Saturday, 31 December 2016

JESSE ROLLINS, One of the finest young men at St. Boniface Episcopal Church ,Sarasota, FL

On Friday 30th December 2016 I was privileged to pray the Invocation and Blessing when Jesse Rollins was elevated to the rank of Eagle Scout.

Jesse, together with his older brother Chris and his super parents Keith and Lisa are beloved members of the Church I attend (St. Boniface Episcopal Church , Sarasota, FL)..

The pathway to the rank of Eagle Scout is far more difficult and demanding than the easy come /easy go journey to Confirmation in the Episcopal//Anglican Church.

Just sayin' .... 


Jesse and jmp

Friday, 30 December 2016

Good fences make good neighbours? Nah!

At the west end of Glen Oaks Ridge, my home in Sarasota, there is a bit of land which is part of our property. The lore is that once upon a time the City of Sarasota had eyed it for an extension to nearby Prudence Drive.  That never happened (thank goodness).  The land is a gentle and pleasant buffer between us and the next door Glen Oaks Manor community.

"Back when" the Glen Oaks Ridge Board decided that the buffer land needed a fence.  It was a fence which made no sense, it kept nobody out or in, 'Twas just a bit of ugly nonsense.

Forty or so years on that fence began to fall apart.  The Board made the good decision:  that it would be cheaper to tear the fence down that to have it repaired or replaced.

Nothing but the fence posts to be removed.

Opening up the land
Of course some of the abutters are already complaining, believing as they do that "Good Fences Make Good Neighbours".

That's of course from a poem by Robert Frost.  It's so well known that a Fence Building Company in Pittsfield used it as an advertising slogan.

The use of Frost's words as a slogan is to take them utterly out of context. In the poem the speaker tells of the cheerful task of repairing those old stone walls which are such a feature of former agricultural land in New England.  For this speaker this annual wall repairing is "just another kind of of outdoor game".

It is his neighbour (a crusty old New Englander?) who asserts, as his father did before him, that "good fences make good neighbours", He'd  like to extend the wall to separate his pine trees from the speaker's apple orchard.

His is  the voice of  a cynic who has never allowed himself the thought that "good actions make good neighbours".

In the aftermath of the  Brexit referendum and the U.S.A. General Election when the promises to make more fences and walls has been a sure vote-getter, it's time to read Frost's poem again.

(The emphases are mine)

Mending Wall - Poem by Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

The work of hunters is another thing: 
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there. 

I let my neighbour know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go. 

To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
"Stay where you are until our backs are turned!" 
We wear our fingers rough with handling them. 

Oh, just another kind of out-door game,
One on a side. It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him. 

He only says, "Good fences make good neighbours."
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head: 

"Why do they make good neighbours? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.

Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence. 

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That wants it down." I could say "Elves" to him,
But it's not elves exactly, and I'd rather
He said it for himself. 

I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father's saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, "Good fences make good neighbours." 

Thursday, 29 December 2016

I did it because I could, and so we all should.

Stock photo'

We have a problem in capitalistic America.

It is a problem which affects the life and financial security of people who work hard, but cannot get ahead.

It's a problem which is rooted in injustice.  It' s problem which cowardly Democrats and smug Republicans alike refuse to address.


When my family members visit me from the U.K. I have to give them some instruction in the matter of tipping, particularly in restaurants.

For you see, the assumption in the U.K. is that wait-staff/servers are paid a decent wage, and that tipping (usually 5%) is a way of  showing generous gratitude for good service.

'Tis not so in the good ole USA. (the land of the free and the home of the poor).

In Florida for instance the minimum wage for restaurant servers is just over $5 per hour. That is not a living wage, even for the very few who work for forty hours each week.

So the generous convention is that servers are tipped at 18% - 20% of the bill.

It's an "under the sheets" way of making sure that these hard working folks are more fully rewarded (bearing in mind that they are often required to pool their tips with ancillary staff, such as greeters, table clearers, sou chefs, and dish washers).

It's important to know that lousy table service may well have nothing to do with the server. It may be the result of "problems in the kitchen".


This  tipping nonsense is not restricted to restaurant staff.

Take for instance those young men and women who offer Valet parking services at Concerts or Theatre Venues; at Hospitals,  at fancy downtown Restaurants;  or at Country Clubs and the like. It's very useful when the parking area is a half a mile or more from the Venue.

I used such a service on Christmas Day when I arrived at the Longboat Key Country Club, there to enjoy a fabulous buffet lunch with my friends Fred and Diana.

I did not need Valet parking, but I did so because I wanted to establish cred with the two young men who were on duty that day.

They told me that that Valet service to which they are indentured (!)  gives them a per diem of $ cover their costs for food and gas/petrol.on  a shift which begins before 11:00 a.m. and ends at 8:30 p.m.

Every other red cent they earn is dependent on the whim of their patrons, some of whom give them no more than loose change.

I chose to honour my commie/liberal/ Christian convictions by tipping each  of them with $10.

It's a lousy system.  Obama has not changed it.  Trump will not change it.

But why should I dine with the finest and richest without a thought for the poorest and most hard working?

Parsnips and me

Farewell  good root vegetable

When I was young I despised the flavour of  parsnips which our Mum included in her famous Saturday lunch-time winter stews, together with turnips, carrots, onions, spuds, and  a bit of stew-beef  or lamb meat.

As I grew older I "adored" the flavour of the parsnips which Mum would par-boil, and then roast (with spuds) alongside Sunday's Roast Beef,

(Do understand young friends that in the olden days the beef we used for roasting included super veins of fat;  fat with which the aforementioned potatoes and parsnips could be basted. 

Lament with me that modern day beef  [as sold in those dens of iniquity known as supermarkets]  has been denuded of the slightest traces of fat).  

Forgive my digression.  I was writing about the joy of roasted parsnips, and or parsnips in general,

A  few years ago when I became concerned at the condition of the skin on my hands, I took myself to a local  Urgent Care Clinic.

The Physician-on-Duty, with the help of Dr. Google, came to an informed guess that, sad as it is, parsnips were the  trigger for that outbreak of dermatitis.

Which I had forgotten until yesterday.  

I peeled four parsnips.

My hands instantly became red, inflamed, and tingly.

Of course I washed, and washed, and washed them. 

That relieved some of the symptoms, but sixteen hours later the tingling remains.

"Gosh darn it Michael" (as my friend Barbara H would say), "do remember to wear kitchen gloves the next time you peel parsnips"

P.S.   I cooked and ate the peeled parsnips.  No signs of inner inflammation except for in my brain and heart as I read the news.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

I did it because I could (a mini rant) - the First Nowell (aargh)

When I was a parish rector I always liked the service on Christmas Day more than those on Christmas Eve.  There was much less to fret about than at the Christmas Eve services in all their glory,

Christmas Day usually brought out the beloved faithful, whilst Christmas Eve brought out the twice a year folks.

I truly liked and valued the twicers and did my best to welcome them as Christ had welcomed me.

The Christmas Day service  had a different dynamic: - more intimate, less "busy".  That suited me well.

Christmas Day worship, (sans choir, trumpeters, and players of the shawm) has its own musical challenges.

I was reminded of this on Christmas 2015 when I was the celebrant and preacher at St. B's on Siesta Key.  I had not chosen the hymns.

The closing song was "The First Nowell" - all six verses. It goes  on, and on, and on.

By the end of the sixth verse I could scarcely give a fig about who had been born!


I was the presider again on Christmas 2016.  Our new and good Priest-in-Charge was the preacher.

Guess what the last hymn was?   Guess how many verses we were supposed to sing?

Please understand that I am a retired priest who has no legal authority in my parish.

Please understand that I am also a part-time curmudgeon.

As we approached the end of the service, just before pronouncing God's blessing,  my curmudgeonly self took over.  With less than a nod at my "boss", (the Priest-in-Charge)  I announced that we would sing only three verses of "The First Nowell".

No-one in the congregation protested.  The Priest in Charge went along happily with my usurpation of his authority.  The Organist was in ecstasies of delight since he did not have to play all six verses of a dreary tune.

P.S.   I think the song is popular because even those who are normally  reluctant to sing in Church can loosen their inhibitions and belt out:

"Nowell, Nowell, Born is the King of Israel".

All well and good, but three times are more than enough for me, 

Monday, 26 December 2016

Citrus challenged

I had to take my car this morning  to a local Goodyear Service Station for a leaking  tyre to be fixed.

I was certain that the station was located at 401 North Lime St, here in SRQ.

That was the address I gave to me good pal Rick who had agreed to meet me there, and drive me home.

I got to 401 North Lime Street. I twice  drove the length of the street.  There was no sign of a Goodyear Station.

Rick also got to 401 North Lime Street.   He also  twice  drove the length of the street. He found  no sign of a Goodyear Station.

I called Goodyear.   Oh dear, they are at 401 North Lemon St!

In truth I had my "Citrus is a twist".

Rick and I finally hooked up at the correct address from where he drive me home.

Later this morning Goodyear called me. They reported that they'd found a nail in the leaking tyre, and that all four tyres were in poor shape,

I was not surprised since the most recent report I received from Sarasota's wonderful Sam's Auto stated that they were showing signs of wear.

So here I am at the end of the day with:

Gratitude to Rick for meeting me at Goodyear early this morning,

Gratitude also to my neighbour Eddie Green who drove me to Goodyear when the work was done.

More than a few hundred dollars less in my checking/current account.

Embarrassed about my Citrus confusion,


When I finally arrived at Goodyear this morning I confessed that I had confused Lime and Lemon streets. 

The service agent responded witb  "It's easy.  Limes are green.  Lemons are yellow.  

 DUH, and giggle 

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Friday, 23 December 2016

O Holy Night (I post this every year)

My favourite rendition of O Holy Night.  by Nat King Cole

The History of "O Holy Night" , and Merry Christmas everyone.

The following is not my writing.  I "lifted it" from the WWW

Stories Behind the Music: "O Holy Night"

"O Holy Night" remains one of the world's most beloved Christmas carols, with uplifting lyrics and melody.

The lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau (1808-1877), a resident of Roquemaure, France (located a few miles north of the historic city of Avignon). Cappeau was a wine merchant and mayor of the town, as well as an occasional writer of poetry.

 Known more for his poetry than his church attendance, it probably shocked Cappeau when his parish priest, shortly before Cappeau embarked on a business trip, asked him to pen a poem for Christmas mass.

In a dusty coach traveling down a bumpy road to France's capital city, Cappeau considered the priest's request. Using the gospel of Luke as his guide, Cappeau imagined witnessing the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. Thoughts of being present on the blessed night inspired him. By the time he arrived in Paris, "Cantique de Noel" had been completed.

Moved by his own work, Cappeau decided that his "Cantique de Noel" was not just a poem, but a song in need of a master musician's hand. Not musically inclined himself, the poet turned to one of his friends, Adolphe Charles Adams, for help, when he arrived in Paris.

Adams was an acquaintance of Monsieur and Madame Laurey, who were friends of Cappeau. The son of a well-known classical musician, Adams had studied in the Paris conservatoire. Adams was at the peak of his career, having written his masterpiece, Giselle, only a few years before, in 1841. He was also the composer of over eighty operatic stage works. His talent and fame brought requests to write works for orchestras and ballets all over the world.

Yet the lyrics that his friend Cappeau gave him must have challenged the composer in a fashion unlike anything he received from London, Berlin, or St. Petersburg.

As a man of Jewish ancestry, for Adams, the words of "Cantique de Noel" represented a day he didn't celebrate and a man he did not view as the son of God. Nevertheless, Adams quickly went to work, attempting to marry an original score to Cappeau's beautiful words. Adams' finished work pleased both poet and priest. The song was performed just three weeks later at a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, 1847, in Roquemaure.

Initially, "Cantique de Noel" was wholeheartedly accepted by the church in France and the song quickly found its way into various Catholic Christmas services. However, the song's popularity declined after its initial acceptance, based on the reputations of the lyricist and composer. Late in his life, Cappeau left the church and became an active part of the socialist movement. He was described as a social radical, a freethinker, a socialist, and a non-Christian.

Church leaders also discovered that Adams was a Jew, and the song--which had quickly grown to be one of the most beloved Christmas songs in France--was suddenly and uniformly denounced by the Church. The heads of the French Catholic church of the time deemed "Cantique de Noel" as unfit for church services because of its lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion." Yet even as the church tried to bury the Christmas song, the French people continued to sing it.

Fortunately, more rational perspectives have prevailed. By 1855, the carol had been published in London, and has been translated into many languages. The best known English translation is " O Holy Night" authored by John Sullivan Dwight (1813-1893), a Unitarian minister, an American music critic and journalist who made his home at the Transcendentalist community of Brook Farm, Massachusetts

. Dwight felt that this wonderful Christmas song needed to be introduced to America, and he saw something else in the song that moved him beyond the story of the birth of Christ. An ardent abolitionist, Dwight strongly identified with the lines of the third verse: "Truly he taught us to love one another; his law is love and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother; and in his name all oppression shall cease." The text supported Dwight's own view of slavery in the South.

Published in his magazine, Journal of Music, Dwight's English translation of "O Holy Night" quickly found favor in America, especially in the North during the Civil War. By coincidence, Christmas became a legal holiday in Massachusetts the same year as Dwight published his translation.

Adams had been dead for many years and Cappeau and Dwight were old men when on Christmas Eve 1906, Reginald Fessenden, a 33-year-old university professor and former chief chemist for Thomas Edison, did something long thought impossible.

 Using a new type of generator, Fessenden spoke into a microphone and, for the first time in history, a man's voice was broadcast over the airwaves: "And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed," he began in a clear, strong voice, hoping he was reaching across the distances he supposed he would.

Shocked radio operators on ships and astonished wireless owners at newspapers sat slack-jawed as their normal, coded impulses, heard over tiny speakers, were interrupted by a professor reading from the gospel of Luke. To the few who caught this broadcast, it must have seemed like a miracle, hearing a voice somehow transmitted to those far away. Some might have believed they were hearing the voice of an angel.

 Fessenden was probably unaware of the sensation he was causing on ships and in offices; he couldn't have known that men and women were rushing to their wireless units to catch this Christmas Eve miracle.

After finishing his recitation of the birth of Christ, Fessenden picked up his violin and played "O Holy Night," the first song ever sent through the air via radio waves. When the carol ended, Fessenden read another selection from the book of Luke: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will." The Christmas program was picked up as far south as Norfolk, Virginia; when the program was repeated on New Year's Eve, it was heard as far away as the West Indies.

Since that first rendition at a small Christmas mass in 1847, "O Holy Night" has been sung millions of times in churches in every corner of the world. And since the moment a handful of people first heard it played over the radio, the carol has gone on to become one of the entertainment industry's most recorded and played spiritual songs. This incredible work--requested by a forgotten parish priest, written by a poet who would later split from the church, given soaring music by a Jewish composer, and brought to Americans to serve as much as a tool to spotlight the sinful nature of slavery as to tell the story of the birth of a Savior--has become one of the most beautiful, inspired pieces of music ever created. The lyrics are reprinted below.

O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Saviour's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till He appeared and the soul felt His worth
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices
For yonder beams a new and glorious morn
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine! O night when Christ was born!
O night divine! O night, O night divine!

Led by the light of faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming
Here came the wise men from the Orient land

The King of Kings lay in lowly manger
In all our trials born to be our friend
He knows our need
To our weakness no stranger
Behold your King! before the lowly bend!
Behold your King! before Him bend!

Truly he taught us to love one another 
His law is love and His gospel is peace 
Chains shall He break, for the slave is our brother 
And in His name all oppression shall cease

Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus rise we
Let all within us praise His holy name
Christ is the Lord
Then ever, ever praise we
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim
His pow'r and glory ever more proclaim


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Raise your glass to the great Diane Rhem

I first encountered the Diane Rehm show on New Hampshire Public Radio when I was driving to Dartmouth in that State.

At first I thought her speaking voice to be a bit odd, but when I discovered the reason for its idiosyncratic cadences I began to admire and respect her courage and determination as a broadcaster, (See link below).

My local stations in Pittsfield  (WAMC) and Cambridge (WBUR) were too high and mighty to air the Diane Rehm Show, so it was not until I moved to Sarasota that listening to it became a very important part of my weekday mornings, as I tuned into WUSF.

Diane's  programme has two distinct and discrete live broadcasting hours, one from 10:00 - 11:00, the other from 11:00 to Noon.  Her topics are eclectic and broad, her guests include people with a wide range of interests and political views,

What I have most liked about Diane is that she has never failed to name horse-sh-t as horse-sh-t. She has never let her guests get away with half-truths, evasions and pomposity.  To be on her show is to have your feet held to the fire.

I add that Ms. Rehm is never unprepared,  Her pre-show research is formidable, aided by (I think) an all female staff.  Way to go!

After thirty seven years of broadcasting,, her final two hours will be tomorrow, December 23rd.  I will be glued to the radio between 10:00 and Noon.

Together with millions of other Americans I will believe that I am saying au revoir to a dear and trusted friend.  I have often had the fantasy that I could sit down for dinner with Diane Rehm in a fine Washington D.C. restaurant; that I would learn so much from her; and that she would be interested in my life.

Hail and farewell Diane Rehm.  You have enriched my life in so many important ways.  Thank you.


P.S.  I cannot end without bragging that Diane Rehm is a proud and devoted Episcopalian, YEAH!

President Obama awards the 2013 National Humanities Medal to radio host Diane Rehm during a ceremony in the White House, Monday, July 28, 2014.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)



Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Mounties and a King. Christmas music mis-heard. (And a Carol which MUST be re-written!)

We wish you a merry Christmas....

...  has a line which reads

"Good tidings we bring, to you and your kin".

As a lad I was sure that it ought to read

"Good tidings we bring, to you and your King".

So I sang it that way.   After all "bring" and "kin"  do not rhyme,  (and I grew up in a  Monarchy).

U.K. King George VI.  He died when I was
eight years old..


My twin sister and I attended the same schools from first through sixth grades. Our parents wisely insisted that we should never have the same classroom teachers (sibling rivalry and all that stuff).

In what Americans would call 5th grade we each had classroom teachers who were also organists/choir leaders at local Methodist Churches;  hers at Eastville Park Methodist Church, mine at Bethel Methodist Church, St. George  (both in east Bristol, U.K.).

And we sang!  Back in those days we sang a lot in school.

My teacher let it be known (in subtle ways) that his music programme was far superior to the one led my by sister's teacher.  

Thus I was set up to be scornful of the music which I heard from my sister's classroom.

My scorn was reinforced when I heard them singing "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly". I was certain that they were singing 

"Deck the Halls with  Boughs of Holly
Fa la la la  etc
All ye Mounties praise the Lord".

"How stupid" I thought.  Why is my sister's teacher so dumb.

It was much much later that  I realised that the song  said "All ye mountains praise the Lord"


The sappy and sentimental hymn "Away in a Manger" used to be attributed to Martin Luther, which is most likely why we sang it with deep piety and misty eyes.

We now know that Luther did not write, or sing, or know the hymn.

But we continue to sing it.

More's the pity, especially because of the part which goes

" The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes"


"No crying he makes?" Really?

This is anthropological nonsense Every human baby cries!

This is theological nonsense. If the Christian claim that Jesus is the truly human incarnation of God is valid then the :"Little Lord Jesus"  cried just like every other human baby.

I have asked various congregations to sing it thus:

" The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
and little Lord Jesus loud crying he makes"

Those dear congregations have nodded and smiled in agreement.

And then they have sung

" The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes"

So much for the power of the pulpit!


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

In doing the right thing I did the wrong thing.

On returning home yesterday afternoon at about 4:30 I was greeted by a very agitated neighbour
D-wn C,

"Michael", she said, "my house if full of smoke, and my thing is beeping, and I don't know what to do".

Here I did the wrong thing, I went into the house.  That could have been dangerous.

Of course I called 911.   The dispatcher asked me a series of questions.  It seems to me that this is necessary in the light of various hoax or prank calls.  And it was important for the fire-fighters to know if anyone was still in the house, and/or if anyone was injured,

The SCFD  was on its way in a matter of 45 seconds. The nearest firehouse is just over a mile away, and we could hear the sirens all the way up Circus Boulevard,

In turns out that D-awn had overcooked some food in her microwave, No harm was done (except to the food!).

D-awn is, to put it nicely, quite fuzzy around the edges, so I was glad to have arrived home just as her crisis began.

And to put it strongly, the firefighters were utterly splendid not only in their response to a possible fire, but in their tender and gracious service to D-awn. They soon had a huge fan in place to blow smoke out of her unit.

The Battalion Chief happened to be in the scene, so I was able to shake his hand and thank him for the response of his team.

Two other notes:

(1) It's clear to many of her neighbours that D-wn should not be living alone.  Now, if only we could convince her one and only son that this is the case,

(2) My unit is at one and of a triplex, D-wns at the other end,  And there is no firewall between the units.  In a worse case secnario all three could be in a blazing inferno in a matter of minutes,  That gives me pause for thought in the middle of the night.

Stock photo'  

Monday, 19 December 2016

Unscramble this (a sentence which needs to be re-written).

From the Dec 18th Sunday leaflet at the Church I attend.

"Please remember the 100,000 Americans who are killed or injured each year by guns in your personal prayers on this occasion".

I know what this is meant to say, but I do not have guns in my personal prayers.  Honestly!

Saturday, 17 December 2016

I know this lad

I know this lad.

He does not learn in all the usual ways as we do, but hr has a gift which many of us lack.

He has a deep appreciation for beauty. If he could he would spend endless hours at a beach, delighting in the waves and wavelets of the incoming and out going tides.

"What is this life if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare".

My young friend is changed from glory into glory  as he soaks in the beauty of Christmas lights.


The Church of the Good Shepherd, Fitchburg. Sadly now closed as an Episcopal Parish.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Feeling Blue

I'll try to keep calm, but I have the blues.

This is because I drove my beloved sister Maureen and her good husband Bern to

for their flight to

Bernard and Maureen have been visiting with me for two glorious weeks,  We've had such splendid adventures, including a marvelous trip to the Bay State.

Today I got them to MCO much to early for their flight -  but we had each been anxious about traffic on Interstate 4

Saying goodbye at an airport terminal kerbside is rotten.  Maureen and I were very teary eyed.  She and Bern then moved into that part of hell known as an airport terminal, whilst I drove home (through a ten mile section of I-4 which had bumper to bumper traffic through the exits and entrances from the secular purgatory collectively known as "Disney").  

(Oh for the days when I could have escorted family members to their cabin on a transatlantic ship, and then waved to them from a Pier in Southampton or New York City as that ship gently edged out into the Atlantic!)

Maureen and Bern's friends, and their immediate and extended family members would all join hands and speak the truth.

They are good:  indeed the soul of goodness,

They are gracious: with a deep and generous warmth of mind and spirit.

They are godly: deeply rooted in their faith in God in Jesus Christ, but utterly non-judgmental towards those who do not understand or share that faith.


How blessed I am to have Maureen as a "big sister"  (she is 79, I am 73).who is also one of my dearest friends.

How grateful I am for my bro-in-law Bernard (86).

How glad I have been for their visit.   (Not just glad, but over-joyed).

With that in mind I will indulge in the weepy eyed blues for a wee while!

Bern and Maureen

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Chrisman/Povey/Theobald valedictory dinner.

Misty morning in Sarasota

Photo's taken at City Island and Ken Thompson Park.

I find beauty in such days.  (Not all photo's are labeled)

Tip of Ken Thompson Park

Looking towards Longboat Key Drawbridge

Looking north to LBK

New sniffing territory for Penne

She loves new places

Ringling Bridge scarcely visible

Looking towards Ringling Bridge

Nature's art work

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Meanwhile, back in Sarasota: Celery Fields GREAT. Marina Jack JUST O.K.

Today at 3:30 p.m.


When we left Boston yesterday morning the temperature was 34 f.

When we arrived in Sarasota it was 84 f.

Now that's more like it!

We went out to the Sarasota County/Audubon Society site named "Celery Fields" this morning. SEE

It's such an oasis of peace and beauty on the edge of a busy city and near a noisy Interstate Highway.


We opted for a late lunch at Marina Jack on Sarasota's Bayfront

Marina Jack is situated on a piece of very desirable property.   It serves as a full service Marina for fancy Yachts with their even fancier owners.

There's only a wee bit of competition for dining on the Bayfront  (a Tiki Hut), so Marina Jack has a virtual monopoly.

We had a pleasant time over a leisurely lunch,  The food is somewhere between "O.K"  and "acceptable" but it could be so much better.

Some of the lettuce in Maureen's Caesar Salad had clearly seen its best.  Sadly our server was supremely disinterested when we complained about this.

Ne'er mind. I won't be going there again soon, and the best part was being at Table with Maureen and Bern

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Cambridge MA etc 8th Dec 2016

Morning light across the Charles River -  with Boston's famous CITGO sign almost in a halo

Morning ,light - Boston view taken from outside our Hotel

Looking across the River to Boston University (and the Marsh Chapel)

Our Cambridge Hotel is not too shabby!

Bern and Maureen shivering in a Kendall Square (Cambridge) doorway after our Boston Trolley Tour  (which they enjoyed immensely.  We were waiting for the shuttle back to the Hyatt.



Dinner this evening with good friends in Plymouth MA

 L-R  jmp, Jonathan and Andi Taylor, Bern and Maureen Theobald.

 It was a gorgeous reunion, with rich, funny, and delightful conversations. 

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Sadness ... and travel

Our good friend Ben died yesterday.  At aged 92 he was in good physical and mental health  (except for blindness caused by macular degeneration).

Ben had been at my home on Monday evening to raise a glass of gin in honour of my sister and brother in law who are visiting from England.

He grew very sick during the night, and mercifully died after less than twenty four hours of illness.

Ben was generous, funny and wise.  He could also be a curmudgeon!

The gang of us who are his pals are sad, but we are not devastated.  Ben's was a good long life.  We will miss him.  But we are not weeping, and we do not need condolences,  sympathy or prayers!


Maureen, Bern and I leave in a few hours for a trip to the Bay State where we will do some touristy stuff  (Concord, Lexington etc).  Mostly we'll be visiting with friends in various Bay State cities from Plymouth in the east to Pittsfield in the west

Eat your hearts out St. Boniface friends we'll be having dinner with Jonathan and Andi Taylor on Thursday evening in Plymouth  (about half way between South Yarmouth on the Cape, and Cambridge where we will be staying for a few nights).

Back home on Monday.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Bristol UK (and Wakefield MA) friends of Ron and Char

Eat your hearts out Judy, Janet, Martyn, Sam, Toby, Ruth and Dennis

Guess who we had lunch with today.

At Le Bordeaux Restaurant, 1900 Main St, SRQ

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Another day in paradise with my family members from the U.K.

We skipped my  Episcopal Church this morning in favour of attending The Church of the Palms (Presbyterian) here in Sarasota.
The Church of the Palms, Bee Ridge Rd., SRQ

I had hoped to hook up with some dear former St. Boniface friends who now attend C o P, but regretfully that did not happen.

The Pastor at C o P delivered an excellent sermon  -  well in truth it was more of an ovation than a sermon  (in old fashioned Scots Presbyterian style).

He had excellent and biblical material, but sadly we missed some of the finner points since he has the unfortunate habit  (common to all too many preachers)  of dropping his voice at the end of sentences.

( I was more than disappointed that I did not encounter my friends and introduce them to my sister and brother in law).

Nonetheless we were blessed to be there, and to share in a reverent and dignified celebration of Holy Communion.

After a late breakfast at home (eggs and bacon etc) we went this afternoon to Sarasota's Van Wezel Performing Arts Centre for an utterly wonderful concert by the Sarasota Symphony Orchestra under the direction of the superb Anu Tali from Estonia.  Music lovers in SRQ have taken her to heart!

The programme included two ever popular pieces:  Aaron Copeland's "Appalachian Spring" (what a work out for the Flautist!), and Dvor├ík's Symphony from the New World.

My sister Maureen and I are the two Povey siblings who most enjoy Classical Music, and I was bursting with pride and joy to be seated  next to her as we both luxuriated in this terrific music "in my home town"!

Van Wezel

Anu Tali

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Adelaide the fickle

Last year (2015)  she could not get enough of my niece Beth and her boyfriend Jordan when they visited from England.

In November 2016 Adelaide wormed her way into the affections of my sister Ruth and her partner when they were staying with me  (also from England).

Now she is all over my sister Maureen.

Early today: - Adelaide the Limey Lover

My very senior moment

Yesterday I took Penne for a short walk. When we got back home I saw a stranger folding up some shopping bags which I had left on the hood of my car.

"Excuse me sir", I said, "those of my shopping bags".    He took no notice.

Then the stranger tried to get into my car.  Again I uttered ":Excuse me sir, that is my car"

I couldn't, for the life me me, grasp what the old cadger was doing, and why he was doing it.

Then, simultaneously, "the light went on", and my brain turned on.

The stranger was my brother-in-law Bern!


Earlier in the day we  (with my sister Maureen of course)  had been out to Arcadia, FL to see the place where twenty three Royal Air Force Cadets are buried.

They had died whilst training  to fly during WWII.

It's a moving place for U.K. visitors.   (Bern himself had served in the RAF).

Bern at the RAF burial place

I drive Maureen and Bern up and down the main drag in Arcadia.    They said that it was like a scene from an old American movie.  Apart from the grievous damage inflicted as a result of Hurricane Charlie, Arcadia looks like a town that time forgot.

Having driven to Arcadia via Route 70, we came back home via Route 72, stopping to pay our respects to those women and men whose remains are interred in the Sarasota National Cemetery.