Sunday, October 21, 2018

What next?

So, He Who Will Not Be Named has pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, NAFTA, and started a trade war is now taking the US out of a nuclear treaty.Plus the nonsense about the needy folks moving toward our boarder who are in need of protection and welcome.

An arms race on top of a planet in need of great and industrious work and a trade war that will end in economic problems for mostly consumers but producers as well.

Is nothing sacred? Well, of course not--a man who is obviously a racist, womanizer and Islam phobic--holds nothing sacred except himself.

Things are literally melting around us--not just the polar ice caps, but civility and democracy and hope and the incremental advances we've made as a country over the last few decades.

Not to mention Saudi Arabia and the dead journalist and all the weapons we sell them to attack Yemen.

If there isn't a "blue wave" in November, I may be start looking for property in Montreal.

I have never been so confused and alarmed about where my country is as now.

I just want some sanity and some reasonableness. I just want us to listen to the scientists and academics and people who actually 'know something'.

Which makes me a left-wing 'mob member', I guess.

So be it.

Sanity.

All I want is that.

SANITY.

Is that too much to ask?


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Robert Galbrailth

Robert Galbraith is the pen name for J. K. Rolling of Harry Potter renown.

She wrote the first of four novels about the war hero, amputee, detective Comoran Strike and his side-kick, secretary, eventual partner Robin. She is at least as interesting as Strike and he is interesting beyond belief.

I read all four of the books last week--and they are, like the Harry Potter books--doorstop size.

She wrote the first one and it was a best seller so she decided she could let it be known that Robert was her alter--ego.

They are complex, moving and riveting. I never figured out any of the endings before they happened to my delight.

Start with the first one--The Cookco's Calling--and read them all,  in order, since Strike and Robin develop and their lives change in each novel.

It's probably accurate to say I've read all the Harry Potter stuff and now all these Strike novels.

This woman is more prolific than anyone I've ever read.

Trust me: read them and you'll thank me.



Thursday, October 18, 2018

Elanor

Our two year old granddaughter, Eleanor Reed McCarthy, has been with us over 24 hours now.

She and Tim, her dad, spent the night last night and Tim left for Providence and then Boston on business. Mimi, her mother and our daughter, is in LA on business. She we have Eleanor.

Tim will be back tomorrow afternoon and hopefully they'll spend another night to miss the Friday traffic to Brooklyn.

She is amazing. Hasn't cried once. Full of energy and joy--inside the house and out in the yard. She's won over our dog, Brigit, and is making Bern's life so wondrous I can't describe it.

Bern is putting her to sleep now and will sleep with her in a spare bedroom while Brigit and I share our bed.

But let me tell you this--there is a reason you have children early in life!

I am worn out and ready for bed and it's only 8:30 p.m.!

People 68 and 71 couldn't do this full time--believe you me....

But she is a gift to us. Truly.



Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Emoji?????

I just noticed an article on my news feed that the 'bagel emoji' has been fixed by Apple to be 'more doughy and have 'cream cheese'.

And people on line are happy about that. The emoji is new and improved. The on line community is delighted. Apple is delighted. Obviously, God Almighty must be delighted too.

OK, let me be honest. I have no idea what Emojis are.

Let me be clearer--I know the word and I've seen 'emoji' images--sure--but I never want to send one and never ever want to receive one, whatever the hell they are.

Do not, under threat of bodily harm send me an emoji though I have no idea what kind of communications you could send me one.

And I don't even, not for a moment, want to know 'how' you could send me an emoji.

And definitely not a bagel with cream cheese emoji.

And I have no interest if the 'bagel emoji' has cream cheese or not.

In fact, I may never eat a bagel again because it's been associated with whatever in God's green earth 'emojis' are.

And, from this day forward I will never type e m o j and i in a row.

I can't think of a word when I would have to--and if I do think of one I will never type it or say it or even think it.

That's me and ....those things that I neither understand or want to and which should be consigned, whatever they are, to the inner-most ring of Dante's hell.

Enough said about all that.



Monday, October 15, 2018

Of Apple Trees

(I'm still going through my filing cabinet of stuff I've written and found this. It's on yellowish paper and typed on what doesn't look like a Selectric typewriter. I have no idea when I wrote it. It is me (Richard) and my step-grandmother, Clevie Bradley. I don't think it ever happened but it fits us both.)

OF APPLE TREES

"If they're apple trees," the small boy said, leaning his blond head to one side and squinting his eyes, "why aren't there any apples?"
 

Beside him on the porch, his grandmother rocked slowly, staring across the rolling fields  that stretched out in front of the house. She could feel his hazel eyes on her face--tracing the wrinkles there, waiting, questioning. The orange sun just above the horizon was slowing burning away the light haze of dawn. Across the distant fields she could sense the coming July heat--the heat that would send her time and again to the bucket sitting on her kitchen cabinet, send her to life the dipper and drink the cool well-water that would only momentarily soothe her burning thirst.

"Daddy said they were apple trees", the boy said, impatient with her silence. "Daddy said...."

"They are apple trees, Richard," she whispered through her thin lips, accenting his name deliberately.  She turned toward him and he caught her eye with his, fixing her gaze until he glanced away to search for the source of a soft rustling of wings she could not hear.

Freed from his stare, she looked again at the fields, noticing for the first time some whispy patches of fog just above the ground. Somewhere over there--she thought--we would stand and look back at the house as the sun rose behind us...and we'd hold hands and talk about all we were going to do. And through the low lying fog, she fancied she saw two shadows, hand in hand, looking toward her.

"What kind of birds are those, Grandma?" the boy asked, pointing to the sky. He touched her arm softly with his brown hand, He stood silently beside her rocking chair and watched two birds soaring in the distance, piercing the morning mist with their song as they rose.

She strained to see, looking in the direction he had pointed, but the rising sun stung her eyes and she couldn't distinguish the birds against the sky.

"What kind?" he asked again, pressing her thin arm gently, demanding that she answer. She lifted his hand from her arm with long, thin fingers. Impatiently, he looked around, pursing his lips and frowning in displeasure. She held his hand in hers and whispered softly, "you were hurting Grandma's arm."

He pulled away and walked to the edge of the porch, searching in the distance for the birds.

The shadows moved across the field, blending into the scattered ground fog. And as we'd come back he'd take out an old blue handkerchief and wipe his face and I'd laugh, 'you act like an old man', and he'd lean on my shoulder and limp home chuckling, 'carry me! Oh, I'm an old man!"

The boy walked heavily across the porch, sighing to attract her attention. Then he sat down on the porch steps, dropped his head and waiting for the dew to dry. It was still early in the day. The boy's father would come and get him in the afternoon, after the boy's mother was out of the hospital , missing her appendix.

He scuffed his feet and she knew he longed to be in the old, barren orchard behind the house, searching the summer fields for signs of life, digging in the soft soil to find slimy brown worms, climbing the apple-less trees to look for birds' nests.

"Meadow Larks," she said at long last, waiting until his lifted his head to look out across the fields before she repeated it--"Meadow Larks, that's what the birds were, Richard."

He smiled, saying the words over and over, "medalark, medalark, medalark," though the birds were long since gone. He jumped up and walked over to her, still smiling, to suddenly kiss her wrinkled face damply.

"The grass must be almost dry...you know," looking at the yard and then at her.

She looked at the glistening yard and said, slowly, "it just might be...."

He leaped from the porch and turned a clumsy somersault in the moist grass. When he stood up he looked down at the wetness of his clothes. She smiled at his surprise and said, "almost."

He smiled again, bending his head to one side, then skipped around the house, singing softly, "al-most...al-most...almost."

She rocked slowly, silently, touching her cheek with the back of her hand to remember Richard's kiss, searching the long field for a trace of the two shadows in the last vestiges of fog.

When we'd get back, he'd run to the orchard and bring back some apples and I'd laugh to see the juice that ran down from his lips as he ate....From around the corner of the house she could almost hear him running to her. She turned to watch him come, breathlessly bringing her a dew-wet apple to eat in the early morning.

"Grandma, Grandma," the boy said as he ran around the house and up the porch to her. She shivered involuntarily as she pushed back a lock of blond hair from his forehead.

"Why aren't there any apples, you didn't tell me?"

Silently, she pushed herself out of the rocking chair and walked to the screen door.

"Grandma?"

"They're all too old," she said sadly, "too old to have apples."

He stood mutely, squinting at the still rocking chair and wondering at her answer until she disappeared into the house. When the screen door shut behind her, he turned and ran, suddenly laughing, toward the orchard. He was barely six years old.

As she stood in the kitchen, drinking slowly from the metallic dipper, she could hear Richard, chanting as he ran toward the apple trees, "too old, too old, too old...."




  



Saturday, October 13, 2018

My October 14 sermon



October 14, 2018
         
          The story of the Rich Young Man and Jesus contains some profoundly important wisdom for us—but it is not wisdom that is on the surface. We must dig a little to get to it.
          On the surface, this story has been used over the centuries to proclaim the “righteousness of poverty” in the service of God. St. Francis of Assisi and his female counterpart, St. Clare, we both wealthy young people who took this passage to heart and lived out their short lives in the most abject of poverty, owning nothing, trusting in God for everything. Christian monasticism took root in the “vow of poverty”. Both Buddhism and Hinduism have similar traditions involving monks, nuns and wandering holy men who survive by begging for their food each day.
          Jesus’ advice to “sell all that you have” and follow him is a powerful message. It is a call and vocation for a select few. But that is not the message of this passage for the vast majority of those who seek to follow Jesus. If we stop engaging this story on the surface, it can only serve to make us feel as though we are unable to obey Jesus’ command.
         
          As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to him and knelt before Jesus, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life.”
          Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

          The first thing to realize is that the journey Jesus is beginning isn’t just any journey. In the previous chapter of Mark’s gospel, Jesus has predicted his crucifixion. He has set his face toward Jerusalem and his death. So, in a real way, the ante has been upped. Time is growing short.
          Also, we need to notice that the young man knelt before Jesus—and good Jews did not kneel to anyone but God. Also, the word we translate as “good” is an adjective usually reserved by the devout to refer to God. Even though he’s on his way to Jerusalem and the cross, Jesus is not ready to be identified with God. That helps explain his rather odd response to the young man.
          Jesus said, “You know the commandments”…and the young man replied, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.”
          Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
          When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

          What I think is most important in this exchange is to notice that, for Jesus, “keeping the law” is not enough. Mark tells us that Jesus “loved” the young man. He must have admired his earnestness, his sincerity and his faithfulness to the commandments. When he heard Jesus’ question about the commandments, the young man’s heart must have leaped up. He must have imagined that “keeping the commandments” was enough to earn eternal life.
          We Christians haven’t escaped that pitfall. We are obsessed with “being right” and “looking good”. There is a great danger in Christianity of becoming “legalistic”—of thinking God is no more than a moral accountant keeping a ledger of our lives. We reduce God to a schoolmarm who gives us good marks and bad marks in deportment and behavior. We turn the Great God Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, our “refuge from one generation to another,” for whom a thousand years are like yesterday in his sight—we turn that God into nothing more than an omnipotent Santa Claus from the Christmas song: “He’s making a list and checking it twice, going to find out whose naughty or nice.”
But for Jesus, “keeping the commandments” simply isn’t enough. Jesus isn’t interested in “naughty or nice”. Jesus wants to invite us into a relationship with him…a relationship with the God who loves us best of all.
         
What is required is that the young man rid himself of what ties him to this world and enter into a relationship with Jesus.
          “Then, come, follow me….” That is the invitation Jesus gives. The young man is too attached to his riches to leave his life behind and journey to Jerusalem with Jesus. It is his “attachment”, not his “riches” that is the problem. He is invited to the adventure of a life time; he is offered a relationship with God that is worth more than all the riches of the earth. But he goes away sorrowing, grieving for what he has rejected.
          Each of us has some “attachment” that we cannot escape. Each of us has something that keeps us from fully embracing the invitation of Jesus into full communion with him. We can—like the rich young man—“keep the law”…we can be “good people”…but each of us has something that ties us to this world.
          And I really believe that what God wants from us is that we simply recognize and acknowledge our attachments. All that is required is that we “notice” what keeps us from embracing God fully and completely. If we could let them go—if we were capable of “detachment”—we wouldn’t need Jesus.

          That’s the key to what he has to say to his disciples. They object to Jesus’ assertion about how hard it will be for the wealthy to enter the Kingdom. They are “perplexed” by his words, Mark tells us.
          So Jesus makes an even harder statement: “Children,” he tells them, “how hard it is to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Then he tells them the well-known and oft repeated metaphor of a camel passing through an eye of a needle being easier than entering the Kingdom.
          “Then who can be saved?” the disciples cry. And Jesus tells us the hardest truth, the most difficult and confounding wisdom of this passage: “For mortals it is impossible,” he says, “but not for God; for God, all things are possible.”
          Ironically, this is the best news we could hear—this is the great “good news” of God. “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”

          We mortals, we human beings, are “attached” to this world. Nothing that we can “do” or accomplish or believe is enough to open the Kingdom to us. The best we can do—the very best—is to become “aware” of our attachments and walk away grieving, knowing God loves us anyway.
         
          The Hindus have a saying worth repeating and remembering. The Hindus call what we call “reality” sleep. Our “reality”, our “attachments” are like being asleep to the Hindus. And the Hindus say: “Lucky is the person who “wakes up” before they die.
          Jesus calls us to “wake up” and notice our attachments, acknowledge what is that prevents us from living fully into the invitation of Christ to “come, follow me….”
          I heard a story once about a Bible thumping Evangelical coming up to a monk in his habit and saying, “Brother, have you been saved?”

          The monk answered, “Yes, my friend, I think I have been saved.”

          The Evangelical, not believing him, said, “When were you saved?”

          The monk took and moment and then said, “at three o’clock in the afternoon on the first Good Friday.”
         
          Jesus did not need to go to Jerusalem if I could save myself.
          I AM the rich young man. And, I suspect, so are you. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot. It is not possible. And Jesus loves us as we walk away.

   And with God—with God, all things are possible….

Thursday, October 11, 2018

To see the world through someone else's eyes

I just heard on Public Radio's All things considered, a story about scientists growing human retinas in a petri dish. Like so much in science, the original purpose was to study how humans come to see colors when many animals don't, but now they are thinking if would be possible to use the retinas to cure color blindness or even replace a retina with macular degeneration.

It got me to thinking about seeing the world through someone else's eyes.

That's something we humans don't do much and especially in the polarized political landscape of today.

As a older, straight, while, American male, I need the eyes of the young, the GLBTQ, people of color, people of other nationalities and women to help me see clearly through their eyes.

And as a socialist leaning Democrat, I also need to see through the eyes of conservative Republicans.

That's the hardest one for me.

And yet, to 'stand under' the other is the only way to understand them.

I'm going to try to keep my deeply held political views at bay and try to see through the eyes of Marco Rubio or Linsey Graham.

(I draw the line, however, at the eyes of Ted Cruz and our President. I won't go there....)



Wednesday, October 10, 2018

lazy day

I slept until 9:57 a.m. and only got up then so I couldn't be accused of sleeping until 10.

Had breakfast at 10:30 or so--turkey sausage, blueberry waffle and a double yoked egg. Double yokes are amazing!

Read until 1 p.m. then had an apple.

Two really nice guys delivered our new range. It cost less than the repair on the old range would have been.

Read some more.

Went to the store for sock-eye salmon--the only salmon Bern will eat.

Oh, right. Got gas too. Came home from a meeting last night with my gas light on.

Read some more--a book by Robert Galbraith (pen name for Harry Potter author J.K. Rollins. Third of a 4 book series so far. I read the first two this week and have the fourth for tomorrow.

Long books--good for lazy days.

Grilled onions and green squash and the salmon and made a salad.

Read while stuff was grilling.

Drank some wine along the way.

Watched the news for a while--CNN and MSNBC of course. Worried about folks in Florida and Georgia as the storm roared on.

Played hearts on-line.

Then wrote this.

All in all, a pretty lazy day.

I like 'em....

Try it sometime. Bet you'll like 'em too.


Monday, October 8, 2018

untitled post

I had this great idea about what to write about on my blog last night.

It was a wonderful idea, one of the best I've ever had. Seriously, this was an idea that would have gotten me 3000 views and become a topic on social media.

It was such a miraculous idea that since it was past 11 p.m. I knew I would remember today and write it now.

I almost wrote it last night and even opened my blog page but really needed to go to bed and since this once in a lifetime IDEA--that's how I thought of it, all caps, IDEA--would surely stay with me overnight, I turned off my computer and went to bed.

Then today, when I opened my blog, gratified that I had 258 visits yesterday, I saw a 'draft' showing at the top of the posts. It said "untitled post".

Then and only then did I remember I had had the IDEA of a lifetime about a post last night and went to bed knowing such an IDEA would survive my sleep.

So, I stared at the screen for several minutes and realized the IDEA I had was gone from my brain and that I had missed writing 'the best post ever' because it was late and I thought I couldn't possibly forget such an IDEA!!!

But I did.

And now I will never write it and you will never read it and our lives will not be changed unalterably and forever by the brilliance and wonder of that IDEA because I went to bed instead.

Alas and alack!

So, this is, now and forever, the 'untitled post'.

I apologize for giving in to exhaustion instead of brilliance. My fault, my own fault, my most grievous fault.

So, life goes on unenlightened by my IDEA which has fled my brain.

So it goes. Alas and alack.

All could have been altered for the better. But will not be....


Friday, October 5, 2018

The two worse things he's ever said

Hard to imagine, giving how many horrible things the President who will not be named has said, that he said the two worst things ever within a day.

First of all, in a rally in Mississippi, he made fun of Dr. Christine Blassey Ford and got laughter and applause.

The other was when he was about to get on the helicopter and told reporters, and I quote: "It's a very scary time for young men in America."

It is unforgivable to mock a victim of sexual abuse whose predator, I believe, will be named to the highest count in the land tomorrow. Whatever you think about whether the accusations are true or not, to make fun of a woman who altered her life to testify about what she remembers is just short of Satanic.

And to the second statement by President WWNBN-ed is beyond belief.

Thank God, I say, that these are scary times for 'young men' in America. Every time, before now, have been scary times for 'young women'. Turn about is more than fair play--it is right and good and just and noble.

Young men, I hope, are scared. Scared enough to respect the women around them in a new and better way. I pray that is true.

Fear is a good thing to motivate behavior.

One of the worst things he's said and I hope young men hear it and heed it. I truly do.

Scared young men will make life better for young women. Hopefully....


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Ten sleeps

That's the way we told Josh and Mimi, when they were young, when something was going to happen.

"Five sleeps," we say, "and then we're going to grandma's house"...or to the beach...on until the birthday party.

Bridget (Annie's new name since she really didn't react to 'Annie' except by lowering her head like something bad was coming) has been with us ten sleeps.

She is remarkably sweet and quiet and good. She is beginning to seek us out when we're not with her. At first she was on a couch or the bed until we came and got her. She's obviously used to 'being alone'. Now she comes looking and gets some loving and then goes back upstairs. When either of us is up in the TV room, she's there.

Outside is hard for her. I don't think she's been outside much and she's cowered by most things outside--cars, mowers, people, other dogs. But she goes and gets a little better on walks each day. We haven't thought of taking her to walk the Canal down at the bottom of the hill yet. Not ready for that.

She needs a follow-up shot for lime disease in a week or so, which will only be the second time we've put her in a car. The first was to bring her home.

Every once in a while she seems excited and happy--usually around meal times and when we walk in to where she is.

But there is much to do yet--for us and for her.

Ten sleeps hasn't been enough. But we're patient and love her so.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to attest that she trusts and loves us.

Just not after only ten sleeps.



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Far from over, if ever....

The President said today that these were 'bad days for young boys'.

All the days before these days have been 'bad days for young girls'...

Turn about is not only fair play--it's how it has to be.

The President also said there could be 'bad reports' about everybody.

That's simply not true and grossly misleading.

Most men I know never did anything that could be called 'sexual assault'.

I do agree that most men I know drank irresponsibly at some time or another. I myself did not drink until after high school when I went to New Orleans to be with my cousin Mejol and she took me to famous clubs and got me drunk enough to realize how dangerous drinking too much could be. Bless her, what a gift.

I still love white wine and drink on holidays until I'm just smiling and nodding.

But I've never hurt anyone while drinking.

In fact, I get even gentler than I already am after some wine.

But all this is far from over, no matter whether or not Judge Kavenough is on the Supreme Court or not.

November is coming. Let's see how worse the 'bad days for boys' can get.

And 2020 is looming.

This whole scenario is far, far from over.

Lean back and take a deep breath. Better times are coming and coming and coming....



Third times' a charm

I've shared this post twice before to almost no readers. Trying again....

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The only time I was ever in Germany

It was on the way to Israel in December of 1999. We landed in Frankfort in the wee hours of the morning. I had forgotten all about it (but at my age 'forgetting' is normal....) But I was reading from the notebook I took on that trip and found this poem.

Watching dawn come at Frankfort Airport

Staring out on a school of
     planes
(neatly arranged like huge
  patients in a ward
  attached with feeding tubes
  of walkways to the
  terminal)
dawn creeps in.

It comes as a lightening
    of the sky
      from black
      to indigo
      to navy blue
      to steely gray.

Somewhere on the flight
somewhere over the north Atlantic
somewhere at 37,000 feet
I lost six hours.
Dawn comes late in Frankfort
   in December
but my watch is still at
   10 'til 2 in the tiny
   hours of Eastern Standard Time.

Who owes me these six hours?
How do I get them back?
All around me members of
my group are sprawled
  on black, comfortable
   seats,
dreaming that in sleeping they
  can steal back the time.
But those six hours are
   simply gone, I tell you!
Poof! Disappeared! Lost....

Now a monorail passes outside the window,
   people lit up inside, heading for airplanes.

I can see planes dropping to earth
and leaping away on faraway
runways.

People are trapped inside
each of them, headed toward
Budapest, Singapore,
New York, Moscow,
New Dehlia. Losing
or finding hours as they
go.

I hope someone nice finds
 the six hours I lost
 and uses them well.


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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.