Saturday, 30 July 2016

Grief, health, neighbour, friends, food.

My friend Pat Cosgrove comes, like I, from a family of ten children.  He and his family grew up in Chicago.  He too has suffered the loss of a brother, in his case brothers and a sister.

At Pat's suggestion he came to my home yesterday for a chat.   We talked about our similar but different family lives, the joys and the sorrows.

He told me that his family griefs do not evaporate with time, but that her and his sibs are sustained when they get together and share stories of their life together.

Thanks so much Pat.


Last week my Dermatologist gave me Cryotherapy  to treat some precancerous "spots" on my pate, face, and neck.

On of those spots was near my left eye. The therapy (spraying ice cold nitrogen?) is not pin-pointed, which means that I have swelling on my left eye-lid and also below the eye.

This alarmed me enough to call my PCP yesterday morning for a consultation.  She was on vacation but I secured an appointment  with one of her colleagues

You know that you are enrolled in a good Medical Practice when you call at 8:30 a.m. and get an appointment for 10:45 a..m.

You also know that you are in good hands when the substitute Doctor has checked your records before you arrive at the Clinic.  My  P.C.P and Dermatologist are in the same Sarasota group (First Physicians), so the substitute. Doctor knew that I'd had recent Cryotherapy, and that the swelling was regretful but not worrisome.

All well and good (truly) but I woke up this morning with impaired vision in my left eye.  The ye is not damaged, but the swelling gets in the way.  (It's a bit like the "sleepy eye" we used to get as infants.


John (an entirely affable man) moved with his wife Tracy to my neighboring community about eighteen months ago.   John does most of the dog walking with their gorgeous Lab "Stormy",

Stormy cracks us up because no sooner has he seen Penne and me \he rolls over on his back on the grass.

I hadn't  seen John and Stormy since my return from the U.K., but today I saw Stormy with a stranger.

Turns out that John had flown to California to be with a friend who is ill, only to have a heart attack himself,

He was rushed to a V.A.Hospital, and is now in a V.A. rehab unit.  He will not be able to fly for a while, so he will return from CA to FL by train.

Best of  luck with that good John.


You know that you have good friends when you cam chat with them at length by 'phone, without once checking your watch or clock.

So it was for me...

Friday evening with Bishop Barbara Harris (34 minutes)

Today with Dr. Grace  Jones (53 minutes)

I am honoured to know Barbara and Grace as good friends, but more importantly as mentors.


I am not a foodie, but I like good food.

For lunch today I had broiled Dover Sole, steamed Asparagus, and Farro.

'Twas good, but Farro is a bit bland.  Any suggestions for seasoning it?

Friday, 29 July 2016

Now this is leadership! From the Mayor of Somerville, MA

Joe Curtatone. Mayor, Somerville MA

Somerville, I love you.
Yesterday we had a bunch of protests, two in favor of ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ and one against it. The numbers were overwhelming in favor of the "for" side, just like our local response has been overwhelming in favor of the for side. For all of you out-of-towners rolling in here trying to stoke a fire, allow me to give you the headline: we don't have a fire.

It was a small number of police officers who showed up to protest the BLM banner hanging at City Hall and most of them were from other cities and towns. At the end of their protest, pro-BLM folks came up to them, shook their hands and then everybody talked. Nobody was yelling at each other, just civil discussion taking place.
Down in Union Square, we had hundreds of BLM protesters show up and pack the Square for hours. They spoke, they sang, they read some poetry. Our police at the site handled the event like the pros they are. Everybody was safe and it went off without a hitch. Once again, protesters and police spent time talking with one another, respectfully and amicably.
So if you want to have a food fight, if you want to find a city where everybody's going to tear at each other's throats, you're going to have find someplace else. ‪#‎Somerville‬isn't going to come apart at the seams for your entertainment. We have a BLM banner at City Hall and an "In Remembrance" banner for the fallen officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge hanging at our police headquarters and we're cool with that.
It was one officer who touched this off while the city and patrolmen's union are in the middle of contract arbitration. I can't speak to what he hoped it would accomplish, but I can tell you where Somerville stands on this - we're not getting sucked into this blue vs. black fight that some of you seem to want to have. We're going to treat minorities and police with the respect they deserve.
The result of all of this in Somerville is people came together and had the conversation we need to have in every community across our nation. To the surprise of no one who actually knows our city Somerville handled this with civility and dignity. I invite people to learn from our example.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

The wisdom of Wendell Berry 2

On the Lord's Prayer

“This, I thought, is what is meant by 'thy will be done' in the Lord's 

Prayer, which I had prayed time and again without thinking about 

it. It means that your will and God's will may not be the same. It 

means there's a good possibility that you won't get what you pray 

for. It means that in spite of your prayers you are going to suffer.”
As published in "Relevant" Magazine

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The wisdom of Wendell Berry 1

On Knowing Which Way to Go

“It may be that when we no longer know which way to go that we have come to our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
As published in "Relevant" Magazine

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Cottage Pie a la Pove

I recently made some stoup.

I call it stoup 'cause I am not sure if it is stew or soup.

It was my way of using leftovers  - Farro, Quiona,   Lentils, Black Beans, Corn, Green Peppers, Diced Onions, a few bits of Beef etc,  all cooked in vegetable stock.  (I hate wasting food)

After a few days this stoup got to be old hat, so I dressed it up and transformed it into "Cottage Pie a la Pove".   All I needed to do was to put the stoup into a casserole dish, cover it with mashed red potatoes, ( made from scratch), and bake it at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Darn!   It was good!.  (Maybe on account of the copious amount of butter I added to the mashed spuds).

I believe that Cottage Pie originated as a "Monday Leftover Dish" made by frugal housewives in poorer families  in the U.K. and Ireland.

Any cooked beef leftover from Sunday dinner would be minced, and placed in a baking pan  - together with other leftovers from Sunday -  gravy, peas, carrots or green beans (diced), -  then covered with mashed leftover potatoes.  The secret was to bake it until the spuds were crispy brown on top.

Our Mum made it many times.  She was an economical and excellent cook, feeding eleven hungry people  (nine children, + Dad, +Mum)  on a very limited budget.

(My Cottage Pie was a wee bit faux 'cause I did not mince the leftover beef).

N.B  If the leftover meat was Lamb, then it was "Shepherd's Pie" not "Cottage Pie".

Beef = Cottage Pie.      Lamb=Shepherd's Pie.   (Got it?).

And please join with me in going grammatically ballistic the next time you see one of the following on a menu.

Shepards Pie  NO

Shepard's Pie  NO

Shepherds Pie  NO

It's "Shepherd's Pie" dammit =  and then only if it is made with Lamb or Mutton.

Monday, 25 July 2016

"The Defenestration of Prague" - surely you remember this from High School/College History Courses.

I am reading  terrific book by Professor A.C. Grayling of the New College of the Humanities in London U.K.

The book is "The Age Of Genius * The Seventeenth Century & The Birth of The Modern Mind" (Bloomsbury, London, 2016).

It should be required reading for every politician, priest, pundit and pastor!

It could be read alongside: 
"The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World"

Both books challenge we of Western European ancestry  to revisit and readjust our sense of who we are, and who we have became  in the light of the 17th and 18th Centuries,


A.C. Grayling's book is especially  masterful. It posits that modern (as opposed to magical)  thinking emerged in Western Europe, even in the midst of the dreadful and religious  "Thirty Years War".  

Even as my christian and religious mind is rightly and deeply challenged by Grayling, I can also be amused by one of the precusors to the Thirty Years War, i.e. the "The Defenestration of Prague" 1618.

The Emperor Ferdinand II had ordered that all Protestant Churches in Bohemia had to return to Catholic control,  That was not to the liking of Protestants.  

In 1618 when two of the Emperor's Regents came to Prague to enforce the ruling they were seized  by the "defensors" of Prague and thrown out of a window in  Prague Castle - thus the "The Defenestration of Prague". 

They landed on a rubbish pile more or less uninjured, suffering (as Grayling says,"injuries more to their dignity than to their limbs",)

In a delicious aside  Grayling notes that subsequent Catholic propaganda asserted that angels, or the Virgin Mary had caught their  fall mid-flight and guided their fall to the rubbish dump. Surely the Angels or the Virgin could have lowered these hapless Regents to a sweeter spot!).

I like the book for many reasons  -  it has to do with far more that the Thirty Years War, It is stretching mm mind.

But I long to be at some boring party or other at which I can ask another guest "What do you know about "The Defenestration of Prague"

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Goofing off from Church today and Bertha Honore Palmer.

Last Sunday (17th July 2016)  I took my accustomed pew at for the 8:00 a.m. Eucharist at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key.  My regular pew-mate Gray Davis was absent, so I felt very alone.

The guest preacher is a good man, but half his sermon was lost on me, due to his habit of dropping his voice at the end of sentences.

Then we heard a presentation about our budget deficit ($85,000) and the need to raise more money. I have been making and hearing such presentations for more than thirty years (what goes around comes around!).

I like and respect the man who made the presentation, but my mind and heart were elsewhere so I quietly slipped out of Church at "half-time".

All those words  (sermon and presentation) were more than I could stomach. I longed for some silence for prayer, meditation and contemplation.

That longing for silence in worship is not unique to me.  Episcopal Church liturgies are "busy, busy, busy" (and the same is true of most denominations).

It's not the fault of St. Boniface Church, it's just that on 17th July my heart and mind were closed to all those words.

(I plead for silence to become an important part of all  Church services).


With that in mind I decided to skip Church today.

But I needed a new adventure to take my mind off myself.   I decided to drive the entire length of Honore Ave in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.  Penne came with me.

Honore Ave (pronounced "on-a-ray") is named for the fabulous Bertha Honore Palmer (see below).

In recent years it has been extended north-west into Manatee County (at Lockwood Ridge Road), and south into Sarasota County (at Laurel Road, Venice), a distance of about 22/23 miles.

(I watched the growth of  this southern extension of  Honore , almost parallel to I-75,  in my many visits to my now deceased neighbour Edythe Thomas in a Nursing Home off Jacaranda Blvd.)

It's a mixed bag.   At the north west end it travels through some underdeveloped agricultural and wet lands.

At the south end after passing through Palmer Ranch (a  huge series of "communities") we find the same.

In between there are various developments  -  large areas of new housing.with a number of things in common.

1.  Each are at  some distance from shops, corner stores, gas stations, churches, banks,  and post offices etc.  In other words, there is no "there" there.

2,  Each is unaccessible via public transportation.

3. Each seems to be a self contained locality, with next to no connection with the community as a whole.

THUS the social glue is broken.


At the end of our southern drive (at Jacaranda Blvd.) Penne and I stopped at a McDonald's. Penne was so excited to explore new territory, and mark it with her pee, I wanted to get a cup of Coffee,

Inside the store I was faced with the newest Mc.D's feature: a booth at which I could order and pay for my coffee using a touch screen and a credit card.

I, with many others, disdained the impersonal booth in favour of ordering at the counter.  It was a good choice.  I placed my wee order with a young man whose name is Watkins.

From start to end he could not keep from smiling.

That's community.  In think that Bertha would have approved.