Saturday, 13 November 2010


The release from house arrest (for now) of the incredible Burmese matriot, Aung San Suu Kyi, leads me to tell you of other “matriots” whose biographies I have chosen to read in recent months.

The word “matriot” may not be in any dictionary but I have created it to identify incredible women who have served humanity in courageous, wise and skilful ways.

I have recently read biographies of the following:

1.       Eleanor of Aquitaine 1122-1204 – a powerful woman in an age when men ruled.

2.      Queen Elizabeth I of England  1533-1603 – skilful, cunning and wise monarch – known as “Gloriana”; the “Virgin Queen”  (for whom the American State of Virginia is named); and “Good Queen Bess”

3.      Anne Hutchinson of Boston 1591-1643 - she dared to be a religious teacher and “took on” the male leadership of Church and State in Boston.

4.      Queen Anne of Great Britain 1665-1714.  The last of the Stuart Monarchs; The very first Monarch of the United Kingdoms of Scotland and England; A staunch supporter of the Church of England.

5.      Elizabeth Cady Stanton 1815-1902. Brilliant strategist for the rights of women.

6.      Ida Tarbell 1857-1944.  The first “investigative journalist” whose painstaking and accurate reporting led to the break-up of John Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Trust monopoly. 

7.      Gertrude Bell 1868-1926. Courageous explorer and expert on Mesopotamia. If only the “Bullshit Brothers” (Pres. George W Bush and P.M. Tony Blair) had followed her wisdom before the recent ill-fated adventurism in Iraq.

    8. Dorothy Parker 1893-1967.  Known to most as “not much more than a great wit”.  In fact she was a tireless advocate for human rights and justice.

Now I have started to read a biography of Catherine the Great of Russia (1729-1796).

I need to know about these women lest I fall into the deceitful trap of understanding history as only  a male affair.

Please send me your suggestions for further reading about the women who have changed and shaped our world.

Friday, 12 November 2010

A "Dinner Party Movement"

As I walked out with my dog this morning I began to muse on what I might eat for lunch.

Perhaps I could make some cole-slaw and eat it with a bit of ham.  Or maybe I could defrost some of my home made lamb soup.  Of course there was also the possibility of fixing a bit of tuna salad, and enjoying it with lettuce and tomato.   Or I could choose to visit a host of local restaurants where the range of lunch items would be more than enough to enable me to make a good choice.

In the end I settled for lunch at home. I ate sardines on toast, with a garnish of tasty tomato. ‘Twas a simple and satisfying meal.

I went on to muse about the millions of Americans who would have next to no choice about what to eat for lunch. 

Then my mind took me to the billion or more folks in our world who would have no lunch whatsoever.   

I began to realise how lucky I am to have so many choices; and how blessed I am to face each day knowing that three square meals are at hand.

In just a few days I will sit down with friends for what I know will be a sumptuous Thanksgiving Dinner.

This for me will herald a “Dinner Party Movement” filled with gratitude and humility, rather than a “Tea Party Movement” filled with anxiety and anger.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


At about 5:30 p.m. today I viewed the ending of the day from my Lanai.  I am so blessed/lucky to have a super view of the Pond which is at the heart of Glen Oaks Ridge, Sarasota where I live.

The beauty of this evening led me to a sadness which I knew as a child.  As a little boy, 60 years ago, I would get sad at the end of the day as the summer sun “went down”.

Perhaps it was not sadness.  Maybe it was more like wistfulness or longing.

The Welsh language has a good word which identifies what I felt all those years ago; and what I felt today. It is “Hiraeth”. 

Hiraeth is Welsh word that has no direct English translation. However, the University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness.

I felt that mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness this evening.'

I think that it is a yearning for the Kingdom and Justice of God.

I have experienced Hiraeth for most of my life.

Here are some photo's  taken from my Lanai.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

How many degrees of separation?

Episcopalians live in a very small Church.

For example:  Reg, the Senior Warden of my home parish (St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL) recently took a trip to New Orleans, where he took a tour of some of the glorious Victorian Homes in that City.

At one of the houses he “happened” to mention that our current  South West Florida Bishop, (Dabney Smith), had lived a door or two away when he served a parish in “NOLA” (New Orleans, Louisiana).

Upon the mention of the Diocese of South West Florida, another tourist pricked up his ears and asked Reg:  “Do you know an Episcopal Priest named Michael Povey who has retired to Sarasota?”

Reg admitted that he knew me.

The other tourist identified himself as John S.  He further related that he is the partner of David, a Priest in the Diocese of Newark.

Gosh-and-be-golly -  David and I were colleagues in the Diocese of Western Mass.  In fact he served with me at St. Stephen’s, Pittsfield, MA, and he became the interim Rector when I left there in 2000.

I had lunch with David and with John S. when they were on vacation in Sarasota last year.

The Episcopal Church is very small!  And I suspect that there are but two or three (not six) degrees of separation in God’s good world.

So:  Reg the Senior Warden of the parish at which I am a member went to NOLA.

There he encountered John, the partner of David.   

David served with me at St. Stephen's, Pittsfield.

Cool, cool, cool!!!!!!!! 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Denise and Elizabeth

Denise worked at the local car dealership at which I get my Hyundai serviced. She is one of the most friendly, helpful and honest service clerks I have ever met. She left there last Friday to move to Brandon, FL some 60 miles. I saw her on Friday and was able to wish her all the best in this new part of her life.
When I retrieved my car the next day I was attended to by Bob, her manager. I ventured that I would miss Denise. “Not as much as I” he said, “she is one of the finest people I’ve ever worked with”. What a lovely tribute.


I am reading biography of Queen Elizabeth I (it’s by Alison Weir, and was published by Ballantine Books in 1998). Weir recounts that the Earl of Oxford broke wind when bowing before the Queen. He was so ashamed that he went into a self-imposed exile from the Royal Court for seven years. Upon his return, Elizabeth warmly received him, then said, with a mischievous twinkle, “My Lord, I had forgot the fart.”

Monday, 8 November 2010

I'm back

I am glad to be back on line with my blog.

It’s had a bit of a makeover, thanks to new templates from Google. I reduced the number of “labels” (there are probably still too many), and re-organised the right hand column so that it now shows information in a descending order of importance.

My brother Martyn got a preview of “the new look” (as well he should), and he likened it to how we all look smarter when we’ve had a new hair-cut or hair style. He liked this particular “hair-do”!

Let me know what you think.

I chatted today with my friends from St. John’s College, Nottingham, UK days, David and Alison Veness. They live in St. Alban’s, Hertfordshire, U.K. David made a friendly comment about my “rants”. He got it right!

Many years ago my colleagues and I in Berkshire County, Massachusetts would endure the rants of a Priest who was a “curmudgeon of the right”. I vowed then that I would become a “curmudgeon of the left”.

I am fulfilling that vow when I “rant” on “Povey Prattle”!