Saturday, 9 June 2018

Visits with Zion - funny, and tragically sad.


M. is a woman I see most Fridays when I go with Zion to an Assisted Living facility.

M is in the memory unit.  She has periods of lucidity and wit, and is very fond of Zion.

The other week she said  "he is adorable".  

I agreed and asked  "what about me?".   

She looked me up and down, and with a smile she said  "well, you are O.K."   She knew that she was being funny.


Sad beyond words.

As I was leaving the facility last Friday I encountered an older woman resident.  She wanted to caress Zion, and as in many other encounters she began to talk about the dogs in her life.

I asked "where are you from?" meaning "did you live in another State before you came to Sarasota?"

Her face darkened. "From Germany" she said. Then she went on to tell me that she and her family were able to leave Germany in 1938 when she was thirteen years old.  "Those were dark and fearful days" she said.

Eighty years later her heart and soul remain wounded by the indescribable horrors she experienced.

Antisemitism is always evil. It inflicts wounds down the generations.

My encounter with this woman raised my righteous anger.  It led me to become angry about the cruel and illegal immigration policy which is being implemented by our current American White Nationalist Regime, against legitimate applicants for political asylum.

Under what moral, legal, religious or compassionate canon is it permissible for women who seek asylum to be torn away from their beloved babies, infants and children?

What deep damage to their souls will these little children live with eighty years hence?

These horrendous policies are being implemented by the so-called "pro-life", and "family values" Republican Party.

And the Democratic Party is wimping out and mostly not protesting,  in the hopes of winning seats in the November 2018 mid term elections.

A fie on both parties, mildly mitigated by the joy which my super Zion brought to M. and to the Holocaust survivor (and brings to me each day).

Friday, 8 June 2018

Thursday, 7 June 2018

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

I got it wrong for so many years

Hoisting a Flag

Do you know or use the phrase "hoist by his (her) own petard".

It's used in situations such as this:

1. When I told my friends S and R that I hated the use of the word in reference to women, and a bit later referred to a woman I know as a  S and R caught me  -  rightly so.

2. When a vociferous republican anti-gay politician is "caught" soliciting gay sex (it's happened more than once).

3. When a liberal democratic  politician is so very firm in his support of battered woman,  only to be exposed as a batterer.


I'd thought for the longest time that "petard'  referred to a Naval Flag (such things are "hoisted").  When visiting my friend Jack Chrisman (USN Captain Ret.) I asked him about this.  He had no idea.

Jack and his souse  Donna have a daughter Ashley L. who looked up the phrase via Google.

She discovered that Wm. Shakespeare used the phrase in Hamlet.

It transpires that petard means " a small bomb". To be hoist (thrown up into the air) by one's own petard  means that a bomb you planned for others killed you. That makes sense.

But wait, there is more!  (I like this!).

"Petard"  is rooted in a French idiomatic word which means "to fart".

Oh how delicious!   To be hoist by one's petard can be understood as "to be destroyed by one's own fart".

'Tis a colourful use of language -  so much the better for that!

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

June Visitors

Some eleven to thirteen Wood Storks have taken up temporary residence at my neighbouring Glen Oaks Manor community, here in Sarasota, FL

I delight in these birds with their pink feet and long bills.  I've never before seen so many in one place.

I took my real camera with me this afternoon to try to get some better shots than with my smart 'phone.  My digital camera has a screen but no view finder, so taking photo's in bright sun is  difficult.   This is the best I could do.  (Noel Bailey, I need you!)

Wood Storks look great in the air.   With a dog leash in one hand and a camera in the other I couldn't snap one in flight today .  

These are from the web.

More about wood storks here:

Monday, 4 June 2018

Samantha who?

Since I knew nothing about her I went on line to discover that Samantha Bee is a comedian.

She's the Samantha Bee who recently described Ivanka Trump as a c...

It was at the least a cheap shot at a sitting target. An attack on Ivanka Trump because of her last name.

At the most it was the employment of a horrid and vile word; a word always used to degrade and demean women. 

You know that I am no fan of the Trumps and their politics.  But I am horrified and disgusted that the President's daughter has been demeaned by the use of this reprehensible word.  Inexcusable.

One of the responses from people on the left is that the foes of  Hillary Clinton also used this word to describe her.

I will not reproduce photo's of the tee shirts which some right wingers wore; tee shirts which bore the c... word above a picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. 

That too was disgusting and demeaning of  Hillary Clinton. Inexcusable 

But for now I am deeply troubled that some of my leftish friends are saying words to the effect that "the right wing has no good reason to be mad at Samantha Bee's use of the word, since they started it with their attacks on Hillary which used the same word."

Oh, for goodness sake is our political rhetoric back there with the third-graders who exchange insults at play time/recess, and then excuse themselves by saying "he/she started it".

I suppose that it is, viz :  "The liberal Samantha called Ivanka a c..., but the conservative Trump supporters started it my calling Hillary a c..."


Oh dear.  Please remember that the preamble to the United States Constitution holds out the hope and vision of "a more perfect Union"

Honest and loyal Americans on the right and on the left will always be striving for this more perfect union.  

Those on the left and on the right who employ rhetoric which uses such devices as the c word will most surely lead us unto more imperfect disunion.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Starbucks anti-racism training, and my own near failure.

As you may have read in an earlier blog I disdain the word "racism" since it is rooted in the White Nationalist perverted notion that there is a black race and a white race.  Not so.  There is but one race, the human race.  

Nevertheless I will have to use the word in this blog since it has (sadly) entered common currency).


By now unless you live under a rock in a remote part of Alaska you will have heard of the horrible incidents in a couple of Starbucks coffee houses. You will also know that Starbucks closed all their (U.S.A.?) joints for a day of anti-racism training for their employees.

All well and good.  But I give the effort a B not an A.

This is for a couple of reasons:

1)  I need to be sure that Starbucks offers a just and living wage to its employees.

2) I need to be reassured  that Starbucks employment policies include active and determined affirmative action in favour of minorities.  

When did you see a black barista? 

How many "racial" minority men and women are in middle management at Starbucks?

3) I am utterly sceptical about the value of the training which does little more than to provide information.

Information alone does not change hearts, minds, attitudes and behaviours.  (Just think about the information we are given about (say) safe driving, or healthy eating to which we give mental assent, but which does not change our behaviour).

What does help to move us towards change is not information, but encounter. I can ignore information.  I can be compelled by encounter.

Starbucks will be a more just corporation when its run of the mill employees encounter black and brown people at the highest levels in corporate management.

The same is true of the Episcopal Church.  We pat ourselves on the back because we have a black Presiding Bishop in the Rt. Revd. Michael Curry.  But in the Florida based Diocese and the  Parish I know best (despite all our anti-racism training)  there is not a single black, brown (or female) Priest in middle to upper positions of leadership.  So much theory, so little practice.

Then there is me

In my recent trip to Atlanta I took the MARTA train from the Airport 

to North Springs - a 45 minute ride from south to north.

South Atlanta is mostly black, poor and deprived.

North Atlanta is chiefly white, wealthy and "successful".

In the first half of the journey I was the only white skinned passenger in my compartment .   The others were black skinned young men.

I felt myself tense up -  Lord knows why.

Then I kicked my own bum as I recognised my own failure. 

There was no good or valid reason in God's good creation for me to feel fear or tension.

I let go.  I made eye contact with the nearest young man.  We exchanged some pleasantries.

It was nice.

But even in this sweet encounter I knew that I held all the cards. 

Such is the nature of my white privilege for which I claim no merit or honour.