Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Witching Woods, my new book

I don't know if anyone follows Dishin' the Dirt anymore. Just in case, I thought I would share what I've been up to since I retired.  LOL. In fact, you probably didn't know I retired.

I've started writing. Well, not started exactly, I've always written. Since retiring in January, I've started a discipline of writing every day. I've always wanted to be a writer. I suppose in a way I always was a writer. Now I'm actually doing something with it.  This is a short story. A paranormal that is out just in time for Halloween.  Check it out!

I'm enjoying retirement. With winter coming it will be so nice to sleep in and not have to make the miserable dash to work in the freezing cold.

Monday, July 07, 2014

The birth of wanderlust

When I was a young, I would lay in my bed at my parents house where late at night I could hear the distant sound of a train passing along the tracks across town. Occasionally there would be a lone long whistle, but normally there was just the sound of the wheels running along the tracks. It would give me chills and I would fall asleep imagining all the wonderful places where it would travel. Fanaticizing how exciting it would be if I could just get on the train.

I am the cat-lady of books.

As I write this, next to my bed are two stacks of books piled on my bedside table which also has two shelves filled with books. Another bookcase is built into the wall across from my bed. My office consists of walls of books, my writing room (which is seldom where my writing gets done) has a wall of books, and so does my dining room which is really a converted living room. I have more books than I could go back and reread if I spent the rest of my life reading them. Some were originally for reference back in the day when libraries kept limited hours, none of which were in the middle of the night, and didn't always have the material you needed without using inter-library loan. Now days, with the internet, I don't know that I really need most of them anymore. I've decided they are weighing me down, not to mention creating cleaning and dusting problems. I've been clearing them out and donating them in unbelievable quantities. Not only does the house feel lighter, I feel lighter.

Now, my husband is the cat-lady of empty boxes, the box of anything he ever purchased is kept in case he might need it and somehow it never gets thrown away. They hover in the shadows of storage areas like ghosts of things past. Perhaps I'll tackle that next.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The 4 Questions

There are four questions of value in life... What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same. Only love.” Don Juan deMarco (1995) ~ played by Johnny Depp

Title Wave

Behind every stack of books is a flood of knowledge... art by Jacek Yerka,

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hello Cousin

Borrowed from

We're All Cousins
I got this nice idea from Richard Dawkins, the evolutionist.

Everybody knows that we all have a lot of ancestors. We each have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, and so forth--the number doubles each time you step back another generation.

If you go back to approximately the time of Jesus, say 32 generations, that means you have approximately 8 1/2 billion ancestors. Go back only a little further, and you have trillions.

Trouble is, there weren't eight and a half billion people on the Earth when Jesus was alive. In fact, there have never been eight and a half billion people on Earth--there are only six and a half billion now, and there are more people alive now than have ever been alive at once before.

So what does this mean? Only that not all of your ancestors were unrelated people. Jeff Foxworthy has a joke that goes, "If your family tree has no branches, you know you might be a redneck." But the fact is, somewhere back in everybody's family tree, distant cousins were marrying distant cousins. As Dawkins points out, the metaphor of a family "tree" only works for a small number of generations. Then, the metaphor becomes that of a river, because human DNA, and bloodlines, are constantly dividing and recombining, dividing and recombining.

If you're following this, you probably can see another implication of this: you, and I--each human being on Earth, in fact--have ancestors in common.

It's just a question of how far you have to go back in time. With your first cousins, you only have to go back two generations. With your next door neighbor, maybe you have to go back twelve or fifteen generations. With some guy in another country, maybe twenty or thirty. But somewhere back there, you share common ancestors with every other person on Earth.

Note that you don't have to be an evolutionist to believe this, either, because it completely squares with the Bible. According to that story, we're all descendents of Noah, and before that, Adam and Eve.

It turns out that every human being on Earth is fairly closely related, too. Dawkins says that you and I both share more DNA in common with an African Pygmy or an Australian Aborigine than a yellow Labrador retriever has in common with a black Labrador retriever.

Oddly enough, the two strains of human DNA on Earth that are most distant from each other are both black Africans. How that happened, nobody's quite sure.

In any event, one doesn't have to be very observant to notice that we human beings spend an awful lot of time and energy focusing on our differences, on separating ourselves and our group from every other group. And of course, fighting with each other.

It might be a good idea, then, once in a while, to remember that we're all cousins.

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Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Real Reason for the Season

The Real Reason for the Season, By David Loehr from

Christmas is really quite a new holiday. In our country, it only caught on after the War Between the States – or as some longtime Southerners know it, the War of Yankee Aggression. And in spite of all the hype about Christmas as a religious holiday, many Christians still don’t accept it as having anything to do with Christianity.

Modern Jehovah’s Witnesses and other fundamentalists still see Christmas as a pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice. They note that Jesus didn’t tell people to celebrate his birthday in his Sermon on the Mount. In Boston, a fundamentalist religious group has run advertisements in the subway proclaiming that early Christians did not “believe in lies about Santa Claus, flying reindeer, elves and drunken parties.” They don’t mention that early Christians didn’t celebrate Christmas either, didn’t have any idea when Jesus was born, or that Jesus also never counseled people to engage in self-righteous games.

It’s kind of ironic, but almost nothing about Christmas that people really love has anything at all to do with Christianity or Jesus. Yet people have been celebrating at this time of year, the winter solstice, since prehistoric times.

Though really, even the winter solstice is mostly an excuse rather than a reason for the season. In our modern calendar, the solstice occurs on 21 or 22 December, though in the old Julian calendar, it sometimes came on December 25th, and was identified with December 25th as far back as the 3rd century, when the Romans had their week-long Saturnalia and the festivals celebrating the birth of the invincible sun, not Jesus.

As far as we can tell, observations and celebrations of the winter solstice may go back 10,000 years – thousands of years before any of today’s religions had been born. In some ancient mythology, the Great Mother Goddess gave birth to a new sun god on that day. Sun gods are pictured with a glow of light, or halo, around their heads. So most of the paintings of Jesus portray him in the stylized way solar deities are portrayed. The solstice was celebrated in many cultures at this time, and by definition that 25th of December – the day the sun was “reborn” – was the birthday of all sun gods, of whom there were many. If you go to Wikipedia, you can find a list of over 100 solar deities, all of whom are “born” each year on the same date – though most of those gods have long since been forgotten. All gods die, and gods who last a few hundred or thousand years have lasted a very long time, as gods go.

So while over a hundred different religious cults and sets of rituals are known, each one of them was a kind of “cover” story over the real reason for the season, which had nothing to do with all those local and temporary gods.

In another twelve days, we will have the shortest day and longest night of the year. Leaves have died and fallen from a lot of trees; it’s been getting dark earlier and getting light later in the day. If we were living through this for the first time, we might think the world was slowly coming to an end, and the light would just continue disappearing until it was completely gone, and we might engage in some pretty desperate hoping.

But this isn’t the season of hoping the sun will come back, and it hasn’t been for over a hundred centuries. It’s the time of knowing the sun will return – after all, they knew exactly which date to plan their parties around, even thousands of years ago, and Stonehenge was built around 4,000 years ago to frame the sun’s rays precisely at the winter and summer solstices. They didn’t hope, they knew. We know full well that the sun will start returning and days will get longer, and we are safe in the hands of Mother Nature, for she will always give birth to the light again. That’s part of the message of this most optimistic of seasons: this is our home, and it’s a safe place for us.

In the fourth century, the emperor Constantine, whose religion was Mithraism, wanted to combine Mithraism and Christianity. He gave Christians protection from prosecution, but then assigned Mithras’s birthday – December 25th, since Mithras was a sun god – to be celebrated as Jesus” birthday as well, and also assigned Sunday – the day named after the sun god – as the holy day of Christianity. Until then, Christians did not have a holy day. Christian writers in the 2nd and 3rd centuries used to brag about having no holy days, unlike those heretical pagans who were always naming days after their gods – like Sun-day. So officially, Jesus started being born on December 25th in the middle of the fourth century, and we’re still meeting here on Sunday, the holy day of a dozen sun gods whose names we no longer even know. But Christmas didn’t start then, because from the very start, Christians wouldn’t buy it. Even 1700 years ago, they knew it was a pagan holiday about a sun god, so the day just wasn’t an important day for them.

A lot of people are surprised to learn that Christmas wasn’t an important day in modern times, either. But it’s a very recent holiday. In England in the 17th century, the Christian Oliver Cromwell ordered people put in jail if they were caught celebrating Christmas.

And when the Puritans came to America, they would not allow the celebration of Christmas, because they too knew their history. Our Congress was in session on December 25, 1789, the first Christmas under our new constitution. Christmas was a normal workday.

Christmas didn’t start catching on in our country until the last third of the 19th century, and then it had almost nothing to do with Jesus, and everything to do with Santa Claus.

In 1822, a dentist named Clement Moore wrote the poem we know as “The Night Before Christmas.” It’s still a magical poem, and it became immensely popular. That’s the poem we all know, about the visit of old Saint Nicholas flying up onto the rooftop in his sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, slipping down the chimney to bring presents to the children, then as he flew away calling out, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” There’s nothing about Jesus or God. Nothing about the winter solstice, either – just jolly old Saint Nicholas, presents, and a wonderful, magical atmosphere. After this poem caught on, the Santa Claus story became very popular.

Then in 1843, Charles Dickens published his Christmas Carol the week before Christmas. The US Congress was still meeting on Christmas. They kept meeting on December 25th as a normal workday until 1856. Meanwhile, the Santa Claus story became more popular, and the idea of Christmas as a special day – a day with family and a big Christmas dinner – caught on over much of the country. Two years after Charles Dickens published his story, in 1836, Alabama was the first state to make Christmas a legal holiday. But from the start, as in ancient times, it was about family, friends, sharing good food together, and celebrating – with a big boost from commercialism, just as in ancient Rome.

Christmas cards were introduced in England in 1843 – the same year Dickens published his Christmas Carol. They were simple lithographed cards that said “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

The first Christmas cards in the U.S. were used by merchants for advertising. So making money from this season has been a part of it since it began, as it was also in ancient Rome. We also owe our modern picture of Santa Claus to a cartoonist and a soft drink company.

Thomas Nast was the political cartoonist and illustrator for Harper’s Weekly from 1859-1886. He was born in 1840, so started his career as our country’s first top-quality political cartoonist at the age of nineteen. He gave us both the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey. And in 1863, at the age of 23, he drew Santa Claus dressed in a fur-trimmed suit. Up till then, Santa Claus was usually drawn either as an elf or as a tall thin man. (That’s why it hadn’t strained the imagination so much that Santa could get up and down chimneys.) So Thomas Nast gave us the symbols for Santa Claus and two political parties — and it’s still safe to say that more people love Santa than those other two animals combined. In 1870, Christmas became a federal holiday for the first time, and in 1907 Oklahoma was the last state to make it an official holiday. But as late as 1931, nine states still required public schools to remain open on Christmas day, still saw it as a normal work day.

But this new holiday didn’t have much at all to do with Jesus or God, and everything to do with the ancient festivals and giving presents. And the gifts which have become the main point of the season for all children and many adults were traditionally given on Saint Nicholas Day, December 6th, not Christmas.

St. Nicholas was a real person, a wealthy 4th century bishop known for his generosity – though not really a saint. The most famous legend about him tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman’s father had to offer prospective husbands a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry – much as it still is in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries around the Indian continent. This poor man’s daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into some kind of slavery.

Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. It’s also the origin of the three gold balls that you can still sometimes see hanging outside of pawnshops. St. Nicholas”

Day was celebrated on the anniversary of his death, December 6th, beginning in 13th century France. So the first part of our modern Christmas to become popular was the gift giving associated with St. Nicholas, but not any story about the birth of Jesus.

But combining gift giving with a religious holiday is like combining fireworks with the celebration of our nation’s declaration of independence on the 4th of July. Guess which one will trump the other one?

Some people in this country were giving gifts for St. Nicholas Day, which had become a secular holiday. But by the end of the 19th century, merchants succeeded in getting people to combine St. Nicholas” Day with December 25th, and give the gifts for Christmas, to help focus the shopping season. Earlier, Christmas gifts were almost always made by hand to give to your family and friends. But between about 1880 and 1920 merchants managed to sell us on the idea that they should be bought, and gift-wrapped in fancy paper. In the 1930s, they got President Franklin Roosevelt to move Thanksgiving back from its former date of November 30th, to November 23rd, so there would be a longer Christmas shopping season. A few years later, Congress made Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November, and the Christmas shopping season has officially started the day after Thanksgiving since then “though now it seems the Christmas ads start after Halloween.

You notice that so far, Jesus, God and Christianity have hardly been mentioned at all. Our modern Christmas was begun by storytellers, cartoonists and merchants, creating the shopping season that is the most profitable time of the year for them. It features holly, ivy, mistletoe, evergreens, fir trees, and the lights and fires and parties that go back to before Christianity existed, probably to before any religion still alive existed. But also notice that none of these stories talk about the winter solstice, either.

Our favorite Christmas music isn’t religious, either, though our favorite music comes at Christmas. The Number One selling record of all time is still Bing Crosby’s 1942 version of “White Christmas,” and the Number Two selling record of all time is still Gene Autrey’s 1949 recording of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

The single most important picture that established our image of old Santa Claus as the fat guy with the white beard in the red suit with white fur trim wasn’t by the political cartoonist Thomas Nast who started it, but another commercial artist. For 33 years, from 1931 to 1964, the Coca-Cola Company published ads picturing this fat Santa in his red suit and white fur, holding a bottle of Coca-Cola. Then in 1957, Dr. Seuss published his story of the Grinch who stole Christmas, a kind of cartoon version of the Scrooge character. And again, the “Christmas spirit” the Grinch had tried to steal wasn’t about religion, but about parties, celebration, giving presents and having a wonderful time together.

Today, Christmas has become an almost completely secular holiday. That even seems to be becoming the law. In 1999 a US District court ruled that Christmas decorations didn’t violate anybody’s religious beliefs because as they put it, “The Christian holiday has become almost completely secularized.” One of the great ironies of Christmas is that it really isn’t a Christian holiday – or even a religious holiday – at all. It is, as that court said, a secular holiday, just as St. Nicholas Day was and St. Valentine’s Day is.

So all the focus on gifts, merriment, meals with friends, singing, evergreens, mistletoe isn’t distracting from the reason for the season. It is the reason for the season, and has been for thousands of years before any of the world’s religions had been invented.

From all of the ancient and modern histories, whether around Rome or around the U.S., it looks like the real reason for the season was the need to celebrate, to get together with family and friends, to surround ourselves with merriment, and to just come alive. That’s a victory of the human imagination, inventing the brightest holiday in the midst of Nature’s longest nights.

What this season has been about since prehistoric times is coming alive. Early Christians said that the old Roman Saturnalia had parties, drinking, good food, singing, dancing and laughter – as though that were a bad thing. But remember, most of this partying was done with their families and friends. The winter solstice was an excuse for it, just as the 4th of July is an excuse for shooting off fireworks. But the solstice wasn’t the real reason, any more than any holiday is. We love holidays because they give us permission to come alive more theatrically and openly than we can do the rest of the year without being seen as a bit odd.

During 4th of July fireworks displays, all those “Oooohs” and “Aaaaahs” you hear when the fireworks go off aren’t in memory of a bunch of men signing a declaration of independence. They are the delighted gasps of our inner children, thrilled with being alive and being together. And that’s the real reason for the Christmas season, too.

I keep thinking of the wonderful words from theologian Howard Thurman, when he said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I had never thought of them as having anything to do with Christmas, and doubt that he meant for them to be. But they are about what this season is really about.

This is the most creative, positive and human of all our holidays. Fifty or a hundred centuries ago, some people were facing another solstice season. The days were short, the nights were long, and it could look like the end of the world. They knew it wasn’t – the world isn’t likely to end unless we boil it away or blow it apart. But once they started lighting fires, somebody got a very creative idea: let’s have a party! Let’s do an in-your-face to Nature, by having our biggest, brightest party right in the middle of Nature’s most dismal days!

There were other facts that made this a perfect time for huge feasts. They often slaughtered many of their cattle at this time, so they wouldn’t have to feed them throughout the winter – so there was a lot of fresh meat available for the feast. And the wine they had made last summer was finally ready to drink. Well, that’s a sign from the gods!

The best parts of nature have always been claimed by the mythmakers of the day for their particular story. In ancient Rome, the official storytellers said what’s going on here is the birth of that invincible sun. A few blocks away in the neighborhoods of Mithraism, they said no, it’s really the birth of Mithras, who was both the sun god and the Son of God. Disciples of Apollo would claim the time for him, and remind you that the only reason the sun even comes up in the morning is because Apollo drags it across the sky behind his golden chariot.

Then after the fourth century, Christian mythmakers said No; it was the celebration of the birth of another Son of God named Jesus that just happened to come on the birthday of Mithras and all the other sun gods. Then they connected it with the earlier story about Joseph and Mary, a wandering star, shepherds and wise men, and the rest of it.

These are all such wonderful stories! They are far more imaginative stories than the truth, which is pretty dull: “Well, the days will start getting longer for six months, then they’ll get shorter for six months, and they’ll probably keep doing that forever, as they’ve been doing on this planet for over four billion years. Now there’s a boring story! Nobody is lining up to see that movie!

Meanwhile, back on earth, a lot of people are getting ready to party. They’ve preparing a menu, inviting friends, deciding on the right gifts for the right people, whether they make them or buy them. They’re picking out fancy wrapping paper, hanging all sorts of things on real or artificial green trees – a lot like people did in ancient Rome, in the communities of Mithraism – the fir tree was Mithra’s sacred tree – and in more times and places than we can count. That’s the real reason for the season: a rare chance to come alive, to celebrate the gift of life by offering gifts to those in life who mean a lot to you, a chance for good food, good friends, and family who, if we can’t quite love having them around for the holidays, can at least tolerate them in good humor, and hope they return the favor.

It’s a time to get out not only our best behaviors, but some of our silliest and most child-like behaviors, too. My god, this is the season when full-grown people talk about flying reindeer, take their children to a million malls to sit on Santa’s lap, then line up and pay good money to see that ballet with mice that dance, and a magical nutcracker who comes to life.

“Comes to life.” That’s it. The real reason for this season has always been coming back to life. Not coming to worship the invincible sun, not coming to Mithras, not coming to Jesus, but coming to life. And all the stories, music, costumes, decorations and parties are like training wheels for us, to help us get back into that habit of being more alive – a habit we seem to slip out of so easily that it’s a good thing we have arranged this annual reminder that more than anything, what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Everyone Has a Story

I'm a closet follower of the Daily OM. This was the most recent post I received from them, and I loved it so much I wanted to post it here.

Everyone Has A Story
Interesting People Everywhere

It’s easy to forget sometimes that everyone has a story to tell if we take the time to listen. We are so accustomed to hearing the stories of people in the news that we sometimes lose track of the fact that the random stranger on the bus also has a fascinating story about where they came from and how they got to be where they are. The sheer variety of paths taken in this world, from farmers to CEOs to homeless people to world travelers, is indicative of how much we can learn from each individual. Sometimes the shy, quiet person at work has the most amazing life story and the biggest dreams, it is up to us to take the time to find out.

Some people travel a path of wealth and privilege, while others struggle with only themselves to rely on, and both have great stories to tell. Each person learns lessons, makes choices, and develops a unique perspective, which only they can claim and share. Even two people who have had very similar lives will have slightly different experiences, leading them to a different point of view, so each person remains a treasure trove waiting to be explored. When we take the time to ask questions and listen, we find that every person has a fascinating story to tell and an utterly unique perspective from which to tell it.

Bearing this in mind, we have the opportunity to approach the world around us in a new way. There is never any reason to be bored at a party, or on the bus, or in a conversation with a stranger. When we retain the spark of curiosity and the warmth required to open someone up, we always have in front of us the makings of a great story. All we have to do is ask.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Kissing Hank's Butt

It seems I'm really loving RonLawHouston lately. This one made me laugh till my sides hurt.

This little bit of religious satire is called "Kissing Hank's Butt" by Jhuger.

This morning there was a knock at my door. When I answered the door I found a well groomed, nicely dressed couple. The man spoke first:

John: "Hi! I'm John, and this is Mary."

Mary: "Hi! We're here to invite you to come kiss Hank's butt with us."

Me: "Pardon me?! What are you talking about? Who's Hank, and why would I want to kiss His butt?"

John: "If you kiss Hank's butt, He'll give you a million dollars; and if you don't, He'll kick the snot out of you."

Me: "What? Is this some sort of bizarre mob shake-down?"

John: "Hank is a billionaire philanthropist. Hank built this town. Hank owns this town. He can do whatever He wants, and what He wants is to give you a million dollars, but He can't until you kiss His butt."

Me: "That doesn't make any sense. Why..."

Mary: "Who are you to question Hank's gift? Don't you want a million dollars? Isn't it worth a little kiss on the butt?"

Me: "Well maybe, if it's legit, but..."

John: "Then come kiss Hank's butt with us."

Me: "Do you kiss Hank's butt often?"

Mary: "Oh yes, all the time..."

Me: "And has He given you a million dollars?"

John: "Well no. You don't actually get the money until you leave town."

Me: "So why don't you just leave town now?"

Mary: "You can't leave until Hank tells you to, or you don't get the money, and He kicks the snot out of you."

Me: "Do you know anyone who kissed Hank's butt, left town, and got the million dollars?"

John: "My mother kissed Hank's butt for years. She left town last year, and I'm sure she got the money."

Me: "Haven't you talked to her since then?"

John: "Of course not, Hank doesn't allow it."

Me: "So what makes you think He'll actually give you the money if you've never talked to anyone who got the money?"

Mary: "Well, He gives you a little bit before you leave. Maybe you'll get a raise, maybe you'll win a small lotto, maybe you'll just find a twenty-dollar bill on the street."

Me: "What's that got to do with Hank?"

John: "Hank has certain 'connections.'"

Me: "I'm sorry, but this sounds like some sort of bizarre con game."

John: "But it's a million dollars, can you really take the chance? And remember, if you don't kiss Hank's butt He'll kick the snot out of you."

Me: "Maybe if I could see Hank, talk to Him, get the details straight from Him..."

Mary: "No one sees Hank, no one talks to Hank."

Me: "Then how do you kiss His butt?"

John: "Sometimes we just blow Him a kiss, and think of His butt. Other times we kiss Karl's butt, and he passes it on."

Me: "Who's Karl?"

Mary: "A friend of ours. He's the one who taught us all about kissing Hank's butt. All we had to do was take him out to dinner a few times."

Me: "And you just took his word for it when he said there was a Hank, that Hank wanted you to kiss His butt, and that Hank would reward you?"

John: "Oh no! Karl has a letter he got from Hank years ago explaining the whole thing. Here's a copy; see for yourself."

From the Desk of Karl
Kiss Hank's butt and He'll give you a million dollars when you leave town.
Use alcohol in moderation.
Kick the snot out of people who aren't like you.
Eat right.
Hank dictated this list Himself.
The moon is made of green cheese.
Everything Hank says is right.
Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.
Don't use alcohol.
Eat your wieners on buns, no condiments.
Kiss Hank's butt or He'll kick the snot out of you.
Me: "This appears to be written on Karl's letterhead."

Mary: "Hank didn't have any paper."

Me: "I have a hunch that if we checked we'd find this is Karl's handwriting."

John: "Of course, Hank dictated it."

Me: "I thought you said no one gets to see Hank?"

Mary: "Not now, but years ago He would talk to some people."

Me: "I thought you said He was a philanthropist. What sort of philanthropist kicks the snot out of people just because they're different?"

Mary: "It's what Hank wants, and Hank's always right."

Me: "How do you figure that?"

Mary: "Item 7 says 'Everything Hank says is right.' That's good enough for me!"

Me: "Maybe your friend Karl just made the whole thing up."

John: "No way! Item 5 says 'Hank dictated this list himself.' Besides, item 2 says 'Use alcohol in moderation,' Item 4 says 'Eat right,' and item 8 says 'Wash your hands after going to the bathroom.' Everyone knows those things are right, so the rest must be true, too."

Me: "But 9 says 'Don't use alcohol.' which doesn't quite go with item 2, and 6 says 'The moon is made of green cheese,' which is just plain wrong."

John: "There's no contradiction between 9 and 2, 9 just clarifies 2. As far as 6 goes, you've never been to the moon, so you can't say for sure."

Me: "Scientists have pretty firmly established that the moon is made of rock..."

Mary: "But they don't know if the rock came from the Earth, or from out of space, so it could just as easily be green cheese."

Me: "I'm not really an expert, but I think the theory that the Moon was somehow 'captured' by the Earth has been discounted*. Besides, not knowing where the rock came from doesn't make it cheese."

John: "Ha! You just admitted that scientists make mistakes, but we know Hank is always right!"

Me: "We do?"

Mary: "Of course we do, Item 7 says so."

Me: "You're saying Hank's always right because the list says so, the list is right because Hank dictated it, and we know that Hank dictated it because the list says so. That's circular logic, no different than saying 'Hank's right because He says He's right.'"

John: "Now you're getting it! It's so rewarding to see someone come around to Hank's way of thinking."

Me: "But...oh, never mind. What's the deal with wieners?"

Mary: She blushes.

John: "Wieners, in buns, no condiments. It's Hank's way. Anything else is wrong."

Me: "What if I don't have a bun?"

John: "No bun, no wiener. A wiener without a bun is wrong."

Me: "No relish? No Mustard?"

Mary: She looks positively stricken.

John: He's shouting. "There's no need for such language! Condiments of any kind are wrong!"

Me: "So a big pile of sauerkraut with some wieners chopped up in it would be out of the question?"

Mary: Sticks her fingers in her ears."I am not listening to this. La la la, la la, la la la."

John: "That's disgusting. Only some sort of evil deviant would eat that..."

Me: "It's good! I eat it all the time."

Mary: She faints.

John: He catches Mary. "Well, if I'd known you were one of those I wouldn't have wasted my time. When Hank kicks the snot out of you I'll be there, counting my money and laughing. I'll kiss Hank's butt for you, you bunless cut-wienered kraut-eater."

With this, John dragged Mary to their waiting car, and sped off.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Hardwired for God?

I recently came across this interesting post on Ronlawhouston's blog. I thought I would share.

It is, I think, the spiritual version of the chicken-and-the-egg debate.

God in the Brain

Suppose that you show a group of people three sets of words. The first group consists of neutral words like "chair." The second group contains erotic words like "sex." The third group contains religious words like "God." For most normal people, they will become excited by the erotic word group. However, if you conduct the experiment on people that suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy, they will become excited by the religious words.

Temporal lobe epilepsy like other forms of epilepsy gives physical seizures; however, it is also associated with vivid religious hallucinations. In the Bible, the book of Acts contains Paul's account of his calling. We know that he was struck blind for a time. He also talked of afflictions of his flesh. Could Paul have suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy? Similarly the founder of the Seventh Day Adventist Movement, Ellen White, suffered a brain injury at age 9 that dramatically changed her personality. She also claimed to have powerful religious visions.

Leaving aside the theological question of the existence of God, there appears to be hard wired into humans an ability to experience religion. In culture after culture throughout the world, there are different expressions of this religious experience. Even noted atheist Richard Dawkins believes there is an evolutionary advantage to having a brain that can experience religion. I've experienced these "transcendent" experiences and have had to grapple with exactly what they mean.

The question becomes whether God is created in the brain, or whether the brain is an antenna for God.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Big Smile

Mom comes home Monday!

Monday, December 31, 2007


*Great news this morning.

Mom is allowed to keep the walker in her room and WALK to the bathroom with an aid present !!!!

This is progress. Major Progress!

Three months ago she couldn't get out of bed without a stretcher.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Update #4

Let's summarize.

The storm moved through on December 9th and took away our power for 11 days. (Until the 19th.) Vacation started on the 14th, I was still in the dark for "6" days of vacation -- totally wasted. By the time the power came on I was using holiday leave and not my personal annual leave which is a precious commodity.

In the middle of the power outage mom's MD of 35 years, who is 85, (One year younger than her) closed his practice. He was also sent to Saints' and we learned that he had been admitted in a state of rapid decline and was sent home for hospice care the day before mom arrived. She is morning his lost. She has seen him every 8 weeks for years and they consider each other friends. Belleview gave her to another MD who comes in, but doesn't really know her history. He is a cocky young rooster who tends to piss us all off. I was going to go in to meet with him at 7:30 in the morning (he visits patients on Thursdays and has only seen her twice), but mom just called and said he came in this morning because he is leaving town for 2 weeks and if there is a problem they will call another MD for her. He stayed approximately 2 minutes and flew out before she could even ask any questions about her hospital stay (more in next paragraph), or request a new perscription for Nitro. I am trying to get her with a geriatric specialist who was recommended by the head of that department at OUHSC. While at the hospital on the 24th, I discovered that her nurse had tried to call me on the 20th and somehow my new cell phone had dropped the message. (Can you hear me screaming?)

Two days after the power came on Mom began having chest pains (angina) (Fri & Sat) and was taken on icy roads to Saints' (Sunday) for tests and new meds. (too old for surgery) We have gone from living on the floor (minus 4 days at an overpriced hotel when I got carbon monoxide poisoning) to living in chairs at the hospital. She came back to rehab late Monday (Christmas Eve.) and they had given her room to someone else, packed up all her stuff, thrown out any open bags of anything that was in her drawer, lost her favorite pillow and embroidered pillowcase, suitcase, laundry basket, AND given away her flowers. I spent Christmas eve, and Christmas day screaming at people and making them go all over the facility until they came up with most of her stuff. We were unable to get back the flowers. They had gone home with someone. They'd closed out her records, including her meds which they have to reorder and it takes 24 hours, expecially at Christmas. My bloodpressure shot up and I had to take double pills to get rid of the headache. I've also just been told that ambulance transportation to and from the hospital is going to cost us close to $500, a little under $250 both ways because they used a streatcher instead of a wheelchair (which she was in too much pain to sit in) which would have cost us 2 times $75. It may cost more than that because there is an issue of whether or not Medicare will pay for an ambulance. How the hell do they expect critically sick people to get to help if they can't use an ambulance?

The family has decided to get together at a restaurant "tonight" for a Christmas dinner and a bitching session.

All in all, this ranks right up there with the Christmas of the bologna sandwiches only megga times worse. At this point I just want to get to January and kiss this fuckin' year goodbye.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Update #3

Within moments of launching the last post, the power went out again and stayed off through Wednesday. For two more nights we slept on the floor in front of the fire place. This time with a space heater powered by very long extension cords running across the yard, over the fence and plugged into a neighbor's house. (They, fortunately, had power.)

I think I am starting to get seriously lethargic and depressed. I could never live in Alaska. Extended darkness and lack of light get to me in a really big way. I was sort of surprised at how quickly and powerfully it impacted me.
I don't think candle light will ever feel romantic again.

Monday, December 17, 2007


When the storm moved through Oklahoma last Sunday (8 days ago) It left ice, downed trees, and knocked out power for over 500,000 homes.

My power was out Sunday, on again briefly then off again and didn't come back on again until yesterday (Sunday again)We stayed in the cold dark house with nothing but a fireplace until Wednesday when I got some kind of poisoning from breathing fumes from the gas jets in the fireplace. My husband miraculously found us a room for Wednesday night. (one bed) my daughter and I stayed there for one night. (She contracted the flu and 100-101 temps as of the day before the power went out.) Sent the dog to the vet to keep warm. The vet also had no power, but managed to get a generator to keep the animals warm. We transferred to a different room on Thursday night, when my husband and son joined us. My husband was getting bronchitus. Snow moved in on top of the ice either Fri/Sat or Sat/Sun. I can't remember. The days have blurred together. We stayed in that room until Sunday when our power came back on. How many days is that? I have no idea.

The power is now on (thanks to a team of guys who came up from Houston), puppy is home from the vet. My daughter is better, but still has a cough. My husband is getting worse. After several calls to Cox, we now also finally have TV and internet.

Mom road it out at the skilled nursing center. They lost power for 2 days but had a number of large generators to keep them going. Power was out all this time at my house, my brother's house and my mom's house. It was a difficult situation. The most depressing thing to deal with was the darkness. It was unbelievable how quickly that got to me.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Cross Your Fingers

Mom has had her first good week since the middle of September. Everybody cross your fingers, say a few prayers, and visualize healing energy. (Or anything else you can think of doing. Candles are good.) Therapy went well this week and she is getting cranky. (Okay the cranky part is not so good, but I'm thankful anyway.) This is the first real glimmer of hope I've had since she injured her hip.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Welcome to December

Thanks for all your prayers and concern.
We had a pretty nightmarish week with mom, but the last two days have been somewhat better. I've been practically living at the skilled nursing facility. I've come to believe that she was released from the hospital too early (straight from critical care to rehab) but they were following Medicare regulations--which sometimes suck (pardon my bluntness). My concern now is that she is exhausted. She needs her strength and energy back. My husband has given her a stuffed energizer bunny, like the one in the commercial with the little drum, and told her it was to help her when her own resources felt a little drained.

Keep her in your thoughts.
I love you all.

(In the meantime - here's a lively little jingle to help us keep our spirits up!)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Life Gets Complicated

I thought I would post a very quick update and let everyone know what's going on.

Just when I thought life was going to calm down a little, my 86 year old Mom injured her hip Sept. 26th (thankfully NOT a fracture), layed in bed for a month, became weak and loss the ability to get up on her own, took too many asprin and other pills for pain, and by October 24th began bleeding internally and throwing up blood. We spent over a week in the hospital in critical care. Thursday she transfered to a skilled nursing facility for rehab hoping it will help her regain the strength to walk with her walker and drive again.

She is really frightened at the mess she's in and wants me with her most of the time. That's lowered just about everything else in my life to a very low priority. If she can't regain the strength to walk, it will have a substantial impact upon the length and quality of her life.

I still try to read the blogs about every other day before I go to bed.

You guys have great and sometimes very funny things to say.

Don't Worry.
I'll be back.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Just as things settled down at work, mom took a turn for the worse. She is 86 and within the last 3 weeks has become bedfast. There is a lot of lower back pain when she tries to sit up or stand. Needless to say we are all very worried.
My brother and I are trying to provide all her home care (food, meds, insulin, portapotty, taking care of her very elderly half blind incontent dog, human contact, etc.) Because we both work, this sometimes becomes quite challenging. Mentally she is as sharp as ever.
For a while, I will continue to be slow in posting because her needs will have to come first, but I will try to keep up the blog.

Rayke wanted insight, so here is a little something for all of us to ponder.

You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip. ~Jonathan Carroll, "Outside the Dog Museum"

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down. ~Oprah Winfrey

You learn to like someone when you find out what makes them laugh, but you can never truly love someone until you find out what makes them cry. ~Author Unknown

We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love. ~Author Unknown

And my favorite:
Our love could change the orbit of the earth. So, if a meteor ever comes hurtling towards earth with the guarantee of destruction, top scientists may call on us to, well, you know, do it like crazy for the sake of humankind. ~Author Unknown


Sunday, September 30, 2007

To Sleep - Perhaps to Dream

It's 4 a.m. - I'm suddenly awake 3 hours ahead of schedule and using the time to catch up on people's blogs as well as my own. I love this bronze, "Time" by Brian Moneypenny depicting the constant flow of time through our hands.

There is something about time and thoughts that are magical - mystical. In a deeply spiritual way, we create ourselves and our lives through them. An energy, like the music of the soul, vibrates out from their joining, merging into the universe of all that is, and somehow becomes our reality. It is enough to take your breath away.

Today I am sharing some wonderful quotes about time. I am borrowing many of them from my friend Jasmine.

It's at night, when perhaps we should be dreaming, that the mind is most clear, that we are most able to hold all our life in the palm of our skull. I don't know if anyone has ever pointed out the great attraction of insomnia before, but it is so; the night seems to release a little more of our vast backward inheritance of instincts and feelings; as with the dawn, a little honey is allowed to ooze between the lips of the sandwich, a little of the stuff of dreams to drip into the waking mind. I wish I believed, as J. B. Priestley did, that consciousness continues after disembodiment or death, not forever, but for a long while. Three score years and ten is such a stingy ration of time, when there is so much time around. Perhaps that's why some of us are insomniacs; night is so precious that it would be pusillanimous to sleep all through it! A "bad night" is not always a bad thing. ~Brian W. Aldiss

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.
~D.H. Lawrence

The bed is a bundle of paradoxes: we go to it with reluctance, yet we quit it with regret; we make up our minds every night to leave it early, but we make up our bodies every morning to keep it late. ~Charles Caleb Colton

I wonder sometimes if I will kick and scream my way into the next life, crying "Oh, but God I have only yet begun to play in this one. I just discovered how the game works. There are so many more games I would love to play and learn. – Jasmine

They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. – Andy Warhol

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that the stuff life is made of. – Benjamin Franklin

The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. – C.S. Lewis

Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived. - Captain Jean-Luc Picard, played by Patrick Stewart, from the film "Star Trek: Generations"

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else. – Emily Dickinson

... we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless. – Paul Bowles

Come out of the circle of time
And into the circle of love.

Time is free, but it’s priceless.
You can’t own it, but you can use it.
You can’t keep it, but you can spend it.
Once you’ve lost it, you never get it back.
- Harvy MacKay

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

And my 3 favorites:

There is no snooze button on a cat who wants breakfast. ~Author Unknown

If people were meant to pop out of bed, we'd all sleep in toasters. ~Author unknown, attributed to Jim Davis

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” – Albert Einstein

Friday, September 21, 2007

Plotting Retreat

The weekend was spent at a working ranch in western Oklahoma surrounded on all sides by cows! Okay. I've been corrected, they are not technically cows, but steers. Cows are female. These were all "male" cattle who have had unspeakable things done to unmentionable parts of their anatomy. Think eunuch. Of course, I didn't notice that their moos were any higher pitched, so I guess any hope for an Oklahoman Steer's Choir is out, even though there were definately long lowing tones in the air.

Di's house was at the base of Navajo mountain.(Mountain by Oklahoma standards, that is) It was sooo quiet. We loved it. Great hot tub! (Ask Sheila and Donnell.) Navajo mountain is begging its own story. I'm thinking fantasy/futuristic/paranormal.

The following are 3 photos of our faithful group, minus one who hadn't arrived yet, laboring away at awesome plots that will stand you on your ears once they're published. (Ignore the dates. Something was wrong with the setting on Julia's camera.)

Donnell, Di, Me and Sheila.
Notice that I am wearing one of Rinda's awesome T-shirts from her
Write Snark Cafe Press. I won this at the last writers meeting and it has become one of my favorite things to wear.

Donnell and Di working on ways to torture their heroine. It was frightening that they were able to come up so quickly with such evil ideas. Hmmm. Perhaps I should be worried and sleep with one eye open.

Sheila, Julia, Myself, and Di taking a break.
Thanks to Julia for the photos.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

How true it is !

Excerpts from a Dog's Diary

8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing !
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing !
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing !
10:30am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing !
12:00pm - Lunch! My favorite thing !
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing !
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing !
5:00 pm - Milk bones! My favorite thing !
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing !
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing !
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing !

Excerpts from a Cat's Diary

Day 983 of my captivity.
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine
lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort
of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I
nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing
that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I
once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had
hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates
what I am capable of. However they merely made condescending comments about
what a 'good little hunter' I am. Imbeciles!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in
solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the
noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power
of 'allergies'. I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors
by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow --
but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog
receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more
than willing to return. He is obviously insane. The bird has got to be an
informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain
that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for
him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Tropical Storm? In OKLAHOMA??

Sunday was an amazing night. We had a tropical storm develop over the sooner state.

Erin moved up through Texas as a rain storm and reformed over Oklahoma. It was much less intense than it would have been over the ocean, none the less, it flooded the western half of the state and did some pretty serious damage.

Tropical Storm Erin is the second tropical cyclone to make landfall on the United States in the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season. The fifth named storm of the season, it formed in the Gulf of Mexico on August 14 from a persistent area of convection. It attained tropical storm status the next day, and on August 16 Erin made landfall near Lamar, Texas and persisted over land across Texas before moving northward into Oklahoma.

Early on August 19 after entering Oklahoma, Erin suddenly re-intensified to reach winds of 35 mph (55 km/h) a short distance west of Oklahoma City.[15] The Norman, Oklahoma National Weather Service remarked the intensification "[resulted] in what amounts to an inland tropical storm;"[16] at 0930 UTC the system presented an eye-like feature and a spiral rainband, and produced wind gusts of over 80 mph (130 km/h).[17] However, a few hours later, the depression began weakening again,[15] and late on August 19 Erin degenerated into a remnant low pressure area as the circulation dissipated over northeastern Oklahoma.

Then, if that wasn't enough weirdness for one evening, we had the storm produced gigantic lightening like jets above the clouds.

Space Weather News for August 23, 2007>>>>>>

On Aug. 20th, an amateur astronomer in Oklahoma scanned the sky for meteors using a low-light video camera--but instead of meteors, he recorded a bizarre upside-down form of lightning called "Gigantic Jets."

Discovered in 2001, Gigantic Jets are enormous discharges that leap upward 50 miles high from the tops of thunderclouds. They are related to better known sprites and elves, but are larger and more dramatic. The Oklahoma Jets are the first ever photographed over the continental United States and they may provide key data to researchers working to understand the phenomenon.

GIGANTIC JETS: Think of them as sprites on steroids: Gigantic Jets are lightning-like discharges that spring from the top of thunderstorms, reaching all the way from the thunderhead to the ionosphere 50+ miles overhead. They're enormous and powerful.

"Gigantic Jets are very rare," explains atmospheric scientist and Jet-expert Oscar van der Velde of the Université Paul Sabatier's Laboratoire d'Aérologie in Toulouse, France. "The first one was discovered in 2001 by Dr. Victor Pasko in Puerto Rico. Since then fewer than 30 jets have been recorded--mostly over open ocean and on only two occasions over land." That's why researchers are excited by the events of Aug. 20th. On that night, amateur astronomer Richard Smedley of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, was hunting for meteors using a low light video camera when he caught two Gigantic Jets instead. "They were much brighter than a typical meteor--more like a fireball," says Smedley.

To appreciate the size of these things, consider the following: "They came from a thunderstorm more than 100 miles away." This means the Jets were about 48 miles tall measured upward from the top of the thundercloud. Because they connect thunderstorms directly to the ionosphere, Gigantic Jets play some role in the global flow of electricity around our planet, but how big is that role? "No one knows," says van der Velde. "This is cutting-edge research and these photos from Oklahoma provide an exciting new case-study."

Only in Oklahoma.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Quick Update

Orientation begins today. I think I'm mostly ready.

Classes begin Monday and my syllabus is still unwritten. (I've never been this behind.)

We're short handed at work. [In an office with 1.5 counselors 1 is on baby leave and the .5 counselor (me) is working extended hours and trying to keep everything covered until Oct. 1st.]

Jen's preparing to transfer to UCO (Graphic Design)

My son's sleep cycle became so disrupted that his psychiatrist has put him on sleeping pills at night.

The tree men came and took out several trees, including Mr Broccoli, an old damaged pine that looked like a toothpick with a small tuft of green at the top. The airconditioning men came and replaced the duct work in the attic. Ben's car gave up the ghost and had to be in the shop for a week.

Our new daschund, Sadie, who we got just before the trip, is only now beginning to get the idea of doing her business outside. BUT... she won't bark to go out. Her signals are the same as when she wants to play. You have to ask her if she wants to go outside. If she runs madly to the door, she wants out. Otherwise, she uses the carpet and can't seem to understand why we get upset.

Critique group is working full steam again. (This is a good thing.)
Ideas for all kinds of projects are spinning in my head and I can't wait to have the time to get to them.

Tons to do at Ben's office and some of that is getting put on the back burner because the many of the Friday's that I normally work for him are now spent at OSU. (I can do some of it at night or on Saturdays, but I'm tired at night and Saturday is my house cleaning and errand day.)

I'm paying Jenn $50 to cook 4 healthy meals a week and help with light housework. However, she starts classes and a new job in the Cyber Cafe on Monday so I don't know how long I'll have her help. At that point I will be home from work before she is (6:30)

My fantasy is that life will be back to normal by October 1st.

Ben got a super deal on AlphaSmarts the other day. They are all older but work well. Some need new cords to download to the computer. These can be gotten easily from the company. The only difference I can see from these and the later models is that they don't have infa-red download capabilities, and they look older and more boxy. Anyway, I'm going to ask around at the meeting on Saturday and see if any of the other writers want a cheap AlphaSmart.

Got to Go. I need to be at work early today. (And won't be home until after 9 tonight due to faculty inservice meetings. I hate when that happens)

Love you all.
Back Soon.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Touching Base

Yes. It has been more than 2 weeks.

I'm envolved in so much right now, I'm brain dead. I promise I'll be back online soon. I still catch all of your blogs a couple of times a week, so know you're loved. There is nothing bad going on, I'm just involved in a lot of projects and really, really busy. I'll be back soon.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sweet Freedom!

In spite of every roadblock and obstacle that you can imagine, I SWEAR to you we ARE leaving for Phylly and DC early Saturday Morning, I don't care how much we are running behind!

I can smell it.
I can taste it.
I can feel it creeping ever closer and it is almost within my reach.
I will not be denied.

This has been a rough and busy semester, make that year. I am so ready for and in desperate need of a break.

Get me outta here!

I'll be out of pocket and incommunicado for approx. 2 weeks.

Our first stop is the King Tut exhibit. It is only visiting 4 cities and Philly is the last stop on the list. I saw it once about 25 years ago, but no one else in the family has. The kids weren't even born yet. We purchased advanced tickets over a year ago and everyone is really excited. AND, I've NEVER been to PHILLY. So of course while there we are going to eat the infamous Philly Cheesesteak, see the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross' house, Constitution Hall, the Ben Franklin museum and any thing else we can find that looks old and historical.

Next stop DC.
We are taking in all the typical tourist stuff. Again, I was there maybe 30 years ago, but no one else has been there. I've heard that the White House is still white, go figure, and they have a few more statues and memorials. Actually, I love that kind of stuff.

The best news of all is that my goddaughter, Lisa, is going to come down from NYC and meet up with us for a day. I am so eager to see her!!

While I'm in the neighborhood, if anyone wants me to drop in and deliver a message to George W., just let me know.

See ya in 2 weeks.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sir Conlan Matthew Fields has ARRIVED

After a long wait, a rough labor and a c-section, Todd and Sheila's young prince is finally here!
7 lbs 15.5 oz.
Twenty inches long.
Bright Blue eyes with light brown hair.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


"Recognize that life is what you get when you’re born ...
living is what you do with it." -- Jim Allen

"It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between." -- Diane Ackerman

"If there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life, as in hoping for another life, and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life." -- Albert Camus

Monday, April 30, 2007


The psychologist takes out their notepad. Writing furiously, they take down the following information: Adolescent male; victim of trauma at a young age; Behavioral problems; Loner; Does not function well with peers. Finally the psychologist takes down the reason for the visit: Violent; Attacked numerous individuals; killed many innocent victims.

While many people might be thinking Columbine or Virginia Tech the actual study here involves adolescent male elephants. Elephants have similar life spans to humans. Their adolescent period ends at a similar time to humans (around age 17). What is interesting is that scientists are beginning to believe that elephants can also suffer from Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

Since the early 1990's some young male elephants in South Africa have been exhibiting many bizarre behaviors. They have been raping and killing rhinos, they have been attacking people and other elephants. What scientists are beginning to believe is that this is caused by trauma in elephant communities.

Elephants, like humans, are profoundly social creatures. When a close family member dies, elephants have elaborate mourning and burial rituals. The pressure on elephant families has caused many young elephants to be either orphans or not properly socialized. The theory of PTSD in elephants is further reinforced by techniques that have helped stem these problem behaviors. One of the most effective techniques is the introduction of older male elephants into the social structure. These older more mature males curb the violence of the disaffected adolescents.

While humans are unique in many of their characteristics, there is more and more research that shows that many animals share many of the same characteristics as humans. Elephants know hurt and loss. Surprisingly, elephants also can be healed. There are several non-profit groups in Africa that specialize in healing traumatized elephants. They have a remarkable success rate in healing these animals and reintroducing them into herds.

The paradox is that it was human behavior that created this problem. Indiscriminate killing of adult elephants for their ivory is believed to be one of the primary causes of PTSD in adolescent elephants.

So, are we really that different from the animals?


Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Rules of Being Human

You will receive a body. You may like it or hate it, but it will be yours for as long as you live. How you take care of it or fail to take care of it can make an enormous difference in the quality of your life.

You will learn lessons. You are enrolled in a full-time, informal school called Life. Each day, you will be presented with opportunities to learn what you need to know. The lessons presented are often completely different from those you think you need.

There are no mistakes, only lessons. Growth is a process of trial, error and experimentation. You can learn as much from failure as you can from success. Maybe more.

A lesson is repeated until it is learned. A lesson will be presented to you in various forms until you have learned it. When you have learned it (as evidenced by a change in your attitude and ultimately your behavior) then you can go on to the next lesson.

Learning lessons does not end. There is no stage of life that does not contain some lessons. As long as you live there will be something more to learn.

“There” is no better than “here”. When your “there” has become a “here” you will simply discover another “there” that will again look better than your “here.” Don’t be fooled by believing that the unattainable is better than what you have.

Others are merely mirrors of you. You cannot love or hate something about another person unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself. When tempted to criticize others, ask yourself why you feel so strongly.

What you make of your life is up to you. You have all the tools and resources you need. What you create with those tools and resources is up to you. Remember that through desire, goal setting and unflagging effort you can have anything you want. Persistence is the key to success.

The answers lie inside of you. The solutions to all of life’s problems lie within your grasp. All you need to do is ask, look, listen and trust yourself.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Holiday! (Pick one)

Cultural historians find, in the celebration of Easter, a convergence of the three traditions - Pagan, Hebrew and Christian.

According to St. Bede, an English historian of the early 8th century, Easter owes its origin to the old Teutonic mythology. It was derived from the name Eostre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to whom the month of April was dedicated. The festival of Eostre was celebrated at the vernal equinox, when the day and night gets an equal share of the day.

The English name "Easter" is much newer. When the early English Christians wanted others to accept Christianity, they decided to use the name Easter for this holiday so that it would match the name of the old spring celebration. This made it more comfortable for other people to accept Christianity.

The Easter festival, as celebrated today, is related with the Hebrew tradition, the Jewish Passover. This is being celebrated during Nisan, the first month of the Hebrew lunar year. The JewishPassover under Moses commemorates Israel's deliverance from about 300 years of bondage in Egypt.

The Feast of Easter was well established by the second century. But there had been dispute over the exact date of the Easter observance between the Eastern and Western Churches. The East wanted to have it on a weekday because early Christians observed Passover every year on the 14th of Nisan, the month based on the lunar calendar. But, the West wanted that Easter should always be a Sunday regardless of the date.

To solve this problem the emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicaea in 325. The question of the date of Easter was one of its main concerns. The council decided that Easter should fall on Sunday following the first full moon after the vernal equinox. But fixing up the date of the Equinox was still a problem. The Alexandrians, noted for their rich knowledge in astronomical calculations were given the task. And March 21 was made out to be the perfect date for spring equinox.

The dating of Easter today follows the same. Accordingly, churches in the West observe it on the first day of the full moon that occurs on or following the Spring equinox on March 21., it became a movable feast between March 21 and April 25.Still some churches in the East observe Easter according to the date of the Passover festival.

Pagans, however still celebrate Eostre on the somewhat movable date of the vernal equinox.
In the Islamic world vernal equinox marks the celebration of the New Year.

Eggs and Easter have almost become synonymous. But . . .
"What is so Special in an Egg?"

It is the influence of the traditional spring rites that made Easter so egg-special. And myths coming down to us from an incredibly distant past have shown man's relationship with the egg to be very deep seated one. This is caught in old Latin proverb: Omne vivum ex ovo. This means "all life comes from an egg".

Not just the Latin saying, eggs are just laid well over all corners of the world. From ancient India to Polynesia, from Iran, Greece, and Phonecia to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland, from Central America the west coast of South America there are reports of myths of the whole universe created out of an egg. Thus, it is not unusual that in almost all ancient cultures eggs had been held as an emblem of life.

In Europe an egg was hung on New Year trees, on Maypoles, and on St. John's trees in midsummer. Indeed, all meant egg as a symbol of the regenerative forces of nature. Later during the Christian period, it was believed that eggs laid on Good Friday, if kept for a hundred years, would have their yolks turn to diamond If Good Friday eggs were cooked on Easter they would promote the fertility of the trees and crops and protect against sudden deaths. And, if you would find two yolks in an Easter egg, be sure, you're going to be rich soon.

Eggs were said to be dyed and eaten at the spring festivals in ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece, and Rome. The Persians of that time gave eggs as gifts at the vernal equinox. But it is not very clear how those colored eggs have come in to dominate the Easter basket In fact, they have become so popular with the Easter celebration, that they even started to dominate the ancient concepts of the symbolism of eggs. It is speculated that it was introduced in Europe, or, rather Western Europe, during the course of the fifteenth century. This was when missionaries or knights of the Crusades are thought to have brought in the concept of the coloring of eggs westwards.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We Lost Our Dear Daisy

We lost Daisy Monday afternoon.

She'd gotten into the trash and evidentally ate something very deadly and fast acting. She was sick all night Sunday. Monday morning I took her to the vet. At that point we thought it was just an upset tummy and she would be fine. About 2:30 Monday afternoon, the vet tracked me down at the Orthopedic surgeon's office where I was having a followup appointment and told me Daisy had taken a bad turn for the worse and lapsed into a coma. Jenn & I left almost immediately and by the time we reached the vet she was gone.

He said when he went to draw blood he found clumps of red blood cells but no serum or white blood cells. Her temp dropped from a fever of 103.4 (normal = 102) to 90 in a matter of minutes before she went into the coma. He said he'd never seen anything like it and he has been practicing for 46 years. A preliminary autopsy showed the worst spleen damage he has also ever seen. It's been a nightmare.

She was fine 24 hours before. It's hard to even think much less talk about it. The family is devastated. We've all been crying for the last two days. I'm heartbroken.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Good News / Bad News

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead and some come from behind.
But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see.
Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!
Dr. Seuss

Bad News: Today my physical therapist concurred with my orthopedic surgon -- no more walking for exercise.

Good News: The therapy has gone very well. The pain in the tendon is greatly diminished and as long as I don't over use it my foot and ankle should be okay. The tendon is damaged and will never fully recover, but for now the surgery to fuse bones together doesn't appear to be necessary. YEA!!!

Everyone is saying I should switch to bicycling, which would take the pressure off of the tendon. The way my PT explained it. A deteriorating tendon only has so much life left in it, sort of like a gun with a limited number of bullets. I need to pick and choose how I spend those bullets. Our goal now is to extend the life of the tendon for as long as possible. The exercises I have learned will need to be done for the rest of my life. That's not too bad because they aren't very difficult and they seem to work well. And, he taught me how to properly use a cane. (You hold it in the OPPOSITE hand to the injured foot or ankle.) I've been doing it wrong all my life.

I've hated being dependent upon my daughter and others for transportation. I'm hoping that the Orthopedist will release me to take off the big black boot and to drive when I see him on Monday. I've been a "very" good girl these last several weeks and I'm hoping it is going to pay off.