Saturday, 22 June 2019



( Hotel Rooms at over $600 per night trump the need for affordable housing).

Hallo Max

My friends Patrick and Bill went off this morning to the breeder's home in Brandon, FL to get their new pal.


All black miniature Schnauzer.


I knew when they would be out of town so I decorated their mailbox to greet them on their return.

Pat and Bill were highly amused.

June 22nd. Sacred to the memory of,,

Sacred to the memory of my brother Stephen who died on this date in 2016.

Loving memories of Steve, and tender thoughts for his wife Angela, their children Lee and Nicola, and their grandchildren, Reece, Ebony, Luna, Thea, and Ryan.

Friday, 21 June 2019

RELAX! ENJOY! Not about pets, or the 102 f heat in Sarasota, nor about my silly adventures.

I remember the days when there were actors, poets, and authors.

A step below them there were actresses, poetesses, and authoresses. 

The norm was presumed to be male.  The unusual and inferior were deemed to be female, (remember George Elliot?)

Female composers had been relegated to the little league of music.  The compositions of Amy Beech, Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Hildegard of Bingen &c  were almost never played or heard.

The great orchestras of the world were all male, as were their conductors.  The famed English Conductor Sir Thomas Beecham was crudely sexist when a woman cellist joined the ranks of his orchestra.  (And the male players tittered and giggled).

True enough there were celebrated female dancers and singers.  Of course - women can dance and sing! But is that all?


Earlier this week my local public radio music station broadcasted a piano rondo as played by the fabulous Spanish pianist Alicia de Larrocha (1923-2009).

Oh my goodness that brought back memories of the first time I saw her playing a Concert (via that old fashioned medium called Television).

I was enchanted and transformed. I had never before seen a woman as the essential artist in an Orchestral concert. 


Turn your phone off, take your shoes off, forget the heat,  then relax in one of her concerts  (from Adelaide, AU).

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Welshman. Jew. Physician. Poet.

Dannie Abse 1923-2014

A proud Welshman.  A  faithful Jew. A fine physician.  A wonderful poet.

I am the fortunate owner of a book of his poems -  "Welsh Retropective" - Poetry Wales Press Ltd,1997

His poem "Case History" moves my soul

'Most Welshmen are worthless,/an inferior breed, doctor.'/ He did not
know I was Welsh./
Then he praised the architects/of the German death-camps --/ did not know
I was a Jew./
He called liberals, 'White blacks',/
and continued to invent curses.
When I palpated his liver/ I felt the soft liver of Goering;/ when I
lifted my stethoscope/ I heard the heartbeats of Himmler;/when I read his
I thought, 'Sieg heil, mein Fuhrer.'
In the clinic's dispensary/red berry of black bryony,/
cowbane, deadly nightshade, deathcap./ Yet I prescribed for him/ as if he
were my brother.
Later that night I must have slept/ on my arm:/ momentarily my right
hand lost its cunning


Speaks volumes to "Christian" bakers who refuse to make a cake for a same sex wedding and "Christian" photographers who refuse their services to same sex couples


Do please look up Dannie Abse via Google, and also his fabulous brother Leo Abse, a courageous U.K. Member of Parliament

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Get out of your car and walk!

By some impulse which I did not question I took Zion on our second morning walk on June 18th 2019, not to Bayfront Park,  but around the pond at the neighbouring Glen Oaks Manor.

It was a good impulse. I encountered two women who I've not seen for weeks.

First I met Bobby (Barbara) M.  She walks out with great vigour each morning.

Although I do not know her well  I began to admire her a few years ago when  she was taking care of her invalided husband Ed M., (now deceased).   She employed the same cheerful vigour as she pushed his wheel chair on the walk way around the pond.  He always wore a wonderful (even beatific) smile.

So good to see Bobby this morning (especially as she is about to take a break from SRQ in Michigan).

Then there was Rose-Marie Z.   We haven't seen each other in weeks.  She is a spry, dry-humoured, very beautiful, eighty-something woman of German background. Her husband Fred lives in a local nursing home.

RoseMarie walks her little mixed breed dog Heidi.  Heidi used to bark like crazy at Zion until I said  "RoseMarie let Heidi off the leash".  Now Heidi rushes like crazy to me for a session of TLC, whilst Zion snuggles up to RoseMarie for the same thing!


Tuesday, 18 June 2019

My wonder as I wander.


I've previously written about the Jehovah's Witnesses who sit quietly in Arlington Park, Sarasota (and other places), ready to have a conversation with those passers-by who would like to so do. 

Yesterday afternoon I came across two J.W.  teen-aged lads who sat on a bench in the summer heat -  attired nattily in long sleeved shirts with ties, dress pant, and dress shoes.

I paused and greeted them. I asked them which Kingdom Hall they attend, and was given a warm invitation to that Hall.

I explained that as a retired Christian Pastor I would be unlikely to accept that invitation.  Then I added "but I am deeply depressed about the vicious persecution of Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia, and am very disturbed that not one main line Church ( to my knowledge) has protested this".

Zion and I walked on.  At the other side of the pond I met two other teen witnesses who were packing up for the day, ready to go home and miss the threatened rain.  We also had a wee chat.

They moved on.  I noticed that one of them had left his Bible Bag on the bench.   I called out to them and said that I would bring it to the parking lot.

Nice kids indeed but much too young to be at this business.  All they can do is to parrot what their Elders have taught, probably fully convinced of their truth (for now), and masking or burying their doubts and questions.  Nice kids, but probably social misfits at school.

I know, because I was once there, not as a J.W. but as a "keen young Christian" in the Plymouth Brethren:

Going to their out door preaching sessions in local parks, housing estates, or the villages near Bristol -  feeling very embarrassed about the whole endeavour - lurking at the edge of the preaching circle and handing out those ghastly "gospel tracts" (an activity from which I was banned for a while because I had not yet been (re) baptised.  

Of course I was the first of my group to be (re) baptised -  that's what keen young born again Christian do, especially those like I was  - precocious people pleasers.

Going at aged 14/15 (who knows) to the adult prayer meeting, and praying out  with all the high sounding phrases which I could parrot from the senior saints.

It was reported that I prayed like an old man.  One of the youth leaders took me to one side and said that I should pray as a young man.  Point well made of course, but not in my case well taken.

Then with three of my pals forming an a cappella singing group which we rather grandly called The Bristol Gospel Quartette, then for about four years singing and preaching all over the place.

Yes indeed, preaching from the age of sixteen.  NOT GOOD

Much too young.
Much too self assured.
Entirely precocious,  with a Masters' Degree in people pleasing.

At about the the age of nineteen I worked for a while with an English evangelist who styled himself "Britain's Billy Graham"  (I am not sure what Billy thought about that!).

I discovered that this man lived fairly high off the hog.  He and his wife had a fancy home in Eastbourne, U.K.  -  a tony middle class town.  His wife dressed stylishly, and flaunted a mink stole - yet the man and his wife described themselves as poor.

I stayed at their home one night.  We took the train from Eastbourne to London the next morning.  We traveled in the First Class Pullman dining car and enjoyed a fancy breakfast en route.

Was he in the evangelism business for the money?   I'll never know, but I could not help but wonder about their ostentatious life style.

Next I worked with another itinerant evangelist.  He moved from town to town in an old parcel delivery van which he had converted into a rudimentary mobile home.

We stayed with farming people who lived near Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and then with a gamekeeper and his family on an estate in Yorkshire.  We did no evangelism.

The second evangelist had been influenced by what was called the Charismatic Movement -  speaking in tongues, miraculous healings etc.

He took me aside in Yorkshire (by now I was twenty)  and told me that I was demon possessed and needed exorcism.

He never named the "demons" but I knew what he meant. 

Whatever I was, and whoever I was, I knew that my "demons" were not demons, and that any exorcism would be a denial of who I was.

Upon my refusal he paid my train fare, and I high tailed it back to Bristol, bruised badly,  but not entirely broken.

I returned to Bristol -  but there was not a soul with whom I could bare my soul.

Grace abounds!

In due course I found my way out of the Plymouth Brethren and into tentative wholeness in  the Church of England.

In due course I found my way to Seminary at aged 28, and to ordination four years later.

Grace abounds  so as I met these four young and very pleasant Jehovah's Witnesses, and since they reminded me of a younger and  precocious me, I prayed (not about their theology), but about their souls (not in terms of eternal salvation)  but in terms of the wholeness of their lives. 

Such wholeness is often hard to find in fundamentalist groups be they heterodox or orthodox.

Adventures in home cooking

With Cheddar,  and Morbier.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

My favourite flower

A financial website I use requires me to answer a "secret question" before I can gain access.

I have several options. One of the choices is "What is your favourite flower?"

The answer I entered when I registered is LUPIN.

It's not necessarily my favourite, but it was the first I learned to identify when I was knee high to a grasshopper. Mum struggled to have a flower garden in our back garden (yard in the U.S.A), but it was hard work in a small west facing area which was also a play area for the children.

But one or two lupines defied the odds, and they fascinated me (at aged 4 ?)

Maybe I was fascinated by the unusual shape of the blossoms, or of the unusual leaves, (who knows the mind of a four year old?) 

But I am still fascinated by Lupines (which do not flourish in the semi-tropical climate of  South West Florida).

Wild Lupines in California.  I have been fortunate enough to see these in full bloom alongside the highway.

Lupines in California alongside California Poppies

Cultivated  Lupines in the U.K.

Lupine leaves, (digitals?)