30 December, 2006

Oil Haiku, Round Two

Yes, again. Enjoy the haiku.


Out of oil again.
Winter is cold without it.
We paid, they didn't come.


Haiku ("high-KOO") = Japanese form of poetry in seventeen-syllable verse form, arranged in three lines of five, seven and five syllables. Each haiku has at least one word indicating the season. (The last Oil Haiku I posted wasn't so true to form. This one, I think, is more so.)

29 December, 2006

This'll Only Happen Once

Well, I only get to publish this news once. We'll never have a second first baby to tell you about, so here it is. Confirmation: the rumours are true. (And for those of you still baffled, yes, this was planned.) We are indeed going to have a baby. He/She is due around the end of next June. And yes, we are mostly excited. We do occasionally have days when we sit here and wonder, 'What in the world are we doing??' It's gotten much better since I've started feeling better. The first three months I can only describe as The Blob Months. I felt like an utterly useless, lazy blob. I never dreamed a human being could be so tired and if I hadn't known I was pregnant, I would've been convinced I had some sort of sleeping sickness. At any rate, almost all of you that read this have probably already heard this news so I won't dwell on it, but I AM giving you almost six months notice to find yourself a new blog to read, particularly if you're squeamish about hearing baby stories all the time. Where else will I be able to rant about our cute little alien being - where nobody will offer advice and nobody can tell me to shut up already. Ahh, the sweet world of blogging. :)

In other only slightly less shocking news, it's Friday and we actually have plans tonigh!. Yes! Whoa, easy! It's true so keep your socks on! We're actually going out. We got invited out for dinner and we get to see the newly renovated bathroom at our friends' house. Seriously, they are so excited I promised that as soon as I walk in the house, I'll make a beeline for the bathroom. They are a really cool couple. They just got married last month and since Chris is from Central/South America (I'm forgetting exactly where at the moment), we get to swap lots of 'great' stories about the Department of Homeland Security and how much we 'love' those 'people.'

Also, my cousin just got engaged two weeks ago and the wedding date is set - 28 July. We are SO excited! (So this lucky little baby will be born just in time to head home for his/her first trip to Canada and the most anticipated wedding of 2007! Hooray for Shelley & Randy!!!) What's more, her fiance proposed in a quinzee he built! If you don't know what a quinzee is, then I'm sorry to say, it's not likely you're Canadian, but check out this website: http://www.call-wild.com/quinzee.html

It's been nine days since my last post and you're probably all vastly disappointed that I finally posted something on here and I just go on about weddings and a baby, not even bothering to post a picture of the Holiday Turkey. It came home and it went in the freezer. However, be ye not dismayed. As soon as we have a picture, I'll post one. I asked our friend Wendy how long turkeys keep in the freezer and she said some people keep them for up to a year. So I guess I know what we're having for next Thanksgiving. :)

I suppose I should also include a note about Christmas. Christmas Eve was superb as usual. Luke got the new U218 singles CD from me and I got the new U2 By U2 book from him, so we're happy. Also, new toothbrushes and slippers so we're set for the year! We ended up having a green Christmas (seriously, it could've been March out there), but it did finally snow on the 27th. We had at least four inches that appears at though it will stay now. It's been rather cold the last couple days.

Anyway, Happy Quinzee Building!

20 December, 2006

Odds & Ends

Well, I figured if I didn't post sooner or later, I was going to start getting nasty emails from my adoring public. :) So I'll fill you in on the latest.

When we got home from church on Sunday, we were sitting in the driveway still in the car and I made some comment about our neighbours being like icicles since we still hadn't met any of them; we rarely even see them. We tried waving to one we passed on the way down the street on Sunday, but only got a scowl in return. (Luke reminds me we should start seeing more people in the spring when they venture beyond their houses to work in their yards.) Well, of course, what irony. We went in the house and hadn't even been inside for five minutes when there was a knock on the door *GASP* A neighbour! A real, living honest-to-goodness neighbour! Marsha from down the street. AND, she brought us a cake. But not just any cake - a Santa cake! Anyway, it was the weirdest thing, but now, we know a neighbour!

Sunday night we went to a sort-of church Christmas party after evening service. It was quite fun. Luke has now been familiarized with all the ins and outs of snow shoveling in Maine - what types of implements work best for which types of snow. Various types of shovels and the proper techniques for their use.

In other news, I'm sitting here eating my very first Clementine. This is the Eastern Seaboard's excuse (I must emphasize the word EXCUSE) for a Christmas orange. It is awful. It tastes like my Grama's pickles. There was never anything wrong with Grama's pickles, but this is supposed to be an orange. *Sigh* One down, only a 15 more in the box. :(

Days Until Free Holiday Turkey Pick-Up: 2!!!!!

12 December, 2006

Ahead by a Barrel of Monkeys*

*Brownie points for Luke for coming up with a superb title for this post!

Settle in for a weekend saga.

Everything was fine when we went to bed on Friday night. When we woke up on Saturday morning, however, the air had a certain unfamiliar nip to it. Luke got up to get ready for work and tried to wash his face, but only got cold water. Our oil tank was empty. He had just gone down to pay for oil and delivery on Friday after work and thought we could make it till Monday, but evidently not. BRRRRR!!!!! Oh it was so cold! It got down to about 61F downstairs and 42F upstairs (but the heat isn't on up there now anyway).
So I drove him in to work for 7 and came straight home. At 8:50, the oil man came, put a deposit in our tank and restarted the furnace. Nice and toasty in a half hour! Hooray for emergency oil men!

At noon, I went to a womens Christmas dinner at church. It was really fun. I met two more people that work at the hospital (seriously, already,
who doesn't work there?!?). We had all kinds of tasty treats (even a chocolate fountain!) and a Yankee Swap. That's where one person picks a present and unwraps it. Then the next person unwraps another present and gets to choose if they want to swap with number one or keep what they get. Slightly different rules than back Home in MB, but better rules, we think. I ended up with this mug/hot choc. gift set. Yum. Then at the end, they had a whole table full of wrapped gifts and we were all just supposed to go take one. No swapping, just pick something and if you don't want it, give it away or wrap it up and bring it back next year. So there I got these truly hideous potholders. I won't even justify them with a picture they were that bad. So I sent them Home to Mom. :) Figured she can use them at their church. And another lady gave me her gift which was this candle holder that melts these peppermint smelly wax things. AND I
got a mini box grater.

Okay, so after that, I raced to finish up Christmas shopping for Luke. I was rather impressed with how quickly I got it finished. I just need one more thing - though it's not imperative for the completion of the stocking. Then I picked Luke up (watched part of National Velvet while I waited. Never seen it before -
thankfully! Sheesh!) and we raced home to get ready for his dept Christmas shindig.

This was a semi-fancy affair at a hotel in town, so we 'got to' dress up. We got there a little late as usual, but not late enough to catch some of his colleagues at their drunken best. Oi. Terry had been drinking since 8am!!! Talk about 'three sheets to the wind.'
We had a really good meal and got 'free drinks.' Yippee. It was much more amusing watching everybody else drink.

Then for the Yankee Swap. Hooray! Same rules! I was number 41 and Luke was number 4. For whatever reason (I've heard his explanation twice now and I still don't get it), Luke traded his snowman ornament for a bottle of wine - which he was sure to hold on to for all of three more unwrappings! Way to take the most popular present! Argh! So lucky Luke, he ended up with a Santa-shaped box full of cookies. Ooh. Exciting.
But me? Well! I fared MUCH better! I started out with a cheesy Christmas picture frame and two lottery tickets (not guaranteed to win, so why keep them?). I was going to trade them for a movie bucket (popcorn, pop, candy, and a free movie
rental), until I caught Starla's eye and remembered the Barrel of Monkeys (you were wondering when that was going to be relevant, weren't you?)! Not just any Barrel of Monkeys! Nope, this one had a secret prize! A nicely folded $20 bill taped to the bottom! Hooray! Free cash! Sort of. See, we spent almost exactly $20 on the presents we brought for the swap, so we broke even there, but we still got the Barrel of Monkeys! So we're ahead by a barrel of monkeys! Brilliant! So Luke is stuck with his Santa cookies and I'm left to ponder what to spend my $20 on. :)

Sunday, was no less eventful. We ended up sleeping in because Luke had been on call the night
before and ended up going to the hospital just after midnight and didn't get home till almost 3am. We got up, ate breakfast, and headed out to find the tree farm. We're a week or so late on getting our tree this year, but as you'll recall, we were in Bangor last Saturday so weren't able to get a tree them. After driving down a few rabbit trails, we finally found the tree farm! Oh it was just like the movies! Complete with free hot apple cider and a horse-drawn wagon ride! And we didn't even have to cut our own tree! They had a bunch pre-cut and we found our perfect one (the lady we paid said she'd never seen anyone choose one that fast....didn't know we were being watched....). It's just over six feet tall, ridiculously bushy (this is no five dollar tree from Loup Loup Pass), and essentially, swallows our ornaments. We even had to break out the second strand of lights this year!

We wolfed down a hot dog when we got home, then headed to church and that was the weekend. Whew! Luke was on call on Sunday night too but never even got called in. $2/hour just to sleep! Cool!

Days Until Free Holiday Turkey Pick-Up: 10!!!

09 December, 2006

Oil Haiku

Should've checked the tank.
Forgot and now we'll pay
$80 for after-hours service.
It is cold. Brr.

06 December, 2006

Another Year, Another Birthday

Last Sunday, Luke celebrated his 26th birthday. He didn't want a big shindig (he never does) so we decided to go out for drinks and appetizers in the evening and pick up a movie.

The day started off well. Every week at church, we end up singing the Birthday Song for everybody celebrating birthdays during that week. We spent the afternoon grocery shopping and at Lowe's checking out Christmas tools for Luke.

As soon as we got home, we grabbed ID so we could race over to Canada to pick up Luke's cake. We felt a little silly going across just to pick up cake, but on the other hand, it was McCain's Deep 'n' Delicious Double Chocolate Cake. MMmmmmm.......so tasty! On the way back, the Customs guy didn't even ask for ID (yes, CL, I have a new favourite customs officer!)...he just kept eying the cake in the back seat. :)

So Luke had heard from somebody at work that Slopes has the best bacon-wrapped sea scallops (come on, say it like a pirate or it doesn't count) around. We got there
at 6:30. We decided to sit in the dining room instead of the lounge. It was gigantic! And empty. (Could that have been our first clue?) We at least got to sit right beside the fire and since we were the only people in there, the service was attentive to say the least. Luke got a beer sampler, and even to a novice taster such as myself, the only difference between them all was colour. He was NOT impressed. Even the root beer that I got was terrible. There could've only been 2 ounces in that glass and at least one of them was water. Yuck.

Then came the appetizers. Luke ordered the sea scallops (no, no! like a pirate!), and we also got nachos and crab cakes. Well I broke my sea rule and tried a scallop. I got two tiny bites before I realized it smelled like....well I won't say what it smelled like. I did break my crustacean rule and ate a crab cake - perhaps the only redeeming item on the table. And the nachos? Oi. One entire jar of olives and jalapenos later, they were so soggy, I was sure they'd been left outside in the snow all day, they just threw them in the oven for five minutes to try to dry them off. They were awful! The funniest part of this whole deal is that on the way out, Luke grabbed a comment card and sitting right beside them? The chef's own business cards!

Then home for the movie. We rented A Prairie Home Companion. We had such high hopes for that movie. We persevered and watched it till the end, but even by then, we still hadn't found a plot. It was a confusing, Lindsay Lohan-filled mess. I can't remember the last time I've checked my watch that many times during a movie.

Luke's highlight was however, his birthday present: a carve-your-own Dala horse kit from Sweden, complete with Swedish carving knife and Swedish bandaid! We'll post a picture once he's got one finished.

For now, no drooling over the cake!

04 December, 2006

Headin' Down South

We spent almost every evening last week debating about whether or not to go to Bangor on Friday night and get in some Christmas shopping on Saturday morning. Thursday night, we finally made up our minds to go. We made our reservation and decided to leave as soon as Luke got home from work on Friday.

Well it was snowing when he got home so we raced around trying to get everything ready so we could leave. The drive down wasn't that great. There was already a lot of snow stuck to the road and it was sleeting. There were a few cars in the ditch and we passed a number of plows (I still don't think there was enough snow to warrant plowing, but this is Maine - they do things differently here). I don't know what time we left, but we made it to Bangor by 8:30. The last 45 minutes of the drive, there wasn't any snow at all, but it was POURING rain, and windy!

After depositing our stuff at the hotel (Motel 6 - wouldn't recommend it. I'm nearly positive they were pumping cigarette smoke IN through our bathroom 'fan'), we went out to get something to eat. The Seadog Brewery is our latest favourite. It was crowded in there because, well, Bangor is a university town, the Seadog has good beer (supposedly....of course....), and it was Friday night. I had a big ol' juicy burger and some of the craziest ginger ale I've ever had - it burned! Luke had a giant tuna steak burger. Yum! Then 'home' to bed.

Saturday was a great! First, we headed downtown to find this bakery I'd found the address for online - The Friars' Bakehouse. Well, Friars they were indeed! Dominican monks, complete with brown habits, sandals,....and the requisite SUV??? We're not sure if they were actually supposed to be open or not, but there were lights on and people inside and goods in the case and hey! They're monks! They're not going to tell us to leave are they? We got some scones to take home (the richest most cranberry-filled scones we've ever eaten) and we each got a cinnamon bun for breakfast. But not just any cinnamon bun. Nope, they gave you a choice: Venial Sin-ammon buns (just icing) or Mortal Sin-ammon buns (nuts too). Hah! Monks with a sense of humour even! (We went for the mortal sin.) Then when we were getting in the car to leave, we spotted two monks getting into an SUV across the street. *gasp* I saw part of the monk's bare leg! Is that allowed? Or the better question, aren't they at least allowed to wear longjohn's in winter? It was COLD out! (LK, we'll defer to you, our Seminary Student Friend, for confirmation about Official Monk Attire.)

Then on to the mall. Got some Christmas shopping done, ate some pizza at Sbarro's ('Non-punks need not apply'), and had Starbucks. Oh Starbucks. How wonderful to have commercially prepared espresso again. (Yes, it's true. It's nowhere to be found up here.)

Our last stop was the natural foods store. Now that was a store! I've never seen so many foreign products under one roof before. Lots of things we'd never heard of - or at least never dreamed we'd have the opportunity to buy (though we didn't). Sweets imported from India, fancy preserved lemons from China, and lots of packages with writing in other languages. It was a great!

The drive home was much more pleasant. The roads were dry and hardly slippery at all until about an hour from home. And then it was cold too, but we stopped at Tim Horton's to get tea for the rest of the drive home. Overall, a very enjoyable trip 'down south.' But the moral remains: when in Maine, always travel with a raincoat!

29 November, 2006

More Maine Goodies

It snowed again last night so now we have about an inch of snow on the ground that looks like it will probably stay. The local weather lady (perhaps one of the most inept we've ever seen) keeps saying we're supposed to expect "showers." However, she uses the term 'showers' interchangeably to mean either rain or snow, and since both come from grey clouds, how are we really to know which to prepare for?

I say snow.

Today's post has TWO subjects (oh boy, aren't you all lucky...). The first is long overdue because elections took place a few weeks ago already. I thought I should share the website of my favourite candidate for Governor with you though. Check out his website - and make sure you scroll down or you won't get to see his picture. It's priceless! http://www.phillipmorrisnapier.com/platform.htm

Second, we thought we should fill you in on all the great skiing we'll get to do this winter. There is in actual fact, a world class training facility not ten minutes from here - The Nordic Heritage Center. Last year, they hosted the US World Junior Team Biathlon Trials there, and this year, the IBU 2006 Biathlon Youth/Junior World Championships. The facility also trains a large number of America's Nordic Olympians AND they give free lessons every winter, AND they let you try out biathlon!! Luke is beyond excited!

But, we wouldn't want to let the Nordic Heritage Center get all the glory. Northern Maine is also home to some of the best resorts in the country! Well. Okay. No. It's not. I don't know what we were expecting, but here's some pictures of our favourite - Quoggy Joe Ski Center (they even have a T-Bar!). Oi. I think Manitoba has bigger hills. Nope. I know Manitoba has bigger hills.

25 November, 2006

It's not stolen, but it's not our's either....

So yesterday was The Day After Thanksgiving. Not really for us since we're not celebrating until tomorrow, but for the rest of America. Since we're having company on Sunday and since we'll eventually need one anyway, I thought I'd drive Luke in to work and brave the madness that is 'Black Friday' shopping to get my hands on a $4 coffee maker at Walmart. Well I got there at around 7am. I had zero luck finding the coffee maker, but did discover that the best time for grocery shopping at Super Walmart is at 7:30 in the morning on a Friday. The grocery section was almost completely empty. I actually could go slowly and didn't have to fight my way around seven other carts in the canned vegetable aisle (all those people and their GREEN BEANS!!)

After the Walmart run, I headed over to the opposing Mart of K to check for leftover Thanksgiving themed goods. No luck, but some cranky shoppers piling their carts full of every battery-operated children's toy under the sun. Away with battery operated toys! Away with them all! Then, as extreme fatigue was setting in, I headed home.

After a relaxing afternoon reading, doing laundry, and doing a bit of prep for Thanksgiving Dinner, I drove back to pick up Luke and our 46 cent bottle of hospital issue Tylenol (ah, the perks). Back to Walmart to finish the shopping and pick out a turkey (and the now $10 elusive coffee maker from the morning visit). Then over to the mall to check out a few sales for Luke.

So far this all sounds rather uneventful, doesn't it? Well you just wait!

The 'check engine' light has been on in Luke's car for about a week already (you can see where this is going to go, can't you?). This has happened before and we've had it checked out multiple times and nobody can figure out what's wrong. Well, to our dismay, this time it actually meant something. Not quite halfway home, the brake light and battery light both came on. Then the gauges were gone. Then the ABS brakes were gone. Then the headlights started to dim. We were just at Quaggy Joe (stay tuned for an upcoming post on that one) so we pulled in. Luke called his Dad for a diagnosis: the battery or the alternator. We had just gotten off the phone and the car started again. So we headed back to town. Luckily we were at the part of the drive where you're going 55 and then there's this big downhill stretch. Good thing cause the car died near the bottom of the hill, but we had just enough 'steam' to park in the Rob's Convenience parking lot.

So after a very long and confusing phone call with a VERY inept AAA representative, we decided to leave the car where it was and call the hospital. Well thank God that Luke works with such great (and LOCAL!) people. Nikki was there in less than 10 minutes to pick us up. I had never met Nikki. Funny, funny girl. She's the evening receptionist in x-ray. The Lowly Secretary. (So we discussed the underappreciated status of secretaries nation-wide. Ahhhh secretarial bonding.) To the hospital we go. (All this in what are now subzero temps at night - but hey! At least the turkey was starting to thaw!!)

Back at the hospital, Nikki set about using her exceptionally handy secretary skills to try to find us a rental car. Felicia, whose Dad just happens to be a mechanic, set about finding out which Cowlett we should leave our car in the care of. [This is a funny story in its own. Felicia's family knows all the Cowletts. There are 35 of them listed in the phone book. Our car was parked at Rob's which is a convenience store AND a garage. Across the highway and down not even 200 yards, is Rob's brother Alan's garage. I can just imagine Rob thinking we used him for his parking lot and then this morning his brother comes over to tow the car across the highway...] Anyway, we are assured that the car is now in good hands. It might even be fixed today. (It did turn out to be the alternator.) Holly efficiently filled the roll of moral support and jokester.

Now you may in fact be wondering, 'How did you get home afterall?' Well, it just happens that ALL Nikki's calling was in vain. No place in town will rent you a car after 5pm, so Felicia to the rescue again! She just happened to have dropped another coworker - Jill - off at the airport a week and a half ago. She also just happened to have Jill's truck key. So Nikki drove us up to Jill's and we got her Jeep. (Keep the heater going full-blast at all times - otherwise it'll overheat; and hope it doesn't rain because it might not start if it's damp...)

So we drove home. In a not-quite-stolen Jeep. And did I mention Luke was driving all the while without a license? (He forgot it at home.) But the point is, we made it home, Luke had a vehicle to get to work in this morning, the girls at work are VERY resourceful, we're making new friends (although perhaps not with the WHOLE Cowletts family), and hopefully by Monday, our car will be fixed.

I'm not sure why it is that we seem to be constantly plagued with car troubles (at least with Luke's cars. My little Linda the Honda was, of course, perfect). If it's not one car it's another, and buying a new one hasn't helped to date. On the other hand, if constant car troubles are the worst thing to befall us in this lifetime, I guess we're doing okay.

What's the moral? When the check engine light comes on. Don't wait till you break down halfway home to figure out what the problem is. :)

21 November, 2006

Missing Canada

So surfing the internet tonight, I came across this great new blog by a lady in Ontario (she's funny, so we'll forgive her for being from ON). Anyway, she referenced this article from the National Post about Canada's favourite treats. So I thought I'd share the link so you all can feel sorry for us missing our favourite Canadian goodies.

For Luke's birthday in 12 days, I'll be making the big drive (okay, two miles) to NB for McCain Deep 'n' Delicious chocolate cake. We can hardly wait. Maybe I'll get two.

Anyway, check out the article and see if you agree!


17 November, 2006

The Rain in Spain....

Well, no, actually, NOT the rain in Spain. This is the thing. I'm not convinced there's any rain left in Spain. It's all falling HERE!!! It has rained EVERY day for at least the last two weeks. Oh wait. No, there was one day when we had about 30 minutes (total) of various degrees of sunniness - and I don't remember any rain that day. It is actually rather 'warm' outside today though. There's a possibility of thunderstorms this afternoon, but so far, nothing - it's just pouring rain.

In addition to - or possibly as a result of - all this rain, Luke made an 'amazing' discovery in the basement the other day. Yes, Friends, a discovery only a man could get excited about. I was already pretty convinced that I needn't ever set foot in the basement. Suspicion confirmed. Luke found FROGS in the basement. Yes, FROGS. Not huge ones, mind you, but FROGS all the same! GROSS!! He said he found two the other night, but when he went down last night, there was only one (this downsize could possibly have something to do with the basement door having been left open and two cats investigating in there...). *Shudder*

I should account for our eight day absence here. When we finally got moved into our new place here, Luke tried setting up our new DSL account. It didn't work. Only for us to discover that we had no dial tone. It was already the 13th and our phone service was supposed to have been set up on the 2nd. So just this past Wednesday, the Verizon man came and fixed the problem (their's, so we don't have to pay - hooray!) and not even 15 minutes after he left, my Mom called! Unfortunately, her phone call was followed by a record FIVE telemarketers in one night. No good.

Regardless, we're back online and happy to be so. Now we can resume mostly regular posts.
For now, I'm going to eat macaroni salad. Cheers!

08 November, 2006

Look! Look!

Okay! Check it out! As 'luck' would have it, all the snow has already melted and the leaf sucker was back! And now I know that the other guy that rides in the truck isn't there in case the vacuum guy gets sucked up, he's there to rake the leaves. So there's a Driver, a Raker, and the Vacuum Man. Oh the wonders of Maine...

07 November, 2006

Late Breaking News: The Tuesday Edition

Just wanted to remind everybody that if you didn't do your civic duty in America today (provided you were able), then you should feel terrible. Just awful! Grrrr.....

And get this: Luke signed a Special Voter Initiative where if you go to college in Maine and you stay and work for 10 years (yes, that's a 10), they'll give you a big tax break. Yes folks, that's right. 10 whole years. One decade. Good grief! Even the Yukon only makes you stay for two!!

Anyway, happy election day! (We hope.)

06 November, 2006


So when we first moved here, we were completely baffled by the giant piles of leaves raked to the edges of yards all over town. We couldn't figure out why people didn't just put the leaves in garbage bags like many another North American.

Then one day, I was innocently sitting in the living room reading a book when I heard this horrible noise! It got louder and louder as I raced from window to window trying to figure out what freight train was rumbling down the street. Then I saw it. The LEAF SUCKER MACHINE!! It's true! It's a service provided by the city where you just rake your leaves to the curb and the Leaf Sucker comes along a few times a week and whisks them away. You can't see very well from this picture, but the machine has a giant tube on the side of it - the Vacuum tube. One man hangs on for dear life to the outside (he's there to operate the vacuum, but I'm guessing he's really just clinging to the truck hoping HE doesn't get sucked up in the Machine),and two men ride inside the truck (I guess to keep each other company or in case the outside guy really does get sucked up).

So now we know. Mystery solved. Leaves don't just go to the curb to die. They go to be sucked up for a giant leaf party with all their leaf cousins and leaf friends, presumably made into mulch to nourish next year's leaves.

And just FYI, I had fully intended to take a better picture of said machine since Dr. Lawrence finally raked all the leaves on the yard yesterday (raking them neatly into the requisite Giant Curb Piles), but it started snowing between 2 and 3 this morning, so now no more leaf sucking for the season. *Sigh* Maybe next year.

02 November, 2006

The News

Sorry it's been so long between posts. Either there hasn't been much to tell or we're slacking. Probably we're slacking.
So in this week's news, we bought a house. The sale closed on Tuesday and our real estate agent even left us a present - windchimes. (Do you think they still bring 'health and happiness' if they're used stictly for decorative purposes?) It's not in PI and we'll have a new address - again. I'll pass it along to KB and my Mom. Feel free to get it from either of them.

Also, we got this great surprise in the mail from WA! Check it out! A whole giant box of Spitzenburgs. Luke is in apple heaven! Thank you Rest Awhile Fruit Stand - we miss you AND your fruit!!

As for the Church-Hunt. No new post on that this week. We went to Bethany again and it looks like we might stay there for a while and give it a go. We were finally able to hear the Pastor preach on Sunday (he's been away) and it was pretty good. Topical, but still okay. He's also started this box in the back of the foyer where you can ask any question and he'll try to answer it - either in the bulletin or in a sermon. "No question is too controversial." Hm. I'll have to think of one. Also, one of Luke's coworkers (whose house we were at for a little get-together last Friday) was at church on Sunday night. Of course, we missed her, but I guess she really liked it and is planning on going back.

Anyway, at the risk of this getting both long AND boring, I'm stopping here. When we have something really exciting to show you (we're still trying to get a couple of pictures of a few things) we'll post again. For now, we're moving, so don't expect too many posts in the next week. And again, if any of you have questions or are curious about anything regarding the great state of Maine, post a question in the comments section and we'll see what we can do. And yes, that is just really a ploy for more comments!

23 October, 2006

Eastern Treats

We went for a walk yesterday and took our usual shortcut to the park via this road behind the hospital. We passed a cop car on the road. It was empty. Then when we got to the park, it was deserted except for this younger guy with a camera, and four cop cars. We got out of there fast (without arousing suspicion, of course). A couple blocks away from the park, we almost got run over by three different cop cars rushing to the park. We have no idea what was going on there.

ANYWAY, part of the purpose of our walk was to go down to the convenience store to find a slurpee. No luck. When we got there though, we found pop in bottles that was only 79 cents! Except really it turned out to be $1.29. Argh! Bait & Switch! On the way home, the urge hit. Out here on the East Coast, you apparently haven't lived until you've tried a whoopie pie. A whoopie pie is essentially a chocolate and cream 'hamburger' - two cakey chocolate rounds with vanilla custard or buttercream icing sandwiched between. You can get small ones, or giant ones (as in the picture below). Luke had a craving for a whoopie pie. So off we went to IGA. We also got some Fox Family Farms Chips so we could make it a truly Eastern Experience while we watched our movie.*

So for your enjoyment, I'm including some pictures of our tasty treats. The whoopie pie turned out to be more than we could handle. We felt awful and also decided we probably could make a better one ourselves. Luke liked the chips, I thought they were boring.

Just wanted to share.

*Tonight's movie choice was Ushpizin. We'd highly recommend it (particulary to TP and DKB). It's in Hebrew with subtitles and tells the story of a couple celebrating Succoth. Funny. Plus, you get to hear Jewish rap.

22 October, 2006

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part 4: The Great Escape!

Sigh. Sigh. Really long drawn out sigh….

We have since determined that indeed we should’ve taken the sticky door as a sign. Or well, no. Rather, we should’ve listened to that prompting that it turns out we both felt, not to go through those doors.

“Hi! I’m Sister Sarah.” (Not in the nun sense.) The first warning bell goes off.

There weren’t very many people there, so we sat down in the back row (on the right side this time) trying to take in our surroundings. There were some very weird posters on the wall. (Wait, was that warning bell number two?).

We weren’t sitting there for very long when I started thinking about my friend BB and how her mom once told me about a morning before church when she was rushing around trying to figure out what to wear to church. The eventual conclusion (which I’m sure plagues thousands of women every Sunday morning): I have nothing to wear! (I'm sure some of you are surprised that I ever have this dilemma - CE...Luckily for BB, this was a dilemma shortened by a haul of great new back to school clothes the next week!)

I had such a dilemma this morning. Unfortunately, the khaki pants and black sweater I settled on was the WRONG choice. Fortunately, I can take comfort in the fact that the RIGHT choice doesn’t actually exist in my closet so even had I known, it would’ve been impossible! That’s right, Friends, this week’s MIA item: A Skirt; an ankle-length skirt to be exact. (*Hangs head in shame*) That was one of the first things I noticed when we sat down: I was the only female wearing pants. Uh oh. I could feel the icy stares penetrating to the core of my khakis. Gulp.

At any rate, we sat down and everybody was milling about greeting people and telling us how glad, “how really, truly glad” they were that we were there. (It should be noted that this is the second time Luke’s been confused with some local obviously rather elusive drummer – perhaps why they were all so excited to see us – they thought we’d returned!) The pastor greeted us too. He said hello and asked us if we were musical. “Are you singers?” I said ‘yes,’ Luke said ‘a little.’ Then, he turned to me and said, “Would you like to come up and sing this morning?” Answered by nervous laughter and ‘no, thanks.’

Really. Um. What the??? No. Of course not! What am I? Crazy? Or just a lunatic?

And then it started. The music. Loud, crazy, gospel revival music (why aren’t these churches merging already!??!). We were stuck on the same song for I don’t even know how long. There were three verses plus a chorus and I’m sure we were on the third or fourth time through and finally, that was it. We’d had enough. One bad church-hunting experience too many. And folks, we did it. We got up and – GASP - left. That’s right, we left. I smiled at one lady as we were leaving, gave her a ‘mea culpa’ look and pointed to my ears. Seriously, we’ve been to concerts that weren’t that loud!!! Good grief!

And flipping through the hymnbook was an experience unto itself. Old Fashioned Meeting. No kidding, it’s a real song. We might as well be Tevya singing Tradition. It was all about longing for the old gospel tent meeting of old. <- And those might’ve actually been some of the lyrics too.

As it turned out, my watch said 10:45. We raced to the car and were just in time to catch the last verse of the first hymn at the Baptist church (from two weeks ago). Ahhh…It was like stepping into an air-conditioned building on a 115 degree Washington day. Everybody was standing in the right spot. No bouncing, no dancing, no random children scattered about playing guitars or tambourines - and no weird posters on the wall about The Will of Man and the Five Senses. Oi. We sang hymns, had a responsive reading, prayer time, offering, and a really good sermon by a guest preacher. He preached from 1 Corinthians 6 (end of the chapter) about how our bodies are not our own. In fact, nothing we have is really our own. Not our car, not our house, not our money. Everything belongs to God. Anything we have has just been given to us for our use while we’re on Earth. And all of it is at God’s disposal at any time He chooses. In fact, the man preaching even used the word CARNAL!!! (More than once, EF! More than once!!!)

So what began as a horrid Sunday experience in Skirts-Only-Where-Are-the-Snakes? Land, ended up a really great Sunday experience in Let’s-Serve-Them-Some-Meat-and-See-What-God-Does Land. Brilliant!

(And I’m not even sorry we didn’t get a pen!)

19 October, 2006

Pedro's Permanent

So what we're really hoping for here is that somebody from Brewster will give us an update on Pedro's Permanent. It's probably not really called that, that's just the name we decided to give the new 'permanent' Taco Wagon Pedro is building on the corner of Bridge Street and Main. The title seemed highly apropos considering that this version of a taco wagon will be permanent and of course, as a nod to Pedro's lovely coif.
So if anybody knows anything about the status of this new eatery (or better yet, has a picture to share), we'd appreciate it.

Also, something along a similar vein. Driving through NB last Saturday, we drove through a reservation. There was this poster up that said, "Dave for Chief: Power to the People." We laughed for a long time about that one. Mostly because it reminded us of the infamous Vote for Pedro posters plastered around town (oh! and the super cool tshirts!).

17 October, 2006

New Brunswick, Land of the Useless Door

As a bonus, I’m posting a synopsis of our ‘first’ trip to Canada last Saturday.

For whatever reason, it took us forever to get going and we finally made it to the Port by about 2pm. This port was NOTHING like the one in Oroville/Osoyoos. Wow! Talk about Podunk! It almost looks like it might be the last shack on the frontier before no-man’s-land. (It should be noted that it DOES look like the Canadian side is in the process of making a new building, but the present buildings looked like an ’82 Honda Civic could run into them and they’d come crashing down.) I digress. Going through the Canadian side was pretty easy. Not a lot of questions, but the Customs guy stands on the passenger side. That was weird. And they actually come out of the building. We had pulled up to the stop sign and weren’t really sure what to do. There were no instructions. Do we get out? Stay in? Is there a secret code we’re supposed to use a mirror to flash them?

Anyway, on to New Brunswick. The first town was small but had lots of neat white churches lined up along the river – quite scenic. We ended up taking the scenic route (read: Crappy Highway On the Wrong Side of the River) and got rather lost. We finally got back on the right road and drove up to Grand Falls.

Two important observations must be noted here:
1)New Brunswick truly is the Land of the Useless Door. In actual fact, Luke remembers being told about this at Prov by one of our Eastern friends. People build houses that have maybe one door connecting the garage to the house. They have another door on the front of the house, but it’s on the main level of the house, which might be 8 feet off the ground, and they don’t build any staircase to it. It’s USELESS!! (My profuse apologies for not taking a picture – again.) I mean, what is it? The Bad Boyfriend Door? Is it like walking the plank for a misbehaving child. “That’s it Barney! Go stand by the FRONT door. I’m going to get the blindfold!”
2) Grand Falls isn’t very ‘grand’ at all. At least not in Fall. Evidently, in Spring, there is so much water pouring over this dam that it really does warrant billing as the biggest waterfall East of Niagara Falls. But after the Spring Thaw, all the water is diverted to the hydro facility and the falls becomes somewhat of a trickle. Bummer.

However, after driving around the city for a while trying to find a certain street (really much better attempted with a map, wouldn’t you say?), we found the restaurant we were looking for. Part of the restaurant is built out over the hill so you can see out over the top of the ‘Grand’ Falls. The view was still nice since all the leaves are still turning and it was overlooking the river. I had soupy Caesar salad – with enough croutons to almost be ridiculous. Luke had this local (?) dish called Crouquille de Jean Baptiste, which should really have been called ‘Dejeuner de Jacques Cousteau.’ (CL: are you impressed with my French or what?!?!) It was a mashed potato moat filled with various and sundry seafoods in a white sauce, covered in cheese and baked. Every child’s mashed potato/gravy volcano fun GONE WRONG!! But Luke loved it. We also had some of the best (and may I add, authentically French) poutine we’ve ever had! It was SO GOOD!!!

After lunch we drove to the Falls visitor’s centre, which was closed, so we drove home. Not too much trouble at the border here either. Same deal where the officer is on the passenger side (so from now on, I’m driving), and the US side one-upped the Canadians by offering a stop sign with a red/green traffic light! WOW!! This customs officer must’ve been at least a little bored because he decided to give us the third degree about how long we’d been in Canada. ‘Since two o’clock? You must’ve done something besides just drive to Grand Falls for lunch. You’ve been gone a while.’ But how do you explain (without embarrassing the DRIVER) how yes, you had lunch, but you took the… ‘Scenic Route’ and really actually got lost?

At any rate, we made it home. It was a fun, rather uneventful trip. Next stop, Quebec?!?!

Other interesting facts about Grand Falls:

- The town is one of the only ones in New Brunswick to actually have an official French Name.
- Tim Horton’s is Toujours Frais!

- Main Street is the widest street in Canada East of Winnipeg!
- If you pick up a New Brunswick travel guide in a bi-lingual province, make sure you choose the ENGLISH version.
- Even if you only pretended to read/listen in high school French class, and even if you had to constantly rely on your friend Erin for translation assistance, you’d be surprised how much information you can still glean from a French travel guide. Vive la Nouveau Brunswick!

Oh! One closing note: Congratulations to our friends E & J who just had a baby boy last Friday. Welcome & hugs to little Milo!

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part Three: MIA: Snake Handlers*

*Disclaimer: So here I go again, I’m probably offending somebody in writing this. But that truly is not my intention. I merely publicly exposing my own biases about what’s appropriate in a church service and what isn’t. Growing up in a relatively conservative church doesn’t always prepare one for the ‘bizarre’ things that might be witnessed in future church experiences. I’m not trying to be a relativist, but sometimes, what makes church comfortable is just what you’re used to and what is normal for some is insane to others. On the other hand, I was deeply disturbed by some of the things we heard during this particular service. Things that I know are fundamentally wrong. The obligation to speak in tongues, for example, is a falsehood that I believe can be devastating (not to mention theologically distracting), particularly for a new or younger Christian.

Moving along, here’s the post:
Well, don’t worry. I won’t let the title try to speak for itself this week, but settle in for a longer read.

Now you’d think that it would only take one time for us to learn our lesson. One brush with an ‘exuberant’ church service to make us at least a little more diligent to check BEFOREHAND what we’re getting ourselves in to. Alas, we must be more than a little naïve and we ended up in a slightly stranger repeat of Church-Hunting Week Number One.

This past Sunday was our first (and need I say, ONLY) trip to the Family Christian Center – “An Oasis of Love.” We pulled up in the parking lot at the same time as a guy Luke knows from work, and his fiancée. I had never met them, but they both seemed nice enough. We went inside and everything seemed okay. A nice open, well-lit foyer, lots of brochures around, a nice little library, and a coffee table for the youth group to raise money for activities and missions trips. All very normal.

The sanctuary was one of those large rooms that can double as an ‘all purpose’ room or gym, with a giant stage up front and a high ceiling that looks like the roof of The Ark. It was here that we made our first mistake. So a word for the novice church hunter: If you come upon a sanctuary and there is only one major entrance to it, DO NOT make a beeline for the far side of the seating just because according to your personal tradition, you always sit on the left side. Just don’t do it. It can only lead to disaster, and it does not for an expeditious exit make.

Then the music started. That part was actually not so bad, although the majority of the songs were unfamiliar to us, and the majority were 7/11 songs as my Grampa used to call them. They had a drummer, a flutist (I really don’t know how to spell that), bass guitar, regular acoustic guitar, a saxaphone player who doubled as the resident harmonicist (one who plays a harmonica – if it’s not a real word, I’m sorry). They also had a pianist and an organ player who looked like he really meant to show up at the Episcopal service downtown. Oops. The only real downside to the music was the leader guy who kept singing his own thing and not really following the lyrics. So, is the next phrase ‘hallelujah? Or amen? Or what??’ He also reminded me more than a little of one of those televangelists. Oh and I guess I should mention the mosh pit, or lack thereof. It was the funniest thing to see grown men in Sunday suits jumping up and down as if they were 15 and at an MXPX concert (yes, MXPX. I am old.) And women dancing. And the amen-ing and hallelujah-ing. Man, did I grow up in a conservative church or what?!?

After singing, this other guy got up. We think he was supposed to do announcements, but instead he started rambling and he ended up deciding there should be a prayer time instead. So there was praying. All very normal. But then it started. The prophecy. Now, I do believe that prophecy is a gift that God still gives for use in churches today, but I really didn’t expect it to look like this. Weird people who looked like they were in some sort of prayer-like trance speaking words that sounded all well and good, but weren’t necessarily direct quotes from scripture, which is somehow what I’ve always expected modern prophecy to look like – bringing appropriate (and ACTUAL) scripture to light for the edification of the body. Luckily, this ‘prophecy’ didn’t last long.

Then the greeting. Over came the burgundy folder. This time with a multicoloured card, which we did not fill out OR leave behind in any offering plate. This handy little welcome folder (again, complete with PEN – KB! CLC has really got to get on the bandwagon here!), contained the document we most wanted to see: the Statement of Faith. My ‘favourite’ point was the one that equated the gift of the Holy Spirit with tongues and insinuated that if you don’t speak in tongues, you have not really been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Say what? We were quite ready to get up and leave at this point, but again, be sure to note your proximity to the nearest major exit BEFORE you sit down…it was too late. [In actual fact, I didn’t even notice until now that we had stopped reading at that point and completely missed the statement about divine healing – John 5:14 was referenced. Umm….)

Then came the sermon. Major bonus point in his favour, is the fact that the pastor is from South Africa, so he’s got a dang cool accent. He was preaching from 1 Samuel 17 about David & Goliath. His sermon was titled ‘How to Be a Giant Killer.’ I walked away thoroughly confused about this guy’s theology. For one, he made it sound like trials and tribulations in our lives just ‘happen.’ We just wake up one morning, open the door, and there’s our ‘Goliath.’ So, you’re saying it has nothing to do with our personal sin? We never bring these problems on ourselves through our sinful, rebellious acts? Hmmm. He also insinuated other things I completely disagreed with (call it picky semantics on my part, but still): 1) “God has created us with a purpose….That’s what makes us happy.” 2) “God’s not using angels today to do His work, He’s using Jesses.” (as in Jesse, King David’s father.) 3) “The problem is not how big the giant is, it’s how small he makes us feel.” <-emphasis mine.
So, a Charismatic church pastor doesn’t believe God uses angels?? What?? I’m confused. At the same time though, he did work to hammer home the point that we are saved entirely by grace. (See Ephesians 2, it is only by God’s Grace that we are saved.)

I feel like the way I’m describing this church service is really not doing it justice. I felt a little like I might be watching one of those crazy services that EF often watches, (pardon me, ‘flips through’) on TBN. Yet, in retrospect, it still truly feels like all they were missing were the snake handlers. (Unfortunately, handling a Garter Snake would hardly be convincing and there are no poisonous snakes in Maine.)

11 October, 2006

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part Two: The IVORY Card

Well, it's already Wednesday and I owe you all a post about our church hunt on Sunday. The problem is, church was so normal there really isn't much to tell you. There just wasn't enough fodder for a super-funny blog entry, so this is what you get:

There weren't many people there because a bunch were away at some youth retreat in Augusta. The Pastor was with them, so we didn't get to hear him preach in the morning. The guy that spoke was a lay minister and his sermon was okay - more 'milk' than 'meat' though. Solid hymn singing, but it was nice cause they were all songs we knew.

At any rate, we had barely sat down when over comes, Curtis maybe (?) with The Packet. One of those really nice burgundy folders with all the church info in it and the ominous Ivory Card. BUT, good news! We filled out this one and there was no conspicuous 'Passing of the Card' to the pastor, and no making us stand up for introductions - we just had to raise our hands this time, but there was another new guy there too so we didn't feel too weird. Nice welcome folders though. Pricey, I know, but this one even came with a Doctrinal Statement! We could hardly believe it! Imagine! A church telling newcomers what they believe - and on the first Sunday!! *gasp*

Let it not be said, however, that people in PI aren't friendly! The guy sitting in front of us, a really nice Grampa-type, even told us where he lived and that we should stop by any time! By the end of church, we also knew that his oldest son had been conceived in Washington but born in PI! (We're not sure a visit to his house is warranted anymore - we might know all there is to know already.)

We met a few more people that work at the hospital though. Good grief! Everybody knows somebody...'my mother's cousin's uncle's dog's groomer's brother works in the [fill in the blank] department!' I'm beginning to feel a little left out.

Back to church. They invited us back for an evening service, 'geared more for the younger generation.' So we went back. There weren't many people there again, but there never are at evening services, so it seems. We sang some songs, prayed, the pastor preached. It was good. A lot more Reformed than we were expecting, so that was nice. [Sidebar: We sang some song that had actions and the pastor's younger daughter got up to demonstrate. It was really sweet. She looked embarrassed, but knew what she was doing. She also looked just like B - about the same height, same hair, and I had a moment of homesickness because I miss my office visits from B&B, but I'm okay now.] After the service we were invited to stay for refreshments. Hot chocolate and cookies. It was nice. The people we met, mostly a lady whose name I can't remember, were really pretty welcoming.

Not sure if we'll go back right away. We've got a few more to check out first, but this place shows promise! Anyway, off to meet with the mortgage guy!

07 October, 2006

Argh! The Camera....

A guy we know has this blog. He often reminds his readers how important it is to always travel with a camera in the car, and oh, how true it often proves. Like tonight for example.

Today we decided to go to Canada after we had met with the realtor to go over a contract for a house purchase. After our meeting, we came home and searched high and low but couldn't find Luke's passport anywhere. So we headed out to do errands instead. We got good bargains on all our purchases, got one item for half price (and less than a dollar!), AND FINALLY found a store that carries bulk products and a large assortment of organic and natural foods. Hooray!

BUT, the icing on the cake was our trip to Mars Hill. (DB: Mars Hill is the first spot the sun hits America every morning. Not Katahdin. So we were all wrong.) The drive to M.H. was nice because the sun was setting and the leaves were beautiful. But that's not even the best part!

We were coming over this little hill and I was just saying how Luke needed to remind his friends at work that we still hadn't seen a moose - the elusive, I was beginning to believe, non-existent, moose. And then, THERE IT WAS!!! A MOOSE! A MOOSE! I think I yelled so loud it heard me! It was munching on some supper in a field. It was a female.
Then, not even two miles later, I had started singing a song about seeing moose in a field. Then we were passing some farmers harvesting potatoes and I said, "Do you think that the moose eat the broccoli and potatoes?"

Now, this next part is truly amazing, because not only had I just been singing my new moose song, but I had also just asked about the moose diet and what do you think we saw?!?!? FOUR, yes, that's FOUR moose in the BROCCOLI field EATING BROCCOLI!!!!

Anyway, just wanted to share my excitement and apologize profusely that I don't have any pictures to show for it. There was a young man in the field taking a picture of the moose family. They ran away. Lucky for him, they didn't charge - for the picture of course. :)

Confirmed Moose Sightings to Date: 5
Wanna Eat Like a Moose?: broccoli is in.

05 October, 2006

A Couple of Pictures for You

The quintessential New England home in fall. Can you smell pumpkin pie??
Our new chipmunk friend. He lives under the front step and the cats have taken quite a 'liking' to him. He's the first chipmunk they've ever seen.

04 October, 2006

Cheap Housing...and Other Untruths About P.I.

Okay, well the good news first: Luke's job is secure, we're not going anywhere...or at least back home. The department head and manager both decided that they would put him to work wherever they could until his license comes through and he's 'legal' here.

The bad news: This house-hunting business is bunk! We looked at two more houses yesterday. The first one had a bit more potentital than we're prepared to deal with, though it did have ample RV parking (we'd probably have to charge rent though) and a large unbelievably clean garage with storage. The main bedroom upstairs had this absolutely bizarre floor. Tiles, tiles everywhere! No specific pattern, just maybe 8 different colours of tiles all random-like - and no guarantee they're not asbestos.

The second house was, I can't quite think of one word to describe it other than DISASTER. There was no rhyme or reason to this house at all! Fake brick paneling throughout, that damp, dank smell that makes you think you've just crawled down a sewer, and the most ridiculous staircases we've seen yet! (Luke apologizes profusely for not taking pictures!) The staircases were made to just meet code. They have no landings at the bottom. They have no railing either on one side, which is handy as it allows you to actually step up to the second stair in the first place. This house was deceptively cheap. It had a decent yard and newer siding, but who can tell what the sellers were thinking!? TEAR IT DOWN! I say 'were thinking' because they can't still be. Any seller who is still thinking about selling this house would know that tearing it down and selling the lot would be more successful.

So, as a matter of prayer, please remember us in our house hunting. We've decided we might start looking in a couple of other towns close to here which wouldn't be nearly as convenient, but would be still suitable. One town is about 14 miles north of here, but isn't too tiny, and still comes nicely equipped with a Family Dollar and Tim Horton's (service = A-).

Moose Sitings to Date: still ZERO!
Amazing sunsets to Date: at least four. See below for example.

01 October, 2006

The Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part One: The Yellow Card

This Sunday morning started off much like any other Sunday morning. Various alarms were set for various times and after the fifth or sixth alarm went off, we finally rolled, bleary eyed, out of bed.
Everything was on schedule until of course it came time to put the cats away in their cat room before we left for church. The situation was quickly rectified and we left for church.
We had decided last night to try out the church that's right next door to the house we may hopefully end up buying, so here it is, your synopsis for the Church-Hunting Chronicles, Part One.**

Full Gospel Assembly - The Yellow Card:
Oi. Vey.
I could summarize it all in that phrase and let you draw your own conclusions, but where would the fun be in that? Let me start by saying that being at this church made us miss our home church even more than we already do.

Beginning with music. Music at CLC has seen some transitions in recent weeks, from a 'full-service' worship team, to the dedicated sincerity of a few individuals God has called to remain faithful to providing worship leadership. Worship has been simplified, fruitful, and appreciated.

Music this morning at FGA reminded me of a band one might find on the D Stage at a small country fair in the backwoods of West Virginia (and we can almost say we know, now that we've been to the backwoods of West VA). I may be exaggerating (but only slightly) when I say that all that was missing was the washboard and the possum hats. One woman on piano, one man on bass, one man on guitar (country TWANG geee-tarrr). The pastor started out the singing (chorus books, hymn books, and overhead machine in sight but not in use). Then he suddenly walked away and a lady took over. Now I'm not necessarily doubting the sincerity of this lady, but some people were just meant to be solo singers. Or perhaps not singers at all. It was awful! I couldn't even look at Luke! I was trying to concentrate on figuring out the lyrics to the Old Time Revival Favourites, but it just wasn't working. And it went on forever, and ever, and ever! But I digress; I needed to make an important point about this lady's singing. Seriously, she should be commanding an army overseas! Because I'm sure they could hear her from where she was standing this morning! It was 'singing' only because it followed some sort of 'tune.' To the uninitiated, it could've easily been interpreted as yelling.

Between every song there was an equally exuberant chorus of hallelujahs and amens and thank you Jesuses, all said in a manner to rival the 'ohm mani padme ohms' of any Buddhist church. We decided we had accidentally stumbled on the Full Gospel (and Did We Forget to Mention Pentecostal) Assembly. It was a bit crazy.

Well, the music finally ended (I was sitting there wishing I could take pictures to send back home) and then it was time for the special number. I don't remember the name of the guy who was going to sing, but he was also the geeee-tarrrrr player and had this crazy beard. (Are there such people as Pentecostal Hippies?) Anyway, he got up to sing, but something happened with the tape ("technical difficulties") and it never panned out. I think we were saved from some early 80s revival-style tune.

Prayer time was a concert of prayer (which I've participated in before, but never during a Sunday morning service). And guess who we could hear praying the loudest? (And she STILL sounded like she was singing).

After that, the preaching. The sermon started out okay. Beginning of Jeremiah 18 - the Potter and the clay. It was only about halfway through the sermon that we realized when he had earlier asked us to open our Bibles, he had actually forgotten his on his chair and was just now going to get it. It was then that the sermon took a sort of, how shall I say it? Downward spiral, of sorts. He concluded by implying that as Christians we have a choice about whether or not we want to be clay on God's potter's wheel. We can get off any time we choose (although doing so won't allow God to form you into what He wants you to be). Hm.

Oh, and about the yellow card. We had hardly come in and sat down before the pastor came over and handed me an envelope. He introduced himself and told us there was yellow card in the envelope and could we fill it out and put it in the offering plate. No problem. And hey, free pen! Did you read that, KB?? Free pen! Just like the ones we always used to get in the mail, only it actually had the name of the church and address instead of the name of the pen and 'your organization's name here' written on it! AND, the envelope was pre-printed with service times on it, AND we got two free blue ribbon bookmarks - complete with, you guessed it - the FGA info all over it! No sign of a doctrinal statement, but hey, let's not scare people away...

The yellow card was completed. In the offering plate it went. The ushers handed it directly to the pastor up front who pocketed it just before starting his sermon. He also proceeded to introduce us just before the whole prayer time started (we were standing up already of course). At the end, not very inconspicuously, he pulled the card out of his pocket to double check our names before he went to greet everybody at the back. Note to self: don't be so hasty with the yellow card filling.

I'm not sure I'm missing much in my synopsis here. We decided that these people were either white people born the wrong colour in the wrong state, or else they had all gone on a missions trip to Mississippi 'some years back' and were now trying to emulate what they'd heard in their own services. I wonder if at Pentecostal seminaries, when pastors take homiletics classes, if they're taught that instead of saying, 'um' or 'er' when you don't know what to say, you should say AMEN!! or HALLELUJAH! or I CAN'T HEAR YOU BROTHER LOWELL!

Now again, they were sweet people. We felt like as visitors and young people we were sort of an anomaly there. There were three junior high-ish kids there and us. There's a very good chance that nobody else was under 60.

Probably next week, we'll try some place else.

**Now, we went to this church this morning fully aware that we probably wouldn't find the perfect church right off. And we realize that perhaps there are those for whom these events occur every Sunday. But for us it was quickly obvious, that this is NOT the right church for us. The worship may have been completely sincere in its own right, but we were more than just a little out of our element. Like wild boars in a palace maybe.

Stay tuned for more Sunday Reports.

30 September, 2006

The Missing Pictures - Hopefully

Here's the pictures that were supposed to upload before. This is Larry, the "Hot Lobsta." You put him in the microwave and he comes out warm and smelling like apple pie. So all your aches and pains will be pied away. (He's a genuine Maine lobster, by the way. Made right in Brunswick.)

-> We bought these potatoes at the Farmer's market today. They're some sort of red potato and when they cook up, they're still red. Cool!
AND of course, organic. ;)

<- our little Lobsta, plotting his escape...

To Market, To Market

Well it's Saturday here in lovely PI. It's one of those perfect falls days: cold wind, warm sun, stunning leaves, and a red hot lobstah (who smells faintly of apple pie).

We drove down to the "Farmer's Market" this morning. Maybe it's bigger in early September or when it's warmer outside. There were three sellers. Two Older Ladies with their various pumpkins, cabbage, and miscellaneous veg, then the Organic Farmer's who have six kinds of potatoes - all of them tasty and 'you don't have to peel them!' The Farmer Man informed us that his own potatoes are the only ones he doesn't peel before cooking. 'Those kind you buy in the store - they're all sprayed! They've all been sprayed! Even if you wash it you shouldn't eat the peel! Argh! <- come on, say it like a pirate. Meanwhile Madame Farmer is puffing away on her cigarette (I'm sure it's organic too) selling the last of the baby beets. After the Organic Farmers comes the Fairy Worshipper. I came up with the term 'Fairy Worshipper' after too many trips up the Methow with too many subsequent encounters with Super Weirdos. You know the type that smoke...something, only wear natural fibers (but are definitely NOT Jewish), and say things very slowly, always with a somewhat distant look in their eyes. Anyway, this particular Fairy Worshipper was also a dealer in herbal remedies. 'For 37 years now...'She tried to sell us some lavender massage oil ('for the ladies') and thanked us for allowing her in our Life Circle. Oi. We bought our potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, and zuchini, and scrammed! And the inevitable finally happened on two counts. I lost my beloved sunglasses in a fitting room in Penney's, and shortly after we got home, the cats somehow escaped through the same window Luke crawled through the other day when I locked our only house key inside the house. We thought he'd now locked the window (we did get an extra key made finally), but apparently not and when I went to let the cats out, there was no sign of them except the open window. It was almost movie-like. You know, the parent comes up to check on their teenage daughter at bedtime and finds a Rapunzel-like rope of sheets hanging out the window. Well, okay, there was no sheet rope, but they were gone. "Quick! Get your shoes on! Grab the cat treats! A jacket! A jacket! Quick! Hurry!"

So they were out playing in the pine trees and brush, not too near the road. A chase ensued into the neighbouring field, but eventually both escapees were apprehended and contained. The window in their room is now locked. For real.

No news on the house hunting front or the job front. Hopefully next week's labour will produce some fruit. Today we're cleaning up stray papers that have succeeded in their diabolical plan to take over our floor and all other available space in the living/dining room, and making veggie soup for supper. With our cabbage and UNpeeled organic potatoes.

29 September, 2006

The Adventure that Almost Wasn't

So here we are in Maine. For how long, some might ask? 'Well,' we'd answer, 'We have no idea.'
Luke called today to check on the status of his Maine RT license and it turns out that WVC is no longer accredited with JCRT. 'J-Cert' as it's known here, is the only accredidation the Maine licensing board accepts. So for you savvy readers, you'll understand that this technically means Luke isn't legally allowed to work here. It's almost funny, isn't it? That we travelled completely across the country for a job he can't have! Har.
Okay, well, it DOES sound awful, but it may turn out all right. Luke hit the library this afternoon to download and fill out an application for a WA state license (which he IS eligable for). Once he's got that, he can apply for a Maine state license, no problem. Well, wait there IS a problem. This whole process could take up to three weeks! (Prayers for expediency, please!)

We are learning that moving from city to city within a state, is a breeze compared to moving from one state to another. Everybody has different requirements, different fees, but surprisingly, they all got the same crabby people from The Crabby People Factory. Go figure.

In other less frustrating and potentially life-altering news, since we finally have internet at home, as of 33 minutes ago, I can post some more pictures on here. Since the Sturgis Pretzel fatory in Lititz (pronounced LID-itz) was a total highlight of our trip, I'll post some pictures from that. One is a picture of Luke getting his Pretzel Makers certificate (valid at any Pretzel factory in the world) from Carol, the Pretzel Queen. The other is of the Pretzel Crest. The Crest picture says - well, just click on it and you should be able to read it. It's a neat story!

26 September, 2006

We're Here!

Sorry it's taken so long to get to posting. We don't have internet at our house yet and since we don't even have to pay for the phone, we're not exactly sure how that's going to work anyway.

We went to the post office yesterday to see if we could get a PO Box. (Toni! When can you move to Maine?!?!) The guy was kind of a jerk, but we're supposed to have a box by tomorrow. They have to call the hospital to verify that Luke's actually working there and that we actually live where we said we do. 'It's for 911 so they know where you live.' Um....sure, my guess is it's more for Homeland Security issues.... So as soon as we have a PO Box, we'll let you know what it is.

Oh, we heard the funniest thing on the radio the other day! (Long days driving gave us lots of time to listen to Rush Limbaugh and other mostly-conservative radio.) But on RL, this lady called in on Open Line Friday. She said she was concerned because her daughter's school wasn't having Halloween parties anymore. They weren't doing a 'harvest party' either. They were having "U.N. Day" instead!!!! U.N. day!??! Is this to get kids prepared for the inevitable? or just to start indoctrinating them at a younger age? Good grief! So Rush gave her this great suggestion. He said that her daughter should get a can of oil and bring it to school. At lunch, she should walk into the cafeteria and say she was buying all the kids lunch! Oil for food!!It's brilliant!

Yesterday I would have had many more interesting things to write here, but today I'm stumped. We did have lunch at Tim Horton's yesterday. It was great! The sun was shining but the air was that cool crisp Fall air that needs only the aroma of pumpkin pie to make it complete. We could see the tree-covered hills in all their Autumn splendor in the distance while we ate our soup and pumpkin spice donut. It was great!

Oh! And great news for me and my Guilty Recycling Conscience - they DO recycle here in PI. You just put everything in a blue garbage bag and they collect it with the garbage. You don't even have to sort it!! Ahh....relief!

Anyway, now you know we're here. As soon as we get internet I'll be able to update this more regularly. This Sunday we're hoping to start checking out churches. We'll fill you in on that too.


20 September, 2006

the bear.

Well i was holding out for a real bear, but no dice. BUT, it is an actually decent sized bear. I'll have to post a picture on here one of these days. It's brown with a little bow on its neck. The bear place turned out to be actually really cool. They didn't have just bears either. They had camels!! The problem, was the three biggest ones weren't for sale, the littlest ones came in pairs (Noah's Ark theme) and they looked more like bears masquerading as camels, and the one that was the right size only came as part of a nativity set. Baby Jesus, the Bear. Weird. So nuts to that. I got my free one.

Gettysburg was really pretty cool. The old houses are fabulous! Some of them are more squished together than Peeps in a package, but they're mostly still beautiful. B & B need to bring their pumpkins to PA to sell! All theses houses - all they needed were pumpkins on the porches and it would have been perfect.

From Gettysburg, we headed to Lancaster which turned out to be way bigger than we thought and we got thoroughly lost trying to find a Waffle House and subsequently visited some of the not-so-nice parts of Lancaster. Scary! And not an Amish person in sight! In fact, we didn't see any Amish people all day - at least not on any that weren't a postcard or advertisement. We saw a few Mennonites though. AND - we DID see another possum. road kill, of course.

okay, i wrote this all yesterday but didn't get a chance to post it. now it's late so i'll have to fill in the details later.

but, i'll just leave you all with this:

On the Road

So firstly my apologies to everyone who I am disappointing terribly by stooping so low as to go beyond sending a mass email and starting a *gasp* blog! I've been able to check email nearly every night since we left and because we're already getting in late, this is making us get to sleep even later. Zzzzzzz...
So I've decided that this is it. Wednesday, 20 September, 2006: The Day I Started My Blog.

so here's the update:

Yesterday morning we left from Des Moines, IA. It was actually really nice around there, rolling hills, lots of trees. And that part of Iowa had less 'busyness' than I expected. [I should also point out that in Sioux Falls, SD, we saw the spitting image of your favourite rocker and ours - Disco Stu!!!] We drove a really long time - all the way through Indiana. I would love to say that we met Reggie Miller and he invited us over for lunch, but being that we only stopped at two rest stops and a Cracker Barrel for lunch, the story wouldn't be very plausible.

We ended up at a hotel at around 10pm and finally got the cats all settled (getting all their gear in has become quite the production and Luke firmly believes this is preparing us for traveling with kids.)

This morning we set out from some podunk town in Ohio - or maybe it was Indiana, now I can't remember. Let's say Indiana. Hotel breakfast was less than ideal, but they had a cool fish tank and the front desk guy was super friendly. Again, another day of driving forever. We had decided on a route that would get us to PA, but would avoid any toll highways. For future reference to anyone insane (!) enough to make this trip - TAKE THE TOLL ROAD!!! We spent about two and a half hours meandering (if we were snails, it would be crawling, but alas) through the back country of West Virginia. Seriously, when you cross the border from Ohio to W. VA., it's like going from the nice part of town to the wrong side of the tracks (or in this case, the river). Dilapidated row houses, abandoned factories - it was all there. Poorsville. We took a turn south - again to avoid the tolls - and ended up on this road that was neverending. There wasn't a space big enough turn around in even if we'd wanted to! It was awful! It reminded me of driving in Ireland! Such tiny narrow roads with almost no shoulder at all! The views were really incredible, but the driving - and the remoteness of it all was quite overwhelming! We felt a little helpless. I must say though, the rolling hils and houses tucked in little private forests or along a little stream was quite idyllic, but you could sure never play bacce ball in those yards! 'Sorry, Bobby, it rolled down the ravine again.'

We drove through several unnamed towns (sorry, "Unincorporated"). We saw a mama cat and three kittens almost right out in the road. When we came by the mama cat ran away! We drove by several bridges that looked like something from a ghost town movie set. And several were only wide enough for one car at a time - or had signs posted saying only one vehicle on the bridge at a time. There were again, lots of run-down houses with a ton of junk sitting outside them. It was a little depressing.

On the plus side, I got to see my first real live possum ever! Well, I'll be a noodle in soup! Okay, well, it was dead. Flattened road-kill actually, but it was still a possum!!

We FINALLY made it out of there but subsequently made several wrong turns trying to get out of the town at the end. We finally made it to Maryland. The drive to Harrisburg where we turned north again seemed unusually long. But hark! There lies in the distance Pennsylvania (which I could never live in because the name takes too long to spell). It was dark the entire time we were driving so I'm not sure what we missed, but at least it was flatter, not so many winding roads, and no dead possums!!

Now, we're in Gettysburg. We've decided to take a much slower day tomorrow and tour around G-burg a little bit and see the sights. As most of you know, I'm an avid lover of American history (Christine - quit laughing!), so this will be especially interesting.*
*Actually, the clincher is that we're going to this one museum place and we get a free bear. I'm not sure what that means. Do you think it will handle the car ride okay with the cats? Or will it just end up being a tiny lapel button with Smoky the Bear on it (convenient castoffs from the Forest Service)?

After G-burg, we're heading to Lancaster County to see the life I narrowly avoided. Just kidding! But I DO have some super-strict Mennonite relatives somewhere in this land of PA. We're also going to hit Lititz for the pretzel factory (100+ years old) and Wilbur chocolates to see where they make Wilbur Buds. <- these I found out about through my church secretary discussion board at work. These women from PA were all about Wilbur Buds - enough to start a topic about office candy, so we have to check it out now! I'll let you all know how it turns out.