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?