Tuesday, 16 July 2019

HURRY! Get your sweet little Princess costume now, before Maureen Dowd and Nancy Pelosi get mad.

Sweet Princess (stock photo').


Maureen Dowd, New York Times columnist (in her disgraceful op-ed piece published July 15/16 2019).


Nancy Pelosi (D)  Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives

have a message  for four newly elected U.S. Reps.

Rashida Tlaib (D) Michigan

Ilhan Omar (D) Minnesota.
Alexandria Occasion-Cortez (D) New York

Ayanna Pressley (D) Massachusetts.


That  word from Maureen Dowd,  and Speaker Pelosi   is that these four wonderful U.S. Representatives should rush out to get their pretty Princess costumes; sit at the back of the classroom; and only speak when they are spoken to.

Strange that these four women have "less than Trump approved whiter than white skins"

And let it be noted that when I did a Google Images search for "Pretty Princess" not one result showed a girl or woman with olive, brown or black skin.  


Monday, 15 July 2019

They are NOT Evangelical leaders.

They are not Evangelical Leaders.   I  know a bit about this since I was raised in an Evangelical (maybe Fundamentalist) Church and I studied at a somewhat  progressive Evangelical Seminary.

Despite what lazy journalists say, the following men (see below) should not be identified as Evangelical Leaders. 

That does disservice to a noble evangelical history with godly leaders:    e.g. people such as  William Wilberforce M.P.  who never gave up in the U.K. parliament until the Slave Trade was abolished in the British Empire; and  Lord Shaftesbury who campaigned against child labour; and Hannah More the great social reformer in my home City of Bristol U.K.

They were among the best of the evangelical tradition.

The men pictured below are not "evangelical leaders".  They have sold their souls for the right to bear that description.

They should be identified in the popular media as "far right Republican businessman", or Trumpeteers.

Robert Jeffress, Pastor First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX  Estimated net worth $15 million.
Franklin Graham, President and C.E.O of the Billy Graham Evangelist Association. Estimated net worth $25 million.

Jerry Falwell Jr.  President, Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. Estimated net worth $10 million.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

A Tale Of Two Dogs

This is Lance

Lance is pictured here with his owner Nan Miller.  He is a Great Pyrenees mix.  He is a Therapy Dog working with the Humane Society of Sarasota County.


This is Zion

Zion is pictured here with a student at New College, Sarasota, FL.  He is a Great Pyrenees mix. He is a Therapy Dog working with the Humane Society of Sarasota County.


Well, "gosh darn it" (as nice people say) Lance and Zion may not be doppelgangers, but they are surely look-a-likes.

I want these good and gracious boys to meet one day!


The (weekly) Sarasota Observer recently had an article about the H.S.S.C  therapy dog programme  (you can read extracts below) a lot of which is about Lance and Nan.

Everything she says about Lance is also true of Zion.

This is just so cool.

Yes, I want these good and gracious boys to meet one day!



by: Brynn Mechem Staff Writer

Each morning, he wakes up, eats his breakfast, puts on his tie and goes to work.
The catch? This employee has four legs and fur.
Three to four times a week, Lance dons one of his 10 ties and, with his human, Nan Miller, in tow, heads out to provide comfort and affection to various groups throughout Sarasota County.

 “My dear friend calls him a four-legged Xanax,” Miller said. “People will just pet him and say he exudes calming energy. I don’t know what it is, but he just calms people down.”
The Great Pyrenees mix is one of the nearly 100 pet therapy dogs in the Humane Society of Sarasota County pet therapy program.
The program was revamped three years ago, and since then, Ginny Armington, the HSSC community outreach coordinator, said it has grown exponentially.
Volunteers regularly visit more than 50 organizations throughout the Sarasota community, such as senior facilities, schools, hospitals and veterans gatherings. While at the various locations, the dogs provide comfort and joy to those in need.
“Because we’re a nonprofit, it’s the community that supports us,” Armington said. “We don’t get any other funds. It’s just everybody making donations. So this is our way of giving back to the community.”
Because the program is volunteer-based, around 10 dogs will typically go to any given event, Armington said. However, if a tragedy occurs, such as the death of a student, that number will usually double.
Miller said she enjoys going to the events with Lance because she sees the effect he has on people.

 Miller says of Lance “there’s just something about his soul, and that’s the way it is with a lot of these dogs,” she said. “They just have a gentleness, a kindness, an understanding when somebody needs them.”
Miller recalled a visit she and Lance made to an assisted living facility. She approached a woman in a wheelchair and asked if she liked dogs. The woman said yes, and the two began to chat.
On her way out, an employee approached Miller and said, “I just want you to know she’s never spoken before.”
“It was absolutely amazing,” Miller said. “[These dogs] are able to dig down into somebody’s deepest parts of their hearts, of their memories.”
While the dogs provide emotional support, they also provide the HSSC an opportunity to educate the public. Armington said the HSSC uses the pet therapy dogs to teach people best pet practices and how to be more humane with animals. 

“With kids, some of them don’t learn compassion or empathy, and the animals are a great way to help teach them that,” she said. “When I take pet therapy teams with me, that interaction with the dogs, to me, is what creates empathy and kindness.”
But humans aren’t the only ones getting something out of the program. Armington said all the pet therapy dogs enjoy having a job.
“The dogs have fun,” she said. “A lot of dogs need a job or a purpose. The minute they see their human put on an HSSC polo, they get excited because they know they’re going to work.”
Any dog can become a pet therapy dog, Armington said, so long as they’re willing to work. To become a therapy dog, the dog and a human volunteer will go through a four-week training course with HSSC.
If the dog shows a willingness to work along with what Armington calls “the right stuff,” then the dog will be certified and can begin volunteering.
What is the right stuff? Like Lance’s calm demeanor, it’s the characteristics that dogs naturally posses, Armington said.
 “People say all the time, ‘What did you do to train him?’” Miller said. “I did nothing. It was just born in him. He is this way.”

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Bastille Day Vive la France

The French National Anthem is indeed stirring.  

There is an "over the top" version of "La Marseillaise" as arranged for soprano, chorus and orchestra by Hector Berlioz in about 1830.

This version  "goes on a bit", but it is magnificent in its grandeur.   I listen to it every Bastille Day.


Friday, 12 July 2019

Here I sit, broken hearted.

Zion and I have good adventures twice a week when we visit residents of memory units in local retirement communities.

He is so well suited to this canine ministry  -  he doesn't tug at the leash, jump up, or try to lick people.

He seems to know that his role is to be gentle.  As one of my friends said this evening  "Zion is an old soul". 'Tis true, and he is loved where ever we go.  I am blessed.

There are moments of humour in the memory units.  One woman asked me about a month ago  "why do you have such a  fat belly?"    

But in a different facility earlier this week a woman told me "I like your belly".

This morning I began to recite old nursery rhymes as Zion and I visited -  "Hickory dickory dock" and "Little boy blue" etc.   So many memory impaired residents joined in.

The rhymes stirred the memory of a dear woman who was born in Manchester U.K. many years ago.

She remembered another ditty.

Here I sit, broken hearted,
paid a penny,
only farted.

This dates back to the "olden days"  when in the U.K.  public toilets you had to insert a penny in the lock for a sit down stall.

Hence  "spend a penny":  a U.K. euphemism for a visit to the ...bathroom?.... rest room?....toilet?... loo?...lavatory   -  what the heck are we supposed to call it!

In those old days men could urinate for free at a urinal, but women had to "spend a penny" in order to sit down.

Female or male, one might see a bit of graffiti in a sit down stall

                         Here I sit, broken hearted,
paid a penny,
only farted.

In other words, I paid a penny in order to sit down and evacuate my bowels. But it was a false alarm and a waste of money -  all I needed to do was to fart.

I grinned from ear to ear this morning.  This dear memory impaired woman from Manchester could remember only this rhyme from her childhood days -  a rhyme which we young British kids thought to be very funny -  and a wee bit naughty because it used the forbidden word "fart"!


We are so coy in the matter of perfectly normal bodily functions, so we use euphemisms to describe them.

We hear and say "pass gas", or "blow off", or "fluff", or "cut cheese" instead of the perfectly good English word "Fart"  - a word which has been used in our language for at least six centuries.

It is not a bad word.  It's an English language word with a long heritage.

So there!

Bye bye  from your old fart friend Michael.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Oh no! Back to bloaters - and other comestibles,

Bought some smoked herrings at my local supermarket today.  Produce of Canada (most likely from the Maritime Provinces).  

Probably the nearest thing to bloaters this side of Lowestoft.

I have to soak them in cold water for at least for four hours before they are fit to be cooked.  I'll probably pan fry them for breakfast with a poached egg on top.

Dear friend D'Arlene Llewellyn  -  I won't make you eat them, but I will let you know if they are gooood!


I've been on a Macaroni and Cheese binge for a few weeks. (Please don't tell my Primary Care Physician!)

Here is my latest home cooked offering  

Macaroni, morbier and cheddar cheese, with chicken sausage.

I cheat (or take a short cut) so instead of making a white sauce, I mix up the whole mess of food with store bought Alfredo sauce before baking it.  Works for me,  and adds a good garlicky flavour. 


And there is healthy food!  My local market has been selling extraordinarily good peaches from Georgia -  the ones that are so ripe and juicy that you need to eat them over the kitchen sink.

These great and tasty peaches have afforded me a good breakfast these recent days. Great peaches  -  even better when eaten  with a smear of  Almond Butter.


Let me know know what you think and what your taste buds say!

Smoked Herring: yes or no.

Mac ' Cheese:  good but could be better.

Peaches with Almond butter:  Well worth a try.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

10th July 2019 NADA from me

No 'buses

No coaches

No Bristol

No Lowestoft

No nothing


                                 BE AT PEACE TODAY!

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

That 'bus journey again. My bad behaviour. Fish for breakfast.

So we changed coaches in London on that 1955 trip from Bristol to Lowestoft.

The change was made at the splendid Victoria Coach Station, a great semi art deco building, built in 1932

I was in awe -  not only because of the magnificent Coach Station (we didn't even have one in Bristol) but because I saw Coaches from many parts of England which bore the Bristol Marque

In those days some buses and coaches were built in Bristol and in Lowestoft.  The engine and chassis were made in Bristol, and then driven to Lowestoft to be out-fitted at the Eastern Coach Works.

Heady stuff for a proud Bristol boy and his Lowestoft born Mum!


We set off from Victoria Coach Station for the long drive to Lowestoft.  And then I behaved badly.

A fellow passenger pointed out to me the great sites and sights of London.  I ignored him and refused to respond to his commentary.

My Bristol provincialism took over and I was determined to disdain and ignore anything that London might have to offer (apart from coaches/buses made in Bristol and Lowestoft!)  

I was a rude and churlish little eleven year old.!  Mum was utterly vexed with me, and gave me a stern dressing down.  I deserved it.


But then we arrived at Nirvana (Lowestoft)  and the sun shone again for me.  Aunt Ada and Uncle Jim met us at the Lowestoft 'bus station and we walked to their wee home at 13 Gun Lane (long since demolished).

We probably had a cup of tea and a sandwich before bed, but I can't remember.

But I well remember the next morning.

I descended the stairs to be greeted by a wonderful smell. Aunt Ada was pan frying our breakfast on an old fashioned coal stove (nothing as fancy as a modern AGA range).

She was pan frying bloaters.  Bloaters are herrings which have been wood smoked intact for 48 hours, unlike herring kippers which are gutted and divided before they are "cured".

What a breakfast.  It was a breakfast feast fit for Poveys, if not for Kings and Queens. I loved every bite. Thanks Aunt Ada!

I am still fond of smoked fish for breakfast.


It was probably some ten years ago that my American born ( and now U.K. citizen) friend Joe S, took a trip from London into Suffolk, U.K.

We stayed one night at the fabulous 

White Lion Hotel on the Suffolk Coast in Aldeburgh, very near to "The Maltings"  (c/f Benjamin Britten and Peter Peers).

Guess what was on the breakfast menu. 

You have it  ---   there were bloaters.

Of course I had bloaters for breakfast that morning.

I thought that I had died and gone to Lowestoft!  But I was alive and in Aldeburgh!

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Chocolate and Cream Coloured 'Bus - and a feel good movie

Until last Saturday, 6th July 2019 I had not been to the Movies since 2011 when my friend (the late) Ben Morse and I went to see "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo".  We could not abide the violence, so we left the cinema when the film was about half way through.

Eight years later I was enticed to see "Yesterday" because my Cambridge MA friend Donna T wrote on Face Book that she had seen it.

She was especially pleased because the film is set in Lowestoft, Suffolk, U.K.

I've never met an American who has heard of Lowestoft, let alone been there.  Donna was the exception -  it turns out that she has visited a first cousin who lives there.


Lowestoft:- it might as well have been Nirvana according to my Mum who was born there.  (By a nice coincidence, my friend Jeff who I  have known since 1950 also had a Lowestoft born mother).

I think that I was about eleven years of age (1955) when Mum took me (and I think my brother Andy - then five years old) on a trip to Nirvana.

We went by coach ( the U.K. word for a long distance 'bus) and the maybe 210 miles journey took at least ten hours ( no Motorways/ Interstates in the U.K back then)  including stops in Marlborough, Wilts for a cup of tea!, and in  London to change coaches.

Our coach looked something like this

Thirty five seater, gas/petrol engine.

We arrived in Lowestoft. My Mum's  Aunt Ada and her husband Uncle Jim met us, and we walked to their modest cottage at # 13, Gun Lane, now demolished.

I was more or less happy to be in my mother's home town.  Above all else I was intrigued and delighted with the Lowestoft Corporation 'buses, all decked out in Chocolate and Cream.

Lowestoft Corporation 'bus.
All the 'buses I knew (in Bristol) were painted green.


Thanks to Donna's tip off, my friend Ashley and I went last Saturday to see "Yesterday", set in Lowestoft.

The Movie has many references to Lowestoft  which made me happy. But it made no attempt to honour the East Anglian accent.

They  sounded my mother's natal town as LOW-ES- TOFT (three syllables) rather than the indigenous   LOES TUFF

Nonetheless "Yesterday" is worth seeing. As Utah Public Radio puts it --

"It's not an award-winner but a fluffy feel-good treat for the summer"

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Don't be a POVEY

Yesterday afternoon (6th July) I set out to Lakewood Ranch  ( a horrid and huge housing  "development", which has swallowed  up much good agricultural land east of Interstate 75  -  mostly in Manatee County, FL).

* I call LWR a "desert with grass": there is no 'there' there.  It's a place to get lost. 

I was at LWR to meet my friend Ashley Lloyd, and  to see a Movie at the Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, very near to the modern and faux Main Street (Disney light!). 

The Movie was "Yesterday".

BUT DAMMIT I could not find the Cinemas.  Yep they had vanished from view.

In semi-desperation I pulled to the side of the road and asked a pedestrian " do you know how I can find the Lakewood Ranch Cinemas?" 

He grinned and said:  "see that building across the road, the one that has a huge sign reading "CINEMAS".

Then he added " did I pass the test?"


In plain sight!

Oh dear  -  don't be a Povey.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Out with the old - they had to go!

These old sneakers/training shoes/walking shoes  -  whatever you call them - just had to go after about six months of wear and tear. (I walk a lot!)

No amount of super glue could repair the soles.

I must have a strange gait as shown by this left foot shoe.

Some may remember that I bought a snazzy replacement pair at Kohl's the other week, only to discover when I got home that they were womens shoes, with womens sizes.

Since I was in danger of wearing the soles of the old ones until they disappeared, I set out to look for replacements this morning.

Here they are in all their glory, a nice pair of Nikes!  You may think that this is no big deal, after all, we all purchase shoes from time to time.

It is a big deal when you are looking for half sizes, and wide shoes.

I need size  81/2  wide. This size is  more difficult to find than a Republican who is a member of the ACLU.

Triumph and joy -  I found just the size  I needed at the local Bealls Store, less than a mile from my home.

What's even better I snagged them for $49 - a "bargain" for this kind of footwear.

And because they are brand new I don't want to wear them because they will immediately begin to wear out. (Is that a male thing or do women also buy new clothes or footwear and then decline to wear them because they are new!?)

Who knows.  But I have dealt with my new shoes issues by pitching the old ones.

I won't, I won't, I won't take them out of the trash can so that I can wear these sad old things again.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Merciful heavens!

I forget who first posted this, but I thank him or her

Merciful heavens!  Zion is not in the least bit bothered by thunderstorms; nor by fireworks (of which there were a superabundance last night -  4th July).

Also, he drinks fine red wine not beer.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Old Glory (with mixed feelings in 2019)

I do not fly the flag every day, but reserve it for days of special meaning  such as New Year's Day, The Revd. Dr. Martin Luther King Day, President's Day, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving, etc (and a few more).

I fly it with humility and discerning pride on INDEPENDENCE DAY  

and with a certain defiance this year to make it clear that Old Glory does not belong to HIM....  


And in 2019 it bothers me that the Flag which should be a symbol of liberty and justice for all also flies outside the American prison camps for would be immigrants.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

On the Fourth of July: Honest patriotism recognizes that White Nationalism is in our national roots.

As a United States citizen by choice and not by birth I love the Declaration of Independence.   It is a noble and brave utterance, which I try to read every year on the Fourth. It evokes the very best of patriotic thought until I come to this part.

He (King George)  has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

This is no more nor less than an assertion of white supremacy, right there in one of our foundational documents.

That assertion, unchallenged in 1776, has led to misery, suffering, forced relocation,  and (to be bluntly honest) the State sponsored GENOCIDE of the children of God who inhabit what we now call the United States of America.

On this Fourth:  raise the flag, sing the anthem, read the Declaration of Independence  watch your home town parade, eat your burgers and steaks  --  that's what we all do in the name of patriotism.

But please, I beg you,  remember that the United States Declaration of Independence is also a Declaration of Genocide.

 Public grave of Lakota Indians, massacred at "Wounded Knee" in 1890

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Remember that time when there was a power outage?  It may have affected your neighbourhood block, or your street, or a wider area. 

Despite the fact that you most likely had all the necessary "official" information at hand, I am willing to bet that from time to time you turned a switch, hoping that by some magic your electrical power had been restored.

(At the time after Hurricane Irma some Sarasota friends longed for the "magic" for up to six weeks.)

There is no such magic -  gosh-darn it!

If you are a regular, or even occasional reader of my page you will know that I have been without air conditioning at my home since Sunday. Thank goodness I have a service contract with a local firm whose technicians have done their very best. They and I thought that the problem had been resolved on Monday afternoon, but this was not the case as I discovered this Tuesday morning when the magic of turning on my a/c  did not work.

Earlier today I wrote this to some of my Face Book friends.

So, the Monday  repair didn't work.but  I slept well with the ceiling fan on high. A/C Warehouse came back promptly this a..m. and of course the a/c spewed out cold air to begin with. But good guys that they are they waited in their van, and once the air began to warm they were at hand to re investigate. Seems like the fan motor which brings in the hot air is over heating and cutting out, but the fan which pumps cold air into my home keeps working - hence warm air is being pumped into the house.

The new part which is needed will not be at hand until Wednesday afternoon.  So I face a dozen or so more hours of heat and sweat.  

No matter how many times today I have tried to turn on the A/C today ( as indeed I have!) I have learned that there is no magic that will restore it to service.

So I will endure my stinky sweat, and keep Zion comfortable for the duration.

Patience is by no means one of my virtues but I have learned to "fake it until I make it".

This I will do for the next twenty or so hours. 

Monday, 1 July 2019

Three Trucks, Two Tyres, and a few stay at home days.


3:00 p.m. at Glen Oaks Ridge, Sarasota. FL.

A/C Warehouse - Outside my house

A/C Warehouse - four doors away on my street

Unique Air - three doors away on the street opposite my driveway

An Air Conditioning Conclave in the neighbourhood?  I find this to be mildly amusing.


This morning at about 10:00 I realised that my A/C  was pumping out tepid rather than cold air.  On what was a busy day my service company engineers arrived by 3:00 p.m. (so I was home bound for a while).  They explained the problem in what sounded to me like an ancient Sumerian accent (for all that I understood).

I shelled out my $246  and for a while the unit was pumping out cold air.  A few hours later I am not so sure, my home has not cooled.  I'll let it be until the morning before calling the Service Co. again.


Two Tyres

Some of the tyres on my 2017 Kia Forte have been losing air (actually nitrogen), especially the front tyre on the passenger side.
I've topped them up a few times and on Thursday June 27th A.A.A came to my home to top them up - they discovered that the rear passenger side was down  to 20 psi.

All well and good but when I got home on Friday 28th June after dinner with my friends Jack, Donna, and Ashley I saw that my front passenger side tyre was all but flat.

Sat 29th I took care of it with "Fix a Leak"; then Triple A came out again to make sure that all the tyres were fully inflated. 

With an abundance of caution I stayed at home all day, save to get some wine at the supermarket (essential!) , and to get my shingles booster shot at Walgreens.


I'd already made an appointment for Sunday 30th at Tyre Kingdom to check all the tyres. My friend and neighbour Barbara B followed me there, and drove me home.

I waited at home for most of the day until Tyre Kingdom called me with the news that there was nothing wrong with the front tyre - go figure - and that there was a nail in the rear tyre (which they had repaired),   adding that I needed a front wheel alignment.

Was their diagnosis accurate?  To quote Pope Francis out of context -  "who am I to judge?"  I authorized the work. A bit later Barbara B drove me to Tyre Kingdom so that I could retrieve my car.


In the midst of all this

(1) My 8:00 a.m.appointment for Echo Cardiogram was canceled and re-scheduled because a Technician was unable to report for duty.

(2) I forgot my appointment at the Veterinary Clinic for a shot which Zion needed.    I will be forgiven. The Clinic will re-schedule.


Here's the learning.

1)  Three days on without reliable transportation or A/C  I am thrown back on my haunches. I am more or less home-bound.

2) I am grateful for  the good friendship I have with my neighbour B

3) I cannot live well without interdependence:   with B, and with AAA, and with A/C warehouse. Indeed I depend on them.

4)  At the risk of sounding horribly pious  I am damn lucky.  I could (given a different heritage) be cooped up in an American concentration camp at our border with Mexico.