Sunday, July 31, 2016


FB notifications come by email, and one this morning, from a friend of a friend says, "Come to the City. Sweater weather." So I click on it. San Francisco. "Lead us not into temptation" fails me this morning, SFran is one of my three favorite cities, with Seattle and Sydney, none of which I have visited in over thirty years. San Francisco, this week high to mid 60s, low to mid 50s, 52° 95% at the moment probably that wonderfully mysterious fog, arguably my favorite of the three. There in my mid-twenties, later in my mid-thirties, then early and mid-forties, delectable times of life. What did I like about SF? Easier to list what I did not like: nothing. No, well on second thought, I'm going with the earthquakes. Still, I left my heart in three cities and if wishes were horses, I wish I had bought apartments there sixty years ago.

Life changes and moves on, and one can dwell in wishes and dreams, and knows what's behind but never knows what’s yet to come, but so far we love everything about life in 7H. Ships coming and going, of course, tugs pushing barges, osprey circling, pelicans eastward mornings and westward at nightfall, sailing regattas, boats zipping over to Shell Island and back. Also, 7H porch is a spot for watching weather, the weather, come and go, gather, boom, pour, and dissipate. Lightning strikes in the Bay, yesterday a huge streak four seconds away, then one so close there was no counting, no time to count seconds, flash/crash all in one. 4:49 am and raining at the StAndrews moment. Yesterday's storm having just swept in and eastward, then drenching Tyndall

We almost missed 7H. That 2014 day we made the offer on this condo, we waited and waited, seller holding us in suspense we reckon; nothing overnight, no response by early next morning either.

So that early, browsing online, I found a slightly smaller HV unit, no "powder room", on a lower floor but looking west instead of south, asking some $40,000 less. Immediately I emailed our realtor telling him if the 7H seller accepted our offer, fine; but if the seller came back with a counter-offer, our offer was cancelled, rescinded, so we could make an offer on the cheaper unit. Our realtor came back a few minutes later saying the seller had readied a counteroffer, but hearing that if that happened our offer was rescinded, decided to accept our offer instead. So here we are. Some might say an Act of God, IDK.

Living here over a year and a half, we are beyond delighted with our final retirement home. Do we, I, miss the house, The Old Place my grandparents built in 1912? The place where in December 1962 I saw my father choke up showing me where his brother's casket was that nightmare in 1918? The place Mom and Pop sold and left behind in 1923 mistakenly trying to escape grief that is in the soul not the location. The place that in 1963 Pop told me, during my last ever visit with him, that he would never again set foot in as he said, "I can't go there because of Alfred." When I received the buy offer, we were already living here in 7H. Linda was out taking an elderly friend to a doctor’s appointment. Offer in hand, I went down to my house, walked around, felt it coming on, went out on the front porch and, sobbing, accepted the offer to buy my house. Signed, sealed, sold and done. All but the heart.

Knowing the house, visiting the house, owning and living in the house, and then selling and leaving the house was like serving in the Navy and then retiring from the Navy: I’m glad we were there, cherish the memories, do not miss it in the least, have not had the first desire to return. This is home. 

There's Davis Point.

And here's Sunday morning ->

DThos+ in 7H and holding

Saturday, July 30, 2016


Der Geizhals. Online depicting tomorrow’s gospel, Margret Döring (1910-1994) painted it when she was sixteen years old. The Miser. I don’t love it best of all she did — which anyone can view online, landscapes, sketches, portraits, quite a bit of the modern art genre; Bodensee, a seascape I especially like; and a blond blue-eyed Aryan mother and child, traditional blue obviously the BVM -- any reflection of the era in which the artist grew up --

— but on my wall I’d like Der Geizhals to keep me mindful of myself. 

Here’s tomorrow’s gospel:  
Luke 12:13-21 (RSV)
The Parable of the Rich Fool
13 One of the multitude said to him, “Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me.” 14 But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or divider over you?” 15 And he said to them, “Take heed, and beware of all covetousness; for a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16 And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man brought forth plentifully; 17 and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ 18 And he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns, and build larger ones; and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, be merry.’ 20 But God said to him, ‘Ἄφρων, Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ 21 So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

When Jesus says Ἄφρων is he speaking to me? What am I a fool about? About what am I greedy? What do I covet? What am I setting aside for enjoyment, for security in my — “old age”? Do I covet other than material things? How about that old car in the garage out back, can I close that door and lock it --

Might I be more generous, less anxious about running out of resources? Who could I help? Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: how loving am I of myself, how pleased, satisfied and content with who and what I am? Would God rather I be other? Do I covet, envy those of greater education, intelligence, perception, wisdom? Are there things I want, such as some ability in Hebrew, that I could work on instead of just coveting foolishly? And seeing I’ll turn eighty-one in 43 days, what’s the use of wanting to be seventeen again? 

What are my answers? What are your questions?


Friday, July 29, 2016

not bad

In one of his books of essays, reminiscences of early twentieth-century growing up in the Jewish garment district of NYC, I don’t remember which book, I loved them so much that I had them all, Harry Golden writes about when his parents decided he needed a new suit. Probably twelve and maybe headed for his bar mitzvah at thirteen, he was a growing boy and needed a new suit. Dead serious, no simple matter, such a purchase would be a family undertaking, with several family members going along on the shopping trip. Mother, father, Harry himself. An aunt. And of course The Maven, the uncle or cousin or close family friend who had worked in a garment factory at one time or other and so styled himself and was considered the family expert in fabrics, their quality and value. He may have sewn on buttons, but having worked in the sweatshop he was the expert.

Harry’s story is hilarious, the family going from tailor shop to shop, looking at material, the maven examining cloth, jerking, twisting and pulling fabric knowingly, contemptuously muttering such things meant to get the price lowered as, “trash, a piece of junk.” In the bargaining the shopkeeper and family go back and forth about the quality and the price, and then the family storms out of the shop in a feigned rage that the shopkeeper tried to cheat them, vowing never to return as the shopkeeper follows them out and down the sidewalk pleading and still bargaining. It is as much liturgy as "The Lord be with you."

At one material shop the fabric is found, the right cloth. Harry’s suit will be made from this. As the shopkeeper looks on, the family sneers about the ugly color and poor quality, and makes to throw the bolt of cloth aside. The maven unfortunately blows everything. Pulling and twisting the cloth, he mutters, “Not a bad piece of goods.” The shopkeeper’s face lights up. The family’s bargaining position is utterly destroyed. Harry’s mother is furious. Furious. But a deal is made. Harry’s new double-breasted, brown suit will be made from this bolt. It will last years and be handed down in the family. The shopkeeper takes Harry’s measurements and the price is agreed, $12, twelve dollars. If not for the maven they might have got the suit for ten dollars, or even nine, the mother knows someone who got a better piece of cloth and superior suit for six. But the bargaining position was destroyed by a stupid remark from the “expert,” the — maven. They will return in a week for the fitting. As the family trudges home toward their tenement apartment, the uncle lagging back, scorned and shamed, Harry’s mother rages that he blew the deal. “Such a maven,” she fumes, “‘not a bad piece of goods.’ Such a maven.” The outrage will be told over and again in the family, and he is disgraced and discredited henceforth and forever.

Pastoral counseling, which as a retired parish priest I try to avoid altogether anymore, often happens to involve scenes, scenarios, situations in which I found myself over the years. If for no other reason than that, as Kohelet says (Ecclesiastes 1:9), “There is nothing new under the sun,” black shirt and white collar or not, I’ve been there, done that, felt that, suffered that, survived and moved on. As priest, pastor, clergyman, I have found, in fact, that everything that has happened to me in life has prepared me for this very moment of ministry. But I cannot, must not, tell or share my own travails. The best wisdom is for the maven to keep his mouth shut, to listen, nod wisely, even knowingly, keep his mouth shut, listen. Never, ever, ever utter, “Not a bad piece of goods,” "not bad," "not too bad," a discrediting misutterance that will follow you home, haunting, taunting, said and forever not unsayable.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

1950s summers

Still as death. 84° 78% and not a breath of stirring. Oh-three-something hours, coming up on oh-four-hundred. Where would I be if I could? Maybe 1959, my upper bunk in a destroyer underway in the Atlantic. With a Harvard degree in Russian language, my shipmate, also a lieutenant (j.g.), has just left our stateroom cursing me bitterly because he has the morning watch and I do not. Rushing, he must be on the bridge promptly at 0345 to be briefed and say, "I have the conn." 

Hating the Navy as much as I’m loving it, Don does not get my request to augment from USNR to Regular Navy, his plan is to return home to Boston, and his family’s Episcopal parish that serves sherry at coffee hour, and resume his Harvard studies toward a masters degree and beyond. Snuggling back down toward sleep I lean against the cool skin of the ship, soothed by the sound of water rushing by.   

Sometimes friends who somehow see through me send me links. Or pics. From Joe, waiting for me this morning, the wsj article about a 1955 Buick century hardtop coupe. 

It stirred memories. I don’t always say so, but more often than not, memories include a car, helping me keep straight my calendar of years. NOYB and not shareable, my summer 1955 memories include the Plymouth woody wagon 

we had through high school; and that delivered me to university on my 18th birthday. 

From 1955, a year later, sixty years ago, jiggled by the wsj link, my 1956 summer memory includes my mother’s Buick Century hardtop coupe. 

Our family’s first V8, medium dark blue with a black top, it was Buick’s small body size, same as the car in the wsj link but more pleasing features, with the Roadmaster engine. I was home that summer after summer school at UFlorida with Linda, talked mama out of it evenings whenever I could. The following summer we would be married and I would be shivering in the windy July of Newport, RI. 

Looking west and south across the bay, the bouy lights are still flashing, including my green light. Where would I be if I could? Somewhere in the 1950s, life with no urgency.


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Summer Dreams

A long and exhausting Tuesday finished happily at 7H with a visit, Lillie running in and jumping up in Kristen’s lap, standing on a stool looking out at my Bay, pointing a lamp and asking, ‘sat? 

Closing at Ferucci Ristorante for family supper beginning with a bottle of Peroni, my first Italian beer, quite good --

-- cup of their matchless tomato soup, a beautiful and more than ample serving of snapper topped with capers, succulent spinach, small side of spaghetti with tomato sauce. Black coffee with their incomparable ricotta cheesecake. Some kid in a highchair left a terrible mess on the floor at the end of our table, but it must’ve been there before Lillie arrived. Home for 9 1/2 hours sleep. Wakeup of black coffee and crack of die wunderfullen Schokolade mit Orange. Breakfast from last evening of half my snapper, bit of spinach and spaghetti, still lovely this morning.

Calm Bay, 82.4° 72% and light blue sky, white at the horizon. Hazy beyond Shell Island looking into the Gulf. No air movement but what the box fan stirs. A man in orange shirt and tan cap down there wading and casting for his breakfast.   

Anytime we go out for supper the ankles later report my having eaten too much salt, therefore dessert this morning of furoforty and leftover sip of black coffee. Ice cream after Linda leaves for her dermatology appointment? Not if she reads this first.

So WTH is this, some kind of confessional or sappy diary?

“Summer Dreaming” features an article on a page of this morning’s PCNH, picture of peaches, one sliced succulently open. I also have summer dreams from decades and innumerable years ago. One summer, it was 1954, I worked seven days a week job with another boy my age, delivering linen to the cottages that were Edgewater Gulf Beach

 resort at the time, dozens of one story brick cottages, duplex and triplex. Every evening I had a date with Linda. One morning she picked me up at home early, drove me to work, and we cooked breakfast at Wayside Park 

and went swimming after. It was the time told here before that, having waded far out, we spotted a huge shadow, a large shark cruising between us and the shoreline.

One hot workday a lucious turquoise 1954 Imperial sedan pulled up beside me, my cousin Bill showing off our grandmother’s new car. Not this color

This was replacing the 1952 Imperial that two years earlier, both of us still in high school, we had taken out on Pensacola streets late nights while our grandparents were at friends for the evening, playing canasta or poker. High speeds in a hot car 180hp V8. College by now, those adventures were gone forever, but not their summer dreams. Bill died in 2004. Our first cousins, he and Margaret Ann Gentry were raised by our grandparents after their mother died in July 1939 while I was staying in Pensacola while my brother Walt was born. Another summer dream of memories, late evening after everyone else in the house was asleep, our aunt Mildred (DeeDee) taking Margaret Ann, Bill and me into the living room to see their mother in her open casket. I can hear DeeDee saying, "Isn't she beautiful." 

There’s more to the summer of 1954, maybe I’ve remembered here before. Linda and i had a date every single evening all summer, to the eventual distress of my parents and apparently hers also. One night we decided to appease parents by not having a date the next evening, to cool it and stay home. Arriving home from Edgewater, I telephoned Linda. She was not staying home afterall. A boy from Alabama was in town, had called and asked her out and she had accepted. "Ostensibly" (cough cough) this wasn't known the prior evening when we decided no date tomorrow evening; "ostensibly" (cough, cough, choke, gag) “mama made her accept” (anybody want to buy a clear deed to Hathaway Bridge, I’ll sell it cheap and you can start charging toll, SHMG, you can believe me on this one). Instead of relaxing at home with my family for the evening, I went up to the back alley, picked up glass bottles and jars, dozens and dozens of them, and with words that I only heard again years later in the U.S. Navy, smashed every gardenia glass bottle and jar in raging fury of, “I gave up my girlfriend for you, and now this.” Against my raging distress, my mother tried to console me explaining that Lucy was just trying to be a good mother. It didn't sell. That boy was a Money & Banking major at UAlabama. The next time he called, Linda’s mother had to tell him, “O Linda’s married and has a baby.” I protested, “We have two children, why did you say a baby?” Her answer was not satisfactory then and to this day.

Summer Memories: some delectable, some nasty.

DThos+ still mucking along in +Time+ 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

don't move

Wonderful here, the clouds never cease to amaze me, light playing on them; and the Bay, earlier a shrimp boat with nets in the near channel, now pouring rain in the far east end of StAndrewsBay and in EastBay beyond Tyndall Bridge. Clear here at 7H at the moment, 80° and 84%, stiff breeze has died down a bit. Rain in the Gulf south of Shell Island. Breakfast black coffee with a sprinkle of the chicory Joe brought me, furoforty and a four oz cup of blueberry noosa. 

July 25th: day of thanks, memories too deep to stir. Tuesday, July 26th: short walk, hour or two in the office, haircut at TAFB?

Pelicans circling high above me.

Waves lapping noisily ashore seven floors below me. Breeze off the Gulf bringing the salt air that gives me my Being. Life's moves: Georgia, Michigan, DC, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Seven floors up is as far from StAndrewsBay and salt sea as ever I mean to Be again.

I bind unto myself today 
the virtues of the starlit heaven
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth, the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks.

DThos+ in +Time+

StPatrick'sBreastPlate, verse 4

Monday, July 25, 2016

with me

A nature person, I might rather be a nature person, it’s nice out this morning, but only as nice as breathing 93% can be even at a July dawn of 75° so not sitting outside.  

Black and a square of 72% for waking up though not working fast, may be due to last night’s late-to-bed, 9:30 pm, now a lingering brain fog. Supper on the porch, tug pushed a barge by, 

sailboat catching the evening breeze to head home; seeming suddenly to lose their bearings, pelicans circled overhead on their way to bird island for the night

As ever needing advice for myself, this from a friend’s FB page to correct me

Monday morning wisdom from Anu Garg in a frightening election year of demagoguery and terror: 

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all the unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. -Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (25 Jul 1902-1983)

I fear we have known America as the founding fathers meant it to be, and that we are in transition to something ugly, hateful and different. God help us; left to ourselves we’ve become increasingly self-destructive.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Fly away with me
to another world ...

Sunday, July 24, 2016


Up about usual for a non-preaching Sunday, there’s the waning moon up high. Northwest to southeast, a wide contrail stripes the sky, appears clear though’ve not yet been out. Three red lights flashing from my Bay chair, and if I lean a bit, my green light that winked at me from the house those years. And I do lean a bit to remember.

After our Saturday family supper, Seaboard Valparaiso 595 x 92, left port bound for Houston, general cargo. About a 29 to 32 foot draft, I wonder if she has to watch the tide for sailing —

Last evening the “paddlewheeler” Betsy Ann steamed by, well lighted up. We’ve generally seen her only in the north-south channel that turns right out here and heads north toward Hathaway Bridge, but this time, maybe someone’s birthday party cruise, in the east-west channel off 7H. My green light at her stern like in my own life; above her and farther away, a white light tops something at Tyndall. 

Today’s my brother’s birthday, 1939, Happy Birthday, Walt! Walter Gentry Weller. On Walt’s third birthday, July 24, 1942, we parked at the Standard Oil filling station that was where Tarpon Dock Seafood is now, and Happy came into our lives, a six or eight weeks puppy said to be mixed collie & shepherd. He was part of our family through my high school years. Walt named him Happy Birthday. 

Mind is suddenly flooded with the Happy years. Happy came into our hearts when WW2 was not quite nine months on for us, the summer before my second grade year at Cove School. Thinking back, Happy may secretly have known he was Walt’s and Walt was his, but he grew up with us and was ours. Never a house dog, Happy slept in the back yard nights, protection against my small boy trepidation about taking the garbage out evenings, to the garbage can way, way up back at the alley where woods began pitch black dark, and strange sounds. Feed Happy, mostly table scraps, and his water bowl was under the dripping faucet at the pump by the back door. 

Leaning to remember


Saturday, July 23, 2016

salvation in yahweh elohim?

… and I save them בַּיהוָה in Yahweh Elohim of them (Hosea 1:7)

We have a lovely Saturday morning, one of my favorite times of week. Come to think, it’s Sabbath, isn’t it, sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. 

Morning began not spectacular but nice. Just after seven o’clock we watched as two vehicles met and passed, tug pushing barges eastward came round the bend from Hathaway Bridge to meet barges being pushed westward, they met just off 7H porch. Standard rules of the road, I reckon, passing port to port. Think to be a tugboat captain in my next life, Linda seriously undecided whether to be ship’s cook. 

First lesson tomorrow is Hosea 1:2-10. I get it all but the phrase in verse 7, above. What means “I save them in/by Yahweh their God”? Somehow the meaning is in the context, the contrast set up in the thought “I will not save them by bow, or by sword, or by war, or by horses, or by horsemen — but by their Lord God.” Am I to understand that deliverance will come not by violence but by the Lord? I don’t know, I really don’t. What comes to mind is the Saturday matinee, Ritz Theatre, in the 1940s. Nine cents to get in, if I went with a quarter, I better gardenia well show up at home with a dime, a nickel and a penny or there’ll be heliotrope. In The Serial (as a small boy, never understood why cereal unless it had something to do with taking a tip from Tom, go and tell your mom, Shredded Ralston can't be beat) last week’s episode had ended horrifyingly chillingly as the little wagon train of frightened and doomed folk were suddenly attacked by hordes of Indian savages bent on massacre. This week’s episode backs up several seconds to begin, and we witness the attack, but just in time, to the sound of the bugle, down the hill ride the men in blue, U.S. cavalry, rifles firing, savages dropping like flies, riding away scared off, and we leap clapping, cheering, screaming. Saved. 

But that’s salvation by violence, isn’t it. In Hosea 1:7 violence seems ruled out. But if not violence, what? What then?

We can’t renounce violence; violence, war is our liturgy, our means of self identification, our national Being. Without violence we are not ourselves, not Americans, not American, not America. We will not really be Americans again until everybody pushes through the saloon swinging doors carrying a gun, a weapon, a firearm. We … If everybody carried a gun nobody would ever get hurt.

How to be saved if not by violent force. How, how does the Lord God save without violence? 

Friday, July 22, 2016

dream on

Cool (for July) 76F 87%, breezy, lightning off Shell Island, but iTitan shows storms far south of here and moving off and away over the Gulf. Black coffee and rationing orange dark chocolate, two chips. Good weather for walk this morning, along the Bay unless Robert wants to do Massalina Bayou. 

From his car collection, my friend Mike sold me his Model A Ford tudor sedan, black. 

With foot starter just above the accelerator, it started instantly and ran smoothly, gears shifted easily, and although I expected it to, it didn’t cut off when braked to a halt at stop signs. I kept it parked on the basketball court at Cove School. After the first tank of gasoline, I realized it needed leaded gas no longer available, so called Mike, who told me to pour a pound of lead powder into the gas tank with each refill, and I was wondering where to buy lead powder just as I woke up this morning.

Slightly waning moon is high in the sky, lovely over the Bay. Control tower at TAFB is off, so no sweeping lights white green white green white. Sounds below me, either a bird calling its mother, or a dog whimpering, or lovemaking on a balcony floors down. Or, might be people playing Pokemon, IDK.

Still lightning, too far away for thunder, beyond Shell Island directly south of 7H.


Thursday, July 21, 2016


In eighty years I never learned a damn thing by talking.

Yesterday was somehow a really bad day, comma for me comma, mind not working quite right with something in the background I couldn’t quite touch, a mood that kept coming and going before I could ID it and know what it was, repeatedly returning realization through the morning that I’d not yet written the blogpost that I count on to keep the brain working, music that once lifted happiness so stirring grief that I turned it off, at church prayers that took me where I couldn’t bear to be. Wednesday: an ineffable day, not going there again. Starting with reading several YogiBear-isms including that Yogi said he didn’t really say most of the things he said,  Thursday will be better despite the steamy day that hit me on rising at five o’clock for the second time, and stepping out onto 7H porch. 

And now this morning thinking I was being complimented by the word “literati” when in fact she said “litterotty” linking me and the areas around my chairs to the Charlie Brown character PigPen. Maybe the day won’t be that much better after all. 

But with black coffee a few flakes of chocolate with orange now doing the trick.

Up first at 0308 with Old Father Nature being ugly insistent, I stayed up and read online for an hour and a half. What I like about the internet age is that I can choose for myself what’s news instead of some television or newspaper moron deciding “here’s this morning’s news” or “here’s today’s news,” I can bloody well choose for myself what’s newsworthy. Not watching tv because the convention coverage makes me think I need an air sickness bag as the newest dynasty assumes the throne, heir presumptive and all the royals. But background articles on the Candidate are fascinating, both those against, who predictably make their point by pointing out that they are resisting using the word fascist or pointing to circumstances leading to its rise in Europe nearly a hundred years ago, and those in favor, which are more interesting. The Candidate is stirring feelings about issues that make Americans anxious about America including overzealous internationalism, jobs floating away and that not only that the person you reach on the phone with your technical question speaks indecipherable English with an Indian accent but also that everything in your house was Not Made In America anymore, that people who hate us and mean us harm are slipping in through the cracks, that we look around to see that we have lost control and that it’s unsafe to go the mall or even to the neighborhood bar and all this because those we elected and have been reelecting are not interested in us but only in staying reelected. What happened? People are angry, frustrated and bewildered, and the Candidate offers himself as the People’s retort to the Elite. As much like 1917 as 1923, it’s entirely understandable. But it won’t come off and nothing will change.

Time to take my car to the shop for its issue of the flashing light and dinging bell about the antilock brake system. Linda’s car has been to the shop several times but its air conditioning system still doesn’t cool worth a damn. 

Yogi Berra: the future ain’t what it used to be.

Sip of black and nibble of dark.

Moon again, in sky and sea. 20160721

Lightbulb: my father died 23 years ago yesterday, was/is that my problem?