Saturday, 4 June 2016

My sermon on 29th May 2016

I was the preacher at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL last Sunday.

This was my first Sunday sermon since November 2015.  (I had been scheduled to preach in January 2016, but an intestinal infection kept me at home that Sunday).

Last Sunday I chose to preach from notes rather than from my usual full script.  The sermon is long by St. Boniface Church standards.

I was interested  to see myself as others see me, and to note that I smile a lot when preaching.

The readings were 1 Kings 8:22-23; Galatians 1:1-12; Luke 7:1-10

The celebrant/presider was our Associate Rector,  the Revd. Andi (Andrea) Taylor.  She is a wise and respected colleague. (I knew Andi in our Massachusetts days).  She will soon be leaving us to become the Rector at a parish on Cape Cod: St. David's Church, South Yarmouth, MA.

To see and hear my sermon click on this link


Go to "watch live" , then to "May 29th service and sermon".

If you choose not to view the entire service -  my sermon starts at about 23 minutes and  30 seconds.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Grumpy thoughts about pudding, from an expatriate Limey

I read a news article today which included the words  "the proof is in the pudding".  Many American writers and broadcasters say this  - but  it is nonsense,

The saying, correctly spoken or written is "the proof of the pudding is in the eating".

In other words, you do not know if a pudding is good until you eat it.

In Britain (and  in some Commonwealth countries) "pudding" has two meanings.

1,  It can be a reference to any dessert.  (for instance, at a restaurant in Vietnam I came across  a couple who said "we are having ice-cream for our pudding"  I knew at once that they were Brits.

"Pudding" for dessert is hardly ever used these days. Middle and Upper Class Brits will refer to "dessert".  Working class Brits will say "afters".

2, There are also sweet and savoury dishes which are specifically called puddings.

Here  are some of them

Spotted Dick pudding (suet based)  now for tender ears called Spotted Dog pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Christmas Pudding.  Cooked (steamed)  with suet in November, and then left to marinate until Christmas Day.  Utterly delicious (unlike the Supermarket imitations) .  I know, because my Mum and my older sisters used to make them.

Bread and butter pudding , a good way to use up stale bread.

Bread pudding, also made with stale bread. "Waste not want not"

Rice pudding, often Sunday "afters"  in our home.  Before milk was homogenized  the cream would rise to the  top and
then form a nice browned crust.

Black pudding (often called Blood Pudding in the USA).  My Mum never cooked and served this, but these days I see it as essential in  a full British or Irish breakfast.

Steak and kidney pudding  (suet based), and steamed   If made with regular flour based pastry and baked  it is steak and kidney pie,  

Many Americans blanch  at the very thought of kidneys.  In an good steak and kidney pudding or pie the kidneys add a wee bit of rich flavour to an otherwise bland pudding or pie.

See this from the Net

The thing that raises the pudding head and shoulders above all other pie pretenders is, in my opinion, suet. This thick, creamy fat encases the kidneys, and gives the pastry a surprising lightness thanks to its high melting point – the shell has already set by the time the suet dissolves, leaving a pattern of tiny air holes in its place.


The greatest UK and Ireland pudding is Yorkshire Pudding,  

Some fifty two years ago I had the "real thing" in Yorkshire,

The beef (with lots of good fat) was placed on an oven rack, and the fat dripped down onto a baking pan in which was the Yorkshire pudding batter,  Cooked well, hot, and crispy,  this Yorkshire Pud. was served before the main dish,

'Twas the best I ever ate.  I will never again enjoy such fabulous Yorkshire Pudding.


Indeed  "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Everyone becomes an expert on Social Media

Via my friend Alison G.  Originally posted by Brandt Hansen Page

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

There is such a thing as a "free lunch" ? I had two today.

How fortunate I am!

Yesterday I called my local handyman business  Meyer Makes House Calls  (owned by David Meyerburg - sole owner and worker)  941 993 9756 and asked him to make a few repairs in my home (clearing a clogged drain, returning a sliding glass door to its track, and repairing a folding door in my bedroom).

David returned my call early this morning, and was at my home by 1:00 p.m.  He worked for about an hour.

I went to get my check/cheque book to pay the bill.

David refused any payment.  He said that he is glad to work  for me, and that he enjoys our conversations.

A free lunch!


One day last week a car drew up  alongside me at a traffic light,  The driver told me that my left side brake light was not working.  So this afternoon  I took myself to a local repair shop

Sam's Auto Repair is an utterly reliable and honest business.  I have used them for at least seven years.  Today, within ten minutes, they had replaced a dead light bulb with a new one.

Their front desk clerk said "no charge".

'Tis true that I have parted with many a greenback at Sam's,  but it is also true that I appreciated the "free lunch" which Sam's gave me today.


In between David Meyerburg's visit and my trip to Sam's  I went down to an Independent Bookstore on Main St, SRQ

I was there to purchase a wonderful book which I had recently borrowed from the Sarasota County Library, and now want  to purchase as a gift for friends,

 It is (see my blog from a few days ago, and buy or borrow it).  c/f  You want AWESOME? Try Alexander Von Humboldt

The book is The Invention of Nature - Alexander Van Humboldt's New World" by Andrea Wulf (Alfred A Knopf 2015).

Sarasota Books did not have it in stock, but they have ordered a copy for me.

I could have purchased this book at Barnes and Noble, or ordered it via Amazon. But just so long as there are local and independent businesses it seems wise to spend my dollars with them, and thus to be grateful for the free lunches which they send my way.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Herstory or History, and Isambard K Brunel.

Citizens and residents of Bristol U.K.  get a bit dewy eyed at any mention  of "The Suspension Bridge" (properly known as the "Clifton Suspension Bridge").

We have a deep seated pride in this Bridge which spans the River Avon Gorge between Clifton and Leigh Woods.  It is "our bridge".  It speaks "Bristol" to our our souls, and we love it.

The earliest memories of many Bristol children are rooted in that first time they were taken to the Bridge, there to walk across it from Clifton to Leigh Woods, and back again.

I am sure that I had been taken there previously, but one of my earliest memories is of the time when "Aunty Whitfield"  took me there to see it "all lit up"  in 1951 - the year of the Festival of Britain, (when I was seven years old).  It had not been illuminated since before WWII  (if ever).

(Aunty and Uncle Whitfield were not family members.  They were a couple who rented two rooms in our home at the time of the British housing shortage following WWII)

Such a gorgeous Bridge.  It makes Bristolian's  hearts beat fast!

The Bridge "all lit up"


We Bristolians have long taken pride in the "fact" that the Bridge had been designed by the great railway, steamship and bridge Engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel,. see:


Brunel was indeed great.  But recent scholarship has discovered that he was NOT the designer.

In fact shock, horror disbelief  the bridge was designed by  a woman.

See this from the "Bristol Post"  (even as you get pissed off that the "Post" describes the terrific female inventor as a "Mum").


1,  Was she no more than a "Mum"?

2.  How many other brilliant woman have been written out of herstory in favour of history?

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Memorial Day, my Mum, and Reconciliation.

In my sermon today at St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key, Sarasota, FL I spoke of the time in 1994 when my brother Martyn and his wife Wendy  joined me in taking our Mum to the British and Commonwealth Cemetery in Bayeux, France.

There we stood at the grave of Mum's brother Albert,  who was killed in action in Normandy in August 1944.

Fifty years and one month later dear Mum was able to see her dear brother's grave.  It was a deeply moving moment.

Martyn and I were at first surprised to see that there were also the graves of German soldiers in a corner of the Cemetery.

Then we agreed that grief is grief, and that it mattered not that young Germans were buried alongside young Britons.

Those young Germans also had Mums, Dads, brothers and sisters who grieved for their premature deaths.

I told this story in my sermon.   But I had forgotten an even more telling event.

I cannot remember the exact year
, but it was sometime between 1972 and 1976.   I was driving on the M5 motorway between Birmingham and Bristol in the U.K.

I gave a lift to two young German youths who were hitch-hiking -  they were heading towards England's south coast.

I stopped at a Service area near Worcester, and called Mum.  "Could we", I asked, "offer these two  hitchers a bed for the night?"

Mum said "yes".

She fed these youngsters some dinner, and they slept on the floor in our "middle room"

.The next morning she made  them a "full English" breakfast, after which I drove them to the south west side of the City of Bath, and left them at a place where they were well placed to hitch a ride to Salisbury, or Portsmouth, or Southampton.

When I got back home my good Mum took me to one side,   She told me that after the horrors and deprivations of WW II she could scarcely bear to hear the German language,or even a German accent.

Then she thanked me for bringing these two young Germans into our home.  Their visit had helped her to overcome her fears, and to move from anger and blame into reconciliation.


Forty or more years on I wonder if those two German men, now in their late fifties or early sixties remember the time when they slept on the floor in a working class home in Bristol, and that a gracious English woman (my Mum), gave them dinner and breakfast.