Saturday, 19 March 2011

English as the official language of these United States?

There's yet another effort (sigh!) to declare English to be the official language of the United States of America.

If it succeeds I wonder what we shall call "Grand Teton" Mountain?

Just askin'

Friday, 18 March 2011

Female peacocks?

From the Longboat Key (FL) Observer.

(Beginning of Observer story)

Kip O’Neill hears the peacocks stomping on the roof of her Longbeach Village home every morning. When she takes a quick trip to Publix, she returns to find that peacocks have torn up her plants. And, recently, when she went to her neighborhood book club discussion, participants had to use a side entrance because the peacocks had left behind droppings near the front of the house.

“It’s hard to live like this when every day there’s something peacock-related,” she said.

Although the peacocks are controversial — some residents love them, while others hate them — many Village residents say that the current system for removal, for which the town gives the Longbeach Village Association money, most recently $2,400 last March, to hire a company to remove the birds, doesn’t work.

Former Longboat Key Town Commissioner Gene Jaleski, who worked to bring the peacock issue to the commission’s attention two years ago, said that he counted at least 20 female peacocks on a recent walk down Broadway and estimates that the Village is home to about two-dozen females and 20 to 30 males. 
And he worries that because spring is mating season, the population will explode, because each female can hatch six chicks each season — and that could result in a higher bill for taxpayers.

“The situation the town created didn’t work,” said Jaleski, noting that the current system has essentially left one person in charge of removal.

Michael Drake, who, as president of the Longbeach Village Association, is often in charge of arranging the peacock removal, said that he wants to change the town’s ordinance so that peacock removal is a town responsibility.

“The problem is that, because it’s in our neighborhood, the town has always taken the position that we have to be the ringmaster,” Drake said.

Drake said that a peacock roundup to relocate the birds will occur in the next couple of months. But he said that the peacock problem is too often thought of as a Village problem, rather than a town problem.

“If this were in Country Club Shores, believe me, the president would not be the steward of removing the peacocks,” he said.

Ouch!  What the hell are “female peacocks”?    Does no one at this paper know that the birds are called “peafowl”, and that the males are “peacocks”, the females are “peahens”. (jmp)

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Yeah for NPR. Fie on Republican Representatives - (and memories from many years ago)

As an avid listener to National Public Radio (in these United States), I am angered and distressed that our Republican dominated House of Representatives has voted to cut off all funding to NPR.

It seems to me that our current crop of Republican legislators are in thrall to the appalling “Fox News” (a Rupert Murdoch propaganda machine), and are opposed to the brilliant and insightful programmes which come our way via NPR.

The fabulous “Diane Rehm Show” is a classic example of the non-partisan programming which NPR enables.
There is no other broadcast media which would enable us to listen to programmes such as this one which featured the courageous women of Afghanistan   see:

Thank goodness for NPR, (which brings us the stories which the mainstream media has ignored).

As I listened to this NPR/Diane Rehm programme my mind was turned to my youth.  I have faded memories of the days when my older sisters (Maureen and Jean) bought paper patterns, which they pinned out on material (fabrics) they had bought in order to make dresses or skirts. 
Having cut out the material from the paper pattern, they used my Mum’s old treadle operated Singer Sewing Machine to make a new garment.

My older sisters also experimented with “home perms”.   Some of us will remember the old print ads:  “Which Twin has the Toni?” home perms which they used.  The stink was awful!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Great Americans in 17th and 21st Century Massachusetts

I was in my element this afternoon as I delivered a lecture on Anne Marbury Hutchinson at All Angels Church in Longboat Key, FL. I lectured for about 45 minutes, and then took questions. What fun. Anne Hutchinson is one of my heroes. See:

 (you may have to cut and paste these links into your browser)  


and also


Meanwhile in Massachusetts Bob Massie is preparing to run as a candidate for election to the U.S. Senate. See:

It matters not to me if you are a Democratic, Republican, Independent, Libertarian, or Tea Party.

What does matter to me is that Bob and his family are dear friends of mine. They were parishioners at St. James’s in Cambridge, MA where I was Rector from 2000- 2006. I enjoyed their friendship and hospitality on so many occasions. I believe that Bob Massie could be a GREAT Senator. I am sorry that I will not be able to vote for him (I am now a resident of Florida), but I have indeed sent a few dollars to his campaign.

Sam, Anne, Katie, Bob  and John Massie

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The "news" is all too much.

The headline news: First it was Tunisia.  Then Egypt. Then Libya.

Next we were taken to New Zealand and the ghastly earthquake in Christ Church.  Then back to Libya for a day or two.

Moving on we were directed to Japan, and an even more awful earthquake, tsunami, and possible nuclear catastrophe.

No matter where we get news -  from radio, T.V., internet, or those old fashioned things known as newspapers, the news has been the same.

Tunisia. Egypt. Libya. New Zealand. Libya again.   And now Japan.

Even as we express our concern about Japan we forget New Zealand.

Even as we fret about Libya we forget Iraq, Afghanistan and the “jokers in the pack” -  Iran and Israel.


Ron and Charlotte worry themselves sick about the cancer which is all to present in the body of their daughter-in-law Liz.

Martyn and Wendy are still so very concerned about Brenda’s cancer.

Elliot wonders “what will be” as his partner Jesse battles that same old bastard known as cancer.

In Sarasota, four teenagers were killed in a horrid road accident, two of them from the same family.

There is more bad news that I/we can comprehend.

But life goes on.

So I feed the cats, walk the dog, make dinner, do the dishes, prepare a talk for Wednesday 16th and a sermon for Sunday 20th.

Life goes on from day to day.  It has to. For sometimes the “big news”  is all too much.

Monday, 14 March 2011

That was the week that was.

The eight days between March 6th and 13th were filled with riches.

Sunday 6th saw me presiding at St. Boniface’s 9:00 a.m. Eucharist -  a joy and honour for me!  

In the afternoon I was at the Sarasota Opera for a performance of Verdi’s “I Lombardi Alla Prima Crociarta” (The Lombards on the First Crusade).  It’s one of Verdi’s early operas.  The musicians were excellent, but it’s not much of an opera!  Nonetheless, I was so happy to be able to “dress up and get out”.

On Shrove Tuesday our wonderful English parishioner M-riel Qu-nn hosted a lovely feast in her home.  The company was good and the food was excellent. As a bonus we were treated to some live after dinner music from a pianist and a cellist.

I was back at St. Boniface’s for the early (7:30 a.m.) Ash Wednesday service -  which led me into a peaceful. meditative and quiet day.

By Thursday I was ready for dinner with my Pittsfield friends J-ack and P-t Mc.Laughl-n.  They now live in New Hampshire, and come here every year for a three week visit. After my liver and onions (yummy!), we were off to Sarasota’s Van Wezel Performing Arts Centre for a superb all Beethoven Concert.

The music included his Leonore Overture # 2 -  always a crowd pleaser (and memory tells me that it was one of Dad’s  particular favourites.  

Then we were delighted by the twenty one year old Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin, the very fine soloist for the Beethoven Piano Concerto #3.   

After the intermission we (all three of us) were spellbound by a performance of  the Symphony # 3, (The Eroica - [Heroic]).

This  is the symphony which Beethoven originally dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte. When the composer heard that “Old Boney” had declared himself Emperor, he tore the title page in half -  filled with disgust that Bonaparte had betrayed egalitarian and democratic ideals.

To be at a concert produces a different affect than that when music is heard on the radio or from a recording.  What struck me last Thursday is that the flute is a rather small instrument, yet without the flute bit’s the entire symphony would have been dead in the water.  Yeah for flautists -  or as they are now called - flutists.

Saturday saw me on the Boniface Eco-Stewardship Teams’ sponsored boat trip on Sarasota Bay.  I learned a lot from the Mote Marine Laboratory biologist who was on board to give his commentary.  (I posted some pics of this tour the other day).

Sunday 13th was  “dress up all day”.  

I was back at Church in the a.m.  (and grateful to be sitting in the pew with my friends Adrian and Anno and their adult son Ken).

Then it was off to the Opera again -  my final visit this season.  

We heard a 20th Century Opera “The Crucible” which was first performed in 1961. The composer, Robert Ward, it still alive and had attended the first night of this Opera in Sarasota.  The libretto by Bernard Stambler is based on Arthur Miller’s famous play of the same name.  It deals with the horrendous “witch trials” in Salem, MA in the 1690’s.

I am sometime timid about modern classical music and opera, but yesterday’s performance was stunningly wonderful.   Oh, how good it felt to get out of myself, and into something new.

The eight days ended with dinner out on Longboat Key with my friends (The Revd) Fred Emrich and his wife, Diana Emrich.  Fred and I were colleagues in Massachusetts, and some of you will remember that I two summers ago visited the Emrich’s on the island called North Haven in Maine’s Penobscot Bay.

Fred and Diana love my dog Penne  (in fact they were guests at my house just a couple of days after I’d adopted Penne in March 2009).   So Penne was able to come along for the ride -  and she enjoyed the dinner party as much as I did -  or so she told me this morning!

All this was in a week in which Gadhafi unleashed the guns of war            against his own people, and the earthquake/tsunami wrought unbelievable death and destruction in Japan.

As I set those “events” (and many other under-reported world tragedies) against my own life, I realise yet again that I have so many privileges, freedoms and joys.  

I am grateful.

Sunday, 13 March 2011