Monday, December 26, 2011

Even if the World Continues

I wish you all a happy Wear Brown Shoes Day, Civil Aviation Day, Bathtub Party Day, Eat Red Apple Day, Roof Over Your Head Day, Maple Syrup Day, Ice Cream Day, Chocolate Covered Anything Day, Cotton Candy Day, St. Nicholas' Day, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Lemon Cupcake Day, Bake Cookies Day, Chocolate Day, Eggnog Day, Fruitcake Day, Boxing Day, Date Nut Bread Day, Chanukah, Pumpkin Pie Day and Bicarbonate of Soda Day.  I poo you not, these are all holidays in December.  No wonder I'm voluptuous and confused.

And I hope you all have a happy new year.  I reckon that even before the world ends less than a year from now, 2012 will be an interesting year.  I have broken my resolution to never make an other resolution and have resolved the following:

1)  I resolve to not waste what isn't mine and remember it's all borrowed.
2)  I resolve to be conscious of the times I am not kind and try to minimize them.
3)  I resolve to not miss an opportunity to dance - even if I'm relatively sure I'll fall down.
4)  I resolve to turn my consciousness to here and now when I catch myself thinking of when and then.
5)  I resolve to look at the sky and be grateful daily.
6)  I resolve to waste less, and drink more, water.
7)  I resolve to waste less time on negative emotion and laugh more.
8)  I resolve to remember always that life is short and try to widen it.
9)  I resolve to celebrate more and mourn less.
10) I resolve to be in awe daily.

Ten is a lot of resolutions for someone who hasn't made one in a few decades.  If you see me behaving as if these were not my resolutions, please knock me up side the head, or remind me in some gentler way.  And in case the world doesn't end next December, remind me to resolve these again next year.

Oh, and have a happy Festivus!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Words to Scratch By

A million years ago when I rode my dinosaur to grad (how to be a psychotherapist) school, the other grad asses and I kept a quote board.  The rule was that you actually had to have heard or read the statement in order to post it.  I recreate it here from memory and have added worthy quotes I've run across more recently.

I can't stand intolerance.

Oh, Israel, to conquer Death you only have to die.

They said I had a bad attitude, but I don't give a shit.

Delusions of grandeur make me feel better about myself.

I'm glad I'm not an alcoholic because then I'd have to quit and I don't think I could.

I have a very highly focused sense of vagueness.

Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

It takes a big man to admit he's small.

I have cultivated my hysteria with pleasure and terror.

Some people are sane all their lives.  How boring they must be!

The here and now ain't what it used to be.

It's better to be mad and know it than to be sane and have ones doubts.

It is a dangerous man who has rationalized his emotions.

Sometimes the only sane thing to do is become mad.

I don't recommend psychosis for everyone, but it works for me.

It's a mighty fine delusion to believe you're free of them.

Doubt is uncomfortable.  Certainty is ridiculous.

Life is like a waterfall.  (Don't ask, I've no idea.)

She was as deaf as a bat.

Now, it isn't every day that you need one of these gems of wisdom.  But it's good to have them handy, just in case.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Honey Memories

When I was sixteen I was incredibly spoiled.  My parents gave me my grandfather's old car.  She was a tan-ish '66 Ford Galaxy 500 - square tail lights - with a white top, four doors, an AM Philco, and 352 under the hood.  I don't know what that last bit means, but someone told me that, and when other cool kids asked, "So, what's she got inner?"  I'd say "352," and nod knowingly.   Her name was Honey and I and 5 of my closest friends could ride around in her all night.  All night meant till possibly midnight on a weekend. 

Riding around was the main activity in the early '70s in Carthage Illinois. We'd do the square and then do the lake, and maybe even do the college, then back to the square.  I don't know how we did it, but we could recognize a friend's car's head or tail lights.  Just practice, I guess.  It's a very good thing gas was cheap because Honey probably didn't get more than 10 mpg.

It's not that riding around was all we did.  Sometimes I'd get a wild hair and I'd drag race Honey on the red bridge road.  I could take anyone in ten telephone poles.  Couldn't take anyone in five.  Honey took a bit to get going, but once she got there, she just took off. Fifteen years ago, when my father was dying and couldn't get out of a wheelchair, I told him about racing Honey.  He gave me The Look, which had actually stopped having the desired effect on me a few decades earlier, and said, "You raced that car!"  I said, "Not only did I race her, but I also dragged in your Cougar."  He asked, "Did you win?"  I said "Always."  He said, "That's good."  It's a good thing Mom wasn't present or I'd still be grounded.

Sometimes there would be a party at the lake.  We'd all pile in Honey and ride around until we got up enough nerve and then we'd join a bunch of others at the lower circle or the spillway and try to act cool, while not actually drinking any of the Boones Farm.  However, once one of the Dion boys taught me how to inhale a cigarette and blow smoke through my nose.  Those Dion boys!  Sure they looked innocent enough, but you really had to watch them.  In fact, dating a Dion or two was sort of a right of passage back then in Carthage.

Sometimes, my friend Jacque and I, budding wannabe hippy folk singers that we were, would actually take our guitars and sit and play and sing on the court house steps - right in the middle of the square.  Talk about bold.  Oh, we were out there! And Nichols and I. . . .well, we had "urinary incidents" allllll over that town.  We'd get to laughing and it was all over.  Yep.  We were cool.  Sometimes we'd even go riding around after a the lot of us got together and made and ate spaghetti at one or an other's house.

We'd keep track of all the big news.  Who was goin' with whom.  Who was sitting close to whom in the car (pre-bucket seats).  Possibly even who had gone all the way.  Though certainly none of my girlfriends did that at sixteen!  My girls and I were especially nerdy, even for Carthage in the early '70s.  I'm not sure we knew what second base was.  Just ask any Dion.

Honey saw it all and heard it all.  She was a great car.  A tank of a car.  A boat of a car.  Several people could and did fit in her trunk in cases of drive-in economics or dumping freshmen (catch a freshman, stick him in the trunk and then drop him off in the country somewhere).

Honey was simple and friendly, just the right things for the time and the place. The engine made sense.  You could see the parts.  If she got flooded, I'd take off the air filter and hold down the butterfly valve while someone else started her. Easy-peasy.

Now I'm all concerned about fuel-savings and XM radios with ten gazillion stations and I just expect things like air bags and GPS and all sorts of gadgets to break and go wrong.  The cars I'm looking at now would nearly fit in Honey's trunk.  If I could have that car back for a weekend in 1972 - just one weekend would be enough, mind you - I'd fit the whole spaghetti group in her and we'd do that square and park out at the lower circle and we would look up at the millions of stars and we would know just how incredibly fortunate we were.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Middle-aged Leaf

I asked for a dream that would help me and I dreamed of a colorful maple leaf floating on a still lake.

My friend said the maple leaf has no ability to manipulate its path or change its destination. He said it's controlled by the flow of the lake and will eventually be washed onto shore and left, as the water continues on its path.

I'm glad it wasn't his dream.

I think the beautiful maple leaf was at the end of her season on the tree.  Once a yellow-green bud, she'd grown into a large green leaf - one of hundreds of thousands.  She worked hard with photosynthesis, providing shade for what was below, providing protection for bird, squirrel, and beings she didn't even know.  She often provided a meal for a small worm or two.  She turned her face to greet the sun each day.  Then over the course of a few day she turned red and yellow and seemed to shimmer in the autumn sun.

One day she just let go.  She floated gently down and landed on the silver lake beneath her branch.  She enjoyed being held and gently rocked there.  It was another season, though a shorter one.  She became a raft for dragonfly faeries and a nursery for water insects and a model for a photographer. The water grew colder and it pulled her down where she lay on the sand and rocks under the water. 

There she completed releasing her energy.  She was no longer leaf.  She became snail, fertile mud, insect, fish, oxygen, nitrogen and the cycle continued.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Answers to Musical Questions.

1.  If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why oh, why can't I?
    You are not a bird.

2. Why do fools fall in love?
    Non-fools know better.

3. Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?
    Those are vultures and you're on your last leg.

4. How much is that doggy in the window?
    It had better be a shelter window because no one should buy animals from pet shops.

5. What was that promise that you made?
    Never to tell you your zipper is down.

6. Desperado, why don't you come to your senses?
    He's just been out riding fences without a saddle for too damn long.

7. Will you still love me tomorrow?
    Tomorrow maybe, next week. . . . not so sure.

8.  Why do the stars go on shining, the sea keep on rushing to shore?
     The light from millions of stars is just now reaching our atmosphere; usually it's the  gravitational pull of  the moon  which creates tides and the mixing of cold and warmer water which creates motion.  However, if a big earthquake happens or a big ol' space rock hits the ocean, it may cause a tsunami.

9.  How'd she get them trousers on?
     She got flat on her back on her bed and pulled and tugged at them, zipping them while a girlfriend pulled   the snaps together.

10.  Are the stars out tonight?
      They are there, though whether or not you see them depends on ambient light, cloud cover, your eyesight and whether or not there are trees or buildings in the line of sight.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

God is where I live and move and have my being.

I think Moses, Christ, the Buddah, and Mohammed had some very nice ideas, but then people got carried away with interpretting and rephrasing and getting all anal about the whole thing.

Trees aren't like that. They grow against all odds into huge, kind beings. They are strong and resilient. They give and give and give, and then they give. That's all.

Water isn't like religions, either. All water is holy and we do well to remember that. It gives and gives and gives and then it gives. That's all. It continues. It cycles.

The air, the ground - these are the things that save us, just as they saved Jesus and Buddah and Mohammed, if indeed they existed. We know the Earth exists. Here She is. We are part of Her. There is no need to organize or make rules. She's already done that, physics, biology.  We just haven't learned them all yet.

Even when the Earth quakes, the rivers flood, the tornadoes use the trees as missiles or fires burn them - even in destruction they give.

We people fancy ourselves so important as to be able to make the rules, make gods in our image. What funny little fleas (no disrespect meant to fleas). We are incidental bothers, destroyers or appreciaters.

And yet even in our appreciation we receive a gift. Our gift of appreciation of the beauty in which we are enveloped is increased.

I'm reminded of a line from a song from Godspell, All Good Gifts. "No gift have we to offer, for all Thy love imparts, but that which Thou desirest, our humble thankful hearts."  But I don't really think Earth is holding Her breath waiting for us to be greatful. She's much bigger than that.

To me being a Pantheist does not mean that I am not a Christian or a Buddhist or a Flying Spaghettian. I believe Pantheism is just so much bigger than all those. It must include them all, because all they are is people and people are of the Earth.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Now THAT'S Offensive

I'm offended by the way people choose to be offended. 

Ben and Jerry's, a fine American institution to which I contribute regularly, makes arguably the best ice cream in the world.  I like ice cream.  I don't need it, but I like it very much.  So when I heard there was a new flavor out, I was ready, spoon in hand.  But I can not find the new flavor.  Evidently it offends some people.  Not the ice cream, but the name of the ice cream offends.

Jerry's Shweddy Balls flavor is fudge covered rum and chocolate balls in Ben and Jerry's incredibly wonderful vanilla ice cream.  Yum.  But evidently, other fine American institutions find the name of the ice cream so offensive that they have demanded it be taken off grocery shelves. 

Throughout the 1990's more than 100 million children died from illness and starvation. Those 100 million deaths could have been prevented for the price of ten Stealth bombers, or what the world spent on its military in two days!  Most recent statistics state over 13% of the world's population is hungry.

Humans slash and burn forests, shoot endangered species, continue to create and toss plastics, which produce dioxins (big, bad carcinogens) as well as pollute the planet for gazillions of years in the name of convenience.  We continue to drain the Earth of her oil and blast the tops off her mountains so we can burn fossil fuel instead of coming up with better ways to feed our energy addiction. Humans enslave women and children; torture, ridicule and kill each other in the name of God. 

We feed our children's minds on violent video games where they learn that might is right and blowing up other people is cool.  We feed their bodies with junk food including things much more dangerous than fancy ice cream, because they want it, then we pass laws to keep the toys out of happy meals because parents don't have balls enough - shweddy or otherwise - to say no to junk food or to keep them home and make a decent meal. 

44 million Americans have no health insurance coverage.  40 other countries have lower infant mortality rates than the U.S.A.  Do you reckon there might be a connection? 

These are the things that offend me.   

If you find it your moral obligation to save our children from naughty ice cream flavors, would you also spend some of that righteous indignation on filling up your local food pantry?  Would you help your child see the personal value in choosing a plain notebook and donating school supplies with the remainder of the  money?   Would you make recycling a priority.  Would you please at least take your pretty little face out of your ass long enough to see that there are some really important ways you could improve the world that have nothing to do with shweddy balls

Sunday, September 25, 2011

I Love You, Dear CPAP

And here I am again,
In love with another machine, incapable of feeling.
But I don't care - you take my breath away and quickly give it back again.
You have given me new life!
You have given me back my dreams!
I wake refreshed, and leave you for the day
But I will always sleep with you, my love.

Connected, as we are,
My nose to your hose.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

My Painting

I've been teasing my friend, Will, for years about my painting.  He's an incredible artist.  Beautiful, sensitive, gentle, passionate and very talented.  He'll call and the first thing and last thing I ask is always, "So how's my painting coming along?"  He always makes some excuse.  He once called me demanding, pushy and consuming.  We laugh about that.  He says he doesn't remember saying it.  And I call him Will, just to tick him off.  His name is Bill.

Will died last week. 

That is not supposed to happen.  Even though you've been warning me that you were dying, I just didn't believe you.  I mean, I knew you really weren't painting a picture for me and as long as I didn't have my painting, I just didn't think you'd leave me. 

I always said things like, "We're all dying.  Stop talking about it."  Because I'm selfish and I couldn't bear it.  I am so sorry, Will.  I wish I'd have listened better.

Death of loved ones is always a kick in the pants.  But Will, this has rolled over me like a tank.  I will write something original for you. You deserve at least that, even though I have a blank wall in my bedroom awaiting a painting that will never come.

But for now my friend, I'll let James Taylor do the talkin' for me.  I know you'll understand.

     The sun is surely sinking down, but the moon is slowly rising.
     So this old world must still be spinning 'round and I still love you.
     So close your eyes.  You can close your eyes, it's all right.

     I don't know no love songs, I can't sing the blues anymore.
     Oh, but I can sing this song
     And I will sing this song now you're gone.

I hope your new adventure is even more wondrous than your last.  I'll meet you in the ether, Darlin'.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy Equinox

5:04 is going to come pretty ding dang early in the morning.  But that's when I need to be awake, alert, and singing in the season. 

It's the Equinox, Babies!  I know, it will still be the Equinox even if I don't sing it in, but I want to make sure that Autumn knows how very, very welcome She is.  Bring on the crisp, cool air.  Bring on the bright blue days.  I miss these days in the Midwest when we can actually feel that first bite of cold air.  Out with the sauna air, in with the breathable air. 

The Autumnal Equinox is also a time to pray for peace.  I always feel so helpless in the face of all the war and unrest in the world, but the Equinox is a time to remember that I can be peace.  We can be joy.

I remember as a child raking mountains of bright colored leaves in Central Illinois, running and jumping into them. Hiding and popping out to "scare" my cooperative neighbors, Dorothy and Pud as they walked by. I remember the smell and the feel of the leaves and being able to see the strong structure of the naked trees. I remember a green corduroy jacket with plaid flannel lining, and slippery bits and earthy smell of carved bits of pumpkin.  Only Autumn joy and, in spite of my attempt to scare my friends, Autumn peace.

It's not quite time here in South Carolina to rake leaves yet.  I don't actually plan to rake them anyway.  I'll just let them be, no doubt to the dismay of my neighbors who all still believe burning them is a good thing to do.  But this Autumn I resolve to not be angry about that.  I will lead by peaceful example. 

And if any of my neighbors are awake at 5:04 a.m.  they may hear me singing Autumn in.
 (what the heck, they already know I'm nuts)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

South Carolina Report

State fla...I have lived in South Carolina now for three years and 49 days.  Here is my report:

For the most part, south Carolinians speak Southern, which is a language my Illinois English teacher, Miss Allison, would neither recognize or approve.  The town of Westminster is pronounced Westminister, Boiling Springs is called  Bowlin' Sprangs, and Horry County is understandably pronounced Orry County.

A South Carolinian will say "Bless your heart," when what she means is "You disgust me."  They say things such as "I'm fiddin' to carry Mama to the church suppah and fixer a plate to carry home.  She ain't upta stayin', bless her heart. I swan that woman can pitch a fit! S'about to get on my last nerve, Hon."   That bit of conversation would take about twelve minutes. 

What they call "tea" here is a syrupy sweet iced beverage that will rot your teeth within three minutes of drinking it.  One would assume dentists could make a lot of money here, but evidently, they don't.

I live in the Upstate, which is actually the northwest corner of the state.  Due West, SC is southeast of here.  Central is in the very northwest corner of the state and Centerville is in the northeast corner.  West Union is 80 miles as the crow flies west of Union.  With the very same crow flying, Ten Mile is about 211 miles from Six Mile.

North Carolina is to our north.  The only thing that separates South Carolina from Alabama is Georgia, a fact which scares me a lot.  The state has magnificent beaches, a touch of mountains and an historic ancient swampland. 

Flora and Fauna
South Carolina is the Palmetto State.  Palmettos are palm trees that are neither tall nor pretty.  While there are cute little lizards called skinks that are sometimes electric blue, there are also little scorpions, fire ants and crunchy grass, which makes going barefoot rather dangerous. The state also has bamboo, cacti and a great diversity of hard and soft wood trees.  There used to be a lot of cotton grown here, but that was before. . . you know. . . and everything was ruined.  I'm not sure why they don't start cropping and milling bamboo instead of trying to get rid of it, but I think it's because it might interrupt the pouting over. . . . you know.

The plants and wildlife are plentiful and diverse which is amazing since things have to grow in red clay instead of black dirt.

Religion here is quite diverse as well.  There are White Baptists, White Southern Baptists, White Pentacostals, White Independent Baptists, Black Baptists, Black Southern Baptists, Black Pentacostals,  Black Independent Baptists, and two Greek Orthodox Churches that throw a good festival each fall.

A lot of hunting and fishing goes on in South Carolina.  People are especially encouraged to hunt wild boars, which are dangerous, nasty, invasive critters set on taking vengeance on human kind for every hog factory in the country. South Carolinians invented shagging.  No, not that. . . . the dance.  Mostly people go to their church picnics, potlucks, revivals, and Bible study groups if they are not drinking, watching football or shagging.

South Carolina has hurricanes and heat.  Plenty of both. Three of the four seasons here are summer and winter lasts 2 weeks.  South Carolinians sweat more than the average annual rainfall in New Hampshire. Even Southern Ladies sweat, though it is referred to as glowing. 

Generally this is something that South Carolinians like to handle themselves.  I'm not 100% certain, but I think it's illegal to have a house without at least one gun.  It's also highly recommended that pickup trucks and cars be equipped with a small gun that will fit handily in the glove compartment.  Vehicles usually come with a confederate flag on them somewhere.  Socially liberal drivers may add a bumper sticker that says, "It's Heritage, not Hate."

The state vegetable is collard greens.  (Note to Yankees:  collard, not colored.) These are large, dense, dark green leaves that are wonderful sauteed in some olive oil with garlic and green onion, but any South Carolinian will tell you that is not the way it's done.  Here they boil any flavor out of them with some fat back and sugar.  They also boil peanuts here.  I have no idea why.  The average Sunday supper is something like fried pork chops, fried okra, mashed potatoes and gravy, grits and gravy, macaroni and cheese and sweet tea.  If you're lucky some sweet potato pie.  30.9% of adult South Carolinians are obese. 

South Carolina was the first proud state to secede from the Union when ruthless Yankees laid siege to Fort Sumter.  This Southern whooping of Yankee butt led to the War of Northern Aggression, sometimes referred to as That Recent Unpleasantness. If you don't drawl, you refer to it here as. . . you know.
People here generally don't know that the Civil War is over or that the North won.  Of course, the state is ranked 48th in high school graduation rate, so perhaps most people don't actually get to take a history class. 

The Big Question
It's a free country, contrary to some local beliefs, and I could choose to live elsewhere.  After all, the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee is that Damn Yankees move here.

Despite my obvious distaste for much of South Carolina - and please note I didn't even touch on politics - I've met some nice folk down heah. Of course, if this blog gets read by many here, I'm sure I'll have offers to be escorted to the Mason-Dixon Line. My co-workers are gracious, patient people who usually tolerate my Yankeeness.  I love my little house in the woods, the flowers and birds, the ocean and the tiny bit of the Appalachian range that dips into the state. I love the real, honest hospitality I've received when visiting a few churches.  And now that I speak fluent Southern, I enjoy the impromptu conversations with total strangers.  Jesus help me, I've even learned to love cheesy grits.

Will I stay here forever?  The thought makes me about as comfortable as a long-tailed cat on a porch full of rockers.  But I sho nuff ain't gettin' any youngah, so who knows?  Bless my heart.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Love Song to Leonard Cohen

It would certainly help if you were familiar with some Leonard Cohen lyrics. Actually, I'm hopeing that he'll read this and realize that all his life I'M what he's been missing. Of course, it will break Eric Clapton's heart when that happens, but hey, Eric's had his turn with me. Now it's Leonard's lucky day.

Look at me, Leonard, when I’m naked in my way
Not for one last time, with filmed vision every day.
Look upon me tenderly and look upon me long
And you’ll know that I’m half crazy just because of a few songs.

You hurt me with democracy
And your silky smooth soft honesty
(Using lint the gaps to fill in
From Buddha, Christ or Dylan
Mix it in with innate wisdom
You don’t even know you own)

But it’s ok and it is righteous
You are speaking to the rest of us
Your eyes and voice I feel so very deep.
And I’ll love you by the river, in the water and the reeds
Until we’re both swept under by the passion of our deeds
Some holy dove above us moves
What water isn’t holy, too?
And all the breaths we’ll breathe are now so few.
I’m sorry that we didn’t meet ‘fore my youth and beauty fleeted
I’m nothing if not a muse you never needed.

Becoming a New Sleeping Woman

I've been feeling as if I've been dragged behind a '73 Pinto with a bad exhaust system over gravel roads every night.  So I went to see Dougie and I told him it was hypothyroidism.  Sure, he's a doctor but I looked it up online. And besides I attended Sister Mary Imabitch's Institution for Emotionally Unstable Nursing Students less than a million years ago.

But that Dougie, he's wise beyond his years. "Do you snore?" he asked.
"Evidently about three husbands worth," I replied.
 He sent me to have a sleep study even though I told him I sleep all the time.  I even fell asleep on the toilet at work. Twice. Not good, really. Sleep study.  How tough can that be?  You go to the hospital and let them watch you while you sleep.  Piece of cake, right? 

So I arrived at the appointed hour and two people stuck 573 electrodes on my head and body.  The ones in my hair were adhered with a combination of Super Glue and Vaseline, and evidently my skin was too smooth so they had to rough it up with a wood rasp before rubbing it with alcohol in order to get the electrodes to stick to my legs, arms and chest.  Then they attached sensors around my eyes and under my nose and basically any place they could find to attach sensors.  Then they pointed out the camera that they'd be watching me with all night.  Then they said, "Goodnight. Sleep well."

One gets really tired being dragged around by a toxin belching Ford night after night, so I went to sleep in spite of all that, until I heard a very loud, deep voice coming from the air above me.

"Miss Campbell."

I immediately came to a sitting position, wires and all. "You can call me Fay, God."

"Miss Campbell, sleep on your back."

I think I usually begin the night on my side, but hey when God tells you to sleep on your back, whatcha gonna do?  I rolled over.  By my reckoning it was about every two seconds that this repeated. Eventually I heard, "Miss Campbell!"  God sounded a bit angry and I wasn't all that happy with him, either.  "Sleep on your back.  You stop breathing when you sleep on your back."

Say what? I thought you wanted me to breathe.  I began to suspect this wasn't God at all.  I rolled over.  Two seconds later. . . "Miss Campbell!  Damnit all anyway, I told you to sleep on your flipping back, now roll over before I come in there and start ripping those electrodes outta your hair!"

That last bit may not be an exact quote, but it had the same tone and intent.  I rolled over.  Again.

The result of the test was that I roused an average of 18.8 times per hour.  Well, duh.  Also I stopped breathing 124 times that night, but honestly, when God starts shouting you awake, I think it's a natural response. The average time of not breathing was 16 seconds and the longest was 47 seconds.  Excuse me?  I can't hold my breath for 47 seconds.  I tried after I read the report.  Couldn't I get some drain bamage from not breathing all those seconds?  Why didn't the technicians or God or whoever rush in and give me some oxygen or something?  

But the good news is, now I get to wear a Darth Vadar type mask at night now.  The mask is attached to a hose which is attached to a pump that forces air into my mouth and nose.  It also has a humidifier so my dainty little mucous membranes don't dry out.  I mean, we wouldn't want this to be uncomfortable.  There is a setting which will cause the pressure to sneak up on me over 20 minutes.  The machine goes from 2 to 16 and evidently I need 16 to make sure I breathe.  This is sort of like sticking the hose you use to fill your flat tires into your mouth and breathing naturally.  There is a learning curve.  And the coolest part is there is a little computer chip that allows my doctor and the insurance company (which actually runs the world) to know when I go to bed, how many times I get up to pee, how often I stop breathing, etc.  How comforting is that! 

But the very best news is that my pulmonologist told me I'd be a new woman once I started using this machine regularly.  She didn't say who. So I told Dougie, who is a genius, a miracle worker, and a really cool guy no matter what his wife says, that I wanted to be a 30 year old, happy, healthy, slim woman with long heavy black hair, green eyes, and the IQ I actually had when I was 30.  He said he'd see what he can do.  I'm psyched!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Fiddy-Six

I'm fixin' to be fiddy-six.  Now, isn't that just a good enough age to be?  My hair is getting more and more silver, which is a beautiful color for hair.  I am free of trends and fashions.  I am comfortable in my thinning skin.  I laugh at myself. Sure I can speak my mind, but I can also speak my heart without embarrassment or fear.

I'm not crazy about the aches and pains and I'm certain  that I used to be smarter.  But I'm also certain I'm wiser now.  And at the end of the day, I reckon wisdom trumps smarts. 

I don't really understand the obsession our culture has with sustaining youth.  Just glance at those magazines in the checkout line.  Everyone of them promises the secret to feeling and looking younger.  Why is that?  At what age do we stop wishing to be a bit older and start wishing to be a bit younger?  I guess it must be around 27 for most people.  I think that's such a waste.  I'm so much cooler than I was at 27.

Why don't we just embrace the age we are now?  Right now, I'm older than I've ever been before and I'm really ok with that.  If I get smashed to death by a falling oak tree tomorrow, that would be ok with me, but I'd be a bit disappointed that I have so much more to do. My bucket list grows faster than my to-read list.   

There are a few pearls of wisdom I've collected from the great philosophers of the ages over my years.

  • Life is short, but it's wide
  • You can't always get what you want
  • Obla di, obla da life goes on
  • To everything there is a season and time to every purpose under heaven
  • What you think about me is really none of my business
  • Everything is holy now
  • Sometimes you just gotta
  • Listen
  • Love and knowledge are never wasted
  • Things will own you if you let them
  • There's a big problem with perfection
I'm sure there are more, but you know, I don't remember things like I used to.  I think it's because I'm taking up valuable memory space with gems such as the exact words used to break my heart every single time it's been broken.  That's a lot of times.  Lucky for me that thing heals.  And how boring would life be if you didn't have your heart broken by cruel middle school kids or a forgotten anniversary or the death of a friend or loving someone who didn't love you back?  My bridge master told me that if I didn't go set a third of the time, I wasn't bidding bravely enough. 

Be fearless!  You get better at screwing up the  more you practice. 

In the seconds before that big oak tree falls on me if I have any regrets, I hope to honk they are for things I've done and not for things I haven't tried.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From Tiny Acorns

The Cutest Acorn in the Garden
There is a connection between the falling of the great White Oak in my front yard and the month-early birth of my grandson. It’s a connection one feels with that other sense – the sense that bypasses the thinking brain and goes straight to the soul. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, I am sorry for you.

The oak tree is well over a hundred years old. One of six in my front yard. This one was closest to the house. My husband’s new car was parked in the driveway when the storm came. He and Blanche, our dog, were in the opposite side of the house. The tree broke off about three feet below ground and fell exactly where it would do the least amount of damage. It just clipped the corner of the garage with its grand trunk. A large limb lay across the hood of the car but it didn’t actually hit the car. When the car was moved, the limb remained in place. There wasn’t so much as a scratch in the car’s paint. It was all over and the wind was calm when I got home from work.

The tree easily could have cut our little house in two. It could have taken some other trees with it. It could have killed my family. It could have uprooted and torn up the driveway and the shade garden. It could have landed on our neighbor’s house. It could have. But it didn’t. It was the noble dying gesture of a very kind, great tree whom I loved and who loved me. No one can convince me otherwise.

My grandson was born in a different sort of storm. His mother, my daughter, is the strongest and bravest person I know. If I ever grow up, I hope to be like her. She jumped through hoops to maintain her fertility. Two years of Lupron without complaint. And her pregnancy was no bed of roses, though I didn’t know that until the very end.

She was in and out of the hospital a few times in the days before the baby was born. I kept getting long distance updates from my calm-sounding son-in-law. Back pain, inducing labor. . .then kidneys not working, fast fever. Plane tickets! Labor went nowhere so they broke her water and there was lots of blood. My baby couldn’t breathe and she saw stars. Within minutes she delivered not only my grandbaby, but an appendix that was headed south. I was headed north to Chicago.

By the time I got there, they were both out of intensive care. The storm had passed. But like the storm that took the tree, this one left more to do. My daughter will require more tests and treatment. But after a week in hospital they are home.

Collin Joseph, my perfect grandson was 7 pounds, 10 ounces at birth. We’re all relieved he didn’t go full term in that respect. He has taken to eating like a pro. He belches and farts and makes funny faces. He’s a champion pee-er and pooper! What a boy!

And it’s so much fun watching my perfect daughter and son-in-law enjoy him so much. My daughter is eight years older than I was when I had her and eight years more ready to be a mother. She’s calm and so very happy and grateful.

I found seedlings growing near the tree. They will be nurtured and grow strong long after I’m gone. The big tree has been cut into pieces that will all be used. I have several two foot trunk pieces to use as stools. Longer pieces of limbs will be used to make raised garden beds. Some will be firewood to warm the house during South Carolina’s two weeks of winter. I have a friend who does lathe work and a brother who can carve wood. Maybe some branches will be used for furniture. I will always have a piece of that tree. And so will Collin.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Please (pleadings from the nearly overwhelmed)

A meteor came within 7,500 miles of the Atlantic Ocean today. It takes way more frequent flier miles than that to get anywhere for free. I think I felt the whoosh mess up my hair.

But I know!. . . . Let's close down the space shuttle program.  A damn waste of money if you ask me.  I mean, we could be buying lots and and lots of bombs for the cost of one space mission.  And Lord knows it's more fun to blow up our neighbors than to save the Earth from a cosmic collision that could easily reduce all of us to the equivalent of dinosaur bones in some future-world museum.

Seriously, I'm pulling out my hair here!  Bump, my grandbaby, is about to make his grand entrance and I'm afraid he may be getting here late.  We need his brilliance to help us out of this mess, but give the boy a break.  He isn't even 0 years old  yet!

A big tree from my front yard gave it's life falling in exactly the only space it possibly could have landed in order to do the least amount of damage.  It clipped the corner of our garage.  Some damage there.  But it also landed on my husband's new car.  However, when he moved his car the tree held the limb up so that the car was only actually hit by leaves.  No damage.  A very kind tree's dieing gestured.  I loved that tree.

(By the way, those commercials where the insurance adjuster is there holding your hand while the storm is still blowing . . . . yeah, well in our case that was a whole lot of blowing!  We finally got a voice mail saying, "Your agent will be in the office on Monday morning."  Yeah, well the tree fell Friday afternoon.  Thanks.  I don't feel your good hands at all.  But that's another blog.)

So evidently the insurance God says we can hire someone to cut up the tree, but that person can only schlepp the tree to the dump.  He can't sell it to people who need it to heat their homes this winter.  And the tree cutter guy as  sure as heck fire isn't going to give it away. This is immoral.  Why do the insurance companies care?  Can you convince me that they are making so little money that they have to control things like that?  If I could split wood, I'd do it myself and give it away.

The problem with this culture is that it's totally insane.  We've been so conditioned to believe that politicians doing business by making deals is the way it must be done. The common citizen is just too stupid to understand politics.  We've been led to believe that making money makes the world go round.  That there is NOTHING that money can't solve.

Well excuse me and kiss my plump white derriere, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee picked by peasants in some far-off country you don't have to think about.  Just try to remember what you learned in Sunday school.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

It's not all that complicated.  When it comes to greed, just stop.  Let all of us who have some glimmer of morality left in us, all stop at once.  I'll have the tree-cutting guy cut up the grand tree and leave  it here.  I'll find something to do with it, even if it is to let it become homes for the little beings in the back yard.

Let's all go out on the limb (pardon that obvious pun) together.  Let's just have some increasingly uncommon common sense.  Let's don't waste.  Let's don't buy plastic bottles of water when we could just filter water and save a gazillion plastic bottles.  Let's all grow as much of our own food as possible.  Why should the average American meal travel 1,500 miles to get to our table when much of the world would love to have just our leftovers? 

Until we can switch to non-fossil fueled cars, let's all fill our tires to the pressure they are supposed to be filled and avoid jack rabbit starts.  Maybe car pool or take the bus or the train. 

Let's turn that thermostat to 76 or higher in the summer and 70 or lower in the winter.  Let's insulate.  Let's all water our gardens, if not flush our toilets, with water from rainbarrels.  Let's just stop acting crazy.

Please. I'm sincerely asking you, please.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Something to Offend Everyone

Yay!  It's show and tell time in America's politics.  Between the debating and the sexting, I'm not sure which disgusts me more.  I just have a few questions. 

First of all, if you dump a man in an eight year old pile of manure and he digs out of four years worth in  three years, how can you blame him for not getting rid of the whole pile? Is it possible to campaign without focusing on trashing ones opponent?

How will deepening the chasm between the haves and have-nots improve America?  Will decreasing taxes for the wealthy really create jobs?  How does that work again?  And what about making sure that only the haves get health care?  Just exactly how does that keep America great?  And what about the commercials that talk about how increasing taxes on fossil fuel will just devastate the economy?  Huh?

And guess what?  I have some answers.

It seems to me that anything that pushes us to use sustainable energy is a good idea.  Let's give companies that create clean, renewable energy a tax break.  Let's stop pretending that blowing the tops off mountains for coal and forcing chemicals into the planet to squeeze out some natural gas are good ideas.  Any second grader can tell you that they're horrible ideas.

A country full of healthy people is always stronger than a country two-thirds full of healthy people.  That's just common sense.  So let's make health care for everyone a priority. 

And instead of pretending that we are the world's police force and that we know best how other cultures should run their countries, why don't we bring our well-trained military home and put them to work here.  We've got plenty for them to do.  Our bridges are falling down.  Our roads, electricity grid, and sewage systems need lots of fixing. We have hurricanes, we have tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes.  We could send some Navy Seals into crime-ridden urban neighborhoods and get rid of gangs that poison lives.  Put some U.S. Army drill sergeants in charge of physical education in our public schools and we'd not have to worry about childhood obesity. 

The way I see it, if we stopped spending gazillions of dollars and the lives of our troops on blowing up countries and then paying to rebuild them, we could just have our troops rebuild our country.  It would be much less dangerous for them and much less expensive.  We could still have the best military defense in the world without having the biggest, most costly offense in the world. 

If we want to save money on Social Security, let's start by finding the people who get disability income who actually just don't know how or don't want to work.  There's another job for our military.  Let them investigate that.  I don't think someone should get their "gubment check" just cause their daddy  did.  Those scammers make me especially crazy when I learn of someone who really can't work, but can't seem to get disability income.

And why pay to jail non-violent criminals?  Whom does it help when we put deadbeat dads in jail?  Make the suckers work!  They should be picking up garbage and recycling or patching pot holes or detassling seed corn with the money going to their children and paying their way, while they live in dorms that need few guards.

Speaking of non-violent criminals, have you ever thought that the only reason organized crime is into drugs is because drugs are criminal?  If we spent money on detox and treatment instead of prison, I think our money would be better spent.  Let's save incarceration for the really nasty people.  God knows there are enough of them.  Of course if they burglarize or mug to buy drugs, then they are nasty criminals who need to be incarcerated.

And while we're on the topic of drugs, I'm subject to random drug tests at work.  That makes sense to me.  I think everyone should be.  Including people who collect any sort of income that comes from tax dollars.  If you are spending your disability or SSI check (aka my tax dollars) on drugs, I think your check should be immediately stopped.  Talk about savings!

The way it is now, if someone has been in prison for 10 years or more, they are probably broken when they are released regardless of what they were incarcerated for.  If we worried less about making the experience miserable and more about kicking their behinds to learn how to live on the outside, perhaps we'd have fewer offenders.  That would save a bundle and leave room in the nasty prisons for people who are truly wicked.

I think our government has a lot to do.  Why on earth do they waste time on worrying about who marries whom or someone smoking an occasional joint or even the sexual escapades of politicians?  If my plumber does a good job on Monday and leaves my house better than it was, I'll happily pay her and hire her again when I  need her, even if she if she gets stupid and smokes pot and sexts strangers on Saturday.  But these days finding a good, honest plumber or politician is getting more rare than hen's teeth.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


A recent trip to England led me to write this socio-culturally significant piece.


Oh, pour me another pint of cider
Sweet elixer of the tree
God knows there's nothing wrong with apples
And cider's very good for me.

Oh, pour me another pint of cider
Shining, warming liquid gold
Happy, hardy rounds of laughter
Ring with every story told.

Oh, pour me another pint of cider
Wholesome sunshine in a glass
Don't dare say I've had too many
Until I fall down on my ass.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cider, tea, and communion wine

I recently returned from a trip of a lifetime to England.  I didn't hang out in London at all.  Instead I spent nine days inspecting very rural southwestern England.  The real England I'd like to think.

I experienced places of worship from pre-Druid through new Druid.  I lit candles in some incredible cathedrals, wandered around 900 year old country churches, marveled at Stonehenge and Avebury Circle, meditated at the Temple of the Goddess, and read some Gospel at John Wesley's pulpit. And though technically not places of worship, I experienced more than a couple of tea rooms and a pub or two.  And while you probably think those places didn't have much in common, I reckon they really do.

People like to congregate.  The ancient Druids liked getting together at the huge, wondrous stone circles at certain times of the year.  They drummed and danced, probably.  The cemeteries at the old stone churches tell the story of generations of congregants who met there to sing and pray.  The magnificent cathedrals with their elaborate carvings, acoustics and grand scale continue to provide places for people to perform grand ceremonies. And in Glastonbury, the Temple of the Goddess provides a place for people to gather and perform brand new ancient rituals. 

You might think that the pubs are about cider and the tea rooms about tea and scones.  But let's face it, you can drink cider and tea at home.  Those places, too, are about congregating and rituals.  All these places are about community getting together to wonder at miracles. 

Surely the ancient people who somehow put Stonehenge together were in awe of the miracle of the celestial cycles.  And people who visit Stonehenge are in awe of the mystery of how it was built.  People lighting candles in the grandeur of the cathedrals wonder at the peace and grace they feel. Women in the Temple of the Goddess perform Blessing Ways for infants, marvelling at the miracle of new life.  And the boys down at The Royal Oak lift their pints and laugh and wonder about the glue that holds people from all walks of life together, seemingly making psychotherapy obsolete.

We could argue all day long about the correct place and method to worship.  But if we're going to do it, let's all agree on a place and time and bring a dish to pass and a jug of cider to share. Maybe while we're there we can take time to stand in awe and gratitude for the miracle of the oak trees growing from acorns and then all our debating won't have been in vain.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hammer on the Thumb Clinic - Give Me a Break

I've a great idea and I think Medicaid and Medicare should start paying for this immediately.  I'm going to open a new series of clinics to treat a number of problems.

The first, and possibly most overdue, is the Hammer on the Thumb Clinic.  For a tidy sum, you can be admitted to my new clinic for the treatment of bad knees.  Over the course of a couple of weeks, specially trained (I'm opening a training center soon) therapists will come into your designer decorated room and smash your thumbs (alternatively) with a hammer.  You'll soon forget about your knee pain all together. 

Headaches troubling you?  Check into one of my new SPUTH Clinics.  Stomach Punch for the Treatment of Headache is an idea whose time has come.  I know.  The last time someone punched me square in my gizzard I stopped complaining about headache the second I stopped puking.  I think it will work for you, too!

And finally, my piece de resistance will be ViCTA! (Valium Clinic for the Treatment of Alcoholism)   I must admit that this isn't a new idea.   Back in the day, alcoholism was often treated as a Valium deficiency.  Then the whole addiction "theory" came into being and it fell out of fashion.  But I'm thinking with Methadone clinics being used to treat Heroin addiction, the time has come to bring it back.

I mean if we can treat one opiate addiction with another addictive opiate (Heroin with Methadone) surely I could make a gazillion dollars in my Valium Clinics for the Treatment of Alcoholism, don't you think?

I'm thinking about opening some sort of treatment clinic for broken thumbs, too.  After all, I have my retirement to think about.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Ant Meth

I've spoken with the bug men from the local university and have been told that I need to feed my unwanted ants more of the bait they like best.  I'd stopped doing that because when I put it out the ants brought their ant aunts and uncles and 17th cousins twice removed and I didn't really want to see more ants.  But now I understand that this works like a meth house. 

I offer them the poison.  They like it.  A lot.  They get all crazy and run home and tell their friends along the way, "You have got to get down there and try this stuff!  It's insane, Ant!  I mean, it's the best."  So all their friends and the friends of the friends of the friends come to the buffet.  They think it's the best stuff since sugar.  They load up on it.

Most of them grab all they can and then run home to stash it and run back and get more.  Some of them, however, only get as far as the front yard of the ant meth house and fall down crazy.

I don't have microscope, so I don't know if their little ant teeth turn black and rot out or if they visually age the equivalent of 30 years in the equivalent of  a couple of months.  But if this is really working like meth, that's how they look.  And I don't know if their ant IQs plummet and they forget to shower or completely dress.  I really don't know if they have started killing each other for the poison or if they've begun selling their larva to the highest bidder to get more poison.  I hope not.

Don't get me wrong, I am trying to get rid of the ants.  I just hope it isn't as awful for them as methamphetamine is while it's getting rid of people.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kitchen Drawl

I'm not ready to start flying the Confederate flag or anything, but after living in the South for seven years, I believe my kitchen is acquiring  a drawl.

Recently a friend from work gave me a big mess of collards.  My husband, a Canadian, pretends they don't exist.  More for me, I say! I cooked those green babies with a bit of bacon, some onions, garlic and olive oil.  When they began to get just a bit crispy around the edges of some of the leaves, I added some chicken stock so they'd steam nice and soft.  I was in hog heaven!

And grits.  It was quite a few years before I discovered this emotional experience.  The trick with grits is that you melt in Velveeta.  I know Velveeta isn't real cheese.  I'm from Wisconsin after all.  But when it comes to grits, it's gotta be Velveeta.  Grits don't claim to be health food.  But they are proudly comfort food.

Sweet tea is not the same thing as sweetened iced tea in the North.  Sweet tea is tea mixed with simple syrup.  It's sswwweeeeeet and cold.  If you order tea down here, don't expect a cup of Earl Gray.   I don't drink sweet tea, but it's not because I don't want to.  I've been know to mix a quarter glass of sweet tea with three quarters unsweetened tea. 

I still maintain some Northern sensibilities.  Even a girl who grew up eating head cheese and blood sausage isn't going to eat chitterlings (chittlins).  They are pig guts and just wrong.  If you ever hear I've eaten them, please come and do a Yankee intervention immediately.

Now let me explain that the Southern way to cook collards or any greens isn't really much like my way.  Have you heard of fat back?  It's the uber bacon.  If you like bacon - and you know you do - fat back would make your toes curl up in sheer joy.  It's more fat and more salt than bacon.  It's to die for . . . literally, I'm afraid.

So I heard on the news last night that in addition to the Bible Belt, the South is also now the Diabetes Belt.  Is it any wonder?  When I tell people down here about Northern Wisconsin fish boils their eyes glaze over with pity just before they offer me a fried chicken biscuit with gravy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On, Wisconsin!

In my last column I made known my opinion about tenure and unions that add a level of bureacracy.  Then I stood back and realized that people may read it 'round the corner and think I'm against the protests in Wisconsin.

I've lived in Wisconsin.  I love Wisconsin.  I'd move there quickly if I had a job and could move my home there.  And one of the things I love about Wisconsin is Madison.  It's not just a city, it's an attitude.  And it's an attitude I wish I could import to South Carolina.

The fact that gazillions of people peacefully march on the capital square and make their voices heard above the political machinery makes my heart proud. I hope it catches on.  I hope people in every state start telling the government officials and their owners where to get off. 

What's going on in Wisconsin isn't just about teacher unions, though governmental employee rights to collective bargaining is in there.  It's about saying, "Oh, no you don't!" to the government that is changing the rules in the middle of the game.  THAT'S the part I love.

Even if I don't agree with everything they're are arguing for, I love the fact that so many are moved to speak out.  Is that cool or what?  Isn't that what this country is supposed to do?  Ya, ya betcha it is.

So here's to you, Wisconsin people!  Tonight I'll have some brats and beer in South Carolina, wishing I could be lifting a Spotted Cow with you at the Great Dane.  Yous people of Wisconsin are my heros!

Lay a Little Learning On Me

I’ve been pretty confused about the whole teachers’ right to unions lately. I wanted to know how the states without teachers’ unions compare to the states with them. Not in terms of how the teachers fare so much as the overall education. Here’s some of what I found.

Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, and Louisiana are the ten states without teacher unions now.  Virginia is a bit of an oddity in this marginally scientific study y there's one in every group),  but the other nine states are  in the bottom third of poor states. All (but Virginia) are in the bottom third of ACT/SAT scores. But nine of these ten states rank in the top quarter of teacher salary/cost of living index.

So does that mean that well-paid teachers don’t necessarily produce smart students? Well, my little gathering of research can’t prove that. But I believe it has a long finger pointed in that direction. And that is not to say that good teachers don't teach well.  I just don't think good teachers are necessarily well paid or that poor teachers aren't.

I think what we need is teachers to be freed to teach. I don’t think unions do that. I think they just add more bureaucracy.

There was a great idea once to hire people who’d been working outside of education for some time to teach. The idea was twofold. First, it would fill a shortage of teachers. Secondly, it was supposed to create teachers who weren’t boggled down with all the how-to-be-a-teacher rules that hadn’t, for the most part, been working. I thought it was a brilliant idea.

I thought it was so brilliant that I decided to become one of those non-traditional teachers. Evidently, no one had told my school that creativity in the classroom was a good thing. No one told them that the idea was to lay some learnin’ on those chillen. They didn’t like the way I taught.

However, at the end of the year (after the school and I had decided to part ways) my students’ standardized test scores came back. The students I learned with (taught) blew the school’s record out of the water.

I’m afraid that unions don’t do much to free teachers, who could then free students to learn. I’m afraid that they just add another layer of rules of how to be teachers. The silliest, of course being “You can’t fire me, I have tenure.” and “That’s not the way it’s done.” Duh, the way it’s done doesn’t work, so anything else has a better chance.

Administration and the community for whom they work should treat teachers like respected, responsible adults if they deserve it and fire them if they don’t. If the students are learning and working, administration and the community should stand back and let it happen. That’s all. If a teacher is doing a good job he should be rewarded. If he’s doing a bad job he should be strongly encouraged to change careers.

I remain skeptical about needing teacher unions, but I’m sure we need common sense in our schools.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Where Is Moses?

My co-workers and I have been ordered to make more bricks with no straw.  Fallen fellow slaves must be stepped over.  No one has time to bury them.  The overseers in the capital have informed us it doesn't matter if the bricks are any good or not.  We are not allowed to test the bricks or even care if they are strong and straight.  If they crumble once they are out of our hands, it doesn't matter.  We use the crumbs to make more bricks that won't be strong.

The only thing that matters is how many bricks we turn out per day. Actually, that's not even true.  The only thing that matters is how many bricks the ledger says we make per day.

You see, it isn't allowed to care about the bricks.  No one cares about the bricks.  No one uses bricks anymore.  There is concrete and steel and the overseers would rather tax us to create new concrete and import steel. 

There are so many bricks and bits of bricks and broken, crumbled bricks on the streets. They hurt the feet of the overseers.  They mess up the landscape.  Sweep them away!  Forget them!

Of course, the overseers must appear to care a little bit about bricks.  So we are employed to make them and fix them.  But it's not that important to appear to care about bricks.  Bricks don't vote.  And since bricks aren't important, those who work with bricks aren't important either.

We should be damn happy that we aren't bricks ourselves.  We should be damn happy that our overseers don't use the whip more often than they do.  Thank you, thank you Masta!

Please don't let me fall today.  I don't want to be stepped over by those with whom I work.  Please don't let me fall.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

All Outta Proportion

I work in a situation that is often dangerous.  I work with murderers, rapists, thieves, liars and sociopaths. . . . and then there are my patients.  So you'd think that nothing much could rattle the clinic as a whole, wouldn't you?  But you'd be wrong.

Today a patient spotted a little lizard in my office.  It was a shy, cute little thing.  When I was alone I gave it a little saucer of water and some goldfish food because I was fresh out of lizard food.  I named my new friend Jarrod after a guy who used to work down the hall and played a mean air guitar.

But word got out and #2 boss freaked out.  I was afraid she'd scare Jarrod, so I closed my office door in her face.  Maintenance was called to dispose of Jarrod.  I stood fast.  Then #1 HR person arrived and Jarrod was ordered out.  I gave him a ride in a coffee cup and he was relocated to a tree outside the back door. 

Let me just restate some things for you.  My life and the lives of the people with whom I work have been threatened.  I've been assaulted at work.  People to whom human life is worth less than their next high are constantly in the building along with people who believe the CIA is ordering them to kill all people who have on red shirts. People have tried to kill themselves in my office.  These things are no big deal. 

But God forbid there is a 4 inch lizard in my office.  It's unsafe.  It might have germs.  I just don't get it.

Of course, I'm happy for Jarrod.  I'm sure he's happy in the tree.  Either that or he's been eaten by a crow.  Either way, I'm sort of jealous

Monday, February 21, 2011


I'm just too tired to be clever right now.  But my beets and turnips are planted. Hey, some days you just have to prioritize, minimize and rationalize.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why Don't We Do It In the Road

I've been thinking about Earth Day.  April 22, guys, time to start planning.

The first Earth Day, my class and I walked the streets of Carthage Illinois and picked up trash, which we deposited on the court house lawn.  Unfortunately, I don't remember recycling it after we made our point. But now older, wiser and oh so much more beautiful, I think it's time for a little more street walking.

Hopefully, we all take a daily walk of some sort, even if it's from the car to the office door.  So I propose we start carrying a bag with us and pick up stuff along the way.  Only this time, instead of dumping it on the court house lawn, recycle it.

If you want to do this in style, you could visit the Universal Pantheist zazzle store linked from and buy a tote bag, Tshirt, or hat to wear while you do this, but you really don't need that part.  The beauty of this activity, is that you can do it any day, wearing anything from a business suit to nothing at all.  While the latter may better show your love of all things natural, it may also get you arrested. 

Anyway, the idea isn't about what you wear, it's about what you pick up and recycle.  And I think the idea could catch on.  If others see an unlittered area, or better yet, see a respectable person such as yourself picking up litter and recycling it, they will surely want to do the same.  And I think they'll be less likely to toss an aluminum can or a (gasp!) plastic bottle  out their car window.

And folks will see you always carrying your reusable bag and ask what's up.  And you can tell them what's up.  And the Earth will hold you lovingly and ob-la-di, ob-la-da life will go on.  It's such a small thing to do for Mother.

You were always waiting for this moment to arrive, so come on. . . . . why don't we do it in the road?

Friday, January 28, 2011

What's Your Number?

This is a Flash Fiction Friday 55 hosted by Mr. Knowitall. For more 55's pay him a visit -

I long for the time before cholesterol was invented. Back when bacon was a perfectly acceptable meat to have with eggs, and real ice cream was a wholesome treat. Back when you didn’t have to take drugs that can cause diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, bloating, fatigue, and yellowing of the eyes to bring the number down.

Friday, January 21, 2011

That Girl!

This is a Flash Fiction Friday 55 hosted by Mr. Knowitall. For more 55's pay him a visit -



Now the table has turned.

Do I ground my 88 year old mother for running with a wild younger crowd, for getting into mischief with these rowdy Baptists and getting in a wreck?

This could have been so much worse! I was worried sick! Why didn’t you call me!

There is symmetry and justice here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ding Dong. . . Universe Calling

Some people can say So and so was the love of my life. I’ve only been able to say So and so was the love of my decade. Or of my year or month. The same goes for what I’ve been called by the Universe to do.

I've got to say I’ve never heard a deep bass voice say, "Hey, Fay. . . This is God and I want you to do such and such."  I guess I've been more nudged than called to do various things at various times. Possibly, I’ve been silently called. That is, I may have been meant to do things that I did and I never realized their importance. It’s sort of like the tiny movement of air from the flutter of a butterfly eventually causing a hurricane.

The other day I told a young lady in the waiting room that she was beautiful. This is something I can do in a socially acceptable way now that I’m fiddy fav. Anyway, maybe that statement was just enough to keep her from feeling suicidal. And maybe she will go on to tutor a kid who decides to finish school, and that kid grows up to be the father of a president. It could happen.

The truth is, every little thing we do affects everything else in some way. There’s just no getting around it – each one of us is important and called to do things.

Some people are called in a loud booming voice and have no question in their minds about it. And though our "calls" are just as important, some of us only hear ours in echo or we don’t even hear them at all.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Are you feeling lucky?

I've decided to enter the contest described at by Mama Badger, and to offer one of my own.
This should be especially fun since I've no idea who LG, et al are.  I'm just supposed to answer these questions and submit them. 
Hey, I'm feeling lucky, are you? 
If you answer the first set of questions, let Mama Badger know.
When you answer the second set, let me know. 

The Questions:

1) Who is MB's all time favorite Sesame Street character?
Coach, the bartender. His honesty and dry martini won MB's heart.

2) What is LG's favorite color?
Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese icing.

3) If you were in prison, what would the crime be?
Murder.  Definitely murder, not divorce.  A clever, subtle murder that was nearly perfect.

4) Dark and swarthy or blond and beautiful? (which is really like asking who's cuter, LG or little o. What, you're not their Mom. You can have a favorite
OK, now for Fay's quiz contest.  Answer each question totally honestly and let me know, via your comment how to find your answers.  I will choose the winner sometime in the near future. Winner will receive an all expense paid trip to someplace really cool, or something else.  Prize and winner will be determined by me and only me, however, I'm open to bribes.
Now for the questions:
1) True or false:  I feel much the same today.
2) True or false:  I have never cared for room temperature
3) Have you ever felt beside yourself and looked really fast and found out you weren't there?
4) Do you remember the 70s?
5) What is the meaning of life?
6) Give an analogy for something like a star.
Well, that's it.  Six questions.   I'm a psychotherapist and I'll know if you cheat, so don't even try it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Microfiction Monday - Jumbo Hangover

Welcome to Microfiction Monday.

                                   Where a picture paints 140 characters.

Susan over at Stonyriver ( ) hosts Microfiction Monday The rules are simple,to use Susan's picture she posts then compose a story up to 140 characters including spaces and punctuation.

This is this weeks picture and my story to go with.

Marla had it with her dead-beat husband, Al.

“I told you not to order the jumbo juicy froo-froo island cocktail. Now get up before I slice that hangover right outta you!”

Friday, January 14, 2011

Astrologically Beside Myself

Oh My Grimm!  I've always been outgoing and gregarious, a born leader with a fiery ego.  Born on July 29 I am Leo, hear me roar.

But now the Astrologers of the world say July 29 means I'm a Cancer.  A sensitive, touchy-feely, empathic crab. 

This explains why I got my tail out of management to get back into doing psychotherapy, no doubt.  I got bumped from the fire sign and sputtered into the water.  As a Leo, I knew I was always right, even when I was flat out wrong.  As a Cancer, I'm too unstable to know if I'm right or wrong, but I'm just so much cooler and laid back.  I could tell you what to do when I was a Leo, but I'll listen to you now. 

Yes, this is going to work.  Well, I mean, I don't know for sure, but I sort of feel like this is going to work.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I am a full-figured woman.  I have curves and I just had a bowl of vanilla ice cream that I didn't need for purposes of nutrition.  But it was just so tasty after the pizza I had for dinner.  Sometimes I choose to do things that are not good for me. 

However, I'm not a public school charged with teaching children - the very children, by the way who will be running nursing homes in a couple of decades.  They will be the airline pilots, doctors, nurses, plumbers, and police officers when we are old.

Think about that when you think about public education.

Now, how big a decision is it to get the junk food out of the school cafeterias? Sure we can say that parents should educate their children about what foods to choose at school, and parents should do that.  Parents should also educate their children about not smoking, using street drugs and alcohol.  The difference is that schools don't buy alcohol and cigarettes and offer them to children. 

I don't even see what the debate is about.  Is your school selling junk food for snacks and offering grease and salt covered carbs in the cafeteria?  Guess who pays disability payments for people with obesity and nutrition related illnesses? I'll give you a hint. . .  we do.  And even if don't care about the health of future generations, don't you want your future proctologist to grow up on brain food?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Really Important Moments

Someone recently commented to me about moments I’ll never forget. Here’s a partial list:

- Moving into the house and Mom asking me if I wanted my bed (crib) in my parents’ room or upstairs with my sister.

- Papa setting me down just inside the front door just after getting my first pair of glasses and just standing there looking at my house for the first time.

- Sitting on the front steps of the post office with Barbara on a sunny, summer, rural Midwestern day and saying, “I’ll never forget this moment.”

- Lying on my back on a blanket in my back yard with Becky, surrounded by comic books, but being more interested in the cloud parade.

- Being at the skating rink for the monthly junior high party, when all the popular kids laughed at me and made glasses with their fingers when I skated past.

- Watching little, very bright lights dart and hover through the trees at the lake with Carol and trying to figure out what they were, wondering if we should tell someone.

- Sitting with Deborah in her parents’ car on top of a hill on a dirt road. We had followed a lot of cars out to the isolated location and watched, scared out of our heads when the passengers of the cars we followed left their cars with lanterns, climbed a fence and formed a circle in a pasture.

- Riding a horse, Blue, on a smooth, grassy field and letting him – for the first and only time – run as fast as he wanted..

Of course I remember the first time I fed my babies, bits of my wedding day(s), graduations, stuff like that. And those are amazing memories. And they are memories shared by lots of people.

The memories in this list are more personal memories. I don’t have photographs of them other than the pictures that are indelibly printed on my memory. They are events that in someway or another changed me or gave me direction. There is a seemingly endless supply of these personal memories, though I can’t tell you the zip code of my office or if I have laundry in the dryer.

You just never (well, unless you’re sitting on the post office steps) know what moments are going to be the important ones. Therefore I strongly suggest we all live as if each moment is pivotal, immensely important and life-defining.  Because truth be told, I reckon they are.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Idiot Warning

Here in my part of South Carolina we are experiencing a winter storm.  It isn't a surprise.  Our weather people have been warning us for a couple of days and my sinuses have been warning me for at least three.  Everything is closed, including my office, which hasn't happened since I've lived here.

So far there are about 7 fluffy inches of snow covering the ground at my house.  I understand it's ranging to about 10 inches in the counties next door.  The sleet and freezing rain are predicted to start soon and doubtless there will be power lines down.  It sometimes takes a couple of days to get power back once it's gone around here.  That's a drag since my house is one of those Gold Medallion Homes  where everything is run by electricity.  I have a fireplace, but previous owners put a cap on the chimney and bolted the flue shut so even if I had firewood, I couldn't use it.  But I have lots of quilts, soft Freudian slippers I got for Christmas, water, and enough food to get by for a good while.  I'm not too worried.

Coming from the reasonable North, it was difficult to understand how less than a couple of feet of snow could close anything down.  But I understood more when I watched the local news this morning.  A weather girl stood shivering in the street in her stylish, high healed boots, cute little hat and no gloves and explained that the State Police was asking people to stay off the roads.

The blue weather girl had to jump to safety when an SUV came twirling down the street toward her.  Ten or so minutes later she came back, this time with gloves.  The camera no longer showed her boots.  She was standing next to a building and held up a long handled ice scraper and explained to her audience what it was and what it was used for.  I shit you not, she actually did that. 

Then they showed the big highway.  One lane was packed and slushy from cars and big trucks sliding along.  Evidently, both of South Carolina's snow plows were busy in Columbia.  The weather girl read a notice from the State Police that explained about black ice and urged people to stay home.  The Police notice stated that it didn't matter if you had four wheel drive, an SUV or how many Confederate flags your vehicle is wearing, it's just not safe to drive it right now.

Then the weather girl interviewed a young father in his pickemup truck with three small children crammed in beside him - no seat belts, of course.  She asked him where they were going and he proudly told all the television audience that he and his children were going shopping for sleds.  I'm not making this stuff up!

So now I understand why 7 inches of snow puts us in a state of emergency.  It has much less to do with the snow and much more to do idiots. I understand tomorrow is supposed to be worse.  As I said, I've got enough provisions to get by if the electricity goes, but gosh I'd hate to miss the local weather in the morning!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

And the Beat Goes On

My baby girl has a seed planted in her. Yes, it’s true. After years of rather nasty treatment to preserve her fertility, a miracle occurred and she popped out a seed at the right time and some magic happened.

She’s in the family way, preggers, has a bun in the oven, she’s with child. . . . . yes, boys and girls, my baby is knocked up! I’m Nana Foo. Miracle is due to arrive in July.

I’ve been trying to remember how to knit. But what keeps coming to mind is the look on the doctor’s face when she told me I “had a passenger.” This is the same doctor who told me I didn’t have much of a chance to conceive and less to carry full term. I keep remembering how huge I got and how my father would “moo” at me when walked in. I remember how my young husband and I naively took a backgammon board and a deck of cards to the hospital with us to pass time during labor and how I actually punched my doctor (yep, same doc) during labor. It was the only time I’ve ever hit anyone.. I still remember being in awe of my body making the perfect food for my perfect baby.

I can remember specific times and places when people told me: A) my baby looked like Winston Churchill, B) she looked like Alfred Hitchcock, C) I was starving her because all she got was breast milk. Thankfully, I remember my wonderful father-in-law, who was the closest thing to Marcus Welby in real life, telling me to choose one person and one book to listen to and disregard everyone else because everyone would feel free to tell me how to raise my baby. He was right as usual.

I remember playing roll the baby up, roll the baby down and singing, singing, singing to her. Sometimes I sang the books I read to her from about 6 month pregnant on. She never complained.

I remember drawing diagrams explaining how the tiny seed from the daddy beats the odds to hook up with the egg in the mommy and then continue a fantastically real journey from there to birth. And I remember the call from the Kindergarten teacher after she corrected her classmate when he told everyone the stork was going to bring him a baby brother or sister.

I was always in awe of her. I had no business having her. She is too perfect.

And gorgeous! No one has compared her with Winston Churchill for over 30 years. Yet she has been through some things that would give weaker people excuses. Those things have given her strength, grace, beauty and wisdom. And if I were going to grow up, I would want to be like her.

And dang if she’s not fixin’ to be a mom. What do you think about that?

I’ve been thinking about circles within circles within in the Big Circle. And I can draw all the diagrams I want in as much detail as possible and this is still a Miracle any ol’ way you want to define it.

And let me tell you it’s like I won the lottery without a ticket. I’ve been promoted to Queen of the Universe and I absolutely don’t deserve it. I’ve been elected president, and I didn’t even run for office. I won the Oscar and I’ve never even been in a movie.
I am Nana, hear me roar.

I want to thank all the people who helped me achieve this height. Dr. Korte, who got my baby girl here safely; Dr. Chatman, whose skill has helped my baby preserve fertility; my wonderful son-in-law Tim, who probably had a bit to do with this; my baby girl who is absolutely perfect, and Papa God the Universe who brought us all to this place and time, and who continues to make miracles daily.

And from here on, you may call me the Reverend Dr. Nana Foo, the most Blessed Person Alive.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday, January 02, 2011Microfiction Monday #64

Welcome to Microfiction Monday, where a picture paints 140 characters, or even fewer. Here's this week's picture, with my own story for it -- if you've written one, please let Stoney River know.

The case of the Esaerg Laer, cult of the dyslectic Tucson witches, was solved when Det. Chapeau found this clue at the scene of the crimes.