Saturday, 7 April 2018

We went to College today.

Zion the wonder dog and I went to the Ringling College of Art and design in SRQ this morning, April 7th 2018

The occasion was Ringling's Accepted Students Day at which potential Ringling Students (for August 2018) make their final decision.

As you can see Zion made new friends --

So many thanks to Dr. Erin Robinson (Director of Health Services) and Counselor Natalie Lawry both of whom made us so welcome at Ringling College of Art and Design this morning.

Friday, 6 April 2018

The best in their fields of skill and expertise

Roger Federer

 Zion (the) Shederer

Furminator every day.  Dry mop every day. Vacuum clean every other day.

I wouldn't have it any other way!

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Another good read "This Orient Isle"

"This Orient Isle", Jerry Brotton, (pub Allen Lane 2016). ( A fine book thanks to Mr. Brotton's superb scholarship and skilled writing)

An intriguing and detailed telling of some of the history we don't know.  English rascals, adventurers, explorers and brilliant diplomats all in the service of Gloriana  (Queen Elizabeth I).  They set out to establish trade and diplomatic relationships with the "Moors" * of North West Africa (Morocco/Marrakesh); with the Ottoman (Turkish **) Empire in Constantinople; and with Persia.

There was something in it for all.  Islamic/English Christian trade and diplomatic ties could have been a mighty deterrent to the domination of the western Mediterranean by the all might Spain.

That the endeavour ultimately failed has more to do with the decline of Spanish power and the accession of James I and VI to the English throne,  than to the wiles, treachery, courage, brilliance, wisdom, skill and stupidity of the English explorers and their Islamic counterparts.

The sight of the Moroccan ambassador Muhammed al-Annuri in the streets of London must have been truly amazing.

Muhammed al-Annuri (University of Birmingham UK)

Brotton devotes an entire chapter "London turns Turk" to the various portrayals of Muslims on the contemporary London stage, including works by playwrights Marlowe ("Tamburlaine") and Shakespeare ("Othello" etc).

Well, who knew about this encounter of the Elizabethan world and the Islamic world.  They certainly did not tell us about this in High School.

Here is Brotton's last word (taken from the Guardian Review - below)

There are powerful lessons for modern Elizabethans here, and Brotton is conscious of them. “Despite the sometimes intemperate religious rhetoric,” he writes, “the conflict between Christian Europe and the Islamic world was then, as now, defined as much by the struggle for power and precedence as by theology. This story is part of the heritage of Christians, Muslims and any others who call themselves English.” At a time when many see Islam as a recent and strange intruder, Brotton’s excellent history is a reminder that a careful study of England’s “island story” shows just how wrong they are.

"Moor" is derived from a Greek word which refers first  to the inhabitants of Mauretania;  and then as an adjective meaning "dark" or "dim".  It became a synonym for Muslims.

(The following is extracted from the book) Elizabethan playwright George Peele drew on sources which argued that Moors are of two kinds - white or tawny Moors , an Negroes or Black Moors. (Hence the dreadful soubriquet "Blackamoor")

** "Turk" was often used as a synonym for Muslim.  I believe that the English 1662 Book of Common Prayer included a petition for the conversion  of the Turks (i,.e. Muslims),

Two reviews worth reading, one of the British "Guardian", the other from the Egyptian "Al-Ahram Weekly"

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Easter Tuesday; Busy doing (almost) nothing.

"Does your dog shed?" they ask.

Does he shed?

First Brushing of the Day

Second Brushing of the Day (3 hours later).

In both cases using a brush, not the furminator.


Lots of dry mopping every day on tiled floors to pick up dog hair.

Dear Zion is terrified when I use the dry mop.  He runs and hides. Was he abused with a mop in his previous home?


Used Easter Day leftovers to make Lamb and Barley soup on this quiet day.

So good.


Department of Brain Fart, Memory Loss, Or impending senility.

I don't have a Garbage Disposal so I use a sink screen to catch the food scraps when I have washed the dishes.  ( I have a deep fear of  blocked drainage pipes).

I used it this morning, and then I lost it!   I searched  the trash, the fridge, the cupboards -  all to no avail.

After obsessing about this loss for three hours I pulled out my spare.  I tried to insert it into the drain.

'Twas then that I realised that my lost sink screen was right where it belongs:  in the drain!

Please pray for this sad old coot!

Monday, 2 April 2018

An Easter Feast with food to spare

(When my brother Andy and his wife Izzy were here from England last November I ordered a Fresh Market Thanksgiving Dinner.  We found it to be superb.)

So acting on a whim about four weeks ago  I ordered a Fresh Market  Easter Meal for eight.

(Spiral ham, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, bread rolls and dessert cake all for about fifty five bucks for eight people. I could not cook it from scratch for less).

I ordered the meal for eight, but what do do with it?   A chance conversation (was it "chance"?) resulted in eight of us gathering at the home for G and J for this Easter Feast.

I provided the food, G and J set the table.

One of the guests, my friend R dropped a hint about Lamb for Easter.  I took the hint, bought a leg of lamb, and asked him to cook it  (which he did -  very well!).

I insisted that we should eat the lamb with mint sauce rather that with that ghastly fluorescent coloured super sweet American mint jelly  (ugh!)

I made some mint sauce from scratch.

Darn, it was good!

We eight had super table fellowship.  'Twas a fitting feast for Christians, Atheists, and Agnostics.  

We each went home with leftovers.  I shared some leftover ham with three neighbours and I will use the lamb to make Lamb and Barley soup (yum!).

Feasting is a joy, provided that it is not overdone, and provided that as we feast we do not forget the poor who are so beloved by God, and we share with them.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Bible is a tool, but it is not a cudgel.

Like many Christians I love the Bible, but mine is not an unconditional love. Some parts are impossible to understand, some passages are horribly cruel, some books are highly confusing.

But I love it because there are places in the Bible which seem to breathe with the breath of God: the God who is just, merciful, and full of compassion and forgiveness; the God who respects humanity so much that she/he calls me to accountability.

The Bible is a tool which helps to bring me to deeper and more faithful trust in God.

It is a tool, not a cudgel.


The following tells of a recent experience of mine. Names and places have been changed.

On Saturday 31st March, together with Zion the therapy dog, I visited a friend "Fred" in a local nursing home.

I had heard that an acquaintance "Charlie" was in the same nursing home for some physical therapy.

I first visited Charlie and his life partner "Peter" to discover them all in a tizzy, they were preparing to move to another room.

So we had a good visit with Fred, then went to Charlie's new room.  There I discovered the reason for their tizzy.

Charlie had been in a semi private room.  In this particular nursing home the semi private rooms are divided not by a curtain, but by a floor to ceiling wall which extends for about 2/3 of the room's depth.  Thus patients can hear what is happening in the other part of the room, but not see the other occupant. It's a neat design.

In this case Charlie in one half of the semi private room was visited by the wife of the man in the other half.

She announced that she and her husband had been married for 33 years.  Peter said "Charlie and I have been together for 47 years".  

The woman said "so you are homosexuals", and with that she disappeared and then re-appeared with a Bible from which she proceeded to batter Peter and Charlie with the various Bible verses which fundamentalist Christians use to condemn same sex relationships.  She assured Charlie and Peter that they were bound for hell.

So that's why Charlie moved to a fully private room. He had no other choice. He and Peter had been verbally assaulted by a stranger. 

This made me mad!  I see no good reason to use the Bible as a cudgel to beat people into faith.  HOW DARE SHE!  This is not of Christ.

I see many reasons to view the Bible (with all of its anomalies) as a precision tool through which God in mercy and grace calls us to a way and a truth. which leads us to life!