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


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 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.


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