Cromey Online

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

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, May 30, 2016


Monday, May 30, 2016            Memorial Day

Yes our political leaders, who believe they are fighting for justice be wary of ‘how easily they learn to justify violence in the name of some higher cause. –E.J. Dionne, Jr.

On this Memorial Day I pray for our political leaders who wage war. I hope they stop going to war.

I stand against all war. I know the arguments that we may have to defend ourselves and help others. The constant use of war and violence always causes death and suffering to the so-called enemy, “collateral damage” and the military. War does not solve problems. It creates new problems. Nobody wins, all suffer and revenge abounds.

Wars are prevented in our time when we care for the poverty of the people of the world. War is prevented when Corporations cease exploiting the resources of third world countries. War is obstructed when leaders negotiate, collaborate, compromise and conciliate.

After the fall of France, Hitler wanted to negotiate with Churchill. He flatly refused. Hitler had broken his agreements in Europe and invaded many countries. Suppose they had negotiated, suppose they had reached an agreement, suppose Hitler did leave England alone.  World War 11 might never have happened. Just suppose. Too late now. But just suppose.

Thursday, May 26, 2016


How nice that Chevron Corp. CEO John Watson is concerned for the poor. (SF Chronicle May 26, 2016) He says the California system for “limiting greenhouse gases, have been proven far too expensive.” Poor people will have to pay more for energy. Perhaps Watson’s company could pay foreign workers more money, provide medical care and decent homes. That would help the poor. Lowering the vast profits of oil companies would aid the poor by spreading the wealth. Clean air will help the poor stay healthy. More transparency about Chevron’s machinations of their information about how lower-carbon economy affects the business would help both the poor and investors.

Mr. Watson’s concern for the poor has a hollow ring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


My grandson Eric graduated from Johns Hopkins last Wednesday. His sister Mary Charlotte works at Mass. Gen. Hosp. Jessica’s son Caleb is a workingman and so is Daniel, Leigh’s son. Catherine Leigh’s youngest is the last of the college student grandchildren – at Boston University.

Ann’s Mormon brother Bryson attended a conference on urban life here in SF. He resided on the floor of our flat for three nights so he could spend time with us in the mornings and evenings instead of at a hotel. Last night he treated us to dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, La Ciccia, which had splendid and tasty food and wine. He spent his Mormon Mission in Italy and learned to love the Italian food and culture. Ann and Bryson’s sister Beau and her daughter Emi joined us. It is nice to have him here but I have to watch my language and limit my feeling up of Ann and curb my Manhattans. Those Mormons are a bit Puritanical.

I enjoy my new exercise trainings very much. I am rather surprised. I now have a series of exercises to do at home. We’ll see how much I enjoy doing those. Am I supposed to cry tears every time he gives me a new torture?

Ann has been working on her travel memoir with the delightful working title Vagabond Virgins. It recounts how Ann and Beau in their twenties travelled by themselves around the mid-east doing their best to preserve their virginity. Mormons are supposed to do that. If you want to know if they succeeded you’ll have to buy the book.  Ann describes nature with lovely picture-words, delightful events and interesting fellow travelers. She is starting this weekend on the second draft.

I continue to work on the memoir of my retirement years. The longer I live the longer it gets. I retired from Trinity 14 years ago. My working title is Joy Years. Chapters include, Brain Massage, Health, Geezer Sex, Money, Ageing, Children, Grandchildren, Travel and Death.

Ann and I are planning to go to week long writer’s workshop at Esalen in late June. That should perk up our writing skills.

I finally finished Virginia Wolfe’s To the Lighthouse. I am glad I read it. Nothing much happens in terms of action. It is mostly the inner dialogue of Mrs. Ramsay and later Lila. It does have beautiful descriptions of nature, flowers and the sea and sky. Over the weekend I’ll find a new book to launch into.

I am also half way through A History of European Art. It is eight CDs of lectures and illustrations of artists, paintings and sculpture from Giotto to Picasso. When I get through with those, I’ll view the CDs of American Art. Each lecture is 30 minutes long. I find the lectures and the art works quite wonderful.

Monday, May 16, 2016


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


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.