Saturday, November 28, 2009


"The hunting, the outdoor life, guarded the colony's health better than all of the apothecary's drugs. Champlain well recognized the necessity of keeping the men too physically tired for quarrelsome moodiness. To that end he established the Order of Good Cheer, l'Ordre de bon temps. A chain ceremoniously conferred on the day's best hunter encouraged rivalry; a formal dinner, with proper toasts and allocutions, roused the ready gaiety of the Frenchmen at meat. Poutrincourt, an excellent musician, led the choruses."

"We had always twenty or thirty savages, men, women, girls, and boys, who beheld us doing our offices. Bread was given them gratis, as we do here to the poor. But as for the Sagamos Membertou and other Sagamos, when any came to us, they sat at table eating and drinking as we did; and we took pleasure in seeing them as contrariwise their absence was irksome unto us."

An e-mail I got today from my brother, Joel, got me thinking about the order of good cheer. I think some of you that check in on my blog from the frozen north need to revive l'Ordre de bon temps. I think about it a lot. This time of year I am always reminded of those days when the crushing weight of winter seemed to be bearing down on me, as the calendar kept marching on. The cold, the dark, and the lack of fresh green smells. This is why the ancients dragged evergreens into their homes during yule and hung a sprig of mistletoe over the door. Your home becomes an enclave of resistance trying to wait out winter's invasion. I remember too the sense of being confined, besieged by the frigid temps and the knee deep snow. Life became a gray loop- TV, eating, school, TV, eating, school- monotonously repetitive and unstimulating. I gained weight. Maybe I was weak, and you guys don't share my attitude toward winter, but I think l'ordre de bon temps would make an awesome gathering for a local church family. Get together for games, eat pineapple,Bobberball Tournaments, and for goodness sakes invite the savages- because their absence should be irksome to you. Christians living in right relationship to God and to one another are just as foreign in America today as a party of bearded, merry Frenchman on the banks of the Penobscot River in 17th century Maine.


We woke up this morning to a dusting of snow, but it continued to snow off and on so that now we have a couple of inches. The kids loved it, and right from the start, with snotty noses pressed against the window panes they began demanding that we produce their snow suits and go with them outside. Nanny was very gracious and agreed to go out with them. They stopped their play shortly after 11:00 am to take in a free showing of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (again with Nanny) at the Rustic Theater in town.

I was off the hook because I had to go to work.
"It's fricking freezing in here Mr. Bigglesworth."

Tonight is the annual Christmas Tree lighting in the center of town. A pretty festive, exciting, winter wonderland, kind of day.


Just like the original feast, Sarah and I also invited some Wamponoags to share in the meal. Unlike the original Thanksgiving these little indians had absolutely nothing to do with providing the food or helping us survive the previous winter. It was a really good spread though, and I still lack a robust appetite- that's how full I got.

Friday, November 27, 2009


...he's gonna be staking out the bathroom at Fairway Foods for me to make a determination on what sorts of things we need to do to improve the place. If he returns from this dangerous mission, Tom will prepare a report for us by the end of this coming week.
Miracle powder turns ordinary water into a delicious fruity drink!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


The house is too hot.
My cheeks are flushed.
The sink is full of dishes.
My stomach sits heavy.
I feel fat and dull.
The air is fresh,
Vast and cold.
The stars are clear.
I go for a walk,
And it all
Melts away
In the fresh
Beneath the moon.



"Lettin all the people know'
That I'm back to rock the show."

So true, Mark Morrison.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


When reached for comment the 10-speed said, "Whizzzzzzzz-click-click-click-click!"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


The Astro Van has been officially listed as "DOUBTFUL" for the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, but we had no plans to go anywhere anyway so our lack of depth at the vehicle position won't be hurting us any. The ol' girl just inexplicably gave up as we were making our way down the mountain this afternoon to run some errands in Hemet. The full array of "Oh Crap!" lights lit up the instrument panel as the engine sputtered to a stop. Luckily this occurred immediately before a turnout so I guided our faithful chariot to a gentle stop on the side of Rt. 74.
I got out, popped the hood, and looked for the big on/off switch. Did you know there is no big on/off switch on 2002 Chevy Astro Vans?
Sarah climbed a low hill behind the van in a vain effort to get some cell reception, but, even though we were stranded, we had the good fortune to break down on the 160 acres of land owned by Mr. Don Moore. Shortly after taking the above picture, his fully operable pickup truck rolled up to investigate what was wrong. He ended up offering to drive me down to a mechanic in Hemet while Sarah and the kids stayed with the van. I didn't like leaving Sarah and the kids all by themselves on the side of the highway, but we really didn't have a lot of options at that point.
I regret not taking a picture of my new friend, Don Moore, because he was a real stand up guy about the whole thing and also a really big help. On the way to the mechanic Don needed to stop to put some gas in his truck. So he pulled into a gas station and I decided that since I was back in civilization I would fish Sarah's cell phone out of my pocket and call our friends the Whites. This is the sort of situation when you discover who your closest friends are. There was never any question who we would call- the Whites. Kind of too bad for Josh and Emily, but they're stuck with us. I got a hold of Emily who, as luck would have it, was just about to head off the hill with Josh to meet a friend for dinner in Hemet. She graciously offered to come down in two vehicles and leave us with their fully operable Honda Pilot. That was awesome!!! (The three exclamation marks kind of awesome!!!) No sooner had I hung up the phone with Emily then I received a call from our friend, Randy Erlandson (pictured above). Randy, who we know from church, said that he had happened upon my family and was going to stay with them until I could get back. Whew! That was a relief. Just as I finished talking with Randy, Don, climbed back up into the truck and I gave him the update- My friends were bringing a vehicle down from Idyllwild for us and another friend, a former police officer who we know from church, was waiting with my wife and kids until I could get back to them. He looked at me incredulously, and asked "That all happened while I was pumping gas?" "Uh-huh." Then he added, "That's the way it should be, you know?" I was filled with a warm gratitude for our friends and for their testimony to that man. Being a part of the body of Christ is a wonderful thing.
In those first few moments of silence after you've coasted to the side of the road, but before you form an action plan, your mind is spinning, trying to get some traction, trying to settle on a viable plan. How are we going to make this okay with a broken down van? On a desolate stretch of road? Without cell reception? With four kids in the back? We didn't even have a stroller! I feel very bad for those lonely people who go through this sort of thing alone. Thank God for friends like the Whites and Randy! Thank God for good-samaritan strangers like Don Moore! Thank God for a wife like Sarah!
Here is our rescue party (lamentably sans Don Moore). From left to right, Emily White, Randy Erlandson, a CHP offiicer (let's call him Ponch) and Josh White.

Good bye old girl! Get well soon!

Really, all in all, it was a very positive night. We feel very blessed. It's God's van.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Old Elliott lived in a small cottage at the end of the track on church property. In return for the small cottage, he maintained the stone walls about the church's cemetery. Elliott was a sturdy old man, with broad fingers and a close trimmed beard. He had been to Jerusalem with the crusades, and neatly tucked away on a crude shelf above the rafters of his home were carefully preserved seashells from the very shores of the holy land. The kids from ‘round about would mob him as he worked, begging for stories of palm trees, turbans and camels in a faraway and sun-drenched land. He always obliged, leaning heavily against a wall as he talked- his eyes alight as he mouthed the words. The men in town also plied him for stories, but those were of a different sort- Italian girls and battles- whores and blood spattered walls. He was honest. His tales didn’t require the spice of embellishment, but none could tell if his stories carried the tone of a confession or something else. Although the stories were told well, on that point he remained inscrutable. When the soul which had animated his sturdy frame bid farewell and he was laid in repose, surrounded by seashells, he lay as inscrutable as ever. The priest said of his servant, “We know his stories as does the God before whom we all stand naked, but God also knows the secret mystery of his heart."


I wish I had taken more pictures, but it was nice to put the camera down and just kind of drive around taking in the sights. St Albans is where I worked as a police officer and where sarah and I called home for the first years of our marriage. We stopped in at our favorite eatery, Kartulas, for a couple of bagel sandwiches and iced tea.

I love their turkey ruben on a wheat bagel. Sooooooo good.
We also stopped by Hudak Farm, which is equal parts farm and artist colony. We used to live just down the street from hudak and it was very sentimental to go back there and snoop around a bit.

Sarah bought me some beets at Hudak, which she cooked up for me back at the house. I love me some beets and these were as good as any I have ever eaten (...and better than most.)