Monday, March 31, 2014

Monday Meander Naaa Na NaNa

Naaa Na NaNa

Enticement is more effective than recommendation, and I generally don’t recommend books anyway, but delanceyplace entices effectively with their daily extracts. Reading there about ancient Miletos last week, I ordered Europe Between the Oceans 9000 BC-AD 1000 by Cunliffe, which has arrived and just as I thought, “it’s that thick” so will be a while reading, but I finished chapter one, sort of an introduction, and it’s going to be a really good one. 

A friend loves fiction and movies and hearing I’d recently watched the movie has given me The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald. Read (red) chapter one at bedtime last night, and also read some of the last page, which is life philosophical for anyone who wants to learn about self and life. Life and stories begin and end with a flashing green light. Never having read F. Scott Fitzgerald, I didn’t realize his writing is so colorful, eloquent. In chapter one, “What Gatsby?” hints up front that Daisy has heard. You can be in love and willing to sacrifice everything for it as Jay was and did, or in love but not willing to sacrifice, or you can be in love but as shallow of being and treat love as a bauble of amusement as Daisy did. Jay Gatsby? It was Gatz, actually, poor Jimmy, he never knew his dream was over before it even started and he never had a chance. I’ll put !!! some explanation points there to steer away from the maudlin. Did you know, the English say “Mary Maudlin” for Mary Magdalene, which may be where we get the word “maudlin” for sappily sentimental. OK, !!!  

The Beatles intrigue anyone my age, the sound goes round in my head all the time, except when Marqua starts up “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” or “Open My Eyes that I May See” as I serve Holy Communion, and then I’m happily into that for the rest of the day. But this morning’s delanceyplace piece is about John and Paul, Lennon and McCartney, who started working together when they were 17 and 15. I won't order the book, 

Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years
Author: Mark Lewisohn 
Publisher: Crown Archetype 
Date: Copyright 2013 by Mark Lewisohn

but reading delanceyplace this morning starts the humming again, “Hey Jude” and “Yellow Submarine” (get out of my head, that song drives me crazy) and especially “All You Need Is Love.” But also “Here Comes the Sun” which always took me back to a completely different song, being age 18, my freshman year at UF, and every evening in my dorm room with roommate Philip Johnson listening to University Radio as they went off the air with “It’s almost tomorrow and here comes the sun,” which for us who had a girlfriend far away succeeded in making the close of every day sentimental and stirring up homesickness. Not really homesickness though, because I was not at all homesick those UF years, especially feeling so set-free my first year. But seeing my girls go off to college has helped me appreciate my mother’s feelings when I got my father’s letter in September 1953, saying that mama cried all the way home after they dropped me in Gainesville. See what the mind does, where it goes. Anyway, the only time I felt a twinge of homesickness of that sort was my freshman year at Bay High, longing for Cove School. It’s OK, because now I own a key and can walk the Cove School hall 24/7 if I wish. The walls of the hall are soaked with laughter and chatter whether there’s anybody there or not. Were you there? I am always there.

First heard of the Beatles in the carpool driving from Navy housing in Yokohama to Yokosuka Naval Base one morning in Japan, it would have been, maybe summer 1963, and Wayne Hatchett said something about a Beatle haircut. I asked, “What’s a Beatle haircut?” and he said, “You never heard of the Beatles?” Let’s see, there were four of us in the car that morning. Me, Wayne, Ron Murphy and Gary Hahn. Wayne played the banjo, he and Bev lived across the cul-de-sac from us in Yokohama, sort of lost track of him after that. Gary was from Scotts Bluff, Nebraska, where his father had been a Nash Rambler dealer and as I recall, his sister’s husband was an Oldsmobile dealer in Indianapolis, they always went to the Indy 500, a big thing for their dealership. Gary and Gerry Hahn lived two doors down from us in the cul-de-sac. They came to see us once when we were living in Harrisburg, I kept Gary’s VW Beetle the year he was in Vietnam and we were living in Washington, DC. Ron and Jan Murphy live in California and Washington State and have been here to visit us a couple of times. 

So the Dream Weavers with “It’s almost tomorrow, and here comes the sun” a couple years before Elvis Presley, who was my age, came along my senior year singing “Don’t you step on my blue suede shoes.” I never had blue suede shoes, but always had white bucks in high school and college. And then the Navy decades wearing white shoes with red rubber soles, with the dress white uniform and that stiff collar, and white shoes with the work uniform of white socks, white long pants, short sleeve white shirt with ribbons and name tag WELLER.

Waking up this morning my first thought was to print yesterday’s sermon "Nothing but the Blood" instead of bothering to write. But then the Beatles start humming around in my head. Naaa Na NaNa. And going to sleep to Gatsby kept making me think of that flashing green channel light in the Apalachicola River. We'll be going back to the Apalachicola River Inn for a couple nights from time to time, and I'll watch that green light, and the flashing red light, and gorge myself on Texas and Louisiana oysters. 


Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Don't Know

The older one gets and the more of life one sees and experiences -- what the hell, I’m talking about myself, not some impersonal “one” -- the longer I live and the more I see and live into, the more I come up against the problem of theodicy and the more and better I understand those who simply walk away in disgust and dismay. Theodicy is the issue of who and where and what is God, as Rabbi Harold Kushner put it, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” In parish ministry I always had extra copies of Kushner's book by that title, for grieving people who were struggling and wondering “why” and “where was God?” in their face of the worst that life can bring. 

Yesterday I understood yet one more time again as I tried without success to choke back tears and the terrible hurting swelling in my throat when a friend told me about the deadly medical diagnosis of -- for privacy I’ll call him John, a sister’s boy. The child is eight years old and has been diagnosed with cancer for which prognosis is very poor. I don’t know the little boy, but I have had and known and loved and cherished little boys and girls that age, and younger, and older. I have buried some of them, holding my composure for the sake of grieving loved ones. I have personally carried a tiny casket down the aisle, determined for the sake of my ministry to the sobbing parents walking behind me, to hold until later --

And then to go off by myself alone to sob and rail at God, and shake my fist at the sky. Futilely at the heavens. Is that where God is, up there? If not, where did my prayers go? My unanswered prayers: that’s the problem of theodicy. I remember once, years ago, preparing to officiate the funeral of an outrageous and unnecessary death, clenching my fist and yelling toward the cross on the Altar and at the heavenly stained glass window above it, “What the hell’s the matter with you?” To whoever thinks that’s a no-no or disgraceful or blasphemy I can only say, whoever you are, your God is too small.

Jesuit priest Rev. Pierre Wolf has written a little book, half hour to read, max, May I Hate God? Someone called the title “electrifying” and indeed it is to us pious. I first read it years ago, but I still have a copy and I notice it’s still available. May I Hate God? Father Wolf answers his question, “... yes, we may hate God, for He is all loving and all merciful ...” And before Wolf finishes he says that if we may not hate God then God is not unconditional love as we thought. Unconditional love, the Grace that Ronald M. Hals says is God’s one single sole, solitary characteristic (Grace and Faith in the Old Testament). Hals asserts that the Lord who brought Israel out of Egypt is the same Lord who raised Jesus from the dead. Why Jesus, and the boy in Nain, and Talitha, and Lazarus, or the blind man in today's gospel (John 9:1-41) but not this child here today?

Why must we grieve and sorrow? Why do terrible things happen, to us, and to those we love, and to strangers whom we do not know but whose tragic stories bring us to our knees weeping in sadness? Why? Grieving the death of his 14 year old son Aaron who died of progeria, the rapid-aging disease, Harold Kushner finds that there is no answer to "why?"and that the question is not “why?” but discovering how to go on “when,” how to go on with God "when." The Reverend John Claypool (Tracks of a Fellow Struggler: Living and Growing through Grief and many other powerful, excellent and helpful books) said that we have no entitlements, the child was not ours but God’s, a blessing, a gift from God that we never deserved or earned, a gift, sheer grace, a gift to know and love and cherish. In that, Father John found peace after the death of his eleven year old daughter from acute leukemia. 

The question is hard, theodicy is impossible and there are no answers, and many faithful have been driven away and even turned against God. Bart Ehrman, N.T. scholar and professor of religious studies at Chapel Hill, describes his life beginning as a most fervent literalist fundamentalist Christian, slowly making his way, and his education, and his faith, and his life, into and up through Christian conservative and Christian mainline churches, and ending up agnostic -- “not knowing” (an agnostic is not an atheist as fools condemn, but one like St. Thomas who finds that he does not and perhaps cannot know) -- because of the unanswerable problem of theodicy. 

My anguish at yesterday's news reminds me yet one more time again that I myself have had the “faith crisis” several times, including and especially and most painfully to me in the death years ago of William Hall, seven years old and a second grader at my school. William was the age of my niece Megan, he would be 22 now. The question I confessed to my congregation at the time was, “Can the faith of Tom Weller survive the death of William Hall?” I wasn’t sure then, and I’m not sure now some fourteen years on, and my anger stirs anew every time I look out on the soccer field that we named for him, William's Field. But I think I’m making it, because we have a choice, we have to choose, and Joshua isn’t the only one who says “Choose,” life itself forces us into that corner. I have chosen, not in certainty but in faith as the Bible offers it to me: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 even as I weep and rage and curse and wonder and hope. And as I cling to the assurance of Psalm 116 in the Good News Translation, "How painful it is to the Lord when one of his people dies!" And as I remember a poem and song from summer camp, "God has no hands but my hands to do his work today" and a poem by St. Teresa of Avila, "Christ has no body now on earth but yours, No hands but yours, No feet but yours, Yours are the eyes through which is to look out Christ’s compassion to the world; Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good; Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now."

And fear that He is only here in me, angry and weeping. And I must become Christ for others.

This is where I am.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

CFB & Lady Macbeth's Dog Spot

OMG, not CFB already, I can’t stand it, don't even think about it, out damned spot. Football or Shakespeare, choose.

And football pro days are ridiculous, over the top. This has been the longest winter in memory, will CFB season never come, but not yet, I'm not thinking about it that the Gators’ first game is exactly five months from today, Saturday, August 30. I’m saying nothing CFB this early except TYG Johnny Manziel departed SEC for NFL, that’s it, that's all I'm saying, I was sick of his mouth in the SEC and I don't watch NFL ball. 

Well, speaking of JM, can’t wait to hear all the screaming, shouting, cursing from the Lone Star state if O’Brien doesn’t pick QB Texan J. Football for Houston. Hopefully, he won’t. It would be perfect plus, in my warped mind, kharmic payback not only for JM's mouth but also for the 2012 Tide/Aggies game if O'Brien picked A.J. over JM and did you know McCarron and J. Coker both went to St. Paul’s, Mobile? But he won't, O'Brien won't. Is Jacob a starter?

Actually, after the 2013 Alabama Texas A&M game no one but me remembers watching that 2012 last-five-second stunner in Tuscaloosa. What I recall is not being able to speak, watching the SEC newcomer upset Alabama.

O’Brien has lots to choose from and he can squeak out of JM by trading down. Or just by being himself if he doesn’t want a blowhard for QB. And I don't even like pro-football.

O’Brien did fine with PennState, disappointing he left after two seasons. 

Bortles is on the QB list, making me wonder what will happen with UCF this season, the Knights have been incredible, whoever heard of the UCF Knights? Well, they’ve heard of them in Gainesville by now, and a few years ago I never thought my SEC beloveds would be sliding down the cellar door like playmate, playmate, come out and play with me, while some obscure college team from Disney went to a bowl game. UCF for SEC? Not to mention FSU #1. 

The Seminoles?  

Can’t you read? I said not to mention them. Bad enough Florida is playing Alabama again this year, Gators AT Alabama, oh my God. OMG. Maybe lightning will strike. Or a flood. There’s supposed to be a hurricane that weekend. 

Plus with any luck Thanksgiving will be cancelled as well and football banned for the weekend, I'm sick of eating crow. 

Maybe the Gators will have a good game against Eastern Michigan, my grandson Nick’s school. How long ago did Florida contract that game with Eastern, and who’s getting paid to play, who's the cupcake now? CFB five months from this moment? Don't even think about it. Read Macbeth again.

CFB in mind? Out, out, I say. Go here:


Friday, March 28, 2014


“Volunteers in dark green hooded sweatshirts spread out across the National Mall on Thursday, planting 1,892 small American flags in the grass between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Each flag represented a veteran who had committed suicide since Jan. 1, a figure that amounts to 22 deaths each day.”

It’s not the children, it’s the whole dandelion population, the whole blasted lot of us, we all have ADD/ADHD, look at what goes on with every gardenia one of us, everybody looking at a screen and picking at keys and punching send. Yes, guilty. We jump from one thing to another uncaringly, lusting after who knows what, whatever, and never finding it, or finding it for the split second that it interests us. With the attention to flight 370 and to Crimea, Russia and Ukraine, who knows what’s going on in matters of our VNI, with our military people in Afghanistan? Oh, are we still in the war there? Yes we are, and it’s killing our young people in ways we didn’t notice, in numbers we didn’t realize. Suicide among veterans, 22 veterans a day ending their own lives, look at the flags in the pic above, look at the flags and read the short piece. Why is this happening?

The government is looking at what’s wrong with us why are we doing this? That isn’t the question, they don’t even have the right question, much less sense enough to find answers and address them. It’s the gardenia alphabet government, and two things, three factors.

:>( Troops are being sent back over and over and over for repetitive tours, again and again, involuntarily, these are human beings we’re dealing with, young Americans, nobody wants to give their life into that sort of instability, it’s not a life worth living, or marrying into, or expecting much less demanding marital fidelity in either here or there, or for bringing children into, eventually your number comes up for maiming or death, we're sending you back again and again until you return either in pieces or in a sack, and have you ever seen humans blown to bits before your eyes, hand me that pistol, I only need one bullet. 

:>( The people we are trying to help with our insane policies are not appreciative and welcoming, they hate our alphabet guts, for all kinds of reasons, good and bad, they can’t be trusted to help us, they’re out to kill us. They hate us almost as much as they hate each other: that is a society worth sacrificing American lives to save or recreate?

:>( Perhaps worst, it’s all an obscene waste of time and American lives, and desecration of our national history and history books of the future, not considering the lives of the humans who live there, as can be seen in our waste of time and lives in Iraq and is now being evidenced and will be proved in Afghanistan once all our troops are out and all returns to chaos and anarchy. 

This is insanity and the alphabet government is too stupid, myopic, self-serving and lumberingly obese to see that an answer is to change policies, foreign policy and personnel policy; not to psychoanalyze the troops. The troops are fine. We need a completely new form of government, it will never happen, but it’s the sole historic reason for the Second Amendment: not to shoot squirrels and people who play music too loud, but to deal with evil, oppressive and incompetent government.

The answer for Iraq is to hang the war criminals here at home as examples for the future. The answer for Afghanistan was missed the afternoon of 9/11. Don’t Tread On Me.

Bubba has pages missing this morning, pages missing and outrage, because of the flags. Twenty-two a day. AYFSM? 

It's not time for calm, reasoned journalism and philosophizing, it's time for raging anger. Publish, or Delete?

Alphabet Publish.


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Miletos and Nicaea

While on television, Russell Crowe [the late Admiral William Crowe 1925-2007 -- an adopted son of Oklahoma whom years ago I saw on TV exclaim "Oklahoma is not forty-nine on anybody's list" -- pronounced it cra-ow with a short a, not crow with a long o as Russell does -- whoever thought of a four-star from Oklahoma! I always admired him as something of an intellectual, unlike most of the retard admirals I knew, and he served as ambassador to the UK too] talks about the film Noah (there's a lost antecedent for you) and as Russell talks I visualize ancient times as the Bible sage awkwardly melds the “J” and “P” (or was it “J” and “E”) stories of the Great Flood, and my mind is on two books I just ordered about the human condition and ancient human origins. 

My old Navy buddy (truthfully, I’m the old one, he’s not 75 yet though maybe close, but I remember when he was 32 and I was 36 and he was smarter than me then too, smarter than I) is an intellectual and thinker with a keen mind for political and literary things. Well-rounded, he reads a fiction book and a nonfiction book. If I were to do that, Bubba wouldn't be such a dull boy. I pretty much read only nonfiction for a couple of reasons, one being that my brain’s alert time is short each day/week and is spent (yes, that’s the word, spent, worn out, used up, exhausted) reading and preparing for something such as Bible study, Sunday school, or yet another one of my nonsensical pulpit ramblings, in the world of scholars who seem to know everything, but certainly more than I -- that is where I must wander as I prepare, with the result that there's not much aware time for fiction. 

Fiction I can love, but I one don’t have time for it, two prefer short stories especially essay-length short stories to long novels, and three can get so buried in a novel’s story that I hate to see it end, hate to come out of it, really hate having to surface from a good tale like Midnight's Children. Or there's desolating despair on finishing it, as with The Road and Earth Abides. 

So, I don’t read much fiction. There are two bits of fiction on the floor at my feet here, both by Brad Leithauser, one is The Oldest Word for Dawn a book of his poems. The other is Darlington’s Fall about a boy then man named Darlington, a novel written in verse, poetry, it’s both interesting and -- well, fun. Darlington sits here unfinished even though I was enjoying it. One needs to finish a novel, but one doesn’t need to finish a book of poetry, just pick it up and read a bit now and then, as I love doing with Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer. There’s a Tomas poem that I especially enjoy about lovers on a cold winter night, turning out the light. 

Mixing fiction, verse, and patience, yesterday after mentioning Goethe, reading Faust which is free online. Free to read, not free verse. Well, my German's not good enough to read Goethe so I read an English translation of his Faust Part I which is a two-hour-read play in rhyming verse about Faust, Mephistopheles and Gretchen (or Margaret). It goes through Scene XXV and Gretchen is saved while Dr. Faust seems stuck with the demon. Although I've read that some versions of the legend have Faust saved by Margaret (Gretchen)'s loving intervention. That would seem as trite and story-spoiling as the dummies who didn't understand Mark so felt compelled to add more after 16:8. Quite frankly, you can have Faust although the person who did the translation did a wondrous work with the verse, and it's stacked so can be read very fast and still followed closely. A lot of good quotes in there, although I did not see "nothing is worth more than this day," and I'm not about to read more of Goethe, Faust was plenty even though he's given credit for being the German intellectual second only to Luther

Evidently, Goethe did say it though -- at least, the quotable quote appears in every list of his quotes that I scanned.

Whoever sorts through my stuff after sprinkling me here and there in accord with my wishes can have all my books. Better, put them in a church library where nothing ever gets read but the conscience is salved because nothing gets thrown in the trash. That's the way with most priests' supposedly impressive enormous personal library. 

So my two new books coming, one because of yesterday’s intriguing delanceyplace selection on Miletos from Europe Between the Oceans 9000 BC-AD 1000 by Barry Cunliffe. The other is a book Amazon recommended along with Cunliffe, After the Ice: A Global Human History 20,000-5000 BC by Steven Mithen. Am I recommending these two books? Not at all, I just thought they may help, even enrich, my appreciation of early human development and possibly even help my understanding of the evolution of our spiritual, religious side, how we became what we are and how we came to believe what we believe, and come to believe it so firmly that (notwithstanding Hebrews 11:1) we come to regard it as knowledge instead of faith, and don't like for it to be challenged. Nevertheless, seek the truth, come whence it may, cost what it will.

That’s an object of EfM also, especially years Three and Four, reading and discussing to understand the evolution of our Christian faith to become what it is today. And, for the thinkers in the group, to realize that Christianity is still on its way someplace, hindered only by piles of old carved in stone ruins that we call creeds. Maintaining at least a measure of orthodoxy, they nevertheless remind me of Miletos, once a thriving coastal city but "today a gaunt ruin, isolated by marshlands that have crept relentlessly seawards, a victim partly of changing sea levels and partly of erosion from the flanking hills left bare by overgrazing." Yep, that's us.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


It was Patty's, Joe gave it to Linda. In the front window of our kitchen a tile with a quote attributed to Goethe proclaims “nothing is worth more than this day.” A grieving person might add, “except yesterday,” I suppose, an optimist “except tomorrow.” But no philosopher, I’ll stick with Goethe. Or maybe he never said any such thing, maybe the tile artist wrote Goethe on there to make it more credible, believable -- marketable. * We see that in more than one letter ascribed to Paul. And if, as part of his agenda, John quotes Jesus saying something, it has power even if it never crossed the lips of the historical Jesus.

Thus the mind wanders, I was on Goethe.

Goethe is also quoted having described chamber music as “four rational people conversing.” Supposedly he meant a string quartet. I like Richard Walthew better, the “music of friends,” but I never heard of Walthew, while starting with Goethe adds appeal, sophistication and class. Same as some second century writer ascribing Paul, or the anonymous “John” quoting Jesus. The certitudinous aside, we have no idea who “John” actually was, only that of the four gospel writers who were canonized, he was the one with the high christology of signs instead of miracles, and ego eimi, I AM

On its way to the “music of friends,” my gardenia mind wanders down side trails; but a man can do that at 78 and tell any readers to lump it. 

But that’s what it was, truly was. Goethe and Walthew last evening at the home of friends with friends: chamber music. Piano and violin, we heard Vivaldi in three movements (some applaud at the end of each movement, some pride their sophistication and wait until the piece is finished, this is not Big Easy street jazz where you clap and chugalug another beer every time it gets loud and fast. But wandering again). We heard a fast Bach piece on piano, I was out of breath time Stacey finished it, and it wasn’t the cabernet, I only had one small glass. One large glass with two ounces is a small glass. Then Brahms, my favorite, at our church in Apalachicola I always thought the most special Sunday possible would be to hear fifteen minutes of Brahms instead of listening to my nonsense, but we never got round to it. 

Music of friends last evening, violin and piano happily with Rachmaninoff, Mary Ellen and Stacey. Then we ran off happily and lustily with Debussy and his mistress into the music of love, piano. We got a taste of every composer's history, including that, Debussy's scandal, which sounded as exciting as the music.

Perhaps the most moving of the evening, John Williams‘ music for Schindler’s List with the theme in which you could hear the chilling WeeeWaw WeeWaw WeeeWawWeeeWawWeeeWaw and, closing your eyes as I did, actually see the Gestapo van with siren screaming as it headed for the ghetto while in the background unsuspecting human beings were dancing to a fiddle a la Fiddler on the Roof. A ghetto that bitter winter of 1941. Then Remembrances of how wonderful life was before. The unspeakable era des Dritten Reichs later yielded music that might be described as chilling, bitter. My orientation week at LTSG was spent deeply immersed in the Holocaust, which I always wondered if that was because some of the faculty, including the seminary dean, a distinguished German scholar, were veterans from the evil side of history. Well, both the Holocaust and Flannery O’Connor. The music of John Williams is expressive, while writing hardly gets more gothic, almost holocaustic, than O’Connor. 

Here we go wandering off into the brambles again, too much unrelated spills out of the mind at 78. Might as well pour it out now, when it's gone it's gone, drink up.

Duo chamber music ended happily with Fritz Kreisler, whose violin I remember well and fondly from my earliest life because my mother’s 78 rpm record collection included his music, and listening to his radio performances in the 1940s. 

An evening of music with friends ratified Goethe. Nothing is worth more than this day remembering last evening's gathering of friends conversing in music. And Arthur with rosin for the bow.


* No, Goethe must have said it, it's in every online list of his quotations.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fragrant Pink

It’s pretty clear what happened. There being no jury, I hope it’s as clear to the judge as it is to me. An angry, violent, spoiled, self-centered man, Pistorius is a gun crazy fool, a liar who made up his story on the spot and is sticking to it. Intentional but not planned, Oscar shot Reeva in a fit of rage, and the instant he fired the shot that killed her he was sorry. Is that premeditated murder one? And the guy who, enraged by texting in a movie theater, shot the man who was texting. And that other gun crazy fool, Michael Dunn, another liar, firing in a fit of rage because the music was too loud and then hiding behind a law, claiming he thought he saw a gun. Dunn is being prosecuted by someone less after justice than fame leading to higher political office: she won’t go in on my vote. I’m no lawyer but it was second degree murder in all cases. Guilty. The penalty, the punishment? I don't know. We are obsessed with punishing folks, I don’t know. New Georgia gun law? Are there extra penalties for shooting while drinking or in a fit of anger? In a society where everybody totes a gun, to send a little child home for pointing a finger gun is perverse. Something's wrong. Bad wrong. With us. If a man named Noah builds a boat, run for the hills.
Crimea is part of whoever lives there, it isn’t a peninsula like Florida. Standing alone, Crimea is almost an island. Whoever lives there should decide whether they want to be Russian or Ukrainian or independent, and they have decided, it’s that simple. It’s not really that simple unless you live there. But it’s really that simple anyway.    
Malaysian Air. What happened? Could a terrorist hack into a plane’s systems and seize control -- either on board or from the ground? What foolish designers, executives and engineers decided that transponder and cockpit voice communication could be turned off by people on the plane? Like Vietnam, 9/11 taught us nothing. We are poor students of experience. No we’re not. Yes we are.
Pathos. In my University of Michigan MBA curriculum half a century ago, I took an ethics course that comes to mind constantly, a hope of any such course. It came sharply to mind yesterday with the repetitive TV coverage as authorities wrestled families and loved ones out of the room where they had just been told that Flight 370 went down in the Southern Indian Ocean, no survivors possible, their loved ones are dead. Weeping, sobbing men and women, swinging, screaming, kicking, being hustled physically from the room as we watched their agonizing grief. I like to think, and do know for myself, that our watching was not spectator curiosity but horror and sorrow as we internalize these things, put ourselves with them as we share their anguish. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy and what does that kyrie mean, truly mean, what’s its worth, its effect? Is it in the loving sorrow of us who watch and care? “Christ has no hands but our hands ...” no tears but our tears, no heart but our hearts.
A couple weeks ago Linda had our wonderful lawn company come out and clear a dreadful part of our yard of growth, including about a dozen old azaleas that my parents replanted here from our house in the Cove when they moved back here in 1963. Their crew replanted most of them. A day or so later Linda and I replanted one. It’s hard work, man, planting azaleas at 78. Monday afternoon, Linda and I replanted two more of them. There’s one left to plant. Why bother? These azaleas are family. Instead of playing ball, etc. with Scotty, Bill, Robert and friends every afternoon after school in the mid and late 1940s, my mother required  me to come home from Cove School to dig deep holes, pour in leaf mould, fertilizer, rich black dirt, peat moss, mix and stir dry then flood with gallons of water, and plant these azaleas. They’ve grown up and old with me, now trying to be as faithful to them as they’ve been to us these nearly seventy years. Ancient, light pink azaleas, quite rare in that the blooms have a delicate, sweet fragrance. One to go. Tomorrow. 

Tomorrow maybe. Maybe.


Monday, March 24, 2014

pages missing

pages missing

Seeing the blogpost is mine for me, why bother with what will people think, people can lump it, eh? Actually no. As said more than twice, it’s a meter of what’s happening inside, isn’t it. At what pace is one going downhill. Are pages missing? 

I was a lay person at the time, a lector, it was my Sunday to read, and Mass was ending. In our Pennsylvania parish, it was the lector’s task, at the priest’s nod, to start the Postcommunion Prayer while priest and chalice-server finished clearing the Altar. End of the early service, Rite One, and he nodded to me. I had been looking for the page, couldn't find it. Not knowing the slightly changed prayer in the 1979 BCP and unable to find the right page, I said “Let us pray” anyway and began a reality nightmare of muddling through 1928 BCP words “... for that thou dost vouchsafe to feed us who have duly received ...” as the congregation paused and ground to a halt, curiously watching me stumble on, red faced and awkwardly. After the service I retrieved that copy of the prayerbook and found that pages 337 through 340 were missing. 

What has this to do with me or with my +Time nonsense? Everything. If I continue blogging, people will see that pages are falling out. That pages are missing. 

The heck with it. It's a lot worse than a few missing pages.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Stacked Green. Bridge, Stacked Red, Moon. Fog

Car now and then, no noisy trucks.

Fog settled at 4:30 when I glanced up and realized the bridge lights are gone. Lights and their reflection in the river are gone. So is the green flashing channel marker a quarter mile north, gone. No river traffic, though somebody has their air conditioner on that for a moment I mistook for a slow diesel.

This has been a relaxing four days and three nights. Lovely, classy wedding, not my first one in an art museum, the last was in New Orleans, what? five years ago? That couple have a beautiful little son, they sent a valentine card with his picture. This one in a town that has been a favorite since I first visited here with my father in the nineteen-forties, after the war. 

Two dozen steamed oysters Thursday evening, two dozen steamed again Saturday evening while Linda had fried mullet. She doesn’t eat the skin or gnaw the backbone, so I had mullet too. Mullet fried properly, the tail is crispy, you munch that first, then the backbone including the crispy ends of the dorsal and pectoral fin. ‘body don’t like mullet, ain’t my problem, baby. 

Fog lifting a little, two bridge lights visible again, and their reflections, now very faintly three more. Traffic is picking up. Still no trucks though, maybe they don’t run on Sunday morning. Not this early. Bridge lights and reflection. Stacked red channel marker. And that's the moon.

There’s that stack of flashing red channel markers. Still pitch black dark, but the bottom red light so perfect says the river is flat. Now and then a splash of some sort, something enjoying breakfast, something else being. Is there a moment of terror and pain for the meal? Last time we stayed here it was Rainbow Inn, not Apalachicola River Inn, and we read in the Times the next week that our first night here an alligator had eaten a cat in the parking lot. 1984.

Now the fog is totally back and fully in command. ZeroV. Carl Sandberg, anyone? Something about little cat feet.

TW 2014

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Forgotten Coast: A Dream

Milwaukee of Florida's Forgotten Coast

Fog. Light fog and 58F. A hundred yards off my balcony, the red channel marker light is two stacked lights. But it’s reflection, the river is totally smooth flat. Two lights, smooth flat, pitch black dark. Not a sound.

What brings on an anxiety dream? Not a Navy situation, church again this time. Sunday morning, early service. Rector hasn’t arrived, hasn’t called. Where is he? Try to call him, no answer. Organist is playing the prelude. Hurry to the vesting room to vest, what will I preach about, it was the rector’s day to preach, think fast. My vestments are not in the closet. Think, think fast. Oh, that’s right, I took them home to be laundered. Well, I’ll wear white. My white vestment isn’t here, where is it? Prelude is finished, the organist is starting the opening hymn, why is he doing that when he can see that neither the rector nor I are ready yet? Think fast, think. 
Somebody please bring me a bulletin so I can see what the Readings are? Oh, here’s my extra cassock and surplice, I’ll put them on. OMG, what’s wrong here, the cassock is buttoned crooked, and the surplice is buttoned up in it at the bottom. Oh, I put the surplice on first, no wonder, take it all off and start over. This bulletin doesn’t have the Readings in it, I need one with the Readings. Very quiet out there, they’re waiting for the service to start and there’s no celebrant. Where’s Father Kirk, and why is this now the Pennsylvania church, what the hell am I doing here? I go in from the front, wearing a strange white vestment, all buttoned wrong, nearly a half hour late and a large group of people are trying to conduct the service, but the church is all outside in the woods, and there’s a huge crowd -- waiting. Look, you brought me last week’s bulletin, these aren’t the Readings for today. The people are scattered all over the woods. Dispersing the group who had taken over, and they are furious, I get the entire congregation to one spot, stunned that there are several hundred people lined up two or three people deep here in the front pews, a crowd so wide I can’t see the end of it, and another mob over to my right shouting that I should officiate them, not the other crowd. Let’s start over with the opening hymn, OMG, the organist has left, well, let’s choose an easier hymn and sing it a capella. Oh sunflower, I forgot to put on the microphone to the sound system. Do I have time to go put it on? Nevermind, where’s a hymnal, where’s a gardenia hymnal? No? Where’s that rector, he hasn’t called or showed. Maybe I should go in the back and put on my mike so they can hear me. Thumbing through a hymnal looking for a suitable hymn and unable to find one, I wake up, realize it’s a dream but can’t get awake enough to escape from the dream, can’t get out of it, can’t get out of this crowd of worshipers here in the woods, the dream keeps on and on and on until I finally throw off the covers and rush to the bathroom, maybe that was the problem all along.

What brought all that on? It’s hard to tell what brings on an anxiety dream.

“Oyster City” signs are all over. And art show signs. Art show signs and signs about the annual home and garden tour. The Lounge that for years was the local bar has construction going on. Inside, enormous new stainless steel equipment. Sign on the window, “Oyster City Brewing Company.” I pray it’s a success, because this is what I saw yesterday. Tagged green mesh sacks of oysters being unloaded from a refrigerated van at a seafood restaurant. From Texas or Louisiana, those are not Apalachicola oysters. Not yet: they will become “Apalachicola oysters” on the menu. And this is what I saw: an oyster boat with the restaurant’s name on the side chugged by my balcony and docked, totally empty. Totally empty, no oysters. Why? So that when I ask, “Do you serve Apalachicola oysters, are these Apalachicola oysters?” the waiter can truthfully say, “Sir, our boat goes out every day.”

The BP Oil Spill ruined the Bay. BP and fools. There are no oysters here. Did the oil spill come into the Bay? I don’t know. What I have been told by a man I trust is that the authorities, figuring that BP oil would flood in and ruin the Bay forever, authorized the total harvesting of everything, and the Bay is now empty. You have to have oysters on the Bay bottom in order for more oysters to grow, and there is nothing. A friend who used to get forty bags and be home by two o’clock in the afternoon told me that the last time he went out he could hardly get one bag all day.

Swarming with tourists, Oyster City is now a quaint boutique shop town wild with construction to make itself quainter and cuter, where soon you will be able to chug an Oyster City brew. I just hope it’s properly bitter. All my lifetime this was a fishing village. But it wasn’t always, it has been other. A hundred years earlier, when cotton was brought down the Apalachicola River on paddlewheel steamboats and offloaded into the old brick cotton warehouses, from here to be shipped all over the world, this was the third largest seaport on the Gulf of Mexico. And the lumber era, when mansions were built. And Trinity Church, which during our walk around town yesterday was locked, we couldn’t get in, so we sat on the bench out front. 

George Chapel and I shopped and selected that new porch light twenty-five years ago.

No dream. 


Friday, March 21, 2014

No WiFi

Two dozen steamed last night, harvested right here, or trucked in from Louisiana or Texas? I don’t keep up with the Apalachicola Bay economy anymore, but they were perfect. After my terminal diagnosis I shall again order three dozen raw oysters on the half-shell. Make it five dozen. I can wait, no hurry.

There being no WiFi except outside at the benches on the little riverfront garden, my post will have to go up later, maybe after breakfast. At the moment the east is dark with only the slightest hint of light. Only clear light is the flashing red channel marker maybe a hundred yards from my balcony. Length of a football field, it doesn’t appear quite that far, but it doesn't look to be five miles across to Magnolia Bluff either.

Porpoises surfacing and playing in the river at our feet last evening. This morning, cars and trucks crossing the bridge Mayor Jimmie J. Nichols and I blessed at its opening dedication ceremony, what, a quarter century ago?

Whoever said it was wrong: you can go home again. 

Seagulls squawking, pelicans gliding six inches above the river surface, pinking sky.

We’ve been housesitting maybe once or twice a year the last fourteen or fifteen years, and have favorite places to go, eat, grocery shop. Our places change over time, one was Chez Robert’ (roll the “R” and ignore the “T” and it isn't Chez, it's Shay) an elegant gourmet restaurant where Linda, Paint, Kristen and I had supper the evening before Paint died, August 2001. Trader Joe’s is new in Tallahassee and so is Whole Foods. We learned about WF from Joe and Patty in Winston-Salem years ago, and sought it out in Atlanta in 2004 when we were there for my radiation vacation. WF has an enticing deli and self service food area and a nice place to sit down and eat. The Tallahassee WF has a wide selection of dishes and a large table area. Students were eating, having coffee while reading textbooks and working on assignments. Pleasant. We were there to have a bit of this and a bit of that for lunch on Monday.

Bought a couple jars of peanut butter to try. Also bought a recycled toothbrush. Hey, it was a bargain, probably a lot cheaper than your toothbrush. Looks like it was cleaned up pretty well, still has most of its bristles, and the red handle is quite nice. It even came in a new plastic wrapper. Latest cool and with it “green” - recycled toothbrush.

Death of Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church. What to say about earth’s loss of such a detestable creature? Pray that Rev. Fred didn’t poison too many into following him, and go on with goodness.  

Special week for us and family with their spring break visit to Disney as we babysit their house and cats and do our favorite things in Tallahassee. Also special for a family who’ve been dear to us thirty years. 1984, a tiny girl four years old who, with her two brothers, was a treasure of my church, getting married this weekend. Couple years ago we drove out to Hot Springs, Arkansas for her brother’s wedding, now back home in Apalachicola.

We’re enjoying every minute. Knock wood and bless the Lord. 

No WiFi in the room, but perfect reception here in the red swing overlooking the river.


Thursday, March 20, 2014



A scrambled mind this morning, but Martin Wunderlich’s font because I like the closed-tail lowercase g and the little feather cap from an Arizona quail especially the regular italics g -- the larger the better.

The proper name is Gambel’s Quail, Martin’s font always taking me back to Arizona in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Linda and I’d like to get on the Sunset Limited just in time for supper in New Orleans and ride, ride, ride. 

AmTrak beats Carnival any day, and maybe even Disney Cruise Line with the top-deck breakfast buffet of soft scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Well ...

Don’t even mention airline travel to me, they’ve gotten the seats so squnched up in steerage class. Not to mention it’s so far down. If I’m not in a Navy plane with an aircraft and pilot I trust, you can have it. Wreckage of the Malaysian airliner may be being spotted a thousand miles west and south of Australia, what the alphabet sunflower were they thinking? I no thank you.

The scattered scramble started early with Kit Foster’s CarPort, looking for that DeSoto site, couldn’t find it, should have clicked it when it was in front of me, reading “A Belated Obituary of DeSoto” which is actually a nostalgic history, and looking at pictures of DeSoto cars. 

What the scrambled does, where it takes me: Red Baum’s 1948 DeSoto Suburban, gosh I coveted that car until he ruined it by installing a plumber’s vise on the left rear fender (Baum was a master plumber). My grandmother Gentry’s silver 1934, or was it a ’35? DeSoto Airflow sedan parked in front of the drive-up drugstore that was on Harrison Avenue in the late 1930s, you drove up and honked and a boy came out to take your order; we were getting ice cream that day, or orange sherbet. 

Sala Motors on Harrison Avenue north of but in the same block as W&W Motors. My father bought Dodge and Plymouth cars and trucks from Karl Wiselogel, and Sala Motors was in the same block a little bit north, our DeSoto Plymouth dealer. The quonset hut is still there, next to where St. D's RC church was, then a food shop, now a bank is there. And yes, I coveted the DeSoto cars there, plus Gray/Grey Sala was very cute when we were at Bay High. I think Bill Guy had a crush on her. See where the scrambled goes with the word DeSoto. 

And “Happy Days,” Richie Cunningham (Opie, Ron Howard) -- his father liked to mention his DeSoto, a sign of class. Remember The Fonz, with Henry Winkler? Heyyy! Fonzie, the greaser with leather jacket. 

Where is the mind now. Thinking about The Robe movie that we’ve been watching as our Wednesday noon and evening Lenten program at HNEC. Richard Burton noticeably rides a white horse. And someone saw a white dove in the movie last night, flying by as Jesus carried his cross to Calvary, and fell. Very subtle, I missed it, I’ll put the DVD on this week and look for the white dove.

W, Thursday