The Dogs and I

God has and does uses dogs in mysterious ways. Wanting my own spiritual father that I can pester and blame for answers and then point to when things don’t go my way, I have prayed fairly consistently (at least measured in terms of how I pray) for a spiritual director. I have yet to be endowed with or trusted with my very own elder(ess). I attribute this to an outworking of God’s grace as He knows that I am not anywhere near the point that such a person would be of true help (I understand that I am still on the interstate, have not gotten off that superhighway onto the much narrower and arduous trail that calls for such inner exertion).

However, He has condescendingly blessed me with not one but two (two I supposed because of my neediness) spiritual guides of the four-legged terrier or honestly described, terrorist variety, Betsy and Layla. For years I perceived only that their purpose was to make me smile and feel good about myself. Good because it is I who am their master, their commander, the overarching superior one.

Now for anyone who has ever been subjected to a dog with a terrorist mentality you will immediately know that I was in an advanced state of denial to believe that I was the superior one. So little by little, bit by bit they have, in tandem, drugged me through the briar patch until I was scruffier than they, certainly to the point that I look up to a seven inch dog now rather down. They have proven to me the truth of what drill instructor, Sgt. Jones said of me over fifty years ago, “You are nothing but a mutilated piece of dog ##!$.” I think he probably meant to say excrement.

Least, you think of me as one who complains, I assure you not. Far more soothing lessons I have also learned (or to  use the correct verb tense ‘am learning’). I just stopped typing and reached under my chair to be reassured that they are right there, now I know that with less physical effort I can be reassured that He is right there. I can call and they will come (most usually), I can look into my heart and He is already there (most usually.)

I know and shamefully, at times, take for granted that when I am negligent in giving them the attention they want they will immediately forgive me when I give them that attention. If I am too dismissive of their presence and their instructions, they will strike me with a paw, scratch my leg or even voice their command.

You get the gist of how they are training me and how they in turn are being used by God as my tutors.

All I can say is get your own mine have their work cut out for a long time to come.

Betsy & Layla encouraging Frank in meditation

Betsy & Layla encouraging Frank in meditation

Published in: on April 17, 2013 at 1:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Frank’s fabulous potato Something or other

Description: Imagine, if you will, a sandwich with the two pieces of bread being thin, crisp grated potatoes that are golden brown and the interior being a mixture of chopped onions, bell peppers, jalapeños, tomatoes, cheese and anything else you can imagine. Okay, it is easy. Hint if you do all of the prep work before starting to cook the piece comes together very fast. I can probably complete one of these things in about 15 minutes if I get all of the stuff together before I start anything. And if I am making more than one the second one takes about 6 to 7 minutes more. (I keep the first warm in the oven while I am making the second.)


N.B. There are no critical measures in this thing.

1/4 to 1/3 onion, chopped fairly fine

Couple tablespoons of chopped bell pepper

1/2 Teaspoon of chopped jalapeño or Serrano (this is hotter) pepper

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of chopped garlic

1/4 cup or so of chopped tomato


(And anything else that you want in the middle – i.e. mushrooms, etc.)


Cup of grated cheddar cheese (can use Oaxacan {in Mexico} or Monterrey Jack


Grate one large or two small Idaho/Russet potatoes


Mix the grated potatoes with salt and pepper (coarse ground if possible) with a tablespoon of oil. Divide into two portions.


Sauté the onion a little, then add the bell pepper, a minute or two latter add the chopped jalapeño, then the garlic and a minute latter the tomato. (Timing is not that critical but each really has its own cooking time. Don’t sweat it.) Set the mixture aside.


In an 8 or 9 inch non-stick skillet melt a pat of butter (it will give the potato a golden brown color – the side that goes in first will eventually be the top side.)


When butter is melted add 1/2 of the grated potatoes, spread in the skillet to form a solid patty about 1/4 to 3/8 thick. Brown for 3 to 4 minutes then turn the fire down so that the top of the mixture starts to cook. When the color of the potatoes on top turn from transparent to white, check the bottom (i.e. peek) to see if the bottom is a nice golden brown, if not turn up the heat a little to brown. When brown add the veggie mix on top, then the cheese (the cheese will act to bind the two layers together.)


Now in the remaining potatoes beat in one or two eggs (to taste. The eggs in this level will be a thicker mixture when cooked sort of like a Spanish tortilla.) Add the eggs/potato mixture on top of the veggie mixture. Now for the skill… Take a baking sheet, preferable without any edge and place on top of the skillet. Hold the baking sheet with one hand and the handle of the skillet with the other and flip the mixture out onto the baking sheet. Now slide the mixture (which is now brown side up) back into the skillet. (you can add a pat of butter to the skillet before you do this if you want but that side of the potato will not be showing so it doesn’t really have to be brown, only done.) Cook on a low to medium heat until the bottom level of the potatoes are done (use your judgment or peek). Turn up the heat at the end to crisp up the bottom a little, slide upon a plate cut and enjoy. This will serve one hungry marine or two people eating sensibly.


Use your imagination on what goes in the middle, I have used cooked diced ham, bacon torn in small pieces, carne a seca (dried beef), mushrooms, etc.



Oh yes, I was going to add a picture of the one I made today but seems Pam couldn’t wait.

Published in: on November 4, 2007 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Relationship between individual morality and the state

I found this address by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church (Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia) to be interesting on several accounts. In the notes that I have interlineated I have attempted to not only add my thoughts but to raise certain questions, rhetorical or not. The reader is asked to answer my questions either to her/himself or in the comment section.

Address by Patriarch ALEXY II of Moscou and all Russia

(Strasbourg, 2 October 2007)

Dear Mr. President,
Dear Members of the Parliamentary Assembly,

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this high assembly as I have been invited by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe René van der Linden on behalf of you all. I am glad to communicate our vision of the past, present and future of our common home, the European Continent, to the members of parliaments of the Council of Europe constituent countries.

Recently, the Council of Europe has made some new, unprecedented steps towards bridging with religious communities. In our sight it is the long-awaited response to many calls of religious leaders.

Understanding of human person could become an important theme for such a dialogue since it is around anthropology that many problems and sometimes (all the time or at least often) even conflicts arise between faith traditions and secular humanism. (Isn’t this, at least in the U.S. the source of most of our political conflicts?) (more…)

Published in: on October 11, 2007 at 1:15 am  Comments (2)  
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Every man dies, but not every man really lives

The quote is from the movie Braveheart and whether or not it was actually said by William Wallace while trying to inspire the Scots to battle the English is not really material to this blog. When I came across it I had a multitude of questions that wandered all over the lot and I still haven’t figures out why all the questions and why such a disparity among them. Some of the questions were 1) could a person who had not ‘lived’ even think to ask such a question; 2) can a person who has never ‘lived’ even conceive of something more than what they have experienced; 3) isn’t the quote more for our time, where the concept of an expanded self-awareness is in popular magazines and do-it-yourself books; is it a question of self-actualization or maybe only self-awareness (i.e. do I really have to do something more than just think it?); 4) what does the author mean by lives?; 5) is this just a paraphrase of the Christian gospel? Actually, there were and are more but that gives an idea of the range of thoughts/questions that went through my mind.


On its face the quote is very motivational, at least to me. How often have I dreaded the thought that someone close (and I will use my father as an example) will shortly before death have an epiphany that the life has been wasted or is far from complete? Many, many are the times that I wished for his death without him having this epiphany, without dying suffering from the thought his life was wasted or incomplete. (And, as far as I know, he never did have this epiphany.)


Or applying the same fear to my life is probably why the Robert Service Poem strikes such a cord in me.

There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.


At least in my life I can say that in many, many ways I have lived. I have loved and been loved, I have been part of history (civil rights movement, etc.), wonderful children, I have experienced various mind states but most assuredly I have a very deep and strong believe in the reality of my relationship to God. Yet with all this there is still vibration of the chord that Mr. Service struck, the existential queasiness that wonders how I would answer William Wallace if he asked me if I had really lived.


So I stand between Mr. Service looking into my heart and saying ‘see you are really one of those people’ and Mr. Wallace looking me in the eye and asking ‘have you really, really lived’.


There will probably be more to this theme so feel free to comment and that will give me more to ramble about!

Published in: on September 10, 2007 at 1:25 am  Comments (5)  

To the memory of Dan Hurly

Nobody has ever told me that I don’t procrastinate so in keeping with that thought I will write this about 55 or so years too late.


To Dan:


You were my classmate in the fourth and fifth grades; you were a safety patrol guard with me (does that make us patrolees?) We were in scouts together. You had black curly hair and abut the same build as I: let’s just call it solid but not fat. We played on the line for the Walnut Hill Elementary School football team. (What was the team? The little walnuts?) You and I competed in the relay race and the three legged race on field days.


Field day was just before school was out for the summer. As far as I have memory that is the last thing I remember us doing together. On the other side of the football field they had built a city swimming pool that year. You went swimming that summer and I heard later that you were found at the bottom of the pool.


Dan, I miss you.

Published in: on August 14, 2007 at 8:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

More of “I don’t fit”…

Yesterday I wrote a piece on my reminisces of my life in the Episcopal church. It was sort of a free association of things spanning about 61 years, from the baptism of my younger sister until now. It was meant to only be a glimpse of my life and not a critique of the Episcopal or Anglican church. I was extremely surprised when I saw that my blog site this morning had two hundred or so more hits than normal. I found where Greg Griffith of Stand Firm: Traditional Anglicism in America had linked to the article and copied part of it. First, thank you Greg for your interest in my article. Secondly, while I make it a practice never to get involved in blog wars (and I certainly not going to engage in that here) I would like to add some to the original article in as much it is being used as a critique of the church and it was not written for that purpose.


First I will talk more of my relationship with the church and then of what I have searched for so many years. In addition to the encounters with the church described in the article there have been numerous others, it is pretty safe to say that whenever, in the first almost fifty years of my life, that I felt truly spiritually lost I probably always turned back to the Episcopal church. This was my ‘mother’ church (and my mother’s), this had a sense of being home. When I was in seminary and became dissatisfied with the conservative protestant churches it was because both of a perceived weakness in the theology and absence of any define liturgy. I mentioned that I then attended two Episcopal churches. The first being pastored by an evangelical nut case, I said that originally and now, lovingly. I was comfortable in that he was an evangelical and I being in the Baptist mindset (although trying to leave it) was not threatened. The priest was much more British Anglican than American Episcopal. The services were the old services that I knew and felt at home with. In my initial blog I wrote, “For life of me I can’t recall my thinking or my motives for this (i.e. seeking ordination).” Actually my motives were in large part because I did feel comfortable. Did I feel “called?” Not in some sense of having a vision or a strong and continuous heart felt inner tug that I should be a priest. But I was strongly seeking a place or an outlet for social service. (I have in my checkered life time done such things as to be an civil rights organizer in the sixties, run an inner city legal aid clinic, been a missionary to China, etc.) I will not claim that my attempt at ordination was completely thought out or would have provided the fulfillment that I needed in my life.


I left that church when there were internal problems that split the church for several years (problems that were not of a doctrinal nature.) The second Episcopal church can be described as the archtypical late 20th century ‘gee I wish Spong was our bishop’ church complete with cherubs dancing in the aisle. This was in the mid-eighties. Before jumping out of this church I did take the time to delve more fully, in both an intellectual and spiritual sense, into my angst. This lead me seek after that which I had decided to trace after several years earlier: the church that Jesus had planted, the church which he said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18”


In this second part of the blog, “what I have searched for” I will state that by this time in my life I was not even considering a non-Christian alternative. I had tried alternative paths and found them lacking plus the fact that in April of 1980 I had had a very real and profound ‘Christ’ encounter that since then has left me with no doubt that only the Christian alternative was valid. I started from an intellectual perceptive. That is I went to the library and started reading the patristics, actually I even attempted to read through them chronologically (that didn’t last that long as I don’t have a lot of intellectual discipline.) Through God’s providence I was also led to attend a Orthodox service. It wasn’t long before I came to understand (believe) that one’s relationship with God is more than an intellectual ‘knowing’ or an emotional ‘feeling’ but transcends knowing and feeling: it is the soul reaching out to a God that is reaching out to you, no it is soul reaching out to a God that is already embracing you. I don’t know if I can define Orthodox any more precisely than that last sentence.


I am not going to bad mouth the Episcopal church as a denomination it is what is and for many it may be what God wants for them. It was a comfort for me and a springboard, praise be to God.

Published in: on July 19, 2007 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

I don’t fit within the broad Episcopal milieu

While browsing last night I came across an article that was reporting on an Episcopal priest in the Seattle area who claimed to be both a Christian and a Muslim. (Her diocese suspended her for a period of time to allow her to reflect upon her actions.) For those who might be interested such a claim is logically inconsistent (if logic would matter to her): a tenet of Muslim belief is that both Jesus and Mohammad are prophets of God (Allah) thus Jesus is merely a prophet and not God as He claimed. So by one professing to be a Muslim one is denying the fundamental teaching of Christianity. Be that she is inconsistent or not the story got me to reflect upon my past periodic dalliances with Episcopal church.


It was a nice place to be baptized in. While I certainly don’t remember mine (infant baptism) I do have a vague recollection of Lura’s, my younger sister. The church, in Longview, was not large and seemed to me to be a little dark and/or gloomy. The service was at the back of the church and the font was carved and made of wood. My parents were there as were her godparents, the Bennets. My mother was holding her through the part of the service that I remember. I think that my maternal grandmother was also there.


Speaking of my maternal grandmother it was she that made sure that I went to Sunday school when I was staying with her in the summers (I could write about that church in Navasota or describe how I would walk the last block to the church balancing on a stone wall – and driving my grandmother crazy, but that is for another time, maybe) and it was she that taught me to prayer before going to bed.

Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep if I should die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take. God Bless, mother, father, etc. (cf Psalm 3:5 “I laid me down and slept…KJV”


By the fifth grade I was going to church on Sundays with my mother and became an acolyte. Father Westerford insisted that we have practice every Saturday was followed by some games, usually tag or the like. I was there every Saturday and Sunday although frequently my mother would drop me off and come back after the services to pick me up. For one Christmas eve service I remember fainting during the service (I had been standing with my knees locked) and having to be helped out of the sanctuary. Learning to stand without locking one’s knees stood me in good standing when I was in the Marine Corp. Anyway it was during this time that I learned some of the basic teachings of protestant Christianity. I was too young to question the Rector about his theology (and the young didn’t question their elders at that time.) In the late eighties I call Father Westerford out of the blue and he still remembered me and remembered my father as the pretty good golfer!


Fast forward about thirty years. While in seminary I became disillusioned with Baptist (and fundamental Christian) theology and was searching. For a while we attended a couple Episcopal churches, one pastored by a nut case of an evangelical Episcopal priest. It was while attending that church that I made application to be ordained a priest. (For life of me I can’t recall my thinking or my motives for this. ) Anyway after submitting the application I (along with Pam) had to under go an interview. For this we drove to Colorado Springs (from Denver) one Saturday morning and met with a woman priest. It became obvious fairly fast in the interview that since I wasn’t a transsexual or at least a homosexual or a woman and because I had gone to a conservative Baptist seminary I wasn’t going to make it. In my rejection I was told that “I didn’t fit into the broad Episcopal milieu.”


Now, in part because of this experience, no one can convince me that God ever gives us more than we can handle.

Published in: on July 18, 2007 at 4:08 pm  Comments (1)  

Someone I wish I had met

Have you ever wondered (or is it just me and my over active imagination) what it would be like to have a conversation with someone who you have heard about or have read or have read about? I can recall hundreds or thousands of “I wish I had met so and so and had a conversation” thoughts. A resent thread of thoughts with some commonality is that I wish I could have some time in conversation with an Orthodox elder. Here is a Utube video of one such elder, now deceased. Elder Cleopa My question is what would you have wanted to discuss? to ask?

Thanks to Trellmore

Published in: on July 15, 2007 at 8:42 pm  Leave a Comment  

Don’t tell the travel agents!

I have been accused of moving to the backwaters, to a third world country, to a dirty place, somewhere hot and dry. One way to refute this would be to have my critics visit (but I only have guest bedroom and that is also my exercise room – and I have a fair number of critics.) For those who think that it is dirty or a backwater third world county I would suggest that they read this link. The article is a result of a poll (unscientific as it may be) rating Mexican cities based upon their zócalos (center plaza) – Pátzcuaro came in first overall. You will note that it placed in the middle rankings for cultural attractions but nearby Morelia was highly rated I will agree that food wise we were accurately rated but this will improve over time (it is hard to see how it could not improve.)

If one thinks that Pátzcuaro is hot and dry they should check out the weather at Yahoo using this weather link. Right now at 1:00 p.m. in the first part of July it is 72 degrees.

So I guess what I am saying is that it is not at all like my critics think it is here. So I will end with a simple request don’t tell any travel agents about this place or they might over run it.

Published in: on July 9, 2007 at 5:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

More Frank Bolton

Just a quick note for those interested in Frank C. Bolton Sr., this link gives the history of Bolton hall and has a picture of Frank C. Bolton Sr.

Published in: on July 6, 2007 at 9:25 pm  Leave a Comment