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Friday, September 24, 2010


     Every year in the fall, men from the Churches of Christ from all the New England States drive to Raymond, Maine, and meet at Ganderbrook Christian Camp. The purpose for this annual migration is to "retreat" from the world to focus upon spiritual matters.  This is a time to forget about all the responsibilities of life; work, home, family and anything else that occupies us on the daily journey that is our lives. It is also a time to renew acquaintances with brethren from all around New England who you had met at retreats over the years.

     The retreat begins on Thursday afternoon and adjourns at about noon on Saturday until the following year.

     Every year a noted speaker from one of the Churches of Christ or affiliated Universities and Colleges nationwide presents a series of lessons over the course of the retreat, following a theme. This year's speaker, F. Laggard Smith, will be bringing thoughts on the Old Testament Book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament.

     Some of the things that bring me back, year after year, are... (1) The natural beauty that surrounds the camp; (2) The peace and quiet of the Maine woods; (3) The chance to get away by myself and spend time in prayer, quiet reflection, or thinking about the future, uninterrupted by phones or other noise; (4) Spending time in prayer, in song, in conversation, with other like-minded men; (5) Making new acquaintances and getting to know them; (6) Hearing how the work of the Church is going in the various states.

     I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is God incarnate. I believe that His death on the cross of Calvary was for the purpose of redeeming sinners, like me and like you, from eternal damnation. I believe that by believing that Jesus died for me in my place, by repenting of my sins,  by confessing that Jesus is God and by being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I now have eternal life.

     By claiming to be a Christian I am NOT saying, in any way, shape or form, that I am perfect or that I don't sin anymore. I do, everyone does! That doesn't excuse me, it is just a fact. Every person who claims to be a Christian is in the same boat, not perfect...just forgiven.

    So, in a way, the Men's Retreat is kind of like a support program for sinners. We are not alone in this world. Those of us in the Church are blessed to have like-minded brothers and sisters who support and encourage each other for no other reason is the right thing to do.  

     So, my friends, this is why Men Retreat. If you have any questions, if you want to know more about salvation or the Gospel please do not hesitate to ask. If I don't know the answer, I'm sure I know someone who does! May God richly bless you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


     I drive women crazy! Well, I drive one particular woman crazy! Last night I was sitting on the couch watching TV minding my own business. SWMBO walks up to me, looks out the picture window and tells me " You need to close the curtains. " Then assuming that she had achieved communication, that is, that I comprehended that she wanted me to close the curtains, she turned, walked down the hallway and went to bed.

      Of course I did understand. You don't live with a person, even if she is female, for 38 years and not pick up a few tidbits about how they express themselves. 

     However, for some strange reason I fixated on the word " need. " I began to think, focusing on the word "need." I began to make a list of some of the things that I need. Interestingly enough closing the curtains never made the list. I need water to drink. I need food to eat. I need air to breathe. I need shelter to protect me from the elements. I need clothes to keep me warm. I don't need to close the curtains.

     As I continued my ruminating it occurred to me that I could live a complete, happy, fulfilled life without closing the curtains. I really do not need to close the curtains but it also occurred to me that it might be in my enlightened self interest to close the curtains. I foolishly dismissed this concept out of hand.

    So I went into the lion's den, AKA the bedroom, and confronted the lioness, AKA SWMBO. I presented my thesis on the things that I need and that closing the curtains was not one of them.  I presented a well reasoned, cogent thesis and made my point with great panache. 

     SWMBO was not overly impressed or persuaded with my rhetorical skills. She also had a well reasoned, cogent argument to make. She told me that I was dangerously close to becoming the first man in history to have listed as a cause of death on a Death Certificate, "Open Curtains." She suggested that perhaps I should spend some time thinking about her thesis.

     As I closed the curtains, I saw her point! I realized that she really does have excellent and persuasive rhetorical skills! Who Knew!

Monday, September 20, 2010


     When we last left our intrepid travelers they were attempting to gain entry into the United States after being deported from Canada. Well, the United States Government, through it's border agents, graciously granted us re-entry into the nation of our birth. We winded our way south on I - 90 from Buffalo.

     There was a ferry crossing across Lake Champlain that lasted an hour. The last ferry left the New York side at 4:50 p.m. It was also about noon. Not to worry though, if we missed the hour long ferry ride there was a ferry crossing further north that operated 24-hours per day, 7 days per week.

     It was a nice day for a drive, partly cloudy and mild. We stopped for gas at a rest area. While SWMBO was walking Becke, I reloaded my firearm, put it back into my right front pocket and looked at a map to plan our route.

     Just for laughs I programmed our "Tom Tom" navigation aid to also plan our route. The route Tom Tom planned would have us in Plattsburgh at approximately 7:30 p.m. I thought following Tom Tom's route would be much quicker than remaining on the interstate. Therefore, I decided to follow Tom Tom's route to save some time.

     As it turned out, this was another in a series of poor choices that I had made since we began our vacation trip. Tom Tom's route brought us over mountain passes and through every podunk one-horse town in upstate New York. At one point we were negotiating a mountain pass and I noticed that we would need to stop for gas soon. The only problem is that there are not a lot of gas stations in podunk New York. I had visions of becoming stranded on the side of a narrow mountain pass at the mercy of the weather and the indigenous wildlife...Black Bears in particular.

     We pressed on, listening to some CD's we brought with us and we sang along to help pass the time. We had to stop a couple of times because Becke the wonder dog needed to empty her tank(s). Still no gas stations in sight.

     We arrived just south of Plattsburgh and found a gas station. YIPPEE! SWMBO availed herself of the use of the plumbing while I refueled the car. It was after sunset and I thought that we should pick up some food for supper. We picked up a salad and a sandwich then we hit the road again. We arrived at the ferry crossing at about 9:30 p.m. A short ferry ride across Lake Champlain followed by a short drive and were were checked into our hotel by 10:00 p.m.

     After a good night's sleep we awoke, had a cup of coffee and hit the road again...destination Quechee, VT, and Dana's Restaurant. SWMBO and I love Dana's because they serve a magnificent fruit cup and other breakfast and dessert fare. Dana's Restaurant is one of the reasons that we like Quechee, VT.

     We arrived at Dana's at about 11:30 a.m. We walk up to the door and just our luck, there's a sign on the door that says the restaurant will be closed on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, today being Thursday. "And the hits just keep on coming!" So, we went up the street to the Shepherd's Pie Restaurant. After lunch we went the the Quechee Gorge Ice Cream Stand for dessert.

     The next thing on the list of things to do was a walk across the bridge over the Quechee Gorge. We took a number of photographs and remembered our 25th Wedding Anniversary which we celebrated in Quechee. Next stop...Scotland by the Yard.

     Scotland by the Yard sells tartan material for kilts, tartan material sashes and neckties and Scottish bric-a-brac. We found some chocolate flake and a key ring with SWMBO's Clan tartan and crest on it. SWMBO found a silver friendship clatch ring that she just had to have. A few more stop Quechee Village Shops.

     At the shops we bought some Maple Butter for me. A Christmas gift or two for friends. It was getting to be about 3:00 p.m. We needed to be home by 5:00 p.m. so we hit the road again, next stop Goffstown, NH.

     We arrived in home in Goffstown at about 4:30 p.m. Despite everything that went awry, we still had a wonderful time together. Was the trip worth all the trouble and grief? You bet it was! SWMBO is really a great traveling companion whether we are traveling on the road or just traveling through life.

Friday, September 17, 2010


     I awoke in our hotel room to find SWMBO tapping away on the laptop and Becke the wonder dog lying on the floor next to her. Yesterday was an exhausting day. It began at 3:00 a.m. and ended around 11:00 p.m. Today is beginning around 9:00 a.m. after a good night's sleep. The first order of!

     Our morning ablutions completed...luggage repacked...vehicle repacked..we checked out of the hotel! Our plan is to drive to Buffalo and visit the Duty Free Store there. After that we plan to drive to Plattsburgh and take a ferry across Lake Champlain to Burlington, VT, where we plan to spend the night. That was the plan!

     We ate breakfast at the local Denny's restaurant. After breakfast we took a couple of photographs of the Motel 6 for SWMBO.  Buffalo here we come! The Duty Free Store is near Exit 6, off I-190 at Peach Tree Plaza, a ten minute drive or so. It seemed simple enough to find. W R O N G ! ! !

     We explored downtown Buffalo. Some of the architecture is quite intriguing. We also explored other urban areas and ended up along the Lake Erie Peach Tree Plaza! Our "Tom-Tom" navigational aid led us on a wild goose chase. Ironically, there was a gaggle of Canadian Geese grazing along the waterfront. We did not plan to explore the city of Buffalo, but we did.

     SWMBO was becoming more agitated as I determined to maintain my manhood by finding our destination without resorting to the indignity of... "asking for directions." These three little words cause men everywhere to shudder. I can't explain why...they just do!

    So I pull up to a road construction crew and asked for directions. It turns out that we were less than three blocks away from our destination. The store is located on the American side of the "Friendship Bridge." Once the pain of my indignity began to subside, we drive into the parking lot of the Duty Free Store. We planned to shop, purchase some chocolate items and continue on our journey to Lake Champlain. A simple enough plan, right? W R O N G ! ! !

     Apparently, you cannot drive away from the Duty Free Store without driving across the "Friendship Bridge" between Buffalo and Canada, into Canada. Purchases at the Duty Free Store are for export only...Who knew? I cannot believe that we are the first people on the planet to make this mistake. So, Canada here we come! However, there is a number of "little" problems with our driving into Canada: (1) We do NOT have passports; (2) We do not have our birth certificates proving our citizenship; (3) I am carrying a concealed, loaded firearm. 

     We drive across the bridge and pull up to the Canadian Border Agent's booth. He asked a number of questions that were not a problem...Q - "Do you have a Passport? A- "No, all we have is a driver's license." Q - "Where are you going?" A - "We are trying to get back to the American side of the bridge. We came into Canada by mistake." We hand the Border Agent our licenses. We explained what happened. The Agent types on a keyboard, presumably checking to see if we were terrorists or drug smugglers or something like that.

      The Border Agent then turns to us and asks THE problematic question Q - "Are you carrying any firearms." A - "Yes, I am. I am carrying a loaded five-shot .38 caliber revolver."  The Border Agent stared at me, processing what I just told him. He nervously asked "Do you have it on you, now?" I told him "Yes, I have it in my right front pants pocket." I added that I also have five spare rounds in a cartridge pouch. He instructed me not to move unless he instructed me to. I acknowledged my understanding and placed both hands on the steering wheel with my fingers spread. He told me to          S L O W L Y hand him the firearm. I meticulously followed his instructions and removed my revolver, holster and all, from my pocket and slowly handed it to him. He hands it to another Border Agent who takes it, unloads it, and then huddles with a few more Border Agents showing them my revolver like it was some kind of trophy.

      The Border Agents confer with each other for several minutes. The decision is made to return my revolver to me and deport us immediately. Parenthetically, I asked myself..."How much of a jerk do you have to be, that even Canada won't let you in?" So, the Border Agent hands me back my unloaded revolver, holster and five rounds of ammunition. He then directs me back across the Friendship Bridge to America, Home of the Brave, Land of the Free...or at least so I thought.

     We drive across the bridge to the American side and pull up to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E) Agent's booth. I was thinking that we would identify ourselves, show him our licenses, explain why we went to Canada and then we would soon be merrily on our way. A simple procedure, Right? W R O N G? 

      The I.C.E. Agent asked the same innocuous questions "Where are you going? Where are you coming from? Anything to declare? May I see your passports?" I handed the Agent our licenses and explained how we inadvertently ended up in Canada. I further explained that we were sent back across the bridge by the Canadian border officials. To save time and conversation I also told the Agent that I was carrying a firearm. 

"Why are you carrying a firearm?" Several answers came to mind: (1) Because I'm a police officer and I usually bring a firearm with me when I travel with my family, for protection; (2) The bad guys carry firearms, so I figured that I would make it fair; (3) The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution; (4) Better to be judged by twelve than to be carried by six; (5) Because I couldn't fit the bazooka in my pants! (6) To protect the drugs and explosives that are in the trunk; I opted to go with answer #1! I figured that it would cause the least anxiety for all concerned.

     The I.C.E. Agents huddle continued for a few minutes. An Agent, who I took to be a supervisor, leaves the huddle, comes up to my window, and asks if I have my police credentials with me. I show him my badge and my department identification card. He also asked me why I am carrying a firearm. I quickly review the aforementioned six answers in my mind. I stay with answer #1. After several more minutes we are directed to the interstate and are allowed to proceed on our merry way.

     We were delayed several hours being lost in Buffalo. Were delayed another 30 minutes at the Canadian border. We were delayed at the American border another 30 minutes. The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray! Don't they ever!

     To be continued....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


     I was sound asleep, minding my own business when I felt a hand on my shoulder gently shaking me awake. "Gerry, time to wake up. It's 3:00 a.m...Time to get dressed and hit the road." I grunted as I usually do, opened one eye and considered my words before saying them. The words that I was thinking would not have been conducive to a pleasant car trip.

     I slowly arose, performing a functions check of my anatomy. Most systems were operating within normal parameters. Once I became upright I got dressed. I then sleepily went about the business of finishing any last minute packing and configuring the house for our absence. 

     We left the house at about 3:20 a.m., keeping within our estimated departure time. We withdrew travel funds from an ATM, refueled the Kia and then hit the road in earnest at 3:50 a.m., ten minutes ahead of schedule. All systems are go...Becke the Wonder Dog is hunkered down in the back seat. SWMBO is comfortably ensconced in the "shotgun" seat. Destination, Niagara Falls, NY.

     Everything was going great! We were southbound on the Everett Turnpike approaching the first of what would be several toll booths. A simple enough concept. You drive to the booth, give the attendant the toll and go on your merry way. Unfortunately, this was not to be.

     This particular toll booth has "Cash" lanes at the far left travel lane and the far right travel lane. The lanes in between were "E-Z Pass" lanes. We don't have an E-Z Pass transponder so I was in the far left lane approaching the toll booth with my cash at the ready. As I neared the toll booth I saw that the far left lane was now an E-Z Pass lane.  I had two choices...(1) Drive through the E-Z Pass Lane without paying or (2) Drive across several lanes to get into the far right lane creating a traffic hazard. I chose option #1 and stiffed the State of New Hampshire out of a dollar toll.

     A few hours later, on the Massachusetts Turnpike, we were approaching another set of toll booths just before crossing the state line into New York. What do suppose the odds are of me doing the same thing and being in the wrong lane again? happened again! In my defense though the signage was confusing and I was prevented by traffic from safely changing lanes into the proper lane. This time I stiffed the Commonwealth of Massachusetts out of about eight dollars. Hey, at least I'm consistent. 

     The next leg of the journey took us to the New York Thruway. This was the first time either one of us had been in Upstate New York. It is a lot like New Hampshire. There are picturesque farms scattered across the country side. It made for a pleasant drive.

     At the end of the thruway I was able to pay the toll, surprisingly enough,...three times the charm!

     We made it to Niagara Falls without further incident. We checked in to our hotel room. We stayed at a Motel 6 on one of the main drags of Niagara Falls. The room was clean and comfortable...Becke the Wonder Dog liked it...but most important SWMBO liked it. We settled in the room. SWMBO tried the WiFi. God forbid that we should travel without our electronic devices. Becke and I took a brief nap.

     After the brief nap we talked about whether it was worth trying to see the falls. Some of the brochures made it seem that we needed to purchase a "Discovery Pass" at a cost of $33.00 per pass to enter the State Park and view the falls.  We left the hotel to find the famous falls. It was just a ten minute drive down the road. 

     We found the Niagara Falls State Park without any trouble. We found a place to park. It cost $5.00. We walked to the Visitor Center and I worked up the courage to ask the officials working the desk if it cost anything to view the falls. I almost did a jig when I was told "No, just take the stairs to the ground level and follow the path to the railing." I apparently mis-read the brochures. I am so glad that we were able to see the falls. 

Two of Nature's Wonders!
     I have got to say that the falls are spectacular. SWMBO and I were impressed by the power and natural splendor that is Niagara Falls. It is well worth the trip. 

     To be continued...

Monday, September 13, 2010


My next few Blog entries will report our recent vacation adventure to the Empire State, New York. We had a number of experiences that were unforeseeable and somewhat comical at the same time.

SWMBO and I decided that we needed to take a week off together. We decided to take that week off the first full week in September.

Labor Day weekend was a good start to our vacation week. We attended the annual Church Barbecue. We enjoyed good food...good music and great fellowship. At the barbecue we were asked what we were going to do for the rest of the week. We told our friends that our tradition is to decide these thing as we go along and not make definite plans.

MY IDEA - Day #1: Drive  to the seacoast and drive along the coast in NH and Maine, stopping at some of the beaches along the way; Sampling some of the local cuisine.

                   Day #2: Drive up to Quechee, Vt, and spend a day hiking along the Quechee Gorge;  Then we would visit Scotland by the Yard and other local shops; We would spend the night in a pet-friendly hotel.

                    Day #3: Drive to Lake Champlain and ride the ferry into New York; drive to the Duty Free shop near the Canadian border; drive back to Lake Champlain for a return ferry ride. Drive home.

When I presented my idea to SWMBO she said that she had always wanted to drive to Niagara Falls and asked if maybe we could add that to our itinerary. She also said that we had to be back by 6:00 P.M, Thursday, because she had to teach a class and could not make other arrangements for coverage.

I balked at the idea, having a nodding acquaintance with geography and knowing that Niagara Falls was at least an 8 - hour drive. I did not see how we could leave Tuesday, September 7th, drive to the falls, upstate NY, Lake Champlain, Quechee, VT, and make it back home by 6:00 P.M, Thursday, September 9th.

Later, on Labor Day evening, I was searching the Internet for a hotel room. All of a sudden I had an epiphany. I thought that if we left early enough on Tuesday, between 3:00 - 4:00 A.M, we could be  in Niagara Falls, NY, around noon. I also learned that there is a Duty Free Store in Buffalo, NY, a short drive from the falls.

MY REVISED IDEA - Day #1: Wake up at 3:00 A.M, leave the house by 4:00 A.M; Arrive Niagara Falls, NY, early afternoon; Check in at Hotel; Visit the falls, take pictures; Sleep.
                                    Day #2: Wake up around 9:00 A.M; Breakfast; Check out of hotel; Drive to Buffalo to the Duty Free Store; Drive to Lake Champlain; Take ferry ride to Burlington, VT; Check in at hotel; Sleep.

                                    Day #3: Wake up around 9:00 A.M; Check out of hotel; Drive to Quechee, VT; Eat at Dana's Restaurant; Visit the Gorge, Scotland by the Yard, Quechee Gorge Village; Drive home arriving in time for SWMBO to teach her class.

You have no doubt heard the old quote " The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray! " Stay tuned for further postings and you will see this quote come to life.

To be continued....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Women Vs Men

   As anyone who knows me will attest to, I am still madly in love with my wife of lo these many years. Everyday we make it a point to tell each other "I love you!" Every day she causes me to smile or laugh out loud. However, through the years I have learned to be very afraid whenever I see my wife holding either of the items depicted in this Blog.

Home Tool Box

The common tool box...Whenever I see my wife with this tool box, or any item from this tool box, it sends chills of fear up my spine, a fear experienced by men all over the world. A few of the reasons for this rational fear is...(1) Because it often results in time consuming re-repairs for me to do or; (2) It results in me having to drop what I'm doing to complete the sure-to-be time consuming task that she has in mind or; (3) A tool that I'm sure to need later falls into our home's equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle...never to be seen again. Please note the empty space in the tool box approximating the shape of an adjustable wrench. That's why men shudder at the sight of women holding a hammer or other tool.

The television remote control...sometimes my wife comes to me and in her little girl voice says "You love me...Right?" "You like helping me...Right?" "Even when I do somethin?" Of course when this happens I know that I have to fix something.

I don't know why women, particularly my wife, have such a hard time with TV remote controls. We have a universal remote control that controls our TV, Cable Box and DVD Player. She is forever re-configuring the audio-visual setup rendering it inoperable. She relies upon me to figure out what she did and then to fix small task! It's kinda like divining the future...when you get it right it is usually due to pure dumb luck.

Therefore, as the duly appointed lord and master of my domicile I have declared the remote controls and the immediate area around them an estrogen-free zone. Violation of this zone will result in severe penalties. So let it be let it be done!

Now...if there are any men reading this Blog who believes this works, I've got news for you...There is No Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny does not exist and trying to enforce this rule won't hurt you one tiny bit.

Enjoy your day!