Saturday, February 28, 2015

This seems appropropriate given how much snow we've had


(A poem in five parts for Bern—Christmas 2011—with much, much love....Jim)

(WHITEOUT is a weather condition in which visibility and contrast are severely reduced by snow.)


A solitary figure trudges
across of faceless landscape.

It is bitterly cold and bleak beyond believing.

Nothing makes sense.

Exhaustion is near.

It is dawn, or dusk.

Faint light.

(The horizon disappears completely and there are no reference points at all, leaving the individual in a distorted orientation.)


Down is up.

Left is right.

Forward is back.

East is South and North is West.

The figure pauses. Sits.

Dreams of sleep or sleeps and dreams.

Either the other, or the one.

(Whiteout has been defined as: A condition of diffuse light when no shadows are cast, due to a continuous white cloud layer appearing to merge with the white snow surface.)

Without a shadow, who are we?

A shadow is proof positive that we are there:
We take up space,
block light,
displace air,
have substance,

To cast a shadow is to be Real.

Without a shadow, where are we?

Do we exist? Have being?

Shadowless, are we real?

(People can be lost in their own front yards during a true whiteout, when the door is only 10 feet [3.04 meters] away, and they would have to feel their way back.)


I often experience whiteouts—mostly in winter, which is appropriate.

I feel lost, disorientated,
confused by pain, physical failures,
the frailties of my body,
my memory,
who I am,
not knowing if I BE,
or not.

Some whiteouts are emotional:
fear of fading away into unbroken white,
wondering if I have been
good enough,
loving enough,
caring enough,

Disappearing in whiteness,
dreaming of sleep,
sleeping dreamlessly.

Longing, longing greatly,
longing always
to feel my way back to the front door.

(In whiteouts no surface irregularities are visible, but a dark object may be clearly seen. There is no visible horizon.)

You are the front door of my life.

You are the 'clearly seen' object when my horizon is not visible.

You have always oriented me in the whiteouts of my life.

Whether I have been good enough,
loving enough, caring enough,
enough...or not,

I could find my way,
reach the front door,
orient myself,
see the horizon,
survive the whiteouts,
weather the storm,
move through the bleakness and the chill,
the dreams of sleeping
and the sleeping dreams
and find my way home.

You give me back my shadow
and make me exist,
make me real,
make me

You are the 'home' of my life
and the clearing that leads to light
and wholeness, and wonder,
and magic, and love.

And simply,
just this:


Friday, February 27, 2015

It's not pretty anymore....

When it fell, it was glorious,
ethereal, wondrous, full of glory,
but a month later
it has lost it's beauty.

The snow plows have done their best
to throw each new fall up,
full of salt and sand,
to cover what was pristine.

The sun melts make sidewalks
almost impassable
with ice you can't see at night.

And the snow has grown old,
with icy fingers
and frozen mounds
where once it was soft and lovely.

Ah, but when it falls,
coating your clothes,
your dog 
and eyelashes,
you just want to open you mouth
and catch a few flakes.

Snow can hypnotize you
when it's falling.
But after a month on the ground,
shoveled up to shoulder level,
frozen over and again,
it's just a pain
you want to go away.

A brown and dirty and icy
reminder of what
looked so pretty once.

A visual tooth-ache
that has no easy relief.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

"irony" doesn't do it justice...

So, when the Senate passes a bill to fund the Homeland Security Administration, we will wait with somewhat bated breath to see what the House will do (with all its crazy people).

"Homeland Security" for God's Sake--being held hostage by none other than Republicans!

Republicans--the Hawk Party, the Security Party, the Defense Party--is about to defund the governmental body whose job is to oversee the security of the nation.

Will planes fly without folks to do the security checks? Will the folks ordained to keep us safe from terrorism be working?

And it's all about the President inviting 11 million hard-working folks to move into the light and out of the darkness of the threat of deportation so they might fully participate in the nation they chose to come to at great risk.

"Irony" doesn't do it justice, what the House Republicans may just do.

"Stupidity"...that may describe it....

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

how old I am

Linear time and the calendar tell me that I'm 67 and will be 68 in less than 60 days.

It's just that I don't feel that old.

Oh, my bones and joints do, from time to time, that old and more. But I've never believed my 'body' was 'who I am'. In my inner life I feel much younger--or no age at all.

It's like the thermometer on out back porch. Right now, at 9:33 p.m., that thermometer says it is 18 degrees Fahrenheit outside in Cheshire. The weather channel says it is several degrees warmer than that. I believe our thermometer, not some meteorologist somewhere. That temperature is 'out there', our back porch is 'in here'.

I often ask groups to raise their hands if they believe in the 'immortality of the soul', and most always most everyone raises their hands.

Then I tell them they're all heretics since the Nicene Creed and orthodox Christian theology believes in 'the resurrection of the body', not the immortality of the soul.

But I don't chide them much, since I believe my 'inner life' is the 'real ME' and not my body--my outer life.

After driving for a couple of hours, my body reminds me, when I get out of the car, how old it is. Believe you me, it reminds me.

But my inner life--my mind and heart and, I guess, my soul--is much more attune to getting into the rest stop and let my body relieve itself than it is to my chronological age. My 'inner self' has to take care of my 'outer self' a lot!

I wonder if that ever stops, if you ever feel as old 'inside' as you do 'outside'? I hope not. I enjoy being who I am inside more than I enjoy the limitations my 'outer self' has begun to impose.

I guess I'll find out someday.  Or not....

Monday, February 23, 2015

I am surrounded by poetry


I am surrounded by poetry
I will never write.

The old man down the block
with his droopy moustashe
and the dog he used to walk, long dead now.
The particular shade or orange in this morning's sky
and the wondrous pink as evening came.
The down on the neck of a woman I loved once
who never knew I loved her.
And her seashell ears.
The bend of her slim elbow.
Her ears--I mentioned that already.

The leafy, logical pattern of ice on my windshield
one January morning--
something a chaos physicist
(talk about a mixed metaphor!)
would have adored.
What smoke feels like in my lungs
when I inhale deeply on a cigarette.
The particular color of the eyes
of the crazy man I talked to and gave two dollars today.

My dreams--coming on me like a tsunami these days--
endless vistas with old friends,
walking through amber when I need to run,
conversations with those log dead,
hard work to accomplish less than nothing.

The smell of skunk standing on my deck.
The taste of coffee ice-cream.
The feel of the hair of my Puli dog.
The sight of a woman, walking fast,
staying in shape, fending off death
by walking fast past my house.

Hearing anything by Mozart on the radio.
And just the way it feels to be inside my skin,
how I can count my bones,
if I would stand still long enougn
and count.
The many ways I imagine death.

And there is o time, no time at all,
since I am growing old.
There is no time, no time at all,
to write the poems that surround me.

And what about the dimples my daughter has?
And the strange way new ten dollar bills looks?
And how my wine glass is empty.
And the wear on the 'n' on my keyboard?
And how the ringing in my ears is sometimes a sonata?
And what the night sky resembles?
And the air under my fingernails and the gaps between my teeth?
The sound of rain, rain's smell, all of raining?

What is unworthy of a poem?
Nothing, so far as I can see.

And I don't have the time.
Surrounded by poetry, I have no time to write.

jgb: 1.30.06


Sunday, February 22, 2015


There were 497 views on my blog on Saturday. I've never had more than a hundred a day before.

I wish I could figure out what they were looking at so I could write more posts like that.....

The Castor Oil Tree is not a mega-blog by any means. I usually get about 1500 views a month. Yesterday I got 497!

Email me at to let me know what you were looking at. Please.

Amazing! 497 views in one day....

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Reality Check


What was it Pilate said to Jesus?
"What is Real?" No, no not that.
"What is Truth?" more like it, as I recall.
But not nearly so interesting a question.

Truth, it seems to me, having learned it recently,
sounds forth like a gong in a gigantic marble room:
echoing and re-echoing with (what shall we say?)
integrity, constancy, eternity even,
that puts 'honesty' to share as the self-serving
little slave of convention that it is, truly.

Truth is self-defining: it gives life and hope and
possibility mother-wet wings most would deny.
Pilate should have had eyes to see and ears to hear.
Truth stood before him, stripped and raw.
Truth whispered in his ear and he heard not.

"What is REAL?" Now there's a query worth some salt.
There's a wrestling match worth of an Angel foe.
There's something to wake up just before dawn and parry with--
sword against sword, making sparks, drawing blood.
There's a nightmare full of incomprehensible images
requiring pause during a sudden afternoon rainstorm
with lightening, thunder and a touch of hail.

When someone drags "reality' into the field of play,
play stops.

'Being realistic,' someone told me recently--with
words that echoed like Truth off marble wall--'kills the Spirit.'

Poor dead Spirit, slain by Reality's arrows!

(Here's the secret Truth that Reality can never quench:
Ice water poured over you in sufficient amounts produces gratitude.
Gratitude is an alias of Truth. Truth is the twin of Love.
And there is this--the Spirit never dies....)

Finally, there's simply nowhere in the cosmos to cash a Reality Check.
There's no currency available. The banks are closed for the holiday.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Whoa, Rudy--you just went from 'America's Mayor' to 'America's A-hole'!

Rudy Giuliani said to a group of Republican Donors that he didn't believe President Obama "loved America". He went on to say that Obama didn't grow up like 'us'. (By the way, the President was born in Hawaii, which, last time I checked, is one of the United States.) He also said 'he doesn't love you and the doesn't love me.' Well, I think after today the only true thing he said was that Obama doesn't love him!

What has happened that anyone--even 'America's Mayor'--can say of the sitting President that he doesn't love America? I didn't approve of the second President Bush and disagreed with almost everything he did, but, never in a million years would I have even thought, much less said, I didn't think he loved America. Never. We didn't agree, but I am confident that anyone who was ever in the White House 'loved' America.

Obama is, I think, the first President that doesn't completely buy, as a matter of Creed, the notion of American Exceptionalism. He has the belief that America is one of the nations of a very complex world and that we, as Americans, can not claim to be pure, unblemished, totally moral in the midst of nations which are stained, blemished and, on ocassion, immoral.

And I believe that as well, in capital letters. Our claim to be a 'shining city on a hill' has been given the lie by income inequality, poor health care, diminishing excellence in education, unethically prying into other nation's business and...need I continue?

The one thing that makes Obama 'not like' Rudy--they're both lawyers, well-educated, well-heeled, well spoken men--is this: Obama is bi-racial.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think anyone in Rudy's position and of his stature would have ever dared say a white President didn't 'love America'.

The conversation we need to have, as a nation, about race, begins at the top. The respect due and most always given to a President doesn't exist for Obama.

And I can imagine no other reason--because a plurality of the people have always disagreed on many levels with whoever was president--is that he has Black blood.

How dare Rudy Giuliani question the love of country of the President of the United States?

Because he's Black is the only explanation I can come up with....

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ash Wednesday

 Today is Ash Wednesday. We had a wonderful service at St. Andrew's sitting around four huge tables pushed together and passing the bread and wine to each other. Today I'd thought I'd post two things--a message I sent to the members of the three Cluster churches I serve and (because the weather postponed church Sunday (the Last Sunday of Epiphany) I'm attaching a 14 year old sermon for that Sunday that I like...."Happy Ash Wednesday...."

A Modest Proposal: a 'kinder, gentler' Lent

Years ago, at a St. John's, Waterbury staff meeting prior to Lent, I suggested that we might consider “a kinder, gentler Lent”.

The two other clergy people were horrified at the suggestion. The six lay members of the staff thought it was a good idea. Ponder that.

I am not someone who responses well to 'guilt'. I don't feel guilty about much of anything. I certainly don't need to grovel in my unrighteousness. When I do something that hurts someone else, I genuinely try to apologize and ask forgiveness and am humbled when I am forgiven. But I don't dwell on the bad stuff I do. I try to clean it up and move on. I don't dwell on the negative stuff of life.

This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. Which always makes me think of the children's nursery rhyme:

Ring-around the rosie,
Pocket full of Posies,
Ashes, Ashes, we all fall down.

Do you realize that harmless little rhyme, that can be danced to with the kids falling down at the end and laughing, is about the Black Plague? Apparently one of the first signs of plague was a circular rose-colored irritation on the skin. The pockets of the clothing of plague victims were filled with flowers to try to overcome the stench. Finally, the undeniable truth that we are, after all, dust and ashes and we will die, we will die.

That's half of Ash Wednesday's wisdom, We will die, we will die. We are, after all, dust and ashes and we will, each of us, all of us, return to that state. I sometimes tremble when I administer the ashes on that day. “Remember, my friend, you are dust and to dust you will return....” What solemn, sober and grave words. And true, true ultimately.

But that is only half of Ash Wednesday's wisdom. The other half comes when we are called to the Table to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. We are called to the Table to remember, also, that we are the shining children of God, just a little lower than the angels, created in the “image and likeness” of God.

I have a big old raincoat. Ash Wednesday reminds me of that coat. My coat has two deep pockets. On Ash Wednesday, one is filled with ashes, dust, humus, dirt—that is part of who I am, who you are.
And the other pocket is filled with moon light and star-dust and wonder and magic and the fact that I am, you are, shining children of God, just a little lower than the angels, the very 'visage' of God, 'image and likeness'.

That's what makes me want to have a 'kinder, gentler' Lent. That's who we are too, not just dust and ashes and guilt and sinfulness—the very Children of God, loved to death by God, loved to life by God. Loved and Loved and Loved again....

Join your congregational family on Ash Wednesday to be reminded to remember 'who we are'--dust and ashes surely, not doubt about it...but glittering, shining, wondrous, much loved creatures as well...invited to the Supper of the Lamb, a special spot reserved at the Table, the best spot of all, blindingly loved and honored and accepted and included.

Let's remember that part during Lent instead of beating ourselves up. Let's remember how loved and cared for we are. Let's remember God is the One who loves us best of all, just as we are, just as we were created.

That's what I want to be reminded of this Lent—how much God loves each of us and all of us.

Join me in pondering that Love, that Love, that wondrous, incomprehensible Love.....

Happy Lent! (Is that a crazy thing to say....probably...but I say it none-the-less....)

Shalom, jim

Packing for the journey 1/25/01 (St. John's, Waterbury)

The hardest part of any journey is NOT “the beginning” or “the middle” or “the end.”
The hardest part of any journey is BEFORE “the beginning”. Somebody has to pack the bags….

We are at that awkward “Before the beginning” part of the long journey of Lent. This Sunday is the Last Sunday After the Epiphany. On Shrove Tuesday we’ll have a farewell dinner and on Ash Wednesday we’ll set off on our journey. Today is the hardest part. Today we have to pack the bags….

The Gospel reading for this last Sunday before Lent is always the story of Jesus’ Transfiguration. The Transfiguration event takes place on a mountain top, far above the concerns and needs in the valley below. Jesus is joined miraculously by Moses and Elijah who represent “the Law and the Prophets”—the gathering of the core of Judaism.
And what are they talking about—Moses and Elijah and Jesus? Luke tells us they “were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.” Jesus is on the mountain-top “before the beginning” of his journey to Jerusalem and the Cross.
Moses and Elijah are helping Jesus pack his bags….
The disciples are not ready to go to Jerusalem. They are full on anxiety about what lies ahead. Jesus has been hinting that betrayal and suffering await him in Jerusalem. The disciples don’t want to go.
Peter didn’t understand. A cloud overshadows the disciples, some of the fog that occasions mountain-tops, and they are terrified. Their fear was well-founded. Before the journey’s end they would face many dangers. No wonder they wanted to stay put on the mountain.
But Jesus is ready. His bags are packed and he’s ready to go.

Today we are baptizing three children. Jacob, Austin and Tiffany are setting out on the journey of life. And before they depart, we will help them pack their bags. Through water and oil we will proclaim they are loved by God and “marked as Christ’s own forever.”
That will go with them through the years and decades ahead. Whatever dragons they must pass, whatever dangers they may encounter, whatever fears may grip them…they will not travel alone. God goes with them.
Even when they feel they are by themselves, God goes with them.
Even when those who love them cannot protect them, God goes with them.
Even when they experience life as a desert, filled with wild beasts, God goes with them.
Today we will pack their bags full of the love of God and the grace of Christ. They’re almost ready to go.

As Jacob and Austin and Tiffany depart, so must we. We will gather around the Table on the Mountain Top and take be refreshed by the Life of God. But we cannot stay here. The world waits for us outside those doors. It is a sometimes frightening, confusing, lonely world. But it is the world God loves, and we do not journey alone.
The Wilderness of Lent awaits our footfalls. We must pack our bags with Love and face the wild beasts there. It is almost time. Soon we must depart.
But before then, some bread and some wine to remind us we are never alone…some water and some oil to remind us we are “marked as Christ’s own forever.”
This is the “getting ready time”. This is the time before the Beginning. This is the “bag packing” time. Then we’ll be ready for where the road may lead us and what the journey will hold.
When it’s time to go, we’ll be ready….Amen.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Ashes, Ashes, drive right through...

I know some Episcopal priests who 'take to the streets' on Ash Wednesday to offer ashes at shopping malls and train stations. I like a little theater and cheer them on. I'm not sure I would do it, but not because it seems 'aggressive' but because I think there should be some liturgy.

We used to give out ashes all day in the chapel at St. John's, Waterbury on the hour and half-hour. But we had a confession and someone would say a little about why we wear ashes at the beginning of Lent. Not a full service by any means but a little more structured than random ashing....

But the Congregational church here in Cheshire is offering (no kidding!) 'drive through' ashing. Just pull your car in front of the church, roll down your window, take off your sock hat and someone will ash you right up. I've often joked about 'drive through communion' but it was always in jest. But the Congregationalists aren't kidding!

But here's the question behind why they would offer drive through ashes--what in the hell are Congregationalists doing with ashes in the first place? I didn't realize how high church they've become since I haven't been paying attention.

Maybe I'll give the congregationalist church here in town some holy water and incense too....

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Welcome to New England

We specialize in winter here....

All three of the little churches I serve with two other 'Sunday only' priests have cancelled services for tomorrow. It is snowing now--a half-inch in the last two hours--and is supposed to snow all night and into tomorrow afternoon.

Another storm--4th in less than a month. And, watching the Local News a while ago, most churches in New England are cancelling for tomorrow...not that people in New England go to church--besides the Pacific Northwest, there is less church goers in New England than anywhere.

And I'm tired of the winter--but there's no where else I'd want to live. We have all four seasons (though this one is getting a tad tedious) and most all the states in New England are 'Blue States'. I want to be among Democrats. That's just the truth.

I was a bit anxious about the church closings. Back in 1978 (I think it was) the then Governor of West Virginia, Jay Rockefeller, went on TV to tell the citizens of that then "Blue State", now, nasty Red, that the storm of the century, or the millennium, was coming.

People raided grocery stores for hours...nothing was left...and no snow fell. The storm jumped West Virginia and did great damage further north.

We all felt a little embarrassed and a bit deceived. But WV as Blue enough then to send Rockefeller to the Senate for over a decade in spite of his over-reaction.

But it is snowing now and weather prediction has increased exponentially in 35 years, so they probably did what was right and safe.

And in New England, 'right' and 'safe' are the by-words. Really.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Comfort Food

We had ham and sweet potatoes for dinner tonight. Comfort food for Appalachians.

Comfort food becomes important in the frigid, white on white on white of winter.

What I miss is this: the open faced turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and peas and lots and lots of gravy from a restaurant in Welch, WV, the name of which I cannot pull from my contracting memory.

And a little cranberry sauce from a can--how good is that?

My mother would take me to Welch on occasion to shop for what I know not. Welch was the county seat--a metropolis of almost 5000 compared to Anawalt's 500. Lordy, lordy, 10 times larger!

And we'd always go to this restaurant and I'd always have the open faced turkey sandwich on safe, unquestioned white bread with all the rest. I think that's where I learned to eat pepper because I remember peppering everything on the plate and putting butter on top of the gravy on the mashed potatoes.

Pepper and butter and gravy--three food groups in my mind.

I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant, just so my memory would be complete.

(Every once in a while I try to recreate that dish. And I've never got it quite right. Probably because the gravy was home-made and not from a jar....)

Monday, February 9, 2015

could we speak of something more pleasant?

Probably not.

Snow is what we talk about.

We live in a neighborhood or rather private people. We don't tend to socialize but are friendly. We really 'bond' in winter when we're all out moving snow that there is no place to move to anymore.

Bern and I did the walkways to the driveway, Cornwall Avenue and the back deck 4 times today. And an hour later they needed done again. We also swept the deck numerous times and went down to deepen the dog's run in the back yard that we create when the snow gets heavy at least three times. The fun goes roughly in a circle with a circumference of maybe 20 feet with one other circle around a tree and a dead end off to the east of the back steps that goes 6 feet or so and is an encouragement for pooping. Usually there are yellow spots in the run--but not for long today!

About 3:30 I heard the sound I dreaded to hear all day--the sound of snow shovels in the driveway we share with Mark and Naomi. I just wasn't up to taking it on yet. But guilt won out and I went out to help--cleaning our walks again on the way. Zoe and Johanna are two of the three daughters, a 6th grader and a senior in high school respectively. There is also a younger son.

So Zoe and Johanna and I cleared the driveway which was about six inches everywhere and more in some places. It took most of an hour and was not fun.

I took the dog for a walk about two hours later and there was at least a quarter of an inch of snow where we had stripped it away.

When you have as much snow as we have, it is the sole topic of conversation among those moving it and everyone else--though we haven't left the house except to shovel since Sunday afternoon.

Hopefully we'll be able to clean off my car and Bern's truck tomorrow and the roads might be somewhat cleared by afternoon and we can get out. Then all we'll talk about is the expected snow on Thursday and that the high on Sunday will be 7 degrees F.

Well, I shouldn't complain...we do talk about the 'cold' as well....

Saturday, February 7, 2015

waiting (already) for Spring

It's still the first week of February and already I'm waiting for Spring! Reminded me of a poem I wrote in February nine years ago....


I love eating breakfast
in local restaurants
in tiny North Carolina towns
with odd names that have 'boro'
at their ends;
because I know the sausage gravy
is real and the biscuits made from scratch
and the grits won't be runny
except with butter--real butter.
And I love you more than that.

I love reading three books at a time:
a mystery, a fantasy, a straight novel,
all on my bedside table,
sometimes in my book bag,
letting each capture me,
mixing up the characters and plots,
racing with each of them to the end.
And I love you more than that.

I love a beach and the stuff
washed up on it--odd and wierd--
and a dog--snuffling and running along--
beside me, behind me, ahead of me,
and the smell of the ocean
and the heat of the sun,
burning my bare shoulders and face.
And I love you more than that.

I love the taste of Pinot Noir--
the husk of nuts,
the almost too ripe grapes,
the way it slows me down
and slurs my speech
and opens my heart to truth.
And I love you more than that.

I love sleeping alone in hotels
that have too many pillows on the bed
and HBO on the TV,
so I can pile the comforter 
from the other double bed
onto mine and snuggle down in the pillows
and go to sleep with the TV on
knowing I'll wake up in time
for the conference I'm attending.
And I love you more than that.

I love the smell of vanilla (love that a lot!)
and the first taste of every morning's coffee
and the feel of cashmere sweaters
(my own or some lovely woman's)
and the look of the night sky in deep winter
and the first few notes of anything
Mozart wrote (God bless him!)....
I love my senses.
And I love you more than that.

And I love when the pitchers and catchers
report for spring training,
just imagining it--the leather of the gloves,
the shining white of the baseball,
the weight room designed to overcome
the indiscretions of the off-season,
the green of the grass,
the blue of the sky,
the soothing symmetry of the game
and the promise of Spring around the corner.
I love you profoundly, eternally, always and forever;
...and I'm not sure I love you more than that.

jgb 2/11/06

Friday, February 6, 2015

Winter dreams of mine

A day or so ago, I posted about my ability to sleep. And I can. 10-11 hours a night, I can sleep. And I dream a lot, though I don't share many of them here because they aren't interesting.

Here's a poem from over 8 years ago that bears all that out.

Winter Dreams of Mine

I dream more than most people I talk with about dreams.
My Dream-Maker seems to go full tilt all night,
especially in winter when the wind wails
and whispers of sleet slide against the windows.

My dreams are not earth shattering, not prophecies
from a poet-god, nor are they full of advice.
Mostly, they are mundane--ordinary things:
often I am building something, a gizmo I understand not;
other times I am walking through strange lands,
seeing things I do not comprehend...but never afraid.
I have no nightmares these days.

Sometimes I dream of sleeping in the bed with you.
I dream of waking up and watching you sleep
and then dozing off again to dream of sleeping.
I dream of extremely hairy black dogs sitting on my head
and golden cats--like tiny lions--opening the door
to the room and falling asleep on my feet.

Just the other night, I dremt I woke to your saying:
"can I have a drink of water?" and getting up to run
the water cold before filling the glass. Then I dreamed--
amazing as it is, that you brought me water and said:
"you won't remember this when you wake up...."

But I did remember and when I woke, I wore a Puli like a hat
and the cat by my feet stirred and lept from the bed.
I heard you downstairs making coffee.

"Let the day begin!" I said, anxious to see you,
just as I slipped back under the winter covers
and slept, hoping to dream of getting up and joining you.

jgb 12/21/07


Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Baby Boomers are outnumbered

I heard on NPR tonight (and what 'on NPR' isn't true!) that there are more millennials than Baby Boomers. And here I thought my bell curve was unbeatable! Haven't those of us born after WW II cut a huge swath through the population? Haven't we ruled the roost for decades? Haven't we taken, taken, taken without giving back much for 50 years or so?

The thing about the millennial generation (generation Y; my kids are Gen X) is the limits of it are rather vague. Somewhere between the 80's and the turn of the century. And not only are they the largest generation they are, no surprise, the most diverse American generation ever.

And they've grown up in the digital world. No group is more tuned in and turned on to social media than the Millennials. Which is either good or bad.

On this program one of the 20 somethings said, "we know more about what is going on than anyone ever has. Maybe if, God forbid, we're ever in charge, we might make things better."

The two things that bothered me about that is that the young man was from Utah (the 8th ring of hell in my mind) and that "God forbid" he through into his otherwise hopeful statement.

But maybe he was being ironic since, one day not to far ahead, they WILL be in charge.

Diversity, numbers, irony...maybe there's a chance....

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

White on white on white...

I've seen worse snow. A couple of years ago the snow was over my head when we cleared the driveway. But the absolutely, positively worse snow I've ever seen was in the 1980's somewhere--my difficulty in linear time kicks in here...somewhere between 1981 and 1984 when we lived in Charleston, West Virginia and couldn't leave our house for three days.

I let Templom Kerti Paloc Suba, our Puli of the time, who we called "Finney", out the front door of our house and he started down the steps and disappeared from view, under the snow.

I had to go dig him out.

On the third day I walked, somehow, down the road of Hazelwood Avenue to get milk and bread at the 7/11 that was somehow open and had milk and bread.

Our children were 5 and 2 and it was a remarkable thing to be home-bound with them and no way to go outside.

Right now, the snow is everywhere. Yesterday I ran out of places to put it before I ran out of snow.

And more is coming, I hear.

We don't need any more. But if it comes, we will manage. Our current Puli won't disappear into the drifts. Not yet.

It's New England after all. Snow is what defines us.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

"Well, there's always a tradeoff...."

There is a group I meet with most Tuesdays, mostly Episcopal priests, mostly retired, and Charles.

We meet at St. Peter's in Cheshire and Charles is a revered member of that parish who set up for our Eucharist when we started meeting at St. Peter's and we invited him to join us and he always does.

If everyone who ever came was there, we would number nine. Most weeks it's 5 or 6. And I enjoy it. It is the extension of the Waterbury Clericus (an odd word my spell check refuses to recognize which means the Episcopal priests in a Deanery {a geographical gathering of Episcopal churches [who sometimes work together, or not...]}) Whew! I was out of parenthetical symbols....

The snow was so heavy the last 24 hours or so, that I knew I couldn't get dug out of my driveway by 9:30 a.m.--though I live only two blocks from St. Peter's. So, I emailed Charles (who as a lay person is much more suited to herd the priest cats than another priest) and told him I wouldn't be there.

He emailed back that he was on his way back from Virginia and holed up in a motel in Danbury (40 or more miles away) because I-84 was too icy to risk. I emailed the folks I knew might come but didn't have Andy's email address.

Mike (who didn't read his email) called at 8. Bern talked with him and told him Clericus was cancelled. She got up then and I went back to sleep, knowing I had some shoveling to do since Bern threw out her back in the last storm. When I came down at 10, she told me Andy had called to ask if I wanted him to 'swing by' and pick me up--though Andy lives 20 miles away and I'm 300 yards from St. Peter's! And she told him too, that Clericus was cancelled.

"But I didn't tell him you were still sleeping," Bern told me.

I pondered that for a moment and replied, "I don't mind who knows I sleep 'til 10 most days. I'm like a teenager again, I can sleep 11 hours most nights. I'm young again," I said, and after pondering that I sleep away a lot of my new found young-ness, I added, "but I'm not conscious for much of my youth...."

"There's always a trade off," she said. Then she said, "This seems like a perfect tale for your blog."

And I knew she was right--though her being 'right' is a pain in the ass. And I think I know for a fact that she has never read my blog. But she was right about it being the perfect tale and right about there always a trade off.

The world, it seems to me, is divided into people who know there's always a trade off and those who don't know that or lean into it or live by that rule.

Life is much more enjoyable and joyful, even, if you are at home with the "trade offs" that come along one after another. The thing is, 'trade offs' are what life is constructed of just as a house is constructed on wood and nails and brick and siding and paint.

And 'trade offs' fuel life just as high test gasoline fuels a BMW.

Just like that.

The trick is to choose your trade offs wisely and be content with them.

It seems to me that 'contentment' is much better than 'happiness'. Happiness is fleeting and dependent on more things that make you happy. Contentment is as peace with the way things are and willing to pick and choose about the trade offs that are always there.

I'm 67 years old and delighted to sleep 10 hours a night. The youthful wonder I have during the 14 hours I'm awake is a much to be desired 'trade off', thank you very much....

Monday, February 2, 2015

On dodging bullets

You can only dodge so many....

It started snowing at 9 last night and was still snowing a bit at 5 pm this afternoon--along with periods of sleet. Pretty nasty. Both Cornwall Ave and Rt. 10 are still snow covered and we haven't dug out our cars yet. Tomorrow maybe.

And speaking of dodging bullets--how about those New England Patriots? I don't often find myself in a large majority--but I think my astonishment that the Seahawks passed inside the 5 on second down with arguably the best running back in the league is shared by a huge number of football fans and pundants.

I was getting all ready to rub it in on Patriot fans when that ill-advised pass and interception changed the reality inside-out and upside-down. Alas.

I think I hate the Patriots because how Belechec and Brady left the Jets. But Bern thinks it's because my pinstripe heart hates all things north of here because of the enormity of my  hatred of the Red Sox.

She's probably right. I hate when that happens because it happens with such regularity...Bern being 'right'....

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.