Thursday, 17 January 2019

Wise words (and then some supporting silliness)

Q. What did Harry Emerson Fosdick say about (God's)  holy love?

A. “God is not a cosmic bellboy for whom we can press a button to get things done.”


Wednesday, 16 January 2019

U.S.A. East Coast Winter

Ice skating on Boston Common.   Gorgeous picture by Julianne T.


Chilly day soup in S.W. Florida -  its was 45 f this morning - tough by our standards!  Gloves, sweats etc essential for my 5:00 a.m. walk with Zion.

Pulled some home made soup out of the freezer for lunch.  I thought that it was fish stew - turned out to be split pea and ham soup  (with various and sundry other veggies). Pretty darn good!

Monday, 14 January 2019

My heart aches for my Motherland (and my adopted land)

Unless British Prime Minister opts for yet another delay, the U.K. Parliament's House of Commons will vote on Jan 15th  2019 on her proposals for the withdrawal of the U.K. from the European Union.

Her proposals are the least worst,  (The worst being a no deal  and unilateral exit.)

It is unlikely that her plan will be approved by Parliament.

* Hard line Tory Brexiteers will have none of it.

* Northern Ireland "Unionist" M.P.'s (Protestant to the core) oppose it because it will enshrine a soft customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, but a hard customs border between North Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

* Scots and Welsh nationalists will have no truck with Brexit.

* Many Labour Party M.P.'s will vote against it because they have always been sceptical about the E.U.  They have dreams of a socialist E.U. - highly unlikely as many member States move to the right. The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has offered no alternative vision to Theresa May's proposals -  he comes across as a political technician not as a visionary leader.


I think that Brexit is a terrible idea.  Having said that, what do my tea leaves tell me if Prime Minister May's plan get voted down?

Will she resign, and if so, who will the Tory Party elect as her successor as leader?  (Most likely a hard-Brexiteer).

Will any new Tory Party leader command a majority in the House of Commons?  (Very unlikely).

Will the Queen invite any such  new leader to form a Government (that's how it works in the U.K.)

Will there be a second referendum to re-visit the Brexit question? That's extremely unlikely.  A second referendum is likely to be more divisive than the first.

Will there be a General Election?  Could be, but any new Parliament is as likely to be as divided and fragmented as is the present one. No party is likely to command an overall majority in the House of Commons.

It's all gloom and doom for this British born expatriate.  I see no possible good outcome from Tuesday's House of Commons vote.

Maybe the U.K has become ungovernable.  Under Trump the same is likely for the U.S.A.

Two of the "Great Powers" of 1945 are transmuting into Banana Republics in 2019.

Sunday, 13 January 2019

(The check/cheque) IS IN THE MAIL/POST (part 1)

Just over a year ago my friend Rick P gave me a one year (2018) subscription to The New Yorker.  What a fine gift.

Although I have fuss-pot tendencies I didn't have a spread sheet on which to mark the safe arrival of each weekly issue (or the two annual editions which each cover two weeks).

So what a surprise when two editions arrived in my mail box on Friday  11th Jan 2019.

Where the blazes have these been since July and October?  Did someone find them in a dusty corner of a sorting office, or hidden away in a mail van?

I'll never know.


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Zion's charm offensive?

Here is Zion looking as charming as ever.  We were at "Ben's Bar", a weekly gathering of friends of the late Ben Morse.

Charming as ever?  

Maybe he is hoping that the fat old man will drop a bit of food.

I will not name the fat old man, but I know him all too well.  So do you!

Friday, 11 January 2019

That old Feeling.

What a star!  What a voice!

Dame Cleo Laine DBE (born 28 October 1927) is an English jazz and pop singer and an actress, known for her scat singing and for her vocal range. Though her natural range is that of a contralto, she is able to produce a G above high C, giving her an overall compass of well over three octaves.

I had, but mislaid, a C.D. of Cleo Laine singing superb love songs,  with brilliant piano accompaniment.  It was my comfort on down in the dumps days.

I've located one of the songs "That old feeling"  via You Tube

Isn't it simply brilliant;  singer and pianist alike!

Dame Cleo Laine yet lives.   She had a long and good marriage to celebrated  jazz musician John "Johnny"  Dankworth (dec'd).

Cleo Laine was honoured by U.K. Queen to become Dame Cleo Laine. John Dankworth was also honoured as a knight, becoming Sir John Dankworth.

Thus Cleo Laine can be properly addressed as Dame Cleo (her honour) or Lady Cleo (her husbands honour).

Forget that!  

Enjoy her voice and musical skill!

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Ponder this

Even if this meme does not record an actual conversation it speaks the truth.

Via my colleague Gary M

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Say What?

This sign has been at Franklin Lighting on Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota (about a mile from my home) br  for many years,  (probably since I moved to SRQ in 2006).

It never changes.

What the heck does it mean? 

What is an "annual once a year" event?   

What is a clearance sale? (Is it one which has been in progress for at least the thirteen years since I moved to SRQ)   

If so, how many years until all the stock is "cleared"  

Just asking!


Meanwhile  just up the road in Bradenton FL I see this sign at a gas station/ convenience store.

"Morningly"?  Is this one of  Pres. Donald Trump's new words?!!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

On getting up in the morning (there could be, and is a better routine)

I am a man who is comfortable with a fixed routine.  This has pluses and minuses.

I usually rise at 4:00 a.m.  I like the quiet of the early morning.

After a visit to the necessary room I greet my dog with "Good Morning Mr. Zion" as I stroke his pate.  He barely stirs.  Then I make my first coffee of the day.

Coffee made, I fire up my computer and check my e-mail and my Facebook page.

Next I look at four or five newspapers  (U.K. and U.S.A.) on the web. This part of my routine is a mistake. It means that I begin my day by spluttering and fuming at the news of the day;  be it the BREXIT nonsense in my mother land, or the worsening and dangerous news from the White House in my adopted land.

Spluttering, fretting, fuming and getting angry is not a good way to start the day.

I'd probably be a happier and more whole person if I began each day with beauty.

In my case that beauty would involve music.  Here's a starter.  It's the worthy and most beloved Laudate Dominum by Mozart.  

Could there be anything more sublime to the western Europe "christian" ear than this, (and his Ave Verum Corpus).

Enjoy with me this version from Vilnius.  What a magnificent soprano.  What a superb choir.

Monday, 7 January 2019

The colours of food.

Not all tomatoes are red, with tough skin and unripe flesh.  

These are Heirlooms which I bought today.  The skin is tender, the flesh is juicy and sweet.

So juicy and sweet that it's hard to cut them into polite slices for sandwiches.  Better to cut them into quarters or eighths, place them in a small bowl, and eat them with a spoon, just as they are. (A spoon rather than a fork in order to savour every taste of juicy flesh).


We think that carrots should be orange in colour.  That's because the Dutch hybridized them to that hue.

Above are photo's of un-hybridized heritage carrots. They are as sweet as sweet can be, and can be eaten raw or cooked.

So much more satisfying than those pseudo baby carrots we see in every supermarket.   

N.B. 1.   The so-called "baby carrots"  are shaped and formed by a mechanical process using  mis-shaped ones which 'baby consumers'" would probably not buy in their local supermarket. 

They are cleaned with water and a wee amount of chlorine which despite the fear-mongers is not harmful to humans.  But the process wastes a helluva amount of water.

N.B. 2  I take a great delight in peeling carrots; heirloom or "normal"!  When I peel any root vegetables I am reminded that they come from the earth, not from a supermarket.

Tomatoes and carrots bought at Sarasota's "Detwiler's  Farm Market" today.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Lunch on a somewhat chilly day.

Baby white potatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, red pepper,  heirloom tomatoes, red snapper, cooked in the oven in miso  soup.


Saturday, 5 January 2019

January 6th and those Wise Men/Magi/Kings

January 6th  -  "Little Christmas" in some Christian traditions -  the end of the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Many Christians observe it with regard to the story in the gospel according to Matthew when the wise men  (sometimes called the Magi) allegedly presented gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to to the young child Jesus.

These days it is called the Feast of the Epiphany.  It happens to fall on a Sunday this year.  ("Epiphany"  many of us know that word as referring to those  experiences of clarity about someone, some thing, some experience, some poem etc. which hitherto had been murky or unclear),

In former times the Church of England calendar called it "The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles" on the basis of a belief that the wise men were Gentiles.   Matthew does not specify that there were three of them -  but they became "The Three Wise Men" on the basis that they offered three gifts.

Again, Matthew never calls them Kings. This promotion to royal status came about because of a verse in the Psalms  (72:10)   'May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts."

In its context that verse probably is all about King Solomon, but early Christians hi-jacked it to make it refer to Jesus and the gifts he was supposed to have received.


So now that I have de-constructed the story ( a de-construction never to be preached!)  I turn to its poetic beauty.  

None does this better than the St, Louis, MO born and determined Anglophile T.S. Elliot.  I love to hear and read his poem "The Journey of the Magi".

You can hear him reading his own work, and also read the text below.

Marvelous and magical I say

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
and running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down

This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Love at first sight in the park.

They were having a lively and  animated conversation, the two woman with their dogs at Arlington Park this morning.

One of the dogs was a magnificent Great Dane.

They were blocking the pathway so I bypassed them by walking through a wooded area.

I was walking clock wise on the half mile loop.  The Great Dane and his owner were walking anti clockwise. 

Came an open grassy area and all unbeknown to us the Great Dane was fixated on Zion, some three hundred yards away.

Then another wooded area leading to yet another open area and there was the Great Dane walking counter clockwise, his eyes fixed on Zion as we walked clockwise.

We inevitably came near to each other.  The owner of the Great Dane asked if the two dogs could go face to face.  Of course we could. The Great Dane's tail was all a-wagging, enough to cause a sand storm. He was drooling a-plenty!

The owner said  "my dog has been fixated on your dog since first we passed.  I have never seen such a tail wagging on his part.  He likes your dog!"

Of course.  Mr. Zion brings out the best in people, and in other dogs.

It was a lovely encounter.

Great Dane, stock photo'

'Twas all quite wonderful of course.

But I was a wee bit envious.  When, oh when will a great Dane have a fixation on me?  Drool not required!  (I'll settle for a Swede or a Norwegian!)

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Outside my comfort zone

I recently read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand.  As the blurb on the cover of the paperback edition states, it is indeed "A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption".

It is the story of Louis Zamperini

a teenage delinquent, an Olympic athlete, a WWII airman in what was then the U.S. Army Air Force, a survivor of forty seven days adrift on a raft in the Pacific, a prisoner of the Japanese in hellish conditions - being subjected to cruelty beyond belief, and post war sufferer from what we know call P.T.S.D. until his conversion to Christ at an early Billy Graham Crusade, leading to Zamperini's own crusade for justice and Christian reconciliation.

It's not my usual kind of book.  The accounts of life in Japanese POW camps are so ghastly that I could scarcely read more than three or four pages each day.

But despite that I recommend the book and its ultimate story of redemption and reconciliation. Be prepared to bite your knuckles. 

Pre-owned paper back editions (Random House 2010) are readily available from internet based vendors.

For better or for worse here is the Wikipedia version of Zamperini's  life.

Call me Israel

Call me Israel

The joys of my daily walks with Mr. Z. in Sarasota's Arlington Park include the meetings and greetings I have with people of many ages (small children in baby strollers through old farts of my generation).

Most are white skinned like I, but it's also great to encounter brown and black skinned walkers - unusual in de-facto segregated Sarasota.

I walk with hope in my heart and a smile on my face, looking for other walkers who are also filled with hope and smiles.

That's how I came across Israel, a young man with a ready smile,  (yes Israel is his first name).

He and I have two things in common:  - we both smile a lot; we are both mono-lingual.

My best guess is that Israel is about 17/18 years old. Despite our language barrier I have learned that he is from Guatemala and that he has a job in a Sarasota restaurant (probably as a dish washer).

My heart has gone out to this young man.  I wonder "did he walk through Mexico to reach the U.S.A.?"  and if so "such determination".  

I have no idea about his immigration status and I don't care.

What I  do know is that young men of his age in countries such as El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala often face a Hobson's choice, viz:

"You can join our gang but if you refuse you will see your sister or mother raped, or mutilated, or murdered".

Decades upon decades of American economic, political and military colonialism in countries such as the ones I have mentioned above have created dystopian societies in which the uber-rich live in their well guarded and high walled compounds and the poor endure miserable and hard scrabble lives merely to survive.

No wonder that the  families and single young men who have an ounce of ambition and a pound of hope risk everything to make the arduous and dangerous journey to the United States, which for them is still a land of hope and opportunity.

I salute young Israel's ambition, courage and determination.  I hope that my smiles and gestures have given him the message that this old man  (himself an immigrant)  who walks his dog  in the park is saying  "welcome to America!"   May your dreams of a job, a home, a wife and a family be amply fulfilled.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Misty and Moody

We walked at Sarasota's Bayfront Park soon after 7:00 a.m. on New Year's Day.

I so much like misty mornings.

There is a mast of a sunken yacht leaning at an angle in the middle of the photo'.  The orange netting was for crowd control on New Year's Eve.  Early morning walkers had trampled it a bit. Zion looked at it, then took one delightful jump -  a steeplechase dog!

A little pink in the cloud, but the condo buildings are scarcely visible.

This is how the bay front looked on New Year's Eve  Photo' by local T.V. news, posted by my friend Barbara to her Face Book Page.


Zion and I left Bay Front Park  and drove immediately to Arlington Park for a walk there.  (We are overachievers!)  This sign was posted in many places.

Maybe the owner should look near Gatwick Airport!