Friday, June 23, 2017


Dark early, two tugs standing by signify imminent arrival, so I sit down on 7H porch with cuppa black to watch and wait. Yep, two tall lights moving slowly over the trees at Courtney Point, one at her bow, one at her stern, ship in the Pass, always watching excitement for the ancient commander. Clearing the Pass, red port running light.

There she is at the hairpin turn now, green starboard running light showing along with lights from downtown Panama City, a bright light I think is Tyndall, and two green navigation lights including boatman Xapov coming for me. Not yet please, not this morning, just woken up, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

At first, watching in the dark, I’d thought she was a large ship, but now she's gliding by 7H, seems to be Campeche Bay arriving with containers from Progreso to exchange for containers for Progreso. One wonders what’s in all those containers, doesn’t one.

Whatever, it’s international trade. Some people are for America First, I’m for World First because interdependence makes war less likely and because, all in this together, we need to look after each other. 


Frost "stopping by woods on a snowy evening"

Thursday, June 22, 2017

June 1917

Friend & companion in shared family history Mike McKenzie, early of Panama City now of Atlanta, spotted news of interest to me on a hundred-year-old front page of St. Andrews Bay News. It mentions my grandfather’s firm Bay Fisheries, the fishing smack (twin-masted schooner) Annie & Jennie, and A.D.Weller, Jr., my father’s brother Alfred. My aunts called him Alf. His picture at sixteen or seventeen is on the wall here in front of me, beside the model of Annie & Jennie that my son Joe constructed about 2010, Joe and I sailed on StAndrewsBay in front of the old house, and Joe gifted to me, a life’s treasure. 

The newspaper image is small to read, so I've retyped two items below (scroll down). Actually, two and a limerick.

Exactly a century ago, June 1917 was Alfred’s last summer before he was drowned when, January 1918 caught in a heavy squall, Annie & Jennie grounded, her keel cracked, she wrecked and broke apart attempting passage through the Old East Pass. Quoted in the newspaper, Alfred was seventeen that summer 2017, bringing to mind and stirring memories of my own summer when I was seventeen, and glad that it was not my last.

Living at 7H with Davis Point directly in my line of sight across StAndrewsBay, every single time I look at it I visualize the A&J rounding it that January 1918 midnight in bitter winter cold, Alfred and Pop just an hour earlier having laughed at Mom for her doting mother’s concern about his safety and begging to no avail that he take the train instead of going aboard A&J for her midnight, it must have been high tide, sailing to Carrabelle to undergo repairs.

I am still and always deeply mindful that with Alfred’s death came my devastated family's selling out and moving away, and thus my own conception, birth and life, and always holding him gratefully in my heart. Telling me "Alfred stories" some twenty years after, when I was a boy, Mom said, "I never should have waked him up." 


St. Andrews Bay News 
St Andrews, Florida, June 12 1917 

Front page news:


Frank Cooney Brings In $1,000 Stock In Annie & Jennie And Buys Car

The good luck of our St. Andrews fishermen continues to hold, and the local fleet is in a fair way to offset the lean times of the past. Captain Frank Coonie, in the Annie & Jennie, came in last week with a thousand dollar stock of fish which were taken by the Bay Fisheries Co., owners of the vessel. The crew of nine men shared better than forty dollars each for their twelve-day trip. Frank had so much loose kale as a result of his big trip that he immediately purchased a shiny new Buick runabout, asserting that he had paid for several cars (in hire) since his arrival over here, and now proposed to have something to show for his money.


We learn upon excellent authority - A.D.Weller Jr. - that at least half dozen of our local carpenters, at the behest of Capt. Frank Cooney, are burning the midnight oil drawing plans for a garage to be erected on the back piazza of the Annie & Jennie, when she comes in again, so that Capt. Cooney can take his darling little Buick to sea with him next trip. We have a touching bit of verse relative to the Captain and his car which must wait until next week on account of lack of space.

(But they seem to have squeezed it in):


There was a smack captain named Frank,
Whose self-starter once failed to crank
And the things he spat out
At the poor runabout
Plumb rendered the atmosphere rank.

Imagination running, I dug out online a 1917 Buick brochure and found Captain Cooney’s "runabout," a roadster.

Remnant of TSCindy clearing through, tide is still high in StAndrewsBay seven stories below me, up to the lamp post in Oaks by the Bay Park next door. Wind SE 12 mph.

DThos+ a century on 
remembering Alfred and loving Buicks

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


White out there, white rain, not driving rain but solid, steady, heavy rain as far as the eye reaches, which gives zero visibility, just white. I suppose this tropical storm dumped rain all night, though we’ve had neither wind up here, hardly even a breeze except for the breath of cool air preceding a curtain of rain, nor thunder and lightning. Tornado warnings with it though, and we’re under a tornado watch right now, common for tropical cyclone weather. 

Last evening the tornado warnings were for small, rapidly rotating areas in the northern corner of Bay County. Our WMBB Channel 13 meteorologist showed us where a rash of them were moving in a storm band of clouds circling in the greater storm, and gave us a lesson in how to spot them. An interesting chat and he was quite talkative about it. Indecisive, I need to go ahead and choose whether in my next life I want to be a meteorologist, a tug boat captain, an astronomer, or a naval aviator. Or maybe there’ll be time for more than one, if I’m careful with my carrier landings.

After six o’clock now, and we do have a burst of steady wind, 17 mph. It’s a large storm: the center is south of Louisiana off Texas and here we are getting a sound drenching on the east side of it. Sustained winds 60 mph, National Hurricane Center has it moving ashore about the TX/LA line.

This is TS Cindy. A tropical storm can be nice for the rainfall without hurricane violence. 

Now a tornado warning for Destin.

Clear from 7H last evening.

DThos+ in +Time+

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

for Hatred: sins retained

We live in a disheartening age of being united in Hatred of each other, not only of foreigners whom we once would have welcomed to our country as our ancestors were welcomed before us, but venomous Hatred of fellow Americans who are of other political parties, other religions, ethnic, social and economic groups, other persuasions in life. Hatred is our state, and mongering mindless, hateful lies is our fuel and weapon. Hatred. Shall we go back to where America was Great Again? Were the old ways best, was America once Great which we can Make Again? God forbid, in my lifetime we have moved from Racial Segregation to Hatred: God forbid that we should go back. If forced to choose between the two, past and present, I’d choose Hatred even with it’s spectacular mindlessness; but I am not forced to choose, and Hatred is forbidden me as a Christian.

Yesterday flooded yet another circular of Hatred online, mindlessly across the internet, this one about John Kerry’s daughter, a physician, marrying a native American physician of Iranian descent. Snopes exposed it as outright lies, composed in Hatred and circulated mindlessly to perpetuate the Hatreds that divide us. 

Our preached gospel with its central commandment, Love God Love Neighbor, is lost on smugly self-righteous "saved" "Christians" at home, on the street, and in the pew who evidently lack introspective wit. What do we think it means when the Bible says examine yourself first, when we say in liturgical confession before eating and drinking the Body and Blood,

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. 
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. 
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name.

Christians who spread Hatred have devolved into apostasy. To spread hatred is not to walk in the ways of Most merciful God, makes a mockery of liturgical confession and absolution, profanes, desecrates the Body and Blood, and descends into the realm wherein St.Paul warns (1 Corinthians 11:29) of eating and drinking κρίμα, damnation unto oneself. 

To spread Hatred is to renounce, mock, מְצַחֵֽק, abuse, re-crucify Jesus Christ. Don't go there, Christian, where your sin is retained unto you.


Monday, June 19, 2017


Fathers Day, a lovely day with beloveds, a perfect daughter day, remembering growing up with them over the years, that I was growing up too.

Remembering, too, as Time does its thing on me, when my grandparents were the age I am now, this is grandparent age to enjoy, to live, and to be. WTH, it’s grgrparent age, isn’t it.

To bed at six o’clock last evening, up at midnight for about an hour, back to bed until five, now watching the clock and ready to walk, now six and out the door. 

Breakfast on 7H porch now, sharing last two slices of quiche lorraine, mine sprinkled with designer soy sauce, small bowl of baked beans mixed with teaspoon of artisanal bacon jam, all delicious, tasty and good. Typing fast because, gulped five minutes ago, the morning pills will take twenty minutes to render my earthly remains useless for anything but nap; no talk, no walk, no think. 

Week ahead. Here’s our Bible story for next Sunday:

Genesis 21:8-21
The child (Isaac) grew, and was weaned; and Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son; for the son of this slave woman shall not inherit along with my son Isaac.” The matter was very distressing to Abraham on account of his son. But God said to Abraham, “Do not be distressed because of the boy and because of your slave woman; whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for it is through Isaac that offspring shall be named for you. As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also, because he is your offspring.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water, and gave it to Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, along with the child, and sent her away. And she departed, and wandered about in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she cast the child under one of the bushes. Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about the distance of a bowshot; for she said, “Do not let me look on the death of the child.” And as she sat opposite him, she lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the boy; and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven, and said to her, “What troubles you, Hagar? Do not be afraid; for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Come, lift up the boy and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make a great nation of him.” Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. She went, and filled the skin with water, and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy, and he grew up; he lived in the wilderness, and became an expert with the bow. He lived in the wilderness of Paran; and his mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.


This, to me, is another of several Bible stories of Abraham’s shamefulness, that, here henpecked, he would let Sarah tell him how to treat his firstborn son Ishmael. But then I remember and begin to look behind. The NRSV (above) says that Sarah saw Ishmael “playing with her son Isaac.” Ah yes, “playing with” … מְצַחֵֽק we’ve looked at this word before, haven’t we, in this very context and in others … 

מְצַחֵֽק  sport, play Genesis 21:9, Exodus 32:6; make sport for Judges 16:25 (לִפְנֵי; "" וִישַׂחֶקלָֿ֑נוּ); toy with (אֶת), of conjugal caresses Genesis 26:8, make a toy of, with ב, Genesis 39:14,17 (all J). (BibleHub)

Of מְצַחֵֽק another translation says "mocking". Check it out yourself if you will, I’m thinking of various takes on מְצַחֵֽק that on this day when Isaac was weaned and must have been five years old, Sarah caught Ishmael, who was now 18 years old and in late adolescence, abusing Isaac and, appalled, incensed, disgusted, infuriated, Sarah enraged Mother told Abraham, who was heartbroken, what she had seen, and they did what they considered necessary to protect the little boy. 

Abraham is our eponymous father; Ishmael a father of Islam; Isaac a father of JacobIsrael, the Jews and us Christians. With the, and daily intensifying, hatred between Us and Them, I’m wistfully thinking how different today’s world might have been had Sarah not glanced out the window that day. 

Robert Frost again then, 
The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Looking back all of life, I never cease to be amazed as I recognize the scores of roads diverging, and wonder about the ones not taken.


Top: thanks PB407
Bottom: Morning from 7H

Sunday, June 18, 2017

road taken

Navy: I have served in a USNavy destroyer. It is, in my mind and memories, the elemental, basic, fundamental essence of naval service, the best you can be. My first sea duty and first assignment upon completing Navy schools after university, my destroyer duty was what made me decide to transfer from naval reserve to Regular Navy for a twenty year career. It is probably one of few decisions and steps, roads taken at life's crossroads, that I absolutely would do again without doubt, hesitation or second thought, if I were graduating from college into life today. The tragedy of USS Fitzgerald, and now with the report of seven dead, drowned in crew berthing compartments, hurts more, and ineffably, than I can understand of myself. I am grateful that I have this morning alone to look out on the sea, all things bright and beautiful

Judging by news reports that the ship's captain, badly injured -- that his cabin was completely destroyed, a major fact seems to have been that the captain apparently was not on the bridge when his ship was in waters of heavy traffic. There is no evading or escaping responsibility for the grave, deadly consequences, compounding the tragedy for trusting, well-meaning sailors and families, including the dead, all the officers and crew, and those on the bridge. The story will be filled with "if only." We shall see.

Remembered here before, I have slept in a cabin at the waterline of a destroyer, my cheek against the cool skin of the ship, lulled to sleep by the sound of the sea rushing by a fraction of an inch outside my ear. It was ultimate peace.

Center pic: thanks, PB407!

Saturday, June 17, 2017


Not having been there, I opine from ignorance, but don’t see how, supposedly with all systems working, a Navy destroyer could put herself in the path of an enormous merchant ship on a calm, clear night. The vessel, judging by the photo, seems to have plowed bow first into the starboard side of the destroyer amidships, appears massive enough to have pushed the warship sideways until stopping. I just don’t see how this could have happened. And, the worst of it, seven sailors lost, that’s easy to visualize in the circumstances, people thrown around and some overboard, what a nightmare.

One night at sea in November 1969 we lost a young sailor in our ship, due to his own foolhardiness. Instead of using the ladder, he’d tried to show off by jumping from one deck to another, slipped and fell, suffering massive head injuries. I can see how the sudden blow of a collision could jar someone topside on a wet, slippery deck, and they’d lose control and go overboard or fall to another deck. This event with USS Fitzgerald distresses me to a point I don’t understand, being nearly fifty years distant from my last sea duty, but it does anyway, it knots my stomach with sadness.

Closer to home, Romans 5:1-8 says for tomorrow,

Romans 5:1-8
Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person-- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
The verse about “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us” is well known as a source of encouragement in hard times. The speculation “rarely will anyone die for a righteous person -- though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die” is often read with inflection on the word “good,” which seems to convey oddly some difference between δικαίου “righteous” and ἀγαθοῦ “good.” I think the inflection should be on “perhaps,” Paul simply softening what he’s suggested. I don’t think he means to distinguish or contrast righteous and good, I think he’s just avoiding word repetition.

The notion that worries at me though is the opening, “we are justified by faith.” Tentative, never certain, I like the understanding of Romans 3:22 that Paul says we are justified by the faith of Jesus. I don’t care for the understanding that we are justified by our own faith, which to me seems too close to works righteousness; or by our faith in Jesus (as opposed to by the faith of Jesus), because I understand Paul as a totally orthodox monotheistic Jew to the end. 

And I don’t like understanding justification as being “saved and as sure for heaven as if you were already there.” To me, it simply means by coming under the umbrella of the faith (the Hebrew faith of Jesus) the Roman gentile former pagan to whom Paul is preaching, writing, speaking, is made righteous in the sight of God and therefore safe within the community of faith for the imminent eschaton. But from my uncertainty I see issues with my viewpoint. One is that apparently the genitive case of faith at Romans 3:22 can be understood and translated as if it were dative (faith in instead of faith of), though I'm sticking with of. Another is that by the time of Paul’s late writing of Romans, his certainty of the need to get ready for the imminent Second Coming with all that implied may have changed from a few years earlier when he was writing 1 Thessalonians. IDK. It’s all out there to think about, and anyone’s view is as valid as mine.