Monday, July 26, 2010

Paul Larudee

Some of you will have heard about the ships that were attempting to take supplies to Gaza recently, which were attacked on the high seas by the so-called Israeli Defense Force (IDF), when numbers of Turks were killed by the boarders.

You may also have heard about one of the American protesters, on a different ship, who was an advocate of Passive Resistance. He (Paul Larudee) is 64, has a PhD in linguistics, and for many years taught at St. Mary's College. For many years, he has been a professional piano tuner, and that's how we met him. For many years, we have seen him when he comes to tune our piano, and when we buy another case of the excellent Palestinian olive oil that he and a number of friends (some Jewish) bottle and sell to help raise funds for the Middle East Children's Alliance.

Paul is a founder of the Free Palestine movement, and on one of several previous visits he was shot in the leg by a member of the IDF.

Paul lives nearby, and so an article about his passive resistance and subsequent beatings by the Zionists were published in the local press.

Paul came to our house on Monday, bringing us fresh supplies of olive oil, and to tune our piano. Mondays are when Martha Hernandez and either her mother (Digna) or brother (Joel) come to clean our house. At one point, Paul could not exercise his tuning skills, because of the noise of a vacuum cleaner, but we were able to mitigate the noise so that he could continue.

When he had completed his work, we asked him to join us for lunch, and we were treated to a first-hand of this self-described "troublemaker" and his successful passive resistance. It was thrilling for me to hear him, and to share his pleasure at the fact that the thwarted attempt to take goods to Gaza has, in fact, achieved much of it's ultimate objective, as the harsh conditions imposed on the Palestinians in Gaza have been somewhat ameliorated, in response to the world wide criticism of Israel, and the many deaths of Turkish crew members.

When we are invited to dinner at the house of friends, we now often take a bottle of olive oil, in place of the more conventional bottle of wine.

I greatly admire Paul, for his courage and good humor. He is remarkably fit for a diabetic in his mid-60s, and I am glad to report that he is almost entirely recovered from the savage treatment he received from his Zionist captors.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Take your time!

As many of you know, I don't move very quickly these days, and am slow getting in and out of vehicles. Kind people often tell me "Take your time". Frankly, I hate it. What do these people think that I am doing? My instinct is to respond angrily and sarcastically.

Of course, I don't do that. I am completely aware that, like a healthy majority of the people I meet, these are kind, supportive folk, wanting to let me know that they care about me.

So I bite my tongue, grit my teeth, and endeavor to respond with some affirming phrase, such as "I hate to keep you waiting" or "Thanks for your patience with me".

I would like to come up with a friendly, pleasant, affirming method of asking these wonderful people to "cease and desist" from telling me to "take my time". (Of course, if they read this blog, they'll know better next time!)

Any suggestions readers have to suppress those well-meaning, kindly words would be gratefully received.

Monday, July 12, 2010


I am not a major fan of sports, although with a granddaughter who excels in cycling, I have had to learn some of the jargon, such as "podiumed", meaning that the rider was one of the first three (or more, in certain instances) who appear on a podium to receive their medals.

As I write this, the Soccer World Cup is in progress. British readers may be surprised to learn that when the final score is even, American papers call it a "tie". Brits would call it a "draw".

In British soccer, competition for most of the year is in "league" play. Towards the end of the season, in professional soccer (known as "football" in the UK) the matches they play are known as "cup ties", as they vie to win the prestigious FA (Football Association) Cup. Feet don't play much part in American "football" after the kick off and until an attempt is made (usually, but not always) by kicking, to add the "point after", very rarely unsuccessful. In rugby football, a "try" is not the attempt, but the way in which points are scored by carrying the ball across the goal line. Then there is a chance to "convert" by kicking the ball over the horizontal bar, when the "try" becomes a "goal". (In most sports, a "goal" is scored when the ball (or "puck") passes under the bar.

As a small child, I did not understand why there was so much interest in a "test match". I thought it was the equivalent of a so-called "friendly". When would there be a real match? Americans should know that "test matches" are very serious affairs. Many years ago, the final cricket Test Match, when England played Australia, was played to a finish. Happily, these contests appear to be limited to five days at most.

In the UK, and in other parts of the world where cricket is played, the area between the wickets is called a "pitch". In the US, a "pitch" is made when a ball is thrown to the batter. If the "bowler" throws a ball in cricket, the umpire will call "no ball". (That adds a run to the score of the batting side, although the "batsman" is permitted to strike it and to increase the number of runs to be scored.)

A "bowler" in cricket is the one who projects the ball. In the US, a "bowler" is a participant in an indoor sport, a version of what I once knew as "Ninepins". In the UK, "bowls" refers to what those of us on the western side of the Pond would call "lawn bowls". "Bowls" in the US are end of season contests between College football teams, played by highly recruited young men on "athletic scholarships".

Confusing, certainly, but always entertaining.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Americans are used to combinations of words ending in "-gate". It dates back to the Nixon-era Watergate scandals. It is now used for almost any scandal, such as "Travelgate", an almost-forgotten scandal in the White House travel office, during the Clinton presidency.

Lately, those of us active in TEC (The Episcopal Church), have been hearing about "Mitregate". The first half of this word is indeed about the headgear traditionally worn by a bishop, which is somewhat reminiscent of the top part of a bishop in a chess set. In the UK, it is always spelled "mitre". American reformers have managed to amend the spelling of many English words, so the usual form (even in the Episcopal Church) is "miter". If you look up that word in a dictionary, you will find that it also refers to a method of joining two pieces of wood together, by cutting off the ends of two pieces at a 45 degree angle, so that they will fit together smoothly - especially when glued.

Recently, our Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, attended a meeting in England, and was invited to preside and preach at a Eucharist (Holy Communion) service in Southwark Cathedral. Word then reached her from Lambeth Palace, where the Archbishop of Canterbury maintains his office and residence. She was told that she should not wear her mitre, although it would be in order for her to carry it!

Some commentators explained that visiting bishops should not wear their mitres: they were only appropriate in an area that officially recognized the wearer's authority as a bishop. Unfortunately for those theorists, there was ample photographic evidence of visiting American bishops, including our Presiding Bishop's predecessor, wearing their mitres while functioning in England.

There are now 28 Anglican women bishops, mostly in the US, but also in Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Cuba. However, in the "Mother Country" of the Anglican Communion, there will be no women bishops until 2014 at the earliest, and already there is talk of some conservative male bishops "swimming the Tiber" (converting to Roman Catholicism) with as many of their flock as they can gather. The two Archbishops (Canterbury and York) in England have drafted a resolution (for the next meeting of Synod) which has drawn fire from both the proponents and opponents of women being admitted to the Episcopate.

This may sound like a "storm in a teacup", but articles about "Mitregate" have appeared in the London Times as well as in US church publications.

I think that Rowan Williams, to whom we refer in the convenient shorthand as "ABC", is the second least-admired Brit this week. BP CEO Tony Hayward is in first place, especially after going sailing in his fine yacht with his son, one day before we celebrated Father's Day here.