August 2009


Today was Beth’s first day of third grade. I took her picture as she left the house this morning:

Beth on her first day of third grade

Beth on her first day of third grade


That was about the extent of the excitement today. Woo!

For David’s history class, he had to cook and serve an ethnic food. I suggested that he go Polynesian, because there is a Pathfinder honor called Cultural Food Preparation that he could earn at the same time. This honor requires that the food be cooked in a lovo, which is a pit dug into the earth to serve as an oven. He agreed, so today we did it.

First he dug the hole.

First he dug the hole.


It was about 30" across and 10" deep.

It was about 30 inches across and 10 inches deep.


Then he laid a criss-cross fire and lit it.

Then he laid a criss-cross fire and lit it.


Once the fire was going, we piled some rocks on top of the wood.

Once the fire was going, we piled some rocks on top of the wood.


Then we let it burn.

Then we let it burn.


After 90 minutes, we removed the mostly-burnt wood and spread the rocks out.

After 90 minutes, we removed the mostly-burnt wood and spread the rocks out.


...covered the rocks with corn husks.

...covered the rocks with corn husks.


Added some sweet potatoes

Added some sweet potatoes


Covered them with more corn husks, and buried them.

Covered them with more corn husks, and buried them.


After 90 more minutes, we dug them up.  They were soft and gooshy.

After 90 more minutes, we dug them up. They were soft and gooshy.


And here they are.

And here they are.


I was the only one in the family brave enough to eat them.  They were good!

I was the only one in the family brave enough to eat them. They were good!


I slathered them with a bit of butter and sprinkled on some cinnamon. They were as good as any sweet potatoes I have ever had.

We had a bit of luck at the grocery store too. After we selected the potatoes, we went in search of some corn-on-the-cob, and in-the-husk too. They had some, but what was even better, was that they had a garbage can right next to them where people could shuck their corn right there in the store. So I fished several husks from the barrel. The cashier let us have them for free, but I’m pretty sure she musta thought we were a couple of rednecks or something. Maybe we are. Anyhow, we were able to get corn husks for free. Bonus.

We are both going to claim the Pathfinder honor too. I helped dig, financed the whole operation, gave advice, and in general participated in every step. Especially the eating part. I still have two sweet potatoes left too. Maybe I’ll have one for lunch tomorrow.

The speaker at church today was Peter Robinson, who heads the Northern New England Conference’s disaster response effort. After the worship service, we had a small potluck, and after that, he presented what he called “Disaster Response 101”, which covered disaster preparedness. I didn’t know who he was before today, nor did I know he was going to make this presentation. I told Va I wanted to stay for it. She went home, and Jonathan and I stayed.

My interest in this subject stems back to the hurricane relief work we did back in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina struck. My two sons and I were part of an eight-person team who went to Bass Memorial Academy in Mississippi to help with the reconstruction of their campus. We stayed for a week, and it was an incredible experience.

I heard that this year Bass has a new principal, and he is none other than my old friend Gary Wilson. Gary was the principal at Vienna Adventist Academy when Jonathan started there. Bass has done well to hire him.

But back to Disaster Response.

In 2005, ADRA introduced nine new Pathfinder Honors, including one called Disaster Response. These were incredibly difficult to achieve, and I would say they were not really within reach of any but the most diedicated Pathfinders (staff included!) One requirement was to receive disaster response training from Adventist Community Services (ACS). When I looked into this, I found that it was a five-part series of seminars, usually offered over the course of a weekend. The training was not offered very frequently anywhere in the US (seems like it was in either Savannah or Atlanta when I checked). That’s just great if you don’t mind travelling to Savannah, but I expect most Pathfinders would not be able to do that. The seminar I took today was the first of these five. The second will be offered in November, and I intend to take that one as well. Peter may be presenting these at the Pathfinder Leadership Training in January too, but that’s still just an idea at this point.

Not that it matters for the honor though. This year the ADRA honors were revised to make them accessible. Good call. The training is no longer required for the honor, and that is but one example of a nearly impossible requirement which has been overhauled.

But I still want the training. I would like to be involved in that sort of thing, so I am going to make every effort to make that happen.

When a major disaster strikes, people spring into action and gather all sorts of things, including diapers, bottled water, cothing, food – anything that makes sense. Unless these items are sorted in a warehouse and repackeaged though, they are not much good. The niche filled by ACS in disaster response is in warehouse management. In other words, sorting, repackaging, and distributing donated goods.

Paul Watson, our conference Associate Pathfinder Director also has an interest in this, so we may be able to hook in the entire NNEC Pathfinder organization. It seems to me that having the training available when the leaders meet in January would be the most effective means of getting something in place quickly.

OK! I guess that’s about enough from the disjointed thoughts department for one evening!

The guy with the power shovel showed up at the church today as promised. I drove out there after work just to see what (if anything) had been done.

Yesterday I wrote that he had a bulldozer (and he might, I dunno), but this is what he brought, and this is what he did:

Playground Excavation

Playground Excavation

What a difference a day makes! Yesterday at 4:30, that patch had several brush piles on it and several places where the weeds (including small trees) were up to six feet high. Today, all that is mostly gone. He built a berm along the back of the property, and he piled up the rest of the waste in a ridge down the center and parked his shovel on top of it. That ridge will be hauled away early next week. Then it will be raked and seeded.

He will seed it with winter rye which is an annual. It sprouts in three days and will hold the soil down until the “playground” grass come up. Playground grass is a mix of something like eight species (yay! no monoculture!) which holds up particularly well to the rigors of playground use. It will come up in about three weeks, and it will survive the winter. The winter rye will not come back in the spring, having finished the task to which it has been assigned.

So! Things are moving ahead!

The next steps are to plant a row of hemlock trees along the road to serve as a privacy screen, fence in the area, and erect some playground equipment. It looks like we may get some help with that this spring. Every year the Atlantic Union rounds up several educators and sends them to work on a project. This year it is our conference’s turn to benefit from that, and our conference education secretary has proposed that our school be designated. They can put up the fence, build the playground, or spread mulch. Free labor, yay!

Today at lunch I went for a walk and took a couple dozen photos of flowers. I haven’t logged them in a while, and it doesn’t look like I’m going to tonight either. Too tired.

While I was walking, Cliff tried to call me. I didn’t hear the phone. I called him back around 4:00pm though, and learned that he had been talking to a guy today about our playground project. This guy happens to own a bulldozer and was willing to come out and clear all the stumps and pretty much wipe out the remaining vegetation. Cool. So we needed to burn our brush piles. Tonight.

So that’s what I did after work. Job one was to buy another 100′ of garden hose. I was the first one there, so that fell to me. Once I had the hose, I went to the farthest brush pile the hose could reach and doused a circle around it. Then I lit it off. Pretty soon some other people showed up too. By then I had been feeding this fire from other brush piles for 20 minutes or so. They joined in, and the work went a lot faster.

Bonfire

Bonfire

The bulldozer guy showed up around 7:00pm with no bulldozer. He had to finish some other job first, and it took him longer than he had expected, or something. I dunno. But he will come tomorrow and do the deed.

I stayed with three other guys (a dad, his son, and his grandson) and we fed the ends into the fire. At 9:00 pm or so, we decided we had had enough. That pile would have burned all night if we had let it, but none of us wanted to stay all night. So we put it out with the hose. Actually, we put out three fires, because that’s how many we started. It took half an hour to knock them down, even though they were pretty well burned out by then. It was a massive bed of coals.

Then we wound up the hoses and I came home. I be tired!

I gave up on the city today. I’ve been calling them about the ditch excavation project they did which made my mailbox inaccessible to the USPS. The first time I called, they said they’d come out and take a look. I also mentioned the catchment pond. I heard nothing. So I called again. They seemed to know what I was talking about and suggested that the mailbox should be 48″ off the “travelled” part of the road and 42″ high. Thanks for that! I’m pretty sure our box was less than 48″ off the travelled part of the road. The problem is the gaping chasm they created between my box and the road. An abyss! They said they’d come out and look again. I never heard anything.

So I moved my mailbox 10 or 12 feet north where the ditch is not so deep and where I’m pretty sure the mail truck will have no trouble. Hopefully the snow plows won’t either. Then I went to see our neighbors.

I dunno about them, but I certainly navigate by landmarks, and a mailbox makes a pretty good one. They might use it as such to find their driveway at night. I thought it would be a good idea to let them know I moved it.

These are the same people we met for the first time earlier this summer. They have two horses. So I told Beth I was going to see the neighbors across the street, and she was very keen to come along to visit with Splash (the horse).

As soon as we arrived, Bev asked if Beth wanted to visit the horses. Of course she did. Bev ducked inside and grabbed a bag of carrots so Beth could give them to the horses. Last time we were there, their other horse – Bismark – was working a summer camp. But he’s back now, and Beth could not have been more delighted. A new horse! I told Bev about the mailbox. Then she told me about a visit she had from the city.

They ambled up her driveway and asked if she was 313. Nope, she’s 312. So they ambled right back, and eventually drove away. I dunno if they ever went to our house or not, but David (who was home all day) said that they never knocked. They have my phone number. I expect they wanted to tell me to move my mailbox. I expect they are also pretty well pleased with their catchment pond remodelling job, so I should not expect any improvements there either.

Oh well. I think I will at least continue to receive mail.

I’ve been gearing up for the new Pathfinder Year. Last night I met with most of the Pathfinder staff and we hashed out a schedule. Tonight I presented it to the church board and found a fault in it. We scheduled ourselves for a campout on the same weekend when we have the pulpit at church to present our experience at Oshkosh. We are camping locally, so it’s possible to do both, but I’d rather see if we can do something else. Not sure if we can though!

Next Page »