Saturday, 8 August 2015

Behold! (and other matters)

Behold my shiny new kitchen faucet which was installed today by my favourite handyman. He trades under the moniker "Meyer Makes House Calls"

"Behold" I thought, but for reasons which are beyond my ken I have been unable to upload pictures to this blog since I upgraded to Windows 10.

But please imagine a shiny new faucet, made by Glacier Bay, and putting the rest of my kitchen to shame.

David Meyer is personable and skilful. He installed the new faucet, replaced a broken aerator in my bathroom sink, and fixed a wonky drain plug in said sink.

The materials cost $108. His labour charge for 1.5 hours was $65.

I am well pleased.


For reasons which are not entirely clear (in my mind) - I decided to buy a "Tablet" on Tuesday this week.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that I might be traveling soon, and that a Tablet would be useful. (But I have no travel plans!}

I opted for an Acer product, chiefly because it included a detachable keyboard.

I trotted home with glee from the Best Buy on South Tamiami Trail (if driving counts as trotting) all excited about my new toy.

But "gosh darn it" I could not turn it on. So I went back to Best Buy (this time with my tail between my legs) and consulted with a member of the "Geek Squad" team.

After two minutes he stated "this is a faulty product" (I sighed with relief), you should look for a replacement.

You'd think that a high-tech company such as Best Buy would have a sophisticated system of inventory control. Nah! The first sales clerk who deigned to speak to me said "we do not carry "Acer" products". After (on my knees with a look of deep sincerity) I told him that I had indeed bought an Acer Tablet that very day, he took him fifteen minutes to find the replacement. (Inventory control anyone?)


Back at home, I set up the Tablet, and enjoyed it for three days. Early this afternoon I shut it down under one of those Microsoft "update and shut-down" rubrics.

Guess what? After the update and shut-down it was impossible to turn the damn machine on again.

Back, in the rain, to Best Buy. Met a delightful service agent. She managed (with the Techie magic which I do not understand) to restart the Tablet.

She figured that the Microsoft update had caused it to mal-function.

I figured that the Acer product had some in-built flaws.

So I opted to turn it in and get my money back.

I spent a wee bit of that money on a pair of walking shorts, and a casual shirt, both of which in truth I needed - and what better time to buy such garments than in a Florida "back to school" sales tax hiatus.


My good nonagenarian pal Ben was having troubles with his old fashioned flip style mobile 'phone (which he never uses!).

He had figured that that battery was dead, and could not be charged.

I offered to take him to the Battery Store on Bee Ridge Road; but before we set out I tested the 'phone. It was in perfect working order.

Dear Ben had thought that a "quick stab" at the power button would suffice.

I reminded him that he should press the power button for three seconds in order to activate the 'phone.

Ben was grateful and he said "I am a low-grade idiot".

"That's not true" I replied.

Ben was pleased with this response.

I added:

"Ben, you are a high grade idiot".

That made him laugh out loud.

Friday, 7 August 2015

SRQ Handyman/Master Tinkerer

He describes himself as a "Master Tinkerer".

His name is David, and his 'phone # is 941 993 9756

He was recommended to me by a St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL parishioner

He has tinkered for me, e.g. he has fiddled around to take care of those fiddly home-owner tasks/ repairs, for which I do not have the skill, tools, or knowledge to put right; but for which I do not need a contractor or even a specialist handyman.

(An example: The pull chain for the overhead fan in my bedroom snapped, and the short end retreated into the housing. David knew how to take care of this, and he went one better. He suggested, and I agreed to the retro-fitting of a gizmo in the casing, so that the fan can be turned on and off, or the speed changed, with a remote control. That's particularly handy during the wee hours of the night, when the air being blown around gets too chilly - I can turn the fan off without leaving my bed.)

[Now, if only there could be a device to enable me to tinkle (not tinker) without getting out of bed. I do not mean "Depends"]

I have recommended David to others, and they have been well pleased with his work.

Call David if you need some tinkering in your home. He is very good at those fiddly little tasks,

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

A cautionary tale.

Don't let this happen to you!

I was preparing a light supper meal at about 8:00 last evening, Tuesday 4th August 2015. It was to have included a Morning Star Brand "Spicy Black Bean Burger", a few "heirloom" cherry tomatoes, and some Paisley Farms Brand "Five Bean Salad".

That was the plan. It was the plan until I dropped the glass jar containing 35.5 fluid ounces of the Five Bean Salad.

Oh woe. Oh misery.

There were shards of glass, hundreds of beans, and an indecent amount of fluid all over my kitchen floor.

I was too tired to effect a complete clean-up, so I swept up as much of the glass shards and beans as I could, and covered the rest of the mess with some old towels.

The real clean up took place this morning. My entire kitchen floor was covered with a sticky mess. After walking the dog (twice); feeding all three animals; and having a bit of toast for breakfast, I set to work with an old fashioned mop and pail.

I had to make two passes with a wet mop on the floor before it lost its dirty stickiness.

I have some profound advice for you. Never drop a 35.5 fluid ounce jar of Five Bean Salad on your kitchen floor.


I learned so much from this bitter experience that I hoved over to the Plymouth Harbour Retirement Community tonight, there to have dinner with St. Boniface parishioner Lorna Hard.

(In truth we had planned this a few weeks ago)

I had a bit of salad from the salad bar in the elegant dining room, and for my main course I had liver and bacon, with a side of spinach.

The food at Plymouth Harbour is excellent.

Even better was the fellowship and conversation with Lorna.

Dinner at Plymouth Harbour, and lively conversation with Lorna trumps Five Bean Salad on my kitchen floor!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A late night encounter with a Sherriff's Deputy in Osceola County, FL

Grace, Mack and I left the Austin, TX Little League "Banditos" team party at about 10:15 p.m. last Saturday.

We managed to get back onto Interstate 4, at junction 60, a miracle in itself since I, the navigator, failed to see the entrance.

We got off I-4 at exit 62 and headed towards the town of Celebration, where our Hotel was situated.

So far, so good - until we came to an intersection at which the two passengers opted for a right turn, but the driver was sure that we should turn left.

After a mile or so, said driver conceded that we were heading in the wrong direction.

She took an apparently legal U-Turn, whereupon we saw the lights, and heard the siren from a Sheriff's Deputy's Car.

We stopped, and waited for the worst.

The Deputy approached our car.

It did not look good. Two African-Americans in the front seats, and an Anglo-American (me) in the back.

Were we under suspicion for some nefarious drug deal?


The gracious and polite Deputy had pulled us over simply because (somehow or another) we were driving sans lights.

LORD ALONE knows how we had managed to drive late at night on an Interstate, and on urban streets, without lights.


LORD ALONE knows why this Deputy treated us with such dignity and respect.

BUT HE DID - and for that we are glad and grateful.




Monday, 3 August 2015

I don't want to do this again,

Regular readers know that I went over to Celebration (the Disney inspired "Perfect community") last weekend, to see my friend Grace Jones and members of her family.

The journey was via Interstate 75 and Interstate 4.

As I drive north on I-75 my body and mind tensed up. There was heavy traffic. And there was those 10% of drivers who believe that it is their right and duty to weave in and out of the three lanes "to get there faster".

I was very tense (and that's not conducive to wise driving).

Then it was time to drive east on I-4. Oh hell!

I-4 is not the road to hell, it is hell.


(I have two definitions of hell. One is an eternity of being on I-4, with next to no gas/petrol in the tank, and NEVER being able to get off.

The other is an eternity of being at Miami International Airport and NEVER being able to find the correct terminal or gate.)


I was wise enough to take a break at the two rest areas en-route, but boy, was I glad to get off I-4 at exit 62, there to head into Celebration and meet my friends?


I had no choice in the matter, so I had to use I-4 west and I-75 south to get back home.

On the I-4 part of the journey I ran into a monsoon. Wisdom prevailed for once. It seemed that "everyone" slowed down to about 20 mph, and kept safe distances from preceding vehicles.

After the storm we got into very slow moving bumper-to-bumper traffic for about two miles. Oh dear, we knew that there was an accident ahead, but we discovered that it was not on our west bound lanes, it was on the east bound lanes.

Despite that fact that at the point of the accident there was a very wide (very wide) median - we had been slowed by rubber-neckers.

I suppose that if the first handful of drivers slow down to "rubber-neck" at an accident, there is a ripple effect, and soon there will be (as was on Sunday) a two mile go-slow.

Pity the folks driving east. That traffic was backed up for at least five miles.

I prayed to all the gods I know (and some that I have never met) that when I entered I-75 south it would be accident free.

They answered my prayers.

I swung by my home to unload my suitcase, and to feed the cats with their afternoon treat of canned food. They greeted me at the door, and then ran away, playing hard to get.

Then I went south on Beneva to get my good dog who had been staying with her Uncle Ron and Aunt Charlotte in the Gulf Gate area.

Penne displayed her usual irrational exuberance when I arrived. But she had had a good time.

She is so used to staying with Ron and Charlotte that she settles down as soon as we arrive at their home. Then she becomes Charlotte's shadow.

They are good people, and Penne is a good dog. I am always so happy when I am out of town since I know that Penne will be perfectly happy at her home away from home (and that Ron and Char truly enjoy having her as a guest).

Back home, safe and sound - but I don't want to do this any more - i.e. drive on our crowded Interstates.

Reunion Part Two: Photographs

For reason which are beyond my ken, I could not upload the photo's from yesterday's reunion to Blogger.

I have posted five of them (individually) on Facebook.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Old friends, gratitude, and a great reunion in Celebration, FL

I will, for as long as God gives me breath, be grateful for the friendship I have with Dr. Grace Jones.

I met Grace, (and her former husband Chauncey), with their children Elizabeth ("Libby") and Derrick when I became the Rector at St. Stephen's in Pittsfield, MA.

At that time Grace was the Assistant to the President of Berkshire Community College. When he resigned (under pressure) Grace resigned too.

She then worked in the School Department in Pittsfield - it was not a happy match, so she quit.

She came to see me and said that since she planned to take time-out to re-assess her career choices she would also have time to serve her church - St. Stephen's.

Thus she became the Junior Warden of the parish. She and I found a common purpose in our service at St. Stephen's.

Grace went on to bigger and better things! She was appointed as a vice-President for multi-cultural affairs at the State University of New York at Oneonta. I visited her there.

Next she moved to Utah, there to become the President of a Community College: the first woman, and the first African-American to attain to such a position in the congenitally conservative State of Utah.

Grace was then appointed to be the President of the Three Rivers Community College in Norwich, CT. This was the crowning achievement of her stellar career. She presided over the merger of two campuses, and she created a "magnet" High School: - a feeder into the Community College system.

Grace and I were able to sustain and deepen our friendship when she was in Norwich, CT and I was in Cambridge, MA.

In the meantime I have been able to stay on touch with her son, Derrick. I stayed overnight at his pad in Los Angeles when I was en-route to Australia.

And I was blessed to be the officiant when Libby got wed to the love of her life, Sam Gillen, at St. Stephen's in Pittsfield, MA, and later to baptise Libby and Sam's daughter "Gigi" (Grace Gillen) in Amherst MA, and their son Theo in Chatham, MA.

Theo is now aged nine. He has no idea who I am, nor does his older sister GiGi who was only three years old when I baptised her little brother.

This nine years old Theo is a member of a Little League baseball team (based in Austin TX), which had qualified for a tournament in Orlando, FL.

"YaYa" Grace conspired to have me travel from SRQ to ORL to surprise Libby and Sam, and to enjoy some "Little League" baseball.

In the event Theo's team (the "Banditos") did not do well.

Ne'er mind! I was able to spend some gracious time with Grace and her gentleman friend Mack at a Hotel in Celebration, FL a (in my opinion) "Stepfordian" community (see,_Florida) and to:-

reconnect with Grace and Mack; and with Sam and Libby; and to remind GiGi and Theo that I had baptised them.

GiGi (now 12) was distinctly un-impressed. After all, why should a 12 year old girl be impressed with a 71 year old Pastor.

Theo (now 9) kept his distance until I began to tell him that I had never liked him, and that he was a horrid little boy. He caught on to my silliness and responded (after some coaching) by asserting that he never liked me!



What a blessing to be with Grace, with her pal Mack, and with Libby, Sam, GiGi and Theo.