Saturday, 20 September 2014

Thomas Chimes: Not understanding, but enjoying.

The following is taken from a blurb published by Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art, about an exhibition of the work of Thomas Chimes.
With the recent gift of important paintings and works on paper by Thomas Chimes, The Ringling now holds a significant collection of this American artist’s work. The Ringling and Thomas Chimes have had a long history together as the museum organized the first survey exhibition of his work in 1968. On view will be the impressive Ringling Mural measuring some 17 feet across accompanied by preparatory studies showing the artist’s working process, as well as a selection of characteristic portraits.
Thomas Chimes (1921-2009) was born in Philadelphia to Greek parents. Chimes enrolled in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1939 and then in the Art Students League, New York in 1941, where he studied with Frank Vincent Du Mond, the former teacher of John Marin and Georgia O’Keeffe.   The work of Thomas Chimes is included in many notable public and private collections throughout the United States. This exhibition is made possible by the gift of works of Thomas Chimes by Dawn Chimes.
On any other day the name Thomas Chimes would have meant nothing to me.  However I went to see the exhibit because his former wife Dawn Chimes lives two doors away from me.  She recently donated some of his works which she owned to the Ringling.  Her donation occasioned this exhibition.  I wanted to honour her.
After my visit to the Ringling I stopped by Dawn's home to tell her all about it.  She was (to say the least) delighted and thrilled that I had taken myself to the exhibit.  She asked me what I thought.
I began by saying that I thought the Mural to be "spectacular".  Her eyes brightened and she replied "so do I".  
I went on to say "I did not understand it"  (it's filled with symbolism). Dawn replied "I don't think that anyone understands it".
Then I added "since I did not understand the mural, I decided to enjoy it".
I went on to talk about some of the works she had donated, commenting favourably about a small painting called "Bread", and Tom Chimes' fabulous self portrait.
I ventured to say that I believed Chimes to be a mystic. Dawn agreed whole heartedly  (and she lived with him!).
You may read more about Tom Chimes here but you'll probably be none the wiser about his soul.
Nonetheless I am happy to know that I was able to enjoy his works even though I did not understand them (who in the world can understand beauty?) , and that I was able to honour my neighbour Dawn.
Part of the Chimes Mural
Chimes self-portrait

Friday, 19 September 2014

You can take the man out of Bristol, but you can't take Bristol out of the man.

As one who was born and raised in Bristol, U.K. I am (in common with most Bristolians) utterly proud of my home City.
There is one place in our City which leads Bristolians (at home and abroad) to say  "Ah Bristol".  It is the Clifton Suspension Bridge, designed by the 24 year old Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859), but not built until 1864 ( i.e. after his death).
Last night (September 18th 2014) there was a great lightning and thunderstorm in Bristol, staring at about 10:00 p.m..   A local amateur photographer (one Peter Griffiths) happened to be out and about and took these photo's  (as published in the "Bristol Post").
"Our Bridge" illuminated by lightning.
The nearby Christ Church, Clifton (at which I was confirmed as a member of the Church of England in1971 , and from which I went off  to Theological College (Seminary) in 1972

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Worthy of a smile, or maybe a giggle?

Via S.K.
Via J.T.

S.K. and J.T. are my Facebook friends

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

England, Scotland, "independence" and the Monarchy

In 1603 King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England.  ("England" in the Monarch's  title included the Principality  of Wales).

James succeeded Queen Elizabeth 1st (The Virgin Queen). He was the most likely to succeed Elizabeth as he was the great-great grandson of Henry VII of England  (and he was a Protestant!).

James was a Monarch with two distinct realms, Scotland and England, each with a Parliament.  He preferred to call himself King of Great Britain but in truth he was King of Scotland and King of England.
 ("Great Britain" is a geographical term for the land mass which comprises Wales, Scotland, and England.  It has nothing to do with national "greatness").

The "Epistle Dedicatory" of the 1611 Authorised  (King James) translation of the Bible (read it if you are interested to see how the translators "sucked up" to King James), styles him thus

The Translators of the Bible wish
Grace, Mercy, and Peace
through Jesus Christ our Lord
The claim to be King of  France is a silly bit of historical nonsense.  He was King of Ireland as a result of English colonialism, not because the Irish wanted him as Monarch.
The Monarchs from James VI and I until Anne  (the last of the Stuarts) were Kings (they were all male) both of England and of Scotland. There was an English Parliament and a Scottish Parliament.
In 1706/1707 the two Kingdoms were merged  - hence the United Kingdom - ( 1706 the English parliament voted in favour of union with Scotland, 1707 the Scottish parliament voted in favour of Union with England ).
The Parliaments were merged,  and the new U.K. parliament was based in Westminster (not in Holyrood!).
Ireland was legally subordinate to the U.K. and was not formally a part of the Union until 1801, (remaining as a part of the Union until the partition of Ireland in 1922).
(In 1922 the Irish Free State was established - within the Commonwealth. Given the opportunity ,the majority Protestants in north east Ireland opted out of the Irish Free State, leading to the division of Ireland into the Republic of Ireland (which left the Commonwealth), and Northern Ireland - staunchly loyalist, unionist and anti-Catholic),
So Elizabeth II is Queen of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.  She is also the Queen of Australia, of Canada, and of New Zealand.
Should the "yes" vote prevail in the Scottish referendum (Thursday Sep 18th 2014) Scotland will not become independent overnight.  First there will be a protracted series of discussions, agreements, disagreement and protocols between the existing (semi-autonomous) Scottish Parliament at Holyrood, and the U.K. parliament in Westminster.
There would be no more United Kingdom, but there is no reason why Elizabeth II could not become Queen of England (with Wales) and Northern Ireland, and Queen of Scotland. After all she is already Queen of Canada, New Zealand and Australia.
PS   Wales has never been a sovereign nation, it has never had a parliament, and it has never had a national  Monarch.  For better or worse it was simply absorbed into English rule and law. That's why modern devolution has created  a Scottish Parliament but  a Welsh Assembly.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

My brother Martyn, my friend Pam, Dvorak, and thoughts about dying.

My brother Martyn recently introduced me to the Norwegian singer Sissel.
See this for more information about her.
Thanks to Martyn I listened to some of her recordings on You Tube.  I was so glad to hear them. I believe that she has a remarkable and versatile voice.
One of the songs I listened to is the famous "Going Home".
I decided to introduce my friend Pam to the music of Sissel.    I sent her the "Going Home" link.  I did not know what I was doing.
For you see, two months after her daughter Sheila died, Pam was asked to play the organ at a funeral at St. Christopher's Church in Chicopee MA.  ( I had once been the Vicar there, which is how Pam and I met). Pam, trooper as she is, played that song for the funeral, all the while weeping for her daughter.  You'll understand when you read the words of the song (below).
(The Vicar at St. Christopher's at the time of this funeral was mortified when he realised the stress he had placed on Pam.  But as I said (and he knew) she is a trooper.)
The tune we often know as "Going Home" is taken from the second movement  (Largo) of  a Symphony by the famous Czech composer Antonin Dvorak  (1841-1904). Symphony "From the New World, Dvorak, 1893).
Dvorak was a great admirer of the music of Negro Spirituals, and his music was intended to evoke the spirit and beauty of such songs. (He composed the theme -  he did not adapt it from an existing Spiritual as some folks have claimed).
A pupil of Dvorak, one William A Fisher took this Largo theme in 1923 and set it some words he had written (?)   - the words "Going Home". 
Lyrics to Going Home (Dvořák / Fisher)

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet like, some still day
I'm just going home

It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more

Mother's there expecting me
Father's waiting, too
Lots of folk gathered there
All the friends I knew
All the friends I knew

I am going home

Nothing lost, all is  gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more

Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life yes begun

There's no break, ain't no end
Just a living on
Wide awake with a smile
Going on and on

Going home, going home
I'm just going home
It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
I'm just going home

Going home, going home.
Perhaps these words are a wee bit sentimental.  But I believe that they have power.  I can imagine being on the point of death and hearing them again, especially these words which speak so deeply to my soul.
Nothing lost, all is  gain
No more fret nor pain
No more stumbling on the way
No more longing for the day
Going to roam no more
Morning star lights the way
Restless dream all done
Shadows gone, break of day
Real life yes begun
I believe that I could die at peace were these to be  the last words I ever heard in this life:
Going home, going home
I'm just going home
Quiet like, some still day
I'm just going home

It's not far, yes close by
Through an open door
Work all done, care laid by
Going to fear no more.
Sissel's rendition of the song is superb.   More tear-jerking is the version by "Libera" , a choir of boys based in south London.
I dare you to click on this link and hear the song without weeping.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Penne meets her boyfriend.

I've told you before that Penne is extremely skittish around other dogs.  She seems to be afraid of them.  I have always believed that her previous owners never abused her, but rather that  they neglected her, so she never socialized with other dogs.

I've also told you that Penne made an exception to her rule with Basil a handsome Shar-pei.  She was crazy about him  (as, it transpires, were the other bitches in the area).

Basil and his owner moved away, but soon after, Rick moved into the neighbourhood with his two entirely handsome Standard Poodles, Louis and Vuitton.

Penne immediately fell in love with Vuitton. She can smell his pee at 200 yards, and will drag me to that pee site with immense energy.

She gets very excited when she sees Vuitton.   She and he will go nose to nose, tails all a-wagging, but when Penne tries to play, that big old baby Vuitton hides behind Rick.

Rick sometimes joins Ben, Bob and I for nibbles and drinks in the early evening.  With an abundance of caution on the part of Rick and me, there has been a tacit agreement that the two poodles should stay inside Ben's house, whilst Penne stays with the men out on the Lanai.

This evening dear friend Bob suggested that we might allow Vuitton to join us on the Lanai.  Rick and I agreed, hoping that there would not be a scene.

Out came Vuitton.  He and Penne went nose to nose, tails wagging so much that we hardly needed the fans.  They sniffed around each other  (I blush to tell you the details).  Vuitton did not hide behind his "Dad".  Penne did not try any aggressive play.  Rick's dog and my bitch simply enjoyed each other!

Rick said  (and I think that he is right) that they probably did so well together because they were in a safe place, and un-leashed.

Whoop-dee-doo. It was a lovely scene.  And I am so happy that my beloved Penne could be so utterly relaxed with another dog.  (And its one less thing about which Rick and I need to be neurotic!)
This is not Vuitton (but it could be)


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Goofing off from the Episcopal Church.

I've taken a couple of Sundays off from the Episcopal Church which I usually attend.  I did this so that I could re-connect with three wonderful young families who, for good reasons,  have moved away from my local Episcopal Church.  I miss these families and their children.  It has been a joy and privilege to re-connect with them.
Week One saw me in a Congregational (U.C.C.) Church.  It was so good to see S and A, with their sons G and D.
But the service left me cold.  It was an example of ultra-liberal worship in  which the adoration of God and the call to conversion to the way of Jesus Christ was (for me) masked by vacuous and so called  inclusive language.  I am all in favour of such language (truly) until and unless it confuses the Holy God with pseudo psychotherapy.
The Pastor preached extemporaneously.  The ability to do that is utterly rare. It is an ability which has by-passed this Pastor.  His sermon rambled, not from pillar to post, but from nowhere to nowhere. He had the annoying habit of ending every forth or fifth sentence with the word  "right".
Week Two (today) saw me at a Presbyterian Church, there to renew and enjoy my friendships with G and C (and their children A and S), and  with S and S (and their children S and S). (Yes the Dad and Mom and their two children in this family  each have first names which begin with "S").
This Presbyterian Church sits on a 20 acre campus (can you believe that!.)  The Church has a million and one programmes (less one or two), and (I think) five services each Sunday.
My friends and I were at the 9:00 a.m. so-called "Traditional Service".  This service was marked with the historic Presbyterian traditions of reserve and solemnity.  The sermon was well crafted and well delivered.  The entire service emphasised that the primary reason for being a Christian is to follow Jesus Christ.
If I were not ( for my sins) a dyed in the wool Anglican/Episcopalian I might make this my Church home.
(My four adult friends and I loved being together.  As we hung out for a bit after service they asked me if I wished to join one of the after service classes.  I declined graciously even after the two women told me that I could attend a class with the guys,  at which we would not have to talk about our feelings. 
I was tempted for a wee moment and said "but of course, G, S,  and I could sit at the back and cut up".
One of the wives countered with "oh no Michael, you would be the man in the back row who asked a difficult and awkward question".  We all laughed. They know me all too well.
I will remember one great thing about this Church.  When I arrived at the huge campus I first entered the building which is the site of a 9:00 a.m. "Contemporary Service". I realised my mistake and asked one of the Ushers where I might find the "Traditional Service".  She did not me directions.  Instead she said "come with me and I will show you the way".  She walked me through the Campus to the place I needed to be.  That was first class hospitality. It expressed a genuine welcome.
Meanwhile, up in Boston on Saturday 13th they were making a new Bishop for the Diocese of Massachusetts.  He is a good man named Alan Gates. I knew him years ago when he was the Rector at Trinity Church in Ware, MA.
For complicated ecclesiastical reasons he is now my Bishop, even though I live in Florida.  I wish him well.
I could have/should have taken a trip to Boston for the service, but I decided not to spend more than a few dollars for the air-trip and hotels etc.
The web has been filled with photo's of the service. Dyed in the wool Anglican/Episcopalian that I am, I think that all the Bishops (27 of them) who were at the service look a  bit silly in their fancy robes and pointy hats.  (I used to like this  stuff) ( Now I am so bad!)