Saturday, 20 July 2019

Worcestershire, U.K. 1965

Some time in 1965 I was taking an evening  drive with a friend in the lovely English County of Worcestershire.

We saw lightning and heard thunder in the middle distance.  I asked my friend to pull over so that we could enjoy the storm.  She was happy to do so.

Lightning in Worcestershire  (stock photo).

Like many children  I had been afraid of thunderstorms as a child. Mum tried to allay my fears by saying that the thunder was the noise of Angels delivering coal to heaven.  (I never thought to ask why the coal was going to heaven and not to hell, where it would be more needed!)

By 1965 I had learned to enjoy the storms.

Now that I live in Florida (since 2006) I learn to anticipate and enjoy the storms which pass through this part of the State in the rainy season  (June - Nov).  When weather patterns are normal they come through most days in mid to late afternoon.

I breathe a sigh of relief.  Our rivers, aquifers and retention ponds are being filled. Trees, flowers, shrubs and lawns rejoice.  We are unlikely to face a drought.

A mother and father of storms came through this afternoon.  Dark clouds, heavy rain, noisy thunder, beautiful lightning.  Oh bliss!

We are used to the summer heat and humidity, but truth to be told,  it's been cooler in many parts of Florida than in New York and New England.  That enabled Zion and I to have four long walks before 10:00 a.m.

This afternoon's storm (it's still rumbling around at 7:00 p.m.) has lowered the temperature, and reduced the humidity. And so it goes.

Today's storm 

Today's storm 2.  The villas across the pond from my home can scarcely be seen

From my car port -  the street has become a stream

Zion is not bothered by thunderstorms  (thank heaven).  Here he watches the storm from our front door.

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Shake (but no rattle and roll)

Zion and I extended our Canine Therapy ministry with a visit today to Sarasota's  "ALSO Youth".

We had a great time there with some lovely young women and a very shy young man.

Zion was, of course, a hit.  He is an attention hound!

One of the young women offered Zion a treat, but first asked me "does he shake?"

"Oh no" I replied, "he won't do that".

She asked him to sit  (which he did).  She held a dog treat in her left hand and extending her right hand she said "shake".

Then that attention hound proved his "Papa" to be dumb, by extending his left front leg and paw for a "shake".

Merde alors!  My lovely Zion did what I did not know he could/would do, much to the amusement of the young women at ALSO Youth.

So now Zion and I are working on the shake, play dead, and roll-over commands at home.   When he has mastered those we'll move on to the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer (1662)!

Zion at ALSO Youth. He is a handsome dog n'est pas?

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

My brother Dave has an eye for a great photo'

A Grebe he photographed at Shearwater, which is a man-made freshwater lake near Crockerton village, about 2 ¹⁄₄ miles southwest of the town of Warminster in Wiltshire, England. The lake is formed from a tributary of the River Wylye

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.”