Sunday, July 5, 2015


The PCNewsHerald arrives, dropped at our door early morning, more convenient than at the house, where I had to walk down the front path, daily risking life and face on the eight concrete steps down and eight back up! My grandfather put hand rails there a hundred years ago, but one rail is long gone. Hurricane Ivan dropped a hickory tree on the other, mashed it useless, but my grandfather put it there and it was staying as long as I owned the house.

If the sprinkler was running in the front yard, then out the back door I'd go, down Calhoun Avenue a block to W. Beach Drive, pick up the PCNH, and back. Tripping on the steps several times but not yet disastrously, I finally painted a white stripe across the top step. But this is better, the condo is safer, and I don’t wonder uneasily if another bear has swum across the Bay from Tyndall to wander the neighborhood and perhaps charge me from the shadows. Besides, Daisy isn't the only green light, from here I see half a dozen or more instead of just The One.

As I’ve confessed before, I cannot read, I'm as illiterate as St. Peter (Acts 4:13), Linda reads the PCNH and works the pussword crawzzle. I look at the pictures, for years I read the comics every day until they started stacking up, now I only read Sunday comics. If there’s something interesting, Linda hands me the paper, like yesterday. 

I’m an admirer of Mike Cazalas, PCNH Editor, don’t always agree with him, but Mike is a single parent who evidently dotes on his son and from time to time writes a column about some adventure they’ve had together, making me long for my distant yesterdays when Joe, Nicholas, and Ray were little. We watched the fireworks from our balcony porch last evening, 

nice, but what it brought to mind was Fourths of July in Apalachicola, watching fireworks at Battery Park with Nicholas.

In “Viewpoints” yesterday, Saturday, Mike ran dual columns, aptly headed “From the Left” and “From the Right,” about SCOTUS on gay marriage. This returns to mind because General Convention, national legislative body of our church, this week legalized our bishops letting priests officiate gay marriage. Before that, it was “blessing” not "marriage" though ambiguous. Now it’s “marriage.” Holy Matrimony.

General Convention likes to be the cutting edge. In my youth, up until middle age, I used to become enraged by acts, resolutions and pronouncements of General Convention. I mean, an alphabet heart attack every time they gathered for their triennial fraternity meet. They go, and think they run the church, but the church is lived and run locally, congregationally. In my life, they hardly ever changed our parish life out in the boondocks. A new prayerbook in 1976/79 and a new hymnal in 1982 but that was it. And then, after I was ordained priest and we accepted the call from Pennsylvania to Apalachicola, something was said that was my wake up. In a meeting once at Trinity Church, it may have been a vestry meeting, I commented on something and a woman present, a leader in the parish who is still a friend, said, “Father Weller, we don’t care about General Convention here.” She said, This is our church, we pay no attention to General Convention, they don’t affect us.

Yep. “Episcopal” means ruled by bishops, but at the grassroots we are congregational, directed by elected vestry and rector, where our pastoral friend the bishop comes to visit once a year, helping us remember we are Anglican, Episcopalians. But of General Convention, any Episcopalian can give the brush off, “We ain’t stud’n you.”

Woops, I dropped the reins and the horse wandered, my subject was the PCNH. Yesterday I read the two columns that Mike printed about gay marriage. “From the Left,” Jim Hightower’s column was reasonable if bitter, even if he did get into calling names his position is clear and from his life experience. Jonah Goldberg “From the Right,” was singularly incisive, even if I didn’t care for his cynical undertone. “You can’t compromise with culture warriors,” was his theme, starting out remembering reading “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” to his daughter when she was little. If you give a mouse a cookie, the mouse wants a glass of milk, then the mouse wants a straw, then the mouse wants ... It reminded me of something I heard years ago about communists taking over half a country, “North Korea” and “North Vietnam” and other divided places: never done, once they get half, they starting maneuvering to get half of your half. And so forth and so on. 

Over the years I watched exactly that with General Convention, to my consternation way back when I allowed them to consternate me, which they no longer do. The culture war. I recall once, years ago, they voted on an issue, a resolution, and the traditional vote had a substantial majority. So that was decided, all settled and done, right? No, wait. Sometime during the next year, the issue was raised again, and I read the Presiding Bishop’s words, “The church has not settled that, it’s a work in process.” Say what?

No, he was correct, the PB was right, it was not settled. Over the next three, six and nine years the issue was brought up again and again, the voting margin shrinking and shrinking and shrinking until the warriors had their victory, and then it was settled. 

It’s the way of life, human life. If we don’t like what is, we keep at it until it is what we like. Then it’s settled. Like any church-wide meeting of any sect or denomination, our folks who go to General Convention are simply people from across America, bringing their hearts.

This morning in Sunday School we'll invite folks to discuss the actions, decisions, resolutions of General Convention 2015.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Three Keys

Three Keys

Back in the hmmm -- 1970s it must have been, I’m trying to date it by my car at the time, and my career point in life, and the ages of John Carroll and Teresa, who were children, and I reckon it was before Andrea and Susanna -- my parents moved to South Carolina and listed the old place for sale. I’m not sure what if any action they got on it, I do remember mama describing one looker, but there were no offers and obviously no sale. With the aid of a business associate and friend whose name slips me at the moment, my father had a sales territory with a company selling tools, or it may have been connectors. The Carolina adventure didn’t pan out and in due course they moved back home to St. Andrews. 

Yesterday that step in life finally worked out for us as we went to closing, signed the papers, and turned over the keys. Key to the three downstairs doors, key to the doors at the top of the outside stairs, and the generator key. At mama’s insistence, we’d had the generator installed after Hurricane Ivan when there were several days of power outage. Natural gas fuel, it has an automobile type engine, one cylinder, which has a sound of its own, and tests itself by firing up automatically once a month and running about five minutes. It powers emergency essentials: kitchen appliances, ignition to the tankless water heater, lights in one or two rooms, and one HVAC system. We never had a hurricane after, not one that cut the electricity anyway. But the generator was handy once or twice when power was out in our part of town for several hours while Gulf Power worked to restore it. It comes on within two seconds of the electricity going off.

Hurricane Ivan took down the enormous hickory tree in the front yard. Linda, Kristen and I were in Atlanta for my prostate cancer treatment of about seven weeks, but mama and Gina stayed in the house through the storm and the next morning the usual vultures from out of town were swarming the area offering to cut trees and repair damage. One of them, a crew of two or three from somewhere, offered to cut up and haul away the fallen hickory tree for $1500 and was given the job -- which was necessary, because it was all the way across the front yard, had knocked in part of the front porch, and the tip was reaching to Mr. Drew’s house next door. I’m guessing that mama or Gina told the vulture that because the electricity was out, they were not going to stay at the house. I spoke to them by phone from Atlanta, had my radiation zap, and we drove home, finding the tree cut up and cleared away. We used candles and stayed in the house that night of an eerily pitch black town. I’ve never seen the neighborhood so dark. Unnerving, almost frightening, as though we were at the end of the world.

About nine or ten o’clock it must have been, I wrote about this at least once before and remembered the exact time better then, a car rolled down Calhoun Avenue, stopped by the side of the house, cut the engine, and someone got out and closed the car door quietly. Hearing someone at a window, I grabbed my brightest flashlight, ran upstairs, and opened my bathroom window. Peering out, I could see absolutely nothing because of the darkness. I turned on my flashlight and shined it on the car, an old Chevrolet Impala, one of those huge ones with the V8 engine. I then flashed the light back and forth along the side of the house, surprising whoever it was at the downstairs window, and causing him to run jump in his car, start the engine, and speed away.

My unpriestly thought as a Southerner, was that he probably would have been even more surprised with a shotgun blast into his face through the two panes of glass of the window he was trying to jimmy open. Don’t tell anyone that Father admits to that thought, much less that I said that. It would have brought only momentary satisfaction to my rage though, because he was outside, and not threatening me, and the law would have been ugly. Flashlight was a better weapon. 

In my mind I am positive that the vulture who had cut the hickory tree earlier in the day was back after dark to ransack my house, thinking nobody was home. 

Starting for its monthly run, the one cylinder generator always reminded me of the engines in the boats in Yokohama the years we lived there. Flat barge-like fishing boats, they were also the homes of the fisherman and his family. Mornings going out, they would sound noisily without any sort of muffler, pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop gliding out the canal into Tokyo Bay. Same bay where in August 1945 the battleship USS MISSOURI lay at anchor as the Japanese delegation came out to sign the document of surrender. 

Anyway, last year when we first started thinking about moving, downsizing, we consulted with friends. One of my questions was, “What do you like about condo living?” From a former house owner, one appealing answer was, “When a hurricane comes, I just lock the door and leave.”


Friday, July 3, 2015

Wunderlich, Kona & Dark Chocolate

Wunderlich this morning, vunderlichhh, purse the lips for the vee sound, upper teeth against the lower lip; and it’s not “sh,” it’s chhh, scrape the wind over the roof of the mouth, like the hiss of an angry cat; so wunderlich with the magical lower case g. 

Another sip of Kona from my magic machine, and a melt in the mouth square of dark chocolate with forest mint. My chocolate gets used sparingly, rationed. One square at a time. One truffle ball at a time. Total pleasure with zero waste.

Shave, shower and time to leave for the Friday morning walk through The Cove.

The Wunderlich may not show up on Blogger, we’ll see, but the Kona and chocolate have me wake and alert for the morning.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thursday: Nut Case

A moving patriotic celebration at Summer Wednesday Evening last night, beautiful music and best-loved national hymns, including I’ve not sung the National Anthem in very many years, probably since patriotism became politically incorrect. We sang two verses and I remembered all the words, including “war’s desolation” and “conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: in God is our trust. And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave ...” 

After worship it was hamburger and hotdog night, my favorite, but I ate my peach cobbler dessert first while everybody else was going down the hamburger line, then could only eat a fourth of my hamburger, so had the rest for breakfast. Minus the bun, which this morning after overnight in the refrigerator was squishy, runny, liquid bread. Last evening someone brought fresh homemade cucumber pickles, delicious, don’t recall ever having them before, though maybe a faint memory of mama making them; I never put pickles on my hamburger, but these I loaded on.

Returning home after, we drove out on St. Andrews Marina and admired the Venus-Jupiter conjunction, high in the northwestern sky. They are moving apart, as happens after any union. Somehow, googling the conjunction put me into the blog of somebody Fr. Z, an RC priest who had an excellent discourse on what one could see with a telescope including all in one field of view, Jupiter, the moons of Jupiter and the crescent of Venus, which as a one-time amateur astronomer I appreciate. But then, Father metaphorizes the heavenly union to Obergefell v. Hodges and goes off into what Catholics and Catholic politicians are obliged clearly and emphatically to oppose. My own view, which is not a response in part because internet comments instantly degenerate into anonymous hate-filled skybalon, is that if who other people marry is an obsessive part of one’s religion, one has a problem, perhaps traceable to the fertility rites of ancient pagan gods that demand a Nut above and a Geb below; or even a real problem of denying oneself and should open the door a crack and peek into one’s own closet (ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω). Most likely the latter, but If the former, one should remember that Atum started all by himself. In one version, it's just Atum (again, ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω) but in the other version Atum mates with his shadow. 

Today is Thursday, sermon prep day I reckon. At seminary we were taught and required to select one of the lectionary readings and not try to weave all three or four together into some grotesquely unintelligible fabric, so I’ve pretty much done that over the years. Seldom do I preach on the gospel lesson, already over more than three decades having preached on every one of them ten times already. Often the old-time Sunday School Bible Story in the Old Testament reading is good, and with 2Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 we’re still with David, until Jesus the Lord’s favorite and mine; but if I do the OT reading I’m obliged to answer the question “why did we skip over verses 6-8?” and I’m not going there (neither should you, BTW). So unless I do something with Psalm 48, highly unlikely, there’s 2Corinthians 12:2-10. It’s that bizarre passage when Paul talks about knowing some Christian who fourteen years ago was caught up into the third heaven. Or we could all go back to Shell Island for the Fourth of July holiday weekend: see you there.


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Too family, don't even open it to read

Another predawn of lightning growing in brilliance, and its thunder drawing closer. A huge, long jagged streak out my window, into the Gulf just beyond Bay Point. 

But who knows, the storm may pass completely by. Yesterday’s ominous cloud brought wind but only light steady rain, not the drenching gully-washer we expected and watched at the beach and east of us in town. 

This is a fine spot for watching weather gather, approach and drive through.

The mind wanders. Out highway 98 West in what my grandfather’s generation called “Little Dothan” gone to the wreckers is the curvy, art-deco showroom where the Kaiser-Frazer dealership opened a year or so after World War II. Curvy corners and that signature round window that held my memory those seventy years. The building must have been right sturdy, because the wrecker is taking weeks to pull it down. Always it reminded me of Pop because he had the family’s only Kaiser, their first model.
 Using my usual model of car memories, I can date that and age Pop. 

It was more than a year after Mom died January 23, 1947, because we already had the 1948 Dodge that was mama’s 36th birthday present, May 7, 1948. Pop was still driving his 1937 Chevrolet but considering a new car.

Pop's car was just like that, but without the WSW tires. I remember many times riding in it, with Mom and Pop and my first cousin Ann, up to Grand Ridge to visit Mom's sisters Alice and Nell, who were married to the King brothers. I also remember riding with them to Pensacola to visit my father's sister Ruth, who taught school there all her adult life. 

Anyway, when Pop said he was car thinking, my father got a Dodge “Town Sedan” from Karl Wiselogel at W&W Motors and brought it to St. Andrews for Pop to look at. Pop was incensed that his son was interfering in his business and wouldn’t even come out and look at it, and soon afterward bought the Kaiser. I was out of school to watch that episode, so it was summer 1948, wasn’t it. Born on February 13, 1872 and 75 when Mom died, Pop would have been 76 years old when he bought the Kaiser. He drove it a few years and traded it in 1951 for a new Chevrolet,

 a black Styleline Deluxe sedan. Pop stopped driving a few years later, when he had a wreck in which a little girl was hurt. He died in 1964 at age 92 while we were in Japan. Today seeing myself in him, I am sad when I think about opportunities missed and lovingkindnesses not committed.  

The storm has passed by east, to the south of us.


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Update

What’s it like out? Warm and overcast, but a good breeze up here while we wait for sunrise. Sound of water lapping ashore seven stories down could put me back to sleep. Bay is flat, not glassy but flat. I can’t tell for sure, there may be a light fog on the Gulf of Mexico beyond Shell Island, as it’s a bit hazy looking south and I can see the Island but not into the Gulf. Have I already missed the flights of pelicans heading east for their day; why do they do that?

It’s my thought that my house buyer was not approved by his lender: yesterday he came to the house and hauled away the large collection of art he had on the front porch, and took away one of the cars he had parked out back, an older BMW 5-series sedan, black that he had painted silver, it looked like new. He’s slipped twice on contract closing dates and his third closing date is this Friday. I’m not agreeing to another extension, if he doesn’t close this week the sales contract is terminated and the house will again be for sale. Anybody need a lovely old 13-room house with 4 1/2 baths and the range of options from seven bedrooms to four private suites each with bath and sitting room? Huge kitchen. An enormous walk-in attic. My house is lonely.

My buyer under contract seemed an unlikely prospect: recently divorced, recent from Virginia and said he taught in schools there, but grew up here, graduated from BayHigh in 1960, 72 years old, unusual person, outgoing and friendly. Someone said a bit eccentric, but I don’t know, because when he missed the first closing date I lost confidence in the sale and stopped visiting with him. He had in mind variously a B&B, a youth hostel, an art museum. He had a nice fence erected on the west side, closed in the back porch with rail and bannister, it looks lovely but I’ll need to paint it. On legal advice I wouldn’t let him move in, store anything inside, or have a key before closing. His apparent no show for a closing does not surprise me; disappointing but no surprise. Besides various things on the back porch, which I don’t mind, he still has a Chevrolet motor home and a yellow 1980 Mercedes 300D in the carport. We’ll see if more vehicles and personal property are taken away today. Stay tuned.

Thus ends the month of June.


Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29

Wow, the lightning display over the Gulf is fantastic, incredible. In a great cloud that stretches from all the way east to all the way west, it flashes in the pitch darkness, lighting up the entire south. Yet, no thunder, so it must be far off, out and away. 

Some weekends are more and this one was: all my girls were here. It’s quiet now, dark and quiet. Dark and quiet and very early. Fifty-eight years ago today Linda and I were married in Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, and now I have this great cloud of girls who light up my life.

Monday, a six o’clock walking day.