Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 3-D

As I had hoped, we stopped by to see Brady...and his family...late this afternoon.  Now Brady is 5 and a half years old, but he can still nap like a demon!  I envy him greatly in that regard.  When Brady plays, he plays hard, and when he sleeps, he sleeps hard.  The evidence is in the hair.  Brady wakes up from his afternoon naps with some of the finest cases of "bedhead" that I have ever seen.
Our day began WAY earlier than it should have.  No, we did not get involved in any of the Black Friday foolishness, rather we both agreed to play tennis this morning.  Not a good idea!  It was probably for the best that we got a little exercise, but at least in my case dragging 15 pounds of poultry (tucked within my gizzard) around with me on a tennis court for an hour and a half didn't make for a great deal of success.  On the way home from the tennis club we stopped at the grocery to procure what was needed to get started on the Christmas baking.  What we accomplished this afternoon was enough to make a 5th grade boy laugh uncontrollably for a week...peppernuts and a whole bunch of fudge...if you've ever been around a 5th grade boy you will certainly understand.

By late afternoon we had finished what we could of the Christmas food production for the day so it was time to head out for a little Black Friday fun.  We went to Costco.  I managed to purchase a foot-long polish sausage (which looked and tasted like a hot dog) and a 20 ounce refillable pop for a buck and a half.  What a savvy shopper I am!  After wolfing down the wienie we picked up a couple of items and joined the parade of 60 inch flat screen TV's out the door.  Kay and I were conspicuous in the fact that we were the only ones walking out without one.  It was at this point that we stopped in to visit Brady, his dad, mom, sister, grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, 3 cousins and 2 dogs.  If you look closely it appears that I have a bit of "bedhead" too.
The day is ending quietly, and in at least one respect similar to how it began.  I got my butt kicked this morning on a tennis court and I got my butt kicked this evening playing canasta with my bride.  Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Three Killed in Neighborhood Thanksgiving Mishaps

Note:  This submission has been prompted by the multitude of readers of this blog who are clamoring for more information...mostly about my buddy Brady.  Unfortunately I haven't seen the little guy since Halloween, but I hope to tomorrow.

Also...this update is being offered posthumously...refer to the title above.


Here it is, Thanksgiving Day, a day to rest and eat...right?  Well, not so much around our cul-de-sac, today has been a day of hard labor, at least for the guys.  It seems that 3 of us have been involved in potentially deadly activities.  About 10 this morning I ventured out with my step and extension ladders to clean all of the pine needles and other assorted gunk out of the gutters.  I would have gotten out of this if not for that fact that all of the snow and ice that was on the ground, rooftops and in gutters last weekend melted off this week.  The endeavor had me a good 20 feet or so in the air...compliments of the ladder...leaning and reaching for all of that cold, wet and soupy stuff.  I also had to climb on the roof a couple of times in order to accomplish my mission.  I could have been killed!  Ya think my wife cared?  Doesn't seem like it...she's still in her pajamas (note the time is 3:09pm).  At the same time that I was going up and down the ladder and bounding from rooftop to rooftop I spied my neighbor using similar implements to install his Christmas lights.  At one point he was perched on his roof, a good 25 to 30 feet above ground, defying death in order to add color and light to his holiday experience.  He may well have met his end...I haven't paid much attention for a couple of hours.  If that's not enough, out in the driveway of the next house over I see another neighbor setting up to deep fry their turkey.  I recall from our days living in the southeast...much warmer days...that people liked to cook their birds in this manner, and invariably a half dozen or so houses were burned to the ground each year in the process.  At this point I haven't noticed any conflagrations, but the day ain't over yet.

I mentioned above that I DID see Brady back on Halloween.

Cowboy Brady made out like a bandit as he bushwacked the old neighborhood, plundering the locals for food.

That's all for now...the firetrucks just showed up across the street.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween Fright

Twas the night before Halloween, and all through the house...not a creature was stirring, not even a louse.  That's pretty much the way things are for us "empty nesters".  At least I think it is.  I just mentioned to the little lady Kay (yes!!!) that we aren't carving pumpkins this evening.  Her response was..."so!"  Alas, it is true, without a kid in the house Halloween is relegated to buying a bunch of candy bars three weeks before the actual date of the event, and then try our best to eat them all before it gets here.  We haven't been successful yet, but there is still almost 24 hours to accomplish that fete.  We did go to a Halloween party last night...without costumes and we stayed all of 36 minutes.

The big event this weekend is...of course...the celebration of the Lutheran Reformation.  It is remembered each year, on or about the 31st of October, because on October 31st in the year 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg Germany.  Among his points for discussion was "why coffee must be served after every worship service, the need for all songs and hymns to be spontaneously sung in 4 part harmony, and the requirement that no one...and I mean no one...sits in my selected seat on Sunday morning."  (all good Lutheran's understand the sanctity of one's own church pew!)  Along with the Reformation celebration we also commemorated the 102 birthday of one of our church members, Gladys.  Now it's not every day that someone turns 102!  And it wasn't today.  Actually, her birthday took place this past Monday.  Because a 102nd birthday is not a regular occurrence we scheduled a HUGE bash last Sunday, after the worship service.  We alerted the media, and camera crew from the local CBS affiliate took the bait and showed up.  The problem was...the guest of honor didn't.  No one knew where she was.  a little later in the day the mystery was solved.  It turns out that on the previous Thursday afternoon, just after renewing her driver's license for another 5 years, Gladys decided to stop at the car wash to clean up her 1980s vintage K-car.  In the process she took a spill, and got bruised up a good bit.  At 102 you tend to become a little fragile.  She just wasn't feeling up to coming to church last Sunday so she stayed home to rest.  She did make it today so we got to revel with her in her longevity...minus the TV crew.

Here it is, Sunday evening, and another weekend has come and just about gone.  Did I mention that I sat and watched the Wisconsin-Ohio State football game last evening?  Good, because I don't really want to talk about it.  I'll be back out on the tennis court in the morning, and that should give me the opportunity to vent my frustrations.  That should result in several more holes in the back wall of the building that houses the indoor courts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trader Joes

Today was a big day in the life of Spokane, WA, especially up here on the South Hill.  Trader Joe's opened its doors for business today.  Being that we are Trader Joe's aficionados (that's fans for all of you who live in the Rockwood Community) Kay and I decided to go and check out the scene today.  We had planned to go about noon time, after our morning tennis extravaganza (more on that below), but due to an impromptu lunch engagement on Kay's part we didn't go until 2:00pm.  When we go there the parking lot was full.  Every space within 43 and a half miles had a car in it...some had two.  In front of the store was an ambulance and a fire truck.  apparently they didn't have to find a space to legally park in.  As we walked into the store we found out why the emergency vehicles were there.  We almost passed out too!  Seems like everyone who lives east of the Cascade Range had the same idea that we did...let's go to Trader Joe's.  The waiting lines for the checkout lanes were estimated at about 1 hour.  After a quick look see we made a quick exit.

Did I mention our tennis extravaganza this morning?  Well, we had another new participant in the group.  Warren was taking the place of Bill, who apparently thinks that visiting a son in New York is a better use of one's time than playing with the posse.  Now far be it from me to complain, and I am not going to do it here, so I must admit that it was a real pleasure having Warren join our group today.  We had a very intense and competitive session, that was enjoyable to all.  At least I think it was enjoyable...if it wasn't to some of the others then that's tough!

Inspired by a recent viewing of Chopped on the Food Network we had a dinner of chicken fried pork, red-eye gravy, mashed potatoes and peas for dinner this evening.  My bride...the lovely and talented Kay (yes!) concocted a heavenly creation.  The kicker was the cayenne pepper that was added to the breading on the pork and into the gravy.  It was fantastic.  We may be breathing fire all night long, but it was fantastic!

As I wrap things up for the night I want to remind everyone that this Sunday we will be remembering and celebrating the Protestant Reformation.  It's really the Lutheran Reformation, as the rest of the protestant churches just didn't know where to stop.  Come on down to St. John's Lutheran in the Latah Valley on Sunday morning at 9:30am to find out just what all of this reformed stuff is about (John...I'm talking to you...and Mark as well).  If you don't find the worship service to your liking you will certainly like the food that follows.  Kay (yes!) is in charge of that.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Frozen Solid

This morning, October 25th 2011, we experienced our first official freeze of the season, as the official temperature as measured at the Spokane International Airport bottomed out at 29 degrees.  This is somewhat later than average, which I hope portends a later onset of winter this year.  Heck...that's Lutheran for hell...we're already experiencing a later onset of winter this year as last fall we had snow on October 18th, and again on the 25th!  In any case, winter can wait, at least from my point of view, as we are still waiting for summer to show up this year.

I am compelled to write a bit about my recent tennis experience.  That compulsion is not necessarily my own, but rather more from one of the members of my posse.  It seems that John, who is usually a happy man, is a little unhappy with the frequency with which I am recording the events from the court in this space.  In an effort to ensure the domestic tranquility, or at least the peace of the posse, I will now fill you in on what has been happening tennis-wise in the past week or so...at least as it extends to last Friday.  I have to admit, I am questioning the dedication of the posse.  One of our regular members, the Hammer, has been off to Spain for a couple of weeks, and Bill went winging away to New York.  Where are their priorities?  Where is their sense of duty?  Well enough of them, in their absence John and I have enjoyed the company of Jim and Ken.  Boy, have we enjoyed their company.  last Friday, as our morning romp was drawing to a close, John and I teamed up to take a 5 games to none lead as our time expired.  We picked things up again on Monday morning, and teamed up to begin the day with a 6-0 victory.  That was 11 games won in succession.  Pretty impressive, huh?  Our opponents didn't think so.  From there, I jumped the net to team with Jim, and we quickly moved out to a 4-0 lead...that's 15 games won in a row!  Alas, all good things must come to an end, as the streak halted there.  The next 5 games weren't pretty, as we lost 4 of them, but still prevailed in the set 6-4.  Tomorrow I will be back out there at 11:00am, and will likely go straight into the crapper.

Looking ahead to the weather for the rest of the week it appears as if the snow will continue to hold off indefinitely.  We will be cool and mostly dry, and the overnight temperature will be dipping down to around or slightly below freezing.  That's okay as long as the days warm up to 50 or so.  Most of the people I know are all wanting to talk about the winter ahead, and the predictions that it's going to be cold and snowy again this year.  That's the idea, based upon another year of La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.  My thought is that we'll know when it gets here.  Nobody around this area can accurately predict what is going to happen in the next 4 days, let alone the next 4 months!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Falling Leaves



I have been waiting for this day...for about 10 years.  The maple trees in the backyard are finally mature enough to bring bright color, and the weather is finally sunny enough to show off the color.  In previous years it has either been too windy, too gloomy or too snowy to bring on this bonanza of beauty in the backyard.  Actually, the weather yesterday was just as good, but my availability to take pictures was severely limited.  The weekend began with me out in the garden picking all of the tomatoes that we had out on the vine.  We are still to see our first freeze up here on the hill in Spokane, and it looks like that might still be at least a week away, but with the shorter and cooler days, due to the lowering sun angle, there wasn't a whole lot of natural ripening going on.  We now have an array of multicolored tomatoes...from green to yellow to orange and dull red...spread across our dining area (it's not really a room, rather part of the overall kitchen experience) table.  That's okay since as empty nesters we tend to dine from folding trays in front of the TV.

I should probably weigh in on my recent tennis experiences.  Weighing in is probably not the term that I should use, as actually weighing myself would be a very embarrassing experience.  I have spent WAY too much time sitting with a folding tray before me in front of the TV.  At any rate, I have been playing a lot of tennis lately, and at times even fairly well.  I am now part of a mixed doubles league that plays on Friday evenings.  We compete against other clubs from around town.  Our first match was a little over a week ago, Friday the 7th.  My partner, Terri, and I competed valiantly, but to now avail.  We lost the first set in a tie break, won the second set 6-4, and then lost in the determining tie breaker 10-2 (ouch).  This past Friday, two days ago, I was set to play with Terri again, but she called our team captain at 1:00pm to report that she was in Seattle.  You would have to hit the ball pretty well to get it over the net from there.  There was the possibility that I might be teamed with another partner...Tracy...if she could get out of her previous commitment for the evening.  She could not, and I found out 15 minutes before play began.  What were we to do?  Only one thing made sense, draft Kay (the missus) to play.  Now since she is not on the team roster our match would not count toward the team score, but at least we could all play.  Kay wasn't so sure about the whole thing, but like a trooper took the court.  We actually won the first game!  I thought...great, we can't get skunked.  We then proceeded to lose the set 6-1.  Undaunted, we continued on, with low expectations.  In the second set we also won the first game, and then the second.  We managed to maintain a slight lead to the point of being ahead 5-4.  It was my serve...so our fate was in my hands.  I held serve and we won the set 6-4!  That took us to a tie breaker to determine the overall winner of the match.  Kay and I jumped out to a lead, and stretched it to 6-2.  From there we must have been awakened from our dreamland.  We ended up losing the tie breaker, and the match, 10-8.  But hey, we did a lot better than we thought we would!

Well, what about my morning tennis posse...Monday, Wednesday and Friday...or should I say my version of "Grumpy Old Men".  We still get out there on a regular basis, and "enjoy" each others company.  My good friend John has taken to bringing guests to our matches, exotic birds from far away places.  Last week he brought a Kiwi, or at least he said it was a Kiwi.  It looked more like a wooden seagull, but to humor him we all agreed that it was indeed a Kiwi.  The strangest thing was that it always seemed like it was during the toss for my serve you could hear the bird faintly cry..."kiwi...kiwi...kiwi."  John is now threatening to bring an Emu to one of our sessions, but he will need to get a sun roof installed in his 1916 Volvo first.

Other than that, life is fairly quiet around the Albrecht house.  The place across the street...Brady's old house...is for sale, AGAIN.  If you would like to spice up your existence, and experience life on the front porch, just go ahead and make an offer.  The price is just about right.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Campfire Kids

Now there was a few weeks back in the not so distant past that I didn't post anything.  I bet you have been wondering what I was doing.  Yeah...I bet!  Well, here is the explanation.
Back in August when we spent some time at my brother Dave's lake place in northern Wisconsin we discovered this little beauty, and discovered that they were available at your local Fleet Farm store for the paltry fee of just $25.  On our way south we stopped in Antigo, Wisconsin and picked one up.  It has afforded us hours and hours of enjoyment, as our backyard has been converted to a vacation paradise sitting around the campfire each evening.  Once again tonight we made our dinner on our campfire grill...a whole chicken butterflied and roasted.  Since taking possession of this little beauty we have had enjoyed the finest of roasted and grilled cuisine, and not a single entree has been overcooked or dried out.  It all turns out absolutely delicious!  Everything is cooked over a wood fire, which burns much cleaner than charcoal.  It is my sincere desire to invite all of you over to enjoy the bounty of this beauty, but we know a lot of people, so don't hold your breath...we'll get to everyone before 2020.  Now you can certainly understand why I found it hard to tear myself away from the grill to write in this space.

For the first time in 3 weeks I managed to take a day off today.  Things got off to a good start with hot coffee and a breakfast burrito at McDonald's, and then a trip to the tennis club.  I had a lot of aggression to work through this morning as I missed out on playing on Wednesday.  The Hammer (Mark) had a friend in town so I graciously gave up my spot.  Aggression is not always the best thing to have on a tennis court though, as it tends to make your shots fly well past the baseline and put holes in the back wall.  I also managed to nail Bill in the back with one of my serves, but that might have been a payback from him hitting John in the back with a forehand ground stroke.

Tomorrow morning we have our monthly Men's Breakfast at church.  We get together in the Man Cave for lots of food, fellowship and a Bible study.  Things get underway at 8:30am, in case you want to stop by.

The weather today was warm and sunny, about 80 this afternoon.  I have marveled at the fact that the maple trees in my backyard have yet to take on any fall color.  In the past few years they have pretty much dropped their leaves by the first of October.  Things will be getting a bit cooler over the next few days, closer to 70.  By Tuesday and Wednesday of next week we will probably be in the 50s with clouds and a little rain.  There is still no sign of a freeze in the next week, which is a real good thing as we have lots of tomatoes out there on the vine.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Back in the Saddle

In our past episode, it was a gray, cool and damp day in Fort Rain, Windiana.  As I look out my office window it is another gray, cool and damp day, this time in Spokane, WA.  It seems as if the only thing that has changed has been my location...about 2000 miles and 3 time zones farther west.

I made my return trip to the Great Northwest on Saturday morning.  On Friday night my friend and cohort Rich and I were in Chicago, visiting with members of his family, and didn't get back to the hotel until about 11:30pm.  Sleep happened by about midnight, but it was rudely interrupted by the alarm clock at 4:00am.  We checked out of the hotel...ah, no we didn't, as there was no one at the front desk at that hour.  We drove to Midway Airport and checked in the rental car...ah, no we didn't, as there was no one at the rental return desk at that hour, and we checked in for our flight...ah, no we didn't as we had both done that the morning before.  Anyway, we board our Frontier flight to Denver for a 6:00am departure,  and parted company in Denver as Rich headed back for the Sacramento area and I to Spokane.  My flight hit the ground at Spokane International Airport at 9:00am PDT, a full 38 minutes ahead of schedule.  Since we were early I made the decision to call home to alert my bride of that fact.  As I announced to her that we were on the ground the response that I got was "Oh crap!"  How's that for a welcome home after being away from home for a week.

I once I got back home I quickly turned things around so that I could head for the church to get things prepared for Sunday.  I must have looked like death warmed over that day as everybody that stopped by said, "You look like death warmed over!"  After getting little sleep for a week at the seminary, a very short night in Chicago, and being crammed into a space the size of a watermelon on two different airplanes for 4 hours Saturday morning I really didn't care what I looked like.

Sunday morning came and I was told that I looked better...not good, mind you, but better.  We had a baptism in the morning worship service, little Tommy.  He's about a year and a half old and the cutest little guy that you could imagine.  Sunday afternoon was spent getting caught up on all of the usual stuff that didn't get done around the house all week.  Kay got plenty done last week but for some reason I was a bit remiss in my duties.

I am still having issues adjusting back to Pacific Time.  All last week I was waking up between 6:30 and 7:00am.  I am still waking up between 6:30 and 7:00am, but the problem is that it's Eastern Time, which makes it between 3:30 and 4:00am here.  On Monday morning I did manage to get back to sleep and was out cold when Kay's alarm went of at 7:55.  Have you ever had that experience where you have no idea where you are, who's clock is making all that noise and what day it is?  "Is that my alarm?  What day is it!  Is it Sunday, do we have church this morning?  Am I preaching  Monday, you say?  What do I do on Monday?   What I do on Monday is reconnect with the tennis posse for my regular butt-whoopin'!  It was somewhere in the second set that I finally regained full consciousness.

Now I am back behind my desk, once again trying to figure out just what I do around here.  I've got some reading to do and a paper to write for the class that I am taking this quarter, but motivation seems to be an issue.  (That's why it has taken since Friday morning for me to write again)  We'll see...how...far......I........get..............ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Last Day

It's Friday morning, the first day of fall.  The season is certainly in the air here in Fort Rain, Windiana.  It rained all night and there is a lingering mist, and the temperature is near 50.  This the last day of our pilgrimage to the seminary here, and later this afternoon Rich (my trusted sidekick) and I will be motoring our way back toward Chicago in order to wing our way westward early (very early) tomorrow morning.  We head for Denver at 6:00am, and then Rich will head for Sacramento and I to Spokane.  Once I get home it will be back to summer again as temperatures on Saturday will be in the low 90s.

I will miss the camaraderie and fellowship of all the guys, but I will NOT miss the short little bed.  What I will miss the most is the food, and that will certainly show for the next couple of weeks.  It's not that it is as good as home, but is pretty tasty, and extremely abundant.

We still have a couple of guys that are still to undergo the Theological Interview (TI).  At this point all but one of us, the very first, has passed it.  One of the guys is not taking the exam at this time, as he doesn't feel he is ready, but with the two this morning very likely to get through successfully our percentage of success will be above 90%.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I Know the Secret Handshake!


Today was a rather nerve racking one.  It was warm last night, so I kept the window open, and my neighbor’s alarm went off at 6:00am…then again at 6:05am…once more at 6:10am…until 6:20.  Since I could have used a little extra sleep due to my “Holy Roller” routine from about 11pm to 1am, and since class wasn’t set to start until 9, I was a little miffed.  Being that this is a Christian institution I figured that it might be bad form to go next door and strangle the poor fool until dead, so I didn’t.  Well, I thought I might as well just get up and get back at the studying for the TI…remember?  That stands for Theological Interview…that I had scheduled for 3 this afternoon.  As I began looking over the material once again it seemed to be appearing in foreign languages, not just one, but a whole bunch of them.  As that didn’t seem to be too fruitful, I went to breakfast.  If I could only get them to talk about food in the “TI” I would be home free.  I am becoming a real expert at consuming the cuisine here!

Once class got started the day began quickly.  I’ve got to tell you, my professor, Dr. Schulz, is a real hoot.  He is of German heritage, and was born in South Africa to a missionary family, so his mixture of a German and South African English accent, along with his incredible “dry” sense of humor, and even his appearance, reminds me of Craig Ferguson from the Late Show on CBS.  He’s a brilliant man, incredibly funny, and a very good teacher so class is extremely enjoyable and enlightening.

Now a good share of my classmates had their “TI” today, with the first being at 11:00am.  Remember yesterday?  The first of the lambs that was led to the slaughter (Rich) didn’t make it through, so we were all on edge today.  Well, we found out at lunch that Frank nailed it, and passed with flying colors, and then Aaron did the same in the early afternoon.  A whole bunch of us had TIs between 2 and 5 this afternoon, and all of the other guys passed theirs as well.

That leaves me.  I went into battle at 3:00pm and didn’t stop talking for an hour, at least it seemed that way.  Some of the questions were rather tough, but I knew the answers, and when the two professors wanted to me to delve more deeply into a subject, I was pretty much able to stand my ground.  After the hour was up I was told to wait in the reception area while they deliberated by fate.  Should I be passed?  Or should I be fed to the lions?  After about two of the longest minutes of my life the door to the office opened and I was shown the secret handshake and given the password needed to enter the secret room with the stash of communion wine under the catacombs…I PASSED!

One of the things that Prof. Schulz continues to tell us is that a pastor needs to work hard, and should not drink his beer until 8 in the evening, not at 3 in the afternoon.  At 8:00pm I cracked open a beer, a Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest…Prosit!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh No!

As we were eating dinner (we do an awful lot of eating here it the seminary...but then again...we are Lutheran!) the first of our group, my posse, returned from his Theological Interview (from this point forward I will refer to it as a "TI").  It was two and a half hours after his appointed time.  Well, the results in his case were not favorable, which prompted all of the rest of us to extreme nervousness.  His hang-up was not being able to cite sufficient Bible texts to support his answers.  Time for the rest of us to do some additional memory work!

The bottom line though is that none of the rest of us still know what to expect in our TI, as we all have different professors who will be terrorizing...er...interviewing us.  To our knowledge there is no set list of questions that they are given, they just go wherever they seem to want.  Oh well, not a lot of sleep tonight.

Let's see...what did it say in Hezekiah 14:6?

Where In The World Are You?

In our last episode, I was sitting in the public library in Reedsburg, WI.  Well...I'm not there anymore.  I am now sitting in room number 2 at Loehe Hall at the Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  How did I get here? That's a long story.  I guess you would know all about it if I had posted a little bit more frequently in the past month...or posted at all!


The bottom line is that I am here as part of my one week pilgrimage each year to the seminary.  I am hanging out with my church posse, learning all sorts of things about the Holy Trinity.  I can fill you in on the details when I get back.  As part of this week's fun and frolic I will be undergoing my "Theological Interview" tomorrow afternoon at 3:00pm.  That's Eastern Daylight Time, so if you want to engage in earnest prayer for my success all of you in eastern Washington should be on the prayer horn by no later than noon.  If I pass the interview I will be on the fast track (so to speak) to being ordained as a Lutheran pastor.  I say fast track since if all goes well the process should run its course by the first of December.

In terms of the class that I am currently taking our professor is of German origin and has spent a great deal of time in Africa as a missionary.  His German accent is fun to listen too, and he has quite the sense of humor.  He has taught us all about Lutheran doctrine, Roman Catholic errors, Elton John and Rosie O'Donnell.  Who knows where this afternoon is going to take us?

Yesterday was a day of rain...they call this place "Fort Rain, Windiana...and it was stinking humid.  At least I was stinking by the end of the day.  Today dawned foggy, which lifted to a low cloud deck and is now finally burning off.  Temperatures should reach the 70s this afternoon.  Tomorrow more rain is headed this way, and then it is going to get rather chilly through the end of the week.  Back home in Spokane the weather will be getting hot again, and remaining sunny into and through the weekend.

That's all I got for now, as class is about to start again.  I'll try to check in again tomorrow evening.  To those of you complaining about the lack of posting here in the past month...you really need to get a life!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Quick Update

Just got time to check in...I am now in the Reedsburg, WI Public Library after spending the past 4 days up at Post Lake.  It was fantastic, thanks to the hospitality of my brother Dave.  I think he had a good time too.  The weather has been very pleasant, mostly in the 80s and a touch on the humid side, with the only rain coming last Saturday, as we spent the day traveling, and then a little last night, while we were sleeping.  From here it is looking good through the weekend.  We are headed for the New Glarus Brewing Company tomorrow, after a quick stop at the Carr Valley Cheese Factory for fresh curds (squeaky cheese), Baumgartener's Cheese Store and Tavern in Monroe, WI, then on to Chicagoland.  We start heading west again on Saturday, with our sights set on Yellowstone by Sunday night. 

I'll Check in again when I can.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Made It To Wisconsin

We rolled in late yesterday afternoon, after a couple of days on the road.  The first day...Wednesday...was only a 970 mile jaunt from Spokane to Bismarck, ND.  Along the way I saw 2 antelope, 2 white-tail deer, and a dead moose.  That's about it.  Oh yeah, there were more than 400,000 squashed bugs on the wind shield.

Today we have to try to pack nearly all of Beth's earthly belongings into the Family Truckster so that we can deliver them, and her, to school tomorrow in St. Paul.  From there it's on to the Lake...Post Lake in northcentral Wisconsin for a few days of R & R and fishing for a few "bottle bass".  We'll see how that goes!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hittin' the Road

Early (very early) tomorrow morning we will be loading up the Family Truckster and heading out for points east...a lot of points.  Our final destination is Minnesota and Wisconsin, with the purpose of the trip to deliver our sweet little daughter Beth, and another very sizable chunk of our life's savings to Concordia University in St. Paul, MN for another year of higher education.  After we dump her out, I mean move her in, we will be heading to Hodag Country in north central Wisconsin for some R & R at my brother Dave's place on Post Lake.  From there it will be off to Reedsburg, WI, then the New Glarus Brewing Company, Baumgartener's Cheese Store and Tavern in Monroe, WI and then Chicago.  On the way back we are going to hit Yellowstone for a day and perhaps take a mudbath.  All in all this excursion should last a couple of weeks, but I am sure that the memories will last a lifetime.  Today I am at the church furiously trying to finish all that needs to be finished before we leave...a goal that I am sure to fall short of.  By sometime late this evening I might have the opportunity to start thinking about what I may want to take along.

As I mentioned last week, our tennis sessions were turning into wars.  It was that way all week long as Jim filled in for one of the regulars, John, as he was off in Montana trying to connect with the fish.  Most all of our sets were grueling affairs that ended in tie breakers and exhaustion.  Well, John returned yesterday (I wonder if he still smells like fish today),  and he seemed like his old "happy" self.  I'm not sure where I want to put the emphasis...on old or on happy.  Anyway, as John rejoined us our matches went from the power game back to a more cerebral type.  That always makes my head hurt.  The way I play tennis can never be described as cerebral!  Each morning, Monday...Wednesday...and Friday...I do more dumb things than most people can in a lifetime.  In spite of that, things turned out okay.  I didn't get my butt kicked until the 3rd set.  Now I will be away from the posse for a couple of weeks, a reality that I am sure that they will be reveling in.

So, off I go, across the wilds of Idaho, Montana and North Dakota in the next couple of days, with my sights set on Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I'll have some reports from the road, and maybe even a picture or two...if I feel like it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm Pinnochio!

"I got no strings to hold me down.  I'm not tied up to anyone.  I got no strings on me!"

 That's the song that the wooden puppet sings when he magically becomes a little boy.  No, the reference to Pinnochio is that I have a really big nose...although that is the truth, and judging from my dad it's only going to get bigger...but rather that I am now unattached.  That would be in terms of my internet service.

In the interest of providing the very best in blog service my household has gone wireless as of about noon today.  No I can haul my laptop all around the house, or to the front porch (where I am now) and report all the goings on from my perspective.  You wouldn't expect me to use your perspective, now would you?  This should increase the frequency of the flow of information as now I don't have to sit on a hard and uncomfortable wooden kitchen chair in order to make these wonderful posts, but rather I can do it from the comfort of anywhere in the house, or the neighborhood...we'll see how far the range on the old router might be.  Perhaps I can post from the local watering hole?

Let's see...what is there to report...well, the Monday tennis session featured some spirited competition.  One of the regular members of the posse is off in Montana threatening fish this week so we have welcomed Jim into our midst, along with myself, Bill and the Hammer..  Jim is a pretty good player, and our session turned into all out war...at least I thought so as I (along with the Hammer) was slaughtered in the 1st set.  Bill and I came back to take the second in what turned out to be a grinder.  We had played 8 games and settled absolutely nothing (the score was 4 to 4) before the good guys won a couple in a row to take the set 6-4.  That left us only enough time to play a couple of games and a tiebreaker in the 3rd, which my team came up a bit short in.  Tomorrow we'll have the same group together to do battle again.

A week from today we will be hitting the road for our annual August trip to dump the kid out at school, along with the bulk of our life savings.  We will be leaving early next Wednesday morning and cruising to Bismarck, North Dakota.  A distance of only about 950 miles.  We have to take the northern route as next week is Bike Week in Sturgis, South Dakota, and I don't want to get anywhere near that.  It's like driving in a constant swarm of flies.  On top of that it costs about $300 a night to get a room anywhere along I-90 from Gillette, WY all the way to Mitchell, SD.  The next day we'll drop in on the folk's place in Wisconsin, then spend a day trying to load all of our sweet little daughter's possessions into the Family Truckster (they've summered in my parent's basement).  We drop her off a week from Saturday before heading for Post Lake, Wisconsin to threaten a few fish of our own. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

When You Wanna See Baseball Really Bad...

We've got some really bad baseball!

That could be the motto of the Spokane Indians, the local class A level minor league affiliate of the Texas Rangers.  Group of just over 20 of us from St. John's Lutheran Church were in attendance tonight for the game against those pesky Eugene Emeralds.  I cannot report the final score, but when we left at the beginning of the 9th inning the score was 7 to 4 with the home team in arrears.  We ducked out early not to beat the rush in the parking lot...this is minor league baseball...there aren't enough people to create a rush in the parking lot, but rather to try to get out ahead of the case of dysentery that was setting in due to the ballpark food.  You see, tonight was "Family Feast Night", which means that the hot dogs, soda pop and ice cream sandwiches were all priced at a buck.   The Pepsi and the ice cream were not the issue, but the hot dogs seem to have been a bit suspect in their quality.

Speaking of poor sports, I feel that I have to comment on my tennis outing from earlier today.  The quality of my play rivaled the hot dogs of the evening!  It was abysmal.  About the best thing that I can say about it is that I didn't hurt myself, or anyone else for that matter.  I believe that it was last Friday that I reported that I was the big winner...where I am usually just big.  Well, today I was the big loser.  There's an old saying from back where I come from, the home country of Wisconsin.  "Some days you step in it, and some days you don't."  Today I stepped in it...BIG TIME!  Following the regular session of tennis I stayed for and hour and a half clinic called "Play With the Pro".  It is basically a free group lesson, and today the group was very small, just 3 of us.  That meant that the cardiac and aerobic aspects of it were pretty intense.  We ended the session playing a set of doubles...the 3 of us and the pro.  I was on the team that played against the pro, and surprisingly I held my own.  I wasn't good mind you, but at least a little more average than in the earlier session with the posse.

This afternoon we dropped into the NWMAC, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture.  The da Vinci exhibit is here this summer and we wanted to go see.  It's a little...no a lot...pricey, but that's the only way that the museum can stay in business.  It turned out to be pretty interesting, lots of his designs had been turned into machines that we could play around with, and there were knock offs of his paintings on display.  I wish there would have been more information about him personally, like, what kind of guy he was, if he wore boxers or briefs, and what his favorite beer might have been.  All of that remains a mystery.

The weather seems to have finally gotten straightened out.  The days are sunny and at least fairly warm, but I still feel cheated that we are not getting any hot weather.  Looking at the next week or so it appears as if we are in for a stretch of sunny days with highs in the 80s and clear nights with lows in the 50s.  That's not bad, but I really would rather be closer to 100...at least during the day.  Even I will admit that 100 degrees for an overnight low is a little excessive.  Tomorrow I will be spending the day mostly indoors, working at the church.  I have to finish my homework for the week, and put the finishing touches on the service and the sermon for Sunday morning.  Why not drop by on Sunday about 9:30am, it should be a good one!

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Brady Fix

Last evening we paid a visit to the neighbor's house.  We got in the car, drove about 3 miles and we were there.  Of course, these neighbors don't live just across the street anymore, I'm talking about Brady and family.  My little buddy is now 5 years old, and growing like a week.  His hair is still blonde...although it is turning more green everyday.  That's because of long period in the swimming pool this summer.  When we got there Brady had just woke up from his afternoon nap.  Now, most 5 year olds don't take regular naps, but Brady works hard and plays hard, so he sleeps hard.  As was usually the case when he wakes up...Brady was suffering from a severe case of "bed head".

After a couple of hours of catching up on what has been going on in life, and more than just a beer, we headed home (Beth's the designated driver) to rustle up a little dinner.  It was steak and a salad that was on the menu...mmm, mmm, good eatin'!

This morning included the usual tennis festivities.  Kay was the trooper today as she played in two successive groups, over the course of 3 hours.  I was out there with the regular posse...almost...with the Hammer off participating in another group.  Ken joined us today, along with John...happy as usual...Bill and myself.  I have to admit that things started off horribly for me, but I can explain.  You see, I came out of my coma with the clock reading 8:45am, and I had a court date at 9:30!  I definitely slept through the first set, which was lost 0-6, and right into the 2nd.  I did manage to wake up along the way and my level of play improved.  It wasn't necessarily good, but at least better.  It appeared for a time that John...still happy...might get through the day without dropping a single game, let alone a set.  Well, I took care of that by puking up one of my service games while teamed with him.  We still managed to win the set 6-1.  From that point the question was, could anyone stop John from being the big dog of the day?  Fortunately, Bill and I managed to take care of that, and in doing so kept John from having to gloat about his success for 48 hours, until our next session.

Once the tennis was finished, the family took a little time out to spend quality time together.  Beth only has a couple more weeks of her summer vacation to spend at home, so we are trying to make the most of it.  We enjoyed a nice lunch at Tomato Street, and then a romp around a few of the local retail establishments.  Much to my liking...we bought nothing.  Now THAT, is what I call shopping.  The day was polished off with a church board meeting and then a frozen pizza...yes!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Beer Butt Chicken!

For all of you out there that have a taste for yardbird...that's chicken if you have never lived in the south...there is one way to prepare it that's simply the best.  It's called "Beer Butt Chikin!". Nothing could be simpler.  You just take a whole chicken, season it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then stick a can of beer up it's backside and throw it out on the grill.  An hour and a half later you'll have the greatest chicken experience of your life.  It's moist...it's tasty...and it's so easy.  You're missing out if you haven't tried it!  There's only one problem though.  You need a 12 ounce can of beer to make it work properly.  Perhaps that doesn't sound like a problem to you, but it was for me today.  It appears as if the brewers of fine domestic beers, along with those that aren't so fine, are not making available these 12 ounce cans like they used to.  truth is that it's getting really hard to find a 6 pack of beer anymore in a can...a bottle just won't do!  I'm not going to purchase a whole 12 pack in order to stuff one can up the bird's nether regions, so it was a real struggle to economically get the job done.  What ended up taking place was a purchase of the stubby little 8 ounce cans of Coors light to get 'er done.  In spite of the fact that the bird suffered from a lack of support...she keeled over about an hour into the cooking process...it turned out to be very tasty, and moist.  Mission accomplished.

One final note before I head off to hit the hay...If any of you out there are looking for a place to spend an hour or two in worship and Bible study tomorrow morning, come on down to the Latah Valley and stop into St. John's Lutheran Church starting at about 9:30.  You'll be glad that you did!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Coming Up Big

Time for an update on the broken body of my posse member John.  He is healing rather nicely, but once the body passes the point of 80 years old it takes a little longer.  In spite of the slower pace of his return to health he was out there again this morning, as was I and the rest of the regular posse...such as it now is.  That means that Bill and the Hammer were participating.  To start things off I was teamed with the old cripple...I mean John.  He was happy again from the start, but even with that we quickly found ourselves in an 0-2 hole, and then down 1-4.  Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, we have found ourselves in such a position before.  Let me just say this, something happened that got my attention...I won't go so far as to say raise my ire...and things began to turn.  The old geezer...er, John...and I came roaring back.  When all was said and done we won the set 7-5.  From there I went on to win the next set with the Hammer, and finally an abbreviated final set with Bill.  That made me the BIG winner for the day.  Usually I am just big.  Seldom am I the big winner.

After my romp with the posse I stayed to play with the pro.  This is basically a free clinic for an hour and a half that occurs each Friday from 11:00am to 12:30pm.  Kevin, the pro, put us through a rigorous workout...and tried to totally redesign my backhand...without much success.  I came away from the experience exhausted and humbled, which is pretty much how I live my life.

This day has been dominated by an extreme sense of sadness due to what occurred over in Norway.  The latest reports indicate that more than 80 people may be dead...most teenagers at a youth camp...after twin terror attacks during the late afternoon and early evening.  I can't imagine the pain that those who were subject to this tragedy are feeling, especially those who have lost children.  I'm sure we will be finding out much more about the person who did this, and why, in the next few days, but we will very likely never be able to make any sense of it other than the fact that there is a great deal of evil in this world that won't be eradicated until Christ comes back again to recreate heaven and earth, and to gather his people to himself for all eternity.  I will be praying for the people of Norway, especially those who have been directly affected by this horrible act.  I hope that you will join me in these prayers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fall Guy

Well after a weekend in which the highlight was four rumbles of thunder and six spits of rain, spread over a two day period, it was back it with another Monday rolling around today.  The day got off to a rather strange start as the alarm blasted at 7:15am.  It usually doesn't do that until almost 8:00 on Mondays, but due to the warmer weather Kay's Monday morning tennis group was going to play from 8:00 to 9:30 this morning.  It wasn't long after she rolled out that I rolled out, but my posse was not gathering until the usual time of 9:30am.  I went to the club early, in order to watch the Mrs. do battle with her group, and got to watch another of the men's 4somes have it out as well.  The problem was that the Hammer was involved in that tussle, and was not going to be part of my regular posse today.  If he's going to do that I fully expect that he dominates and humiliates this other group in order to keep up the honor and reputation of the posse.

When our time came it was myself, John...a man who is always happy...along with Ken and Jake who met on the court of competition.  As we went along in the first set, which for my team was not going well at all (go figure!) I hit a perfectly placed, and brilliant I might add, drop shot in the middle of the court.  This was a completely legal and highly ethical thing to do.  As John moved in from the baseline he appeared to trip over the back line on the service box and down he went.  Now when a guy who is nearly as old as dirt takes a tumble like that you can think of only one thing...someone call a personal injury attorney so we can all cash in! Fortunately, John rolled through the fall minimizing the carnage.  Once we got the pieces of him put back together we continued on, playing around the pools of blood.  John was still happy, but battered and bruised.  That fall seemed to wake him up as he was the one doing the dominating and humiliating, along with Jake, of myself and Ken.  In the second set things began to turn for me.  I was paired with John (still happy) who was now getting pretty adept at moving around the court on a gurney.  About half way through the set I returned a serve with a blistering forehand that flew about 100 yards off the court to the left as I heard the sound of "twzing".  One of the strings on the old racquet had broken.  There were no signs of any cats in the area, to borrow a bit of gut from, so I ran into the pro shop to get a loaner so that we could play on.  We ended up, John and I, winning the set 6-3, and by the end he was playing with the aid of an iron lung.

The remainder of the day at tennis, there was only 10 minutes left after set #2, was rather uneventful.  By Wednesday I'll have my old racquet back, restrung and ready, and we'll get back at it again.  We'll see how well John plays from a casket. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Tennis Tour

As it is Friday, it was time earlier today to head back out onto the tennis court.  That's a regular Monday, Wednesday and Friday occurance.  Our group has undergone a bit of upheaval in recent weeks (No not that kind of heaving) as one of our esteemed members has decided to cut back on his participation...it's a bit of a medical thing.  Anyway, we have welcomed a new victim...er...man to the regular bunch, Mark.  From this point on I will refer to Mark as "the Hammer" for reasons that are obvious to those of us in the group.  The Hammer tends to play the game in a not so fair fashion.  Where most of us have a forehand and a backhand, the Hammer chooses to only hit forehand shots...if you are having trouble figuring that out it means that he plays ambidextrous, or amphibeous, or amalgamated... something like that, he uses both hands!

That now means that my posse consists of John, a man who is always happy, Bill, who grew up just up the river from me (about 100 years before) and the Hammer.  In our 2nd set today it was John and I pitted against Bill and the Hammer.  We quickly went down 2 games to none, as I was pretty much useless at the net.  In truth, I am useless just about everywhere, and I don't just mean on the tennis court.  Bill and the Hammer were getting a little impressed with themselves, and at that point...John and I, like a frieght train...came roaring back.  We won the next 5 games in a row and took the set 6-3.  It was an incredible display of tennis prowess!

This evening it is time to throw the yard-bird on the grill and let the aromas fill the neighborhood.  We are including homemade baked beans and a nice salad in tonight's menu.  From there it's on to the weekend.  Looks like rain tomorrow...maybe even some thunder and lightning...SWEET!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wild Times!

We just had a flash of lightning and a rumble of thunder!  That doesn't happen very often around these parts (unfortunately).  I just thought that I would let you know.  Ooh...there it goes again!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Alright Already!!!

Well...my wife informed me this evening that I have to blog at least once a week or else.  Or else what?  Really, I don't want an answer to that question.  After 29+ years of marriage I know what the answer very well might be.  Speaking of marriage, my neice tied the knot today back in Minnesota.  Congratulations Cody and Erin, and may you have a wonderful life together.

I am not going to complain about the weather today, because it has been pretty nice.  Just the other day, Wednesday I believe it was, we hit 90 for the first time this summer.  I wish it could stay like this, about 90 each day for 9 months out of the year.  The other 3 months I would like it to be between 100 and 105!  People around here always talk about how nice it is to have the 4 seasons.  I say that it's highly over-rated.

Earlier today I was out on the basketball court officiating 3 high school girls basketball games.  I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to do some boys varsity summer league games.  I have to say, the level of play today was pretty poor by comparison.  Out of the 3 games we had one good team, and they won by over 50 points.  The other teams were a little bit challlenged, to say the least.

Tomorrow morning, Sunday, starts off with our regular church service, and then we are resurrecting the annual church picnic.  Us church folks always like a good resurrection.  Following the cook-out will be our season ending church league softball tournament.  We were an expansion team this year, and our record certainly reflected that...3 wins and 7 losses.  Tomorrow is one last chance to get even with some of the teams that beat us.  If we can't beat them on the field though, we will certainly be the more talented team in the post-game beer party.

One final thing...a note to my tennis buddy John...I am now motivated for us to make the blog again on Monday morning.  You should be "Happy" about that!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Still Here?

I was just wondering...were any of you raptured earlier this evening?  I want to know if I missed out.

I promised to post again after the weather finally turned decent, when the temperature managed to get above 70 degrees.  It has done that, several times now, so I guess it is high time that I get back on the horse and ride.  We've now enjoyed three straight days in which the official high temperature equalled or exceeded 70 degrees so I've been taking advantage of the opportunity to get back outdoors.  Late this afternoon we hit the porch for the first time this spring, at least the first time for an extended stay.  I have to admit, it is just not the same.  I look across the cul-de-sac and there's no Brady.  There's no Escalade pulling a boat tethered by a jump rope, and there is no little guy incessantly insisting that we play baseball.  It was a beautiful late afternoon and evening and not one kid was seen out playing.  What is this world coming too?  I guess I'll be living out my days as that old geezer in the rocking chair on the porch trying to recapture the splendor of "the good old days".

Last week I hopped a flight back to the Fatherland, Wisconsin (Minnesota too), in order that I might get Beth's belongings stowed away for the summer in my parent's basement and then haul her home.  I left here on a cold Tuesday morning and arrived in Minneapolis-St. Paul to 90 degree heat and a whole boat load of humidity.  That was quite a shock to the system!  I spent a couple of days at the folks house, the same one that I grew up in, and it was quite an experience.  Have you ever watched the Game Show Network for 6 hours straight with the volume on the TV high enough to cause an earthquake?  I shouldn't complain because I'm sure that within a few years my daughter will be blogging the same thing about me.  There was plenty of excitement for everyone too as the car (actually mid-sized SUV) that I rented got backed into by the lady that lives across the street from my parent's house, so that kept me occupied for a couple of days.  I am happy to report that Beth and I managed to get back home in one piece, and after a week of having her back with us we are all still alive...no one has killed anyone yet, but the though has crossed some of our minds.

As I look ahead to Sunday, the 29th anniversary of our marriage, I am praying for rain.  It's not because we put the garden in on Friday and it needs watering...we have sprinklers for that...it's that we have a doubleheader for the church softball team late tomorrow afternoon, a time that I would rather use to take a nap.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Waiting

I vowed not to post anything again until we hit 70 degrees.  Here it is May first and we haven't even been close!  I'll probably be back with you in late July.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Told You It Would Snow!

Just another lousy day in paradise today.  It was cold and it was wet...wet snow that is.  It even covered the ground for a short time this afternoon.  Snowflakes will probably be in the air again tomorrow, but not as many as today.  It will remain chilly through Tuesday, not even getting to 50 degrees, bit things should be getting a little warmer by the end of the week...maybe 60...woohoo!

The snowflakes go back to yesterday.  After spending the morning at church, where the power went out with about 10 minutes left go in the service, Kay and I headed off to Taco Bell for a bite of lunch before the inaugural game of the St. John's Lutheran Church softball team.  While we were dining on our $2 meal deals a sudden snow squall hit, lasting all of about 37 seconds.  That was the big event of the day as after that only a few snow flurries and snow pellets were occasionally seen.  As for the softball game, we fielded a team, and not only that but we held a 5-1 lead after 3 innings.  Things went downhill from there, quite quickly and dramatically, and we wound up losing 18-7.  I was a stalwart at first base...mainly because I just stood there due to difficulties with my left knee (but that is a whole different story)...although I was part of a pretty impressive double play.  At the plate there was a fair amount of futility as well, with all three of my appearances ending in line drives hit directly at outfielders of the other team.  After the game we stopped in to see my buddy Brady.  He was doing a little angling in the swimming pool for dogfish.  Lucy the black lab was swimming around trying to corral several plastic baseballs.  Brady's luck wasn't much better than mine, as he got nary a hit.  That's probably a good thing from Lucy's point of view.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Natives Are Getting Restless

Here it is, the middle of April, and we are still looking for the first occurrence of nice weather this spring.  I have to admit that I am getting a little forlorn in dealing with all of the dampness, gloom and chill, but its nothing like some of the folks that I regularly come in contact with.  Some of them are getting downright hostile!  It has been nearly two years since I have been directly responsible for anything dealing with the weather, but there are some nasty people, and you know who you are, that are still blaming me for the general lousy state of the weather.  These people have lived here far longer than I, and should by now realize that spring doesn't spring around these parts until the 4th of July, so I am putting them on notice to "just shut your pie hole!  If you don't like the weather there are plenty of buses, trains, and airplanes heading out of town every day, and moving vans so that your belongings can make the trip as well.

There...I've had my conniption!

Today dawned wet...what else is new, but the rain ended early and our outdoor clean-up day at the church was well attended.  We attacked the weeds in the landscape beds and won the battle, so things are looking pretty good out there.  We wanted to spruce things up before Palm Sunday and Easter week, so the army was mobilized this morning and we went to war.  Later this afternoon a few more showed up to do the indoor work, mainly dusting and washing windows, so all is now ready.  The invitation is there...come on out and join us for worship over the next week.  That would be tomorrow morning at 9:00, Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:00, and next Sunday morning at 7:00 and 10:00.  We'll even feed you next Sunday!

Today turned out to be pretty decent.  It was still cloudy, but the sun did make a couple of cameos, and the temperature almost made 60 this afternoon.  Tomorrow will be sunnier, but cooler as we will only reach the low 50s.  Our church softball team kicks off the season tomorrow at 2:00pm, and it looks like the game will go on as planned.  I am supposed to play first base, but with my left knee blown up like balloon (that's another story) I don't know if I will be able to participate.  Looking ahead to the week ahead...guess what?  It is going to be cool cloudy and damp.  Temperatures still won't be getting very far above 50 degrees, there will be mostly clouds in the sky rather than sun, and from time to time a little rain will fall...perhaps even snow.

There...stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Egg Stuffin!

While I sit here at the computer letting you in on all of (well...a few of) the mundane things that are going on in my world my lovely wife Kay is stuffing plastic Easter eggs with information about our preschool in order that they may be distributed to parents of young children next Saturday at the Eagle Ridge Easter Egg hunt.  If you have never beheld this event you have certainly missed out on an important piece of Americana.  Traditionally the hunt takes place at 11am on the day before Easter...Saturday.  What happens is that the park is totally empty until about 5 minutes before the commencement of the festivities, at which time hoards of little tykes and their parents descend on the place.  At 11 straight up the gun goes off, or whistle, or whatever...but I might prefer a gun.  What happens next is a free for all in which the kids beat on each other in order to secure all of the eggs for themselves, and all the while the parents are yelling "Great hit Junior, now take out another one.  After about a minute and a half all of the eggs have been vacuumed up by the little nippers and they all disappear as quickly as they arrived leaving a mass of empty water bottles and used diaper strewn about the countryside for those of us who volunteer to help to clean up.  Typically the weather for the event stinks, always cold windy and wet, which appears to be on the docket again this year.

Did I mention the weather...I guess I did.  Today was another typical Spokane spring day, chilly and cloudy.  This evening the rain began to fall once again and I can hear the winds out there a howlin'.  Tomorrow looks like another cool and cloudy day with just a few sprinkles to keep things damp.  If we get to 50 it will be a good thing.  I am hearing questions...more like complaints...about when we might get some warm weather around here.  At this point I am holding out for June of 2012.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sun's Up!

The sun is shining this morning and we should get through the day without any rain.  Yesterday the sun did manage to make an appearance for the afternoon, although it was quite windy, and the temperatures rose to an official high of 53.  Today, with a little more sun and a lot less wind we should do better by a degree or two, although it is pretty chilly out there now...around freezing.  Tonight the clouds come back and the rain tomorrow, although like I said the other day, it won't amount to all that much...just a few hundredths of an inch.  Cloudy cool and damp weather will be around for most of the rest of the week with the best chance for another dry day being Friday. High temperatures will continue to bump around the low to mid 50s.

Hmmm...let's see now...just what is it that I do around here?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Rains Have Come

Just about the time I stepped into the hot tub last evening to relieve my aching left knee (that's a whole different story) the pitter patter, or rather splot splot, of raindrops began.  Overnight it has been rather wet with a slow but steady rain, good news for my yard.  We have picked up an official 7 hundredths of an inch, and a few showers will be in the area over the next few hours to perhaps add a hundredth or two more.  During the week the weather will remain quite cool, highs near 50 degrees all week, give or take a degree or two.  Today will be cloudy and windy, tomorrow dry with a little bit of sun, and then back to the showers on Wednesday and Thursday.  Friday may again be dry, but at this point there are no guarantees on that.

This morning I have to play a doubleheader.  I'll hit the tennis court (indoors) at 9:30 with the posse minus 1.  John is out with a little toe issue...actually it's the big toe but its a little issue...He has developed gangrene after a little minor surgery and may be facing amputation up to the neck.  That might be a little overstated, as I think he might return to the group on Wednesday.  Immediately following my regular Monday morning romp I will be filling a vacancy in an 11 o'clock group.  This group usually plays at 9:30, but couldn't get a court at that time, so one of the ladies can't make it.  Did I say ladies?  YES!  I'll be playing with the ladies, including my wife.  I hope they can handle my overhand smashes and 110 mph serve.

Following tennis I will limp off to the church to face this week's mountain of work.  Preschool is back in session so quite a few hours will no doubt be sucked up trying to keep the staff from killing each other.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Bring On the Rain!

Okay...the yard is raked...the Weed & Feed has been applied...and the raspberry bushes have been contained, so I say "let it rain!"  It has gotten cloudier today, but stayed dry, and it appears as if the weather will probably be dry until the end of the day tomorrow.  Once that rain returns though its going to be hard to turn off the tap.  On and off rain and cool weather is going to be with us through all of next week.  It isn't going to rain all the time, and it isn't going to rain all that much, but it will be damp and gray.  The prospects for a dry softball practice tomorrow afternoon are looking a little better than yesterday, but the prospects of my left knee holding out aren't so promising...but that's another story.  The Spokane Lutheran Softball League schedule kicks off a week from tomorrow, so we better get some people out there to see what we have, or more likely, don't have.  Last Sunday we only got 7 of the 17 signed up to come out and "throw it around", I am hoping for better participation tomorrow.

Easter is rapidly approaching, so the busy-ness at the church is ramping up.  This week has actually been rather quiet compared to last week.  The pre-school and Kindergarten has been closed for spring break, so I haven't had to babysit the staff (did I really say that? Yes, I did) and there were no funerals this week.  Lent is always a busier time because there is always two services to plan and execute, and two sermons to write and deliver.  When you throw in a seminary course that requires 3 research papers this quarter, one of which is due during the week leading up to Easter (when there are 3 service in the week) the stress level goes up a bit, and the available hours in the day diminish.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Real Struggle

Due to the fact that I have to write SO much for my work and for school it seems as if the last thing that I want to do is write more.  That is a weak apology for my lack of presence in this space.  Due to the well known fact that my wife, Kay, is the smartest person on the face of the planet she has come up with a solution.  She has suggested that I just post daily about the weather, and then add a line or two that might be interesting.  Well then, here it is...

Today's weather was beautiful, so I spent most of the day doing the yard work that has been neglected during  the past month of chilly and rainy weather.  All of the raking is done, the planting beds have been cleaned out, and I am about to die!  At least it feels like it.  The weather tomorrow is going to be pretty decent as well, although not as sunny as today.  Today we reached into the upper 50s, and tomorrow we should be in the same ballpark with increasing clouds through the afternoon.  On Sunday the rain should be back by mid to late afternoon, just in time for softball practice at 3:00pm.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"But I'm Not Dead Yet!"

Another very conspicuous and long absence, for which I have no legitimate excuse, but then again, you know what they say about excuses..."Excuses are like rear-ends; every one's got one and you know what they're full of!"  Since I have already played the "too busy to post" card I'll not go back in that direction except to say that the alligators that I have been up to my armpits in have been chewing on my head for the past week or so.

Let's go back to where we left off...shall we?  In our previous episode I was gearing up for the week of my impending birthday, and had just been rained out of my first attempt to fire up the barbecue grill.  Well...if the weather holds out today (a somewhat iffy proposition) I will be making another attempt at the inaugural grilling event of the 2011 season.  There are showers in the area, but today it isn't a solid shield of rain like it has been most of this month.  The weather remains typical of March, that means cool and wet.  We haven't seen that first warm stretch of the spring just yet, we have not yet made it passed the mid 50s, and it appears as if it will remain cool through the middle of next week.  There are signs of warmer and drier weather by the end of next week though, so we will pin our hopes on that.  As for the birthday, that happened on St. Patrick's Day, the 17th.  To my knowledge this is the 53rd one, at least if what my parents tell me about my emergence onto this earth is correct.  The highlight of the day was my birthday party with over 1000 of my closest friends, the vast majority of which I have never met.  Every St. Patrick's Day the largest law firm in town throws a big party at the Red Lion Inn at the Park downtown.  As a good friend is the business manager of that firm we are always invited.  There is always lots of food and drink, all free of charge, so who could pass that up.  After the party we went up to the top floor of the hotel to watch the NCAA tournament game pitting the hometown heroes, the Gonzaga Bulldogs against the St. John's whatever it is that they call themselves.  The outcome of the game was in the local folks favor, so all were in a good mood, although all were not really watching the game.  To top off the evening Kay and I had earlier decided to book a room for the night so that we could just have a relaxing time...we were very relaxed.

On Friday we attended the annual meeting and dinner for the Riverview Retirement Community.  No, I am not looking to live there...not yet...but I serve on the Board of Directors for the Riverview Terrace, which is the assisted living part of the campus.  There is the Village, which are the individual homes, the Terrace, and the Care Center which is the nursing home.  The annual meeting is simply and exercise that the by-laws of the organization mandates and a good excuse to get together to eat a lot and drink some wine.  The food that they serve is fantastic, prime rib with all the sides, so maybe I will be moving in soon.  On Saturday evening and Sunday morning the Concordia University-Portland Wind Ensemble was here at our church for a Saturday concert and to play in the Sunday service.  Now you would think a wind ensemble would be made up of trumpets and tubas, flute and bassoons, and there were plenty of them.  I was a little surprised by the tympani, string bass, marimbas and snare drums though, and had a hard time figuring out how they were going to get the wind into them.  In spite of that it sounded really good, and we had big crowds, especially on Sunday morning.  We totaled 166 attending the service which is significant in that it was 10 more than we had attend our initial service in the new church building that took place almost exactly a year before.  In the past year and a half our average attendance has grown from 75 to 130.



I'm going to stop now because if you are still reading this you are very likely to stop doing so soon anyway.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rained Out

Being that today was the first day of Daylight Saving Time and it was going to be light out until after 7:00pm I had plans to fire up the barbecue grill...a Weber charcoal model...and roast a turkey breast for dinner.  Well, we didn't leave church until 4:00 this afternoon (more on that in a little bit) and by that time the rain had begun to fall again.  It's been doing so ever since.  So we went to plan B, the oven, which resulted in a perfectly cooked breast of turkey along with fruit dressing and a yam casserole.  SWEET!

Let me back up a bit.  Once again the week leading up today was insanely busy.  Wednesday marked the beginning of the season of Lent, Ash Wednesday, which resulted in our first installment of the weekly soup suppers and Lenten services.  It all came off without a hitch, but it made for a lot of extra activity.  We had over 60 people for supper, and 86 in the service, which was quite amazing.  On Thursday St. John's hosted the monthly circuit "winkle".  What is a "winkle" you ask?  It's a meeting of all of the Lutheran pastors in the greater Spokane area where we get together for a worship service, a Bible study, special presentation and a business meeting.  The hardest part of being the host is to make sure that there is enough food for all of the guys.  Lutherans travel on their stomachs you know, and most of the pastors have a good sized case of Dunlop's disease...the gut has done-lopped over the belt!  The worship service was also a point of a bit of stress as I was the one to deliver the sermon.  None of the guys jumped up in the middle of it and yelled "heresy" so I guess it went all right.

My goal on Friday was to take my first day off in 3 weeks.  I can report that I was successful, although there were a few phone calls from the church to deal with.  Our tennis experience in the morning was quite an experience...a good one.  The posse was pretty much on top of our game, and the first game of the first set lasted a good 20 minutes...THE FIRST GAME!  I was partnered with my buddy John, who is pretty much my age...only 27 years older than I.  We started slowly, which is pretty much the norm for me, and found ourselves down 4 games to 1.  Undaunted, we came storming back winning the set 7 to 5.  That set lasted an hour, which left us with only 15 minutes of our hour and a half session to go.  Now you may think that my math is off, but keep in mind that we are required to sit for at least 15 minutes between each set in order that the winners can brag about their conquest and the losers can dredge up creative excuses for why they lost.  The rest of the day was dominated by a Costco run, including lunch, a nap and then a nice ungrilled dinner...again due to rain.

Saturday was my day to get down and dirty in preparation for the Sunday church service, and then watch over a funeral.  I was not directly involved in the ceremony, but I was the one that ran the video.  The deceased had succumbed to a 10 year battle with Alzheimer's.  The officiating pastor was an old friend, and the eulogy was delivered by another boyhood friend.  That boyhood took place over 70 years ago, so they each covered a lot of ground...enough ground to cover more than two hours!  After the service Kay and I helped out with a luncheon, which was actually a supper due to the length of the service.  After everyone had left we then had to set up for a brunch that was to be held after our service this morning.  By the time we got home it was all I could do to set the clocks ahead and go to bed.

Did I mention that we didn't get home from church today until 4:00pm?  After the service, and the brunch, we had a meeting of most the leaders of the congregation.  The chief topic of discussion was the response to our occasional use of alternative instrumentation within the worship.  Alternative instrumentation means guitar and drums.  My I emphasize the word "occasional", like no more than once a month.  That subject held the floor for over an hour, and the opinions were about as diverse and the political climate of the State of Wisconsin.  I am happy to report that everyone was heard, but I don't know that everyone left satisfied.  Following that meeting I was called away to a private discussion regarding our school ministry.  If you ever find yourself with a year and a half to spare I will be happy to fill you in on the details.  Suffice it to say that most of the afternoon was consumed with trying to contain that particular fire.

That brings us to this evening.  It is now approaching 9:00pm PDT.  I am looking forward to this week as the NCAA basketball tournament will be getting underway.  My Alma mater, Wisconsin, will be playing Belmont (whoever he is) on Thursday, and the Gonzaga Bulldogs will take on St. John's (not my church) on the same day.  I am hoping for a little more peace in our lives, but I really don't think I'll be holding my breath.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Skunks!

When it comes to things that stink, the top spot on the dung heap has to be the skunk.  That's probably why the term "Skunked" came to be used as a descriptor of futility in athletic and other competition.  When one is "skunked" one has been totally beaten and totally humiliated.  Such an occurrence took place earlier today.  Being that it's Monday I was out there on the tennis court for my regular beat-down.  One member of the "posse", Tuck,  hasn't been feeling well for about the past week so we have had a couple of guys who have been temporarily deputized, Jim and Mark.  Today it was Jim's turn to join the fray, and he became quite difficult to handle, at least from my point of view.  Jim and John dispatched Bill and I 6-4 in the first set, and then I was teamed with my good buddy John in the second.  Now we generally do quite well together, but here is where the herd of skunks walk in!  From the first serve of this second set it was evident that something was beginning to rot, and the stench just spread from there.  By the time it was all over John and I had been overwhelmed, not necessarily by the superior play of our opponents, but more truthfully our own malodorous performance.  The final score was 6-0, and that result really doesn't do justice to how bad we were.  Oh, well...the day can only get better from here...I hope!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Weekend Update

I know, it's hard to believe that I am back again to let you know what has been going on since yesterday!  I am happy to report that the wedding of Chris and Amanda was absolutely wonderful.  Everything went according to the plan, and I even had several folks tell me that they thought that the wedding sermon was very touching.  Since Chris has aspired to be a farmer since he was a wee little lad I focused on the farming aspect, and since the room (about a hundred fifty people) was about half full of farmers things went over quite well.  After the ceremony we headed to the reception, of course, and in order to be fed we had to endure a trivia contest involving the bride and groom.  Since our table was completely composed of church folk we figured that we were doomed, and would be the last ones to eat.  That wasn't to be the case as one of the questions asked was "what shoes was Amanda (the bride) wearing during the ceremony.  Both Kay and I were given the privilege of seeing her zebra striped black and white shoes, and that along with my very quick reflexes of getting my hand in the air guaranteed a rather prompt feeding.  All in all we had a wonderful time and I am certain that this wedding will "take" and the bride and groom will have 5, 6 or maybe even 7 decades to cement their relationship!

As for today, it was another day of work.  The alarm never had the opportunity to go off this morning as both Kay and I were up before 7:30am.  The worship service went pretty well, although it was a little long.  Us Lutherans get a little anxious when the service isn't over in an hour or less, and today we missed the mark by a good ten minutes or more.  Not to worry though...nobody left...because that would mean that they would miss out on the post-service feeding.  In the past few months we have heard from more than a couple of folks that this is the "eatenest church" that they have ever seen!

After all of the goings-on of the morning, and all of the meetings that followed we got out of there about 1:00pm, headed for Walgreen's to pick up some pictures (church related stuff, of course) and then went to lunch.  I had my heart set on a burger and fries and that is exactly what was served.  If you want to know more about it check out "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Channel in a little over a week; March 14th and look for Waddell's Pub.  This evening we once again got in the car to head for the neighbor's house...or at least the former neighbors...to catch up on how my little buddy Brady is doing.  He is rapidly approaching 5 years old, and I swear that he is also rapidly approaching 6 feet tall!  We had a great time reading stories and talking about airplanes and spaceships!

Tomorrow morning will dawn all too early, and the day will be starting off with my regular meeting with the tennis posse.  I would ask that anyone who takes the time to read all of this drivel please pray for my friend Tuck.  He is having some difficulties with his strength and stamina, and hasn't been able to play with us in the past week and a half.  My prayer is that he would be given the energy to enjoy all of the things that make life joyful!

More to come soon...

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Alright Already!

Some of my followers have certainly chastised me of late for my lack of contribution here to their humdrum lives.  To that I say "so sorry!"  As mentioned a couple of weeks ago I have been up to my armpits in alligators, and they now have begun to nibble away at my neck!  That's no excuse for me not stopping by on a regular basis to entertain everyone, but its the best I got.  Let me fill you in on some of the goings on in the last week or so...actually the last week and a half.

At last report the cold air was coming crashing our way and the snow was coming with it.  That all hit late last Wednesday and lasted into the weekend.  We ended up with about 8 to 11 inches of snow, depending on where your yardstick is located, and the winds blew that all about so that it was almost impossible to measure.  On that Thursday morning the dog went out the backdoor, disappeared into a drift, and wasn't seen until the following Wednesday when the drift melted enough to allow her to break free.  I am happy to report that Dixie is none the worse of the wear and continues to act like a dog 1/13th of her age.  The very cold weather lasted until Sunday morning, and since then we have been back into the thawing stage to where most of that snow is now gone again.

On the church side of things all continues to go pretty well.  This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the season of Lent.  Lent is a time that us Lutherans, and our Catholic brothers and sisters, spend a 40 day stretch looking even grumpier that we usually do, and feel even guiltier than normal.  It's all in preparation for the coming of Easter, the one day a year that we are allowed to smile.  There's still no raising of the hands above the head to be tolerated, but we can put on a small grin.  With Ash Wednesday and Lent come the weekly Lenten services at the church, which are preceded by soup suppers.  This is a pot-luck event where each person brings enough soup for 45 people, and then we wonder why there is so much left over when we finish.  We feel guilty about that too!

This morning we had our monthly Men's Breakfast.  We get together on the first Saturday of every month to eat more than we should without our wives around to tell us not to.  I led the Bible study today, which centered on nakedness.  Figure that one out!  A little bit later this afternoon I have the pleasure of officiating at a wedding.  Actually, I will be co-starring with my mentor, the Reverend Virtus Young.  I do all the work, then he steps in to do the vows and gets all the credit.  I don't think he feels guilty about that in the least bit.  In truth, I am the one who gets to do the wedding sermon, so it's just another opportunity to stand in front of a captive audience and tell 'em what I think.  The couple getting married are some of the coolest young people that I know, even if I don't know many young people anymore.  In the past month they have come into the office on three different occasions for "pre-marital counseling".  That's where they listen to me talk about things that I have very little expertise in and them nod their heads like they think what I am saying is of some value, and they laugh a little when they think I am trying to be funny.  About the only thing that I have to offer is nearly 29 years of experience in this being married business and all of the mistakes that I've come up with during that time.

Tomorrow is another Sunday morning, and I have just put the finishing touches on what I am going to say and the PowerPoint presentation that will be up on the screens.  Being the last Sunday before Lent the theme for the day is the Transfiguration of Jesus.  We always take a look at that part of the Gospel on the last Sunday before Lent.  In the transfiguration Jesus appears on a Galilean mountain top in all his glory, radiating incredible light.  It's important for us Lutherans to focus on light right before Lent so that we can remember what it looks like through our 40 days of upcoming dark and sour moodiness.

Time to get back to work, I will try to fill you in on how things go in today's wedding and tomorrow morning's church service, but I make no guarantees (I learned that in the weather business).  If you're in the neighborhood tomorrow morning why not stop in for worship...oh...say about 9:30.  As always, there will be plenty of coffees and baked stuff.

Ahem!

Hello...Is anybody out there?  I'm still in here...believe it or not.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Little Snow, A Lotta Cold!

Don't look now, but it appears as if the winter of 2010-11 ain't done yet!  Things have been pretty quiet around these parts, and pretty mild, since back in the days just after the New Year's hangover wore off.  We haven't had snow on the ground, except for the slow melting glaciers in the parking lots, since the middle of January.  All that is about to change.  It is going to be getting colder...a lot colder...and we are going to be seeing snow cover the ground again in the next day or two.  The snow won't be that much, a couple-three inches in total it looks like, but that should be enough to get most folk's undies in a bundle.  The big news is that by about Thursday and Friday the daytime temperatures will probably be no better than about 15 degrees, and the overnights will see us down near zero, or below.  That depends on how much snow comes down...more snow...colder temperatures.  We should probably look at the bright side, as in a week it will be March and so the winter is now officially on the run.  Not gone, but on the run!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

It's Official!

Well...here I am again.  Where have you been?  I honestly don't have a clue.  A couple of hours ago it was Monday and here it is Sunday night again.  Why is it that when you are 6 years old every day seems like a month, and every year a decade, but when you reach the downhill side of 50 you are already going on 80?

Anyway, I have big news tonight.  You are right now reading the thoughts of the "2nd Year basketball Official of the Year."  Okay...I'll take a moment to let you pick yourself off of the floor and return to your seat before I go on.  Yes, you heard it right, I received an award today.  The basketball season is officially winding down, and earlier today the Spokane Basketball Officials, an affiliate of the Washington Officials Association, held their final meeting of this season.  On the agenda was electing new members to the Board of Directors, amending the by-laws of the organization so as to comply with the IRS rules for 501-c3 tax exempt organizations, and to present awards for individuals who were deemed by their peers to be deserving of recognition.  Here is where I fail to understand what actually took place.  For some reason, totally unknown to me, my name was announced as the recipient of the "2nd Year Official of the Year."  It does make some sense in that this is my second year of being an official official, but I have to ask...WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE THINKING?  There are so many times that I go out there on that basketball floor knowing that I don't have a clue as to what I am doing out here, and the coaches are continually reminding me of that very question!  I mean, what must the other 2nd year guys and gals be going through?  The award came with a certificate suitable for framing...which will probably never happen...and a gift certificate in the amount of $25 at the Sports Authority.  Now for many of you that might mean a new pair of shoes, but with my size feet...size 15...I might be able to get a pair of shoe laces and perhaps a new Fox 40 whistle.  I am truly humbled by the honor, but I still have to ask; WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

Obviously, that was the highlight of the week.  Up until this afternoon things turned out to be a little unsettling, and that is an understatement!  We have some issues that we are going to have to work through at the church and with our pre-school and kindergarten.  I have no doubt that the Lord will carry us through them, and we will grow stronger in the process, but it is not going to be a whole lot of fun dealing with them.  In light of that, I will once again say that I am truly blessed to be doing the work that I am doing for the people that I serve.  They are a loving and caring family that has blessed me immensely.  As we all know though with any family there are going to be some issues, but that will never stop us from loving each other.

I have just one more week of class for the current quarter, and after it's finished I might actually take a day off...or two.  I finally finished the research paper that was due this past Thursday, and sent it in.  If you would like to read it I will be happy to send you a copy!

Tomorrow is President's Day, which means that the church office and the school will be closed.  It also means that I will be in the office pretty much all alone, which bodes well for possibly getting something done.  In the evening I am looking forward to driving over to the neighbor's house...or former neighbors...to get a "Brady fix".  I'll let you know how that works out and hopefully have pictures.