Saturday, 21 October 2017

Back to normal

Ted Copeland, who has also traveled on QM 2 with Judy Copeland warned me that I would have to come back to reality.

Oh yes!

Today

Three loads

80% junk mail

So much  cat hair on the floors after almost five weeks away.

Next Wednesday.


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Reality 2


I had a call with Verizon because I believed they had overcharged me for calls made in the U.K.  I could not prove my case (it's all a bit complicated) so I said that if they reduced my bill by $56 or $60 as a goodwill gesture  I would be satisfied.  They agreed to $50. I can live with that.

I tried to be in touch with Great Western Railways (UK) to get a refund for a ticket they had issued for the wrong date.I had not noticed this when I bought the ticket in advance, so I had to pay for another ticket on the train.

The train's ticket collector said that I could get a refund for the unused ticket, but the ticket office in Southampton UK is run by a different rail company, 

The U.K. mailing address for refunds is simply "Freepost GWR", hardly sufficient for a letter from the U.S.A. I  e-mailed GWR to get an address which will work from the U.S.A. 

GWR told me to expect a reply to my inquiry in five days (slower than Amtrak!). 

But the bit is between my teeth, and I will not give up until I get my money back.

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I'd love to be pampered again on the QM2, but then again, I paid for that! 😎😎

Monday, 18 September 2017

Up, up and away.

18th September Limo to



To










 

to




Car to Bristol with brother Martyn






Whilst in England



Visiting Seminary friends in Devonshire

Two excursions on MV Balmoral - Bristol River Avon and Severn Estuary with family members

Five days near Pickering, Yorkshire with brother Martyn, Sister in Law Wendy, and Purdy the dog
This (weather permitting) www.nymr.co.uk
j
Visit the pub my niece owns in Downton, Wilsthire (no connection with Downton Abbey) with my sister Ruth and brother-in-law Dennis

Visiting seminary friends Keith and Liz in Codsall, Wolverhampton

Final English day

Southampton Cruise Terminal





A life on the Ocean Waves


Seven days later



Goin' home







Limo to Sarasota.  Oct 20th


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Was it only a week ago?

This time last week (Sunday 6:35 p.m.)  I was at the home of my friends Bill and Pat as we waited out Irma.  Mutual friend Bob was also with us.

We had just had an early dinner of Pasta and Shrimp, with a good side salad.  We ate early in case we lost power.

By 10:00 p.m. we (having played "Mexican Train" dominoes) adjourned  to the Lanai for a glass of Port and some chocolate, daring to believe that we had escaped the worst.



In the event we were fortunate.  We slept "O.K", and we never lost electricity.

Was this seven days ago, or  seven weeks ago?  

It's already seeming like a distant memory.

But I must remember that some of my friends in Sarasota are still without power, and that many place in Florida, in Cuba, in Puerto Rico, and in some Caribbean (Leeward) Islands are still without water, power, sewage and FOOD.

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Tomorrow, Monday 18th, I'll embark on a big adventure with an almost five week journey to the U/K. to be with my beloved family members, and with some dear friends.

More about that in the morning.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

My first time! (lunch with Deacon Allan Rogers at Chipotle)

Allan Rogers, (the excellent Deacon at St. Boniface Church, Siesta Key, FL)  and I had lunch today.

At my request we went to the Chipotle on Frutville Rd in SRQ  (Fruitville and Honore).



I had never before eaten at at Chipotle restaurant.

This  restaurant chain got a bad rap a few years ago when they served some "contaminated?" meats, and customers got sick.

And I knew that their food is high in calories.

But I wanted to give them a try.

Silly me, I had always thought that Chipotle was a high end chain with servers etc.  Instead  I discovered that it's just another fast food joint with a lot of "take out" customers

I got a Burrito with Chorizo.




It was very good but extremely unmanageable in its wrap..  So I went back to  the counter; got a bowl, and poured the contents out,  eschewing the wrap.

It was pretty darn good in spite of all the calories, and the high price.  I think that my local independent Mexican restaurant could provide  a superior product at a lower price.

But mostly I was glad to spend time with with Allan.  He is a good Deacon.  He is a man of God,.

And he is a trusted friend.

Now I must set my mind  to getting ready for my trip to the U.K., which begins next Monday (Sep 18th.) As we say in the U.K.



Cheers!


It's always the poor wot suffers. (Hurricane Irma)

It's always the poor wot suffers.

As the memory of Irma recedes, some of us are very aware of the tremendous losses and destruction in the Virgin Islands, Barbuda, Puerto Rico and Cuba etc.

Many may also have heard of the damage in such Floridian places as Naples, Jacksonville, and the Florida Keys.

Not on all of our radars are some of the poorest communities in Florida.

Take for instance the very poor southern Florida community of Immokale, where most of the residents are impoverished Haitians and Mexicans (migrants who make sure that we have tomatoes year round).






http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article173202081.html



Everglades City was also hard hit.  My sister Ruth, her husband Dennis and I were there last year, we took an utterly delightful rise by boat out into the Thousand Islands


https://www.nbcnews.com/video/parts-of-everglades-city-florida-underwater-after-irma-1045114435977




Thursday, 14 September 2017

Post Irma Gratitude


YES!


I forgot to add that immediately after Irma passed over (and I was unharmed and with electricity) , I was able to make some calls via  Skype to a brother and two sisters in the U.K They had been deeply worried for me.


How glad I was to reassure them early on Monday morning.  How grateful I am that "modern technology" came to my aid.

So much has changed for the better in the communications business from the years 1976 onwards (when I first settled in the U.S.A).  AT & T  was the only game in town, and all overseas calls were via an operator.  I had to book calls to my U.K. family at Christmas-tide and Easter-tide.





Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Post Irma Musings

via Rosemary F


Although I am not sure what I think about this (from T.V.?) graphic we certainly escaped the brunt in Sarasota.  More about that later.

Many others were not so fortunate.  The Florida Keys are a mess. Popular media outlets  will tell you all about that.  I do not know what to say about the people who refused to leave the Keys, but I know that for some it was all but impossible **

Puerto Rico is not a State within the U.S.A, rather it is an American Commonwealth (what ever that means).  Puerto Ricans are American citizens.  They can vote in Presidential Elections, but they have no Senators or Representatives in Congress.

But it is Puerto Rico U.S.A. but you might not know it as the aftermath of Irma is reported here. Parts of P.R. were devastated.  I posted some up-to-date info on my Face book page today.

It's been all but impossible to get  news from Cuba.  That Island was also hard hit, but the only info I have was from the Episcopal Church Bishop in Cuba, the Rt. Revd .Griselda Delgado del Carpio. It  was posted before the storm.

Incidentally - she and her former husband (also a Priest) visited St. James's in Cambridge one Sunday when I was the Rector there. I took them for lunch at the next day at "Fire and Ice"  https://fire-ice.com in Cambridge.  They loved it.

So I have a special feeling of love for Griselda, and I'd love to visit her in Cuba.

I have similar personal concerns for the residents of the devastated British Virgin Islands. about which I also I posted some up-to-date info on my Face book page today.

Katie C. grew up in Pittsfield MA, and was a lovely girl and then young woman at St. Stephen's in my time as Rector, when she was Katie LaD.   She and her husband owned a home and business in the BVI.  They have lost everything.

Evacuation to the U.S.A. has proven to be impossible.  K's cousin C.W, thought that she has secured a plane ticket for them, but the airline refused to honour the reservation.

O dear Kattie and Shane, my heart aches for you.

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Meanwhile, back in SRQ.   Some people have asked why I and others did not evacuate  ***  It ain't that simple!

Florida has more than 21 million residents.  Apart from the panhandle, we are a long and narrow Peninsula.. There are but two Interstates which link us to the north. Can you imagine the chaos if most of us tried to "escape" via Interstates 75 and 95?

Flying was not an option -  how do you fly 21 million people in about 96 hours?

So I, with very many others, decided to stay. Now is the time to express gratitude.

1.  I am grateful that Bill and Patrick invited me into their home so that I did not have to ride out the storm.alone.

2.   I am grateful that in my neck of the woods there was next to no damage to property, and that we never lost electricity. WOW!

3. I am grateful that most of my friends who lost power now have it restored.

4. I am grateful that all my pre-storm preparations did  not have to be  utilised; (except that our local Bank of  America is still closed, so I am glad that I withdrew cash long before the storm

5. Am I grateful to God for this?




















For if I thank God for our preservation, I must also ask him/her/ it this :"If you spared us in this part of Florida why were the residents of the Keys and the Caribbean Islands not spared?"

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

For Sale! For Sale!



51/2  Gallons of fresh spring water,

Not needed and not used in Hurricane Irma, Sep.. 2017.  (Gratefully). 

Never used.

Certainly not re-cycled.

Available for $5.50 or above,  plus shipping charges.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Minor damage

My Lanai (a fancy word) is really what what more modest New Englander's would call a screened in porch






The anti-mosquito (etc) screen was dislodged in one panel.  I can probably repair myself.

Top portion of porch door fell in.  I've already put it back in place.

Outside the east end of  the porch is a Cactus.  Cacti are disapproved of my the Condo. Board. This one was planted long before I bought the place.  It's been cut down twice, only to have it grow to even grander heights.  This time the Condo. Assoc shoukd have it dug out by the roots  

Outside my condo  10:20 a.m. today (11th Sep).  Storm?, what storm!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Be prepared.

My lanai  (really a screened in porch) is so vulnerable to wind damage.

So today I moved all the furniture inside   Flying furniture could do a lot of damage.

My cat is so confused, she usually spends most of her day on the Lana.

Naked Lanai

Crowded dining area 1

Crowded dining area 2. The white object with an hose is a portable air-conditioner.

Car Port items in the laundry room.

Friday, 8 September 2017

More about Irma and me.

Old "map"


So it seems that the west coast of Florida will bear the brunt on Sunday evening.

I say "it seems"   because the the potential route changes by the hour. For that reason I have ceased to watch T.V,; listen to the radio; or to try to track the storm on the internet.  I'll just wait and see.

In the meantime I am entirely grateful for my non-SRQ friends and family members in Bristol, U.K, who have 'phoned; e-mailed, or texted me with  their  expressions of love and concern. That's so precious.

One of my dearest friends (Joe R of Granby MA) called me today to express his concerns, and those of his wife D.

I told him that I was planning to ride out the storm alone.

Joe was adamant in expressing his opinion that this was not a good plan.  he thought that I should not be alone.

 I heard him.

So now,  when the storm hits I will leave my cat in a safe place with water, food and a litter box, and then de-camp to the home of my friends Bill and Pat as the storm passes through. .  That will be much better than being alone.

Hurricane Irma: Fretting and Prayer

Of course alongside 20 million other Florida residents I am fretting about the Hurricane, and its impact on our homes, hopes, and lives.

I live alone, so its easy to get into stinking thinking about the storm. So I've had to get out and about and to be with other people so that I can get out of my head, and instead enjoy human company.

Wednesday I had lunch with my dear friends Jack and Donna Chrisman  at Evies Tavern and Grill just off University Parkway at Whitefield Ave., not far from their home.

In the evening I was at the Purple Rhino on Beneva at Webber St., there to share a glass of wine with good friends Rick P., Gordon C., John U., and Allan R.

This evening  (Thursday) I was again at Evies for a burger with Rick P., Gordon C., John U., Rick R., and John C.



Of Friday (10th) I'll be at Dennis and David's home for our weekly gathering called "Ben's Bar"; a gathering in honour of our good friend Ben Morse who died last December.

It is utterly important for me to spend time with good friends and to enjoy their company as we await Irma's arrival.  It beats being at home alone and wallowing in fear.

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Above all else I think about Katie who grew up at St. Stephen's Parish in Pittsfield, MA. when I was the Rector.  Katie and her husband Shane lost everything to Irma as the storm hit their home in  Tortola in the British Virgin Islands,.

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                                                                    Irma is on her way.

So how should I pray?

 Although I am not a believer in "praying the storm away" I find myself saying "Lord, send Irma way out into the Atlantic".  It's not that I think God will answer that prayer, but it is what I am thinking, and I might as well tell God what's on my mind.

I keep coming back to the bedside prayer for children:

Lord keep us safe this night, secure from all our fears.
May Angels guard us while we sleep, 'til morning light appears.

Secure from all our fears is the important ;phrase.  I pray that I will not succumb to paralyzing fear.

And my mind takes me to part of Reinhold Niebuhr's famous prayer

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change those things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference"

So I pray for the serenity to accept the things I cannot change




Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Good Cod! (Povey huma)

I was at a local market yesterday to buy 1lb of Cod at a good price.  (As an Englishman and a one time Massachusetts resident  I am crazy about Cod.)

The mid-twenties fishmonger asked for my order.  I replied "1lb of Cod please".

He responded "did you say Cod or Salmon?":

"Cod" I said.

The young man countered with "I thought you said Cod, but you were looking at the Salmon".

I retorted "I asked for Cod, and please do not mock me because I am cross-eyed".

He "got" my huma. He could scarcely weigh my Cod for his laughter!

LUVIT!

( I used the cod today to make some Codfish cakes.  Yum. yum!!)



Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Getting ready for Irma

xico
Hurricane Irma  (the most massive and dangerous storm in the Atlantic since Hurricane Tracking has been possible).  Where is it heading?

First of all spare a thought or prayer for the people of Puerto Rico U.S.A. which is very likely to be hit. Puerto Rico is a entirely  impoverished "U.S.A. Commonwealth" which is all but bankrupt; an Island where the infrastructure has not been well maintained  (no money);  and the power grid is "iffy" to say the least.

Secondly the National Hurricane Center is wisely agnostic as to when and where  Irma could hit the mainland U.S.A.

Will it veer north and east into the Atlantic?  That's the best hope for Floridians, but it could be tough on the Bahamas and Bermuda.

Will it travel up the east coast of the U.S.A,?  Goodish for those of us who live on the Gulf Coast (the west coast), but ghastly for eastern Florida coastal communities, and for the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware - and points north.

Will it enter the Gulf of Mexico and then travel north up Florida's Gulf (west) coast?  In that case I will be in deep doo-doo! as will be Florida's panhandle.

Will it enter the Gulf and then magically dissipate? That would be nice!

Will it enter the Gulf and then head west to coastal Louisiana and Texas.  That would be horrible.

But  the National Hurricane Center is wisely agnostic as to when and where  Irma could hit the mainland U.S.A.

That wisdom has precipitated my preparation.

1.  I will not evacuate.

Firstly,  I could not abandon my cat.

Secondly, where and how  would I travel?

Not withstanding Adelaide the cat, it's too late to buy an air ticket at highly inflated prices.

I cannot bear the thought of driving north on I-75 which c

ould become a nose to tail parking lot, with longer that ever lines at gas stations.

2.  I will keep safe.  I will not go outside in the thick of the storm, nor will I drive on flooded roads.

3. I have made preparations for the worst.case.


I bought 8 gallons of bottled water yesterday for drinking and cooking.

I will fill my bathtub with water (essential for flushing the toilet if running water is unavailable). 

I have an emergency box in which I have a Coleman Camping Stove and a Coleman Camping Lantern; a working battery radio; a head-worn "Miner's Lamp"  (useful in the event that I need both hands for some task in the midst of a storm); candles, matches,  a trigger lighter; and some real dollars.  Every emergency item is working,

I bought supplies of wet  cat food for Adelaide, and enough  canned food to sustain me for the possible duration whether eaten cold or hot.

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In the meantime I'll live a more or less normal life in the next few days including lunch with my dear friends Jack and Donna Chrisman on Wednesday.

Pray with me if you will


"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change"




P.S.  In case you are worried, be assured that I have ample supplies of red wine. 









The Tolpuddle Martyrs and Labor Day

When I was in England in 2014 I took some time away from my family to visit the lovely (and under-sung) County of Dorset.  (Think Thomas Hardy).

At the top of my list was to visit the little village of Tolpuddle.  I was there to think about the 19th Century "Tolpuddle Martyrs".

My parents had told me the story.

In truth they were not martyrs, but good agricultural workers who combined together to protest their diminished wages  They were "martyred" not for combining to form a prototypical Union, but because it was alleged that they had violated a law against secret oaths.

Their " martyrdom" was an unjust sentence of "Transportation to Australia". That sentence provoked  a national outcry.  Do read more here

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tolpuddle_Martyrs

I am so glad that my Mum and Dad revered the "Tolpuddle Martyrs" and that I was able to visit Tolpuddle back in 2014.




Martyrs Museum.

As Labor Day came and went I thought about the Tolpuddle men and the injustice that was served upon them.

I thought about the many other struggles by courageous  workers to organise into Unions, and of the ways in which the unholy alliance between Big Business and Government sought  (and often succeeded) to crush them.

I reflected on the ways in which Margaret Thatcher in the U.K. and Ronald Reagan in the U.S.A. villainised Trades Unions until the very word "Union" became synonymous with "bad, evil, dangerous".




Sunday, 3 September 2017

Labor Day

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, was established as a Federal Holiday in 1894, a day to honour the working man's (in 1894 working man not men and women) contribution to the common good.

There is a good reason that a Monday in September was chosen.  For in many European countries the day to celebrate the worker was May 1st "May Day".

Not so in the U.S.A. because May Day was considered to be a Socialist Day, and as every loyal and patriotic American knows socialism is bad, bad, BAD. tib

Americans who haven't a clue about democratic socialism as opposed to autocratic communism recoil with shock, horror and fear at the very words "socialism", or "socialistic".

The easiest way to shut down any conversation about the common weal, (or common good) is to say "but that's socialistic".  Case made?  NAH!

So we are stuck with Labor Day as a Federal Holiday with next to no meaning. ,  This means that banks. and libraries, together with city/county/state/federal holidays will be closed (no mail tomorrow).

But the working stiffs whose contributions are essential to the American common weal will still be expected to report for work.  go figure.

There will be no parades to honour them.











Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Wobblies


"Wobblies" was the nickname for the first iteration of the radical (I approve!) Trades Union the "Industrial Workers of the World"  (I.W.W.)

The lore is that the name "wobblies" came from a Chinese member who pronounced "W" as "wobbleyou", but that tale could be an example of early 20th Century racism.

But the IWW cheerfully adopted the nickname.

The wobblies has two notable successes, the first in Spokane, WA  (in truth a success for free speech and the right of public assembly, and also a victory which led to the abolition (by law) of the corrupt businesses which offered poor people a job (for a fee), most often for a job which never existed).




The second in the famous Lawrence, MA strike against the oppressive mill owners.



The powers that be - Government and Big Business  - combined to destroy the Wobblies, who were essentially put out of existence in 1917 by the repressive fiat of the so-called progressive President Woodrow Wilson  (n truth he was a rotten racist and segregationist).

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I've just finished "The Man Who Never Died - the Life, Times, and Legacy of Joe Hill. American Labor Icon"  (William M. Adler, Bloomsbury 2011). (Joe Hill, is the American name he used, He was born as Joel Hagglund in Sweden in 1879.)


Joe Hill was the great song writer for the Wobblies.  Their marches and demonstrations were empowered by song.

Singing is so powerful.  Think of the early Methodists; of Welsh Rugby supporters singing "Land of my Fathers"; or of Liverpool F.C supporters singing "When you walk through a storm".

Here is one of Joe Hill's most singable offerings sung to the tune of the Christian Hymn "In the sweet bye and bye"


Long-haired preachers come out every night
To tell you what's wrong and what's right
They will answer in voices so sweet:
But when asked how about something to eat You will eat, bye and bye
You'll get pie in the sky when you die.
In that glorious land above the sky Work and pray, live on hay That's a lie
Then they'll tell you when you're on the bum:
And the starvation army they play They sing and they clap and they pray 'Till they get all your coin on the drum
Work and pray, live on hay
You're gonna eat, bye and bye, poor boy In that glorious land above the sky, way up high You'll get pie in the sky when you die Dirty lie
And you will eat, bye and bye,
Holy Rollers and jumpers come out They holler, they jump, Lord, they shout Give your money to Jesus they say He will cure all troubles today
Try to get something good in this life
In that glorious land above the sky, way up high Work and pray, boy, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky when you die. If you fight hard for children and wife
You'll get pie in the sky when you die
You're a sinner and bad man, they tell When you die you will sure go to hell You will eat, bye and bye In that glorious land above the sky Work and pray, live on hay
When you've learned how to cook and to fry
Workingmen of all countries, unite Side by side we for freedom will fight When this world and its wealth we have gained To the grafters we'll sing this refrain: Well, you will eat, bye and bye
You'll get pie in the sky when you die
Chop some wood, it'll do you good You will eat in the sweet bye and bye Yes you'll eat, bye and bye In that glorious land above the sky, way up high Work and pray, and live on hay
That's a lie....



The book tells his story, but it's also an exhaustive investigation into his trial for murder in Salt Lake City, and execution by firing squad.  Adler asserts. quite convincingly,that it was show trial presided over by a deeply biased Judge, and that Joe Hill was unjustly convicted and executed, simply because he was the song writer for the Wobblies.