Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, May 16, 2016

ON BECOMING SECULAR

To the Editor of Sunday Chronicle Insight,

Entertainer John Davidson amuses your readers by telling us he is now openly secular. His parents were both Baptist ministers. He no longer believes the Bible literally. My father was a priest of the Episcopal Church. He taught my brother and me that the Bible was a library. There are books of mythology, like the Creation and Garden of Eden. There are powerful laws, like the Ten Commandments. There is poetry like the Psalms and Proverbs. There are calls for social justice in the prophets. There is biography in the stories of King David. Jesus challenged human beings to care for the poor and needy, heal the sick and forgive our enemies. In fact in the sweep of the Bible even the ideas of God constantly change.


I wish Mr. Davidson well in his quest for meaning in his conversion to secularity. Perhaps some day he like others will bring his scientific mind to explore the deeper meanings in the library of the Bible.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

CROSSING ON THE QM2

Queen Mary2

In 2014, Ann and I made a round trip crossing on the Queen Mary 2 from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Southampton, England. We stayed in the Chelsea area of London in a small flat for a month and returned to the United States on the Queen Mary. Crossing the Atlantic on a fine ship was a long hankering of mine. It was touched with the idea that Grandpa Cromey, my father’s father crossed From England to the United States in the late 19th Century. My mother’s family, the Reinemanns, left Germany for America in the early 19th century. I also wanted to have the experience of sailing on a luxurious ocean liner. Stories and movies had romanticized such a voyage for me.

We flew from San Francisco to New York, stayed one night in a Brooklyn hotel and boarded the liner the next morning. Since I was born in Brooklyn I thought it a just coincidence that we left for England from that borough, rather than the more elegant sounding “sailing from New York.”

The enormous black hull, high as an apartment house, was painted red at the waterline. High above was the bright white of the rest of the ship with its windowed cabins, wooden decks and mysterious control towers.

The usual hassle getting on filling out health forms, giving and receiving passports, credit cards, getting keys, receipts, going this way and that a way, waiting inline, shuffling ahead finally landing in our cabin. Our cabin was compact and comfortable with an outside view. I enjoyed the tiny toilet, shower basin and mirror that could close off for privacy.
Nick our cabin boy went on and on about the shower, TV, which we never will watch, the bed, the deck, the blah and the blah. All I wanted to do was to lie down and take off my shoes, which I did, and full dressed lay in the bed while he continued and concluded reciting the most obvious endlessly. The closets were ample and the queen sized bed most comfortable. The tan colors of the ceiling and walls gave off plenty of light. There was also a small couch and easy chair and coffee table between the bed and the glass door leading out to the balcony with its out of doors view.

We began to explore the ship, finding the cafeteria for a fine lunch with endless choices of meats, salads, hot and cold food, beverages and desserts. We always tried to find a table next to or very near the windows so as to enjoy the views, which were mostly vast water and dark clouds. We found the theater, library, gym, main dining room, cocktail lounges and gambling parlor.

When we set sail in the late afternoon, we watched Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and the harbor islands become part of the wake of the huge ship.

We went to dinner in the elegantly decorated main dining room.  In an elevator, I groused when Ann flicked my lapel. I said, "I hate having dandruff brushed off. "The bald man standing next to me said, “Well, at least you have dandruff.” The dining room had lots of gold hangings, gold framed mirrors, and golden railings supporting us up and down to decorated tables. They had fresh flowers, fine china, silverware and glasses. Waiters were cool, efficient and helpful.

We had chosen seating so that we were with three other couples each evening. The people were mostly pleasant but there was one weird woman from whom I hid whenever I saw her.  She knew everyone, had been everywhere, had taken fifty cruises and told us at great length about them if she could catch us.

Thrice we dressed formally for dinner. Ann was in a long and lovely dress and I in my tux. Breakfast and lunch we ate in the cafeteria where we had a wide selection of food. The problem always was trying not to eat too much.

Lots of wonderful meals tempted us, a great variety of breakfast opportunities, fresh milk, cereals, eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, rolls, croissant, cold cuts, Kippers, grilled tomatoes, fresh fruit, cheeses and on and on. Lunch and breakfast is cafeteria style, dinner sat at table o eight.

Lunch soups, salads, lousy sushi, roast ham today roast beef yesterday and all the fixings. Shrimp and smoked salmon salads, salad bar with everything on it you can imagine.

Three course dinners with soups, terrines of this and that at tonight, salads, and main course choices of fowl, meat and fish. Vegetables. I had haddock one night and duck breast the second. Portions are small and satisfying.  Variety of desserts including cakes, creams and cheeses charmed us.

The second day out high winds, gales someone said. The ship was a bit rocky. Walking reminded me a bit of how I feel after a martini or three. I felt like a weaving drunk and I had not even brushed my teeth. Hardy souls walked deck 7. Three round trips on that deck give us a mile. We did it yesterday but it was too windy for this frail mariner that or any day.

Royal Shakespeare Co. was on board for performances and theater games workshops, which we enjoyed greatly. The actors got us passengers up, moving, presenting skits, plays and exercises. For me it was the best entertainment on the ship.

Concerts, lectures, movies and nightclub shows entertained us every moment of the day if we wished to attend. I read a lot. People were pleasant and friendly. They were from all over the world and some were on the ship from Southampton to New York and returned immediately just enjoying the 14 days on board.

The library is quite small and cramped although the shiny, lacquered book cases with bright yellow brass fittings are quite elegant. The library on the Crustal was two stories high with huge windows overlooking the seal The QM2 has good views, but the mystery and novels are full of Airport style best sellers

The weather was mostly cloudy with only two days warm enough to sit out on the deck. We certainly got a look at the vastness of the sea and sky. A month later the return trip was also a delight.


Again awed by the inevitability of the vast sea as we cruise along. The sea changes colors of blue and gray with snatches of white foam.

We went to a shipboard movie called Rushmore. On going down the stairs to our seats, I fell gracefully, I’m told. I did not pass out, just was stunned. My shoulder and hands broke the fall. I had small bruises on my right cheek and knee. Otherwise I was fine. Men rushed to my help, made me sit for a while, helped me stand. I was not dizzy or hurt and took my seat. I felt fine by the time the movie started and forgot about it until people checked with me afterward to see if I was OK. I am. I thought the movie rather stupid.

Here are some bits from my shipboard diary:

“Tuesday, June 17, 2014

We awakened to calm seas and bright sunshine. The ship was steadier than yesterday during gale force winds. After breakfast we walked around the deck twice together and Ann went on for another round making it a one-mile walk for her. I felt good that I walked so far with out pain and not much fatigue. We realized we had just three more days on the ship before we get to Southampton.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This is our last day at sea. We did some mime games at the RADA show this morning. I enjoyed this thrice given workshop most on board ship. We did theater warm-ups, character exercises and mood tries. It was interactive fun and thoughtful.  I feel the Spa talks were too frequent and always selling rings at the highest prices. Mani-pedis $99.00. I SF I pay 23.00 plus a $5.00 tip. I’d like more interactive actives on the ship.

Weather was lovely and clear most of the day, but quite windy. I made it twice around the ship walking.  Ann again did three times, thus a mile.

I sat on deck for a while but it was really too windy to enjoy. Looking at the Atlantic ocean I realize once its vastness and that so much of the earth is made up of the oceans. The waves are interesting for a while. The rolling, the white caps, churning and the depths and then the heights of the waves are dizzying. Two miles deep the other day, we were told. The captain said that there were whole mountain ranges under the waters. The colors were deep blues, some times black and then aqua close to the ship.

I noticed today how many men walk with some limp or halting gait. Myself included. I am still shocked at how obese some people get, women mostly, but plenty of fat men too. Of course we are mostly elderly people.

The last night we went to a dance and music show for an hour or so. We did see some fantastic dancing and acrobatics. The men and women are in marvelous physical shape, slender and well-made bodies and some good singing too. Music of the forties and fifties pleased the crowd. Normally, I don’t like these shows, but did enjoy these.”

We enjoyed our month in Chelsea. We visited London museums, gardens and galleries. We saw lots of Hugh and Stephen and had a fine dinner with Bonnie and Steve.

We took an awful bus ride to Oxford. It stopped at every bus stop in London and several stops en route. We went to see the sights in Oxford and visit Mansfield College where we stayed while Ann studied T.S. Eliot and Thomas Hardy when she won a National Endowment for the Arts scholarship. We also had a delightful lunch with Nick and Sally. Nick had recently retired as an English master at Eton College.

We returned to the United States on the Queen.













Saturday, March 26, 2016

WORK AND FAMILY


Uber is giving the gift of a 60-hour a week to some drivers. How nice. What about wives, husbands, children parents, grandparents who might like to see and enjoy their Uber driver relatives? Might not a union help drivers get good money, time off, vacation time and pay? I thought family values were important not only to Republicans but also to business owners. The demand for higher profits means more time working, all at the expense of the American family.

Monday, March 21, 2016

POLICE MISCONDUCT


The San Francisco Police officers I have met have been courteous, helpful and efficient. I have confidence that they are peace officers. The police shootings of young men have been disturbing.  The lack of public access to police misconduct records makes me wonder what law enforcement officials are hiding. Clergy, teachers' and coaches' misconduct allegations these days are instantly available to the public and media. Police need not be exempt from public scrutiny. I will be even more confident in the San Francisco Police if I know their misconduct allegations are available to us all.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

HOUSING

It is a good and bad thing that it is getting harder for housing to be built in the Mission. (SF Chronicle January 14, 2016) The bad is that needed housing is harder to be built. The good is that builders, architects and real estate entrepreneurs must not make so much money by driving low-income people out. Of course, they should make a profit. But the issue is how much is enough?


Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena just won the Pritzker Architecture Prize because he created low-cost homes. (SF Chronicle January 14, 2016) If San Francisco builders want to find innovative ways to build housing for low rent citizens they can look to Aravena’s methods to save costs and perhaps even to make some money.