Saturday, 7 March 2015

The Government Hates Morning People

Damn  (and a few other more colourful words) -  the  clocks "spring forward"  in the wee hours of tomorrow morning in the U.S.A.  (except Arizona and Alaska).

As one who arises most days at 4:30 a.m. (and thinks that 10:30 a.m. is the middle of the day) I now have to endure an extra hour of government mandated morning darkness.

Damn and  blast I say, and a pox on those who dreamed up this nonsense. 

Friday, 6 March 2015

Working stiffs: Their tough lives in Pharmacies and Car Wash places.

My Primary Care Physician  (G.P. in the U.K.) prescribed a potent medicine to take care of a nasty infection in my nether regions.

The medicine is so potent that I am allowed only two pills  (each taken a week apart): for continued doses of this medicine might cause cancer, (go figure).

My prescription insurance plan usually takes care of drugs etc. and sends them to me by mail. 
But in this case, to avoid delay, I routed the prescription via a local (chain) pharmacy which is a partner of the mail order pharmacy.

The local pharmacist was good enough to tell me that the retail price for the two pills was $31, and that she had to charge this full amount since I had not connected the dots between the mail order Pharmacy, the insurance company, and the local branch of the retail Pharmacy.  

She added that if I submitted my insurance details to her within seven days I could get the lower price.

I'd have been a fool to ignore this, so I trotted back to the local pharmacy with all my insurance details -  leading to a final cost of $5, (not $31).  All well and good.

All well and good, but my heart went out to the two clerks/assistants  at the Pharmacy who tried to help.  The first one (a trainee I think) was utterly buffaloed by the store's computer system.  She called for help, which was rendered by a young man who had some exalted title or other in the Pharmacy's hierarchy.

He went to work:  key-stroke after key-stroke. 

Then more key-strokes. 

Then even more. 

After at least ten minutes of  fiddling on the computer he was able to establish that my insurance was valid, and that I should pay only $5.

I thanked him profusely for all his efforts on my behalf.  He was grateful.

Then I added: "I am not certain that computers have made your life easier".  He nodded an assent.

I went on to say, "maybe my bad karma caused this trouble"  (not that I believe in karma).

My  words made him laugh out loud.  Such words did not increase his pay, but I hope that they gladdened his way.

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Later today (March 6th 2015) I took my car to the local (interior and exterior) car-wash.

 (I am giving a lift to local friends on Saturday 7th March, so I thought that they  deserved a clean car).

The "world and her husband"  were also at the car-wash, so I was about the ninth in line.

Despite this long line my car was all washed and cleaned within thirty-five minutes,

I discovered that the "front end"  staff,   (those who receive our cars and take our payments),  are on salary;  whist those who "detail"   (vacuum clean, and clean the interior surfaces of our cars; and later  dry and polish the exteriors of the cars)  depend on tips for their living.

This means that the "white collar" workers receive a fixed salary, whilst the "drones" (the hard workers) are remunerated via

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This old Christian Socialist (jmp)  still believes in: "From Each According to Their Abilities, to Each According to Their Needs".

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The workers at my local pharmacy,  and at the local car wash certainly work hard according to their (not inconsiderable) abilities.

I know that they are not remunerated according to their needs.

Such is the nature of un-bridled Capitalism.


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Lamb and Mint

I got some Australian Lamb this week at my local supermarket.  I cannot do so often 'cause lamb (which I like very much) is usually very expensive.

The lamb I bought was labelled as hormone and antibiotic free (probably true for most lamb, which as far as I know cannot be "factory farmed").

What I bought was labeled as "Lamb for Stew", and it was "on sale".  The package weighed about twenty four ounces, and was sold for the princely sum of five bucks ($5), a bargain these days.

I prepared it in my slow cooker, and there was enough for three meals.  On Tuesday and Wednesday I ate it with sweet potatoes, corn,  and cannellini beans;  today with sweet potato and haricot verts.

A  "Feast fit for a King" indeed, or at least for a Povey.

The crowning joy of these meals was the mint sauce which I made from scratch.

Not for me the sickly sweet American product known as "mint jelly".

No siree! I made, from scratch,  the far superior British "mint sauce" :  Fresh mint finely chopped, malt vinegar (sufficient to moisten, but not to  drown the mint), and a teaspoonful of sugar.

Mint Jelly overwhelms the flavour of lamb.

Mint Sauce brings out the best in lamb.

Here is a fairly complicated recipe for Mint Sauce.

http://www.frugalqueen.co.uk/2013/07/how-to-make-mint-sauce.html

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From one who is happy that he was born in England,

and who is more than glad that he became an American citizen,

and who is often irked when Americans criticize English/British cuisine,

and is weary of popular American dishes which require "cheese on everything"; deep fried if possible"!








Wednesday, 4 March 2015

A convocation of crows in my neighbourhood, (and when Bishops get together).

O.K. 
 
(1) So I know that the collective noun for Crows is a "murder", not a "convocation".
 
(2) And I know the difference between Crows and Jackdaws.
 
Nevertheless we had what I choose to call a "Convocation of Crows" this morning,  on and around a leafless tree in my neighbourhood. The noise was all but deafening.
 
 
 
 
 
Their gathering reminded me of some words by a Fourth Century (A.D.)Christian Bishop, one Gregory of Nazianzus. (Nazianzus was a small town in what is modern-day Turkey). He, (referring to a gathering of Bishops in Constantinople) speaks of Jackdaws -  but they might as well have been Crows.
 
 
A meeting of Bishops described
"they squawked in very direction. a flock of jackdaws combining together, a rabble of adolescents, a gang of youth, a whirlwind raising dust under the pressure of air currents,

people whom nobody who was mature enough either in the fear of God or in years would pay any attention,

they splutter confused stuff or like wasps rush directly at what is in front of their heads".

Gregory of Nazianzus ( A.D. 329 - 390 )

as quoted in Charles Freeman's "The Closing of the Western Mind" (Knopf 2003)
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And here (gratuitously) is a video of a "Murmur (Convocation?) of Crows, not my video, but taken from the net.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQnv-BYb8MM
 

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Early morning in SRQ

Spider threads on a misty morning 1

Spider threads on a misty morning 2

Spider threads on a misty morning 3

Spider threads on a misty morning 4


Spider threads on a misty morning 5

A flotilla of ducks (Wood ducks?) 1

A flotilla of ducks (Wood ducks?) 2

Monday, 2 March 2015

From the 1990's to 2015

Back in the 1990's when I was the Rector at St. Stephen's Parish in Pittsfield, MA  I got to know Liz . Coscia and her daughters Sara and Katie.  They were good people who enjoyed our life in Christ at St. Stephen's.
 
Now, in 2015, I was lucky enough to hook up again with Liz (now Contenta) .  Thanks be to God she has married another Pittsfielder, one Frank Contenta (a man I knew and respected).
 
Last  month Liz C was visiting her Mum just down the road from SRQ, in Englewood, FL
 
They came up to SRQ and attended the 11:15 Eucharist at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, FL.
 
I was blessed enough to preside at that Eucharist (and my beloved the Revd.  Andi Taylor was the preacher).  What a blast!
 
Here are some "snaps" from that day.
 
jmp at the Altar with his good colleagues Andi T (l) and Ralph M (r)
 
 
 
Andi T and I minister the Holy Communion
 
 
Liz C and I after our post communion lunch at Panera Bread.
 
 
 
 

Sunday, 1 March 2015

It keeps me out of trouble.

Last Thursday I visited  St. Boniface Parishioners Becky W and Chuck F who happen to be in the same Nursing Home (for rehabilitation).  In fact their rooms are on the same corridor, opposite each other.

Becky is a retired school-teacher.  She is adored by all the older gay men at St. B's.  They are lavishing her with visits and phone calls.

I made her laugh when I said "the Bible says that Jesus is the King of Kings.  I think that you are the Queen of Queens".

On Friday I went down to  see Bob H and Frank P at their home in Charlotte County, FL, some 48 miles from where live.    Bob is the man who had a nasty fall at his work-place last year, a fall which seriously injured his brain.

At one time Frank P (his partner), and Peggy and Pat his sisters thought that I would be called in to minister "last rites".  You may remember that I frequently visited Bob in the Trauma Unit at Blake Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, FL, then just one at the V.A. Hospital in Tampa.

Bob has made an incredible recovery.  So it was a blessing to see him and Frank in their home, and to rejoice with Bob at his new health (and to enjoy is humour).

Saturday saw me at a Memorial Service for one of St. B's best: one Fred H.  I did not know Fred and his wife Lorna all that well, but we always exchanged the warmest of greetings at the "early service" at St. B's. 

Fred's younger brother Michael, and his friend from Kindergarten days Bob, shared their  memories of this remarkable man:  a Yale University graduate who switched from Chemistry to English Literature (when he failed Organic Chemistry); who by default became a NYC Banker who specialised  in loans to the Chemical Industry; who was a clam digger in Long Island's South Bay, an expert Banjo player, an avid fly-fisherman and hunter, a wood carver, an avid "birder", a brilliant skeet-shooter  - the list goes on and on. 

All of this,  plus a devoted and tender husband to Lorna, and a father to Fred H  III,  and Ken H (sons who could scarcely contain their tears as they read Psalms 23 and 121 as part  of the service).

It turns out that Fred and his brother M had attended the Pomfret  (Boarding) School, in Pomfret, CT.

See http://www.pomfretschool.org/page  and  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomfret,_Connecticut


Pomfret (name derived from the town of Pontefract  in  the U.K.) is a gorgeous little town which I have visited twice.  I could not wait to tell Michael H  that I was one of the few people in the congregation who knew all about Pomfret, CT.  It is a delightful place which I have twice visited.

OH HOW I WISH  that I had known Fred at a deeper level than that of our genial greetings at St. B's "early service".

Today I went (as is my custom  on Sundays) to the Windsor Assisted Living facility in Lakewood Ranch, FL, there to share Holy  Communion with St. B's parishioner Carl H-K, and to join with him for an excellent lunch in the Dining Room at "The Windsor".

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Four consecutive days of pastoral visits -  each and every one a pleasure.

It keeps me out of trouble.

But it also leads me to ask "why have the younger breed of Episcopal Priests been taught that pastoral visitation is un-important, and  that it should be devolved to lay visitors?"

In my book such visitations should not be an either/or  (either priest/ministers OR lay Christians).

It could and should be a both/and  (faithful priest/ministers/ AND  lay Christians) sharing the joy, peace, challenges and blessings with those who are unable to participate in Sunday services.

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Please forgive this liberal Minister who is so old-fashioned regarding some aspects of Christian Ministry.

Remember also please that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of tiny minds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson)