Saturday, December 31, 2011



As you long time readers of the BFZ know I am pursuing some formal Bible training and equipping through an MDIV degree with an eye toward using what days God has given me under the sun to be used in His service and for His glory, possibly in pastoral ministry. The pursuit of this goal has meant rearranging my life and sleep habits, but thanks to the generosity of my brothers and sisters in Christ it has not meant rearranging my finances.  (Which is good because no amount of rearranging could free up enough cash to make it happen!) This was my primary concern when I first considered going back to school. I was resolved to avoid any more education debt, but my current salary would not support the cost of tuition, books, and course materials in addition to supporting my family. I shared this concern with a good friend at that time and he pointed out that God would not call me to something and then fail to give me what I needed to see it through. So I prayed earnestly to confirm my calling. Feeling confident that God had indeed placed a calling on my life I stepped out in faith, and trusted God to be faithful. Since beginning this journey many of you have surprised me with generous gifts to assist me in the pursuit of my studies. That has been a tremendous encouragement to me. You were the means which God used to provide for this important training. Each time I have received these timely gifts I have thanked God for you with wonder in my heart for prompting you to think of blessing me in that way.

If you would like to contribute toward the pursuit of my MDIV degree please see the sidebar for more information.

370th POST!!!

You know Tate-
He'll make you wait
In a nervous state
But in the end
He won't be late.

370 posts! Savor the moment with me.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


"That's a polite sort of question with a polite sort of answer."

White, slightly overweight male, in his mid-thirties to a post office employee who had asked him, "How was your Christmas?" Said male went on to say that he had a "great Christmas." Post Office- Idyllwild, CA.
I can still see him as I found him on the morning when he died. He had not been dead long. In fact, I think he was still alive at 0530 when I radioed in to start my shift. I think he was still alive at 0545 when I ordered coffee and a bagel at Dunkin Donuts, but he may have already died by 0600 as I was driving southbound on North Main Street.

By 0630, when I was dispatched to his house on Nason, he was definitely dead. They would later determine it was a heart attack.

The dispatcher's voice seemed oddly dispassionate and matter-of-fact at such times. It always struck me so. Such news was meant to be screamed or delivered between sobs.

I clomped up the stairs, and across the porch. The screen door squeaked a mindless welcome. Didn't it know? As I tracked snow across the carpet the dog barked and snapped at my boots before a concerned neighbor, who materialized from somewhere, intervened and put it out. The dog would not let me go near the body. The widow cried and cried, as you can imagine she would. She kept asking, "What should I do?" There was nothing to do, and I told her so.

I can still see him as I found him on the morning when he died. Naked on the toilet, and slumped to the side against the wall. His penis small. His eyes blank. His mouth slightly open. One foot flat on the floor, the other turned on edge. His face drawn and pinched. His frame abandoned, emptied and left behind. He looked used up. Done.

I found a deposit of semen gathered in the bottom of the toilet bowl, which I flushed without mention. It has always been our secret. No one would have benefited from the knowledge.


"Sometimes silence is easily shattered as at the dawning of the day, but at other times it is harder than steel, as when two friends become estranged."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011



Steve Maxon and Job Tate have also agreed to be "sometimes contributors" to the BFZ in 2012. Oh man, it's gonna be a good year!


I'm as happy as a pauper
With his truck full of copper.


In 2012 I have decided to target a few individuals to join the BFZ team and become "sometimes contributors." Nothing would change around here except that invited contributors would be selected to post occasionally to the BFZ. No pressure to post. No assignments or deadlines. Just post as you feel led. In order to remain a BFZ contributor they will have to post at least once a year, but otherwise there's no pressure.

Last night I landed my first big fish. My brother, John, has agreed to take a room in the Octagon and join team BFZ.  I'm looking forward to his contributions in 2012.


If 2011 were a crayon it would be worn down to a mere nubbin. If it were a fountain drink the straw would make strange slurping noises as it searched for flavor among the melting ice. If it were a cigarette you would need tweezers to smoke it. It is used up, faded, cracked, chipped, and worn. 2012, on the other hand, is shiny-new and still wrapped in its packaging of promise and potential. It has that new year smell. The New Year is pregnant with possibilities, isn't it? I'm excited for 2012.

Here are 12 predictions for the coming year-

1. Deaths- Billy Graham, Hugo Chavez, and Charlie Sheen.
2. Sasquatch discovered.
3. Redskins win the NFC east with a record of 11-5 but lose in the playoffs.
4. Mitt Romney wins the White House.
5. Pepsi prices go up.
6. BFZ posts fewer than 370 times.
7. In a bid to remain relevant Justin Bieber sheds his good guy image and tries to rebrand himself as an envelope-pushing bad boy.
8. My future comes into sharper focus.
9. The BFZ endorses the ESV bible and sales go through the roof.
10. In a bid to remain relevant Josh Tate sheds his good guy image and tries to rebrand himself as an envelope-pushing bad boy.
11. Sarah Tate decides she likes bad boys.
12. I will not throw up in 2012.


Today's OVERHEARD comes to us from BFZ correspondent, Lisa Tate.

"Once you get over to Honolulu you just get a bunch of Asians."

White, preppy-looking, male in his early twenties who was talking on his cellular phone device. Overheard in passing at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


If I could walk
And move about
The streets of your mind,
Like a burglar in the night,
I would test doors
And peer through windows,
I would stalk through alleys
And scale fire escapes
Treading lightfooted
As you slept
Until I found the place
Where the answers
To my questions are kept.

Saturday, December 24, 2011


On those rare occasions when Sarah and I are able to get away without our progeny in tow, maybe for an overnight or even just a dinner date, we often have to transition through kind of an awkward phase where we relearn how to be alone together before hitting our stride. The art of just hanging out together can get a little rusty. We're too close and too familiar for small talk, but the presence of the kids has also forced some distance between us, which needs to be bridged. Sometimes we are able to find a way through, but other times we fail to find our rhythm entirely before having to come back home. During this most recent trip to the Andreas Hotel and Spa in Palm Springs we never suffered any awkwardness. It was just fun to get away together, and to be just Josh and Sarah for a bit. It was an awesome time! I'm not sure what the difference was though. How can that relearning phase be avoided every time? Any ideas?

TITUS 2:11-14

 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. (THAT'S CHRISTMAS PAST) It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (THAT'S CHRISTMAS PRESENT) while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (THAT'S CHISTMAS'S FUTURE) who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
As a boy growing up Christmas Eve was the longest day of the year. Forget what scientists say about the Winter solstice and days being shorter and all of that. Trust me, it's the longest day of the year for little boys and girls.


Listen up Moms and Dads! Do you have your Stinker the Tinker gumdrops? Don't wait until it's too late and all the stores are sold out.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


...wherein I call out Hanes on their horrible ad campaign.


A brief yahoo image search (type "Octagon House Images" into yahoo) revealed that I am not alone in drawing up plans for a house of octagonal design. There are some venerable old Octagonal houses, mostly back east, and some newer funkier versions. None that I could find were wrapped around a central courtyard as in my design, but some of these plans are decidedly superior to my own. That's to be expected given my status as an architectural neophyte. I may have to revisit my drawings. Don't worry folks, I'll get this right. It may take me a month of bedtimes, but I'll get it right.


Our van is getting increasingly eccentric. I'm worried about the old girl. She is missing nobs. Her sideview mirrors are dinged up (The driver's side mirror is entirely missing at the moment). She has this and that quirk, this and that sound, this and that indicator light which inexplicably comes on and then blinks out. For some reaosn we can power lock all the doors except the one on the passanger side. Just recently there is a knocking sound when we turn hard, and a shuddering up through the steering column. Not good. The van's main selling point is that it is paid for. We own it free and clear and every mile is a free mile. I have decided though that the old girl is entering a stage in her life where unexpected and costly repairs are looming large on the horizon like the sword of Damocles above our heads. I would rather have a fixed payment than sudden, unexpected ones. The former I can plan for, but the latter would wreak havoc. It's time for a new vehicle.

So the plan is to leave Idyllwild tonight for the van's last trip off the mountain. If we can successfully achieve Sylmar without breaking down. Then tomorrow we'll take her over to Galpin in San Fernando and see what kind of a deal we can broker.

I think this is the end of the Astro Van years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


"Oh, it's a good day. I'm still on the green side of the grass."
Mike, of Andreas Hotel & Spa, to a guest who shuffled into the hotel lobby and asked how he was doing.
Andreas Hotel & Spa- Palm Springs, CA.


"Okay, let's get some candy canes and then get out of here!"
Middle-aged white female to two white teenage males. Target- Palm Desert, CA


I am corresponding this morning from the quiet lobby of the Andreas Hotel & Spa in Palm Springs, CA. Nanny, the amazing Nanny, is back up in Idyllwild with the kids, which has allowed Sarah and I to get away to do some last minute Christmas stuff and enjoy a night away. You might recall that we did this last year as well for the first time. BEST CHRISTMAS TRADITION EVER!!!

Sarah is still sleeping. Really, by all rights, I should be too, but I have made it a habit of rousing from my bed at 4:30am to do my schooling, and sure enough, despite falling asleep much later than normal last night, my eyes sprang open at 4:23 this morning and my mind instantly began whirring and booting up. There would be no going back to sweet oblivion. So now it's just me and Mike, the hotel employee, here in the lobby. This schedule really harshes my mellow sometimes. You feelin' me?

A placard on the fornt desk has supplied me with the following information about this Mike character:

Name: Michael

Hometown: Azusa, CA

Thing Mike like's best about Palm Springs: The Sunshine

Favorite Restaurant: Any place with tacos & fries

Most over-rated thing in the desert: The Wind

Do not leave Palm Springs without: Going to the Spa and Casino

It's a nice poolside room (Rm. 105) with a King size bed, fireplace, and oversized jacuzzi tub. The Andreas is right on the Palm Springs strip so after settling in last night we went for a walk and got some starbucks. As we strolled along we listened to the musical stylings of a really great Journey cover band at one of the bars. They were rocking!!! I  like Journey. You feelin' me? (I should finish every paragraph in this post with, "you feelin me?" It really is a perfectly concise sort of phrase. I welcome its addition to the list of Americanisms.)

Now Mike is setting out the stuff for the continental breakfast. I'll eat a pastry for you, and then I'll pour out a little orange juice on the floor because you're not here. He's going around putting salt and pepper shakers on all of the tables, but so far I don't see any foods that would call for either. Does anybody put salt and pepper on their granola or doughnut? It has given me hope that perhaps Mike is whipping up something more substantial in the back. I love me some scrambled eggs! You feelin me?

When I left my room I grabbed my Bible and slipped into my swimming trunks. It's pretty cold here in PS this morning, but the pool is heated. As I was walking past on my way to the lobby I noted that steam was rising off its surface in an inviting sort of way. I believe I will do my devotions in the pool or neighboring hot tub this morning. That sounds worshipful to me. You feelin' me?

We will leave Palm Springs by 10:30 this morning. Our agenda for the morning includes a stop for stocking stuffer kinda stuff. We'll probably eat breakfast somewhere (unless Mike produces some scrambled eggs- you feelin' me?) and then head up the mountain. Peace out players! I'm gonna go get my Bible on! You feelin' me?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Nobody showed up for free waffles this morning. Ah well, it was kinda short notice. Next time it'll be moonlight pie.


LET'S PLAY ILLUSTRATION- The game where I give you a scenario and you tell me what spiritual analogies can be drawn from it.

Sarah cut open an apple this morning and found that it was rotten inside. What spiritual analogies could be drawn from this?


To my real house, not my imaginary one. The waffles are likewise real, not imaginary.


I have often asked people this question- "If you could go back in time and see anything from the Old Testament  what would you want to see?"

It's an interesting exercise. Do you opt for sheer spectacle or theological significance? I would have to say that far and away the most common answer is the parting of the red sea. The worst answer I have ever heard was "Bathsheba bathing." My pat answer has always been to see the garden before the fall in all its perfection. Some people want to see God or Angels, but I have always personally rejected any opportunity to lay my sullied eyes on God or his emissaries. I don't want to waste my one shot at time travel prostrate in the sand yelling "I'm unclean!" Since the fall nobody has been in the very presence of God without feeling a great deal of fear. God is not safe but He is good.

What would you choose?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Run, Sarah, run!!!
I stepped out this morning to stretch my legs a bit before settling in before the computer to get some work done. It was pre-dawn, maybe 4:45 am, and I gotta tell you today began achingly fresh and beautiful. Just a little mist hanging around, and air that was crisp and cool. I drank it in, filling my lungs with it, and it was a better beginning to the day than a cup of coffee.


That man is (was?) nuttier than a squirrel's stool sample. I think it would be just like him to announce his death so he can reemerge and claim to have come back to life. "My people need their beloved leader too much so I came back." Of course, who knows what to believe coming out of North Korea. I have read recently that, since dying, his favorability rating has dropped slightly down to 164%. (I stole that last bit from the Onion.)

Kim Jong Il- not dead.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"FEVER DREAM" by Josh Tate

Here's Ron Paul making sense.


On waking at first light
And looking out through the window
I noticed the lower field
Was made strangely uniform
By a broad expanse of white
A foot or more of snow
The ragged field concealed
By last night's winter storm.


For previous BFZ SEX TALKS click here, here, here, here, and here.

Dear Kids,

In this installment of A BFZ SEX TALK I want to take up a rather difficult and sensitive topic- masturbation. I remember once when I was in college they invited a well known experts in human sexuality with special expertise in the field of sex addiction to come and speak on campus. He held two different sessions- one for the boys and one for the girls. I attended the one for the boys. After giving some introductory remarks I recall that the speaker said that before beginning he would like to know what we, the audience, wanted to talk about. "Anybody have a question or a topic?" he asked. There was dead silence in the hall. You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone was too timid to throw a topic out there. You can be sure that in a room full of young men there was more than a little interest in the topic of sex, as well as some burning questions as well, but nobody was about to speak up. It was a Christian college after all, and it would seem that you can't ask a question about such a subject  without making an equally plain statement about yourself. For example, if Billy had asked "Um...what if you look at porn on the internet, and you know it's wrong but you can't seem to stop yourself? What should you do?" Automatically, everyone would suspect Billy of being a closet porn addict. Even if Billy had asked on behalf of "a friend he knows," some would have still persisted in linking the question to Billy's now tarnished character. It's a tremendously difficult topic to broach in so public a forum, and in fact, Billy would be better served by bringing up such a matter within a smaller circle of people that he knows cares about him and will protect his dignity while offering some godly counsel. Remember, it is rarely a good idea to get naked in public- literally or figuratively. So, anyway, finding no takers, after a few more remarks the speaker suggested that at the count of three everyone just yell out a topic. "Any topic," he said. "Nobody will be able to hear you because everyone will yell at once." Then he continued, "Okay, so just yell it out, now... here we go, at the count of three- one. two. three." When he got to "three" the whole room erupted in perfect masculine harmony. With one voice the entire hall yelled, "MASTURBATION." They must have heard it all the way across campus. You've never seen so many college boys blush. Of course, the speaker knew that would happen. He had set the crowd up during his introductory marks so that they were already thinking about this topic.

I honestly don't recall anything that the speaker had to say after that, but that resounding, thunderous roar of "MASTURBATION" from the men sitting all around me demonstrated that the young men filling that hall had questions about this topic, and perhaps some bruised consciences as well. It occurs to me that perhaps you have questions and concerns about masturbation. That's very common, especially for boys (but also for girls too sometimes, or so I have heard), so there's no need to be embarassed. Remember our talk about the dangers of the secret place. I know a lot of men, the finest sort of Christian men, who have confessed to me that they have struggled with masturbation. That's a difficult thing for most men to say out loud because it is embarassing and even shameful, but remember that is always Satan's M.O. to try and get us alone with our sin. He wants us to take embarassing and shameful things to the secret place and hide them away. There is freedom in confessing our struggles to God and maybe letting a godly brother or sister know about our struggles as well.  So let's talk about it. Let's talk about masturbation.

Let's start with a simple question- Is it a sin?

I believe that the Bible ought to be one's sole authority for faith and practice. I hope you feel that way too, but if you don't then you might as well know that this is what your Dad thinks. As a disciple of Christ I am not just interested in gaining knowledge- a collector of doctrines and ideas. I am prinicipally interested in applying biblical truth to how I actually live- to be an imitator of Christ. This is what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Anytime a question comes up about what is or is not sin I feel that the only place that speaks with authority on that topic is God's word.

The problem is if you look up masturbation in your Bible you'll find that nowhere is it explicitly mentioned nor does the Bible state explicitly whether or not masturbation is a sin. Nevertheless, there is little doubt, that the thoughts and actions which lead to most instances of masturbation are indeed the stuff of sin. Lustful and immoral thoughts as well as pornography often play a role in masturbation and these are sinful (Read Matthew 5:27). Many people struggle with feelings of guilt as a result of masturbating. What they need to realize is that the act itself is really a product of sin that they harbor first in their minds, then entertain in their hearts, and which then finds expression in the act of masturbation. It is the lustful, immoral thoughts and pornographic imagery that needs to be dealt with first.

Things brings us back to God's word. Giving God access to your heart and mind through spending regular and intimate times in His word can work to transform your thoughts and actions in an amazing way. Give it a try! If this is an area in which you are struggling first thank God for confronting you and disciplining you as a good Father should (Read Proverbs 3:11-12, Proverbs 6:23, Hebrews 12:4-11 and Revelation 3:19), and also thank him for His forgiveness (Psalm 103:11-12), then commit to spending some time out of every day to reading God's word and praying. Don't expect things to change right away. Be disciplined about it and establish a lifelong pattern of disciplines that foster a deep, intimate, abiding relationship with God. Transformation and victory will come in time.

Start by reading the following passages-

Read the following passages:

Ephesians 5:3

1 Corinthians 10:31

 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Psalm 103:11-12

How did those passages inform you about God's heart toward masturbation? Did it pass the impurity test? Can it be done to the glory of God? Does it reflect God's having ownership of your body? Does it avoid the appearance of immorality? Are you forgiven?

We only have so many days to walk the earth, and  those days are chock full of invitations to sin. It is precious to our Lord when we decline those invitations. One day your opportunities to reject sin and embrace God will come to an end. Remember that. These are the days when you can choose the things of Christ.

You will mess up. You will sin. When that happens lay hold of God's forgiveness- claim it, declare it, thank him for it, and repent. Throw God's love and forgiveness into the face of Satan who will accuse you at such low times. Satan hates you. He is a liar and will try to charge to your account what Christ has already paid for with his blood.  Forgiven. That's a fact.

Then get up, dust yourself off and get back to the business of expressing your love and gratitude to God through the pursuit of personal righteousness. God can be difficult to get a present for because he already has everything, but you can give him your sexual purity. It doesn't matter if you've already strayed from God's best a thousand times. You can start today. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). Be eager to do what is good (Titus 2:11-14).

Your Loving Father,



It's a windy morning here in Idyllwild. While I was waiting for the computer to boot up I laid on the couch and listened to the wind coming and going through the pine trees. It sounded like the surf at the ocean.




Friday, December 16, 2011


Despite my earlier quasi-endorsement of Ron Paul, which was really more of a rejection of the rest of the field than an embrace of Paul himself, I have not followed up with any strong pro-Paul statements. The reason why no such statements have been forthcoming is because I would be intellectually dishonest in making them. I think Paul would most likely be a disastrous president. His slavish adherence to libertarian ideals would result in a bizarro Washington where neither party had a president in the White House. Disfunction and gridlock would follow as surely as an E television crew follows the Kardashian sisters.

I appreciate Paul in that his perspective and principles drag the entire discourse in a very healthy direction. He is a force for good, and America needs to pick up some of what he is laying down.

I made the statement to my brother, Job, recently that I would likely vote for Paul in the primary. Job is a Gingrich man, and took issue with that so I will try and explain myself. Despite my considerable following here at the BFZ I am not likely to steer enough voters to the Paul camp to avert the inevitability of a Romney or Gingrich nomination, so I feel safe in voting for and endorsing Ron Paul because I want the eventual nominee to take notice of the forces behind Paul's support.

Gingrich or Romney will most likely secure the nomination, and when they do I will most likely fall into line, but in the primary I am using what little voice I have to point at Paul and say "Listen to what this man is saying. He is making sense, and he's genuine." I am not endorsing all of the man's positions. In fact, of all of the candidates currently vying for the nomination he is the one I disagree with the most. Some of those disagreements would not allow me to vote for him in the general election were he nominated. If the general election were today, and I was forced to pick the nominee from this current miserable field of candidates, I would want Bachman or Santorum, and between those two, probably Bachman.

I'll admit that my decision to vote for Paul is more or less a protest vote. The eventual nominee must be put on notice, and I am firmly persuaded that a stronger than expected showing for Ron Paul would do that.

More than anything I am disheartened that this is the best that conservatism has to offer at this critical juncture in the nation's history. We need Lincoln or Reagan not Gingrich or Romney.
I'm sad about it so I'm voting for Ron Paul.


"Okay honey, Mommy will take you to the potty, and then we'll come back and solve my cheese dilemma."

Mother in her late-twenties or early thirties mumbling to her daughter (maybe 7 or 8 years old) while staring at Fariway Market's cheese selection with a glassy expression on her face. Fairway Market- Idyllwild, CA


Last night a brief snow squall was followed by a howling wind which tore the dead pine needles out of the trees and left them like yard darts poking up out of the soft snow. The ground bristled with them this morning. The wind also scattered the camp's recycling containers, as well as their contents, hither and yon. So the first order of business this morning was to go around and set things back to rights.
 As I was walking across the grounds I saw loads of deer tracks criss-crossing the snow.
 Then I saw the deer themselves. There were seven of them in all traveling in company.
God of wonders. These are my Father's cattle. They are quite beyond numbering.


At night when I slide my toes down between the cool sheets of my bed and lie there in the dark for a few minutes, alone with my thoughts, I find it helpful to imagine I am sleeping somewhere strange or exotic. I happened upon this trick during my teenage years and have made it my practice ever since. Nearly every night I become untethered and drift away from conscious thought while imagining that I am somewhere else. Maybe on a bed of pine needles with a roaring fire on one side and a river on the other. On the floor of a public library that has closed down for the night. On a sleeper train crossing the African Savannah. On a cot on a skyscraper's roof with the noisy city down below. You get the idea. I'm not sure why this works for me, but if I am finding it hard to go to sleep I go straight to my pretending game. ZZzzzzZZZzzzzzZZZzzzz...

Over the past year I have periodically put a twist on my bedtime practice by constructing a house for myself. Since it's an imaginary house I was able to use loads and loads of imaginary money to do it, and I was able to employ imaginary skills that I don't actually possess. (I did all the elctrical myself!) At night I always begin by imagining myself entering the house through the main door and then I mentally walk through all the rooms. I find it a very helpful way to redirect my brain from the business and concerns of the day and mentally unwind before nodding off. I have come to enjoy these nightly visits to "my house." I have created a mental image of the various rooms, and although I do sometimes fall asleep in the house's master bedroom I usually doze off on the couch in front of the big wrap-around floor-to-ceiling windows with the city lights twinkling below. Over the course of the past year I have added furniture, and done some landscaping in the center courtyard. Just recently I had an in-ground hot tub installed in the courtyard as well.

It almost feels like I live in my actual house, but I sleep in this imaginary one. It has even affected my dreams. This post was inspired by a dream I had which took place inside my imaginary house.

I have visited the house so many times while trying to fall asleep that it has come to feel like a real place to me. What's amazing is that it doesn't come with a mortgage, utilities, or property taxes. Although imaginary (which may strike some of you as pathetic) it is all very vivid and real in my own mind. It has wide hallways, floor to ceiling windows, white walls, palm trees, and an open, sunny floor plan. There is no carpet anywhere in the house- hardwood floors throughout. Ocassionally a persian rug to break up the monotony. A spanish tile roof.

The main drawback of the house is that you can't come and visit. Although sometimes I imagine that the imaginary you comes to stay for a while. Mom and Dad, I built the guest room in anticipation of an imaginary visit from you guys.

Anyway, posting about it here is the closest thing to inviting you (the actual you) over to my imaginary house for a visit. There's diet pepsi in the fridge if you want one. The cupboards are chock full of black licorice. The Redskins are always on TV.

Come over any time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011



"He had us running aroud and looking for vampires that didn't exist and stuff. I was like, 'WHAT?!?!"

Teenage female to a male of like age as they were exiting Fairway Market- Idyllwild, CA

"When I first got my license I used to peel out right in front of the cops, but I wouldn't even get in trouble. They would just laugh at me."

Late teens or early twenties female employee at Fairway Market to a male of like age who was similarly employed by Fairway in conversation as they were stocking the shelves.- Idyllwild, CA




Yesterday, when I left work, I left my phone on my desk set to vibrate. I also use my phone as my alarm clock, which is set to go off every morning at 4:30am so I can do my school work. When I came in this morning I found that the vibrating phone had rattled its way into the midst of a nativity scene shoving baby Jesus aside.

My apologies to Jospeh and Mary for the early wake up call. I hope it didn't wake the baby!
This song makes me emotional.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Go, tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhere
Go, tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.


"I'm gonna hang up now. If you won't stop talking I'm going to have to hang up on you, and I don't want to do that. (brief pause) Okay, I'm hanging up now. (she hangs up and then sighed loudly) Telemarketers!"

Middle-aged female apeaking on her cell phone outside of the post-office. Idyllwild, CA


Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Can I do it?

18 days left...I better increase my productivity. This must be how the elves feel at this time of year as well.

Just remember, quantity rarely intersects with quality. I'm sorry for how crappy these next fifty posts are gonna be. The BFZ has pretty low quality standards as it is, but this is gonna be off the hook.

They will be crappy. Oh yes, they will be crappy.
The river flowed
As black and quiet
As a thought
Between fields
Of deep, deep snow.

From the hill,
Three miles distant,
It resembled
The meandering course
Of a child's marker
Across a nursery wall.


A box came in the mail
At Christmas time-
Its corners softened
From wear
And closed up tight
With more tape
Than was necessary-
The address handwritten

Inside, each of its contents
Were wrapped in brightly
Colored wrapping paper,
Separated and cushioned
By out-of-state newspapers.

Once it was emptied though-
And the presents were
Placed under the tree, and
The newspaper Tossed
In the wood bin-
A certain magic
Persisted and clung to
The cardboard box.
I was reluctant
To throw it away.

Monday, December 12, 2011



I covered a whole bunch of wood with a tarp over by the sledding hill. I anticipate that this storm will deliver enough snow to allow for some sweet sledding and what goes better with sledding than a big blazing bon fire.

Anybody wanna come up for some sledding?

 Bring cocoa!!!


1. I wish I understood scientifically why sometimes a load of laundry produces lots of lint and other times hardly any at all.

2. Paremesan Cheese dances a fine line between being very flavorful and being just too darn cheesey. Feta clearly crosses the line.

3. Honestly, feta cheese tastes like vomit. I wonder who was the first person to come across feta cheese and be like that "That smells awful...I should put that in my mouth."

4. I'm glad that God created man without really hairy fingers. Gross.

Saturday, December 10, 2011



Sarah and Lucy are gone for the weekend. They're taking in the Nutcracker ballet up in the Clairmont area, and spending the night at Nanny's house besides.

So this morning it was just me and the boys here at the Tate house. We began our day with two hours of Bear Grylls, which is decidedly manly, and later on we'll head out for a ground squirrel hunt. Bowden and I will be armed with our BB guns and Jack and Miles have volunteered to be our ground squirrel hounds. They have very distinct baying, which is apparently unique to the breed. It sounds a lot like crying and complaining.

I need some more ideas for how to make our man time even more memorable and even more MANLY!!! Any ideas? Keep in mind that we are without a vehicle and I'm not gonna spend a dime on this. You'll have to be creative. I need some more ideas. I eagerly await your testosterone drenched suggestions.


 Pluck the head of a Queen Anne's Lace and hold it up against sky. It's a poor man's fireworks.
The wind is inciting the trees
And they're altogether riotous
I don't know what the wind is saying
But you can be sure it's scandalous

Friday, December 9, 2011


Christmas is a unique, special, stand-alone kind of season. It has its own songs, food, clothing, and customs. Most everyone makes some effort to transform their home with special Christmas decorations. (We say Christmas here at the BFZ- not the more generic "Holidays." I'm opinionated like that.) As a child I cherished the annual tradition of unpacking certain Christmas decorations, which had been stored away down in the basement. I greeted them each as an old friend back from a long journey, and with the arrival of these friends came the most fun, and dare I say merry, season on the calendar. Now that I am a grown man with a family of my own it is my job (Insert a funny face from Sarah- "What do you mean your job? You didn't do anything.") to haul the boxes out and help (see, honey, I said help) set things up. For better or worse, we all tend to view the Christmas season through the eyes of our younger selves. We revert to children.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas decorations which only make an appearance at the Ol' Tate Ranch this time of year.

The Gingerbread castle. One of our Christmas traditions is to have a gingerbread castle party. We invite over a bunch of friends for dinner and afterwards we all decorate this monstrosity and eat candy. Sarah hides somethign inside the castle and on Christmas morning we smash it open with hammers and retrieve the prize- usually an ornament. (Special thanks to those friends who helped. You know who you are!)

During our first Christmas as man and wife my oldest brother, Joel, gave us this blanket which he had knit himself. It actually won a blue ribbon at the Rutland County State Fair back in VT. It is one of our prized possessions. Most people who witness this amazing piece of handiwork for the first time usually ask, "A man made this?" To which I respond, "I know, awesome, right?"

Growing up, 14 of these plates hung in my Grandma McCuen's house, and now they hang in mine. Sarah and hang them along either side of the main beam above our living room. They all depict wonderfully imaginitive Christmas scenes. (I feel like I'm gushing a bit using words like "wonderfully" and "amazing." Forgive me if I'm a little over the top. I blame it on the season.) These two plates are my personal favorites.

Sarah made this metling snowman. It's awesome.
I bought this camel in Savannah, GA for our first Christmas living in Idyllwild.
Little german gnomes and forest animals. These also used to belong to my Grandma McCuen.

The Christmas ball asteroid field, as I call it, is my all time favorite Christmas decoration. Sarah does this every year and I absolutely love it. It's crazy awesome. I hope you get the idea despite my unsatisfactory efforts as a photographer. This photo is somewhere south of mediocre, and fails to do the asteroid field justice.

This year my Mom sent us a surprise. The Tomptes! These little guys are ancient and adorned the top of our High Boy each Christmas season when I was growing up. I absolutely love them! I have ranged them along the top of my roll top desk, safely out of Miles' reach. Are they awesome, or what?!?!  Thanks, Mom.!