March 30, 2021

Seven Takes

Life was scary as a kid. I remember seeing TV depictions of quicksand and I actually thought that was a not completely unlikely death. Same thing with spontaneous internal combustion stories in the National Enquirer.  I can still remember my flesh crawling when reading about one in the 1970s, surely right after Mom brought the tabloid home along with the cinnamon bread that I liked to eat. 

It probably didn’t help to read Ripley’s Believe it Or Not!, which sometimes had a ghoulish aspect. Much worse was the horror of a local murder of a family at Easter, which was our generation’s Manson family killings.  Add to it the grisly details of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire and the ‘70s were sort of harrowing for tender youth. 

Other events didn’t effect me at all. The Who concert debacle where some people died due to too crowded conditions didn’t seem as terrifying. Elvis’s death also; he seemed pretty old to me at the time.  Now not so much...

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It’s interesting to consider there is spiritual gluttony and not just the eat and drink variety.  For example, I was always kind of envious of St. Paul, who received a special visitation from Christ. I didn’t grasp how much turmoil his life was thereafter, including prison and amputation of the head. 

But even St. Paul could’ve been spiritually gluttonous if he’d wanted. He could’ve yearned for more visitations, including while he was being shipwrecked or imprisoned or whatnot.  And he also could’ve yearned to have been one of the Twelve, to have gotten to know the human Jesus and witnessed the miracles, like the changing of water into wine or the feeding of the five thousand, himself. 

But the funny thing he wasn’t spiritually gluttonous because he didn’t need to be since he - and all of us - have all the Jesus we desire. God is omnipresent. There was no less Holy Spirit when Paul was in prison singing hymns than when Peter was on the mount of Transfiguration. 

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Great Heather King post: 
Christ’s death on the Cross made it possible for someone like me to be propped up, one day at a time, sufficiently to participate in life, to contribute in some small way, to feel occasional stabs of joy.

And to those who think attendance at Mass is the mark of a small, confined, rigid, parochial, lemming-like worldview, to me there is and could be nothing wider, deeper, higher than the sacrifice re-enacted on the altar. Nothing more sublime, nothing more mysterious, nothing more astonishing, nothing more counterintuitive, nothing that opens onto more infinite vistas. Nothing more unexpected, nothing more radical, nothing more of love. Nothing I deserve less– than to “stand in your presence and minister to you”–as the Eucharistic prayer runs.
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Cold and windy day follows sunny warm day. Rinse and repeat.  March giveth, and March taketh away.  

Ah Florida, sweet Florida. Glory days in the sun with 4pm beach beers and the promise of margaritas dancing in our heads. The panache of the Gene bookstores. The tucked-away bike paths. The yore of the yearn, the yearn of the yore. The glad-handling of groceries delivered as if by magic wand.  The morning walks and dusk strolls and the constant variety of seashells. The walk out pool.  The gator’d pond and jungled fringes.
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Patrick Byrne suggests in 6-8 weeks the whole election scam will exposed to all. Obviously the track record of the good guys on this has been spotty. But would be a great hopeful sign if the rot in our system would be exposed.  If it does get exposed National Review is certainly dead to me, as well as any conservative media who similarly treated election fraud as a joke.  
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From St. Ephraim The Evergetinos:
"Take care, my brothers and sisters, for the Evil One wars against spiritual strugglers in sundry ways. He works against man with unimaginably hypocritical cleverness. Thus, before sin is committed, the enemy diminishes its significance in the eye of the strugglers. More than any other sin, he puts before them the desire for fleshly pleasure as such a small thing that, prior to succumbing to it, it appears as insignificant to the conscience of a brother or sister as throwing a glass of cold water on the ground. When, however, the fleshly desire is fulfilled, then the Evil One greatly puffs up the sin in the conscience of the sinner, kindling in his soul numberless thoughts of despair, like black waves from Hell, so that the brother’s good thoughts of repentance are submerged and he is hurled into the depths of hopelessness."


March 21, 2021

Mission Talk from Priest Visitor

Heard interesting parish mission talk... Some notes: 

We talked yesterday a lot about mystery and even the theological mysteries of our faith, but also kind of the mysteries of reality itself. We can oftentimes arrive boundary at a limit and then because that's as far as our mind can go, and we presume that that's as far as reality goes. But that's not really the case. I found a quote: “mystery is not something about which we can never know anything, but something about which we can never know everything, so there is always something that we have not yet arrived at”. Horizons of possibility is what happens both in science - we saw yesterday that the highest degree of certitude in science is probability, and we have certitude and faith in so far as what Jesus Christ has revealed and has told us, aside from that is speculation and we reach horizons of the probable without being able to define and close the definition.

Faith - that which should be awe-inspiring - has become in too many cases too ordinary for us.  Autobiographically, I remember in the mid-80s having studied  in the seminary Thomas Aquinas and I studied theology in Innsbruck which was the theology basically of Karl Rahner and so these were my mindsets, my intellectual mindsets, about how to figure everything out. Because I always have to figure it out because I always have to be able to articulate it, and my Methodist father was a great debater and I never wanted to lose to him.  

But by the mid-80s I thought neither of those systems were really very responsive to the questions that I'm having with things or with my mind and my heart, and I thought, “I have to find something I have to find a new way.” A lot of times people decide at that point either to turn around and walk away, which was very popular in my day, or where they just kind of had to make it up themselves. 

But just making it up isn’t a good idea and I took this from Fr Romana Guardini. He was one of the great teachers fo the Faith and said most disturbing fact is if a man who is expounding on God relied upon subjective criteria and experience, his conception of God showed a suspicious similarity to his own personality.

Consequently, one man would find God to be a divine reality which best conforms to his own temperament thereby losing sight of the living whole. We run into a lot of people who say, “well you know I don't follow any organized religion that I'm a spiritual person” and they run this risk of being the creator of a god who looks too much like themselves to be too credible outside of their own consciousness. 

This doesn't mean that I have to know everything, I just have to know where I am in relationship to this thing we call faith.  And so at that time in the mid 80s I took a trip up to St. Bonaventure University to an older priest who I had been in graduate school and I was an undergraduate school and I told him I can't articulate the faith well anymore, I don't have the language, I don't have the concepts.  He said the language is exhausted and that what I have is inadequate. He said I should start reading St. Bonaventure which I did, and Bonaventure opened  something like windows because what I felt before was the idea that somehow or other Catholicism is confining, and that's what was troubling me because I don't like being confined in my thoughts or in my heart and soul. 

He opened the windows for me and as I explore those more and more I began to see other possibilities, other ways of being faithful, other ways of believing that I had had before.

Then later on, while I was pastor here, I was with a monk friend at the Abbey of Gethsemane, and I would go to confession and talk about things with Fr. Hewitt and we were talking and he said something very interesting. He said, “you know, I think the language we use is exhausted. If you want to continue to explore in this journey, you’re going to have to turn to physics.”  He said there’s a new science called quantum physics and it’s beginning to open up vast horizons about reality. And he recommended a book to me. 

There is a core, a secret, a mystery, who possesses the sacraments and is the one who owns them, and who possesses the words, the books of the Bible. What happened in the Protestant Reformation is once the Scriptures turned from being a person to being a book, then who makes sure what the book really means? If you put the book forward and Luther says, “this what the Scripture means and how you interpret it”.  What do you do when John Calvin comes along and says, “no it means this”.  Then how are you going to figure out what it means? 

Well, the solution was: “let’s subject it to literary criticism. And we will go back and analyze the language and the structure and we will go back and decide intellectually what it means and we will treat it like a book, any other book.” And all of a sudden there is no mystery, no secret anymore. It doesn’t have a meaning of great depth. It becomes maybe ethical, moralistic, historically questionable. All of those kind of things. So what is it? It’s another book. But that isn’t what it is because the word of God is a person not a book. 

And there was a great struggle that went on just before Vatican II, and a young doctoral student named Joseph Ratzinger was about to flunk the major exam of his life because he said that the Word, the Person, is the subject of revelation and that we know what that is in our relationship with him. The professor said that’s unacceptable because it means that something about the truth of Jesus Christ depends on how you or I interact with him, how we receive him in our lives, and that can’t be done. And Ratzinger overcame the difficulty and during the Second Vatican Council he basically wrote the document on the Word of God and he wrote what he wrote in his exam and so now is a conciliar document of the Church.  We receive the word in our own hearts. Without a relationship with the Word of God we have no entree into the secret of the words of God, i.e. the Scriptures.  Therefore subjectivity is part of Catholic faith.   Not that we take it and reconstruct it in ourselves any way we please. If a couple gets married in a good relationship but they don’t really care what’s inside the other person, they just know who they have to become to make me happy, it’s not going to last very long and it’s not going to be a pleasant scene. 

March 19, 2021

Seven Friday Quick takes

St. Joseph day today in the year of St. Joseph! A double celebration. I partook of meat and I swear it tasted better for the dispensation from the Lenten abstinence.

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Everybody and their brother (including my, ahem, younger brother!) seems to have no problem finding slots to get their vaccine. Mid-40s Dennis and my age Ron both have had the vaccine or had appointments. Ridiculous how they keep opening to young demographics when old me can’t even buy a shot.  

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St. Patrick's Day felt of Spring though not necessarily of St. Patrick’s Day. No festivities or parades at all but for a little obligatory Irish music on the radio. I yearn sometimes for those “sophisticated” nights on the town, in the little hollows of Columbus Irishdom where Bone and I tipped Guinness and Jamieson singing our lungs off. Sigh. But it was bound to end as Bone’s wife hated it... It’s all for the best I guess. 

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Today we drove some a half hour up to northern Plain City to some hamlet called Milford or whatnot and it came to nought.  We're looking for rural property to escape the 'burbs. The 5-acre property at 20000 Middleburg Plain City Rd in Milford Center showed up on the website as a delightfully wooded property with a stream. What it didn’t show was that there’s a giant electrical grid right in the middle. Standing some 50 ft tall, it looked like a cross between a windmill and a steel praying mantis.  A huge set of high wires glared overhead and cut through the whole property. We didn’t bother getting out of the car of course.  You have to laugh at how caveat emptor everything is.  We did a backdoor Roth recently and the broker didn't tell me they'd take 5% in fees. But I was fool enough not to have asked. 

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Thrilled to learn today that Blessed Margaret of Castello, a 13th century cripple, is to be made a saint in September of this year. Downtown St. Patrick’s, where I used to frequent, prayed faithfully every Wednesday after Mass for her canonization. Literally for about 15-20 years. It felt kind of hopeless at times and I surely didn’t expect to see it in my lifetime as it took 300 years to make her a blessed and now almost 400 to see her a saint.  

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Despite the unlovely and untalented Daylight Savings Time “feature”, which jacked with the clocks today, I headed out at the surreally early time of 9:15am (or 8:15am body clock) to a church much Hispanic-influenced.  One purpose was confession as it had been a month and, as I think Pope Francis said, “go to confession when you get your haircut”. 

No churches in my immediate vicinity offer confession on Sundays. The schedule for this church was 9:15-9:45 but when I arrived at 9:20 there didn’t seem any confessional action going on. So I asked someone and they directed me to go around and ask the priest.  Not ideal as this would obviously be face-to-face now. I walked in on the Mexican priest (this is a Mexicano parish famous in the city for its Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations and outdoor processions) reading his breviary. He said, “just a minute” so I loitered outside his office area and about 30 seconds later he came out to get me.  I said my piece and then tried my short version of the Act of Contrition but he shook his head and gave me a card with a fuller version, which I then prayed. 

A different priest, a white guy, had the Mass and said, “some people say confession is too easy, too simple. I tell them it’s not what we do, it’s what He does. Look at the Cross to see what it took Him to win our forgiveness.” He added that some people think Confession is a pain and too much trouble and he wants to say, “are you kidding? Look at the Cross...” 

He also mentioned that there isn’t enough preaching on Christ’s promise of Heaven. He meets with dying people often and sometimes the family looking on look at him like he’s crazy when he talks about eternal life. He mentioned that a significant problem in the last 100 years has been the question of why God allows suffering and that many get “tangled up in that, which is what it is, a tangling up”. He said he’s struggled with that in the past but the best remedy is to look at the crucifix as that’s the proof that God loves us and that there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to prevent suffering if it weren’t for some purpose. He said one of his favorite Scriptures is “Jesus wept” because Jesus wasn’t weeping for Lazarus, whom he knew he would raise, but at the grief of Martha and Mary.  He said that a lot of it is bound up with free will as well and that God limits himself by allowing us to have free will in a similar way to how parents limit their authority by allowing their children freedom to do good or ill. 

Sure it’s familiar and we all know it but we can forget. 

As a local Dominican priest wrote:
WE EXPERIENCE GREAT SADNESS IN LIFE precisely because we forget things. Jesus institutes the Eucharist to make his love for us unforgettable. At the Last Supper, Christ chooses a scrap of bread to become his body in order to prove his desire to do the same with our nothingness.
The priest at this parish gave a short homily after both the first and second readings. That’s different! And then for Communion they had a deacon come out in the crowd and give everyone Communion that way (possible since every other pew was open due to covid, allowing the minister the room to get to everyone).  First time I’ve ever not had to move to receive Communion!  There were probably about 30-40 in church for this English mass. I’m betting the Spanish masses are very crowded.
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Charles Smith in “Cheap Ticket to Heaven”:
“He began to think of the pure holy desire that was the infant’s life, and then he wondered where this went to, how it was possible to eradicate this desire, and then for the ten thousandth time he was amazed any of it disappeared, that all of them, every ordinary squarehead, was not ravenously and unappeasably grabbing every bright item he came across; he didn't know how anyone knuckled under for long, how anyone could stand not taking.”

March 09, 2021

Trip Log Sanity-Bel

Saturday: Boarded the Southwest plane in Columbus where everyone participated in the polite fiction (fact for some) that covid was over. Suffice it to say that if the person in the middle seat next to me has it, I now have it. And likely same true for any adjoining seats. Mask or no mask, sitting on a plane next to people for 4 hours (a promised 2.5 hour flight but oh well) is not ideal, especially when everyone within earshot is talking boisterously as if at crowded bar. 

So we got the travel day done. The promised noon to 2:30pm flight didn’t work out as promised. The flight was delayed and then to make up for it we sat for over 40 minutes waiting for a gate at Fort Myers. (They said, “ten minutes” which I guess is sort of the default time period when you have no time period).  So it ended up being a 12-4pm flight. We get to the rental car area and Budget, with whom I’d reserved a car from, had a line that looked like the one for the Racer roller coaster at Kings Island circa 1975. On a weekend. It snaked from the far end past about four other rental car lines sans social distancing. So it wasn’t a tough call. Got in a cab and cancelled my reservation. By 5pm we were bliss-bound. 

Got checked in easily and then faced life without a car, so we rode our bikes to Jerry’s and had a delicious meal. Mimosa and steak dinner and Steph had shrimp. Picked up beer and milk afterward only it was now pitch-dark and Steph wasn’t thrilled about riding the 1.3 miles in the darkness. But we got it done using a iPhone as a headlight. 

Do I detect a tinge of self-guilt over leaving the dogs to the tender mercies of the kennel this week? Far from their comforting routines and rich supply of treats? Perhaps a wee bit... they are creatures of habit and the habit is gone. 

Sunday: Gape-jawed at the full moon studding the horizon last night, framed by palm trees and the lit blue pool of the complex.  Somehow it feels like in January the warmth and sun is unearned or not quite as appreciated. By late February I’m desperate for Floridation. I keep waiting for the right moment to say to Steph, “we should live down here.” The example of relatives land friends who have done so nags. The advantage of buying is that then you can live here without guilt, like how you can eat as much as you want at an all you can eat buffet versus an ala carte menu. Going down for the month of February is easy to say but going to be really hard to do repeatedly given the mental barrier of the serial expenses.  

But the time isn’t right. She didn’t see the bike jaunt from Jerry’s last night as an adventure but more as a fail, blinded as she was by the oncoming car lights of busy San-Cap road. Then of course the frustration over familial concerns, self-inflicted. We tune into the eldercare station almost as often as he uses his pulse oximeter monitor. 

This first vacation morning when I wake up realizing I don’t have to serve the dog’s breakfast or do do work brings to mind the old time lyrics, “He flies through the air with the greatest of ease / a daring young man on the flying Trapeze.” 

Interesting homily at St. Isabela's where the priest mentioned a novel idea as to why Elijah and Moses were with Jesus at the Transfiguration. Perhaps to illustrate the contrast: both had easy deaths - in the case of Elijah no death at all but a chariot ride to Heaven. Moses fell asleep in the Lord while still in full vigor at an advanced age.  So it was a way of saying that that time has passed. Jesus’s death was anything but easy. 

So short stroll in the morning coupled with a cigar. Vacations always start “in the hole” and this one no less given the travel hassle and car rental problems. So an easy Sunday slated. Watching the waves and figuring I spent about 50 cents per wave to experience them, ha. 

Random thoughts: our idea of profound humor as kids was saying “whale on the beach!” upon seeing an obese person. Thought 2: I love the Gulf. Four feet from surf and tide hasn’t moved an inch!  Thought 3: George W Bush as progenitor of Trump, for he taught America that skull and boners commit frequent boners (like fighting the wrong enemy over non-existent weapon stashes) so may as well just go with amateurs.  

Took $10 flat rate taxi (Island Taxi) to George and Wendy’s restaurant and had a heavenly lunch/dinner there. Beers and split a margarita. Rack of ribs and salad. Yum. Beautiful summer weather.  Hungry and thirsty and there’s nothing like a cold beer on a hot day. 

Ordered groceries from Bailey's online!  So feels like we stole a day down here. 

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Ouch...this from Russian writer Solzhenitsyn has the ring of truthiness about it: 

Long periods of wellbeing and comfort are in general dangerous to all. After such prolonged periods, weak souls become incapable of weathering any kind of trial. They are afraid of it. Difficult trials and sufferings can facilitate the growth of the soul. 

Not good vacation reading. 

Monday: 

Another stellar morning in the Floridian paradise. Fort Myers consciously refers to itself as paradise while Hilton Head makes no such bold claims. (Presumably because Hilton Head is no paradise during the winter months. )

Morning songs came to mind: Morning Has Broken and Three Dog Nights' Joy to the World (for the line, presumably, “joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea”). 

We sauntered the beach in the morn; it’s warm already. Steph might say “hot”.  77 degrees feels hot given our sharply chilled February. High of 79. 

I appreciate not having to plan the Normandy invasion to go outside as at home: like sweatshirt, followed by hooded sweatshirt, coat, hat, gloves, sling for coffee thermos, then.... leash the dogs and go!

I hold forth on my patio/Florida room, feeling the pronoun despite the trip’s brevity. I misunderestimate how much I enjoy eating out, at least eating out on a patio with a drink.  The little things add up, like not having to pick up dishes and bag up trash. Just eating outside in summer weather is part of the appeal.  George & Wendy’s Diner is perfectly in our wheelhouse. Also nice to see competence in the form of waitstaff and cooks. Pros. 

Reading the Florida novel Shadow Country and some Melville for old times’ sake. Our goals: drinks & shuffleboard, maybe a bike ride if we’re incredibly ambitious. 

Meanwhile, belated 12:45pm arrival to that point twenty-some miles shy of the horizon.  The exquisite pre-2pm sun, the viaticum  of guten morgen light. Oh grace-shimmer of water on shore! Waves seeking their sand-bound home, endlessly lapping.  A thousand constellations within eye’s reach. 

Moby Dick:

Oh, immortal infancy, and innocency of the azure! Invisible winged creatures that frolic all round us! Sweet childhood of air and sky! how oblivious were ye of old Ahab's close-coiled woe!

Tuesday: Enjoyed a morning respite along the banks of the pond on the quiet back property. Saw a duck with a bright-red head and an iguana the size of a small gator -- which is what we initially mistook it for.  (Funny to see a “no swimming” legend on sign outside a black water gator pond. As if! You really shouldn’t have to say it...)

Then biked to Bailey’s store and afterward  to our old friend Island Inn, a hotel so historic there’s a road named after it. A nice  shelled beach,  so we stayed and while Steph did the “Sanibel stoop” and I sat mesmerized by the narcotic of ocean waves.  An old BeeGees song came to mind: “Too Much Heaven”. 

I go into the little wing next to restaurant with bookshelves that I thought of as a sweet sunroom. Smaller than I remembered it. (Lo and behold it faces due south according to my iPhone compass.)

We were then busted by Island Inn worker who told Steph this was private property.  Former residents we were, but no alumni pass for us, boo. 

We biked right smack dab into a “summer afternoon”, or so it felt, the heat generous but not overbearing.  Rode past myriads of flowered hedges, shrub plants and scrub trees, and I wondered idly how different these were from the flora of Hilton Head.  The dark water holes where gators might lurk were certainly familiar. 

The lull-sea. Soothe and booze. Fish guts for shore birds. The pointillistic sun glued to the water like glitter. Romcom couples striding. Paperbacks by the seashore.  A gentle day of sea camp and beach walk and a 5 mile bike ride under “July” skies. 

Someone on beach was reading, “The Last Pirate”.  Which lead me to check amazon site which leads me to read a sample of a different but similarly titled book: “The Last Pirate of New York”.  (It had me at “pirate” and clinched it with “New York”. ) Also download a sample of Gringos,  a novel about an ex-pat in Mexico as mentioned by Amy Welborn in her blog. An ex-pat in Mexico, ahhh. Also some of Dave Barry’s funny book on Florida. Keep Florida weird I say. 

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Thinking of an in-law's plight, it’s perhaps a poor analogy but I sometimes think of prayer of petition in “hopeless” cases similar to acquiring a lottery ticket. The ticket may not be a “winner” but it is still a live ticket with a chance at winning. To not play the lottery is to have an infinitely smaller chance of winning (i.e. 0%). 

Where the analogy fails is the lottery is random and impartial, while God is not random and is partial towards us.  And even a losing prayer-lotto ticket is not a loser because the prayer is answered in a different way: Jesus did not receive a positive answer for the cup to pass him by but was answered in the form of angels coming to his side at Gethsemane to comfort him.  

Wednesday: I hitched up the bike at 8am and rode on bike to St. Isabela Church for 8:30 mass.

Pelican soars overhead and seems unaware of the gift of flight and the envy humans feel. The story of us as well given we’re usually numb to our gifts.

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Finished watching documentary “The Plot Against the President” free on Amazon Prime last night. Really well done and needful given most don’t realize how treasonous our intelligence services are. Nice to have extremely professional directing/photography/storytelling on the right side of the spectrum for once, although obviously this story is as bipartisan as it gets since an attack on the president is an attack on us all. 

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So we had a cloudy spell from 10:30-2pm, so I lit out for the territories to Gene’s Books Too and then across the street to Gene’s Books. The former carries a splendiferous supply of history, politics and Florida genre while the latter is a cornucopia of fiction. I like the layout and atmosphere of the first one but the second one is charming as well given the labyrinth of rooms and cottages. Yes they have a path to at least two other small houses also full of books (one devoted to world fiction and the other to American fiction). As you walk in and there are aisles labeled “British Mystery”.  Who knew British mysteries were so popular?  Such that American fiction is banished to a backwater cottage? 

I was certainly amazed at the volumes of volumes. The two stores displayed avalanches of works such that I could’ve spent a whole day there, and it made me think how ridiculous another book about almost anything is given the redundancy.  

I came out with a dollar novel (Cheap Ticket to Heaven by a Charlie Smith, yeah, right, made up name), Vagabonds - light historical read about Edison and Ford, and a quirky book by a nature writer called Finding Beauty in a Broken World.  Have to support your local or non-local bookstore. 

I pick up Smith’s book and come across a lovely passage that reminds me of my desire to get lost in a field of corn, ala Field of Dreams. 

...the big yellow fields, soaring off like runways from across the street fascinated him: ornate smooth-topped grass you would probably run away into at least once if you were born in that town - fields children probably disappeared into, got lost in...running for you life you could vanish into wheat.  

Smith is a poet in addition to novelist which is ideal, like how a great 880 meters runner has natural gifts in the marathon should he have the endurance. Always bet on the poet with endurance rather than the workman plodder. 

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I was impressed that Gene’s Books Too prominently displayed verboten conservative books right as you come in (Andy Ngo and Candace Owens) despite flying a gay flag out front. The things you'll do to make a living, right? 

So about ten miles of biking today and a mile jog along the beach at 3:30pm when I landed for the first time all day there. And the sun is back, Jack. 

But wind and chill kill the ambiance around 4 but we stick it out for an hour before exchanging it for the windless sun-pool. Ahhhh. Now I’m in the civilized glade riding the perishable sun down to its 6:30 denouement. There’s something to be said for the tranquility of the Florida sun cast on the paver pool deck, beer resting comfy and stable at my side, passersby at a minimum, and water still as a pane of glass. Nice contrast with the unruly sea scene where wind whips, sand heaps, people walk by in an endless parade, and the water crashes. Quieter and warmer, we make it till just shy of 6, so a 3-hour outdoorsy window. 

Thursday

Restful cloudy morning; up by 6:15 and napping by 7. Read a lot of Andy Ngo’s explications on antifa in Unmasked. By 8 finally up for good. 

Then we wandered like clouds to the fishin’ hole, fishin’ for gators that is. And we were rewarded with two little fellers on the far bank, sunning themselves and immobile as inanimate objects. 

Then off to pool when the sun came out and enjoyed some recess there. Ah, this is the life.  The odd thing is I can take time off at work and feel less “busy” than here. Between beach, biking, pool, pond, shuffleboard, drinking, etc... it seems like there aren’t enough hours in the day. 

I’m dinner-less tonight and tomorrow due to my lack of foresight on buying chicken and, for Friday, shrimp. Will have to Jerry’s it at some point today I guess. (Later: Uber Eats to the rescue! Ordered from Bayside Grill in Fort Myers).

We did a nice long 1.5 mile beach stroll looking for pretty shells.  Felt the water on my ankles and the obliging sand under foot. 

Best title of a 17th century book: “A Just and Seasonable Reprehension of Naked Breasts and Shoulders, Written by a Grave and Learned Papist” by Jacques Boileau.

Jacques would have a lot reprehensions here. 

Derek Walcott excerpts: 

"Five years ago even poverty seemed sweet, So azure and indifferent was this air, So murmurous of oblivion the sea, That any human action seemed a waste...

“the wounds that make you think.”             

"Heaven remains Where it is, in the hearts of these people, In the womb of their church, though the rain’s Shroud is drawn across its steeple. You are less than they are, for your truth Consists of a general passion, a personal need..."

Ah what a vacation I’ll remember fondly. The maze-like Harry Potter halls of the Gene’s Books, the espirit de corps lunch at George & Wendy’s, the non-tidal water edging, the beach walks into the happy-go-lucky sun, the quietude of the pool deck, Mass at St. Isabela’s, the sprint-run on Thursday, the visit to the genteel Island Inn, the new, fresh reads....

Friday

March here is great. January here is a bit cold. The difference of five weeks seems pretty clear.  Or maybe not so much: from 57-73 low/high to 61-76 low/high. Funny the difference four degrees makes especially when wind factored in.  A typical 11-14mph sea wind makes for a 5-7 degree drop so now it’s 51/67 versus 55/71. The sun adds a degree or two so probably feels closer to 53/69 versus 57/73, meaning overall average in January is 61 and in early March it’s 65. The latter is almost room temperature.  

By 10am it’s warmed up mucho and is pool weather.  A gluttonous sixth day in this paradise. Beautiful beach walk watching pelicans gobble fish-prey in shallow one foot water.  Rare for me to see them so close to shoreline. They float and fly, win-win for them. 

Nice variety of morning walks this week: two to the pond area, three on beach, and one bike ride to church. Showers all afternoon tomorrow so we getting out at perfect time.  

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After a lovely bike ride down the winding paths near the old cemetery (while dreams of buying a condo in Florida danced in my head), and after passing by Spanish-styled mansions of hues red or orange and by hibiscus bushes the size of trees tressing the properties, we played some shuffleboard. Where I lost two games to Steph decisively. A low moment in my athletic career such than I’m even questing my athlete status. 

Then 3:00 is beach o’clock, a late call to the emerald waters and pluff sands, all of which will evaporate tomorrow morning - like Cinderella’s plight at midnight - and we will return to 35 degree reality, a climate colder than my refrigerator’s interior. 

We take a last walk - like a prisoner’s last meal - and come back to find crows had got into my bag and scored some of our popcorn. So now we have crow salvia on the popcorn. And a noisy feathered neighbor who refuses to leave with the others, knowing good popcorn when he tastes it.

I read Cheap Ticket to Heaven beside the unfailing waters. There’s something to be said about a new read on vacation, not picking up something already partially read under the conditions of home and work. Cigar smoke pleasantly wafts from precincts unknown. The tallest tree within eyesight is “the pelican tree” where more than a dozen rest from the fishing labors. 

A lovely white bird with a long neck, a species of egret likely, looked at me square on as if expecting something. Very unafraid. I brought him with a half dozen kernels of popcorn,  promptly ignored. Two minutes later a seabird scooped them up. How that bird knew they were food from the heights I do not know. 

And then time ran out. 6pm and the light was on the westward track to disappearance. Watched riveting Netflix limited series called “Murder Among the Mormons”. 

Saturday ; Sudden-thrust home, bereft of a leisurely sun-cast morning and hop-a-long afternoon just when I was getting my sea legs, just when I was reintroducing myself to poetry and getting lost in the clouds...