Tuesday, November 30, 2004


The server crash which caused major headaches for Gordon, caused a minor inconvenience for me. Now everything appears to be working, I simply have to get it all back in place. I don't think I'm going to worry about it all tonight though.

Why put off to tomorrow what you can do today? Because, I can.

Typing Blind

For some reason, Blogger is not letting me in to see my blog. It will let me see that some posts have been posted twice, and another program will let me delete posts, but I have to guess if I'm deleting posts where people have left comments.

I hope I guessed right.

Then again...I don't know if this will post or not.

I suppose I should consider this the first lesson of the day....nothing is certain.

Monday, November 29, 2004

A Post

The day went by fast.
Errands doctors pharmacists.
So you get Haiku.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

And Now A New Routine

Church is tough for me without Amy there.

Church is tough for Amy when she knows she isn't physically up to worshipping God as she is used to doing by leading singing.

We decided today to hold each other up. If she's physically able, she'll come to church to help me cope, even if she can't sing. She'll hold onto me until she's able to stand on her own.

A wise woman once told me, "sometimes when you least want to be in church is when you most need to be in church."

I married that woman.

Occasionally I have my wise moments too.

But now vacation is ending, my alarm rings in a few hours. My sleep schedule is all out of whack yet I feel this desire to spend an hour or two with my wife rather than writing.

I will add this addendum: we've evidently conned convinced a young friend to at least temporarily move into our rambling and mostly empty house when she moves back to San Antonio in January. That too simply feels like the right thing to do for everyone involved. She'll save a few shekels. It'll give Amy a little help so she doesn't feel quite so overwhelmed, and the arrangement will provide Amy with good spiritual company too.

Of course, we're all a bunch of introverts so we may not even notice each other.

I suppose the lesson in all this is that every once in a while to see straight, we have to lean…on each other.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Dimes, Dolls, And Dogs

"Poverty wants much; but avarice, everything" - Publilius Syrus - 100 BC

Amy and I spent the morning putting more stuff up for auction on Ebay and preparing to auction off other items. Today's venture included several lots of silver dimes. That meant counting out coins, recounting them...sorting them into some type of order and deciding how to break them into lots. It also meant washing our hands a lot...coins are filthy but these particular coins seem a little extra grimy in my mind.

They may not sell at all but even if they do I'm sure I won't get what I paid for them. I bought them when the price of silver was going through the roof in the 1970's because the Hunt brothers were trying to corner the silver market. Everyone else was selling their silver...I of course decided it was the ideal time to invest.
I was in college at the time and that incident saved me the cost of an economics course. I learned all I've really ever needed to know about economics: that "buy low, sell high" thing is true (the trick is to buy low), and I was never going to be an investor. Truthfully that lesson was well worth it.

More importantly I confronted a characteristic in myself theretofore unchallenged...greed. I was easily sucked into the idea of making a fast buck without having to even think much less work for it. It's another one of those harsh realities I'm thankful I learned early because there have been plenty of similar temptations that have crossed my path in the decades since.

I hung onto those dimes though...for a while I must admit I thought the market might skyrocket again and I'd recoup my original investment. Then I simply enjoyed having the physical reminder nearby whenever I heard the seductive whisper of financial scheming echo around my dreams.

Of course, if my luck holds true to form, silver prices will soar again....about 9 days from now - after all my Ebay auctions have ended.

Anyway, Amy and I decided these days we need spendable dollars in the bank, so we're hawking my silver reminders of foolish greed on Ebay.

Amy is paying a price too...cataloging Beanie Babies which she bought by the boatload years ago. Our oldest daughter is fond of walking by those dolls and saying sarcastically, "So that's where my college fund went." Unlike my dabbling in dimes, Amy bought the beanie babies because she liked them. She wanted something to collect and wasn't looking for an investment or a quick buck. Plus, she had a friend who worked at a store which sold them.

That friend would call when the newest beanie shipments arrived. I remember thinking how it was like Amy had a "beanie baby pusher" - a kindly woman who sold her little stuffed rabbits and cats instead of methamphetamine and crack. The beanie babies are eventually going up on Ebay too...the only one who will miss them is our special needs dog Winston who runs past them several times a day wishing with all his might that he could destroy them. Somehow we taught him the Beanie Babies are off limits. I'm not sure how we drove that lesson home - I wish I knew - he hasn't learned anything else we've tried to teach him.

Then again, Winston never bought silver dimes when silver prices were at their highest in history.

A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.
He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe.
- Proverbs 28:25-26

Friday, November 26, 2004

Untrustworthy Part Deux

Well, what a happy little surprise this turned out to be.

A month or so ago I attempted to solicit my numerous readers...okay all six of you...to "Google bomb" Yahoo bill pay, by linking them to the word "untrustworthy."
Quite frankly, I thought the experiment had failed because if you type in untrustworthy in Google, Yahoo bill pay doesn't come up, at least not in the top few pages. I didn't search too deep but evidently there are a lot of things, people, institutions that merit that adjective. It was a Google bomb dud.

Anyway, this morning I was reading that Microsoft is beta testing its own search engine to compete with Yahoo and Google.
On a whim I typed in "untrustworthy"....and guess what comes up as number one? Well, you don't have to guess...simply click here.

How fun!

An MSN search bomb!

It has to be one of the first.

Take a bow....I couldn't have done something so silly yet somehow satisfying without your help. Okay, some might say "help" is the wrong word...they might opt for a phrase like "aiding and abetting"; such is the nature of semantics.

In any case, it worked.

At least for now...I'm certain someone more untrustworthy will come along....eventually.

In that you can put your trust.

Crazed And Confused

I couldn't sleep, so I thought I'd head out in a few minutes to check out the local stores and, even though I'm on vacation, phone in a few "aren't these folks crazy for getting up so early to shop" stories, before I...um...went shopping.

I know it's crazy, but I've had 3 cups of coffee and I sort of like these studies in human behavior.

Amy had a rough night so she's opting to sleep in. This is serious. She is either really tired, or she's taken a peek at our bank balance and realized there's not much sense in getting too hyped up about early morning bargains.

I can suggest to those of you thinking of getting out there and shopping today that you can avoid the insanity and instead buy all your friends books this year. I happen to have two handy recommendations: RealLivePreacher.com and The World According to Chuck.

Conveniently I have links to both on the side of this web page.

I actually only finished reading Chuck's book last night - both are wonderful collections of essays so you can pick them up and put them down at your own pace. They're great for the nightstand, or the bathroom and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

I'm plugging Chuck's book a little harder because he actually mentioned me in his acknowledgements (heck that should be worth something) but I also think it will really appeal to the voyeuristic nature of bloggers who enjoy getting a chronicled look at the lives of others.

To be fair I will note Chuck has one error in his book - which every other journalist in the country who wrote on the topic made as well. It's not really an error, more of backhanded accusation that Clear Channel initiated a boycott of the Dixie Chicks during their "I hate President Bush" tour (page 209). For the record it was Cumulus Radio that instituted the Dixie Chick ban. Clear Channel never did anything to the Dixie Chicks on a company wide basis, although I'm sure there were stations that stopped playing their records at the time, much like stores removed Tylenol from their shelves years ago when some nut put poison in one bottle somewhere. If there's a risk a product is going to cost you customers, you take it off the shelves. It should be noted too I work for Clear Channel and have seen the company unfairly accused of everything from homogenizing radio to causing Wolfman Jack to have a raspy voice.

I swear I also found one typo in Chuck's book....but now I can't recall exactly where.

I mention that really only to drive Chuck crazy...crazier.

RealLivePreacher.com is a perfect book for anyone on your shopping list, be they religious or not. Okay if they're fundamentalists, legalists, unbending and unforgiving "Christians" it might be better given as a "white elephant" gift to them...but they could still use it.

I've had to read the copy I have of Gordon's book carefully since the purchased copies I have are being given as gifts and too many coffee stains or bent pages might make the receivers think they're receiving used material...or worse that they're being "re-gifted."

Gordon is giving us a free copy...since we're such close friends...one of these days.

I mention that....only to drive Gordon crazy....er crazier.

Okay... off to the crazy land of post Thanksgiving shoppers...It's 5 a.m., I don't want to be late.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

We May Be Onto Something Here

I awoke moments ago from my Thanksgiving nap. Well, technically since we actually had Thanksgiving yesterday, this was my day after Thanksgiving nap, but since today is Thanksgiving for the rest of the America it's actually my Thanksgiving nap even though it's the day after our Thanksgiving. Okay, I'll stop. I know many of you are still digesting and this pattern of circular thinking might result in a feeling of queasiness....or worse: cranberry stains on computer monitors around the world.

In any case, this having Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving I believe is a concept which merits further consideration.

To begin with, our relations who had to travel were able to leave today...there's no one on the roads...they're enjoying their post Thanksgiving travels on the highways--two adults, two teenagers and a fairly large dog in a van are not the least bit stressed driving on the day after Thanksgiving (which is really Thanksgiving). That alone should be reason enough for folks to consider having their holiday ahead of schedule. Usually the trip on I-35 after Thanksgiving results in any holiday spirit being sucked from your soul. The kids in the backseat often learn words which jeopardize their chances of being on Santa's "good little boy or girl" list for at least the upcoming holiday if not for years to come.

Additionally, we didn't center our Thanksgiving meal around a football game or even a game featuring the Dallas Cowboys which could quite easily be argued no longer qualifies as football in the traditional sense. We ate when the food was ready. There was no TV on and no one was craning their neck to see a score.

Thirdly, we woke up this morning and realized everything of note was closed. So we didn't have to rush out the door at 5 a.m. (something Amy and I actually enjoy doing) to take advantage of mad post Thanksgiving sales. Tomorrow a bunch of slugs who at best have had one decent nap will grudging roll out of bed, newspaper ads in hand and lethargically immerse themselves in a sea of senselessness in hopes of being in line at JC Penny's at 5:30 a.m. to get a free Mickey Mouse snow globe. Amy and I on the other hand will have a full day's rest on these other ill prepared, still tryptophan influenced shoppers. We won't be suckered in by snow globes...we'll will head for true bargains, like...I don't know free CD-R's or something.

Plus we woke up this Thanksgiving Day (even though it's not Thanksgiving to us) and said, "Hey, we don't have to do anything!" - no cooking, no housecleaning to get ready for relatives, no rushing to Wal-Mart for parsley or some such sudden necessity, no post holiday meal clean up which no one wants to do because we're all to satiated - nothing. We did nothing but hug the kids when they went up the road to eat again with their other set of parents, and squeeze our other relations tight as they embarked on their empty highway adventures, then we read the paper.

We called other relatives...watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - did Brooke Shields look scary to anyone but me?
Then we had pie.
Later we had leftover turkey and dressing.
Then we napped.

Now I'm about to watch the Cowboys with no risk whatsoever of them spoiling my holiday....although indigestion is still a distinct possibility.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Thanks In Advance

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One,
give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ, his Son.

And now let the weak say, "I am strong!"
Let the poor say, "I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us!"
Give thanks.

We are about to sit down to our Thanksgiving meal...a day early I know, but family members have to work on Thanksgiving day and have traveled far to be with us this year, so we're breakin' out the bird in advance.

There have been no complaints voiced about this timetable as the scent of turkey and stuffing mixes in the air with pie, and a variety of other savory delights.
Soon we will gather around the table and I will look around to see family members all of whom have had their own struggles this year, whether they were with school or relationships, work, health or finances. Struggles that seemed to overwhelm us at times - in some cases struggles that still linger.

And then I will look down at our table...a table overflowing with a feast by anyone's standards.

I will be reminded; this is a common pitfall in our lives.

We find it easy to focus on the struggles while overlooking the bountiful blessings that God has spread out before us.

I will pray we remember this beyond today.

No matter the hardships and honest heartaches, or even the everyday hassles that seem to scream for our attention...we are still surrounded by blessings - constantly. Blessings perhaps symbolized today by a fanciful display of food and finery, but marked everyday by the love of family and friends.

Blessings bestowed freely.

Today we will give thanks....for God.

Maybe we are a little ahead of schedule to say, "Happy Thanksgiving"...then again maybe we are long overdue.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Home For The Holidaze

I should have mentioned this earlier.

Amy is home.

A cold front is blowing in and we are huddled together, family,dogs, and various foodstuffs all of which will multiply tomorrow.

There is warmth in family.


This isn't really writing - it's more like thinking out loud without being accused of talking to yourself.

One of the hazards of working odd hours is that you can't really abandon your odd hours when you're not working. Once I got word from Amy last night that things were better than we had hoped I plopped down in bed and zoned...but at 3 a.m. I was tossing around feeling like I had overslept.

Now it's 7, I've checked my mail. Read far too many blogs. Seen that no one has bid on any of my eBay items, and let all the dogs take care of any urgent matters facing their bladders and the like.

I could either exercise or go see Amy...so I think I'm going to split the difference. Pack some stuff so I can exercise as she recovers from getting her line replaced and head to the hospital.

See, if you woke up at 3 a.m. you could have weighty philosophical thoughts like this too.

Yeah...you do sort of have to be there.

Monday, November 22, 2004

What's My Line?

Okay, perhaps I judged "on call" doc too soon. Another blood test today showed a definite infection in Amy's line -confirmed by her regular doctor who's back on the case and on duty throughout the holiday weekend. That in itself is a good thing, but the diagnosis is wonderful news. On top of that the other tests she endured today did not show any evidence of the surgical complications we were far more worried about finding...complications that would have definitely required additional surgery and a prolonged hospital stay.

As it stands now, they'll yank that infected central line out tomorrow (Tuesday) and put in a temporary replacement. She'll be saturated with antibiotics for a couple of weeks and then will likely have another permanent line put in. The topper is she should be home sometime Wednesday and if the hospital actually does things according to schedule she could be home tomorrow!

Her mood is much improved...my chances of sleep are much improved and I have a feeling the taste of that early Thanksgiving turkey dinner on Wednesday is going to be much improved as well.

It is so easy this year to acknowledge that for which we are thankful.

Your prayers.

On A Lighter Note

If you take your religion too seriously you probably won't like the Holy Observer website.

But if you have room in your theology for a little ecumenical satire, you might enjoy it.

I found it amusing at least...

Hospital 101

Usually when I spend time with my nieces we'll eventually get around to playing some card game...invariably they'll have to teach it to me all over again. I seem to forget the rules because I never play unless I'm with them.

I haven't forgotten the rules to the hospital game though.

We got Amy admitted to the hospital via the emergency room last night, by the "direct admit" shortcut that meant no one in the emergency room actually looked at her, they simply signed off on the admitting doctor's orders and we zipped past the 20 people wheezing, bleeding, and looking helpless in the waiting area and up to her room.

Maybe I was imagining it, but it seemed like some of them gave us looks like, "How'd they do that? Is that someone famous getting special treatment?" I know were I feeling sick and miserable it would irritate me to see someone "cut in line." Hopefully those folks won't ever have to learn the secrets to direct admission...you only get such knowledge with practice, and the knowledge isn't worth the price.

Luckily Amy's sister, Lisa, was with me because we also played the "on call physician" game. On call doctors don't really know anything about Amy's case and they are, by nature and I would think as a matter of self preservation, inclined to jump to the "standardized" conclusions about patients and treatment.

Amy has a central intravenous line. It's used to administer medications, food, and take blood. It's a semi permanent line and can stay in place for a couple of years if need be. She's had this one since February with no problems. However now she's been having fevers. The standard conclusion if you're an on call doc and not familiar with a patient's case could be that the central line is infected. The standard approach would then be to remove it.

I was in the parking lot getting Amy's bags out of the car when a nurse came in to her room and announced that's what they were going to do. They were going to remove Amy's central line last night as per the "on call" doctor's orders. Luckily Lisa is a nurse and stopped them dead in their tracks. Amy has had numerous blood tests in the past week to determine if that line is infected and they've all come back negative. It may turn out the line is infected, but I doubt it. In any case, we're not going to allow it to be removed simply because that's what "on call doctoring for dummies" says to do in chapter one.

We prayed and cried over Amy last night and left specific instructions that no "invasive" procedures be done without contacting her regular doctor. The one who reads her chart...the one who wrote her chart. Preferably I will be contacted too. I'm fairly certain that doctor is out of town for a few days so today she's having X-rays and CT scans....things we expected and which can't "undo" anything we have had done. I pray they'll show us the source of this fever causing infection, but if nothing else the tests will keep the on call doctor busy, so he can't tinker....maybe he'll have time to read ahead in the "Doctoring 101" book.

Flooding rains have been pounding the area, which has delayed my trip to the hospital today, but that's okay because every 10 minutes or so Amy thinks of something else she wants me to bring her. This is also down to a science. Crochet stuff, crosswords...the usual drill.

Lord, we've gotten too good at this...the hospital game is boring. We'd be perfectly happy to forget how to play. It's time we were dealt a different hand.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Do They Serve Turkey In The Hospital?

Amy's fever spiked again tonight and she took it upon herself to call the "service." She knew what that meant when she did it so I'm now awaiting orders to take her to the hospital because I know that's the only decision the on call doctor can make. I'm not certain they'll be able to do anything more for her than she is getting at home, but maybe this will get some tests run quicker. If nothing else it will calm her fears.

She's going to miss much of her family visit which is a shame and spend Thanksgiving in the hospital.

I am thankful for insurance and that God has taught me patience.

I sort of wish He could find another less painful way to get the lesson across.

Prayers for Amy...for these I again am thankful.

Not Letting Perspective Get Muddied Up

I think my goal for Thanksgiving is trying to keep everything in perspective and the dogs from resembling creatures rescued from floods that you see on CNN.

My nieces, their parents and their dog all got here safely and, although our little dogs are going crazy having another dog in the house, I'm fairly confident we can keep everyone either separated or sufficiently tired out so that they won't drive Amy insane. Our little dogs are crazy every day actually...and Amy's sanity has been subject to debate ever since she said, "I do" to me.

Amy is still in pain and still having mysterious fevers that come and go. Little things loom large and tears come too easy. She worries too much. I can't blame her, but I often can't reason with her either. We can pray and hold each other though, so I'm finding that's my best approach.

I took all the dogs for short walks this morning since no humans were awake. I was tempted to take Klondike on my usual 3 mile trek but I got over that idea as soon as he began dragging me down the road. I took him a block or two and then we turned around. He seemed to understand...at least enough to do his business (he's a 90 pound dog) in the middle of our front yard. I'm sure that deposit will come back to haunt my shoe leather. It wasn't a long walk...but it was a walk and to him that's a special time.

Our visiting dog, Bailey (I may be misspelling his name), is a large dog too...though not as big as Klondike. He went outside with me ignoring the confusion over who I was and satisfied to have a collar and lead. Bailey doesn't like to get his feet wet, so his was a short walk. He did what he had to do and then made it pretty clear he was used to sleeping in.

The little dogs, which are the most challenging in all aspects including the mud potential, were of course the noisiest and most difficult to handle. I have to take them out together or the remaining one will howl and wake everyone in the house. Their walk was brief, but once they saw that the other dogs were in the house and not getting preferential treatment, they seemed ready and willing to settle back into their crates and catch some more sleep.

Now I have time for my walk. It's a little drizzly and I'll have to pick up the pace but I'm giving myself permission to skip Sunday school. I think I need the time of exertion to help me maintain my perspective too.

This is going to a joyous week. We are surrounded by family and I don't have to work.

Amy isn't getting better as fast as she wants, but we're not convinced she's getting worse. I am praying she simply needs time.

So I'll try to keep the dogs from challenging her patience, and when it comes to that, they've got the advantage of my vast experience going for them.

And if we all turn into mud people

(picture by Anne Geddes)

We'll still have each other....and that's certainly something for which to be thankful.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Perfect Storm

Thunder is booming...more rain today. More mud. It has rained all week...buckets and buckets of rain. Our yard is like a marsh and that's only in the few spots where there is grass.

The back yard is a mud pit which has turned our dogs into smelly, dirt covered menaces that must be stopped at the door and have their feet wiped lest they track mud everywhere. They still track mud everywhere, only not as much. The black clay soil here cakes on their feet...into every nook and cranny of their neglected toenails. There will be repeated moments through out today when I will see something brown and mushy on the floor left behind by a dog...and I will be grateful because it's only mud.

I detest rainy days when the dogs must play inside.

Today my sister-in-law, her husband (the only man whose middle name is Wayne whom I trust by the way) and my nieces are arriving, along with their dog...what's one more when you have three out of control dogs already? Their dog is relatively well behaved, a marvel compared to ours, I'm sure he'll simply take refuge in a room away from the mud covered mad creatures.

I relish time with my nieces and their parents. We don't have near enough of it.

They should already be on the road from Tulsa, and they're stopping in Waco to visit with my youngest daughter for a bit, so they won't be here for 10 hours or so. That means I have almost enough time to make the place look somewhat clean....it won't be clean, but I can make it look like it is...somewhat.

Anyway, I woke up, threw the dogs out into the swamp, and decided to read a few blogs before dealing with the mess. I wasn't quite ready to deal with the challenge ahead.

I came across Kim's blog. Keith, Kim and their family moved to Oklahoma some time ago. It was sad, they are good friends. I made passing mention of their move once in something I wrote long before I had a blog. The move was the right decision for them, but they've had to make hard choices too. At times it has been tough.

They've dealt with it though and perhaps even grown stronger...certainly I think they've firmed up their faith and their realization of how much they need God in their lives.

When I read her most recent entry I once again got that rare treat of seeing how God works...from His perspective. A tiny glimpse of time through God's eyes. That is a wonderful treat and it was exactly the encouragement I needed...even better than coffee as a day starter...which says a lot.

Today I will be cleaning up muddy dogs, washing sheets and making beds. Then I will be cleaning up muddy dogs again.

It will be stormy. The dogs will challenge my patience at every turn.

But I know simply from the way it began, that this is going to be a great day.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Ukraine Migraine

Help! I'm under attack from the people of Ukraine!

I kid you not...people in Ukraine are assaulting me...albeit electronically.

I logged onto my corporate web-based email this morning to find perhaps 300 messages from people in Ukraine. They are all the same email...they start out like this:

Esteemed Editors, Columnists and Media Representatives,

We ask you, sir, madam, that with the pending elections in Ukraine on Sunday, your paper objectively examine the battle underway in Ukraine, not between east and west, but between forward-thinking reform and the embracing of democratic values, on the one hand and an inevitable return to Russian domination in the political, economic, and social spheres and the demise of democracy on the other. There has been much coverage, but little has ventured to document the essence of what is currently occurring in this geopolitically significant nation of 48 million.

Then they go on and on about stuff of which I have no knowledge....and to be frank, not a great deal of interest.

I have been a news broadcaster for almost 30 years. I have never written a story on Ukraine or even "the Ukraine" when it was part of the Soviet Union. I'm fairly certain my only real exposure to Ukraine was in college when after 7 or 8 beers I think I invaded Ukraine during a late night game of Risk. I could be wrong about that; it might very well have been Uzbekistan or Uruguay. It might have been more than 7 or 8 beers too.

Anyway, once I got to the office, I was able to access more features of the email system. I set up rules to automatically delete any email that mentioned Ukraine (if you wrote me on that topic today, please don't think I'm ignoring you...unless you wrote me 700 times... in which case I am ignoring you, or at least trying to).

However at home I have no choice but to use a web based system to access my office email, and that system won't apply my rules. That means I have to individually mark each email and delete it. Therefore to find out if I have any email dealing with a subject of importance, or at least of this continent, I have been forced to delete page after page of Ukrainian political propaganda each urging me to use my "esteemed" influence in their election.

The last thing I did before I left the office today was delete every remaining Ukrainian email.

When I got home, perhaps 40 minutes later, I logged into my corporate account to find this:

Click to enlarge

I realize you can't see them very well, but believe me they all say the same thing, and that's only one page. There are pages of pages of them.

Apparently there is a runoff election of some sort in Ukraine on Sunday and for some reason I have obviously been targeted as someone who can turn the tide. I checked my web statistics to see if perhaps somehow my blog had become popular in Ukraine, but according to this highly technical graph, it doesn't appear so.

Click to enlarge

That's a relief...at least my personal web site isn't a rallying point for the Ukrainian resistance. I'm only considered a man of "esteemed" influence at the office...of course you have to go to a breakaway former Soviet republic to find someone who believes that.

I'm mystified. How did I get on this list? No one else in my office is a target of Ukrainians with obsessive compulsive election disorder....only me.

I didn't even want to get that involved in our country's elections....now I'm supposed to editorialize for Ukraine's future?

Honestly, at this point I'm almost tempted to get involved.

Of course I'd have to figure out which candidate opposes freedom of speech.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Timing Is Everything

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I'd like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you*

I had this weird feeling like I was toying with time today. It wasn't an Albert Einstein like feeling, or a Michael J. Fox "Back to the Future" feeling, it wasn't even a schlocky "Star Trek" feeling. I simply took my normal schedule and moved it a little. Time shifting...not in an exciting B-movie sci-fi way...in an ordinary guy kind of way.

A dear friend had surgery early this morning, Amy and I wanted to be there, so I went into work several hours ahead of schedule and prayed for a slow news day. My prayers were answered.
It allowed me to record the news and sports for seven stations - hours and hours in advance. Most of these stations are music stations, and all of the stations get their news recorded to some degree on most days, but normally it's not so far ahead of schedule. I also made arrangements that if a major news story were to erupt, someone was there to take my place and my recorded newscasts could be unceremoniously dumped. Near as I can tell that wasn't necessary, it seems like the biggest story of the day that I didn't report was the opening of the Clinton Library.

"Did you hear the Clinton Library burnt down?" "Really?" "Yeah, it was a shame too, one of the books he hadn't even finished coloring."

Sorry old joke...actually when I originally heard it "Spiro Agnew" was the foil but if I resorted to that I'd have to spend all my time explaining who Spiro Agnew was - except to Katy who actually owns a Spiro Agnew book.

In any case, I got to the office around midnight and was able to very methodically go through my entire work process in about five hours completely uninterrupted. When my first co-worker showed up around 4 I was already recording news that would run at 9 a.m. in another city. Everything was neat and orderly, it was actually quite relaxing. I wondered why every day couldn't be like today.

It can't.

The news can't be canned in advance-at least not if you're going to present it as "news." There will come days of train wrecks, tornados or terror attacks. Events that unfold furiously will march haughtily across my dreams of time control. There's no sense even fantasizing about it. The news keeps its own schedule.

After the surgery and we were told everything went fine I mentioned that the hardest part was behind us now. I've been in enough surgical waiting rooms to know that it's that period of time of not knowing for certain - a time of trust, when someone you love is in someone else's care - that seems to drag on the longest.

Soon afterwards, I came home and sat on the couch with Amy to watch TV. We both immediately fell asleep.

I awoke to Jay Leno's monologue...

"The government issued a safety recall today on 800,000 Bowflex exercise machines. The good news... No one was hurt because no one ever actually used a Bowflex"

I panicked. I jumped up bleary eyed looking for a clock (and my glasses so I could see the clock when I found it) fearing I had slept all day and night and was probably due at work in an hour or two.

Then I realized we were watching a video tape from the night before....it was mid afternoon. I had only been asleep for a couple of hours.

I hadn't toyed with time; I had merely slept through a pre-recorded version of it.

The irony of that did not escape me.

I looked over and studied Amy sleeping comfortably.

I realized although a couple hours had slipped away, they weren't wasted.

I had spent them exactly as I had wanted, next to the woman I love.

Tomorrow I will return to my regular schedule and things will be irregular. I suppose that's how it should be...at least most of the time.

I also know though that no matter how irregular it all becomes, my time with Amy will always fit my schedule.

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I've looked around enough to know
That you're the one I want to go
Through time with

*Time in a bottle- Jim Croce

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Giving Thanks For No Hurry

Amy's surgeon is first of all not sticking her back in the hospital...that's good news. He's not all that freaked out by her recent fever as long as we keep it within certain limits. She's going to have another test run in a day or two which along with daily blood tests should tell us more. The good news is that unless there is some significant change she should NOT be hospitalized for Thanksgiving.

I know what I'm grateful for and no one has even stuffed a bird yet.

You Can Still Get Your Bid In

is again taking bids for a ten year old cheese sandwich that some folks say shows the image of the Virgin Mary.

I tried to find it this morning but there are so many grilled cheese sandwiches listed on Ebay I ran out of time.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Speaking comes by nature, silence by understanding

I was looking for some Mannheim Steamroller music this morning and noticed they had a hieroglyphics coder on their website.

I have no idea why.

The above picture is what came out when I typed in "The Main Point by Michael Main."

I'm sure there's some formula to it all, but I don't understand it.

I've sold a couple of things on Ebay lately, nothing substantial. I'm learning that I could never be in a business where I had to deal with customers on a regular basis. Despite big BOLD explanations about how I only accept Paypal I've had two winning bidders respond by saying, "Where do I send the check?" One guy I told to forget it, his bid was too low for me to mess with anything but Paypal, the other one agreed on a postal service money order, which I'm still not keen on, but it's a more significant chunk of change. How people can read everything about the item and not see the payment instructions...I don't understand. I like to think the best of people but I'm beginning to suspect feigned ignorance is something of an Ebay art form.

Amy is still wrestling between fever and fear. Tomorrow we'll actually be able to see her doctor and we're both trying to convince ourselves he won't order her hospitalized, but we're also realistic. If the fever is still present he'll want a battery of tests...we've been down this road far too often to expect those will be done on an outpatient basis.

That could mean Thanksgiving in the hospital.

I pray that won't be the case, but if it happens...it happens. It will I suppose be another thing I don't understand.

Amy's sister and her family (including my nieces, even the blog slacker one) are coming in next weekend and will stay with us for a few days. We were planning on an early Thanksgiving, now we may have to plan for a semi-mobile one.

"Over the river the through the traffic jam to Amy's hospital room we go...." I may have to work on the lyrics a bit...

Moments ago Amy mentioned to me that a young friend who moved away some time ago is likely moving back to San Antonio in January. Amy is now in the process of trying to con her via email to live here with us until she gets a more definitive grip on her plans. I'm fine with that in fact we're such homebodies now this could be an excellent idea...if we can't get out; we'll start inviting people to move in.

Of course why anyone would want to live in a house that looks like a M*A*S*H unit overrun by three usually muddy, semi-sane dogs is something I'd have a hard time understanding but I suppose God is trying to show me today that I may never understand the unexpected, but I can learn to accept it.

My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding.
- Psalm 49:3

Monday, November 15, 2004


We're in a position of waiting again. Amy's doctor is out of town and her fever has held on, but not gone dramatically high, so we're riding out another night (this time I will sleep I think). We're scheduled to see her doctor Wednesday anyway, so if we stay in this holding pattern until then I think we'll be fine. I'm praying this is simply a passing virus that caught her off guard.

It's pay day..which means I had to deal with some bills, but now I want to give Amy her due and have some time together so the blog is being put in its proper perspective. Writing will have to wait.

Getting A Buzz On....

If I could start every Monday with a news story like this...life would be in perfect balance - unlike these bees.

I simply love to envision "scientists" making harnesses out of straws for bees and then getting them bombed.

Does anyone else think this is either a hoax news story or a research project that might have had its genesis a few hours after happy hour ended?

From the Hartford Courant

You might not want to sit next to these drunks at your local bar.

To study the effects of alcohol on human behavior, scientists at Ohio State University have been getting bees drunk.

Honeybees were placed in harnesses made from pieces of drinking straws and then observed as scientists gave them different doses of ethanol — from the equivalent of a glass of wine to several shots of 100 percent grain alcohol.

To the surprise of no one, the bees receiving the most ethanol spent the least time grooming, walking or flying. Instead, they spent the most time flipped upside down on their backs.

"They couldn't coordinate their legs well enough to flip themselves back over again," said Julie Mustard, a postdoctoral entomologist and lead author of the study presented recently at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego.

"Honeybees are very social animals, which makes them a great model for studying the effects of alcohol in a social context," said Geraldine Wright, a postdoctoral student at Ohio State and co-author of the study, which was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health. "Many people get aggressive when they are drunk. We want to learn if ethanol consumption makes the normally calm, friendly honeybee more aggressive

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Sleep Sickness

It was weird this morning. I left Amy at home alone to go to church. We were unable to find her cell phone so I left her mine figuring she would sleep most of the morning anyway.

- As an aside - this is the only real drawback I've found to not having a landline phone...if you misplace your cell phone and it's off...it is hard to find).

In Sunday school I started feeling antsy about her so I decided to skip services, make a quick Wal-Mart run (not that you can really do anything quick in Super Wal-Mart since it's the size of Lithuania), and then surprise Amy by renting a movie.

It's cold and rainy here today and a good day to have a fire and sit on the couch watching TV.

When I walked in the door Amy was obviously uncomfortable. She had in fact called the church only minutes earlier asking for me to come home.

I could tell right away she had a high fever and was miserable. We called the doctor, but the doctor "on call" is someone whom we have dealt with in the past and (although we may end up going this route anyway) we knew his only recommendation would be that she check into the hospital via the emergency room, get fluids and antibiotics and wait to speak to her real doctor. We have fluids here and she's already on antibiotics so Amy was not keen on that approach. For now at least we've decided to wait until morning when she can contact her real doctor.

In the interim I tried to get her fever down, keep getting fluids in her, and get her to go to sleep. That wasn't easy, she was in this sort of weird half dream, half fever state and so I was triple checking everything making certain she hadn't already taken some medications I was giving her, etc. She also started a new medication yesterday so some of this could be a reaction to that. In any case, I finally got her comfortable (we played the "I'm hot, I'm cold" make Michael adjust the thermostat game for a while) I put on a sweater, stoked the fire, took off the sweater, and let the fire sputter out.

Amy is fairly notorious for post surgical fevers, but this is a little later than her pattern so it has me concerned. The good news is that if the fever is the result of something surgical, we should be able to discern that now with some simple tests.

I prayed over her and held her hand...eventually she dozed off. She's been sleeping peacefully for nearly 5 hours or so now. I'm learning why nurses are reluctant to wake sleeping patients, but I'm about to wake her to check her temp and if things haven't worsened, I'm going to repeat the routine to keep her hydrated and hopefully sleeping soundly.

She doesn't appear to be as feverish....

Okay...it's becoming obvious even to me that I'm writing simply to stall, so I guess I better go back into nurse mode and see how my patient is doing.

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. - Psalm 4:8

UPDATE: Fever is down...still not great...but we're sticking with our wait till tomorrow plan

Respect (with guest editing by God)

This piece was edited by God. I was writing it during a storm and literally said, "Well God, if you don't want me to publish this as is, I guess you can let me know." I saved the piece right before I said that, and then the power went out. When the lights came back on, I continued writing and the power went out again. I'm not one to think God actually intervened, but it gave me pause to remove some information which in truth is unnecessary.

When the kids were young I was essentially low man on the parent totem pole. Their Dad and Mom both loved them very much, their step-mom grew very close to all of them quickly - especially the girls. That meant when the rare time came along when a kid did something wrong (and that truly was rare) I wasn't first in line to deal out punishment or assert authority.

That worked out pretty well I thought...the guy with the least parenting skills had to do the least amount of parenting.

There was only one place where I drew the line, one thing that if one of the kids did in our house I immediately erupted - if they showed a lack of respect for their mother.

I don't mean I blew up like a volcano or turned into some step-father who wore wife-beater tee shirts, never shaved and began screaming to the point where everyone hid...I mean I called them on it, immediately. I told them that disrespect of their mother would never be tolerated. It didn't happen often.

I've been giving respect a lot of thought lately. I wrote a note to one of my bosses the other day about another employee. The employee is not the most capable or outgoing of guys, and I was hesitant when he was put in the position he's in, but he's done a very competent job, moreover he understands the job I have to do and he stays out of my way if at all possible and makes sure the stuff I need him to do gets done...right. I don't think many people are in a position to see what he does, so I wrote the note simply to say I respect the job he does and I wanted someone who actually supervises him to know it.

As I have mentioned here on many occasions my oldest brother, Stan, and I differ on a lot of things, things I consider primarily political which he considers very personal. Due to his perceptions of my beliefs, Stan has stopped communicating with us for a year or two on a couple of occasions.

In recent years our relationship improved dramatically. We still spent little time together but when we did we focused on what I consider at least to be more important things, spirituality, our health, our family, our many dogs...even our jobs - although in the ranking of most important things, jobs fall a little below politics in my book.

Then a month or so ago I noticed we couldn't have even that level relationship any more. Every conversation turned to politics. Every Christian was a homophobe. Every republican a war monger. Every conservative a fomenter of hate.

Every defense of my values was interpreted as a sleight and brought up memories for Stan of incidents where he felt disrespected or hurt. Incidents he has still never forgotten or forgiven...some of which I never knew happened.

During his last visit, prior to Amy's most recent surgery, I had to gently usher him out of the house a little sooner than would be expected for a normal visit, because the conversation was degenerating constantly and I didn't want Amy exposed to anything but positive thoughts. Amy cares less about politics than I do, and wants only for everyone to love each other. Our lives may be difficult these days, but our priorities are at least very clear...health and a lack of stress top the list.

To me at least, it seemed Stan invested so much of his emotional stock in the recent elections that he allowed it to become a referendum on our love for him. The day before the election, after I jokingly (and now realize wrongly) assumed I could respond to a highly opinionated email he sent to everyone in his address book, he declared to everyone to whom he sent that email that I "was no longer his brother."

That hurt, but to give perspective to the true level of our relationship that pronouncement was followed by his demand that I "remove him from my address book!"

Nonetheless I apologized. He immediately rejected my apology. I forgave him for calling me and Amy names, and deriding our religious beliefs. He rejected my forgiveness.

I also forgave his friends who sent me emails calling me names, judging my beliefs, and denigrating God (I'm now down to getting only one or two a week). I responded politely to each of them, most ignored my responses. One actually took the time, after initially sending me an email so judgmental and angry that I was dismayed anyone could have such hateful feelings and still get out of bed every day, to engage me in conversation and I think discerned that I never intended to hurt Stan. Then I decided I would...as in previous times of being disowned...let time work it's magic.

The election came and went. I'm sure Stan was crushed but I knew I should stay away for I only served as a reminder of all he hated.

Then this week I learned that one of Stan's cherished dogs, a dog he brought with him on his last visit, had been run over and killed. I was crushed knowing the magnitude of such loss for him. We have little in common, but the love of our pets is one thing we both have always shared.

I wanted very much to reach out to him, but I can't. Admittedly, some of it is self defense, I have apologized, forgiven and asked for forgiveness only to receive truly cruel responses. My life is hard now at times; I can not seek out pain.

But also my brother (he'll always be my brother) has ordered me not to tell him about Amy's health, or our kid's lives, my life, or my spiritual journey. He has insisted he not share in our joys…or our pain.

He has demanded that our lives and beliefs not intrude into his world and he has made it clear he will never respect our right to think differently from him.

I can only imagine the agony he is going through, and it grieves me….but I also must respect his wishes.

Friday, November 12, 2004

A Little Solitude Among 18,000 People

My frantic last minute attempts to get one of the many rabid Spurs fans I know to join me at tonight's game with little notice failed. Not for lack of trying, but people do tend to make plans for Friday night by 5pm or so. Many even work well past that hour, so I knew it was going to be a long shot anyway. I was running errands as I tried to call folks, and didn't have a complete phone list, but I made a valiant effort.

It was no big deal. I've come to know the sweet woman and her college age daughter who have the seats next to the one's I am occasionally gifted by a colleague. We hadn't seen each other since last season, probably early last season, and they've both been on weight watchers and doing very well. We shared dieting tips in between screaming at the refs and cheering on the amazing play of Manu Ginobilli.

Even if I had watched the game on TV (which I was planning to do before the surprise call offering me tickets) I would have paid attention to little else so it's not like I missed having company. I didn't want the ticket to go to waste, and actually it didn't.

It was Shaquille O'Neal's only appearance in San Antonio this season since he's left the Lakers and plays in the Eastern Conference now. The game was a sellout. I got to the arena late - having to park somewhere near Laredo - and quickly looked for someone to give the extra ticket to. I ended up being approached by a young man with a foreign accent who was looking to buy a single seat. I ended up simply giving the ticket to him. I couldn't sell a seat I was given and I'm a little paranoid about scalping laws...I could see myself being hauled away in handcuffs, which would have made good blog fodder, but I didn't want to risk it. The kid was very grateful for the freebie and obviously had the time of his life. He had me take pictures of him as close to the court as we could get before security shooed us back.

The friend who gave me the tickets called immediately after the game to apologize for the late notice. He gets the tickets for free as part of a compensation package - he's the Spurs arena announcer - so it was no big deal to him. We had a good talk while I sat in parking lot 744b waiting to get out, and he mentioned he was almost home. He gets good parking too...of course he also arrives early.

I have to admit it was sort of fun flying solo, being a little selfish and responsible for no one but myself for one night. I could focus on the game with an intensity I've not been able to give to any sporting event in a while. This may, of course, be due to the Dallas Cowboys ruining the game of football.

In any case, I'm home now. Amy and her mom are asleep. I'll be in that posture soon.

Tomorrow is the first Saturday in more than a month where I really don't have anything I "have" to do besides get Amy's mom to the airport late in the afternoon; her visit was way too short. She did Amy a lot of good and me as well.

I did notice an email came in tonight saying the "Habitat House" landscaping team fell apart and if "anyone wanted to volunteer Saturday " they'd be welcome, but I'm going to pass. The house will get landscaped without me.

I don't think that's really selfishness as much as self preservation. Ditching Amy and her mom on Friday night at the last minute to sit close to a basketball court was one thing. If I bailed on them again first thing Saturday morning - no matter the cause - I think I'd be courting disaster....even Manu couldn't help me out of that one.

Last Minute

Last minute Spurs tickets, I'm relying on faith that my last minute Spurs fanatic buddy whose not tied down by young kids or hobbled by recent surgery will be able to join me.

No time to write...just time to fly.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Command And Ebay

We're certainly prepared to go Ebay crazy, but I'm still going a little slow.

I've gotten some good advice, but I'm still trying rattle loose a few coins from some folks who agreed to buy stuff and then seemed to disappear. I don't want to get overwhelmed by this, but we do have a lot of junk...er sellable items with which we could part.

Amy has ordered us every size priority mail box you can get for free from the postal service so we look like a Mailboxes etc. store...albeit one with dog hair strewn about.

I suppose we won't charge extra for that....unless someone seems interested.

Nah...no one would buy dog hair...then again....there's some pretty weird stuff on Ebay...maybe it's simply a matter of marketing.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

No Lie

I ran into one of the programming people for one of the radio stations in my building yesterday who hadn't seen me in a while. He said, "Wow, how much weight have you lost?"

I told him ..65 pounds or so. The inevitable question followed, "How'd you do it?"

To which I gave my standard answer of I ate less and exercized more. Right about then the program director for a station I work with wandered by and said, "Well if you just wanted to lie about how you lost it _______ is paying good money for endorsements spots."

I've left the name of the company out since that's not really my point. I found it fascinating, and I'm sure the P.D. was half joking when he said it, but that line, "if you're just willing to lie..." sort of stunned me.

I replied the only way I knew how..."I could use the money, but I'm not willing to lie."

He looked at me a little weird and then we parted company.

There are a lot of things I could benefit from if I was "just willing to lie." The more I thought about it the more I hoped the other guy thought about it.

It's a pretty creepy way to live and a lousy way to show leadership.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Old Dogs And Young Dreams

A few weeks ago, Amy had the folks who fixed our foundation several years back come by because a door is sticking in our bedroom and we've noticed some new cracks in the walls. This is not uncommon in South Texas. The thick black clay soil expands and shrinks in between periods of floods and drought. However we paid a lot of money to the foundation folks so they are essentially at our beckon call for life and we plan to get our money's worth.

The guy who came out assured Amy that our house isn't falling down and that things are simply shifting a bit, but no foundation work is required. However he also took a look at our back patio which his crew "patched" in the original job and saw how their handiwork had held up. It looked like the aftermath of a small California earthquake. Amy honestly feared we might lose one of our smaller dogs in the holes that have appeared. This thought had crossed my mind too; although I'm not quite certain we would share the same sense of loss should it happen.

At first the guy apparently shrugged and walked away, but a few minutes later he was ringing the doorbell saying, "I think we could have done a better job on that patio, I'm gonna send a crew out to re-do it."

I wasn't home, but Amy will admit she did not conceal the fact that she has been hooked up to IV's, has been in and out of the hospital, is unemployed and taking numerous medications. I'm fairly certain she never got around to mentioning my existence either. Whether that contributed to the fellow's guilt I know not, but I do know there was a crew here today re-patching our patio.

That was nice...but it also meant our big dog, the one we don't risk losing down a hole in the patio, could not simply be let outside. 90 pounds of lab on fresh cement would leave a mark.

So I decided to take Klondike on a "drag" in lieu of my usual walking routine. Klondike is fairly docile inside the house...he may sniff you in places you deem inappropriate or lick you to get your attention (for future reference, an unexpected dose of well placed saliva is always an attention getter ), but that's about the extent of his activity.

Put a leash on him though...and he turns into Maniacal Mutt!

He's 9 years old and has a harder time getting up in the morning, but a leash is like a cocktail of Viagra and electro shock therapy. He forgets his age, his limitations and is pretty much focused on one thing....let's run.

Every once in a while I think maybe he's finally gotten old enough where he'll simply walk with me, but I'm always wrong...he wants to run...if I give in and run with him, he wants to run faster...so it's sort of like dog skiing, without skis or snow or any sense of control...or for that matter any sense at all. He pulls, I pull back and a dynamic forms reminiscent of a mutated version of the creature from Dr. Doolittle ...a Push-Me-Pull-You...on steroids.

He dragged me for about a mile and a half before he finally started showing his age...at the 2 mile mark he began to give me looks I interpreted as his desire to be reassured we weren't running away from home and there was a comfortable carpet or cool tile in our future...preferably our near future. At 2 and a half miles he started wandering into well manicured yards and I could almost read his mind, "this would be a nice spot for a nap don't ya think?"

But at the three mile mark he was dragging me again...home was in sight and he was fixated again albeit with changed priorities. All he wanted was to get inside the house, drink some fresh water and plop down on the cool tile floor.

Klondike is getting old. Tonight I gave him a baby aspirin (he usually gets one in the morning, but I gave him an extra tonight because I could tell he was aching a bit more than usual).

It's sort of sad watching the vitality drain from your pets and their failure or refusal to recognize it.

Then again, I've grabbed for the aspirin or ibuprophen bottle a few times more often in recent years myself.

I suppose we simply have to face it, for man or beast, the recognition we're growing old can occasionally be a real drag.

Yet casting common sense aside, the enjoyment of running at full tilt is often worth it.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Trying Hope And Happiness On For Size

Latching onto the good days is something I'm working on. It's sort of an odd role being the optimist in the family, but Amy's been through a lot and it's fairly easy, and certainly to be expected, for her to have doubts...be a little pessimistic...to be scared. So every once in a while I have to reassure her and since she's been out of the hospital that's been a bit more frequent requirement.

Enter Michael of Sunnybrook Farm.

Nah...it doesn't fit.

But when little rays of sunshine poke through I tend to grab them with gusto and rush them to Amy right away.

Today I was grabbing away.

First off I received an email from the woman in our church I mentioned yesterday who is dying. She's still dying but her email sounded hopeful and it was a blessing to Amy. We may not get to "see" her due to lowered immunity from chemo, but I promised if necessary we'd simply stand outside her window and let Amy sing as soon as Amy is able - note I did not promise I would sing...I've found that improves the health of almost everyone.

Second, did I mention I got curious about Vioxx a few weeks back? Amy has been prescribed Vioxx on at least two occasions. She never really took much of it so I'm not concerned about the health repercussions, but it cost us a fortune. I wondered if we might get a refund for it, so I checked and discovered Merck will indeed pay us back for every dime we spent on the stuff. Since it was a drug resulting in our most expensive co-pay, that was nice to find out. I got their "refund" kit today and mailed it right back. Hopefully that will net $120 bucks in return before the company is sued into oblivion.

Third, I got the check for the Dick Tracy watch today. Now that I'm becoming somewhat skilled at Ebaying, I realize I could have made more by cutting out the middle man, but still it's a nice chunk of change for a watch that I'm sorry...could only be described as plain silly.

Moments ago, as I was writing this, I sold another item on Ebay which was about to sell for 15 bucks, but apparently sparked a frenzy of bidding in the final minutes, goosing the price up to more than 40 dollars. Too cool.

A lot of sunshine to spread around...and a few shekels.

Topping it off Amy's mother has decided our house needs decorating. Amy and I have meant to get around to doing that but we've only been in the house for a decade and we're not folks to rush into things.... Anyway she bought a very nice area rug for our living room today, over my extremely mild protests. It ties the room together in an amazing way and most of all it makes Amy happy.

Little blessings go a long way.

There is one drawback...Amy's Mom is now eying our windows with a thought towards some type of inexpensive window dressings. She muttered something about, "all you'd have to do is hang some curtain rods."

I didn't bring up my handyman abilities....though I realize into each life a little rain must fall...not today though, not today.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Catching Time

So many things have passed by so fast lately.

For the moment at least, I feel like I'm getting caught up. I took a nap this afternoon (thank you Dallas Cowboys, you made that decision easier) - now maybe I can get back on a quasi-regular schedule.
It helps a lot having Amy home and having her Mom here knowing I can slip off to slumber for an hour or two and not leave Amy without help.

I managed to catch up on my blog reading, and now I have a little time to write.

Some folks have evidently decided to leave the church, they sort of drifted away. It's painful but not really unexpected and since no one asked for my advice in the process I'm fairly comfortable letting people make their own decisions. I pray God will lead them to a healthy place....and I'm not necessarily speaking of a church.

Another friend is leaving the church in a much more painful way. She is dying. That's been especially tough for Amy because she hasn't been able to be with her. Yet I celebrate her life and hope I can serve some role in holding up her husband when the seemingly inevitable time arrives. We have shared much in recent months through phone calls and emails...basically feelings of helplessness.

As I was leaving church today, a young woman rushed up to me and asked if I would consider being something of a "spiritual partner" in the months ahead. It's a program she and another church member are developing to help people in the church establish one on one relationships. I don't think I'd really call it mentoring; it's more of an agreement of mutual sharing and maybe a little spiritual accountability. I agreed. It's hard to turn down someone who's asking such a simple thing..."Would you mind sharing your journey?" In truth I don't know any other way to do it.

Our church is considering some changes in the way Deacons and Elders are chosen and also giving them some new duties, accountability, and "term limits" of sorts. I think that's healthy. It also means I'll be rotating off the Deacon's roster at some point. Maybe not for a year or two, but eventually. That won't change much of anything. I'll still mow the grass, visit folks who are sick, and try to keep the church clean. I won't have to go to meetings...somehow I think I'll be okay with that.

Hearing that Elder elections were on the horizon, my dear friend Roy grabbed me by the arm...gently...this morning and said somewhat fearfully, "I've served in every capacity in church except being a minister and leading music...I don't want to be an Elder or Deacon again." Roy turned 70 last month. I told him that if he didn't want to serve as an Elder or Deacon I'm sure that would be fine, but I asked if he would mind still joining me in scrubbing toilets and mopping floors. He said, "Now THAT I'll gladly do." Roy and I are adding our names to the cleaning schedule for double duty. I enjoy his wisdom and stories. I want more time with him.

So many things pass by so fast.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

My Wife's Home And Who Do I Sleep With?

It's going to take some adjustment for Amy. Leaving the hospital is, like many things, a leap of faith and she worries that she won't be able to handle all that is put before her. There are a few more IV's and things that came home with us than we had expected, but there is also familiarity here...which brings a level of comfort I hope will soon override her fears.

We were also greeted by a felony.
Someone had opened my mail.
Of course that someone called me to admit to it.

It was Gordon. My Pastor; federal criminal.

He saw a package on my doorstep when I called to ask him to let our dogs out because busting Amy out of the hospital was taking longer than I anticipated and he couldn't resist opening it.

With good reason.

It was a copy of Chuck Sigar's book and although Gordon has the actual galley proofs (if you're in writing circles I think you share such things to prove you're truly among intimates) he hadn't put his hands on a true copy of the book. So he opened mine.

He called me right away to confess (maybe somewhere there's a little Catholic in Gordon) and I absolved him...I didn't turn my collar around or anything, but I did make a motion with my hands to sort of make it official.

I got Amy and her Mom settled in last night and then I went to bed...with Chuck....okay with Chuck's book.

It's weird. Chuck and I have met once. We've emailed in flurries. We read each other's blogs but in truth that's all the contact we've had with each other, before I slept with him...er his book.

I was tired last night, and I have a church meeting this morning, so I had already given up the idea of trying to stay awake long enough to watch the Spurs/Lakers game...which means I was really tired - the Spurs won by the way....but without Shaq in L.A. the victory is not quite as sweet.

I didn't even turn on the TV. I turned a lot of pages though.

Chuck's book is a collection of his newspaper columns. He writes for a small town newspaper which I believe has been picked up by a few other small papers.

Have you ever met someone and instantly known that your relationship with that person was on a different level than it should be with people you barely know?

That's how I've felt with Chuck, even before I met him.

We've shared some similar struggles...yet at opposite points in our lives. My father died when I was young. Chuck's father died far too recently. We're both still haunted a bit by "what ifs". Like Jacob of old we've wrestled things in the night and sometimes we've awoken unsure if we've been beaten or blessed.

His wife attended the same college as I did at about the same time. His daughter is a musician and attends the same school. All of my kids are musical, as is Amy - yes, they are my step kids they don't get it from me - and my youngest is the same age as Chuck's daughter. She's also studying music albeit at a different school about 180 miles from Chuck's child.

Last night I was blessed. I stayed up far too long reading Chuck's book. These are simple yet stirring stories delivered within the length confines of newspaper columns...which makes it easy to say, "Well, I'll read one more before calling it a night." I said that a lot last night.

It's also a weighty book; there is a lot of Chuck's life in "The World According to Chuck". Much I didn't know, much I did. I look forward to reading more much as I look forward to learning more about Chuck in "real life" and sharing our stories in emails and blog entries.

Chuck's book is for sale and I'm blatantly plugging it because I honestly believe it would speak to anyone reading this in one fashion or another.

Besides, it seems the honorable thing to do...after I slept with him and all...well, with his book.

Buy a copy...it will bless you.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Home Sweet Home

Amy is home.

Hurting but home.

I only have a moment before I head out to pick up her Mom at the airport.

One interesting story to share. Amy was due to be released "first thing" this morning from the hospital. I bailed out of work about an hour early and was at the hospital at nine. I parked in one of the closer spots, one where I have parked many times.

It turned out Amy didn't get released until mid afternoon (paperwork), so I loaded up a bunch of her stuff and took it home and picked up some of her prescriptions. As I was leaving the hospital I noticed I had received a "warning" ticket for parking illegally.

I was a little confused, not an uncommon occurrence. I searched again and there were no handicapped signs, no doctors only signs, no signs at all putting restrictions on the place I parked. Then I noticed that the hospital parking lot police officer who gave me the warning ticket had scrawled a message, "employees must park in parking garage 1."

I called the number on the "ticket" and they asked "were you dressed in scrubs?" Really. I told them I wasn't dressed like anyone I'd want working at a hospital...I was in jeans and a sweater. The woman laughed and said, "I guess they just thought you looked familiar."

Yeah...that's probably it. I hope they come to forget me...to forget us both actually.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I'm Not In Control

I swore I wasn't going to write tonight, but here I am.
I'm in a good mood but my back hurts.

I cleaned the house enough so that Amy won't be endangered by massive infection simply by walking in the door tomorrow...I cut the yard enough so that the neighbors may still give me a slight look of disapproval but I'll score some points for trying.

I washed the little dogs...they still smell.

I swore I wasn't going to spend any time at all at the computer... and then I remembered.

My friend Randy came to visit Amy earlier this week with his guitar again. I've converted it to an MP3 of marginal quality, but it's rather large. For folks with broadband connections you might click here and listen to a poorly edited sample of simple worship.

I don't think I have to explain any more.

I'm not in control enough now anyway...Thank God.

Getting Ready

I've spent too much time at the computer already, sorting thru bills, and answering emails. I have things to do.

My mother in law flies in on Friday which means I have to at least cut the lawn so she can find her way into the house.

Oh...and my wife comes home tomorrow too!

Amy still has a long road ahead, but the hospital is kicking her to the curb tomorrow and God willing we won't be back except to drop off Christmas cookies to the nurses.

Okay...time to get to work.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Deletion Is the Better Part Of Valor

I deleted the previous post because it was generating comments that were generating hatred.
For those of you who accused me of revealing "secrets", you are mistaken. The individuals involved are all quite public, but I decided my request for prayer was being misunderstood and had the potential to turn into a long running debate which I do not care to moderate.

Part of my job requires me to be an editor. This morning, after 3 hours sleep, I've decided the simplest way to resolve the matter was to edit myself.

I will simply ask for prayer...for understanding and perhaps for the misunderstood.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Swing Lo..Now That You Don't Owe.

I piddled the afternoon away and still have errands to run, and walks to walk, but I thought I'd share a delightful letter I got from "Citi" - by the way, when did they stop being Citibank, Citicorp or Citicard...is this like a Cher or that Pdiddy thing?

Oh well, as I've mentioned here before I'm in the process of slaying financial dragons or at least attempting to...in all honesty, I've inflicted a few flesh wounds at best so far.

One dragon whose cold black heart I successfully drove a stake through was "Citi." It wasn't easy. I transferred everything we owed them to our credit union (by the way for those of you who mentioned in the comments area that we should join a credit union I'm sorry I didn't respond....we've always been credit union members...Amy had that account at Compass Bank simply for their alleged convenience, but our vast fortune is now and has always been handled by a credit union. We actually belong to two; the second held our car notes...which by the way no longer exist! Yeah, that's a real dead dragon, but the tale is for another day.

Anyway, some time ago I paid off "Citi" - it seems like "Citi"should have a tilde or an apostrophe or something doesn't it? "Citi" standing alone seems rather cold and faceless. Actually now that I think about it I suppose there's some merit to that. I digress...I paid them off and told them where they could put their 28.7 percent interest rate. For those of you who haven't hung on my every word, pretty much everyone reading this, "Citi" refused to negotiate our interest rate with me at all even though I had a credit card with them for more than two decades. They wouldn't even discuss the concept. They're thugs as far as I'm concerned...not even decent Humphrey Bogart character-like thugs who in truth have a sliver of decency buried deep down somewhere in their necrotized souls. In my opinion, "Citi" is - are? Is "Citi" pluralized? I guess "is" is fine...the mob "is" and I might as well follow that grammatical precedent - "Citi" is a bunch of merciless money grubbing heartless, kick your grandmother type, gangsters.

Okay, add a nap to my to-do list, right after running errands and walking walks...I'm obviously getting cranky.

So today I get home from the hospital to be greeted by a letter from "Citi." You think that's French? It wouldn't surprise me if "Citi" were French. The letter, much to my surprise, accurately showed I owed them nothing...zip...or as they say in France, "Diddly squat."

That was nice and part of me gleefully hoped they'd send me such statements every month in perpetuity....maybe I could break the bank 37 cents at a time, by having them send me monthly statements for absolutely no reason.

That would surely qualify as the mildest form of "going postal."

Included in the bill for $0.00 was this addendum:

"Good News! Due to your recent payment performance, we are lowering your Annual Percentage Rate (APR) to our standard APR! You will see the new APR on your next statement."

They're lowering my interest rate...and here I was thinking "Citi" didn't have a heart.

They still need a tilde though.