The map varied from those produced by the French Army and the Colonial Government in only one respect- Theberge depicts a rectangular enclosure in the upper left portion of the map. The enclosure and its attendant buildings are neatly labeled “Le Temple d’Eden” (Translated- the Temple of Eden). On other maps, produced during the same period, the area is left blank. Why the government failed to include the site on its official maps is something of a mystery, but the leading theory is that they feared that knowledge of the cult’s prominence in the burgeoning settlement might have discouraged much-needed investment from Catholic France.

The founder of the Edenist movement was a charismatic, American-born, physician named William “Billy” Pill. Dr. Pill, who was 45 years old when he arrived at Le Mur in 1875, had served as a surgeon in the Union Army during the American Civil War before returning to his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri in 1866 where he established a drug store at the corner of Pine and 6th street. It was through his new career as a druggist that he first became aware of the amazing properties of the celtanine-laden water from Jogues Valley, which he bottled as a cure for “melancholy .” In late 1874 Dr. Pill quite suddenly sold all that he owned and, without explanation, bought passage to the Taresh-Dafare where he found the drug-addled community of Le Mur highly receptive to his unique theology.

The Edenists believed that Jogues Valley was, in fact, the lost Garden of Eden, and the Water Tree was none other than the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The Water Tree’s fruit, containing a high concentration of the psychotropic drug celtanine, was a holy sacrament in the Temple of Eden. Billy Pill believed that prior to tasting of the fruit, mankind was as simple as any other creature, and did not possess the creativity, intellect, and spiritual nature that marks humanity today. According to Edenist dogma, it was the fruit that first gave man his humanity, and God, who became threatened by mankind’s “awakening,” cut them off from the garden before they could achieve the fullness of enlightenment and their divine potential. Man was therefore left in a “mongrel state”- not purely creature as they had been and not purely spirit as they had the potential to be. By returning to the garden, rejecting the tainted institutions and mores of society, and by eating of the fruit of the tree it was their expressed intention to achieve eternal life by achieving equality with God through the opening of their minds. Pill taught that when a person died he simply ceased to exist unless he had been “awakened.” For those who had experienced an awakening, death was viewed as a shedding of the corporeal and a freeing of the individual’s spirit as it attained divinity.

The ELCA is a gangrenous limb. Lop it off.


"Duct tape is stickier if you microwave it first."
Fairway Market- Idyllwild, CA

"Lets just say he left with a smile. Know what I mean?"
Post Office- Idyllwild, CA

"I'll bring up the firewood, but I'm gonna leave the stove in the car. We can always get it later if we need it."
San Jacinto State Park- Idyllwild, CA

Friday, August 21, 2009


This is a big hit (pun intended) with my friends here on Camp Maranatha's Summer Staff. All you need is a couple buckets filled with rotten produce, aluminum bats, and some friends.
Melons are the best!
These are those brave souls who have stuck it out into August. Our staff was once quite a bit bigger, but these are the hardy remnant. The idea for the fruit smashing party was born from the ashes of my "five minute dance party." I am always looking for ways to make General Clean Up more fun and enjoyable. At the close of a long week of service the staff must then clean the entire camp before the next group arrives. This is the equivalent of running a marathon with the last mile up a steep hill. So I try and come up with different ways to make General Clean Up days fun. The Five Minute Dance Party was best described as "awkward and weird," so I went back to the drawing board and came up with this gem of an idea which has truly been a big hit (pun intended again).

Check out Kristin's protective gear.
Smashing Fruit is surprisingly taxing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009



1. Gangel, Kenneth O., and Samuel A. Canine. Communication and Conflict Management in Churches and Christian Organizations. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 1992. ISBN: 1579109020.

2. Lott, David, ed. Conflict Management in Congregations. Herndon, VA: Alban Institute, 2001. ISBN: 1566992435.

3. Sande, Ken. The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict. 3d ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004. ISBN: 0801064856.

4. Shawchuck, Norman. How to Manage Conflict in the Church: Understanding and Managing Conflict, Vol. 1. ISBN: 093818010X. This short and practical manual contains a conflict styles survey for you to ascertain your own conflict response preferences.


If you would like an audience we will be staying at the family manse on Lake Champlain in the town of Benson, VT- October 14th through October 28th.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Click on the image above to go directly to Tom Ping's Blog.

LET'S PLAY ILLUSTRATION- The game where I give you a scenario and you tell me what spiritual analogies can be drawn from it.

In an ill-conceived attempt to raise awareness for the homeless, Robert Overcracker rode a jet ski over Niagara Falls on October 1st 1995. The parachute he was wearing failed to open and he plunged to his death amidst the rocks in the merciless torrent. His body was never recovered and this photo, snapped by an Egyptian tourist, was the last anyone ever saw of Robert Overcracker.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


The only formal training I had received in delivering a death anouncement was during my time at the Vermont Police Academy. One afternoon as we were standing at stony-faced attention outside the cafeteria, waiting for dinner, the janitor began vacuuming the corridor where we were lined up. We had been standing there for approximately five minutes with the vacuum roaring back and forth between us when quite suddenly it up and died. Normally, as we stood at attention waiting for our meals the TA's would strut up and down the line quizzing us about the various things we were supposed to be learning. There were various terms, statutes and core values also that we were supposed to have memorized and which they would also demand that we recite verbatim. An unsatisfactory or incomplete answer meant that you were going to be sweaty for dinner. When the vacuum died we had just received a block of instruction on CPR so our minders thought they would have some fun with us. They singled out another guy and demanded that he perform CPR on the broken vacuum cleaner. Giggles ran up and down the line as the poor guy struggled to blow on the handle only to be told that the mouth was down near the base. "YES, SIR!" He was all ate up. Who wouldn't be? Especially, with two TA's breathing down your kneck, stetson brims pressed into your forehead, and yelling abuse at you as you struggled to recall how to perform CPR. With horror I realized that they were calling me to help him save the vacuum cleaner. I didn't fare any better. I remember that in the confusion as I violently did chest compressions on the vacuum bag, dust began to fill the hallway, which caused the TA's to hastily declare the vacuum dead. After dinner they had us deliver a death anouncement to the other vacuums in the janitor's closet.

This was what I thought about as my cruiser nosed its way down Lincoln Avenue toward an address on the south side of town. The Brattleboro PD had called up to our department to inform us that a man, whose Mother lived in St Albans, had been found floating dead in the Connecticut River, and they wanted me to drive over to her house and break the news in person.

My cruiser stopped in front of an unassuming two story, white with green trim and a screened in front porch. I reached up over the visor and retrieved the envelope containing a neatly folded piece of letter-head on which I had typed the name of the officer in charge of the investigation and his contact information. Then donning my stetson I stepped from the cruiser and gamely walked up onto the porch.

That is such a strange moment- it's like the calm before a storm that you're in charge of unleashing. It's miserable. I did a gut check and knocked on the door. There were some words that needed to be spoken and, once uttered, I would be free to drive away from this woman's nightmare. I heard feet shuffling down the hall, and I steeled myself for what had to be done. The door opened to reveal an older woman, with thin graying hair and a cigarette smoking in her left hand.

I said what needed to be said in the kindest words I could muster. I asked her if I could call anyone to come be with her. I got her a glass of water from the kitchen. Strangely, even harder than breaking the news of her son's death was making my exit. How can you walk away from a woman who is crying, devastated, and alone? I wished she would take me up on my offer to call someone, anyone, to come be with her, but she claimed to have nobody. She eventually gave me my out by thanking me for coming and showing me the door.

"I'm truly sorry for your loss, Mam."

Those words rang hollow. How empty and unconvincing.

I got back in my cruiser and drove away knowing full well that if the Lord should tarry such nightmares will eventually become reality for us all.

Friday, August 14, 2009


For those who have been following the unfolding drama that is my footwear ("Who are they gonna kill off next?") this is going to be an exciting installment. For this is the end of the line. There are no more pairs of shoes languishing in the back of the closet. It has taken me nearly a year, but finally we have arrived at that pair of shoes which I wear less than any other. In fact, I have only ever worn this pair once. I bought these shoes four years ago when my Grandma Tate passed away. Sarah decided that my beloved Dexters , the late dexters, weren't nice enough for such an occasion so I benched them in favor of this rookie, and they have not separated foot from pavement since. Although their career isn't over you could say that up until now they have been kind of a one hit wonder. They're a little stiff and uncomfortable. They do that thing where they cut into the bottom of my ankle and the back of my achilles. I actually like how they look though. They remind me of the shoes my Dad always wore when I was growing up. It's the decorative flair over the toe. My Dad's always had that too, and I like that. Although they are definitely at the bottom of the depth chart I also like knowing that they are there in the event that a classier shoe is called for.

"Get in there uncomfortable dress shoes! Show me what you got, kid!"

COMING SOON... a group shot with all of my surviving footwear.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


During my weekly Bible study during the summer we always begin with an "incredible edible." Usually it is some strange or exceptionally delicious food. Tonight Sarah and I had the staff over and we kicked off the evening by sampling some fried frog legs. It tasted like chicken with just a hint of algae.
They were surprisingly meaty. There's a lot of good meat on a frog leg. It looks a lot chicken and has a similar texture. Finding frog legs was something of a problem. Sarah had seen them for sale a long time ago at a local Stater Brothers Supermarket, but upon arriving at the meat department I was told that they no longer carried frog's legs because "nobody ever buys them," but the gentleman behind the counter was kind enough to call around to see if he could locate some at the other supermarkets in town. That was really above and beyond the call of duty for him to do that, and I intend to write a letter to his supervisor to sing his praises. After trying several stores he finally successfully tracked down these at another Stater Brothers over on Esplanade. When I got there there the lady said that an asian man had ordered them, but never showed up to claim them. She said that they're strictly a special order item and, like their sister store, they also don't typically carry them. Why? Well, because "nobody ever buys them." That's why.
Frog's Legs a la Provencale
1.5 lbs. of Frog's Legs, rinsed and sponged dry
1/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
Salt & Pepper
1 Lemon
Chopped Parsly mixed with 2 cloves of garlic and pounded into a paste
Much the same as with making fried chicken, season the legs, run them through flour, dip the legs in the beaten eggs and place them in hot oil. Cook on high and turn them until lightly colored and crispy, about 5 minutes. Then place them on a serving tray and sprinkle with lemon juice.

Then we watched a movie.
Picked clean.


We went off the hill yesterday afternoon to run some errands. After doing our shopping we decided to eat out.

"Where do you wanna go?"
"I dunno. Where do you wanna go?"
"I don't care, you decide."
"I don't care either."

We finally settled on Acapulco. I had never been there, but Sarah said it was good.

We ate outside on the patio so the kids could run around.

We had the place all to ourselves.

Prior to marrying Sarah and moving to So. Cal. I had no great love for mexican food, but now I recognize it for the wonder that it is. We don't eat out often, but when we do it's most often mexican.
This is what the kids ate.
This is what I ate.
This is what Sarah ate. (Miles just had some milk.)
What's this? Oh...I see.
Then it was back up the hill.