Saturday, 12 April 2014

Morning Reflections

Weeping Bottle Bush tree and reflection at Glen Oaks Manor, SRQ (1) April 12 2014
Weeping Bottle Bush Tree and Reflection at Glen Oaks Manor (SRQ) (2) April 12th 2014
Gazebo and trees: reflection at Glen Oaks Ridge Estates (SRQ)  12th April 2014)

Friday, 11 April 2014

To make you smile, giggle, laugh or groan.

It's a miracle  (thank you Jesus!) [nanosecond photo,]
Too silly, but it made me smile

Thursday, 10 April 2014

"Enver Hoxha (Remember him?)" -or - "When I think about Albania I think about Crepes" - or - "Thank goodness for immigrants.

 Enver Hoxha was the communist autocrat who governed Albania between 1944 and 1991.  Under his rule Albania declared itself to be the first Atheistic State. All religion was suppressed.

(I have often thought that God has a sense of irony  -  inasmuch as the fact that Mother Theresa of Calcutta was Albanian.)

Since 1991 Albania has become a democracy and has aligned itself with NATO etc.


Less than a mile from my home is a neat Café called "Alma's Kouzine". It's a small place which seats no more than 40 people.
The menu includes American standbys (Burgers, Club Sandwiches, BLT's etc) but Crepes are the specialty of the house.  Not just Crepes, but damn good Crepes made with whole wheat flour.
At lunch and dinner times the Crepes are available with a variety of savoury fillings, e.g. curried chicken, or sea-food, or jambalaya. They are superb!
I was at Alma's today to have lunch with my good friend from Church, Muriel Q.  (She's a lassie from Lancashire).
Of course I arrived early.  That was fortuitous because ALMA (the woman for whom the Kouzine is named) was (unusually) taking a break, and relaxing on a bench near the Café.
That gave us a chance to talk.  As you may have guessed by now Alma (in her early 40's) is from Albania. 
She told me that  she left that country when she was 22 years old. She remembers  all too well the privations under Hoxha ( poverty, lack of food, political repression etc.)
She remembers that her father was arrested and given a severe interrogation because he had rigged his radio to be able to listen to the "Voice of America" and the BBC.  (A friend had ratted on him).
She rejoiced that in the United States she has found the opportunity to own and run a business (with her husband), and that she is now able to take vacations in her homeland, there to spend time with her extended family.
She worries because her (their) daughters are growing up without any sense of hardship or struggle, and that they could become "spoiled brats". ( I see little chance of this happening. The daughters work in  the café during the evening, on weekends, and during school holidays. They work hard and have inherited or emulated their mother's gracious character.  Whether it be Mum or one of the daughters who is on duty, guests are assured of a warm and joyful welcome.
(It was such a privilege to have this lovely chat with Alma, then to enjoy a wonderful Jambalaya  filled Crepe, with the added bonus of the company and conversation with my friend Muriel) .
By the way, there is a Mr. Alma!  (I have no idea of his first name) He is the cook as well as the proud husband of Alma, and of their daughters.
He emerged from the kitchen today, and recognizing me as a regular shook my hand.
What a wonderful day!  A day in which I utter a heartfelt "Thank goodness for immigrants"

G.O.P. leadership out of synch with U.S. Military's Policy

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

From Examiner . Com

"Earlier this week, two prominent Republicans took shots at Democrats, claiming that they were using the issue of gender pay inequality as nothing more than a political pawn to further their agenda.

Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), the GOP conference's vice chair, described the Democrats push of gender pay issue equality as "condescending," claiming that many women she spoke to felt like they were simply being used a pawn by the Democrats.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took his criticism a step further, accusing Democrats and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) of having a "bizarre obsession" with women's equality in the work place.
McConnell said "Instead of  (Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader ) focusing on jobs,   ... Democrats chose to ignore serious job-creation ideas so they could blow a few kisses to their powerful pals on the left."
This, McConnell said is ............. the left's latest bizarre obsession".
Source and quotations from Examiner . Com,  (also widely accessible on many other websites ), edited and abbreviated here for clarity by jmp.

According to these Republican leaders the whole idea of equal pay (for women) for equal work (by men)  is condescending and a bizarre.
Aw shucks Lynn and Mitch.  Go tell that to the Marines (and to all the military branches) where equal pay for equal rank/rating is the norm.
According to you,  U.S. Military pay policy could be considered as condescending to women, and bizarre.  Say what?  Were Democrats also "blowing kisses" to their friends in the Military?

Monday, 7 April 2014

Say that again Winn-Dixie

The Winn-Dixie Supermarket on Fruitville Rd (SRQ) has a large hand drawn sign on one of the entrance doors.
It reads " (We are)  accepting applications for part time perishable departments".
Any takers?
( I think that I know what they mean, but I for one would not wish to be a part time perishable department!)

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Au revoir

We call them "snow birds", those people who flee the colder winters in the northern United States and in Canada to spend four to six months here (between October and March). Increasingly we see "snow birds" from the U.K., Germany, and Scandinavia.

Of course we complain about the problems they cause:  "too much traffic",  and crowded restaurants.
(In the case of SRQ our complaints about traffic jams would make anyone from a big City convulse into laughter!).

We complain, but we are glad that they spend and spend - filling the State coffers with Sales Tax income.

My neighbour Eddie P has already left for North Carolina. His partner Ed G. will follow soon.  We went out for valedictory dinner last Tuesday.
My good friend (and retired Episcopal Priest) Fred E will be going up to Maine very soon (his wife Diana following later).  The three of us will have lunch together on Tuesday.
Muriel is a friend from Church (who has the great advantage of being English!). She will be off to Rhode Island after Easter Day, so we'll have our au revoir lunch on Thursday.
I have previously mentioned my fine neighbours Polly (90) and Bert (86).   (They are the people who have a lovely cat who has created an unusual friendship with my dog). Bert and Polly will soon be leaving to be with their children in Indianapolis. Polly shows every sign of age related senility so I will be very surprised if they return in autumn 2014.
Bob and Virginia are a couple from West Virginia. They must be in their 70's or 80's.  They walk for five miles each morning. I frequently encounter them in my early morning walks with Penne.  They will be going home to WVA soon.  I will miss our chit-chat.
As I have walked out I've also gotten into chit-chat with Vince and Helen, a very handsome couple in their late 60's. They hold hands as they walk, and I caused them to grin one day a few years ago when I asked "do your parents know that you are holding hands?". That broke the ice and enabled us to greet one another with a grin and a few passing words.
Vince has a very gentle accent which indicates that English is not his native language. I never ask people about their accents, because it does not matter, and because I get mildly annoyed when folks are sure that my accent is Irish or Australian (as is frequently the case).
(There is a man at Church who always greets me with "how are you doing Michael me boy?" in what he thinks is an Irish accent.  I've had enough of this, so a few weeks ago I said "why do you greet me that way? I am English by birth, not Irish"  SO THERE)
I know that Helen and Vince are snow birds.  Since I had not seen them in a couple of weeks I thought that they'd already returned to Nebraska, Ohio, Indiana or some other god-forsaken State.
But there they were, large as life and full of smiles - walking around the pond this afternoon.  I said "I thought that you had gone home already, in which State do you spend the summer, and when will you leave?".
They told me that they will be going "home" for the summer in about ten days, and that "home" is The Czech Republic from where Vince hails. (Helen is American by birth). SO NOW I KNOW the source of Vince's delightful accent.
I advised them not to go into Prague since it will be filled with American and British tourists. They grinned and ventured that on any given day in the summer there can be up to 50,000 tourists in Prague.  Helen added that she sometimes likes to go there so that she can hear some spoken English!