Saturday, 2 January 2016

New Year's Eve, then and now.

Back in the early 1970's my pals Richard, Eric, (sometimes Jeff), various girl-friends and I would see the New Year in at the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. U.K.

We were all very evangelical Christians, very pious, and utterly abstemious. Thus our celebration of the turn of the year was utterly safe.

We would stand on the Bridge until we heard the singing of Auld Lang Syne at the very racy (for us) Grand Spa Hotel

Old photo' of the Hotel's Terrace

then we would walk home.  It was a four mile walk for me.



In 2015 I visited with my friend Betty at 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve  I was at home by 6:30 p.m,, and in bed two hour later.  When I woke up at 4:30 the next morning, it was already January 1st 2016.



Sans any other pressing engagements on New Year's Day 2016 I engaged in a cleaning spree. (Cleaning up the much from 2015 eh?).

I washed the 36" x 36" curtains in my guest bathroom (for the first time since 2012!) when my brother Martyn visited. (Since I never use this bathroom I do not pay it much attention!).

One of the two curtains "fell apart" in the washing machine!   Oh dear!!

I vacuumed and wet-mopped my 29' x 12' Lanai (it's really a screened in and tiled porch).

This cleaning has two phases.  First I move all the furniture to one end of the Lanai, and clean the other end.

Then I move all the furniture back to the end I have cleaned, and clean what is now the "other end".

I can scarcely bear the excitement of this.   On the other hand, I had not vacuumed and wet -mopped the Lanai since early November, just prior to the visit of my two older sisters and their husbands.

"Wanna see a clean Povey House?"   In that case, please arrange for a visit from my U.K. family members.  That'll bring out the Mrs. Bouquet in me!


AND ON THIS QUIET JANUARY 1st 2016  I checked my Sarasota County Library book receipts.   I was pleased to discover that I'd read 48 books in 2015.  Beats Television!

My favourite was

I recommend it highly.

Friday, 1 January 2016

O no John (no "Hoppin' John")

On December 31st  2015 I remembered that I had not cooked  "Hoppin' John"  for the New Year as  I done in the  years since I moved to "The South".

Here is a bit about "Hoppin' John".

Fortunately I do not believe in good luck, or bad luck, or Karma , so I will not fret at my failure to cook Hoppin' John this time.

Instead I will create a new tradition.

Sine 2016 is a Leap Year I will pretend that  Hoppin' John is a dish for February 29th, and  cook some on February 28th  (if you remind me!).   


Despite my Dec 31st/Jan 1st failure I realised that have been making my modernised version of the dish  in recent weeks.

Here is the recipe:

Equal amounts of  Quinoa, Lentils and Black Eye'd Peas.

Cook the Quinoa in water or broth according to the directions on the packet.  Then add the Lentils and Black Eye'd Peas and simmer until the broth has all but evaporated,

Add a  bit of hot Salsa for flavour, and some cooked sausage or  bacon chopped up onto little pieces.  (I use Chicken and Apple Sausage).

C'est bon!


My friend Andrew McGowan reminded me (via the New York Times) of an Irish New Year's Day tradition of eating Bread and Butter on that day,



Bread and Butter is so good!

It's especially good if the bread is a Malt Loaf


Thursday, 31 December 2015

Silliness, whimsy and huma for the end of one year, and the beginning of another.


"The Lantern" is a venue which  was previously known as Hall Two at the Bristol (U.K.) concert hall; the Colston Hall.

"Hall Two" has been renovated and re-named.

The Bristol Post (on line edition)  greeted this renovation with the following headline:

"Lantern aims to be Colston Hall's shinning light".

(Enjoy music, but wear your shin-pads?)



My local United States Post Office at  935 N Beneva Rd Ste 801SarasotaFL 34232 is officially designated as the GLENGARRY STATION POST OFFICE.  

It is NOWHERE near Sarasota's Glengary Street, nor is it near the town of glengarry station in ontario, Canada.

Does anyone know why my local USPO bears this name?


Aisle sign at the Winn-Dixie Supermarket (South Trail and Bahia Vista). Not one Aide would come home with me.

How many Floridians know about this Statute?   How many residents of SRQ know where this sign is posted,  (First correct answer sent to  will receive a $10 Starbucks Gift Card).


At at Parking Lot at the Publix Supermarket at Clark and Beneva, SRQ. Are the isles the grassy verges between each parking area?  Or are they the parking areas between each grassy verge?  Or did the sign-maker get in wrong and write "Isle"instead on"Aisle"?  Or do I have a silly sense of humour?


Finally: here is a lame (but cunning) jpost!

(Thank to Andrew B)

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A visit to the United States Post Office (or "Life is so unfair")

Monday morning saw me at my local Post Office on North Beneva Road (about a mile from my home).

I had an awkward sized envelope filled with Christmas Cards which had arrived to the home of my neighbours Bert and Polly after they'd gone back to Fishers, IN  to live with their son. (Bert and Polly can no longer take care of themselves).

There were two clerks on duty. Each was attending to a customer.  There were two people in line ahead of me.

I heard some back office grumbling which led me to believe that there had been a massive failure in the scheduling of counter clerks.

This showed on the face of one of the clerks, I'll call him "Mr. I Don't Want To Be Here".

The woman clerk, having attended to her customer said, with a smile and a tone of regret, "I am sorry, I have to close down now".

Mr. I Don't Want To Be Here was doing his best to explain to a non-English speaking customer that a USPS notification that he had mail awaiting had been put into his box by mistake.

Then that surly faced (but professionally polite) clerk had to serve a woman who had two express mail letters, but who had filled in the forms incorrectly.

I was next in line.  Another clerk arrived for duty, but for reasons I cannot understand decided that he wanted Mr I Don't Want To Be Here's spot, leaving the latter to move to another desk.

I waited. There were eight or ten customers in line behind me.

Now, I am not a very patient person.  But in circumstances such as the one I am describing I've taught myself a trick.  I pretend that I am patient.

(It's called "fake it 'til you make it"  and it works).

My turn came.  Mr I Don't Want To Be Here beckoned me to his desk. I turned on my considerable *** professional charm  (but couldn't make him smile!).

As he attended to me a woman came in straight off the street, stood to my left brandishing a piece of paper and saying "I have some very disappointed grand-children".

Mr I Don't Want To Be Here responded  "you'll have to wait while I deal with this customer".

 "No" she said "I want to speak with someone in charge".  The clerk asked her to wait in line and said that when her turn came someone would help her,

She turned away and exclaimed "Oh, that's so unfair".

I didn't know whether to be mad at her, or to feel sorry for her.  I decided that discretion  would be the better part of valour, since if I had engaged her, that might have aroused the grumbling of the  eight or ten people who were already waiting patiently in line.

I wanted to say (in my best English accent)  "Madam please get a life.  I could tell you a hundred stories about how life has been truly unfair to good people, and none of them have to do with waiting patiently in line.".

 "Oh, that's so unfair".   Really?


 *** Ministers and Priests take a course in professional charm in Seminary.  It's a way of coping with the twice a year parishioner who wants to engage the Priest/Minister in a long conversation about a third cousin in Tipperary who is dealing with bunions, and why did we not pray for the cousin, when all the Minister/Priest wants to do is to remove her/his vestments, have a pee, and get a cup of coffee.

Tongue in cheek re Seminary courses,


P.S.  None of this is critical of the USPS desk clerks.  They are at the whim of their superiors, and they often have to deal with difficult or stupid customers.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Dreadful and Delightful

When my two older sisters and their husbands visited me in November, (and used my car) they got lost more than once.

We had a standing joke about this when we were driving together.

On one journey, brother-in-law Bernard snapped some coot as the old fella was driving.  Bern put the photo' on Facebook with the caption  "I am sure this is the way to Trader Joes".

When I first saw Bern's photo' I thought "who the heck is that?.   Then I recognised my shirt, then my hat from Vietnam, then my scrawny neck.

Oh dear!

Poor old codger!

On Christmas Day I was the guest of my friends Fred and Diana for a superb buffet dinner at a Country Club on Longboat Key.

Diana thought that a photo' with "Santa" would be nice ( and when I discovered that the photo's were gratis I was more than happy to take one home).


Sunday, 27 December 2015

Sermon for Christmas Day 2015. The Revd. J. Michael Povey, at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL.


Gospel Reading:  (from the King James/Authorised translation, at my request.

Luke 2:1-20

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.


 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son,*whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds. 3He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains* all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1 v 1, 2

That is how the anonymous author of the letter to the Hebrews comments on the story from Luke.  This reading from Hebrews, (great as it is), is somewhat theoretical and theological. (But it is important).

By contrast, the reading from Luke is homely and concrete: It is a story of a man and woman, the birth of a baby, and the power of bureaucrats and empires.
We all understand the lives of Mary and Joseph; the birth of a child; the plight of the homeless; and the oppression of government.

We all understand this, for it is the  story of our own lives.

It is a story which many of us love.

We love it because it is familiar.  I memorized it when I was about seven years old, that’s why I asked for it to be read from the King James translation which is how I first heard it.

We love it because it is the truth. All we need to know about the mysterious and inscrutable God is revealed to us in the child who, as Luke has told us, is “a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord”.

“God from God, Light from Light” is what we sing as we make the powerful assertion that Jesus of Nazareth, born of Mary in Bethlehem is (as Bishop John Robinson put it), the human face of God.

We love it because it is entirely accessible. Not one single human being has to be a philosopher or theologian to “get it”.   

It could be told like this:

Mary and Joseph are from Wauchula in Hardee County. Their ancestors were from Arcadia in DeSoto County, where some faceless bureaucrat has ordered them to report for the census, at the decree of a “Great Big Bureaucrat” in Tallahassee.  The Shepherds live just outside Clewiston in Hendry County.

Of course the story says Nazareth and Bethlehem, with Cyrenius being the faceless bureaucrat, and August Caesar the “Great Big One”. But the truthful theme of the story is universal.

My point is that we could be:

 a Syrian Christian family in refugee camp in Jordan,

or a poor, barely literate family from Honduras who have settled in south L.A.  to protect their sons from the violence in their home country,

or a delightful young recent graduate of Wellesley College who is about to marry her fiancĂ© (he who was graduated from Amherst College)  both Summa Cum Laude;

or the good people who are here today ---- we could be any of those, and still “get it”.     We can “get” the truth of the story of the incarnation of the Word of God, because in Luke it is told in such an accessible way.

I need to “get” the story again, because “Fear Not” said the Angel.

Like the Shepherds, I am sometimes tempted to be “sore afraid”.  But because of these tiding of great joy and truth I will not allow myself to be seduced by the Carnival Barkers who pose as politicians, and who would have me be afraid of Mexicans, afraid of Muslims, afraid of refugees, afraid of Black young men, afraid of the poor, afraid of the homeless.

“Fear not” says the angel to me, and I pray in agreement, knowing that fear leads to despair, and despair leads to anger, and anger lead to hatred, and hatred lead to violence. I will not allow myself to be seduced by any words other than those which bring me “good tidings of a great joy, which shall be to all people”.

I need to "get" the story again because it says: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”.  

Mary was reflective, she was not reactive.

I need to “get” this story so that my life, with Mary will be reflective and not reactive.  Since my mind can easily move from despair to joy within a matter of hours, I must learn not to react to the latest dreadful sound-bites, but with Mary to reflect, and to allow my spirit to rejoice in God my Saviour. 

I need to "get" the story again because it says :All they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds”.  

 I need to hear the shepherds again so that my life will not be governed by cynicism, but will be energized by wonder - that sense of joyful awe as it is expressed in a prayer for those who have just been baptised; a prayer which asks that we may be given “the gift of joy and wonder in all God’s works”.

With me, thank God today for this familiar, true and accessible story.  With me pray to God today to be delivered from fear, reaction and cynicism, and to live with great joy, with deep reflection, and with the gift of wonder in all God’s works.

In particular at this Christmas to be in awe at the GREAT WORK OF GOD, whose only-begotten, as Hebrews says, “is the reflection of God’s glory, and who bears the exact imprint of God’s very being”, even as we see and know it in this child in a manger.