Miles, Morning Prayer, and Meeting

Yesterday I ran, joined Morning Prayer with my colleagues, had a meeting with the Rector, had a cup of coffee in town at Java, did some grocery shopping, made it home at about lunch time, worked on the bulletin for my licensing service, reconstructed the prompt for the first tutorial essay in the Paul paper… and that’s enough. I am semi-retired, after all.

‘…the earth was dry.’

What to say? Saturday we stayed indoors, at home, in deference to the flood waters. I didn’t run (though of course I could have taken a different route that stayed clear of the rivers; it just seemed more sensible to stay at home, indoors, while I hammered out a sermon and Margaret and the dogs hunkered down together.

I slept late on Sunday — all the way to 6:30! — and gave the sermon a last edit before church; then I cleaned up and walked the dogs before we were picked up for our trip to Swindon in the morning. Our unambitious walk revealed that the waters had receded and our way across the Iron Bridge was clear. Then we gathered up my vestments and sermon and rode to Swindon with our host, Fr Toby Boutle. St Mark’s welcomed their guest preacher very warmly, and we had a delightful Sunday dinner with Fr Toby and Roy, and with Fr Ross Copley (Victoria was unwell, and Fr Tim and Lois are on holiday). It’s an honour and a blessing to see my former students flourishing in their ministry, and the Swindon parish (including St MArk’s, St Saviour’s, St Luke’s, and the chapel at St Aldhelm’s) has stabilised and grown and has put down sturdy roots with Fr Toby and his team.

Slept like a champion, got up to run my two miles, cup of coffee, and will shortly set out for Morning Prayer and a meeting with my rector. A new day, a new week begins.

Splitting Hairs

I’ve been in a grouchy mood all day because I went for a haircut yesterday, and despite my having said explicitly (and repeatedly) that I wanted my hair tidier not shorter, not shorter, the barber trimmed away a year’s growth of hair. Once I sit down in the chair and take my glasses off, all the power flows to the shears; all I can do is hope for the best, and yesterday was not the best. That determines it, though: For the rest of the year, no barber is going to touch my hair. When it gets long enough again, I’ll take stock and decide whether to try a different barber.

Ran my two miles, fruit and coffee for breakfast, Morning Prayer at church, home for a second mug and for reading and sermon preparation.

Both the Thames and the Ock are high; the Ock has flooded parkland and some gardens, and the Thames has flooded parks as well. The next ten days are expected to be dry, though, so that this should be near the peak.

The Ock River Walk, floodedSt Helen’s Wharf, Flood waters reaching above the street line

St Helen’s Wharf, the Thames reaching an inch or two below the sidewalk embankment

Happy Birthday

I don’t usually read Matt Mullenweg’s blog — to be honest, I didn’t even remember that he had one, though I remembered his tagline — but Dave Rogers pointed me to it, and more specifically to Matt’s request that people blog, and that they link their posts to his birthday blog when they do blog.

And for the sake of accuracy, Dave, neither I nor even Margaret dressed them as elves, but only their holiday caregiver (who is almost as fond of them as Margaret herself is).

Two Dogs with Jackets that make them look as if they were Elves

They’re Back in Elf Costumes

The ladies, Minke and Flora, that is. I’ll add photo evidence as soon as I can.

Flora (a dozing Lhasa Apso/Maltese mix) and Minke (an active Yorkie about to jump out of the frame) in their elf costumes

Ran my two miles this morning, against objections from my quadriceps, then had my coffee and fruit breakfast, showered, went to St Helen’s for Morning Prayer, and back home to help Margaret with her tea and breakfast, as she slipped on the stairs — injuring her foot — when the ladies were rushing in to greet her. The water level in the Ock and Thames both is unnervingly high; I earnestly hope that the next ten days of dryer weather hammers the floodwaters down.

At the left, at the bottom of the pillar, the plaque commemorating the flood of 1894, when the water reached the level marked thereon; at the right, the Thames as it waxes and threatens to cross the road for an encore.

Back, And In Black

I woke up in my (our) own bed this morning after nine or ten hours’ sleep — aaahhhh! Got up, ran my shorter route (to warm my legs up to the idea of daily running again), coffee, shower, dressed in clericals since from today on, I’m more-or-less engaged as one of the clergy at Abingdon Parish, Morning Prayer at St Helen’s, a pleasant breakfast with Margaret and R & R on the square in town, took a bit of a walk around to see the local flooding, picked up some groceries at Waitrose, and back home. The flooding, I should say, has not yet affected us — but significant parts of Nag’s Head Island and the south bank of the Thames are submerged, and the Ock is higher than I’ve seen it. And we’re in line for more rain today and tomorrow…

Home From the Holidays

Margaret and I landed at Heathrow this morning, walked a half mile or so through the entrails of Terminal 3, and breezed through passport control in a flash (honestly, could not have been any faster, amazingly). We meandered to the Central Bus Station and went directly to the Oxford coach, which left after admitting us, and in no time flat we were at home in Abingdon.

Since then we’ve staggered up and down stairs, snacked, dozed, and generally permitted ourselves to absorb the shock of having spent the night in flight and having changed five time zones. I read all of Alan Jacobs’s Breaking Bread with the Dead, tallying one book against my total for 2024. It is, of course, a very superficial thing to count the books one reads and to keep a running tab for the year; but since I have almost entirely lost my capacity to read at length, I am adopting this gross gesture in the hope of kick-starting my literary temperament once again.

Breaking Bread with the Dead makes a robust case for reading old books carefully — a case that harmonises exquisitely with my own sensibilities. If I were setting curricula for classes, I’d be tempted to assign Jacobs as a preparatory source for my students (perhaps along with, or alternating with Rowan Williams’s Why Study the Past? The Quest for the Historical Church). I’ll want to come back to Jacobs if Margaret and I get around to writing our ‘Goodness of the Bad, Badness of the Good’ project.

Arrivederci, America

With a few hours left in the United States, if there are any last-minute errands I can accomplish for you, please let me know. It’s been a lovely visit to see our grandchildren, and children, and long-years friends; I was balked in two efforts to see my sister, with whom I very much wanted to make contact as I haven’t seen her much over the years (I did check in with her last winter).