Wednesday, November 28, 2007


“And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him:  And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.” (Mark 14:51-52)

Yes, those are some of the most bizarre verses in the New Testament.  I think they’re appropriate, however, for this piece which I call “Snipets”.  I’m not even sure how to spell “Snipets”.  Is it “Snipets” or is in “Snippets”?  Well, I’ll spell it “Snipets”.  I will probably feel quite “naked” and vulnerable in writing this piece, hence the Scripture heading!

There was an all instrumental song played on synthesizer which made it onto the pop charts somewhere around 1973 or 1974 called “Snipets”.  As I write, that song is “playing in my head”.  I’m gong to be “wicked busy” over the next few days and may not get a chance to post on this blog for awhile, so I wanted to write SOMETHING today.  I wonder if newspaper columnists go through what I’m going through today.  In my head, I’ve got VERY rough outlines and ideas for six possible blog postings, but all need to be thoroughly developed and I don’t have the time, so I’m going to just give you “snipets” of all six of them!

1.  A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS.  I watched that last night for the “umpteenth” time.  I expected to be bored with it, but I wasn’t.  I loved it.  It was almost as if I’d never seen it before.  “A Charlie Brown Christmas” is really NOT a “children’s special”.  It’s really for adults.  The beginning. and in fact much of it, is very melancholy.  Yet, the Christmas story from Luke is read and the true Christmas story comes through despite the materialism and foolishness.  Those who know me know I really don’t like Christmas very much.  Oh, I LOVE singing Christmas carols.  And I love Christmas candy, especially milk chocolate bells.  But all the pressure?  And all the materialism?  And all the trying to out do each other?  December is a month I’s not even December yet, but it feels like it.  So, I liked “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.

2.  21 BAGS OF LEAVES IN THE WALL.... Or is is 21 bottles of beer in the wall?  I learned that “bottles of beer” song in early elementary school.  My parents didn’t appreciate it when I sang it on one of our trips to Cape Cod!  Well, it’s not “in the wall” but it IS 21 bags of leaves.  I have raked up 21 big bags full of leaves from my yard this year....and yet, my yard is still covered with leaves.  I raked 7 of the 21 bags yesterday.  All that work, all that sweat, all that time, and the yard is still covered with leaves.  This is kind of a big deal because our yard is no more than a quarter of an acre.  There are three outdoor work seasons of the year:  winter snow shoveling, summer lawn mowing, and fall leaf raking.  I definitely like fall leaf raking the least.

3.  TRUTH OR DARE?  You know what question guys hate?  It’s when a woman asks, “Does this dress make me look fat?”  How do you answer that one?  I am sometimes a pretty lonely and isolated guy.  The reason is I speak the truth.  If a meal is lousy, I’ll say, “the meal was lousy”.  It a guy’s lawn looks bad, I’ll tell him, “your lawn looks bad”.  If someone serves me a food that I hate, I’ll say, “I’m sorry, but I think if I eat this I’ll throw up.”  It goes on and on.  If someone asks me, “What do you think of the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion?”, or the Mormons, or some other religion, I tell them.  I’ve discovered people absolutely do not want to be told the truth.  They also do not want to be lied to.  For a very verbal guy like me, well, it’s just a dilemma.

4.  PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARIES.  I’ve been a “political junkie” from way back.  I must admit to being much less excited than usual about the 2008 Presidential race.  I think having the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3 and the New Hampshire Primary on Jan. 8 is ridiculous!  “Political pundits” say the nominees will be picked by Feb. 15, but we don’t have the conventions until July and August.  This whole thing is out of hand and its ridiculous!

5.  CHRISTMAS WISHES.  I know this will sound like I’m contradicting what I wrote about above but I do have some Christmas wishes.  I (or I guess I should say “we” for my wife and I) sponsor a girl in Haiti.  She’s now around 14.  I feel kind of bad because they give sponsors a chance to send money for a Christmas gift and it had to be in to the agency no later than Oct. 31 and I did not make the deadline.  I’m also several months behind in my sponsorship. Well, I’ve actually sent money for the past few months, but I fell behind over a year ago, and I’m still trying to catch up.  I’d love to be able to somehow catch that up.  On a selfish note, we need a new electric can opener at home.  Ours died over a year ago.  I have about 32 other Christmas wishes.  Some are altruistic.  Some are very selfish....

6.  CAR PROBLEMS.  They used to call Volkswagens “Hitler’s Revenge”.  Overall, Volkswagens are usually pretty good cars. When my parents died in the summer of 2000 (within a few weeks of each other) I inherited their 1989 Volkswagen Golf.  At that time it had 18,000 true miles on it.  It now has 73,000.  Three weeks ago, I lost my stoplights.  I had to have that problem repaired and it ended up being a semi-nightmare which is much too much to talk about.  Last week, I had a dead battery, so the car had to go into the shop and $165 later I had a new battery.  Last Saturday, something weird happened with the car’s ignition switch.  It would take WAY too long to talk about it, but until I can get the ignition switch fixed, I have to leave a key in the ignition at all times, and then lock the car with another key.  It’s awful.  AND, my exhaust system is shot.  I have November state inspection, so I have to have the exhaust system work done and get a sticker.  Should I keep this car or should I not keep it? 

Well there you have my snipets!

Monday, November 26, 2007


“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: “ (James 1:19)

This past Sunday as I was preaching from Daniel chapter 6, I spent at least five minutes on a diversion speaking about PROTOCOL. I realized Sunday that protocol is SUCH a big thing to me, I almost should give a whole topical sermon on the subject, and I don’t usually give topical sermons. (I usually give expository sermons, but that’s a matter for another day.) No matter how strongly I try to express myself in this piece, it won’t be strong enough, for that’s how important I think the matter of protocol is. I am appalled that most Christians and church members have NO IDEA how protocol is supposed to “work” in a church. I’m also appalled that most people in general have NO IDEA how protocol is supposed to work in life, itself. I feel so strongly about this that I’m halfway thinking about writing a book entitled, “Protocol” and devoting
at least a hundred non-fiction pages to the subject. The problem is, it’s
(sadly) unlikely anybody would publish it!

I looked up “protocol” in the dictionary. It is best defined as “rules of
etiquette and diplomacy”. The word “protocol” comes from the French word “prorocole” which is from the Latin “protocollum” which literally means, “the first leaf”.

I, Bob Baril, would best define “protocol” as “the right way to do things;
the classy way to do things; the way a classy, gracious, and mature person conducts himself or herself in life’s situations”.

Here are a few rules of protocol that you should follow in church (especially in a “Bible-Believing Church” such as an Assemblies of God church or other evangelical congregation):

1. Men should always pray with men and women with women. This just plain prevents a lot of inappropriate emotional contacts and situations. When a woman rushes over to lay hands on a man and pray or vice-versa, well, that’s always  “red flag” to me.

2. There are no “assigned seats” in a church. A whole episode of the
animated sit-com “King of the Hill” made that point a couple of years ago. Don’t insist on sitting in “your seat”. Don’t be rude if someone else happens to sit in what you perceive to be “your seat”.

3. If you have an issue with someone in the church, DON’T say something in public to that person, such as, “You SINNED AGAINST me, but I FORGIVE YOU!” Make sure you keep conversations like that PRIVATE. Keeping matters such as that private helps prevent a lot of embarrassment and confusion.

4. If you have “issues” with the church or the pastor, then make an
appointment to speak to the pastor or to the Board. Don’t leave a “hit and run” letter on the pastor’s desk. Even worse, don’t send the pastor a “hit and run” e-mail and don’t leave the pastor a “hit and run” message on his voice mail. (As you can probably tell, yes, all of that stuff has been done to me over the years.)

5. Don’t hold grudges. Be quick to forgive. God was quick to forgive

And, here are some rules of protocol to use in society in general:

1. Try not to drive too fast or too slow. Do the speed limit. Of course,
if the other cars are about to run you off the road, you will need to speed up!

2. Dress appropriately. I’ve found that the younger people are, the worse
they dress, but even some senior citizens really don’t know how to dress.
When you’re out doing yard work, you won’t want to wear a tuxedo! But on the other hand, in the business world, be clean and modest in your appearance, and dress a little nicer than you’re used to. I take a lot of teasing because unless it’s over 85 degrees outside, I wear a necktie and dress shirt when I do ministry work. I don’t let slobs set my standards of dress- I dress nice.

3. Be helpful. Don’t be meddlesome, or condescending, or a nuisance, but DO be ready to lend a hand when needed.

4. Be on time for meetings, or slightly early for meetings. If you’re
chronically early (30 minutes or more before the start of the meeting) or if you’re chronically late (30 minutes or more after the start of a meeting) you’ll just cause a lot of confusion and embarrassment.

5. Never telephone anyone before 9 a.m. and never telephone anyone after 9 p.m. unless it’s a matter of life and death. Regarding cell phones, DON’T be on your cell phone all the time. People who are always on their cellphones tend to be inattentive and rude.

6. Don’t yawn in public. Just don’t. There ARE ways to disguise and
minimize yawns. Yawning is very contagiousAND when you’re speaking and everybody’s yawning, trust me, that’s not fun. (And, for my critics out there, NO I’m not boring!). If you must attend a late meeting and you’re exhausted, drink lots of caffeine. I know, you’ll be up all night, but that’s better than yawning through a meeting.

Trust me, if you put these rules of protocol into practice you’ll be glad you did!


“But when the fulness of the time was come...” (Galatians 4:4)

On Saturday night, I attended my 35th year high school reunion.  Even as I write that line, it seems surreal.  It SEEMED like I would always be young;  I certainly could NEVER imagine being over 50- yet, here I am!  It’s quite an experience to see the “kids” you went to high school (and in many cases, elementary school) with- as a bunch of 53-year-olds!  (Well, yeah, a few are 54 and a few are 52).

I went to my 5 year reunion, but then I didn’t attend any reunions until the 25th.  It had seemed that Canton High School was so long ago that all those memories and THAT Bob Baril should just be locked in a historical vault in some dimension between time and space.  In 1997, though, it just seemed right to go to my 25th reunion, and it was.  THAT reunion was held in a spacious “function room” kind of facility in Canton.  I thought it was kind of a classy event.  It was neat to talk to Rick B. who’d been in my homeroom from 7th through 12th grade.  He had become an F.B.I. Agent, living in the D.C. area.  A girl I’d “liked” in the 6th Grade was married and had twins.  The “cool” kids seemed less cool, and the nerds seemed a lot cooler.  The saddest part of THAT reunion was learning of those who had died.  I found out that Katie N. who was probably the nicest, sweetest person in our class had been murdered on the west coast by a deranged ex-boyfriend.  My best friend in 6th grade had died of A.I.D.S.  The co-captain of the football team had hung himself in a jail cell.

Saturday night it struck me how much OLDER 53-year-olds look in comparison to 43-year-olds!  Well, in all fairness, a few people, particularly females, looked fabulous.  One woman looked 35, several others looked 40.  I don’t know if they’ve had plastic surgery or what!  Most looked 50-ish, and a few could have passed for 70!  THIS reunion was held in a small and crowded bar & grille.  I was surprised at the venue.  It WAS loud and crowded.  I liked the 1997 venue much better.  It was still good to see the old classmates.  Glenn T. had been a fairly popular and very athletic kid.  He suffered a spinal cord injury seventeen years ago which has left him paralyzed from the waist down.  Glenn has been very active in the cause of reaching out to and encouraging those who have suffered spinal cord injuries.  Still athletic, he’s played wheelchair ice hockey!  I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing!  Glenn has become a very inspirational guy.  I was very impressed by his positive spirit and contagious enthusiasm. 

Most of my peers have grown children (like me) and many are grandparents (not yet for me!).  Some are the parents of preschoolers.  I’m glad my youngest is 21!
The F.B.I. agent was not present, and I did not see the girl I liked in 6th grade.  I DID see Danny F. who used to sit near me in junior high school.  I had not seen nor heard anything of him since our graduation.  Danny says I “gave him the answers” to a lot of stuff in junior high.  I don’t remember that, but I probably did. 

People do a lot of drinking at reunions.  I didn’t see anybody who was too drunk or anything like that, but one woman (I COULDN’T see her name tag) made it a point to tell me how “smart, classy, and sweet” I was in school.  That blew me away.  I really WASN’T all that smart in school!  I wondered if she’d had too much to drink, but maybe not!  I wasn’t real confident around girls in high school, but if I’d have known stuff like that, well, maybe I would have been!

Ten years went by like nothing.  That ten years seemed like one.  Come to think of it, the 35 years seem more like 5!  My father used to ask, “Where does the time go?”  I wonder that, myself!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


“No man can serve two masters:  for either he will hate the one and love the other;  or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.  Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

I realize my last posting was mostly happy, cheery, reflective, and focusing on the joys of Thanksgiving week.  This one will seem like the exact opposite- and in a way, it is.  Since posting that, I received an e-mail from a very close friend of mine who lives in the Midwest.  I don’t want to use his real name so I’ll call him “Nate”.  Nate is in his late fifties.  He is struggling with a lot of the kind of issues people in their late fifties struggle with.  He has some health issues. Right now he’s on leave from his job due to his health.  When he is working regularly, he has a number of frustrations and problems on his job.  He has a daughter in high school and a daughter in college, and like most good parents, he worries about them.  He has a very bright and successful wife.  He’s very proud of her, but I think sometimes her success has made him feel inferior.  Nate’s greatest concern, however, is his elderly parents who live several hundred miles from him.

In order to cover all the issues regarding his parents, I’d really have to write three long blog postings.  In Nate’s e-mail that I received yesterday, he wrote about his parents’ problem of HOARDING.  This is at least the 5th time Nate has written about that issue.  Nate’s parents’ house is filled with wall to wall junk.  Nate and his brother are depressed, frustrated, and embarrassed about this.  Nate’s Mom was taken ill some months ago and the ambulance crew had a terrible time trying to get her out of the house with all of the junk.

I very much empathize with Nate.  My own parents were exactly the same way.  In fact, the problem of elderly people and their homes filled with junk was actually discussed a few weeks ago on Boston’s popular affairs show, “Greater Boston”.  I actually e-mailed the show’s host (or is it “hostess”?) Emily Rooney about what my sister and I went through.  My parents each died in the summer of 2000.  Much of their Canton home was filled with wall to wall stuff, and the house was in disrepair.  My sister has officially bought the house and made it her home.  Over the seven years, we’ve worked piecemeal at clearing out the (mostly) junk.  There were three rooms that were ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO ENTER the day my mother died in August of 2000.   They were just FILLED with anything and everything you could possibly think of.  The cellar was not quite as bad but was about half filled with junk.  The house was built in 1958.  In 1971, my father had a separate two-car garage with a full-sized room built on the property, and he proceeded to begin filling IT up with junk.  Back in the early 1960s when my parents were around 40 and the hoarding was in its early stages, at least you could navigate your way around the place and it didn’t look horrible, but the problem was that EVERY year for almost forty years, lots and lots of stuff was added, and very little was disposed of. 

Today, two-thirds of the stuff that was at my parents’ house in 2000 is’s either been sold, given away, thrown out, or in some cases, I’ve taken a few items I wanted.  After seven years, there is still another third to go.  Realistically, it will take another 2-3 years to finish the job.  My sister has also done a number of repairs and improvements to the house.

Some of the members of my own household tend to be pack rats, so that’s created a tension of its own, but I’m determined to never let things get the way they did in Canton!  Out there in the Midwest, Nate and his brother are STRESSED!  Their parents are around 80.  Within a few years, they will either be dead or in nursing homes.  They will have the immense burden of cleaning and clearing out the house.  As I said, I can empathize.

Today, I gave Nate the above verse.... the one about “you cannot serve God and mammon”.  Mammon is essentially MATERIALISTIC JUNK.  Hoarding (to the degree that my parents, and Nate’s parents, and a retired Professor who used to attend our church hoarded) is truly a SPIRITUAL PROBLEM.  That junk becomes an idol...a god.  (And, BOY, what a LOUSY God!!)  Leaving a place full of junk for someone else to clean out is, well, A SIN!

I drive my immediate family crazy because I’m a  “thrower outer”.  I usually don’t save sentimental items.  I really don’t have a lot of photos of me from before 1980, because I threw a lot of them out.  I don’t have a lot of stuff (other than school yearbooks) from before 1980 because I threw it out.  I am kind of extreme about throwing stuff out, and so is my sister.  When you hear our story, I think you can understand WHY.

The bumper sticker says, “He who dies with the most toys WINS.”  For MANY reasons I do not believe that.  Now, please don’t misunderstand- I don’t aspire to poverty.  Frankly, I like to eat well.  I like to eat in nice restaurants.  I enjoy comfortable furniture.  I like my personal library.  As minister’s libraries go, it’s actually SMALL.  I could probably fit all of it in 10 large cardboard boxes.  I do like to have a few nice suits, a few casual shirts, a few pairs of jeans, and a few pairs of shoes and sneakers.   I would like to be able to travel all over North America and not worry about the expenses.  BUT as far as owning all kinds of real estate and all kinds of junk beyond what I’ve just written about...I have NO desire to.  This may sound crazy, but there is a tremendous freedom in not being attached to stuff.

If you have a house full of junk and you REALLY want to FIX that problem (and I hope you do), there IS a way to do it.  My sister and I learned, IT TAKES TIME.  Picture an extra-large green trash bag (the 39-ounce kind).  You HAVE to get rid of the equivalent of at least one extra-large green trash bag worth of stuff EVERY week....ABOVE AND BEYOND YOUR REGULAR TRASH.  You have to do that “like clockwork”.  Now, in Canton, (admittedly) there were weeks that we got rid of the equivalent of TEN of those trash bags of stuff a week, but then we might not have done anything for a few weeks.  Anyway, over the 7 years, we have gotten rid of the equivalent of over 350 extra-large green trash bags full of stuff.  In the early days, it was SO discouraging.  We’d work at it and work at it, and it would look like we did nothing.  TODAY, seven years later, we can really see the difference and there is a tremendous sense of accomplishment.

As far as the stuff you DO keep permanently, “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” is a great motto, but that’s a topic for another posting.

If this piece made you feel uncomfortable, GOOD!  If Nate’s parents and my parents had recognized their hoarding problems decades ago and done something about it, it would have saved lots of stress and heartache for their children

Monday, November 19, 2007


“Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every thing give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

This is a nice week.

True, I don’t like the bitter cold and snow and ice that’s inevitably coming- RELATIVELY SOON.  I’m not even real fond of the Christmas season.  Celebrating Jesus’ birth and singing Christmas carols is actually very nice, but all the rat race, buying presents, and spending too much money, is not appealing.

But, THANKSGIVING is a great holiday!  Thanksgiving is one of my favorites.
Often I’ll attend the Marian High School football game with one of my young adult kids.  By the end, I’m often frozen and craving hot coffee, but it’s just a nice American tradition.  Then it’s the turkey dinner.  For those of you who think I’m one of those guys who does nothing in the kitchen, I’ll have you know that 75% of the time, I’m the cook in the family.  But my wife Mary Ann prefers to make the Thanksgiving dinner and she does a great job.  I’m one of those weird people who loves dark meat so I get quite a bit of the turkey all to myself.  I’m also a big stuffing person.  Sometimes we make traditional bread stuffings.  Other times, we make the Baril family French Canadian meat stuffing which was my paternal grandmother’s recipe.  It’s pretty much 50% regular bread stuffing and the other 50% is a mixture of ground sirloin and mild sausage meat, celery, and sometimes even a touch of mashed potatoes.  Mixed all together, and cooked inside the turkey, the stuffing is the best part of the meal!  

Thanksgiving is not just a day to “pig out” and watch football, however.  It’s a season of thanking God for his many blessings.  With all of our country’s faults, it’s still the greatest country in the world, and we are so privileged to live here.  Each year I take part in the Framingham Community Thanksgiving Service.  It’s always on the Tuesday night of Thanksgiving week. This year’s is at Temple Beth Am on Pleasant Street/Route 30.  Joining together for a service of thankgiving with people of many and varied backgrounds is a very meaningful experience.

I usually take the Friday after Thanksgiving off.  I may well do some “church work” on Friday afternoon and evening, but it will be nice to lay around the house on Friday morning.

Saturday night, I’ll be attending my 35th high school reunion in Canton.  The last one was the 25th ten years ago.  It will be interesting to see all of us as 53 and 54-year-olds.  It seems like only yesterday we were graduating from high school...just days before the famous Watergate break-in.  I’m the only “clergy person” in my graduating class.  Last time I was invited to read the names of those who had passed away since the previous reunion and to open in prayer.  In high school, I’d have NEVER been giving any kind of an address before the entire student body so that was quite an honor.

Well, have I bored you to tears?  I hope not!
This is a nice week.  I hope you will be able to enjoy it!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Check out Michelle McElroy's thought-provoking piece (and the Comment I've posted) at
and let me know what you think!


“...The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much...” (from James 5:16)

Yesterday afternoon I returned from the 16th Annual Vision New England Pastors’ Prayer Summit which was held at Pilgrim Pines Conference Center in W. Swanzey, NH (just south of Keene, NH).  It’s hard to describe what a “prayer summit” is. I usually tell people it’s a “prayer retreat” and it IS, but it’s really much more than that.  If you’re not someone who’s a “born-again Christian” and really “plugged in” to God, much of what I could write in this entry would sound at best foolish and misguided and at worst insane.  But the fact is, we worship and seek God with all our hearts at these prayer summits...WAY beyond “playing church” or “religious rituals”.  They are very special times and they are supernatural times.

I have not attend all of the New England Pastors’ Prayer Summits.  This was my 9th.  I have attended sporadically since my first in 1994.  In those days, more attended.  Time was when there would be almost 80 pastors present.  This year, there were 41 registered, BUT in the ‘90s, there was only one New England Summit.  There is now a Connecticut Prayer Summit, a Rhode Island Prayer Summit, and a Boston Prayer Summit.  Many pastors who attend the “regional summits” no longer attend the November New England Summits.  Another change is that Women pastors have been invited to attend for the past few years...originally, they were “guys only” events.  Everything that happens at the Prayer Summit is confidential.  This is because the Prayer Summit is a “safe place” where pastors can “let their hair down” and share what they’re going through in their churches, struggles they’re having, etc.  I will say that I was completely exhausted, frustrated, and kind of depressed when I left for the Summit on Monday morning.  I pride myself in being very organized.  I left my church work and other commitments in a total mess.  I knew when I got back, it would mean a very busy and very hectic Friday and Saturday, and I’m into that right now, and no, THAT part of it...coming back to mountains of stuff to not fun....BUT I am glad I attended the Summit.  There was an unusually strong sense of God’s presence and blessing at this year’s event.  I will not go into detail here, but God also placed a special and new calling on my life.  He spoke it into my heart first, NOT audibly, but as Elijah the prophet wrote, with His “still small voice” deep in my spirit.  Later, a person laid hands on me and prayed and prophesied WHAT GOD HAD ALREADY TOLD ME.  I had told NO ONE about it- therefore I knew this was confirmation from God.  Am I going to tell you what God said?  Nope, but trust me, it was good.

I believe there was only one other AG credential holder there this year.  To any of my Assemblies of God pastor friends who are reading this, you ought to consider attending next year’s Prayer Summit which will be held on the week before Thanksgiving in ‘08.  If you’d like more information, please let me know.

Now to that mountain of stuff I’ve got to attend to...

Friday, November 9, 2007


“Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs?  so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”  (James 3:12)

You’ve heard this one, haven’t you?  :
“Buy the STORE BRAND.  It MAKES NO DIFFERENCE.  The quality is JUST AS GOOD as the name brands.”
After yesterday, I’m rethinking that one!

Yesterday was not one of my better days.  On a 0-10 scale for stress, with a 10 being very high, much of yesterday was at an 8 or a 9.  It ended up I was the only one home for supper.  This may sound stupid, but one of my favorite suppers is a poor man’s delight: macaroni and cheese.  I like HOMEMADE macaroni and cheese.  The very best is made with cheddar cheese.  Sharp cheddar is ideal, but even mild cheddar is pretty good.   My son Jon also loves macaroni and cheese.  I decided to make a big casserole of homemade macaroni and cheese.  I’d have a great, delicious supper which would help me forget the stresses of the day, and I’d feel good about the meal I’d made.  AND, when Jon got home late, he’d have some homemade macaroni and cheese to heat up.

Last Saturday I picked up a family size package of shredded white cheddar cheese at Market Basket in Ashland.  It was the store brand...the “Market Basket” brand.  When I make homemade mac and cheese I first cook the macaroni in a pot on boiling water on the stovetop, AND, in a separate smaller pot,  I heat up a mixture of LOT of cheese, some milk, some margarine, a bit of flour, and a little milk. There’s a certain consistency that the cheese mixture develops, and I was very puzzled because it did NOT have that consistency at all! The cheese was THICK and STRINGY.  It also did not really taste like cheddar.  It was mild...very mild.... almost like chewing gum with no flavor.  I looked at the package.  Yup, it was definitely labeled “Cheddar Cheese”.  And, it looked like shredded cheddar...well, it kind of did.  Oh well, I thought I must just be acting weird and that everything had to be fine.  I mixed all the “casserole” together, sprinkled on some bread crumbs, and baked it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

I sat down to watch T.V. with a big plate of macaroni and cheese. I’m kind of proud of my macaroni and cheese. And, in some of life’s saddest moments I’ve taken a mouthful of delicious macaroni smothered in flavorful, melted cheddar cheese, and, well, all was right with the world again.  As I watched that “intellectually stimulating” sitcom known as “Malcolm in the Middle” I took a big bite of my supper.  In the words of radio shock jock Don Imus, “It was AWFUL!”  It tasted like bland macaroni and flavorless warm chewing gum.  I ate a big plateful, and I felt like I’d eaten a tub of lead.  No cheddar flavor, no pleasant dining sensation.  Nothing.

I may not be the “sharpest tool in the shed” but I realized what had happened.  The bag said “cheddar cheese”.  The stuff kind of  looked like cheddar cheese.  It wasn’t.  It was mozzarella!  Now, melted mozzarella cheese mixed with tomato sauce, pizza crust, and Italian spices is not bad.  Mozzarella sticks in restaurants are not bad.  Mozzarella cheese in baked macaroni, however, is, well, AWFUL!

I ended up taking Alka-Seltzer!

This may sound like no big deal to you, but imagine you open a can of what you think is drink a gulp of it, and it’s SPRITE.  Or, you drink a gulp of it and it’s Minute Maid Lemonade.  Wouldn’t that bug you?  It kind of reminds me of the time my daughter Rachel (at about age 9) took a bite of what she thought was mint chocolate chip ice cream in a restaurant.  It was Pistachio!  She gagged and spit it up all over the table.  (She’s 21 now and will kill me when she reads this!)

I’m certainly not anything like that woman who sued McDonald’s for millions of dollars over spilled hot coffee, but speaking tongue-in-cheek, the thought of suing Market Basket over this is emotionally satisfying!  If this was a restaurant meal I would have asked for my money back.  If I was Chef Gordon Ramsay, I’d have thrown my plate of food on the floor!

When he got home, my son ate a plate of the supper.  He agreed it was mozzarella, but said it really didn’t bother him that much.

Do you notice that in life that crazy situations such as this seem to follow me?!
My future son-in-law works for Kraft.  Maybe I should just buy Kraft cheese from now on!

Am I being too much of a baby?  Whaddya think?

Thursday, November 8, 2007


“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matthew 7:7)

Do you remember the television show, “Allie McBeal” which was on in the late 1990s and early 2000s? Well, there was a character on that show called John Cage.  He was a highly eccentric lawyer played by Peter McNichol who is now on “Numbers”.  Anyway, he had this thing about going to the bathroom. It’s something he said over and over and over again:  “I like a fresh bowl.”  I don’t mean to be vulgar, but by that he meant he wanted absolutely no residue of any kind in the toilet bowl.  He wanted a clean toilet bowl with clean water.

I guess I feel a bit like John Cage on this piece because it’s about a toilet.  Specifically, it’s about our home’s toilet.  Yes, I said “toilet” singular.  There’s only one bathroom in this 115-year-old house, and at least 700 times I’ve wished for two!  The bathroom had a “complete remodel” in September of 2000.  Just two days ago, a plumber put in a complete new faucet set in the bathroom sink because the “washerless” faucets installed in 2000 were dripping so badly it was almost like they were just “on” all the time.  (I can expect the new ones to also last about 6 or 7 much for “progress”.)  And, just this week, the  toilet seat broke.  It was like sitting on a toilet seat in an outhouse in Haiti. I would know about that, too, because I’ve actually USED outhouses in Haiti, but that’s for another time!

I’m pretty unhandy which is why I had a plumber replace the faucet set.  But I’ve changed toilet seats before and it’s really no big deal.  It BECAME a big deal, however!  At midday yesterday, I went to the “big box home improvement store” in Natick to pick up a toilet seat.  Twenty years ago, a toilet seat was a toilet seat.  As long as you were talking about RESIDENTIAL toilets, the seats were all the same size and shape.  Today, that’s not the case.  There are BIG toilet seats and there are smaller toilet seats.  There area OVAL toilet seats and there are ROUND toilet seats.  I found out that in the trade, the BIG seats are called “elongated:” seats.  I had no idea what size or shape toilet seat I needed, so I went home andmeasured the toilet seat. 

I went back to that “big box” store and bought my toilet seat.  I got home to proceed installing it, and upon taking it out of the box...what to my wondering eyes did appear?  It was broken!  This necessitated a THIRD trip to Natick’s “big box” store.  The “returns” clerk allowed me to just turn in the broken seat and pick up a new (identical) one.  Before leaving I asked her, “Do you mind if I open the box just to make sure this one’s not broken, too?”  She didn’t mind.  I kid you not,  THIS ONE WAS BROKEN, TOO!  I’m so glad I didn’t go home and discover that!  So, it was back to the plumbing aisle, and THIS time the toilet seat was not broken.

This new toilet seat is installed a little bit differently.  The screws act almost more like molleys and there are plastic tabs that fasten over the “molley-like” things.  You switch the plastic tabs one way, and the seat easily lifts off for switch the plastic tabs the other way and even Hercules would have a hard time removing the toilet seat....Well, on second thought, maybe NOT if the other two broke that easily?

So, at the Baril house, there is a fresh toilet seat and a fresh bowl!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil , as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:” (I Peter 5:8)

This morning, talk radio host Michael Graham discussed the overreaction of a Needham pizza shop clerk which brought several speeding police cruisers to the shop who arrested and humiliated a middle-aged academic male who was ASSUMED to be the suspect in a Needham homicide which had just occurred in another part of town.  Many of you know that my late father spend over thirty years in law enforcement; I really don’t blame the police.  I do agree with Michael Graham that the female pizza shop clerk WAY OVERREACTED!

On the 9-1-1 tapes, the clerk is heard SCREAMING, “He’s got a gun” and sounding as if she’s about to be murdered by a Charles Manson-like person.  In reality, the guy had changed his clothes in the bathroom and gone to a CVS to call a cab.  Was his behavior a LITTLE weird?  I’d say, yes.  Did it warrant the hysterical call and especially the statement, “He’s got a gun,” when there was absolutely no indication of that and in fact he did not have a gun?  NO!

I’m just reflecting today, but I don’t know if there’s any way to teach people there’s a middle ground between overreacting and under reacting.  We’re constantly told to watch for suspicious behavior and report it to authorities.  I guess that’s good.  In 1995, shortly after our church moved into its present location in a former union hall, the church was robbed during the Sunday morning service.  An electronic typewriter from the office area was missing after the service.  Upon questioning and questioning people I finally learned that one of our church’s teenagers- a very innocent and “non-streetwise” 14-year-old girl had seen a strange black man wandering around the hallway and office area of the church.  Upon being asked why she didn’t tell someone about it, she calmly, happily, and innocently replied, “I just thought he was someone coming to the church to worship!”

At the other extreme, also in 1995, I conducted the funeral of the mother of some old friends of mine in Canton.  The service was at the chapel of Knollwood Memorial Park.  After the service, one of the friends invited me back to her home for coffee and refreshments.  What she’d neglected to tell me is that she had moved from a lower income neighborhood adjacent to downtown Canton to an upscale subdivision a mile and a half east of there.  I went to what I thought was her home, parked my car across the street and waited for the family to arrive.  I waited ten minutes, twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes.... something was wrong...why weren’t they arriving.  Although this was  September, a group of children around ten-years-old were out in and around the street playing and riding their bikes.  In retrospect, I think there must have been no school due to a Jewish holiday.  I rolled the driver’s side window down and called out to the kids, “Do you know the Salvatore family?  Do they still live here?”  No one answered me.  No one would come within seven feet of the car.  All looked at me as if I was an ax murderer.  I suddenly got the sickest feeling...these kids think I’m some kind of a pervert or something.  I waited about five more minutes, then drove back to Framingham.  

A few days later, Linda Salvatore called me and said, “Bob, we were so surprised you didn’t show up at my home for the social time... Then I realized I must have forgotten to tell you I moved.”  She forgot all right!  Three weeks later, I came home to a message on answering machine from a Canton police detective. Now to really appreciate this you have to understand that at that time my parents were still alive and living in Canton.  My father was badly slipping due to Alzheimer’s Disease.  My mother was very depressed.  There were guns in their home.  It was a situation I frequently worried about.  My FIRST thought at hearing the message from the Canton police was, “Oh NO!!  Something terrible has happened to my parents!  There’s been a murder/suicide!”  I was almost trembling as I called the Canton police detective.

In an accusatory voice, the police detective said, “On Sept. ___ YOUR car was observed parked near a group of children....”

oh, MAN! 

Fortunately, I was able to explain the whole thing to the cop and he seemed OK with what I’d said.  I never heard any more about it.  I know that when I was a kid I would have just gone into the house and told my Mom, “There’s some weird guy in a station wagon outside.”  Then, she’d have gone out and talked to the person, and that would have been that.

Do we need some kind of classes on the difference between overreacting and under reacting?  Maybe.  But, come to think of it, classed about how to react and how to THINK would be right up Hillary Clinton’s alley.  On second thought...

Friday, November 2, 2007


"And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.  And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."  (Mark 4:39)

The following is the text of an e-mail I sent out to a number of folks from our church early this morning.  I'll certainly be "rebuking" the tropical storm scheduled for Saturday!


Well, being New England the weather can certainly change and that appears to be the case for Sat. Nov. 3.

As of Thursday morning the forecast for Saturday was that it would be a nice day in the 50s with a very slight chance of a little breezyness and maybe a tiny bit of drizzle or light showers in the afternoon and evening.

That has all changed in 24 hrs.

The NEW forecast is calling for the remants of Hurricane Noel to hit southern New England on Saturday!  It is NOT likely that it will be a "hurricane" when it hits.  Rather, it is expected to be a "tropical storm".  However, that doesn't mean we aren't in for some problems.

Noel is expected to begin around 11 am and to continue for about 12 hrs.

The Boston area is expected to get 30-40 MPH winds with possible gusts of 50 (or more) MPH.  That will bring many limbs down.  It can also bring some trees down.  It could mean power outages.

We are expected to get drenching rains as well.  Most of the rain is expected for late Saturday afternoon and early evening.

As you know, in wind and rain events, the church's sanctuary can end up taking in a substantial amount of water.  In worse case scenarios, up to 50% of the rug has been soaked.  The last time that happened was around 16 months ago, and David Crowell and I spent the better part of a Saturday cleaning it up.  In a worst case scenario, this COULD impact the sanctuary for Sunday morning.  Once or twice before, we had to block off a whole area of the sanctuary and have everybody sit in a limited area.

As you know, we are scheduled to have a special day of prayer from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. tomorrow.  I am also scheduled to go to the Larry Pickett Memorial Service in Sharon which is at 12 Noon on Saturday.  I'm scheduled to go to my sister' s in Canton first, then Dianne and I are scheduled to go to the service in Sharon and the restaurant in Foxboro.  It looks like we'll need our rain gear!

Today, I plan to put some towels down in the sanctuary and set up the dehumidifier.  I will turn the dehumidifier on tomorrow morning.  We will just "have to work around that" for the Sat. day of prayer.

Ironically, I've had a whole week of "curve balls" and changing schedules and situations, and now this is just one more thing.  I'm hoping we can get through Sat. and Sun. OK.  If this gets really bad, (power outages, etc.) it COULD affect church on Sunday morning, but at this point we'll need to plan like everything is happening and PRAY.

I know that Dick Germaine has an important fundraising dinner on Saturday night.  I am not scheduled to go, but I am certainly concerned for the impact bad weather would have on Dick's important event.

I do know God can change things and God can change the weather.  The Ch. 25 weather man said this morning that as it stands right now, we'll take a pretty good hit from this tropical storm, BUT that if it even moves slightly out to sea, it will make things much better for us.

Let's make the weather and all this stuff a big matter for prayer today!

Any questions, comments, etc., please don't hesitate to contact me.

P.S. If you can think of anyone who does not have access to e-mail and needs this message please be sure to  convey this information to them.