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2009 Apple Harvest Aftermath

October 16, 2009 Leave a comment

The tent has been folded up, the flooring has been packed away until next year, the fryers have been power-washed, and the apple prep gear has been boxed and stowed away. And most of us that worked the 2009 Southington Apple Harvest Festival are exhausted. In my opinion, we spent a hell of a lot of man hours (and some woman hours) just to make $1,200.

From Apple Harvest 2009

I’m not complaining — too much. Overall, the prep work was less tiring, and the clean-up much easier than when we had been cooking up those steak sandwiches. And we discovered that fresh, local cider — hot or cold –sells pretty well. And we also discovered that the warm, friend apples were an excellent mix with some ice cream, something that we’ll keep on the menu for next year. And as I’ve written before, I think that the two weekend stint is like a built-in team-building session, except that it is not run by high-priced consultants.

But still, the lodge building is old, and we need to raise more capital in order to stay ahead of the repairs, and to be able to lay something by in case of emergencies. I wonder what we could add to the mix for next year?



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Apple Harvest Festival – 2009

October 6, 2009 Leave a comment

Officers of Friendship Lodge are joined by a few members of Frederick-Franklin on a nice October afternoon.

I can’t believe that this is my fourth time blogging about Friendship Lodge at the Southington Apple Harvest Festival. My first time was in 2006 when I was Master of the lodge, and really, not all that much has changed. Local businesses and street vendors still cross their fingers about the weather (apparently, those weather-changing HAARP beams aren’t supposed to be used frivolously), and the same members of Friendship still show up for the entire weekend to keep the food going. This year, however, we decided not to sell the “Philly” steak & cheese sandwiches that Friendship has sold for the last 15 years or so., and to concentrate just on selling the fried apple wedges that we’ve been perfecting for the last eight or nine years.

This was not an easy decision to make. Although it became clear that the sandwiches actually lost money during the last few years, the sheer amount of work involved to make them created a camaraderie that certainly added to the harmony of the members. How can you be upset with somebody who stood next to you, slicing the onions that you were peeling?  And few things help develop common trust like knowing that somebody will show up for the important, but oft-overlooked cleanup work.

Our initial weekend was marred by cloudy, drizzly weather that became a downpour by Saturday afternoon. But Sunday was warm and sunny, and the crowds were out in droves to taste the typical fair fare, to browse some of the craft booths, and to enjoy the weather.

Because nothing makes you look more cool than a black wool suit on a warm, sunny day.

This being the lodge’s largest (and essentially only) fund raiser, we count on good weather and healthy appetites for the two weekends that the festival takes place. The first weekend ended up doing fairly well, allowing us to cover our initial expenses. We’re hoping that next weekend will be even more successful.

Maybe we’ll see you there?

What kind of complete idiot would pass this up?

May 8, 2009 Leave a comment

Pity Dr. S. Brent Morris.

A few years ago I walked into a meeting all excited. “I’ve been exchanging emails with Brent Morris all week! He reads some of my stuff, too!”

The reaction was a bit deflating. “Who?”

After I explained that he was a noted Masonic author, and editor of the SR Journal, the reaction was still less than I’d expected. “Oh, so he’s some Scottish Rite guy, then?”

Never mind.

At our Grand Lodge session in March, I met somebody who said, “Hey, I was in Washington D.C. a while ago and I ran into somebody who knows you. He said to say ‘Hi’.”

I was curious. “Who was that?”

The brother couldn’t remember. Some famous guy, or something like that, he thought.

I tossed out a few hints.  Grand Lodge officer? Agent Scully? Author?

“Yeah, I think he’s an author.”

“Where were you in DC when you met him?”

“Oh, I was in the Scottish Rite building. It’s really nice.”

By now everyone around us was curious. “Wait, was it Brent Morris?” I asked.

“Yeah, Brian Morris, that’s him!”

The rest of the crowd looked blank.

“Come on, you know, Brent Morris.” I said. “Freemasonry in Context? Is It True What They Say About Freemasonry? The Scottish Rite Journal?”

Blank stares.

“A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry?”

One guy looked up. “Is he the guy who came to New Britain last year?”

:facepalm:

For those of you who do know who Bro. Morris is, or those of you who are curious and want to meet him in person so he can sign your big  yellow orange book, he’s going to be visiting Connecticut at the end of the month. The Masonic Lodge of Research in New Haven will host Dr. Morris on Wednesday, May 27 at the Masonic Temple on 285 Whitney Ave.

A buffet dinner ($20 per person) will be at 6:15 pm, after which Bro. Morris will be delivering a research paper that will be suitable for non-Masons. I assume that this means it would be less dull than those papers which are suited for Masons-only, but the upshot is that you can bring a friend, or even your wife.

A handful of copies of Bro. Morris’ book A Complete Idiot’s Guide to Freemasonry for Dummies will be available for sale. Anyone interested in should make reservations with RW Carl G. Ek by calling 203-469-0746 (leave a message) or by e-mail at ekscla-masons@sbcglobal.net.

Connecticut and Rhode Island to merge Grand Lodges

April 1, 2009 Leave a comment

News item: Connecticut and Rhode Island to merge Grand Lodges

Special to The Hartford Times
Dateline: Farmington, CT.

Citing a budget shortfall due to a lack of membership and the bad economy, and the resultant inability to fund various programs, the Freemasons of the Grand Lodge of Connecticut, and those of the Grand Lodge of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, jointly announced at the Grand Lodge of Connecticut’s Annual Communication their intention to merge into a single entity: The Grand Lodge of Southern New England, A.F. & A.M.

“It seemed a perfect opportunity,” said William Rogers, spokesperson for the former Grand Lodge of Rhode Island. “Attrition from old age, death, and retirement have reduced our numbers to a quarter of what they were back in the 1950s. Likewise, mergers and lodge closings have reduced our lodges to about two dozen. It’s becoming an administrative nightmare.”

“He’s not kidding,” said Thomas Ludlow, the Grand Master’s representative from Connecticut. “We have fewer lodges and fewer brothers, but we somehow have a growing number of officers and district officers. In business parlance, you might say that our workforce is shrinking, while middle management has become bloated. So, we’ve decided to merge our Grand Lodges and make some long-overdue staffing cuts.”

Ludlow went on to describe the cutbacks: “The first positions to be eliminated will be the District Grand Lecturers and Assistant Grand Lecturers,” he explained, “We’ve outsourced ritual instruction to college students who are making Youtube videos, which we will then embed on the Grand Lodge website. Anyone who wants instruction can just watch the videos.”

Rogers agreed. “You’ll be able to download those videos to an iPod or Zune, your iPhone, or a netbook,” he explained, “and then you can watch as much instruction as you can handle during your free moments. In traffic, in the bathroom, on plane trips – it’s perfect. There won’t be any excuse for people not to be more improved in their ritual workings.”

Other Grand Lodge dignitaries will also be downsized, said Rogers. “Do you know we’ve managed to acquire more District Deputies and Associate Grand Marshals than we have lodges? These guys are tripping over each other, and we can’t find anything more for them to do. It’s time to start consolidating our resources.”

“Same thing with all these Grand Line officers,” agreed Ludlow. “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a couple of Grands or Past Grands. There’s way too many of them nowadays, and we figure that nine or ten guys should be able to cover the two state area more than adequately.” When questioned about how well the two states could be covered by so few Grand Officers, he responded. “Hell, lodges in those big square states out west sometimes don’t see a Grand Officer for years; our lodges have gotten spoiled around here. We simply can’t afford to have District Deputies showing up at every other meeting anymore.”

Both spokespersons noted that rumors about spinning off one of the districts into New York were merely persistent, but unfounded rumors. “Those rumors pop up every few years, usually right after we raise our Grand Lodge dues,” explained Ludlow.

Noting the progressive nature of the plan, interviewers asked about whether other states would follow suit.

“Massachusetts has taken notice, and we’ve already begun talks to include them on the merger, but they’re funny up there. News in Boston doesn’t reach the Berkshires for years, if ever,” explained Ludlow. “Besides, we don’t want to wait too long on this – our two states have been ready to merge for a couple of years now. But when Massachusetts is ready to merge, we’ll already have the infrastructures in place for them. The way we see it, it’s not a question of ‘if‘, but of ‘when‘.”

Do any other states have an interest?

“New Hampshire and Vermont are going to be discussing the topic at their next Annual Meetings,” said Rogers. “We sent some snowmobile and dogsled messengers up to Maine in December, and we’re hoping to hear back from them by spring, when they get the power lines back up.”

Both Grand Lodges will close for July and August, during which time they will be packing and moving. No word yet on the location of the new Grand Lodge building, but speculation is that it will be one of the old University of Connecticut agricultural buildings. “I can’t confirm this,” said Ludlow,” but it’s definitely one of the possibilities. Obviously we’d like someplace centrally located. Since most of the people living west of the river think that UConn is in Rhode Island anyway, it seems like a good spot.”

“Yes, it’s perfect,” quipped Rogers, “it’s equally inconvenient for everybody.”

Points of Fellowship

March 15, 2009 Leave a comment

2:30 pm

Live blogging the annual Friendship 33 vs Sequin-Level 140 Dart Tournament.

So far it’s not looking very good for Friendship. 

3:45 pm

Good times, good food, good fellowship.

Good thing, too, because we stink at actually playing darts.

4:30 pm
After several sets of games (301, Cricket, 501, and more Cricket), the score is
Sequin-Level:14
Friendship: 8

2006: The last time we won the trophy.

Dang.

Inclemencies of the Seasons

January 17, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s an overcast Saturday afternoon in the middle of January, there’s six inches of snow on the ground, and the temperature is 17º F. So, what do you do for fun?

2009 Sloper Polar Plunge

Well, if you’re from Friendship Lodge, apparently you take a dip in the lake.

Friendship’s new Worshipful Master Eric Charrette, accompanied by a chilly suite of officers, took on his second “Polar Plunge” in a week to help raise funds for Camp Sloper, the the local YMCA camp. The polar plunge took place at the camp’s small lake,  Sloper Pond. Known locally as the home of a semi-ficticious chelodian, a snapping turtle by the name of Mama Cass, the pond was the scene of several dozen people (accompanied by several hundred warmer supporters) willing to brave the elements – specifically, the frigid air and freezing water.

Each volunteer had to commit to a minimum of $100 in cold, hard cash, to be used for the upkeep and maintenance of the popular camp. Several local organizations sent their hardiest, or certainly, their craziest members. Friendship Lodge, which raised about $550 toward the camp benefit, was one of several other local organizations that managed to raise almost $2,000 for the camp, now in it’s 60th year of operation.

WB Eric was joined by RWB Gary Arseneau, Senior Deacon Kevin Cyr, and John Miller, Senior Warden from Frederick-Franklin No. 14 in Plainville, all of whom spent about 30 seconds in the water. . . and then another 30 minutes warming up afterward.

And according to Kevin Cyr, the adage that you don’t feel cold because the water is warmer than the air is a complete myth. “It was like thousands of stinging needles,” he reported. And while everyone agreed, they all offered to jump in again.

From EA to WB

January 5, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s the joyous season here in Connecticut… no, not the season that you’re thinking of; that’s passed already. Sweaters and blenders have been returned, the last of the turkey, ham, or goose has been eaten, and there are more needles on the carpet than on the tree. No, as the Masonic year generally coincides with the calendar year (give or take a month, depending upon the lodge), it’s now Installation season. Out with the old and in with the new!

The Installations of officers are often semi-public events here in Connecticut. I can hear some of our brethren in other areas gasping for breath, but really, now that we’ve pretty much shown everything on the History Channel and You-Tube, why is this an issue anymore? In my area, the “secrets of the chair” are imparted several weeks beforehand, which obviates one of the needs to hold an Installation in a tyled lodge. Just before the Installation ceremony itself, the lodge is tyled and the outgoing Master opens the lodge for the last time and then goes to Refreshment. The then fun begins, and afterward, the new Master closes the lodge.

Some members still prefer a closed ceremony, but I submit that it’s a great way for a man to introduce his friends and family to his lodge; if only to show that his brothers and fellow members are a great bunch of guys to work with. Indeed, most new Masters are rather proud to have been elected to lead a lodge, and it’s quite natural for them to want to show it off. Accordingly, Installations – at least for those who have not done it several times over – are often held on a weekend and a large reception party is held afterward.

I was Master in 2006, which means that I’ve been out of an office for almost as long as I’ve held an office. This makes me “a moss-backed, old turtle” according to some members of Friendship Lodge, several of whom had better be careful or I’ll smash their tail lights with my walker. But having been out of office for a while is giving me some interesting perspectives on why Past Masters develop the not-totally-undeserved reputation that invariably follows them. These new guys are, well, new, dammit! They do things differently than I did. I worked hard at changing some of the old, boring, inefficient things that Masters before me had done, and now, these upstarts come along and change things that I did.

And good for them! Friendship is an active lodge with a lot of younger members who are generally happy to participate. For years now, we’ve had every officer’s chair filled, and have often had a backlog of people waiting to get into the officer’s line. I can’t imagine that people around here are interested because we keep doing the same old thing all the time.

Worshipful Brother Eric

Eric 2009

Some time between Christmas and New Year, we installed Brother – Worshipful Brother Eric into the big chair. I’m very proud of WB Eric. He is one of the first people that I, as a new officer, helped to conduct around the lodge. Now, understand that I’m not a particularly large guy. When I met Eric, he was a very young, very nervous, and very big guy. My job was to guide him through his initiation, which involved wrestling him around the small lodge room, and trying to keep a grip on his arm through the copious amounts of sweat. Think “tugboat” and “ocean liner”, and you’ve got the picture.

Anyway, after having my tux cleaned, Eric and I became friendly. It’s been a pleasure to see him go from being nervous and shy, to becoming a planner and organizer, and someone who can talk about his goals and aspirations.  When I was a Junior Warden, Eric was at my right hand, and remained there until I was out of the East, passing from Senior Steward to Junior Deacon, to Senior Deacon. Each year, each position, saw a little growth and maturity, and I’ve been proud of him ever since.

Look well the the East, Worshipful Eric. I’m sure that you’ll do a great job.

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