Monday, 31 December 2018

Begin your New Year with beauty.

This beautiful photograph was posted by my very dear friends Derrick Jackson and Dr. Michelle Holmes for the New Year.   We grew to love and respect each other in Cambridge, MA 2000-2006.

It is my honour to share it with you.

Michelle is a breast cancer researcher at Harvard Medical School, a valued truth-teller, and an Appalachian Trail walker.

Derrick is a storied newspaper columnist, a skilled photographer -  I have four of his signed and framed photo's on my walls -  

(1) Nelson Mandela receiving an honorary Doctorate at Harvard;.

(2) Barack Obama in Chicago the night he was elected President when we had hope, and a truth telling future Chief Executive,

(3) Half Dome at Yosemite

(4)  A red shouldered Hawk taken at Myakka River State Park when Derrick visited me in SRQ

Derrick is also the photographer for the restoration of Puffins to a Maine Island.



My friendship with Michelle and Derrick is making me a better person.

I look forward to seeing them next March when we'll be together in Austin, TX to celebrate the marriage of their younger son Tano to his beloved Clarissa.


Meanwhile -  Happy New Year and rejoice in Derrick's Hog Island photo.



Dec 31st midnight silliness

Thanks to the person who posted this on my Face Book time line.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

A visitor to "my park"

Zion and I walk each day (sometimes three times) in a not well known jewel of the City of Sarasota - Arlington Park.  It's a lovely place, not immaculately groomed like many urban parks, but more like a bit of rural Florida in the middle of a City.

We know many of the other "regulars" and their dogs but we encountered a stranger last week.

Stock photo', not mine

It was an American Mink, instantly recognisable by her/his bounding gait and swimming skills.

My best guess, based on his/her size is that she/he was a "farmed" mink - raised for the pelt  (UGH)  who broke loose.

Wikipedia tells me that minks are usually nocturnal and are solitary animals.

So it was a treat to see one in my park!

Friday, 28 December 2018

The anxiety dreams of preachers and their possible roots

Last night I had one of those anxiety dreams which are common to teachers, doctors, preachers etc.

I often remember my dreams in considerable detail - such was the case yesterday.  

I'll spare you the whole thing but it had one of those "the Emperor's cloths" themes.

I was in the pulpit at St. Boniface Church in Sarasota (my dog joining me), but when I opened the folder which should have held my printed text I found pages and pages of recipes, but no sermon.

I had to wing it.  So I said  "There are two things we all need to know: human beings are capable of great cruelty, and human beings are capable of amazing love".

Then I was lost for words.  (Doesn't happen often in waking life!) 
So I said "let's read Psalm 11".   

I scanned the Sunday leaflet for the text of the Psalm, but it was nowhere to be found.  Someone handed me a Bible, but I couldn't remember how to find the Psalms.  Another person handed me a Prayer Book, but the page on which Psalm 11 was printed had been torn out.

The dream ended after I had scolded a gaggle of parishioners in the front pew who were discussing the comparative prices of foodstuffs in various local markets.  In my best preacher's voice I said "I wish that you would talk about this on Monday, not today"!

A classic anxiety dream:  in the pulpit without scarcely a word to word to say;  unable to find a Psalm in a prayer book or a bible.

I looked up Psalm 11 later today.  It's one of those Psalms in which the writer pours invective upon his enemies (which one of us has not had such horrid thoughts?)

One verse grabbed my attention:

If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

It's a question I ask about the Brexit fiasco in my beloved native land, and about the Trumpian dangers to my dear adopted land.

New foundations.

Ruined foundations.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

On meeting someone as wacky as I. (Or "how to curse with elegance")

Remember fondues from the days when they were served at every other drinks party?

Then they went out of style.  Pity the sad Fondue pots banished to storage in the attic or basement.

The good news (or the bad news depending on your taste) is that Trader Joe's is trying to resurrect the fondue with a ready made sauce.

They were giving out samples yesterday. After a taste I said to the staff member in charge of samples  --- "Fondue, now there's a word which has gone out of style".

She agreed.  I suggested that we should resurrect it as an elegant curse e.g. when dropping an egg on the kitchen floor we should not say  "Oh sh-t", but "Oh Fondue".  

Or " Why in the Fondue did the President say that" ( to be used many times each day).

The Trader Joe's employee liked the idea.  When her young daughter steps out of line she will say, with a furrowed brow and a reproachful tone  " Oh Fondue"  ( i.e.  "whatever possessed you do/say that").
For fondues sake, please curse with elegance.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Yes to Christmas Day 2018

I do not open the Christmas Cards I've received until Christmas Day.  That way I can take an hour or to savour the memories of old friends, and to rejoice in the ways they have loved and cared for me.

After a few chilly days and nights it's been pleasantly warm today.  A day to leave my front doors open, and for Zion to bask in the sun.

For the fourth or fifth Christmas Day in row my friends Diana and Fred have asked me to join them for the "over the top" Christmas Buffet at the Longboat Key Yacht Club.

Here is the raw bar with cheeses, shrimp, oysters on the half shell (yum), cold salmon (and great salads which you cannot see)

There were two other stations, one with a "carvery" (ham, turkey breast, prime rib beef) and great vegetables in abundance; another with desserts to die for.

Fred and Diana are great hosts.  At table with us were three of their church friends who turned out to be delightful company.


All this and some fine walks with Zion at Arlington Park where we encountered not a few other dogs and owners who were out and about for their post Christmas meal walks.

A good day.  I am grateful.  And never a word about Brexit or the dangerous man in the White House.  What a bonus!

Monday, 24 December 2018

Merry Christmas

Blessings one and all.

The picture attached is of Park Square, Pittsfield, MA  in the festive season. (thanks Tim McF)

St. Stephen's, the parish I served from 1984-2000 is set back a bit from the Square so it is not always to be seen in photo's, pictures etc.

Thanks to the artist who created this, St. Stephen's is to be seen on the right.

With gratitude to the parishioners who tolerated my foibles, and loved me a lot.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

This made me giggle.

Via my brother David

Christmas in Povey land 1950's/60's

There were treats which always appeared at Christmas-tide

Dates in a box, usually on the stem, never pitted, sometimes with a little wooden fork to avoid sticky fingers.

Always Jordan Almonds.  To suck them gently until the almond emerged, or to chew them and risk ruining teeth? 
Dried figs  (one of my Mum's favourites). I never saw or ate a fresh fig  (yum!) until about twenty five years ago.

Figgy pudding.  I've never seen or eaten this despite singing "we all want some figgy pudding" and "we won't go until we've got some"

Never figgy pudding, but always home made Christmas Pudding made by my mother and oldest sister  (in November).  

Never with white sauce, always with Mr. Bird's Custard.

Invented by Mr. Alfred Bird for his wife who was allergic to eggs which are a staple ingredient in traditional custards.  Bird's Custard is a beloved staple in the U.K.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Pedant's Corner

Winter Solstice in Alaska 2018 (photo'  by Don M)

No, the days will not be getting longer.  It's just that in much of the northern hemisphere we'll now be getting more minutes/hours of daylight, and fewer minutes/hours of darkness.

The opposite will be happening in parts of the southern hemisphere.

(In equatorial regions both south and north of the equator it's more or less twelve and twelve of each year round.)


Whilst I am wallowing in pedantry I remind you that you cannot wish someone happiness for a belated birthday.

You can send belated greetings, you can have a belated birthday party or celebration.

But please, you should not write "Happy belated birthday". (I know that you will do so whatever I say!!) 

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Please do not tell my primary care physician.

She would  be very cross with me for eating mostly unhealthy food,

But my body longed for comfort food for lunch, on this cold, grey and rainy day in SRQ

Processed "pulled pork"  - utterly unhealthy.

Canned Chili -  fairly unhealthy, but at least it included beans.

Baked Acorn squash - as healthy as you get.

The healthy squash more than made up for the processed pork and chili. 

Or so I want to believe!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Humour,via various Face Book friends.

Good night Irene

My beloved and sole surviving aunt,  Irene Finch passed from this life on 1st December 2018 at aged 93.  I have known her for all of my life.  She was always my favourite aunt.

Her funeral services were held 18th Dec 2018 in Bristol, U.K.

I could not be there.  So I had my own personal, prayerful  and private remembrances of her in my home at the same time as her funeral in Bristol.

She'd requested that instead of wreaths or sprays of flowers each mourner would bring a single flower to be placed on the Church altar table.  It's hard to buy just one flower so I chose this simple orchid.  Irene once gave me the model VW car, for I had at one time owned such a car.

I spent some time thinking about Irene and some of  the times we had been together in the U.K. or in the U.S.A., a kind of silent eulogy.

She had also requested that "How Great Thou Art" be sung at the Church service, and that "Goodnight Irene"  be played at the end of the celebration of her life.     (How great Thou art)                                     (Irene goodnight)

Saturday, 15 December 2018

Saturday's good stuff

My N.Y.C. friend Kathy took this photo' in Garrison, New York. Oh such beauty!  Yes, she and I know that Bitter Sweet is an invasive species and should be eradicated.  But so am I, an immigrant from the U.K. in 1976.  Please, pretty please do not plan to eradicate me!


One by one the fluorescent tubes in my kitchen lighting burned out.  I lived with the increasing darkness, scarcely noticing it, until I realised the other day that "this kitchen is very dark".  

The tubes were replaced today.  Oh Fiat Lux!

It made me think about those relationships/marriages/friendships etc which grow darker every day.  The partners settle for life in the darkness,  until one or both of them understand that "this is no way to live".

Thursday, 13 December 2018

A submarine made of cheese - or Brexit explained. (FUNNY!!!)

Via Nancy H.

So darn funny  -  but ain't this the truth.

PHEW! (sort of), Theresa May, and Brexit

So, Theresa May survived a Tory Party Vote of Confidence today and thus continues to be the leader of the Tory Party, and the Queen's Prime Minister.  

N.B. It was not a Parliamentary vote, but a Tory Party vote.

Please also note that this was essentially an English Vote.  Of the three hundred and seventeen Tory Members of Parliament at Westminster who were eligible to vote,  only thirteen were from Scotland, and only eight from Wales. None were  from Northern Ireland. So much for a United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland!

The U.K. political world is chaotic as it stands, but lord only knows what would have been the chaos upon chaos had May lust the vote.

My "phew" is of course just for now. Sooner rather than later Mrs. May will have to bring the exit strategy she has negotiated with the E.U.  for a vote in the House of Commons.  

Parliament is so divided that it's hard for me to believe that it has a devil of a chance of approval.  The devil is in the details.

The author of this chaos is none other than former Prime Minister David Cameron.  He won a general election with his cynical promise to hold a referendum on Britain's continued membership of the E.U.

His ruling class instincts told him that a "leave" majority was never a possibility.  He knew best.

But the British voters gave him his come-uppance by voting 52% - 48% to leave.

His crime was that he had no plan for Brexit in the event of a "no to Europe"  vote in the referendum.

Theresa May was handed  (or chose to take) a poisoned chalice.

I'll mix my metaphors by saying that she has been drinking from this chalice whilst being stabbed in the back by reactionary Tory Members of Parliament.

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

A library and dogs.

Zion and I were back at New College of Florida on Monday 10th.

The attention hound

Loving every minute

Student taken photo'

An indoor event this time, by request of the Library staff

It's exam finals week at New College so HSSC Therapy Dog Teams were there on Monday and Tuesday as stress relievers.
Z and I were on the Monday team (with two others).

Z loves every bit of human attention - he was created to bring good karma to humans and *other canines alike.  He was a "hit" on Monday.

My warmest thanks to the Library staff for welcoming us with open arms.  

Soon after I arrived the Librarian asked where I had parked. When I identified the lot she said that I would need a temporary parking permit and brought me one.  A young man (I took him to be a student) said that if I gave him my car keys he would be glad to place the permit in my car.

He did so.  I thanked him profusely and then discovered that he was the newest member of the Library staff, having joined them just one month ago.

He hung around with us for most of the hour.  Turns out that he is from Windsor, Ontario; that he did his under-grad work at Western University formerly Western Ontario University, and his post-grad work at McGill University in Montreal a prestigious place! 

He, amongst other things is a long distance fan of Manchester City Football Club!

He has an interest in U.K. politics so I was able to strut my stuff as  we talked about of complicated foolishness of Brexit.

In turn I have a working knowledge of Canadian politics so I was able to pick his brains about the new  right wing provincial governments in Ontario and Quebec.

Attention U.S.A. liberals.  Divest your minds of the notion that Canada is a uniformly liberal/progressive nirvana.

It's great to have the ever splendid Zion as a natural therapy dog. 

It's also great for me when Z and I serve at our local Colleges.  There I meet faculty, staff and students who stimulate my mind.


* Zion and I walked at Sarasota's Bayfront Park today (Tuesday). We encountered three other owners with four small dogs at one and the same time.  Oh such an orgy of bum sniffing!  Oh such a festival of tail wagging, enough to stir up a dust storm.  My good Zion towered over the other four small dogs, spreading his own brand of karma with every bum sniff and tail wag.