Saturday, 12 July 2008

A "do nothing" day.

It’s been “one of those days”. A day on which I had nothing on my docket.

Of course I walked, fed the cats, and had breakfast. But what next? No plans for the day, no important chores.

Ben and I went out to the Mennonite owned fruit stand (about five miles east of here), and I got some sweet peaches, a cantaloupe, and some tasty pole beans.

That took about 45 minutes, and I dropped Ben off at his home, knowing that he had theatre and dinner plans for the balance of the afternoon and early evening.

So I “diddled the day away”. I spent all too much time on the internet, checking news from five continents.

But I did come across a London “Daily Telegraph” article which named my friend, and former St. James's, Cambridge colleague The Revd. Dr. Ian Douglas as one of the 50 most influential people in the Anglican Communion.

This pleased me greatly. I have known Ian since he was a High School student in Fitchburg, MA, and have followed his ecclesiastical career with great interest and admiration.

Both he and I were delighted when I became Rector in the Cambridge parish, where he and his family hung their hats. Ian taught, and stilll teaches at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge.

Knowing that Ian could not, and would not "toot his own horn", I sent the "Telegraph" article to many of our mutual friends.

I tried to rest on the sofa, but Adelaide decided that she wanted to lay prone on my belly, carving attention. Sleep was impossible.

I spent a lovely hour on the Lanai reading the autobiography of a new Sarasota acquaintance, Adrian Swain. He was, in turn, a World War II bomber pilot; an FBI agent; a CIA operative in Vietnam and Laos; and a Drug Enforcement Agency spook.

Adrian's wonderful wife "Anno" is a volunteer at Resurrection House, and I always sit with this couple when I attend St. Boniface Church.

As I read on a balmy afternoon, so Adelaide slept on a nearby chair. It was quite the scene of "domestic bliss". Ada prefers to sleep on my bed, so she did not join us!

After dinner I ventured out to the street to get some fresh evening air.

Down came "Sid" in her electric wheelchair, with her pooch "Sparky".

Sid is 66 years old and has Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS). Her very survival is a wonder, and her spirit is an inspiration.

Neither of us was in a hurry. So we chatted and I learned a great deal about her life. She grew up on a small farm in rural Ohio, and met her husband Bob when he worked for her father. They had a great marriage, and were parted when Bob died
2 1/2 years ago (six months before I moved here).

For once I was so pleased that I had no agenda, no plans for the rest of the day. Thus I could have a fabulous conversation with my neighbour Sid.

(I asked her the reason for her first name, and she replied that her Dad had really wanted a son).

"Busy doing nothing" gave me time to listen to Sid, and to learn a thing or two.

Friday, 11 July 2008

I have known......

….mean jealousies.

When I was maybe 10 or 11 Mum would take me to the “Women’s Meeting” at the local Gospel Hall.

This meeting, on a weekday afternoon, was presided over by Bessie Cox, the rather bossy wife of a leading Elder, Ernie Cox.

Women were forbidden leadership in Plymouth Brethren Assemblies (the Gospel Hall was home to one of those Assemblies), with one exception: they could lead other women. Bessie Cox relished her leadership of these women.

The Women’s Meetings would include hymn singing, prayer, an inspirational talk, and solo music.

At one of the meetings which I attended, a young girl, aged maybe 10 or 11 sang a hymn. She’d memorised it, and sang it perfectly with a pure soprano voice. I can yet “see and hear” her.

She sang “Listen to the voice of Jesus,
Oh so sweet
As the little children gather
Round his feet.
Young ones to his knees are climbing
There to rest.
Older ones stand near him waiting
To be blessed”.

This young soloist did so very well. But I was consumed with a passionate jealousy. Jealous I was of the attention paid to her.

I wanted to be the “star young soprano” on that podium. I briefly hated her.

‘Round about that time a Mr. Eddie Iles was the leader of ministries to children and youth. He was self-confident and a bit arrogant.

He was a draughtsman at the local Bristol Aeroplane Company, but would have us believe that the entire “B.A.C” enterprise depended on him.

Eddie Iles would lead us in the singing of “choruses”, the staple musical diet of children in Gospel Halls.

To his credit, he would challenge us by asking if we knew the meaning of the words we had sung.

Once we sang “Jesus my Lord will love me for ever”. That song ended with the words

“Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity”.

“What does that mean?” he asked. Quick as a flash Gillian Mansfield raised her hand, with a “trying to be humble” look on her face.

Eddie Iles called upon Gillian, and of course she had the correct answer.

Again, I was filled with jealousy. Jealous of Gillian and her self-assured smile. Wanting to metaphorically “slap her” since she was so bright.

The girl who sang that solo is probably know about my age (64). Gillian Mansfield would be a few years older.

I wonder if they ever remember their triumphs in the Gospel Hall.

And I wonder why I, 54 years later, still remember them!

Thursday, 10 July 2008


I’ve had a couple of appointments with Doctors this week. Both were to decide what to do about my swollen left hand.

The first appointment was with my Primary Care Physician - the wonderful Dr. Kristin Paulus. The second was with a specialist in infectious diseases, with the thought that I might need more aggressive treatments for the infection which is causing the hand to swell. (That is yet to be determined).

In each case I arrived at the Doctors’ offices in good time. And in each case I was summoned to the examination room “on time”.

So far, so good. But again in each case I was greeted in the examination rooms by staff who did not identify themselves. I had no way of knowing who they were, and why they were taking my temperature and blood pressure.

I had to ask each of them who they were, and what they did!

Then in both cases I was left in the examination room with the words “The Doctor will be with you very soon”.

And in both cases I was left alone in those rooms for 30 minutes, expecting the Doctor “very soon”.

So I have two wee observations which have to do with courtesy.

First, when we are meeting a stranger, it is our job to identify ourselves.

Second, if we are likely to be more than 5 minutes late for an appointment, it’s kind to alert the other person, and to tell them why we are “running late”.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

At long last!

My dear Ecclesiastical Mother, the Church of England, did the right thing this week. The right thing was to approve the ordination of women priests as Bishop.

“What took you so long?” is the first question which came to my mind. After all, the first woman Bishop in the Episcopal Church, my beloved Bishop Barbara C Harris, was ordained Bishop in 1989.

But the dear old C of E made the right decision, even in the face of threats.

The threats were two-fold.

First: That this action will impede unity with the Church of Rome.

“So what?” I respond. “Rome has never been interested in any scheme of reunion which does not involve the recognition of the Pope as head of the Church“.

Second: That we will leave the C of E if women are ordained Bishop. The “we” in that sentence is the “we” of uber-conservatives in the C of E.

Such folks have been making such threats for at least 100 years. The threats are a tired old song.

But, more importantly, no family, or community, or voluntary association, should ever allow itself to be cowered by threats.

For those who make threats are bullies; and they always come back for more! They are never satisfied.

So - good for you dear Church of England as you move at a snail’s pace towards the “vision of God”.

And “good for anyone who reads this“ , and refuses to give in to threats and bullying.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Mosquitoes and Ducks

Some good folks have asked me “but what about all the bugs in Florida?”

“Wot bugs?” I ask.

To be sure I have my home sprayed four times each year, and I did once step on a nest of fire ants.

But I have never seen a cockroach anywhere near my home, and mosquitoes are wonderfully absent. I have had a mosquito bite but once in two years.

There are other larger critters, and I once stepped on a (harmless to humans) Rat Snake which had crept into my front porch. But I have to travel to a State park to see alligators.

No mosquitoes, and no Muscovy Ducks (this year).

Our pond usually has two or three families of Muscovy Ducks. But they are nowhere to be seen this year. And my favourite Anhinga has not returned.

Given climate change and air and water pollution, this is a bit worrisome.

As is the alarming decline of small birds in the United Kingdom.

The old fart leaders of the G8 countries now fiddle whilst mother earth “burns”.

And no leader, whether Pope, President, Prime Minister, or Prelate will address a major world issue.


Monday, 7 July 2008

This, that and the other

I spent the weekend off-line, trying to update my “Skype” internet ‘phone service, so that “caller I.D.” would work on Skype.

I do not believe that I succeeded. What I do know is that the sound system on my Computer has gone haywire.

Time to call in an expert! That’ll cost me about $85 an hour.

I traveled to St. Boniface Church on Sunday, forgetting that they are on summer schedule.

I was an hour early, but could not wait, as I had invited two friends to my home for Sunday lunch, (I grilled some terrific steak).

Back again at Res. House this morning. It was tough. It’s impossible to reply to six people who are asking questions, and requesting services at the same time. I was not always the model of restrained patience!

( In other words - I “blew a few people off”!)

I cannot always be “Mr. Sweetness and Light” and the Res. House guests know this, and in many ways respect it. They know that I am a flawed human, and they’d rather deal with this than deal with a plaster saint.

And I made not a few of our guests laugh or smile.

Back at home I checked the Sarasota County Sheriff’s arrest website.

‘Twas sad. I read of the arrests of six of my Res. House friends - all but one for minor violations. The City Police and the County Deputy Sheriffs are tough beyond words on the homeless.


When the weather is “normal” we get a thunderstorm with rain each afternoon in the summer.

It did not happen much last year (2007), but we seem to be back on track this year.

We had a massive and wonderful thunderstorm beginning at 16:30 Four hours later there is still a gentle rain. Good indeed for our rivers, ponds, gardens, reservoirs and aquifers.

I love rain! Must be cos I grew up in England!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

July 6th

I am back on line, and will blog again very soon