Friday, July 29, 2011

Did you call your representatives in Congress?

I called my senators tonight. (My representative, I'm not so concerned about.) The Washington office had a voice mailbox that was full for both of them, so I sent in comments via their webpage. I called their San Antonio office -- not sure if I successfully left a message for Sen. Hutchison, but the local numbers for Cornyn were routed back to his Washington office where --guess what? -- the mailbox was full.

U.S. Senate

This 230-plus year experiment in democracy seems to be going badly awry. Hope we can get through this self-inflicted crisis!

I like the cartoon in a recent SA Express-News. The leaders of Afghanistan and Iraq are holding an American newspaper with the headline about the deadlock over the debt ceiling, and one says to the other, "I don't think this nation is ready for self-governance yet!"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Relentlessly positive

Quote of the day: I have to stay relentlessly positive, or life would beat me down into a quivering pulp. This thought made me chuckle, in a gallows-humor sort of way.

Walking at twilight, I watched as the leaves of the trees changed color. First they softened and became more vulnerable, less solid. Then their shrinking silhouettes took on a wraithlike appearance, pallid and yellow. Their color looked worse than my Dad's, actually. With the blue sky faded to gray, the leaves faded too. The dark of the evening revealed something that cannot be seen in the bright midday sun. Perhaps this is another description of impermanence. Sorry, I'm not much of a poet, but I like to try on occasion!

I saw a raccoon, at least it looked like one, cross the driveway ahead of me. This is perhaps the same one that visited our watering hole (pond) one evening a few weeks back and attracted all kinds of unwanted attention from us and our pets, because we happened to be outside. Tonight, I wished it well and then continued on my way, while it went on its.

Here was my inspiration for the week, a man who is active in the masons. Back story: Dwaine has developed a midlife interest in the masons and was seeking them out to join them. Apparently, the usual way to join is by invitation or bloodline, or some such. Dwaine's dad was in the masons at some point, about 150 years ago (minus a few years, I guess). But I think Dwaine's wild hair came more from reading Dan Brown (the mystique was too intriguing to pass up) and wishing to belong to a group, specifically a secretive men's group.

So we visited the Harlandale group, Austin & I along for moral support (Andrew would have been there but is gone on a youth mission trip this week). Dwaine had been in touch with one of the group's leaders, Ed, and was warmly welcomed as a visitor. They were doing the officer induction and all the new officers were wearing their special mason aprons and had their families present, from kids and grandkids to grandparents.

They seemed like decent folks, and meeting one man in particular made the whole evening worthwhile for me. His name was Ed, and a nicer man I couldn't imagine. As we got to talking, he gave us a little of his life history. He ran a funeral home along with his wife for many years, and told us the story of the time they had a big fight and he fired her. What a mistake, he soon realized. So he had to hire her back at a significant pay raise!

He lost a lung to cancer some years ago. Then recently, he came down with a cold and cough, went in for some tests, and got the news that there was cancer in his one remaining lung. So he's taking chemotherapy. He told us that he thinks attitude is really important. He said he'd go into the cancer treatment facility and see a bunch of glum faces. So he'd start telling stories and jokes, and soon most everyone would be smiling. He's serving as secretary again this year -- one more year, he insists, no more. He said that before, and wound up with the job for 20-something years!

What a great inspiration for me to hear Ed's story, at this moment in my life! I like to debate the idea that there is a personal God involved in the details of our lives. But then things like this happen, special people and life events cross my path, and God's fingerprints are all over them. I am still smiling. If Ed can go through his epic struggle and still encourage others, then what do I have to complain about? Besides, complaining never solves problems, it just adds to the misery.

Signing off as positively yours truly, Julie

Friday, July 15, 2011

Learning from suffering

One really nice thing to happen from this unfolding personal tragedy -- I'm not trying to be ironic or anything, but there really are good things that spring from bad things -- is that I'm no longer afraid of hospitals. I don't hate being in them. I have logged many hours at Methodist Hospital now, so many that I saw a number of familiar faces in the cafeteria a couple of days ago. That's the lady who takes Dad's lunch order ... the person from radiology ... the chaplain ... the PCA (whatever that means, a nursing aide).

The hospital is a happening place! Lots of life-changing stuff going on here. Lots of truly caring people helping others, from all the nurses to the doctors and aides. I feel a lot of compassion for them all, and for the people who, like my Dad, don't want to be here but have no choice in the matter. Their families and they have been sucked into a vortex and here they are, in a whole different reality from their everyday lives.

Another good thing is that Dad's Chinese wife is learning to become more independent. She is having to find her own way now, in many ways. She takes her citizenship exam next week, and I will be going with her.

I'm typing this on the hospital computer while they wash Dad's bedsores. Gotta go back to see him now.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

My sister's post

Click on the title to link to my sister's post about Dad. Poetry. Warning --- sad!!

Two wine night

You've heard of the two or three dog night ... well, this is a two wine night for me. As in two glasses of wine. I, have become, comfortably numb!

Let's see, what can I talk about that does not involve that topic that is consuming my days and everything else in my life right now, my Dad? (Pray for him if you pray; send positive energy -- he needs it all.)

Harry Potter -- the last installment is coming out tonight! Dwaine asked Andrew if he wanted to go stand in line for the midnight showing and Andrew said, yes, and Dwaine said, except I don't want to stand in line all those hours! But how fabulous for those people who are lucky enough to be able to stand in line for hours to see the last Harry Potter film. That they have the space in their lives, and the resources, and such a commitment to having fun, and nothing better to do. Wow. Do any of those people know how charmed their lives are, to allow them to fritter away hours like that? I hope they have a blast, I sincerely do. I hope all that enjoyment and positive energy flows out and touches others, too.

How sad to think that young kids now will not have any more HP books to look forward to. It's like a generation of fantastic youth science fiction is coming to a close. Although the Potter books became much too dark for my taste, too grim for the lovely spark and great optimism of youth. I don't think life is so terrible, or that evil is on the brink of winning, even now.

There are always things to thank God for. For instance, thank God I don't live in Somalia right now ... or Iraq, for that matter. Thank God I am not fighting the fight of my life against cancer, the way Dad is. (With a broken right arm, no, make that a shattered right arm! In case you weren't sufficiently impressed.)

Another top news item, voting to increase the debt limit. C'mon, folks, if you (Congress and president) can't come to a serious agreement now to both decrease spending and eliminate tax cuts, when will you ever have the discipline and motivation to do it in the near future? Certainly, nothing will happen the rest of this year or next year's big election year. I agree that Obama should veto a bill allowing him to unilaterally increase the debt limit with no substantial agreement. Our country will not survive in the long run without coming to terms with the exploding national debt. (This is not the wine talking!) Republicans cannot demand so much and make no concessions themselves. That's not how the art of compromise works, which is what our great country was founded on.

Y'know, the way things are going convinces me more every day -- it's better to swallow your pain pill and make the tough sacrifices that life demands now! NOW! Don't wait. Don't ignore and hope it goes away. Believe me, it doesn't. It only gets worse. I speak to our government, and to each one of us as individuals.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Quick funnies

For an update on my dad, contact me.

A couple of quick funnies.

Andrew went out back to pour out some pickle juice (at my request). He had only socks on. First, he was going to "borrow" some slippers he found by the back door, thinking they were mine. When I told him those were Dad's, he changed his mind (as he frequently gets in trouble for borrowing and messing up Dad's stuff.) Next he found one lonely shoe on the back porch. Not sure whose shoe -- could be Austin's, the most likely suspect to leave a shoe behind for several weeks. So Andrew decided that it would be easier to put on the one shoe and hop out back, about 30 yards. Away he went, like a one-legged kangaroo. He almost fell over when he had to unscrew the lid and toss out the pickle juice! Then he came hopping back. I should have filmed it. This, in the mind of a 15-year-old, is much easier than taking the time to find and put on two of his own shoes.

Next story. Andrew and I went shopping at Goodwill after he finished his Zoo Naturalist shift. Things have stabilized in my life at the moment, to the point that I decided to keep my commitment to play Mary, Jesus's mom, during Vacation Bible School next week. So I had to shop at Goodwill to find something to wear. This was my dilemma -- what would the mother of our Lord wear? Nothing quite measured up, of course. There were no glowing white outfits anywhere to be found, no halos at all. I finally picked two rather drab, plain long dresses that I will adorn with scarves. I'm sure Mary would think they were just fine.

While we were there, Andrew spied three classmates, all girls. When they turned and saw him, there was quite a ruckus. "Ooh, Andrew! Andrew!" they all cooed, and giggled, and screeched, for what seemed like forever. One girl hugged him. I had to wander off to hide my laughing fit. Later, I promised Andrew that this was a moment he would never live down, asked if he always had this effect on girls, and made him blush anew.

This evening, Dwaine and I dined out on the back patio. It was quite a mild afternoon, probably only about 95 degrees. Andrew remained inside, but made the mistake of leaving the table unattended for a few seconds. This was the perfect opportunity for the new kitten, Cassius (the one Austin decided to smuggle home a few weeks ago) to hop up on the table and investigate the hamburger patties there. When Andrew found him, he was allegedly sniffing the air just above the patties, nothing more.

Dwaine and Andrew decided, based on this evidence, that the hamburgers were no longer fit for human consumption. I had dined on Boca burgers, the veggie alternative, so I wasn't personally concerned about it. I didn't like throwing away perfectly good meat, though. So I took a closer look. No suspicious-looking hairs. No chunks of meat missing. So I did the reasonable thing: I put the hamburgers in a baggy and refrigerated them, for Austin to snack on when he gets off work.

The only possible problem will be if Andrew decides to snitch, but by then there will be nothing Austin can do about it.

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