Archive for the ‘Freemasonry’ category

Tuesday Night

September 21, 2016

In the past, Tuesday nights were family nights. We would have our son and his family over for dinner. But now that the school year has started, doing dinner on Tuesday night became a problem. They needed to get our grandson Jonathan to bed by a decent hour so that he would get a full night’s sleep. School starts at 8:30 AM. and that meant we couldn’t do Tuesday dinner and get done early enough so that Jonathan could be in bed by 7:00 PM.

So, Paula and I suddenly had a free night. So I could go to my Shrine Club meeting with the guys. And Paula could go have dinner with the ladies. My meeting was with the Beach Cities Shrine Club at the Whale and Ale in San Pedro. The ladies were meeting at Trani’s, also in San Pedro.

So, if Mary was going to eat, she had to go with Paula. I heard from Paula that the service was none to good at Trani’s. We were getting text messages from some of the ladies that they hadn’t been served by 8:00 PM. By that time we were pretty much done.

So I had Fish and Chips at the Whale and Ale. This is one of their signature dishes. Very tasty. I had a “Dirty Martini” to wash it down. I need to do a blog post on various martini variations. So to make it short, a “Dirty Martini” is two parts gin, one part dry vermouth and an ounce of olive juice. I think I prefer a Martini straight up.

So I was home well before Paula hit the road. I used my “Find My iPhone” app to show me when Paula was coming home. So I asked her how things went. Terrible she says. She asked her mother if she had a good time. Mary says, “No, it was terrible”.

Apparently, Mary didn’t recognize anyone at the table except Paula. Even though she should have recognized at least half of the ladies at the table. This event made it clear to us that Mary’s dementia is getting much worse. We will most likely not take her to events like this in the future. No fun for us and no fun for Mary. In addition, she is having more and more difficulty in carrying on a conversation.

RIP Dick Nicoll

August 16, 2016

Dick at Jake Wirth’s before Grand Lodge Quarterly in Boston.

Our good friend Dick Nicoll died on Monday. Dick was a past master of Thomas Talbot Lodge in Billerica, MA and a past district deputy grand master of Massachusetts Grand Lodge AF&AM [ A note to men who are reading this: When was the last time you had your PSA checked? PSA stands for prostate specific antigen and indicates the possible presence of cancer in the prostate.] Early detection is so important in saving lives. Sometimes early detection only delays what is inevitable. For Dick, it probably meant a few extra years to be with his family. Here’s the link to Dick’s obit.

The above picture is the way I like to remember Dick when he was healthy. I would rather not remember Dick as he looked after suffering the ravages of cancer. The picture was taken at Jake Wirth’s which is a pub that is [conveniently] around the corner from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. Thomas Talbot masters and wardens would meet there for lunch every quarter for the Grand Lodge Quarterly. Good times indeed.

jake wirth

Whatever Dick did, he was all in. He was actively involved in Lodge, Boy Scouts and Church. Whatever Dick did, he did it with a smile on his face.

Dick and is wife Carol shared many happy years of marriage. Both were very interested in their Scottish heritage. He served as an officer in multiple capacities of the Clan MacNicol Society. Over the past few years Carol and Dick enjoyed several trips to Scotland.

After Dick’s diagnosis, Carol retired early to assist in his care. With his doctors’prescriptions and an exquisitely healthy diet, he was able to live six years longer than his doctors had originally expected.

Dick’s wake and Masonic funeral service will be on Thursday. It saddens me that I cannot be there for Carol. This is one of the problems I have with living on the west coast and friends who live on the east coast. Attending funeral services would be expensive. Air fare, rental car and hotel would cost upwards of $2,000 for the two of us. It’s just not in the budget. In addition to the travel costs, we would have to arrange care for Paula’s mother and that’s not cheap either.

So Dick was 69 when he died (born in January 1947). He was about a year older than I am. It bothers me no end when members of my generation pass away. It bothers me more when friends who were 10 years younger than, I pass away. Living a long life is such a blessing. Of course it is also a curse in that you see your friends die before you.

So mote it be.


Shrine picnic

September 29, 2014

Yesterday we attended the annual picnic of the Beach Cities Shrine Club at LA Harbor Lodge. This is an annual event where the Al Malaikah Potentate visits. Al Malaikah is the Los Angeles affiliate of the Shriners. Shriners run children’s hospitals across the country for either burn cases or orthopedic injuries or diseases in children.
 So our son Neil who is down from Salt Lake City visiting for the week, joined us at the picnic. Here is the view from LA Harbor Lodge. It was a beautiful clear day in San Pedro. The view is of LA Harbor. One can almost make out the mountains across the bay. Temperature was in the mid-seventies.

 So we had a conflict. Our church was having their annual picnic. But we decided to do the Shrine event. The shrine was doing steaks, corn on the cob and beer. Also, the venue was a lot easier for Mary. We often choose events on how fall-safe the venue is.
 Mary had a great time. The bar was stocked with her favorite white zinfandel. She had two glasses, which for her was one glass too many. Luckily she wasn’t driving. We made sure one of us was on each side of her.
 Mary got to see a lot of old friends that she doesn’t often get to see. There was a drawing for many prizes to raise money for the hospital.
 So Paula wins a bottle of Johnny Walker Black. Not too shabby. I would drink it, but Paula doesn’t care for Scotch. So one of the brothers who won a bottle of rum asked if we would care to swap the scotch for the rum. Seeing as we both don’t care for rum that much, we said no. But, we said, if you swap the rum with the person who won the bottle of Tanqueray Gin, we would swap the scotch for the gin. So the deal got done. Everybody was happy.
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North Pole Lodge #1

December 19, 2013

I’m not sure who wrote this. Not me certainly. This is for all my lodge brothers around the world.

The North Pole Lodge No. One

‘Twas the Night before Christmas, and down at the Lodge
not a gavel was stirring, and in the hodge-podge.
Of aprons and jewels and chairs East and West
You could savor the silence, most gladly divest
All metal and mineral, it mattered not,
Since Christmas was nigh and the coals were still hot.

In the hearth of your homeplace, all Masons abed,
As visions of trestleboards danced in their head;
When up on the roof there arose such a clatter
Our Tyler jumped up to see what was the matter!
He picked up his sword and ran fast to the door,
Three knocks shook the panels – he wondered ‘What for?’

He answered the knocking with raps of his own,
And once the door opened he saw, with a moan
Of delight it was Santa, all jolly and red
Except for one notable feature instead!
Upon his large finger he wore what we knew
Was compass and square on a background of blue!

‘Why Santa!’ he shouted and lowered his blade,
‘I see you’re a Mason!’ the Tyler relayed.
He looked toward the Master’s most dignified chair
And said, voice near trembling, ‘Most Worshipful there
Is a Gentleman properly clothed at the gate!’

The Master replied, ‘Let’s allow him – but wait!
You tell me a Gentleman, but I don’t see
His Apron beneath that red suit, can it be
Our visitor hasn’t been properly raised?
Must we offer a test that is suitably phrased?

‘I do beg your pardon,’ ol’ Santa said quick
As he pulled up his coat and displayed not a stick
But a cane with engraving, two balls did appear
And oh, what an apron, he wore and held dear!
Adorned like the Master’s, complete with a sign
Of “The North Pole Lodge Number One” on one line!

“Now let this man enter,” the Master declared,
And once in the Lodge room, the Brethren all stared,
For Santa was wearing a jewel not seen
For many a century – there in between
The fur of his coat and the splendid red collar
Gleamed two golden reindeer that shone like a dollar!

“It’s Donner and Blitzen, who I must confess
“Are actually images brought from the West
By my Warden, a craftsman like none in the world!”
And with a great laugh from his bag he unfurled
An ear of fine corn, and some oil from the East,
“My friend I have plenty, tonight we will feast

On all that is good! We are Masons, kind sir!”
A murmur went throughout the Lodge, quite a stir,
As presents and promises flew from his sack!
This Santa, a Mason, showed he had a knack
For making this Christmas the best you could glean,
And soon even Deacons were laughing, they’d seen

On this very night only happiness reigned!
This jolly Saint Nicholas quickly explained
That only a Mason could be so inclined
To make all kids happy, make all people find
A Christmas so special, yes, Santa was right!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
‘Fraternal greetings brethren.”

About me

November 22, 2013

There has been a FB meme going around lately where one is given a number and the receiver of said number is instructed to write n things about themselves. No one has bothered to send me a number, but I have decided to write about myself anyhow. I’ll let you know the number that I have given myself when I am done.

  1. I play the piano. It seems that I have always played the piano. I first started when I was about 7 years old. I took lessons until I was about 18. I am certainly no Artur Rubinstein, but I can read music and belt out a tune. One of the first things that we bought when we moved to Cal last year was a Piano. When one of our lodge members found out that I played the piano, he asked me how long I had played. I told him that I had picked up a book at Barnes & Noble titled “Piano playing for dummies”. He believed me. There is no such book. Musical instruments are best learned as children. My two brothers and I all took piano lessons as children. I am the only one who still owns a piano and plays.
  2.  Seeing that today is the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination. I was 15 at the time and I learned of the event while I was in religion class at BC High. I remember seeing the afternoon newspapers on the newsstands on the way home from school. Back in the day there were such things as afternoon newspapers.
  3.  And while we are talking about 50 year anniversaries, next year will be my 50th reunion for BC High (Boston College High School). I have no use for high school reunions and have no intention of attending. I have little or no use for the Roman Catholic church, though I like the new Pope. I’ve told a few of my RC friends that I would return to the RC Church when the Pope ordains women and allows priests to marry. Oh yeah, add LGBT weddings too. I doubt that I will see that in my lifetime.
  4. I am active in Masons. I am a member of LA Harbor Lodge F&AM #332 in San Pedro and Thomas Talbot Lodge AF&AM in Billerica, MA. So I am a bi-coastal Mason.
  5.  My wife and I are members of OES (Order of Eastern Star) which is a fraternal organization for men and women. I play the piano for both Lodge and OES.
  6.  I was born in Brighton, MA at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and spent my early years living in Brighton and West Roxbury (parts of Greater Boston).
  7. I taught math for a couple of years at the Junior and Senior high school level in the early 70’sin Boston. I wasn’t very good at it. I have great respect for good teachers, especially good math & science teachers. I was good at math, just not good at teaching it.
  8. I worked for Digital Equipment Corp (DEC), Compaq, and HP before getting laid off in 2008. To this day, the layoff still bugs me. People were being discarded like used junk. Ken Olsen would never have done that. When people asked me what I did at DEC, I tell them that I fixed stuff. The “stuff” that I fixed were complex computer systems.I also worked as a contractor for IBM for a couple of years, once again fixing stuff. I left in 2012 to retire and moved west.
  9. I live in San Pedro with my wife of 35 years along with my mother-in-law. We moved out here to take care of her mother who is 89. I have found that I can make one woman happy. Making two women happy is an extraordinary challenge. So I try to bite my tongue and STFU. Lodge (for a couple of nights a month) gives me a chance to get out without the ladies in my life. I truly don’t understand how the Mormons (and other polygamous cultures) could possibly live with more than one wife. The same goes for a wife and a mistress.
  10. I attend the Ocean View Baptist Church in San Pedro. I would prefer going to a UCC (Congregational) church, but this is the church that our extended family goes to. So I am okay with that. I have started to push back a little bit on LGBT issues. The pastor is good guy and listens to my point of view.
  11. My wife and I are registered Democrats. My Mother-in-law is a Republican. We rarely discuss politics. Explaining why Obamacare is a good thing to my mother-in-law is like explaining algebra to Boomba (Boomba is a chocolate lab retriever). Also, for the same reason we don’t watch Fox News (or MSNBC or CNN) EVER. I would sooner have root canal surgery without anesthesia.
  12. People often ask my wife and I whether or not we met on the San Pedro or Boston. Here’s the story that has been told and retold. We met in Boston at a MIT folk dance. One of Paula’s roommates was dating one of my roommates. That was November of 1976. We were married in October 1978. We lived in Billerica for the next thirty odd years. Paula can embellish the story a bit. She would be happy to do that.
  13. I keep in touch with all of our east and west coast friends by way of Facebook. The move would have been a lot more painful to me without it.

There, that’s enough. 13 it is. That’s a good number.

Location:San Pedro, California

Peppermill Resort & Casino

October 3, 2013

In my last post, I talked about the routes from So Cal to the north. It was pointed out by my wife (a native Californian) that there is a fourth route that exists. That would be the inestimable Rt 101. Rte 101 follows the coast from LA to San Francisco. This is the ultimate in scenic routes. You go through Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Carmel and a host of other photo ops along the way. One of these days we will do the 101,

So we arrived at the Peppermill last Saturday for the Nevada Grand Chapter of OES. OES is the Order of Eastern Star which is a fraternal organization for men and women. More about Grand Chapter later.

The Peppermill is a huge facility. Large Casino operation plus meeting and banquet facilities, Checkin went pretty smoothly. There was a short line, but it went pretty quick. The parking was valet parking though you could self park if you insisted. The bellman unloaded all of our stuff and got it up to room real quick.

So far so good. The room was good size. It had king size bed, couch, desk and chairs. Included coffee pot, wifi and all of the normal amenities. Wifi was fast when you could get a signal. It was intermittent at best. One strike for crappy wifi.

The decor was a sort a Queen Anne motif along with paintings of Tuscan motif. Even a painting in the bath room. It seemed a bit odd to me.

We attend four banquet meals during our stay. All of the meals were absolutely fantastic. Feeding a large crowd all at the same time can be a real challenge. The Peppermill wait staff were absolutely fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about them.

Okay now lets talk about the casino. Nevada is the only state in the USA that stills allows cigarette smoking in public spaces. I don’t really blame the Peppermill for this but the place stunk of cigarette smoke. They did have a small non-smoking gaming area. This was the first time in over 25 years that I saw a cigarette machine. $9 for a pack of cigarettes.

Casinos are designed to be a disorienting space and the Peppermill is no different. It takes a good long while to figure out your way around. I don’t gamble so I just had to make my way through the casino section. The noise is deafening.

We are looking forward to a trip in November to Las Vegas to a non-smoking, non-casino resort. Betcha didn’t know that such an thing existed in Vegas.

Overall, it was a decent experience. All of the events were in one place. We didn’t have to go anywhere else during our stay. If you don’t care about OES, then stop here.

Nevada OES is certainly much smaller then either CA OES or MA OES. About 20 chapters spread out around the state. Several chapters around Reno and the same around Las Vegas. Getting from the chapters in the north to the ones in Vegas is not so easy. There is I80 running from Reno to Wendover in the East for about 400 miles. There is no interstate between Reno and Las Vegas. So going from Reno to Vegas is a challenge.

That’s pretty much it for the hotel part of this post. The rest is about OES in general and Nevada OES in specific.

The folks that we met at NV GC were very friendly. They made our stay very enjoyable.

The registration process was oh so very easy. They had a single spreadsheet on their web site where you could select our hotel accommodations and the banquets that you planned to attend. Fill out the spread sheet and send it in with one check for the banquets. One stop shopping, so to speak. In CA and MA, one has to download flyers for each banquet. Write a check for each banquet and send it to the chairperson.

Elections were an interesting process. There were five women running for the office of Assoc Grand Conductress. None of the candidates were allowed to give a campaign speech or to campaign during the months leading up to Grand Chapter. The process took four votes before one candidate finally got a majority.
Candidates were asked if they wanted to withdraw, but were not required to do so. In MA the bottom vote getters would be required to withdraw.

Also Grand Sentinel is an elected office like in MA but not in CA. We think the GS goes up the line as in MA. Grand Sentinel in CA is an appointed office and does not go up the line. We met people from CA, AZ, ID and WA. Our thanks to Linda (Grand Representative to MA in NV) for being very gracious host.

So now we are in Utah to visit Neil. We are going to visit the Utah Museum of Science and Industry to see the Leonardo exhibit.

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Location:Reno NV

Grand Lodge of Utah

August 4, 2013

Last week we decided to drop by the Grand Lodge of Utah on S Temple Street in downtown Salt Lake City. The web site says that tours only on Friday’s. But we decided to give it a try. It turns out that another young couple had the same idea. So a nice man took pity on us and did a tour just for us. Here is the view of the front of the building.

We visited several lodge rooms, each with a different theme. The first that we entered was the “colonial” room. The east was designed like a front porch of a colonial house. The room had a real trestleboard for an altar. Each of the rooms had a real staircase with 3, 5 and 7 steps.

Next, we visited the Egyptian room. The backdrop in the east could be changed to suit the current use of the room. The room was then setup for a York Rite meeting. Notice again the staircase in the northwest corner.

Then we visited the middle-east style room.

There is a good size auditorium that can be used for larger meetings like Grand Lodge or Grand Chapter of OES.

Finally, a few more random pictures.

Tyler’s Desk

Art work on the columns in the dining hall. (what lodge would it be without a dining hall?) Note, the 3, 5, and 7 steps in the middle panel.

Grand Master’s apron.

Location:Salt Lake City, Utah