Sunday, November 30, 2014

Quoth the Crow

A bad words football game starting with the missed field goal. I would say UFla FSU could have gone either way, but I did not have that good feeling from start to finish, not even when it was 9 to 0. Next year in Jerusalem. 

South Carolina game no picnic either. 

Nor MGoBlue, OMG, Bo, where are you when we need you, the golden age is over, Holy Christmas, I’m going home. 

This is my morning to preach and celebrate at St. Thomas by the Sea, then we’re coming home and taking whoever is left here of family to Po Folks for Sunday dinner before Kristen heads back to university. 

With her on the road it won’t be Papa’s most relaxing Sunday afternoon. Maybe fried green tomatoes will help the mental turmoil. The crow is excellent well done and the feet crispy. 

Alabama? Auburn fans could have been happy if Jesus had come and the Rapture started during Half Time. Missouri next week.  


Saturday, November 29, 2014


If I can sneak back into myself and be who I really am, the most interesting article in the New York Times this morning is a man in New Jersey who, for want of a Ferrari, has a Fiero. 

Two actually, one red with a T-top which he keeps in perfect stock condition, the other one he fools with, changes engines and such. 

A certified technician at a local Mercedes-Benz dealership, his home garage is a shop for working on those two sports cars, and his daily driver is an Oldsmobile Intrigue. 

The Olds Intrigue sounds a note because, remember I’m hiding inside myself this morning, one of my relaxations is browsing my car dealer’s website for creampuffs. In fact, I did it earlier -- browsing online is faster, more complete and in some ways better than wandering around their used car lot, where inevitably a salesman comes charging hopefully out whether it’s late evening or even Sunday morning. Sometimes there are no creampuffs, but this morning they have a passel of ‘em, several SUVs, a couple of covetable pickup trucks, and any number of sedans including a low mileage Buick LeSabre and yes an Olds Intrigue. 

I’m not in the market for a car, at my age may never be again, but I’m an inveterate if not addicted and somewhat crazed shopper all the anyhow. And I love creampuffs even more than new cars. In fact, my daily driver is a 1999 Buick Century, a creampuff that I bought from Cramer's.

Where was I? Oh, the Fiero. 

A mid-engine sports car, it was offered by Pontiac for several years in the middle 1980s 

1984 to 1988 and could have succeeded had GM done a good job with it to begin with instead of letting the Chevy division jealously force it off the road with cheapo suspension and mechanics. 

I wanted one at the time, but never went there because -- it was a two-seater and there were three of us at home; and remembering small American cars of the 70s as disastrous junk I was leery; and while it looked like the perfect car for whipping around Apalachicola and back and forth to pastoral hospital calls in Panama City and Tallahassee, 

I was concerned about what I might look like if a semi hit it; and for dang sure I’d never have let Tass ride in, much less drive, such a little car; 

and finally, everywhere we’ve lived I’ve made a friend of one local car dealer and in Apalachicola it was the Ford-Mercury dealer. So a Fiero never made my list.

But they were really cool cars. And today I’d be willing to drive one the same as I drive my Buick Century -- back and forth between home and Holy Nativity Episcopal Church, that’s it, seventeen-hundred, count them, 1,700 miles a year. 

If I were looking for a creampuff this morning, they have several at Bill Cramer GM. I might go for the Buick LeSabre, or the Olds Intrigue. They do have a low mileage Corvette, but it's too pricey and I would be tempted to floorboard it. A Fiero would be nice, though.


Friday, November 28, 2014

Lasix and One Blue Candle

Count on it: settled comfortably, chair leaned just right, warm lap blanket spread, laptop ready, strong black coffee perfect temp for sipping, reach for a bite of traditional Thanksgiving Friday breakfast turkey white meat sandwich, furosemide kicks in. Let the reader understand. Or look it up. Still and all, the moment, the coffee and the sandwich are as good as life gets.

So is Betty's homemade mayonnaise.

Preaching and celebrating at St. Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach this week, First Sunday of Advent. Notice, it’s Sundays of Advent unlike Sunday’s in Lent when the season is penitential, no Gloria in excelsis, no alleluias, you’d better have given up something that you shouldn’t have been indulging in the first place, and the Sundays don’t count either in the Forty Days or in the Fast. No, this is Advent, long become far less penitential than Lent. Advent’s history is interesting for those who are interested, a total bore for those who are not. There was a time when Advent was fully as penitential as Lent, was forty days instead of four weeks, and was called St. Martin’s Lent --  because it was signaled by the feast of St. Martin of Tours, 11 November, thus Advent began on November 12th. No more, no longer. The only liturgical symbols I see are that the color changes to purple (blue for Episcopalians who have bought into the marketing strategy of the church supply houses), and there’s a hint of apocalyptic, and the church has adopted from the Methodists or whoever, what was a home devotional of the Advent wreath and lighting an Advent candle. 

Again, ecclesiastical supply houses have scooped this one up big time, their hope for the future being that eventually a pope will add the BVM to the Godhead, necessitating a universal shift from triangles to squares. 

Finally, our mark of Advent is we don’t sing Christmas carols until Christmas Eve -- which is frustrating because Santa Claus and Christmas carols are blaring in the culture at large. However, the frustration of waiting is itself a symbol, keeping us mindful that Advent tells us Christ is near. Wait, watch.

Enough for this morning. At any event, the furosemide has just kicked in insistently for the third time.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


Don’t buy nothin’ at least not for me, I don’t need nothin’ and I think but do not know -- because I’m not affected, and I’m not going out shopping, and I’m retired, and I don’t depend on the extra hours’ work and pay for Black Friday -- but I think everybody who wants to should be able to stay home and love being with family this unique national holiday of the American year. 

Especially thinking of Frank, who is far away while Christian is getting older. BTDT, on a warship at sea Thanksgiving and Christmas one year more than half my lifetime ago. It was a bummer, believe me. Thankful for Frank.

Thankful for all who are away from home and family in the service of the country and of others. As it has been since our coming to this land in our nation’s beginning, we are America because of them; and because of us, for all of us who have served. American: I would not be other to save my soul. Where love is not a feeling but all that others do for me, I am thankful for those who love me yet do not know me, and for those who know me but put up with me anyway.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Moment of Silence

Thanksgiving Tuesday every year we come to Tallahassee to Grandpeoples Day at Holy Comforter Episcopal School, first for Caroline, now for Charlotte. While here we go to Trader Joe’s for a few things we enjoy. One is 100% Kona coffee beans, another the box of Australian shiraz. They have good frozen green beans for a third the price at Publix. A small but interesting selection of Indian frozen dinners: a lamb dish I saw last time and bought yesterday. For lunch, Linda and I will share it and the go-box of spaghetti from my chicken florentine and her eggplant florentine at Village Pizza that Charlotte chose for supper last evening. 

Interesting inflation at TJ: a key attraction of the shiraz was it’s decent wine at $2.50 a bottle, but instead of exactly $10 as I’ve paid recently, a new price, $12.95. Maybe supply responding to demand, shipping costs have gone up not that much. I bought two boxes but may not again, don’t like a sense of being caught. But it’s still cheap.  

First time we went, TJs had two brands of duck liver pate’ but no longer, maybe duck lovers shamed TJ into taking it off the shelf. Delicious and reminded me of friends’ recent reports of dining in France, probably as heart unhealthy an item as I love, though I don’t eat it once in five years.  

Yesterday the ten minute drive from Tassy’s house to Trader Joe’s took ninety minutes, an hour and a half, traffic was that jammed and unmoving. Hundreds of police cars, sheriffs’ cars, ambulances, fire trucks, tow trucks streaming through, all traffic stopped for them and traffic backed up for miles in every direction on I-10 as well as north and south thoroughfares. What’s this: a flag at half-mast. At Trader Joe’s the cashier told us they were honoring the funeral of the Leon County deputy sheriff shot in an ambush. It added further perspective to the Ferguson case and my contumely for the Episcopal priest comparing herself to Jesus who was arrested among other demonstrators there chanting “Killer cops have got to go” before the grand jury reported out. Politically correct, a self-righteous certitude attaches that smells foul of arrogance, prejudice and ignorance, and makes me ashamed of fellow clergy. Hatred is not a feeling, it’s how a lynch mob treats people. One wonders whether she’s heard the gospel stories of Jesus arrested, prejudged, tried and executed by the self-righteous and certain of his day. As in heard but not understood. I find no crime in this man. Crucify him, crucify him.

A calling equal to national defense, and fully as honorable, law enforcement is a vocation to the public good. An officer killed in the line of duty is reason for a traffic jam, a flag at half-mast and silence. 

Patience. Facts. Evidence. Be quick to love, slow to judge, last to condemn, and make haste to be kind.

Who has ears, hear.

Our annual Wednesday Thanksgiving Week tradition closes with breakfast at Village Inn, hugs and kisses, and driving home to Panama City. I may have blueberry pancakes. 


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not One

e pluribus non unum

Writing on Monday evening an hour before the Grand Jury announcement in Ferguson, Missouri, I see that for all our progress over the past sixty years, we're as racially divided as ever, people no less susceptible to being whipped into mob frenzy, media more untrustworthy and ever more unbalanced in presenting biased. CNN, which for years I’ve relied on as a primary news source, has so sickened and disgusted me with the slant of their reporting on this case that from now on I will be wary of everything they say. I've changed the television channel this evening as a sane alternative to throwing a brick through the screen. 

Deeper than I knew, more utter than I realized, our racial divide is no mere point of view, but tectonic plates that grind and snap, erupt. Both sides are certain. One knows the system works, other knows the system aligned against them. On both sides, people who know nothing whatsoever have the strongest feelings in the world about what should be done. What seems so obvious to me is not to others, to whom precisely the opposite is so obvious. One side seems rational based on experience in the society, the other side emotional based on experience in the society. The experience is opposite, the societies are not the same, we do not speak the same language or see the same facts, we are as different Americas as the divides in the MiddleEast, theirs religious and historical, ours racial and experiential. 

+++   +++   +++

It is done: eight o’clock come and gone, prosecutor’s statement masterfully  presented, media questions to him posturing, shameless goading. I watched on two channels, one I once trusted, the other not, one rabid, one maddenly reasoned. Monday evening I may have learned more about myself than anything else, more than I cared to know, that I have fought with myself and lost, the battle done. I refuse to let it be so.

Watching now, too early Tuesday morning, two memories come to mind from past national crises in my lifetime. One, as our resigned president flew into exile and disgrace, is watching President-For-But-A-Moment Gerald Ford say “Ladies and gentlemen, our system works.” I am relieved to see that the system does work, works as intended, as it should, in justice, not in acquiescence to and appeasement of mobs. The other memory is from the Pentagon watching across the Potomac River as Washington burns and mobs loot after the assassination of MLK. This morning as Ferguson burns the same mobs loot, smash store windows and race home with a new television set, suggesting that for some this is what it was all about after all. 

From total naivete I see an America that seethes and stews and hates in what I had thought was progress. In time, short order, it will calm down and the media will turn to other goading and all will return to normal until this time next year.

I would say my heart is broken, but the truth is that it is inured as I see again: sadly, I do not understand and may never from the America in which I abide. We are not one.


Monday, November 24, 2014

Bus Stop

Sixty-eight reads the redline thermometer on my back porch at the moment. 68F and the trees are dripping, I couldn’t tell whether it’s light rain still, and didn’t want to know enough to walk out into the yard and get my socks wet. The thermostat in the family room is set on 67 but nothing is running because it’s 70 in here. Whether to go out on the back porch to let the fingers dance, or the front porch, or just sit here and sip coffee? I had a nice sleep, eight to two, six hours, decent for an old man, eh? some hours to go before meeting Robert for our walk. A nap later? 

A friend died last evening, her death makes me sad and wonder “what now?” for her and for all of us, self included, or is there then a now -- now being a facet of the human construct of Time -- and, again, what of all the awarenesses and memories that make each of us individuals, who and what we are and have been, does it go out with the lights? Is no more crying and pain and sorrow a passionless being or simply oblivion, or is there a difference, and does believing make so? Twenty-five years ago a parishioner friend died after choosing no more amputations for her diabetic limbs. Brilliant, agnostic, kind and gentle, scholar, professor of philosophy, she died content, peaceful and happy, believing life was over and there would be nothing more, no hereafter notwithstanding the church’s blessed assurances that she thought quaint and naive.

If mourning and crying and pain are no more, are there rejoicing and laughter and pleasure? Can there be light without darkness?

What happens when/where time crosses eternity, do we get off and wait for the bus? Not to be profound, I simply don’t know. I hope, I may believe, likely not the same as another believes, but I know not and know that I know not, and am in no hurry to be taught. Neither am I afraid of learning when the bell rings for that class. Or the bus stops for me.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

CFB no dox

Well, never begin a conversation with "so" or “well” so I hope catholic Boston College wasn’t surprised that the Lord wasn't on their side, that even with Hail Marys right up to the end, the game was predestined and foreordained. Still, it was the most exciting FSU game of the season though the Seminoles remain undefeated. Everybody's gotta hate somebody though, and as a Gator, I think I'd rather love to hate them than see them lose, because if they start losing I'll just have to revert to the Dawgs. Jimbo didn't pull his Rally Strategy that bounced him out of first place, and he had to fight for the win, which was good: I detest those lopsided debacles, this was a stomp down good 'un right up until the final seconds and fourth down when FSU got in field goal range. 

What I’d like most of all is to be able to whine about Jameis for some reason, but it’s sour grapes, if he "would have been a Gator" I would have chuckled at his antics. He selects his receiver like an eagle spotting mice and passes to him like a speeding bullet. He will go far. I hope. Soon, I hope.

Nevertheless, we have our Thanksgiving crow stewing for next Saturday and I’m going to eat feathers, feet, beak and all, but washed down with a couple glasses of delicious Argentine malbec. A good sport I am, eh? Bull-you-know-what, don’t print it, preacher, bite your tongue.

Elsewhere. South Carolina game was fairly OK at 37-12 and Auburn could have been far more lopsided at 31-7, sorry Trae. Other SEC games of interest were vanilla cupcake: there's no doxology in 55-9, 52-3, 48-14. Michigan a disappointment again but still and always MGoBlue. Gainesville: I hate it when nice coaches fall, get slammed and fired. Coach Will beat Georgia, if he topples FSU let's give him another season, eh?

Some months ago Fr. Chuck Floyd scheduled a trip to take his children and grandchildren to Hawaii so I’m filling in for him as supply priest Celebrant at St. Thomas by the Sea, Laguna Beach this morning, Nov 23 and next Sunday morning, Nov 30. Deacon Ed is preaching today, me next Sunday. Back at HNEC Dec 7, Roll Tide v. hopefully not Dawgs unless Missouri messes up against Arkansas. No chance? Think again: Arkansas 30, Ole Miss 0 and Missouri didn't do as well against Tennessee as I hoped. Anyway, go Tigers, beat Razorbacks. 

Violent storms today? Supposedly.

Sorry for the rambling nonsense.


Saturday, November 22, 2014


seascape: smell of gray

They are visible, completely outlined by their lights, two ships anchored offshore overnight. On the horizon. Couple miles out? it's hard to judge distances at sea. Merchant ships. They were there when I went to bed and they are there now. The sunsets are beautiful, sometimes magnificent, but what I like best about being here and so high up and able to see so far may be the sea, its sound in the dark with the sliding door cracked, and its ships. Even the best Navy years were the ships. 

A warship not only is but feels very different from a cruise ship. It’s no nonsense. Gray. And the smell. The smell: a Navy ship has a smell that comes back to me in this darkness. What was it? Paint? I don’t remember, paint? oil? the oil in the paint? steel, does steel have a smell? It’s not the salt sea, what then, I don’t remember, but passageways, storerooms, when you go inside, below decks, every space, every void has that smell. Best was the destroyer, fifty-five years ago, everything about it, steel, sailors and smell. 

Someone who served in her years ago wrote online that from where he lives he can see the USS TRIPOLI tied up at her dock. I can see her too, but she's at sea. At sea I used to check every one of my spaces every evening after supper. Took a couple hours. That was forty-five years ago and I don’t recall how many spaces, several dozen or more, up and down ladders, deep in the ship, some interior spaces and some against the skin of the ship where you could hear the sea rushing by, and feel it if you touched the steel. Outside your stateroom and the wardroom you wore your hat if only because coming up a ladder into the wheel of a closed hatch it gave you protection; but the smell, I remember the smell. You get used to it, but you never don’t smell it. 

It makes the rest of the world smell strange. 

Eventually it leaves your nostrils. It left me that 1971 morning as I drove out of San Diego for the last time. I wonder if those merchant ships offshore have it. If they’re as clean as a U. S. Navy warship I bet they do. It must be paint then, eh? What? The smell of gray.

Coffee this early morning, a soft chair that leans back comfortably, a warm light blanket over legs and lap, sound of the sea and lights: two ships on the horizon.

Do the ships give me wanderlust? No, not wanderlust: memories, but no longing. They complete the scene. What’s the sea without ships?


Friday, November 21, 2014

A to V

From A to V

Oh my, it’s so true. Anu Garg’s Thought For Today, “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do” (Voltaire 1694-1778). Yet at this point in life what can one say or do but press on. The thought is not all that different to my recall of our discussion at seminary thirty-five or so years ago, of Anselm’s thoughts on atonement. (a) In that one’s obligation, one’s debt to God is to live a perfectly sinless life, (b) even one sin cannot be made up for by doing good, because good is one’s obligation anyway; but (c) in God’s perfect justice, sin debt must be paid; and in that because of (a) such payment is beyond human doing, (d) only God’s own self is able to pay the debt, which (e) was paid once for all by Christ on cross.

If that’s not quite accurate, I’m not about to dig back into Anselm this morning, and I don’t buy Anselm anyway; but Voltaire’s quotation has it right. I could have done other, different, better. I could have taken another bus, boarded a different train; but here I am, bus left and missed my train, standing on the platform watching the caboose round the bend and across the heavens.

+++   +++   +++ 

Always, Anselm’s successor four centuries later, Thomas Cranmer, in the daily office  

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name.

and in Cranmer’s litany, with its theology of atonement,

REMEMBER not, Lord Christ, our offences, nor the offences of our forefathers; neither take thou vengeance of our sins: Spare us, good Lord, spare thy people, whom thou hast redeemed with thy most precious blood, and be not angry with us for ever.
The thoughts, the theme, Anselm, Cranmer, Garg, Voltaire, seem more appropriate to Lent than to the bursting to be free anticipatory joy of Episcopalians humming but not singing Christmas carols that Advent has evolved, or devolved, into in our time. But as we creep through the dregs of fall and on into winter, March seems a long way off. Too far, when life itself is so unsure. Or too soon. Let the reader understand.

Dearly have I loved Thomas Cranmer, but his portraits are always so dour. As though he suddenly realized the problem: he forgot to drink his prune juice. 

No matter.


Boy howdy, that didn't go where I intended. I was thinking of Bill Cosby, "poor Bill" I was thinking except that it's poor me, losing the wonderful humor and loving gentleness that Bill was to me all these years. Bill is stewing in his own juice as many a male would do if life caught up with him in the end; but it's poor me, I'll miss the Bill Cosby I loved all those years. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


Like everything except Halley’s Comet, comes round every year the Feast of Christ the King.
 It was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to keep us mindful that humans are not supreme, in response to the rise of fascism and its personality cult in Europe and especially Italy. Christ the King Sunday has subsequently been taken up throughout the Christian church, including the Episcopal Church and Anglicanism generally, because we love to celebrate. Also, if the pope says it, we scoff that we're not under the pope and do it anyway because it's such a great idea. Why we don't just go home to Rome I've never been quite certain. Anyway, what happens? Denominations that don’t follow the church calendar miss it, but we sing a couple of great, rousing hymns and think ahead to Advent. 

To some the idea of a king is offensive and don’t like it even associated with God, both because of the authoritarian flavor of monarchy, the idea of beings ranked qualitatively when all blood is red and the royals take themselves ludicrously serious what with bowing and curtsying even to each other and keeping a list of who has to curtsy first; and because as to monarchy, even the primary terms are patriarchal, male sexist: king, kingdom, lord, lordship, father, son, even he, his as in “Blessed be his kingdom now and for ever” and “It is right to give him thanks and praise. And so, with a nod in that direction the church quietly shifts to neutral nouns and pronouns. Sovereign instead of king. Reign of God instead of kingdom of God. Blessed be God's kingdom (oops) now and for ever. It is right to give our thanks and praise. The holy gospel of our savior Jesus Christ according to Matthew. And such. Even the notion Queen of Heaven does not offset the overall maleness. Or the madness of getting caught up in it.

It does not do at all to scoff at the views, politics and social outlook of others, I keep reminding myself, with my scorn for those whose certitude on any subject is set in concrete different from my own. The ridiculousness of my own certainty is sure. Several times, I have tried to facetiously cast my own certainty in outrageous absurdity, but my attempt at humorous self-ridicule always misses the mark somehow, such that I come off arrogant and spoil it all, humiliate myself, and must apologize and go home embarrassed. Over the years, one of my favorites has been the ludicrousness of Humpty Dumpty sitting on the wall, talking to Alice.
 In the outrageous conversation, HD uses the word “glory” to mean “a nice knock-down argument,” misusing the word such that he makes no sense. Alice calls him on it and the pompous ass retorts -- Lewis says "in rather a scornful tone" -- “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” I love that Chapter 6 of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and especially the outrageous pomposity of HD's ignorance, and have tried several times to turn it round on myself, but my effort always fails miserably and I certainly will never try again. Not soon. 

We still and nevertheless have the Feast of Christ the King notwithstanding the contempt of many for subtle, even unconscious, unwitting male domination in the society, and their antagonism toward those who don't perceive it.

For myself, I love seven-year-old Alice and would like a grandmother for president next time. If we could get Golda Meir. She was one tough cookie.

As we learn from Humpty Dumpty, every conversation doesn’t have to flow logically or make perfect sense, or indeed any sense at all to those in the know who know they know, and to those who know not and know not that they know not. Quite often, they are one and the same. 

Thursday morning breakfast. Tuna Melt sandwich made with canned pink salmon stirred in a teaspoon of Hellmann's mayonnaise, two slices of 35-calorie thin wheat bread, and no cheese. Strong black coffee from my magic machine. Sweet (the meal, never the coffee, never, never, never sweet coffee).

A glory of Anglicanism, or at least of the flavor that I have known, is that we do not feel called to be finally definitive, and we are not in the least bothered by inconsistency.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's a long way to Tipperary,

it’s a long way to go
It's a long way to Tipperary
and the sweetest girl I know ...

Interesting earliness this morning, of nostalgia. Scrolling FB, there’s William’s name, William England. One of my super-smart students those years at HNES, he’s now a senior at UFla, which I knew because he and Kristen were in the same class at HNES. He’s a sideline photographer for the Gators and apparently plays basketball there. William I expected to go his father’s path to medical school, if only because his dad used to let him scrub and watch heart surgery, but FB wandering I see he’s going to Navy OCS on graduation, then to Pensacola for flight training. Happy days in the air, William, enjoy landing a jet fighter on a postage stamp at sea! Life Is Good.

See, the mind does this traveling, to Fall 1956, my own senior year at UFla, excitement at my acceptance for Navy OCS, a mind’s quick trip to Newport, Rhode Island, the green 1948 Dodge sedan that mama and I chose between it and the blue one that May 1948 day at the Bay Line depot after Karl Wiselogel called and said, “your new car’s on the boxcar, you can go choose which one you want.” 

Nine years later, Linda and I had the green Dodge my senior year at Gainesville, not like that red Porsche on William’s FB page, back to Newport years later for Naval War College, frequenting Mack’s Clam Shack and that lobster house on the waterfront downtown -- climb up on the side of the vat and pick out my lobsters, dollar each. My God but Newport was cold in winter, frigid, snow plow scraping by in the wee hours, covering up my car at the curb. Clanging bell in Newport harbor I could hear from my pillow. Narragansett Bay: the Jamestown Ferry, whistling at night for it’s last crossing, also from my warm pillow. Civilization loses the war when it trades a ferry for a bridge. 

Bonnie Hale has her open heart surgery today at Cleveland Clinic, Bonnie in blessings and prayers, and her medical team, and her boys. Bonnie’s on the second tier, which means this afternoon. Mine was first tier, on the trolley from hotel to heart institute about four o’clock in the morning, in the extreme bitter cold of a January predawn in Cleveland, packing dreams just in case.  

Bitter cold in Cleveland now also, and unless he’s home now, Jacob is still in Cleveland teaching a course at the NASA school, Jacob Williams, posting pictures of the coldest parking lot under the Milky Way. We warned Jacob but he went anyway. Every other week for some months or a couple years thirty and more years ago I drove from Harrisburg west on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to Cleveland in my business, coordinating with my clients Gould Ocean Systems Division and the Australian Department of Defence, I know it was 1979 because that was where I drove my first trip in my first new Cadillac, a red Sedan deVille.

Mind again, the traveling mind: Jacob and his family dear to me all our years at Trinity, Apalachicola. At Christmas and Easter, Jacob’s mom baked for our Eucharist the most beautiful Greek bread, with Greek words and decorated with cherries. In the mind: a packed, overcrowded church, little children coming to the Altar rail, asking for a cherry with their chunk of Bread. “Father Tom! Can I have a cherry?!” The Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven. An old black Chevrolet pickup truck rolling down the alley, stopping at the back gate and Neumann Marshall walking to the rectory kitchen door with a mess of mullet for our supper. Apalachicola, where the love was so thick you could feel it. Trinity Church with the old prayer-soaked walls, as Mamie said. Wednesday evening Bible Study, Ina Margaret dashing into the rectory with a huge platter of fried mullet she’d just netted at Indian Pass. Netted, cleaned and fried. Piping hot. OMG. Life Is Good. 

Where was I? Gainesville? Newport? Apalachicola? Cleveland? 

Cleveland? Is that you, Grover? 

Now mine because Joe brought him to me in Cleveland to keep me company for my open heart surgery, there I named him for the president even though the city was named for General Cleaveland, the surveyor and the local newspaper dropped the “a” so it would better fit on the masthead of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, a strange way to name a city. Grover is my teddy bear. First, he was Patty’s, Joe brought him to me, he’s mine now, Grover.

We brought in healthy potted azalea cuttings from Patty’s Garden yesterday afternoon, because it seems as bitter in PC as it is in Cleveland this morning.

Mind’s eye: a long way round.

St. Andrews Bay to Lake Erie. ECP to BKL, an hour and forty-five minutes at forty-five thousand feet. It's a long way.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

glass darkly

Glass Darkly

Driving away from the church office one pleasant summer afternoon some months ago, I honored the Stop sign at the intersection of 3rd Street and Bonita Avenue. Intending a left turn onto Bonita, I found myself unintentionally but nevertheless almost a foot into the left lane, but no matter, as there was no traffic, so I didn't back up. As I paused momentarily, however, a beat up red Ford Crown Victoria rolled up to the intersection from my right and turned left in front of me, into the 3rd Street lane that I was slightly violating. The driver of the Ford, a rough-looking man perhaps in his thirties and whose personal elegance suited that of his car, glared, shook his fist and swore viciously at me, a rage of obscenities that I could hear, because both our driver windows were open. 

It was an unsettling experience of personal violation. Emotional assault, rape of sorts.

An elderly white-haired man, I probably looked to him, nearly two generations younger, like an incompetent old fool who shouldn’t be driving at all. And may indeed be exactly that. My recent stumble, fall, and bloody ride to the ER by ambulance made me think -- again -- ? -- about myself. 

My stitches are out, the external ones, nose and chin are grown back onto the face. Hopefully, stitches inside my lips and mouth will soon disappear, dissolve is the word. Before going to the parish office to lead our Bible Seminar this morning, I am starting, resuming actually, a phase of cardiac rehab that I hope will help me build back up at least to the physical condition and mental alertness that I felt three years ago after my heart surgery and vigorous recovery. If I am called to live into ancient age, at least I should do so responsibly and ably, eh, make it enjoyable for self and less worrisome for others. Except for holidays, the exercise regimen will be Tuesday and Friday mornings, conveniently at the BayMed complex a couple blocks from the church. So, I’m addressing myself.

The driver of the red Ford made me mindful yet one more time again, that no two of us see things or other people exactly the same. He saw an idiot, a fool. I saw an unintended innocent stray into his territory, for which I would have backed up or apologized, and mindless road-rage hiding in anonymity. Who was that strange person? Would he have reacted so had I been his grandfather? Who was correct? Or was there objectivity at all? 

There was in fact not an impartial point of view on the scene. And it’s the way life is, all of it. I myself sometimes drive that trashy red Ford Crown Vic -- as do some of the people whom I like and respect the most in life, people on both sides of the American political span, and on all points of the Christian religious spectrum and outside it. I have my views, many through a glass darkly, which are products of who and what I am, the result of who, what and where I have been these eight decades.

Indeed yes, I am opinionated, have my own moral outrages and outrageous moralities. My own rear view mirror and shaking fist ... 

... National news media leading, inciting, a lynch mob mentality to try, condemn and execute the Ferguson police officer and doing the same with the grand jury that is deliberating his case. HuffPost is especially guilty, so much so that they have earned my utter contempt with their goading catch phrases. ... 

... Mindless stirring up talk of impeaching the president for this or that, currently Immigration: "is he heading into an impeachable offense?" CSM stirring, inciting if for no other reason than that they earn their being by reporting news, so stir up more hatred to attract more readers. Impeachable offense? The fact is, whatever the House of Representatives votes to impeach is impeachable. For God’s sake, we don’t need another national frenzy of political hatred, there are real problems in the world, let the man serve out his term and be gone. ... 

... Affordable Health Care: standing outside watching as no expert on anything, least of all medical care and its administration, I wonder what is to defend about a society that outlaws abortion and condemns contraception yet does not want to provide medical care for its human produce: the children of the poor. ... 

... Same-Sex cohabiting and marriage: in that it’s none of my business, I wonder how it could possibly be any of your business unless you are in the closet hoping to throw attention elsewhere. ... 

... ISIS the 21 century moral equivalent of Nazis, Stalin and Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. My military mind road rage response to their beheading Americans is to brush aside morality, history and reason and start pushing red buttons, whumps in the darkness and flashes of light over the horizon, until that part of the earth is a radioactive wasteland uninhabitable for a thousand years, and let the future be judge in a sequel to The Road which no one is left alive to write, much less read, and thank you very much Noah. ... 

... Kim Jong-un? send him an owl with an explosive howler. Or show his handsome face to a drone operator ... 

... Four killed in terrorist attack on West Jerusalem synagogue, Palestinians are fast easing themselves out of my sympathy. ... 

And this is a priest? No, just another human. How to take me? For one, when I run for president, I'm voting for the other candidate.

How much more deeply can humans hate, when neighbor is hated even more than enemy, is the rhetorical question.

And what is God’s future for us? Are we already deep into it? Perennial apocalyptic or Alas, Babylon? I don’t like what I see. In the mirror. Rear view. Driving this red Ford. 


Monday, November 17, 2014

dusk to dawn

It’s late. DayDate in the upper right corner reads Mon 3:58 AM. A decent sleep after a decent day and before another. Day follows day. And night, night. Also dawn, dawn, eh. Actually dawn, dusk, and there was evening and there was morning, another second day. Still a month before the shortest day of the year. In two weeks Hurricane Season is over and we can relax another six months, but, hey! spray in the face so avoiding the concrete steps because the sprinkler is going and walking down the side street to get the PCNH, almost hurricane weather. No breeze, that’s a stiff wet wind coming up Calhoun in my face. Flash of lightning over the Gulf. Green channel marker across the darkness: that you, Daisy? 

A sharp tornado hook looking at Greensboro.

It’s what to write? isn’t it. No, it isn’t what to write, it’s what not to write. A friend reading my post gets my temperature, another reads between my lines. Some get me well enough to give, not caution, but maybe pause? What would I not have suspected? Am I completely open? No, this is a blog not a journal. Why so cryptic this morning, I feel like I’m sneaking down an alley, darting from garbage can to garbage can, pausing behind a dumpster to look round and make sure no one is following. That I’m not being followed. Is that you back there, Carroll? I see you.

Some mornings are more weird than others, some not. And some blog posts. Some evenings too: I don't go to a concert to stand and applaud, but to escape; at the concert last evening I disappeared into the music and tried to stay, struggled with whether to come out, they had to come get me. Especially the Williams piece from Schindler’s List, though I didn’t hear the siren this time. I felt the cold, watched the folk dancing but didn’t hear the siren, the Gestapo coming in their black maria. The music is so real it takes you where you wish no one had ever had to live and die: doomed and afraid.

After the concert: a leftover meatball from Sunday dinner, pills with leftover tea, early to bed. Dawn. Monday.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Not First Clown

It never having been my wont to play First Clown, my plan for this morning is adjusted slightly. Our Adult Sunday School class will go as usual, with Mike and me leading a visit to the OT book Judges, from which our First Reading is taken. Judges is not just one more OT tale of horror after Joshua with Achen at Ai, it has a circular scheme of salvation as the nation Israel matures from Moses’ Exodus and Joshua’s conquest of Canaan to the doubtful prestige of having their own king. As well as raising up legendary heroes like Samson, Judges is full of great stories of swords spilling guts, mallets and tent pegs, and pulling down pillars to crush Philistines, so that Boys‘ Sunday School classes will have wonderful grotesquerie to chortle over in later millennia Bible stories. 

Anyway, my intent is to help teach Sunday School but not be the sanctuary clown, anyone who wants to laugh at the clown has to come to Sunday School. 

CFB? Poor Miami, they must not have had scouts at FSU games this year, to let themselves be led into the Seminole Rally Trap strategy. Too late to say War Eagle, what a shame. Georgia Tech? where have you been lurking, that was an ouch for Clemson. Roll Tide, a great topple, Alabama could return to the top except statistically for the unbeatens, but I didn't like MissState and I don't like the idea of FSU back to Number One. Sorry, Gators, but for this one annual game everyone knows I’d rather see Amy happy than me happy: of all institutions in my life, only Cove/HNES tops UFlorida, let the reader understand.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's Not About You, Tom

It was earlier predawn than I thought upon arising an hour ago, had gotten up once to speak to Father Nature, back down and beautifully to sleep. Waking an hour or two later, I knew “this is it” so gave up the warm snuggle against and got up. Clock on Linda’s side of the bed: 1:38. What? This is what I get for going along with changing between CDT and CST twice a year. The one time I truly appreciated it was that extra hour in my cot Sunday morning, October 27, 1957 at Navy OCS, Newport, Rhode Island. That was the first morning of the rest of my life, and for years I loved being in the Navy. 

Lucy Peters, Linda’s mother, was a gifted artist who worked in many media, including portrait painting. She painted this portrait of me at age 22, which she titled “The New Ensign.” 

Lucy displayed it for years in art shows all over the South, and it gained her many portrait-painting commissions until she finally gave it to me. At 2308 I kept it modestly upstairs but there being no room for it at our new place as we clear out, it’s stored at Malinda’s house.

After posting selfies of the TumblingFool the last several days, I thought to post some pictures of the real me. The Solemn Cleric:

Truth, the real me is a melange of who I know and whoever that was that others have known through the years, a stranger to me. He keeps changing on the outside.

Inside he’s still seventeen and forty-two and driving incredible cars across the heavens. Not going there yet.

Robert and me on a walk one morning summer 2014 at the 4th Street Bridge across Massalina Bayou.

Robert and I remember the real 4th Street Bridge. A few others will too, who have been blessed to know and love Panama City so long. Taken looking across at the Courthouse.

Young couple just married: are they seeing their own future, or have they been spotted by an elderly priest looking back at who he thinks he still is?

Sunset last evening as the old man sips two glasses of shiraz through a straw, going off pleasantly buzzy.

It's about me. Bubba, Carroll, Tom.

Friday, November 14, 2014

First Clown

Four years ago last month this blog began as a daily “medical update” as I left BayMed and moved into a “what next?” phase of searching for a cardiac institute that would accept my challenge. Actually it had begun October 20, Wednesday evening still in hospital after hearing a grim prognosis and the inside observer this time, my private personal journal of my own end of life experience that I had often over the years as a parish priest experienced with and in others. Optimistic, always positive, essentially having no choice, and, priest, a death professional of sorts, I had decided to enjoy it, watch my physical feelings, note my state of mind, observe whether attitudes shifted. Watch, not at all, or at least not yet, anxiously. Record. Hold me up for a look and to ponder. Let me see.

Let me see. (takes the skull) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?

One motivator was from having watched several parishioners and wondering if I would go their way; of some, hoping not. Annie had been, or seemed, brave and accepting; her only panic the day she asked me what dying would be like and I told her look forward to someone she had loved in this life greeting her as she died. I suggested her husband, who had drowned in a boating accident years ago, whom she had loved dearly. Appalled, she cried, “Oh, Father Weller, it’s been so long.” Evidently she had gone on after her life with him,  loving again and maybe dearer. Every day as a parish priest, one learns something, sometimes what not to say, as I had done that afternoon.  

One in particular, Rose, pathetic in extreme old age, had told me many times she was ready to die, ready and longing to die. I had been astonished then as death approached that she panicked and was afraid, grasping at every straw and string to hang on to life. And terrified of the grave’s darkness, she made a relative promise to install an electric light inside her casket. No judgment or laughter from me: would I do any “better” or different? 

Both stories twice told here before.

Also said here several times before is that as I was contemplating thusly and began journaling, a dear friend suggested I post on CaringBridge so friends and loved ones could keep up with. After a day or so of back and forth, I decided to go with it and began a new chapter. Different: sharing would require discretion. Journaling I could tell all, blogging would require a pulpit approach. Simply, some stories, memories, regrets, longings, joys and sadnesses, cars in my garage of dreams, some fears that would surface would not be pulpit jokes. But no problem: as a naval officer I’m accustomed to authority and self-discipline. Adjustment, not problem. Just don't tell all.

Why do I continue this daily nonsense? This writing and posting. Same reason Linda works crossword puzzles. Mental exercise. Self expression. Fun. No forum for argument, I say close to what I’m thinking, unconcerned about impression because WTH, it’s my blog. 

Like now. From last Sunday’s fall two things still hurt: lips, and abrasions on the right hand. More peroxide and bacitracin. Face is still a Halloween mask because I bruise easily, instantly and long and the hideous abrasion where I slid on my nose and upper lip. Want a good fright? OK I’ll post a selfie. Blogging these four years I’ve give up on modesty. Ten years ago during the prostate cancer episode even the bashful bladder took its leave of me. As well, anyone who for more than thirty years made a damn fool of himself ten or fifteen minutes in a pulpit Sunday after Sunday is inured to “what will people think?” Comes to mind the commodore in my last ship whose favorite expression was, “I don’t give a rat’s ass.” 

The Holy Man never said that, it was our PhibRon commodore. 

Today. Hopefully, arrange and schedule cardiac rehab. While Linda paints a room upstairs, I’ll open and wash two more upstairs windows. If the house sells, rooms and windows will be fresh. It not, rooms and windows will be fresh. Call a carpet stretcher. Finally, into the car, out to the beach. Smile through wired lips. Enjoy the ocean from high up: sounds of the wind and sounds of the sea make me happy to be. Sip a glass of red wine. Through a straw. Red wine through a gardenia straw.