Saturday, 29 November 2008

Logy and Putzing

I’ve been feeling quite logy today (my blood pressure shot up), so I have been putzing around.

Apart from a quick visit to say “hi” to Ben, and to get some juice at the market, I have stayed at home.

I slept a lot.

I had time for inner reflection, and that was revelatory.

I wonder why I am often so prickly, so defensive.

And I set that alongside my “public” cheerful and funny self, and my habit of being spontaneously generous.

It is so odd to be human. Odd, I think, in the sense of our self and world awareness; and of our self critique.

Maybe the cats have it better, but I am not sure if they appreciate Beethoven!

My minor activities (cleaning the cats’ litter boxes; washing some sheer curtains; doing some ironing) left me quite tired, so it’ll be an early night, dosed up with a sleeping pill.

I seem to remember that we used “logy” in England. I am not so sure about “putzing”

So I looked up “logy” and “putzing” in an internet dictionary. (See below).

The origin of “logy” did not surprise me.

However I was intrigued by the (possible) Yiddish origin of “putz”/ “pots”.

lo•gy (l g )
adj. lo•gi•er, lo•gi•est
Characterized by lethargy; sluggish.
[Perhaps from Dutch log, heavy or variant of English loggy, heavy, sluggish, from log1.]

putz (p ts)
1. Slang A fool; an idiot.
2. Vulgar Slang A penis.
intr.v. putzed, putz•ing, putz•es Slang
To behave in an idle manner; putter.
[Yiddish pots, penis, fool.]

Friday, 28 November 2008

Sarasota Neighbourhoods - Downtown

It was very cold here on Thursday (Thanksgiving). Nonetheless I took myself to downtown SRQ and took the following photo’s of our public art and public buildings, plus a few other downtown sites


Here are my pics.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Thanksgiving I (of III)

Thanksgiving Day dawned cold and misty. That seemed right for one whose previous Thanksgivings have been in cooler Massachusetts.

I took the above photo' this morning, just outside my back door. Later I went downtown to photo' some public art and public building. These will be featured in my blog tomorrow.

Some 30 of us met for Thanksgiving Dinner at "Frugali" a local restaurant. K was able to be there despite his terrible illness.

Thanksgiving II (of III)

The biggest Supermarket chain in Florida is "Publix". I was so happy to see that their stores were closed on Thanksgiving.

I wrote Publix to express my appreciation for this enlightened labour policy. Here is their reply:

Thank you for your email. We appreciate our customers taking the time to contact us.We are happy to offer Thanksgiving Day off for our employees because we realize that they have families, too. We want them to pause to say "thanks" as well. Thank you for your nice comments, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. If we can be of any further assistance regarding this matter, please either call our Consumer Relations toll-free number at 1-800-242-1227, write us at the Publix Super Markets Corporate Office, PO Box 407, Lakeland, FL 33802, ATTN: Consumer Relations, or contact us at our website, and mention your reference number, # 579504.Sincerely,Leslie Spencer

Thanksgiving III (of III)

A dedicated volunteer gives back
Published: Thursday, November 27, 2008 at 1:00 a.m.

Once a client, Jessica Lines now volunteers 30 hours a week at Resurrection House, a resource center for the homeless.

Lines, 27 -- a single mother to Kyle, 7, Jayde Green, 5, and Markeyl Green, 4 -- battled drug addiction and homelessness. She conquered both in the past 23 months.

"Resurrection House really helped me; they put me in a hotel, helped me get an apartment, and helped me with a deposit for lights. They gave me clothes and bus passes so that I could go on job interviews."

Lines credits Resurrection House and Season of Sharing for enabling her to provide the recent stability that allowed Kyle and Jayde to achieve honor roll status at Booker Elementary School. Markeyl is enrolled in Head Start.

Kyle, Lines explained, is old enough to comprehend the hard times that his family has endured. "Kyle knows what is important," she said. "He has seen Mommy mess up and do it the hard way." As a result, Lines said, he understands the importance of an education.

Lines did not complete her schooling. She held a series of temporary jobs but, when she became involved with drugs, she became unemployable.

She overcame her addiction and has applied for employment at several stores and, through Jobs ETC., a host of other employers.

Lines dreams of a career as a certified nursing assistant. She is applying for grants to pay for her education; she needs $297 for tuition and $87 each for four books.

As the holiday season approaches, Lines' thoughts are simple; a job, improving her employment prospects, feeding and clothing her children and perhaps a few presents for them.

"My kids are so loving and sweet. They need clothes for cold weather, they are growing so fast."

Kyle has asked Santa for a PlayStation. Her girls asked for Care Bears and art supplies.
(P.S. I work with Jessica each time I am at Re House jmp)

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Thursday 27th November 2008 is the holiday called “Thanksgiving” in these United States.

It’s a good holiday. It is non-religious and non-sectarian. It brings us all together.

We enjoy each other without religious or gift bearing pressures.

Homeless people are fed well at Thanksgiving. I know of at least five Thanksgiving dinners for my homeless friends.

I am sure that they will get tired of “Lady Bountiful” (homeless people are supposed to be well versed in the art of gratitude), and of Turkey.

I’ll be at an Italian restaurant of all places. My friend “K” is dying and he wants to be with all his pals before he passes. We’ll be there to honour him, and we “pray” that he will be well enough to join us.

Happy Thanksgiving – my dear American friends.

Think of Americans with kindness if you live in another land.

And if you pray, please pray for K.


Then check your history. Maybe the "first Thanksgiving" was French and not English. See the following from the New York Times

November 26, 2008
Op-Ed Contributor
A French Connection

TO commemorate the arrival of the first pilgrims to America’s shores, a June date would be far more appropriate, accompanied perhaps by coq au vin and a nice Bordeaux. After all, the first European arrivals seeking religious freedom in the “New World” were French. And they beat their English counterparts by 50 years. That French settlers bested the Mayflower Pilgrims may surprise Americans raised on our foundational myth, but the record is clear.

Long before the Pilgrims sailed in 1620, another group of dissident Christians sought a haven in which to worship freely. These French Calvinists, or Huguenots, hoped to escape the sectarian fighting between Catholics and Protestants that had bloodied France since 1560.

Landing in balmy Florida in June of 1564, at what a French explorer had earlier named the River of May (now the St. Johns River near Jacksonville), the French émigrés promptly held a service of “thanksgiving.” Carrying the seeds of a new colony, they also brought cannons to fortify the small, wooden enclosure they named Fort Caroline, in honor of their king, Charles IX.

In short order, these French pilgrims built houses, a mill and bakery, and apparently even managed to press some grapes into a few casks of wine. At first, relationships with the local Timucuans were friendly, and some of the French settlers took native wives and soon acquired the habit of smoking a certain local “herb.” Food, wine, women — and tobacco by the sea, no less. A veritable Gallic paradise.

Except, that is, to the Spanish, who had other visions for the New World. In 1565, King Philip II of Spain issued orders to “hang and burn the Lutherans” (then a Spanish catchall term for Protestants) and dispatched Adm. Pedro Menéndez to wipe out these French heretics who had taken up residence on land claimed by the Spanish — and who also had an annoying habit of attacking Spanish treasure ships as they sailed by.

Leading this holy war with a crusader’s fervor, Menéndez established St. Augustine and ordered what local boosters claim is the first parish Mass celebrated in the future United States.

Then he engineered a murderous assault on Fort Caroline, in which most of the French settlers were massacred. Menéndez had many of the survivors strung up under a sign that read, “I do this not as to Frenchmen but as to heretics.” A few weeks later, he ordered the execution of more than 300 French shipwreck survivors at a site just south of St. Augustine, now marked by an inconspicuous national monument called Fort Matanzas, from the Spanish word for “slaughters.”

With this, America’s first pilgrims disappeared from the pages of history. Casualties of Europe’s murderous religious wars, they fell victim to Anglophile historians who erased their existence as readily as they demoted the Spanish settlement of St. Augustine to second-class status behind the later English colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth.

But the truth cannot be so easily buried. Although overlooked, a brutal first chapter had been written in the most untidy history of a “Christian nation.” And the sectarian violence and hatred that ended with the deaths of a few hundred Huguenots in 1565 would be replayed often in early America, the supposed haven for religious dissent, which in fact tolerated next to none.

Starting with those massacred French pilgrims, the saga of the nation’s birth and growth is often a bloodstained one, filled with religious animosities. In Boston, for instance, the Puritan fathers banned Catholic priests and executed several Quakers between 1659 and 1661. Cotton Mather, the famed Puritan cleric, led the war cries against New England’s Abenaki “savages” who had learned their prayers from the French Jesuits.

The colony of Georgia was established in 1732 as a buffer between the Protestant English colonies and the Spanish missions of Florida; its original charter banned Catholics.

The bitter rivalry between Catholic France and Protestant England carried on for most of a century, giving rise to anti-Catholic laws, while a mistrust of Canada’s French Catholics helped fire many patriots’ passion for independence. As late as 1844, Philadelphia’s anti-Catholic “Bible Riots” took the lives of more than a dozen people.

The list goes on. Our history is littered with bleak tableaus that show what happens when righteous certitude is mixed with fearful ignorance.

Which is why this Thanksgiving, as we express gratitude for America’s bounty and promise, we would do well to reflect on all our histories, including a forgotten French one that began on Florida’s shores so many years ago.

Kenneth C. Davis is the author of “America’s Hidden History: Untold Tales of the First Pilgrims, Fighting Women and Forgotten Founders Who Shaped a Nation.”

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Times are tough - what are you feeling?

I was with a group of sensible Priests this morning. We talked about what people are “feeling” given the present dire state of our economies - in just about every country.

I, being something of a contrarian, challenged my colleagues. I wanted to know if they were reporting “what they thought” people were feeling, or “what they knew about people’s feelings – via first hand conversations”.

No-one responded in a way which satisfied me. It seemed that they were responding
from “what they thought people were thinking”, rather from what people had in fact told them.

So I ask you to please add a comment to this blog.

Tell me (and other readers) what you are “feeling” at the moment. Please do not post economic analyses.

Rather, post from your gut, your heart, your bowels.

What do you feel in these shaky economic days?

Please add your comment.

Monday, 24 November 2008

The things I see.

1. When I walk each morning I see two lovely “human made” lakes with various aquatic birds getting ready for the daylight. Most mornings I see marvellous sunrises with the lakes all golden. I see other walkers. Many are with their dogs - and they are now my friends (the dogs not the owners!).

2. When I walk on the business streets nearby I see all too much trash. You never see this when you drive.

3. If I walk downtown I see so many businesses with no customers. Life is tough for small time entrepreneurs. I wonder how they hang on.

4. When walking downtown I also see many of the homeless. This happened today. After lunch with my co-volunteers Len and Carol Higby, I walked back to my car and encountered some of my Res House friends. Leo was there. He said “Pastor Michael, you make me feel edgy”. I sat on the park bench alongside him and asked “why is that?” He replied “oh that does not matter, but I love you”.

5. As I drive around town I see many signs. One, at a cafe, says “free coffee with breakfast or lunch”. Another, at an apartment complex, reads “free gas or food for a year if you rent”. At many street intersections I see folks with signs which they wave - signs for this business or another. The “wavers” are paid about six bucks an hour for their thankless task. Their signs are a “sign” that business is bad.

6. And I see the lovely faces of homeless women and men at Res House.

I am grateful for the gift of sight.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

More about Sarasota - Siesta Key

There are four “Keys” in this area.

“Key” is the Florida word for a barrier Island.

Three of them are Bird Key, Lido Key, and Longboat Key (linked to each other, and to the mainland by bridges and causeways).

The fourth is Siesta Key - with its totally lovely beaches.

I now attend Church, and am an affiliated Priest at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key. This Key is linked to the mainland by two drawbridges.

“Boniface” was born in Crediton, Devon as Winfryth. He was named Boniface (Good Deeds) by a Pope.


St. Boniface Church is a wonderful parish. It has good music, very fine preaching, and excellent liturgy. It is a parish Church which is open to ALL God’s people.

The Revd Andi (Andrea) Taylor is one of the full time Priests. I knew and adored her when she was in Lexington, MA.

I’ve also gotten to know the Revd. Jack Chrisman, and his wife Donna. Jack is both a retired Priest and a retired U.S Navy Captain.

I had a fabulous lunch with Jack and Donna at their home after Church today.

And I always sit with the wonderful Adrian and Anno Swain. (I’d gotten to know Anno at Resurrection House where she volunteers on Wednesdays)

Later I saw a silly but amusing play at the Florida Studio Theatre - (a Murder, a Mystery, and Marriage) based on a short story by Mark Twain.

After the show I had dinner at Ceviche in SRQ with Ben and our friends Bill and Patrick. We were joined by one of the actors from the play (Andy Paterson) and his wife Tina.