Saturday, 28 May 2016

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is not about Veterans.  They have their own day,

It is not about Active Military.  They have their own day.

It is about the tragic toll of human deaths in times of conflict.

See this  (via my friend Mark D) and please overlook the error in  punctuation.





Older Americans will know that Memorial Day has its origin in what was called Decoration Day  see:

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/civil-war-dead-honored-on-decoration-day


All of us should give pause on Monday to remember that our American Wars (whether or not they were wise or necessary) carry with them a dreadful toll of human deaths, and the burden of grief carried by widows (and in modern days widowers or partners) ,orphans, parents, siblings, uncles,aunts, cousins etc.

For some perspective please see this:

http://www.civilwar.org/education/civil-war-casualties.html?referrer=https://www.google.com/







Friday, 27 May 2016

Guess I'll go eat worms. NEVER as I get to be 72 years old,.

Nobody likes me 
Ev'rybody hates me
Guess I'll go eat worms

Long, thin, slimy ones
Short, fat, juicy ones
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy, wuzzy worms..  
(American Summer Camp Song)

It's a song I'll never have to sing.  Indeed I am overwhelmed and grateful for the terrific outpouring of greetings for my 72nd birthday.  I was privileged to get more than 120 Facebook greetings, plus some nice e-mails  and real birthday cards.  It's all a bit humbling.


Facebook friends will know that I note their birthdays by saying "Happy Tomday", or  "Happy Janeday".  That's because I love my own birthday anniversaries -  the one day in the year in which I am not bashful about having a "me day"!  So it is, as in the examples above, my friends are entitled to a Tomday or a Janeday, and I to a Michaelday.


This year I was fortunate enough to be with dear friends for three Michaelday  celebrations.


Wednesday evening saw me at the home of the ever blessed Ron and Charlotte Thompson. Their good friend Cindy joined us  (as did my good friend Penne). (Ron and Char are her devoted Uncle and Aunt, she stays with them when I am away)


Char and Ron  (photo' not from this week)


My friends and family members who have met Char and Ron will agree that they are  utterly delightful people;  warm and given to hospitality; lively and engaging conversationalists.

We shared a wonderful meal,  with plump and juicy scallops from Maine, Broccoli Rabe, and Couscous, followed by some delicious pastries from a new(ish) French bakery in Gulf Gate Village.

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After a treatment from my Dermatologist on Thursday afternoon, I met up with fabulous friends, a sister and brothers in Christ from St. Boniface Church for dinner at Sarasota's Cafe Baci.  I've driven past this place many times, but this was my first time to eat there.  It's in a rather nondescript building on the "South Trail".  It's notable for the funny signs on a marquee, and famous for a northern Italian menu.

There was so much I liked at Cafe Baci.  The Hostess greeted us with a  warm and gracious greeting.  Our Waitress was utterly professional.  She was friendly without being over-bearing.  She gave us good attention without being over-bearing. 

And "Oh the Food"!   We started with a complimentary Antipasto plate (complimentary to those who make reservations on line).   I haven't eaten Italian food in oh so many years, so I chose Ravioli Di Fungh as my entree.  I was a good choice: excellent home made Ravioli, crammed with mushrooms and served with a delicious creamy tomato? sauce.

Word got out that it was my birthday so I was presented with a goodly sized slice of Tiramisu (?) -  enough to share.    To crown it all Cafe Baci offered complimentary glasses of Sambuca for those who wished.

But the food and ambiance were only half of the story.

We were the Assistant Rector at St. Boniface Church, Sarasota; the Revd. Andrea (Andi) S. Taylor - soon to leave us to become the Rector at St. David's Church in South Yarmouth, MA), her husband Jonathan Taylor, and our St, Boniface Deacon, the Revd Allan Rogers.

It was partly a celebration of  my birthday, and a valedictory soirĂ©e for Andi and Jonathan.

We like, admire  and respect each other so much.  So it was that we were at Table for three hours  (you can do that in a good Italian restaurant),  and we enjoyed rich fellowship, which at times was funnier than all get out, and at times as deep and engaging as is possible.

What a thrice blessed person I am to be able to celebrate my birthday with Allan, Andi and Jonathan.




Cafe Baci sign







Jonathan Taylor








The Revd. Andrea S (Andi) Taylor



The Revd. Deacon Allan Rogers






My birthday cake

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I rounded out the celebrations today (Friday 27th May) by having lunch at the Dry Dock on Longboat Key with the lovely Diana Emrich.    Diana's husband is the Revd. Fred Emrich - we were colleagues in Western Massachusetts.

Diana and Fred have a winter home on Longboat Key, and a  summer home on the island of North Haven in Maine's Penobscot Bay.

My two older sisters and their husbands will surely treasure the memory of fabulous lunch we all had last November, also at the Dry Dock.

Fred has already returned to North Haven, so lunch  was a gracious time with just Diana and me.

I ate two utterly delicious Lobster Rolls, with a side of coleslaw..  (Boy, have I been eating well!).

More importantly Diana (of English heritage) enjoyed each others' company so much,    She will soon travel to the U.K. to visit with her sister, after which she will join Fred on North Haven, ME.




Outside the Dry Dock today.


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No, I will not eat worms!    Instead I give thanks for the gifts of life and friends and celebrations.


I can't wait to be 73 years old!


Thursday, 26 May 2016

An unwelcome birthday gift.



Just in time for  my birthday I got a miserable snuffy, coughy, sneezey, runny-nosy cold.

Every man I asked has agreed with my assertion that a head cold is much worse than child-birth.

I haven't asked any women.

This dire ailment has not gotten in the way of my birthday celebrations.They have been splendid.

More about that tomorrow!

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

You want AWESOME? Try Alexander Von Humboldt

I was in my local supermarket yesterday when I overheard a clerk/cashier say to a customer "have an awesome day".

I was glad not to be in that line, for I would have been tempted to say "thanks all the same, but I can only absorb two, or maybe three awesome days each year".

That response, realistic or cynical,  (you decide which), would have arisen from my sense of a truly awesome human being Alexander Van Humboldt 1769-1859.







Van Humboldt was a naturalist, a botanist,an explorer, a painter, a scientist, an observer of the natural world, and a man of letters (and that's just to scratch the surface!). The case can be made that he was the first modern environmentalist.   He was acquainted with the great and the good - Goethe, Schiller, Darwin, Brunel, President Jefferson, Simon Bolivar etc (to name but a few).

I am learning about Von Humboldt in what I believe to be a superb book "The Invention of Nature - Alexander Van Humboldt's New World" by Andrea Wulf (Alfred A Knopf 2015).

Andrea Wulf distills a veritable treasure trove of historical and archival material about Von Humboldt into prose which is elegant and eminently readable.

It is a terrific read.  Indeed I would say a must read for those who believe that history, science, and the environment etc  have far more important things to say than the sound bites emanating from the would be Presidential candidates in the U.S.A. , and the Brexit and Stay-In carnival barkers as they talk about the U.K. referendum regarding membership in the European Community.

MORE THAN 200 YEARS AGO Von Humboldt recognised the dangers to our small planet from

  (for example)

1,  Deforestation

2,  The draining of and building upon wetlands and marshes, or their transformation into agricultural land.

3.  The ghastly consequences when local farming, which had hitherto provided abundant supplies of food, was exchanged for cash crops  (sugar, cotton etc) -  meaning that self-sufficient communities had to import expensive foods from other places.

4.  The evil of colonialism (particularly in South America) where indigenous peoples were enslaved to mine silver and gold for the Bourbon Monarchy in Spain.  Between 1799 and 1804 Van Humboldt undertook an epic exploration of South America (modern day Venezuela, Chile, and Peru) and North America (Mexico and the U.S.A.) where he saw for himself the dehumanizing and cruel results of slavery.  

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Von Humboldt was a man of science, of observation, of knowledge, and of "prophetic" insight into the potential environmental dangers to our planet,

They are no longer "potential" dangers,   They are real dangers.  We, blind to science, deaf to the siren cries of danger, concerned only for ourselves and not for the generations yet to come, and capable only of hearing the shitty sound bites of pundits and politicians have decided that our short term gain is of more importance than Earth's long term gain.



PLEASE TAKE TIME THIS SUMMER TO READ THE BOOK  "The Invention of Nature - Alexander Van Humboldt's New World" by Andrea Wulf (Alfred A Knopf 2015)