Saturday, 16 November 2013

A fervent (U.K.) Bristolian

My hometown newspaper the Bristol Post (formerly the Bristol Evening Post)  reported on a photographic competition called "24 hours in Bristol".

Here is the winning photo'  . (Bristol Temple Meads Station is one of the many  wonderful Victorian Railway Stations in the U.K.)

The Bristol Post goes on to say:

First prize went to Andy Coffin, from Bristol, for his photo called Temple Meads Station 2, which showed bikes left at the railway station by morning commuters.

He has won a prize valued at £3,000, ($5000?)  which includes a top of the range Olympus E-PL5 VF4 camera kit.

A spokesman from the city’s tourism organisation Destination Bristol said: “Bristol is the UK’s first cycle city with a large majority of its workers commuting by bicycle.

“Bristol also has an indelible industrial past, with Brunel at its helm.

“The image of the cycles against the backdrop of Temple Meads sums up the mornings here in Bristol.

“Cycling to work, sustainable environmentally-friendly travel and the way the morning light creeps into Temple Meads station casting shadows upon the frames of these vehicles really nail the Bristol experience".


As a "Bristolian in exile" I add my own comment:  "I think that this is a fabulous photo' which does my home city proud"


More about the competition here:

Click on Gallery for many more 24 hours in Bristol photo's.

Friday, 15 November 2013

The larger than life Barbara Ann Hanger

Barbara Ann (Frye) Hanger
1937 - 2014
On Saturday November 16th at St. Stephen's Parish  (Episcopal) in Pittsfield MA Barbara Hanger will be remembered, mourned, and committed to God's eternal care.
Life often brings us unexpected gifts which enrich our lives beyond all measure. Mine was to be Barbara's Rector and Pastor from 1984 - 2000, and beloved friend for the next thirteen years.
I think of her as being faithful and feisty.
She was faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ in whom she had a deep and abiding trust.
She was faithful to the Episcopal church in Pittsfield where she was deeply loved, trusted and respected as a leader.
She was faithful to her heritage and community as a tireless worker for civil rights and justice.
Above all she was faithful to her children: They were three by birth and five by adoption. And then there were the approximately 100 children to who she gave love and care for shorter or longer periods over (probably) 40 years, and scores of Pittsfield children who wished that she was their Mom, or "Nonnie".
Barbara was utterly feisty (and fearless).  She would rage against injustice and unfairness. 
She was like a fierce tigress when her children were treated with disrespect, disdain, bullying or hatred.
She was feisty enough to badger the immigration authorities and various hospitals so that a boy with a hole in his heart who we met in Honduras could come to this country for life saving surgery (gratis).
She was feisty enough to take on school-teachers, the school committee, the city council, and the aforementioned Rector at St. Stephen's when we I stepped out of line. That of course is one of the many reason why I respected her.  All Pastors need truth tellers, and she was one of mine.

And she was fabulously funny. I will always grin when I remember our last exchange, some three weeks ago.  She was in the hospital and very ill. She was communicating with me on Facebook via a mutual friend. I asked him to assure her of my love and prayers. She responded via this friend "tell Michael to get his pink and pimply ass up here".
"God bless you Barbara.  Love and tears from your pink and pimply assed friend"
Montage by Natasha Latini.

The bad news is that after the suffering, we wait at the empty tomb for a while, the body of our beloved gone, grieving an unsurvivable loss.
It's a terrible system.
But the good news is then there is new life.
Wild flowers bloom again.

 Anne Lamott  (via my friend Elizabeth Harding)


Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Talking Dog

A man sees a sign outside a house - 'Talking Dog For Sale.'


He rings the bell; the owner appears and tells him the dog can be viewed in the back garden.

The man sees a very nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.

"Do you really talk?" he asks the dog.


"Yes," the Labrador replies.


After recovering from the shock of hearing the dog talk, the man asks, "So, tell me your story."


The Labrador looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I was sold to the SAS.  In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders; because no one imagined that a dog would be eavesdropping. I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years".

"But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at Heathrow Airport to do some undercover security work, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in.  I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded several medals".


"Then I got married, had a few puppies, and now I've just retired."

The man is astonished..  He goes back into the house and asks the owner how much he wants for the dog.

"Ten quid," the owner says.

"£10!!?   But your dog is absolutely amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheaply?"

"Because he's a lying bastard. He's never been out of the garden."

A corny old joke -  which  nevertheless made me laugh out loud.  (via my sister in law Izzy)




Tuesday, 12 November 2013

My buddy the Bishop.

Lo all those many years ago (probably in 1986/87) when I was the Rector at St. Stephen's Parish, Pittsfield, MA  I invited parishioner Alex G to have lunch with me.

Alex G was a confirmed bachelor.  He was moderately wealthy.  He was notoriously frugal.

We met at the (now closed) "Stanley Club" on Bartlett Ave in Pittsfield.  The Stanley Club had been a semi-private eating place for the bosses and their wives at "The G.E." - at one time the major employer in Pittsfield, (more than 10,000 at the time of the Korean conflict).

By my day it was a "middling to good" eating place for all white collar folks - bankers, lawyers, clerics etc. It was a good place for private conversation  -  and it had an additional  small dining room where the Pittsfield clerics often met for "dining and whining".

A fabulous man, one Jim Trefy (Jim Tefry?) managed the place.  He was so well liked in Pittsfield - we called him Mr. "Fine and Dandy" 'cause whenever any person asked him "how are you?"  he would always say "fine and dandy".

So Alex G and I had a good lunch at the Stanley Club way back then.  I picked up the tab.

After lunch Alex and I wandered out to the parking lot.  He said "so when are you going to ask me?"

I responded with "ask you what?"

The wealthy but frugal Alex said "when are you going to ask me for money for the Church?"

I was dumfounded!  I told Alex that I had no intention to ask him for money, and that I was having lunch with him for the sheer pleasure.

He in turn was dumfounded.   It was "beyond his ken" that a Rector would treat him to a no agenda lunch.

From time to time in the four parishes I served in Massachusetts a parishioner or parishioners would invite me to a no agenda lunch or dinner.  Those meals were precious.  We were gathering around a meal table as sisters and brothers -  not as Rector and parishioner,


The other week my "local" Bishop - the Rt. Revd. Dabney T. Smith was at the parish I attend and serve  - St. Boniface, Siesta Key -  for the funeral of the wife of our good Deacon, Alan Rogers.

Bishop Smith did not officiate. In fact he was there "all uninvited" because of his love and pastoral care for Alan.

After the service, forgetting all the Episcopal protocols, I greeted the Bishop by saying "how are you buddy?

We hugged, and then I asked  "Bishop Smith would you like to meet me for a no agenda lunch?"He responded with joyful alacrity.

Thus it is that my buddy the Bishop and I will have lunch on Wednesday 13th November, in Ellenton FL.

There will be no agenda.  We will share lunch as the servants of Jesus Christ who like and respect each other

For a minister/priest it does not get any better than this.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Those “for whom bugles sang, saddening the evening air”

Those “for whom bugles sang, saddening the evening air” (Wilfred Owen) (Great War Poet)  

Thanks to Amy McCreath for the reminder of Wilfred Owen's lines.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (November 1918) used to be known as Armistice Day.  It signaled the truce between the armies of Great Britain, France and the United States with the German High Command in what was known as "The Great War" or The War to end all wars",  until the 1939-1946 World War, caused it to be re-named as World War 1.

Armistice Day (Nov 11th)  was renamed as Remembrance Day in Great Britain and the Commonwealth, and as Veteran's Day in the U.S.A.,  to reflect that The War to End all Wars  solved nothing, and that there have been all too many subsequent wars.

For some reason my home City newspaper - the "Bristol (U.K.) Post" published photo's of the Remembrance Day ceremonies (observed on Sunday Nov 10th) under the older title of Armistice Day.

Here are some of them:


Sunday, 10 November 2013

Over the top with MARS COMPANY advertising slogans

 I occasionally treat my cats Ada and Adelaide with  Temptations brand treats  (Made by  the MARS Company)

The package I have in my hand at this very moment declares that these treats are


Ada and Adelaide gobble them down.

They would do the same with some  (hypothetical  labelled)   PIGS TAIL FLAVOUR  TREATS.

In other words my cats enjoy their treats, with no regard to the "over the top"  labeling  such as FREE RANGE CHICKEN FLAVOR. 

Ain't  our CATS so smart
Indeed they are.
  1. The cats tell me that  the MARS  Company ought to blush and be ashamed  that they market a  simple feline treat  under the advertising slogan  FREE RANGE CHICKEN FLAVOR. 
2.I humbly agree with my cats. 
3, And with my cats  I ask the MARS COMPANY  just exactly what are"Free Range Chicken  flavoured  cat treats?"