Saturday, November 1, 2014

Walking to Pittsburgh

What brought that on, that dream? A dream analyst can connect it either to my worries or to something I did or guiltily left undone yesterday. In the dream I looked the age I feel inside me, which is about forty to forty-three, though my age didn’t seem to be a factor. At a college of some sort, it must have been for a seminar, and whatever I was there for was over, had ended. As I dressed to leave, my wallet, the plain thin brown one, was on the dressing table in front of me. Another student, whom I didn’t know but he was older college student age, early twenties not a teen, stood there by me, also dressing. He laid a handful of clothes down on the table, and when he picked them up I felt that my wallet was missing, checked and sure enough, it was. I turned and confronted him just as he was looking through my wallet, snatched it back from him and threatened him that if it happened again I’d call the police. He left the room and didn’t reappear in the dream. 

I finished dressing in my blue suit, white shirt and tie, shiny black shoes, and headed out the door for Pittsburgh, walking, where I had an appointment for an interview at four o’clock in the afternoon. What the interview was about wasn’t a factor, or whether I was to be interviewed or was to conduct the interview, though in the dream it did occur to me to wonder. I didn’t have a car, but that wasn’t an issue, and as I sludged through Georgia-like clay mud toward the Pennsylvania Turnpike, it started to drizzle. My head and suit were getting wet, and my shoes caked with mud and mud getting on my pants cuffs, but I trudged on. It occurred to me that since my appointment was a hundred miles away, and I only had eight hours to walk there, I should have checked to see if there was a bus; but it was too late now, and besides, the wallet was empty, though of course I could have used a credit card. It also occurred to me that I could have gotten a ride with the guy who picked up my wallet, but he was already gone. But again, it was too late, and I was already on the road and on the way, and wasn’t about to waste time going back into Harrisburg to ask about a bus.

Cellphone wasn’t a factor, maybe because there was no such thing. Neither was any person I know or then knew in the dream. It did register that eight hours wasn’t much time to walk the hundred miles from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, and that I’d have to clean my shoes and get the mud off my pants cuffs, and dry my head before my appointment. I was conscious that my hair was thick and jet black, as it was in those years; maybe that was a factor, but I don’t think so.

I was not upset or anxious, it wasn’t my usual anxiety dream, like when I’m visiting a church as suppy priest and the congregation is singing the openng hymn and I can’t find either my vestments or the front door of the church, and a few minutes later I can hear them singing the sermon hymn and I still haven't found my vestments, and can’t find the back door to get to the pulpit. I hadn’t been recalled into the Navy and just reported aboard the aircraft carrier and rushing around because the admiral had ordered me to his cabin and I couldn’t find my hat, and my uniform had two different ranks on it and I didn’t know whether I’d been recalled as a commander or lieutenant commander, or as a line officer or chaplain, and I had on a khaki shirt with a service dress blue coat, and where was that blasted hat ... not one of those dreams. Neither was it one of those dreams about old times and people who were important in my life when the world was young, younger and so was I.

What did I do yesterday, what was my mind on that might have stirred this nonsensical dream? We came in from the beach early to work on and in the house. I installed a closet door. My mother was a scary person who visualized someone hiding in that particular closet, so years ago I had to take the closet door down and leave the closet open. Down and stored in a tool shed, the door warped and ruined, so I adapted a different door, which took me all morning and into after lunch. Ordered a new hot water heater for Malinda’s house, to be installed Tuesday morning; don’t understand it, because the old water heater is still bright and shiny, but that’s what the insurance company said, and whatever they say, that’s what I do. Having half a gallon of the light gray paint left from painting the front steps, I painted the back porch steps as far as the paint lasted. I like the paint, gritty against slipping or skidding, it goes on very thick, but gave out before I finished, so now I have to go to Lowe’s and buy more. 

While I was outside painting, Hercules called to tell me when his van would pick up a bunch of stuff to deliver to Tass in Tallahassee. Lots of fun noise from next door, where a son is getting married Saturday, this afternoon, and we are going to help enjoy. It being Halloween, we didn’t want to leave the house overnight, so slept here for the first time in weeks instead of driving back out to the Twilight Zone of sheer bliss.  Zonked out by seven-thirty, I was up at midnight, then again at two a.m. to stay up. Cold and windy this morning, but if the weather is dry and the temperature not below whatever the paint can specifies, I will be able to finish painting the back steps. 

Charlie said “keep on tweaking” so that’s what we’re doing. Keep on tweaking, keep on trucking, keep on painting, life is good, even walking to Pittsburgh. Nobody came trick or treating, so I have all this chocolate candy to eat, yeehah. And let all the people say,


T+ in +Time

Bizarre in my dream, I knew it was two hundred miles from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh, but knowing that was too far to walk in the day, I let it be only one hundred. 

Brings to mind. At our command in Columbus, Ohio, we had a major organizational reshuffle, including moving desks and relocating people and jobs. Every supervisor had to draw up a sketch of how he/she would fit the desks, chairs and filing cabinets into the allotted space. In one of our sections, there was too much furniture for the space assigned. The supervisor solved the problem and made everything fit by drawing the desks in smaller. Sometimes I wonder if those same people have worked their way up, been promoted to Washington, and are now in charge of our entire government.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gator Bowl

The cute little red envelope in the top margin of the MacBook screen has a 10 beside it, telling me ten emails are waiting to be opened. Soon as I click it, mail will be checked and another dozen will show up. But why should I? 

Why should I? There'll be at least one Amazon ad, a couple of Zillow notifications. Somebody will be trying to entice me with a super deal on a new Honda. There will be bad news headlines from the New York Times and The Washington Post, plus another email from each with “Opinions” of intelligent folks but whose opinion I value less than my own. Anu will have a great new word for me to work casually into a sermon. There will be two or three news and opinion emails from CSM. Bleacher Report will have at least one, likely two different emails waiting for me. There will be a football headline.

Yesterday afternoon as part of our Home Tweaking Project, I painted the front steps, which had not been painted in twenty-five or thirty, maybe forty years, and bending over for two and a half hours was so tiring that I fell asleep during the game, thinking the Louisville Cardinals must never have watched FSU play football, otherwise they would know better than to enrage them by running up a score against them during the first half, because when that happens the Seminoles come back from halftime ready to teach the bad guys a terrible lesson in humility.  

Florida-Georgia, OMG. Every year at this time I remember going to Jacksonville for that game at the Gator Bowl my freshman year at UFlorida. The Gators won 21-7. That isn’t going to happen tomorrow. My teams aren’t cleaning up this year. Sometimes losing, not getting what you thought you wanted, turns out to have been the good, better, best thing. In life, not in football. 


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Saints and Sinner

Saints and Sinner

Write your own All Saints sermon, he said, that’s your homework. It doesn’t have to be written down on paper, or typed. And you don’t have to preach it, he said. It’s memories of saints in your own life, people who have meant so much to you. And maybe you knew them personally, but not necessarily.

Most Wednesday evenings at church he gives us homework. I try to take it to heart. So, keeping faith with the sound of the sea, surf crashing on the white sand fifteen stories down, and its fog, this has been the perfect if for me physically, emotionally and mentally wearing, draining, tiring October, nevertheless perfect. Some heat, some chill Florida Gulf Coast mornings, some fog, one big storm, lots of sunshine. This condo, a haven at the end of each exhausting day, incredibly welcoming, ineffably an escape, an oasis, like arriving at St. Peter’s Gate, what a gift and blessing for the two of us.

But my saints, eh? Many live saints, there are hundreds of thousands still, for the saints of God are just folk like me. For my homework, though, I’ll admit a few, all behind the veil that is One Way only, behind from which Harry Potter heard voices, but from whence no one could be brought back. And if you went there to get them, you yourself could not return. 

Maybe you wouldn’t want to. 

Memories only then, and only those I knew personally. As my mother on the undertaker’s gurney, wrapped except for her face, wheeled slowly out into a drizzly Sunday morning, paused for my final goodbye with a blessing and the sign of the cross on her forehead. No one we really knew and loved was perfect, but for a moment of All Saints, we can remember only what was. From my mother: life.

The Reverend Thomas Dorgan Byrne, the only real Father Tom, who was rector of St. Andrew’s, Panama City during the high school years when I needed a saint, who saw in me what I’m still looking for and hoping God sees even though I cannot.

Father Fred. The Reverend Fred Yerkes, for many years Archdeacon of the Diocese of Florida, who actually welcomed even me to his staff of camp counselors two or three summers. A kind, patient servant of God who still remembered me thirty-five years after. What comes to mind about that last magical summer? One boy’s mother sent him a package of sandwiches for our group. Everyone ate what we wanted, then he set the box with the remainder outside on the step. In the wee hours I, the counselor, woke to the sound of paper rustling and the familiar, strong scent of a Florida night: a mother skunk and her half dozen or so kits, fragrantly, ravenously devouring what was left of our box of sandwiches. Father Fred has joined the saints triumphant behind the veil; I wonder about all those who were in my group that summer of 1953 before I went off to college and the rest of my life.

Father Fred had a car that he shared with my friend Jack Dennis and me. A black 1951 Chevrolet Fleetline, it was parked in my garage out back for decades, the garage door ajar, and from time to time over the years I’d peer in the window at it. The last time I looked, it was gone. I wonder if it’s parked in the circular drive in front of my mansion? Along with that Olds Cutlass. And the red Duesenberg. No, the Olds is still out there. But the Duesy and the Chevy? 

Can what was happen again beyond the veil, like playing a song again and again?

But saints. And Jack. Jack Dennis. Everett Jackson Dennis. His father died when I was a freshman at Florida and Jack was a senior at Pensacola High School. The next year, Jack went off to Sewanee, which I think either Bishop Juhan or Henry Bell Hodgkins covered, and then the Navy. Last time I saw Jack was 1966, in Washington while we also were there after our Japan tour; a Naval officer like me, he was in charge of a project putting a battleship back into commission for service in the Vietnam War. Best and closest friends in our high school days Jack and I assumed we’d be priests together. I’ll never know why Jack didn’t and wasn't. I’ll never know why I did and am. The saint and the sinner. 

I’ll bet Jack is who took Father Fred’s car out of my garage. ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Not My House

It matters not which font I select, when my post moves from Pages to the blog, Other seizes control, the font nazi.

Seems like Other is in control of my life at the moment anyway. We are working on and at our house doing little thises and thats to help it show appealingly. 

Of course, it appeals to me anyway and has since I first knew it. In my car mindset I can figure out when that was. The War was over and my father was home from the sea service, which puts it after 1945. The house was on the market and Mama and I went to look. W. Beach Drive was two car ruts through the lower part of the front yard, and we parked our 1942 Chevrolet down front under the cedar trees. We bought the 1948 Dodge in May 1948, so this makes the time 1946 or 1947 and me eleven or twelve. I wasn’t driving yet, my father took me for my first driving lesson the Sunday after my 12th birthday, so I must have been eleven when I fell in love with this old house. Mama told me that Mom and Pop had built the house and it was where my father grew up until the family moved away after Alfred died. 

My house is for sale. Can I bear to let this house go? It would be a lot easier if another family member loved it as I do and wanted to move into it, but that’s not going to happen. And it’s too big a house and grounds for just Linda and me, as anyone who has climbed life’s mountain and looked over the other side at eighty years old will understand. So, we’re “tweaking.” Washing windows. Touching up here and there. Make sure all the old 1912 windows open, though because of a/c and the storm windows we’ve not had a window open in years, but pretty much all of them do open. Some of the window panes are old and ripply or have bumps in the glass. Every time I see that I think, “Mom looked through this very window. And Alfred.” 

Mom, my paternal grandmother, was the only woman in my life for whose love I felt I had absolutely no competition whatsoever. As a boy growing up I sometimes agonized that I loved her most of all.

This was her house when the twentieth century was new and her life was young.

My bedroom. Alfred’s. The upstairs front porch too. The room on the other side of the house that now is two bedrooms and a bathroom, or a sitting room, bedroom and bath, originally was one huge, long room: Alfred’s rumpus room when he was a teenager; he had a pool table there, and lots of friends.

“Mom!” I would say, climbing into her lap. “Tell me about Alfred.” And she would, quietly, softly. About when this was her house.

And that's My Laughing Place.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pink & Gray Heaven

While it isn’t my habit to look for statements about myself or my way of life or the culture that I’m part of, it did occur to me this morning that something was told when the first thing I did upon waking was reach for my telephone. Not my eyeglasses, my telephone. In truth, the glasses are neither vital nor critical, if I were a caveman I’d be fine, because I only need and use them to read, and if I’m not reading they are most annoying, which is why I wear them on a string round my neck. Back to the topic, what if we woke up to no phone service, email or internet worldwide, all of it suddenly gone. 

We’d get along. Actually, that’s where I grew up, isn’t it. We did have a phone, 702W, but it was hanging on the wall in the hall between the living room and dining room, and when it rang you could hear it because the windows were open and you ran in from outside to answer it. Born in 1872, my grandfather had no phone until, what? IDK, the nineteen-teens or twenties? I remember mama telling me about when they first got a phone at 1317 E. Strong Street, how exciting it was and eight neighbors on the party-line. Well, 702W was a party line when I was a boy. I remember when it was changed from 702W to 6268, then 5-6268, then SUnset 5-6268. It was 850-785-6268 by the time mama died. 

What about my prayer “Thank you, God” then, I thought that was first upon waking. Or rising. No, that comes with putting on the shoes: RSF&PTL. Right shoe first and praise the Lord. But the telephone? I don’t think so. What do I get on it, maybe three incoming phone calls a week if that. Its main use is email and texting. Snap a photo now and then, I just looked and there are 2,869 pictures on it. Now, 2870:

What’s needful? Loving and appreciating life, sound of the sea, gazing out across the Gulf of Mexico as a long gray cloud turns pink in the rising sun under the blue dome. If heaven is any better than this, it’s too extravagant for me.


Monday, October 27, 2014

No lesser light: Just the Two of Us

Who or What? When

the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done ...

a facet of God I like is that God, having God, having and knowing a god, a deity, and that one personal, is God being there, here, when I am here and need it to be not alone. When all is done, and the prayer is said, and it’s the wee darkest hour, and loved ones sleep, or grew up and away and moved on and are gone, and are far away, or even vanished beyond the veil if not from the heart, and one is not simply alone but lonely in darkness after the greater light has sunk into the sea, perhaps there is the One 

knocking, Who will come in to me, if I open.

Or is there just darkness and I am alone?

Door slightly cracked open against the October night with its damp fog, admitting only the sound of the sea. It’s just me and hopefully Who or What I am willing to believe, choose, accept, speak to. That Whatever Who spoke to me once, nearly half my lifetime ago.

When believing slips away into shadow, I have That to call present;

and from time to time have been fool enough to share.

Sunday night Monday morning darkest foggy hour. And without the lesser light to rule the night there is only chaos, darkness and the sea, smothered in fog, murmuring.  

Calling, beckoning: that would be Lilith.

Or I AM speaking, but silently this time,
saving me again.

Me, Myself, and I AM.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


The morning we left Cleveland to fly home to Panama City, I switched from CaringBridge to this +Time blog that Jeremy set up for me. Early every morning I peck out a post, Since October 2010, haven’t missed a single morning in four years. Only once did I later, the next day, delete a post, and a friend called me to task for that; so even if tempted I’ve not gone back and deleted again, because, better or worse, it was my legitimate thought of the moment. 

+Time is just my thoughts, what I’m doing, what I’m thinking about, what’s on my mind or comes to mind as I sit looking at the computer screen. A friend said she takes my temperature by it. Mood, frame of mind, life in general, cars, or something about Panama City during my growing up years here, Bay County, St. Andrews Bay, college football, oysters, mullet, a Bible verse or church event, Navy years, my house, Alfred, something in the news or blowing in from the skies. An anger, in disgust or a delight. Maybe a social issue; but because I don't agree with anyone on anything, it's seldom about politics. It’s just blog format where I post and keep moving. For a reason, it’s not on Facebook as a couple friends suggested, because it’s not meant to be a forum or open a discussion. If someone responds to a blog post, I let it go. Why? 

My friends are not lunatic fringe; but there are plenty of those out there, every one rabidly certain. Not wanting to stir a forum, I’ve found no value in life in conversing with the certitudinous. Anyone who wonders what I mean can scroll down any online news item to the Comments and read a few comments. Typed and posted from behind the veil, shrouded in shadow. Anonymous, the RoadRage of the WorldWideWeb. Kingdom of the deranged speaking from darkness. 

So +Time is just a blog, a web log. Write, post and move on. If someone comments and I don't respond, never be offended, I'm already gone. The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on.

A sadness: the old Kaiser-Frazer dealership on W. Highway 98 is being pulled down. It was time, the building was long an eyesore. But not for me. Every time I drove past it, every single time all these years, I returned to 1947, a good place to be. That was a beautiful art-deco building, filled with America’s newest cars, Kaiser Specials and Frazer Manhattans. America was prospering. The War was over and the next war hadn’t begun. Pop, my grandfather, not as old as I am today, bought a Kaiser. 

Would I go back? Would I go back is as meaningless a thought as I’ve ever had. 
Wait. A new Kaiser?