Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

I am reading several books as usual but this one has captured my attention and imagination.

I bought the Kindle version so I don't have this cover.

Shown on the cover is Edwin M. Stanton on the far left and then Salmon P. Chase. Next is Lincoln. Then seated next in the foreground is William H. Seward and seated to the far right is Edward Bates.

The thing that fascinates me and that Doris Kearns Goodwin writes about is the fact that all of these men were intense political opponents of Lincoln. But he invited and persuaded them all to serve in his cabinet. He also invited men who were Democrats to serve.

It would be something like if George W. Bush in his first administration had invited John McCain and Al Gore to be cabinet members.

It is the combining of these opposing, brilliant, and strong personalities that interests me. It is, too, something I did not really understand about Lincoln and it gives me a new appreciation for the man - actually men and women in this case - but that needs explaining.

I'll write more about it. I haven't finished it. Doggone thing has 944 pages in the hardcover edition and weighs 2.4 pounds. That's a problem I don't have with the Kindle version but it still is an awful lot of words.

This has been a really difficult week for me.

I'm taking some time off from blogging for a while.

Peace and grace.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Typical White Person

In an interview on March 20, 2008 Barack Obama said the following:

The point I was making was not that grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t.

But she is a typical white person, who, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, you know, there’s a reaction that’s been bred in our experiences that don’t go away and that sometimes come out in the wrong way, and that’s just the nature of race in our society.

We have to break through it, and what makes me optimistic is you see each generation feeling a little less like that, and that’s powerful stuff.
He was trying to explain earlier remarks about his white grandmother included in a speech. The speech was an attempt to address the his pastor's racist remarks.

Among other things I wondered about his grandmother. Her name is Madelyn Lee Payne Dunham and she was born in October of 1922 in Augusta, Kansas. I thought that was interesting because that would make her 86 this year and I posted an earlier entry about race and racism that included remarks about Obama's presidential race by someone of that age.

I've also been interested in the reactions of various people about the "typical white person" comment. Most often I have heard something like "I am not personally offended but it seems a kind of double standard." I thought it interesting that so many felt the need to preface their opinion that they weren't personally offended.

I guess I feel pretty much the same way though. It seems to me that Mr. Obama discussed his grandmother's actions not so differently as I discussed my older friend's question. I grant they are different but there certainly is similarity as well.

On the other hand I am pretty certain that if a white candidate had said something about "typical black people" that there would have been a tremendous outcry. I think that's the "double standard" that a lot of people have recognized.

I listened to most of Mr. Obama's speech about race. I thought it was a good speech.

Unfortunately I do not believe he satisfactorily addressed his pastor's remarks and the fact that he remained in the church. It does seem to me to be a significant issue. I don't buy the argument that Reverend Wright's military service entitles him to curse the United States. Nor do I buy the argument that because Reverend Wright is black that he is excused from being a racist.

Comments by several of Reverend Wright's congregants that his remarks were "not extreme but just about being black in America" made me sad and less optimistic about race relations in the United States. I think we may not have come as far as I had hoped after all. I just do not see any excuse for racism.

I also do not see any excuse for such hatred to be so eagerly embraced in public speech as that by Reverend Wright. I understand free speech rights and I am not contending for censure of any kind. But people who preach hate as well as their supporters should not be rewarded. That's true whether it is directed against whites or homosexuals or women or men or Muslims or Catholics or whatever.

Surely I do understand loyalty to a friend but that's different to me than remaining in an organization like a church.

It still appears to me that Mr. Obama is almost certainly going to be the Democratic candidate for president. I just don't see exactly how Mrs. Clinton defeats him at this point. But I also recognize that politics is a tough business and the Clinton's are good at it. There's still some time before the convention.

The first convention I remember anything at all about was 1956. Well, maybe I remember the names from 1952 but I can't be certain. But 1956 I recall because that's the year we got our TV and that's the first convention covered by TV. That was the beginning of the Huntley-Brinkley report. I also remember thinking Estes Kefauver's name was kind of memorable. There was a slogan or something that had his name in it that is lost somewhere in my memory. Or it may have been something I made up. Also, Kefauver had this coonskin cap he wore sometimes and he was from Tennessee and I really liked Davy Crockett then.

Well - need to try to sleep.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Throne of Grace

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 NIV

Someone included this verse the other day in a prayer I overheard. Something struck me that I had never thought about: "the throne of grace." It is a beautiful verse by any standard with the most wonderful phrases imaginable. I had thought about approaching with confidence or boldly as another version puts it. I had thought about receiving mercy and finding grace. I had certainly thought about my time of need. But for some reason I had never thought about the throne of grace.

A throne is normally associated with power and authority and the ultimate position of respect. Grace is hard to define but often is said to be undeserved favor. I think grace is one of those things that is easily recognized when encountered but terribly difficult to describe to someone else.

There is a tremendous juxtaposition in the concept of grace anyway because it does take some kind of power position to be able to be gracious. That's not totally true of course. I can easily imagine someone really down and out being terribly mistreated and then that person acting graciously. That's certainly a form of grace. But real grace is when the someone that is offended or mistreated could crush you like a bug and not only does not but lifts you up.

Then I come to this verse about coming into the throne room of the Lord of creation and the very throne on which He sits is described as a throne of grace. It is just such a remarkable image to me. It just continues to fascinate me.

In my mind I imagine the throne to be constructed of grace. I think every act of grace we perform in the service of the Lord might be included. But that's dwarfed by the tremendous act of grace He performed for us: "forgive them for they know not what they do."

Blessings and grace.

6 months.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Another Preacher

Well (questioning) well (questioning more) well?

I actually thought it was some kind of really awful joke at first when I saw the first clip. But I think it may be true.

This guy is is from Harlem. His church is Atlah Worldwide Church and his name is Pastor James David Manning.

He is definitely not in favor of Obama. I t is unbelievable. It will probably offend you. It offended me at least. I don't get it. I don't know where these people are coming from.

This is the first Youtube clip I watched - just remember I warned you first.

This guy is worse than the other guy. I've got to quit reading the news and stuff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dates I Remember

And I remember on these dates:

8/17/2007 - Chris's mom
9/17/2007 - Lori's Helen
9/20/2007 - Nancy's Russ
9/21/2007 - Flinty's dad
10/15/2007 - Chris's dad
11/02/2007 - Betsy's mom
11/14/2007 - Stef's nonna
12/27/2007 - Cinnamin's mom

Monday, March 17, 2008


I am interested in Biblical Christianity. That is opposed to other forms of Christianity including cultural, nominal or professing, spiritual or private, and ecclesiastical or liturgical.

It is a matter of what authority I choose to submit to in terms of both belief and practice of my personal discipleship to Jesus Christ. So I choose the Bible. Some choose the culture and the private Christian chooses himself and the ecclesiastical Christian chooses her church and the nominal Christian doesn't worry about it.

It was long ago now that I chose and it was not an easy decision. The doing has not proven any easier. The Bible does not come with an index contrary to popular opinion. It is often not possible to just look up something and find an immediate and simple answer. That would be really handy for some things.

I am fortunate to live in a time when I have access to the Bible and I have sufficient education to be able to study it for myself. That was not always the case. Part of study is certainly considering what others have thought about the subject in question. And plenty of people have thought a lot and written it all down. Still relying on such information without personal study is a lot like reading only the "Cliffs Note" for a book and thinking you've actually read the book. It just is not the same. On the other hand the field is so broad and deep that it is nearly impossible for any one person to know everything about everything. So even the best scholars consider the scholarship of others in various areas.

The Bible does not necessarily address directly every subject about which I might have interest. Sometimes it seems so but great care must be exercised because we have today translations and translations contain interpretations and interpretations can be problematical. Besides that the Bible was written during and for different times and cultures and audiences. The history of the place and people and time as well as the cultural tradition of the text is important to illuminate any understanding.

Homosexuality is one of those subjects about which many people believe the Bible is very clear. I began my study thinking that was likely the case. But I found it much more complex. The Bible is often that way so it is not surprising really.

And where the Bible does address the issue it is not always so simple to determine exactly what the meaning is. Consider 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NASB):

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."
The Greek word here translated "homosexuals" is arsenokoites. The Greek word translated "effeminate" is malakoi. It does not take long to discover that these words are not that easily translated. It appears that the apostle Paul may have invented the term "arsenokoites" as a compound word or that it may have been a term common in Corinth. It clearly is sexual but there is good reason to question that it is entirely and only homosexual. Malakoi seems more properly interpreted as some kind of softness or weakness in will or dedication. Regardless, I am pretty certain that interpreting the words to point to our modern understanding of homosexuality is significantly overreaching.

That's the first problem. The second seems significant to me as well. Look at the other sins included in the list. Also included are the terms: idolaters, adulterers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, slanderers, and swindlers. A lot of us, myself included, have to admit to problems with at least one or two of these. If not in fact at least in thought. I see no reason at all to single out arsenokoites or malakoi for any special treatment. But that's exactly what is often done when it comes to homosexuality.

I also found it interesting that other than adulterers the other terms are of a non-sexual nature. That the two terms that are most often associated with homosexuality are so often emphasized makes me believe there is a significant bias. It would be interesting if the same criticism of homosexuals was directed towards adulterers or the greedy or drunks or slanderers. There's a pretty big group in each one of those categories. They overlap of course.

I don't want to belabor this discussion as it is a blog and is not to be considered a fully critical treatment of the subject. But I find similar problems with other verses that touch on homosexuality in both the Old and New Testaments.

The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is often used in the discussion of homosexuality. However in Ezekiel 16:48-50 (NIV) I find the following:
'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me.'
There is no doubt that there was sexual sin that was widespread in Sodom and Gomorrah but again it is not clear to me that it is the homosexual nature of the sin that is necessarily any more important than the other sins that are listed in Ezekiel.

There is actually quite a bit about Sodom in the Bible. But the most famous story I suppose is its destruction. Two angels come to Sodom after meeting with Abraham who is told that the city will be destroyed. Abraham argues that there might be some righteous people there and gets an agreement that if 10 righteous are found the city will be spared. The angels journey on to Sodom and Abraham's nephew, Lot, puts them up for the night in his home. "All of the men" (literally the mortals) of the town later come to the house and demand the newly arrived be turned over to them for sex. Lot, the only righteous man in town, offers his virginal daughters instead but the offer is refused.

Well, it isn't a very happy story all way around. It seems detestable that Lot would have offered his daughters in the first place. That's the first clue that there is a significant cultural barrier to understanding this passage. But it would make no sense that Lot would offer females if the "men of the city" (and literally it is mortals which could be a clue to yet a different understanding) were only interested in males. Rape, whether heterosexual or homosexual, is definitely frowned upon both during early Bible days and now.

There clearly is a bias in our culture against homosexual individuals. Bias and predisposition is always a problem in properly understanding the Bible. But when it is so emotionally charged as is homosexuality it makes it even more difficult.

I was accosted at least once by a homosexual man when I was in my early 20's. It was very unsettling and frightening for me. I know several other men and women who had similar experiences. It is difficult and unfair to generalize this behavior but it does inform as to how the issue becomes emotionally charged.

The various Gay pride events and both factual and non-factual information about Gay behavior also tend to portray an aggressiveness or assertiveness.

Homosexuals are a minority which makes them as a group less known and understood. Then there is much controversy over the causes of homosexuality.

So ignorance and misunderstanding coupled with a perception of aggressiveness does lead many people to fearfully attribute an agenda to the group. And certainly there is an agenda of sorts but it is not clear to me that they are one and the same.

I am not going to end my blog entry with a conclusion. I am not trying to persuade anyone of anything really. Since I had studied this topic a bit I thought I'd share a little about what I had learned.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. has been in the news recently. This is so because one of his congregants for nearly 20 years, Barack Obama, is the leading Democratic presidential candidate.

Mr. Obama's faith became an issue in his presidential campaign. His father and stepfather were both Muslim and he spent some of his childhood in the mostly Muslim nation of Indonesia. These facts along with seriously erroneous information were spread in an email in an effort to associate Mr. Obama with Islam. The email became so widely distributed that Mr. Obama had to try to set the record straight. He did so by stating that "I've been to the same church - the same Christian church - for almost 20 years."

That statement naturally raised curiosity about the church in question, Trinity United Church of Christ, and Dr. Wright whose ministry with the church began in 1972. It was quickly revealed that Dr. Wright was controversial to say the least. Copies of video clips of his sermons were made available and news organizations, particularly ABC News, began scouring them for details.

A very few of the most disturbing portions of the sermons have been made public and are now all over the Internet and on various TV shows. I have now watched and heard several of these segments more than once.

I wish I had not heard Dr. Wright say the things I heard him say. I wish I had not seen him say them. I wish I had not seen the members of the audience jumping and clapping and giving high fives and otherwise celebrating and encouraging his remarks.

The segments make me sick to my stomach. I mean both the throw up vomit kind of sick and the clenched fist punch to the stomach kind of sick. His remarks make my heart hurt. I refuse to listen to them anymore. If one of the segments come on I turn the station or avert my eyes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Freebirds, Birthdays, House Cleaning

Yesterday was Dad's 91st birthday. His birthday was just 4 days after his mother's and she would have been 118. And her birthday was just a few more days after my brother's. We tried to get together for his birthday when it happened but yesterday was our first opportunity. So he came down to the farm and we all (me, my son, and my brother) drove down to Norman to eat lunch at Freebirds.

freebirds_from_jeffcamI found a blog about Freebirds that is outstanding that shows one of the burritos and how they are made. I'll have to take some photos next time I go. The blog banner is "Words and Pictures, Cheap Eats, Fun Photos and Other Wonderful Things, By Noted Cheapskate Jeff Campbell in Austin, Texas." I thought that was a very cool title all by itself. The blog is worth reading or was for me anyway.

I should have taken some photos myself when I was at our Freebirds and I will next time. In the meantime I'm linking to this image from Jeff's excellent blog. This image shows how the burrito is served. There's another on the blog that shows how it is made. When you finish eating some people take the foil and make little artistic shapes with it and leave it along one of the walls. Except I can't ever finish mine so I keep the foil and use it to wrap mine up and take home with me and the fact that I can't make artistic shapes out of foil.

You walk in and make your way through a little pipe fence deal to a counter area. You choose your tortilla from wheat, cayenne, spinach, and white. Then you can choose rice and beans of several types and white chicken or dark or steak. I usually put jalapenos and other toppings on mine as well. I get the half bird size and it is too much for me. Other sizes are the Freebird, Monster, Super Monster. The Super Monster weighs between 6 and 9 pounds if you can believe that. Mine is a little over $5 which I think is pretty good.

The restaurant is located in the campus corner area of Norman. I should take some photos of that area, too. In the meantime I will link to this one from a web site.

Then we drove back home and went through the house. My daughter has volunteered to help me get everything out of the house so we can tear it down. It is a huge job.

We walked room by room and my brother found a craft he made in grade school and an old slide projector and Dad's old violin that he took. We found mom's rings and my brother took them to put in his safe deposit box. The craft he found was a rooster made out of some kind of seeds or beans or something on construction paper. It was about to fall apart but he really wanted it so we carefully carried it out to his car. We all told him that his wife was going to be so happy!

What we'll do first is get everything out and sorted into things someone in the family wants, stuff we give or sell, stuff we store, and stuff we throw away. So that starts Monday.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Conflict Makes Me Sad

Some fellows from my city bought the Seattle basketball team a while back. Now they want to bring the team to Oklahoma City. Fans in the city of Seattle are understandably upset about the prospect of losing their team that has been there for 40 years. Fans in Oklahoma City are understandably excited about getting a team. But there is tremendous conflict with name calling and slurs and threats of violence.

Then there was this legislator here the other day that said some unkind things about homosexuals. She achieved You Tube fame as well as the need for protection because of the volume of death threats she's received. She's married to a pastor apparently.

Mr. Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright, also made it to You Tube. He says some terrible things. It is hard to believe he is a pastor.

Geraldine Ferraro resigned from Mrs. Clinton's campaign because of remarks about Mr. Obama.

Mr. Eliot Spitzer resigned the governorship of the state of New York because he was caught paying a prostitute for sex. His wife stood by him when he announced his resignation.

Then there are those who believe human activity is causing the earth's temperature to increase.

There's others who feel so strongly about human activity hurting the environment that they burn down houses and destroy equipment and worse.

There are quite a few Islamic folks in the world who are intent on destroying the United States and all the people who live here.

There's a place called Israel where there is constant conflict.

There's no need to mention the other countries in the world who are at each others' throats.

These are just a few examples. I do not believe I could list all of them.

All of these conflicts make me tired and sad.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Heater Arrived, 80 Degrees Today, Amazon

The Lasko Heater I ordered from Amazon arrived yesterday. Took me about 10 minutes to put it together. So, ordered it on Saturday and it arrived on Tuesday. Cost $59.99 delivered. Price in store $59.99. But wait, the heater wasn't in the store!! No sales tax and no shipping because I pay Amazon an annual fee. Since gasoline is now $3.25 (the kind I buy at least) here and climbing, Amazon looks pretty good. I probably drove about about one gallon worth or more the other day hunting the heater. I get 16 mpg.

Speaking of Amazon I bought a CD (kind of) from them on Monday. I've been hearing that song by Yael Naim advertising the new Apple MacBook Air. The song is New Soul and I liked it and her voice. So I searched first to find the artist and then decided I would buy the CD of the same name. But it doesn't release in the United States until March 18. But then I noticed I could immediately download an MP3 version for $1 less and do it right now. So I did. I had to first download the Amazon MP3 downloader program and install it but that was really nothing. I guess I could have done the same thing over at Itunes but Amazon was handier. This worked great!! I think I prefer having stuff as MP3 anyway now that I think about it.

I read her bio on her web. The part that hooked me was this:

“It was when I was really young that I sincerely believed to be an old soul reincarnated and I could even say it gave me a sense of superiority over others. But then as I subsequently did everything the wrong way round I concluded that it was actually my first time on earth and that I should learn to be a more humble.”
Ha ha! I found that so intriguing that I had to buy the CD.

Speaking of the MacBook Air though I really like that thing. But at $1799 I think I will have to stay with my Dell XPS M1210 for a while. Although this Mac makes my Dell look like a slab of wood.

Since I got the heater yesterday it is only fair to note that the high today is predicted to be 80 degrees.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ten Years

Yesterday I was privileged to see an old friend.

I first met him in 1982 in early June I think. He was my first pastor after I actually came to know that God was real. Easter in 1982 was on April 11th. Pentecost is 50 days following Easter Sunday or the 8th Sunday from Easter and including Easter. That means Pentecost in 1982 was May 30th.

He was 54 then. He had already been the pastor there for 28 years. I was 33.

The last time I saw him was in Dallas in 1998 just a few months before I came to live with mom and dad.

Now I'm 59 and he's 80. People change some in a decade. But I recognized him immediately. I noticed his body had aged. I guess I must have aged too because he saw me and I waved and then he came over to me. I stood and moved toward him. He extended his hand and I took it but I tried, awkwardly, to hug him. I thought about it beforehand and did it deliberately even though he's never been much of a hugger. But I thought I wanted to hug him and didn't care about the others in the room or even his reluctance for that matter. I think I would not have before I was a caregiver. He said "I wouldn't have recognized you." I thought he must have though or otherwise he wouldn't have spotted me. Then I said "I've aged a few years but you haven't." He laughed.

In a way it wasn't true that he had not aged. His body was older. I noticed his belt was cinched all the way now and his stomach below the belt was protruding a little just as I've seen in so many of my 80 year old friends. There was even less hair and what was there was whiter I guess. The muscles and skin around his face and neck had sagged a bit more.

But otherwise he was the same. His voice and his manner of speech and his mannerisms. Besides I know the man and only a part of a man is his physical body. I don't discount that part but neither is it the part of this man that I love so dearly.

I may not have been the youngest there but I was close. Most were in their 70's and 80's. At least three men either were or had been caregivers for Alzheimer's spouses. A few people I remembered from that church but I think only one remembered me. There were about 30 people there.

It was a Bible study that is held in this little barbecue restaurant every Monday. It was a great study. My friend is one of if not the best expositors I've had the opportunity to hear.

The study itself was about the dangers of being Pharisaical.

The Pharisees were an old group in Judaism by the time of Jesus. They were the traditionalists and were interested in preserving the society against the influences of the modern world. They considered all of the Scripture to be Holy and inspired and they were literal in their interpretation. They believed in the resurrection of the body. So they shared a good many things with modern day evangelicals. There were some stark differences as well.

But they were the group that was most opposed to Jesus and they were the group that Jesus most often criticized most harshly.

It was a very good exposition and made me understand how much I have missed this kind of teaching.

Afterward he and I went to a little root beer place. He bought each of us a frosty, cold mug of root beer. The mug was so cold that it had ice on the outside and the root beer on the inside had that frothy ice like stuff down at the bottom. I do not remember the last time I enjoyed a root beer like this.

We talked about our lives over the last decade. Time fled so quickly and we each had to go.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Guard Your Heart

Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23 NASB

Judy was reading this verse and that made me think about it.

The context is a father's admonition to his children to seek and value wisdom.

Of course I immediately am drawn back to my caregiving career. And once again I find that experience illuminating my thinking.

So many times during that period I realized I lacked knowledge. And many times I thought if I could only understand the what and the why. And many times my physical ability was stretched well beyond my capacity. And my will faltered and failed so very often. I wanted to do things but I could not do them as much as I tried. Then there was lack of this and lack of that.

But really all of those things turned out to be manageable even though at first I did not believe so. I learned a lot even though there was much left to know. I gained some insight. I endured the strain on my body. And somehow I kept going even when I could not really make myself take another step. And I did without but we didn't really need it anyway.

As I think back the things that loomed so large begin to seem smaller and dimmer. But I do recognize how vulnerable was my heart, more than I realized at the time.

The psalmist gives some pointers about guarding one's heart:

  1. Put away perversity from your mouth
  2. Let your eyes look straight ahead
  3. Make level paths for your feet
  4. Do not swerve to the right or the left

I think it is surprising that the first pointer is about speech. I might write that "keep your speech under control and calm and pleasant." I did most of the time. I had some drastically bad failures though and even thinking about them makes me cringe. What it makes me think most of though is the days when dad's behavior would be so wild. If I were calm and quiet and kept my voice under control I could almost always calm him down. On the other hand if I lost control then things became worse and worse for both of us.

The second one I think is about not looking too far ahead and staying focused on the near term. It is like driving. If you concentrate on the curb too much then you invariably hit it. Or if you look too far ahead you don't see the pot hole. I think that's just as appropriate for my life as it is for someone with Alzheimer's.

That level path part I think is about making things as orderly as possible. That's when the routine was my friend. I remember how hard that was for me at first. Having some level places was good then and it is good now, too.

I think the last one means trying to make changes slowly. It isn't always possible of course but when it is things surely work better if new things can be introduced a little at a time. Big changes are just so disruptive.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


This thing is called a Chumby.  It is a wireless appliance that connects to your local computer and then connects to the Chumby Network over the Internet.

It is a clock but it also plays Internet radio or music from your IPod or other sources.  You can listen to news, weather, and traffic reports.  It is a digital frame for your images.  You can have your own Chumby friends and can share stuff with them.

You can keep track of your ebay auctions and a whole host of other things.

$179.95 but the shipping is free.

No, I haven't bought one; but, I do think it is kind of a cool gadget. 

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Needed A Heater

I know it is March 8th and I know that spring is supposed to start on the 20th with the arrival of the vernal equinox.

But it was 20 degrees this morning.

And one of my little portable heaters is broken. And did I mention it was 20 degrees this morning?

Normally I would buy stuff like this from an Internet vendor, usually Amazon. But I figured I would just stop by Home Depot and get a heater. They didn't have any. Neither did Ace Hardware, Lowes, Wal-mart, as well as another place. Actually they had kerosene heaters but that didn't really help me.

I did take the opportunity to buy a new flashlight as well as a new lantern. I figure since we are coming into stormy season here in the next few weeks that those would be good items to have in the new home. I was hoping to move in by middle of April but probably going to be closer to middle of May. That's still stormy season though.

So when I returned home, heaterless, I jumped on Amazon and found one and it will be here Wednesday. It was on sale but at least there was one.

I also managed to buy a few groceries, hit the dry cleaners, and exercise. I wanted a Starbucks but the lines were insanely long so I decided this would be a no caffeine day. They were probably insanely long because it was 20 degrees.

I had to ask the places if they had heaters. In one place the girl I asked had to find someone that spoke better English than she did because she apparently didn't understand me. I was trying to make gestures indicating heater but I am not very good at signs in the first place and a heater is way beyond my ability.

I see where oil was at $106+ yesterday. That should keep things rolling (ha ha) around here for a while.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A Woman For President

On May 21, 1919 a bill introducing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was passed by the United States House of Representatives. The vote count was 42 votes more than necessary for passage.

It was a hard won victory. A similar bill introduced in 1915 was defeated 204 to 174. An effort in 1918 passed by one vote in the House but failed in the Senate by 2. An earlier try in 919 was defeated by one vote.

But the May 21st effort succeeded and was sent to the Senate. There, on June 4, 1919, the measure was passed by a vote of 56 to 25 after much debate.

Tennessee was the 36th State to ratify the amendment in the summer of 1920. The 19th Amendment became law at that time and gave women the right to vote for the first time in a general election of the United States of America.

That was just in time for many of them to cast their votes in the Presidential race of 1920. That race was also the first that results were reported by radio. Warren G. Harding won by a landslide securing 60.3% of the popular vote. His opponent, James M. Cox, a Democrat, had 34.1%. It remains the largest margin in the popular vote in history.

That is only 88 years ago. That's not so long. My dad was 3. My mother was 5.

I have recently observed that many of the women I know are very interested in Hillary Clinton's candidacy for the office of President of the United States. Mostly these women are not on the same side politically with Mrs. Clinton. They would never vote for her in the general election, or so they say now at least. But they do rally around her in a way when it appears she is nearing defeat. Even those who are more ardent in their criticism express some degree of admiration and respect for Mrs. Clinton's tenacity and determination and ability.

I find this interesting and I suspect it is repeated many millions of times across the country and likely is the reason she remains in the race as of this date.

Also interesting to me was the fact that President Wilson's Democrat party was largely defeated in 1920 because of dissatisfaction with United States' involvement in World War I. President Wilson supported the 19th Ammendment although he came around kind of late apparently. I could not find estimates of how many women voted and how and so on.

Just musings.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

It Must Have Happened - My Thoughts

I began listening to Mary Chapin Carpenter's music back in the very late 80's and early 90's. Especially about the time of my marriage trouble her music and her lyrics resonated with me.

Some people I know think she is romantic (as in idealistic) to a fault. I suppose it is my own romantic tendencies that finds common ground in her work.

In case anyone wonders I noticed the condescension towards me and my ilk in her latest offering, The Calling. I try to overlook such things is the answer. I don't suppose anyone ever really gets used to condescension or enjoys it but it is common enough that it is not surprising. It does surprise me a little coming from Carpenter. It is disappointing but not more so than any other human trait really.

There were two songs on the CD (I almost called it an album) that I felt were especially interesting. I previously posted the lyrics to It Must have Happened. I had thought at first I would not comment about it but just let the words stand there alone. But like so many things I've changed my mind about that.

On first listen I thought she probably wrote this song about a personal relationship that began with infatuation and ended badly. But then I read in the essays section of her website that the phrase "rowin' towards the moon on a single beam" actually originated from a childhood memory of her parents rowing on a lake towards a low hanging moon. Then I knew it was a song that covered a lot more time.

I still look at everything from my caregiver perspective. I wonder if that is permanent, no need to answer.

But some of the phrases in this song, including the moon one, are so intensely real to me. I even blogged a similar post like the title except I called mine Like It Didn't Happen.

Except for the part about the "punch-drunk cretin" I could have written the same words about caregiving. Thankfully I've never been "in a bed of roses with a punch-drunk cretin." But I heard on TV the other day that the average man has 13 partners and the average woman has 9 and I'm way behind. But average means that there are some people who are way ahead out there somewhere.

That part of the song about "losin' track of who I was s'pposed to be" applies to me for sure. I suspect all of us caregivers feel that. But then again maybe that's true for everyone.

Other phrases I noted (not verbatim): talking to myself like I had lost my mind; laughing at catastrophe; hopes going up in flames; trying to dull the pain; stranger's hand; signs and omens. Those are all things I felt at one time or another during my caregiving time.

Another interesting thing to me is that the artist had to cancel the tour for the release of this CD. She had chest pains, ended up in the hospital, and was treated for a pulmonary embolism. It could have killed her but she survived. Such an interesting happenstance given the nature of this particular collection. There is an NPR interview of Carpenter dated June 24, 2007.

I blogged on June 24, 2007. It is a private blog. It was before I went public. I read, just now, what I wrote then. It was a Sunday. We (notice how I switched to WE) had a new aide that day. I came home from church to a huge mess and an extremely combative dad.

It is just so strange that the same day Mary Chapin Carpenter was giving an NPR interview entitled The Learning Curve of Gratitude. It is interesting how much an incident with illness can change a person's perspective. But we all know that too well.

The other song on the CD I thought interesting was "The Leaving Song." I will only quote the first verse and chorus (emphasis is mine):

And you see that you're leaving
And you see that you're gone
And you see there's no saying goodbye
All the trees in mourning
The light is late from the sun
Casting shadow on shadow down from the sky

And it's hard not to want to turn around
And it's hard not to want to back on down
We're only as strong as our hearts within
Only as strong
Well, maybe the second verse, too:
And all you know of where the road goes
Is some place far and unknown
You would think
You would have gotten used to it all by now
But each day it just gets harder
Every journey alone
Never knowing if you'll make it
Back home
And the last one:
And the three greatest gifts of moving on
Are forgiveness, hope and the great beyond
After that perhaps peace can come
Peace will come
No, it is not exactly how I felt or feel. But I understand the feelings. Resonance is what I said earlier and I still hold that.

No, for me, I had peace actually all along although there were the notable interruptions as there are now. But generally I am at peace. I honestly don't know how people do caregiving that have no peace at the beginning.

Peace comes from my faith. I've blogged before on 1 Corinthians 13 that ends with the words "But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor 13:13 NAS) So for me faith was first and it came from the outside but up through the inside and if you don't know what I mean then I can't explain it more than that. Hope followed immediately. Forgiveness came later with love and that a little later.

Anyway, interesting collection I thought.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It Must Have Happened by Mary Chapin Carpenter

It Must Have Happened

Can't remember lookin' for somethin' so hard to find
I can't remember talkin' to myself just like I'd lost my mind
I can't remember rowin' towards the moon upon a single beam

But it must have happened
(Yeah) (Yes) it must have happened

Can't remember learning how to laugh at catastrophe
I can't remember losin' track of who I was s'pposed to be
I can't remember ridin' flyin' horses toward the golden ring


'Cause after all, baby
Here I am with the ring in my pocket
And the moon in my hand
After all, baby
Here I am with you

Can't remember seein' all my hopes goin' up in flames
I can't remember reachin' for the closest thing to dull the pain
I can't remember feeling I could be healed by a stranger's hand


'Cause after all, baby
Here I am in a bed of roses
With a punch-drunk cretin
After all, baby
Here I am with you

Can't remember lookin' for omens hopin' there was gonna be a sign
Can't remember figuring out the secret was inside me all this time
I can't remember walkin' without fear towards the light you shine

[Tag Chorus:]
But it must have happened
Yeah, it must have happened
And I know it happened
Yes, it must have happened
Darlin' look what happened

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Different Perspective

Something I've realized just recently is how different my perspective is about other people because of my caregiving. Maybe it is my age as well as the caregiving.

What's changed?

I was 50 the year I became a caregiver. I didn't feel 50 if you know what I mean. I remember thinking back then that everyone must feel younger than they are because that's the way I felt. In some ways I felt tired and worn out but that's different than feeling age. But I would meet people, or visit with people I knew, and I never once thought about them as needing a caregiver or being a caregiver. It just never entered my mind.

That's not true now.

Everyone I meet I go through this little mental exercise about them. I size them up. I think of them in terms of either needing care or giving care. My mother-in-law is 86. Every time I see her that track in my head repeats. When will she be unable to live alone? And then all the other questions cascade from that one.

I had a meeting the other day with three men. I had met them before but that doesn't matter. It had nothing to do with caregiving. They were all younger than my soon 60. But I pictured them in hospital beds with someone shaving them and helping them toilet and all those things I know too well. Then I pictured them helping their own parents because they are all nearing that time in their lives. But they are all married, too, so I wondered if the caregiving would be theirs or their spouses. Not that I credit or discredit one against the other. I understand that there is a need for income. I understand that very well. Or I wondered if the marriages would survive.

And, mind you, I know nothing about these men or their families. It is just all imagination that burns up time in my head.

Then I look at my son or his friend or the other fellow in our office. I go through all the same thoughts.

All of it happens quickly. I think it is not noticeable. I would not tell anyone about it. Well, except you all who read my blog, but that's different.