Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Week of Thanks

(Disclaimer - the following topic was shamelessly stolen from /r/freemasonry.)

I normally eschew public proclamations of thankfulness this time of year.  First, because I've always been a contrarian trend-bucker.  If everyone else is doing it, count me out.  Second because, as my wife says, how ironic it is that we spend eleven months a year complaining about this, that, and the other, and then spend a twelfth talking about how thankful we are for all of it.

But I'm at work, the day is slow, and I'm in the mood to be thankful.  So here we go:

Number 1: My family.  Yes, my oldest is lazy-ish, my middle is a heathen, and my youngest is a rebellious squirt that will likely give me gray hair, but I love them.  Along with their mother, who's pretty awesome too. 

The oldest is a bookworm just like her dad, so I can't complain.  The middle child is just as much of a trouble-maker as I was when I was younger.  And the rebellious young one?  Well, I'm guilty for that one also.  If they continue in the path I followed, it will all work out for the best in the end, and for that I am thankful. 

I'd best not forget their mother.  She'd never let me forget it if I did.  She's like that.  But I'm forgetful at times, so that's a good thing.  Most importantly, she puts up with my crap.  What kind of crap? Well, as stated, I'm the adult version of a rebellious heathen who likes to read and joke around.  Take a guess what kind of sarcastic semi-adult I am.  But she loves me for it, and for that I am exceptionally thankful.

Number 2: My job.  Yes, it's stressful.  Yes, it's annoying at times.  Yes, there are certain aspects that drive me batsh*t crazy.  But I love what I do, I love where I work (five-minute commutes are excellent), and I make enough money to cover most expenses.  What more can a person ask for?  It's a challenge I enjoy that allows me the autonomy to grow and expand my skill sets.

Number 3:  My home.  I would much rather live somewhere else.  Down south for the warmth, or Chicago for the entertainment and history.  But I don't - I still live in the town I grew up in, two houses down from the home my Grandmother used to babysit me in.  As I child I dreamt of how far I'd travel and what foreign nations I'd live in, often while setting on the front porch steps I can see out my living room window.

I did move away for a while, but came back.  It was the hardest decision I'd ever made.  Being gone for a year made me realize all that much more how much I didn't want to live here.  Family ties are strong however.  Both mine and my wife's families live in this town.  It's helpful to have others to help out with the kids.  I'll give it that much.

Back to my home - when I thought of what type of property I'd like to have, yard, style, trees, etc., my thoughts always were based on the large two-story with an acre yard at the end of my grandma's street.  And here I am, twenty-five years later, living in that very house.

So while I didn't travel Europe, spend time in South America, and build a hand-hewn log home in the Alaskan frontier, I do live in a home I've admired since childhood.  It's not perfect, but it's mine.  And I'm thankful for that.

Number 4: My Lodges.  It may be cliché, but I am thankful for the Lodges that have accepted me as a Brother.  No, Freemasonry is not as exclusive as it once was, but I've no doubt that I would have been as welcome in times of restriction as now.  I've experienced immeasurable personal growth, made many new friends, and have been exposed to thousands of pages of wisdom.  I've been given opportunities to lead as well as to follow.  I have been accepted as a member of the world's oldest and most storied fraternity, and for that I am exceptionally grateful.

And finally, Number 5: The 2015 Chicago Cubs.  Hey, it's not all seriousness here.  I have to mention my favorite sports team having its best season in decades.  If you're anything close to familiar with American professional baseball, you'll understand why this is such a big deal.  For my English bretheren, imagine a team with the popularity of Manchester U, the history of Sheffield, and the success of Swindon Town nearly winning the Premier League.  (Disclaimer - my knowledge of English Football history is limited to twenty minutes of study on Wikipedia.)  All this while winning awards for best manager, best... goalie?, and best first-year professional player.  It's kind of a big deal. 

The Cubs haven't won a championship in 108 years.  In that time, they have only 8,403 wins against 8,516 losses - a less-than-impressive .497 winning percentage.  If they were an English football team, they'd probably be in the lowest division possible.  (Again, limited football knowledge garnered from Wikipedia.)  For them to nearly make it to the World Series this year, let alone win it?  Mind-boggling.  I have relatives who lived their entire lives wanting the Cubs to win who have been dead for a decade.  Let that sink in a bit.  Depressing, isn't it?

Yet we still cheer them on, we still watch them play, and we still get a little saddened when the season is over.  One day they'll win it all.  Maybe not in my lifetime, maybe not in the next, but sometime.  And it will be wonderful.  And I suspect a sign of Armageddon.  But hey, it'll be worth it.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New Elections for the Coming Year

Greetings, Bretheren.  It's been some time since I've posted here.  I see the pageviews keep coming, so thank you dearly for that support.

It's Winter, and with that time of year comes Lodge election season.  I'm honored to have been elected as Junior Warden of Jackson Lodge #42 in Centerville, Iowa.  I will gladly serve my brothers as the office calls for, and then some.  (Hello Lodge pizza party!)

Rumor has it I may be drafted elected to office in my local Royal Arch Chapter as well.  I consider that a tremendous honor, as I've not held office previously in that body, nor have I yet been Exalted for a year.  I am humbled by the mere suggestion that I should hold office, let alone be elected to such.

This Saturday, the 21st of November, is the fall York Rite Festival in Des Moines, Iowa.  I will hopefully be in attendance for much of the day, dependent upon the weather.  Central Iowa is to experience its first winter storm of the year, and of course on a day I've been looking forward to for weeks.  I do hope to make it, as it will be my first chance to observe the Order of the Temple as a Sir Knight.

Plus, as an added bonus, a Brother and I plan on meeting up for a post-festival herf at one of the many cigar lounges Des Moines has to offer.  I don't make it up that way very often, but when I do, I can't help but pick up a Cain Daytona, Oliva G, or Romeo y Julietta, and some nice pipe tobacco.  Something about the antiquity of Freemasonry and a nice pipe or cigar seem to go well together.

On the note of pipes and cigars, I've been floating around the idea of a cigar shop hop.  Essentially, a group of Masons who are also cigar enthusiasts meet at a predetermined location and spend the day visiting cigar shops and lounges.  My wife does something similar with some quilting friends.  It's a great way to get together and share a common hobby.  Plus, if enough of us Brothers sign on, we could possibly arrange for discounts from participating shops.  If you live in Central Iowa and would like to show interest, please let me know in the comments below.

Moving on, work has begun on a project that I've been considering for some time.  I cannot go into much detail at this time, but will say that it looks to be a huge undertaking that will be quite rewarding if done properly.  Perhaps in the coming weeks I will be able to divulge more.  Stay tuned for more information and updates.

I've been reading a number of Masonic books lately, mostly related to Chapter and Council.  The amount of quality works written on Masonic and related esoteric topics continues to astound me.  In today's world, anyone can write a book on anything and instantly publish it.  This wasn't so in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries.  Not only did many Brothers write quality works on The Craft, but they were able to justify the no-doubt considerable cost associated with printing them.  I'm so glad that our past Bretheren had the knowledge and foresight to preserve these books for future generations.

In closing, I'd like to draw your attention to websites I've made for my Blue Lodge and York Rite Bodies.  Please excuse the extreme lag in page loading.  I'm not sure why they take so long, and I've yet to have the free time to call my webhost to troubleshoot the problem.  I welcome your feedback and suggestions for those webpages, should you have any to offer.

Until next time,

Rob Matherly
Junior Warden Elect
Jackson Lodge #42
Centerville, Iowa