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images below for a larger picture. Go ahead: you've already
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The family seems happy
enough in Hellhole Canyon.
Doug and mock-Doug at his
desk during elementary school open house.
Matt and Brad prepare to
joust upon stick steeds.
Matt, Brad, and Jacob, with
a couple of unnamed ladies that seem to prefer the scientific type to a
sense of humor or piety.
Group panning for gold in a
sluice in Coloma.
Doug at Sutter's Fort in
Kristi has found gold at
Brad as the somnambulant
Pharaoh in the church musical.
Brad on the big screen as
The Pharaoh and one of his
henchmen, ready to deal with the plague of flies..
|Looking at the ghost of Mays
past, it is interesting to note how constant a month May is for this
family. Annual days play their part in enforcing a consistency
(e.g. Mother's Day, Memorial Day). But other calendars besides
Pope Gregory's are in play: the Church Musical, open houses as
school winds down, the last full month of baseball. Even "new"
events such as school field trips or class events have familiar roots
Mays past. There is a natural flow of
events that forms a rhythm in May for this family.
|Brad has discovered fantasy
baseball on the Internet. He’s constantly checking scores and
statistics, and most annoyingly, asking other people on the computer if
he can “just check some scores on MLB.com.” He’s also living
proof that the current generation can handle – no, requires!- multiple
and cacophonous sensory streams to keep their attention. He can read
stats flashed during games on TV faster than anyone: there will
be a lull in a game, between pitches with nobody on and the camera
close up on a right fielder picking grass, when Brad will jump up
clapping, “Yes! So and so went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs! He’s on
my fantasy baseball team!” all from those unintelligible statistics
flashed next to scores in tiny fonts. His ministrations for cable
and ESPN so he can watch Sportscenter are increasing. Keith
introduced him to the Sports section of the morning paper, which he now
avidly consumes, if his cruel parents have kept him off of the computer
and Internet for an unacceptable amount of time (any thing approaching
|In seventh grade, Brad has
studying the medieval period. The seventh graders all took a field trip
to Medieval Times in Orange County to watch knights joust and eat roast
game hen without utensils. And while last year as a sixth grader
Brad had the Sixth Grade Olympics, this year the seventh graders had
their annual Renascence Fair. Like the Olympics, it is all day
affair out on the field with games and food and prizes. For an
assigned report on a medieval personality, Brad had chosen
Galileo. So when for the fair they were supposed to dress up,
Brad dressed as Galileo.
Fourth Grade in California schools is
California history all year long. This culminates in one of those
fantastic elementary school field trips, the one day blitz up to
Sacramento. Keith had gone with Brad three years ago and had
raved about it, so this time Kristi went with Doug. The itinerary
was the same as Keith and Brad had, but the events didn’t fall into
quite as propitious an order. Kristi and Doug headed out first
thing to the site of the gold discovery at Sutter’s Mill, a 90 minute
bus ride to Coloma on the American River. Because of California's
wet winter, the river was too high for gold panning along its shores,
so the kids had to settle for panning in a trough beside the
river. Then it was back on the bus and back to Sacramento, to the
state Capitol for a quick tour, including the seal, the rotunda, and
the governor’s office. Herded back onto buses, they were whisked
to Sutter’s Fort, the trading post run by mercantile and mill owner
John Sutter. This state park is kept in period condition, down to
having the docents and employees dress in period clothing. Lastly
the group was hurried through the Sacramento Railroad Museum before
returning to the airport for the trip home.
Keith moderated a specially called
congregational meeting at church. The question before the
congregation was whether to extend a call to a particular minister
specializing in interim situations. The leadership of the church
had come to the conclusion that the congregation was too fractured and
of divergent views on the future course of the church to hire a
permanent minister (or settled minister, since of course no minister is
ever really permanent); in order to hire the right minister for us, we
needed to spend some time healing and better defining who we as a
congregation were. Some in the congregation agreed whole
heartedly, some agreed but resented the 2 year path of work it would
put between now and calling that settled minister, and some just wanted
to get it over with and go hire that perfect senior minister.
Although divided, the house did not fall, and the interim minister was
That of course wasn’t the only
controversy at church this month. There was also the nominating
committee, whose job it is to take yearly nominations from the
congregation for Deacons, Elders, and Board Officers. Lacking a
senior minister for the 5 person committee as specified by the bylaws,
Keith volunteered to take that 5th position, as Chair of the Board and
declared not accepting nomination to any position. His ulterior
motive, stated repeated for anyone who would listen, was to get the
strongest possible candidates for the board, and help them prepare for
the leadership challenges he had gone through the six months and what
he foresaw in the next year. The Nominating Committee was set up
in the church bylaws to be a hidden (and really undefined) process,
with open nominations from the congregation but closed debate and
deliberation by the committee. This keeps un-churchlike,
personality-critical discussions like Person A is better than Person B
behind closed doors. In a congregation abounding in trust, this
isn’t a problem: the congregation trusts the 5 people did their best
and came up with the best of the nominated candidates. In our
current condition, the congregation doesn’t trust the non-transparent,
undefined process. Keith got an excellent slate of Board
candidates, however, and felt he briefed them well on the challenges
ahead before they accepted.
And, as always for the last 5 months,
Keith continued his Wednesday
lunch meetings with the Lay Leadership of the church where all of the
above was hashed out, as well as operational and other church issues.
On the brighter side of church, May
is the month of the church musical for children and youth. The
kids had been practicing every Wednesday night since February.
With Doug out of Y Guides, he didn’t have the annual conflict with Camp
Marston. Still, he didn’t want to sing, leaving him in limbo for
a musical. So he and one other similarly disinclined child were
made prop masters, and had additional non-singing, run quickly on and
off stage, roles. Brad, who played Judas and the Chief Pharisee
year’s musical, is in danger of being type cast as the heavy,
as he got the role of Pharaoh in this year’s production of Moses and
the Freedom Fanatics. Actually, in this one Pharaoh isn’t a
a whiner, who just wants to sleep and be left alone. Brad added
to his costume the day of the show, wearing his Homer Simpson slippers
to further raise the silliness quotient of this Pharaoh.
There are numerous ways, both
constructive and destructive, that one can deal with stress. Last
month Keith's changed television habits were examined as a coping
mechanism. This month we'll examine another, one that bears more
resemblance to February's get-away vacation to Hawaii as it recognizes
that Keith's church-stress is a burden shared by the entire family. Our
consumer culture's solution to all problems is to spend money.
Depressed? Stressed? Buy your way out! This month we went to an
expressive Mother's Day Brunch (because the family deserved a treat,
|Keith and Kristi's wedding reception was
held at the golf club at Torrey Pines. A couple of years ago,
they tore down all the commercial buildings on this public golf course
and rebuilt it as The Lodge, a five diamond, ultra pricey resort meant
to compete with the likes of the Ritz-Carlton at Laguna Niguel.
Keith had been wanting to visit the architectural marvel, a rustic
Craftsman-style building that (the architect hoped) simultaneously
recalls the Ahwahnee Hotel in the Yosemite Valley and St. Andrews in
Scotland, supposed birthplace of golf. We had a spectacular brunch for
an astronomical price, then wandered the grounds enjoying the sunny day
They say that May concludes with the
unofficial start of summer, although I’m not clear on whether that
refers to Memorial Day Weekend, or the annual Bigelow family camp out
extravaganza over Memorial Day. This year, with many of the
public lands and campgrounds in the country still out of commission
from the fire 18 months ago, Gail opted for a privately run campground
in Valley Center called Lilac Oaks. North of Escondido, Valley
Center is where people from Ramona flee from the suburban sprawl and
development changing their rural village. Valley Center is one of
the few communities left in San Diego Country that dares consider
itself rural and agriculturally based, even as its citizens commute 90
minutes to their jobs in San Diego.
Some time was spent this month
winnowing through the various boxes of things that made it from Betty's
garage to our house. Going through the boxes was not entirely
archeological dig with layers. Beneath the Christmas letters and
pictures she received in December 1990, I came across our wedding in
August of that year, a moment in time captured by Betty's
archives. Actually, it was the reception Betty threw for
Kristi and her out of town relatives the day before the wedding.
There were unused invitations, and everyone's acceptance and regret
letters. The bill for the brunch. Thank you notes from the
attendees. I took Kristi's mom's thank you note to Kristi to show
her. Instead of being delighted, doubt ran across Kristi's
face. "I sure hope I sent her a thank you note. I don't
remember!" Two minutes later I was back, her thank you note in my
hands, another small gift from The Boxes.
They said it
Upon leaving The Lodge at Torrey
Pines, the valet wished Kristi a Happy Mother's Day. Doug replied, "You have a happy
Mother's Day, too." This had us giggling for a long time, because
the valet, as was the custom at this golf-themed resort, was wearing a
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Links above you may have missed:
All of this month's pictures
All of this months pictures may be
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and pictures copyright 2005 by Keith Sherwood. All rights,
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