Saturday, 21 May 2016

Dr John G Suess, RIP.

We said au revoir to John Seuss this morning  at a "Requiem Eucharist" at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota FL

John is the father of our well esteemed and wise Assistant Rector, the Revd. Andrea Suess Taylor.

The service was magnificent.  A string Quartet played two pieces by the Italian composer Giovanni Battista Vitali  (See below).

The instrumentalists had never heard of Vitali, let alone played his music. They did it proud.  Even in his death John was a teacher.

Andi and one of her sisters gave loving and honest eulogies.  Our former Rector Ted Copland presided and preaches with his usual dignified aplomb.  I was privileged to read the Gospel passage and to minister a Chalice.


I never knew John as the eminent Musicologist he was  (see Obituary below).  Rather I knew him as the parishioner who always sat in the same pew with his wonderful wife "J.R"., and as one who always told me if he liked my sermons  (but never commented when they were duds!).

I had the privilege of visiting John in his closing terrestrial  months when he was in a Nursing Home. Some forty-eight hours before he died I asked him if music was sustaining him in the final days of his life.  "Indeed" he said "it is".


This is what the teacher John G Suess had to say.

"This is why I teach music:

Not because I expect you to major in music,

not because I expect you to sing or play all your life,

not so you can relax, not so you can have fun,

but so you can recognise beauty, so you can be sensitive,

so you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world,

so you will have more love, compassion, gentleness, good

-in short, more life.

Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living

unless you know how to live?"

Dr. John G Suess.

OBIT as published in various newpapers.

Suess, Dr. John

Aug. 4, 1929 - Apr. 18, 2016

His soul was meant for music. 

Dr. John Gunther Suess was a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and esteemed colleague. He dedicated his life to music and aesthetic education for the enrichment of all humankind.
Born of German immigrants on August 4, 1929, he grew up in Chicago. Despite the anguish of experiencing uncles fighting on opposite sides during WWII, he always found hope in humanity's ability to engage in beautiful cultural creations. 

John completed his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University in Political and Economic Theory. Before being shipped overseas during the Korean conflict, he married Bettie Davenport of Itasca, Illinois in 1953. Upon discharge from the Navy, he knew that music would be his life. He proceeded to graduate studies in music at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University and completed his PhD in musicology at Yale in 1963. His dissertation was titled, "Giovanni Battista Vitali and the Sonata da chiesa." 

He taught briefly in Athens, Ohio and Milwaukee, Wisconsin before he landed the position as Chair of the Department of Music at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) in Cleveland, OH in 1968. Upon his arrival, he developed a unique Joint Music Program between the Cleveland Institute of Music and CWRU. Dr. Suess raised considerable funds for various projects, including the Historical Performance Practice Program and a Music Therapy program.

John was a pioneer in the study of 17th-century Italian music at a time when such work received scant attention from mainstream musicology. He published numerous editions of and articles about 17th-century instrumental music, the oratorio and cantata, and the Accademia Filarmonica of Bologna. His research interests also extended to 20th-century music. He co-edited a Festschrift in honor of Marcel Dick on the Schönbergian Movement in Vienna and the United States, and published articles about his friend and colleague, the composer Donald Erb. Upon retiring in 2002, he could be credited for guiding dozens of PhD students with generous counsel, abundant energy, keen intelligence, and ready humor.

John and Betsy were blessed with and raised five children before she preceded him in death in 1998. Shortly thereafter, he was fortunate to find an intelligent and kind spirit in Jennie Ray Olson. They married in Chagrin Falls, OH in 2000, and have spent much of their time in Sarasota, Florida enjoying the gifts of family, friends, orchestra, ballet, and travel.

He participated in the International Musicological Society, the International Repertory of Musical Iconography, the American Musicological Society, the College Music Society, the Cleveland Music School Settlement's Board of Trustees, the Society for Aesthetics and Art Criticism, the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Society for Music Theory, the Great Lakes Assembly as Director of the project on "The Future of The Performing Arts" and founded the Society for Seventeenth Century Music.
Social organizations he enjoyed were: Rowfant, Schlaraffia, Men of Boniface, Friends of Sarasota Orchestra and Ballet, the Yale Club, and the Ivy League Club.

On Monday April 18, 2016, John succumbed to complications from congestive heart failure. He was preceded in death by his parents, John Baptist Suess and Helen Eichinger Suess, and wife Bettie Davenport Suess. He is survived by his wife JR Suess, and his children: Leslie Purdy, Jessica Suess, Frederica Suess, Andrea Suess Taylor, Lyle Suess, eleven grandchildren (Kirstin, Benjamin, Daniel, Trenin, Lela, Simone, Katie, Noah, Jacob, Aidan, and Vanya), two great grandchildren (Graham and Gabriel), and JR's children: John Olson (deceased), Joy Olson, and Sarah Olson Liberman and four grandchildren (Alex and Mackenzie Olson, and Madeline and Andrew Liberman). One of the great joys of his recent life was a 2014 family reunion with most of them present for his eighty-fifth birthday.

A memorial service will be held on May 21, 2016 at 10:00 a.m., at St. Boniface Episcopal Church, 5615 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota, FL. Memorial gifts may be sent to the Hermitage Artist Retreat, 6660 Manasota Key Road, Englewood, FL 34223. -

Friday, 20 May 2016

19th May - my Nanny's birthday (and Queen Victoria)

Nanny Povey, all dressed up with hat and gloves.  Maybe on an "outing"

I loved my Nanny Povey (the only grandparent I knew/  My family has but this  one photo' of her
/As I child I was confused by the fact that her name was Sarah, but she was also known as Sally. That did not make sense to me!

I know that her birth name was Sarah Bennett and that her father had been a coal miner in the Easton district of Bristol (where until recent years there was a pub called "The Pit Pony"

She married my grand-father Henry George  (or George Henry) Povey.  They had but one child, my Dad, Henry John Povey (always known as Jack).  

Grandfather Povey died in 1939  Nanny lived in semi-poverty after that, eking out life on a Widow's Pension.

I am certain that she was born on May 19th because I was always tickled pink that her birthday was exactly one week before mine (and that of my twin sister),

But I cannot be sure of the year of her birth.  I suspect that it was in about 1890 (or a year or two before) because she loved to tell that as a school-girl she saw Queen Victoria on the latter's visit to Bristol.  Nanny, as a school-girl was given a penny and a sticky-bun as a reward for her "loyalty" in lining up to see the Queen.

I can find records that Queen Victoria visited Bristol in 1899 - so that would "gel" with my thought that Nanny was born found about 1890 -  for in those days Nanny would not have been educated much beyond the age of ten or twelve.

It also gels with the fact that my Dad was born in  1911, when Nanny would have been about 21 years of age.

Nanny died when I was fifteen or sixteen years old. I know that I had to take a day off from school to attend her funeral.

Of course I loved Nanny dearly.  Apart from that, I am tickled pink to note that, via her memories, I have a link in this 21st Century to a Nanny who was born in the 19th Century, a Nanny who saw Queen Victoria.

My guess is that some of my readers have similar memories of their encounters with family members or friends who were born in the 19th Century.

In some ways that makes "history" to seem like yesterday!

If you have 19th to 21st Century stories or memories.  please publish them on Facebook/

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Technology BLAH!!


On May 3rd I paid my April Verizon Mobile bill directly from my checking account.

Despite this I received a fair number of recent texts and e-mail messages from Verizon, stating that my account was in arrears, and that I could lose service as I was in arrears.

When I checked my Verizon account it was to discover that the payment I had made had been sucked back into my checking account on May 12th -   go figure(!).

With that in mind, after the 10;00 a.m. service at St Boniface Church on Siesta Key, I  took myself via the north Siesta Key bridge  to the Verizon store on the South Trail,  (very near Trader Joe's), check in hand. to pay the bill.

This was my journey (SRQ friends will understand the following geography) 

A right turn onto South Tamiami Trail.from Bay St, and then a U-turn at Glengarry to the Verizon Store.  I was expecting a desk, staffed by a clerk who would accept my check.

At this (and most likely every Verizon store) you pay your bill at a machine.  A machine which would not accept my check, not my debit card, nor a credit card because I was "in arrears" (for $106). It would only accept cash.

So back on the Trail, I went driving North.   Crossing Bee Ridge and Siesta Drive to a Bank of America ATM.  Withdrawing $120 from the ATM.

North on the Trail again until I could make a U-Turn.  Then South on the Trail, crossing Siesta Drive and Bee Ridge Road, and once again making a U-Turn at Glengarry to the Verizon Store.

There I inserted my $120 worth of greenbacks into the machine, a machine which "told me" that it did not give change, and that my surplus of $14 would be applied to my next bill.

I am back into the good favour of Verizon.  My service will not be cut.

BUT  -  what a palaver.

Remember the old days when you could pay your Ma Bell bill at a local Bank, corner Store, or Post Office?

Technology has given us computers, ATM's, Smart Phones and the like.  That's mostly good.

But it can be a bear when it goes wrong.

Next month I will pay my Verizon bill with a good and old-fashioned check/cheque!


This photo' has nothing to do with this evening's blog.  It is a gratuitous attempt to gain your attention.

 It is a photo' of jmp taken in Fitchburg MA in 1980. I gave it to two pillars of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Annie Speed and her daughter Ruth Card, when I left that congregation.

Ruth's son Steve Card gave it to me a few months ago when he and his spouse Rick visited me in Sarasota.

Was I ever that skinny?

Was my hair ever that red?

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Voice to text is quirky: Mr. Probably.

I saw my very fine Physician Dr. Kristen P this morning to follow up on my blood pressure "issues".

I am happy to know that my b/p has returned to very normal and acceptable levels.

Dr. P ordered some blood tests for August.  Later in the day that she had omitted  one important test.

Her staff member called me about this.

I was out of the house, so Dr. P's staff member left a voice mail, which was translated into text.

Voice mail to text is "iffy".

At one point the voice to text message addressed me as  Mr Colby.  That has a certain amount of sense.  "Povey" on voice mail can easily be transformed to "Colby" in  text.

Later on in the voice to text message "Mr. Povey" emerged as "Mr Probably".


That designation of me as "Mr. Probably" reminded me of the time in 1999 when my good friend Michael Vono,  (then the Rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Rome, Italy, now the Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande),  embarked on a Grand Tour of Greece.

I had persuaded him that although I am a restless sleeper we could save money by sharing hotel rooms.

That plan lasted for one night, and one night only (in Athens).  On that night dear Michael Vono scarcely enjoyed a wink of sleep because of my restless and noisy sleep. (He ended up sleeping on the floor of the bathroom in our Hotel Room to escape my noise!)

But he had a few moments of merry amusement,

He heard me (in my sleep) cry out "no, no, no" with ever increasing volume..

Then, in my sleep I paused for a moment, before exclaiming .

Michael Vono and I agreed that my words "no, no, no" and "well maybe"  were a classic exposition of the woolly theology of the Episcopal Church.

So perhaps I am indeed "Mr Probably".

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Four English politicians were in a pub...........

The views of an English ex-pat now living in Florida, USA

Nigel Farage, UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party) stands at a corner at the end of the bar.  He doesn't drink his beer -  he quaffs it.  He is the pub bore, here every night, telling the same old stories and the same old jokes, with or without an audience.

Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London and leader of the BREXIT (British Exit from the European Union), sits alone at a table. He sips at a Gin and Tonic.   You join him. He is glad to see you.  For the next fifteen minutes he regales you with stories of his brilliance:  his successes, his wisdom, and his bicycle. He tells you that he and Donald Trump have the same hair stylist.  He never once asks you a question, or asks for your opinion.

U/K Prime Minister David Cameron also stands at the bar.  He holds a half-pint glass of bitter so that you will know that he is a man of the people.  You stand next to him and begin to chat. You think that he is listening to you.   But then you notice that he never looks you in the face. He is looking over your shoulder in the hope that a Really Important Person is also in the pub.

Jeremy Corbin (Leader of the U.K. .Labour Party) sits alone at a table in the semi-dark  recesses of the pub..

No-one wishes to talk with him, so he talks to himself.


But I bet ( and here I admit my prejudice)  that  if you had recently been "made redundant" (U.K. terminology)  or "fired" (U.S.A. terminology ), or if your spouse, or partner, or parent had just died, Mr. Corbin would be the one man who you would be glad to encounter in a pub.

Unlike Farage, Johnson or Cameron, Mr. Corbin would take time to listen to you, and to try to share your burden.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Snores, snarls and other matters

I am a very restless sleeper.  So restless that I dare not share a hotel room with another, lest his/her sleep be disturbed by my antics.

Last night  (Sunday 15th)  I took to my bed at 8:30 p.m. I was asleep within minutes.  I awoke at 11:15 p.m. for a bathroom visit.  Back in bed, I slept undisturbed until 4:30 a.m.

WOW  almost eight hours of good sleep. What a gift! No wonder there was a spring in my step when I walked with Penne at 6:00 a.m.


Speaking of Penne.  She is so gentle.  She rarely growls.

My two cats show every sign of wanting to be good friends with Penne.  She "puts up" with this, and often defers to them.

Such was the case until yesterday.  I was seated at my desk. Penne and the cats were out of sight.

Then I heard Penne snarl (for the first time in seven years) and utter a loud angry bark. Juniour cat skid-addled out of the hallway, and hid under a table.  She was closely followed by Penne, her dander clearly up.

Oh my goodness.  Maybe Penne in her old age (14 years) has decided that she will no longer be gentle and placid with "the naughty cats".


The Snow birds are leaving my neighbourhood and the Church I attend.  They are going  north for the summer.  They are older than I. They leave to enjoy their children, grand-children, and great grand-children who live north of the Mason/Dixon line.

This always makes me sad, Each year I wonder if I will see them again in late autumn or early winter, or will bad health or the grim reaper prevent their return,.

This applies especially to a nonogenarian couple B and V who live nearby.  I see them most mornings as we walk out. Just to see then brings a smile to my face. Most mornings we enjoy a cheerful chat,

On Friday they will return to West Virginia. They are hale and hearty, so I expect to see them in the latter part of 2016 or early 2017.

 But "you never know" so their departure always makes me sad.


I walk out a lot, and usually express cheerful greetings with other walkers. The other week I asked an older couple about the plantings in front of their fence. The plantings are not beautiful, but they are useful "fillers" for bare spaces.

Turns out that they are "Flax Lillies ".

I encountered this couple yesterday (Sunday)  morning at 9:30 a.m. as Penne and I walked after Church.

The wife asked me if I had bought any Flax Lillies.  I had not.

She said, "come on over on Monday and divide some of mine. They need to be thinned out"

 "What time will be  good?" I asked..

She said  "since it is 9:30 a.m. today  (Sunday)  why don't you come over at 9:30 a.m. on Monday?"

That timing was perfect and so, spade in hand, I was at her home this morning.  I dug out some divided plants. Within 30 minutes I had replanted them at my home, and given them a good hose  soaking.

If the weather forecast is accurate "Mother Nature" will provide a fair bit of rain later this week. That will help my new Flax Lillies to put down good roots, and to flourish.

"Mother Nature" apart I rejoice  in this old- fashioned way of life in which neighbors care and share.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Welsh have a word for it: HIRAETH

St. David's Cathedral, Wales.

"Hiraeth, is a Welsh word that has no direct English translation. . It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia, wistfulness, or an earnest desire for the Wales of the past." (from Wikipedia)

The word is best known to English speakers from the song "We'll keep a welcome in the hillsides"

I am not Welsh but I had my own day of Hiraeth last week.  It was not a day of sadness, or melancholy, or depression.    

It was a day of longing/yearning for what might have been, and what could yet be.

Longing/yearning that I had not covered my need for, and fear of  intimacy (in its broadest sense) by being a busy Priest - trying to find fulfillment in work rather than in relationships.

Longing/yearning  that I could undo the errors of my past, those times when I used or manipulated other people for the sake of my own ill-formed and sinful  ego.  I have sometimes been a very difficult and self-willed man,.

Longing/yearning (and here speaks one who is about to celebrate his 72nd birthday) that in my waning years I will be delivered from aloneness and loneliness.

Longing/yearning that in the remaining years alloted to me, I might be graced with the gift of a partner (not necessarily a lover) who will make fun of my foibles and quirks;  who will listen to my babbling and tease me out of my nonsense; who will "be there for me" -  and one for whom I can in turn "be there".

My hiraeth, wistfulness, longing for my  future is perhaps best expressed in this poem (often incorrectly attributed to George Elliot)

Oh, the comfort—

The inexpressible comfort of feeling
safe with a person,
Having neither to weigh thoughts,
Nor measure words—but pouring them
All right out—just as they are—
Chaff and grain together—
Certain that a faithful hand will
Take and sift them—
Keep what is worth keeping—
and with the breath of kindness
Blow the rest away.


P.S.  I am NOT in a crisis, nor do I seek for advice!  I ask you to simply listen.