Click on any of the images below for a larger picture.  Go ahead: you've already loaded the larger image when you loaded this page.

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 downtown Sacramento.

Kristi has found gold at Sutter's Mill.

Brad as the somnambulant Pharaoh in the church musical.

Brad on the big screen as well.

The Pharaoh and one of his henchmen, ready to deal with the plague of flies..

May, 2005
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 in 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”  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 12 hours).
In seventh grade, Brad has been 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 called.

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 in last 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 heavy, he’s 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, darn it!).

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 and ambiance.

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.

Betty Remembrance

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 unlike an 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 kilt.

You could have clicked it

Links above you may have missed:

Memorial Day Camp Out Memorial Day Camp Out with lots of other families at Lilac Oaks in Valley Center.
Sacramento 2002
May 2002 field trip to Sacramento with Keith and Brad.
Once Upon A Parable
May 2004 Church Musical.

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Text and pictures copyright 2005 by Keith Sherwood.  All rights, writes, and rites reserved.