Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hard to Get There

Cartoon from this week's New Yorker
Decades ago, when I lived in Fort Lauderdale, there was a popular restaurant that everybody raved about.  But the thing was, you had to drive a long way on a dirt road then board a little barge that carried 20 people, to an island where this ramshackle restaurant awaited us.  We lined up on the pier and waited, both coming and going.  We all thought it was great and when friends came to town, that's where we took them.

A while back I told you about the restaurant in upstate New York that has an eight year waiting list.  People fly over from Europe, then find transportation for the two and a half hour trip to Damon Baehrel.  (That's the the name of both the restaurant and the chef.)  There are restaurants all over the world that are famous for being hard to find.

And don't get me started on destination weddings.

Seriously, what's wrong with us?


Friday, October 21, 2016

Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo
The gospel is about grace and we all know that grace is about us receiving from God blessings that we don't deserve.  - Tony Campolo

I was excited last night to get to see Tony Campolo at my church.  I've just finished reading his best seller, "Red Letter Revolution." Tony is a world famous (in some circles) speaker, writer, sociologist and professor emeritus at Eastern University.  He's also highly controversial in evangelical circles.  Here are a couple of personal observations about Tony Campolo.

Tony Campolo or Don Rickles?
First, his communicating style is fantastic.  To me, it's a cross between Don Rickles and Lewis Black.  Why is this important?  He's over 80 years old and he still has over 300 speaking engagements a year.  He's been on the Colbert Report, The Carlie Rose Show, Nightline and Crossfire, to mention a few.  His book is endorsed by Bono.  He's in the mainstream. His message does not appeal to everybody but he's so entertaining folks are attracted to him even if they don't agree with him.

So what's the big deal that makes some fellow evangelicals dislike him?  His theology reminds me of my husband Ken Crossman's theology.  Ken was often called a Bleeding Heart Liberal.  He took it as a compliment.  But he certainly was not "liberal" in his theology.  He believed every word Jesus said.  He was part of the "Red Letter Revolution" well before Tony wrote the book.  Unlike most of today's evangelicals, Tony (and Ken) are primarily about taking care of the poor and marginalized people in the world.

Why?  Because Jesus says so.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cracker Cows

As I was riding one morning for pleasure
I spied a young cowboy a riding along,
His hat was throw'd back and his spurs was a jingling'
and as he was riding he was singing this song.

Whoopee ti yi yo, get along little dogies,
It's your misfortune ain't none of my own
Whoopee ti yi yo, get along little dogies,
You know that (Florida) will be your new home.  - The Weavers

My son, Scott and his lovely wife, Sherry, who live in a house with running water and a cement pond, and really love gourmet food and fine wines, etc., recently bought an 800 acre ranch.  It's pristine Florida land with a seven mile fence line, with almost nothing man made on it.  And now they have about 50 or so Cracker Cows, all named, happily living there.   And I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them will be happily living there at some point.  But for now they are happily waiting for the old double-wide across the road re-do so they can spend quality weekends with their cows.

Latest Delivery
As you know, I like Florida history and have great respect for the Crackers who hacked their way through this harsh state prior to air conditioning.  But, until recently, I had never heard of Cracker Cows.  In a nutshell, they were brought over by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 16th century.  They are small, bony, beautifully colored, long horned, cows that can survive in our harsh heat.  Also, like the Royals, they are of pure linage.  And they're on the endangered species list.  (Only for the cows it's call the "Critical" list.)  However, Scott and Sherry's cows are happily roaming free and having babies, just like they did in the 16th century.

Scott has always loved the outdoors and, for years, dreamt of being a cowboy.  Sherry's the one who's surprising me.


Saturday, October 15, 2016

Community Fest

Last night Dave and I had our annual ride on the Ferris
Wheel at the Saint Mary Magdalene Catholic Church CommunityFest.  As I've told you before, I used to drive by this neighborhood festival with its carnival atmosphere and wish I could be a part of it, knowing there was no way.

But then I met Dave and he's taken me on Ferris Wheels around the world.  And when I told him about my last ten years of care giving and missing out on this neighborhood fun he said, "Why don't we go every year till we can't go anymore."

And we have.

We wait until dark so we can enjoy the midway lights and then walk the ten blocks or so to the event. Thousands of folks attend over the annual three day period.  Besides riding the Ferris Wheel we watch the band play for a bit, watch the adults and kids on scary rides, visit with neighbors who are there, and eat something crazy.

Last night we watched them make funnel cakes and fried candy bars.  They dipped the Snickers Bars in the funnel cake batter and dropped them into the same boiling grease as the cakes, pulled them out when thy were crispy and doused them with powderer sugar.

We didn't eat anything that crazy.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hurricane Matthew is Finally Over

Most of Florida seriously dodged a bullet last week.

The very worst part for us was losing power from last Thursday night to late Sunday afternoon.  It caused discomfort and serious boredom what with living in a hot, dark, silent house.  Not to mention loss of showering.

Our minister told a story on Sunday that helped me immensely.  He flew into town from Chicago last Thursday and thought he'd better fill his truck with gas.  He visited a few stations.  No gas.  Then found a Wawa that was still pumping.  Only the line was around the building and down the street.  He got in line - and waited.  When he got to the pump he had his daughter get out and pump fast so as to not hold up the line behind them.  (He is recovering from foot surgery so is on crutches.)  When she finished he tried to start the car.  No dice.  It was dead.  

Then he went on the preach his sermon on Naomi and Ruth.  This is a story about getting through really hard times.

In the end he went back to his own story.  So he and his daughter are sitting at the pump unable to move the car.  Will those behind him emerge from their cars with pitchforks and torches?  No.  Folks emerged to push the car to another spot.  AAA arrived in 15 minutes, installed a new battery, and they were on their way. 

Wow, That story helped me.  It's tough when things go wrong and you have no idea how or when they'll get right again.

But they almost always do get right again.


Thursday, October 6, 2016


Hurricane Matthew is on its way.  This morning when I talked with my son we reminded each other of the three hurricanes of 2004 and how the one coming up tonight might help erase some of those memories.

My husband, Ken, was near death, suffering dementia, pretty much unable to walk and in a hospital bed in our condo.  But he wasn't aware of any of these things.  So when the three Orlando hurricanes of 2004, Charley, Frances and Jeanne came and went, they left me, and our whole family, traumatized.

This time it's different.  Our hatches are battened down.   Our batteries, flashlights and radios are lined up in the kitchen.  Our hurricane door is ready to be lowered.  We've had a pleasant day.  We walked in a near empty mall this morning.  Dave had his usual Thursday afternoon cribbage game with Art at the kitchen table.  We've encouraged friends and neighbors to be ready.  Many prayers have been offered for all those who've been affected and will be affected by Hurricane Matthew.

In 2004:

  • Hurricane Charley was a nightmare in my house.
  • Three weeks later while Hurricane Frances was whipping up, Ken died in his bed.
  • Two weeks after that Hurricane Jeanne arrived at a sad and lonely time. 

Tomorrow will be what it will be.  But tonight I am feeling blessed.


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Playing God

Jerika Bolen
Jerika Bolen was a beautiful - inside and out - 14 year old girl.  She also had type a spinal muscular atrophy, a brutal disease that left her in constant pain.  She never walked and could move only her head and hands.  For her entire life she suffered in ways that we cannot imagine.

Jerika's "Last Dance"
We became aware of Jerika when she announced that she had made the choice to enter hospice and let the disease take its course without further aggressive treatment.  But before that the wonderful folks in Appleton, Wisconsin, where she lived, fulfilled her dream of going to prom.

There has been much controversy about Jerika, a young teen, being able to make this choice.  But, by law, anyone has the right to accept or refuse medical treatment.

Some in the religious community have condemned her (and her mother) for "playing God" with her life.  I, on the other hand, think that our ability to extend life by artificial and cruel means, discounting any quality of our lives and refusing to offer up alternatives like palliative care is, in fact, playing God.

Rest in peace, Jerika