Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
from

RICHARD NOLAN AND ROBERT PINGPANK!
January 2007 – December 2007
Part I

With boxed and bracketed reflections on the past twelve months (since January 1, 2007), our annual online letter is a chronological supplement to our online Soul Mates: More Than Partners. The purpose of this lengthy online account is to provide further insights about one gay couple which has been together for more than fifty years – what some of their thoughts are, and how they spend their time. Trinity College (CT) our alma mater has agreed to maintain this website along with our www.philosophy-religion.org as part of the future endowed Nolan-Pingpank Fund.

JANUARY

Another quiet day at home on New Year’s Day – with a welcome, unrushed call from Ken and Alec, some emails, and a delivery of Ann’s steaming, home-made, lentil soup! A marvelous treat for supper!

We wondered momentarily why we are not frenzied, leaping about, or overly exuberant about the New Year – or for that matter so many of the other major holidays and special events.

Perhaps we have just grown accustomed to virtually every retirement day being self-paced and filled with an easy-going, contented happiness. There is absolutely no reason for us “to get away from it all,” shriek, get drunk, or exhibit similar American traditions and values. For us, each day brings its laughter and very little solemnity. Unhappiness occurs only when we share someone else’s sadness or when a medical “event” gives us pause – with its dose of apprehensiveness, a conscious touch of our mortality. And, then, there’s a smile, a touch, or a word – and the best parts of reality again lead the way. We are an Easter family!

Is it unwholesome, especially for retirees, to be truly contented – neither cowering before challenges nor requiring chronic stress or frequent bursts of high-energy activity? Does our USA culture promote constant euphoria as the clue to a quality life for all?

In this regard we are fine with being very “un-American!”

President Ford’s televised funeral was very touching. He was an exceptional man of decency, integrity, candor, understated dignity, courage, intelligence, overall humility, and religious modesty - the last such President we can remember who combined these qualities. The grief so evident in Mrs. Ford and her family was devoid of any accompanying theatrics – as were all the observances. What's more, despite the hysterics and awfulness of extreme right-wing Episcopalians (all in the name of “orthodoxy”) the Episcopal Church shone within the National Cathedral liturgy (as well as during the televised Christmas Day Service).

President Ford was “one of the last of the moderate Republicans and a vocal supporter of gay rights in his later years. In 2002, he joined the advisory board of the Republican Unity Coalition, a group of gay people and straight allies working for more acceptance of LGBT Americans and issues within the party. At the time, he was asked by lesbian columnist Deb Price if gay couples should receive equal benefits and replied, ‘I think they ought to be treated equally. Period.’” An ideal Republican!

In his Cathedral sermon, President Ford’s California rector the Rev. Dr. Robert G. Certain commented, “Early this past summer, as I prepared to leave for the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, President Ford’s concern was for the church he loved. He asked me if we would face schism. After we discussed the various issues we would consider, particularly concerns about human sexuality and the leadership of women, he said he did not think they should be divisive for anyone who lived by the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor. He then asked me to work for reconciliation within the Church. I assured him I would, just as he had worked for reconciliation within the nation thirty years ago.”

Peggy Ornell (former lay canon administrator at “Rich’s” Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford) and her spouse Canon Ken Ornell concluded about a 1 year interim ministry at Holy Trinity, WPBeach. Before they left the region in mid-January for an Indiana assignment, we all had lunch at Legal Seafood. With common roots in New England, the four of us share similar perceptions of Southeast Florida and of the Church.


Ken and Peggy Ornell at Legal Seafood – Jan. 4, 2007

An evening pot luck supper and guest lecture on religion and science at St. Andrew’s was on the calendar for Friday, Epiphany Eve. Margot, hostess of the event, sat the speaker (a very attractive woman probably in her 30s) and her friends/colleagues from Florida Atlantic University (Boca Raton) with us, and we chatted non-stop. It is rare for Rich to have an opportunity to talk here with an academic who shares so many of his academic interests. The parish hall was filled; her presentation was tops!


In the gentlest of morning breezes, the Epiphany flag welcomes a new liturgical season

Excerpt from Steve Gushee’s Friday column in the Palm Beach Post: “The Christmas season may end on Epiphany, but the Epiphany actually enhances and extends the Christmas message. The emerging holy season makes the glad shout that this child born of Mary is the visible presence of God in the world. Wise men bring him gifts indicating their obedient submission to his will.

“The Epiphany encourages the faithful to continue the celebration of Jesus' birth, and that season lasts for 4 to 9 weeks depending on the date of Easter. Easter itself, the longest season in the Christian calendar and intentionally 10 days longer than Lent, is over and done with for most of the faithful by sundown on the day of Resurrection. Having spent 40 days in penitential preparation for the Resurrection, the faithful sing a chorus of Easter hymns and return to an existence essentially unchanged by the miracle of new life that Easter proclaims.

“Centuries of a deeply penitential Christian faith have taken their toll. Much popular Christianity is preoccupied with the temptation to sin, driven by a compulsion to earn salvation and convert everyone to that grim gospel. Christmas, however, brought the Christ child to everyone. Epiphany makes him known as the son of God. Easter is the promise of new life to the world. Joy, not penance, is the essential mark of Christianity. Exuberant celebration is the fundamental sign of the faith, boundless joy its greatest witness.

A return trip to Legal Seafood on Epiphany (Saturday) for an always delightful luncheon with Trish W. – indisputably a close and faithful friend! With no evening church responsibilities, we stayed home with some Netflix entertainment.

Ray H. joined us for a noontime Sunday dinner on the 14th followed two days later by our noon (main) meal with by Vance O. and John L. 


In mid-January a poinsettia plant remains in bloom on the northwest side of the house.

A window table at the Seawatch Restaurant in Pompano Beach is the lovely setting for our annual luncheon with Eva and Wolfgang H. Eva had taught with Rich in CT; years ago when we lived in Bristol, they gave us a mezuzah – which now greets everyone entering our River Bridge home. We were on hand for their daughter Judy’s marriage to Bob G.; Rich officiated at the ecumenical home Service. Now Bob and Judy (the former on the faculty of MIT, the latter a professor of chemistry at Brandeis) have two young-adult daughters who, like their parents and H. grandparents, excel in everything they undertake.   


Seawatch Restaurant – oceanside

We learned that the videotaped interview for the ACLU project on ten gay couples is temporarily available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmjSQ0GJTW4 and that hopefully by Valentine’s Day it will be at www.10couples.org. At this writing, the latter website remains inactive.

On the 3rd Saturday evening of the month Rich led the adult forum at church on Islam. The group of 21 was spirited and inquisitive; it was great to have input from parishioner Fred C., a semi-retired university administrator who has had first-hand experience with Muslim cultures. The next evening we were off to Ft. Lauderdale for a superb dinner in their Fort Lauderdale oceanside, high-rise condo of Bill D. and Mike R.

Right after the weekend it was necessary to have a new lawn irrigation pump installed, after eight years of use; we’ve been able to lower our water bills significantly (enough to pay for the equipment and also reduce lawn watering expenses) by connecting to our lake.


Hidden behind east side bushes, the irrigation pump can be switched to city water, if there were to be a need to conserve lake water – unlikely, because the lake level is now aided by a connection to a County managed resource.


In the morning shade with dew drops all over, an east side poinsettia planted a year ago has blossomed well. Poinsettias will bloom only in certain locations in the yard. Those that do not bloom are very attractive green bushes. 

We are pleased that most all of the schools with which we have been students or faculty members have included us as a couple in various alumni publications. See many of the schools in www.philosophy-religion.org – the CV subsite.

Eve F., Director of Gift Planning at our alma mater Trinity College, visited with us mid-morning on Friday the 26th. Much reminiscing and exchanged information.


Eve

Two days later New York University’s Erin D. (a Senior Development Officer at the Steinhardt School of the University) joined us for our evening meal and conversation. We were shocked to hear of the death of the 54 year old wife of NYU President John Sexton. Out of the blue, a brain aneurism took her just a week ago. Dr. Sexton could not be present for Monday’s NYU gathering in Boca. So very sad!

While chatting with Dr. Debra L. (Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations), Rich mentioned his folder containing his N.Y.U. administrative papers (letter of admissions, research design for his dissertation, vote of the final examining committee recommending that the Ph.D. be granted, a letter from Dr. Cherbonnier, and so on). She suggested that he send the material to the University Archives! Alan Shapiro (NYU’s Director of Gift Planning), who has visited our home in past years) said that he would be glad to receive it and take it to the Archives. Properly bound, it was sent on Feb. 5th. Later in the month Rich was notified that it is “a great asset for NYU” and “our researchers will benefit.”


With Erin D. at the NYU gathering at the Boca Country Club


An entryway doorpost in our home greets everyone with symbols of the three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christian, and Islam. The mezuzah (top) was a gift years ago from Eve and Wolfgang H. and graced our Connecticut home for years, and now in Florida. The first cross was positioned below it in 2005 as we celebrated our 50th anniversary, and the cross beneath is one we have had for quite some time. In January (2007) the Islamic symbol was added.  


Bismillah
“The first and foremost characteristic of Islamic art is the universal usage ofArabic script. A beautiful artistic expression of faith in Islam is the scripted ‘Bismillah’ - which translates: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
See Sumon Studios at www.sumon.com.  Also, see the articles about Islam at www.philosophy-religion.org.

Tenno’s 12th birthday was on January 30th. He wasn’t pleased with his monthly bath – which, however, he and Comes put up with very well.


Happy Birthday, Tenno!

FEBRUARY 2007

On Friday the second at St. Andrew’s, the Rev. Harry S. Coverston delivered an evening lecture “Religion, Science and Sex.” Having earned an M.Div. (seminary degree), Ph.D. (scholar), and J.D. (lawyer) – a spectacular combination, he gave permission for posting the lecture in the “All Handouts” section of www.philosophy-religion.org. (We had to leave at the midpoint, because Rich wasn’t feeling well, but fortunately we had the script.)


Harry and Rich at the pot luck supper preceding the lecture

We “cashed in” our winning Compass certificate with a Sunday afternoon sitting with a very fine West Palm Beach photographer (who has very flexible hours). Our 70th birthdays due at the end of May, we had our picture taken - dressed up far more than we usually prefer. It is amazing what can be done via computer to touch up colors, unwanted folds in a suit coat, razor burn, and stray hairs! With our consent, he plans to use the picture in his ad for the coming PrideFest booklet. Have we, at 70, become “male models”? (photo on website home page.) J

A year before we met, Rich enrolled in a post-graduate course at Tabor Academy (MA); the 1954 Tabor summer program preceded the 1954-5 school year. During that summer, Rich and Eugene “Frosty” P. met and decided to room together for the September through May period. Frosty was an excellent student and athlete, and after Tabor completed his B.A. in economics at Harvard. A few years ago they, and Frosty’s wife Nancy, reconnected, and the four of us have been meeting annually for luncheon either at their Delray Beach seasonal home or ours.

On Wednesday the 7th (the 5th anniversary of Rich’s heart attack), we joined them at their condo for a lovely luncheon Nancy prepared. Friendships begun over 50 years ago become more precious every year. As with every visit, we talked endlessly (not just about Tabor) but about life as it continues to evolve for us all – including unwelcome medical intrusions! There was an energizing spirit of genuine camaraderie among us. As we left their home, we felt an abiding sense of affection for them and no small degree of awe at the time span that has passed since the mid-1950s. (photos below)

We were invited to a gathering of about two dozen people on Friday (9th) evening at the beautiful home of Ann and Tom J. in Palm Beach for an updating about Trinity College. We were unaware of the somewhat hidden “Everglades Island” setting within the island Town of Palm Beach; man-made several decades ago, the neighborhood consists of a number of homes with lovely water views either toward West Palm Beach or a sizable inlet whose opposite shore is  a pleasing-to-the-eye, 18-hole golf course!

The photo below includes Trinity’s President Jimmy Jones, who led the “Prayers of the People” at our 50th Anniversary Service at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, N.Y.C., in October of 2005. He spoke briefly of the superbly increased number of applications for admission by top students, the fine progress of the current 300 million dollar capital gifts campaign, and so on. He announced that our evening hosts are endowing a professorial chair in biology – among their several past magnificent gifts to the College. The event was filled with terrific conversations before, during, and after dinner!

Trinity is very special to us. As Trinity freshmen, we began our journey together in September, 1955! Without Trinity, we would not have met, and, therefore, our lives would have been wholly different and undoubtedly lacking in every way. The education we received at Trinity was truly the “liberal arts” – studies that liberated us intellectually (and emotionally) so that without ant models for living as a couple, we were able to create a life that was genuine and yet realistically accommodating to employment realities. Moreover, such studies provided us with an introduction to a thoughtful, heartfelt Christianity plus a broad background, such that there has been no such thing as boredom – even during these retirement years. We are “McCook Fellows” at Trinity, a college Society of those who include Trinity in a bequest provision.


Bob, President Jimmy Jones, and Rich


Phyllis and Leonard G., Ann T., Jimmy Jones, Rich and Bob


Our patio table, one of three – the other two inside -  included (clockwise from left) President Jimmy Jones, Phyllis and Leonard G., Tari and spouse V.P. Ron J., Rich’s empty chair (he took the photo), Bob, and alumna Khooshe A.
More photos on the Trinity website at www.alumniconnections.com/olc/pub/TNC/photogallery/Florida%20Album

Thee annual luncheon for Boston Latin School alumni and friends also met in Palm Beach at the Brazilian Court’s Café Boulard. (www.thebraziliancourt.com)


Those arriving for 12:30 cocktails tended to collect at our dining room entrance.

About 40 heard Head Master Dr. Cornelia Kelley’s report on the oldest public school in the United States (founded in 1635) and the new rigors of the modernized classical curriculum. Alumnus and former Head Master Michael Contompasis, currently Boston’s Superintendent of Schools, addressed us from the broad view of his present post illuminated by insights of a Latin School student and administrator.

During the cocktail hour Cornelia chatted unhurriedly with us, as she does each year; she has always been most gracious. Since we last saw her, Simmons College in Boston, awarded her am honorary doctorate for her outstanding achievements in education. Michael came by, too, and Rich had a chance to exchange a few words with him just before we left.

The eldest alumnus was a most likeable 93-year-old chap looking much younger. At our table, seated beside Bob, was a 1937 graduate – the year we were born! A couple who were celebrating 50 years of marriage was on Rich’s right, lovely people with whom we dined last year. One other member of Rich’s 1954 class attended, Eugene O., who sat to Rich’s right in home room!


courtyard within Brazilian Court

There was no hint whatsoever that this message from the Head Master would be forthcoming on Friday.            



Message to All Alumni

February 16, 2007

I wish to announce today that effective June 30, 2007, I shall finish in my role as Head Master of the Boston Latin School.

I have notified Superintendent Michael Contompasis of my intent. In accordance with established procedures, he will post the position, accept applications, and convene a screening committee composed of representatives from the various constituencies. That group will then interview qualified candidates and make recommendations to the Superintendent.

I wish to share one thought with you all of you. The position of Head Master of the Latin School is one of stewardship and it has brought me great joy. You are an incredible group of alumni. Without your support I should never have been able to see this institution not simply survive but truly thrive.

Please be proud of all that you do to make Boston Latin School a very special place. I thank you professionally and personally.

Cornelia A. Kelley H'44
Head Master
Boston Latin School

 

Within the hour of receiving the above announcement, we received an e-mail from Cornelia thanking us for our Valentine (it’s her favorite day) and some warm personal comments. A few hours later the Boston Globe reported:

Friday, February 16, 2007
Boston Latin headmaster to retire

By Tracy Jan, Globe Staff
            Cornelia A. Kelley will retire as the leader of Boston Latin School on June 30 after serving as the esteemed institution's first female headmaster.
            Kelley announced her plans today to teachers, students, parents, and alumni.
            "It's time for the next generation to take over," Kelley said in an interview.
            During her nine-year tenure, Kelley oversaw a $32 million renovation that included a new library, dining hall, and visual and performing arts center. Kelley began her career at the school in 1980 as an English teacher, and later went on to teach Latin and Greek, before becoming assistant headmaster in 1987.
            A panel of parents, student, faculty, and alumni will be involved in selecting her replacement.
            Founded in 1635, Boston Latin is the oldest public school in the United States.
            We shall miss our annual Palm Beach County visits, and occasional exchanges at other times, although we hope to be in touch as time goes on. Probably by this time next year her successor will have been appointed. She will be a “hard act to follow” at Latin School.
            On Tuesday the 13th, the day before Cornelia’s announcement, with Margot and Herb we celebrated Herb’s 90th birthday
(a few months early) at our annual Breakers luncheon with them. Both are St. Andrew’s parishioners. Currently Margot (wife, mother and grandmother) is convener of Integrity-Palm Beach. (www.IntegrityPalmBeach.org)


The Breakers – Palm Beach


For a few years we have had a window table in the Seafood Bar, one of several Breakers restaurants.


(Feb. 14) Valentine’s Day - Our flag fluttered in the wind as a series of weather fronts pass through.

A letter from N.Y.U. Dean Mary Brabeck arrived with the news that Rich’s Living Issues In Philosophy is now “displayed in our history of the Steinhardt School case in my office. The Dean’s floor showcases the extraordinary work of the Steinhardt faculty books, art, and music – and our distinguished alumni.” It is interesting that the most reassuring comments seem to come along when one is retired – rather than at a younger, working age when, truly, one could use some encouragement along the way! 


On Presidents’ Day our flag flapped in the frigid morning’s 50 degrees – too brisk to take an outdoor picture! We awoke to a polar low 40s in the morning. This photo is from Rich’s study.

Subsequent to the conclusion of the Anglican Bishops’ gathering in Dar es Salaam on the 19th, Rich had the occasion to write to a concerned parishioner:

I just caught up with the stuff and am disappointed - especially with the "recommendations."

I regret the time and energies that this ongoing flap will probably take.

For myself:

1) Regardless of what the institutional Church is doing, I remain a unique child of God by my baptism; that is who I am.
2) Flowing from that basic identity, my vocation remains to live Christ's Summary of the Law, with grace, as best I can, and to continue to grow in Christ's love and service.
3) My family life remains wholly intact, an oasis of mutual affection, blessed by God for over five decades; we realize that at this time we are nearer death than birth, but we remain an Easter home.
4) Life with my CT and S.E. Fl. bishops remains on course.
5) Our (Bob and my) life with Saint Andrew's Church, Lake Worth, remains on course, as we share in its evolution.
6) Our life with The Episcopal Church remains on course, as we share in its evolution.
7) Our life as United States citizens remains on course, as we share in its evolution.
8) The "Serenity Prayer" is a useful guide with regard to our varied roles on Planet Earth.
9) Other affiliations (e.g., the Anglican Communion) are peripheral and unessential, though enriching; nonetheless, if they become incompatible with who we are and what we're called to do, such affiliations are dispensable - especially if their involvements cause chronic negligence of fundamental responsibilities to God, oneself, and others at hand.

I am afraid that we have absolutised "reconciliation" and the notion that "we global Anglicans all need each other" - notions which make for unhelpful rhetoric as realities are faced among those who cannot agree to differ. Sometimes cutting loose from those, however well intended, who might suck the life out of us is necessary. Perhaps the future will allow for a reconnecting.

Fortunately, I trust our Presiding Bishop to do what can be done - step by step. But she cannot have a one-item agenda. Nor can we. Life goes on in all of its dimensions - with or without a reasonable involvement in the Anglican Communion.

After a quiet week, on Sunday evening we enjoyed immensely the dinner/evening company of Lt. Col. Michael M., a former parishioner at St. Paul’s, Bantam. We first came to know Michael as a slender, tall-for-his-age twelve-year-old (now 44) – along with his parents (contemporaries with whom we’ve remained in touch), a younger brother and two sisters. Michael was a loyal acolyte, participant in the youth group, and earnest confirmand. After high school he was off to West Point, marriage, the U.S. Army (including service in Iraq), and, this coming fall, his already announced promotion to full Colonel.

Michael has remained an active, informed Episcopalian and was very complimentary about the religious education he received from Rich. In those days his parishioners received individual pre-Confirmation tutorials using Rich’s “Commentary on the Prayer Book Catechism” (available at www.philosophy-religion.org). Although we had not seen him for at least 20 years, Michael e-mails us an (unclassified) Army update on the Iraq war weekly. How touching it is that during his heavily scheduled business trip to Miami, he spent an evening with us for a welcome, non-stop conversation!


Michael with two old men!


On the last day of the month Rich received an e-mail from the Episcopal News Service listing Anglican world news links since February 21st. Among them was a report that the Lambeth Palace Library (London) has listed many of its holdings. A search located his first (edited) book The Diaconate Now residing at the library!
[ENGLAND: “Lambeth Palace library to go online”
www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_82736_ENG_HTM.htm and
www.lambethpalacelibrary.org).]
An enjoyable way to conclude the month!

 

MARCH 2007

On the first day of the month, just as we were about to begin supper, a telephone call came for Bob. A widow-neighbor’s boyfriend in another River Bridge neighborhood (there are about 18) was hospitalized, and his two, large puppies had been home alone all day, made a mess, and needed attention. Bob helped our neighbor deal with the situation, but came home with wounds on a hand and arm, because of the dogs’ intense exuberance. However, they were superficial, though unsightly. The saga continued the next day, and other arrangements were finally made.

We located a Coral Springs (FL) firm willing to take Rich’s comparatively small order of (395) pages to be scanned for his editing and loading within www.philosophy-religion.org. One of the items is a 1950s college term paper in religion (comparing resurrection with immortality) written by Bob – an “A” paper at that! Another is Rich’s first sermon in his home parish after his 1963 ordination there the day before as a deacon. Some of the writings are a couple of chapters from Rich’s dissertation that need to be revised. We found one 1958 paper jointly written for a course “Philosophy of the State.” To be completed at a leisurely pace, this whole project will take several months, perhaps longer. Each will note its date (from the 1950s to the ‘70s) and purpose; hopefully they will be of some help as brief academic treatments, however dated.

An adventure on the 5th! Because of some medical issues, since the fall of 2005 we haven’t been further away from home than North Miami. Unlikely as it is, we drove nearly 85 miles (two hours each way) to The John’s Island Club, Vero Beach (www.johnsislandclub.org). Why? A year ago Rich received a telephone call from Yale with an inquiry about our pending absence from a West Palm Beach Yale Club event. (We are both Yale Legacy Partners.) Rich explained that Yale invitations here routinely invite alumni and their spouses, and that if we were truly invited, the wording would have included alumni and their spouses/partners or similar. The caller was taken aback and was pleasantly insistent that the University did not intend to exclude anyone. In response, Rich said that he envisioned a gathering of elderly, radical, right-wing Republicans, and that we would probably not be genuinely welcomed.

This year a similar invitation arrived, and the wording was for alumni and their guests! That phrasing is as all encompassing as it can get. We felt duty-bound to attend, despite the distance. With the President of Yale on hand for the luncheon, the event sounded promising. Prepared with a cooler (containing a beverage and a small sandwich), pillow, and meds, we left home at 10:15 – a beautiful, sunny day in the upper 60s – and arrived right on time for the noon luncheon. As it turned out, the cooler became a necessity when low-sugar “jiggles” began to affect Rich about 11:30; by the time we arrived a half hour later, though, all was well.

Sitting at our table were the Executive Director of the Association of Yale Alumni and a University Development officer. We were pleased to be able to share with them the details of what brought us to the luncheon and the need for Yale to connect better with Divinity School alumni here. A few weeks afterwards the former wrote that he is to meet with representatives of the Divinity School to try to organize some activities on their behalf, hopefully in Florida!


The John’s Island Club, Vero Beach


Yale President Richard C. Levin


In front of the Yale banner Dr. Levin reported current University developments to the Vero Beach gathering.

Waiting in the mail at home was another response related to the final entry in Part 1 of this Christmas letter. University Archivist Nancy C. wrote, “On behalf of the New York University Archives, I would like to thank you for the materials you donated. The binder of materials related to your doctoral studies at NYU contains a good deal of information that will be of great interest and use for researchers of the Steinhardt School and of the Religious Education program in particular.” Out of curiosity Rich checked the NYU Archives website and discovered this mission statement:

“The New York University Archives serves as the final repository for the historical records of NYU. Its primary purpose is to document the history of the University and to provide source material for administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and other members of the University community, as well as scholars, authors, and other interested persons who seek to evaluate the impact of the University's activities on the history of American social, cultural, and intellectual development.” (www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/arch)

It is gratifying at this time in our lives to receive invitations to leave a few remembrances of our lives in various places. Whether in directories, websites, archives, alumni magazines, or whatever, it signals to both of us that we have made some modest contributions affecting, however minutely, some individuals and institutions. This feeling might seem immodest, but it is such a reversal of how we started out together – with so much in secret, stressful, and unnoticed. To have lived long enough to experience the beginnings of a greater acceptance of human diversity is truly heartwarming. To be able to offer some of what we have learned (academically, professionally, and personally) is a privilege. Age and credibility do have their rewards!

After receiving the appreciative comments from NYU, Rich was motivated to review his six, heavy-duty binders of professional records; he confessed to Bob that he had forgotten about so many of the experiences!

He also heard from Dr. Samuel Brown, Director of the Max R. Traurig Library of Naugatuck Valley Community College (formerly Mattatuck Community College, Waterbury, CT, where Rich was based fulltime 1969-92), “We are in the process of organizing the college archives and would be happy to take all of your Mattatuck-related items.” Two of the binders were sent to him on March 9th. Dr. Brown acknowledged their receipt and new “home.”

Within the month, Dean Mark Pendleton of Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford, welcomed the bound, relevant items for shelving in the Cathedral’s library.

Rich’s documents from The Litchfield Institute and Saint Paul’s Church, Bantam (within the Town of Litchfield, CT), thanks to our friends Ann and Terry McGurk (Litchfield residents and St. Paul’s parishioners), have been received enthusiastically by the Litchfield Historical Society. (www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org) Along with the audio cassette tapes received by the Yale Divinity School archives, everything has now been suitably located. Additionally, the Thomaston Historical Society has some items from our online Scrapbook; the town was Bob’s hometown. (www.thomastonhistoricalsociety.com)

www.10couples.org with our video interview, along with nine others, is now available on an educational website sponsored by the ACLU (which is often to the left of us). The direct link is: www.10couples.org/stories.php?cv=DickandBob

Yale Divinity School’s winter issue of Spectrum arrived in the mail with our picture and description: “Dick Nolan '67 M.A.R. looks forward to reaching age 70 this May, and celebrated 50 years together with his partner, Bob, in 2005. The two regularly participate in the life of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Lake Worth, FL, where Dick is a non-stipendiary retired priest-in-residence. Dick also serves as a chaplain to the parish's Integrity chapter and continues to edit www.philosophy-religion.org and has an online scrapbook at www.nolan-pingpank.com.” Hopefully, some other GLBT Yale Divinity alumni will feel free to share their news with the alumni office.

On Sunday (11th) right after he went to bed, Rich was hit by a case of the chills. We are very puzzled about the cause of this infrequent occurrence. However, true to form, the major effects included persistent fatigue (along with appetite loss), this time right through Wednesday. During these unwell days Rich received an invitation to write a book review for a national, weekly church magazine – which he declined, given health irregularities.

Bob set up a newly arrived Sony device that will transfer our many VHS tapes to DVDs. This will be another long-term - but very worthwhile - preservation project!

On Friday (16th) we completed a prearranged, joint telephone interview of more than an hour with Carlin C., a writer for an alumni periodical of our alma mater Trinity College. An article will appear in the summer edition.

Our aquarium was dismantled on “St. Patrick’s Weekend.” It was disappointing, but to maintain it well requires an excessive amount of time, energy, and expense. Its new home is in an elementary school where a friend is teaching. We must add that keeping life as simple as reasonable (nothing to do with the Lent!) is an ongoing endeavor. It is still too easy, especially for Rich, to initiate or perpetuate certain extras that can become taxing.

Public lectures sponsored by Florida Humanities Council’s grants and held for the past two years at Saint Andrew’s have been very successful. To give thought to the 2008 series we met (22nd) with Margot E. (who coordinates the superb programs from beginning to end) over lunch in her home with Fr. Paul and FAU history scholar and fellow parishioner Dr. Ben L. A productive meeting! We realize that this is not an effective parish recruitment device, but as Paul noted, people are becoming aware of St. Andrew’s and the significant, varied events associated with the parish.

A new and different experience! After we enjoyed Saturday (24th) lunch at TooJays, a New York style deli at the Wellington Mall, Bob did a quick errand while Rich sat in a central waiting area. A fine looking man in our age bracket sat down opposite him and struck up a conversation and then moved to a different chair, separated by a table, on Rich’s left. He had just finished a brisk, exercise walk twice around the mall, chatted a bit about fine health, and mentioned that he was 77. His wife of 55 years had died about 5 years ago, and he had remarried two years later; he has adult children (one of whom is 59 – which he is getting used to!) and a dozen or so grandchildren. This guy was bubbling with genial contentment and said, nodding slightly at Rich, that he likes to hear other people’s stories. Rich said that his is very different, that he is gay, and his partner of 51 years is doing an errand while, because of the hard tile floors, awaiting Bob’s return. Not a change in the fellow’s demeanor; no hard swallow or diminished smile! Bob showed up at that point, and some pleasantries were exchanged as we congratulated him, especially on his grandchildren of which he was so proud! As we walked toward the mall exit, Rich commented with a slight chuckle that this outgoing chap has now probably heard it all. We wondered aloud if he might be more cautious in seeking out others’ stories! Perhaps not. Nonetheless, he most likely had a new one to share with his wife when he arrived home!

On the last weekend of the month the annual Lake Worth Pride Fest was held under beautiful skies and very comfortable temperatures. Margot coordinated the many aspects of parish participation. This year we staffed the St. Andrew’s (Integrity-Palm Beach) booth only on Sunday from 2 to 4. A much larger crowd (10,000 over the two-day period) was on hand, and more people than ever visited the Saint Andrew’s tent.

Our debut as “male models” appeared in the Pride Fest 2007 Directory; our photographer’s ad (we’re at lower left- not lower center!):


St. Andrew’s Pride Fest booth – Laurel, Rich and Bob    

In response to a general request from the UK office of the Rev. Canon Philip Groves (facilitator of the "Listening Process" for the Anglican Communion’s efforts to come to grips with global differences in sexual ethics), we sent him a note via e-mail with our Scrapbook website’s address and a link to a relevant essay on our philosophy-religion.org/. Within an hour he thanked us for our contribution and wished both of us well. Very gracious!

The month was brought to a close with a welcome note from Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford’s Dean Mark Pendleton about a new Cathedral policy:

Parish Committee Resolution on the Pastoral Ministry for Persons in Same-Sex Relationships

“Members of the Parish Committee met on March 20, 2007 to continue discussing the decision by Bishop Smith to permit a pastoral ministry in the diocese for persons in committed same-sex relationships. After honest and prayerful discussion and review of the discussion at the Dean’s Forum on February 4, 2007, it is our collective discernment that offering blessing to a same-sex couple would be consistent with our pastoral ministry to all of our members.       

    1. Resolved, the Parish Committee of the Cathedral asks Dean Pendleton and our Parish Committee Chair and Vice-Chair to consult with Bishop Smith about our desire to begin offering pastoral blessings to same-sex couples in the near future.

    2. Further resolved, that we encourage the Dean and the Parish Committee leadership to be intentional about offering special gatherings and times when they can be available to listen to the concerns of Cathedral members who might have further questions or concerns about this new ministry.

      The motion was made, seconded and approved (no votes opposed).”

APRIL


Passover began at sundown on Monday (2nd). Although Jewish residents are in the majority in River Bridge and many homes display a variety of seasonal flags, we are the only household that hangs Jewish related flags.   

Lunch as Vance’s guests (3rd) was most enjoyable at the nearby Roadhouse Grill. Catching up with his plans for eventually relocating in Mexico was fascinating. Vance was a major founder of Integrity-Palm Beach and its first convener – with a 5-year term.

A unique fund raiser for CAP [Comprehensive Aids Program of Palm Beach County, Inc. www.cappbc.org] offered a 7 p.m. mini-cruise (5th) with a cocktail buffet aboard the Caprice.

As it turned out, we left early – just before the buffet was served, because Rich wasn’t feeling quite right. Until that point, he had been fine all day. Fortified with delicious, unique hors d’oeuvres,  we were home before 9, and, as it turned out, the boat remained at the dock as a result of heavy rain (the first in several months). 110 had indicated that they would be in attendance. Regardless, the dining room felt crowded with too many tables seating what seemed to be a maximum crowd. Truly, 75 would have made for a more hospitable setting. Nonetheless, early on we had the opportunity to chitchat with a number of people, newly met and previously known. Moreover, it was interesting to see the well-appointed three floors of the yacht.

 

The next day was Good Friday (6th).

 

During the morning Bob was able to take their picture as they rested together by one of two gates to their “doghouse” – the connecting kitchen and family room (with view of the lake). Some dog house!

 

We arrived in good time at St. Andrew’s for the twenty minute segment (2:20-2:40) Rich was scheduled to preach on the final of the Seven Last Words of Christ. The three-hour liturgy was just too long for us. The congregation of two dozen seemed attentive, although it is very difficult to know whether anything said had connected. We left at the conclusion of Rich’s part.

See www.philosophy-religion.org/reflections/good-friday-2007.htm.

 


The early morning sun partially brightens our Easter flag.

 

With clear skies and a very cool 50 degrees at 7 a.m., Easter Day was celebrated at home with a family Eucharist in the dining area and an unusual noontime Easter dinner: Italian meatloaf and rigatoni! We had not “broken bread” at home for quite some time; the principal Feast of the Christian calendar was, for us, a reverential occasion of simple worship – including the rite of mutual “laying-on-of-hands” for healing – a touching moment in many respects. (Rich continues to be plagued by periodic low stamina.) We again used the blue ceramic chalice that Dorothy A. brought to us from Canterbury, England, years ago and the paten we ordered afterwards. (www.canterburypottery.com)

 

 

During Easter Week, we finalized our funeral Service leaflet; what better season of the year to take care of that – and not under stress! We remember well how the preferences of survivors (gay and straight) were overridden by a rector who remains a liturgical terrorist in a certain Florida parish. If our pastor were away at the time, or retired, we could end up with an insensitive, pastorally inept “expert.” Our liturgies will be simple – no Eucharist – inspired by the late President Ford’s National Cathedral Service – but without “tributes” and the more elaborate music only a cathedral can provide. Fr. Paul has a CD with the leaflet and copies of relevant directions and notations. He has assured us of full compliance, which we really appreciate.

Also during Easter Week the New York Times ran an article “The Perfect Bacon Sandwich Decoded: Crisp and Crunchy.” Research from the University of Leeds (UK) “concluded that the best bacon butties were made with crisply grilled, not-too-fat bacon between thick slices of white bread.” (“Butties” is a UK word for sandwich.) The study also considered a broad range of condiments (like ketchup and brown sauce) and spreads.” Rich’s London-born maternal grandmother had introduced him to crisp bacon sandwiches (with ketchup) as a child, and we both enjoy them weekly (with ketchup) for breakfast. We took for granted, wrongly, that this was just one of our secret eccentricities. Breaking from tradition, though, we do use turkey bacon – for reasons of health.

The Miami Herald called (12th) during the late afternoon and interviewed us (among others) for a story on aging gay men. We guess that word is getting around about our seniority! The decently written article is posted in the Bob and Rich subsite. Every observation seems to transcend sexual orientations.

To Legal Seafood (on Friday the 13th) as Ray H’s luncheon guests, and the next evening Bob went to St. Andrew’s for the 6 p.m. Service and Integrity. The following day Tony and Arthur, with Don (a charming friend of theirs), visited and took us to luncheon at Café Boulud at the Brazilian Court, Palm Beach. A delightful time with great conversation and an outstanding brunch! We so appreciate friends’ understanding that we generally need to have our main meal at midday. 


Inside seating, Café Boulud
 

In Rich’s continuing effort to simplify his study, we delivered (18th) a large carton of philosophy books to the Boynton Beach office of Barry University. A former Barry student Kathy W. is director of the two University sites in Palm Beach County. Students can help themselves gratis.

Rich took a real age test honestly at www.realage.com. The results came in at 90! Later, Bob did the same thing and was rated age 71.3! 


One of the youngest of four turtles we placed in our Egret Lake a couple of years ago pays a visit almost daily. The waterway is quite sizable throughout River Bridge, and we don’t see the two larger ones (deposited 12 years ago) very often. (The ugly ridge was caused recently by the ridden huge lawn mower that barrels through weekly.)
 

While food shopping, Rich came across a never frozen, 13 pound Butterball turkey. At 6 a.m. on Sunday (22nd) Rich was preparing the turkey for the oven, when Bob unexpectedly arrived in the kitchen to see whether any help was needed. Rich thought not, but Bob spotted that the turkey-in-waiting was upside down (from the usual cooking position). We both had a good laugh, and into the oven it went. At noon a bird just a bit too well done was ready. Rich suspects that he mistakenly used roast beef cooking directions; consequently, well-cooked! J

Dogs do communicate and dream! At least ours do. Early (on the 24th) – about 2 a.m. - another infrequent distressed barking, this time from Tenno. His anxiety spilled over onto Comes. Bob took them both out, in case it was a “p” need, but, although they obliged, anxieties persisted. Well over an hour with them to no avail, Rich opened their gates, so that they had access to the whole house, and he went back to bed. Sleeping was difficult, though not for Bob – who is a deep sleeper. They paced as if they were trying to avoid an unknown menace. When Rich finally awakened about 7, Bob reported that both were sleeping peacefully in a usual spot – with no apparent anxieties. However, later in the morning Bob discovered that Tenno did need to take a gigantic poop; constipation and/or a tummy ache had apparently been very uncomfortable, and he was letting us know at 2 a.m.  Occasionally during their afternoon naps, Comes, in a deep sleep, will whimper; a gentle awakening seems to cure the disturbance. Clearly their brains do not turn off while they sleep, just as ours continue in varying modes of activity. We are convinced that now and then their dreams are upsetting – and they do ask for help – even in the middle of the night. How human!

Rich e-mailed a note to a distinguished Anglican theologian on the faculty of Oxford University. The gist of his note was that when our Lord highlighted the Summary of the Law, “he did not even hint that there might be different levels of faithfulness required of bishops and less commitment by lesser creatures. It seems to me that all Christians are equally bound to this covenant. [Marvelous Saints can be found in all Orders of ministry (which includes the lay Order), and horrid folks as well.]”

Rich asked whether it is episcopal arrogance, or elitism of some sort, to target bishops who might be "failing" to live out their baptismal vocation in certain matters, but to ignore the rest of us.

“Why should Bishop Robinson alone take the heat for his family life from ‘preservers’? Surely the ‘unity’ symbolism of the episcopate should not be elevated over basic Christian morality as expressed in the Summary! (That symbolism is pretty vague anyway.) Shouldn't Bob and I be under attack, too - along with the countless other lay and ordained, partnered - or otherwise not chaste - LGBT Anglicans? Yet, not one ‘preserver’ has ever consulted us about what it might mean to live as a gay, male family, nor has anyone objected to us, despite our public openness ---- as far as we know. That all gay men are identical in every aspect of their lives is nonsense, though a few ‘preservers’ are tossing around ‘certainties’ about all sorts of stereotypical notions about gay, male behavior!”

The theologian responded on the same wave length, noted that Bishop Robinson has become the lightning rod on the gay issue, and wished us well.

On matters of faithfulness to Christian living as stated in Christ’s Summary of the Law, we would say, that we are all equally called, whether bishop or layperson. Somehow, along with our hierarchy of Orders (which should be depicted more horizontally as distributed functions rather than vertically as levels of importance) we have invested bishops with greater moral responsibility than the rest of us. There is no way that this can be supported by Scripture.

Unplanned, a luncheon trip (on the 25th) to Testa’s in Palm Beach provided another local adventure. (www.testasrestaurants.com) Great food and a balmy porch day! An internet p.m. picture: 

    
Testa’s porch daytimes – where we sat

Impulsively the next day we drove to the Anchor Inn Lakeside (in Lantana; a half-hour southeast) for the “early bird special.” We arrived just before five, and all the window seats had been previously occupied by “earlier birds.” The food was, as always, very good. An apt description: “Nautical themed décor on the shores of Lake Osborne serving an imaginative seafood menu.” 


from the parking lot – an unassuming building
 


from our table
 


the same view as above - from outside
 

On Saturday, after lunch at the Olive Garden, Rich cancelled his subscription of many years to the New York Times. The home delivery service had become unsatisfactory, and there seemed to be a local indifference to that dissatisfaction. Even the telephone 1-800 Times agent (not in India, but a well-spoken male) was curt with regard to the cancellation. One would think that it was money out of his pocket! Actually, surfing Google News and similar resources provides “all the news that is fit – and unfit – to print.”

MAY 


Comes – looking a bit proper – on his 12th birthday, May 3rd 


Such a pose during the same hour!
 

As of May 2nd a whole year passed without a hospital admission for Rich, the first in four years free from hospitalizations! Three cheers!

Rich learned from his Oxford University Press editor that the publisher plans to keep the 9th edition (1995) of Living Issues In Philosophy in print, but that a new edition is unlikely. He commented that the core of the book is not timebound, so its currency should not be an issue. Nice to hear about its timeless quality! He is its only living coauthor of the three; the book was first published in 1946! The 9th edition is approaching its twelfth printing!

Rich contributed a thought to the blog Thinking Anglicans (http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk): “I do suspect that ‘narcissistic personality disorder’ is at work among many of the current disputes in the Anglican Communion and Episcopal Church. If so, all the issues under discussion are quite secondary. What methods, then, are workable toward reconciliation and resolutions? (www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652)
Posted by: Richard T. Nolan on Saturday, 5 May 2007 at 11:59am BST”

He thinks that much of the vigorous opposition from global (including the U.S.A.) “preservers” is psychological in nature – which makes for rather fruitless attempts at rational discussions about tender issues among Anglicans, no matter how prayerful. Perhaps exceptionally capable psychotherapists need to be included formally among future deliberators!

Two and a half hours sped by over Saturday luncheon (5th) with our cherished friend Trish W. at a West Palm Panera Bread eatery. (www.panerabread.com) So much to chat about! Pictures of her granddaughters were beautiful. In addition, the food was super!

Trish commented on the increasing adoption of children by gay and lesbian couples – as well as arranging for biological offspring - and asked whether we had ever considered adoption. We replied that this seems to be a recent added dimension for same-sex couples, begun long after our early adult years.

Rich mentioned that all couples (straight and gay) inclined to be parents ought first to take care of a dog for a few years, because a child deserves so much more love and care than a pet. Too often people of all sorts are naïve about childcare. If they cannot handle pet care, they ought to reconsider their parental inclinations. Also, they should ensure that they are not simply in search of some sort of pet or activity to keep their lackluster marriage together.

He also remarked that while Bob would have made an excellent father, he himself was too career oriented to serve well as a parent. Bob added that Rich is likely to spoil children – as he did to a degree with Ken. (See “Ken” in the “Friends and More” subsite.) In any case, both of us agreed that it had never entered our minds, and we have no regrets about that! The dogs are more than enough!    


Trish and Bob after our luncheon 


Trish and Rich
 

While on an errand in Delray Beach (on the 8th; about 25 miles south), we stopped for lunch at Boston’s On The Beach eatery. (www.bostonsonthebeach.com) From the “Upper Deck” we had a great beach view. The food was only o.k., but the setting was terrific. (Photos below) 


Photo taken from our table. Compared to the people, note how huge the waves were! Radio announcements had warned swimmers and boaters about dangerously high waves. A very few local surfers were having a great time.

 


“Benny’s On The Beach” - built on the Lake Worth Pier - is excellent for breakfast and lunch. The 2nd story screened-in porch – with terrific three-way views - was enjoyable at lunch (12th) even on a hot, hazy/smoky day (from drought-related, northwestward fires). Always a breeze! The severely (hurricane) damaged pier is still not repaired.
 

In addition to our lake’s turtles, fish, and an occasional alligator, each spring we frequently find these birds (as well as, rarely, ugly vultures) in the lake or in our yard:

Blue Egret White Ibis Mocking Bird – Florida state bird

young King Egret common Cattle Egret Green Heron Crow

Anhinga – swimming and airing; they dive under water, too. Muscovy Duck

The restaurants we mention are not paying us an advertising fee! J  We are including them as one type of our activities and as samples of the rather amazing assortment of restaurants (from Palm Beach’s Breakers, Café Boulud, and the Ritz-Carlton to nearby Wendy’s and the like) all within a half hour’s drive of our home – three only five minutes away (Applebee’s, Wendy’s, KFC).

Our first luncheon visit to the “Earl of Sandwich” (www.earlofsandwichusa.com) resulted (15th) from an online discount coupon found on the website of the Wellington Green (mall). (www.shopwellingtongreen.com) One sandwich was free! Very good, too!

Rich commented online in the Palm Beach Post re the (15th) death of Jerry Falwell:

Comments -    By Richard T. Nolan

May 16, 2007 6:40 AM

How can one comment appropriately upon the death of someone who embodied a perversion of the heart and mind of Christianity?

After Rich’s annual, lengthy eye exam (18th), on impulse we drove west for ten minutes to a favorite Olive Garden restaurant. Two chicken parmigiana luncheons! (www.olivegarden.com) 


The East side of the house has developed nicely.

 


Applebee’s, in the adjacent River Bridge Shopping Plaza, is a convenient spot for an unhurried lunch (19th)
.
(www.applebees.com)

 

Applebee’s interior from our window booth

 

            After driving friend Stephen R. to the Fort Lauderdale airport mid-day (22nd), we stopped for luncheon at the Seawatch Restaurant (www.seawatchfl.com) in Pompano Beach.

photos below

Our Selections
Sea Watch Combination:
Florida Mahi-Mahi, scallops, shrimp in a garlic herb and white wine sauce (Rich)
Orange Roughy -
a New Zealand white fish, sautéed with dill Chardonnay sauce (Bob) 

 

The bright window light at Bob’s back prevented taking a picture head on. 

 

family secret: Rich freezes somewhat when a picture is to be taken, so Bob says something outrageous!

 


from our table

 


a favorite bronze knickknack in the family room

 

As we were backing out of the garage on our way to lunch at TooJay’s in the Wellington Mall (26th), we stopped to snap a picture of a King Egret on our front lawn. Amazingly tame!

 


After lunch we walked by the nearby hair salon and saw Mori, who has been dealing with our hair for many years.

 


another very windy morning on the 27th

 

Happy 70th Birthday to Bob (on Sunday the 27th)! After a leisurely morning with a light breakfast, a splendid noon brunch at Café Boulud was on the agenda. (www.thebraziliancourt.com) As we were being seated, Rich mentioned to the host, and then to our server, that this was Bob 70th birthday. Rich’s birthday in a couple of days was mentioned incidentally. 

 


first course

 


The server offered to take our picture.

 


Both of us ordered an incredible Belgian waffle with cooked bananas and pecans plus bacon.

 


Surprisingly our desserts were served with “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate plus a lighted birthday “candle.”

 


Bob had a bread pudding. Notice the chocolate “Happy Birthday”! Rich had a fruit variety.

 


In the early evening at home we enjoyed some cake – with plenty left for Rich’s Wednesday birthday.

 

We recalled our first milestone birthday together – the big 21 - (though we’re unsure whose it was) at the Red Coach Grill on the Berlin Turnpike near Trinity College. We were delighted to find its picture – from a post card on a website.


www.highwayhost.org/Connecticut/RedCoach/redcoachgrill.htm

 

We were both on the faculty of Cheshire Academy (CT) for our 30th. We suspect that we celebrated at Valle’s Steak House in Hartford, a favorite haunt in those days. On EBay we found the familiar menu from the exact Valle’s.

 

 

Our 40th was celebrated first at our St. Paul’s Church (Bantam, CT) with a number of Rich’s relatives on hand for the Service and coffee hour - and right afterwards at our home in Bristol; Bob’s parents had died by that time. We are not sure about the 50th – it could have been low key at home; we generally avoid travel on holiday weekends. For the 60th we were living in our present home, and Rich’s mother (who had diabetes, a heart condition, and Alzheimer’s) lived with us. Given those circumstances, we most likely celebrated quietly at home.

 

On Memorial Day (28th) we enjoyed dinner at Margot’s home; a terrific spread, birthday cake for us both, and much conversation with her, David B., and Herb S. – all St. Andrew’s friends. While we were there, Richard D. called from his university; it was good to hear his voice and briefly catch up. The following day Jo and Ann (neighbors across the street) hosted us for a birthday luncheon at Legal Seafood – dependably a fine time with friends as well as great food!     

           


Ritz-Carlton, Palm Beach
www.ritzcarlton.com/en/Properties/PalmBeach

Our next door (eastside) neighbors’ son an executive at the regional Ritz-Carlton and told Bob about his newly refurbished hotel and one of its new, casual dress, restaurants “Temple Orange.”  On Rich’s birthday (30th) we headed there for a noon luncheon. The staff could not have been more courteous and helpful. As at the Café Boulud on Sunday, we were delighted with surprise desserts.

 


BLT and assorted fruit

 

 

 


Bob’s dessert
Staff and patrons joined in nicely singing “Happy Birthday!”

 


pool and ocean view from our table

 


a sitting area

 

In the evening we indulged in more of our birthday cake and then froze the rest for the near future.

Bringing May to a close (31st) included roundtrip transportation for friend Carl H. for a medical test.

 
70th birthday vase made for us at Canterbury Pottery, Canterbury, England
(www.canterburypottery.com)

inscription: Bob and Rich 70, May 27 and 30, 2007
 

SOME CANDID THOUGHTS AT 70 

Most of us are a bit reflective at the arrival of each decade’s birthday from age 30 onward, and we are no exception. For us, our 70th birthdays on May 27 (Bob) and May 30 (Rich) have been especially stirring and thought provoking.

For most of our lives the challenges have been many, but – even unknowingly – from our early youth onward we met them as opportunities to create suitable involvements – despite early puzzlements about same-sex attractions. In any case, along the way we avoided a defensive seclusion. As adults, we were “out” selectively until our Florida retirement, and during these latter years unrestricted and publicly so. Our choice! Our information to give!

We were privileged to fulfill our high school ambitions in service professions – both as fulltime teachers, Rich additionally as an ordained minister. As it happens, both of us are “cradle Episcopalians” and grew from our juvenile acolyte years (Rich beginning at age 8, Bob a year or so later) into part-time lay and ordained, adult ministries in various settings. (Rich was wary of any fulltime church positions that might prove incompatible with our home life.)

We now live with profound thankfulness that we have had these 51+ years together sharing our dreams that became realities. As a couple, we continue to evolve – now with age-related, medical challenges and understandable apprehensions.

In very recent years, we do less individually, with the exception of Bob’s almost weekly Sunday nights out at a nearby gay bar (where between 6:30 and 8:30 he chats mostly with other seniors he has come to know) and his occasional attendance at auto shows. Not driving much anymore for reasons of health, Rich goes almost nowhere on his own – a marked contrast to five years ago. 


Rooster’s  – one of West Palm’s gay bars – site of frequent evening Sunday visits.
 

Frankly (risking the appearance of haughtiness) it has been our independent, unyielding perseverance that has, in large part, brought us to this day. We have been determined that neither church nor state would disrupt our life together, nor would pressures to conform to others’ expectations (gay or otherwise) control our lives. Our reserve and strategies in some personal and professional settings were not monumental sacrifices; discretion was not overly burdensome – in fact, quite humorous at times. Furthermore, we have been excessively beholden to no one (and no one to us) – which has allowed for various mutually unencumbered, genuine friendships with many, diverse folks over the years.

To be sure, individuals and couples should not have to undertake extraordinary planning. However, careful preparations for various stages of life are still required, at least minimally, of many societal “outsiders.” Otherwise, Good Friday-like victimhood could well be invited. A fair question: could either of us have carried through with our lives single-handedly and remained truly sound and professionally able? We certainly doubt it! We admit to, and celebrate, our interdependence. Even so, we highly respect individuals who have been able to thrive as single people.

Consequently, in retrospect, we are not cavalier about the serendipitous decades of our youth that nudged us both toward Trinity College (in 1955) and an unfolding self-acceptance, self-realization, and solid, mutual commitment. At 70 we have spent about 73% of our lives in a maturing spousal bond. Our relationship has provided us with incredible grounding for the evolution of who we are and what we do. We are mindful of the great wealth, in terms of our companionship, that we have been fortunate to acquire.

Both of us are appreciative of our very rewarding professional involvements. Prominence and monetary wealth were never among our goals; we simply sought and experienced livelihoods compatible with our family life – which emerged as our chief priority. Always living within our financial means, we have never truly struggled financially – although during our early years, funds were tight. By and large, both of us financed our graduate studies. (Upon our parents’ deaths, Bob inherited modestly, and Rich, nothing; his mother died on Medicaid – without her funds being manipulated in any way to our advantage. In fact, unknown to her, we somewhat subsidized her for many years.)

We suspect that many other individuals and families, unknown people like ourselves, have also had fulfilling lives. We realize, too, that many have lived in quiet desperation, even tragically, through no fault of their own. However, there are also the “injustice collectors” who appear to court unhappiness. 

1950-1953 Korean War United States (as part of the United Nations) and South Korea vs. North Korea and Communist China
1960-1975 Vietnam War United States and South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam

The chart above may help convey where we were in terms of the draft – a major interruption of many a citizen’s relationships and chosen pathway. During our college years (1955-59) and immediately afterwards, exemptions to the draft seemed to us as somewhat routine.

The Korean war predated our college years. Vietnam came afterwards – when we were ages 23–38, eligible for the draft, but “deferred” owing to occupational status.

The 1957 Russian launching of Sputnik caused a panic in American public education, and Bob was a mathematics teacher also able to teach physics. Many superintendents of schools (including Bob’s) asked the Selective Service for exemption of the very scarce science and math teachers, and Bob’s was among those was granted.

While Rich was in college, he became a postulant for Holy Orders, then a seminarian (1959), and finally an ordained minister (1963); he was classified draft exempt as “2D” and then “4D.”

In that draftees were normally about 18–26, without exemptions we could have been conscripted, especially during our 23–26 period. Fortunately our professional circumstances took priority, thanks to the Selective Service’s policies. Nonetheless, we have always been empathetic toward those couples separated by wartime obligations – as well as with single men and women involuntarily shoved into battle. In terms of normal family life, how terrible that must have been then – and now!

Back to more recent times. Our retirement has been exceptional. For several years our target for withdrawing from fulltime employment had been our mid-50s. We were not wed to our jobs. Utilizing an unexpected, briefly offered, early retirement opportunity for State of Connecticut employees 55 and older, Rich officially retired (as planned at 55) from his fulltime teaching post - 15 years ago on July 1, 1992. (He continued some teaching here and there on an adjunct basis for another decade - in addition to non-stipendiary church service right through the present.)

Bob fully retired (using a different State/Town early retirement plan) at the conclusion of the 1993-4 school year. In terms of benefits, both plans are excellent. Unfortunately for later retirees, the State of Connecticut modified retirement benefits more than once after we had resigned.

The only glitch is that, given the limited arrangements in the early 1990s, when one of us dies, his state retirement compensation and Social Security die, too. There are no spousal benefits. We have planned for that reality, and the survivor will be all right financially. Nonetheless, it is another poignant reminder that our life together lacks the equal benefits of legal marriage – an injustice that will eventually be eliminated for coming generations.

On the bright side, it has been wonderful to have had self-paced, retirement time together since 1994, as of now, thirteen years. True, for a decade medical challenges have been meddlesome (especially for Rich); but, we are still here together and well enough to take considerable pleasure in most days.

Given the times, we are only peripherally involved in the quarrels within the Episcopal Church and broader Anglican Communion. Despite our stated willingness to be of service at the diocesan level – or beyond - in these matters, we have never been called upon. Whether we are effectively witnessing as a same-sex family, we have no idea. Nonetheless, very able people – including our Presiding Bishop – are constructively immersed in the global Anglican struggle between “preservers” and “pioneers.”

We are pleased that in recent years we have been included in the regional activities of Integrity-Palm Beach (www.IntegrityPalmBeach.org), Lambda Legal (www.lambdalegal.org), Compass (www.compassglcc.com), and the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (www.pbchrc.org). Effective prophetic ministries function both within and outside of religious bodies.

At this elder moment in time, we are in no way soured, status quo individuals clinging to fantasies of “the way it used to be.” Change is normal for human cultures, but not all change involves commendable qualities. Inasmuch as elder folk of each generation comment negatively on their own culture’s directions, we realize that as aging men, we might be experiencing some similar reactions. Even so, we do not think that we would rant without cause.

Despite our grievances (below), we celebrate the technological and biomedical dimensions that include some wonderful advances benefiting so many, including ourselves. As well, we take satisfaction in the slow but sure embrace of human diversity – at least in some Western cultures. We are proud of the Episcopal Church’s continuing, pioneering progress toward full inclusivity – and our unwillingness as a Church to surrender to foreign prelates and misplaced renegades within our American Church.

Furthermore, although we are dismayed by current political realities right to the White House, we certainly prefer to live in our imperfect nation than any other! In short, we are not men who sulk unless our Utopia is reached. (We are very mindful that the Greek foundation of utopia is “no place” or a “place that does not exist.”)

What's more, we trust fully that the sovereign Will of the Creator shall be done in God’s own time; in this sense, we are incurable optimists. With regard to the immediate future, though, we fluctuate between pessimism and optimism – while confident in the ultimate fulfillment of God’s intentions for humanity. We accept the necessary tensions between cynicism and hopefulness for those of us who experience human existence as evolving, as being “in process” toward God’s fully established “Kingdom.”

For a few moments, however, please bear with this one extended lament – topics which deserves clarification and justification beyond our purposes here. As older people often do, we regret many aspects of current global and local life.

  1. We regret that a significant degree of conflict seems to be the anticipated norm in most human relations, circumstances so absolutely different from our life together and the homes in which we were raised. Where we disagree, we either compromise or agree to differ.

  2. We are saddened by the evolution of spoken and written English. ("Me and him went on a date." "I aksed a question.") Have norms of sentence structure, grammar, and spelling been set aside as a result of indifference and political correctness? Is slang now equivalent to standard English? Are errors acceptable as “dialects”?

  3. We are repelled by our culture of meanness - so clearly noticeable in the ongoing decline of civility. In that vein, we regret the preoccupying cultural fascination with (and addiction to) gruesome media and violent behavior.
          All the more important to develop a haven of mutual affection for oneself and one’s family, while being responsive prudently and charitably to the way things are outside one’s sanctuary!

  4. We deplore the refusal of so many to accept realistic responsibility for their overall circumstances. In this regard, religious fatalism includes certain forms of “prayer” that leave practically everything in God’s hands and thereby reduces believers to indecisive and passive victims. “Providence” is not a cosmic puppeteer.

  5. We are more than critical of those who resent all achievement, as if every straightforward accomplishment were somehow inherently and grievously tainted.

  6. We are alarmed by the extent to which the environment is in need of rehabilitation and protection.

  7. We cringe at the global lack of effective family planning; emotionally and/or financially unprepared individuals continue mindless breeding – a form of unintentional child abuse.

  8. We reject the many presumptions of entitlement pervading American ways of life, an unrecognized factor among wealthy, pedigreed people as well as many others.

  9. We deplore the cultural epidemic of inefficient, shoddy workmanship and service.

  10. We abhor the toxicity and corruption of so much within political, business, and ecclesiastical worlds.

  11. We reject entertaining gadgetry and performances that pervade both “enrichment” curricula and human-focused worship.

  12. We are terribly disappointed in Episcopal Church worship with its increasing ceremonial affectations (all “justified” theologically and historically) that drag out liturgies. (Many brief essays about these issues are available within www.philosophy-religion.org.)

  13. Furthermore, we are concerned with the degree to which many clergy and laity are trumpeting claims of private divine revelations or definitive “calls” and messages from God (or Saints) as well as their growing preoccupation with New Age-like superficialities. This strikes us as radically individualistic, unverifiable by others, self-serving, and delusional – with no positive benefit to Christian communities of faith. We suspect that the “sanctification of their own desires” (an apt turn of phrase offered by author-priest Barbara Brown Taylor) is at work in most of this holyspeak. A British priest, scholar, and writer recently commented in London’s Church Times on many current “spiritual” experiences as “an empty form of free-floating flatulence.” Indeed!

    Additionally, “magic thinking” seems to have entered the realm of prayer, wherein many Christians appear to be using prayer as naïve incantations and as a vent for fervent wishful thinking. “Pray without ceasing …” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 pertaining to the priority of prayer) has been morphed into random, self-indulgent chatter.

    As well, the marketing of “peasant religion” seems to be on the rise. Given the idiocies promoted by too many religious groups, how will caring, thoughtful, and informed people ever discover and connect effectively with hard-to-find, emotionally stable, credible, religious leaders?

    In actuality many religious functionaries are walking tragedies - sometimes emotionally masochistic, often posing as Christian “servants,” yet are utterly devoid of healthy human relationships; most utilize sanctimonious club language – all so very unlike Jesus.

    Finally, the imbalanced emphasis on “good works” is giving subordinate places to what the Church can provide uniquely: worship, religious education, and pastoral care. Humanitarian outreach can be carried on, usually more competently, by all sorts of secular agencies. Our unique ministries have suffered immeasurably in quality, and Christianity is misunderstood primarily as social ethics – one important element of pastoral care.

  14. We enthusiastically denounce the many self-anointed, ever grinning/scowling, moral   guardians who seem dedicated to sucking the joy out of responsible, enjoyable dimensions of contemporary living. (“If it’s truly pleasurable, it must be sinful.” “Self-denial is the be all and end all of the Christian life.”) Likewise, we loathe the radical, un-American, religious-political right that thrives on distortions, outright lies, contrived fears, and their own mounting hypocrisy.

  15. We are embarrassed for those men and women – and children – who tastelessly bare their souls on television with Dr. Phil, Oprah, Springer et al., and also for individuals who desperately battle in banal “reality” television programs. Have they no sense of privacy or personal dignity?

  16. We pity those who seek their identity, worth, and fulfillment by means of public record setting with reckless, often vulgar, behaviors. Why would anyone want to be known as a record holder (soon to be outdone) for stuffing themselves with hot dogs? How can anyone be proud of climbing a perilous mountain “because it’s there” – especially when their family is dependent upon them emotionally and/or financially? (These are inane American values!) Such people are running on empty.

  17. We are concerned that trendy extremes of “globalization” will obliterate people’s sense of a genuine, local “neighborhood” and its well-deserved attention. Although we are not isolationists, we do think that an exaggerated sense of responsibility prevails among many who wish to do good at a distance while overlooking service to local neighbors – and sometimes to their own families. Appeals to quantum physics and John Donne’s tolling bell to justify a simplistic oneness of all humanity are naive and misleading.

    A frequent corollary: appropriate personal boundaries elude many such folks in several   areas of their lives. In an odd version of “Franciscanism” many well-meaning humanitarians neglect appropriately balanced self-love; they too often try to love everyone on the planet equally while loving almost no one (including themselves) personally, individually, and nearby.

    Unlimited “servanthood” – a word thrown around with thin meanings – needs another look, in case the deserving person(s) at hand are disregarded.

  18. We are skeptical about the degree to which federal space programs siphon funds from urgent earthly uses, such as environmental rehabilitation and further enabling assistance to deserving poor citizens.

  19. We dislike and scoff at the meaninglessness of particular words used to suggest a significant bond or homogeneity among some individuals, especially “friend” (e.g., someone seen infrequently at work or that has been met on one occasion), “family” (e.g., the Microsoft, Harvard, Anglican, NBC-TV-viewers, and human “family”), “neighbor” (e.g., everyone in a region or even all humanity), “community” (e.g., the gay, white, or human “community”). Faux togetherness, pseudo-intimacy, and a wide-ranging vagueness have blurred any sense of    legitimate linguistic boundaries.

    An overlooked reality by many an organization (including the Church) is that loyal participants vary considerably in their relationship to the association. For example, even some   clergy experience the parish church as one of a number of significant communities in their lives – but not as their “family.” Quite often, clergy and lay leaders assume that all ordained people (and lay members) are, or want to be, a “family.” Not so! Similarly, the workplace is “family” for some and not so for others.

  20. We are appalled at the all-pervading cultural influence of celebrity and transient fashion/cosmetics. Despite their respective excesses, absurdities, and idolatrous implications, they flourish commercially and are even highlighted during “news” telecasts!

  21. We are alarmed by self-inflicted health problems in the United States and elsewhere. Many occurrences of sexually transmitted diseases (some fatal), degrees of obesity, frenzied paces of living (often exhibited by self-anointed, exhausted crusaders), destructive interpersonal relationships, substance abuse, etc. continue to wreak havoc among individuals and their families. At the very least, this self-neglect is escalating medical insurance rates for us all.

  22. We are always surprised with each step downwards with regard to public manners. Admittedly changeable, good manners express significant regard for others and lessen pressures of collective living; courteous behavior recognizes the right of others to share common spaces.

    Continuous shrieking by children in restaurants or elsewhere (as permitted by paralyzed adults on hand), needlessly loud music and voices, instant familiarity (using first names indiscriminately), frequent interruptions during conversations, and coarse language are, for us,    unwelcome changes. Dreadful public manners represent a self-centered, low regard for others.

  23. We are horrified by the extent to which destructive, ruthless competition has infected so many areas of life. Unlike instances of constructive competitiveness in business, informal sports, etc., winning at all costs has become an absolute American virtue. Almost all human activities have become occasions of competition rather than cooperation.

  24. Because of Rich’s out of the blue, emergency hospitalizations, our reluctance to venture beyond the Broward – Palm Beach Counties region is reinforced. As registered “domestic partners” in Palm Beach County, we are legally protected for access to each other in hospitals within our County, as well as in Broward. In all other parts of Florida and the nation, we are legally strangers to each other; therefore, in medical emergencies we could be denied mutual access. Such enforced separations are more routine than one might realize. Nothing could be more cruel! Consider the Florida regions and states we would have to go through, if we were to drive as far as New England! Genuinely supported human “diversity” is quite limited.

  25. We are saddened by the continuing dumbing down of the United States population, which as a whole seems to cater to prevailing bottom-of-the-barrel benchmarks. Our civilization has set aside the virtues of initiative, perseverance, conscientiousness, excellence, personal initiative and responsibility, and genuine achievement - along with fundamental polish and grace. (Is one a snob or politically incorrect for prizing reasonable degrees of refinement attainable by all?)

Regardless of these many deficiencies, and fortified by the indispensable sentiments of the “Serenity Prayer,” we are enormously grateful to be living so well at this time in history. (We have known of too many well-intentioned individuals who elect to bounce inconsequentially from one cause to another; they eventually suffer from “Samaritan burnout” and never experience that “peace which the world cannot give.”) If it is true that a “successful” individual is one who has touched some others’ lives with love, and has graciously accepted others’ loving touch, then we have been sufficiently successful.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.” – The Serenity Prayer

However, although contented SOUL MATES, we realize that inevitable, momentous challenges remain ahead!

JUNE


After the Saturday, June 2nd (Eve of Trinity Sunday) Service;
Rich was the celebrant and preacher, Bob the chalice bearer.
 (photo taken by Vance in the St. Andrew’s Chapel)
Note next picture and its caption.

During the 1954 summer orientation program at Tabor Academy, Rich made this sterling silver pectoral cross in the crafts studio. (Perhaps he had teenage aspirations for the episcopate!) Never worn while ordained, he vested with it (2nd) for the first time as a result of Bob’s birthday present: the sterling chain Bob had custom made by “David Yurman” through the Bailey Banks and Biddle jewelry store in the Wellington Mall. In the sacristy immediately before the June 2nd 6 p.m. Service, Bob privately put the 53-year- old cross on him – another church-related, touching moment for us.

Late last month Rich received a copy of the “clean” results of his recent, updated background check required by the Diocese of Connecticut. Both insurance driven and as continuing, partial accountability of clergy who are in professional contact with parishioners (even when retired, minimally active, and living outside CT), his diocese compelled all its clergy to have this 2007 check-up. A non-Church, specialized agency investigates and reports each individual’s recent residence addresses and national records of any criminal or sex offences. Curiously, there is no financial dimension to the investigation; one would think that it would be wise to include an Equifax credit score, which could signal caution about those who might be “budget challenged” and thereby become negatively affected (e.g., via stress impacting professional life). He wishes that each one’s practice of ministry were also held accountable! (www.philosophy-religion.org/criticism/accountability.htm)

Many parish clergy – along with other human service workers (e.g., teachers, social workers, etc.) put in enormous hours of work (resulting in detrimental self-neglect), but at the bottom of it may be an exaggerated sense of self-importance and poor personal time management skills. [See www.philosophy-religion.org/criticism/addicted.htm and www.philosophy-religion.org/criticism/rescuers.htm]

One of the highly reliable blogs re the Episcopal Church is “Fr. Jake Stops the World”  (http://frjakestopstheworld.blogspot.com). Although not a “blogger,” Rich wrote (within the June 8th discussion of TIME’s article about the Archbishop of Canterbury):

"Just a footnote. Am 70 with iffy elderhealth problems; ordained since 1963; partnered since 1955 (the week we met as college freshmen); formally out in the 1980s to my CT bishop (but willingly transparent well before that); currently retired honorary canon of Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford; celebrated our 50th anniversary at a public liturgy at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine; and so on. I assume that Bishop Robinson & his partner as well as Bob & I (plus the innumerable other partnered LGBT Episcopalians in all orders of ministry) try to live out gracefully the same Baptism and the same "Summary of the Law" declared by Christ. Within that context, would it serve any purpose for all gay couples (able to do so) in all orders of ministry throughout the Episcopal Church, to request our PB to include us all by name as eligible "targets" - now apparently limited to the episcopal order? Bishop Robinson should not be the sole target for "preservers" – just because he is an honest Christian.”

Although there was one gracious response pertaining to our years together, there was no reply to Rich’s suggestion. He suspects that our church and state cultures assume that “higher ups” must be “more moral” than those “below” them, in order to be examples, etc. This does not seem to be consistent with Christ’s “one size fits all” Summary of the Law. We do seem to adore caste systems, whether secular or ecclesiastical.

Both of us just realized that, now 70, we may refuse jury duty. Because of back/neck issues, Bob has not had to serve. While working in CT at multiple jobs, Rich was excused. However, in Florida he has been called a couple of times, but never ended up with a court case. On one of the recent jury selection days, he was excused at the request of both lawyers in a civil case. When the judge had asked for comments or questions after the case was introduced, Rich said that during the preliminary presentations, he heard quite a bit about prevailing, winning or the like, but nothing about discovering the truth of the matter. Both lawyers scribbled away, looked at each other, and sent Rich on his way. J

A return lunch at the Earl of Sandwich (9th); the tables on the left are our favorite spot! A great idea: five noisy, pre-teens allowed by the adults with them to run and shriek were taken within the restaurant to an enclosed game room with tables/chairs for their meal. One other child seated very near us with his mother was wonderfully behaved – once in a while a moment of high volume, but that is fine. It was funny, in a way; the other group included two 6’5” obese male jocks – looking like brothers - in their late thirties plus one seemingly overwhelmed, slight woman the same age who, with the men, seemed to be at the mercy of the five boisterous kids.

 

Herbert Steer
(photo by parishioner John Robuck)

After the Service (during which we sat together in the congregation), the June (9th) gathering of Integrity-Palm Beach was terrific! Herb Steer’s 90th birthday (actually later in the month) was celebrated with British food (honoring his origins), a bag piper [whose routine was similar to festivities at Balmoral Castle (for a time Herb was a valet to King George VI)], birthday trifles made by Margot, and the dedication in Herb’s name of a fountain affixed to an exterior wall near the parish hall entrances. Herb’s partner of several decades died a number of years ago, and eventually St. Andrew’s became Herb’s genuine family. In 2006 he was honored by the Bishop with a Lay Ministry Award for his service to St. Andrew’s Church. 

Herb and Fr. Paul at the Dedication of the Herbert Steer Fountain
(photo by parishioner John Robuck)
 
(photo by parishioner John Robuck)
 
A morning post-breakfast ritual – the uncombed “elbow dog” (and similarly groomed Rich) receives a hug and a pat.
 

Flag Day – on a breezeless morning
 
A Saturday (16th) lunch visit – with $20 discount coupon in hand! www.thebambooclub.com
 
Bamboo Club (photo somewhat blurred)

On the weekend we both (unexpectedly) disposed of piles of accumulated photographs. Those that we kept will be reviewed sometime for the website or discarded. While Bob was out on Sunday evening, Rich filled additional, black, lawn/leaf bags with files of old sermons, addresses to various groups, and resources (dating back to the ‘60s and by and large filed according to the liturgical calendar). This was somewhat reminiscent of the trashing of all of the audio cassette tapes of all of his courses’ lectures after he retired in 1992; this was different, though, in that we will not hear the truck’s compactor crunching all the plastic cassettes!

A Letter in The Living Church – June 17, 2007

Clergy Health

            I write in response to "Three Bishops Confront Health Issues" [TLC, June 10].

            At 70, I am among the many clergy facing common, elderhealth issues. All of mine afflicted my late parents. I have never been a health fanatic. However, since my heart attack five years ago, I have been especially aware of what appear to be chosen maladies among many fellow clergy - including various degrees of obesity.

            In "The Chronicle Review" of the weekly Chronicle of Higher Education (March 11, 2005), biology Professor J. David McDonald wrote, "While I'm not prepared to say that current Christians exhibit greater levels of obesity than the general population (whose levels are reportedly at all-time highs), they certainly do not seem to exhibit lower ones. It has long struck me as perverse that so many sermons rail against the deadly sins of lust and hatred, but when was the last time you were on the receiving end of a detailed admonition against the deadly sin of gluttony? The next one I hear will be the first one I've ever heard."

            Excessive alcohol use could rightly be included, too.

            Might we add to the Church's visible agenda our health as lay and ordained individuals? This need not be a mean-spirited attack, but an inspiration to consider the many dimensions of our overall well-being - including diseases that are self-inflicted (knowingly or not).

            (The Rev. Canon) Richard T. Nolan, Lake Worth, Fla.

With a blue sky above and yesterday’s rain helping to cover the drought induced sandy shore, one of “our” (now foot long) turtles we launched twelve years ago swims by (19th) while giving us a look in the family room window! We can’t tell whether (s)he is content! There are at least five turtles (four our contributions from pet stores) in Egret Lake. 

In an exceptionally calm lake the next morning a two-foot grass carp came by. We have seen some close to 4 feet. Occasionally at the center of the lake a fin will emerge above the surface and appear as a small shark! 

Well after Bob drove neighbors Ann and Jo to the airport at 6 a.m. (22nd), we headed out to do some errands and have lunch in Boynton Beach.


Our inside pictures came out poorly. Eyes closed; blurred picture -shaky hands? Oh, well…...

Site of the Annual Stonewall Dinner and Ball – June 23. The Harriet Himmel Gilman Theater is located in the heart of “CityPlace,” West Palm Beach. (www.cityplace.com) and (www.cityplace.com/harriet_himmel.html)

The cranes looming above the building and half-way up (to the left) are two of a half dozen construction projects in the immediate area.

From the Compass website: “The Stonewall Ball is one of the largest events in Palm Beach County connecting the gay and lesbian community to their elected and appointed officials … The fourth annual gala, which benefits Compass, pays tribute to national and local achievements of the modern day equal rights movement.” Compass is the 5th largest such organization in the nation and is about to move into much larger facilities in Lake Worth, quite near St. Andrew’s.

The announced dress for the somewhat pricey, fund raising dinner/dance was an apparent choice between pirate-related outfits or black tie. We would feel silly in the former (have you ever seen a 70-year-old pirate?), and we do not do black tie. Our decades-seasoned, neat and clean suits were quite sufficient. However, with just a touch of unseemly pretentiousness, Rich did use his elegant chrome handled, black cane! As it turned out, a variety of outfits ranged from evening tuxedo with tails to sports jacket/tie to all sorts of pirates’ costumes (a few rather expensively made for the occasion). Regional politicians and event sponsors as well as straight, lesbian, transgender (hard to spot), and bisexual (impossible to spot) women and men from late teens to at least one 80 year-old (woman) made up the enormously diverse gathering. 

Dinner was served to well over 200 on the 3-sided second floor overlooking the dance floor.
Mike Zewe addresses the gathering. We sat in the upper tier to Mike’s left.
photo by Charlie Frederickson

We were privileged to be seated at Compass’s interim director Scott Fox’s table with his lively partner Aaron (see photo below), Scott’s parents, and four (gay) businessmen from the region. The hors d’oeuvres were scrumptious, among them excellent quality lamb chops, toasted ham and cheese “sandwichettes,” and coconut coated fried shrimp. Our chosen-in-advance entrée included slices of roast pork, and dessert (which Rich had to forgo). The unusual desert was an open hard chocolate treasure chest with mousse, candy jewels and a chocolate doubloon inside. It rested on a beach of crushed graham crackers and an ocean of blue sauce. A white chocolate shell on the beach completed the fantasy!           


dessert!

photo by Charlie Frederickson
 

Scott’s father Tom was on Rich’s right, and they chatted about many things, including Tom’s future retirement only a couple of years away. On Bob’s left was a delightful, up-beat guy in his 50s - a fine conversationalist - funeral director. Aaron, dressed as a dapper, youthful pirate, was often the center of attention – with his boundless energy and humor. The usual dinner addresses were pertinent and appropriate.

Flash bulbs in our direction were more frequent than ever before, with a dozen or so individuals (including the press) routinely and respectfully asking permission prior to picture taking. We joked to each other about being a dinosaur exhibit! Yet again we were touched by some warm, private, sometimes quite emotional, comments.

At the outset some slow music with a live vocalist and an instrumentalist gave us the opportunity to slow-dance as Rich clutched his cane behind Bob’s back. The presence of about 20 dancing couples was a good hint to prolong this initial musical mood – a real treat for us. When the more lively music began, we took seats at the edge of the dance floor, but as the night wore on, we inconspicuously braved a few faster dances from our past – Rich’s cane laid aside. Mixed with our nostalgic merriment was Rich’s difficulty in maintaining balance; too, his oversized diabetic shoes felt like cement blocks! Bob, however, imported our past fast-dancing years in style!

before the dance floor was crowded
photo by Charlie Frederickson
 

Later in the evening, when the Latin rhythms dominated, the Spanish guys and gals (with origins in Puerto Rico, Cuba, Columbia, and so on) combined as a concert of movements that only they have mastered. They embodied the happiness and grace of their cultures’ dance styles. Through all the music, though, Aaron participated superbly and tirelessly! 

while dancing
photo by Charlie Frederickson
 

Both chuckling, Young Bob held Old Rich up somewhat
photo by Lea Bennett -  www.leabphotography.com 


standing l-r: Scott (Aaron’s partner), Mike, and Joseph
Compass administrators
seated: an unidentified pirate
 

photo by Lea Bennett -  www.leabphotography.com

We went on our way about 10 (really late for us) and enjoyed a restful sleep - yet weary for all of Sunday.

Emailed from Compass after the Weekend

Thanks for making a difference in your community at the sixth annual Stonewall Ball! 

Greetings!

Compass extends a special thank you to everyone who made The Stonewall Ball the most successful yet. More than 300 people were at the Harriet in CityPlace on Saturday in support of Compass.

Among those in attendance were Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon, Representative Susan Bucher, Senator Dave Aronberg, West Palm Beach City Commissioners Bill Moss and Molly Douglas, Supervisor of Elections Dr. Arthur Anderson, School Board of PBC's Paulette Burdick, and representatives from the offices of Congressman Ron Klein and Representative Maria Sachs.

We also congratulate Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon on receiving Compass' Plakas Leadership Award.


The next day (Sunday the 24th) an email went off to our parish priest and Integrity convener:

“With Compass moving into Lake Worth soon - not too far from St. Andrew's - it would seem to me that some sort of connection between both could be mutually beneficial - although I have no specifics in mind.

“Again this year, very few St. Andrew's people were at the annual event held last night.

“This year only Terry and Michael were on hand. Although a bit pricey ($150 per person for the dinner and dance), the dance alone was only $35. A real age spread from a relatively few youth to 80 among the straight/gay/lesbian/bisexual (I assume) and transgender (hard to spot) attendees.

“Bob and I were, as usual, more than well treated in every way. We are Compass supporters beyond the annual occasion - though not any more at many other events.

Prophetic ministry is often carried out most effectively by secular agencies, and we believe that Compass is one of them - along with Lambda Legal.

“I just have a gnawing sense that somehow the Church ought to be visibly partnered with such agencies - without necessarily expecting a rush to join the parish. The distrust of mainstream religious bodies is high, but perhaps in a few centuries trust could be established if somehow we were visibly, mutually appreciative of what we each can offer uniquely.

“But Bob and I are too dense to figure out how!”

MONDAY WAS TOO BUSY - UNEXPECTEDLY! 

Free from medical consultations for about three months, Rich underwent a routine blood test early on Monday morning. The receptionist referred to Bob as Rich’s son – not the first time this has happened in medical offices! Is the difference between our aging processes THAT noticeable? Ironically, Bob is the older – by three days!

Also on Monday our very large 2003 Maytag refrigerator broke down – as it did a couple of years ago. Bought through Sears, its upscale Sears warrantee did not result in repairs for a week! So much for Maytag’s exaggerated reliability! So much for Sears’ alleged dependability! In response to an emailed appeal to Sears for a quicker response for medical reasons, Sears responded with, “Service is scheduled according to our service availability in your area. At this time, we do not have the technician availability to schedule a sooner service date than what was originally suggested. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Additionally, at 8 p.m. Bob discovered that the air conditioner’s drain system was emptying into the garage! Another call for service – promised for the next afternoon. Not a Sears policy, for sure!

The negligence by Sears prompted Bob to make a 9 p.m. visit to Lowe’s – where he bought a small freezer and a small, supplementary refrigerator; Lowe’s delivered – via very helpful delivery personnel – at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Now that is service!

We wondered when that legendary third “glitch” would hit. Would Rich be off to the hospital again? Car repair? Or the worst J: a computer breakdown?

The apparent third, or at least in that vein, arrived by email late Monday night. His children wrote that The Rev. Charles C. Perroncel, D.Min., had died unexpectedly on June 14th. On pages 116f. of SOUL MATES, this mention of Chuck appears:

“Chuck is a psychotherapist, a U.C.C. minister. He and his wife and children attended St. Paul’s for a few years. When he was exploring the possibilities of worshiping at St. Paul’s, I talked with him about my own family life. I wasn’t sure where he was on sexuality, and I certainly didn’t want him to enter parish life and then discover that I was psychologically repulsive to him. His reaction was just the opposite; he was very affirming. As time went on, the ‘fit’ between Chuck and the Episcopal Church wasn’t sufficient enough. Many of the Church’s procedures were too limiting. Nonetheless, it was he who enabled me to begin to disclose my life with Bob carefully to selected parishioners. I think that he and his wife were the first adults in any parish with whom I deliberately shared our supposed secret.”

We are so pleased that a few years ago we reconnected with Chuck via many emails, and in one had shared with Chuck our affectionate gratitude for his positive impact on our lives and Rich’s ministry. He was one of the most complex persons we have ever known.

More received on Monday:

Message to All Alumni

June 25, 2007

Dear Fellow Alumni:

I am very pleased to inform you that Assistant Head Master Lynne Mooney Teta '86 has been appointed as the 28th head master of Boston Latin School. Michael Contompasis '57, Boston Public Schools superintendent, made the announcement at the farewell tribute for Head Master Cornelia A. Kelley H'44.

We were fortunate to have Lynne return to Alma Mater in the fall of 2004 to join the school's leadership team as an assistant head master whose duties included general administration, academics, the supervision and evaluation of faculty, student support and external partnerships. Prior to that, she served in administrative positions in the Needham, Dedham and Belmont public schools systems. Lynne began her teaching career in 1990 in Belmont and also served as an English and social studies teacher for The Steppingstone Foundation. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Harvard University and a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, with a concentration in Administration, Planning and Social Policy.

This is a momentous appointment which I believe bodes well for the future of BLS, its students and the broader community. Your Boston Latin School Association is looking forward to working with Lynne in her new role which will be effective July 1.

I will keep you posted on this important transition in the months to come.

Warm regards,

David S. Weiner '59, President

We very much look forward to meeting the new Head Master next February at the annual Latin School alumni gathering in Palm Beach.

THAT’S IT FOR MONDAY!

Tuesday (the 26th) saw the early Lowes’ delivery mentioned above and an afternoon repair of the air conditioner. Given the necessary visitors, a more ordinary day!

In the evening a most warm and affectionately reminiscing email to both of us arrived from Nate, Chuck Perroncel’s son - picture included. We had forgotten that Bob had tutored Nate in algebra and that Rich had taken Nate for a ride in our sporty Camaro for some serious pastoring. How incredibly gratifying to know that we are remembered so fondly! 


Nate and Liz. Nate’s professional website is www.myspace.com/elginjames.
 

We have realized that someone did not follow through (great!), and Rich was not contacted to schedule a June “Computed Tomography Angiography (CTA).” Some relatively unpleasant health explorations may be just around the corner – but not until July. Fingers crossed. [CTA is at www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=angioct&bhcp=1] Bob resumes a series of regular medical check-ups, too. We have had three great medical-free months!

Recently we have watched some films that illustrate the wide-ranging anxieties, deprivations, and miseries in which multitudes of people have been (and are) demeaned, impoverished, and/or emotionally imprisoned. Internationally they encompass men, women, and children of all sexual orientations as well as varied cultural and societal circumstances. One’s heart goes out to them!

Other than supporting various organizations that seek justice and (enabling) assistance for many casualties, there seem to be little or no genuinely effective ways of being an onsite contributor to any significant solutions. Now and then, an opportunity for personal, truly practical, suitable, local outreach comes along, and one offers what one appropriately can ... and not as if from a lofty perch.

Certainly, others like ourselves, whose lives are rather untroubled, should not feel indifferently toward innocent, victimized human beings.

The ubiquitous con artists and “professional victims” are a different matter; they refuse genuine assistance. Nevertheless, given their state of affairs, one at least cringes for them. Likewise, one feels for those individuals and cultures whose beliefs and policies are self-defeating.

The “Serenity Prayer” comes into play again.

Thursday was Herb’s actual 90th birthday. We had planned to take him to the Café Boulud for a birthday luncheon, but he called in the morning to say that he just wasn’t up to it healthwise. Another time! 


After heavy rains on Friday, sirens could be easily heard. While Tenno watched from his recliner, two ambulance helicopters arrived noisily at the nearby field to rescue accident victims. This seems to occur about monthly. The need for two helicopters was unusual. Note that the lake level has come up significantly following the prolonged drought.

photo from our family room window 

Prior to Saturday (30th) 6 p.m. church, while Mayra carried on excellently with her weekly housekeeping, we lunched at the Cheesecake Factory, a 25-minute drive to CityPlace in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach. We both ordered the “Chicken Salad Sandwich - Housemade with Roasted Almonds, Lettuce, Tomato and Mayo. Served on Grilled Brioche Bread” 

www.thecheesecakefactory.com
The exterior appears odd to us, as if vertical plywood sheets had been hammered on five locations, because of a storm or vandalism!
 

One of the unusual ceiling decorations at the Cheesecake Factory. The server told us very politely that management prefers that no pictures be taken; instead, one ought to dine there, in order to see firsthand its uniqueness. Of all the pretentious policies; an eatery is not exactly a museum! (Rich did get a dig in about the “plywood” look outside.) Anyway, other pictures would be difficult for us to take, because of the high barriers among the sitting areas. We have been there several times over the years, and the food has always been superb. 


Nevertheless we did find this representative picture among the hundreds on the Internet!

On June 12th Rich wrote to The Living Church, an independent, national weekly (somewhat conservative) magazine of news and articles related to the Episcopal Church; he inquired about placing an ad. Timed to precede September’s meeting of the House of Bishops, the proposed ad would be run in the first four issues dated in September 2007. A standard, modest size, block ad would include:

Perhaps Very Different From What You Think!

"SOUL MATES: More than Partners"

www.nolan-pingpank.com

Rich concluded his inquiry with, “As you'll see if you inspect the website, it's ‘family friendly.’” Despite three follow-up emails to specific magazine staff members, there was no acknowledgment or answer by the end of June. If the staff believed that the ad (which is not inexpensive) was unsuitable, the honorable thing to do would be to say so – or at least acknowledge receipt of the multiple inquiries. Censorship? Third-rate business practices? We’ll see what July brings.

Otherwise, the month ended well with worship at St. Andrew’s and afterwards some tv watching and a good night’s sleep.