Saturday, 17 January 2009


A mixture or miscellany.

Though this is now used mainly in a figurative sense, it was first attached in English to a dish of chopped meat, anchovies and eggs, garnished with onions, lemon juice, oil and other condiments. A right dog’s breakfast, in fact. We know that the word came to us in the seventeenth century from the French salmigondis, of which older spellings in that language were salmiguondin and salmingondin. Here the line of linguistic footprints ceases, and we must cast about to pick up the trail again. One theory is that it was a dish first prepared for the French king Henri IV (or Henri VI in another version) by a nobleman’s wife, after whom it was named. Another, more prosaic but more plausible, is that it derives from the Italian phrase salame conditi, “pickled meat”. Yet another says it comes from the French salemine, “salted food” and condir, “to season”. In English the name was corrupted to Solomon-gundy in the eighteenth century, and it’s probable that it’s related to the name in the children’s rhyme: “Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday, christened on Tuesday, married on Wednesday, took ill on Thursday, worse on Friday, died on Saturday, buried on Sunday, that is the end of Solomon Grundy”, which was first set down by James Orchard Halliwell in 1842.


The above is from a web page. But the word is now used more often in its figurative sense.

(Anne Read of St. James’s, Cambridge first introduced me to this meaning.)

So here is my SALMAGUNDI for today.

1. I am a people pleasing wimp. The Men’s Fellowship at All Angels Church on Longboat Key invited me (at short notice) to be their guest speaker on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.
I should have refused the invitation so that I could watch the inauguration of Barack Obama as President, live on T.V. at Noon that day.

But the people pleaser in me prevailed. I said “yes” to their invitation.

2. I am becoming a Face book addict. I check it three or four times a day. But the “six degrees of separation” rule works very well on Face book, and I have been able to contact not a few old friends.

3. Curtis Roosevelt, grandson of FDR and Eleanor has written a lovely memoir of his upbringing in the White House. It is called “Too Close To The Sun”

I know Curtis and have stayed with him and his wife in France where they live. So I bought the book, and mailed the dust cover to Curtis, asking for his autograph. He returned the dust jacket by mail – it arrived today – with a most generous inscription: “To my good friend Michael Povey”.

So not only am I a people pleasing wimp. I am also a name dropper!

4. I have to take my cat Ada to the vet on Tuesday for some booster shots.

The letter from the vet says (quote) :

"Please bring a fecal sample to test for worms.
All pets over 7 years of age should also bring a urine sample!"

I wonder. (a) Why does the vet need my fecal sample? and (b) How do I persuade Ada to bring a urine sample.

I am a people pleasing wimp and a name dropper. I am also silly.

5 I saw a bumper sticker on a car in my neighbourhood this afternoon. It read “CHRIST CHANGED MY LIFE”. I wanted to ask the owner “for better, or for worse?”

“People pleasing, name dropping, silly - and also cynical”

SALAMAGUNDI to you too!

Friday, 16 January 2009


My Brasilian guest, has gone away for the weekend with some of his college friends. These young women and men will be partying on Florida’s east coast.

This morning (January 16th) I said to him, “this will be a welcome mid-term break for both of us”. (He has been here since December 17th)

He is a first class house guest, and I have no complaints. But I am glad for some time alone, and he will be glad to be with his peers as they “party”.

I am relishing the solitude. I decided not to join my other pals at bowling so that I could indulge my “Garboesque” mood.

I did a wee bit of shopping to get some urgently needed new bed sheets. They were on sale at Target for $13.98 - bottom fitted sheet, top sheet, and two pillow cases.

I also laid in some stocks of pickled crispy asparagus. That will be good for nibbling tomorrow before lunch here with my guests; James, Orlando and Ben. I’ve already made a hearty and spicy Black Bean Soup, so lunch will be simple indeed.

This balance between activity and solitude is “right up my alley”. I am fortunate indeed to be able to indulge in this pattern and way of life.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Reverting to an old role

Yesterday I assisted St. Boniface, SRQ Rector Ted Copeland at a funeral.

It was for the Revd. Keith Hedrick a retired Episcopal Priest who lived here with his partner of 36 years, the Revd. Bob Lewis (also a retired Episcopal Priest). Keith and Bob became my friends when I retired here.

This was my first funeral in 2 ½ years. I slipped easily into the familiar liturgy.

What was “different” was to look out into the congregation and to see just about all of the lesbian and gay friends I have met in SRQ. It was very moving to minister communion to folks I normally see at bowling, cocktail parties or dinners.

All but three of them had never before seen me in my ecclesiastical finery, let alone at the Altar. They’ve known me as a retired Priest, but never seen me “in action”. One man was moved to tears at the sight of his bowling buddy (me) assisting Ted Copeland at this funeral.

And I was honored to play a small part as the Church committed one of her Priests, the Revd. Keith Hedrick into the care of the Loving God.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Saul Alinsky and Barack Obama

I prepare my blog entries as a Microsoft Word document before posting them. It was the Word document which I deleted in error yesterday. I lost what I had written about Barack Obama and Saul Alinsky.

So here I go again.

Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) became famous as a community organizer in Chicago, IL. Wikipedia has this to say about him

Mr. Alinsky was a hero for those on the Left, and a dangerous radical for those on the Right.

I am on the Left, and I would say that he had great gifts, skills and abilities to organize disparate groups (e.g. Churches, Synagogues, Labour Unions, and Employers) to work for social justice from within the system, i.e. not as revolutionary outsiders.

(I worked for a bit with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organisation (GBIO) which used Alinsky methods to agitate for issues such as Health Insurance reform, Immigrant rights, and fair wages for Nursing Home employees).

(GBIO was able to build a coalition of Church/Synagogue/Mosque member, with Labour leaders and Politicians to effect real and substantive change in the Massachusetts health care systems. The leaders were very effective – but also a bit “Messianic”.)

President-elect Barack Obama was a community organizer in Chicago. Aye indeed, you’ve got it. He was a “disciple” of Saul Alinsky, and used Alinsky-ian methods.

Much of Obama’s success in the Presidential campaign was a result of his ability to unite otherwise disparate groups in a common cause: viz - his election as an agent of change.

Since the election he has continued in this Alinsky-ian mode. Hence, his inclusion of Republicans in his Cabinet. He is building a coalition for change.

(And indeed “change we need”. But under Obama it will not be a change from the left, nor from the right. It will be a change of the willing.)

It is with these Alinsky-ian spectacles that I view his choice of Pastors to lead prayers at the various Inaugural events.

There is the odious and homophobic Rick Warren from the Christian Right.

And then the courageous and bible centered Bishop Gene Robinson from the Christian Left.

In my book, one Gene Robinson does not equal as many as ten Rick Warrens. But I understand Obama’s decisions: i.e. the inclusion of Pastors from the left and from the right.

But this also begs the question of why “who cares a sh-t” about who offers prayer at the Presidential inaugurations?

And if indeed we care I ask: “ why are there no women, no Jews, no Muslims, no Buddhists &c, &c, &c? to “pray” at the inaugural events?”

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

In the big scheme

In the big scheme of things it does not matter.

But I lost the long piece I wrote tonight about Barack Obama, Saul Alinsky and Bishop Gene Robinson.

So I'll say bon nuit for today, and try to recover what I lost tomorrow.

Sleep well dear readers. That's what I must do.


Monday, 12 January 2009

What the blazes can I blog about tonight?

1. I hate Windows Vista.

What a crummy product. My updater has failed, and there is not a damn thing I can do to restore it. Boo to Bill Gates and Microsoft. Next time I’ll buy a MAC

2. A corny joke!

The pastor asked if anyone in the congregation would like to express praise for answered prayers. A lady stood and walked to the podium.

She said, "I have a praise to express. Two months ago, my husband, Tom, had a terrible bicycle wreck and his scrotum was completely crushed. The pain was excruciating and the doctors didn't know if they could help him."

You could hear a muffled gasp from the men in the congregation as they imagined the pain that poor Tom must have experienced.

"Tom was unable to hold me or the children," she went on, "and every move caused him terrible pain. We prayed as the doctors performed a delicate operation, and it turned out they were able to piece together the crushed remnants of Tom's scrotum, and wrap wire around it to hold it in place."

Again, the men in the congregation were unnerved and squirmed uncomfortably as they imagined the horrible surgery performed on Tom.

"Now," she announced in a quavering voice, "thank the Lord, Tom is out of the hospital and the doctors say that with time, his scrotum should recover completely."

All the men sighed with relief.

The pastor rose and tentatively asked if anyone else had something to say.

A man stood up and walked slowly to the podium. He said, "I'm Tom."

The entire congregation held its breath.

"I just want to tell my wife that the word is sternum."