Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Over the Harbor Bridge.
Top of the bridge looking west out over the harbor.
Boats at anchor.
The swanky Pacific Corinthian Yacht Club.
Walking along the Docks.
Looking out over the water.

Back over the bridge.
And back to the house.

Monday, July 26, 2010


"I can't believe this!" *
Woman in her mid-thirties, talking on her cell phone and crying while sitting in her car outside the post office.

*Sorry, this one is kind of a bummer.


It's almost August, and that means that pre-season football is right around the corner. I don't really like pre-season, but its arrival heralds the coming regular season, and that is worth celebrating. I can't wait!

REMINDER: Happy Day, celebrated annually by the greater Tate confederacy on the occasion of the Redskins first nationally televised game is on Sept. 12th this year- Sunday night, at home, and against arch-rivals Dallas Cowboys.

I know I risk losing some of my readers by posting about football too much, because my own informal research has told me that roughly three-quarters of you out there are women, and that is not traditionally a demographic that follows football with great fervor, but, indeed yea verily, I cannot help myself.

I'm full of optism for my beloved Redskins this year, but everybody tells me I need to dial that back a bit. After all the Skins were an abysmal disappointment last year, finishing with an anemic record of 4-12, and it's not often that a team can right the ship this quickly. I don't want to be guarded though. I want to be excited and hopeful. I'm tired of hedging my expectations with pragmatic talk of a building year, and so forth.

So I was glad to read this quote from head coach Mike Shanahan over at the official Redskins blog ;

Q: This town always expects a return to greatness and expects it quickly. Do you have to ask people to dial back their expectations after a 4-12 season and so many changes?

A: "You don't have to temper that. That's what you should expect and that's what the fans should expect. If you don't have that belief, if you don't believe and the fans don't believe, chances are the players aren't going to believe. To go through a season 8-8 in Denver, I didn't want to go out, I didn't want to eat. You're embarrassed because it's your name on the football team. You represent the city and the football team and you don't want to have those tough years."

I'm all in! I'm not tempering anything. I haven't decided who is going to the Super Bowl from the AFC yet, but the Redskins will be representing the NFC. No doubt. Thanks for setting me free, Mr. Shanahan, and for giving me the license to revel in unmitigated optimism.

Hail to the Redskins! Hail victory!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


In the waning hours of daylight, as I looked out through the jagged mouth of the cave toward the darkening woods, I attempted to suppress my growing concern for the members of our party who had not yet returned from their walk. I had been able to put it out of my mind while I was unpacking and setting up my cot and mosquito netting, but with nothing left to occupy my mind, and with night rapidly descending, I found myself nervously scanning the tree line for any sign of them.

I tried to sound nonchalant as I asked, "What time did they leave?"

"It was a few hours ago at least," answered Annette.

"I think it was around six," chimed in Steve.

The sun slipped irretrievably over the western lip casting its last feeble light against the cliff face above the cave, and the backlit woods blurred into a black and formless mass. "Menacing," I thought. "Hostile."

The stories of this place, which I had sought out so eagerly and catalogued in my brain, now fell like seeds onto the fertile soil of my worried mind. They were threatening to bloom into the weed of paranoia, which chokes out reason, makes you perceive things that aren't truly there, and which ultimately finds fruition in panic. The overwhelming terror, which was steadily growing in my fevered imaginings, was even then poking through, sprouting into consciousness, and eroding my capacity for self-help. The sun had not yet fully set, the events of that night had yet to unfurl, and I was staring with naked terror into the Demon Woods...on the verge of panic.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


There's something about a zip-lock bag full of Good & Plenties that looks undeniably like contraband. Outside of their normal packaging they look like illegaly-obtained, prescription Good & Plenties.

The Good & Plenties were part of a treasure trove of gifts given to our summer staff from summer staff alumnus (1977), Sherry Christiansen. This makes the second such gift from staff alumni this summer. You might recall the aviators. There were a lot of calories in those baskets my friends as well as some snazzy kitchen aprons that Sherry had made herself. There were also tattoos (the kind you lick and adhere to your skin), some coffee and a coffee grinder, those bubble wands, and some spoon straws to go with a couple dozen root beers for floats. Wow!!! The entire staff was simply blown away by her generosity, and I got some Good & Plenties out of the deal, which always makes me happy. I think pretty much everything has been consumed already, which is pretty amazing if you think about it.

Circling like vultures.

Posing for the group shot. Thanks so much Sherry. It was truly like Christmas in July and a great encouragement for these weary servants.


I have noticed that people generally assume the best about quiet people. It's a good strategy. Most people who are eager to make a good impression try to contribute a lot in social settings, you know...really yuck it up, press the flesh, swap stories, etc...but if they would just be quiet, smile a lot, and give the impression of listening (or better yet actually listen), people would most likely arrive at far more flattering conclusions about who they are then they could have crafted through their own efforts. In my experience, people often interpret being quiet as thoughtful introspection, a deferential/humble nature, or calm self-assurance.

A quiet person may, in fact, be a shallow narcissist, or socially retarded, or a brooding anti-social, but most people will tend to fill in the blanks with positive attributes until evidence to the contrary arises.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


I'm headed out of town for the first part of this week, but I'll be back on Thursday. I have left a light on in a room upstairs at the BFZ to make burglars think somebody is still minding the place, but if the rest of you, my neighbors here in this sleepy corner of cyberspace, could just keep an eye on things 'til I get back I would sure appreciate it. 'Kay?

Saturday, July 17, 2010


I'm the monster Tickle-Me-Too
And I'll tickle you
That's what I'll do
Tickle you 'til your face turns blue
'Cause I'm the monster Tickle-Me-Too


2. Steve Maxon
1. Barry Tate

Thursday, July 15, 2010


" really ...sorry."
Parking lot in front of the Idyllwild Pizza Company- Idyllwild, CA- Thirty-something woman who had been asked by a stranger if she was "from around here," and if she knew "the way to Lake Hemet."

Although her response would indicate otherwise, I know for a fact that the woman was, indeed, from Idyllwild, (has been for some time) and I find it very hard to believe that she didn't know how to get to Lake Hemet.

Monday, July 12, 2010


August 1st at Idyllwild Bible Church.


Last night, after working on my research paper for a couple of hours. I decided to step out and stretch my legs a bit.
The only two establishments open were the liquor store and a bar located in the Fort, a shopping center in the middle of town which roughly resembles a fort.
In an attempt to spice this post up, I thought about going fishing for an adventure by engaging some of the local rowdies carousing at the bar, but my brief tenure in law enforcement left me with very little patience for that kind of scene. I don't find drunks interesting or funny anymore.
The trash can at Village Market was overflowing. They do not run a tight ship over there.
As I was walking past Jo-Ann's, a restaurant/bar located in the middle of town, I found this glass, which I presume had been left there by a patron earlier in the day. As I picked up the glass the weight and shape of it pleased me, and I decided to take it home and give it an exalted place among my cups.

Walking a little further I found this lonely shopping cart on the side of the road several hundred feet from its home outside of Fairway Market. I decided to right this wrong and return it to its proper place.
I'm a law and order kind of guy.
However, on the way across the parking lot I kept finding other abandoned carts. By the time I reached Fairway I had no fewer than seven carts in my train. The town at that time of night is as quiet as the moon, and the racket of the carts rumbling across the empty parking lot seemed unnatural and wrong.

After setting things right over at the Strawberry Creek Shopping Plaza parking lot I set a course for home, which took me back past Jo-Ann's again. As I was walking past, I noticed there were still some employees moving around inside, and I began debating whether or not I should return the cup I had found. In the short time I had possessed the cup I had truly fallen in love with it. It was perfectly weighted, well-balanced, and large enough to hold a substantial amount of diet pepsi, but ultimately my conscience would not allow me to walk by without returning it to its rightful owners.
I knocked on the door, but they wisely refused to answer the summons of a strange man in the middle of the night.
Goodbye sweet chalice. My lips will never know you.

Before heading up to the house, my bed, and slumbering household I sat on the deck of the camp's Ice Cream Parlor for a while. It was a beautiful night, and I was just enjoying being out in it. The cool night air was refreshing after the hot dusty day, and the exciting tang of wood smoke was drifting over from the campsites at the State Park next door. I love that smell.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


"Oh, don't tell me that stuff. It makes me too sad. I just can't stand hearing stories like that. It's disturbing, ya know?"
In front of the BBVA Compass bank- Idyllwild- Middle aged woman who was walking an obese dog and speaking to a man who was relating a tale about a child molester he had known.

"Like I said, I slid off the road and hit a tree with the car, and when I called Gary to tell him about it, do you know what he asked me? He actually asked me what kind of tree I hit. What kind of tree! Can you believe that? Not, 'Are you okay? Ya know? What kind of tree!"
Forest Lumber Hardware Store- Idyllwild- Elderly Woman purchasing a can of paint and some light bulbs and speaking to the man behind the counter.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Click on this picture to get a better look. This rock, which appears to have formed naturally, looks exactly like an Indian Chief in profile with his head dress trailing out behind him. I don't believe in graffiti, especially on private property, but this rock is begging to be painted. Sadly, I lack the necessary disrespect for private property rights, and my meager skills would not be equal to the task anyway, but if some fellow citizen of the Bummer-Free Zone had plenty of paint, a modicum of skill, and a vandalous streak on a moonlit night this rock is located at the top of Crest View. I'm not saying you should do I'm not saying that at all...but it's at the top of Crest View near the intersection with Saunders Meadow Road. I'm just saying...

THE SLEEPING CLUB- The Old Indian Cave

The trail to the cave, which was surprisingly well maintained, ran straight through three-hundred yards of dense pine forest before coming to an abrupt end about 50 feet from the base of a cliff. Creeper vines trailed down over the exposed and weathered limestone face of the cliff, and approximately five feet from the ground a gash, maybe thirty feet long and four feet wide at its widest, marked the opening to the cave.

I had first heard of the Demon Woods while watching a Halloween special on The Road Trip Channel called America’s Ten Spookiest Places. The host, Mathias Howles, had interviewed locals about the legends surrounding the place, with his smooth British accent juxtaposed sharply against the locals’ hillbilly talk, and then he had capped off the segment by spending a disappointingly uneventful night in the “Old Indian Cave,” which sits at the center of the woods.

Over the past year I had worked my way through Howles’ list of America’s Spookiest Places sleeping in old haunted mansions and such, and now I was standing in front of the Old Indian Cave deep within the infamous Demon Woods, number one on Howles’ spooky list, which so far was significantly less spooky than the back seat of Raymond and Nina’s car.

A small trickle of water dribbled out of the corner of the cave’s entrance exactly like drool from the corner of a sleeping giant’s mouth. The creeping vines completed the effect, resembling unruly hair. The imagery pleased me so much that I produced a notebook from my pack and began to scribble it down for my memoirs when I heard a voice call to me from the cave’s opening.

“John! You made it!”

Looking up I saw Tony Baldamo, on his hands and knees grinning at me from inside the cave. Tony owned a Mercedes dealership in Newport Beach, CA and, like me, had suffered from crippling insomnia for several years before joining the sleeping club. Tony, who easily tipped the scales at four-hundred pounds, was grinning infectiously at me as he bellowed, “What took you so long? We were beginning to wonder if the demons had gotten you.”

With a burly arm, Tony helped me up into the cave. Nearly a dozen cots were set up under mosquito netting, and in the center of the cave a couple of card tables had been set up, likewise under mosquito netting, with kerosene lamps glowing confidently on them. Looking around in the dim light I saw Jim and Nancy Bellows, Steve Ducette, Ronnie Robtoy, Shirley Paines, Oscar Montoya, and Annette LaGrassa- all members of the Sleeping Club.

“Where are the others?’ I asked.

“They wanted to go for a walk before the sun went down,” said Oscar, a lawyer, and a fellow insomniac who I had met three years prior at a 24 hour coffee house in Cathedral City. “I’m surprised they’re not back yet,” he added.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I am typically quite disciplined about posting here at the BFZ... at least I try to be. It has been my goal this year to post daily, but unfortunately my computer has flat-lined, and is simply refusing to start. That really burns my biscuits! Even so, this would not concern me terribly except approximately fifteen pages of an assignment I need to turn in are stored on there and nowhere else, and I need it to complete another assignment to be turned in next Thursday.

Thanks for you patience. I hope to have the BFZ back up and running soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Today, Sarah I took the kids down to the theological library at Azusa Pacific University so I could check out some books for a Research Paper I am working on. When we got there we saw that they had some fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls on display on campus. Sarah wanted to see them so, after I got my books, she paid $8.00 at the window and went in while I watched the kids in the lobby outside of the library. There's something about a big air conditioned space and shiny linoleum that's like cat nip for little kids. They were kicking up their heels like colts in the springtime. Check out Jack's snazzy outfit. I dressed him myself. Do you think they make those in my size? Miles, who hasn't been feeling well, was less enthused with the situation.
I know that the majority of you are not terribly interested in a lenghty series of pictures featuring my kids, but there is a passionate minority comprised of relatives and women who just seem to love kids, any kids, which continuously clamors for more. So, if this is boring to you I'm afraid you're just going to have to wait it out. We'll resume normal programming soon.

He's huggable, right?

The next three pics are a self-indulgent shout out to my brother Joel and his crew. Outside the library John Wesley was droppin' some knowledge on us passersby.

Check out Bowden picking his pocket while I distracted Mr. Wesley. We're a smooth team, right? Bonafide hustlers we are. ...and, yes, to answer your question, John Wesley had some bad B.O..