Showing posts from 2008

Patriotism is not enough ( 2 )

Regular readers of this blog will have realised that I take a very dim view of tribalism and nationalism.

I mention both tribe and nation because those of us in the western, more or less Christian lands see our world and ourselves in terms of national identity.

We do not understand or appreciate other more eastern lands where loyalty to clan or tribe comes far ahead of loyalty to nation.

Westerners are in fact clannish and tribal
. We identify with our clan (nuclear family, extended family, circle of immediate friends etc); and with our tribe (people who share our religious, political or vocational lives), but these clans and tribes are fluid, and are mostly subverted to our national loyalties.

In other (say Muslim or Hindu) cultures, the loyalty to clan and tribe trumps all others.

A healthy sense of clannish, tribal or national identity is important insofar as it provides social glue by which we are moulded into peoples. A sense of shared history, traditions and values is vital if we ar…

Patriotism is not enough (Nurse Edith Cavell)

( see

re Edith Cavell)

As I walked this morning an old English patriotic song came into my mind. I learned to sing it at school.

It reads:

Here's a health unto her Majesty,
With a fal la la la la la la,
Confusion to her enemies,
With a fal lal la la la la la la.
And he that will not drink her health,
I wish him neither wit nor wealth,
Nor yet a rope to hang himself.
With a fal lal la la la la la la la la,
With a fal lal la la la la la.

It was probably written to celebrate the Coronation of Charles II as King of Scotland. He was crowned King of Scots at Scone on 1 January 1651.

Charles was also King of England, but these were the days before the Kingdoms of Scotland and England were joined to form what we now call the “United Kingdom”.

(Remember that Charles was a “Stuart”, those dismal Scottish Monarchs who inherited the English Throne upon the death of the last Tudor Monarch, Elizabeth I. [She was succeeded by James (Stuart) the first James of Engl…

The Wealthy and the Workers

My guest does not let the grass grow under his feet. He hustled himself to many restaurants, seeking a job. He found one at Cafe L’Europe on St. Armand’s’ Circle in SRQ, eight days after his arrival in the USA (He has a work permit and all that jazz).

St. Armand’s Circle is the upscale area of SRQ. Cafe L’Europe is one of the most upscale restaurants on the Circle.

He started work yesterday (Dec 28TH) at 10:00 a.m. It fell to my lot to meet him at the end of his shift. That was late at night.

I arrived at St. Armand’s Circle just before 10:00 p.m. The circle was filled with the wealthy. They shopped even at 10 o’clock at night.

And I was surprised, if not shocked because:

There were so many pre-teen and teens in their “packs”, swarming around and hanging out at the ice cream parlours, sans adults.

There were so many adults speaking languages other than English. It seems that SRQ is a favourite destination for wealthy Indians, Latin Americans, and Eastern Europeans.

And there…

Beaufort SC Christmas 2008

Salt marsh at sunset

The Pinkham's home

Barbara and Don Hauler

Chip and Charles Pinkham

Chris Pinkham looking cool in his new shades

His Dad trying to look cool

Donald R Hauler

Mark and Lindsay Hauler, Chris Pinkham

Marcia Hauler, Wendy Pinkham, Barbara and Don Hauler

Sweet potatoes with pecan "Christmas Tree"

The perfect turkey

Our quarters

Anchored yachts at Beaufort

St. Helena's Church, Beaufort

Antebellum Mansion, Beaufort

Lighthouse, Hunting Beach

Tidal Marsh near Pinkham home

The following are of various tidal marshes, and of Hunting Island Beach

Shrimp Boats

Tree skeleton

Where old trees go to die

Merry Christmas!

My Brasilian friend and I drove up to Beaufort, South Carolina on Christmas Eve.

It’s about 430 miles away, and it took 8 hours. We stopped every 100 miles to change drivers and stretch our legs.

We’d not breakfasted so we, with some foreboding on my part, went into a International House of Pancakes in the north central town of Starke, FL, for breakfast.

I was pleasantly pleased with the quality of my food – an omelette with fresh fruit as a “side dish”. Our waitress, Emily was an absolute sweetheart, so I tipped her well.

Starke is typical of many small towns in inland Florida. It is an hard scrabble town, with a great deal of poverty. We passed a supermarket – a branch of a chain which I thought had gone out of business years ago the “Piggly Wiggly”. These smaller supermarkets used to be the backbone of rural southern towns, with some also in the north. In many places they are being “done-in” by Wall-Mart.

Beaufort is a small, but quite grand town in the Low Country of South C…

In earthly peace

I went to St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key for the Tuesday a.m. Eucharist today.

After the Eucharist I went out to the Myakka River State Park.

It is such a beautiful and peace filled place. I sat for more than half an hour in silence (so hard for me!), simply soaking up the quietness and beauty. It was a joy to listen to the sound which the breeze created as it whisked through the long grasses and the trees.

How blessed I am to live so near to such a gorgeous place. We heard human voices from Germany, Russia, Spain and France.

The speakers of these languages had travelled many, many miles to be at Myakka. It is a 25 minute drive for me!

On Christmas Eve I will drive for about 9 hours to be with my friends the Hauler Family, gathering this year in Beaufort, SC. I was with them last year in Pensacola FL.

I am happy that I will be with these friends whom I first met in 1976. The Haulers who met and loved my mother, (and other members of my family) …

The economy and a human face.

The economy and a human face.

We are apt to talk about “The Economy” as if it were a living entity, operating beyond human control.

So I must remind us that our current plight has to do with people, not with "the economy"

We say things like “the economy is bad”, when we really mean that politicians, bankers, economists, manufacturers and the like have made bad decisions, and taken foolish risks.

We also forget that some members of this motley crew are crooks.

That crew has made such dreadful decisions since the days of Reagan (USA) and Thatcher (U.K.) that we now in a “not so pretty pickle”.

The Reagan/Thatcher choices for deregulation, the “free market” (whatever that is), and the like, were rooted in an untested ideology.

Now millions of people in many lands are paying the price. And it is a high price.

I have a friend. I’ll call him “Danny” to protect his anonymity. He is of my age.

Just a few years ago Danny was living in a lovely home on Siesta Key - one of the nicest areas o…

Winter solistice 2008

Today my Brasilian friend and I went down to Crescent Beach on Siesta Key, for the regular Sunday evening "drumming down of the Sun".

The celebration today had an added flavour for today is the winter solistice - the day on which (in the northern hemisphere)winter officially begins, but also (thank goodness), the day from which daytime increases, and night time decreases.

So we were there for the shortest day in the northern hemisphere.

Here are a few photo's which I took on Crescent Beach this evening

The gregarious loner

Folk who meet me, encounter a man who is friendly, who smiles a lot, and who as the “Mystery Worshipper” at St. Hilary’s Church (earlier this year) said “is jovial”.

I come across as a very gregarious person.

At heart, I am a loner. More than anything, I like to be alone.

Give me a “stage” and I am that apparently gregarious person. All of life is acting - and I can play that role so well.

It’s fun while it lasts. But I’ve often said that my epitaph should be “He played to a thousand audiences, but never received the accolades he felt that he richly deserved”.

“Off stage” I retreat into that “loner”. (I am happiest alone, but I am NOT lonesome).

I putter around the house. The T.V. and radio are rarely on, for I love the silence.

My cat Ada is the dozer. She spends most each day eating or sleeping.

The other cat, Adelaide, is a prowler. She wanders around the house all day, looking for Lord knows what.

I am an “Adelaide”. I prowl around my home, always restless, and always quite content…

In 1971

Ben tells me that I “remember everything”. There’s more than enough truth in that. I have vivid memories which go back to my childhood. Of course I cannot trust then all, for memory is tricky.

As I walked today I remembered a trip I took in Wales and England many years ago. I had thought it to be from 1968, but a quick check of the facts revealed that it was from 1971 when I was 27 years old.

I would have been working as a Staff Tutor for the National Westminster Bank in that year.

I took off in my car to visit parts of north Wales and also Chester in England. I had never before seen this part of the U.K.

I saw Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle, Llandudno (a coastal town in north Wales), “Snowdon” the highest peak in Wales, and Chester. All on my lonesome!

When I reached Chester I was so tired that I decided to stay in the first hotel which I saw. It turned out to be the “Blossoms” Hotel (3 star), and naive as I was, I was in awe of staying in such a “grand place”.

I wondered if there…

Welcome to Mildred, plus "A long and full day"

What a long and full day.

My friend Betsy has been long awaiting the arrival of Mildred. (Betsy and I agreed on this name). Mildred arrived today. Her photo’ is above.

I awoke at 4:45 a.m. this morning at the “Day’s Inn”, near Miami International Airport.

After a quick shower I drove at high speed to the Airport itself, trusting my GPS/Sat Nav. to get me there – which it did.

10 minutes after my arrival my friend called my mobile ‘phone. He had arrived on time from Brasil, via Chile; breezed through immigration, baggage claim and customs, and ready for me about 35 minutes after his ‘plane had landed.

I “high-tailed” it through the airport, from one concourse to another. Five minutes after his call we met with hugs and great laughter.

Then came the hard part: - a four hour drive back to Sarasota. Luckily for he was so happy to do most of the driving.

Back at home, we chatted and “caught up”, then I persuaded him to rest. (He had been travelling for 24 hours).

We enjoyed a late lunch of ham and…