Monday, April 30, 2012

Zephaniah 3:17    Today, the LORD your God is in your midst.  This is a Wekivaword.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My London and Welcome To It...

This afternoon, I read an article with the above title by A. A. Gill, published in the Sunday, April 29, 2012, New York Times. A good article and it has 150 and growing comments by people from London or from elsewhere who want to chime in and talk about "their" London. So I thought, why not? I have been up to London on several occasions though not as many as I would wish. My lasting impression of London is positive and I would go back again at the drop of a hat, though not during the Olympics; one can see them better on the telly.

London is what your favorite book about it tells you, and more. 

I was first introduced to London by my mother, who had never been there and A. A. Milne, who had. They were changing the guard at Buckingham Palace and Christopher Robin went down with Alice. A child of three or four has a picture of that, to go with Milne's charming illustrations. Of course, the picture is indistinct and yet children are impressionable. One wants to go and see what all the fuss is about, and I have done so and am glad to have been there. Whether I bumped into Alice or Christoper Robin or the guard whose life is terribly hard, doesn't really matter, there were plenty of others crowding the palings at the Palace and it was worth it to stand in the crowd and see the pomp and circumstance. There may always be an England but there may or may not always be a changing of the guard. On our most recent visit there, we happened back to St. James Palace after the changing and had a much more intimate view of the guard amid only a smattering of onlookers and it was delightful, right down to the martial music they played. No one tells you about that, and perhaps I should not, since the crowds will be larger now. But do go. It will be more A. A. Milne than A. A. Gill, anyway.

London is what your favorite book about it tells you, and more. My first "grown up" books were The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, so yes, I have an image of horses' hooves over the pavements and a cloak and dagger perpetual twilight image of London and you can still find it, without really trying. Even amid the crush of traffic and the babble of languages it is not impossible to conjure up someone in a deerstalker in many a corner of London. If you wish. If not, don't fret. London is what your favourite book about it tells you, or your favorite author, and more.

On one visit we were not sure where to have dinner and ended up in a pub whose name I cannot recall, in a room upstairs that was a tad out of the way. There were many old framed engravings on the wall, none of them looking all that spruce, but when we looked them over we found that they were telling a story and the long and the short of it was that Charles Dickens was a regular of that pub (among many I am sure) in his London famous perambulations. So we had a perfectly adequate and authentic pub supper amid reminders of one of my favorite authors. If Mr. Micawber did not happen in on that particular night, well, I am sure if you stuck around something would have turned up. London is what your favorite book about it tells you, and more. 

E. Phillips Oppenheim, the Prince of Storytellers was to one hundred years ago London what Margaret Mitchell is to antebellum Atlanta. Whole worlds were recorded accurately by E. P. in his more than one hundred novels of international intrigue and if you go glamorously Edwardian at The Savoy Grill or The Criterion (the Most Beautiful Room in London) for dinner you are following in his footsteps, into a kind of real life "Downton Abbey" glam. They are still there and still worth a visit and even in pricey London, a bargain in terms of what you get in atmosphere, which is what you are after, anyway.

London is what your favorite book about it tells you and more. You can visit the grave of Isaac Watts, who if he is not your favorite dead hymn writer (I know dear reader that yours truly is your favorite living hymn writer) then you can look near by and see the final resting place of Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe's creator), or go across the street and visit John Wesley's house and not far from there the church where John and brother Charles both held forth. You can see Charles' organ, which was smaller than you might imagine considering his voluminous hymn output, perhaps hum to yourself something of his ("Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus", "Jesus Lover of My Soul" and so forth). Since Charles wrote over 8000, you might be there a while.

You can pop into St. Paul's (for a rather stiff fee) and if you keep your mouth shut as I did the first time you go, you can tag along with a tour group of French high school students and get to be part of a special tour up into the dome and whisper from one side to the other and hear what is being said and then climb onward to one of the towers where you can gaze down Fleet Street and ponder about Lord Beaverbrook and his publishing empire and how all of that got mixed in with Edward VIII and Wallis Warfield Simpson, the woman he loved. All the while you may be thinking of this same dome towering over the Blitz, of Winston's famous words about never giving up, or perhaps you will focus on the architect of this and so many other London churches, Sir Christopher Wren. Those who seek his monument, look around you. Or maybe you will just hum the song about the "Little Old Bird Woman" from Mary Poppins, and her bag full of crumbs, all from a film based on yet another book that reminds you that London is what your favorite book about it tells you, and more.

H. M. The Queen is a busy modern monarch and you may just catch a glimpse of her or one of the many colorful members of her Royal Family going about their many duties. Judy's sister Karen saw H. M. as she slipped in or out of Parliament one day (none of us were with her at that moment, though we were all in London, and we envied her the Royal spotting). We four (a phrase made popular by her father George VI, aka Bertie, but suitable to our own family when abroad in 2006) had a nice royal encounter of the first kind when at Windsor, which, to be accurate, is NOT in London but an easy commute. We had just finished our tour and were in the area that overlooks the large courtyard at Windsor when I overheard a guard say to a woman standing next to him, "She will be coming out in a few minutes."   Knowing that at Windsor there is only one "She", I rounded up Judy, Anne and John so we could have a nice view of the courtyard and yes, indeed, all the Royals came out like rays of sunshine after a shower, and got into their collected limousines for the drive over to Ascot.  "The prettiest sight in this fine pretty world is the privileged class enjoying their privileges," Republican minded Americans may not want to bother looking for Royalty but there they are, even so.

My London and Welcome to It will continue...see latest post above...

Loving and Almighty God, you are the one who gives us your truth and sets us free...

Today, may each of us be set free from unhealthy attachments, unreasonable expectations, and negative desires. May we hear you speaking to us your promise that you have come to give us life and give abundantly.

May we decide to be Love in action. May we love who you have made us to be. May we love others unconditionally. May we be certain of the truth that the more Love we give, the more we shall receive.

God, grant us days that are peaceful and weeks that are stress-free. Help us really see that our lives are filled with Joy. Give us the courage to be gentle with all other living beings.

Show us again that we are Creative and Talented. Grant that we may be continually learning from life's experiences. May others learn to look upon us as Kindness and Compassion in action. We are your children. So, too everyone we shall meet this week is your child.

May we never judge ourselves, or others; but trust that everyone is doing the best they can given their present moment in their spiritual journey. Even as you promise to forgive us... May we not punish ourselves, or others, for our mistakes, but simply learn from them, and with your word of pardon, go forward.

May you be manifest in us. May we be your ambassadors, witnesses and representatives. Because you love and bless us, may we acknowledge how loved and blessed we are. Because you have given freely to us, may we give freely of our gifts and talents and time and creativity.

May we recognize and accept Love as our true nature. May we be loving and gentle and respectful towards others in our thoughts, speech and actions. May we surrender our egos to You.

May we hold relationships as sacred, and I hold them more important than issues. May we be centered upon you, and connected to You. May we love the people nearest and dearest to us, unconditionally, and support them in their personal and spiritual growth.

May we keep communications open, and love conscious, active and present in our relationships. May we welcome your healing and wholeness at all levels of our being - physically, mentally and spiritually.

May we sense your light of light within us, so that we may make positive choices for our highest good and the good of others around us. May we be patient and expectant, active and peaceful, focused and joyful Christians, in the company of our Living Lord, even Christ Jesus, Amen. 
Jonah 2:10-3:5

10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. 3:1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.


You will remember that Jonah is called The Reluctant Prophet, because the first time God told him to go to Nineveh, he went the other way—to Spain. The ship ended up being in a storm and when everyone on board drew lots to see who was causing the bad luck, Jonah drew the short one and was tossed overboard. The storm stopped immediately but the crew did not come back to get Jonah. Instead, he was picked up by a passing fish, and ended up being fish food. God still had plans for Jonah and that is where our scripture passage picks up the story.

I suppose we picture Jonah like some Biblical Robinson Cruso (not Enrico Caruso), tossed up on the shore, looking like death warmed over and smelling wretched. Probably he was amazed that he was there, safe, if terribly bedraggled. At that moment, one wonders what in the world was passing through his brain? Perhaps something having to do with doing what God says to do, rather than disobeying God? It was one of those lessons in life that we learn the hard way, to say the least.

And yet, God is not done with Jonah. In fact, he gets the same message, a second time. This, perhaps confirmed in his mind, that he really ought to do what God has told him to do. The difference is not in God’s message but in Jonah’s response. This time, he goes to Nineveh—which is about the nastiest place on the planet filled with mean, warlike and uncompassionate people.

There, his message is not one of sweetness and light but rather of doom and gloom. It is not the kind of message that any orator would want to deliver on a guest trip to a foreign city. Indeed, Jonah perhaps thought that he would end up being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. But, having traversed the city and proclaimed God’s warning, Jonah is in for a surprise. Unexpectedly, his audience warms to this message, and the entire populace of the great metropolis, from the least to the greatest, goes into major repentance mode.

To what might we compare this? Being sent to Bagdad in the days of Sadam Hussein to proclaim God’s word? Can you see why Jonah might have been reluctant? Why it might have taken a bit of doing to motivate him? They are in the same country, Nineveh is just up the river from Bagdad—and the Iraqis are the direct descendants of the Ninevites. You can still see the ruins of Nineveh today, having been excavated down the centuries by various archeologists. They have unearthed some amazing artifacts. But none are quite as amazing as the turnabout that God performed in the hearts of a pagan and warlike people, through the agency of a stubborn and reluctant prophet. If God could do all of that, with so very little, back then; can’t we trust that God can do just about anything? Cross out the two words “just about” and you have the whole story.


1. What is Jonah doing in this passage?

2. What is God doing in this passage?

3. How does Jonah’s world compare with our world?

4. Do you think God has a plan for people’s lives? Explain.

5. Do you think God has work for Christians to do now? If so, what?

None Were Clothed Like These

"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these."
- Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 12:27)

There Were Some Cute Doggies in That Window

Deuteronomy 31:6  - Today God goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. This is a Wekivaword.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Winter Garden Scenes

Today we spent part of the day in Olde Winter Garden.
Various views are in the posts that follow.

I was up early this morning and had some errands to run.  Then I did some work around the house, which I also continued after I returned from the outing to Winter Garden.  It was a good day to work and a good day to relax; the balance of the two made it a good day all around. 

I did three loads of laundry.  This will surprise some people and gratify others.  I have been doing laundry since I was in what we called junior high, now middle school.  My mother taught each of us how to do that.  And I am glad she did.  I can tell you some sad cases of elderly men whose wives have died and they have not even known how to separate whites and darks let alone how to fill a washer or when to get things out of a dryer.  Sad.  And these were supposdly bright guys who had had full lives in the world of business.  The problem is not limited to men who think that pitching in around the house is beneath them. I can remember a gal who told me she was going home every weekend from William and Mary to her mom's house in suburban D.C., so that her mom could do her laundry for her.  Really?  I said, "I am sure that your mom is glad to see you, but I bet she would be even happier to see you if you did your own laundry and came home without the dirty stuff." 

I also put gas in the car, did a load of dishes (really how hard is it with dishwashers?), took out the trash, ran by the church, got the dry cleaning, and still had time to drive to Winter Garden for lunch and take all of these photos and more (I didn't post them all, to be sure).  I am not saying this to pat myself on the back, mind you, but I think that 3/4ths of what I did today would be looked upon by some men (young, old and in-between) as not what "The Man of the House" would do of a Saturday.  Well, men, get over it.  Mother's Day is coming up and if you really do love the woman in your life, you will get off your duff, turn off the tube, cancel your golf game, skip the chin-wag with your crotchety cronies, and do something tangible to show that woman in your life that you really do care about her.

Something like The Laundry.

Some guys think that the garage and the yard are their domain and the house is "The Little Woman's".  Well, fellows, the last time I checked, you were not planning to sleep on a hammock strung between your SUV and her sedan, or on a chaise lounge on the patio; so, I suggest you become a 21st century gentleman and help out with the real work.

On a regular basis.

This Little Light of Mine...

It is not the pretty scene one sees on the front street, this back alley.  And yet something caught my eye.  Maybe it was the striking contrasts of light and darkness.  Then again, if you look closer, you may see what I see.

I like the fact that the light is on at this old building even though it is high noon or shortly thereafter.  I suppose someone will say that it is a waste of electricity.  Or they may assume that someone forgot to turn it out and so on it has burned through the daytime.  Then again, you can be sure that when darkness falls, it will still be burning and then it will be a welcome presence.
I have noticed that some Christians assume that if all is going well, there is really no reason for them to let their light shine.  Indeed, I know of some who assume that they have had all the inspiration they need--albeit that inspiration came at Sunday School decades ago.  Some others, when in the presence of acquaintances, manage to let their light go out, or stay well hidden, so that they are not considered out of touch with the modern world, or an offence to the prevailing mood of gloom and doom.

I find that there are all too many people who are glad to put out the light of others, or at least to do their best to do that.  It is far easier to spread darkness than light, and so they are in fact lax and lazy.  Even when they are pompous and pontificating.  Such ways are sure signs that people have gotten old, old before their time, and old in spite of the newness that God offers with every morning ray.

Avoid such people.  They will stifle all the light that God has given you.

"People don't light a lamp and put it under a basket
but on a lamp stand,
and it gives light to everyone in the house."
- Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 5:15)

A Study in Contrasts

Rough or Smooth?
Appealing or A-pealing?
Vertical or Horizontal?
Light or Shadow?
Window or Niche?

International Style - Winter Garden Style

This is the International Style, Winter Garden Style.  And I think it is just great.  Some wise person has selected a stunning shade of blue for this little gem of a building and its simplified stucco and glass forms.

The International Style can be traced back to the Bauhaus in Germany, where many of the European luminaries of the architectural world studied, taught and practiced till that madman Hitler decided that such an approach to architecture was not his cup of whatever he used to drink up there on top of  his Bavarian mountain.  All the more reason we should all find it appealing.

International Style is NOT difficult to do.  This little building by some unknown builder (with our without the aid of an architect, who knows?) has all of the elements.  Flat planes, flat roof, strong simple geometry, cantilevered porch with no visible sign of support (kind of like the architectural version of something worn by Jane Russell and if you don't know who Jane was look it up). 

But I digress, as I enjoy doing.

The International Style was anti-fru-fru as well as anti-Fuhrer.  You will not see any unnecessary decoration on an International Style building.  Everything appeals to the precise, mathematical mind.  So you have to get it right with the proportions, or it will just look like somebody's weekend warrior cinder block garage on the back alley.

Glass block is the bane of some people's existence but it is used effectively here, both horizontally and vertically. The shadow lines from the porch are especially pleasing, and yes, whoever designed the building probably knew that the shadows would do that.  And that sign in the door for the business--well!  Someone knows color sense, to be sure.  The orange and the blue are perfect companions to enliven the structure's simplicity.

It is a treat to find good architecture in out of the way places.  And if you live in Winter Garden, well, you know that your town is chock full of pleasing architecture of all styles.  And not so out of the way, either!


This Bougainvillea beside the Edgewater Hotel in Winter Garden is about the size of an average three bedroom house.  And stunningly gorgeous in full bloom.  If a bougainvillea is permitted to grow without any interference and if it is placed where it is moderately protected or has something to lean upon (or better yet, both), you can be sure that it will keep on growing and blooming long after whoever planted it is gone.
Here in Florida it is not unusual to be out in the country somewhere and to see a behemoth bougainvillea towering over the ruins of some long-forgotten homestead.  The ceiling may have caved in decades ago, and the walls crumbled to dust.  No matter, the bougainvillea blooms on as the only reminder of a place that was once called home by some happy family.

Some flowering plants do better without too much fussing over them.
Ditto, some people.
You would be hard pressed to peruse your favourite color wheel and come up with a more perfect combination of colors than what God has achieved, here.

Osprey Nest

Harry & Larry's

If you haven't been to Harry & Larry's
you haven't had Bar-B-Que.