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?


Saturday, October 25, 2014


Rights Worth More Than Children

Are high school boys unstable? Sure seems like it, in Washington State another quiet, good guy with a firearm gunning down fellow students then committing suicide. It is incontestable that we are an amazing society. If these were Muslim boys doing the shootings, the really big thinkers would be raging against Muslims. But these are boys with rights, so nothing can be done.

We are an amazing society. A sickening study in rights versus responsibilities. School children were murdered again Friday, but nothing can be done, because we know our rights.

With rights come responsibilities. 

We just don’t get it. 


Friday, October 24, 2014


Something may be as soothing and peaceful as predawn darkness with surf washing lightly ashore: I don’t know what it would be. Memories perhaps, private and to each his own. On a foggy night, a bell in Narragansett Bay ringing vessels away from rocks as I drift off to sleep, and I am 33, miles and years from adventures yet to come. Adventures, lives and loves unknown and undreamed. Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be.

Just as well we can’t know the future, isn’t it. Thinking of walking on the beach: how far can I walk and still make it back? There was a time and year when it was regularly six or eight miles, but now I’m nearly twice that forty, how did this happen, how did I get here, I must not have been paying attention. Life is a bus ride, isn't it. I must have been looking out the window. A bus ride, and I was dozing. Walking is best when distracted or trying to walk away from. What? Whatever was I thinking? It hasn’t been possible to walk away from life. 

Life doesn’t have to make sense. Neither does writing, musing, remembering. I was thinking Friday Dark Thirty for this blog post, but now I think Hunh? Let the reader understand even if the writer doesn't.

There’s that ship’s light out by the horizon. 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

this old house

This morning I really have no message to convey or thoughts to muse on. 

Linda and I had no idea until we arrived home from church last evening and Linda opened Facebook, that yesterday’s birthday observance for Beverly McDaniel at Holy Nativity Episcopal School was such a major happening, or we would have climbed down out of the attic and shed our grubbies to be there and help honor Beverly and the event. It was a big celebration of the star of our school. Disappointed in ourselves, we are sad to have missed it. Congratulations to Our Lady of HNES, and blessings upon you always!

Our retirement relocation project is progressing. Probably, these things are never entirely satisfactory to the people having the experience, and this one is particularly exhausting for the two of us, but day by day we are getting our house in shape for realtors to show it to prospective buyers. The house dates from 1912 and is in good condition, but we are clearing rooms of our furniture, art and such so buyers can better visualize their own ideas and style when they walk through. It is an enormous task, especially for a body who hasn't thrown away a piece of paper in sixteen years.

Looking to our future, we shopped a bit, townhouses, apartments and condos, and found our downsized next home at Harbour Village in St. Andrews. This after looking there, and in The Cove, and across the bridge at several places including Magnolia Beach, Bay Point, Thomas Drive and elsewhere along Panama City Beach, as well as Seacrest Beach in Walton County. But we are home folks wanting to stay in Panama City, and, determined not to be out of sight of St. Andrews Bay, ended up focusing on the shoreline from Beck Avenue to Cherry Street. What we have in view is a substantial downsize from our thirteen room house into a two bedroom condo. If reality accommodates hopes, we should move in February.

A movers van load of stuff has already gone to Specialists of the South for auction. Thursday morning: in a couple hours more movers arrive to move furniture and furnishings to relatives’ homes in town. In a couple weeks, they come again to move another load to Tallahassee. The house already is looking like some nice family used to live there!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sleepy Blue Ocean

Like A Sleepy Blue Ocean

No human creation, not even this MacBook with the lighted keyboard, could match the magical wonder of the human mind, way it wanders and zips, leaps and jumps from place to place and time to time, memory to memory and recreates reality that was as though it still is. It only wants igniting, a trigger. Last evening the Gulf of Mexico was as calm as I have ever seen the sea, filling up my senses,

calm, beautiful, flat and contrasting with the Pacific Ocean our Navy years in San Diego and me Down to the Sea in Ships. The California memory always moves through the morning I drove away from there, up into the hills and east, leaving my ship behind enroute to Columbus, Ohio via Phoenix and Scottsdale where Linda, Malinda and Joe already were. And Tass, whom Linda knew but I didn’t yet, incredible, unexpected, most beautifully astonishing news waiting for me to hear later that day. Who lighted up Columbus and my senses and life ever since.

July 1971, wasn’t it. As I sailed happily out of San Diego with the car radio on and loud, John Denver was singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” newly released and an instant hit, including a hit with me because this PCS would, as always, include direct from Arizona to Panama City and St. Andrews Bay, and family and house. Take me home.

The mind, see. John Denver, an all time favorite. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” in 1971. Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert wrote it with him. “Afternoon Delight” in 1976 and you had to be there. Danoff and “I Guess He’d Rather Be in Colorado.” The mind plays tricks and does favors and stirs memories. Missing John Denver and all that he did and loved and sang about. 

Come fill me again.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thessalonians Tuesday

Bible Seminar this morning, faithfully comes round every Tuesday on schedule during the season. Our church has any number of small groups getting together regularly, and this along with Adult Sunday School is one of my favorites. 

This morning, like the clutch going down while we shift into second gear, we will be reading and discussing 1st Thessalonians. When the clutch comes back up we will be back in gear to continue the Gospel according to Mark. But 1st Thess is Paul’s earliest extant writing, and not only that but is the oldest writing in the New Testament. Thomas may arguably be older, Q may be older, and a hypothetical passion gospel may be older, but Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica is our oldest canonical document. That alone makes it prime. But also the church gives us the reason and excuse to pause and interrupt our reading and study of the Gospel according to Mark by scheduling 1st Thessalonians as our Second Reading for the final weeks of our Season after Pentecost.

Every time I read 1st T I discover half a dozen things I hadn’t noticed last time. Come read and discuss it with us! Ten o’clock sharp to eleven-fifteen this morning, in my office conference room Through the Garage, 1011 E. 3rd Street.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday: Shore Leave

Those two ships anchored offshore are no more idle than I at the moment. We’ve been going into town to work all day on clearing our house and other regular doings of life, then, exhausted, return here afternoons or early evening. It has been and is incredible, compelling us to stop and enjoy. Better than roses, the salt air. Sound of the sea. You can see to the curve of the earth.

Sunday evening the sea was lapping ashore. Calm, flat Gulf, not rough. Sounds the same now, soothing peace in nature. Earlier the water was clear, taking several days for clarity to recover from last week’s severe storm. Linda is fascinated with the stingrays in large schools skimming along. I am taken with ships lying idle and remembering how it was to be anchored offshore in view of land and no liberty call. No, you had to get the lingo right: sailors had liberty, officers had shore leave. 

This was a hard week past. Exhausting. Last night it was relax and watch the sky. The two ships at anchor, watch their lights come on. Distance is illusive at sea, I’m thinking at least three miles out, maybe five, and long as I look out not down, I am at sea and thirty-five not octo. If an old naval officer were finishing up, no place could be more perfect than this.   

The gifts are incredible. Life. Breath. World around. Sky above and its horizon at sunset. Sea with its moods. Love in its time. Space on loan for a while, a metaphor for life itself. What can I give in return except gratitude. 

LORD, thou hast been our refuge, from one generation to another.
    Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, thou art God from everlasting, and world without end.
    Thou turnest man to destruction; again thou sayest, Come again, ye children of men.
    For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday, when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
    As soon as thou scatterest them they are even as a sleep; and fade away suddenly like the grass.
    In the morning it is green, and groweth up; but in the evening it is cut down, dried up, and withered.
    For we consume away in thy displeasure, and are afraid at thy wrathful indignation.
    Thou hast set our misdeeds before thee; and our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
    For when thou art angry all our days are gone: we bring our years to an end, as it were a tale that is told.
    The days of our age are threescore years and ten; and though men be so strong that they come to fourscore years, yet is their strength then but labour and sorrow; so soon passeth it away, and we are gone.
    So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Psalm XC, Coverdale Psalter and counting.

I have permission to go ashore.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Johnny & Paul

Got nothing to say about CFB this morning. For some odd reason I expected the Gators to do well against Mizzou. I figured anyone who went to the FSU game hoping to watch ND win was going to be disappointed. Michigan was off. Auburn off. I’m no Tide fan, but I still remember the SEC upstart and upstar Johnny Mouth upsetting Alabama a couple years ago, haven’t liked him or the Aggies since, and still don’t even though he's hopefully freezing his bee off these lake winters, but didn’t expect that level of shutout.

In church, which I know more about, we have finished Paul to Philippians and this morning start First Thessalonians. Even for those who feel about Paul as I do about Johnny Manziel, this is a fascinating letter to read and discuss. So while I’m not preaching on it, I think we’ll read and discuss First Thessalonians in Adult Sunday School. Five short chapters, read the entirety and then discover what it’s about and what some scholars say.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

anchors aweigh

Underway, shift colors

Seeing as it’s my blog and post, it’s none of your business whether it’s interesting or not, is it, it only need please me. But to be perfectly frank ‘n clear, it doesn’t even need to do that, I don’t need a blog, I have plenty to do without it, what with clearing out, getting ready to sell and move on with life and less, a seemingly unending undertaking. As Linda notes, we’re clearing through 99 years of my mother’s things, 90 years of her mother’s things, things each of us has each held onto for 157 years of individual lives and the accumulated detritus of 57 years of married life, not a collection but the acquisitions of a couple of hoarders. 

When a house has a walk-in attic that’s bigger than any other room in the house, you never need trash anything, put it out in the attic, we may need it someday. Or the children may want it. There’s nothing wrong with keeping a string of Christmas tree lights that quit burning thirteen years ago, I may try to fix it one of these days. 

And the +Time blog certainly doesn’t need me, it has a life of its own. If I stop writing, I bet it continues on it’s own for awhile as fingernails and toenails continue growing on a human body for a while after death of the host. It that’s too graphic, get real, get a life, remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

What’s exciting this Saturday morning? I didn’t hear it, but Linda awoke predawn and pitch black dark to the sound of loud voices. The bedroom door that was open an inch to admit the sound of the surf was also admitting the sound of voices, loud. She got up and looked out and around, thinking someone was out on their balcony or on the beach. No, the sound was coming across the water, from a large ship that has been lying at anchor offshore. Easily a mile from here, and slightly to the east. Brightly lighted in the living and working spaces, it’s picturesque to view from the balcony. And somewhat reminiscent. The voices heard may have been shipboard announcements, changing the watch, or “Now turn to, commence ship’s work.” Or, “All hands make preparations for getting underway.” Remember? I do. I love remembering far more than I liked being there.  

To do today. Some yard-work to spruce up a bit, still some picking up after the strong thunderstorm that swept through the other night. Furniture that someone’s grandchild might be able to use. My office that we’ve been using for the upstairs gathering room, mama’s sewing room downstairs likewise, jammed with stuff. Found more books in the attic, to move out. And GOK how many drawers of years of records and files. I was leaving all that for the children to deal with. 

A friend recently emailed reminding me that relocating, selling out and moving, is one of the several greatest stress events of life. I'm finding it just so.


Friday, October 17, 2014

And all I ask

And all I ask

For my next trick I’m thinking a world without politics and politicking and political campaigns. No television. Maybe a world with typewriters instead of people. Anglican Chant.

What happens there, what is there, whatever or wherever it is that we go or do not go? If it is and we go, I pray it’s a dream. I hope it’s not real, because if it’s a dream it will be whatever I dream, whatever I want it to be, my blue heaven. If it’s real ain’t nobody gone want to be with this bubba; but if it’s a dream, that makes no matter, because it will be who and what I dream of. Relax: just because you’re in my dream doesn’t mean you have to have me in yours. You will be as I remember. As I dream.

You won’t be smoking in my dream; a smoker on the next balcony drives me inside if not insane; I won’t dream him into hell, but if he appears in my dream he will have given it up, because there ain’t no way. He can smoke in his own dream if he makes it that far, which is doubtful, but not in mine. May be this same balcony, though. And this view. Heaven. And the sound. Sound of the wind and sound of the sea. Children shrieking and laughing.

Instead of a dream, would one rather drift mistily among and through spirits of the ages for all eternity? Not me, I don’t like a crowd, not even a gathering of ghosts. So if it’s real I’ll be the distant, ever receding light that C. S. Lewis’ narrator saw dimly in the night sky. 

Or board the tall ship docked at Bay Fisheries in front of my house, and sail across St. Andrews Bay, out the Old Pass into the ages of ages.

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.


Thank you, Mike McKenzie
And "Sea Fever" thank you, John Masefield
And C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Thursday, October 16, 2014

sea and the sky

down to the sea and the sky

Big mistake this morning, reading email, NewYorkTimes, several Jonathan Turley columns, scanning Zillow -- diverting the mind from positive constructive musing.

Sliding door is slightly cracked, exactly one inch, to admit sounds of the angry surf, and yes, the sea is still more than annoyed this morning, irritated might be the word. Moody. Maybe it’s the hour, Sea hasn’t had her coffee yet. Flash of memory: Navy days I knew someone who was not to be messed with, nor spoken to until after the second cup, even “good morning” was taken as offense. Don’t smile, don’t even look at, avert eyes and zip it. 

to the lonely sea and the sky

Can’t see it yet, but yesterday the water was still a muddy mess from our terrific storm the wee hours of Tuesday morning. Sounds the same from far below, fierce, growling, angry. Solution: pour in a cuppa hot, black, strong?

Who thinks the Sea has no moods hasn’t been down to her in ships. Even that day in the typhoon is a happy memory. Packed away now but in our bayview kitchen window, Linda had a tile Patty gave her years ago, “Sound of the Wind and Sounds of the Sea Make Me Happy to Be.” 

I must go down ... again ...

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014



Cooler outside, surf no longer angry, but sullen, as though it didn’t win yesterday, it and the wind. Lightning, thunder and driving rain passed on, the sea is still here biding its time, waiting for the wind to return. It’s lover, the wind.

Today. Walked. Breakfast. Stopped and visited friends on the way home, cool and quiet at their place, do they remember me? Do they remember? Are they? Where? How long, Lord? Questions without answers are as good as any.

Still working in the house clearing out and giving away, Linda taking some few last things for auction. Select a paint for the back ramp, knowing that whoever lives here next may think getting old is for old folks and tear it out: they’ll learn before it’s over. Quick trip back out to the beach condo for my hearing aids because I have a four o’clock appointment to get them tuned up. Also, because it’s my pulpit Sunday it’s my turn tonight and I need to be able to hear. Beef and chicken enchiladas for supper at church this evening.

Do you think we’ll have rain?


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Brightest and Best

Noisy. And Bright.

One good thing about me, I don’t mind being wrong. Yesterday I said the surf is not to listen to, that it just is. But a Navy salt knows better, and I thought better as I wrote but wrote anyway. The surf is like a lion. Or a bear, a dog. Well, a cat. Angry, it warns with its growl. Few things are more ominous than a growling cat --don’t pat, don’t touch, don’t reach out, don't say nice kitty -- except the surf. Only a fool doesn’t listen to the surf. A book read years ago, The Great Tide, remembers from the sea the thunderous sound of waves crashing closer and closer to old St. Joseph - - - were they crashing on the barrier peninsula, I don’t recall. No one could imagine what it was until too late. The memory of those who weren't there but heard the story that grew more and more fearsome in the telling is of a mountainous hurricane tide surging in and over and leaving in its withdrawal only rubble and death. Scattered bricks strewn where buildings had stood, where a city was no more, not even in name.

This early morning, 2:14 in truth, I've stood at the window inside what the interior of a tornado might be like as a violent thunderstorm moved ashore, not over me but me high inside it, incredibly continuous lightning and thunder, and wind. And up high, a sense of being The Destroyer itself except that the building was not turning, rotating, twisting. What category hurricane would this building not survive? Would I run from a three or only wish I had? What would a five do, twenty-five or thirty feet of water. Or would it take a meteorite’s hundred foot tsunami -- 

Wonderful storm at sea, when the best vantage point is watching from shore, half a dozen lightning strikes simultaneous within a split second, on the horizon, near, nearer. Close flashes and instant claps of thunder, startling though not frightening because the structure feels so secure. Is it safe to stand this glued to the window inside the lightning itself? Brightest and loudest of the storms of the morning. Reminds me when Jeremy first came to America, summer 1993, observing that our weather is noisier than England's. 

What will come and go and leave nothing where we once were? Weather. Ebola. ISIS. Not from open fountains in the firmament, we've been promised (Genesis 9:11,15). Perhaps from the sea. Or incoming from beyond, deus irae bursting through the blue dome. 

What did Saint Paul expect? Apocalyptic coming of the Son of Man. Me? IDK but not that except perhaps personally. Or will it be simply wafting off into oblivion? Question about the omniscience of God in Sunday School the other day. We're going to Po Folks after church: does your omniscient God know what I’ll order for lunch? Someone said God is too busy to care. So, what does God care about knowing, then? Whether incoming will destroy us like dinosaurs again? Is that more important than my lunch order? Who thinks so hasn’t peered out into the universe and known there is more beyond. What’s insignificant depends on who’s peering, and at what, eh? Who is myopic, me or God?

What do I know? That who mused ‘tis better to have loved and lost ... wasn’t living through daughters growing up and away and wished not to be. My own end of the world for the third time. Fourth, counting when Joe left to go about the rest of his life. Into the army to begin; but there wasn't perpetual war then.

Bible Seminar this morning. We’re doing Mark. 

Transubstantiation: the insanity of aging is accident: head is white, body is lumps, those things are only accidents, what seems, appears, is seen: accidentSubstance is twenty. Or seventeen. Who do you love? More, who loves you? Hello? Is anyone there? If there is "reasonable and holy hope in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those we love," who could possibly want to spend it with some Bubba who won't even get close to the balcony rail. Even if he is seventeen forever. A bubba is still and always a bubba.

Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid ...


Casualties of the Dawn Boomer: the microwave, the Keurig we brought from home, light and clock in the kitchen range, water pressure (apparently whatever brings water pressure to 15th floor was struck), at least one lamp. 

Monday, October 13, 2014


This is an interesting experience, maybe unique for me. Sunset and after dark Sunday evening, sitting outside on this balcony not doing anything or watching, seeing anything, as there's naught to see. Just being. Well, there’s audio, hearing the surf, but the surf is not to listen to, is it, it just is, the old salt sea rolling ashore. So, being. Breeze constant and a bit cool on the legs, inside for pajama pants, back out into pitch black dark. Shrieks of children in the surf below, or they might be in the pool, or running on the beach. 

Exhausted from Saturday's long hours clearing out a hot attic, scores of trips up and down the outside stairs, I had a very long Sunday afternoon nap, several hours and now may not be able to sleep. Or sleep a bit then awake at one or two o’clock, so what else is new, it’s life and I’m loving it, including or especially my odd hours.

Mind wanders. Sunday morning church was extraordinary. Based on Paul to Philippians, a sermon about astonished, being astonished. With everything about life, astonished. In my lifetime I’ve preached a thousand sermons and more, heard another thousand, and this is the only one I’ll remember. If you missed it, I'm sad for you, because it was one in two thousand, came itself as astonishment, that I've not been especially astonished daily and moment to moment these eight decades. But I am now. At the moment, astonished at being alive. And here.  

A prominent consultant on church growth recommends bring your cellphone to church, take pictures, record the sermon or bits of it, text or email pictures and sermon and liturgy bits and hymns and music, choir anthems, and the children, to friends “as we speak, sing, pray.” Best not to receive incoming calls, but all sending is up for the game. I dare you. I’ve done it, pics of the children’s choir sent, pic of Christian and Carla sent to Frank once. This morning as church ended I gave Christian a bag of cars, his mom says he likes cars, which rang my bell because it gets close to my heart where he is anyway, but a bag of cars as the closing hymn was ending. Several small cars that we'd had around the house for years, for visiting children to get out of the closet and play with. Two bigger cars. A 1936 Chrysler Airflow still in its box and on its display stand, but it’s to unscrew from the stand and a little boy to play with, if he breaks or tears it up, who cares, he’s a boy, boys are supposed to tear up cars, better at two than twenty-two. 

Chief, though, was one of my treasures for a boy who has been a treasure to me since even before he was born. It’s red and he grabbed it and held on. A rubber Auburn boat-tail speedster toy car. Based on this,

except it’s a rubber toy, for a boy to play with if he wants to, not for an old man's shelf of keepsakes. In 1980, driving from Harrisburg to participate in an Australian industry seminar presented in Milwaukee by the Australian DoD and Embassy, I suddenly realized I was not many miles from the Auburn Cord Duesenberg museum in Auburn, Indiana, so detoured down and spent an hour admiring. In their gift shop I bought that red Auburn boattail speedster and a blue Cord L-29 sedan. Rubber, they’re just toys. Time in life to give away treasures, eh, and this was one of my treasures for 34 years. Ryan got several of my cars over the years, he’s pretty grown up now, and gone; Christian a car today. Intended to snap a pic of him with it and text or email to Frank, but forgot my phone, which was at home charging when I reached for it.

Still being, just me and the surf. 

Oh, and there’s a nice woman out on the balcony here with me. She’s hung around with me 2014 - 1952 = 62 years, I'm astonished. We started dating when I was a senior and she a junior at Bay High. Fall 1952, it may have been October. 

Dawn now, soon. Cool, pleasant. Same surf. God astonishes me: I'm alive.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Parable of the Gracious Host?

Yes, You, Friend

Extraordinarily tense game, and I saw not one smile from Saban, only grimace. The man takes his football real serious. SEC at its tightest. Don’t remember watching a game with so many fourth downs played instead of punted. Arkansas didn’t shame themselves either.

They did have the whole red snapper at Capt Anderson’s. Better than ever as not lying in a butter bath this time. One third of it brought home for breakfast, along with Kristen’s baked potato skin, the best part. And two of her oysters.

Our house has a spacious walk-in attic, which until yesterday was a cluttered mess, but fairly decent now. I do need to sort my tools into don’t keep and a few keeps that fit into the metal tote tray Joe made for me in high school, one of my treasures. Pliers, few screw drivers, couple of hammers. That folding allen wrench set. Drill? maybe. Life gets down to what you may need and shed what you definitely won’t, and I’m looking forward to not putting on thick garden gloves if the potato vine needs pulling out of the azaleas.

Weary setting in. Bubba needs a day off.

Adult Sunday School this morning? Come prepared to defend a deity who goes into a towering rage if his people give up on him and who has to be talked out of immolating the lot of them. Parable of the Merciful, Gracious Host. Come prepared to defend a King who at his son’s wedding banquet sees an improperly dressed wedding guest and orders the guards, “‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 

Yes, you. 

Did Jesus really tell this story? One of the tests scholars use is if it’s imponderable, indefensible, outrageous, unconscionable, yes, he told it, because no editor would have added this. 


pic pinched online, tks, Whoever

Saturday, October 11, 2014

no shirt no shoes no service

What do we have this delightful Saturday morning, October 2014? Slight gentlest waft of breeze, 76F and 91%, hey, we’re Floridians, baby, it’s all good. The surf is rolling in, still dark at 5:34. Been out here an hour with one cup of coffee so far, a little pod of Linda’s creamer. Someone shouts on the beach far below and a dog responds yappingly. How good does life get? Well, it’ll get a little better if for no other reason than that the second cup of coffee will be black.

This condo business is to find out how we feel about condo living, and so far it’s all good. Impression may be influenced by the lone and silence. Not to mention the view into oblivion. I’m looking at a Google Map. If I get in Jeremy’s kayak and start paddling straight south, I will cross the Gulf of Mexico about noon, pass between Cuba to my east and the Yucatan to the west, into the Caribbean Sea, and this evening I will come ashore at Honduras in time for supper. 

Real world, my tasks today include our huge walk-in attic, where I've already made progress, and my upstairs office, which is a disaster.

Fall Break: we’re taking Kris and Malinda to Captain Anderson’s for dinner this evening. What to order? Depends on whether the whole red snapper is on the blackboard. 

Tomorrow: exciting Sunday School class looking at the Golden Calf story and also at Jesus’ parable of the wedding guest who got caught at the reception barefoot, wearing only jeans and a hairy chest.


Friday, October 10, 2014

just right

At least with automobiles over the years, the progression of annual model change produced cars that were safer, more reliable, easier to drive and more pleasant and comfortable to ride in. Whether to say more pleasing to look at is in the eye of the beholder, so I’ll say not to say more pleasing to look at, because frankly, I preferred to look at cars of the late 1920s and early to mid-30s. 

But it’s all good. Except for the introduction of safety glass about 1929, almost all this has happened in my lifetime too. 

Also happening in my lifetime, this morning I’m relating automobile progress to computer “progress” because every time I turn the blasted thing on comes up an announcement that a new and better version of Pages is available do I want to download it now or later? Well, I’ve read the reviews and my answer is never, not at all, not ever, I don’t want to download the gardenia thing at all, so quit the hell asking. But no, it doesn’t have “never” it gives me a choice of now or later today or tomorrow. The computer industry has not done as well with software improvements as the auto industry has done with everything, and some of the improvements are maddening. Not to say enraging. Well, OK, enraging. One, besides Pages is Apple’s new OS, which I learned my lesson with years of MicroSoft on various PCs and should have known better than to download. It isn’t called improvement, it’s called Apple laughing all the way to the bank because they fooled me yet one more time again. And it isn’t just Apple. The PC laptop I bought recently so as to have a work computer that’s compatible with the PC in the church office has MS 8.1 and you can alphabet keep it. I thought Apple would be perfect, but clearly Mac also is in it not for me but for the bucks, I can’t trust them any better than MicroSoft.

Friday morning rant of interest to nobody, not even me. Lump it.

What is of interest to me this early darkness is that smaller is better. At least for me at this age. Some years ago, well it was 2007 wasn’t it, we went to a wedding in southcentral Florida, on the east coast. Our hosts provided us with a motel room overlooking the bay, or harbor, I don’t remember exactly, but it was beautiful and perfect. The spacious and comfortable room had a balcony and was delightful, and I told Linda, this is all the room we need, we don’t need that enormous house, the two of us, I could live right here, this is just right. Once or twice since then we’ve had the same experience, or similar. At the moment, by the graciousness of dear friends, we are thoroughly enjoying a spacious two-bedroom, two-bath condo at PCB, looking out across the Gulf of Mexico or up into infinity or eternity. Last evening:

We’re deciding how to live the rest of our lives together, and coming up smaller with no yard, much smaller with no yard, same incomparable view of the same beloved Bay, green flashing navigation light and all. Need a big house? I have the best one in the world in the best spot in creation, and it’s available. Carport and pool-house with exercise pool by Endless Pools come with it. So do lovely gardens, plants that flower in their season, some year-round, and bearing fruit trees. Hundreds of pink grapefruit and ruby red are ripening as I write. Quiet with little or no traffic, and drink your morning coffee watching the Navy head out the channel in front of your house for a hard day’s work at sea. Somebody else’s turn to enjoy more than enough, we’re going to settle for just right.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

balcony rail instinct

We are not instinctive, I once read, humans must think first, we don’t act by instinct as salmon head home to spawn or bees fly back to the hive with pollen, or as birds mate adulterously in the predawn for protection of the species. Or as cats' nature is to chase and kill. 

And we have a couple of birdbaths in the yard that are fun to watch from the house, that we must leave alone because if their location is shifted even a foot it confounds the birds, who come flying up and skid to a stop in midair that the birdbath is no longer exactly where it was even if it’s a foot away in plain sight. Instinct, something instinctual, or at least learned unconsciously and stored.

It was said that our only instinct is survival, a survival instinct. But there’s more. Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) wrote that in each of us there is implanted a “sense of the infinite” that causes us to be religious. I have a new and unread book about this that I’ve just started, hope it isn’t lost in our moving process, also hope that when I find it and resume reading, it doesn’t continue boring me to screaming tears. There may be an instinct in humans to believe in God, for whatever reasons including the survival instinct. It may be an evolved instinct, seeing that other animals don’t have it. 

Although who knows, porpoises, bottle-nose dolphins that come up to our boats, may think we’re gods, and the space between sea surface and blue dome is heaven and when they die they’ll become humans. Religious instinct in porpoises. With porpoises as with us, of course, just because they believe it, that don’t make it so.

Though who knows. We also believe some pretty goofy stuff. Dogma or doctrine doesn't make so.   

But the mind strayed, my focus was instinct in humans. Maybe we have more in us, more than self-survival and a sense of the infinite. An article in the New York Times this morning, “Cave Paintings in Indonesia May Be Among the Oldest Known” has a picture of splatter painted human hands, that has been dated at least 39,900 years old. 

Judging by myself with crayons at very young age, scolded for drawing on the wall and then spanked for doing it again because I couldn't stop myself, and by all the cave art that’s been discovered here and there all over the world, maybe there’s something instinctive about human response to a blank wall. 

One thing I do know. I sure love sitting out here looking at the moon and listening to the surf, waves crashing ashore. 

But I’m satisfied with the horizon: the survival instinct keeps me from leaning over the railing to look at the beach fifteen floors below. 

T+ in +Time