Yesterday morning I got a voice mail from Sarasota's "Doctors Hospital", reminding me that I had an appointment today.
I did not have an appointment and I have never used Doctors Hospital, so I ignored the call. I figured that someone at the hospital has misdialed the 'phone number.
Later in the day, someone from Doctors Hospital called again. The message identified me as Paul, and again reminded me of the appointment.
I called right back, and spoke to a live person saying: "hey there, I am not Paul, you are calling the wrong number". That staff member promised to rectify the hospital records.
Doctors Hospital called me a third time - this morning at 4:30 a.m. "Hello, this message is for Paul G-dhino. We are wondering why you are not here for your procedure". So much for rectifying the hospital records.
Bon chance Paul G-dhino who ever you are. But you ain't me.
My colleague from Cambridge MA days the Revd Bruce Lomas (Rector at Trinity Church, Melrose, MA) and his wife Jane are on sabbatical leave.
They have visited Dublin, Ireland, and Manchester, UK (near to where Bruce visited his Great-Grandmother's grave).
Today they have been in Chester U.K. - a great City, which is not on the too well trodden tourist map.
Their visit reminded me of when I went to Chester. 'Twas probably in about 1971 when I owned a car, and when I worked for the National Westminster Bank at the Heythrop Park Training Centre, (now a "resort" see http://www.heythroppark.co.uk/ )
I remember that I took myself to Wales, there to take the train to the peak of a "mountain" in Snowdonia (see http://www.snowdonrailway.co.uk/ ), and to visit the Castles at Carmarthen and Conway.
My twin sister was then living in Sale (near Manchester) and she came down to Llandudno for the day. We walked on the promenade (board walk) and on the beach, and I am sure that we ate lunch together.
Weary and tired at the end of the day I decided that I would drive to Chester, and that I would stay in the first hotel I saw.
That turned out to be a three or four star hotel "The Blossoms". (I had often stayed in "Guest Houses", but never before in an Hotel. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the grandeur of "The Blossoms", and nervous about my ability to present myself as a world-weary traveler).
My argent was as good as it gets, so I stayed in that Hotel and ate dinner in the formal dining room.
After dinner I wandered out to a local Cinema where (intrigued by the title) I viewed "Play Misty for Me". (Why do I remember such details?).
The next day I explored Chester: The Cathedral, the Roman Wall, the River Dee with its swans, and the "The Rows".
These are magical memories from when I was a twenty seven year old man, unused to the big wide world, but ready to explore bits of Wales and England which had hitherto been outside my pale.
Thank you Bruce and Jane for stirring up these memories.
I flew using the niche "point to point carrier" Air Allegiant, (Punta Gorda FL -Asheville NC- Punta Gorda FL) for a bargain fare of $200 (round trip). (I could not have driven "there and back again" for much less).
Both flights took off on time and arrived on time. (There is something to be said for Air Allegiant's practice of flying in and out of under-utilised airports).
(On the way home one of my favourite St. Boniface, Sarasota FL parishioners was in the seat behind me!).
Ed and Eddie are good guys. They knew that I did not need to be entertained because I was there to visit with them, rather than to sight-see.
Nonetheless we went out to see the famous (in Episcopal Church circles) "Kanuga Conference Centre". I've been hearing about this place for well night thirty years. It was less grand and more rustic than I had imagined.
After our Kanuga visit, Ed, Eddie and I wandered the Main Street in Hendersonville and peeked at various stalls at the annual arts and crafts show. I also enjoyed looking at some of the late 19th C - early 20th C buildings - from an age when the USA was beginning to feel so confident about itself.
A parishioner congratulated me on my ability to sing the hymns without a Hymnal - from memory and in harmony. I let him know that I have been singing these hymns for nearly forty years (and that I am a retired Episcopal minister!).
Sunday night we traveled about ten miles to have dinner with Eddie's second cousin Della and her partner Lou (ise). I'd met them last year and we were anxious to see each other again. We had a nice reunion with great conversation and terrific food.
Dell and Lou have been partners for nine years. On Dec 26th 2013 they were legally married in Maryland (Dell's home State). Surely it is nothing but good when same sex couples are able to be united, and committed to each other until death do them part.
Forty-five minutes after landing in Punta Gorda I was at the home of the fabulous Ron and Charlotte Thompson where my good dog Penne stays when I am away.
Ron and Char love Penne, and the feeling is mutual. Nonetheless Penne became a whirling dervish of irrational exuberance when she realised that her "Papa" was back at home.
As we drove from Ron and Char's home to mine, Penne and I had a long conversation. I "sweet-talked" her , and by gosh she responded with sweet and happy whimpers. (That's the truth!).
THERE AND BACK AGAIN.
Surely this is life at its best. To be with loved ones, to share meals, to laugh, and to engage in good conversation.
These are the things which are sought by, and enjoyed by human beings from every culture, background, nationality, religion, and political/economic system.
The trick is to be open and fearless enough to enter into them with people from very different cultures, backgrounds, nationalities, religions, and political/economic systems. That's when we grow.