Saturday, 27 September 2014

Prayer

I am not at all certain about the meaning and efficacy of prayer.

I am reluctant to pray to God requesting certain outcomes.

So, when I pray for people I think that I am simply "naming them before God", i.e. bringing them by prayer into the presence and ambience of the Holy One.

Most of my praying takes place during my early morning walks with my dog Penne.  I have three lists which Penne must now know by heart.


1.

My Bishops in Massachusetts and Florida

The parishes I have served in both States:  for  their Pastors, and for people in those congregations who are in special need.

2.

For friends and acquaintances who are in special need.

3.

For my family members.  This is a long list.

It includes my eight siblings and their spouses.

It includes my nieces and nephews, together with their spouses/partners/ boyfriends/girlfriends.

It includes my great nieces and nephews.

This family list includes 63/64/65 people (depending on how good my memory is on any given day).

Can you imagine that?  This old bachelor has about 65 folks in his immediate family circle.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Betty and the boys

Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings often see me at the home of my pal Ben for pre-dinner beverages and nibbles.  Bob usually joins us.

This week I asked Ben if our wonderful friend Betty (the nonagenarian WWII marine) might join us.

Ben readily agreed, and he extended the invitation to the ever delightful couple Bill and Patrick, and to the relative newcomer Rick (with his splendid standard poodles Louis and Vuitton).

Of course Penne was in heaven to be with her "besties"  Bob and Betty, and with her boyfriends Louis and Vuitton.   I am always so happy to see the three dogs getting along so fine (especially as Penne is often skittish around other canines).

I brought a tapas plate with meats from Spain (Lomo, Serrano Ham and Chorizo), and with Spanish Manchego and Iberico cheeses.

Bob brought some fabulous Red Leicester cheese from England.

Oh what fun we had. 

There we were, six older gay men  (two older than I, and three younger), each playing court to the fabulous Betty who is as sharp as a tack.  She has wonderful stories, and she is equal to all in her witty comments and responses.

I drove Betty home in the rain.  She told me that she was as happy as happy can be.  She'd had a lovely evening.  She was overjoyed to have been included in this wee repast.

 She is simply a fabulous older woman who, despite the loss of her husband Joe, is up and ready for a good party. 

I want to be like Betty when I am 90 years old!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The U.S. goverment knows that I am John Michael Povey (not Mary Gilliigan).

When I re-entered the U.S.A last June  (in Boston),  (after my fabulous holiday in England and Norway),  the very pleasant immigration officer noted that my passport would expire in January 2015. 
He advised me to renew the Passport ASAP since (according to him) the National Passport Center had a six month backlog.

I (snail-mailed) the passport renewal docs, together with my check/cheque for $110 on September 1st.  My new passport arrived today (September 25th).

That's good work on the part of a Governmental Agency. Despite what Republican/Tea Party/ Libertarian  idiots assert - government works!

My new U.S. Passport asserts that I am indeed John Michael Povey. Three cheers for the bureaucracy!

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Meanwhile, the private sector,  (i.e. Fidelity Investments) continues to assert that I am "Mary Gilligan" (see yesterday's blog).

In truth the local Fidelity rep. wants me to present my Social Security Card at the Fidelity SRQ office to prove that I am John Michael Povey (not Mary Gilligan). 

Dammit all, why should I have to do this?  Why should I have to do all the work to cover a Fidelity error?

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In the meantime (and this is a bit scary and a bit good) - the Church Pension Fund has an efficient "trawling" of the social media.

Indeed so efficient that the good folks at the CPF were able to read the concerns that I expressed  yesterday on Facebook. (They must scan the "net" for any and all references to CPF)  

So it was that a staff member at the CPF phoned me today. She assured me that the CPF records note that I am John Michael Povey (not Mary Gilligan), and she promised to follow through with Fidelity to set the record straight.

Good work on the part of CPF .Without doubt.

But  I am more than a wee bit leery about our surrender of privacy when we enter cyberspace

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Who is Mary Gilligan? (and other nonsense).

NONSENSE 1

My desk chair (which I bought second hand a few years ago) has/had a cane seat. The cane started to split, causing some considerable discomfort to my bottom.

I stopped by our local Goodwill store this afternoon and found a decent wooden chair for the modest sum of $16.

Once at home I put on my flip-flops and took the old chair outside (trash day tomorrow). As I was taking the "new" chair out of my car I trod on a dog poopy-bag which I had left on the ground, rather than putting into my trash can.  The poopy-bag burst.  Eew!

Thank goodness for my garden hose with a high pressure setting.


NONSENSE 2

On Monday night I started to take off my glasses and put them in their usual overnight place. Only trouble was -   there were no glasses on my nose.

Where in the world were they?  Maybe I had left them on the table next to my reclining chair. They were not there.  I did a quick search but my glasses were nowhere to be found.

I delayed the search until Tuesday morning.  I hunted high and low.

Under my bed?  NO.  On every flat surface in my home?  NO. Under a pile of folded but not put away laundry, or  under a pile of papers waiting to be filed? NO.   Under my comfortable reclining chair? NO  (but I did discover a mess of  dog and cat hair which needed to be vacuumed away).

In the interests of "automatic"  absent mindedness I also checked the drawers in my kitchen and bathroom, the trash can, the fridge and the freezer.  NO

Then I did what any other reasonable person would do.  I prayed to St. Antony and to St. Jude - covering both bases 'cause I could not remember which Catholic saint took care of lost items.

I also prayed to God ( but took the prayer back immediately, on the basis that God is not in charge of lost property).

By 6:15 a.m. I was wearing an old pair of glasses, ready to take Penne for her early morning walk. 

We went outside and there they were.  My glasses were resting comfortably on the hood/bonnet of my car.

Evidently I had driven home on Monday night with my dog in the car, and then  took the glasses off on a humid evening ( all steamed up as they were), and then placed them on my car so that I could see well enough to re-enter my home with Penne.

That's my story and I am sticking to it.

NONSENSE 3 and Mary Gilligan.

I have a very modest retirement savings account which I set up through the (Episcopal) Church Pension Fund, and which is administered by the very reputable "Fidelity" Company.  It earns a small amount in interest (two and a half percent) each year,

When I reach the age of 70 1/2 ( this November)  the rules of the  IRS (Internal Revenue Service) state that I MUST take a minimum distribution each year based on their life expectancy tables, which suggest that I will live to be 97 years old (God forbid).

I decided that before I reach the splendid age of 70 1/2 I might well explore some other investment instruments which could possibly yield more than a measly two and a half percent.

This afternoon at the local Fidelity office I had a good consultation with their splendid local  employee  (a Croatian born man named Vanja)  (yes, we live in the global village). He gave me as much attention as he might give to a millionaire).

BUT THERE WAS A PROBLEM.

When he entered my Social Security Number into the data base it showed that it  belonged to a Mary Gilligan.

But when he contacted a  Church Pension Fund and Fidelity coordinator,  her data base indicated that my Social Security is mine alone, and does not belong to Mary Gilligan.

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I will not worry for the while. I do not believe that I am a victim of identity theft (but how can I be sure?)

In the meantime you may call me Michael  or even Mary.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Back to 1976

The fabulous couple Al and Doris Williams (see yesterday's blog) worked behind the scenes, and raised some money so that my mother could come to the U.S.A. from England to be present at my ordination as Priest on December 17th 1976..

The first plan was that I would be "surprised" by seeing  Mum at the ordination.  Wise heads realised that this would be all too much for me.

So the good folks at the Church of the Good Shepherd disclosed their wonderful plan to me a  bit early.

 'Twas just as well,  as I had planned to be on a retreat at the Episcopal Monastery in Cambridge, MA on the day of Mum's arrival at BOS.

I cut my retreat short, and joined a convoy of cars which transported folks from Fitchburg to Boston to meet and greet Mum.

Al and Doris Williams were part of that convoy, together with other fine Good Shepherd parishioners such as Elsie and Vic Sidlaskas,  Bob and Fran Brown, Thelma Osgood, and Ruth Card with her mother Annie.

I already knew Al Williams well enough to know that he was "game" for a bit of fun.  So he agreed to wear a wee bit of make-up, and to carry a hand-bag so that I could introduce him to Mum as my new "boy-friend".

Mum bested me and saw through our jape.   Just as soon as she emerged from customs and immigration,  and saw Al in his regalia,  she said "I know who you are.  You are Al Williams".

I bless God for these memories of Al, Doris, and Mum.

Monday, 22 September 2014

My mother loved to "party" (role reversal)

Cindi and Wes Wasdyke are dear friends who spend each year partly in SRQ,  and partly in Nashua N.H.  I miss them when they are away.
 
Last weekend the Wasdykes traveled from Nashua to Westminster MA, there to attend a wedding.
 
Westminster is the next town over from Fitchburg MA in which town I served at the Church of the Good Shepherd (now closed) for four years - 1976-1980.
 
I warned them in advance that the locals often call the town "Westminister" rather than Westminster.
 
I did not tell them that the locals also refer to nearby Winchendon MA as "Winghinton".
 
The wedding reception was at "The Old Mill" restaurant which is on the Westminster side of the Fitchburg/Westminster line.   I dined there so often between 1976 and 1980. Wes and Cindy's visit to the Old Mill brought back so many memories.
 
The Old Mill by day
 
The Old Mill by night.
At the top of my memory list is a visit there on New Years Eve 1976.
 
I had been ordained Priest at the Church of the Good Shepherd on 17th December 1976.  A fabulous Good Shepherd couple, Al and Doris Williams (born and raised in Bristol U.K.) had conspired with other parishioners to pay for and arrange a flight from the U.K. to Boston so that my Mum could be present for the ordination.  (Perhaps I'll tell you some more about this tomorrow).
 
Come to New Years Eve 1976.  Al and Doris hosted a party at The Old Mill that evening. Mum and I were there, together with Al and Doris' son Keith  (then aged 16?), and their daughter Jean with her husband Rene and their daughters. My memory is a bit hazy, but it's more than likely that Al and Doris' son David and his then partner Sue were also there.
 
After dinner we decamped to Rene and Jean's home to "see the New Year in".  At about five minutes after midnight I announced that it was time to go home.
 
NOT SO said Mum.  She (sans alcohol - she never drank) had an abundance of party spirit.
 
So I went home and Mum stayed at the party.
 
Next morning (Jan 1st) I emerged from my apartment  to get the morning newspaper at about 7:00 a.m. just as Mum was arriving home from the party.
 
What a role reversal.  I, at aged 32 was a party-pooper.  Mum, at aged 63 stayed out all night.
 
 
Al, Doris, Rene, Jean, and my Mum are now with God.  I bless God for their memories.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Small game hunting

It rained in SRQ for most of yesterday  (19th September 2014).  It was a gentle, soft, soaking rain.
 
After the rain I opened the back door and two tiny frogs came a-hopping in. Have you ever tried to rescue two tiny frogs which have come inside and restore them to the great outdoors
Not "my frogs"  but they were about this size.
 
I didn't try, for these two tiny frogs were destined to awaken the hunting instincts in my two cats  -  yes one a piece.
 
The cats had fun.  I was amused.  I swept up the frog corpses today.