As I’ve previously explained in the post for my Installation,  every year, the respective Masonic Lodges elect and invest a new Worshipful Master (WM) to preside over the Lodge. My Lodge, Orphic Lodge was the first week in February.

I was planning on writing this shortly afterwards, but life got in the way.

There are specific moments and ceremonies which are very special to a Mason. HIs initiation, being Raised to the Sublime Degree of a Master Mason, being installed as the Worshipful Master, and many more occasions during our masonic journey in self fulfilment and Craft progression.

For me, this installation was very special indeed. Not only was a friend Installed as WM, each of my candidates received their first office positions in the Lodge. This past year was an awesome year for me personally in my Masonic Journey. Four very good friends approached me and indicated their wish to join our prestigious Order.

And so, after going through to application process, interviews with them and later with their families, I had the privilege of initiating each of them. As their proposer into the Craft, it’s my responsibility to ensure their journey is successful. That they grow into better men and husbands, fathers and sons.

After the WM is installed, his duty is to invest his officers for the year.  My chest swelled with pride as I saw each of my candidates receive their first office appointments. Their faces echoing my pride, watching them standing taller as they were led by the District Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies for the evening, to the office positions.

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…Me and my guys with their office collars on… unfortunately, two need to remain anonymous..

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….Ryan being his usual animated self….

After the Installation ceremony, Lodges treat the Grand, District Officers and visiting Brethren to a meal, drinks, and of course, a raffle for charity.

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Grant convincing the Brethren to part with their money…

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… whilst being exceptionally confused why there wasn’t alcohol in the ice bucket…

All in all, a fantastic night enjoyed by everyone, and I wait with proud anticipation to see each of my Brethren progress to their next steps on the ladder and growth in Masonry.

 

 

A letter from a Paramedic

Posted: February 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

This is not mine, and certainly cant take credit. However,  I feel the pain and emotions deep in the letter, having experienced severe PTSD, can only imagine that moment which had the author writing this…

By By Andy Casteel, Emt-p, roane county, Tn

I can’t tell you what working on an ambulance is like. It’s far away from anyone’s version of a normal life. Spending a 3rd of your life with your partner (24 hours on, 48 hours off) is like having a second family away from home. It comes with a different set of expectations and feelings, and a different kind of trust that exceeds nearly anything else. The experiences you have at work in this field can only be shared by you and your partner.

I won’t tell you what the worst thing I’ve seen is. That is one of the cruelest questions you could ask one of us, to go back and relive a horror that no human being should have to experience. The percentage of emergency personnel who develop PTSD is second only to the military, and we accumulate the problems that go along with it at a staggering rate (drug/alcohol abuse, divorce, suicide).

I can tell you that we have an odd sense of humor. Many of us in the right situation have literally sung “staying alive” by the beegees, or “another one bites the dust” by queen while performing CPR. This is not meant to be sick, it is only meant to keep us in rythym. 
I am sorry if while working on your family member, I appear to not be listening to you or addressing your concerns. Unfortunately I am often not permitted the opportunity to do that given the circumstances. Your loved one’s life/health can and must come before your questions.
The words “ambulance driver” are a source of great insult to us. If I were only a driver, I would not have gone to school, nor would I have more certifications in my back pocket than many floor nurses.
There is so much that should be said that the bounds of a given situation or pure professionalism prevent us from uttering. So I will say it here. 
To the lady who lost her husband following a long battle with cancer-
I am sorry. I wish that there was anything that I could say to ease what you’re going through. I am sorry that the situation you were in made it impossible for me to hide your husbands asystolic ekg strip from you, and for the painful questions that I had to ask. I want you to know that you were the very epitome of grace and courage while we were there, and that you have inspired me to try to be the same in my own struggles with grief.

To the family of the critical patient that we transferred to an intensive care unit at another hospital, who died on the way:
I am sorry that we couldn’t give you more time to say goodbye. We weren’t trying to be insensitive or callous when we told you that we had to go, we were only doing our best to care for him and keep him alive. 

To the parents of the two year old that died in the fire:
I have mixed emotions for you. I am terribly sorry for your loss. I am also terribly sorry that you left several children under the age of eight to play alone while you got high at the house next door. We found your baby curled in a ball underneath a pile of clothes, badly burned but not so bad that I couldn’t count every little finger and toe. I rage at your irresponsibility, but grieve for your loss. 

To the man whose wife I did CPR on:
I wish that things had turned out differently. You were married for 70 years to a beautiful bride that I couldn’t bring back for you. There is nothing I can say in the face of that loss, but I hope you know I tried. 

To the scared parents of the 3 year old with a fever:
I understand your fear. If I’m grumpy, it’s not directed at you. It’s because I’ve been at work 21 hours, haven’t slept and have missed 2 out of 3 meals, and right before I came to get your child I ran one of the calls above this one.

To the frequent flier:
Please take the time to educate yourself about the health problems that you have. Ultimately you are responsible for your own health, and if you don’t step up and follow your doctors recommendations, and manage your issues, they will kill you. And I will have gotten to know you to the point of having memorized your medical history, allergies, medications, name, date of birth, and half of your social security number, only to walk in and pronounce you dead.

To the grumpy ER nurse at the level 1 trauma center:
I am sorry that you are having a bad day. Please don’t take it out on me or belittle the work that I have done, in many cases in an attempt to make your job easier and faster. I only ask for 5 minutes of your time to give report and provide good continuity of care. I try my best to come in with a smile, please don’t try to eat me. Kindness costs you nothing.

To the general public:
Please, please pull to the right. If we are sitting down to eat a meal, don’t make snide remarks about how you are seeing “your taxes go to work” or how we are paid too much. There is no price tag on what we do, and 40-50% of us do it for free. And most importantly of all, don’t ask the question mentioned in the second paragraph. If you want to satisfy your morbid curiosity, come ride with us for a day, and see for yourself.

Many times we are referred to as callous, insensitive, uncaring, etc. We have developed these things as a facade. It is a coping mechanism. If we didn’t care, we would not be here. The everyday world is an ugly place, and death comes for all of us. I wish I could say it was always peaceful, but very rarely does anyone get to hear another “I love you” before someone takes their last breath. 
There have been many times when I pull up in front of my house in the morning, wishing that things had gone differently. I feel like a sponge for others grief, pain, and sorrow. You soak it up in an attempt to make it better in some small, meaningful way. After that you go home and hold those who mean something to you a little closer.
The times when things do go right are like bright, shining stars in a moonless sky. Where we stabilized that guy from the car crash who had 18 broken bones and a crushed airway. Or when we brought back a 53 day old baby’s heart beat. There’s not a price tag on that feeling either. 
I hope all of you stay safe and healthy. When you don’t, we will be there. Any time, any place, no matter what. We’ll be there.
At your service always,
A paramedic.


Number 8..Session 1

Posted: December 3, 2016 in tattoo
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Time for tattoo number 8. The decision for this one took a while, and I’d been throwing ideas for a while. 

The end goal? 

A dragon tattoo on my chest. 

So I searched the net for ideas, chatted to friends, even one of them drawing a few ideas for me. 


…..This stunning one drawn by a very talented  and  good friend, Natalie..  Now, I couldn’t let this go to waste.. so he’s framed. 

In the end,   Charmaine found the perfect one. The moment she sent it, I knew that belonged on my chest. And so the process began.. measuring my chest to make sure the tattoo will be the perfect size. 

I’ve have been so excited about today, I could hardly contain myself when i arrived at TattooCharm and saw my stencil, waiting for me. 


Now, I came mentally prepared, knowing that a chest tattoo will be more painful than my others.. 

 I know I’m a woes when it comes to pain (I have an extremely low pain threshold). Within 15 minutes of the needles drilling into me , the endorphins kicked in.. and man down I went. My eyes felt heavy, and dozed off and on.. 

Eventually the endorphins decided, “bugger this, we’re outa here”  and boy did they leave in a hurry. 

Probably my grimacing and scrunching face gave it away, LOL, either way, we both agreed it was time time to stop. 


I can’t wait for January to finish him up.. He’s going to look  amazing !!!


Today we attended the Great Dane Rescue fund raising picnic, where many of  the rescues and their owners came to socialise and meet each other.  Hosted by Tanja and Louisa, the Founders of Great Dane Rescue.

These two dynamic women go out and rescue Danes from abusive homes, those that have been abandoned and some who’s owners just don’t want them anymore, all at their own cost and 100% reliant on sponsors.

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….Pluto got to meet his mom, Bonny…

img_0070_fotor.. and of course, Bonny needed to meet Pluto’s new mommy…

img_0065_fotor_fotor… and Pluto’s sister Veiga…

It was a great morning, watching all the Dane’s mixing with each other. Really showing their loving nature, wanting strokes and pets from everyone they could

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A Flower girl becomes a bride

Posted: November 26, 2016 in Family, wedding

On the 6th of May 2000, I watched a little 8 year old girl dressed in a beautiful pale yellow dress, with flowers in her hair,  walking towards me down the aisle in a chapel.

 

Little did we realise, that 16 years later, she would, again, walk down the aisle. This time in white with the man of her dreams.

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Yesterday we attended the wedding of Nicole’s cousin Leigh, as she married the man her dreams, Kyle, who clearly, swept her off her feet.

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It was a beautiful ceremony at a most incredible venue Galagos Country Estate. Despite the pouring rain hampering an outdoor wedding, the ceremony went off perfectly in their little chapel.

Whilst Leigh and Kyle had the photos taken…

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(photo credit to Lesley, Leigh’s mom)

… the guests were entertained by live music…

img_0027_fotor… and partaking in small cocktails presented in the most unique manner (I loved it)..

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There was a bubbling happy vibe in the reception, where excellent food and elegant decor made the night even more special

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It was a very special evening for us, experiencing our flower girl getting married.

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Leigh and Kyle, a perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other.

Oh, and lets not forget the dessert plates, on which chocolate print screening thanked the guests.

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And so holiday comes to an end…

Posted: October 9, 2016 in Family, holiday

…sadly. Every year we choose a different place for our annual vacation, and this year, it was Erin’s choice. She chose, quite literally, “Aunty Kathy’s house”.. So off to Somerset West we went.

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Where we woke up to amazing views everyday…

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…beautiful beaches…

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…trips up the coast to Hermanus…

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…walking with hundreds of  Butterflies

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…exciting thrills…

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…checking out lazy lizards…

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…meeting Servals..

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…experiencing the most incredible encounters with cheetahs at the Cheetah Outreach. An experience I encourage everyone to do, to meet these most beautiful animals, and learning of the program the Outreach performs to protect them..

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…amazing foods…

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…and stunning estate wines.

Overall, a well deserved (albeit short) break away from the daily grind.

Next year?… well thats up to this young lady, who is growing up way to fast

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My journey continues

Posted: October 2, 2016 in Masonic

And so my Masonic journey continues. This time last year, I received my first appointment as an active District officer for the District of South Africa North at the 2015 Annual meeting

This year has been an awesome as a District Officer, having gone to many lodges I normally wouldn’t have gone to, and met extraordinary Brethren from all walks of life. This is one of the aspects I love in Masonry,  all men are equal, regardless of stature outside.

The 2016 Annual Meeting was no less exciting. With the English Constitution Tercentenary coming up in 2017, plans are beginning to unfold preparing for the celebrations worldwide, including here in South Africa. The Annual Meeting was an ideal place to start, by selling  shirts with the improvised emblem.

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The Annual Meeing is open for all Masons with the rank of a Master Mason and above, and an opportunity for all to buy new regalia, gloves, lapel pins and many other items…

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Before the Craft Annual Meeting, the District Royal Arch Chapter invests the officers for the ensuring year, which attracts many very senior Grand Officers from the respective constitutions recognised by the English Constitution in South Africa, being Scottish, Irish and Grand lodge of South Africa.

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..The District Second Grand Principle Officer , waiting for the proceedings to start…

 

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..The ceremony being coordinated with authority by my mentor E.Comp. Vaughn Williams…

And so it came time for the District Grand Lodge to invest the new officers for the year.

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(photo courtesy of W.Bro Epstein)

I was honoured by the Right Worshipful District Grand Master with a promotion to District Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies

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I’m very excited with the new year starting, in my new position as Distr. Ass. ADC, representing the District at Lodge Installations and assisting the District ADC in conducting the installations.

A great year ahead, and congrats to my fellow Brethren with their promotions.