Saturday, 27 February 2010

The impossiblity of language

It’s been a cold, cloudy and rainy day (Feb 27th 2010) here in Sarasota. The morning temperature did not rise above 45 degrees F (7 degrees C).

That may seem warm for those of you who live in the Atlantic and New England States of the U.S.A, or in southern England and Wales, but it felt miserable for those of us who live in Florida (the “Sunshine State”).

At about10:00 a.m. I parked my car near a thrift store, where I’d planned to buy a warm sweatshirt.

No sooner I had gotten out of my car when an older man approached me and said: “Sunshine Club?”

I thought that he was “tongue in cheek” referring to our miserable weather.

So I suggested that the sun was shining in other States by saying “Hawaii?” with an implied question in my tone of voice.

He replied (having mis-heard me) “I am fine thanks”.

After a few seconds we realised that our conversation was off-balance.

It turns out that the parking lot was a gathering place for the “Sunshine Auto Club”, of which I knew not a sou.

Hence his opening question ”Sunshine Club?”

He had thought that I was a member of the "Sunshine Auto Club".

Friday, 26 February 2010

God and Sex

I am grateful to my friend Megan T –B who sent me an e-mail with this quotation from Butch Hancock



“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you're going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.”

Megan’s e-mail led me to these other bon-mots from Butch.

Butch Hancock was a founding member of the Flatlanders.  See

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Worth a giggle! (via my brother Martyn)


The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate and food does not stake a claim for it becoming your food and dish, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the bottom is not the object. Tripping me doesn't help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort, however. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years - canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat's butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:


(1) They live here. You don't.
(2) If you don't want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture. That's why they call it 'fur'-niture.
(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.
(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don't speak clearly.

Remember, dogs and cats are better than kids because they:
(1) eat less,
(2) don't ask for money all the time,
(3) are easier to train,
(4) normally come when called,
(5) never ask to drive the car,
(6) don't smoke or drink,
(7) don't want to wear your clothes,
(8) don't have to buy the latest fashions,
(9) don't need a gazillion dollars for college and
(10) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children ...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Mennonites in Sarasota

I have made previous reference to the fact that Sarasota is home to many Amish and Mennonite Christians.

Some are "snow birds". Others are "year-rounders".

I scanned the following photo' from a local weekly newspaper, hence its less than perfect quality.

It is a cool photo' of a group of Mennonite women, and one man, as they wait for a local 'bus.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Circus Sarasota

On Sunday last I, with my guest Betsy, went to a performance by “Circus Sarasota”. It was magnificent.

“Circus Sarasota” was founded in 1997 by Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs.

Dolly is a daughter of the famous American Clown, Lou Jacobs. (see

The mission of “Circus Sarasota” is to “Entertain, Educate, and Enrich”.

Enrich. C.S. has a year round programme called “Laughter Unlimited” which enriches the lives of seniors in nursing homes, children in hospitals, and people with cancer.

Educate. C.S. has a State of Florida approved educational program with school-children in grades K – 8. This program enables sciences such as “physics” to come alive as the students consider (say) juggling or wire walking. “What are the physics of juggling?” Think about that for a while!

Entertain. C.S. has a one ring circus which takes us back to the days before “Circus” was absorbed into “show-biz” or the entertainment industry. By that I mean that audience members can understand and enjoy the acts as if the performers were folks who live next door. (Which indeed they are).


So it was that Betsy and I enjoyed Casey Boehmer, a juggler who was born with only one arm. (A “one armed juggler” sounds like a joke, but this was real and the act was stupendous..

Then there was “Foot Juggling” (known as the Risley act), in which 10 or 12 years old Fabio Anastasini was juggled by and on the feet of his brother (or uncle) Giuliani Anastasini.

The show stopper was by the “Fabulous Wallenders” who pulled off the astonishing high wire act known as the “Seven person chair pyramid” with Sarasota native Nik Wallenda - see

Betsy and I thoroughly enjoyed the show.

I will not speak for her, but for me this was because:

1. I could see the performers as if they were folks who live just down the road (which some of them do!).

2. The enormous dedication of the performers to the skills of their acts was impressive and entirely admirable.

3. The entre-act clown, “Renaldo” was brilliant in the ways in which he involved people from the audience.

4. Circus is not simply about the acts. More importantly, it is about the ways in which the acts are presented.

In that sense it has something in common with good food.

(Good food is good because of (a) the ingredients, (b) the ways in which those ingredients are combined and cooked, (c) the art of presenting that good food on the plate, (d) the engagement of the diners at the table ).

1 - 4 are true about Circus Sarasota. I believe that they should also be true about worship in our parish and local churches.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Tour guide

I have been tour guide all day for my friend Betsy who is visiting from Pittsfield, and we've yet to go out for dinner!

So I will do my circus blog tomorrow,

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sarasota and the Circus (1)

The transformation of Sarasota from a sleepy fishing town to a major resort is due to two people. 

There was the famous and brilliant Bertha Honore Palmer, about whom I’ll write some more another day.

And there was John Ringling, world famous for the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus.  Ringling made (and then lost in the great depression) a great fortune, not from circus, but from land purchase and development.

But his circus had its winter quarters in Sarasota from 1927 – 1960.  That’s led to a great historical identification of Sarasota with circus.

(My home is built on land which had been those winter quarters!).

See these links for some stuff about circus and Sarasota.

Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about my attendance  at  “Circus Sarasota”  -  a fabulous experience of  “old time circus”.