Saturday, July 31, 2004

Why Elvis Is On Our Fridge

I don't remember when she did it, but Amy de-pictured our refrigerator...and Las Vegas is fading.

Today I noticed there are only a few photographs stuck on our refrigerator. The fridge used to be littered with pictures, mostly of people I didn't know or didn't know well. Photographs people sent along with Christmas cards or on other occasions, folks who are sort of acquaintances or people we knew long ago but don't really know any more. I suppose it says something about your place in our lives if your face is stuck on the fridge. You're too important for the trash, but you're also coming between us and the food.

I guess Amy finally got tired of looking at icebox strangers, so she culled the photos down to only a handful.

Two are pictures of us in Las Vegas. Both are very bad.

The first picture was taken on our honeymoon. Yes, we honeymooned in Vegas. Amy had never been there....or any place like it.

She played the tourist...I played the fool

It's actually a postcard, which Amy mailed back home to us. I had to digitally enhance it because the colors are fading. It wasn't exactly high quality photography to begin with, even before it started to fade you had to look twice to realize I am wearing a Viking helmet. Amy is wearing a t-shirt featuring the "Elvis stamp", which probably reveals more about both of us than Amy would appreciate.

The other picture was taken four years later and I think it's the only photo we have from that trip.

It was taken for "free" on Fremont Street which is littered with little casinos and a variety of sidewalk barkers whose goal is to hustle you inside. The goal of the people inside is take your money. One of the pitchmen fancied himself to be Elvis. He was a bad Elvis, and a bad pitchman for that matter, but we had our picture taken with him before politely passing on his invitation to enter that gritty little version of Graceland.

That picture is fading faster than the first one.

When I saw those pictures today I decided I had to scan them quickly. Even though they survived Amy's purging of the fridge gallery, it's obvious soon the images will fade out of existence.

They say, "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas", but some of what happens there I want to stay on our fridge, or at least in our memories.

Friday, July 30, 2004

What The If?

I was on the phone with Amy's sister tonight (her real sister, Lisa, not her parent's dog who is occasionally referred to as her sister) going over the battles Amy and I have been through, most recently with the medical community, and I asked somewhat jokingly, "I'm not an angry guy right? When did it become necessary to browbeat people into doing the right thing...into doing their jobs?"

It seems like recently I've far too often had to cajole, criticize, and occasionally threaten to kill in order to get people to act with a modicum of common sense. I mean I've had to be that way with a lot of people.

I don't remember it being like this.

I know there's a lot of stress in my life these days, but truthfully, putting modesty aside for a moment, I'm good at stress. That's one reason I get paid to do the job I do, not because I can do it blindfolded when everything is going well, but because when everything falls apart...I don't.

I am not one of those guys you see with veins bulging from their foreheads who you think, "Oh man...he's gonna blow." Really...I'm very laid back. I don't panic too often. I can be cranky, especially if I don't get sleep, but it's hard to make me least I thought it was...until recently.

Is it me? Am I over reacting when people run into my car and then try to deny they were even in an accident? Is it absurd for me to think phone companies should provide phone service? Am I the only one who's mystified that a radiologist would decide to do a rather common procedure on my wife in a completely uncommon way for no apparent reason?

For the record: these are rhetorical questions only because I'm afraid any way you answer might tick me off.


FYI- We resolved the latest issues regarding Amy's medical care this afternoon by having her most recent procedure redone the way it was supposed to be done originally. She is still in pain and it has been made worse because of what she went through today.

We are grateful for your continued prayers.

Killing Is A Sin Right?

I'm too angry to write and I never really meant for this blog to be a daily diary of our woes. However it became apparent to me this morning that the procedure done on Amy yesterday did not result in what I had expected. I could not see how what the surgeon and I discussed previously was going to be possible with the "tube" that had been inserted into her.

Cutting to the chase, after a blunt discussion with the surgeon, he admitted the Radiologist had not done what we or the surgeon wanted done. This means the procedure will have to be redone.

Amy and I are being rather insistant that it be redone TODAY.

Anyway, I'm heading back to the hospital to wage war if need be.

Amy's pain has not subsided, her fragile mental state certainly hasn't improved as result of this, and my chances of becoming a felon have gone up dramatically...especially if I see this Radiologist again.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life
- Psalm 119:50

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Painful Prayer

Amy's procedure was uneventful; it took less time than expected. I was able to get off work, run home and make it to the hospital with only moments to spare. Still I had time to hold Amy's hand, pray over her, and also speak with the Radiologist in charge. He was intent on telling me every conceivable thing that could go wrong, "but probably wouldn't." I'm not sure why he felt compelled to do that, Amy had signed all the release forms which said all the same things, but I've seen other doctors do likewise. Surely in medical school that's something they teach you not to do... "Bedside Manner 101"

For the record, if I'm ever about to go under the knife I'd prefer not to be administered a dose of worst case scenarios prior to receiving serious drugs...after the drugs are flowing the doctor has the green light to wax on as gloomily as he or she pleases..

Anyway, after that discussion, I prayed a little more and was ushered out.

I spent the rest of the day in the hospital room.

Amy's surgical pain is more than she expected. I suspect it's made worse by the fear that the pain will linger. I hope that fear is unfounded.

I can honestly say there are few more horrible feelings than when you are watching someone you love in pain and you know that you are powerless to do anything about it.

For a while Amy did manage to doze off.

I stood at her bedside and prayed as she laid still.

I know it is when I am at my most helpless that I feel closest to God.

I hope God will forgive me for today I felt closer than I wanted to be.

Summer House has been updated

While The Dogs Do...

I left the office a little early - thank you God for an understanding boss - so I could come home and feed the dogs before going to the hospital. Now I have about five minutes to kill waiting for the dogs to finish their business, although I doubt they know they're on a timer.

Not that I would tell them even if I could, I wouldn't want to trigger a bout of performance anxiety.

I had a long talk with Amy's surgeon last night on the phone. It was something I needed since he tends to pop in to see Amy in the hospital on an irregular schedule, invariably when I'm not there. Amy sometimes is half asleep and doesn't ask a lot of questions. The surgeon was kind enough to call me to make sure I was in the loop and I think we've now set that precedent for the future. It's going to be essential since I've got to work and can't be at the hospital all the time.

Anyway, I am about as optimistic as I've been in more than a year that the path we're on now will eventually restore Amy to her former pain free self. It ain't instant pudding though...the process is going to take a while and if things go exactly as we hope it will still require another major surgery...that seems unavoidable now, but it also appears we'll be able to have some say in the timing.

That's more than I can say for our dogs...their time is up. Hopefully they've done what they needed to do... pardon the pun.

I'm off to the hospital.

Woo Hoo!

Hey...a nice way to start the morning, finding out my blog is back up.

Apparently when those notices come through your email saying it's time to renew your domain registration, they're serious...who knew?

Anyway, Amy is having a procedure today at the hospital. It's a step we thought might be coming, although I didn't think it would be this soon. In terms of operations this one is very minor compared to what she has been through (they're putting in a gastric tube or g-tube which will be the new way she will receive nutrition).
It is being inserted into an area where Amy experienced abnormal pain following her previous surgery so we're praying for no recurrence of that issue.
This is a temporary thing as her surgeon, as well as Amy and I, truly believe we're on the trail of a long term solution to her problems.

Faith and patience. I learn daily I must grow in both.

More when I have time...I had been told I wouldn't have access to the website for another day.

This is going to be a long day and I'm pleased it started with a good surprise.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Friends....after experiencing additional pain, Amy spoke with her surgeon tonight and they decided to readmit her to the hospital immediately.
A procedure that we aniticipated might be forthcoming in the future will apparently be put on the fast track, although quite honestly I wasn't involved in the discussions. I'm assuming it will be done tomorrow and will require several days of hospitalization.

I again find myself asking for prayer. Prayers for healing, guidence,and wisdom for all involved. I selfishly ask that you also pray that God grant me patience, energy and hope.

God bless.

I'm Such A Drip

It's well documented here (reference :1, 2 and 3 to begin with) that I am completely inept when it comes to repairing anything around the house.

Still occasionally Amy will allow me to pretend I have some small fragment of mechanical skill by permitting me to attempt a household project....because of past abuses this has now been limited to replacing light bulbs.

Last week though, she looked the other way, said a small prayer, and approved my offer to install a new shower head in our bathroom. It's a duel shower head with a hose attachment that makes it easier for Amy to shower and still keep her central line dressing dry. Truly, it was a job even I was capable of doing. I unscrewed the old shower head, put some pipe tape on the pipe and screwed on the new one.

End of story.

Of course not.

For whatever reason, after I installed the shower head I noticed that the tub faucet was suddenly dripping. The faucet controller is attached with one screw, which I suspected only needed to be tightened a bit and the leak would stop.

To me, this seemed like another household handyman chore for which I was perfectly suited. I was able to hang onto this illusion primarily because Amy was asleep when I made this decision (reference: 4).

Being careful to remove the outer cover of the faucet controller without damaging it, or waking Amy, I got out my screwdriver and gently tightened the screw.

It still leaked.

I tightened it a little more.

Drip, drip, drip.

I started to tighten it further and then noticed that I was close to stripping the screw so I stopped - in 47 years I have learned some things...of course it took me about 46 years to learn most of them, but I've screwed up enough screws to know that when you reach the point where the screw head starts to give way, it's time to give up.

I put the cover back on the faucet controller and decided a slight drip was no big deal. No harm, no foul.

So then yesterday afternoon I returned from my daily walk and hopped into the shower. I noticed that the water was warm....very warm, so I turn the faucet toward "cold". I then noted that the water would no longer be considered warm per was a better description...boiling hot!


I fiddled with the faucet for about 2 more seconds before coming to the realization that I either had to get out of the shower or I would soon morph into what most folks would likely refer to as "broth".

Obviously I screwed something tightening one screw.

Taking my usual approach toward such dilemmas, I turned off the water and tried to ignore the entire situation. I went upstairs and used the other shower.

Today however I returned from my walk and decided I had to fix the problem. Once again I carefully removed the cover to the faucet controller. I unscrewed the screw and peered around the faucet innards apparently looking for wisdom.

There was only thing visible in there, so I used some pliers to center that thing assuming I must have tightened the faucet into a permanent hot water position. I then put everything back as it was before and prayed.

Miraculously it worked! The cold water returned. I could now take a shower without the risk of the neighbors thinking we were watching "The Wizard of Oz" at 2000 decibels due to the screams of, "Help me, I'm melting!" echoing from our house.

Of course the faucet still drips.

How sad is that? I now consider home repairs where I manage to return things to the way they were before I attempted to fix them major successes.

A Tee Profane

I saw this initially on Katy's blog "" and sort of closed my eyes and tried to make the image go away.

It didn't. It's really true.

Planned Parenthood is really selling these t-shirts.

Obviously as a Christian I'm pro life, but I find it hard to fathom that even people who are pro-abortion would want to announce such a thing like it was a badge of honor. The ad says they're selling these as a "powerful message" in support of women's rights.

What's even more offensive is that they claim the shirts are "soft and comfortable."

How could anyone, no matter your beliefs, be comfortable in such a shirt?

There's a difference between being pro-choice and being proud you killed a least I thought so.

I'm closing my eyes again.

This time I think I'll pray.

Monday, July 26, 2004

One Of Those Days...

It's been one of those odd days...those sort of out of sort days. It's been one of those days when the world seems weirder than usual; one of those days when I feel like a left over piece from what appears to be a completed puzzle. For all intents and purposes things look right, but something doesn't fit.

I was struck by the weirdness of the news today...which in itself is weird, since I'm in the news business and I seek out unusual news stories quite deliberately.

I had to laugh when I heard the story of Leland Laird. It's actually a story from last week, but I hadn't heard about him until today. It seems Mr. Laird was struck by a train in 1989 and has been in a wheelchair ever since. Almost every day he sits in his wheelchair near some railroad tracks in Appleton Wisconsin. In fact as trains pass Mr. Laird "waves" at the engineers and crew...okay, he doesn't exactly's something more akin to a salute except Mr. Laird doesn't utilize all his fingers.

He's not angry that a train ran him over, he's embittered that they make so much noise by blowing their horns as they pass through the intersection next to his house. He's made it his personal mission to express his displeasure.

The train crews have become quite familiar with Mr. Laird, and many actually look forward to seeing this 54 year old man each time they pass.
They wave to him and he gives them "the bird".

It's admittedly an odd relationship but I get the impression everyone involved seems to enjoy it at least a little.

Ironically last week, Mr. Laird rolled his wheelchair a little too close to the tracks and got clipped by a train car. He fell out of his wheelchair and scrapped up his arm, but I'm told that will not prevent him from saluting the next train which passes by.

It's nice to know he hasn't lost that apparently important part of his life.

Meanwhile, a 50 year old man in India has found a part of his life that he thought he lost 16 years ago....his car keys. That may not sound like much of a story except that the keys were his leg. Apparently, when he was a bit younger he shot himself in the leg with a rifle. At around the same time he lost his car keys. He never made the connection until recently when he started having pain in his leg and underwent an x-ray. Doctors found his long lost keys, which somehow fell into the gunshot wound and stayed there.

It's my understanding that doctors have decided to leave the keys in his leg, for what reason I don't know....maybe they figure it'll keep his knee from locking up on him.

Isn't that always the case with lost keys? You invariably find them in the last place you look.

Speaking of which, some folks may be looking at their food differently now. That's because they can use their eyeglasses as chopsticks or forks.

A company has invented eyeglasses that can quickly be converted into eating utensils.

All of a sudden I'm in the mood for seafood.

A woman named Giovanna Guidoni has apparently seen a lot of food. She's won the "Miss Chubby" beauty pageant. The pageant's intent is not to mock people who are overweight, but rather to point out the media's obsession with making people think they should be thin.

Guidoni weighs 416 pounds. She's 20 years old.

Last year Miss Guidoni was the runner up and I suspect that this is one competition where no one is worried about contestants bulking up with steroids. Miss Guidoni is a restaurant owner.

I'm sure she serves wonderful desserts.

I'm going to pass on dessert if I'm ever in Japan. The Japan Ice Cream Association has introduced new flavors designed to get more people to eat ice cream in Japan. Among the flavors: garlic, potato and lettuce, and cactus and seaweed along with raw horse-flesh.

Now that's a horse of a different flavor.

The real topper to today though happened only moments ago as I was about to hit "publish" for this post. The phone rang. It was SBC. The caller was taking a survey to see how satisfied SBC customers are with the company.

I enjoyed that...even though I am sitting inside at my desk I felt a fresh breeze, like I was outside waving at a passing train.

Suddenly this puzzling day seems complete.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Seeing Sunday

I woke from a brief nap a few minutes ago...I opened my eyes and wondered what I had missed.

I suppose I should explain.

With Gordon on vacation, we did church the old fashioned way today, with everyone playing a role. It was actually a nice change of pace and something I enjoyed watching unfold.

One of our newer members took to the pulpit (actually we don't have a pulpit, but figuratively that's what he did) and he did a great job.

Amy's pain has been more persistent and harder to control over the past few days, so I kept her home which left the job of leading music to one of our other members and she was also flawless.

Several additional members of the music team were out today as well, but another relatively new member stepped up to play the keyboard and she didn't miss a beat.

I got the job of coordinating various other "assignments" for our service. Luckily I had a plan, I got to church early and when someone walked through the door I said, " have you been? Would you mind doing ____ during today's service?"

I thought it was a very fair way to distribute the duties and it actually worked out very well.

Of course no one may show up early for church ever again.

One of the most startling parts of the day for me actually occurred before church when I stepped out of the kitchen after putting out donuts and making coffee to see this wide eyed beautiful little girl sitting on the floor of the hallway seemingly alone.

I literally said, "Hi! Um who are you?" I did resist the impulse to ask her to lead us in the opening prayer...she's only 11 months old.

After a few very long seconds I realized those big blue eyes belonged to Maddie the daughter of our friends John and Lexie. John was about 4 feet away in the nursery, but he was out of my view.

I see Maddie all the time, and have actually mentioned her in this blog directly or indirectly several times including about 45 minutes after she was born.

For that brief moment today though she looked like an entirely different child.

It reminded me how quick some big moments can be, and how lucky I am to see them.

In a little while I'm meeting a friend of Gordon's who is driving down from Austin so he can spend a night or two in our education building in spiritual reflection.

He will also observe a side of our church not always visible to others.

That's why when I awoke from my nap I almost felt cheated.

There is so much out there to see....don't you see?

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. - Psalm 119:148

Saturday, July 24, 2004

"Mr. Watson come here..."

We have a dial tone!

My first call, which I'm literally making as I write this, is to SBC to strip our phone line of the "services" the company gave us at one time for very modest fees or for free. They've raised the cost of those services significantly although I've been assured we were notified in our bill, "it was on the back of page 17 last February, Mr. Main."

I also want to get a refund for the time our phone was out of service.

As a heads up to friends and family who call us at home, the aforementioned plan of becoming one of those families who screen every call is going into effect as promised. How much our bill is being reduced is apparently an inexact science. The customer service representative I spoke with refused to tell me what those taxes or fees amount to...making any number of excuses along the way.

He made no effort to help me whatsoever and again acted like I am the only person on earth who has ever asked how much the taxes and fees are and even worse what they're was amazing.

I finally asked if he had access to our prior month's bill. He told me he did. I then asked him if that bill listed the taxes and fees we paid last month. He told me, "yes". I then asked him if he could read me those numbers. He did.

Being an apparent genius I've been able to determine that we'll pay about 6 dollars in fees and taxes each month, meaning our phone bill will be about 22 dollars...probably a little less.

If anyone out there is a customer service consultant, allow me to give you a hot prospect: SBC. I am stunned at how surly everyone at SBC has been to me, except for that one kid in billing earlier this week who by now I'm sure has found work somewhere or been sent off to be reprogrammed so he can learn how to be uncooperative. I really am not rude when I call, but the guy who processed my requests on our phone service was excessively snotty once again.

I'm certainly open to using another company for our local phone service but it doesn't make economic sense...and in truth those other companies simply use the SBC lines. Right now (and considering SBC charges you 8 dollars to make any change to your phone service, including canceling services) it wouldn't be worth it, although I might change my mind if I get the right pitch from a company that understands the importance of treating people with respect.

Our local cable company is in the process of rolling out local phone service. I never thought I'd want to have more dealings with the cable company, but I'm rethinking that stance now.

"There's small choice in rotten apples" - Shakespeare

Friday, July 23, 2004

Friday Night Fragments

Sometimes I have to clean out the mental closet in order to think clearly....tonight is one of those times.

Please forgive this small dip into the stream of consciousness to deal with loose ends and the open ended.

Phones -

Our land line phone service is still out, but the call forwarding solution is working fine, and I think I've convinced Amy that we can do away with Caller ID (they charge 10 bucks for that now, remember when it was 2 dollars?). We're going to become one of those families that screen calls instead. If you call us you will always get the answering machine as of next week, but we'll pick up if we're here...and if we don't owe you money.

Pedometer -

My blog buddy Jim commented recently on my post about the pedometer that he didn't think such devices "really measure anything. You pre-set it as to how long your stride is and, when you trigger it to begin, all it's really doing is chalking up a stride for every second or so". I disagreed with him in the comment area but I wanted to elaborate a little here. First off, my pedometer doesn't even have an off switch, so it's definitely triggered by movement, not simply by time.. Admittedly if you sit in a chair and shake the thing, it'll think you're walking, but if you put it on and walk it's very accurate. I know this, because I tested mine today. I did the normally unthinkable for me; I read all the instructions. I calibrated the little gadget as best I could. Then I got in my car and drove the route I walk every day, measuring the distance with the trip meter in my car. It turns out I walk almost exactly 3 miles. Tonight I strapped on the pedometer and walked the route. When I arrived back home the distance read: 3.01 miles. That's good enough for me. Still I'm stunned to think you have to walk three miles to burn off the calories from a donut or two.

Phantasm -

My father-in-law interpreted the dream I wrote about recently. It was a truly amazing analysis. I don't want to get too detailed here, because I now know it's an ongoing process and I want flesh it out more. Suffice it to say his interpretation makes a great deal of sense to me, and in fact reflects an issue that I have been personally wrestling with for some time: the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

I know it's hard to initially envision how a dream about pools, airports and mullets might lead there, but you'll simply have to take my word for it for now. I promise to write more about that when I can do it justice.

Prayers -

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. -Matthew 5:3

I believe when we are at our lowest points in life we are often the closest we have ever been to God. Tonight I know a number of folks are in obvious need of prayer, even though I really only know them from their blogs, comments and emails. Big Fish and L's youngest child is in the hospital with a serious infection. Things are looking better now but she is still very sick. She is only three years old.

A small child, a high fever. Young parents in a big hospital. There is no way to rest except in your arms Father. God I ask for healing, peace, and patience,

Pastor Tina and her husband were burglarized the other night. Actually it was their church that was broken into, but they also live in their church. Some "stuff" is missing and so is their insurance coverage which is bad enough, but Tina's cat, Gizmo, also disappeared in the chaos. He's 16 years old.

God, I believe there is no request too great or too small to bring to You so I pray for calm and comfort. I pray for forgiveness for people who prey on others...and yes, I pray for cats and closure.

My blog friend who now writes at Aelki is adjusting to independence and coping with solitude. She's a young woman starting out on her own with great hopes, great potential, but some trepidation. Haven't we all been there?

Father, be with those of us who feel alone and fearful. May this prayer serve as a reminder that we need feel neither.


Bobbie at Emerging Sideways has been inspirational to me in many ways. She and her husband have been through some tough times...together. Her story about their financial struggles is especially moving and has given me great hope. If you haven't read it yet, you should.

Personal -

As many of you are aware Amy has had some ongoing health issues. A couple of months ago we made a decision to put everything in neutral for a while to give us time to clear our minds and focus on family. We were able to cut through some of the medical clutter and also get away to be with those we love dearly. I believe that was a healthy decision.

Now Amy and I are renewing the medical process that we put on hold. She underwent another medical test today. It's likely there will be more and most certainly additional decisions to make.

I am confident we will find the other side of this sometimes murky journey eventually, but I humbly ask for your continued prayers for patience,
strength and optimism.


Thursday, July 22, 2004

Ma Bell Heck

I don't have good luck with phone companies...I've mentioned this before. Last week our home phone service was out for two days because of what SBC called a "major cable cut".

It started like a sugary breakfast cereal...snap, crackle, pop but quickly progressed to the dead zone, which I believe is also the title of a bad Don Johnson movie - I realize that's redundant since I don't believe Don Johnson ever made a good movie, but that's besides the point.

Anyway, today Amy emails me at work to inform me that our phone service is out again. When I came home I used SBC's handy automated system to report the problem and found out that our phones may be out until Monday night...because of a "major cable cut."

Having learned nothing from my previous experience with Tmobile, I then attempted to speak to a human being at SBC, no easy task since the company has laid off like18 zillion workers in the past two years while paying the firm's chairman, Ed Whitacre, some 20 million dollars.

After wading through the automated assistance system: 1- yes I want English, 2- no I don't want to hear about special offers, 1-yes I want to report a problem - I finally got through to a person. Not a nice person. Not an intelligent person, but a person nonetheless. She told me, "it's a major cable cut" and seemed a little disappointed at my lack of surprise. I then explained that I was dissatisfied with the prospect of not having phone service to my home for up to five days since I have a wife with health problems and I work in a business where occasionally people call me. I asked what they could do to alleviate my concerns.

Her response?

"It's a major cable cut"

I then asked if I was speaking with someone from customer service and was assured that was the case. As politely as I could possibly be at this point I said, "Well, I'm a customer and I need service of some form."

She told me there was nothing she could do guessed it, "it's a major cable cut."

Sensing that perhaps SBC should have laid off 18 zillion and one workers, I decided that this woman wasn't an "idea person" so I suggested that perhaps the company could put a message on my line, or temporarily give me their CallNotes ® service. She thought that was a great idea. She connected me with a young gentleman who offered to sell me CallNotes ®....on a line that doesn't work. I explained that I wasn't interested in buying anything from a company that wasn't providing me with any service at the moment and his response was, "Well, I am in new service activation, I'm not authorized to give anything away."

I resisted the temptation to explain that giving away good customer service might actually prove beneficial and asked if I might speak with someone who could authorize such an outlandish request. He connected me to a woman I assume was a supervisor of some sort. I explained the entire story again and asked if she was the person with the power to do something with my phone service so that when people called my home they didn't think we were dead like Don Johnson's movie career.

Her reply?

"It's a major cable cut...we can't put CallNotes ® on a line that's cut."

By this point I have already started searching the Internet for other local phone service providers. I ask, admittedly not very politely, if there is anyone at SBC who can do anything for me and her response was, "I'm sorry...but it's a major cable cut"

I had to hang up.

I stormed downstairs...tried to take out my anger on Amy who not so politely informed me that she was not the phone company, and then I stormed back upstairs to call SBC on my cell phone again.

This time my intent was only to find out how much we pay for phone service each month ($36.39 for one stinking phone line with Caller ID and the ability to make long distance calls) and to have our bill credited for the two days last week when we didn't have service.

I waded through the automation again and got a kid in billing. I say a kid with a great deal of respect. He had to have been a kid because he obviously hadn't worked for SBC long enough to think of excuses.

I laid out my sad story to him one more time, emphasizing the sick wife bit, that doctors might be calling any minute, etc. fully expecting to hear, "Well, it's a major cable cut"

Instead I heard something unusual...someone thinking. He said, "Well, first off I can credit you for the days you were out of service last week, but I can't put CallNotes ® on your line. However maybe we could give you call forwarding to your cell phone."

I was speechless.

It took some doing; he literally had to call people out in the field repairing "the major cable cut" and have them forward the calls but within 10 minutes we had phone service.

He also made sure to instruct me on how to turn off call forwarding once the major cable cut was fixed, and assured me that he was crediting our bill for the call forwarding service which we could cancel once everything was back to normal.

This was a kid in billing, not customer service.

I didn't get his name, but I'm betting it wasn't Ed Whitacre.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I'll Drink To Fat

Tiffany, my eldest stepdaughter, recently gave me a pedometer.

It is a very thoughtful gift and a cool little gadget. It keeps track of how far I walk each day, and if I set it correctly it will measure how many calories I burn while walking. Not only does it provide me with useful information, but it's also a reflection of the fact that Tiffany has taken notice of my efforts to get in shape and wants to encourage them. So far I've only used it while on my daily forced march although I'm going to wear it to the office soon to officially confirm the fact that once I sit my butt down in my chair at the office, I don't move much.

Although I've not calibrated it to exacting standards I know that my daily walk burns about 380 calories, that's not including what I burn by using hand weights, which I'm told increases that total significantly. It is humbling though when you consider one Krispy Kreme glazed donut is 280 calories.

I thought about that this afternoon as I walked in the intense San Antonio heat, sweating away. Especially in light of this story.

Krispy Kreme is coming out with a line of drinks, including what is essentially a liquefied glazed donut.

Drink up....and out!

Making A Statement

I'm not big on company mission statements. They seem very Dilbert-like to me. I've found most of the folks who are busy drafting mission statements are people who are not working very hard. The people who are working hard don't have time to come up with mission statements.

Despite that, my office has gone mission statement crazy lately. Upon my return from vacation I noticed the motivational posters that one of my many bosses had ordered plastered onto the walls only a few months ago have now all been replaced with framed "mission statements". They're everywhere in building...literally. In every stairwell, at the top and bottom of every staircase, in every hallway, and almost every sales person has a little copy in his or her cubicle. On the first floor (it's only a two floor building) the entire wall outside the elevator has been re-wallpapered with our new local mission's about 12 feet tall.

It's hard to miss.

Sorry, I don't know what it says. I've worked for this company for nearly 20 years. I follow my own mission statement: I work hard and I do the job I am paid to do to the very best of my ability.

I was told today that the various managers spent an entire day drafting our new local mission statement. Two members of their staff were forced to attend the meeting to take notes. After 8 hours the two staff members said they had a half page of notes between them....and that included the mission statement.

I asked if I would get paid more money if I memorized our mission statement or had it tattooed somewhere on my body. The answer was least to the first part of the question, I think they're still considering the second idea.

I suppose it's a matter of priorities.

Our little church has a mission statement, although I hesitate to call it that. It's probably more of a motto.

It reads: "Where the less than perfect are more than welcome".

It's not on our church sign. I don't think it's even on our website. It's not plastered on any walls in the sanctuary.

In fact I think there are only two places you'll find it: in our weekly order of worship and etched in the hearts of many members of our congregation.

Funny, I've never had any problem seeing or remembering it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Preachers, Mullets And Kinsmen Redreamers

I rarely remember my dreams.

I don't think there is a deep psychological reason for this; I suspect that it's more likely due to my odd sleeping schedule and a certain sense of self preservation. My waking life is weird enough, if I remembered what was happening in my sleep I might doubt my sanity even more than I already do.

I am certain I dream, but usually any memory of what has transpired in my slumber is instantly washed away as soon as I open my eyes.

Amy, on the other hand, often has long elaborate dreams with vast casts of characters, plots and certain elements of profundity. It's been a running gag with us for years that sometimes we'll wake up and she'll tell me her dream leaving out no detail then when she's done, usually 10 to 30 minutes later, I'll share details of my nocturnal drama usually I say, "I dreamed of a fluffy bunny."

Amy's dad, Bernie, interprets dreams. This not some mystical or new age power, some years ago he immersed himself in the writings of Carl Jung. Amy's father is something of a renaissance man, and I believe the tale of how he came to study Jung provides insight into the tools God uses in redemption, but I also believe that is a story for him to tell. Suffice it to say his dream interpretations are well known in our family.

I mention this only because I actually remembered part of a dream I had this afternoon which I suspect might mystify Amy's father, perhaps even Jung himself...although Jung's dead so I would suppose most anything would be a surprise to him at this point

The dream involves Gordon - our pastor who is known to many in the blogworld as Real Live Preacher, me, a swimming pool and a woman with a mullet hairstyle.

I know Gordon has mentioned mullets at least once in passing on his blog, but I don't believe he's shared the fact that he has a certain fascination with mullets. He's not alone. A quick search of Google will point you to some 380 thousand websites devoted to some aspect of "the mullet." As with many revelations provided by Google, this is an aspect of humanity I'm perfectly capable of ignoring.

Anyway, back to the dream. Gordon and I are in a swimming pool, to the best of my recollection this has only happened once in real life - when Gordon baptized me and resisted the temptation to hold me under. Across the pool is a woman. I don't recall whether she is old or young, what she's wearing, or even the color of her hair. All I remember is that she has a mullet.

There's not much more to the dream, it ends with Gordon asking the woman, "Did you get your mullet at the airport?"

That's it. The entire dream...or at least all I remember.

What's odd is that I know I've dreamed this same thing before...both times I woke up laughing.

I have a feeling I'd be better off sticking with the fluffy bunny story....then again, maybe I've been misinterpreting that dream all these years.

Photo credit: refused

Summer Freedom

It's two in the morning. I'm reading papers from around the state and find myself with two extra minutes.

This picture from the "Standard Radio Post" in the Hill Country town of Fredericksburg seemed to jump out at me.

It makes me long for carefree days.

It also reminds me if I bent my back like that now I'd be hobbling for a week.

Photo by Lisa Treiber Walter

Monday, July 19, 2004

The Woman Who Hugs

I know nothing more about this woman than what I read this morning on the ABC newswire, and that I can't pronounce her name, Mata Amritanandamayi. Mercifully, most folks call her "Amma".

She's known as the "woman who hugs".

photo by: Barbara Haddock Taylor-Baltimore Sun

She's a Hindu woman from India whose ministry is to hug people. Apparently she's very famous with some folks comparing her to Mother Teresa and other's saying she has a healing touch. Certainly there is a spiritual message in what she does, which appears to come from the heart.

She estimates in the past 30 years or so she's given out 24 million hugs. Her followers say on occasion she's hugged people for 20 hours straight. There are claims she's hugged 40 thousand people in one day.

Today she is in New York City...hugging people, no small feat in itself.

Her faith differs from mine, but it's hard not to embrace her spirit.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

His Vision And Blue Eyes

Sweet little Jesus boy
They made you be born in a manger

I'm used to messy church...but today I think Amy and I were more of a mess than anything else. We were out of sorts.

Some of that was to be expected having been away for a couple of weeks. Amy woke up in pain so we prepared to leave church early if need be, but we never did really get on track. When we arrived we discovered two baby dedications were planned for today's service. That meant a bunch of people were there, which didn't do much for Amy's increasing anxiety around crowds. Additionally I was befuddled because I had never heard of one of the kids we were dedicating.

Church is an important part of my life and I thought, "Man how out of touch have I been lately that there is a family here I not only don't know but whose baby is being dedicated?"

That stuff might happen in big churches, but it doesn't happen in least I thought it didn't. Later I learned the second child's family is friends of the other couple who were dedicating their daughter and they decided to double up. They weren't members. I hadn't let the world at large distract me from something so important. I was relieved, but the confusion continued as I struggled with replenishing paper towels (whoever invented those center core paper towel thingies I'm sorry I won't see you in Heaven, but I suppose it's reassuring to know there's a special place waiting for you elsewhere). Eventually I got the paper towels in the kitchen replaced without too many people noticing I was muttering words that were not normally heard in church but then realized, as dozens and dozens of visitors poured in that we had zero napkins in the church. We had plenty of donuts - you have to feed Baptists or they can really turn on you - but no napkins.

I whipped down to the local 24/7 rip off store and bought some napkins and still got back in time to find a place in our small parking lot which was quickly teeming with cars as more visitors arrived. To my relief, everyone had a napkin for their donut

Although Amy was leading music, she asked me to sit on the back row in case we needed to make an early exit which added to my sense of abnormality. I'm usually a second row church-goer - close enough to hear but out of range of Gordon's spittle...not that he really spits...much.

When services started I closed my eyes and tried to quiet my heart. As we stood to sing I noticed there was a family in front of me. The father was holding his young son who was facing backwards staring at me. He was obviously intrigued by me. I've had this effect on children in church before, apparently most kids think that people who sing can carry a tune, I've sort of decided God has chosen me to deliver these children from that illusion. I sing....but it can be a shocking awakening to the very young....or for that matter anyone within earshot

This little boy had big blue eyes and he never took them off me. I couldn't help but smile, and he smiled back. I finally began to relax. I thought about children and innocence. I prayed to God asking for tranquility and strength. I felt humbled by my sense of need and ashamed at my sense of urgency.

Long time ago
You were born
Born in a manger Lord
Sweet little Jesus boy

I was still keeping my eye on Amy and was fairly certain we'd be ducking out the back door, but each time I started to feel anxious I'd look over and see that little boy's gentle gaze.

Sweet little Jesus boy
Born a long time ago
Sweet little holy child
We didn't know who you were

Amy finished leading music and came back to sit with me. I could tell by her expression that we wouldn't be staying, but then a woman, one of the many visitors, got up to sing. She sang these words from the depths of her soul:

Be thou my vision
Oh Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art -
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence - my light

Amy and I were both moved. It was very stirring.

I looked in front of me again and saw those big blue eyes of innocence staring back and that little joyful smile.

Amy and I left quietly out the back door.

I knew today we had received what we needed.

* Sweet Little Jesus Boy by Robert MacGimsey
** Ancient Irish hymn translated by Mary E. Byrne

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Shuffling Off To Obscurity

"Good morning Shufflers"

The first year Amy and I went to Lakeside we heard that greeting almost every morning. They were having a big-time shuffleboard tournament that year. We were staying only a few houses away, and a little old lady would turn on a microphone at 9 a.m. each day of the would squeal and then she would say, "Good morning Shufflers."

It was one of the things that immediately made me feel out of place.

Various thoughts ran through my head....most along the lines of:

"Shuffleboard? This is our vacation? Shuffleboard?"
"Did we retire and no one told us?"
"Did we die and no one told us?"
"Is this the 1950's?"
"Where are Wally and the Beav?"

Gradually I came not only to enjoy playing shuffleboard while on vacation, but to admit that I played it when I came back home.

It's a fun game. Some people are very good, but most folks have their good days and bad days. You only sweat if the sun is beating down on you and even really bad players can get lucky and win.

So, in all honesty, it's a sport that is perfect for me.

Anyway, this afternoon Amy and I stopped by Blockbuster video. We didn't take a lot of time selecting movies, since we don't see many movies everything is new, and I got in line behind one person. One person renting games, trading in games, asking about release dates of games, talking about how much they love games, disputing an overcharge on their bill...suffice it to say...she was one person...but she had a bundle of Blockbuster issues.

So I'm standing there and behind me is a young boy with his dad and they're bonding over video games (been there...if it works for you go for it). The boy was excitedly talking about Madden NFL 2005 and interrupted the lone clerk coping with the lady of many issues to ask if Madden 2005 was available. He found out it was...for purchase: 50 bucks. This sparked a renewed fervor. The boy started asking his dad if he had enough credit to get the game if he traded in some other games and if he used a coupon he had with him. I smiled and said to the dad, "Economics 101 in the video age...I guess ya gotta love it."

The father smiled back and agreed. We exchanged a few more pleasantries. I mentioned a few games and asked if they'd played them- I use to play a lot more video games when companies would send them to me for "review", but I don't so much anymore - in other words the companies stopped sending them.

Suddenly the boy, who was talking about 50 miles a minute up to this point stops speaking entirely and stares at me.

I must admit my first thought was, "Oh man he's spotted a booger and he's going to say something about it", but he surprised me by saying, "Shuffleboard? What's shuffleboard?"

It's then I realized I had on my recently purchased t-shirt from Lakeside

I smiled and explained that shuffleboard is a game you play outside which doesn't require any type of machine or even electricity.

That's when the kid gave me a blank stare and said rather flatly, "The lady in front of you is done."

Heard enough... please shuffle off now.

"Goodbye Shufflers"

photo credit: Michael DeLong

Martha My Dear

Martha Stewart's going to prison. Phew! The world is a safer place don't you think?

I couldn't give a flip about Martha Stewart, but I'm certainly relieved that crime is under control to such a point now and we can spend millions of dollars to prosecute people who lie to investigators by saying they're innocent.

If the government wants to prosecute people for lying at least we won't have to spend a lot of money on travel for investigators...taxpayers can probably simply donate a few old mirrors.

On the other hand, I might be in favor of locking up a few Martha Stewart fanatics. Have you checked out I especially like the "post a prayer" feature. It's oh so tempting.

Friday, July 16, 2004

An Ink Blot or Red Tape?

I suspect Amy and I are about to travel into bizarro world today. We're doing battle with the government over Amy's request to be considered for disability. The first request was denied in a heartbeat, which we've been told is the standard procedure. The appeal is now in the works but they're not asking Amy's physical medical conditions to be evaluated, at least not yet. That seems odd since four surgeries and umpteen hospitalizations, combined with on-going pain and the inability to eat are sort of the issues least that's what we thought. Uncle Sam thinks the best person to evaluate Amy today is some pshrink. If I understood the government's thinking I think I'd be eligible to apply too.

The prospect of this appointment has triggered various panic attacks and confusion for Amy.

Of course that may work to our benefit.

Maybe the government does have our best interests in mind after all.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

The Dock

The dock at Lakeside is a key fixture. People walk on the dock, they fish off the dock, they swim off the dock, some people simply come to the dock to sit and read.

On the fourth of July they close off the dock to set off fireworks from it's sturdy concrete and steel base.

With the exception of a little cruise ship that took people out for night cruises on the lake a few years ago, I don't think I've ever seen any boats actually dock at the dock.

I am glad our family docked there though.

I Do This For A Living? Really?

First day back at work and I have to confess when the alarms (I have two alarms, I'm paranoid that way) went off I said, "Huh? mnmuphh?"

It took me easily five minutes to realize that I was deliberately getting out of bed before 1 a.m. I'm glad tomorrow is Friday, this is going to take some getting used to...I seem to have somehow forgotten in the past two weeks that I'm insane.

I was heading to the church on the way home because I'm fairly certain I'm due to clean this week, but I didn't make it. I called Amy and said, "huh? mnmuph?" to which she replied, "I think you need a nap". I don't think I was in the door for 5 minutes before I was asleep.

I feel better now; of course insane people are usually content. I suppose life is getting back to normal.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Untold Story of The Bulletin Man

I mentioned the Bulletin Man on this blog about a year ago, but in brief he's unusual, as betrayed in part by his appearance.

We call him the Bulletin Man, but his name is Allen. He rides an old beat up bicycle and has been a fixture at Lakeside for decades. He is 53 years old, but that's if you calculate age in the standard way. Personally I don't think standards really apply in Allen's case. There are a lot of stories about him, I suspect many are more myth than fact, but it's my understanding he suffered a head injury as a child and never really recovered.

I know this much...he loves people and he loves God.

A few years ago he told me that the folks who run Lakeside had put certain restrictions on his activities and it saddened me a great deal. He showed me the letter they had sent him which seemed harsh and business like. I thought it was missing a large measure of grace. I still do.

He is still having some difficulties with the Lakeside Association, and this year I noticed his demeanor had changed slightly. There was an air of cynicism and defiance. He told me he was "refusing" to hand out songbooks at the daily vespers as a sort of protest. When I heard that, part of me was encouraged to see him upset at what he perceives as injustice....part of me was disillusioned that he sees injustice at all.

This year, during our first full day at Lake Erie I saw Allen standing outside the cottage we had rented. He hesitated when I began taking his picture and quickly ducked his head, retreating into a position of taking copious notes, about what I can only imagine.

As soon as I saw I was making him uncomfortable I tried to set his mind at ease and once I established myself as a friend, he was quite cordial and open. He has a remarkable savant-like memory, although he almost always confuses me with my brother-in-law who has been coming to Lakeside for decades. He remembers which houses we have stayed in, what churches we belong to, and is always curious about the state of Christianity in our home towns.

He is a wonderful character. This year he had probably 30 feet of yellow nylon rope wrapped around the frame of his already cluttered bicycle. When I asked what it was for, he smiled and replied, "It's a great conversation starter don't you think?"

Usually Allen is in charge of the conversations we've had...I suppose it's that way with most of the folks he speaks with, many of whom (and I've been guilty of this too) are looking for a way to end the conversation more than anything else. This year though I turned the tables a bit and started asking him questions. I learned he has suffered two heart attacks recently, and was hit by a car in 2001. He spent some time in a state hospital and in the process he lost the home outside the Lakeside grounds which he shared with his sister.

He also lost his collection of church bulletins and hymnals. Allen smiles almost constantly, although his dentist, if he has one, would certain discourage that. When he mentioned his loss I saw real pain in his face for the first time ever. The house wasn't what he cherished, but he had collected bulletins and hymnals for many years. To the best of my knowledge, those things had been the center points of his life. I could see that he didn't understand how other people couldn't understand.

I think Allen may be a "hoarder", someone who suffers from a compulsive disorder to save things. Amy said she once peeked inside his home and it appeared to be stacked to the rafters with papers, so I could easily imagine that people with good intentions couldn't see the cherished beyond the clutter and simply decided everything had to go. I pray that he wasn't preyed upon in the process.

I have Allen's new address and he is anxious for people to send him church bulletins and hymnals, but I don't know if that would be a good thing. I gave him my business card and several copies of our church's order of worship, but I resisted the temptation to agree to send him more. I'm also resisting the idea of sharing his address. I suspect he would receive a lot of church bulletins if I did that, and I know that would bring him much joy.

I don't know if it would also bring him new problems.

When I think of the Bulletin Man many things come to mind: I realize that my struggles almost always pale in comparison to others and that grace should be extended universally, but judgment should not.

Most of all though, I'm reminded that I don't know the whole story...which is probably something I should be reminded of more often.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight...
- Proverbs 3:5-6

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Jesus Is Just One Height To Me

Amy and I took the back roads from Dayton to Lake Erie.

This is something we love to do, travel the a little slower pace than other folks. It's also something admittedly made more tempting by the fact we drive up to the Lake in "the little truck that might" which lacks air conditioning, so the windows have to be rolled down on warm days. If you travel the major highways for long like that you not only go deaf trying to communicate with each other, you also breathe in enough gas fumes to create your own ozone alert day.

In all honesty, I never tire of driving back roads. I love the scenery and the lack of traffic. I love town squares and old houses. I love speculating about how people in quaint little towns manage to get by in today's fast paced world. I love realizing that they probably simply don't participate in that world, which makes it all so much easier. I love everything about back roads and small towns...especially when Amy and I can enjoy them with only each other.

This year, about a tenth of the way into the trip, we started marking various churches on the map we bought - Amy long ago learned I have no sense of direction...we would have bought a map sooner if I didn't get lost trying to find a gas station.

We didn't write down all the church names, but there were a lot of them -some mid sized churches, some very small churches...all sorts of denominations. We spotted them all with ease. I'd shout out the names and Amy would try to scribble them on the map before I shouted out another one.

One church we didn't see that day is the "Solid Rock Church" which sits between Dayton and Cincinnati near Monroe, Ohio. I get the impression from their website, which, by the way, conveniently offers "i.tithing" via a secure server, that they are a mega church.

We missed seeing the Solid Rock Church because it sits on one of the largest highways in Ohio, I-75. Few other folks will miss it though; the church is building a statue of Jesus....42 feet tall with an arm span of 40 feet.

The sculpture, constructed out of Styrofoam and fiberglass, will be one of the largest statues of Jesus in North America.

Some Ohio State Troopers have expressed concern that it might distract drivers on an already busy freeway. Members of the church say their intent is to show everyone who drives by that there is hope.

I long ago tried to stop passing judgment on such ventures. I'm not a mega-church kind of guy, but I know a lot of people who have found community and comfort in super churches. I don't think God turns those believers away even if what brought them through the door was a 42 foot high Styrofoam and fiberglass Jesus standing next to a church's brand new amphitheatre. My point is not to denigrate the statue or my fellow Christians who believe that is an appropriate use of their resources.

Our little church had to fight tooth and nail to get the six by four foot sign that sits alongside the farm to market road where our family of faith gathers. The sign reads: "Covenant Baptist Church" and mentions our hours of worship.

Still, that sign has probably been our most successful outreach tool.

The back roads, the little churches, the little signs, and the statue of Jesus all fit together for me tonight.

I suppose it's all a matter of perspective.

Sometimes I see Jesus everywhere...even in the smallest of places.

Other times, He is looming above me with arms outstretched and I speed past without giving Him a second glance.

It's sure nice to know He's reaching out though.

On the highways...and the back roads.

Summer House has been updated.

Carry Fourth

Today was spent unpacking, driving Tiffany back home, unpacking, realizing there's no food in the house,

I don't really feel like blogging.

So instead of my usual wisdom...okay, instead of the usual junk I are a few pictures of Lakeside, Ohio...most from July 4th, where the anticipation of the parade far exceeds the parade itself. This I think is most likely a universal truth.

Monday, July 12, 2004

The Law of Returning Diminished

We're home. The house is a wreck...we weren't burglarized, that's how we left it in the frantic rush to "pack light".

Despite using an entire suitcase for "food you can't get in Ohio" on our way there, we ended up having to swipe a suitcase from Amy's parents to have enough room to bring everything back. I don't know how this occurs, which is probably what mother rabbits say too.

Anyway, the house has a funky smell...that might be what a house smells like when the dogs that normally live there haven't been living there for a couple of weeks. I don't know. It's a new smell.

I'm sure it will go away when we clean or at least change when I fetch the dogs back.

We had no major incidents in our air travels home. No broken jars of pickles (pickles you can't get in Texas...actually you can't get them in Amy's sister in Oklahoma brought them to Ohio so we could bring them to Texas. We traded her hot sauce you can't get in Oklahoma - the family that barters foodstuffs together...). No broken bottles of wine (wine you can't get in Texas and which really only tastes good on a warm afternoon at Lake Erie but sometimes if you close your eyes...)

We did apparently manage to leave our toothbrushes and my razor behind...I can't figure that one out.

I'm convinced the TSA stole my San Antonio Police Officers Association T-Shirt. They're not suspects in the toothbrush caper though.

An update on the Bulletin Man is forthcoming, it's somewhat sad I suppose, but there is a lesson there.

I think I'll have to write about faith and the family dynamic, but I'm not certain how I'll do that yet.

After 6 or 7 hours of air travel I'm really not certain of anything...except that I'm going to spray a little more Fabreeze around the house, open a bottle of wine from Lake Erie, and praise God for safe travel and family...not necessarily in that order.

It's always nice to be home...even if you have to close your eyes - hold your nose occasionally, and admit your teeth are a little fuzzy.


This morning the toothbrushes were discovered. I now feel better about the world...and the feeling is probably mutual.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

On The Wal-Mart Front

Back from Lake Erie...still in Ohio. One short story to pass on which ties into the passing of Marlon Brando. I won't get into the somewhat morbid disappointment among members of our family that our usual flurry of celebrity deaths hit a dearth this year.

Anyway...a couple of days after Mr. Brando's passing I'm in Super Wal-Mart in Sandusky with Amy - we have traveled to Sandusky because no other Wal-Mart in the region is "super"...this is stuff women understand and people like me tolerate. Anyway, we have split up the latest family compiled shopping list of must have items to speed things along if at all possible and I'm wandering the aisles on one side of the mega store, a half mile or so away from Amy. I see a young woman struggling to get through her shopping with her two small children.

The youngest child is perhaps 18 months old...maybe 2 and is sitting in the shopping cart. The second child is holding his impatient Mom's hand and being dragged along while speaking non-stop.

I eavesdrop on the conversation long enough to hear this exchange:

Small boy, "The other night you and Daddy said it was cute"
Impatient Mom, "Well, that was the other it's not cute"

Small boy, "How could it be cute one night and then not be cute?"
Mom, "I don't have time to explain it to you. We have shopping to do. Everything has a time and a place"

Small boy, "I still don't understand"

As the mother guides her small family around the corner into another aisle I hear the smallest child chime in...Loudly.

Suddenly the entire conversation makes sense.

Although by now they are some distance away, there is no denying what the little boy is yelling.


Saturday, July 03, 2004

Moving On

Now that we're fully's time to pack. We'll leave this morning for Lake Erie. Amy and I will be driving the "little truck that might" which has always provided a certain aura to our travels. It provides Amy and I with only enough room for each other, no air conditioning, and countless stories. This year we've been told the screeching noise under the hood is "benign" and we've been given a spray bottle of soapy water with which to spritz the serpentine ("SERPENTINE SEPENTINE!"- Sorry) belt. We've been told periodic spritzing will end the screeching. I feel utterly confident in this approach to car repair.

It's the stuff of which adventures are made.

There is little chance I will blog for the next week. If you'd like to read a little more about our family tradition...there are several entries from last year at this time in the July 2003 archives, including one I especially like called, Bars, Bells and The Bulletin Man even a few pictures.

So until next week.

God Bless you and keep you.

P.S. On two completely unrelated notes.. Marlon Brando died..I've mentioned previously our vacations are bad for celebrities. Hollywood should really pay us not to go to Lake Erie.

Secondly, I saw a full-page ad in USA today this week from an organization called It was very moving. I wish I could find a full reprint of the ad.

It reminded me that so often in life we don't see the whole story. I'm not talking about the "media" or the war per se, although that's certainly true. I'm referring to the everyday life we see with our own eyes, and our own perceptions and biases.

It's a good reminder that the truth as we see it, is still very often just that, only what we see.

To find real truth, we must see with more than only our eyes.

Look for wisdom in community...look for God there too.

Enough waxing philosophical....It's time to pack the little truck that might...

Friday, July 02, 2004

The Distant Perspective Of Cold Duck

I have this problem almost every summer when we travel to Ohio...I fall in love with the area. This morning I slept in, until 6 a.m., and got up for my daily walk before the rest of the family started to stir. I marched out the door and decided on a fairly simple route - yesterday I got adventurous and added about 20 minutes to my walk since I realized I didn't know how to get back to my in-laws house.

This morning the weather was perfect, 60 degrees, very little humidity and my thought was immediately, "I could get used to this."

About a mile or two down the road there is a small pond populated by ducks -they may be geese, I'm not the best at distinguishing birds. As I walked toward them I thought what a serene image they present in the middle of this little bit of suburbia.

As I got right up next to them however I saw the slightly less glamorous side of having waterfowl in the neighborhood. I'll spare you the graphic imagery, but suffice it to say the ducks don't waddle far to do their business. There are feathers everywhere stuck to the sidewalk and what they're stuck there with ain't glue.

The ducks are far more charming from a distance.

I suspect that might be true of my thoughts of this place as well. I've only visited Ohio in the summer when it's 100 degrees in San Antonio and 60 degrees here.

If I were here in December the 75-degree days of San Antonio would likely have charms calling to me too.

As they say, the grass is always greener...even more so where the ducks have done their business.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

And They Said It Couldn't Be Done...

Interesting article about they've now done what before was considered impossible...created a blue rose.


We've arrived. It was a relatively uneventful trip, although even though I'm considerably skinnier than the last time I was on an airplane, the seats still seem to get smaller.

Security gave us no problems, although one flight attendant did question Amy about her use of syringes on the aircraft. I don't think he was worried about her having syringes, I think he was asking if she actually "used them on board". I'm not sure why, but I got the impression that he thought it might violate some rule if passengers shot up drugs in mid-air. I explained she was "flushing" her central line with saline and then pointed to the line protruding from her chest. At that point he obviously decided he didn't want to know more. It was like a little alarm went off, "Danger Danger...if you continue this course, you may end up caring about these people instead of treating them like cattle". He took our medical debris and threw it away without further comment.

Ohio is nice and cool...the household is asleep, so I'm going to take my morning walk...the only danger being I may very well get lost. Guess I better bring my phone.

Leaving the dogs behind I must confess is one of the nicest things about going on vacation. We love them, but they are a handful. Of course the moment we walked in the door of my in-laws house I was greeted by Kasha barking incessantly.

You can run...