Monday, December 29, 2008

security guard


So, there's this security guard at work. He's in his late sixties or early seventies. He is quite spry. But I can't help but wonder what circumstances led to him having to do this job at his age. Stock market crash? Somebody fleeced him? What happened?

Anyway, he frequently thinks of something that he wants to tell one of us, but he is not capable of using complete sentences. Below is my representation of how he told us about losing his phone (while he was working in our lobby) and subsequently finding it. At least that is my best guess of what he was saying.

"Ahunh-ya, I tell ya my phone was scarin me knowin it was somewhere I didn't know where, coulda been anywhere. That gave me a scare, ahunh-ya, wouldnda got that thing for my own but when they brung at ere to me I was sure glad to see, ahunh-ya, cause who knew what, do you know it was scarin me?"

Those of us standing there had frozen smiles on our faces because he's a sweet man, but we just couldn't understand anything he said. After he went back to the lobby, we  discussed what we each thought he was saying. English is clearly his native language, so this isn't an issue of an immigrant trying to assimilate. It's interesting the different interpretations we each had. For instance, I rightly or wrongly perceived that he had lost, then found his phone. Another person said he thought the security guard was talking about eating broccoli. (Huh?) Another lady said that she thought he was telling us where he was going to be for the next twenty minutes.

This leads me to think about the power of communication. Each of us has occasion to talk to other people about various things. How much of what we mean to communicate actually gets across? Given the many misunderstandings I've witnessed over the years, I'd say it's easy to miss the mark, either as the speaker or as the listener. No doubt there are myriad studies about miscommunication.

I suppose the bottom line is that we each are responsible for ensuring that what we intend to communicate actually gets to the recipient. How to do that without annoying the crap out of everyone is a mystery to me. You can't very well go around asking people to repeat what you said, just so you can be sure you communicated it well. So, what is the answer?

Friday, December 26, 2008

christmas surprise

The phone rang and there she was - my niece, Charlie Marie. I hadn't spoken with her for at least two years. But her mother (my former sister-in-law) was visiting her brother (my ex-husband) and my son (who is visiting his Dad) called to let me hear her voice.

Charlie Marie lived with us when she was a little baby. There had been some problems and I took her in so that she would not have to be in foster care. At the time that I took her, I had to accept that I could not and would not know how long she would be with me. It might be six months or six years or the rest of her life. I thought of her as a daughter. She called me Mommy.

When the time came for her to return to her family, I handled it very well. We had some transition visits so she could get used to being around her family again. Then she went permanently. Had I not been distracted by a cross-country move, I probably would have fallen apart! Giving up a child - even when you know ahead of time that you might have to - is devastating. But it was the right thing for her and for her family.

That was 2002. Now in 2008 here she was on the phone. She is so smart and sweet. I am reminded once again what a blessing she was to my life while I had her! And I am so pleased that her family is together and happy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas memories

Images of prior Christmas mornings are on my mind today. For certain, the ones that stand out the most are the ones when my son was a little boy.

The first one that pops into my head is the year Sam was almost three. We were visiting my Mother in Calhoun, Georgia. Sam got a Big Wheel and went berserk when he saw it. His feet barely reached the pedals, but he rode that thing until I thought he was going to have to take it to bed with him at night. None of the other toys and games that he got came close to capturing his attention. This was the last non-gaming toy that ever received such a positive reaction.

The next one that stands out is a few years later when we visited my father and stepmother in Allentown, Pennsylvania. All of my siblings were there, along with my niece and nephew, who were 8 and 4 years older than Sam. Sam's cousin Chuck was very frustrated because Sam was beating him at Gameboy games, despite their four year age difference. Sam had received his first Gameboy on his 3rd birthday and Chuck had just received his first Gameboy for his birthday in November of that year. So Sam had been playing at least 18 months longer than Chuck and that made all the difference in the world.

The next Christmas that stands out is the year I bought him Super Metroid for his Super Nintendo game system. We were living in Jonesboro, Georgia. I clearly remember starting that game and both of us saying "Wooowwwwwwwwwwww" as we mutually appreciated the incredible graphics and game play. It was awesome. We had previously played Metroid on Sam's Gameboy, so we knew we were in for a treat, but neither of us was prepared for the incredible colors and the rich detail of the game. The box that the game came in promised a certain amount of game time, but Sam (as usual) beat the entire game in about two thirds of the time. At $50-$65 per game, it was an expensive treat! But games and clothes were about the only two things I ever bought him once he started gaming.

The next Christmas that stands out for me was the year that Sam and I drove up to Asheville, North Carolina where Mother had recently moved. On Christmas Eve, Reggie drove up to Asheville to be with us for Christmas Day. I had purchased a number of gifts for Reggie, but when he opened the Nautica shirt, he flipped out. He was so happy with it that he immediately put it on. From his joyeous reaction, I realized that no other gift I had ever gotten him had ever really pleased him. I resolved to do better in the future. But I'm not sure that I have succeeded!!! As of this Christmas, we have known each other almost 34 years. No other gift has gotten the same reaction as that Nautica shirt!

The first Christmas after Sam installed World of Warcraft on his computer also stands out to me. We were in New Jersey. I got Sam some stuff and he got me some stuff. But neither of us remembers any of it because we were fighting for computer time in order to play WoW. We had this elaborate sharing system worked out. He would play from the time he woke up (around 2 p.m.) until about 5 a.m. when he finally went to bed. I would play from the time he went to bed until he woke up again. I can remember feeling so forlorn when I would hear the first sounds that signaled that he was waking up for the day. That strikes me as so funny now!

That is just a few memories. My own childhood memories of Christmas are less clear. I do remember being at my Grandmother McClarin's home in Norfolk, Virginia. My sister and I would wake up at dawn and begin pestering our Mom to get up. The rule was "stockings only" until everyone was up. This was quite a challenge with two teenagers (my oldest sister and brother) in the house. By the time they were finally up - after a LOT of bugging on our part, we would open presents, with my brother playing the part of the Grinch until he was fully awake. LOL

As a child, the family did not have a lot of money, so one game was purchased to be shared by all. The one that stands out in my memory is Mousetrap, an elaborate board game that centered around this huge mouse trap that you would gradually build, piece by piece, until it was ready to be set into motion. At the time, this was really exciting!

Reading back over this post, I am suddenly struck by the realization that each memory took place in a different place. And with that realization comes the awareness that I had Christmas mornings in a multitude of other places - Japan, Massachusetts, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona and now - Tennessee! Each one has been different! I wonder where next Christmas will find me!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

the long arm of the law

Just before I moved to Memphis in July, I purchased a "pre-owned" Chrysler 300. I was issued a temporary tag and a temporary registration. I was told by the dealer that they would file my registration and I would receive my tag in the mail. My temporary tag was good until 08/20/08.

I drove to Memphis, started my new job - and waited. Towards the middle of August I phoned the dealership in August to see why I hadn't gotten the tag. They informed me that Arizona would not mail a tag to another state and that I should just take my temporary registration and get registered in Tennessee.

Prior to going to the TN DMV, I went out on their website to see what I would need. I took my temporary registration, proof of residency and proof of identity. When I got there, a very nice lady (we'll call her Ms. Sweetie) indicated that I would need the documents showing the sale of the vehicle. She said if I wanted to go get them, I could come straight back to her upon my return, rather than wait in line again.

I drove back home and rummaged through paper and couldn't find anything. I eventually found the paperwork --- in the car. Sigh. I drove back to the DMV - and Ms. Sweetie had gone to lunch. I walked up to the woman seated at the desk next to Ms. Sweetie's desk (we'll call her Ms. Witchfromhell) and told her that Ms. Sweetie had told me I would not have to wait in line again. She sneered at me and told me to take a number. Oh-kay. As luck would have it, when my number was called, I was told to go to the desk of Ms. Witchfromhell. I went to her and handed over each document. She handed them back to me and said I could not register my vehicle unless I had my title. I explained that I did not have the title because Chrysler Financial had my title. She said I would have to get the title in order to register the car.

I left the line and called Chrysler Financial. They indicated that they would not be sending me the title because I had not finished paying for the car. (DUH!) I explained my situation and the Chrysler representative explained that the state of Tennessee had a form that they needed to complete and send to Chrysler in order to request the title.

I returned to Ms. Witchfromhell and explained what the Chrysler representative had told me. She said she did not know about any form. I asked if we could call Chrysler together. She said "no". I asked if we could get a supervisor out to assist us. A supervisor was called over. The supervisor reached under the counter and handed me the form. Sigh.

The supervisor indicated that the form had to be completed by me, then given to the dealer, then notarized, then brought back to them. As of today, I have returned three forms to TN and Chrysler has yet to receive a form.

In the meantime, my temporary tag expired. Each time I have seen a Memphis police car or a state trooper, my heart has leaped into my throat. I have even taken evasive action to avoid them, feeling absolutely ridiculous each time. I finally decided after my most recent close call that I should probably just go buy another car!!!

This morning, the long arm of the law finally caught up with me. I was on a back road, headed to work. I came around a curve and found myself at a random checkpoint set up by state troopers on motorcycles. I sighed heavily and resigned myself to my fate. I handed over my driver's license. The trooper asked for proof of insurance. I pulled the paper out of my purse, only to find that I had failed to print an up-to-date insurance card from the car insurance website. I handed the expired card over to the trooper. He walked back to check my tag. I pulled out all of the paperwork that I had accumulated in my multiple attempts to register my vehicle because I knew I was probably about to go the the pokey. The trooper came back to me and handed me a form to sign. "Ma'am, we're handing out warning tickets today to ask folks to slow down. It's the holiday and we want you to arrive safely at your destination." I signed the warning and drove away --- slowly.

I have no idea why I was allowed to drive away - with an out-of-state driver's license, an expired tag and expired proof of insurance. But I do know that I am going to church on Christmas Eve!!! And the Infiniti dealership.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

mixed medley meme

A bunch of mixed up meme questions stolen from too many sources to mention, but the answers are totally mine:

1. Hard wood floors or wall-to-wall? I really prefer the way hard wood floors look, but now that I am having to clean them, I will admit to a preference for wall-to-wall carpet.

2. What is a nickname a former (or present) lover gave you? Alice

3. What was the best party you have ever been to? Wow, there have been so many! I suppose it was in college over a long Thanksgiving week-end. So many people drifted in and out of my apartment. It was absolutely insane. This was a tiny one bedroom apartment and we had as many as 45 people crammed into it at one point - playing guitar and singing, or music cranked up, doing shots in the kitchen, food of every description appearing and immediately being consumed, couples forming and disappearing, debates about critically important social issues and equally intense debates about incredibly unimportant subjects, etc. The young man I was dating then - Steve Dial - is gone from this world now. He was the highpoint of the weekend for me.

4. How many colors are you wearing now? Four - gray yoga pants, yellow tank top, pink & white striped hoody and pink slippers.

5. Are you an introvert or extrovert? I am an introvert, but I do a darn fine job of faking it as an extrovert.

6. What was the last book you read? I am reading "I Was Told There'd Be Cake", essays by Sloane Crosley.

7. What's one piece of fiction that changed your life? Marilyn French's "The Women's Room". It really helped me understand the development of the Women's Movement.

8. What is your favorite comic strip and why? Zits because it absolutely cracks my father up and I love to see and hear him laugh.

9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy recently? Hmmm - not really. I'm pretty happy right now!

10. What's your favorite dessert? Without question - creme brulee. But I am also very happy with Breyer's chocolate ice cream with a bit of milk poured over the top to make a bit of a crust.

11. How long does it take you to get ready in the morning? If I wash my hair, it takes an hour. If I don't wash my hair, I can be out the door in 20 minutes.

12. Name one website that you visit daily. Why do you read it? Blush. Facebook. God, how droll!!! Because I get a glimpse into the lives of people I don't get to see very often!

13. Could you make it 39 days on "Survivor"? Probably not. First, I really like food and comfort. I hate being cold - or hot. I look like crap in a bathing suit. And let's face it - I would never be able to keep my mouth shut long enough to stay under the radar.

14. Do you like to clean? Heck, no!!!

15. What was the last song to get stuck in your head? Single Ladies by Beyonce.

16. What's the last movie you saw? In the theatre, it was The Dark Knight. On television, it was The Bucket List.

17. Pirates or Ninjas? Well, Johnny Depp has made it pirates - forever ... unless he comes out with a ninja movie, in which case I might reconsider!

18. Cats or dogs? If I have a big, fenced-in back yard, DOGS! If not, CATS!

19. Chunky or smooth peanut butter? Smooth. I love peanut butter toast in the morning.

20. What are you most looking forward to in the next six weeks? The arrival of my sweetheart. I haven't seen him in a couple of months and I miss him!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

hanukkah in memphis (or how about kwanzaa?)

Over the last few weeks, I've watched the Christmas decorations go up at the campus where I serve as President. Clearly these are traditions that have been in place long before my arrival. But after everything was in place, I asked someone, "Where is the Hanukkah stuff?" I was greeted with a blank stare. "How about the Kwanzaa stuff?" Another blank look.

I decided that I was probably being unfair, so I decided to go purchase some "stuff" and just inject it into the decorations. I went to Wal-Mart. I went to Hallmark. I went to Lowe's. I went to Garden Ridge. I even went to Cracker Barrel. (Hey! Sometimes they have good stuff in there! I found an Elvis Christmas tree ornament to send to friends in Phoenix!)

Anyway, I didn't find anything. Today at work, I asked a Jewish co-worker where I could find Hanukkah "stuff". She replied, "Walgreen's". No kidding. So I suppose I will go look for a Walgreen's.

I hope I am not making a mistake. I do not want anyone to feel uncomfortable, but I want all students, staff and visitors to feel that they are welcome and celebrated in our building. And I want us to all feel that we are the kind of people who welcome all people - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic background, gender, sexual orientation, etc. To me, this is the main message that Jesus taught - all are welcome.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

election 2008

Although most polls indicate that Obama will win, my stomach will hurt until the last vote is counted. When Florida's outcome changed in 2004, I was in such shock. I am not celebrating Obama's victory until it is a completely done deal.

I've contemplated how I will feel if McCain wins. Part of me wants to cash everything in, sell everything and take off for parts unknown. But I know that I won't, of course. I have too many commitments.

Sam got his first settlement check. I actually tried to talk him into flying to Europe, buying a Eurail pass and staying in youth hostels while he travels throughout the area. I think he should do it. But he wants to buy a car and hang out with his friends and go to school. He is 21 and sure that he will have multiple opportunities to travel.

Speaking of travel, Jane and I have nixed our April trip to Mexico. Instead, we are going to splurge on a yummy spa in a city that will allow some shopping and touristy things. I am very excited!!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

lakeside

Out of the blue, my sweetheart just busted out with these lyrics when this song came on the radio. Talk about a blast from the past!!!
_____________________________________

Fantastic Voyage

Hey, come on, come along take a ride
There's a party over there, that ain't no jive
It's live, live, it's all the way live
Don't even have to walk, don't even have to drive
Just slide, glide, sli
ppity-slide
Just forget about your troubles and your 9 to 5
just sail on (That's what you do), just sail on
Now this groove's so funky, hey, what to you think
What is it called, let's call it Lakeside strength

Come along
and ride on a fantastic voyage

I'm the captain of this vessel
We wanna take you on a cruise
All around the land, music is at hand (Huh)
We wanna play it for you

(You see) We want to be (We want to be)
Your crew of entertainers (Jam to the music)
Jam to the beat (Jam, yeah)
Don't let nothing restrain you (Uh-huh)

We just want you to feel
Nothing but pleasure (Pleasure), musical pleasure (Yeah, yeah)
Our music is very real (It's really real)
Truly a treasure (A treasure), musical treasure

Come along, pack your bags
Get on up and jam y'all
Come on and ride on the funk, y'all

Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage

We're the directors of this crew ship
And you are under our command, yeah
What you should do is take a lesson, too
So you can understand

(You know) We like to see (People havin' a good time)
Everybody happy (Do you wanna party)
We create the beat (That foot stompin' music)
That keeps the people dancin' (Uh-huh)

We just want you to feel (We just want you to feel)
Nothing but pleasure, musical pleasure (Want you to feel)
‘Cause music is a world of fantasy (It's a fantasy)
Let's live it together (A pleasure), musical pleasure (Come along, come along, come along)
So come along beyond the sea
(Dance in the sunshine) Take a load off of your mind
Our music is very real (So very real)
Truly a treasure, musical treasure

Come along, pack your bags
Get on up and jam y'all
Come on and ride on the funk, y'all

Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage
(Come along, ride the boat to the land of funk)
To the Land of Funk
Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage
(Do you wanna ride with me)
Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage
(Do you wanna go, ah)
To the Land of Funk, Funk, Funk
To the Land of Funk, to the Land of Funk, to the Land of Funk

Hey, come on, come along take a ride
There's a party over there, that ain't no jive
It's live, live, it's all the way live
Don't even have to walk, don't even have to drive
Just slide, glide, slippity-slide
Just forget about your troubles and your 9 to 5
And just sail on (That's what you do), just sail on
Now the groove's so funky, hey, what to you think
What is it called, let's call it Lakeside stank

If you're ready to party and you wanna get down
Bring your ma, your pa, and brother James Brown
Bring Auntie Em and Toto too
And all the party people to do their do
We'll dance and party till the early light
And say, “Hey, we're feelin' alright”
So come along, come on take a ride
There's a party over there, that ain't no lie
We're leavin' here in a cloud of smoke
And th-th-that-th-th-that-th-th-that's all folks

Whoa, whoa, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

We just want you to feel (We just want you to feel)
Nothing but pleasure, musical pleasure (Want you to feel)
‘Cause music is a world of fantasy
Let's live it together (Together), musical pleasure (We want you to feel)
So come along beyond your seat (Come along beyond the seat)
(Dance in the sunshine) Take a load off of your mind (Yeah...)
Our music is very real (So very real)
Truly a treasure, musical treasure

Hurry up
Pack your bags and jam y'all
Come on and ride on the funk now

Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage
(Do you wanna go, do you wanna go, do you wanna go, do you wanna go)
Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage
(Come-a, come-a, come-a, come on, come on now to the Land of Funk)
(Do you wanna party, do you wanna jam)
To the Land of Funk
Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage
(Come on and dance in the sunshine)
Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage

Sunday, October 5, 2008

no food in the house

My twenty-one year old son claims there is no food in the house. To wit, I am taking inventory of my kitchen

Pantry

Simple Harvest instant multigrain hot cereal - maple brown sugar w/pecans (4 packages)
Campbell's Select Goldon Butternut Squash soup
Near East Toasted Almond Rice Pilaf
Barilla Medium Shells - 1 pound box
Bartlett Sliced Pears in Pear Juice - two 15 oz. cans
Lundberg Butternut Squash Risotto
Barilla Mini Farfalle - 1 pound box
Success Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice
Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix (2)
Ronzoni Orzo - 1 pound box
Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Egg Noodles - 12 oz. bag
Pasta Roni - Shells & White Cheddar
Rice-a-Roni - Chicken & Garlic
Rice-a-Roni - Spanish Rice
Tunafish, Chunk Light, packed in water, (3) 6 oz. cans
Tunafish, Solid White Albacore, packed in water, (2) 6 oz. cans
Cream of _____ (fill in the blank) soups, too numerous and varied to list
Bush's Black Beans - 15 oz. can
Bush's Baked Beans - 16 oz. can
Canoe Wild Rice - 6 oz. container
Idahoan Four Cheese (instant) Mashed Potatoes
Barilla Angel Hair pasta - 1 pound box (2)
Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes - 4.9 oz. box
Minute Boil-in-Bag White Rice - 14 oz.
Del Monte Whole Green Beans - 14.5 oz. (2)
Near East Toasted Pine Nut Couscous mix - 5.6 oz.
Zatarain's Chicken Creole Rice Mix - 8 oz.
Glory brand Black-Eyed Peas - 15 oz.

Fridge

Swiss Cheese - 12 oz.
Alouette Baby Brie - 13.2 oz.
Cheddar Cheese - 6 oz.
Peter Pan peanut butter - 18 oz. (half full)
Potato Salad - 16 oz.
Eggs - one dozen
Bread
Mayo, mustard, relish
Hot Dogs

Freezer

Marie Callender's Chicken Pot Pie
Eggo Buttermilk Waffles
Frozen whole green beans
Garlic Bread (premade)
Pillsbury Grands biscuits
Sea Pac Shrimp Scampi
Corn Dogs

We are out of milk. We also do not have Doritos, Cheezits, Coke, Gatorade, Hot Pockets, candy of any kind, etc. In other words, there is NO FOOD IN THE HOUSE!!!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

old blue eyes

Paul Newman died. He was an icon. There were so many different ways that he left his mark on the world. He appeared in 60 movies, but my favorite was his role in Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid.

Even though he was a gorgeous man, he really preferred playing tough guys and rebels. “I was always a character actor,” he once said. “I just looked like Little Red Riding Hood.”

He was famously uninterested in the Hollywood lifestyle and never read reviews of his movies. "If they're good you get a fat head and if they're bad you're depressed for three weeks," he said.

He is survived by his beautiful and talented wife Joanne Woodward. They were married for 50 years.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

back in the Bible Belt

It has been so long since I lived in the Bible Belt, I forgot about certain things. This morning I took a new shortcut to work. I passed by a small church and noticed the sign out front. Lots of churches put clever turns of phrase on their signs. Most of the time the words make me smile. This one didn't. It said, "Have you read my bestseller? I hope so. There will be a test at the end." I suppose failing the test will mean a quick trip to the fires of hell. Sigh.

Then there is the inability to buy beer on Sunday between midnight and 6 p.m. (or something like that). Is buying beer actually a sin? I can consume beer on Sunday - there is no law against that. In fact, if I go to a ballgame on Sunday, it is expected that I will both buy AND consume beer!!! But I better not try that in the grocery store!!! Sigh.

There are so many things that I like about the South. This is really where I prefer to be! But some of this stuff really annoys me!!! But you know what the answer will be if I say any of this out loud. "Go home, Yankee." Unfortunately, I am really not from anywhere, so home is where I hang my hat - if I don't miss the hook on the wall because I have had too many beers and I tripped over the Bible that I really and truly DID mean to read!!!!! Sigh.

Friday, August 29, 2008

mourning

Trust is a hard thing to lose. When you think that someone is in your corner and you find out you are standing alone, it is a painful thing. A situation like this does do one thing and do it well. It absolutely teaches you that as long as the no-longer-trusted is in the vicinity, you will never, ever confide in - or ask for help from - the one who betrayed you.

This is a hard lesson to learn when you are learning it for the first time in a young life. (And I can speak from personal experience that it is still hard to live through no matter how old you get.) But the absolute most difficult part of the equation is that you must immediately decide that you will not allow one betrayal (or two, or three, or fifty-three) to affect your ability to open your heart to the next person. Keeping your heart open is what makes us distinctly human - and vulnerable - and capable of deep and abiding love. And that kind of love is only possible when you take the risk of opening your heart - no matter how many betrayals have taken place.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

back in Phoenix (business meeting & Sam's surgery)

Sam & I flew out to Phoenix today. We have checked into the hotel. He has already left to go spend the night at Rob's house. He visits the surgeon's office tomorrow to look at the fingers to plan the surgery on Tuesday. (I think I am more nervous than he is. But maybe not.)

Fate is funny. Sam and I did not sit next to each other on the plane. He sat in the back and I was on the exit row. Sitting next to me was an interesting man who works in the fashion industry. He actually had an accident about four years ago (involving a meat grinder) which almost cost him three of his fingers. He is now completely healed, though his fingers are not beautiful!!! But he is coping very well. I asked him to talk to Sam after we arrived in Phoenix, which he did! I think Sam really appreciated his story and his encouragement.

Well, I am off to have dinner with some co-workers!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

blast from the past


My friend Bill sent me these pictures. What a blast from the past!!! Bill and Waverly and I were a guitar trio. We did performances together - folk music mostly. The photo at left shows us performing at the coffee house out by the lake on the campus of Pfeiffer University. As I recall, our voices really blended together beautifully. That was a really fun time.

The picture at right shows me playing the processional at Bill's wedding to the lovely Elaine. Awesome memories. Thank you, Bill!!! Amazingly enough, we have not changed a bit! LOL

phelps

Talk about an amazing guy - Phelps came from behind in the 100 m butterfly to win his 7th Beijing gold medal by one one-hundreth of a second. His mother nearly collapsed in the stands.

I still don't have my cable set up at home so I am reduced to watching snippets of the Olympics on my laptop. But I have enjoyed every snippet I have watched. It is so gratifying to watch these athletes, knowing the time and energy they have put into the preparation. I always imagine the mothers and fathers getting up early in the morning to take their child to the pool, gym, field, etc. You know that gigantic sacrifices have been made on behalf of these athletes.

And listening to our national anthem play at the awards ceremony makes me cry every time. I am filled with images in my mind of all of the freedoms we have in this country -- and all of the ways in which I benefit daily from being an American.

Whether we win or lose, the Olympics is a time that I feel real pride to be an American.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

procrastination

Let us count the ways in which we can avoid unpacking boxes:
  1. Join Facebook. (Thanks a LOT, Lenore!!!) Spend hours searching for old friends. Chat with old friends I find. Review applications. Search for items in the Scavenger Hunt application, etc.
  2. Review the contents of each cookbook I unpack. Think about which recipes go together. Imagine reaction of guests to each finished dish. Remember doing this before when I first acquired each cookbook. Realize (again) that I have never made a single recipe out of that particular cookbook. Move on to next cookbook. Repeat. For hours.
  3. Dance to music which is playing on speakers in every room from the stereo that is wired into the house. Cool! Happy feet!
  4. Go get manicure and pedicure. Decide upon returning that I should read a while to let polish "set" rather than take a chance that opening a box may smudge polish.
  5. Play World of Warcraft.
  6. Read latest issue of Vanity Fair.
  7. Do web search (again) of Mexican Riviera cruise planned for April 2009. Look at shore excursions (again) and imagine us on each one. Think about clothing I need to shop for.
  8. Blog.
  9. Read favorite blogs.
  10. Search for random blogs. Find blog by young man journaling his experience in the Peace Corps. Read entire blog. Send message of support.
  11. Call friends/family to chat about various subjects.
  12. Take a nap.
  13. Wake up. Look at boxes on floor next to bed and wonder what is in them. Decide to have snack before checking boxes.
  14. Get bag of chips. Might as well check Facebook to see if any new friends have appeared. Hey! More friends! Better read their pages and send messages right away.
  15. Etc.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

amputation

Sam's middle finger is healing well, but it will never be the same. The surgeon told Sam that his first instinct was to amputate it, but he decided to try to save it. It does have blood flow and he does have feeling in it. But it will never bend again. Sam has become convinced that it will just be in the way. He is now soliciting opinions of everyone he can think of (including complete strangers) as to whether he should allow the surgeon to amputate it.

I am of the strong opinion that he should NOT amputate because that would be permanent. Until he has the second surgery (to put the plate in) and completes the entire regimen of physical therapy, he can NOT know how much function he will have. So he is making a decision based on nothing more than his imagination.

Being a parent is extremely frustrating sometimes.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

a brother's love

Reggie's brother died yesterday. Reggie did not go see him and is now numb with grief. I can't imagine how he must feel. Very sad. He is headed to SC for the gathering of the family.

Training concludes around noon tomorrow. I will go pick up Sam and we will head back to Memphis. If the fairies did not visit the house while we were gone, I will have a lot of unpacking to do over the weekend. I am a little tired of unpacking so I will have to work on my motivation.

Dog the Bounty Hunter is back on A&E. Although I do not condone what he did, I have missed the show. The mix of tough, "redneck" style and their Christian faith and desire to change lives seems so earthy and real to me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

beast

What beast is this that refuses to die,
keeps hunting flesh within my breast,
beats back those tools used to delay,
its steady march through every day.

When might the beast that squanders hope,
(left vainly waiting elusive rescue),
let go and move to richer fields,
now satisfied and strangely mute.

What could I say to send it clear,
to distract it from my scent and hue,
and standing very, very still,
escape its notice 'til it's gone.

But it won't go, not now or ever,
for the beast is mine, is me, is in me.
Of my creation, I feed and clothe it.
I let it stay and stay and stay.

This creature of my own making,
throws open wide the gates of love,
to let you in and in and in,
to let you mine the reaches within.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

back in the ATL

It feels rather odd to be back in Atlanta. I've lived in two different worlds (NJ and AZ) since I lived here. I feel the same and I feel different. I have grown in ways I never imagined since I drove my car away from here in 2002. I was headed west to a place I knew almost nothing about. Oh the wanderlust was planted so firmly in me by my parents. I have no home town!!! Home is where I hang my ... car keys?

But Georgia is where I lived the most years. 1968-1973; 1979-80; 1981-1982; 1983-2002. I do seem to end up back here over and over. I will probably come back this way again eventually.

I dropped Sam off at his father's house before I drove to my hotel. The three of us had dinner together. Speaking of surreal ...

Now I will head to bed to get some rest. Tomorrow I am up early for training - very exciting!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Splash Day

The first week as a president went pretty well. I just can't say enough good things about my staff. They are really a very capable group. We had a "Splash Day" today. What a perfect day for it! The meteoroligist said it felt like 109 degrees with the humidity. It was HOT for Memphis, TN. We had three bouncies for the kids, two of which had water slides. We had face painting, grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, three flavors of icies, a live DJ, raffles for gas cards and a lot of good, clean fun. Our students and their families had a blast!

Tomorrow I am off to Atlanta, Georgia to attend a few days of training. Joe will be in charge of the house while I'm gone. Let's hope he doesn't have a keg party. I've planned ahead this time so I can visit with friends. I'll see Holly tomorrow evening when I get there. Then I plan to see my cousin Susan and her husband Reg while I am in town. And I reached out to my friend Mike to see if we could at least chat while I was there. He wants to have dinner. I didn't even call anyone at my prior place of employment because I can't see them during the day and my evenings are already claimed!

My house looks like a tornado went through it. I hate this stage of the unpacking. Tons of stuff is still in boxes. Half of the stuff that is out of the box is just placed in random places. I already don't like how I arranged the kitchen so I have to start over. And the hedges need trimming. Sigh. Maybe I could hire a goat.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

three days in

I'm three days into my new job and I am loving it. The managers at the school are just great. I am so blessed to be with them and hope they will come to feel the same about me!

We had no hot water yesterday morning or this morning. It is so easy to take these little luxuries for granted - until they are gone. It was fixed today. I'm sure I will REALLY enjoy my bath tonight. Then I will probably forget again.

Joe is doing so much better. He actually owns the house now - even goes upstairs to visit with Sam. I have to get him a new scratching post though. He destroyed the one he had in Phoenix so I threw it away. Tonight I caught him scratching my sofa. BAD KITTY!!!

I'm reading The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason. What a wonderful novel. That is what I am off to do right now!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

fairy party

Shhh - I am piggybacking off some neighbor's wireless connection. Don't tell.

I am NOT happy to find that the fairy assigned to unpack all of these boxes has gone to a fairy party instead. Joe, the cat, also refused to do the work. You just can not find good help these days. I suppose I will just have to do it myself. Sigh.

The packers actually packed open bags of chips and a half loaf of bread. Very strange.

Sam and I went to see the new Batman movie. The press about Keith Ledger was not exaggerated. He was absolutely amazing as The Joker. There was really only one point in the whole movie where I saw Keith Ledger. The rest of the time, I was looking at a very demented villain. I recommend the movie!!!

Tomorrow I will visit Bartlett UMC. Huge church - great music program. I think I can go and enjoy the music and sermon and not get asked to do anything. I know that sounds awful, but this new job will require 10-12 hour days for a while. I will need church to keep me sane, but I will not have an ounce of me to give for a while! Hopefully things will be better in 6 or 8 months.

Joe spends most of the day hiding behind boxes or draperies. Poor guy - he will calm down eventually.

Friday, July 25, 2008

checking out of hotel

The mover arrived at 8 a.m., as promised. His helpers didn't get there until 8:45 a.m. But everything was successfully unloaded. They finished up around 12:30 p.m. Then Sears arrived at 1:30 p.m. with the new fridge. Now we are back at the hotel doing one last load of laundry. Then we will check out and take Joe to the house. We don't have Internet at the house yet, so this will be the last report for a while.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

errands, deluxe

Sam and I ran all over the place today. We got utilities turned on and we looked at rugs for the house. We unloaded all of the junk from the car. We heard from the mover. He will be here at 8 a.m. tomorrow. We're going to leave Joe at the hotel while all of the stuff is unloaded and while the refrigerator is delivered (between 1 and 3 p.m.), then we will go back and get Joe & the rest of our stuff and check out of the hotel. Tomorrow night will be the beginning of the unpacking.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

appliance buying

The lease is signed and August rent is paid. House keys and garage door openers are in my possession. A refrigerator is purchased. The day is done!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"home" to Memphis

Sam and I began the day with an unscheduled tour of Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, OK. We were trying to find the Long John Silver restaurant to get our breakfast/lunch, but we made a right turn off the exit instead of a left turn. Once you are on the approach to the base, there is no turning back. There was nothing to do except pull up to the guard post and explain the wrong turn. The guard on duty laughed at us. After a complete search of the car and our persons and a rough interrogation of Joe, the cat, we were on our way. Just kidding. They let us turn around and go right back out.

Oklahoma was a long ride. Not much to talk about except we saw a MILLION dragonflies. There must have been a convention going on because we saw so many of them! Next came Arkansas - another boring state.There were a few spots where there were rolling hills but that didn't last long. We saw one HUGE lake and just as we passed it we heard a weather forecast indicating heavy thunderstorms and possible tornados moving into that area. Yikes!!!

Sam did a lot of driving again today. It was a real help to me. When we crossed the Mississippi River into Memphis, I said, "we're home!".

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ohhhhhhhhhhh-klahoma

We left Albuquerque at 10:30 a.m. Well, we thought it was 10:30 a.m. We forgot about the time change - until we got to the McDonald's drive-thru. So we had lunch instead!!! Eating chicken nuggets for breakfast is a weird experience and not as satisfying when you were expecting a sausage mcmuffin and coffee. Oh well.

Last night, while we slept, the mini-cooler proved why a $4.99 cooler is not as efficient as a higher priced model. We had a pool of water in the rear floorboard of my new car when we went out to load the car. Sigh. Might as well break the new car in!

We were aiming for Amarillo, Texas today, but when we got there we decided we weren't ready to stop. So I called AAA to see what was the next thing down the road. Our new goal for the day became Oklahoma City.

Texas was huge and we only drove across that little short part at the top of the state. It is easy to see why they call it Big Sky country. It is so flat that you can see forever and the sky is so huge. I was highly disappointed when we crossed the border into Oklahoma because Sam refused to sing any of the songs from the musical.

At one point while he was driving, Sam had his IPod plugged into the radio and was listening to his chosen tunes. I had my IPod earbuds in and was listening to my chosen tunes. I took one earbud out to tell Sam something and discovered he was listening to Led Zeppelin "The Crunge", which is "my" music, on his IPod. Oddly enough, I was listening to Incubus, which is "his" music, on my IPod. We both agreed that it was a weird discovery.

We arrived in OKC around 8:30 p.m. We checked in and got Joe settled. Then we went next door to the Waffle House for dinner. Now we are back at the room. I am beat!!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Albuquerque or bust

I woke up this morning around 7 a.m. Sam didn't get in until 2:30 a.m., so he was completely out. I washed my hair last night after the water finally starting flowing. I did dry it some, but any time I wash my hair shortly before I go to bed, I wake up resembling the Bride of Frankenstein, minus the white streaks. This morning was no exception. On went the headband and I was ready to go downstairs for coffee.

I grabbed a newspaper and went back to the room to enjoy my mediocre coffee and the pastry I bought last night. I read the paper from front to back. Around 9:15 a.m., I began the process of waking up Sam. I drove over to Wal-Mart to get some last minute things. Then I came back to the hotel and we loaded the car. We gassed up, got Sam a sandwich and we were on the way.

I drove to Flagstaff, then Sam took over. He drove all the way to New Mexico, then I took over again. It was a long day, but it went pretty well. At one point while Sam was driving, we were suddenly startled by a loud banging sound. At first we thought it was coming from the engine, but we realized it was on the roof. It sounded like someone pounding on the roof. Sam pulled over to the side of the highway and I stepped out and looked. There was nothing to see. We started back up and the banging began again. We concluded it was inside the roof and began to speculate what could be in the roof that would come loose. Finally, at the next exit, Sam discovered the problem - the weather stripping across the top of the front windshield was loose and was flapping. We pushed it back into place and did not hear the sound again. Yikes!

After we checked in the La Quinta in Albuquerque, we drove over to a steakhouse and enjoying sirloins. I had a sweet potato with mine. Yummy! We are now back in the room watching Ocean's 11 on HBO.

Joe did okay today. He only meowed for the first three hours and peridocally after that. I think meowing could be used to torture people.

Tomorrow morning we head to Amarillo, Texas.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday night at La Quinta Inn

The moving van arrived at 8 a.m. David (driver) and two helpers (Greg and Perry) loaded the truck in fairly quick order. David is traveling with his two teenaged daughters. They seem to be a very nice family. We exchanged cell phone numbers so we could connect easily on our separate trips. I've found that this gives me a VERY FAST way to find out exactly what day my stuff will arrive.

Before the driver arrived this morning, Reggie came over and scrubbed out the refridgerator for me. I thought that was very sweet of him. After the truck left, I cleared out the rest of the crap, cleaned the oven (YUCK), spackled nail holes, did some touch-up painting and prepared farewell, thank-you notes for my landlord & landlady and also for my cleaning lady (who has become a very good friend).

Back to the La Quinta where a hot shower would be waiting for me .... NOPE - a water main had burst, water was shooting up in the air and there was no water in the room. Sigh. So I drove over to the spa near my house to treat myself to a pedicure and manicure. 90 minutes later, I was back at the La Quinta where surely ... NOPE - still no water. I called the front desk. "They will have it fixed in about 30 minutes." Two hours later, still no water. Sigh.

We leave tomorrow morning to begin our cross-country drive. I sure hope I can shower before we leave or this will be a very uncomfortable trip!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday night at LaQuinta Inn

Huge room. Immaculate lobby. Filthy elevator. Disconnect!!!

Joe is cowering under the bedcovers. He and I have done this trip three times previously. He does the same thing every time. The first night he comes out of his carrier, jumps on the bed, burrows under the covers and does not come out until I drag him out the next morning to put him back in the cat carrier. The second night he comes out of his carrier, jumps on the bed, burrows under the covers and stays there fora few hours, eventually coming out long enough to sniff around the room, use the litter box, eat a bit of food and drink a bit of water, then back under the covers. The third night he comes out of his carrier, sniffs around the room, eats a decent bit of food, sniffs around the room some more, eats a bit more, then cuddles a bit, then goes back under the covers. The fourth night he comes out of his carrier, explores the room, discovers the window and jumps up and sits there for hours. We will see what happens this time!

Sam has gone over to the pool hall with a couple of buddies. Thank goodness! He was stir crazy and starting to get on my nerves. Of course part of me worries that something will happen on the first of our last two nights in Phoenix, but I will make an attempt to relax.

The packing went smoothly. Tomorrow the van arrives and is loaded. Then we clean. Then one more night at La Quinta.

packing day

The packers arrive in about two hours to pack up all the belongings in my house. It is exciting and stressful all at once. By the end of the day, everything I own will be packed up and out of reach until the moving van arrives in Memphis. I have to be so careful to make sure I have everything in my car that I think I might want.

Sam is still asleep. His attorney is coming to visit him today to discuss his options for lawsuits. We are not the type of people to sue. I have had several opportunities to sue people but have never done so because I did not think there was any real negligence or long-term harm. But in this case, I think there was extreme negligence. Drinking beer and playing with guns is just plain idiotic. And the long-term harm of Sam's injuries is just a huge unknown. He needs to be compensated.

Well, I may or may not have an opportunity to post while I am on the road. If I do, I will. Ciao!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

buying a car

I absolutely HATE buying a new car. It is my least favorite thing to do. This time I am buying a "pre-owned" car. It is a 2007 model. You would think I was attempting to buy the Taj Mahal. They tag-teamed me. They added in hidden costs that they didn't explain - talked about items as if they were throwing them in for free when they weren't - tried to double back on things they offered me ... then when I tried to go out the door, the big dog appeared and asked for a dollar figure that I could live with. I low-balled it - he balked - I walked. I drove home. Within five minutes of walking in the door, the phone rang and they met me half way. I told the salesman that I needed to talk to my "fiance" and to call me in 30 minutes. He did. I said a figure that was between my lowball and the figure they had just offered. Now I am waiting for him to call me back. In some ways this is fun. In other ways it is just annoying. They just called. They offered a little bit higher than my offer. I suppose I have to let them win something. I told him I would be over in about 45 minutes. If I get over there and they screw around with me, I will walk away again.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

moving

I heard from the movers today. They will be here on Friday (18th) to pack my things. The truck will be here on Saturday (19th) to load. The expected delivery in Memphis will be between the 25th and the 29th. So why am I still procrastinating about the last minute things that I need to do? Because that is how I roll. God forbid that I get a few things done every day so I am not running around like a madwoman on the last couple of days. No, that would be entirely too easy!!!

I got out the cat carrier tonight and Joe immediately freaked out and went into hiding. He refuses to leave the den and is hiding under the end table where we can't reach him. I suppose I thought I would give him a few days to get used to the idea, but I think I am probably just making it worse!!! Poor guy.

Now that I know the dates, I am absolutely ready to go!

Monday, July 14, 2008

more surgery

Sam had his post-operative visit with his surgeon today. All of the bandages came off and we saw his hand for the first time since surgery. We actually took pictures with our cell phones, but I am not going to ruin your day by showing them here! It was pretty gross. But all fingers are there. He can wiggle them all. He can bend all fingers except his middle finger. They took fresh x-rays. That middle finger was really blasted - lots of bone fragments. Dr. Champagne (a wonderful hand surgeon) decided he wants to do a second surgery to install a plate in the middle finger so the finger will be more stable.

After the surgeon's visit we went to a Physical Therapist who specializes in making custom splints that exactly fit the patient's hand. I watched him while he created the one-of-a-kind splint for Sam's hand. Sam jokingly refers to it as his "Darth Vadar glove", because it is made out of a dark black material. It looks more like one of those carpal tunnel support braces except it extends over the two fingers to protect him from accidental bumps, which would be excrutiating.

This whole experience has been eye-opening. I talked to so many other patients. One woman sliced the tip of her finger off when she was cutting fabric with one of those rotary cutters. She sure was mad at herself. Another young man had flown over the handlebars of his four-wheeler and braced his arms out in front of him, breaking both hands. A young father had sliced the end of a finger off at work. A very young girl had put her hand through a plate glass window. The list goes on. The hand is quite vulnerable! Sam's injury was atypical. They do see accidental gunshot wounds to the hand, but they are usually not the fault of someone other than the victim! Had Sam not also had the bullet wounds (entry and exit) on his right thigh where his hand was resting, it might not have been so obvious that he was not at fault in this accident.

Again, Sam was lucky to escape with the injuries he has. It could have been so much worse!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

cool again

Air conditioning is a wonderful invention - especially in July - in Phoenix - and is most appreciated shortly after it begins working again - after a night spent sweating while a giant fan blew warm air directly at my not-quite-sleeping miserable body. I think it is safe to say that I am incredibly spoiled and will not survive in any post-apocalypse life that does not include air conditioning, massages, nail salons, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Princess cruises. (Someone would just need to shoot me right after the mushroom cloud dissipated.) That is more of a good reason to vote DEMOCRATIC!!! :-)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

too darn hot

It is only 96 degrees, but the humidity is 38% and climbing. And the air conditioning in the house is broken. What timing!!! The only time we have any humidity and the air conditioning goes out. It is just miserable in this house!!! The temperature will slowly drop between now (5 p.m.) and tomorrow morning, but the humidity will steadily climb. Twelve hours from now it will be 84 degrees and 71% humidity. Arggghhhhhh! The air conditioning repair serviceman will arrive between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, at which time I will bludgeon him to death for not coming sooner. I will blame it on the heat and humidity and I will go free.

Sam has gone off to spend the night with a buddy. I did not want him to go, but when I expressed my concern, he answered in the way young people do - "Mom, I'm 21. I can take care of myself!" - oblivious to the fact that he almost got his hand shot off and was completely dependent on me for almost a week. Sigh - I know I was the same way - probably worse! I will just have to deal with my worry - while I sweat.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

home again

This morning I was on my way into the office when Sam called to say that they were releasing him from the hospital - without even transferring him from ICU to a regular room. So I changed directions and headed to the hospital. When I got there, he was pretty upset because they had not given him any pain medication yet. I explained to him that he was in ICU and was probably surrounded by several critical care cases, but he was not affected by my logic. He was hurting!

His nurse (Erin) came in with his meds and said that the doctor would be making his rounds between 8 :30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. and would probably sign off on his release. The clock ticked away. At 9:30 a.m., Erin said she would have the doctor paged if he had not appeared by 10. At 10 a.m., 10:30 a.m., and 11:00 a.m., Erin paged the doctor. Finally, at about 11:20 a.m., the doctor appeared. He said that he had told the resident to release Sam early that morning. Sigh.

So we quickly got Sam's things together and headed out. He was so happy to get in my car to drive away. We stopped by Arby's on the way home to get his favorite fast food meal, then dropped off his prescriptions. We made it home and he planted himself on the sofa and happily ate while playing with the TV remote control.

I went in and worked half a day! Sam's girlfriend du jour came over to hang out with him while I was at work. I just got home and they were both asleep. I had to wake her up because she has to go to work tonight.

I am happy to have him home!!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday night update

Wow - what a difference! Sam actually got up and went for a walk today! He is off the IV pain medication and is hooked up to the IV only when he is receiving antibiodics. They have the combination worked out and he is off all monitoring equipment. He will be moved to a regular room some time tonight. The true sign that he is feeling better - he sent me home because his girlfriend is visiting tonight. They even told him that he might go home tomorrow, depending on his pain level. He is still hurting quite a bit, but is tolerating it better. I am very relieved!!!

Tuesday update on Sam

Sam is still in ICU and is still in quite a bit of pain, but he is okay. He even sent me home last night and I was able to sleep in my own bed. His surgeon was supposed to come by to look at his hand today, but has not yet shown up. I'm getting ready to head back over to the hospital now.

The kindness from friends & family has been most appreciated! Several prayer chains were working on Sam. The new need is to help Sam gear up for recovery. He will need to focus on healing and on figuring out what he can and can not do with his right hand. I'm sure he has some frustrating moments ahead of him. I don't want him to get depressed, which is often a result of injuries like this. Thank you all for your continued prayers and kind words.

Then we must also get refocused on our cross-country move. That should be fun!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

son in hospital

My son is in the hospital following a gun accident. One of his friends carelessly handled a gun in his presence and the gun went off. One bullet did extensive damage to his right hand, then traveled through his right thigh. He had surgery to repair the hand last night, which (for now) has saved the two fingers that were affected, though one will never bend again. Today he was moved to ICU because the blend of narcotics was causing his breathing to be sporadic. He is now hooked up to a machine that monitors his breaths and emotes a loud BEEP if he doesn't breathe, which startles him into breathing. They are working on the drug combination to try to get it right.

Having not slept for 72 hours, I came home for a nap. Since the plan is to move him back to the regular ward after they get the drug combination figured out, we thought I better take advantage of the close supervision he is getting in ICU and get a few hours of sleep. I am headed back to the hospital now.

I'm so angry about this accident. The young man who shot him and another friend were competing to see who could disassemble and assemble guns the fastest. The first rule of gun safety is to remove the clip and check the chamber for a bullet. He did not do the latter. My son was standing nearby and is now paying the price for his friend's carelessness. The irony is that my son doesn't even like guns and thinks the friends are overly obsessed with their guns. But Sam is an equal opportunity friend and has friends from many different backgrounds. They have a wide variety of interests.

There is nothing quite as horrible for parents than to see their child in excrutiating pain and not be able to do a thing about it. That is how things felt very early this morning when he began to feel pain after the conclusion of the surgery. It was quite terrible.

This morning when Sam's breathing was still not under control (before he was moved to ICU), I was sitting with my hand on his chest. When he didn't take a breath, I tapped him on the chest with my fingers to startle him into breathing. He looked at me and said, "Mom, if I die, please cremate me and put my ashes in the ocean." I agreed to do that, but added, "But you are NOT going to die, because I won't LET you die. I am right here and I am not going anywhere until they get you to a safe place." The fact that he was contemplating his own death at the age of 21 told me that he was frightened beyond what he was showing. And that made me weep.

I will have more details later.

Friday, July 4, 2008

independence day

HBO is running all parts of their John Adams series today. The history of my country has been documented in many different formats, but none so moving as this! It is truly amazing. I weep every time I watch the vote on the amendment to separate from England and King George. Even though I know from British history that the king was a bit demented and probably had a medical reason for making such bad decisions about the colonies in America, I still marvel at the bravery that led those few men to vote for such a measure. Then the reading of the Declaration in the town square just makes me boo-hoo. Then the scene showing the inauguration is just too much for me. The actor who plays George Washington is so good.

Today is a day for packing and purging. I have allowed too much useless crap to accumulate and I am really sick of looking at it all. I have managed to take a boatload of paperbacks to a co-worker, but I am still drowning in books. WHY do I have so many? Luckily, I do have professional packers to pack everything. I choose to pack my grandmothers' Limoge and other delicates and take them with me in the car. But the rest of my belongings will be packed by professionals, which is part of why I have so much crap!!! The last three moves have included professional packers. When you pack your own things, you tend to purge as you go, sometimes out of just being sick of packing.

I also need to buy a car today. No big deal, right? Sigh. I just want it to be done for me. I wish someone would start a business conducting car sales - go to dealerships, negotiate a price, argue, bring cars to me to test drive, then bring the paperwork to me to sign. Why hasn't anyone thought to start a business doing that? I would gladly pay for such a service!!!

My extended family is gathered today in Montreat, North Carolina for the annual July 4th family picnic. Last year there were over 120 family members there. This time next year I will be living in Memphis and will be able to drive over for the gathering. I will be so happy to be able to do that! I have missed being with family.

Happy Independence Day!



Sunday, June 29, 2008

hangin my hat

Tomorrow I fly to Memphis to look for a place to live. I have some appointments lined up to look at some houses. All of them look good on paper, but you never know until you get there and see the neighborhood and the traffic and the proximity to things you know you will need. Also, Memphis is known for its high crime rate. I need to know a bit more before I decide where in the general vicinity I want to be parking my worldly goods!

I'll also be stopping by my new campus to meet the staff and take a look around. This is a great group of people and they deserve solid, brave leadership. Many of them have stuck it out through some difficult times. The students also are in need of solid leadership. They deserve to attend a school they can be proud of.

The movers are scheduled to pack my things on Saturday, July 12th. That is very close! There is so much to take care of before then and I am a world class procrastinator. I'm sure that I will get it all done, though. This is my fourth move in 5 1/2 years, so I should be a pro by now!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

hope

Today I am focusing on the subject of "hope".

My brother is found, but there are problems that cause my heart to hurt for him. I will not go into detail here. Suffice it to say that I am holding on to hope that he will be okay.

Emily Dickinson wrote:

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all."

My brother-in-law's cancer has metastasized to his bones and other organs via his lymph nodes. My sister is still in shock. We are all in shock.

But I am led here:

"Approach each new problem not with a view of finding what you hope will be there, but to get the truth, the realities that must be grappled with." (Bernard Baruch)

And here:

"It's being here now that's important. There's no past and there's no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can't relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don't know if there is one." (George Harrison)

From what my sister tells me, her husband was ready for the diagnosis. He is ready to face whatever he must face. But my sister is not there yet. She is frightened. My heart hurts for her too.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

out of sorts

I'm a little out of sorts this week as I try to deal with competing emotions. I'm trying to allow myself to feel all of them, but I am quite a champion at avoiding feeling emotions!

I am feeling fear and dread because I can't seem to locate my beloved brother. I've been trying for weeks but only became concerned on Monday when I called him at his work number. His home voicemail being full and his home email box being full just said "brother too lazy to deal with clearing out messages". But finding out that the business he worked for had been sold and that he no longer worked there scared me. If all of my avenues of communication are broken, that leaves my imagination to work overtime. I sent him a letter and will call the police if I do not hear from him by Tuesday. (My father also sent him a letter, registered, signature required.)

While I was trying to track down my brother, I found out that his former life partner had died several years ago. I don't know if my brother even knew this. It seems odd that he wouldn't have told us.

More bad news came with the diagnosis of prostate cancer for my brother-in-law. He is only 48, so this news is frightening. He had a bone scan on Friday, but we will not have the results for several days.

This week also brought a new job offer from my company. I've been named Campus President for our campus in Memphis, Tennessee. I will work in Phoenix for the next three weeks, then move to Memphis and begin work there on 7/21/08. This is extremely happy and exciting news! So I have been wanting to feel celebratory, but with the triple bad news, I am not up for it!

Leaving Phoenix also means leaving my sweetheart. This is probably also contributing to my inability to celebrate. He will have to make his own decision about whether to stay in Phoenix or go with me to Memphis. He has to weigh everything out. Knowing this does not make it easier to handle!

So much is out of my control, which is a hard thing for me to accept. I want to take action of some kind to resolve all of these unanswered questions! But there is really only waiting to be done here. Oh my, waiting is so hard for me!!!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

happy father's day

Every year when I go shopping for a Father's Day card, I am bombarded by all kinds of stereotypical images that do not represent the feelings I have about my father.

First there are all the cards showing men's ties. I suppose this is a popular image because lots of people buy their fathers ties when they don't know what else to get. My father certainly wore many ties in his lifetime, but he is retired now and only wears one if an event really calls for it. (And even then he might only wear a tie if my stepmother gently prods him to do so.) But I don't remember ever buying him a tie.

Then there are the cards with the nautical themes. Often these show a lighthouse or a ship at sea or a lifesaver. Some cards show a man with fishing gear, or out in a boat. We did go crabbing together once when I was 9 or 10. I remember him showing me how to hold a crab so it wouldn't pinch me. I didn't do it right and one pinched my thumb. I shook my hand so hard that the crab let go and sailed out over the water like a discus at the Olympics. We laugh every time we remember it. But I don't think a card about fishing really captures my father.

Some cards show race cars or a man mowing a lawn or working on a car engine. Some show a man teaching a boy to play a sport. But none of these really work for me. They are too mainstream.

Then there are the golf images. To be sure, my father loves to watch golf on television. And he used to enjoy playing golf. In fact golf was a pretty big deal in his family. Both of his parents and all of his siblings played recreational golf. I often watch a match on television out here in Arizona. I love being able to talk to my father about the golf match. But father's day cards about golf still don't work for what I want to say to my father.

I have a photo of him baking cookies with his two grandsons. I love that photo. I love it not just because it is a great picture. I love it because it shows him doing something he loves (baking) and modeling for his grandsons that cooking & baking are completely within the realm of what a man does. This is important to me because the images my son sees on television and movies commonly show cooking and cleaning to be female tasks. Baking cookies with Granddaddy says that cooking is normal for men and is actually quite fun! But are there cards about fathers baking cookies? No, there are only cards about Dad at the grill. I suppose that is more manly.

My father is honest and has integrity. How do you capture that in a card? He is my touchstone. He is the one person I can absolutely count on to be there for me, no matter what. He is the first person I call when something funny happens because laughing with my father is one of my greatest pleasures. I want to know what he is reading and what he is thinking about what he is reading. I want to hear about his experiences and what he thinks about them. No matter what is going on in my life, a return to my father's side - or just a telephone conversation with him - will ground me.

I call him "Papa" because his mother called her father that. None of my siblings calls him that. But when I say the word "Papa", I feel the presence of my grandmother and great-grandfather in the room and I feel the influence they had on my father and on me. He has the sweet and kind qualities of a gentleman from the South, as his family raised him. But he grew beyond that and also developed a fiery commitment to social justice issues that still shocks some members of his extended family. Where are the cards for a kind and gentle man who will stand his ground on important issues?

When I was born, I was a very sick baby. They called my father down to the hospital three times to take one last look at me before I died. He says each time he arrived, I would be kicking and screaming, insisting on staying alive. My determination has often been compared to that of my father's mother, for whom I was named. But maybe it was my Papa's love and strong will that I felt coursing through me. He had already lost one infant. Losing another would have been devastating, although I am sure he was trying his best to prepare for that possibility. But maybe our connection was already there and I felt him rooting for me then as I feel him rooting for me now.

Where are the cards for that?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

bookmark this



The words for this week are:
secession
coriander
err
sang
sociability

Word Beads Fiction # 1

She hums to herself as she pages through the new church cookbook. Why do these things always have the same recipes in them? She hasn't joined this new church yet and she is looking for a final sign that she belongs. What exactly would that be? A creative use of those pods of vanilla she brought back from Tahiti? A recipe with herbs she owns but rarely uses? Turmeric? Coriander? Cardamom? When did she buy those? Why? Well, the cardamom was purchased with the idea that she would make those cookies that her Mother used to make every Christmas. But she never did.

Page 12 of the church cookbook displays her recipe for an appetizer terrine featuring cream and goat cheese, olive tapanade, sun-dried tomatoes and pesto. Her attempt at sociability prompted her to submit a recipe. (This same reason was why she frequently sang with the choir - as often as her business travel would allow.) She can see now that her terrine does not fit in among the macaroni-n-cheese and swedish meatballs any better than she fits in with the congregation. Wanting to belong does not make it so and she mentally concludes that a total secession will be called for. Anything less final will cause various members to continue to reach out for months. No, it will be a final decision and she will start looking at other churches.

Now that she has made the decision, she feels herself relax just a little. She closes the cookbook and stands up. A bookmark falls from her lap to the floor. Was that in the cookbook? She reaches down and picks it up. Proverbs 14:22 "Do they not err that devise evil? But those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness." Hmmm - shouldn't a cookbook from a church contain a bookmark that talks about loaves and fishes or eating bread in remembrance of Jesus? Oh well. She sticks it back in the cookbook and leaves it on the kitchen counter.

Friday, June 13, 2008

veterans and beauty parlors

This morning I attended a workshop on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Combat Veterans. The room was filled to capacity. It was almost comical all the things that went wrong. First, we were told that the workshop was at a hotel right off of I-17 at Union Hills Rd. I drove past the address three times. I saw a hotel but it was a different name. Finally I called. The front desk clerk said, "Oh, we changed our name." Nice - very helpful - thanks. So we started late because so many people had the same problem - they kept driving back and forth thinking they must have missed the place.

Then the temperature in the meeting room fluctuated between "Freeze" and "Fry". The microphone the presenter was wearing died several times. The batteries in the presenter's mouse died. We ran out of chairs. There was no water. They didn't have enough books to fill the pre-orders.

Once we got started, however, the information was quite detailed and the presenter was very entertaining. He was a little edgy. There were a couple of times that he skated right up to the very edge of "inappropriate" or "unprofessional". But he was funny and he knew a lot.

It is a pity what our combat veterans have to go through to get treatment. We had a few guys in the room who were combat veterans. They related their own stories of trying to get treatment. A pattern emerged - the VA is full of folks who really care and really want to help and are even skilled caregivers. But the bureaucracy is enough to make veteran and caregiver want to go get a rifle. It is not uncommon for a combat veteran to wait 2-4 YEARS for treatment. In other parts of the country, services are readily available.

I was very impressed by the other workshop participants. They had such diverse backgrounds and came from a multitude of treatment types. Any time I am around a group like this, I become even more convinced that I will return to the field of counseling down the road a bit.

Then at 4 p.m., I went to the beauty parlor. I was there until 7 p.m. Apparently it takes a really long time to make me beautiful. I asked the stylist to take a picture of me once she got all the foils in my hair:









Yes, I know, not everyone can look as spectacular as I do. What can I say?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

thirsty thursday

Melissa wants to know about my worst culinary disaster. I'm stretching the category in order to tell this story. It does feature food, but not cooking.

When I was in high school, I worked for a friend of my mother. He owned an egg-processing plant and several thousand chickens. He also had some greenhouses, mostly with tomatos. I worked in the tomato greenhouses. I started at the beginning of the season, tilling the soil. Then my team used gigantic rolls of heavy plastic to wrap around the greenhouse frames. Then we planted thousands of tomato seedlings. Over the weeks we nurtured those seedlings, guiding them to grow up the wires to the ceiling, then suckering them (removing extra limbs that try to grow out of the joints), then fertilizing them by banging the guide wires, then removing the bottom leaves to allow the sun to get to the tomotos, then picking, grading, packing and shipping all the tomatos.

At the end of tomato season, my boss asked me if I would like to try something different. I needed the money so I said yes. He explained to me that one of the two ladies that he had candling eggs had varicose veins and needed to cut back on her work hours. If I could work 10 of her 40 hours, he could keep her on until he found someone to work the 10 hours permanently. My question was the same as yours - what the heck is candling eggs?

Candling eggs refers to holding an egg up in front of a candle flame to see the interior of the egg. You can see whether an embryo is growing inside. In an egg processing plant, the candling is done by having the eggs travel on a conveyer belt. In this case, two women stood, one on either side of the conveyer belt, and watched as a steady stream of eggs passed over a light that was shining up from underneath. There was a big black curtain that completely surrounded them to shut out all other light. As they spotted any eggs with any flaw (embryo, blood spot, crack, etc.), they removed them. These were the eggs that employees took home at the end of the shift.

I was instructed to stand next to one of the two ladies and observe. So I stepped up onto the platform and inside that black curtain and began to learn my new job. Those ladies were fast!!! The eggs traveled over the light at a pretty good clip. Each lady would remove the bad eggs as they traveled by and place them in a flat cardboard tray. Each tray held 24 eggs. When they had three full trays, they picked them up and set them on another conveyer belt, which whisked the trays away. After they felt I was trained, they gave me a tray and told me to start filling it.

I wasn't very fast, but soon I had my three trays full, which I told the ladies proudly. But I would have had to hand my three trays over the head of one lady, and there were too many bad eggs right then, so they told me to keep going. Soon I had four trays, which I told them. Keep going, they said. Then I had five trays stacked up, then six. Still they couldn't take them. As I turned back from adding a couple of eggs to my seventh tray, out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw the stack of trays move away from me a little. I turned back towards the stack. I can still picture those eggs, leaning away in slow motion and my mouth making that "O" shape as I reach in frustrating slow-motion to try to save the eggs - a futile attempt. SPLAT went the eggs on to the floor of the factory.

The entire processing plant shut down and the employees gathered around to see the huge mess that I had made of their week's worth of breakfasts. And even though it wasn't entirely my fault, the two ladies did absolutely nothing to save me. I did not return for a second day of candling eggs. At the time it was not funny, but now I laugh hysterically when I tell the story. But I wouldn't have dared laugh then. Those women would have beat my butt.