Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Thoughts

The new year is nearly upon us and with it comes the usual reflections on the year past. The machinations within The Episcopal Church this past year have really saddened me. I love my church and have devoted 45 years serving her in various ways. I am currently a priest without a church since we closed our little Holy Trinity December 9. I am now part of a cadre of priests who regularly supply congregations that have no priests. We call ourselves "Circuit Riders" in homage to those priests of times past who regularly rode a circuit to serve many different congregations in widely spaced little communities. Eastern Oregon is still that way, small towns widely spaced. Few of the congregations in those small towns can afford a full time priest, so they make do with supply priests. Back in the 1980's a movement in Eastern Oregon toward what was then called "local" priests ordained under canon 9 was begun with an eye to providing a full time sacramental presence in those small congregations. That's where I came to the priesthood as a supply to our little congregation in Vale. We had been struggling for years, but mutual ministry seemed to be just the thing for us. Thanks to Jim Kelsey for bringing the vision to our Bishop Rusty. Things went well for a time until Rusty retired and our new bishop didn't feel that we locals were well enough trained to serve our congregations and mutual ministry became dirty words. When our support left, our ministry teams began to dissolve and no replacements were brought forth. There are only 2 congregations left of the old mutual ministry model and there really has been nothing to replace them.

With what has been going on recently in the Episcopal Church, I wonder if I want to remain a priest. I'm certainly old enough to retire and sometimes I feel like just walking away. I get strength from reading the blogs of other progressive priests, but I sometimes wonder if our progressiveness has hurt the TEC in the long run. I sometimes feel as though our victory will be a hollow one with worshippers turning away from the fights within the church. Hopefully the people in the pews will just want to be left alone to worship the God in the way they have done forever. I do not preach about the battles within our Church, rather I preach about the love of our God for his people.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

An Old Fashioned Christmas Eve

My supply time at St. Thomas in Canyon City corresponded with Christmas Eve, so we just stayed over on Monday and did the Christmas Eve too. St. Thomas is one of several "Carpenter Gothic" churches in our Diocese. They were all built by the same man who traveled from town to town building churches (literally). Most were built in the 1870's and St Thomas was built in 1876 and completely restored in 1976. It is a beautiful little church for the old gold mining town of Canyon City. It is the only Episcopal Church in Grant County so parishioners from all of the towns of the John Day Valley attend. Christmas Eve was special, it was snowing and the streets were white with snow and in the Church the only light was from candles and the original 1876 oil lamps. It was a sell out crowd, the singing was heartfelt and I got to do a baptism as part of the service. (Baptisms, when needed are performed whenever a priest is available, and I was) There were real garlands of pine and fir boughs and the flickering light played on the stained glass windows in a truly wondrous way. Except for the modern clothing, the church service could have been straight from Currier and Ives. I felt honored to have been able to participate even though we had to drive home on Christmas morning.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Dan Fogelberg ,the author of "The Leader of the Band", has just died from prostate cancer and I ran into a tribute to him on another blog. They had a video of Dan singing "The Leader of the Band" and as I listened to it I got nostalgic about my parents, especially my father. My dad died before I was 30 and as I grow into my "Golden Years" I find myself getting that catch in my throat when I hear or read something that refers to the writer's father. In fact, whenever I watch "To Kill a Mockingbird" and it comes to the part where the black parson says, "Stand up Miss Scout, your father, Atticus Finch is passing by", I almost bawl out loud. It is such a touching moment of respect for a father that it never fails to choke me up. I had the same feeling listening to Fogelberg's song, it is a great tribute to his own father. As I face my own mortality I realize that I probably didn't express my feelings to my dad as well as I could have. I have the same thoughts about my mother too, she died too young as well. Maybe those feelings are closer to the surface around Christmas, but they sneak up on me at other times as well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cards

As usual I'm behind in my Christmas Card mailings. It always seems that I think about Christmas and all that one does for the holiday and think ,"Oh well, I've got a month to get those things done, lots of time." Then, it seems like the next day is the Monday before Christmas and I've done nothing. Tomorrow I'm going to mail those cards that just have to be sent with a little note about how I'm sorry the card is late. I did most of my Christmas shopping on-line with the gifts sent to the recipients. Just have to get stuff for those who live nearby. I haven't a clue what to get. Oh yes, there is also that little matter of the Christmas Eve service, this year in Canyon City 120 miles away. Jean and I are working out how to handle the Sunday service and the Christmas Eve service in a community 2 1/2 hours and two mountain passes away and still be present on Christmas Day with our friends. Of course, this would be the week that the first winter storms hit the mountains with lots of snow. It will all turn out fine, as it always does. Bring on the snow!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

City of God Appeal

Over at Mad Priest's blog he and Elizabeth Kaeton are conducting a fund drive for the Anglican Church of Christ the King in a poor district of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil known as the City of God. This is an extremely poor district and the church serves the very poor with a variety of programs. The people of the church have no money to help the church, so MP and Elizabeth are sponsoring a fund drive for them. So, go to Mad Priest's site and look for the City of God appeal and it will tell you how you can donate. A link to MP is on the right of my page. The title of his Blog is "Of Course I Could Be Wrong". If you want to help those who really need help this is a good cause.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Hurray, Hurray, He's Going Away

I see that Bp Schofield and his Diocese have voted to leave the Episcopal Church. I wish them well, bon voyage and all that sort of stuff. Does this mean that an Episcopalian moving into the diocese will have to go through confirmation and maybe even a new baptism to was away the sins of worshipping in a church that welcomes gays? I wonder, will they begin stoning sinners on the main street of Fresno soon. They could charge admission and make a little dough for the church. If I were a woman caught in adultery I would really be concerned for my safety. I'm sure that +John would gladly throw the first stone. He doesn't much like women, you know. Has anyone else noted that the move to move out of PECUSA didn't come after Gene Robinson, but rather after the election of Katherine Jefforts Schori. They claim it's homosexuality they are protesting, but I think Schofield, Iker and the others couldn't stand to be led by a woman.

Who"s next? Pittsburgh, Quincy, Fort Worth? Maybe we could have a pool to select the time and order of their leaving.

Enough ranting. I am sincerely saddened by the actions of the dioceses that are leaving the Episcopal Church. I am especially saddened for Katherine because some will blame all this on her leadership. I am also saddened for the people of those dioceses who do not want to leave. They are losing their churches through no fault of their own. Loyalty to PECUSA now becomes a sin in those dioceses.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Football Bowl Games

The bowl games are now set and as usual they're screwed up. LSU with two losses is going to play for the National Championship. I don't know why they call it the BCS, it seems to me that a more descriptive name would be "Play the Winner of of the SEC" series. I am constantly amazed that the sportscasters are so in love with the South East Conference. LSU just lost a game to an unranked team, so how can they still be ranked #2 in the nation? Hawaii is unbeaten, but because they have a weak schedule???? they are denied a shot at the national title. Having watched them play I'm pretty sure they would beat LSU going away. LSU played only a few teams that were ranked in the top 25 and lost to one of them. Oh yeah, Oklahoma is ranked above Kansas even though they lost more games than Kansas. The reasoning, Oklahoma beat Missouri who beat Kansas, so Oklahoma gets the higher ranking. So, how about Arkansas who beat LSU? Shouldn't Arkansas be ranked #2? Let's see, last year they threw a bone to undefeated Boise State and let them play Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl thinking that Oklahoma would show the boys from Idaho how to play football. Wrong! I think that Georgia better hang on when they play Hawaii.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Goodbye Holy Trinity

One more Sunday and we will close our doors. Holy Trinity has been a grand old lady and I will miss her. We had a good time today remembering some of the good times that we've had at Holy Trinity. We're going to make it a Good Episcopal funeral, celebrating the life of HT and not its death.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I Promised Pictures

These photos were taken at Devil's Den State Park in NW Arkansas. It was overcast so the pictures are not as bright as I would like.

I'm Flattered

Mad Priest has listed me in his links! What an honor! I always check to see what Mad Priest has to say before I even go to my Blog and Lo and Behold! I was listed in his naughty person list. I'm afraid that I may be in over my head, the folks who comment on Mad Priest are very bright and witty and get right to the point. When I first started blogging I had plans to vent my anger at what is going on in the world in general and in the US and the Episcopal Church in particular but I soon ran out of things to say. After all, you can only say that George Bush is an idiot so many times before it gets old. Don't get me started on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, because I start to foam at the mouth. So, Mad Priest and friends are great references, they say what I am trying to say but generally much better than I. After all, I was a math teacher not an English teacher.

I do hold one distinction. I believe that I am the only person to serve as a Deputy to General Convention five times and never be assigned to a committee. It used to make me a mad priest, but now I think it's just funny.

Friday, November 23, 2007

We're Back

We returned this afternoon from a Thanksgiving visit to our son and grandchildren in Arkansas. We had a great time. For the first three days the weather was fabulous. Highs in the 70's and lows in the 50's. Then it got cold. And Rainy. And colder. When we left this morning the temperature was 23 degrees, same as Denver!. It got cold here too, my max/min thermometer showed 17 degrees as the minimum while we were gone.

We went to Devil's Den State Park one day. It is a fascinating area, both the geology and the scenery. Well maintained trails that an old man with poor balance could negotiate without much trouble. Our grandson joined a couple who were exploring The Devil's Den Cave. According to the map, the cave is only 550 ft. long, but it took them over an hour to go to the end and back. Some crawling and squeezing required. It's a good thing I didn't go in, I probably would have gotten stuck in the "Fat Man's Squeeze" and I would have had to stay there until I lost enough weight to get unstuck.
I'll post some photos tomorrow. We're glad to be home. Sophia our cat is glad we're back, she hasn't left our side.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Thanksgiving in Arkansas

Well, we fly to Arkansas Friday. We're both anxious to see our grandson for the first time in 12 years. I have no idea what he looks like, I assume he resembles his dad. We'll soon see. We also get to see our two granddaughters too. Sam is in the 9th grade and Cass is in the 8th. I imagine they will be taller than both of us. Certainly they will be taller than Jean. The last time we saw them they were getting pretty tall. It seems strange to have three tall willowy blonds as grand daughters and a 21 year old grandson. It truly is a time to be thankful.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Checking In

It's been a while since I wrote anything, so I thought I would check in. It has been an interesting week so far. Monday I went to a friend's house to pick up her kitchen table to take it to my shop to fix it. The base had broken when they moved it and I offered to repair it. So, I took the top off and proceeded to carry the base out to my pickup. She held the door and storm door open for me as I headed down the porch steps. Do you need any help, she asked. No, I said as I took the first step down the four concrete steps to the sidewalk, it's not heavy. With that I misses the first step and headed head first for the sidewalk. In a feat of supreme agility for a 68 year old man, I twisted my body to the left so that my body and the table hit the grass and not the sidewalk. Fortunately, I escaped relatively unscathed; a wrenched shoulder and a hyper-extended elbow that only hurt for a day or so. I would like to report that I am ok and I have completed the repairs to the table, including the leg that broke as I fell off the steps. All's well that ends well. I guess I need to look out for those steps and watch my step.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Prodigal Grandson

Things have been a little busy for the past couple of weeks and I haven't written anything. I just checked my archives and realize that I haven't written about our most exciting news. Our son's first marriage ended badly and his ex-wife got custody of their only child, Danny, named after me and born on my birthday. They lived in the Phoenix area 1200 miles from our little town in Eastern Oregon. We tried to keep contact; visiting him when we were in Phoenix, sending birthday and Christmas cards (often with gift cards enclosed). Our son moved to Dallas, Texas so we no longer visited Phoenix. Then the card we sent was returned with the inscription, "He doesn't live here." and just like that we lost track of our first grandchild. Ken still paid child support, but the payments went to the court, so he didn't have an address for him either. It really hurts to lose a grandchild, but after a while the pain subsided. Then, out of the blue, our son told us that his daughters had located Dan on the internet through "Facebook". And, surprise of surprises Ken called and said that he had talked with Dan and he lived only about 100 miles away. The next surprise was that Dan, who was now 21 had moved in with him. The lost boy was found after 12 years. We have talked with him on the phone and it is amazing how much he sounds like his father. We will see him at Thanksgiving when we fly to Arkansas. I find it hard to wait. I try to imagine what he looks like and have trouble equating the 9 year old in the last picture of him that we have with the young adult we will soon see. I may embarrass myself when we meet again, I will probably cry, an emotion that I have discovered nearer the surface as I age. They will be tears of joy, and I won't really be embarrassed. The one once lost has been found. We'll roast the fatted turkey.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Let's Worry About The Poor

I've had it. Up to here. I'm getting sick and tired of all the waffling and posturing about who is in communion with whom in the Anglican Communion. The Archbishop of Canterbury is sending mixed messages about what it takes to be in communion with the rest of the Anglican Communion, and in the meantime, people are dying of starvation every day. Not just a few, but hundreds of thousands of people die every day while we argue about whether the Episcopal Church should have openly gay bishops or a woman Presiding Bishop. Wake up folks! God's call is not to be in polity with Canterbury or Angola or Nigeria -- it is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and dying, and to love one another. Is it any wonder why The Episcopal Church and Northern Tier Anglican Churches are dwindling in numbers. People in the pews don't want to hear this crap and quite honestly neither do I. If we would just heed the call of Jesus to care for his sheep the whole world would be better off. So, Primates, take your miters and put them in a warm dark place and remember what being a Christian is all about. We have to love our brothers and sisters, gay, straight, bi, or what ever sexual tag you want to hang on them. Being a Christian is not being a bedroom police officer. Frankly, it's none of your business!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The End of an Era

We have decided to close the doors of our little church. It is a gut wrenching decision, but we have run out of money and people. Our building is a quaint little shingle and clapboard building built in 1910 or so. It has no insulation and just single paned windows. Even in mild winters the gas bill is over $100 a month and that is just for heating the church an hour each Sunday. The folks who come to our services are in no position to put much into the plate when it is placed on the altar. We have decided that whatever we have been spending in our efforts to keep the doors open could be better spent in one of the two Episcopal congregations within 20 miles of our small community. In 1910 it was necessary to have churches in each community because of travel time. Many people in the US spend more than 1/2 hour to get to church, so we will be in good company. We just returned from our Diocesan Convention where we gave the members of our convocation (Deanery)the news. They are small struggling churches as well as we, and they understood our decision and our pain. It ain't fun.

Harry's Partner -- NOT Jake

Well, I did it again, I was so caught up in the idea of Harry's school that I misstated the relationships. Harry's partner is Wayne, not Jake. Jake's partner is Demi not Harry. Jake just allows Harry to use his blog from time to time, apparently when Harry has something important to say. My apologies to all concerned. I still want to commend Harry's school to you no matter who his partner is. I am new to this blog stuff. I hope I have not trod too heavily on any toes.

I try to check Father Jake Stops the World every day. He has the most up to date information on the workings of PECUSA and if you read the comments you will usually get all sides of the issue. I think that is important, especially for those of us who live in the hinterlands.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Harry's School

For those of you who have never visited Father Jake's Blog "Father Jake Stops the World", I would like to recommend it to you. In his post last Friday, Jake turned the blog over to his partner Harry. Harry related his story of attending a clergy retreat which our Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts-Schori attended with her husband. Harry wrote a long detailed story about being at the meeting with Katherine and sharing a dinner table with her. To make a delightful story short, Harry asked Bishop Katherine what he should do. In effect he asked her for a charge. And she gave him one, She told him "build a school in Central Tanganyika". She was serious and so was Harry, so, it looks like Harry is going to do his best to see that a school is built in Tanganyika. I think it is a great idea, and I think it would be great if the blogosphere got together and raised the money to build the school. I know that the idea is still in its infancy, but if you're interested I suggest that you check out Father Jake Stops the World and read Harry's story and bookmark the site for further developments. You can find a link to Jake's blog under the links section on the right. I haven't written a comment on the blog itself, but I am ready to contribute something as soon as it gets organized. Here is a great way to do something for those less fortunate than ourselves. Atta boy Harry.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Working My Butt Off Redux

I was just looking over my old blogs and I realized that it has been a month since my post "Working My Butt Off". That's really interesting because today I finished my part of that project. I didn't know that it had been a month since I started building a cover for Char's heating and cooling ducts. Saturday and today I finished putting the rest of the siding on the cover. I was putting on the small pieces that had to be specially measured and cut. It is slow and time consuming to climb the 12 foot ladder, measure the piece, climb down and cut the piece, then climb back up and nail the piece in place if it fits, otherwise it's measure and cut time again and that means another trip up and down the ladder. My 68 year old knees don't like that much climbing and I paid for it Sunday morning. Today I placed the roof on the cover and shingled it. I had to get on the main roof and lay on my belly to get the first course started. Then I could stand on the new roof if I was careful, the roof is only 2'x4', so there isn't much room to stand and nail. But, I got it done and then I trimmed it out. Now there are only a few trim pieces to put up and I think Chuck can do that. It looks really good and I'm proud of my work. I think I'll stick t cabinet making in my shop from now on. Climbing that ladder is not my cup of tea any more. Reminds me of my old volunteer firefighter days. I could climb a 20' ladder with a roll of 2 1/2" hose on my back. Maybe that's why my knees protest so much now.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I haven't made any references to all the stuff that's going on in The Episcopal Church because I have been really distressed about all that's happening. I read some of the more prolific Episcopal bloggers on a regular basis and the many comments they elicit and I have this terrible sense of loss. It seems to me that the Church is just like the nation, strongly divided between the liberals and the conservatives. While I guess that's to be expected in politics it seems to me that being a follower of Jesus Christ isn't a case of liberal or conservative. I know that both sides claim that they represent the true Christ, but to me they are both wrong. It seems to me that Jesus made it a point not to join a particular group in his sojourn here on the earth. It seems to me that we spend too much time worrying about what others do or believe and too little time being followers of The Christ. His admonition to us was simple-- love your God and love your neighbor as yourself. That's it. Period. Gene Robinson's sexual orientation is none of my business or yours either. Katherine Jefferts-Schori's beliefs are only important when she tries to impose those beliefs on me. The thing that drew me to the Episcopal Church was the idea that there was room for everybody. What would Jesus do? The better question is what will you do? Will you love your neighbor? Unconditionally? Without judgement?

Monday, October 1, 2007

The War

Jean and I have been faithful viewers of Ken Burns' "The War" on PBS these past two weeks. It has been chillingly mesmerizing. The images and the verbal descriptions have been riveting. Never having been in war I can not imagine what those guys went through. I have been watching to see if my dad, who spent 32 months in the South Pacific as a SeaBee, is shown in any of the photos. He was in 7 island invasions, but the islands they took offered little or no resistance. I still look a little more carefully when pictures of navy guys are shown. I was quite surprised to see a picture of our little town taken July 4, 1941. They used it to show small town life on the 4th of July during the war. A photographer employed by the WPA or another of the make work programs took a large number of pictures on the 4th of July 1941, and those photos are in the Library of Congress. Our little local museum has copies of them in an album with the particular picture displayed on the wall. The picture shows people in a cafe looking out the window at the parade passing by. The word "Cafe" is reversed because the view is out the window with "Cafe" painted on the outside. Gave me a little thrill.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I'm trying to get my photo into my profile.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Rest of the Story

I just reread my last blog and decided to finish the story. Our company arrived Sunday afternoon and we had a great time reconnecting. The house was clean, the drain repaired and all was well. NOT! We ran the dishwasher Monday and experienced a backup into the kitchen sink, but all was well because the sink drained albeit slowly. Tuesday, the sink backed up and took several hours to drain. That night we put Drano Foaming Drain Cleaner in the sink for a last ditch effort to clean the drain. The next morning we ran water in the sink to push the Drano through the pipes. No go. We had gray water in the sink that would not drain. Jean refused to let me go under the house to attempt a repair while we had company. So, we ate out for the rest of the week. Our company left Friday morning and by Friday afternoon I was under the house cleaning out drains. I decided to remove all of the 60 year old galvanized drain pipes and replace them with ABS plastic pipe. Gunk doesn't stick to the plastic as well as to the galvanized. I used about $10 worth of saw blades in my Sawzall trying to remove the galvanized. I finally got it out and replaced it with the plastic by 8 PM. I was sure I had solved all of my problems. I plugged in the water softener and it started to cycle by back flushing the softener cylinder. The sink immediately filled with water and threatened to overflow onto the floor. I rushed in a stopped the softener and then bailed 20 gallons of water out of the sinks. I knew then that my plumbing efforts had thus far been in vain.
The next morning I was back under the house and started at the main sewer drain and reamed out the pipe with a 1 inch wooden dowel. I had not done this before and it was plugged. Got it cleaned, had Jean turn on the water and waited for it to flow out of the long length of plastic pipe I had installed a number of years ago. I knew it was clear because I had run a snake completely through it at least twice in my earlier attempts. No water! I was astounded! I was so sure that I had cleaned everything out I hadn't even brought the snake under the house with me. So, I crawled out and got the snake and ran it backwards through the pipe. I hit a clog! I worked it out with with the snake. Much of the gunk that came out was a cement formed out of the Drano we had poured into the drain. I got it out and ran the water and it rushed through the drain. Success!! After at least 30 hours of work on the drain I had it cleaned out and working well. I saved over $65. My time was worth about $2 an hour! And, four days after the successful end of my work my joints have quit aching too. Next time I call the plumber, so what if I have to wait a week for him to come.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bad Week

It has been a difficult week around our house. We have been working to get the house in shipshape condition for visiting relatives. It used to be cleaning for a Mother's visit, but now that they are both gone a visiting relative or friend becomes the reason for a big housecleaning. I got the power washer out and washed the house, shop and shed. That went well and I got it done in a timely fashion. Next up was washing the windows, my job was just the outside windows. That went well too, except the microwave quit working. I got hold of a repair man and he said he would get me the needed parts for about $30. I got them and installed them, but they had extra plugs and when I installed them the microwave didn't work. Called the repair guy and he said, bring it by and he'd fix it. That was two days ago and I haven't heard from him, I can see a large labor bill piling up. The next task was to shampoo the carpets in the house, a task that I figured would take about 3-4 hours. All went well until I broke for lunch. When I returned to work the shampoo machine was leaking all over the floor. I had to go rent a carpet cleaning machine from the store. It didn't work as well as our own machine, but it didn't leak all over the floor. Then the sink plugged up. I spent most of Friday under the house in the crawl space trying to unclog the drain. I didn't have much luck. Then I got under the sink with the idea of running the snake from that side. I was very careful, put plastic down so the floors wouldn't get dirty. Then I put a 2 gallon bucket under the P-trap and unscrewed the joint. There was about 10 gallons of water in the pipes so about 8 gallons went onto the carpet. So I had to vacuum up all the water and clean under the sink. I got it so it would flow a little, but very slow. Got up the morning and the water softener had cycled and the drain had plugged up and the brine water overflowed the sink and onto the kitchen carpet. Got that cleaned up again and worked on the drain again, a little luck, but I can see a large plumbing job coming up. Well, we have most everything under control for our visitors who will arrive Sunday afternoon. We are thanking God in advance for no more problems, and planning the replace the kitchen carpet with tile. That way it will be easier to clean up after a plumbing disaster. Thank God these little disasters occur only every 10 years or so.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Working My Butt Off

As much as I hate to say it, I guess I am getting older. Yesterday I went over to a friend's place to help her DLI (designated love interest) build a framework and covering for her furnace/AC ducts. The unit is the kind they put on top of houses but in this case it is placed on the ground and the duct work goes up the side of the building and into the attic crawl space. The furnace installers left a pair of bright foil covered insulated ducts into the house, and there was a worry that a windstorm might rip the insulation off the ducting. So, Chuck and I went to work Saturday to build a covering that matches the rest of the building. It was not a good day for me, Chuck is a hard worker, but has no experience in building. I laid out the plan by drawing on the pump house next to the building and we went to work. I has a terrible time, I cut the wrong angles on the studs, I built the side using the measurements for the front, and I cut notches on the wrong side of the sheet of plywood. It took us twice as long as it should have because of my mistakes. On top of that, I ran out of steam about 5 PM. I was so sore I had to sit down, and if I walked more than 3 steps my gluteous maximus hurt so that I could barely walk. We ate dinner and sat down to watch a bonfire in the fire pit using the scraps from our project. Chuck couldn't sit down. He proceeded to pick up the weeds he had pulled and put them in a pile and burned them. He continued to work and pick up around the place while I sat in a lounge chair and ached. Still sore this morning and evening, fortunately it was Sunday and I vegged out all afternoon. I'm not sure why it's my butt that aches, but it sure does. I'm trying to invent some disease that will explain it. It couldn't be that I'm nearly 70 years old...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Spammers and Phishers

I get really upset by the volume of Spam and Phishing e-mails I receive every day. I'm sure that I get between 20 and 30 offers every day, and some of them are really well done especially by the Phishers, company logos and all of the official sounding words. It is not surprising that many folks fall for this crap. The Nigerian letters and all of their offspring are, on the other hand, pretty crude, but they appeal to our greedy side. Some of it is my fault, I fill our registration forms for stuff that I have bought and I know that those outfits sell their lists, so I get lots of offers that I just cant refuse. I mean, who wouldn't want to split $12 million (USD) with some poor unfortunate widow. I can also tell which ones bought the Episcopal Clergy Directory because they ask me to get the funds to use for my church's outreach programs. They are almost always addressed to: My Dear Friend in Christ. All they need is a bank number to send the money to.

I get upset because of all the space on the net that they take up. I have to empty my GrayMail folder once a week because it fills up my 20 M of e-mail space. I tried to send all that crap back to the sender, but of course, they have also pirated someone's e-mail site or spoofed an address that doesn't exist. The law that was passed to halt spam and Phishing is a joke, but I don't want to see the government sticking their nose into things either. (espicially the current administration) I guess I'm ok unless I wear out my delete key.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Larry Craig's Downfall

Senator Larry Craig of Idaho resigned his position yesterday in a very brief press conference in Boise. Not a lot of fanfare or anything. I'm kind of surprised at my reaction to the whole thing. I am a liberal Democrat from Eastern Oregon and all of our local TV comes out of the Boise Metro area, so I am well acquainted with Sen. Craig and his stance on most issues. I have always disliked the Senator and hated his positions especially on homosexuality. He has always pontificated on the sin of homosexuality and advocated that Gays have none of the civil rights granted to us all. So, I should be pleased with his downfall, but I'm not, I feel sorry for him and his family. Whether he has homosexual tendencies or not, what I read in the paper about his arrest in Minneapolis smacks of entrapment. It is kind of scary to think that if you glance at the guy at the urinal next to you you could be arrested for making a pass at him. Besides, homosexuality is not a crime, what is next? Being arrested for asking a person of the opposite sex for a date? Hypocrisy is not a crime either, if it were, there would be a lot of folks in jail. Probably more in jail than out, if the truth were known.

I cannot revel in Sen. Craig's downfall. I would much more rather see him stomped by some unknown Idaho Democrat in an election.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What Kind of a Liberal are You?

How to Win a Fight With a Conservative is the ultimate survival guide for political arguments

My Liberal Identity:

You are a Reality-Based Intellectualist, also known as the liberal elite. You are a proud member of what’s known as the reality-based community, where science, reason, and non-Jesus-based thought reign supreme.

How About Some Pictures

We saw a lot of great scenery in Zion, my little digital camera just couldn't do it justice.
This is a picture of Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge just outside of Portland, Oregon. This is a truly magnificent site.
On our way back from Zion National Park over the 4th of July we stopped at Shoshone Falls just outside of Twin Falls, Idaho. We have driven by here many times but never stopped. The falls are quite impressive.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Passing of an Icon

Friday evening we went to a memorial service for an old friend, Dave Hawk. Dave came to VUHS in 1955 to teach US History and coach Boy's Basketball. He stayed until he retired in 1986. He continued to substitute and in 2001 was honored by the State of Oregon for having taught 50 years in Oregon. Dave was an original and during the service stories flowed like good mellow wine. I was pleased to work with Dave for 20+ years and was proud to call him my friend. We went to the same church and hunted deer and pheasants in the Fall. He was a great hunter and an excellent shot with his shotgun. He wasn't as excited about hunting for deer, but he really enjoyed going to deer camp with his 5 sons and his friends. He usually took the position of camp cook and served up some fine meals. I suspect that the meals were cooked by his wife, Dona, and placed in gallon jars to be heated up for dinner. He did do the breakfasts by himself, hotcakes, bacon, and eggs.

Dave was a great Basketball coach, but never won a State Championship. His teams were usually present for the State Tourney, but the best they ever did was Third. His players worshipped him and always gave it their best. Vale kids were never really tall, so his teams often lacked the big man to go with the agile sharp-shooting guards.

There were 200 or more people at the memorial service. A great tribute to a great guy. It reminded me of the funeral service we held for Arnie Lewis at the High School in 2000. The two of them really kept VUHS in the sports spotlight for 20 years or more. So long old pal...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Grammar Rants

Just when I thought I had run out of things to rant about I turned on the radio and lo and behold, new material. In a 5 minute period of time the young lady doing the news broadcast mispronounced two words and used the wrong verb tense when talking about two items. I am appalled at the deterioration of the English language. Much of it is caused, I am sure, by e-mail and text messages. I belong to a collector's group that has a list-serve e-mail digest. To read the grammar mistakes and spelling errors would make my old English teacher, George Browning, weep. I am not an English teacher and I am sure that my grammar is not the best, but even I cringe at words such as stold and wayt. I'm not sure if the grammar is bad because they are in a hurry and too lazy to use their spell checker or because they are just ignorant.

While I am about it I also want to comment on the folks who point at a late frost as evidence that global warming is not something to worry about. I just witnessed a Science teacher using a frost in late May as evidence that global warming is not occurring. He completely disregards shrinking glaciers and the shrinking of the polar ice caps as perhaps better indicators of what is happening to our global climate. Wake up folks!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random Thoughts

As the title of this blog suggests, I am often stuck by random thoughts while working in my wood shop and today was no different. The first thing that struck me was the fact that Karl Rove is deserting the ship of state. And not a moment too soon either, I suspect that if he stayed too much longer the House and Senate may investigate his dealings over the past 7 years. The guy just looks smarmy to me, kind of like a snake oil salesman. I guess that Dick the dick will now be the only one to put words in King George II's ear. Maybe Dick the dick will review his statements from 1994 when he said that to remove Saddam from power would create an unstable Middle East that might leave room for Iran to take over a bigger chunk of the Middle East and really cause problems for the US. Obviously, he has forgotten those words in his zeal to democratize Iraq.

I also thought about the upcoming primaries. Florida is apparently not satisfied with stealing elections, now they want to choose the candidates. What ever happened to the primaries when each candidate amassed delegates based on the percentage of votes received in each primary. Then they fought it out in the convention to get the nomination. Nowadays the candidate is already selected before they go into the convention. Takes all of the excitement and fun out of the convention. If things keep up the way they have been the candidates will be selected at birth!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Fifty Years Later

I just returned (Sunday) from my High School 50 year reunion. It was a blast! the event was well organized and we had lots of time to talk and catch up with classmates we haven't seen (in some cases) in 50 years. We were an interesting class with a wide variety of professions. Most of us are retired, but one is still fighting wildfires whenever he's called and another is trying to decide whether to run for re-election to the statewide office he has held for a number of years. Most of us are in pretty good shape health wise although I heard the usual comments about aches and pains. 27 members of our class have died in the past 50 years, not too bad for a class of 110 at graduation time. Most of the survivors were present at the reunion, coming from all over the country.

I found it interesting that I was singled out as being over weight even though there were others who were much heavier than I. No one was cruel in their assessment of my girth, rather just commenting on how much I had changed. I think the surprise was because they still remembered the skinny kid who was 5'5" tall and weighed 130 lbs at graduation. I am a little taller and a lot heavier, I carry it fairly well, no huge stomach, but I am certainly not that poor little underfed kid whose ribs you could count. Nearly all of my weight gain has come after my retirement, I've become rather sedentary because of my bad knees. I try to work out for 30 minutes 5 days a week, but that doesn't lead to weight loss, rather just maintenance. I like my food too much I guess. My biggest surprise of the reunion was how small Richard was! He was one of the toughest kids I knew and in my eyes towered over me in height and weight. Seeing him at the reunion for the first time in fifty years really stopped me in my tracks. I was at least 4 inches taller and 100 pounds heavier! He said that 20+ years in the Marines took all of the toughness out of him, but I still wouldn't want to cross him. It was great seeing him and reconnecting. After 50 years, we no longer felt the need to impress anyone with our success. I think we all realized that surviving 50 years was success enough.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Millennium Development Goals

We received a special mailing of Episcopal Life today devoted to the Episcopal Church's Millenium Development Goals. It gave me pause to think that we as a church are still trying to help the sick, the poor, the uneducated, the homeless, the widows and the children of the world as well as the environment. All this in the midst of the hullaballou surrounding Gene Robinson and Katharine Jefferts Shori. It's nice to realize that at least some people in the church remember what our mission as Christians is. Some people get so caught up in the politics and job of being the orthodoxy police that they forget that our mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the widows and orphans, to be good stewards of our created world, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Let's leave the name calling and the judgement to God.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Not Much Time in the Shop

For some reason I have been fairly busy and haven't had much time to muse in the sawdust. I help my wife in her business by being a gofer and sometimes doing data entry on the computer in the office. She and a friend are partners in a trucking company, "Schatzie Trucklines, Inc." and they are pretty busy right now with 2 new drivers to get oriented and on the road, so I have been helping more than usual. On top of that, Paul, who lost his wife of 60 years, and I have been working on projects to get his home more handicapped friendly. His knees are shot and he finds it difficult to walk, so he got a motorized wheelchair. We have been building ramps in his home to make it accessible for him in his new chair. That mission has been accomplished and we are now working on making his yard more accessible. It is amazing how many barriers there are for a wheelchair. Unfortunately, he is living on a slim pension and doesn't have a lot of spare change for improvements, so we have to go slowly. Paul first came over to help me reroof my house 20 years ago right after they moved here from California. We have been working together on home projects ever since. We call ourselves "The Old Fart's Construction Co." the title fits better every year. Together we have changed the looks of both our homes for the better and we have cemented our friendship. Paul is not as able to work as he was 20 years ago, but he does as much as he can. My job is to make sure that he doesn't hurt himself by trying to do too much. I think I will have more time to muse in the near future, I'm looking for new shop projects to occupy my mind.

Monday, July 30, 2007


I collect glass insulators. I think I've written about them before. It's amazing how some chunks of colored glass can capture your attention. My collection is quite small, even though I have been picking these things up for over 20 years. I have a couple that are purple and several that are a real light yellow called "straw" in the trade. My daughter got me interested again when she purchased several for me on the internet. I have since purchased a price guide book and a number of different pieces that strike my fancy. Most of my pieces aren't worth very much, but I really enjoy looking at the sun shining on them. Fortunately, my wife likes them too, so she doesn't get upset when I buy some new ones. Got one today that I think is valued at $75 - $100 that I bought on e-Bay for $15 and the price included 3 others that I didn't have. I'm trying to specialize on just one company and hope to get an example of every insulator they produced. If you have any old insulators lying around, give me a buzz on e-mail and maybe we can arrange a deal. I have to warn you, I'm pretty much of a cheap skate, so I can't promise too much of a deal. However, I will tell you if you have something valuable and give you a few places to check to sell them. I'm not sure if my kids will want my collection when I'm gone, they may just sell the entire collection for a couple of hundred bucks and have a party on the old man. That's fine.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fire Fighting

I am feeling a little nostalgic this evening. I've been reading the agenda for my High School 50 year class reunion. It doesn't feel like it's been that long since I felt that I could conquer the world. Anyway, as thoughts go, I soon found myself remembering my days as a wildland fire fighter. I had started working for the US Forest Service a week or so before graduation, classes were done and we were just waiting for the evening of graduation. I had to lie about my age, I was only 17, but I found myself on the brush crew/fire crew for the Fort Rock District of the Deschutes National Forest. We lived in a camp in the forest about 40 miles from Bend, Oregon with an older Crew Boss and his wife(she was the camp cook). We spent our days stacking slash from previous logging activities along the many miles of road in the district. We did spend time in fire fighting practice including falling a large dead snag about 3 feet in diameter with a hand saw. That was a lot of work and we were glad that we had a large supply of chain saws in our truck to do the heavy work. We were just dying to fight a fire and prayed for lightening storms. When the long anticipated thunder storm came along there was only 1 fire started in our area. It was a fire in the top of an old dead snag and rather than send the fire crew they sent the fire guard who was stationed at our camp for just such a situation. The guard found the fire about a mile off the nearest road and called for two guys to bring a chain saw and some fire rations because we were going to be out all night. The crew boss selected me and another guy to carry out the mission. We were pumped! Our first fire! We were finally going to see flames! They took us out to the jump off point and let us out. We packed our packs with water and food and fuel for the chain saw and set off, me with the pack and a shovel, and the other guy with the chain saw and a Pulaski. We found the fire guard with no trouble by following the smoke from the fire. We arrived at the fire fueled by adrenalin ready to fight the raging flames. To our disappointment the "fire" was at the top of a 100 ft snag and showed no flames, only a little smoke from the rotten wood at the top of the tree. None the less, we got out the chain saw, cleared an area for the tree to fall in and proceeded to fall the tree. The chain saw made quick work of the falling and it took us less than 20 minutes to put out the smoldering fire. Firefighting rules called for the fire to be out for 12 hours before declaring the fire dead out, so we sat down and ate out supper and prepared to spend the night at the "fire". We had forgotten to bring coats or sleeping bags and it got cold quite quickly after the sun went down. So we had to build a campfire to keep warm. We wound up digging trenches for our bodies, filling them with hot coals from our campfire and then covering that with a thin layer of dirt. That way the down side was warm and the up side was cold. When the up side got too cold we would roll over and warm the other side. It was one of the most uncomfortable nights I ever spent. The next morning it took us longer to put out our campfire than it did to put out the tree fire. The only upside of our first "fire" was that we got 12 hours of overtime.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Well, I'm Still Here

After my last Blog I sort of expected a call from some of the enforcers of King George II's security. I am still concerned that I will be put on one of those lists of people who disagree with the way King George II is ruling the US. Despite all his talk about keeping America safe, he has done nothing but trample on the constitution. I still wonder about the parallels between the reign of King George II and the reign of Adolph Hitler. Instead of Jews we are told that the Arabs are bad, thereby giving us a good scapegoat to blame everything on. He has steadily reduced our rights in the name of protecting us from the "dirty" Arabs. The congress and the media have been complicit in their acceptance of GW's policies. I can't understand why congress and the media aren't screaming bloody murder over the infringments of our rights. Folks, don't let King George II get away with it. Throw the rascal out!

Well, I'm

Friday, July 13, 2007

King George II

I just finished watching Bill Moyers' Journal on PBS. He was talking with two conservative writers about impeachment of both Dick Cheney and George Bush. The two writers were calling for impeachment of both men to protect the Constitution. They claimed that the president and vice president had indeed committed high crimes and misdemeanors against the Constitution and should be impeached. Their feeling was that the impeachment concept was a way to protect the government against an imperial president. Their fear is that if Bush and Cheney get away with their unconstitutional actions that they will set a precedent for future administrations and that we as citizens will have lost another piece of our freedom. It was a very interesting discussion and I think that even Bill Moyers learned something. The two gentlemen stated that the impeachment of Bill Clinton trivialized the process because it was done for political purposes. They talked at length about a monarchical president and the fear that the framers of the Constitution had about just such an occurrence. They also were despairing of anyone in Congress having the backbone to start impeachment proceedings.

I have a better understanding of the impeachment process after watching the show. I also have a fear of the secret service calling on me if I espouse impeachment for Dick and King George II. They have been arresting anyone who disagrees with them especially if they have an Arabic name. Disagreement makes you a terrorist. I am one of the 54% of Americans who want to see Dick Cheney impeached and also one of the 45% who want to see King George II impeached. Come on Congress, get off your butts and start proceedings. Real patriots defend the Constitution

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back from St. George

We made it back from St. George Sunday evening early. We saw fires all the way from St. George to Burley, ID. where we spent Saturday night. Apparently there are fires all over the west, we got a heads up that they might have to evacuate Burns, OR. Burns and Hines have a population of over 4,000, so that would be quite an evacuation. The reunion was great, we met relatives of Jean's that she had never met as well as an aunt and cousins that she had not seen in 60 years. They were all great people. Jean's aunt from Prineville had a slight stroke and spent the week in the hospital. She improved greatly and was able to go home on Friday.

We went to Zion National Park on Friday and had a great time even though the temperature was 113 degrees. That was down from the 119 on Wednesday and Thursday. We did walk up one trail for a 1.5 mile round trip. The park is a fantastic place and I would recommend it to everyone. The use of shuttles to ferry folks around the park is a great idea. The roads are not clogged and the air is not fouled by all the exhaust fumes.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Another Trip

Well, we're off to St. George, Utah Monday for a semi-reunion of Jean's family. We're going to spend time with her cousins that she has not seen in over 50 years. Their dad, Jean's uncle, died quite young and their mother remarried and for some reason, contact was lost. One cousin who is Morman was doing a geneology project and contacted her aunt for information about her dad's side of the family. One thing led to another and we're getting to meet them. We'll be meeting Jean's sister and her husband in St. George and we'll stay together. Hopefully we will get to see some of the National Parks in the area. Those are the plans anyway. I'll post any good pictures that I get.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Alex's Graduation Gift

This is a picture of the chest that I built for Alex's Graduation. It is sitting on the floor of my shop before I packaged it for shipping. FedEx did a great job of shipping it, there was not any damage to even the cardboard wrapping. The second picture is Alex opening the chest after getting home from Graduation. The bottom the chest is inscribed in calligraphy "To: Alex Gardner-Nelson on her graduation from Northampton (MA) HS June 1, 2007 From: Grandpa and Grandma Gardner" We're really proud of her.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Politically Correct

I'm on a list serve group for insulator collectors, you know, those little glass things found on telephone poles. I suppose you have to be a little different to see beauty in those little blobs of glass, but there are a couple of guys who log on quite often who sometimes get on my nerves. So, being too chicken to call them on the crap they spread, I'll blog instead. Lately they have been complaining about the use of politically correct phrases and lamenting about the loss of simple business names. i.e. Quest substituted for American Telephone and Telegraph. The most vocal of the two is, I think, either a policeman or a corrections officer and he doesn't see what's wrong with relating an ethnic joke in our discussion group. I wonder if he would find a joke about a donut eating pig beating up on a 12 year old blind girl as funny as the ethnic joke he told. My experience has been that things are funny until it's your ox being gored. As far as the political correctness goes, he seems to think that all Hispanics are illegal aliens, and are therefore violators of the laws of our country. I would like to tell him about a friend of mine, who when asked what label he preferred, Hispanic or Mexican American, he replied, "I prefer American, my family has been in the US for 6 generations." Which, I might add, is about 3 more generations more than my family and probably more than our Germanic named blowhard.

As for the unsimple meaningless names used today I suspect our blowhard goes to Home Depot or Lowes when he needs a big ticket item and only goes to the small local hardware store when he needs a washer or a bolt. There are no "Mom and Pop" stores any more because they can't compete with Wal-Mart or even Albertson's or Stop-N-Shop. And it's our fault, we have been seduced by low prices even though it may mean lower quality as well. Instead of owing our soul to the company store, we'll owe it to the Republic of China.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Just a Quick Report

Don't have much to say tonight. I thought I should write something. We just finished watching 3 hours of "The Deadliest Catch" about crab fishing in Alaska. That is a tough way to make a living. They make a years wages in a couple of months, if they survive. I know that the film crews show only the worst of the voyages, but even so, that is just plain hard work. I must give the people who do that a big well done. I hope those folks who order the all you can eat Alaskan crab appreciate what the fishermen do to get that crab on the table. They couldn't pay me enough to do that job.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Price Gouging

We just got back from our visit to Massachusetts. We were a day late in returning because bad weather grounded a lot of flights out of Hartford and a lot of other airports in the east. We wound up on a 5:45 AM flight out of Hartford and a 5 hour layover in Chicago. And, that brings me to my newest rant. Thanks to the TSA you can no longer take bottled water or other drinks through the security screening. You can however buy it after you get through the security checkpoint. So, in the spirit of good old American capitalism the water that you can get in the stores in the terminal costs nearly as much as a case of the same water outside. A 16 oz bottle of water goes for as much a $3 a bottle. That's outrageous! The food dispensers are no better! Because they're in the security area, places like McDonalds charge an additional amount to serve you. I guess we should applaud them because they're not jacking the price 400% like the water sellers and only raising the price 25%. Aren't we lucky! I think that the airport vendors should be investigated, but we'll find that they have to charge more because of the outrageous rent charged by the airports. If they're not careful, they will kill the golden egg laying suckers like yours truly. If a boycott of the airport vendors for a week were possible, we might make a change, but I fear that won't happen. If I were a conspiracy freak, I would suspect that the TSA is in collusion with the vendors. The next step is we will be required to use only TSA approved luggage and that will only be available inside the security area at a 400% markup. Then they will make us purchase our clothing inside the security area. I can see it now, we will have to strip and walk through the metal detectors in the nude. Any clothes we wore will have to be discarded, or you can mail them to yourself for a charge. Then you will have to purchase new approved clothing which will be one size fits most paper clothing for only $300 each. If you need clothing for use at your destination, you will have to ship it ahead in TSA approved containers. They could make more money by making everyone park 10 miles away and only arrive in, you guessed it, TSA approved transportation which would never cost more than $100 each way. nuff said

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Spring Time in Massachusetts

Well, I have access to my daughter's computer so I can check in. We went to Alex's graduation last Friday and it was great! The only complaint that I had was that it was held outside on the football stadium and for some reason people think it's alright to talk rather loudly to one another when someone is making a speech. I think that the kids had some pretty good speeches but I couldn't hear them all because the jerks behind me were talking too loud. When we got back, Alex opened her gifts. She got a digital camera and an I-Pod Nano plus other stuff from the Nelson grandparents. She seemed to love the "Hope" chest. She had guessed what it was, of course, it was hard to miss sitting in the middle of the living room. She has to clean her bedroom before we can move it upstairs. It still sits in the middle of the living room, covered with blankets.

Apparently we are sitting in the middle of a tropical "disturbance" which means it rains like a cow on a flat rock at least once a day. Although, that didn't happen yesterday , Wednesday, so the disturbance has moved away to disturb someone else. We are having a great time, getting lots of sleep and just hanging around. The past two afternoons have found us hitting the antique stores, I look for insulators, everybody else just looks. I did find one New England Telephone and Telegraph insulator for 5 bucks the other day. I don't have my price guide, but we don't see many of them in Eastern Oregon, so I'm happy with my find.

On a sad note, I saw the news on Fr. Jake's blog that Jim Kelsey had been killed in a car wreck on Sunday. Jim and Wes Frensdorf were the leaders in the birth of "Total Ministry" and both have now died in life shortening crashes. Jim was a vital resource to us in the old Seven Rivers Cluster and just a really good guy and a truly committed Christian. The purple shirt didn't seem to change him as it has so many bishops. He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I can see Jesus hanging up his halo and putting on comfortable clothes and shooting the breeze with Jim.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Off on Vacation

Well we're getting ready to leave for Massachusetts Wednesday morning. We have an 8 AM flight from Boise, Idaho. We go over to Boise the night before our flight; that way we don't have to get up really early to get through the security checks. We have gotten people to mow the lawns, water the yard and take care of our sweet babboo, Sophia. She gets depressed when we leave her home for a couple of weeks. Her "Auntie" Juanita is gone, so Sophia will have to get used to a new keeper, "Auntie Charlene". I won't be writing in my blog for a while, not that I think I will be missed.

We are going to watch our Grand-daughter Alex graduate from High School. It seems like yesterday when we helped her family move from Oregon to Massachusetts. Actually, it was 10 years ago, and she has grown into a beautiful young lady. She has her college selected and has been accepted. The school is a couple of hours from home, so she can come home on a regular basis. Her parents will like that, I'm not sure she will. Her gift arrived intact last week, that was a load off my mind. I had fears of it arriving in pieces, but FedEx did a great job of handling it. I'll post a picture of it after we get back. I'd do it now, but she may be one of the 3 people who read this thing and then she would know what she was getting.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lambeth Conference

The big news in the Episcopal Church is The Archbishop of Canterbury's snub of Gene Robinson in issuing invitations to the 2008 Lambeth Conference. Lambeth is held every 10 years and generally includes all of the Bishops in the Anglican Communion. Lambeth is the one time that all of the bishops get together and discuss the future of the Anglican Communion. In essence it is really the only time that the communion gets together and none of its decisions are binding. In recent years the bishops from the former British Colonies have flexed their conservative muscles and denounced the liberalism of the American Episcopal Church, and the ordination of Gene Robinson really set them off. They have threatened to break communion with the Episcopal Church and the conservatives in the Episcopal Church are up in arms about this possible break with the rest of the Anglican Communion. Worra, worra, what will come of us? I for one am sick and tired of all this crap. I think it's time to tell the conservatives in our church and in the Anglican Communion to kiss off. If this be schism then so be it. Let them join the Jerry Falwells and the Pat Robertsons and leave us alone. Just leave the buildings to those who choose to stay. They obviously think that we are all going to Hell anyway, so let them go their way and we'll go ours.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Peace Garden

A group of us from Malheur County traveled to Burns (120 miles or so) to help the people of St. Andrew's Church clean out an unused piece of ground behind the church to create a Peace Garden. After loading a 10 yd dumpster with weeds and junk and painting a picket fence, we erected a Peace Pole with the words "Let Peace on Earth Prevail" written in four languages, English, Paiute, and two others I didn't recognize. We also installed a bench with the phrase, "Sit awhile and let your spirit rest", an African proverb. The worker's ages ranged from 12 to 80+ and everybody had a great time. The four churches represented probably couldn't muster a total of 100 people, but we showed that we can do great things when we work together. We're trying to tear down those provincial barriers that so often separate us. I think it's working, the other three churches want their own Peace Garden, and the man who inscribed the Peace Pole with his router has offered to make one for each of us. The next step is to get a work party together at the next church on the list and build its Peace Garden. The Paiute language was used because Burns is next to a Paiute Reservation and they share the Priest at St. Andrew's with the Episcopalians and the ELCA Lutheran Church. We are thinking of using Japanese, Spanish, and Basque along with English because they represent the dominant ethnic groups represented in our community.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Juanita Meyer

This afternoon we held the funeral for our next door neighbor Juanita Meyer. She had been diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer last September, right after she and her husband Paul celebrated their 60th anniversary. They have been our neighbors since 1984 and they were great neighbors. They took care of our animals and our house and yard whenever we were gone. Our old cat Opie had Juanita trained to let her in when we were gone, but refused to notice her when we were home.

It was a great service, the Celebrant was a female ELCA pastor and she was assisted by a Missouri Synod Lutheran Pastor (Juanita's Nephew) and an Episcopal Priest (me). There was a good crowd, lots of family and lots of friends. I think we sent her off in grand fashion. Paul was pleased and he has decided to live by himself for at least a year. He basically told his family to back off and let him live his life. Good for him! I think we may do a bit of fishing this summer. Safe journey Juanita.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day

I got to thinking the other day that the church gives mothers a short shrift. The BCP has no prayers for mothers except for those who are pregnant. Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, has very little said about her. She does get some exposure at the wedding at Cana, but she comes off as somewhat of a nag, asking her son to take care of the wine shortage. Then she gets to watch his crucifixion, which is something every mother wants to do. I think that the Episcopal Church should set aside the Sunday of Mother's Day as a day to celebrate mothers. At the very least they could do something for the Book of Occasional Services. I'm sure that with all of my influence I could get PB Katherine to lobby the House of Bishops to get something going for mothers. Unfortunately, the good old boys at the HoB would just think she was being self serving, you know, women can't think of anything very deep.

Well, here's to you mothers everywhere. What would we do without our Moms? I think about my mom a lot, and always thank her for giving me life and teaching me how to live it. Thanks Ma.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Price of Gas in Oregon

I am astounded by the nearly meteoric rise in gas prices in the past few weeks. They just got us accustomed to $2 a gallon gasoline and then they have jacked it up so fast that it is unbelievable. I know that the stations here in town have not gotten new deliveries while the price goes up. They are told by the company to raise the price and they have to do it. the local station owners are not getting much out of the increases, but the companies are.

I am not surprised that Congress isn't saying much about the problem, I think every Congressman/woman is in the pocket of the oil companies. When you're making $10 billion a quarter, you can afford to "contribute" to every politician's campaign coffers.

This time the reasons given are that the refineries can't keep up with demand, and that some of the refineries are down for maintenance. They can't use crude oil prices because they are fairly stable. They know that we will stand still and take it so they just keep raising the prices. I suspect it won't stop until we're around $5 a gallon. If it was just the gas prices that are going up it wouldn't be so bad, but it causes everything to go up too. Won't be long before we're in the inflationary spiral once again.

Oh well, I'm doing what I can, my car gets 35+ mpg, but it still hurts to pay $40 to fill up when is used to be less than $20. If you can afford to keep driving your Hummer, more power to you. Exxon loves ya baby!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

End this War

I got a bumper sticker from Move On in the mail yesterday. It says "ENDLESS WAR" except the LESS is crossed out and replaced by "THIS" so that it reads END This WAR. I'm not usually one to put bumper stickers on my vehicles because I feel that it contributes to the 15 second sound bite mentality. Anything worth saying is worth saying well and we should forget about the sound bite thing, but I liked this one, so it went on the bumper of my pickup. So, on one side of the rear bumper of my pickup reads "The Episcopal Church Welcomes You" and the other side reads " End this War". I'll probably get it ripped off by some young conservative, at least that's what happened to my John Kerry sticker. It's becoming more and more obvious that the war in Iraq is just going to get worse and I'm sure that there is no military solution. I'm just as sure that if we just pull out we will further destabilize the area. I suspect that Iran would take a big chunk out of Iraq and that the Kurds will declare their independence. I think GW should have listened to his daddy and left Saddam alone, because we now have a helluva mess in the Middle East with no good solution in sight.

It amazes me that we hear the same stuff now that we used to hear about Vietnam. The only good thing about this time is that we don't have a draft so that we aren't screwing up the lives of a whole generation of young people. One of the really bad things this time is the use of National Guard troops. This is one of the first times that I can remember where 50 year old guys are being deployed and killed. The National Guard troops leave their families in a real bind, since a Sgt's active duty pay isn't enough to pay for home mortgages, car payments, college tuition and the myriad other things that an established family has. For those folks who rant about supporting the troops, maybe they should get the government to pay their troops better. I can see a lot of bankruptcies as an unintended side effect of invading Iraq.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Making Sawdust

Lately I have been working on a graduation gift for my Granddaughter. She graduates from Northampton Mass. High School in June. Jean and I are looking forward to flying out for the ceremony. In my 34 years of teaching I never missed a graduation, I think that this milestone is an important one for the grads and I think it's important to show your support. Well, anyway I have been building this piece of furniture for her and I have been trying to figure out how to get it from Vale, Oregon to Northampton, Massachusetts. I have this fear that the shipping costs may be more than the value of the piece. It is a puzzler. But, I'm having so much fun building it. I spend hours working the design over in my mind and deciding how to do the next step it's unbelievable. I haven't made any stupid mistakes in the construction except for a few wayward nailgun nails that can be fixed. I love the smell of the Oak and Cedar when I step into the shop, and I sometimes go out just to look at the piece and smell the sawdust. It makes working out on the exercise machine in the shop a lot easier too. I hope she likes it. I'm going to inscribe our names on the bottom when I'm done. Maybe it will show up on Antiques Roadshow 2107 as an example of early 21st century folk art.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

George W. Bush

I have been having a good time following Garry Trudeau's "Doonesbury" comic strip over the past few weeks. Unlike the Idaho Statesman, which carries it on the editorial page with "Mallard Filmore", The Oregonian carries it on the comics page. He has been raking first, Mitt Romney, and lately, GW over the coals. My wife asked me if Romney has flip-flopped on all the issues that Trudeau has shown and if indeed, some town hall meetings in Vermont had really voted to impeach W. I told her that I wasn't sure about Romney but that I thought I had heard about the Vermont impeachment votes on NPR. If only half of the flips that Mitt is accused of are true, he is a really good choice for President which seem to require the office holder to be the biggest boldest liar in America. The Republicans filed impeachment charges on Clinton for lying about his affair with Monica, but I haven't heard much about getting GW on the block for lying about all the Iraq crap. That's the trouble with the Dems, they lack the killer instinct, if it had been Bill lying about going to war you can be that the Reps would be out for blood with Rush Limbaugh leading the pack. Poor ol' John Kerry was naive enough to believe that the Swift Boat thing woulld just die a natural death because it was patently a lie, but he didn't know the Republican mantra, "a good lie well told and stuck to is better than the truth any day". I just hope that the Dems don't blow it and let Mitt into the White House because what I've heard about him is even scarier than GW and that's going some.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


It's two days after Easter and I am still reveling in the great time we had. Good Friday was Good Friday, but then we had a joint celebration of the Easter Vigil at St. Paul's, Nyssa with parts read by folks from St. Matthew's, Ontario and Holy Trinity, Vale. I got to give the Homily and it was well received by those in attendance, (about 30) Nice to see for us tiny congregations hanging on by the skin of our teeth. We had 15 in attendance at Holy Trinity on Easter morning, a good turnout for us.

After church we went to Char's place for a non-traditional dinner. Libby and Martin came from Boise and prepared a Dutch Oven meatloaf that was to die for. The cooking was done outside using briquettes placed under and upon the Dutch Oven. Took about an hour and it was ready, about a 5 pound meatloaf. Of course, we had all the trimmings too, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower au gratin, deviled eggs, a fresh fruit salad, and two kinds of pie. I ate too much, but it all tasted so good. It was fun for us who have no close relatives nearby to get together and enjoy each other's company.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Big Brother Is Watching You

I was reading in the paper this evening that the governor and legislature are working on our state driver's licenses so that they will be in compliance with the National ID set up by the Dept. of Homeland Security. The National ID plan is supposed to keep out the ubiquitous terrorist that is threatening our lives. Gee, isn't that great?! One more infringement on our civil rights by the "less government" Republicans. What's next? Infringements on our civil rights mostly affecting minority groups. Before you know it we will be required to have our ID cards with us at all times and only those with special cards will be allowed to travel out of our area. Maybe a special card to be able to vote, you know, haven't checked any Muslim books out of the library. It is getting pretty spooky out there and no one seems to care. Come on Congress, repeal the so called Patriot Act, because if you don't, 50 years from now we'll be paying reparations to all those who were wronged through the stupid thing.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Palm Sunday

Today was Palm Sunday and the entire congregation went to St. Paul's, Nyssa for a joint service with Bishop Gregg. Bill has resigned as Bishop of Eastern Oregon and leaves April 30 to be an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of North Carolina. We wish him Godspeed. Today was Bill's farewell to Southeastern Oregon and folks from Canyon City, Parma, ID and Ontario were there as well as us. It was a nice service and it was great seeing many of the St. Paul's people who are old friends from the Seven Rivers Cluster Days. It's amazing to think that we began our bold experiment in Mutual Ministry with 7 congregations from two dioceses clustering together to uphold one another in Mutual Ministry twenty years ago. It was a grand experiment ending finally with a turf battle with a Bishop and priestly indiscretion. Both St. Paul's and Holy Trinity continue to work in ministry for all the baptized and fondly remember those halcyon days when each day was a new beginning and a new awakening. We had a lot of people excited about doing ministry. Perhaps it's not possible to keep such excitement alive for 20 years, but we gave it a heckofa shot. Today was like old home week seeing the remnant (at least the Eastern Oregon side) get together. Many are gone, and they are missed. I remember one Easter Vigil at Holy Trinity with 70 people in the church, probably the only time that HT has seen so many worshippers. Well, it doesn't do any good to pine for lost times, we must move forward, we have other souls to win and other hearts to mend.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Spring Has Sprung Indeed

I fired up the lawn mower and changed the oil. Sounds simple, but like many chores around the homestead it was anything but simple. First, the mower wouldn't start, the battery was low, so I had to push it over to the shop and put the battery charger on it. Finally got it to start and let it run awhile to warm the oil up. Then I had to remove the grass catcher to get to the oil plug. The grass catcher is a strange thing that allows you to dump the grass clippings in a pile on the back of the estate...I don't have an estate, and have to haul my clippings to a friend's place and give the clippings to the horses next door. The whole apparatus attaches to the back of the mower with a large plate that the basket hooks to so that it can pivot to empty the grass. The plate didn't want to come loose, but after an hour and some determined tugging and grunting it came loose. Draining the oil was then a snap, except that it did not drain into the bucket I had placed under it and instead ran onto the ground. For once I had been smart enough to place so that any spilled oil would go onto the ground instead of onto the floor of the shop. It was fairly easy to shovel up the oiled soil (or soiled oil or perhaps oil soiled soil?) and put it into the garbage. By this time it was lunch time so I quit for a while. After lunch it was nap time so I didn't get back to it until about 3 pm. I mowed Our yard and neighbor Paul's yard and took to clippings over to Char's. The horses came running, but it was such nasty looking stuff that I just put it in the compost heap rather than giving it to them. They were not happy, but I pointed out that they have several months of grass clippings to look forward to. I had planned to start Paul's pump and mine as well so we could get some water on the yards, but the mower took so long that I didn't have time to do it. Maybe Monday after taxes.

By the way, if you would like help with your taxes, check out the local AARP Tax Aid program in your area. There is a cadre of well trained volunteers who will do your taxes for free and in many sites e-file them as well. They are trained to do the usual returns and won't do business returns or those complicated returns involving capital gains (losses). Check them out, our little group will do around 600+ returns before we quit on April 15.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Portland, Oregon

Jean and I made a trip to Portland this past weekend. We don't get there too often since it's 400 miles away. We lived there in the late 50's and early 60's while I was going to school. It's amazing how it has changed in just 40 years or so! We stayed at the Mark Spencer Hotel which is on SW 11th and Stark. It is a very nice place with very friendly staff. I would recommend it to you if you ever get to Portland. It's close to downtown and right next to the Pearl District, which is a good example of urban renewal. Instead of tearing down all of the old buildings and starting new (which they did in SW Portland 40 years ago) they just recycled the old buildings into new uses. The old National Guard Armory, which looks like an old castle, is now a performing arts theater. Our grand daughter lives in a new set of apartments built across the street from the old RR car barns, which now supply parking for those working in the city. She can ride the light rail or walk to anyplace she wants to go, has no need of a car. The Pearl District is filled will art galleries and little shops and has become a fun place to go. When we lived in Portland, that area was to be avoided, it was the skid road section of town. My only concern is where did the folks who used to live down there go? It was even seedier than the section we lived in , but the rents were really cheap. Those elderly folks living on Social Security can't afford the rents in the Pearl now. Where did they put them? The homeless folks live in tent villages or under the bridges, but I can't see someone in their 70's surviving very long in that environment. I've never seen anything in The Oregonian about low cost housing for the elderly. That's the downside of gentrification. The people who used to live there can't afford it any more. The downtown core is now a really people friendly place now, but I hurt for those forced out.

Here is a picture of one of the canes that Paul and I make. This is a short one, for someone around 5 feet tall. We can make them for taller folks too. I just happened to be out of the longer ones. Once Paul gets the bark off I can have one ready in a couple of days. It takes a day for each coat of Spar Varnish to dry. I have tried to show some of the character and grain of the wood in the first two pictures. The last picture is the overall look of the cane.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Assorted Musings

I have been away from the computer for a while. I went to my adopted grand-daughter's graduation from college. She graduated from the Art Institute of Portland (Oregon) with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Computer Computer Game Design. When I got my Bachelor's degree the desk top computer had yet to be invented, in fact in the summer of 1965 while attending Summer School at NDSU in Fargo I got to see my first desktop computer while on a field trip to the Control Data factory in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was a computer that they had been able to shrink to the size of an office desk. (If you didn't count the air-conditioning needed to keep all those relays and transistors cool) I suspect that its computing power was a little less than the TI 30 scientific calculator of today. Times have certainly changed. As a part of the graduation, each graduate participated in a portfolio showing at the Art Institute. Most of the portfolios were on CD Roms and displayed on TV screens. I was amazed at the creativity of the students. Their computer graphics displayed a level of sophistication that was not being done anywhere at the time of their birth. Now, nearly all graphics and design are being done on computers, and these kids will be right in the middle of that. At any rate, I was very proud of Kelly who graduated in 3 years by going straight through without any summer breaks. She also worked part time to help pay for her expenses. And, to top it off, she already has a job designing characters for video games, in fact she already has her name as one of the creators of a game currently on the market. I forgot the name of the game, anything beyond solitaire is out of my league.

I have added a link to another Blog, "23 Acres of Dirt". She sent me a very nice e-mail thanking me for my musings. It's nice to know that someone reads this stuff that I spew forth every day or so. She's the first person outside of my family who has aknowledged reading me. This is so different from writing sermons, with preaching, you at least know that there are people in the pews whom. you have a chance of reaching. Maybe I should get one of those counter things, but that could be devastating if the numbers are really low. Oh well, I am writing to put my thoughts on the page, not for an audience. Its really such a crap-shoot to find a blog by just surfing, there are so many of them. I do bookmark the ones I like. I like 23 Acres of Dirt.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Spring

Well, the cycle has started. I put fertilizer on my lawn today, that will make it grow, which means I'll have to mow it and water it, then mow and water, then ... I really don't mind mowing the lawn, especially since I got the riding mower. I do the neighbor's lawn too, he's in his 80's and doesn't get around very well. It almost kills him that he can't do the things he used to do. He has worked all his life doing one thing or another, and inactivity is not his cup of tea.

We are making canes out of sagebrush, his job is to peel the bark off the sagebrush that we collect. It is quite a job because there are all sorts of cracks and divots that the bark grows into and is somewhat difficult to get out. He does a great job and the canes look great ... unfortunately, they they don't sell. People like the look of them, but they figure they can make one themselves. So, we just give them away for gifts. My daughter has one that she uses where she lives in Massachusetts and says that she gets all sorts of favorable comments about it. Sagebrush has a wonderful grain and the inner layer of the bark is yellow/gold that just glows when covered with varnish. I guess that I will have to post a photo of one of our canes. Who knows, maybe we will start an on-line cane business. Just $19.95 plus shipping and handling, and if you order now we will include a sagebrush medallion at no extra cost.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Spring, and a young man's thoughts turn to love, but an old fart's thoughts turn to cleaning the flower beds. I think it's that time of the year. I got out my shorts today and wore them for the first time in 2007! Nearly froze to death...maybe 57 degrees is a little too cold even for a fat man. I did get some of the flower beds cleaned out and made an inventory of dead rose bushes. I lost several this winter, it wasn't really cold, but it got down to about 5 degrees and stayed there for a couple of weeks. I had some roses that were showing signs of stress last fall and they died. I am slowly learning how to grow roses thanks mostly to Paul, my next door neighbor. He worked in test plots in California for a number of years and knows how to take care of them. This is a picture of one of my roses that I took last summer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sunset in Eastern Oregon

One of the neat things about living in Eastern Oregon is the fabulous sunsets. I often go across the street to the High School parking lot and take pictures of the sunsets. This one was taken in July just before a thunder storm passed through. As you can see the sky was fantastic. Digital cameras are a boon too, you can see what you have immediately, and take more if needed. Of course, you can take a bundle of pictures and cull out the poor ones. Just make sure you have a lot of memory on your computer, because it's hard to remove pictures once you've seen them. Summer is best because in the winter the sun is too far south and the sunsets are hidden by the horizon. Come see sometime.

Sunday, March 4, 2007


The Oregonian newspaper (Portland, OR) recently published a series of articles about new teachers leaving the profession. The article was pushing the idea thatthe State Legislature fund a Mentor program for beginning teachers. They pointed out, and rightly so, that the beginning teacher is thrown into the classroom without any support or supervision. I remember my first few years of teaching, the stress was unbelievable. It didn't seem like I had enough time to do all that was required of me. I took work home every night and had little time for my new family. Fortunately, my wife was super supportive and helped as much as she could. I stuck it out and stayed in the same school for 34 years, plus 9 more as a substitute. It is a tough few years for beginners. The newspaper article correctly identified the problems the new teacher faces and stated that the new teacher could really use the support of a mentor. I applaud the Oregonian's attempt to help the young educator. I also applaud it for attempting to stop the exodus of well qualified teachers from the profession.

However, I find it ironic that a few years ago the same newspaper ran a series of "expose'" articles on how much it cost school districts to pay teachers and the fringe benefits they received. The paper attacked teachers as money hungry dolts who didn't care at all about their students. The Oregonian thoroughly demonized teachers and the teaching profession in general. Teachers and the dreaded teacher's union the OEA/NEA were blamed for everything from poor student scores to global warming. I wonder where the beginning teachers got the idea that they had no support? So now we should worry about the teacher drain? It would be great if the media quit their attacks on educators and started showing the care that the great majority of teachers have for their students. Who knows, it just might help slow the teacher turnover.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Oregon's Measure 37

I have been amused about the the amount of ink devoted the the Ballot Measure 37 question. Did the voters really know what thy were voting for? Hell no! When do the voters ever know what they're voting for? Many of the folks I talk to base their vote on the looks of the candidate or some 10 second sound bite. Say the current law is unfair and you've got their vote. After all we have to be fair and let people do whatever they want.

If you want to see what the lack of land use planning looks like take a look at the Boise, Idaho area. Housing developments are eating up about 40 acres of prime farm ground a day. Nearly all of the farm ground between Boise and Caldwell(about 25 miles)has been covered with housing.

I have two solutions for the current clamor to allow people to build on the farm ground they have held for years. First, make them pay the difference in property taxes between land zoned for exclusive farm use and land zoned for development. In other words, if they want to value their property at $100,000 per acre or more, then have them pay their taxes on that value for the entire time they have held the property instead of the special tax rate on farm property. My second solution is more nasty. I propose putting a chicken ranch next to any Measure 37 developments. You can grow a lot of chickens on 20 acres, and those long low sheds holding 40,000 chickens each are really rather attractive. Either that or a 7,000 head dairy farm.

One of the complaints I read about in the Boise paper is that the farmers baling hay in the middle of the night to get the dew on the alfalfa to make the hay more palatable to cattle, disturbs the sleep of the folks who wanted to build in the country.

Few laws are fair, somebody is going to be put out by laws and rules made for the majority and even more so by laws made to protect minorities. That's life! Get over it folks! What worked when fewer than a million people lived in Oregon doesn't work when 2 million plus live in the Portland Metro area. Don't even get me started on the lumber companies who took out all the good trees and then shut down their mills and now want to ensure that no trees will grow back by building homes in the forest.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm Here to Stay

I have decided to make this my only blog. Consequently I am abandoning Rural Rantings in favor of this site. I like the title better, it doesn't make me feel like a grouch old fart. I'm really not very grouchy at all, but I suppose the old fart tag does fit.

While surfing through blogs on Blogspot I ran across one site that made me laugh. The author promised to be fair and truthful no matter who it touched. He then proceeded to blast Al Gore and his "Inconvenient Truth" documentary because Al owns several homes and cars and perhaps even an airplane. The writer seemed to think that Al Gore's ownership of multiple homes and cars disqualified him from warning the world about Global Warming. I kind of got the feeling that our teller of truth was following the old Republican tactic of defaming anyone who disagrees with the current administration. The fact of the matter is that no matter whet you think about Al Gore, he is telling an "Inconvenient Truth". The scientific community agrees that global warming is very real and that we must do what we can to reduce our part in causing it. We should all demand better fuel efficiency in our transportation. We should all use cleaner fossil fuels. We should all insulate our homes and businesses to reduce the ammount of heating fuel and air conditioning we use. I'm not sure where our fair and truthful writer got his facts about Gore's home ownership, but it sounded like something Rush Limbaugh would say. And we all know that Rush has never met a half-truth that he didn't like.