Thursday, 14 March 2019

T.T.F.N.

Ta Ta For Now.

Thursday 14th early a.m.   Off to Texas.





Back next Tuesday.

Nothing more from me until then.




Tuesday, 12 March 2019

HARRUMPH. Some common mistakes in Sarasota (GRUMPY SORT OF!)



There is no restaurant in Sarasota named "Marina Jack's".

There is marina - called "Marina Jack", and there is a restaurant at the marina.  It should properly be called "the Restaurant at Marina Jack".  Picky, picky, picky!

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There is no street in Sarasota named Bahai Vista St., despite what people frequently say.

"Bahai" is a religion.

Our street is



Bahia Vista means  (I think) Bay View.  The word Bahia is Spanish and if you remember that every vowel is pronounced in that language you'll get it right!

Slightly less picky.

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While I am on the topic it's important for residents and visitors alike to know that Sarasota does not have a Cattleman Road.


Image for illustration purpose only

It is Cattlemen Road.  After all, if you are driving cattle to the dock for export to Cuba (this used to happen) you need men, not just one man.

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Such egregious mistakes. I lose sleep over them. (tee hee).  

But goshdarnit,  I too made a terrible mistake today.  I had an intense longing for tapioca pudding (go figure).  I bought some ready made at Detwiler's Farm Market.



Oh dear!  Too much pudding and not enough tapioca.  Much too sweet.  Next time the tapioca lust strikes I'll make my own!

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There is no emoticon for today's posting, so you will have to imagine one which indicates "tongue in cheek".




Monday, 11 March 2019

Out of control excitement at a local park.

Many Sarasotans lead very quiet and uneventful lives.

That is until something upsets the neighbourhood equilibrium.

Such is the case in Arlington Park due to the presence of an outsider.

Her presence has led to great excitement and concern.

She is a 


who evidently has flown a local coop.    She lurks in the undergrowth not far from a foot path  (my dog knows this by nose)  and she clucks out onto the pathway every now and then.

I have seen her twice.

She is the talk of the park (makes your life seem to be so dull eh?!).

Rumour has it that Arlington Park is also visited by a Coyote.

Let us hope that Wily Coyote never  tracks down Henrietta the Hen.







Sunday, 10 March 2019

Celebration

My vascular system is somewhat compromised -  and if you know me and my habits well you will not be surprised.

In view of this I've recently had MRI's on my left and right carotid arteries



and although there is a build up of  plaque in both, there is no blockage that call for immediate surgery.

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Whoop-de doo!  so I celebrated this good news in the wisest possible way 😜😜

LUNCH SATURDAY

Biscuits with sausage and mushroom gravy at Sarasota's newly opened "Maple St. Biscuits"



Oh so good!  Non American readers should search for information about the (southern U.S.A.) biscuits. They are not a bit like the biscuits we eat with a cup of tea or coffee.

LUNCH SUNDAY at home.

English Muffin, Heinz U.K. style baked beans, fried egg, bacon, and Irish style bangers (sausages) from Trader Joe's.

T.J's calls them Irish Style Bangers, indicating that they are made from a traditional Irish (and U.K.) recipe here in the United States.  Notwithstanding wherever they are made,  they are good!


(Irish style bangers split down the middle for grilling}.


Saturday, 9 March 2019

Another Scandal Rocks the Church.

"Poor as a Church Mouse".

We've often said it, but we've never stopped to ask why Church Mice are so poor.

It's because of ecclesiastical hypocrisy.

Church people "talk the talk" about justice and equity, but they do not "walk the walk"  when it comes to Church Mice.

These poor creatures -

1)  are underpaid, and often not paid at all.

2) are dependent on scraps of food  in order to survive.

3)  live in squalid conditions.

PLEASE JOIN MY MOVEMENT


"JUSTICE FOR  CHURCH MICE" 

Our demands on behalf of Church Mice are simple.

1)  A living wage.

2) Access to decent foods at all times.

3) Comfortable and affordable housing.

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Is this too much to ask?

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I conclude with a bit of cheesy  humour





Friday, 8 March 2019

Unpleasantness at the Supermarket.



I was in my local supermarket this morning in the express lane, with my four items.  (Publix gets it right with "fewer", not "less").

There were two people ahead of me.  The one whose groceries were being scanned was more than talkative, thus slowing down the line.   

Was  the clerk/cashier supposed to say:   "Hurry up ma'am, there are other people in line"?  Of course not.

From behind me I heard an almost disembodied voice say  "Is the the Express Line?".   I ignored her question, The lane was clearly marked "Express, Ten items or fewer".  

The voice cried out "she (the clerk/cashier) is talking too much".  (Can you hear the querulous tone?).

Came my turn in line.  The voice behind me addressed the clerk/cashier asking "are you new here?" The clerk/cashier volunteered that she had  been employed since last October.  The voice said "I knew it" in a certain tone of voice

The clerk/cashier blushed.  I spoke to her and said "you are doing just fine".

Even as I gathered up my purchases  the voice behind me addressed the clerk/cashier saying   "You are very slow".  

At this point, just before the steam came out of my ears, I turned to the clerk/cashier and in a firm voice I said "thank you very much for your good service".  

Of course that was not enough. So before I left the market I sought out a supervisor and said "a customer was very rude to your clerk/cashier C.    I want you to know that C handled it very well and she is to be commended".  

That was about the least I could do in this business of helping to create the peaceable creation.

Where do people "get off" by being rude and nasty to hard working retail clerks/cashiers?

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 P.S


At least the Supermarket sign did  not read "Ten or less"









Thursday, 7 March 2019

Such beauty for eye and ear from Sweden.



The Spellbinding Swedish Song That Calls Cows Home



Thanks to Sarah McF for tipping me off to this article.

What is kulning?

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-kulning

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Ash Wednesday Shadow.



My shadow early today (Ash Wednesday) as I walked out on a chilly (by Florida standards) morning.  NO  I am not wearing a Biretta, nor do I have a "man bun".

I am wearing the woolen bobble hat which my niece Nicola knitted for me.

As for birettas..


I'll turn in my grave if ever I see myself wearing one of these esoteric bits of ecclesiastical haberdashery. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

The Peaceable Kingdom will not arrive by magic.


The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. (Isaiah 11:6)

Isaiah's Peaceable Kingdom will not come about by magic.  We are called to create it.

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It was probably eight years ago that I was on a Frontier Airlines flight from Tampa to Denver.

My seat mate was a young (23 years old) man, a member of the LDS Church, who was on his way home to Utah -  to his wife, his child, and his dog.

I asked him about his faith, and especially about his work as a young LDS Elder and the two year? missionary service which young Mormons undertake.

I asked him about his wife, his child, and his dog.

In turn he asked my about my faith and life as an Episcopalian Minister, and about the Episcopal Church.

As we drew near to Denver he thanked me.  He said "you are the first Christian minister I have ever met who hasn't told me all that's wrong about the LDS Church".

DUH  But of course!  His LDS roots were deep and important to him. Who was I to try to "convert" him?  That would have been foolish and unkind, even arrogant: (two hours on a plane versus his lifetime of LDS faith!)

The Peaceable Kingdom is ours to create.  I did my little bit on that flight.

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I thought about that young man when I encountered two very young  (20ish) Jehovah's Witnesses as they sat on a bench in Arlington Park, their easel of literature nearby.

It's a common enough sight.  Gentle Jehovah's Witness folks sit in public places - ready to talk about their faith - but only speaking when they are spoken to. They eschew evangelistic aggression.

I spoke to them with words like these.  "I am a retired  Christian Pastor and I know that I will never become a Jehovah's Witness. But I admired your willingness to give witness to your faith in this gentle manner".

I added "I utterly hate the fact that J.W's are being tortured and imprisoned in Russia. I will pray for them"

It was another gracious encounter with folks whose theology I eschew, but whose lives are precious to God. 

The Peaceable Kingdom is ours to create.  I did my little bit in Arlington Park today.


Isaiah's Peaceable Kingdom will not come about by magic.  We are called to create it.


Monday, 4 March 2019

Good, and great,, and greatest.

Lunch today  - so good.




Macaroni and Cheese, with carrots (of many hues), snow peas, and pan fried Trout.

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Great


G

On Feb 17th 2019 I sent all my 2018 tax information to the Massachusetts accounting firm I have used since 2001(thanks Manny Faria for the recommendation way back then).

Yesterday (March 3rd 2019) I received (electronically) the tax return this firm had prepared for me.  I signed and returned it electronically. It's good to have a tax preparer that I trust  ( despite a merger of  my 2001 firm with a much bigger outfit, the same man has prepared my taxes for all these years.)  

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GREATEST

In spite of all the confusion caused by the passage of the Trump/Republican tax bill (under which many of my middle class working friends have seen their 2018 tax bill double) I'll be getting a 2018 refund which is twice as much as my 2017 refund.

Go figure!    Tax law in the U.S.A. is more complicated and mysterious than the Kabbalah.  


I'll accept this "refund", not because Uncle Sam is generous, but because I gave him too much in 2018.

Sunday, 3 March 2019

Noor Inayat Khan




She was a Muslim.  

She was a direct descendant of an Indian Royal Family.   

She agreed to spy for the British in WWII.  

She was the first female spy to be parachuted into occupied France.  

She was betrayed by a double agent.  

She was executed  (murdered) in Dachau


http://historysheroes.e2bn.org/hero/whowerethey/4354

Saturday, 2 March 2019

English Colonialism and the people of Wales.

March 1st is St. David's Day  -  Dewi Sant

Dewi Sant is the patron saint of Wales. If you ever visit Wales and do nothing more than this, visit St. David's Cathedral.

Down in a Valley, not up on a Hill.

There has never been a Welsh nation, i.e. a place with well defined borders, or a place with national institutions such as a parliament or monarchy.

Rather, there have been Welsh people (of Celtic origin): a people with a rich language and cultural history; a people whose land was militarily absorbed into England. (The great Welsh Castles were not there to protect the Welsh, but to subdue them!).

Essential to colonialism is the suppression of local languages. For the English colonial endeavours in Welsh lands to succeed it was necessary for the Welsh language to be downgraded, despised, degraded, disrespected and all but annihilated. School children were whipped for speaking their native tongue in the "English language only" schools.

In doing so the English were saying "your oral history, your music, your literature, and your poetry are of nothing worth".

And if history, music, literature and poetry are dismissed as worthless so will be the people. Welsh people who moved into England were seen as an alien and untrustworthy "other". "*Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief". (* Taffy a derogatory term for Welsh people, probably liked to the River Taff in south Wales")

Of course there was also economic colonialism with the exploitation of natural resources: black gold in the south, flintstone in the north etc.

Try as they might the English overlords never succeeded in killing the Welsh language. It was kept alive in small Welsh villages, and in the Chapels. (There was a Welsh speaking congregation who had a chpale in my home city of Bristol, England.

There is a modern and modest renaissance of the Welsh language. Wales, now with a semi autonomous elected Assembly, is officially a bi-lingual land.

English travelers observing bi-lingual traffic signs and the like are bothered by this. "But, they say, "a majority of Welsh people do not speak the language" - as if being a minority didn't matter.

Now, dear American readers it ought not be too difficult for you to identify cultural colonialism in these United States.






A fine academic study of Wales as a people, not a nation.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Dangerous hordes of feral Amish folks in Sarasota. BEWARE!

In about December of every year a dangerous horde of feral Amish folks descend on Sarasota. They plague our otherwise safe streets until March of the next year.

The Amish/Mennonite district of Pinecraft is a place to be avoided in the daylight hours. Not only Pinecraft.  The feral Amish have been spotted as far away as the Beneva/Fruitville junction much too close to my home.


Souped up tricycles cross Fruitville

Note those who lurk behind a power line pole on the north east  side of the intersection.  SNEAKY

Amish women keep watch over Big Olaf's Ice Cream parlour.

The secret place under the guise of being a popcorn vendor, where tricycles and bicycles are souped up,  

Amish bikes and trikes at an un-manned check-point on Bahia Vista Street.
 HELP!  Our way of life is being damaged by the peace-filled and prayerful Amish.


Three Yachts. One Dinghy. Two Bicycles.

Zion and I have been taking our second early morning walk at Sarasota's Bayfront Park/Marina for a couple of months.

Each morning we see



1)  Three luxury yachts.  They never sail. What goes?  Maybe they are owned by some uber-rich folks who use them for ten or so days each year.


2.  This woe-be-gone dinghy. One day it may fill with rain water and sink.







3)  Bicycles the hippies left behind.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

This has been on my mind all day long.

The Defenestration of Prague.






What has been dominating your thoughts today?

Am I weird?

Monday, 25 February 2019

To Sarasota With Love




















To Sarasota With Love

Anu Tali, Music Director of the Sarasota Orchestra will be returning to her native Estonia after her six great years with us.



I was happy to be at her penultimate Sarasota Concert yesterday afternoon  (24th Feb). My neighbour Barbara B joined me.

The Concert featured eight shorter pieces, some chosen to show-case and honour the virtuosity of various principal players; some because they challenge the audience; and some because they are all time crowd pleasers!  Ms. Tali is smart!

The Sibelius "Rakastava", and the Richard Strauss "Duet Concertino"  (featuring the Sarasota Orchestra Clarinet, and Bassoon principals) were challenging.

The crowd pleasers included Glinka's "Russlan and Ludmilla"  Overture;  Grieg's Peer Gynt "Suite # 1" ....

... and best of all  the utterly gorgeous Intermezzo from Mascagni's "Cavellenia Rusticano"

This is music to speak to the soul and bring tears to the eyes.



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And who is that good looking Horn Player at the top of this blog?  He hails from San Antonio, TX.  He is the co-Principal horn player at the Sarasota Orchestra. His name happens to be Joshua Horne!

He was the featured player at Sunday's Concert for the brief and lovely "Reverie" by the Russian composer Glasunov.


I was "tickled pink" to see Josh centre stage at the concert, for I know him a bit.

We've encountered each other and had a few serious conversations at Arlington Park as Josh has walked his dog "Luke Sky Barker" and I've walked Zion.




Saturday, 23 February 2019

Cambridge, MA connection in Sarasota FL!

My ministry as Rector at St. James's, Porter Square, MA was enriched by two terrific colleagues (they happen to be married to each other),  The Revd. Laurie Rofinot, and Patrick G. Michaels.

Patrick "Pat" was (and is) the minister of music par excellence.  He taught me so much.  Laurie joined us as the staff member for Christian Education.

Pat is enjoying a sabbatical leave.  As part of that leave he and Laurie are spending a week at Ft. Myers Beach, and will take time to explore the Everglades.

But, before Ft. Myers Beach,  they spent a night in Sarasota, so that we could have a joyful reunion.

On Friday 22nd we "visited" at my home before they took me out for a wonderful dinner.  We were at one of the most authentic  Italian Restaurants in town (Cafe Baci) - and we raved at the wonderful food.

This morning I was the host for breakfast at Sarasota's  Amish/Mennonite restaurant  "Der Dutchman".  The breakfast buffet abounded in delicious and greasy "farm food".  Just the ticket once a year!

Sarasota has a (either year round or snow bird) population of Amish folks.  The snow bird population peaks at this time of year and our Pinecraft area is filled with Amish people of many stripes, not in horse and buggy, but on bicycles and tricycles.

"Der Dutchman" was filled with these good folks this morning, so I told Laurie and Pat that they we having an ethnic feast!

Eating at a common table brings us together, so my meals with Pat and Laurie had a quasi-sacramental quality.

We rejoiced to be together.   And they like Zion!



Pat, Laurie and Zion at Der Dutchman






Cafe Baci








Thursday, 21 February 2019

PLEASE take 13 minutes to watch this powerful video. PRETTY PLEASE


Please take 13 minutes to listen.....  .....to this most powerful, honest, truth telling and healing address by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson, delivered at the Washington National Cathedral last Sunday, 17th February.

PRETTY PLEASE AGAIN!  IT'S DAMN GOOD STUFF  for many reasons, and in particular for those of us who live from time to time with the black dog of depression.  

As Mr. Gerson says, we are those who are " Staking (y)our life on the rumour of grace".








Here is the video.  It spoke deeply to me!  Watch it.  Pretty please again!

https://youtu.be/xYu4xKGRi8Q


Thanks to Noel B for the tip off on this

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Maybe God Is Testing Your Faith


I have an acquaintance who is  a member of one of Sarasota's largest Fundamentalist/ Evangelical churches.

This man is a gentle, decent and sweet man.  There is nothing not to like about him.

He and his wife have a son who last year was admitted to one of the most prestigious engineering/aeronautical Colleges in Florida. Kudos to this young man.

Two days ago I asked my acquaintance how his son was progressing in his academic studies.  Dad told me that his good son was struggling in some areas of study -  especially calculus, and had texted his father for help.

The father, my acquaintance, told me that he had texted his son back to say (in so many words)  "Pray and trust God. God opened the door for you to be at that school, and he (God) must have his reasons for you to be there. As for your difficulties with calculus, maybe God is testing your faith".

"Bloody hell"  as we might say in England.  This is exactly the theology which drove me away from the evangelical theology  of my youth and early adulthood. 

It raises these questions:

1)  re:  "God opened the door for you to be at that school,"  

does this mean that God also closed the door for the scores and hundreds of equally well qualified applicants? 

Is God the super-dooper celestial admissions officer?

2) re:   "As for your difficulties with calculus, maybe God is testing your faith".  


does this mean that a struggle with calculus is God's will?

Is God in charge of the tests and exams in American (and other Colleges) ?

Fie on such a micro managing God.





Monday, 18 February 2019

Phew!



I am to have a C-T scan on Tuesday 19th at 10:30 a.m.   The appointment was arranged by the staff at my Vascular Doctor's office, whose print-out specified FASTING.

This made me grumpy. Wot,  no early morning coffee?  Wot,  no breakfast. Grumps and yet more grumps.

A staff member at Sarasota Radiological Associates ( the clinic at which I'll have the procedure) called this morning to remind me of the appointment.

She said "Remember to fast, no food or drink after three hours before the C-T Scan". 

Whoop dee do!  I'll be able to have my 4:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.coffees.  I'll be able to enjoy my 6:30 a.m. breakfast. 

Life is yet  again wonderful for this dyed in the wool, routine obsessed old bachelor!  No more grumps!

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Thinking of Penne - two years on.

It was two years ago (Feb 17th)  that I said a sorrow-filled good-bye to my darling Penne, a friend for many years.




Oh what a darling she was.  She liked other people  (especially my friends Bob L, Den N, and Ed G.)   She did not care for other dogs.

I had to say good-bye to Penne  when the pain from the fused discs in her spine made her comfort impossible.

I cried for three days after her death.

Then came my dear Greyhound Ben. He was with me for a few months.




Ben was a good pal.  I can still feel his gentle nudge on my left hand as  we set out on our walks.  But his separation anxiety was so awful (and destructive) when I left him alone.  After a few months with me,  Ben was re-homed by the Racing Dog Rescue people in a home with another Greyhound where is is doing so well.

Next came Izzy a Catahoula Leopard Dog, also with me for but a few months.  



We bonded deeply and she would still be with me, save for the fact that she saw my female cat as prey and was determined to do her harm.

Izzy, a hunting dog, now has  home east of SRQ on a farm.

Back in January 2018 Zion came to live with me.   




As you know, Z. and I are joined at the hip.

But two years on,  I still miss his worthy predecessor Penne who left me two years ago today.