Wednesday, December 31, 2008

All are safe and sound. E's asleep in my bed. J in the study. B & G downstairs. I, well, I am fitting in just a wee bit more television time with the sound so low I am not really sure of the unfolding plot development. I am up because I am so full of joy to have my other family here in my home.

You should see all the things they need to stuff into the car in order to be able to care for their children in my tiny home. G, an amazing man, very cheerfully empties it all into my house and will pack it all back into the car with equal alacrity. Never have I heard him complain about that chore, even when he has to do so with constant vigilance that my beloved puppydog does not escape out the front door.

G is an unbelievable witness of a man desiring to walk the path of Christ in this world. Don't get me wrong; he is not saint. Beneath his amenable exterior lies a temper that will sometimes bubble forth (although I struggle to smile when I see it because I find the contrast with his normal demeanor ever so humorous) and a self-view that could stand some bolstering. He desires to love his wife and children with his whole being and strives to do so while serving as light and salt for others. He has a very sharp, very dry wit, which is really just icing on the cake.

However, the cake with me is often a bit lumpy. For years and years and years, it always seems like we are talking two separate languages. He thinks I am angry at him. I don't have a clue. I admire him. He doesn't have a clue. Always a half step off, even though he does makes such sweet gestures like going out of his way to assure me, before he married B that he want her to still have time with her friends. And giving me a key to their house last year when he discovered I did not yet have one. I wrote about that. I cried on the way home then. It still moves me. I'm not even allowed a key to my father's house when he lives just minutes away, not hours.

Here's another example of how thoughtful he can be: I didn't get to join them for either Thanksgiving or Christmas after experiencing such wonderful holidays with them last year. Remember his stuffing? Knowing that I have been salivating over the memory of that stuffing for over a year, G asked if we could do a turkey meal together while they are hear. What more could you want in your best friend's husband?

Just a day and a half until I experience that stuffing once more!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tomorrow evening B and her family will be here! Given the choice of them arriving tired and grumpy on Wednesday evening and refreshed and ready to visit on Thursday morning, I chose tired and grumpy.

That means I have some dusting and vacuuming and laundry to do before they arrive...and I have to fit in some extra sleep.

Given my abode is the very opposite of capacious, I have offered to keep the children upstairs with me while B and G sleep in the basement bedroom suite (her daughter E in my bed and her son J in the study in his travel playpen). I offered to wake with the children and spend time with them each morning. I offered because, well, frankly, B and G are always exhausted during our visits. The three of us stay up late and the two of them get up with the children. They always let me sleep.

I wonder if my intentions will only be "best" ones. I wonder if I will be able to give this gift of time. I wonder if I will make it to Monday!

Monday, December 29, 2008

As you probably know, the great debate over the perfect time to purchase the LCD television had occupied much of my brain cells over the past month. Before Christmas, during the last minute slashing, or After Christmas, during the retailer desperation period. I asked just about EVERYBODY what he/she thought. Even the postman!

Well, when my chosen model dove to $600 less than what it was listed for in October and had a 36-no-interest payment offer to boot, I took the plunge. As you know the whole digital cable upgrade did not go so well.

Now, the saleswoman stated that should the price drop within 30 days of purchase, I could come in for an "adjustment." Yet, I cannot quite envision that actually happening (the refund, not the price drop). So, with much trepidation I have been watching the After Christmas numbers. Did I make the right choice or not?

Well, today the price changed. In which direction you ask? It lept back up $300!

So, perhaps I made the right choice, eh?

It is 54 hours and counting since the third cable box was installed. Thus far, the darned thing appears to be working as it should. Any of you who would care to come experience HD television shows on an HD television, feel free to visit. The experience is rather overwhelming.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Oh, my 'Boys! Truly I support you in all that you do. Truly, I do!

However, it is my decided opinion that in the off season, it might very well behoove you to explore the meaning of teamwork. I know it is a bit cliche, but there really is no "I" in team.

You need a bit of therapy, I believe. You also need to play as if you are cognizant of how fortunate you are to be paid tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousand, each and ever week to go out and play such a wonderful sport. Meditate. Contemplate. Ask forgiveness of each other. Forgive one another. Embrace the challenge. Study how you might improve. Set aside the self. Find your resolve.

I'll be waiting next August.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Five technical support calls, two on-site labor visits, two cable store trips, and three digital cable boxes later, I can now enjoy high definition programs on my high definition television. Actually purchasing the television turned out to be the easiest part of this whole journey.

Is it worth it?

Well, you really can see the blades of grass in a football game. But that also means you can see wrinkles and sweat on real people where before there was just the magic of television stars.

To make matters worse, much to my dismay, the NFL decided that the Cowboy/Eagles game was so important that it needed to be moved back to the afternoon slot. That means it now conflicts with the Redskins game and I shall miss it. Alas, unless there is some great offensive playing by my 'Boys, I shall have to wait another nine months to see my first Cowboy game on my new television.


Friday, December 26, 2008

It has been a four Dr Pepper day...

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The day of the year does not matter. Presents do not matter. Snow--or no snow--does not matter. What matters most is that God's son was born, was born to die so that I, and you, might live. May I remember that blessed Truth above all else.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I have two words for you: European butter.

I found this rather impressive grocery store that is relatively near my home. I had stumbled upon it when I was crafting the gourmet picnic for Kashi's vet and her staff. Since then, I have returned thrice to avail myself of the tasty offerings.

Literally, offerings of food are out and about for shoppers to try. Today, I discovered European butter. The bread station had fresh humus, an olive remoulade, and European butter as spreads for the five different types of bread samples.

Are the cows so much better overseas? They sure do make spectacular butter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Madeleine and Smokey have come to live with me as well. Madeleine is but three-months-old. Smokey is a three-year-old male. Thus far, Fancy has not much cared for my addition to our flock. However, since cockatiels are flock birds, this change will ultimately bring her comfort. She just doesn't know it yet!

Madeleine and Smokey are victims of the housing crisis. I was happy to offer them a home.

Both are hand-fed, but Madeleine is so very frightened of just about everything that I fear she will loose her "taming." Smokey has already hung out with me on the couch, but he very evidently has not yet made up his mind if I am to be his flock. He warbles a beautiful tune when he wants. Having bird song back in the home is wonderful, even though his first performance made me cry thinking about Madison and his horrible, untimely death.

Right now, Madeleine is munching on millet, Fancy is chomping on the cuttle bone, and Smokey is preening his feathers. Kashi is asleep, curled up at my feet. And I? Well, I am watching my first DVR recorded show.

For the record, I will admit that I missed the first eight minutes because it took me that long to figure out how to start the recording and it ended before the show was over. I am not sure the ending part was my fault, too, but the whole experience needs a bit of improvement.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A flat panel LCD television has come to live at my home.

  • Access to five AMAZING air HD channels
  • A larger television that essentially takes up less space
  • A perfect fit on top of my antique tea table (though I admit antique and modern tech are not the best pairing)
  • A swivel base for perfect viewing angles

  • Regular cable looks HORRIBLE, so I need to bite the bullet and call Cox and fork over the extra money each month for digital service (football on ESPN looked especially bad).
  • The better quality makes everything look slightly 3-D and will take some getting used to viewing that way.
  • Swallowing disappointment that it was not perfect right out of the box.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Fancy flew down and landed on Kashi's back tonight. I am not sure what she was thinking. Kashi made it patently clear he did not want her resting on him, but it was more a matter of shear outrage rather than violent upheaval.

I managed to rescue Fancy before Kashi was able to collect himself enough to afflict damage to the interloper on his back.

I am fairly certain I lost at least five years of my life in my fear for her safety. I dare say Kashi may have even shed a few months himself. However, Fancy was oblivious to her peril. I suppose that was for the best, eh?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

1,001th reason to LOVE my new GREEN phone: I get the NFL channel on it!

Granted, the game is quite small, but as I type this, I am watching the Dallas Cowboys try and hang onto their season. Thus far, things are going well, but for a few games now, our defense has been smoking our own offense. I fear the same is unfolding in this game. A balance of achievement should rest between them, not an embarrassment of uneven play.

I am a FIRM believer, if you are a fan, in supporting your team to the bitter end, holding out hope, even if that hope is deferred to next season. It is difficult, however, when you team has copious amounts of talent that is certainly not fulfilled.

Getting to see the game is a nice ending to a frustrating day.

Kashi and I went walking in Huntley Meadows. I left my cane because I have been walking better since October. However, that whole endurance issue is still a mitigating factor I should not have ignored. Two-thirds of the way through the loop, I realized I was not going to be able to finish the walk. I called a few people, but no one answered, so I ended up calling the non-emergency number for a policeman to help me back to my car.

Frustrating and embarrassing.

I am not all that certain had I taken the cane it would have made enough of a difference. Once I near an hour of being out and about, the sand starts running out in my hourglass. Sometimes, it is a slow dribble that affords me the opportunity to continue on for at least another hour or even two with merely increasing discomfort. Other times, it rushes out, leaving me unable to stand or walk on wobbly legs.

At least I get to watch my 'Boys.

Friday, December 19, 2008

I'm home! Nine days to rest and NOT work!

You know, I was told, in essence, that I was hired for my perspicacity. However, the truth is that I believe I still have my job only because I am willing to humiliate my heart with obsequiousness.


No call about the A1C test. Is that good news or not?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I am feeling less than intelligent right now...

For starters, today B won the 10th of 12 Scrabble games. My score has plummeted. I cannot buy a high enough point word to offset her brilliance. SIGH. It was much, much better when the universe had gone into that Twilight Zone where I could find a Bingo whenever I needed one and won many, many games. But everything has shifted back and I am losing. BIGGER SIGH.

Then there is the computer miracle that just took place. Now, normally, a computer miracle is evidence of my brilliance since I have had no formal training yet am oft called upon to solve the computer trials of my friends and families. I have become quite skilled at puzzling out a few troublesome matters and have a core set of standard "fixes."

Do you remember when I got my video camera two years ago? Those who care about me pooled resources to allow me to purchase a tool whereby I could capture the moments of my life I am struggling to remember. I was so very excited when it arrived and promptly filled up an entire tape of Kashi and our visit to Huntley Meadows.

When my computer was switched out by Dell because of a defective motherboard, I was delighted to get a DVD burner. So, I had great plans of producing my first Kashi movie and sending copies to all my friends and family and acquaintances and perhaps HBO. [I just adore my little Buttercup!]

But, alas, after nearly two months of futile attempts at connecting the camera to the computer via USB, I gave up. Windows would only recognize it as a digital camera and not a video source. I was quite bitter at the knowledge that had I tried earlier I could have used the now expired warranty service for help.

However, tonight, a miracle occured.

I talked with my sister's husband's mother G for an hour after I had called her to let her know the care package was coming straight to her house since my nephews are headed to Oklahoma. We ended up chatting about the boys, with my bemoaning that I want them to know me better and the sad fact that my plan of regular DVD's had fallen flat.

After I hung up, I rather rashly started Googling new video cameras and vowed to just toss this one aside. After one very tempting shopping cart episode, I sighed deeply and closed the browser. Then, after five winning Spider Solitaire games in a row, I thought to check to see if there had been a new driver update. There was not, but Sony did have an update to the software. I decided to download it even though I know the connection issue did not have anything to do with the software.

Whilst waiting for the 379 megabite file to download, I opened the USB streaming window again and tried to connect the camera. After all, what did I have to lose, eh? Would you believe that when I did so, Windows recognized the USB device as a video source and started installing both software and drivers? I was stunned, not quite believing the script running before my eyes! I was connected. I am connected! Trembing from my exuberant exultation, I hastily fetched my digital camera to record EXACTLY how the video camera was connected in the hopes that I will be able to repeat this happening when I have more time to start piecing together my first masterpiece!

I am sure, B, as you are reading this, a burning anticipation of my Kashi movie has you quivering in your chair. Yes, you will have the first copy, even though you have shown me absolutely no Scrabble mercy. Vomica indeed!

NOTE: Reason 218 why I can not possibly have diabetes: Life without Dr Pepper is simply unthinkable, untenable really. I would not be able to live a life soda-drug free. It frankly is not possible, so it is not possible that I have diabetes. My world is thus; thus I have made it. [20 points if you can tell me from which movie that is from. Hint: it is a paraphrase of the last line.]

Monday, December 15, 2008

I have come to believe that waiting on the A1C test is a good thing for me.

My response to this diabetes scare has been one of fear and weariness. While I would proffer that such a response is certainly reasonable, especially given what I battle, it leaves so little room for the magnificent Father. He certainly can manage another disease should that be my lot. In fact, someone pointed out to me that the thyroid medicine I am on is actually because of thyroid disease. I probably will be reaching that half dozen just any day now.

Exaggeration aside, the rather cold and cruel way the neurological ophthalmologist treated me helped put two bad blood tests and one unknown in perspective. Does any of this really matter? Or is it merely another opportunity to walk by faith.

Shaking and trembling as I do. I can still walk by faith, right? Or, at least, stumble by faith...

January 21st is my appointment with a rheumatoidologist. My doctor is cutting me off the Celebrex unless I see a specialist to determine whether or not any other drug might be as effective. I asked the new doctor's nurse if it would not be better for me to be off the Celebrex for at least a day or two before I come so that the doctor can best assess my limited function and pain level. I knew she would agree. I believe I should get credit for asking the question. I am not sure, however, if I can willingly stop taking the pain pills. Just missing one of my twice-a-day dosage is enough to make me shudder. What would two days be like? How would I work?

Even though I had a major attack in her office, I could not see the pulmonologist again until the 14th. I believe she has been the best listener thus far out of the five I have tried in the area, but each time I have gone, she has been a bit dismissive of the coughing. I am crossing my fingers that she will now understand why my doctor worries so much about the cough variant asthma that wreaks havoc at times, but this small part of me wonders a bit that I will just get another passel of platitudes and focus on the darned TB I had umpteen years ago now.

I cannot bring myself to try and find another neurologist. I do think I should make an appointment with my regular doctor, but is it worth $20 just to tell her about such an utter rejection that still makes me wonder why I am seemingly not worthy of help?

I did look through the referring specialist's notes on my visit. She put down that I was having trouble shifting focus and attribuated that to my age. She didn't note at all that the reason I was so worried was that my vision was blurred ALL THE TIME to some degree or another. Yet she managed to note three times that I was "visibly" upset at my prescription and that she spent 45 minutes of her time with me. The rest was techno speak that noted painful movement, sensitiveity to light, and decreased color perception, which she attributed to optic neuritis. Oh, and, well, her sage advice that I see the very good doctor who had his nurse practically shove me out the door. SIGH.

To add insult to injury, the universe has rightened itself and B is now creaming me in Scrabble once more. She has won 7 games out of the last 9 and brought my score both plummeting into the 500s and below her own.

Today, I came home early to start washing 14 coats and a dozen scarves, hats, and gloves from our Operation Warm-Up winter clothing drive. The last load started spinning a few moments ago, which means Operation Clean-Up took 8 hours. Given that we had about 200 coats, I believe needing to clean just a fraction of them was a good ratio. The ones still at the office are sorted by gender and size now. We should have a few more come in tomorrow and then will be distributing them on Thursday. The reason I am mentioning this, besides the documentation that there is a good reason my water bill will be a bit higher come next month, is that my brother called whilst I was switching loads and he was a bit admiring of our willingness to help children in this fashion. While I was mildly surprised at his response, I did not fail to note that the call, as well as the day's labor, was another reminder of the need of perspective in my life.

I may or may not have a disease that would give rise to the disappearance of Dr Pepper in my life, but at least I am warm this winter and need not worry, at least for now, about being otherwise.

NOTE: Reason no. 57 why I believe I do not have diabetes is that I have learned stress can make your blood sugar fluxuate wildly. I would classify my asthma attacks as stressful. Therefore, any fluxuation in my blood sugar is most likely a response to the pulmonary assaults I face on a regular basis.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Well, Wednesday was an awful day that ended up in the ER for one humdinger of an asthma attack--one that started in the pulmonologist's office. [I could not get a replacement appointment until January 14th.] That evening, I started having an allergic reaction to something that ended me back up in the ER yesterday. I still am not sure what triggered the reaction, but the result was horrible.

My cheeks started turning red, then my neck, chest, arms, and abdomen. My skin was hot to the touch and painful like a sunburn. But beneath the skin, my muscles felt as if I had been pummeled. The medicine I got at the ER stopped the allergic reaction, but not the pain. Sleeping was difficult last night because lying down made the pain worse.

Wednesday's drug regimen treatment to stop the asthma attack left me with a terrific headache, violent tremors, and a pounding heart. So, I didn't sleep much that night. Neither did I last night.

Little sleep, strong drugs, long hours in the ER. A rotten week.

What made it worse was the fact that the neurological ophthalmologist that I waited six months to see left me sitting in the waiting room for two and a half hours before having his nurse tell me my records were insufficient and he would not see me. He didn't even speak to me. I was devastated. I am not sure what to do now, how to find another one who wouldn't mind that in 2003 my medical records were lost and I have not sufficient brain cells to remember which doctors I saw before I moved here in 1998. The fact that I struggle with both long- and short-term memory should be a concern to a neurologist, right? Not this one. All I want is help with my vision...

I did, after two attempts, finally manage to have the A1C test that will confirm whether or not I have diabetes. I have decided that there just are not enough symptoms, despite the two fasting glucose tests. Plus, any number of factors can skyrocket your glucose, stress being one of them. I am going with stress. I will know by next Friday.

Today and tomorrow, I plan on sleeping copious amounts and finding a way to make next week far better than this one.

Monday, December 08, 2008

My dear friend B has been quite moved by my diabetes anguish (I simply cannot have this disease) and called to cheer me up. Her message: Maybe your next disease will be Alzheimer's so you won't know you have all the other ones!

Such love she has for me!

Seriously, the most loving act you can do for someone in my situation is to call even when words fail you. I don't expect answers. I do crave companionship, even if provided by Sprint.

Even in light of such encouragement, I would still like to proffer my current disappointment. Today has been the clearest visual day for me in months. I have waited and waited and waited to see this specialist and all I will be able to do is explain how it has been instead of allow him to examine how it is.

ARGH! Would it be horrible for me to wish for blurry vision on Wednesday?????

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Clinging to the belief that this just cannot be happening, I remembered that my last fasting blood work was during that wretched time in the hospital a year ago last April. It was taken before the debacle following the surgery, but after fasting. Surely that blood work would show that my doctor was mistaken.

It did not. Again it showed a very high glucose level.

Why did no one tell me about the risk of diabetes then? Why did no one point out that number, especially when it was flagged with a note?

I plan to bring a copy of those results into my doctor's office, however I still want to repeat the blood work. Plus, I want to understand what the low level of potassium has to do with this or any of the other diseases I battle.

I cannot. I cannot believe this is happening.

It is not.

I will it so.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A bright spot in this embattled time is the discovery that someone actually enjoyed one of my poems. A superintendent of a school district! If you click here and scroll down to page two, you shall see his eloquent missive on violence that pays quite a compliment to my literary craftsmanship.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

I am in utter shock.

My doctor just called about the blood work I had last Friday. She believes I have diabetes. She's wrong. She has to be wrong. She absolutely, positively has to be wrong.

I can't do a fourth chronic, incurable disease.

I can't.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I am conducting a bit of retail therapy at the moment.

I have been wanting to get The West Wing series on DVD (even though the, ahem, wrong political party was highlighted), but have hesitated over the cost. In fact, I have had it sitting in my Amazon.Com shopping cart since early this summer. Just the other week, it finally dropped to a price that was almost a bit ridiculous--a third of the original price and a mere 77 cents per episode! So, it came to my home.

I wanted to see the series because it is smart and funny. And because one of the main characters has MS. I wanted to watch and think and laugh and ponder. So, it came to my home.

The West Wing is wittier and more moving than I remembered. Being in communications now, I can also better appreciate the fact that three of the main characters are in the field. The MS story line actually begins in the first season, something I definitely did not remember.

I am most definitely enjoying the company of such good writing and the opportunity to think about my disease. And I am reveling in the humor. Sometimes I actually startle Fancy off her cage with my loud guffaws!

Tonight's episode, Celestial Navigation, has brought about an asthma attack (all hail the Epipen) and four flights from Fancy. Even Kashi is frolicking about wagging his tail whilst watching me watch the episode. Were I not worried about my ability to keep breathing, I would watch it over again right now!

Laughter is always a good thing, right?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Back-to-back 11-hour work days makes for one very tired person.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I was a slug today.

At least no one poured salt on me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Fancy is perched on my foot, preening herself after her bath. Kashi is curled up in a ball beside the couch with many of his babies circled around them.

I know I have written of this before, but I just spent the last two and a half hours performing surgery upon his babies. One victory was that I did so without snipping myself with scissors or poking myself with the needle. I also remembered to reinsert the two squeakers that I had been saving in basket for this very purpose. And all are safely re-stuffed and repaired.

My beloved Petunia cracks me up whilst I am working on his babies. He cracks me up because he waits so nervously, crowding my field of vision to ensure his babies are not being harmed. As I finish a surgery, I will hand his baby back to him. Kashi will give it a loving squeak and then place it across the room, far away from me. Once he is satisfied it is safe, he returns to sit beside the next baby being repaired. Often he will put a paw on my thigh, as if to remind me of the gravity of my work, of the preciousness of that which is within my hands.

In thirteen and a half years, my Buttercup has acquired many a baby. The joy with which he receives new ones into his family is fun to watch. So, I continue to bring them home from time to time. The unfailing love he showers upon them makes it hard for me to even think about throwing them away even when they have been disemboweled by his atavistic attitude toward prey that crops up from time to time.

I constantly pick them up and he constantly spreads them out and about the house again. It is a never ending dance between us. The kitchen. Beneath the dining table. The rug. My bed. The bathroom. The basement. The front door. The back door. His bed. Nary a space in this house can be without at least one, if not more, of his babies. Sometimes, he will place them in a circle and curl up amongst them for a nap.

I take such joy in my puppy dog!

NOTE: Aside from surgery, I was most productive this day, despite three more nebulizing treatments and much rapidity of heartbeat. I picked up the makings of a gourmet picnic and took the tasty components and attractive supplies to my vet's office as a thank you to her and her staff. I picked up my beloved Celebrex at Target, where I also found a small dish rack and thought that perhaps it would be better for me to use it than my stove for drying dishes. I brought it home, but determined that I would only keep it if I could fit it beneath my sink. After much cleaning, some reducing, and two carefully placed screws, I have hung it up on one side of the lower cabinet.

Spurred by my accomplishment, I decided to tackle the rear floor mat from my car. A long while ago, a child spilled orange soda, which stained despite the stain protection I had purchased. The dirty mat (and spot on the carpet in the center of the floor back there) has bothered me muchly. Whilst I was cleaning out beneath the sink, I discovered the bottle of carpet cleaner that came with my much appreciated Dyson two years ago. I thought it might do something about that dirty soda stain. Copious amounts of scrubbing later, I have a clean carpet, clean floor mat, and clean front passenger seat. I had not the energy to tackle the front passenger floor mat. Mostly, I'm okay with that being slightly dirty because my driver one is. After all, the ground is covered with dirt. Dirty orange soda stains, however, should not be in cars.

That success spurred me on to further productivity. I cleaned out a few items from the closet at the bottom of the stairs and made space for my computer backpack that normally rests beside the couch beneath the side table. My place is rather small and I have been trying to reduce things for a while to enlarge it (changing the visual view is cheaper than construction). In the process of clearing out, I also organized the basket of Kashi's supplies in that closet and remembered to give him the next dose of heart worm medicine.

I cleared some space out of the small cabinet near the kitchen doorway and was able to put up all my series TV DVDs (I just finished watching all ten season of Star Gate SG1). I was able to do so because I found a place to donate my old nebulizer now that I have new technology at my disposal.

I cleaned off the plethora of stuff hanging on the coat rack by the front door that should have been placed otherwise. I cleaned off the piles of stuff on the stairs that has been waiting for transport to the next floor. I carted all the stuff on the counter beside the refrigerator that belonged back in the basement downstairs and put it away.

I carefully pruned and re-potted Gertrude (long ago either B or W and I got matching plants; either B or W has long since killed Guinevere, but I have kept her sister alive for the last decade as a symbol of friendship). The pruning clippings are in a glass jar that I plan to take to my office, despite the fact that it saddens me I can remember she was once a pair of plants but not with whom I was celebrating friendship. A spot of greenery always does a body good.

I balanced my Quicken checkbook register.

Glancing about at the ubiquitous tufts of stuffing on the floor, I then decided the rest of the day would be spent on surgery.

Friday, November 28, 2008

So, I there I am walking back to the room where the bloodletting will begin and I cough. I cough again. The nurse asks if I would like something for my cough. I cough yet again. Again. Again. My body becomes wracked with spasms as I struggle to breath. The nurse asks if I need water. I mentally think, "Are you kidding me?" I cough. Out comes the inhaler. I cough. Out comes the Epipen. Out comes the nebulizer. Once. Twice. Heart rate at 167. Trembling so much that I cannot stand.

Which is worse? The condition or the cure?

I swear there is something in my doctor's office that is harmful to my health. Given the way she shoved me out the door as soon as I was stable enough for her to do so, I would say she agrees.

Not every time. But at least a dozen times now.

Would you believe that the doctors at the wretched hospital didn't believe I have asthma?

I admit. I admit that that still bothers me. Deeply.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I spent this day fasting so that I could have blood work done tomorrow so that I can visit a neurological ophthalmologist week after next. The timing was necessary, but the act was frustrating.

Turkey. Gravy. Mashed potatoes. Stuffing.

All I could do was look...

I am thankful for a puppy dog who greets me most enthusiastically every single day, without fail, even though, from time to time, I torture him in the bathtub.

I am thankful for a bird who is content to curl beneath my chin and keep me company.

I am thankful for a vet who treats me with such kindness and cares for my babies as much as do I.

I am thankful for the glorious green of moss.

I am thankful for the challenges in my life that offer the opportunity for me to be more than I thought I could be. [if only I were better at doing so. SIGH.]

I am thankful for a job.

I am thankful for a roof.

I am thankful for health insurance.

I am thankful for the rosemary bush in my garden sprung from a sprig given to me by my writing student's mother. Such flavor in my life.

I am thankful for technology that can connect a whole world, putting information at our fingertips and friends in my ear whenever needed.

I am thankful for Cousin D and all the times he listens to me when he would rather be otherwise engaged. [I admit is must be a bit of a strain when he plays the listening gal pal instead of the virile man he is!]

I am thankful to K, who has turned from writing student to writing partner. [I remain in awe of her burgeoning talent.]

I am thankful for J and the way she pursues life.

I am thankful for T, who constantly teaches me of compassion.

I am thankful for B, who humbles me with her love.

I am thankful for B's husband G, who gives so fully of himself and shares his family so completely.

I am thankful for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 24, 2008

My boss prepared the most sumptuous soup for me today in mere minutes. I have not a recipe, but I shall endeavor to pass along her genius, handed down to her by her Italian grandmother:

  • Take a soup pan and cover the bottom with a thick coating of olive oil.
  • Heat the oil.
  • Mince garlic to the oil and saute until lightly brown.
  • Add one can of great white northern beans, including the "bean juice."
  • Stir in approximately half a container of fresh shaved Parmesan cheese (2.5 ounces, I believe).
  • Stir in approximately half a package of goat cheese (2 ounces, I believe).
  • Stir in approximately half a cup nice white wine (I recommend Fetzer Gewurtrazminer).
  • Add a generous heap of fresh, minced rosemary.
  • Add course ground black pepper to taste (I recommend being generous with this as well).
  • Stir over heat sufficient to keep it bubbling while it thickens.
  • Garnish with a few more sprinkles of shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • Enjoy!

[Serves 2]

I would also recommend serving with great bread, such as rosemary olive oil bread or sourdough bread or french bread.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kashi had another visit to the vet. He has now had yet another stern talking to on the need for him to gain health in the very near future for the sake of my mental health and the sake of my pocketbook.

For a week and a half, he has been licking at his front leg, every chance he got. For the past five days, I have tortured him with wearing the collar he had after surgery to try and keep him from destroying the tissue on his leg. Since he cannot eat or drink with it on, I had to take it off several times a day. That means, as the days passed, I accumulated many, many small bites on my fingers as I tried to avoid harm from Kashi's rather vigorous protestations over wearing the thing.

Even though the collar is clear, Kashi still walks into walls and doorways and furniture and human legs while wearing it. He falls. His surgery leg is getting worse again.

I called the vet yesterday afternoon and gave her four options:

  • Shave his leg and stick it under a microscope to see what is capturing his undivided attention.
  • Prescribe something--anything that is an anti-something.
  • Bandage it up for a week so that it might could heal safely away from that attention.
  • The vet trades dogs with me until his front leg heals.

She laughed and then told me to come in to see her. She shaved the leg, discovered an abrasion that was getting infected, prescribed antibiotics and steroids, and bandaged it up. All this was done rather hastily because her office was packed. One of her vets had decided to have a mid-career crisis and left the practice. As medical director, she stepped up to fill the gap and is working all hours of the night and day to cover his shifts.

I must say, that her kindness abated ever so slightly when I alarmingly pointed out that the area she shaved was crooked. "After all," I noted, "I am the one who has to look at his leg like that for weeks." With only the slightest rolling of eyes, she made a perfect rectangle before proceeding with treatment.

The less-than-economical bandage the new vet technician put on his leg slid down until he walked out of it when we went walking at Huntley Meadows on the way home from the vet's office. But given that there were 10 dogs, 2 cats, and a bird waiting on her, I decided against going back to get another bandage. When we got home, I put a muzzle on Kashi and wrapped it myself.

His vet and I are hoping that a lingering infection in the joint that was repaired might be hindering his recovery. She prescribed a stronger antibiotic than was needed for the abrasion in case that is the problem. If there is no improvement other than the front leg healing, we will x-ray his back leg again. Since those are completely non-economical, I am crossing my fingers that his current medications will finally move him forward. His vet is flummoxed that he is not better. I am heart sore. She wishes us both to be better soon.

Cross your fingers with me, will you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Another day, another jab. Asthma stinks.

I just read a news article about how Epipens have become the latest don't-leave-home-without-it item. Truer words were never penned....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A most wretched day save for Bible study and a quick call to B on the way home.

When I arrived back at the office, some very unfriendly person had smoked in the lobby. Just standing there waiting for the world's slowest elevator was enough to send me spiraling down into a rather serious asthma attack. One Epipen and two nebulizer treatments later, I sat at my desk violently trembling from the drugs racing through my body, but cough free. I wanted to go home, but there was work to do. Being unreliable in this economic environment is not the best.

My oxygen sat was 89 after the attack.

While that is difficult in and of itself, I have been having rather intense pain in my left forearm all day, radiating out from mid arm. My thumb hurts as well, the middle joint. Both actually feel as if they are broken, but that is impossible. So, I suppose the nerves are misfiring or something strange like that. It is very, very difficult to concentrate.

The one bright spot was a moment in bible study when Pastor asked us what was the chief duty of Christians. The answer gave me pause: to live a life of forgiveness. Yes, love others. Yes, be obediant to God. Yes, be holy. However, all those come about because we have been forgiven ourselves.

Can you imagine the impact we would have on this world if we truly lived a life of forgiveness, offering it to all those around us? True forgiveness.

NOTE: B pointed out that on Monday's post, I did not clarify that I was blogging from my new GREEN phone. I was. I did. It was most pleasurable in the midst of much displeasure.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I have been thinking a lot about my near disaster. I have laughed and joked about it at work and with my friend. In fact, I have been rather cavalier. However, that is no reflection of how I truly feel about it.

I was terrified. I still am. The danger I pose to myself at times truly frightens me.

One of the firefighters pointed out that the note I have on the stove to turn it off didn't really help me. His wife has MS, so he understood. I think he was trying to make me feel better somehow. But it didn't really work.

I know having the door open whilst the stove is on can cause the flame to burn out. I know this. I just do not always remember it. This time, it should have cost me the lives of Kashi, Fancy, and I and my home.

Save for the grace of God there go I.

Yes, I am thankful. However...I am still frightened.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I am blogging from my phone, sitting in an ER hospital bed waiting on clearance to leave.

I set a kettle to boil water this morning and didn't notice that the wind blew out the flame when Kashi came back inside. I had a call immediately thereafter that lasted nearly an hour.

Firemen. Ambulance. Puking. Not being lucid. Miffed Kashi and Fancy could come with me. Oxygen. Blood gas test (pain). Precautionary breathing treatment. Argument over refusal of steriod treatment. Long wait. Recommendation of observation and rest. Countered would sleep better at home in own bed with pets nearby. Compromise reached. Going home to work from there for the rest of the day.

So much for having a cup of tea as a means of waking up for an early morning conference call. I hope what I said during the conversation was still cogent despite the fumes I was too stupid to realize were filling up my lungs.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yeah Cowboys! This game was quite crucial in preserving the season. If they lost, they would be at the bottom of the conference and really would have little shot at a wildcard game with two losses to the Redskins. Now, there are only four other teams in the conference with a better record...a whole lot of ties, though.

Kashi and I walked some, with the rain of the past three days finally abating. I am undecided if the second acupuncture treatment helped. One complication is the fact that he suddenly started chewing on his leg. I am worried that he was bitten by something at the wetland preserve, but even his vet could not really tell what was going on. If he doesn't let it rest by tomorrow, I will need to put on that awful collar again.

This whole day was marked by rather strong dizziness. I am headed off to bed hoping that more rest will alleviate the symptom...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I am blatantly stealing from my Pastor's blog, The Sober Peasant.

He references John Piper's article in World Magazine on the aftermath of the elections: Marry. Cry. Rejoice. Buy.

At the risk of completely distorting his message if you do not read the entire piece, I shall quote but one snippet:

"Let those who buy do it as though they had no goods. Christians earn, give, spend, and buy. But our treasure is in heaven. Car, house, books, computers, heirlooms—we possess them with a loose grip. If they are taken away, we feel that in a sense we did not have them. We are not here to possess the world. We are here to show, by how we use the world, that Christ is more precious than the world. "

The entire piece is such a beautifully written reminder of the need for perspective. In light of the rather silly joy I have taken in my GREEN phone, I have taken heed of this part.

Many joys have come to me via Sprint, chief among them being able to remain close to my dearest friends who are far away. One of them has simple wisdom that brings clarity to the churning emotions stemming from difficult circumstances. One of them texts me small reminders to heed not the untruth spoken in my life and remember instead the Truth of scripture. When under assault, those calls and texts are lifelines to me. One of them has struggled mightily and my phone has become a lifeline to her, one that helps her stay her hand at ending her life.

Equally important is the fact that my phone enables me to keep in touch with a father who is rapidly losing his fine mind to the wretched disease of Alzheimer's. Traveling to and from work I can check in with him, savoring one more moment before his mind is gone.

That's the value of Sprint to me.

And yet...and yet...I need to remember to keep perspective even on my my beloved phone. It may very well be a mighty tool for me, but it is still a pale reflection of true treasure.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Life is getting worse in Congo.

Hundreds of children have been separated from their families in the fighting. The reporter noted one 3-year-old wandering around a refugee camp. The soldiers have seen these most vulnerable as another prime target, brutalizing even the helpless. Again, rape is the chosen weapon.

"UNICEF estimates that hundreds of children have been separated from their families since fighting flared up in August, and that overall more than 1,600 children in the province are seeking their parents."

In addition, the poor are losing their meager possessions. One woman saved five years for a dress to wear on Sundays and to weddings. Another man owned three $90 saws (two of them were a lifetime of savings legacy handed down to him from his father who earned $1.50 a day working security at a coffee plantation) that he was able to leverage into a business that earned him $50 a month--enough to care for his mother and employ four others supplying wood to a local market. His livelihood and that of his mother and employees is now gone.

Rebels have set up roadblocks where they strip the refugees of anything they have and demand exorbitant amounts of money to pass.

"The impact of the predation is difficult to calculate. Person by person, though, it has been catastrophic economically and, in a way, morally, as Congolese have watched their painstakingly earned savings and possessions carried off by drunk soldiers with guns."

Still, you want the news in this country and find silence. You listen to the leaders in this country and you hear silence. Are you praying?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I am feeling like I managed quite the coup late last night!

I have been using my brother's old Treo 650 as my phone for a while now. I have been most grateful he passed it on to me when he got a free upgrade because the Palm organizer has helped compensate for my MS riddled, cheese hole brain. Of course, it is just an added bonus that I was able to load the bible on it.

I noted here, a while ago, that it sometimes freezes and one day I had to persevere with many a power cycle and resets to get it started again. My brother, the consummate minimalist spend thrift, has actually been encouraging me to get another phone.

While I have been researching which Treo might work, taking a hard look at the Centro, I have put off the decision because of the cost and my uncertainty in model choice. Each time my Treo freezes, I cross my fingers that it is not the last time and pop off the battery for a hard reset.

Well, my brother called last night to tell me the new Centro model was now available at Sprint and I ought to take the plunge. He extolled its virtues and still I waivered until...until...he mentioned it now comes in GREEN!

Oh my! To have a green car and a green phone!

My fingers did the walking rather quickly to log onto my account. My brother talked me through the upgrade I had so that the phone only cost $79. That's not too bad, I thought. Especially since I am getting a GREEN phone!

But, my friends, the sweet deal did not end there. You see, I had a $75 loyalty credit available to me for signing up for another two years that I did not know existed. I was able to use that credit even thought the phone purchase added two years as well. No, I don't have four years to go...I just got twice the credit!

So, a $4 phone is a good deal, right?


I learned that if I switched to electronic billing, I would save an additional $5. That means that my transaction was actually negative $1.

Now I just have to wait until the shipping gurus deign to put my new GREEN phone on a truck and send it my way. I am hoping that is soon, but that notification email has yet to land in my inbox.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My beloved Sugarland garnered TWO CMA awards this evening. They very rightly won Duo of the Year for the second time. I heartily agree with that one.

The second award was for Song of the Year. Jennifer Nettles wrote Stay, which is the from the perspective of the other woman. Here is a link to the video and below are the lyrics:

been sittin' here staring
at the clock on the wall
and I been layin here praying
praying she won't call
it's just another call from home
and you'll get it and be gone
and I'll be crying
and I'll be beggin you baby
beg you not to leave
but I'll be left here waiting
with my heart on my sleeve
oh for the next time we'll be here
seems like a million years
and I think I'm dying

what do I have to do to make you see
she can't love you like me

why don’t you stay
I’m down on my knees
I’m so tired of being lonely
don't I give you what you need
when she calls you will go
there is one thing you should know
we don’t have to live this way
baby why don’t you stay

you keep telling me baby
there will come a time
when you will leave her arms
and forever be in mine
but I don't think that's the truth
and I don't like being used
and I'm tired of waiting
it's too much pain to have to bear
to love a man you have to share

why don’t you stay
I’m down on my knees
I’m so tired of being lonely
don't I give you what you need
when she calls you will go
there is one thing you should know
we don’t have to live this way
baby why don’t you stay

I can't take it any longer
but my will is getting stronger
and I think I know just what I have to do
I can't waste another minute
after all that I've put in it
I've given you my best
why does she get the best of you
so the next time you find
you wanna leave her bed for mine

why don’t you stay
I’m down on my knees
I’m so tired of being lonely
don't I give you what you need
when she calls you will go
there is one thing you should know
we don’t have to live this way
baby why don’t you stay

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The last time I went to see B, her husband G gave me a key to their house.

They were leaving before I to have a family dinner. At the last minute, I was asking what to do about locking up and G was surprised to learn I did not have a key to their house.

B has mine. I gave it to her years ago because she was visiting me and because it made me feel as if I were part of a family, as if I had someone to whom I belong. I never once thought about asking her for a key. After all, I live 168 miles from her, and in my condition that is more like 1,068 miles. It is not as if I will be popping by on a regular basis.

I had asked about locking up because I figured I would just twist a door knob lock or something. I wasn't expecting a key.

G's response warmed the cockles of my heart. And the spare key that dangles from my keychain makes me feel less lonely each time it catches my eye.

G surely doesn't know it, but that small act was such a magnificent gesture in my eyes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kashi and I walked through Huntley Meadows today. He was so, so very happy!

I did not believe that either he or I would make it through the 2.25 mile loop, but we did. Kashi most enthusiastically wagged his tail the entire way, excitedly exploring every inch of ground over which he trotted.

He is due to have a second acupuncture treatment on Friday. I committed to trying three of time before passing any judgment. While his leg does not seem much better, there was a tremendous difference in the overly sensitive nerves in his back. Prior to the treatment, if you went to pet him on his back, his skin would jerk in a ripple from neck to tail. Now, nothing happens. I still cannot quite accept that such a change could come.

However, he is still not standing on his leg and avoids using it when he is running around the back yard. The point of going to Huntley Meadows was to give a longer version of the slow-walk-therapy I have been giving him by traipsing around our neighborhood. Losing ourselves in the woods, in my opinion, is far more pleasant than traveling the concrete sidewalks near home. I believe that Kashi agreed with me.

It was quite dark and cold by the time we finished. If you look through the trees in this photo, you will see the moon that lit the path on our way home. We were both rather exhausted, but contentedly so.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

For 13 years, my father has been asking me to visit Gettysburg with him.

He is, without a doubt, a bonafide Civil War buff. He has dozens of books, several PBS mini-series, maps, and many, many, many stories about the war that nearly destroyed our nation.

I am not sure why I have not yet made that journey with him. I know that the idea of walking about a battlefield with him and my stepmother was not the most appealing to me when I was living in Pennsylvania and we could have easily met up there. Once I moved here, the drive was longer and still not that appealing. In recent years, knowing that trip would involve a lot of walking was the most prohibitive factor. But now, when it would truly be a difficult journey for me, I believe time was running out.

My father's mind is fading far, far too quickly.

So, when I discovered that I would have Veterans day off from work, I decided to take a comp day on Monday to extend the weekend and called my father to see if he was interested in making a day trip to Gettysburg.

Riding in the car was near torture for me. Dad was so very nervous, each time a car came close to ours and was extremely agitated over not recognizing the way Magellan navigated us to the battlefield. Each time he cried out a warning to me, I wanted to tell him to just shut up until we got there. Over and over and over again, I had to bite my tongue. It is no use getting angry with my father. His fears and worries are not under his control.

Neither are his tears.

Standing on the top of Signal Hill, he asked me to recite the Gettysburg Address. I am surprised that he remembered that I know it, even though I am wont to start reciting it at the drop of a hat. I find the speech so incredibly honest and simple and yet such a wonderful bit of writing.

I knew that the words would bring tears to his eyes. Most anything that sparks emotion for him spills over onto his cheeks. But I recited anyway. By the time I was done, I had garnered a bit of an audience.

Four score 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 battle-field 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 can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not 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.

More than a century later, Gettysburg is still a powerful reminder of the consequence of war. The Confederate soldiers hiding in Devil's den and picking off the Northern troops on Signal Hill thought they were doing what was absolutely necessary to preserve their country. So did those who spilled their blood protecting that valuable spot overlooking the battlefield to have the best chance to defeat the Confederates.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address covers the complexity of the Civil War so beautifully...

My Fellow Countrymen:

At this second appearing to take the oath of the Presidential office there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement somewhat in detail of a course to be pursued seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to the Union without war, urgent agents were in the city seeking to it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union and divide effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would war rather than let it perish, and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union even by war, while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Have you been following what is happening in Congo? The country is being ravaged by civil war, with the casualties of the battles being those who have no care for the purported noble reasons for fighting.

I have been reading a lot of articles chronicling the detestation there. People are being shot in front of their families. Rape is a common weapon. Cholera has broken out among the refugee camps. Relief trucks with food for the starving refugees have been ambushed by the military insurgents. The average life span for a child in Congo these days is 5 years. Five.

Would you believe, then, that the man who is driving this devastation is doing so in the name of Christ?

The Lord and Savior I know would not, in any circumstances, have called for this war. No where in the New Testament does it call for someone in leadership to promote rape, murder, destruction, and/or starvation.

If the governments of this world stand silent in the face of these atrocities, ought not the Christians to speak the Truth to this man, to this nation? Prayer is a mighty weapon if only wielded instead of laying fallow in apathy toward a suffering people.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

If you are in need of a bit of perspective, read this article. A 13-year-old girl was gang raped in Somalia. Her reward for the incredible act of bravery on her part was a public stoning for adultery. Held in an stadium, a thousand cheering onlookers watched as she was brutally murdered.

Can you imagine what she was thinking, huddled there as the stones rained down against her body?

Most grown women are not brave enough to admit what happened to them when they are raped. What this girl should have been told was that what happened to her was not her fault, that there was no shame in what happened to her. Yet blame and shame were heaped upon her until she died beneath their weight. Literally.

Is this what freedom of religion means?

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today was our Fall Picnic for work. It was a dreary, rainy, cold day. Strange choice of date for a picnic if you ask me.

The a secondary purpose of the picnic is to have a Mini-Walk for Help the Homeless. Since more bodies means raising more money, I asked my father to accompany me to the picnic.

To be honest, he was also there to be a bit of a buffer for me. In any case, he enjoyed eating the hamburgers and gazing upon the fall foliage.

I spend most of the afternoon in the car between driving from work to his house, over to the park, back to his house, and on to mine. Each of these trips averaged 45 minutes. By the time we left the park, I was quite stiff and in pain. Still, the handiwork of God's craftsmanship on display all around me gave me pause and helped to pass the time spent between stops.

While we were together, Dad didn't seem to mind that I stopped the car several times to snap photos or to just admire the colors around me. It is funny, isn't it, that death can be so utterly beautiful?

The photo of the road into the park is one Dad suggested that I snap. He thought that the view was quite striking. For myself, I was a bit captivated by this gnarly tree I spotted. It seemed such a strange contrast to the beautiful trees all around it.

A misfit like me.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I have been too weary in heart to write, for much you have heard before and much is shaming to me. But I did want to share two moments of the past few days: one which brought a smile and one which gave me pause.

The Smile: As you may have guessed, I like Sugarland. When they were up for CMT awards last year, they posted these silly videos on You Tube that were tongue-in-check campaigning. When I am having a particularly bad day, I will watch the first one and then the second, chuckling my way through them. Somehow, in some way, I want to work in "You smelling what I'm cooking?" into a conversation! Then there is the rather shameless plug for votes. At 1:24 minute mark of the second one they talk about how they need to do a movie because the movie videos are what win (that and having good hair blowing!). Well, they have taken the first step in that movie by posting the Sugarland Movie Trailer. Too Funny! I think what I like most about Jennifer and Kristian is that there is absolutlely no pretense about them. They laugh and poke each other on stage, sharing a private moment of musical joy despite the fact that everyone's watching them. They are silly enough to post those videos and put out a fake movie trailer. To live in your bliss must be just about the best thing on earth...that and having someone who will blow on your hair!

The Pause: I took Kashi in for acupuncture treatement last Friday evening. The function in his leg is rather poor and it is not clear if the pain is better or if he has learned to live with it. His muscle has atrophied and there appears to be significant nerve damage. So, when his vet suggested acupuncture, I was not opposed. An emergency came up, which left Kashi and I waiting on the benches for an hour. I didn't mind because I cried my way home from work and had not really stopped. In fact, I sobbed my way through the first half hour of his appointment before I could pull myself together. His vet, a most magnificent woman, ignored my tears until I could speak and then she listened and listened. She had several words of encouragement and a few of pragmatism. Then she had a question that gave me pause. She is reading this book and said that while it didn't quite match what I was facing and knew that our faiths were somewhat different, it did bring a question to mind. If our lives are the utterances of God, what do you want yours to say in this situation?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Fancy is asleep, tucked just beneath my chin. Kashi is curled up in a ball at my feet. I am barely keeping my eyes open on the couch.

I am done with the contract in that I announced I was done without completing the original targeted number of pages. Well, actually, I cautiously negotiated the research I had to do in order to make their deadline since no further source material was forthcoming to stand in lieu of the 27 targeted paged yet undone. A project lead agreed. I went to sleep.

Fourteen hours later, I awoke.

I still am tired.

Since my last post, I averaged just about five hours sleep on the nights I actually did sleep. Two of them I worked all night. A stupid thing to do in my condition.

Today, I spent the majority of the day as a part of a team teaching elementary school children about homelessness, much of my time spent reading Eve Bunting's Fly Away Home nine times. I practically have the book memorized...but we all know that the story will slip from my mind quickly.

After four weeks of effort, I finally got my eye exam records from the specialist sent over to the neurological ophthalmologist so that I could make an appointment with him. December 10th was the next nearest day. For reasons that are not obvious to me, I have to have a complete work up before I see him, but I am waiting until it is closer to my appointment.

Today would have been a perfect day to have my consultation. What I could not see is actually more than what I could.

Yesterday was so horrible that I could hardly breathe.

So, trembling from being on my feet all day, disturbed from the stress at work, and eyes bleary, I decided it was a good time to tend to my bonsais. With the decidedly winter chill spreading across this region, it is definitely time to bring them indoors. Yet, both were still nowhere near the shape they should be. They still are not. But this session, coupled with the last, has moved them more in the right direction.

And I? Well, I had an hour of peace where nothing filled my heart or mind save the wonder of God's creation.

I needed that.

And now? Well, I am off to bed. Perhaps I will be caught up on my sleep by 2009...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh, am I tired.

Thankfully so, the contract work came to a halt on Tuesday, so I could throw myself into the event that is next week.

I drafted a press release, media release, project overview, property "story," and property fact sheet. I also designed the program, the badges, and the frame for the property "story." And I drafted the talking points, program script, and program agenda and collected all the bios from the speakers and the logos from our project sponsors. Frankly, I impressed myself! Next Tuesday, I have a long date with the color printer.

I am, however, very, very tired.

Tonight has been a mighty battle with arthritis pain. I want nothing more than curl up in the fetal position and die...if only to meet my savior! Alas, however, neither will happen, for I have hours and hours of work ahead of me since the Contract Job started up again with that near impossible deadline still targeted despite losing 4 days of work.

Sitting here, gritting my teeth against the pain, I am trying to focus on the positive:

Two nights ago, I was privileged to see a glorious piece of God's handiwork. I posted the rather grainy photo that does not a whit of justice to the harvest moon above, but I thought it would at least give you a glimmer of what I witnessed.

As I detailed above, I was able to accomplish a rather prodigious amount of work this week.

Right now, some ten feet below me, D's two oldest children are sleeping. I am not sure how I will be able to get done what I need to get done, but I sure do enjoy having them around. We colored and played Sorry and watched a movie this evening. D arrived with her children, groceries, homemade Pumpkin muffins, and homemade rice krispy treats. Now, I had to bank my disappointment over the lack of deviled eggs, but one bite of the muffins made that task quite easy.

So, I have much to be thankful for, eh?

NOTE: B has a great entry on her blog about memories. Reading her words, I found myself smiling through tears. I enjoyed getting to know her a wee bit more, but the reminder that I have no such memories saddens me. I know that we live a fleeting life. However, I feel as if mine is but a sights or sounds or scenes are available to me of that which I long to remember.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"I am not calling to you right now. I am only calling you to let you know that I am not not calling you."

Poor D, she is struggling with a sore throat, yet wanted me to know that her silence was not because I did something wrong, but because her "talker" was on the fritz.

I love you, too, D!

Friday, October 10, 2008

T is here! I get to celebrate her birthday with her for the first time in our friendship. The best part of this day, this week, was being greeted with a great bit hug and a wide, loving smile. The worst? Well, that came with laughing with her while watching The Bonnie Hunt Show.

Bonnie Hunt has a new day-time talk show that I enormously enjoy. She is funny and honest and down-to-earth. Learning that she used to be an oncology nurse explains a lot. While some parts are corny and some are awkward, all are genuine. There is no pretense. Plus, much of her crew are long time friends, so watching is just like hanging out in her living room. In short, the show makes me feel a bit less lonely.

For the past two weeks, I have taped it and watched it first thing after leaving the battle that is work.

I wanted to share it with T and was delighted to see that she found the show both humorous and engaging as well. Sharing that experience was so fulfilling until...until crossing reached the tipping point of my laughter and slid down into the terror that is an asthma attack. I could be wrong, but I am fairly sure that is T's first experience with my attacks.

The one constant in my life, since I have met her, is knowing that there is one person who compassion for me is so great that she would willingly exchange places were that possible.

Of course, her first response, after she got over watching me struggling, jamming a huge needle in my leg, and breathing in vapors (that VMT nebulizer is soooooo wonderful), was to suggest that perhaps I should not watch a show that makes me laugh.

Is she right? Should I eschew all thing humorous? Is that really the life I have? Laughter kills?

She is off to bed, with the sweet dreams of sleeping in for the first time in six years. Once my heart stops pounding in my chest and my limbs stop trembling, I shall join her in slumber. Once the powerful drugs that ease my breathing stop wreaking havoc on the rest of my body I shall do so.

Still, my heart is heavy. With everything else that I battle, why is it that laughter must be my enemy?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

I am beyond exhaustion and feeling rather foolish. This contract job is a monster. Yes, I am writing. No, the check still has not arrived.

Today, I finally forced myself to have the mammogram that has been owing for months. I thought I had been more careful about bringing my cane when it might be needed, but I forgot how long the comprehensive exam can take. When my legs collapsed, a very significant portion of my anatomy was still connected to the machine. Another lesson learned.

I was out at the property where we are having a grand opening celebration, in part to plan the beautification details before the event and in part to take photos. Not a single one of the exterior shots was worth even opening up on my computer. I am not sure why I did such a poor job of it.

However, just before I left, I saw these two birds enjoying the mid-morning sun. I stopped my harried hobble to the car and just enjoyed the moment. After starting on my way again, I turned back, lifted up my camera, and snapped this photo.

The building ones were a mess, but all four of the birds were beautiful.


NOTE: My boss believes that MS is not my problem; I am apparently suffering from early menopause. Now, when you have hot flashes, don't you just sweat? I mean, I haven't heard of hot flashes causing weakness, dizziness, confusion, and fainting. Have you? Also, apparently, I am ill because I do not wear natural fibers, nor do I consume fish oil. Dr. Pepper is also, apparently, very dangerous. So, I ditch my wardrobe and clean out my refrigerator and I will be healed. Of course, it would come about quicker with the proper crystals in my home.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

The check is in the mail. Do you believe that?

I don't. Not after 3 days. However, I did start writing this weekend. I promised myself that I would not send any more work. I had to start, though, because there are only 3 weeks left before the target due date. Frankly, at this point, the contract project is practically impossible.

Still, ask me about sustainability...I have drafted 17 websites pages on the subject. Only 88 to go...

Other than two social commitments (one being T's birthday visit this weekend), I shall be doing little else besides going to work, writing, and sleeping. I shall even have to write while T's here, but I know that she will fall asleep before I so I should be able to manage somehow.

D is helping me. Boy, do we make a sweet writing team! She humbles me with her diction--each word in her edits fits so very well and enhances the overall piece...sometimes more than I thought possible. If the client does not like this work, I shall be truly surprised.

Professor C sent me his latest batch of sermons (remember that he preaches when his pastor is out of town). I squeezed in two of them as rewards for keeping true to my blistering writing schedule. I had send him the piece I had done with Pastor D's series on the Seven Words of Christ and his latest homily on prayer. Professor C was very impressed with his writing (Pastor D regularly brushes off my professional praise of his work) and his even greater admiration for how much Pastor D goes out of his way to minister to those who cross his path. What I love about Professor C is that he finished off his email by telling me about St. Athanasius (the saint whose name is in the name of Pastor D's church).

Professor C noted: "He stood for the deity of Christ "against the world" in the fourth century. If you've ever said the Nicene Creed, you've professed the faith of Athanasius." Much of our conversation the other evening was about standing against today's world...


Pastor D's homily:

Today I am starting a series of meditations on praying for others. These are based upon and inspired by a book I am reading called Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today by Rev. Dr. John Kleinig, a theologian from Australia.

The Privilege of Prayer

"O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch."
(Psalm 5:3)

Prayer is the breath of a Christian. We breathe in God's Word and we breathe out in prayer based upon that Word. Christians have the privilege of prayer because we have access to God the Father through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Because the Son of God came down from heaven in solidarity with us, we now stand in solidarity with those around us and pray for them. When we do so, we use our position before God in a Christ-like way, for the benefit of others.

An example of this from the Old Testament is Moses (in his prayer after the incident with the golden calf). Here I will quote from Kleinig: "Moses used his standing with God to mediate between God and the people. On the one hand, since Moses has favor with God, he seeks to include his people in that favor. On the other hand, he refuses to separate from his people and join God in His condemnation of them. Thus Moses stands both in solidarity with God in His grace and with his people in their sin."

This, too, is what we are privileged to do in prayer. Since we are united to Christ by faith and have favor with God, we are bold to pray for others that they too may be included in God's favor. We stand not apart but in solidarity with our family, friends, and neighbors, to be a blessing to them. And of all the things we can do for others, prayer is the very best thing we could do for them. For with our prayers we are giving them not mere human help, but divine help. We place them in God's gracious hands, and watch - trusting that God will care for them. We may not ever see that care, but prayer is not based upon what we see, but upon the Word and promises of God. What He promises, He will do!

And so we pray - not just because we have to, but because we can; and because others need our prayers.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Kashi was examined by his vet, another consult, and the surgeon today. They agreed that the repair to the joint is holding. However, they also agree that the muscles in his leg have atrophied and there appears to be nerve damage--the reason why he is not using it and why it twitches and trembles at times, even when he is lying down.

The bottom line is that it is very possible Kashi will never regain full use of his leg. Without proper physical therapy (which he tends to object to in a very violent manner), there is no hope at all.

Long walks, forcing him to go slowly is primarily what he needs besides those exercises. However, I have been using my cane much of the past few days and long walks are not very easy for me.

The walking he did at B's house, especially on the areas with carpet, were helpful to him, but here at home he prefers to simply not use it. Short of carpeting my house, I am not sure what I can do.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Remember the problem with sitting on the floor? Well, apparantly, I can no longer bend over either.

Kashi needed a bath. He needed a bath before his surgery. He needed one before I went to visit B in July. He definitely needed one now. As a rule, I never really smell him--something I have recently learned is because he has a double coat. However, I can definitely smell him now. And, since he has another appointment with the vet tomorrow (his progress is dismal), I thought I would bit the bullet and give him a bath.

When I was wildly packing for the trip to B's for the Sugarland concert, I bemoaned the fact that I had not yet given Kashi his bath. B offered for me to give him one using her basement laundry sink. I should have taken her up on that offer.

Well, the bath was a disaster. There I was, bent over trying to simultaneously scrubbing his coat and keeping him out of the tub. This was all the more difficult because Kashi could not keep his footing with his bad leg and kept falling into the rising water, which then made him try to escape even harder. I hated seeing him fall again and again and again. I didn't have to for long.

The pain in my back started just moments after I put him in the tub and started wetting his coat. It grew with such intensity that I bloodied my lip while biting again the pain. Then, I was the one falling into the water. All thoughts on whether or not I could have drowned will not be visited, for fortunately after hitting the water face first, the way my body hit the edge of the tub made me land on the bathroom floor instead of remaining in the water.

Let me tell you, a wet dog running around after escaping from a tub makes quite a mess...a REAL mess!

I am still shaking, nearly three hours later.

Do you think the insurance company would understand why I need the Celebrex if I told them I can no longer bathe my dog?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I have been running a fever, complete with aches and chills. And, of course, I have been tired. Really and truly tired. How tired you might ask?

Well, at the risk of revealing too much information, I shall admit that I went to work wearing my pajama tank beneath my blouse instead of a bra. Somehow, I rolled out of bed and started flinging on clothing and forgot to remove one item and put on that all important one.

One day in early summer, I was so tired that I wore one brown shoe and one black shoe to work.

This was worse.

Apart from the fatigue, I also found myself missing Uncle D most heartily this day. Such a kind man was he. Every time I sent him a photo, he would shoot back some silly, sweet comment on what a beautiful woman I was or a cute girl. Always positive. Always loving.

I eshew photos most assuredly. I do so because for years photos of me have been picked apart by my family--something my mother had down to a fine art. See how fat you look? That's why I think you should lose weight. You'll look better without that double chin peaking out there. If you would just do something with your hair you might look better. It got to the point that I refused to be in photos and cried over the ones that were taken. So ugly. Such an embarassment.

Well, I have been trying to set aside the mirror my family holds up and become more willing to take photos with my friends and those who are dear to me. I even most bravely posted those two of my photos here. Something quite unheard of heretofore. So, I shared a photo with a friend of my new bangs. Her response hurt more than I can write. The photo has been deleted and all resolve to turn that leaf has disappeared.

All this day I thought about the response I would have gotten from Uncle D, alterately smiling and holding back tears. I wondered if I sent it to Cousin D if he would have picked up the mantle of encouragment from his father, but I did not want to take the risk...nor did I wish to remind him of his loss.

I miss him...

Monday, September 29, 2008

I picked up the scissors today. Such a bad, bad idea.

I have been working for so long to grow out my hair from that rather unfortunate period in which I dealt with my overwhelming frustration by hacking away at my hair under the guise of pursing the right hairdo for me. The end result was most unattractive. Two years later, I still long for a mere fraction of what I cut off.

Much of my frivolous life has been pursuing the question of: Bangs or no bangs.

With an impossibly high forehead, bangs is preferable in my opinion. However, it is my decided opinion that bangs also happen to make me look even younger than I do. Scroll down a bit. Does the person in the burnt orange Sugarland t-shirt look even remotely near 41? Seriously, now, I checked my birth certificate. According to that piece of paper, the earth has revolved around the sun more than 41 times since the day of my arrival. While most women might be jumping for joy at the thought of looking a couple of decades younger than they actually are, but I find this particular state makes being taken seriously rather difficult. So, having bangs is not something I believe to be a good course of action.

But, then again, it really is a high forehead. [Could it have grown even higher over the years?]

Bangs or no bangs.

I cut them. I grow them out. I cut them. I grow them out.

Today, I cut them. I did manage to tuck away the scissors before any more changes were made to my hair. I wonder, though, if I cut far more than I intended with just one snip.

However, I will say that all worries about that one action were set aside when God showed me that He did indeed care for my heart.

First, B emailed me that we might be able to squeeze a game of Scrabble in tonight. We did. I won. I shouldn't have though...

I had called her several times today to try and discuss this whole contract mess in which I find myself. How in the world can asking for a contract be a bad thing? When I could not reach her, I called several other folks...all to no avail. I finally reached my Cousin D, but for all his wonderfulness, I sometimes feel as if he sees me as this young thing or as a female rather than as a business person. He cajoles me to not take it personally, when it is not personal that concerns me. My concerns are professional.

I had tried calling, trying to conduct an informal survey about working with contractors or consultants. I wanted validation that what I asked for was reasonable, nothing near matching the response I got from someone I admire very much.

That response, coupled with my frustrations from last week and the fatigue that even three days of resting could not dispel, was enough to send me in a whirlwind to change something...anything. Then my old professor called me.

He is an amazingly intelligent and godly man. Every once in a while, we have these marathon phone calls talking about all things life and all things spiritual. It has been more than a year since we last talked (I think). Several times these last few months I had wanted to call him, to glean wisdom and gain encouragement from him, but I did not want to share only burdens, I wanted something good to share. It didn't matter.

I entertained him with stories of Pastor D's humor and encouraged him with tales of how very many ways Pastor D, his family, and his church have cared for me. We talked about work and craziness and perspective. We talked about writing and great American novels and authors and books and the possibility of Robert Jordan's work actually being finished posthumously. We talked about scripture and Lutheran and Calvin and the history of the church.

Professor C, in his most wonderful way, taught me the whys and wherefores of the Christian calendar, opening my eyes to something I had not understood. Below is my clumsy retelling:

Christ was crucified somewhere between 30 and 33 A.D. The first bible was not printed for mass production until the mid fifteenth century (the Gutenberg press). During that 1,400-year period--and for centuries later--much of the church was comprised of illiterate followers of Christ. Even many of the priests teaching those followers were not able to read very well though they might have had access to a hand copied version of the bible. Good oral instruction was paramount.

Acting out the story of faith (carrying the cross, having communion, observing holidays, etc.) was an effective means of teaching an illiterate people about their heritage of faith. First biblical characters and then characters from the history of the church were used to reflect, to illuminate, to uplift. The church calendar, thus, became an effective mechanism by which followers of Christ could learn scripture. Simply put, by following it they had an occasion to revisit those stories, to learn of the cross, to gain wisdom, and to worship the One who created us.

Just the way the Fourth of July offers an opportunity to rethink, revisit, and retell the stories of the birth of freedom in this country, stories played out in the lives of Ben Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, so does the Church Calendar afford reflection on the freedom we have in Christ.

Professor C also observed that while Protestantism worship does have value in being rooted in the bible, in the scripture-centered sermon, rather than revolving around rote traditions that oft become hollow in the lives and minds of worshipers, in moving away from the Church Calendar, we have lost a bit of the drama and the art and the mystery and the aesthetic experience of God revealing Himself in all His beauty and power.

Ultimately, we're involved in a miracle. We have the Holy Spirit within us! For all our pursuit of biblical and theological scholarship, the Holy Spirit cannot be caged or catechized or classified or cataloged. Revel in the Mystery of our Creator. Wonder in the Work of His Son. Honor the History of His Hand.

Thanks, Professor C, for helping me to understand why dismissing the Church Calendar out-of-hand as something for other folks was a foolish decision. Instead, I should have tried to learn something of that which I did not understand.

I have marveled greatly at how Pastor D worships through liturgy in a way I have never witnessed, even though trying the follow the service usually leaves me confused and distracted. Now, I understand those previously pesky church holidays that I viewed as an interference with our evening bible study are actually an opportunity for me to learn, to reflect, to worship.