Friday, November 30, 2001

I was talking with my friend [she’s the one who created this site for me and so kindly added the link in yesterday’s post] last night, and she, rather bluntly, referred to the Scrabble game I had rigged. Rigged!

I was appalled. I didn’t rig it. After all, I started playing with three, rather intelligent men in the first place. Was making sure the other word guru in the family was still watching television at the time rigging the game? I would adamantly say absolutely not! Emphatically not!

But I believe my friend would differ with me on that point, and I am beginning to think that just about everybody else would, except Fancy and Kashi and that’s only because I feed them. So…I supposed I didn’t really have my first Scrabble win?

That’s depressing because I had to promise backrubs and desserts just to get the guys to play Scrabble in the first place. Unfortunately, I’m the only game playing fool in the family. Try as I might, the best Fancy manages to do with Scrabble is walk across the board and peck at the tiles. Kashi does move them around with his nose, but while he has an extensive English language vocabulary (dog, food, walk, toy, baby, bone, scratch, your, stomach, outside, inside, stay, kisses, you, know, what, bath, where, is), spelling those words is a bit beyond his canine abilities.

Do you want to play Scrabble?

Thursday, November 29, 2001

One other event of my Thanksgiving visit with my brother and family was that I won my first Scrabble game.

I like to play games. I really enjoy winning…. And since I like words, Scrabble is a favorite game of mine. One I’ve somehow never managed to win.

Apart from the time spent actually playing, I have a fairly diverse vocabulary. One word I fancy using would be zaftig. A great word for scoring and duping others into a challenge. But somehow…when I play…my vocabulary is reduced to words like cat, dog, house, ax, ox, yes… I become a mono-syllabic dunce.

However, this time…I was sure I could win, I was prepared to rattle my brain for all those poly-syllabic words I’ve been storing up. After all, I practically ace the Reader’s Digest Word Power each month.

Well, I did win. And it was a resounding victory considering all the losses I have endured over the years, especially those amid the heckling of those pointing out that I have two graduate degrees in literacy studies. But I won shrouded in my own pettiness.

You see, my twelve-year-old half-brother decided to join the game after we started, a game not designed for more than four players, I might add. But he’s never played before. So my stepmother partnered with him. My stepmother who finishes cross-word puzzled without batting an eyelash. My stepmother who is quite brilliant. My stepmother whom I had engineered leaving out of the game by playing my brother, father, and my stepmother’s nephew--all of whom, incidentally, while rather intelligent, do not happen to collect words, study language, or otherwise actively work to improve their vocabulary and…most important of all…rarely, if ever, play Scrabble.

I did manage to eek out a win, but only after unsuccessfully challenging my half-brother on the word axils. I thought he had misspelled the word axel, but my stepmother had given him the botanical word to use. I sulked after loosing the challenge on the grounds that my half-brother had no idea that that was even a word and he was the one supposed to be playing. Admittedly, my sulking was childish and put a damper on the game.

In any case, I did manage to recover from the missed turn (no points) to win the overall game. But the victory, while savored immediately, was hollow.

I am a poor loser, but I am a worse winner. This time, I was poor on all fronts.

In keeping with the earlier post mentioning the definition…perhaps I was just being nice about how the game should be played?

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

Have you missed the posts????

I haven’t been feeling well for nine days now. It is as if I am getting the flu, but nothing more happens. I have a bit of a sore throat, a touch of a cough, aches, a light fever, and am terribly fatigued. I wish I would either get worse, have the flu, and be done with it…or get better.

My brother was in town last week. We actually had a good visit. I took off of work Tuesday and Wednesday and we just bummed around (good for how I was feeling) and he did a bit of work.

One highlight was his taking me to the restaurant Baja Fresh. GOOD FOOD!!!

Much of my time has been spent huddled in the green chair. Fancy is okay with that because she just perches on a foot or a shoulder or my head. Kashi has struggled a bit with the lack of walks and play. Occasionally, he will bark at a toy on the ground and continue barking until I come pick it up and toss it for him to retrieve.

So last night, when he started barking and I was feeling particularly poorly, I tried to ignore him. A foolish course of action on my part. After a few dozen barks, I finally got up to see what he wanted. I was surprised not to find a toy in front of him but a rather large bug that looked like a stinkbug on steroids.

We’ve already discussed how much I hate bugs, so I’m sure you’re wondering if I were going to just use my shoe method of dealing with it. Normally I would have, but what if it truly was a stinkbug? I sank to the floor and tried to get my brain to work. Kashi came and joined me, pressing up against me and continuing to let the bug know how ferocious he can be. Finally, I stuck upon a novel idea. I would just use my Black & Decker Dust Buster to suck up the bug and then empty it…yes, you guessed it…in the toilet.

The whole process worked like a charm. No more bug and no fetid fumes in the removal process.

I was energized enough to play fetch with Kashi for a bit and then retired back to the green chair. It was a bit discouraging watching the Rams fall to the Bucs’ defensive foil. Perhaps I’ll be encouraged by a Laker win tonight!

P.S. My Dad found 128 RAM at MicroCenter for just $20, so he surprised me with two of them on Saturday. I now have 384 RAM in my computer. Yahooo!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 19, 2001

Charlotte Coleman, co-star of “Four Weddings and a Funeral” died last Wednesday from a massive asthma attack. She was only 33.

In recent months, I’ve almost joked about the times I’ve wound up in the ER after another asthma attack, but her death is another stark reminder that while asthma is a very controllable disease, it is still deadly and there is still no known cure.

I hate the medicine. And I don’t use that word lightly. My weight has shot up from all the prednisone. The emergency inhaler usually makes me vomit. The nebulizer leaves me tremulous and shaking for more than an hour. Two of the three regular inhalers I use make my heart race and my hands tremble. So, personally, I struggle with willingly subjecting myself to the side effects when days that I truly feel good are rare due to MS.

For example, prior to Saturday, I had spent three of the past nine nights huddled in the green chair because I ached so much, mostly likely from the weather changes. In any case, Saturday I set my alarm because Fancy is over due for her annual visit to the vet, but when I woke up, I was so dizzy from fatigue that I stumbled outside to let Kashi take care of his business, called the vet to cancel the appointment, and went back to bed. I didn’t wake up again until nearly 7 pm. I didn’t feel better until Sunday mid-day [of course by then I was watching football]. And fatigue is only one of the myriad problems I have because of the MS.

So with days like that, why would I want to take daily medication that bothers me so much?

Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I either forget or deliberately skip the medicine. I foolishly think that I can just watch my breathing. But it doesn’t work that way. Most of the medicine is maintenance type. Skipping it reduces it overall effectiveness. And I have used the emergency inhaler so often that my body responds to it more like the regular medicine, thus reducing its effectiveness. That is one of the reasons I now have the home nebulizer; I can have such bad attacks and the albuterol doesn’t stem them enough to keep me out of the ER. But not being careful with the medicine certainly doesn’t help when I come in contact with one of my triggers, and the biggest two, being smoke and exhaust, are nearly impossible to avoid all the time.

Knowing all this, why am I not vigilant about taking the medicine? Why do I complain about the side effects?

Half the time I think I’m just a complaining wimp [I’m sure you agree if you’ve read many posts here]. Most of the time I don’t understand myself. Yet what I do know is that I don’t want to end up like Charlotte Coleman.

Yes, I took ALL my medicine this morning…

Thursday, November 15, 2001

I like puzzles.

When we were little, my brother, sister, and I would spend much of the weekends when we went to our father's place doing puzzles. Always start with the corners, put together the edges, then fill in the middle. Good memories.

I really like tangram puzzles, although I am not very good at them. I found a website today on tangrams with a nifty applet that runs a tangram puzzle. Right click on the pieces and they rotate. There are many puzzle images in the program for you to figure out.

Perhaps working through the ones there will help my MS addled, cheese-hole brain, eh?

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

I love words. I enjoy learning new ones and using them in my speech and writing. I enjoy looking up words, but always find myself distracted along the way to the one I want by others that jump off the page at me. A favorite word that would be a killer scrabble score: zaftig.

I keep a word book, a blank journal filled with words I have collected from my readings. I define the words and add them to an alphabetized index I have tucked into the back of the journal. I am currently approaching the 700 word mark.

So when I heard a discussion of the word nice on the radio, I had to look it up for myself. I am not foreign to the notion that we use words in ways other than their meaning or that the popular meaning of words can change. However, this one surprised me.

From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary On-Line:

Main Entry: nice
Pronunciation: 'nIs
Function: adjective
Inflected Form(s): nic·er; nic·est
Etymology: Middle English, foolish, wanton, from Old French, from Latin nescius ignorant, from nescire not to know -- more at NESCIENCE
Date: 14th century
2 a : showing fastidious or finicky tastes : PARTICULAR (too nice a palate to enjoy junk food) b : exacting in requirements or standards : PUNCTILIOUS (a nice code of honor)
3 : possessing, marked by, or demanding great or excessive precision and delicacy (nice measurements)
4 obsolete : TRIVIAL
5 a : PLEASING, AGREEABLE (a nice time) (a nice person) b : well-executed (nice shot)c : APPROPRIATE, FITTING (not a nice word for a formal occasion)
6 a : socially acceptable : WELL-BRED (from a nice family) b : VIRTUOUS, RESPECTABLE (was taught that nice girls don't do that)
7 : POLITE, KIND (that's nice of you to say)
synonym see CORRECT
- nice adverb
- nice·ly adverb
- nice·ness noun

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Lincoln’s Gettysburg address is one of my all time favorite speeches. I’ve memorized it and enjoy reciting it. [It’s great filler to yammer into someone’s answering machine to get them to pick of the phone when they are screen calls…you know who you are….] I totally understand the awe Jimmy Stewart’s character feels in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as he stands before Lincoln’s statue and reads the speech.

When my college students begged me for extra credit, I sometimes gave them the opportunity to memorize this speech or a few others. They had to recite it for the class. Few chose to do so and those who did gave these wooden, speedy recitations. I couldn’t understand why the words failed to move them.

A simple speech, written on a scrap of paper, given humbly, but with noble intent. Would it were that I could say as much in such a short passage.

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

"But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Monday, November 12, 2001

Saturday was a good day.

I had my mother/daughter book club meeting that I run once a month. A few mothers and their 12 & 13 –year-old daughters read books that I assign to them and then meet with me to discuss them. This time we read Jane Yolen’s book The Devil’s Arithmetic, a young adult novel about the holocaust. Of course, the fact that we had breakfast burritos (eggs, sausage, cheese, sour cream & salsa wrapped in flour tortillas) at our meeting certainly added to the “good” of my day.

I truly enjoy our discussions as well as reading what the participants write in their response journals (they keep a running log of their thoughts and responses to what they are reading). We used this book for the opportunity to discuss perspective and how it colors and informs every aspect of our lives, including what we read. The same goes for the perspective the storyteller takes. For example, imagine Gone With the Wind from Rhett Butler’s point of view. We spent some time brainstorming that which forms our individual perspectives. The answers given were illuminating. One of the girls piped up “home schooling” as the first answer for herself. She answered before anyone else, including the mothers. She answered because she was the first to understand the question and it was her response that then led the others to reflecting on what makes up the facets of their own perspective.

I also took the opportunity to teach them about found poetry. The concept is simple: to find prose that lends itself to being turned into poetry or at least provides fodder for a poem. Below are the three examples that I wrote to share with the moms and daughters taken from The Devil’s Arithmetic.

Pg. 52 Sunlight filtered through the canopy of large trees, spotlighting the forest. It was even more magical than the forest in Oz, Hannah thought.

the canopy
of large trees,
the forest
more magical
than Oz

Pg. 78 Rabbi Boruch cleared his voice before speaking, “All children are from the future. I am from the past. And the past tells us what we must do in the future. That is why adults do the teaching and children the learning. So you must listen to me when I tell you that what we must do now is pray. Pray, for we are all in God’s hands.”

All children are
from the future.
All adults are
from the past.
The past that tells us
what we must do
in the future.
Two halves of a coin,
Children and adults,
the future and the past.
Listen to me children.
Listen to me
so that someday
your future will be
another’s past.

Pgs. 79-83

Boxcar Conversation

“I heard…”
“That’s just a story.”
“Who’s your witness if no one survived?”
“Well, I heard…”
“Another story.”
“Rumors and gossip.”
“And I heard…”
“A story of no sense.”
“Why would they do that?”
“I heard, too, that…”
“It will not happen to us.”
“It will not.”
Shifting, shuffling,
then hearing,
“This child is dead.”
Will others hear of us?

Wednesday, November 07, 2001

Last night I tried to shave my legs with the wide-tooth comb I keep in the shower.

You might laugh at that. And I might have joined in with you except for the fact that I couldn’t figure out why I was unable to shave with the comb. I knew once I tried that the comb was the wrong thing to use, but looking around the shower, I could not figure out what I was supposed to use.

I went on and rinsed the conditioner out of my hair, automatically using the comb to combat the tangles I get in my hair. So I then knew that was why I had the comb in the shower.

Still, I had no clue as to what to use for shaving my legs. After many long minutes of frustration and humiliation at my stupidity and utter loathing of MS, I gave up and got out of the shower.

About four hours later…I finally remembered that the item I had needed was a razor.

That I finally remembered is no consolation for forgetting.

Tuesday, November 06, 2001

A friend wrote on her web log the other day about receiving this touching, but basically politically based e-mail. It was a tale (perhaps specious) of an ex-vet who happened to be a prisoner in Vietnam. He was recently eating in a restaurant when he overheard people ranting about the current war on terrorism merely being another opportunity for American propaganda. The vet gave an impassioned speech from his ire on what he heard; other restaurant patrons rallied around him; the nay-sayers were trounced and booted out, and Americans came together once more.

What bothered my friend is that she received this patently patriotic and political e-mail at work. She thinks that whether or not she shared the feelings and viewpoint of the e-mail, that such a message should not be a part of her work correspondence/environment.

[Sounds a bit similar to my belief that the sex talk ought not to be a part of my work environment, eh?]

In consideration of her response to that event, I would offer one of my own I believe is similar to one degree or another:

Last year I went to a women’s retreat through my church. During the course of the weekend, one woman vehemently spoke out against Gore, calling him nothing short of vile and evil. She talked about him at length, including during one bible study session. I was uncomfortable listening to her and wished for a way to leave without making a scene.

You see, I had come to worship Christ and to spend time in reflection in God’s word and how it applies to my life. I did not come to hear a political diatribe that was not edifying in any way I could see. And I do not believe that when people come together in worship and/or study of the scripture that personal political viewpoints ought to be the center of discussion, especially by the teacher/leader. We certainly have not yet learned or internalized the teachings of the bible enough yet to be abandoning the study of scriptures for other topics. I have not at least.

Additionally, it does not matter whether or not I agreed with her negative view of Gore. What mattered is that the topic had no place at a bible study retreat where women had traveled to come together at a refuge to study, reflect, and worship. At least, I believe so.

In both situations, each of us encountered that which was someone else’s opinion in an environment that was not purposed for or given over to the discussion of political opinions.

I must add, though, in my friend’s case, the sender was using company property to send non-work related information, taking up the time and resources of the company’s employees. For that reason alone, the e-mail should not have been sent.

Monday, November 05, 2001

My weekend…let’s see…

I actually went to a movie on Saturday, K-PAX. I would HIGHLY recommend it…most thoroughly satisfying. Although, there was a trailer for Kevin Spacey’s new movie, The Shipping News, that looked even more interesting. It opens in December, I believe.

The only drawback to the outing was that I was in near misery after sitting in the theatre seats for two and a half hours. I was quite stiff and sore by the end of the movie. The woman I was with had chosen seats halfway up the stadium seating, so getting out was a bit of an obstacle…especially without help and people pushing their way around me as I hobbled down the stairs. I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening huddled in the green chair. By midnight, when I was still miserable, I decided I must have been having sympathy pains with the weather since a front was moving through. I seem to usher in fronts these days.

Seeing that glorious rout Arizona gave the Yankees did help take my mind off the pain, though. Even if you are a Yankee fan, that one inning full of hits and runs was still exciting to see. What a game where everyone on a team gets a hit, gets on base, and gets a run!

In any case, I slept in on Sunday and woke up feeling much better. I then got ready for the Redskins game and had a most glorious time with my father and his two buddies. This time, we got to sit in the club seats, football in style. The climate controlled promenade with lounges, armchairs, couches, tables, clean, spacious bathrooms with attendants made the game all the more enjoyable. And the Redskins won. Imagine that!

So I came home and then watched Arizona make history with its win. It fitting that the game was decided in such a thrilling bottom of the ninth inning, the way games 4 and 5 were. I don’t even like watching baseball on television, but something about this World Series got me. However, isn’t it a bit pretentious to call it a WORLD series when the whole world does not compete? As great a country I believe America to be, we are neither the center nor the majority of the entire world. Perhaps someone will enlighten me one day on that matter.

In any case, Fancy, Kashi, and Tally (the visiting bird) were all happy Sunday night because I cooked them some rice to eat. I had to laugh when I saw them all busily inhaling the rice, birds and dogs hunched over their respective food bowls. I didn’t join in with them, though.

You see, we ate rice seemingly ALL the time when I was in my teens and early twenties. One day a few years ago, I woke up and realized that I had eaten my fill of rice. I haven’t had it but a handful of times since. My family thinks I’m weird. [The rice thing is not the only reason for that, but it doesn’t help the matter.]

So, there you have it. A weekend where I was awake more than asleep and had two outings to boot!

Such an exciting life I lead. I don’t know what Becca was talking about…my life needing spice.