Green Frog Cafe

"Living in nature, listening to the rain, Green Frog Cafe, that's where I want to be. The hemlocks are green, the creek is tricklin, there's geese on the pond, the forest sighs. Green Frog Cafe that's where I want to be, home of my soul, spirit of the mountains." Ruminations of Rhona McMahan

Saturday, April 30, 2005

This is Uncle Paul's house on Decoration Day (Memorial Day) ca 1949. It had been built in the 1850's as a country club house. It had farmland, a brick smokehouse, a housekeepers house behind the main house, a two story 6 car garage, a quonset hut, large greenhouses, a harvest shed, a barn, tennis courts, swimming pool, riding paths, picnic house, orchard, and two holly trees side by side, male and female. They are still there in 2005, although the house is gone. Uncle Paul always had a large family pot luck picnic on Decoration Days. Both the Moore's and the Christie's were there, with the Saxers from up the hill during the 1950's. We had a noon meal with grace by Uncle Orr, with everyone sitting at a long u shapped table in the garage. More than 50 people were there. I forgot to say also that the couple cooking and keeping the grounds for Uncle Paul were also there with their families.
Rhona McMahan

This is the entrance to the "Tipple" operations of the P. M. Moore Company in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania circa 1980. Aggregates were brought by the Aliquippa and Southern Railroad from the Dravo sand and gravel barges on the Ohio River. The aggregates were dumped into bins below the hopper cars, or elevated into the bins used for charging the mixers. The cement was brought in by truck and elevated into the cement silo behind the aggregate bins. Ashes from the coke operations of J&L were also brought here for sales or trucking to the ash dump in South Heights. I worked here during various summers from the time I was 16 until I was 20 or so. I worked on labor crews atop the tipple which emptied the hopper cars, using shovels and 20 foot long metal pipes inside the car. Once Dave MacKenzie, the Tipple Foreman, came to me as I went back to school in the Fall and said "well you certainly proved that you were a man this summer." I was in great shape then, and I tried my best to do better than Bill, the 40 year old Greek immigrant, Ernie the 50 year old Greek immigrant, Frank the 55 year old former steam engine threshing crew driver kind of man. Various truck drivers would work there when things were slow, but they were more for shooting the bull than actually working effectively on the Tipple. The entrance to the South Mill of J&L (LTV Steel at time of picture) is at the left. The picture is taken just after passing "through the tunnel" at the "Y" end of Franklin Avernue, main street of Aliquippa. Woodlawn had become Aliquippa, a booming steel town of the first half of the 20th Century. Aliquippa was named for Queen Aliquippa, and Iriquois Chief who was know by George Washington from one of his early surveying expeditions into Western Pennsylvania (Beaver County).
Rhona McMahan

This is a rough chronology of Uncle Paul Miller Moore's life, 1978 -1966. He grew up on a farm in New Concord, Ohio, home of Muskingum College (on the Muskingum River). He played football and was a Stag Club member at Muskingum, working his way through because his father was unable to work. He moved to Pittsburgh to seek his fortune in the steel industry, worked for B. F. Jones, came to Woodlawn to prepare the land for the Aliquippa Works of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company, founded his own builders supply business with a sweetheart arrangement with "the mill", and became a staunch civiv leader, churchman, and extended family head. He married Jesse Christy in ca. 1927, but she almost immediately contracted polio or tuberculosis, and died after only 3 or 4 years. They had no children. He never remarried, although he was a favorite with the ladies. My father Paul Martin Moore and his brother James Harvey McGeorge Moore were as his sons, and their children were as his grandchildren. The same was true for Jesse's family to an extent. My grandfather, James Russell Moore, was his dear younger brother who worked with him as a junior partner for 60 years, and who shared his sons and grandchildren with him.
Rhona McMahan

When I was in New Orleans over Spring Break this year my thoughts turned frequently to my great-uncle Paul Miller Moore, who was the head of the extended family which I will call the "Moores of Aliquippa." I have been thinking of him more because Chelsea has been studying the merovingians and the Knights Templar. Uncle Paul was the epitome of the good solid Knight Templar, and everyone in the family participated in his masonic activities to a greater or lesser extent. He was the Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of the Knights Templar in the United States ca 1961-1963??, which Chelsea tells me is somewhere between a Cardinal and a Pope in the other side's parlance (whatever that might mean).
Rhona McMahan

Friday, April 29, 2005

Here is the initial bill or materials for the Dark room. The big item is the enlarger.
Rhona McMahan

Here is the first plan for the dark room which Colin and I drew up today (April 29, 2005). The area to the right of the dark room will be storage initially until Colin gets a place to live.
Rhona McMahan

Firming Up Plans for the Darkroom

Colin came by this afternoon after lunch with Ellen at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. We discussed the details of the photographic darkroom Colin is going to build in the "shed" at the back of the garden at my house. We are going to limit the dark part of the space to the current 5 foot by 6 foot closet space already framed out. We will put in insulation and sheetrock in this space, as well as a rooftop ventilator fan. We will add counters on three of the walls of the dark room which will hold an enlarger and five 8 inch by 11 inch aluminum trays to hold chemical solutions. We will also put in a wet sink in the lighted are with windows immediately outside the dark room. Colin will build a drying rack in the area as well.

We will also insulate and add sheetrock to the walls in the rest of the shed.

Unfortunately, for the time being, we will have to store many things in the "free" area of the shed, so the photographic part will be just about half the shed rather than the whole shed. Eventually we will be able to have an area for portrait shooting which can alternatively serve as a guest space.

We will also have to put on a new roof covering this summer as leaks are appearing around the skylight in the 10 year old roll roofing.

We made up a list of items which will have to be procured. The watch word is low cost with high functionality.

Colin is very serious about this project, and I am excited about learning how to develop film. It was fun to be planning the project. There is a lot of work involved in this.

I have to go to Paddy Mountain next weekend to meet with a company which is assessing the fair market value of property in Union County. They valued my property at 43,000, and I think they are over-estimating. The lower the Fair Market Price the lower the taxes due. I will take as must stuff as possible to Paddy Mountain from the shed.

I worked in the shed moving things and performing throwout/save triage. I am exhausted. And I have papers to grade. We watched the Spider Man movie tonight. Tomorrow is Chelsea's big day at the Beltane celebration.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Chelsea's Beltane Presentation on the Da Vinci Code and the Merovignian Tradition

Chelsea has been reading voraciously for months to prepare for a presentation on "The Da Vinci Code and the Merovignian Tradition" for the big Beltane Celebration on Long Island next weekend. She first volunteered to do this at a meeting of Long Island pagans at the Scottish Rite Masonic Temple in Rockville Center back in February. All the people jumped at her suggestion, saying that it was a great idea. Some people at that first meeting thought Chelsea was Marilyn Manson.

Chelsea is quite nervous as the big date approaches. I feel as if the best thing I can do to help her is to ask the questions which occur to me on this subject. I have read the Da Vinci Code, and grew up in a masonic family, but a lot of these perspectives are new to me. I have heard of gnosticism once in a while in a lifetime of attending Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopal Churches, but neither clergy nor laiety seemed to take it seriously in the circles which I knew. I remember when the Dead Sea Scrolls were first found, and how there was a great deal of worldwide interest in them, but I never was interested in finding out why. I am not a person with a bent toward thelogical or philosophical speculation, although I have an intuitive sense of spirituality.

We were just talking about the Knights Templar at lunch. I mentioned to Chelsea that my (great) Uncle Paul, Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of the Knights Templar in the United States, was seen by my mother (who was quite close to him, she a widow, he a widower) as a sort of knight who was in the world helping widows and orphans. He had a code of moral conduct which involved being democratic and fair with all people, and helping them when he could and they were hard workers. Chelsea immediately said that she saw herself as a knight, following the code of the knights templar. I didn't say it, but in my mind I thought that I too actually had an attitude much like uncle Paul's. In fact, he has in many respects been a prime role model in my life.

As I understand it, getting back to Chelsea's talk, the Merovignian tradition places Christianity in an organic relationship with many earlier pagan traditions. The Merovignians believe that Mary, who the orthodox Christian Church calls "Magdalen", was actually the wife of Christ, and that they had a daughter. This bloodline continued through history, and through emigration, was carried by certain families such as the Stewarts of Scotland, are carried through to this day.

The da Vinci painting of the Last Supper shows the figure of a woman next to Jesus. Da Vinci was a Master of the Priory of Sion and a Merovignian. The painting is one of the codified representations of Merovigninan (ie. matriarchal) Christianity which you only see if you know what to look for. It is a part of the parallel universe of the Merovignians which most "Christians" are not even aware of, but which the "Da Vinci Code" has revealed to tens of millions of people.

Articles of faith for the orthodox Christian Church (both Roman and Eastern) such as the virgin birth of Jesus and the resurrection after crucifixion are not parts of the Merovignian and gnostic traditions.

It seems that Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of Rome as a strategic manuvre for the empire. He later called the Council of Nicea, at which the definition of the books which constitute the Christian Bible was agreed upon. Only four out of dozens of gospels were included in this "Bible". Paul, who never knew Jesus face to face in the flesh, was given a prominent representation in the Roman Christian Bible as an interpreter of the faith. The Council of Nicea took place 400 years after the death of Christ. The Nicean Creed is a codification of the basic orthodox (East and West) beliefs.

Gospels which were left out of the "Bible" were systematically denigrated and suppressed in subsequent centuries. The Roman Church in some sense can be seen as all about earthly power.

The Priory of Sion, and its related military arm the Knights Templar, came into existence at the time of the first Crusade to the Christian Holy Lands. These groups became the protectors of the bloodline family of Christ, and of the Merovignian tradition, through the ages up to the present time. The Roman Church brtually repressed the Knights Templar in the 1200's and continues to see the Masons as bitter enemies to this day of Pope Benedict the VI.

Most of the mythology (religious feasts and holidays and practices) of orthodox Christianity was lifted whole cloth from earlier "pagan" religions going back to the time of the Goddess Cybele, Mother of Life, originating in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Cybele, the great earth mother, had a son, Attis, who was a god-man in his own right, and who was eventually executed by hanging from a tree.

The Merovignian tradition follows the Cybeline and other traditions of matriarchy, rather than the orthodox Christian tradition of patriarchy. The Holy Mother as the origin of life is a tradition which draws more and more people in the 21st Century.

The above is beginning to make sense to me, but probably is very incoherent to others at this stage.

The Knights Templar were brutally repressed by the Roman Church in the 13th Century, but have continued to exist up to the present time as a secret society, understood by the general public as the equivalent of the Elks, Moose, Raccoon and Oddfellows Clubs.

Friday, April 15, 2005

A Day From Hell

Yesterday was your basic high stress day from hell.

It started off with the pressure of going to the bank at 6:00AM to get the final $300 to pay for the dumpster to be delivered later on during the day. Then there was the effort to block off a space in front of the house where the dumpster would go. Then there was the stress of arguing with Chelsea, and Sadaisha, about receiving the dumpster, paying for the dumpster, and loading it with what I wanted in it rather than what Sadaisha wanted in it. Sadaisha and Chelsea had a fight before I left for work at 7:00AM.

On the way to work the car stopped dead in East New York. I opened the hood and found that a wire to the coil had broken off. The only tool I had in the car was a small vicegrip plier. I was able to get the insulation off the wire with this and wind it around the terminal on the coil. Of course I dropped the terminal into the black deep reaches of the engine before I realized that the terminal was the only way to attach the wire. Fortunately I was able to find it and fish it out. Then I discovered that the large wiring harness was solely supported by the wire to the coil which had broken. I jerry rigged a support to release the pressure on the coil wire by using some electrical tape I found which had been left on the hood support for who knows how long by who knows whom. The car fired up, and I resumed travel to Hofstra with grease enccased hands and stains on my shirt.

I stopped at a parts store and bought wire and a wire stripper, with which I improved my temporary fix, and went on to Hofstra without incident, except that now the traffic was slow. I didn't get to Hofstra until 9:00AM, later by 45 minutes to an hour than usual.

Part of my tension was that I had to prepare an extensive geography test for my European Business class, prepare other handouts for the other two classes, and confirm new classrooms for units of simulation on the French referendum on the European Constitution, and for another class, the OPEC negotiation simulation. I also had to prepare the handouts for an in-classroom simulation of exporter/distributor negotiations over a distribution contract in a third class. I kept telling myself to avoid lashing out at the students because of my stress. As the day wore on I was able to accomplish everything by working as if possessed every second up until the end of the class day at 6:00PM.

I went to a meeting of the Gay Club focused on "God and Gays," featuring a speaker from the First Presbyterian Church of Manhattan. This is the church in which Sara Zug and I were married in 1979. The students attending were so intelligent that it was enjoyable to be there. In addition, my own intervention in the middle of the meeting sparked up a lot of energy. I stated my position that the liberal church has to pull up its skirts and split from the conservative wings of their congregations or else nothing will ever be accomplished. Everyone seemed to find this a good idea.

One of the students present mentioned that she is going to speak on polyamory at the national convention of the Unitarian Church next summer. This confirmed my understanding that the cutting edge of queer people today is polyamory, while the society is back in the old issues of accepting gay ministers and allowing gay marriages.

I felt uplifted as I drove home at 8:30PM after the nice religious discussion.

I got home to find the dumpster half full, and Chgelsea still carrying out blocks of hardened concrete which we had not used when we poured the new floor of the shed in 2002. I changed clothes and started to carry out concrete also, although I did feel some pain on my right side which told me that it was not a great idea to carry hardened bags of concrete. Fortunately there were only a few bags left. About one-third of the loose gravel had also been loaded into the dumpster, which was good. I was a bit angry that everyone had ignored my instructions that only gravel and concrete should be put in the dumpster until it was all loaded, and then wooden things could go in. Oh well, I was just the one paying for it all.

So the day ended without a stroke or heart attack, and all things on the agends had been accomplished. Not so bad after all.

Chelsea was exhausted but buzzed by all the adrenalin from physical labor. She is getting too old for this sort of thing too. I greatly appreciated her efforts and her loyalty.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Chelsea fixing to play a piano selection for Amanda and Caleb during a visit to Rusty and Chelsea in early March, 2005.
Rhona McMahan

Caleb waves hello to the cameraperson during a visit to Rusty and Chelsea in March 2005.
Rhona McMahan

Amanda jollies up Calbel during a visit to Rusty and Chelsea in March, 2005.
Rhona McMahan

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Reflections on Visiting Tulaneville

I am back from six days in New Orleans, staying in the house of Colin and George. The experience was enjoyable and interesting, underlayed with a sense of anger, depression and foreboding. The good news is that I finally have a sense that I know where Colin stands academically for the first time in the last four years. He even showed me his DAR. The bottom line is that a Tulane degree will take another full year and US$40,000, to say nothing of reasonable personal discipline and responsibility. As usual, Colin will do it when Colin is good and ready to do it. I am glad that he has the personal resources in all respects to get it done.

Colin's circle is very different from that which I experienced in college 40 years ago. They seem to get up between 12:00 and 2:00PM, going to class in the afternoon, then playing games until 2:00 to 4:00AM. The "games" include lots of electronic pastimes. Then there are "daiquiri" Mondays and Wednesday's. Thursday night is the big blow-off. Books and study seem to be worked in around the social schedule.

I will admit that my friends in college thought of me as a nerd, but my basic plan was to study every day, and to spend as much time as possible in a quiet place for study (Westminster House) or in the library. I did have a crisis in my senior year when faced with a "huge" senior honors paper, after I discovered the leisure reading room in the library with the big comfortable chairs. I read novel after novel during the day, usually focused on Russia (things like "Quiet Flows the Don") . I told myself that they related to my honors paper on "Soviet Management." Even so, I was able to make it through. Of course I was also married at the time, so my home life was quiet. We had no TV's, computers, cell phones, or portable music devices, but we did have a high end stero system which I had built on which we listened to classical and folk music.

I enjoyed spending time with all of the people who came in and out from Colin's social group. I am glad that he has friends, and that the memory of these friendships will always be a part of his life.

I am slightly sad now to be back at home facing six weeks of paper grading pressure intermixed with medical procedures leading up to my next operation. I loved the mornings in New Orleans when I would get up between 6:00 and 7:00AM and steal quietly off to the Starbucks on Maple Street, where I would sit for three hours reading Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel." Reading this book was a fine feature of my vacation, and a stimulating, even useful, thing to do. It is lovely to walk through the late March streets of New Orleans near Tulane, with the night chill burning off, the trees green and budding, and the birds twittering. It is tempting to think of living in New Orleans.

I only went to the Quarter once, on Thursday morning, to have breakfast at the Clover Grill at Bourbon and Dumaine. I love the Clover Grill, which is just a 24 hour informal grill, but the grits are wonderful there, and the basic American breakfast is my favorite meal. The personnel at the Clover Grill are queer. Chelsea and I always go there, and the two of us together usually get a response, which I must admit that I like.

After the Clover Grill I went to the House of Marie Laveau to get a remembrance for Chelsea (a Marie Laveau poster and some candles). One of Chelsea's best original songs is about Marie Laveau. Then I popped into the Famous Door bar as I walked back to the St. Charles Street car. I was the first customer of the day. I bought some Camels and sipped a couple of Jack Daniels on the rocks as I listened to Bonnie Rait covers before heading home. I don't miss the Quarter much when I am around Tulane. It is nice to see the side of New Orleans which is not part of the tourist business. Of course Tulane is a part of the "export base" of New Orleans just as much as the tourist business.

What they need in New Orleans is a good harbor tour like they have in Rotterdam. Without the port you really do not see the basis of New Orelans as a City. They should stress the river and foreign commerce angle of their economy in addition of the music and food, and booze. New Orleans is still one of the top five ports in the US, a giant in steel, grain, and oil. I love to be in the middle of port operations, it makes me feel a part of the pulse of the global economy and of history.

Colin and I made two shopping forays to Whole Foods, on one of which I bought some bottles of Sambazon acai smoothies to try them out. They sold for $3.49 each, competing with Odwalla for $2.49. I am writing a case about Sambazon and sustainable development. I love Whole Foods. We bought cheeses, wines, veggies, lamb sausage, breads, and lots of other stuff. My total Whole Foods bill for the two trips came to around $300, but Colin seemed to be low on rations when I got there. It is fun to go shopping with Colin.

Most evening we just stayed home, Colin would cook something up, we would watch TV and talk, and watch TV. A fun thing was to work together doing Colin's taxes. We always get along best when we are focused on doing something. I was glad to do taxes with him because next year he will be more ready to do them himself. Another evening we graded some take-home exams. Colin steeled my resolve to be a hard grader, which is good.

The several visits I have made to Colin's have made me aware of how today's college student is almost attached physically to a cell phone and a laptop (and a cigarette??). Laptops are used to provide information, communicate with professors, and play music.

My depression in New Orleans came from concern over Colin's immediate past and immediate future. The least important part of his college experience seems to be the academic side. He has the social down, but the fact of having a sophisticated university community right there, with all the opportunities for hearing speakers, visiting galleries and performances, taking great courses, and learning, does not seem of interest to Colin and his friends.

I hope Colin gets into some practical activity soon. Academia is not for him, and never has been. He seems to me to need immersion in something which is totally engaging of his mind, body, and senses. Will goat farming do it? Will photography do it?

As I left New Orleans I was aware of how quickly life flies past. These periods with Colin last year in Brazil and this year in New Orleans during my Spring break have been so enjoyable to me, and I treasure the memory of them.

Good news awaited me when I got home. My house was still standing, although shaken by the construction next door. Musa had moved out, hooray, hooray, and Sadaisha is also moving out in May (I Hope, I Hope). This wil mean that only two people are left for me to support.

My thoughts revolved around retirement and Paddy Mountain while I was in New Orleans. I made financial calculations to try to project what my possibilities would be. I still want to move to Paddy Mountain. I am considering full retirement or half time retirement from Hofstra. The half time would mean that I would need a place to stay in New York for about four months per year, but it would give me coverage for medical insurance. It works out that half time retirement would only mean a difference of $1700 per month, some of which would be accounted for by extra living expenses in New York or Long Island. I had originally planned to rent most of my house during retirement, but I now think that renting would be difficult because of the state of the plumbing and electrical systems in the house. Renovation is a doubtful propositions since the value of the house is essentially for the land. The house would be razed and a larger building of condominiums would be built here upon sale to the highest bidder.

I listed all the many things I could do at Paddy Mountain to make money during retirement (adjunct teaching, free lance market research, on-line book/antiques marketing, rabbits for meat or pets, summer produce gardening and canning, antique restoration, bed and breakfast, deep woods honky-tonk shows, dog breeding/boarding, textbook writing, academic advisement at Bucknell/Penn State, etc). I would have a base of $2,000 per month from SS, plus $1500 from my pension, and living costs would be much cheaper. I am thinking that the time to break with New York may be at hand. I have made many life changing decisions in my life, so I do not shrink too much from the big retirement strategy decision. Of one thing I am clear: full time teaching at Hofstra is probably a negative for my spirit at this stage in my life. The money is nice, but getting the money by teaching relatively dull uninterested people is not good for me. 29 years is enough. Especially when my health situation is possibly indicating that I need to break now if I am ever to have just a year or two in the country.

I hate losing my physical and mental capabilities.

The right path will reveal itself when the time comes.