The Rough Ashlar

Thoughts from a Traveling Man

The Rough Ashlar - Thoughts from a Traveling Man

Annual Dues Bill for Life Membership

It may seem strange to send an annual bill to someone who is a life member, but I get one each year from the Scottish Rite. Note the blank spots for me to add my own donation to a few funds they have. That is the value of sending seemingly redundant dues notices.

Will I make a contribution? Perhaps. Maybe not. But I am a whole lot more likely to than if I got nothing but a new dues card each fall. I wonder how many opportunities my local lodge is missing by not doing this.

The Wages of a Master Mason

Rib night! - Masonic wagesWe had ribs the other night at Columbia Lodge and I got a nice take-home container. Thank goodness for overly enthusiastic stewards! This is a nice benefit to being a Mason – leftovers for life, since I am a life member. But what are the real wages of a Master Mason? We discussed this in lodge on rib night and I heard some interesting aspects that I had not heard before.

I spoke about the many friendships I have found over the years as a Mason. I have gotten to meet and get to know people from all walks of life, including generals and admirals all the way down to plumbers and even fellow writers, who are really just social pariahs and benefit greatly from the generous bonds this institution offers. Others spoke about the philosophical aspects and opportunities for continuing study and education as an adult, outside of the classroom.

One thing that especially struck me was a comment that Masonry is probably the only organization that teaches men to have relationships. I had never thought about that. I do not want to get into the differences between how men and women think because, frankly, I do not know how women think. I have proven that time and again through my relationships with them. However, many men’s organizations have an emphasis on doing rather than being. In the lodge, we sit and talk, or hear a presentation. We discuss ideas and have a great focus on building and sustaining harmony. We learn to get on well with each other, despite differences that might otherwise keep us at perpetual odds. I had never really thought of this in terms of learning to have relationships though. Definitely an interesting perspective and one I have valued as well, despite not thinking of it in those terms.

What do you think? What wages do you draw from your labors?

A good year as DDGM


I had a great honor bestowed upon me last year, from November 2013 through November 2014. I got to serve as the District Deputy Grand Master, which means that I was the intermediary between the subordinate lodges and the grand lodge. I am proud to report that none of my lodges shut their doors and that we had no Masonic trials during my tenure. I guess that constitutes success on some level.

We had great programs and good visitation between lodges. What’s more, this past year’s activities built on to what had been done before in the district and I expect that this coming year’s activities will continue to build on them.

People asked all year long how my year was going. It was busy but good. It was not always fun and not always interesting but it was a huge honor. As honored as I feel, though, I was not at all sad to pass the jewel on to someone else. I don’t need a second year of honor – that’s for darned sure!

Masonic Rings

Masonic Ring IMGP0003_1Many brothers are curious, especially when new, what kind of ring they should get, how fancy it should be, how much to spend, and more. First, I understand that many new brothers are full of fervency and zeal when it comes to being part of the fraternity and outwardly showing membership. However, before rushing off and buying a ring, think about the style you might like to have and whether you really want one at all. Some professions lend themselves to not wearing something like this. Mechanics, for example, could be at a disadvantage if they wear rings at work, and some lines of work prohibit the wearing of jewelry other than a wedding ring or simple necklace.
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Math Lesson – Right Triangles and the Pythagorean Theorem

wpid-IMAG0703.jpgI teach SAT preparation courses and as part of the instruction teach basic math and geometric concepts. Not too long ago I had a student who was not grasping the Pythagorean Theorem, so I made a drawing for him to explain it and prove that it worked. I chose the 3-4-5 right triangle for my example and went about making my useful, yet ugly artwork. The kids always like hearing me berate my own artistic skills. I just never had a hand for it and pointing this out always adds a bit of levity to the lesson. The drawing shows what a mathematical square is and why the theorem works.

a2 + b2 = c2, where a and b are the legs and c is the hypotenuse
32 + 42 = 52
9 + 16 = 25
Sure enough, the hypotenuse side has 25 squares. Eureka!

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True Friendship is Old Crow and Chocolate Cake

wpid-IMAG0719.jpgI went to visit my friend and mentor Bruce a few weeks ago for his birthday. He was turning 90 and does not get out anymore, so I figured I would come by and bring him his two favorite things – Old Crow bourbon and chocolate cake. Maybe they are not quite his favorites, but they are certainly things he enjoys, so I know he had a good birthday.

Bruce is one of the greats in our area and is known widely throughout the state as a master ritualist, as well as being someone who is good and kind, if sometimes firm with his direction. It was with great humility on my part that I agreed to take over for him when he stepped down last year as our district ritual instructor, and I am sure it took a great amount of trust on his part to turn it over to someone so young among the Craft. I feel honored to have this role and take it seriously, even if I do not have the chance to attend every event or visit all the lodge schools.
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From the Department of Redundancy Department

wpid-IMAG0700.jpgI was looking at the charter for the A. Douglas Smith Jr. Lodge of Research recently and noticed that the name is apparently – according to the charter provided by the Grand Lodge – A. Douglas Smith Jr. Lodge of Research Lodge. Funny. As you can see, it is just an accident of a good name not fitting the prescribed format of the charter, and nobody has ever tacked on the final word Lodge onto the name, as far as I have ever seen. There are all sorts of things waiting to be discovered in Masonry, from the esoteric to the downright amusing.

Welsh Masonic Lapel Pin

wpid-IMAG0725-1.jpgI was given this pin by a brother who is in town from Wales for a few months. Something nice about being a Mason in the Washington, D.C. area is that I often get to host or at least meet brothers from all over the world who come here for various purposes. It is always nice when they give small tokens such as this pin – something unique by which I can remember their visit and the time we shared in our fraternal sanctuary. Likewise, I try to have a pocket full of pins from my lodge or perhaps odd pins I came across online that people will find meaningful or interesting. It is like the old days when shop keepers might have candy for children. You don’t see that much anymore. All the same, it is important to give a visitor a small token of thanks for taking the time to be with your lodge.

This pin is definitely one to wear a good bit. I love the Welsh dragon on it. Maybe I will write about some of the other special pins I have received over the years.

Santa Fe Scottish Rite Building Selling for $6.9 Million

Santa Fe Scottish RiteEver wanted to own a Scottish Rite building? Now is your chance. Sotheby’s is selling off this grand structure starting at $6.9 million.

I had the opportunity to tour and photograph this building a number of years ago, not long after I became a Mason. It is beautiful inside and out and its design is based on the Alahambra in Spain.
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