Friday, September 29, 2017

Sports loyality

The President WWNBN ('who will not be named') attack on respectful, kneeling protest about police brutality on Blacks--NOT ON THE FLAG OR THE ANTHEM--caused me to consider for a moment my own sports' teams loyalties.

I'm a Yankee fan--not surprising in CT where we tend to divide down the Red Sox/Yankee line rather evenly. But the thing is, I've been a Yankee fan from birth! My father, waiting in New York City to ship out to Europe where he would spend four years building and blowing up bridges for Patten's tanks ("We built them over deep streams and rivers for the tanks," he told me, "and we blew them up because Patten wasn't coming back.") While there in NYC, some folks who couldn't do enough for the troops, gave Dad and his friends tickets to a Yankee/Dodger World Series Game. Dad had played baseball (even semi-pro) but had never 'had a team' and never seen a major league game, much less a World Series, so he decided which team won would be 'his team' from then on out. As usual in those days, the Yankees won. So I grew up in Southern West Virginia being a Yankees fan. Go figure.

In college sports I am only and always a West Virginia University fan (though I keep an eye out for how Harvard does against Yale since I went to Harvard too). Bern is partial to UConn as well, but not me--I am WVU through and through. (When they were both in the Big East and WVU regularly plummeted UConn in football I laid low on Sunday in church. Basketball--well, another story....not one I liked.

I love the Chicago Bears because as I was growing up, I loved their uniforms and Gayle Sayers, their Hall of Fame running back.. Black helmets and jerseys and white pants at home and black helmets and pants and white jerseys away. The best uniforms ever, ever. And Gayle--Lordy, a monster running back and a man of enormous commitment and decency. Who could blame me for loving black and white uniforms and a many like Gayle.....?

In the NBA I am a die-hard LA Lakers fan. Even though the name is based on when they were in Minnesota (the land of 10,000 lakes) there must be a lake or two in southern California. I'm their fan because that's where Jerry West of "the West, by God," Virginia Mountaineers played his Hall of Fame pro career. Jerry played high school basketball at a high school in East Bank, WV. After he led his team to a second state high school championship, they renamed the town "West" Bank for a day. He is still around in pro basketball and a true gentleman. The Lakers have been on hard times for a few years but things are looking really, really up.

Do you follow sports? If you do, it might be interesting to figure out why you root for who you root for. It was for me.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Really embarrassed and sorry...

I just read last night's post again and 'embarrassed' isn't a word to convey what I felt reading what I wrote about Bela.

I love him so. Have for almost 12 years. He's never been an easy dog so loving him has made me a better person. (Ever notice that? How loving someone who isn't terribly 'lovable' makes you a better person than you would have been?) And I'm so embarrassed I shared that with you. But, you might remember, I wrote a post back on August 3 (go look at it if you missed it) when I said 'grief' for me comes out as anger.

So when you die, I'll be mad. Just bear that in mind and don't die.

Death doesn't frighten me--it makes me angry.

I resent death more than I fear it. Funny, I always berate people who 'don't like change'. I tell them "that's the way life is, get used to it, embrace and rejoice in it...."

But Death, the ultimate 'change', makes me angry. (Just like Jonah when God sends a worm to kill the tree that gives him shade on the hillside above Ninevah: "I'm so angry I could die!" Jonah says.)

Got I hate it when things die. Or are diminished as Bela is. As my father was before his death. As so many of the people I have served as a priest have been before they died. It makes me crazy angry.

So, a new thing to make me a better person if I am courageous enough to embrace it--start loving the people who 'hate change'.

Because I do too--it's just for me the change I hate is death.

Pray for me as I hold you all in my heart though I'm not sure who all of you are....

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

wanting my life back

Ok, I'm already ashamed of what I'm about to write--but I need to write it, say it in print--just to let it go a little.

Our 12 year old Puli, Bela, is obviously growing senile and having aching joints. I get that, I really do. And I mourn it. But he is now running my life. He's decided, for reasons beyond my comprehension, that he likes his 'man' (me) more than his 'woman' (Bern), so he wants to be with me constantly--but he wants to be with me where he wants to be and not where I want to be.

Just this evening, for example--I was grilling dinner and he kept wanting me to go inside because, well, it was warm and he hates hot...always has. So, I let him in the kitchen door about half-a-dozen times and then he would bark for me to come in. It would take a minute or more to convince him I was on the deck before he'd come out. Then he'd go bark to go in, I'd let him in and he'd bark for me to come in and I'd have to plead with him for over a minute to come back out. Then, all that, all over again.

Bern took her dinner upstairs and somehow got him up--we have to hold his hips as he goes up the front stairs. He can go up the fully carpeted back stairs much easier...but won't. So he barked for me to come up until I got my dinner and did.

Then he barked at Bern to share her food, though he eats a ton everyday. When I went down to clean up, he came, after barking for me to come back up. Then he barked to go out and pee and I let him and wanted to sit on the porch in the dark and smoke a cigarette but he came back from the yard and barked until I got up and let him in.

Then we came upstairs again (big production) and he wanted to go into the bedroom where there is AC and I wanted to come to my office (AC as well) so he barked at the bedroom door until I went and forced him to the office. His office water bowl was empty so when I went to the bathroom next to the office to fill it, he went back down the hall to bark at the bedroom door until I went to force him back to my office.

My life is like that all day. When I'm out, he'll go upstairs and sleep on our bed (he has no trouble going up when I'm out) until I come home. Then he's constantly with me.

I love him so and don't want him to die but I want my life back the way it was until the last few months when he was much more independent.

Sorry to complain. I'm embarrassed about it but I just feel at his beck and call every moment I'm home.

Deep breath. I love him so. Let me be more patient with him, Lord....

Monday, September 25, 2017

Food, drink, ocean and Ellie

That was pretty much a summing up of our vacation on Oak Island with three friends, Tim and Mimi and Eleanor.

I went knee deep into the water a few times, but with my surgically repaired knee and quad muscle, I wasn't willing to be knocked around too much. I'm at the age that just staring at the ocean, remembering how small it makes me feel, glorying in that, is enough. There is great comfort, I find, in realizing how insignificant you are in the world, much less the Universe. As I read outside, tiny-tiny insects--so tiny I can't describe them--sometimes land on my book. I blow them away, hoping not to hurt them as I would if I turned the page on them--but never before realizing them on my book is how I feel by the ocean. And for reasons I'm not yet sure of, I like that feeling of being so tiny compared to something else.

Food--we all cooked. I did baked fish and sauteed shrimp and scallops (Tim is allergic to shrimp.) Jack did Shrimp and Grits and Scallops and Grits (for the same reason). Tim and Mimi did hamburgers and hotdogs one night with lots of sides. We went out to dinner the first night (minus T,M,E). Bern did the traditional 'big fish'--two Red Snapper stuffed and baked with incredible stuffing. Sherry did lots of vegetables. I cooked various kinds of pork with eggs and toast for whoever wanted them most mornings. Everyone was on their own for lunch. We all went to lunch one day in Southport at this great sort-of-outdoor place--a roof but no sides.

Drink--there was gin and tonic most days and always bourbon--but I only do beer and wine, mostly white--and left the rest to others. Only Bern doesn't drink alcohol at all, but we forgive her...or more likely, forget her.

And Eleanor. Oh, my Lord God, Eleanor!!! Such a wonder, so much joy and play.

Plus, I read three books and imagine most (except Tim who did a lot of LinkedIn work while there--phone calls and computer stuff) read almost that many.

The kind of salt air, paper page (though some use Kindle) wine and food and baby time that can't really be compared to anything...anything else to do for a week.

{My other three granddaughters--Emma, Morgan and Tegan Bradley--are now acolytes at the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Episcopal of course) in Baltimore. Cathy sent us photos of their training and their first Sunday. Emma and Morgan carried the candles and Tegan carried a banner that said, "Our Lord Lives". Good enough. It made me smile and laugh and feel great joy. I don't take 'church' too seriously, but I am glad they're having something in their youth to rebel against and either abandon or return to. Just joyful about that. I sent them an email with my joy and pride. They were so graceful and holy and beautiful. Wish I had them for acolytes....)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

isn't North Korea enemy enough?

He who will not be named just can't leave well-enough alone.

His sabre rattling toward North Korea is insanely dangerous.

So now he's taking on pro athletes? Some of them have as much money at the President and they put their bodies on the line for it. They don't take kindly to some fat, red-faced, yellow haired guy criticizing them!

So, last Sunday a handful of NFL players knelt for the national anthem. This week, after the trumping up they took, scads of them did and those who didn't linked arms in solidarity with those who did. Even an owner or two knelt. The Pittsburgh Steelers stayed in the locker room until after the anthem. Even Stevie Wonder at a musical venue knelt and sang the national anthem!

A huge problem with what's his name going down this road is, if you haven't noticed, a lot of pro athletes are Black of Brown. No way they are going to see this as anything other than another racist jab.

General Kelly, can't you put this guy in solitary confinement? Please!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Good Night and Good Bye

I hope you read this on Friday night because David Mead, a "Christian researcher" who claims to have studied astronomy at the University of Louisville says the world is ending tomorrow, September 23, 1917.

A mysterious planet, Nibiru (aka Planet X) is, according to Mead, careering toward Earth and will obliterate us tomorrow. At least it won't be Trump and Kim Jong Un who destroy the planet.

Mead has made a careful study of Revelation--the book they should have left out of the Bible!!! for all the nonsense it has spawned--and says the recent earthquakes and Hurricanes were the first wave of the end of the earth.

However, if you want a glimmer of hope, a Canadian journalist named Robyn Flynn called Mead for an interview and was told he wouldn't be available until 'next week'.....Go figure.

Hope we're still here tomorrow. I still have stuff to write about vacation....

See  you if Nibiru misses us....

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Eleanor again

Yesterday, at baby day care, Eleanor had a fever related seizure.

They took her to the hospital in an ambulance while Mimi and Tim were rushing from Manhattan in separate cabs.

She was released a couple of hours later and went to the pediatrician today.

Some children react that way to fevers that spike.

She seems fine but still has a fever so Bern is going on the train tomorrow to be with her for a couple of days. The doctor is being very aggressive about the fever. Mimi had a lung infection at the beach and Bern had tracheal bronchitis so it's little wonder Eleanor got some of all that. We kept Urgent Care busy at the beach! Bern said it was the best examination she'd ever had....

So, however it is that you pray, or hold someone in your heart, please do that for little Eleanor.


Monday, September 18, 2017


Mimi and Tim told us all they would call her 'Ellie' but no one does.

She is "Eleanor" pure and simple.

And she is wondrous.

Only one day last week was she anything but engaging, happy and humorous. And that day the cold she had all week was really bad. She didn't cry much, even then. She just couldn't consecrate and 'be present'. Nothing much satisfied her.

All the other days she was the baby from Mars, or somewhere other than here, where babies are wondrous, happy, engaging and humorous.

Two things she like best: 'marching' and 'open/close'.

Marching she did mostly with Bern. The house we were in ("Spoiled Rotten" was it's name!) was great. You could go from the dining room to the living room to the fifth bedroom (which became a nap room and play room since no one slept there) to the kitchen and back to the dining room. Bern would hold Eleanor's hand and they'd march, Bern singing, Eleanor waving 'hi' to each person they passed on their circuit, over and over, round and round, time after time.

Also, I played 'open/close' with the door of the nap/play room. Eleanor would shut the door, I'd knock and open it, she'd wave and close it. Over and over, time after time.

A variation was a drawer or a door on a bedside stand that she would open, put one thing in, then close and then open and put another thing in, then close, then open and put one thing get the picture. One drawer was in a lamp table besides the stairs to the second floor. The house had a gate to keep babies from going up the stairs and lots of those foam covers for beer cans. I had about a dozen of the cozies for beer and I'd fold them up and put them in the strings of the gate and Eleanor would take them, one at a time, open the drawer and drop it in, close the drawer and get another, open the drawer and drop it in, close the drawer...on and on, over and over.

When she had 10 of them in the drawer I'd snatch them out and refold them and put them in the gate while she took the last two, opened the drawer, dropped them in, closed the drawer.

We did six rounds once--our record. She has amazing concentration and a stunning attention span. I got tired of the game long before she did.

And she laughed and kissed her mom and dad and herself in the mirror in the nap/play room.

She is such a joy. Such a gift. Such a wonder.

And she is 'Eleanor', not 'Ellie'....

Sunday, September 17, 2017

How the trip began....

Anyone more superstitious than me might begin to think the annual September journey to Oak Island has a Joe Btfsplk cloud over it. (Anyone besides me remember Joe Btfsplk??)

The last time we drove there John's Range Rover broke down on the Jersey Turnpike. I road to New Haven with the toe truck and Andrew drove down to get John, Bern and Sherry.

Then last year Mimi and Tim didn't come because Eleanor was a new born and Bern and I didn't go because I ruptured my quad muscle and had surgery. So John and Sherry were alone in a four bedroom house for a week!

This year our 11 a.m. flight from Hartford to Myrtle Beach got canceled at 7 a.m. because South Carolina was in one of the paths of Irma and since flights out of most of the southern states were shut down they couldn't get enough flight crews to Myrtle Beach.

I was on my way to the Kennel with Bela when Bern called and said 'speed back, we have to go to New Haven'.

Somehow John or Sherry had gotten us 5 seats on a Delta flight to Raleigh at 11:30 and we broke land speed records getting to LaGuardia. Raleigh is 3 hours from Oak Island while Myrtle Beach is 40 minutes. So we got to the island later than we'd hoped.

But after getting into the house and finding it wondrous and having a fish dinner at Jones' Seafood, Mimi, Tim and Eleanor arrived--also from Raleigh--and all was right with the world....

Saturday, September 16, 2017

ok, I didn't figure it out....

Thought I knew how to blog from someone's computer.

I was wrong.

Didn't get to blog from Oak Island. I have lots of material from the whole thing though, for next week.

Not today. We flew out of Raleigh to NYC at 7 a.m., so I've been up a bit....

'Out of Raleigh" because South Carolina shut down their airports last Saturday because of Irma--mostly because no flights were coming north and they couldn't get crews for the planes.

We somehow scrabbled around and got a flight to and from Raleigh. Three hour drive to Oak Island compared to 45 minutes from Myrtle Beach.

Much to share but must wait until I sleep one more time....

Friday, September 8, 2017

Early leaving

I'm leaving early enough to get to Holiday Pet Lodge when it opens at 8. Then I'm going on to Bradley airport in Hartford. Once when my father moved to CT, one of the stewardess' said to him, "Here's YOUR airport, Mr. Bradley." He loved that.

John, Jack, Sherry and Bern are leaving out house at 8 to go to Bradley. I'm taking my car so I can pick up Bela next Saturday when we get back.

We'll fly to Myrtle Beach and then drive 45 minutes or so to Oak Island. The Realty company sent an email to day to say they don't expect much more than a little rain from Irma.

Tim and Mimi and Eleanor fly to Raleigh tomorrow and then drive an hour and a half to the island.

Tim's parents are in Tampa, so, think of them. They're probably going to a shelter on Saturday. Tim is, I'm sure, a wreck.

Also, Irma practically destroyed Barbuda. St. John's in Waterbury, where I served for 21 years, has a huge number--60 or 70 members from Barbuda. I talked to one of them yesterday. Their ancestral home is gone. Think of them as well.

(Notice I say 'think' instead of 'pray'. 'Praying' it seems to me, is mostly non-verbal except in a community setting--so 'thinking of' folks is how I pray for them. Just a bit of theology for you.)

I think I know how to access the blog from someone's lap top so I hope to report in on the week.

If not, talk at you in a week or so.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


Bern's father was brought to the US by his father from Italy when he was young. Then his mother and brother came and Bern's brother, sister and she were born here. Her mother having come to America as a fetus from Hungary.

Don't tell me about the President who will not be named's right to suspend and end DACA.

We all--unless you're 100% Native American--came from somewhere else and even they came, before the US was a country, from somewhere else.

The President's family came mostly from Germany. His current wife was an immigrant.

We have to find a path to citizenship for all the DACA folks and for everyone here illegally.

It's the "American thing to do".

My maternal great grandfather came from Ireland. The Bradley side of me came from Great Britain about five generations ago.

This DACA nonsense is solely because most of them are brown, not white.

Give me a break or take down the Statue of Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door. 

Don't, for God's sake and all that is holy close that 'Golden Door'!!!

Leaving Saturday

We're leaving Saturday for our--what would it be--maybe 25th visit to Oak Island, North Carolina.

We're going with Tim, Mimi, Eleanor and our friends from New Haven, John, Jack and Sherry.

Bern's watching the weather channel most of the day to see if Irma or Inez, which ever it is, is going to keep going vaguely west or turn up and go north east toward North Carolina.

In all our years of going we had to leave one day early once because of a Hurricane. I'd tell you what year and the name of the storm except I of course don't remember. Lost in linear time am I and names are hard to hang onto.

I only have a desk top so I was thinking I couldn't write on Under the Castor Oil Tree for a week. But then, looking up at the top of the page here, I see the code to log on from somewhere else and there will be lots of laptops at the beach.

Also, on Friday, I'm teaching the first session of a course at UConn in Waterbury for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (we call it 'OLLI') on a subject I've taught before. I changed the name this time though from "Reading the Gospels side-by-side" to "Walking with Four Jesus'".

It fascinates me how remarkably different the Jesus of each gospel is from the other three--but the way the church teaches Christianity you'd never figure that out. I found a post from over 5 years ago where I published the ending of the course.

Thought I'd share it here again.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Knowing four Jesus'

OK, I just completed a class at UConn called "Reading the Gospels side-by-side" and wrote something to read at the end of the last session. Someone suggested I publish it on my blog.

So here it is.


Most of us are looking for Jesus.
One place we could expect to find Jesus is in the Four Gospels. So we turn to them. If we read them critically and carefully, what we discover is not Jesus but Four distinct Jesus'.
When confronted with that reality, there are two obvious reactions. Either I (I'll speak only for myself here and invite you to ponder your reaction)...either I despair and give up my search OR I walk the road with each of the Gospel writer's Jesus' and glean what I can from the four of them.

When I am doubtful, it is Mark's Jesus I want to walk beside because he too struggled with doubt. He spends time with the wild beasts. He can't seem to understand what is being asked of him by God. He agonizes in the Garden. He feels abandoned on the cross. Mark's Jesus is a good companion in times of doubt.

When I am confused, it is Matthew's Jesus I turn to. Matthew's Jesus is jerked away from his home to a foreign land. His earthly father relies on dreams and visions of angels in his confusion. The Magi visit him and give him great gifts. Matthew's Jesus knows that traditions and boundaries and scripture can help in times of confusion. Matthew's Jesus knows right from wrong, truth from Falsehood, the sheep from the goats. Matthew's Jesus stands on the mountain top and speaks wisdom to those who are in darkness and confusion. The Jesus of Matthew has correctives to my confusion.

John's Jesus is my traveling companion when things are going well and I am feeling confident. John's Jesus is certain and resolute and convinced of his purpose and his way. John's Jesus has an ego to match my own. Nothing much bothers him. His eyes are on the prize. His feet are firmly on the ground even as his soul soars to heavenly places. In 'good times' John's Jesus is the ideal companion. He can validate my confidence, inspire me to even greater things, teach me that I am loved and meant to love others. He breathes on me and wishes me “Shalom”, which means fullness and health and hopefulness. There is nothing like the Jesus of John when God's in his heaven and all is right with the world. Walking the road with him just reaffirms my optimism and hopefulness and sense of well-being.

But when I suffer, when I am in pain, only Luke's Jesus will do. He will walk with me to Emmaus and calm my fears and set my heart of fire. The breathless, timeless songs and poetry of Luke soothe me, heal me. Luke's Jesus is the healer, the non-anxious presence, the font of all Compassion. Luke's Jesus walks with those in distress, in pain, in need. Luke's Jesus is constantly standing with the marginalized and outcasts. Luke's Jesus teaches us on the same level where we stand. He is always on my level, near me, suffering with me, forgiving me, holding me near. Luke's Jesus walks the road of our world's suffering. He knows me through and through. He bears my burden. He lightens my load. He touches me and makes me whole.

Seeking Jesus and finding four is 'good news'. Four companions on the Way to the Lover of souls, four brothers with various gifts for various needs, four faces of God, four revelations of the Almighty.

A hymn from my childhood says, “What a friend we have in Jesus....” It is wondrous and precious to have a friend. But to have four, all of whom love me and care for me and walk my road with me. What could be better than that???

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Whatever happened to "Labor Day"?

I was in a package store today and noticed they would be open 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Labor Day.

I called back to the clerk, "you're open on Labor Day!!!"

Sadly she shook her head, "every day except Thanksgiving, Easter, Christmas and New Year's Day."

I knew the grocery stores and most all stores would be open, but wine/beer/liquor stores as well....

Whatever happened to 'LABOR Day'?

Labor Day is the national holiday for those who 'labor'. But they'll all be working. It's such nonsense to even have a day for them if they'll all be working!

I'd like to go back to 'Blue Laws', myself. Absolutely everything closed on Sunday...and Labor Day as well.

Buy enough wine for Labor Day on Saturday. Let the shops be closed Sunday and Monday. And get your groceries on Saturday too. Let the workers 'rest' on Sunday.

"A day of rest" should apply to everyone. And Labor Day, for God's sake, should be a day when there is no 'labor'.

The world is too much with us, as the poet knew. I long for 'the OLD DAYS' when no one worked on Sunday except police and emergency workers. And I long for slower times, more laid back times, times of rest, which seem to me to be gone now and forever.

And we are, I believe diminished by that. Greatly....

Friday, September 1, 2017

Lordy, Lordy--Mimi and Eleanor...

One year old Eleanor's baby day-care shut down for a week so Bern went down on Tuesday to watch her and then Mimi and Eleanor came to CT on Wednesday and left this morning.

Bern and I ran ourselves ragged keeping up with Ellie while Mimi worked from her laptop and phone.

OK, I won't bore you with how Eleanor is the smartest, cutest, happiest, more inquisitive, most affectionate one year old ever---BUT SHE IS--and so much fun to chase around and help up our stairs. She loved the stairs! Almost to her own peril.

Meanwhile, Mimi is a great, wondrous mother. Bern and I must have done something right! She has Eleanor on a strict nap schedule and it works. Ellie also loves to eat lots of different things and is fun to feed.

An amazing visit--and Eleanor got face-time with daddy Tim each day on Mimi's phone, though I'm not sure what Eleanor thinks of media.

Oh, and did I tell you Mimi and Tim and Ellie will be with us at the beach on Oak Island, NC starting next Saturday for a week with John and Jack and Sherrie, our friends.

What a joy that will be to be on the same beach with Ellie that we were on so many times with her Uncle Josh and Mommy....

Pinch myself. How blessed. How remarkably blessed....

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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.