Saturday, 20 May 2017

Glen Oaks Ridge Condominiums, Sarasota FL

We are a community of 197 or so smallish, but two bedroomed units situated conveniently mid way between 1 75 and downtown Sarasota (and within sight of the Bobby Jones Golf Club)..

We are people of modest means, no one is very rich  (and a few are are barely hanging in there).

I've just done a mental survey which reveals that  fourteen of the twenty four units in my immediate area are occupied by single people (divorced, widowed or never married). That's probably representative of the entire Glen Oaks Ridge community.

Three other owners in my immediate  locale are also U.K. born. - from Newcastle, Windsor, and Sheffield.


I have a beloved first cousin in  Bristol U.K. who lives in a City owned urban cemetery.   It's an older place, probably created in the late 19th Century.  (The remains of my four grandparents  are interred there).

My cousin and her partner live in the Cemetery Lodge  (he works for the City).  It's a charming home almost like a country cottage, though sadly in need of some modernisation by a cash-starved City Council.Their only tenant duties are to open and close the big iron gates every day.  Once that is done it's almost as if they lived in the countryside.

In the summer Glen Oaks Ridge empties out as many owners go north.

My community then feels like a cemetery (but utterly devoid of the quiet charm of my cousin's home).

Friday, 19 May 2017

Aloneness and loneliness are not the same.

A couple of years ago I wrote that I often feel sad at the end of the day, when the evening shadows fall.   A dear friend in Massachusetts (N.D.) said that she often feels that way.

I've begun to identify that feeling as being rooted in a sense of aloneness.

I sometimes feel very alone. 

Aloneness and loneliness are not the same.

 I have a circle of good friends here in SRQ.  I enjoy their company and they like mine.I am not lonely.

I have good brothers and sisters in England -  I love them all dearly, and three of them very closely. I am not lonely.

There are a few very good people at Church who are my well loved friends in Christ.  But I know that it's very possible to feel alone even in a busy Church.  In my Church most of us like each other, but we do not know each other very well.   We can be like ships crossing on a Sunday morning.  And of course many of us know that Church is rarely a place to share our fears and weaknesses.  We often put on our very best faces -  in my case as a gregarious, warm, friendly and often witty person.  That's all true and real, but it is not the whole truth, or the entire reality.

I sometimes think that I would feel less alone if I had another person living with me - a person whose breathing, snoring and farting noises would sustain me in the night hours.

It ain't necessarily so!  I know of many partnered people who feel very alone in what outsiders see as a loving and nurturing relationship.

I also know of so many people whose cherished relationships have ended precipitously by a death, or by a (perhaps unwanted and unexpected) divorce , or by a deeply betraying infidelity). They feel so alone

(I remember hearing my mother as she sobbed herself to sleep some six months after Dad's death. She had nine adoring children and many grandchildren, but that night she was very much alone).

Perhaps some regular and sustaining evening activity would help, I go to bed ridiculously early -  last night at 7:30 p.m.  But as I said to my sister Maureen the other week, I am not longing for activity -  I am longing for a friend, but....

Just another voice from whom I'd hear "good night John-Boy" . (My first and given name is John!)


PLEASE NOTE This is not a cry for help or for advice. In fact such advice could be entirely unhelpful.

I am seeing a very good therapist who listens well to me.

But I post this in the belief that some of my readers know well of what I speak, and maybe will be heartened to know that others feel this way.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Oh Canadians!

Pastors and Priests are sometimes the objects of what is called "projection". Some worshipers want them to be the exemplars of a perfection which they (the worshipers) can never attain.

(This projection can also be directed to Doctors, Teachers, Therapists etc)

Projection is a dead end for the projector.  It leads to unrealistic expectations about the pastor/priest/ therapist.

It is also a dangerous trap for Pastors. I speak for myself. How horrible and dangerous it is when I begin to believe  that I am an all wise, all compassionate and utterly inviolable Priest. I know that this is not true.  I know that such projection can help me to avoid the truth about my pride, my weakness and my arrogance.


I sometimes think that we Americans "on the left" project our phantasies about good and wise government on Canada. We want that Nation to be all that we are not. (Many of my liberal friends said that they would move to Canada if  Trunp  became President of the U.S.A, None of them have done so!)

We adore  rock star Premier (Justin Trudeau) whilst knowing next to nothing about his policies. We believe that every Canadian man, woman, child and dog is excessively polite. We think that the Canadian Health Care system is utterly admirable (but we wouldn't want to import it to the U.S.A. because it's "socialistic"). We refuse to believe that Canada also has its unfair share of ultra rightist white nationalists and xenophobes.

Yet we mock what we think is a Canadian accent (and imitate it badly).

We think that every Canadian ends every sentence with "eh".

Can't you just hear it  "Our Father which are in heaven, hallowed be thy name eh.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven eh":

In short we want to lump all Canadians together in homogeneous perfection.


I thought about this last week.  Don and Bruce are a couple from Ottawa who visit Sarasota most years. (Of course they were given a hard time by a U.S. Border Agent, just because she could.)

Bruce and Don often come to the Friday evening social gathering which we call Ben's Bar..   I was the host last week,

During the day I found myself thinking  "the Canadians are visiting tonight".

"The Canadians!" (not Don and Bruce),

Don, Bruce and I giggled about this.  As Don said "what, all 30 million of us".

Monday, 15 May 2017

A ton of fun (and hard work) at Sarasota's Food Bank

At 8:00 this morning a score or more of St. Boniface Church members hooked up at our local Food Bank to assemble summer  food bags for children in Sarasota and De Soto counties.

If I have it right more than 20,000 children in the two counties  (Sarasota, very rich; De Soto, very poor) depend upon food aid year round, and especially in the summer when schools are closed and school meals (breakfast and lunch) are sometimes inaccessible.

During the school year most of these children get to school on a 'bus.  In the summer months many schools still offer breakfast and lunch, but it's often tough to access them, especially ipre-schoolf you are a young child and have to walk three or more miles to your school, just to get a meal.

No carefree summers for the poor.
Be that as it may,  these children are not starving on the streets, but they are often food deprived, and go to bed with empty bellies.

This is where the All Faiths Food Bank steps in (as best it can) by providing take home bags which the young children (so dearly loved by God) can use for evening sustenance (and maybe to be shared with  pre-school siblings).

It's an utterly imperfect system, but as we sometimes say in the U.K. "it's better than a slap in the face with a wet fish!"

Sinners as we are,  we St, Bonificians (with three or more people from other places) were able to assemble one thousand and seventy (1,700) summer packages in the space of two hours.

Former St, Boniface Senior Warden Doug F. was our cheer-leader (sans pom poms and a short skirt))

A retired priest who is well known at St. B's provided tongue in cheek humour ( I love to have a new audience!).

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Those pes'ky apos'trophes' s

E-mail from an acquaintance who had inquired about  Ben.

"So glad that he has another greyhound as a companion. Thanks’ for letting me know."