Friday, July 31, 2020

So here's a question

My ear attaches to my head at my bottom ear lobe.

My ear lobe doesn't go beyond the place my ear connects to my head. Got it?

Is your ear lobe detached from your head?

I just have problems wearing masks that go around your ears.

They tend to slip off at the bottom.

Think about it.

How many people have 'no bottom ear lobe" for the mask string to wrap around.

Or, do you have no problem since you have a detached earlobe.

An interesting thing to ponder.

Ear lobes and masks.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Give me a break!

The president wants to 'delay' the election since mail-in ballots will be rigged.

Give me a break. Several states have been doing mail-in voting for years--no problem!

And this on the day of the funeral of Congressman John Lewis, at which three former Presidents (Bush, Clinton and Obama) spoke in one of the longest and most deserved send offs anyone has ever deserved. And the current president didn't even go to the rotunda of the capitol to pay tribute to a truly great American.

Bern watched the whole funeral and cried many times. I watched Obama's eulogy and realized it was a campaign speech for Biden. And a great one. And one Lewis would have approved of and applauded.

Such a contrast--Obama and the current holder of his office.

Authority, calmness, wisdom and honor as opposed to the current president's complaints, refusal to take responsibility, whining and lies.

"Why are Dr. Fauci's approval ratings so high", he asked the other day, "and nobody likes me."

Maybe because Fauci is trying to save lives and you are letting people die because of months of inaction!

My heart breaks for our country and the threat to our democracy.

My heart soared to hear three former Presidents' words.

John Lewis died for freedom and equality. We must, each of us, find a way to fight and fight hard for those sacred values. 
link to my youtube blog


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Harry Kyle Parks, Jr. (1947-2004) Rest in Peace, Old Friend

I did a series of posts about Kyle Parks several years ago. I want to print them all here as a memorial to his friendship.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Searching for Kyle

I wrote here a week or so ago about a photo my friend, Mike Miano sent met.

Since then I've started getting obsessed about finding Kyle Parks, who was my best friend from, I don't know, age 5 until a year into college. He's in the picture as well, sitting with Jane Jasper, who I always thought was really cool and pretty and sweet but never asked out.

But I googled 'Harry Kyle Parks, Jr.' and then 'Kyle Parks' and got nothing, not one thing. I didn't think you could avoid being found these days but apparently you can.

I'll go back when I finish this and try a search with stuff I know about him--like he was a Navy pilot and went to Virginia Tech. But I'm not hopeful.

He's someone I shared my life with for longer than anyone except Bern and Josh and Mimi and I'd like to find him and get in touch now that we are in our mid-60's and see what comes of that, if anything.

Maybe I'm just getting old and searching for the past.

I don't know about that. But I would like to find Kyle.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Finding Kyle

Charles, one of my friends who reads my blog found the obituary for Kyle's father, Harry Kyle Parks Sr., on a web site called '' or something like that. Really, is that a website people besides Charles and Fred and Bill (three members of my group I go to every Tuesday morning--who between them, I've come to believe, know Everything About Everything) actually know about?

Anyway, the 2001 obit said his surviving son, Harry Kyle Parks, Jr, lived in Bluefield, West Virginia--a town of 25,000 when I was growing up, probably much less then because the 'business' of Bluefield was to be the 'city' for the coal field and the coal field isn't there anymore. We went to Bluefield (which is called 'nature's air conditioned city' and lemonade is freely given out by the Chamber of Commerce when the temperature reached 90 degrees...I never got free lemonade all the time I was there) when we wanted to 'shop'. It was 25 miles away from Anawalt, where Kyle and I grew up, across either Peel Chestnut or Elkhorn mountain. Either way it was almost an hour's drive since the mountains were significant and the roads across them were full of KYA ('kiss your ass') turns and curves. Either way you went through Bluewell, where Lindy's Drive In was located. No one ever went to Bluefield with out stopping at Lindy's where the hot dogs with chilli and slaw were the specialty. I still long for a Lindy's hot dog.

So I emailed Charles to thank him for actually finding Kyle when I couldn't and told him I'd try to find him if he was still in Bluefield. Of course, I couldn't. But Charles emailed me back with Kyle's address and phone number. I'm not sure what web site he used (Jim' perhaps) but I am delighted.

I plan to write Kyle a letter tonight, since even Charles couldn't provide his email address and see if he'd like to be in contact. I'll send the picture that started all this. Kyle and I haven't spoken or seen each other since we were 21 or 22, so it's a ghost from the past 44 or so years. Who knows how he will react. We didn't part on bad terms in any way--our life journeys were just leading in different directions: his to the military and mine to the protest movement.

I've thought and thought of who I've known (who weren't family) longer than I knew Kyle. Surely Mike Miano who started all this non-sense of searching for a long lost friend who I've known where he was and have had sporadic contact with since High School and College. And maybe Mike Lawless, though the last 10 years haven't been a 'contact time' for the two of us. And then there is John in New Haven who I met when Bern and I lived in Morgantown and he was in graduate school, or maybe even when we were both in college. And since the years since college have been many more than the years before college, John is surely the person I've know longest and still relate with often and always (he goes on vacation with Bern and Mimi and Tim and Sherry--who I've know since 1980--and me).

But this Kyle thing has gotten under my skin. I'm going to write tonight. I'll let you know what

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Losing Kyle

I've written a series of posts, all caused by my high school and college friend, Mike Miano. Mikey send me a photo, that Bern and I are in, of a group of people sitting around a table. I have facial hair, so I was in college. I expect this was a party in '66 or 67 or maybe even the Christmas of '65--long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away at any rate.

One of the people at the table is Kyle Parks, who grew up about 200 yards from me and who I knew from the Anawalt Methodist Church before we even started school. Both are mothers were school teachers and though my dad did coal-mining, ran a bar, worked with my uncle in the H and S grocery store, and picked up and delivered dry cleaning, he eventually sold insurance, just like Kyle's dad. Since we were both pretty smart, we were in the same classes for 12 years, often competing for the first chair (teachers reseated kids, where I grew up, after each test--highest score got the first chair...don't think they do that in this era of 'everyone gets a trophy', but it was sure a motivator for me!) I hadn't seen Kyle since we were in college (he at VPI, now Virginia Tech, and me at WVU). That photo made me realize he was my very first friend and I tried to find him online, but couldn't, being a Luddite, but my friend Charles, who reads my blog, found Kyle's father (Kyle Sr.) obit and then an address in Bluefield, WV.

I was ecstatic! I wrote him a letter on Thursday night, addressed it, put a forever stamp on it and carried it around in the book I was reading all day Friday. Then, this morning I get another email from Mike Miano.

In it was Kyle's obituary.

I suddenly realized why I had passed up a dozen or more opportunities to mail that letter on Friday, including leaving it in the basket on our front porch.

He died in Raleigh, NC on Tuesday, September 7, 2004 at Rx Healthcare from complications following a heart attack.

I discovered, after his military life (which wasn't mentioned in the Obit, but I know he went to Navy Flying School) he worked 25 years as a mechanical engineer for Goodyear in Danville, Virginia. I also discovered his hobbies were 'model railroading, cycling and cheering for the Virginia Tech Hokies." He moved from Bluefield, where my letter was going, to Cary, NC to be near his grandsons.

His brother Ralph, who was younger than us and I knew from birth, is also dead, along with Kyle's parents. But he had two daughters: Mandy in Apex, NC and Kelly in LA, his grandsons from Mandy and two sisters, who I vaguely remember. No mention of a predeceased wife or any wife at all, which caused me pain because Kyle's picture could have been in the dictionary beside the definition of 'straight arrow'. The Kyle I remember was no nonsense and 'down the middle' and a divorce must have pained him mightily.

I just reread the letter I wrote to my first friend who I hadn't seen for 4 decades and hadn't known was dead for a decade of that time. It wasn't good enough to re-start a friendship after all that time. It was full of humor and irony and joy as I told him about my life since we last talked. But it wasn't good enough to do our years of friendship honor.

I tend to have 'serial friendships'--I move on and make new friends, always have. I know Mike Miano and John Anderson from my past, I know them still though I haven't seen Mike for decades either (he has a pocket cross of mine that I won't get back unless I see him again) and though I see John, who I've known for well over thirty years a lot since he lives in New Haven and we share many friends, I need to ponder what I've lost by 'moving on' the way I tend to do.

I've lost Kyle, that's obvious. (I had already imagined establishing an email friendship with him once he got my letter. But that, alas, will not happen, not in this life or the next or anywhere in between.)

I've lost a lot of people I truly loved because, like a duck sheds water, I shed friends and move on.
It's worked for me and I've always had lots of friends. But after seeking, finding and losing Kyle--all in one week--I need to ponder 'friendship' for a while.

I'll let you know what shows up.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Losing childhood too...

If you've been following my posts about my oldest friend, Kyle Parks, you know he was in the picture Mike Miano sent and that Charles helped me find him and then Mike, again, found Kyle's obituary--ten years ago.

I haven't thought of him much. It's been 40+ years since we've spoken. But he was always in the background, Kyle and Billy Bridgeman and Joe Tagnisi, the kids I grew up with. These were the people of my childhood and now I know, 10 years too late, that Kyle is dead.

Toe-head he was, very short, almost white hair. Very put-together. A 'straight arrow'. A good, good guy was Kyle.

What I've been pondering is that with my knowledge of his death, my childhood has died as well.

Should have a long time ago, I guess. But the thing about me is this--I've had a remarkably happy and wondrous life. When that happens, I think, your childhood hangs around. There was nothing bad about my childhood or adolescence or young adulthood or my life since then. I have been profoundly lucky and wondrously blessed. So my childhood was still alive and well and fine until I found out Kyle was dead.

It's like the rope to the anchor broke and my boat is now slipping out to sea.

I don't want to be dramatic. After all I went 40 and more years before trying to find Kyle. But knowing he is dead is stunningly profound to me.

I'm fine--I'm always FINE--that's the uneventful and rather boring story of my life. I've always been 'fine' and will be even now.

But something has left the room of my life. Childhood, I think. It's silly to say I 'miss' Kyle since I let him float out there or over four decades without trying to find him. But now that I know my much delayed desire to find him is thwarted, well, something has left the room of my life.

I'm growing older--something Kyle never got to do--and I'm growing older knowing he's not there to look for anymore.

I'm going to sit with this for a long while. I need to ponder my childhood and how it seems to not be there anymore.

(link to my youtube blog)

All opinions in this blog are mine and mine alone.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Bill Barr

If you watched any of the testimony of Bill Barr before the House today, you saw how polarized our political system is.

Democrats were all over him about everything: doing the president's will instead of upholding the law, using federal officers against peaceful protestors, clearing Lafayette Square for a photo op for the president, denying there is systemic racism in the police, having almost no black lawyers in the Justice Department, not whole hearted-ly supporting voting rights, backing up the president's lies, on and on and on.

The Republicans on the committee praised him for his good work, justified everything he has done that goes against the separation of powers, defended him for supporting the president, labeled protestors as violent, on and on and on.

I don't think we, as a nation, have been so divided since the beginning of the Civil War.

Something must be done to put out the brush fires of political division, deal as a nation with the pandemic and bring us closer together again.

For my money, that means voting out the president and letting Joe Biden work, across the aisle when possible, to make us the 'united' states again.

(Taking control of the Senate by the Dems would be even better.)

I fear for our democracy and our safety. (link to my youtube blog)

All opinions here are mine alone.

Monday, July 27, 2020

So many robins and one black bird 
Link to my youtube blog.
All opinions here are mine and mine alone. 

I was out on our deck a few minutes ago and their were seven robins waiting their turn at the bird bath.

One robin cut line, but retreated to let the next robin get a drink and wash itself.

So many robins. They lift me heart.

The black bird wasn't in our back yard, it was in Washington, D.C.

The president, who will not be named here, announced to reporters before he flew off in his helicopter that he would 'not' visit the capitol rotunda to show respect for Congressman John Lewis, whose body lies in state in those hallowed hall.

Mitch McConnell and many other republicans have already been there. Mike Pence will go. Joe Biden will go.

John Lewis was a civil rights icon and 'the conscience of the congress'. And the president won't go to pay his respect.

The last thing the president would like to be called is a 'black' bird.

Things black and brown are not in his vocabulary.

But he is 'black', as in 'tainted' and 'burnt' for not showing respect to one of the great men of our times.

Sorry, Mr. president, but it's true....


Sunday, July 26, 2020

What I suck at

(link to my youtube blog)

All opinions here are mine and mine alone.

I'm really terrible at foreign languages.

I graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude (I swear I did). Even though I got two C's in my two years of German. 

At Harvard I did well in the first year of Greek (it was koina Greek--the Greek of the streets and the new testament) but in my second year I took Classical Greek and couldn't manage all the declensions. 

I barely speak English well, what with my Appalachian accent and all, so I just can't manage other languages.

I did meet Bern, my wife, in Latin class in high school. I was considering applying to a college (Shimmer) that required a year of foreign language. I didn't apply there but Latin gave me the love of my life. (I was a senior and she was a freshman). Cradle robber, I know....

I'm not sure why I suck at foreign languages, but I do.

When the Latino congregation at St. John's in Waterbury was growing, the bishop wanted me to go to an intensive Spanish language program.

Armando Gonzalez, the Spanish priest, intervened and told the bishop he wanted the congregation to learn English and would need to so they could talk with me.

I have thanked him in my heart ever since.

I just don't do languages.

And in spite of my academic pedigree, I know that makes me look stupid.

So be it.

I suck at languages.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

I'm writing little this week....

  Link to my blog on YouTube.

I am so upset with the President that I dare not write since I couldn't avoid words that start with 'f' and 'gd'.

The invasion of cities like Portland with unmarked, unnamed, federal 'storm troopers' is such an egregious violation of the constitution that I can't decently write about it.

And breaking a 250 year old rule about the census--not counting anyone who isn't a citizen--completely undoes what the census means. We 'count' 'who is here'. End of discussion.

And the Republicans in the Senate unable to pass a bill to address the financial needs the Virus has caused. (Well, at least for dirty Mitch to get enough votes to pass anything, he must rely on Democrats who will include more into the bill...if it ever comes to a vote. The House passed a bill for financial help in May. Now it's the end of July and the Senate has done doddley-squat.)

Never mind that Things are Going to Hell with the virus and there is still no leadership on a national level to deal with. And it has to be a national response, not left up to states.

We're beginning to think we won't be able to go to Oak Island, NC in September. North Carolina is a 'hot spot' and if we fly back we could be put somewhere by CT for two weeks.

So much is happening and I can't seem to settle down enough to write about it.

I apologize.

I woke up this morning and wasn't sure what day it was.

That's how crazy things are right now--days blur, weeks pass without awareness, nothing much makes sense.

100 days to the election.


And vote.

(These opinions are mine and mine only.)

Friday, July 24, 2020

Nature is greater than us
Link to my youtube blog

(opinions here are mine and mine alone.)

We got the long promised thunderstorm last night in Cheshire.

It was astonishing.

Lots of thunder and lightening that outlined the trees perfectly.

Hard rain for a while.

The sounds echoed and re-echoed around town.

Nature is greater than us.

What a show Mother Nature can put on.

I stood on the back porch for a long time, watching the lightening and listening to the rolling thunder and the rain.

Then, this afternoon, a rabbit was in our yard. It had the longest ears I'd ever seen on a local bunny. I watched him for a long time too. Whenever a bird would call, the bunny would lift his head and listen.

That bunny and those birds are precious in my heart.

And what are we doing to save all this wonder of nature.

Not much.

Maybe nature would be better off without us around.

Ponder that.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Baseball, thank you God, is back!  (link to my youtube blog)

All opinions here are mine and mine alone.

Baseball is back!!!!

Tonight the Yankees go to DC to face the Washington Nationals in the first game of a 60 game season.

Dr. Anthony Fauci will throw out the first pitch. Very symbolic.

I have always been a Yankee fan.

My father and two buddies in NYC waiting to ship out to WWII from New York were given tickets to a Yankee/Dodger World Series game. My father decided whoever won would be his team.

The Yankees won.

So I grew up in the southern most county of West Virginia being a New York Yankee fan.

My friends never understood.

Sports--and especially baseball--have been important to this country in times of crisis.

Baseball, for me, is more like "life" than other sports. Lots of time passes and then something happens! Lots of 'down time' in baseball, unlike football and basketball and soccer. Lots of time to look around and have conversation and wait for whatever is going to happen next. Just like normal life.

Since life today is anything but 'normal', I think baseball will remind us of what normalcy was like. And I think, give us some hope for the future.

Besides that--Go Yankees!!!


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Birds live on high
(link to my youtube blog)

All opinions here are mine and mine alone.

Birds live on high. I watch them every day--soaring, swooping, flying fast and far.

Our neighborhood hawk flies so high it's just a dot in the sky.

I would make a terrible bird--I hate heights.

As a deputy to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Anaheim some years ago, my room was on the 18th floor! I tried to get a room lower down but there were none.

I didn't dare go out on the balcony and before I went to bed I locked the balcony door and wedged a chair under the handle in case I sleep walked!

(I've never walked in my sleep in my life....)

Mimi and Tim and Eleanor lived on the 13th floor in Brooklyn. I couldn't go out on their balconies for love nor money.

I'm sure I've mentioned this fear of height before, but have been reminded of it because our neighbor is painting his house and is up on scaffolding up to the tip top of the house. I can't bear to watch him up there.

I used to be afraid of airplanes until I told a friend of mine in college. I was going to have to fly that weekend and told him I probably wouldn't be able the sleep the night before the flight.

"How do you feel about it?" he asked me.

"Terrified, anxious, scared..." I begun to answer.

"No, no," he said, 'those are names for what you feel. What are your physical feelings?"

I explained about a nervous stomach, a clinched butt, light-headed feelings.

"Well," he told me, "why don't you 'name' those physical feelings 'excitement'?

I took his advice and call my feelings on an airplane "excitement". It works! (A couple of glasses of white wine helps too....)

But not for high places. I don't know why. And I sure wouldn't drink wine before going up scaffolding!


Sunday, July 19, 2020

OK, back to politics

link to my youtube blog

All opinions here are mine and mine alone.

Birds aplenty in our yard today. Lovely.

We had virtual church and Bryan's sermon was great. In my 26 years at St. Paul's in New Haven and St. John's in Waterbury I had assisting priests and seminarians galore and loved to hear them preach. But in the Middlesex Cluster I seldom have heard other folk's sermons. So, virtual church is good in that way.

Enough of that: I'm back to politics.

Chris Wallace interviewed the President this morning on Fox News. Chris is the most independent correspondent on that channel.

He called 'fact checks' on the president over and again. The president said that in an agreement with Bernie Sanders, Biden had agreed to 'defund the police'.

It's not true and Chris pointed that out. The president asked an assistant for the text to the Biden/Sanders agreement and couldn't find what he said was there.

Because it wasn't.

The president also said we did more tests per capita than any other country and had fewer deaths per capita from Corona. 

Neither is true and Chris called him on it.

He also said (the president) that the virus would 'go away', which he's said many times, and it never has. And won't until we control the spread.

Don't believe me. Google the interview. Time after time the president lies and Chris calls him on his lies.

It's amazing.

The man in the most powerful position in the world is a pathological liar.

Astonishing, that would be, if it wasn't so damn frightening and harmful.

Go watch the interview.

On Fox for goodness sake!


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Strange Bluejay behavior
(link to my youtube blog)

(All opinions here are mine and mine alone.)

A bluejay flew down and got a drink from our birdbath.

Then he did a weird thing: he laid on the grass and spread his wings.

I watched for 10 minutes then started down to see if he was ok and he flew away.

Very odd to me.

Almost as odd as the time we're living in. The virus is one thing that makes things odd. The US is one of the few developed nations that hasn't dealt with it in a meaningful way. Cases in the south and south-west and California are out of control. No end in sight.

But so is what's going on with the President and in D.C.

It's been over 90 degrees there for over a week.

Maybe the heat is making things odd. 

But I bet that not it.

(I'd better stop before I get overtly political. Better to talk about bluejays.)


Friday, July 17, 2020

I need a pedicure

link to my youtube blog

(All the opinions here are mine and mine alone.)

OK, two reasons it is hard for me to cut my toenails: I'm overweight and both my knees don't bend very well--one from surgery and one from arthritis. 

Bern cut my nails once during this weird shut-down. But I remembered, while she was doing it, how much it bothered me that my mother cut my father's toenails, so I won't let her do that again.

The pedicure place I go to is right down the street. It is run by a family of Asians--Vietnamese I think. Extremely polite and competent. I don't know when they will re-open, but I miss them.

(I'm writing fluff like this because if I got into politics on my blog: Mary Trump's book, the President's Rose Garden political rally, his handling--or not!--the pandemic,him trying to shut out the CDC from virus statistics and school openings, the President and his daughter plugging Goya on line--violation of strict ethics restrictions that the White House can't recommend any 'products'--his latest 'racist remarks'--"police shoot white people too"--thing after thing after thing.

If I started down that line I might offend even people who 'sort of' agree with me.

That's how outraged I am right now.

So, I better stick to nature and toenails for the time being.)


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Something I still stand by


  (the link to m you tube blog)

(These are my opinions and mine only.)

This is a post I wrote after our president was elected to my four granddaughters. I stand by it.

Open letter to my granddaughters #2

Dear Morgan, Emma, Tegan and Baby Ellie,

Thanks for letting me write to you to work through my emotions and thoughts about the election of Donald Trump as President. I have a lot to ponder and writing is a good way to do it. I don't know if you'll ever read these ponderings, but I am writing them because of you--you are the Future to me. I'm longing to be hopeful about your future in this confusing and painful moment.

"Rural white working class people" is a term that must be said thousands of times a day on TV and radio and in print to try to understand what happened Tuesday. "Rural White working class people" we are told, gave Trump the edge he needed.

I know the older three of you know where I come from (Ellie's just 4 months old, so she doesn't yet....) I come from southern West Virginia. Both my grandfathers were farmers. My maternal grandmother ran a boarding house for single coal miners for several years. My Grandmother Bradley raised my father and his siblings. My father had an 8th grade education. He was a farm boy who worked in the coal mines until 4 years in World War II damaged his lungs. After that, he was a bar keeper, worked in a grocery store, drove a dry cleaning truck and, in his last years, sold insurance. My mother taught elementary school--beginning before she had a BA!

The town I grew up in was Anawalt. There were 400 people there and about.

I 'was' from "rural white working class people".

That's who I am down deep.

So, why didn't I understand them more accurately before the election?

Did all my education and urban living divorce me from my roots in some radical way? I think many people would think that.

But I'm not sure. I wasn't really 'comfortable' and 'myself' at Harvard Divinity School. I'm still baffled by New York City. I'm ill at ease in many gatherings of Episcopalians--my chosen people!--because they sometimes are from a social class and level of wealth that makes me anxious. Even the town I live in--Cheshire, CT--sometimes makes me nervous because it is so upper middle class and white.

I think I spent all my full-time ministry is cities and among minorities and the poor because I am more at ease there.

The election, as you can see, has made me question 'who I am?' in a profound way.

Maybe I'm caught between two worlds: my mountain roots and my comfortable New England adopted life--in ways I didn't understand before Tuesday's election. And in ways that make me an 'outsider' to both. I have been thrown into a deep place of  reflection unlike anything I've known before.

I know 'understanding' is the 'booby-prize' but I write, trying to get a handle on what threw me for such a loop two days ago.

If you don't mind, I'll keep pondering by writing to the future....OK?

Another something from the past

  (link to my you tube blog)

I haven't been able to write since I know I couldn't keep contempt out of my words for our President. So, on this warm summer day, I'm sending you something from when it wasn't warm. Hope it cools you down....

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The cold

The cold now is brutal. You have to develop a very fine-tuned Stoicism to endure.

It'll be zero tonight (F not C, unfortunately) and won't be above 32 degrees again until a week from Sunday. That's what the Weather Channel predicts.

When I told Bern that she did some quick finger counting. "Today is Thursday," she said, "so you mean it'll be below freezing for 10 more days?"

My instinct is always to look on the bright side, but there isn't much of a bright side when nothing outside will thaw at all, not even a little, for 10 whole days.

I may have to start wearing socks.

When I ruptured my quad muscle and had surgery a year ago last September, my right leg was immobilized for 2 months. I couldn't put on socks on that foot and am stubborn enough not to ask Bern to do it for me.

Last winter was milder than usual and I got through it without socks and I've never worn socks from April through September and I just never got around to putting them on.

I've done ok, so far, but this cold snap may break me.

I've forgotten what socks feel like.

But I may learn again in the next 10 days.

I'll let you know.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

I stubbed my toe

  (link to my you tube blog)

(all opinions here are mine and mine only)
I stubbed my toe last night in my sandals, I do that a lot. I'm pretty clumsy.

But today, my middle toe on my left foot is dark blue. It hurts when I walk.

But my hands are free of bruises. You see, I have very thin blood, so I bruise easily. Doctors tell me I'm lucky not to take blood thinners. I don't need them. But I bruise a lot.

Good luck and bad luck go hand and hand, I'd say.

Nature is good luck.

I was out on our back deck yesterday morning and there were dozens of birds--all sizes, all kinds.

Plus two chipmunks.

Then a squirrel came along and scared most of the birds away.

But a Blue Jay flew down. They are very aggressive birds. I hoped he was going to go after the squirrel. I would have liked to see that.

But he just got a drink out of our bird bath.

I watched longer than I meant to.

Nature is 'good news'.

I guess climate change is the 'bad news that holds nature's hand.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Names and statues  (link to my You Tube blog)

(Opinions here are mine and mine alone)

I have a take on the controversy over 'names' and statues.

It goes like this: I grew up a Washington Redskin fan. Now I know it didn't bother me because I'm a white male and the names of sports teams are not offensive since I'm not Native American.

I never approved of Confederate statues because they were traitors to my country. But Americans who were slave owners didn't bother me and are not offensive because I'm not Black.

Now, I have, in the last few months, realized how insensitive I am to people of other color's emotions.

I have been, I think a majority of Americans have been "woke" to the feelings of people not like me and how names and statues offended them for years and years.

That's what I think is happening. And though I've lived through the original Civil Rights Movement and the unrest of the 60's (taking part in it, in fact) I wasn't fully awake.

I'm getting there.

I 'get' why names and statues of American heroes who were slave owners are offensive to other, non-white Americans. I get it.

I have much more to learn.

But now I know as never before that I must learn from Blacks and Browns and Asians about what they find offensive that doesn't touch me in the way it touches them.

I am cautiously optimistic that White America is become WOKE in way we never have been before.

That can only be good and lead to a better America if we can stay awake and listen and understand in our hearts and souls.

What could be bad about me and other white people truly understanding the weight that has been on the shoulders of people unlike me in color--who are 'people', just like me in their souls?

Ponder that. Really. Ponder that.

Packaging (link to my you tube blog)

(all opinions here are mine and mine alone)

I don't know about you, put I can't open anything anymore.

It took me five minutes and a sharp knife to open some eye drops My eye doctor recommended.

Opening a new bag of dog food or a package of cheese is a challenge. I can't tear where it says "tear here".

I have to get scissors or a knife.

And kid's toys packaging! Forget about it!

You need industrial tools and a blow torch to get a Barbie out of her box.

Opening any jar with that cellophane around it requires stealth.

I don't get it.

Do things these days need to be packaged so completely? Why?

Or has packaging simply advanced far beyond usefulness?

Maybe it's just an aging man like me--but I bet not.

Ease up on packaging....

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Sunday seems long

 (The opinions here are mine and mine only.)

We had zoom church.

I recorded last week's blogs for you tube (above is the link).

I talked to my cousin, Mejol, in Baltimore.

I read some and was on line a lot.

Dog walks and feedings.

Read some more.

Made a toasted cheese sandwich.

Ordered out for fish for dinner.

Watched new on TV (MSNBC and CNN only)

Called a couple of people.

Sat on the deck a long (low humidity today).

Still it seemed really long, this day.

Don't know why.

Beats me.

It's the same length of any other day--but seemed longer.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Waiting for the storm

It's 9 p.m. in Cheshire and still no downpour.

The tropical storm raging up the coast hasn't hit yet here.

Took Brigit out a few minutes ago to a sprinkle.

I hope it comes and leaves before I do a graveside in Middletown tomorrow morning.

Waiting for a storm is worse than the storm itself, so it seems to me.

Waiting is always hard.

No one likes to wait.

We want to be in the middle of things.

But 'waiting' has become the standard these days.

Waiting for the election.

Waiting for the pandemic to be controlled.

Waiting for reforms to our system that will make black and brown people equal to white people.

Waiting for the storm.

Yet that is what we have to do right now--wait.

Thursday, July 9, 2020


I went to see Dr. Ryan, the eye doctor we have used for years. He used to be 12 minutes away in New Haven, but several years ago, he transferred to the office in Ansonia, which is over half-an-hour away. I started going to Cheshire's branch but Bern wouldn't give him up. And four years ago, I agreed and started going to Ansonia.

I have the beginnings of Macular Degeneration. I notice no loss of sight yet, but he sees me every six months now to keep on top of it.

I asked him today how long it would be before my sight began to fail.

"What if I told you 30 years?" he asked.

I'm 73. "That would be great!" I told him.

Then he said, "what if I said 16 weeks?"

"That would be awful!" I replied.

Apparently there is no way to know how fast MD increases.

He's brutally honest--which is one reason we trust him so.

Bern went with me and sat in the car because the stuff they do to me makes me unsafe to drive.

It makes me remember Bill Penny. He was a priest from New York who retired to CT and would come to our Tuesday morning clericus meetings at St. John's in Waterbury. We always began with Eucharist and Bill would take his turn celebrating. Though he couldn't read the pages of the altar book because of his macular degeneration, he had the text memorized and usually got through it with no prompting.

I've made a point over the years not to memorize the service. I'm always a little surprised by the words since I don't know them by heart.

Maybe, because of my eyes, I should start to memorize them.

Here's my sermon at Bill Penny's funeral.


          The best job I ever had—best by far—was being Bill Penny’s chauffeur from time to time.
          I am only one of a multitude of folks who were Bill’s chauffeurs—and though I always thought I was his favorite driver, I am as sure as sure can be that everyone who gave Bill a ride felt like “his favorite driver”. Bill simply had the God-given capacity to make whoever he was with feel like the best and brightest and most beloved. That gift of his is beyond compare, fondly to be wished, a holy gift.
          And there is this: I was Bill’s driver to the General Convention in 1997.         
          We’d drive into Philadelphia each morning from Bill’s sister in law’s house and go to the convention center. I would feel like the one person entourage of an ecclesiastical “rock star”. We couldn’t walk ten steps without someone coming over to hug and kiss and love on Bill. And he would hug and kiss and love on them.
          There were coveys of nuns who descended on him like teenagers around the Beatles—Bill was Paul and John and George and Ringo all rolled into one. There were bishops who would walk away from important conversations just to come over and bask in Bill’s presence. Just walking through the convention center, priests by the dozens and as many lay-people,  would be drawn from whatever else they were doing to come and hold Bill near and feel his oh-so-fierce hug in return. (Sometimes, when he hugged me, I felt he was about to dislocate my shoulder or break some bone….Bill was a world class hugger…..)
          I had known before that trip that Bill was a “special person”—what I hadn’t realized is how wide spread that realization was! Everyone he ever met, it seems, was made to feel so wonderful by just being with him that they never forgot it….And could never forget it.

          And now Bill is dead. I hate this part. I want to rant and rage against God and the cosmos and the powers that be and say, “No, give him back to us…we still have great need of him….”
          And we do. His family needs him and we as individuals and we as a church have “great need” of him—of his never-ending compassion, his great, good humor, his gracefulness and generosity of spirit, his wisdom about what was old and his openness to what is new, his love and his guidance and his eternal optimism in the face of life’s cynicism and his undefeatable hope in the face of fracture and fear.
          We have need of knowing that whatever the evidence to the contrary, life is TERRIFIC….Really, life is Terrific….That’s what Bill believed, believed always, believed absolutely, without a shred of doubt….

          “Enough about me,” Bill would be saying about now, “Proclaim the Gospel, Jim. Proclaim it….”
And this is the gospel I proclaim—the gospel Bill gave his life to; God is Love.
          Not complicated at all. Not subtle in any way. A simple three word sentence that gathers up and contains all we know and all we need to know.
          GOD IS LOVE.
          In one of Kurt Vonnegut’s science fiction novels, there is a robot named Salo that had been programmed to travel the galaxies endlessly, searching for the answer to one simple question: “WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?”
          Salo finally finds his answer from a lonely, forgotten woman who was marooned on one of the moons of Jupiter. “THE MEANING OF LIFE,” Beatrice tells him, “IS TO LOVE WHOEVER IS AROUND TO BE LOVED.”
          I believe that would have been Jesus’ answer as well.
          And I know it was Bill’s answer.
          From Bishops to power-brokers to the people who run the fish store to clerks at Starbuck’s to folks down on their luck—Bill simply loved whoever was around to be loved. Whether he was pleading for compassion from the powerful or sitting on a bench on the Waterbury Green with the homeless—he loved whoever was around to be loved. And in that he proclaimed the gospel more eloquently and profoundly than any preacher can convey.
          God is love—and love is stronger than death could ever be.

The Buddhists tell us that the illusion of separateness is the cause of human suffering.  The illusion of separateness is the cause of human suffering. If that is true, then the acceptance of unity is the pathway to joy.
That, I believe, is the gospel truth that Bill embraced, leaned into and lived from. He didn’t seem to notice the separateness of the powerful and powerless, of brokenness and wholeness, of hope and hopelessness, of death and life. Bill seemed to accept, in ways both obvious and profound, the “unity” of God’s creation. He loved whoever was around to be loved.
And that is the good news I proclaim for him and from him.
He taught us to love by loving—by his eternal love of his precious Natalie, his blinding love of Priscilla and all her family, his loyal love to those he ministered to and with, his unflinching love of “the least of these” in our midst, and—most, most of all—his quiet and grateful love of the one who is Resurrection and Life.
My invitation to you is to carry from this holy space, this gracious time, a little of Bill’s Spirit—a sampling of his love, a touch of his humor, a dollop of his compassion. And my invitation to you is to carry from this service, this memorial, the unity of God, who is resurrection and life.
If we can carry that good news with us into the world, Bill will be pleased. If he were here, he would say that was “Terrific”, absolutely “Terrific”.

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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.