Category Archives: Random musings

An Ode to a Grandfather


I’ve written a post for my seminary’s faculty blog that can be found here. It is about a man who functioned as a grandfather to me during my most formative years. Mr. Ballard died recently and so I wrote a few reflections.

If you go and read the post, you’ll get to see a picture of me during my last hunting trip with Mr. Ballard (and my father on the right). It was during Thanksgiving in either 1990 or 1991. You gotta love the mismatched clothes: a ski jacket, hunter red pants and flame orange to boot. The photo was taken on Terrible Mountain, just off Rte 100 near Okemo Mountain. This area had all that I love in New England woods: old logging trails, half-hidden stone walls from generations ago when the area was used for farming, and a burbling trout stream. Add to it the chance to have a fire to toast a sandwich and you have all you need for a peaceful day.

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NYC reflections


Central Park - New York

Image by budgetplaces.com via Flickr

Having spent less than 24 hours in Manhattan (more specifically just Southwest of Central Park), I feel qualified to make some observations about the Big Apple (wink). In no particular order

  • Residents there must make tons of money because,
    • they are wearing some obviously stylish get-ups
    • everything costs a gazillion dollars plus tax
  • Female residents must have genetically modified feet because they have to walk forever on stiletto heels
  • Central Park is quite a happening place on a Saturday afternoon. One might run into sunbathers, bocci ball players, a man wheeling a bass, a minstrel show, and a napper under every tree
  • Residents must not have much fear of heights as I saw individuals leaning on balcony railings some 30 floors up
  • Vendors work VERY hard
  • Pigeons are afraid of nothing
  • The lights are well-timed so you can travel pretty quickly (on a Saturday in the Summer) up and down the Island
  • It is a good place to visit, not so good to live!

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Feeling at home based on geography


In 2006 I wrote these paragraphs after spending some time in New England:

Just spent a week in Connecticut and Massachusetts. I spent most of my growing up years in Vermont, have lived in Mass, NH, and Maine, where my parents live now. There’s something about NE that feels like home. The houses, the terrain, the temperature. It all gives the feel of home, even though I have only lived 2 years in NE in the last 20. Even the Red Flops 5 game loss to the Yankees at home made me feel like I had never left.

We spent 2 days with friends who live north of Boston. To me, this is quintessential NE. The water, the houses, the beauty all around.

I wonder if others have this experience too. I guess it’s a taste of Heaven, when we finally feel at rest and at home with the Lord.

Having just made a quick trip to Western Mass., I am again reminded by the “ahhh” feeling I get when there. I think it is a combination of topography, the typical greenery, the clapboard homes, and a host of fond memories. I can also tell you that though I like my job and my current friends, I do not get that feeling on the drive back to the Philadelphia area.

Does anyone else have this experience with a geographical location?

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Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas all. Hope you are enjoying winter white if you are in a cold environ or the warm glow if elsewhere. We are looking forward to seeing Maine at Christmas–where you want plenty of snow (like below)! Will be back to posting in January 2010.

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Thoughts on DIY Projects


Why is it that do-it-yourself projects are always depicted in beautiful pictures? Why isn’t Home Depot’s motto: You can do it yourself. It will be wrong. Then you can come back and spend more money to do it again and again?

I did a DIY this holiday weekend. I built a “dry laid wall” out of Pennsylvania Bluestone on my front lawn. The book I bought showed a very clean man easily removing sod (on a very level piece of property). Then it showed him stacking his rocks in similar sized pieces. The next picture had the wall half built–and perfectly level. Also, his various rock sizes fit as perfectly as puzzle pieces. In just three pictures, he was done.

I, on the other hand, needed half of Friday, most of Saturday, and all of Monday to get close to finished. I was dirtier than I had been in a long time. I was immensely sore from lifting rocks. But, I did learn glean some positive elements.

1. I have a new appreciation for Nehemiah 4 and the challenges of turning rubble into something that will stand up to gravity. And I didn’t have a Sanballat trying to kill me while I was building my 12 food wall that couldn’t protect me from spitballs.
2. My wife and I worked together, despite neither ever having a masonry class, without fighting.
3. I have a greater appreciation for those in the trades. AND I’m very glad to have a job where exercising my mind is my “heavy lifting.” I am reminded of the days when I worked a summer job building lobster traps. Never more was I glad to go the extra mile in my courses than in the fall when I was just done my manual labor job.
4. One should never say, “how hard can it be?” before starting a DIY. There is a negative correlation between the ease of that statement and that actual difficulty with the job.
5. That cracking and breaking ceramic tile floor in our downstairs bathroom has a few more years in it before I forget my learnings here and think, “how hard can it be?”
6. Those DIY jobs on TV should be permenantly banned.

The funny thing? I actually enjoyed it despite the hard work and not knowing how it would turn out.

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How often do you change your look?


I know a certain famous speaker/counselor who looks different every time I see him. Long hair, shorter hair, big mustache, no mustache. His clothes are always changing too–usually in rather hip duds. He seems comfortable with personal change.

I, on the other hand, do not. I like sitting in the same section at church or a classroom. I like my messy desk to stay the same (I know where stuff is!). And I still like wearing classic jeans and don’t think the baggier look is all that great a look for me.

But last week I changed my hair style–something I’ve done about 3 times in my life. Had the no part, dutch boy bangs from high school til after seminary (with both long and short hair styles. Then I went to the part on the side til last week (about 15 years). But, my genes destine me for hair loss (probably ending up in that wonderful horseshoe pattern) and so I went to get my hair cut last week and asked if there were other styles that would make my hair look less thin (besides the comb forward, the wraparound, etc.) and came out with a new ‘do.

Did I tell you I don’t like change? It took me several days to actually look at it in the mirror. If I didn’t look, then maybe it wasn’t really a change. But my friendly coworkers “helped” by making numerous comments–helped in that sort of exposure therapy kind of way.

Here’s what I learned about myself. I like changes in activities and in food, but I don’t like to mess with style or habit. What does this mean about me wanting to have style or look always the same (a battle I’m losing on several fronts) or my counselor friend who is always changing his look? I think it is somehow attached to laziness for me. I don’t want to have to think about hair or clothes, ever!

Which kind of person are you? Hip to change? Wanting to stay the same?

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