Saturday, May 31, 2008

Grass Is Greener

Dad and I used to comment about this phenomenon when we were working out in the pasture together.

We'd see the cows all bunched up at the fence. They'd stick their heads through the barb wire. You knew that had to stick them so it had to be uncomfortable as anything. They'd be trying to graze the grass on the other side of the fence. And the grass on their side of the fence was exactly the same or better as the grass on the other side. And they could have gotten to the grass on their side a whole lot easier.

Dad and I would stand there sometimes and watch them. He'd tell me "People are like that, too."

And I'd ask him to explain it.

He'd say that you had to learn to be content with what you had and some people never did learn it. He thought they were just like the cows trying to graze the grass on the other side of the fence while ignoring what they had on their side.

I think on one occasion he told me about one of the Ten Commandments in the Bible that said not to do this.

Ever notice that the coveting commandment is the last one? Wonder if that has significance? Strange in a way that you'd even find it in the list really. But there it is along with murder, lying, theft, and marital unfaithfulness.

Sometimes when we'd drive down to Marlow we'd see cows trying to graze grass on the road side of their fences. We'd always talk about the grass is greener phenomenon.

I don't remember ever getting tired of hearing Dad talk about it We explored the subject in considerable depth.

I remember once asking Dad if he thought the cattle knew there was the same grass on their side. He said it was all about perspective really and that somehow the cows were too close to the fence to realize what they were doing.

Dad and I knew about cows and one thing we knew for certain was that they were plenty smart. A lot of people think animals aren't smart but that's people who don't know animals. There are some smarter animals and more not-so-smart ones but they have smarts.

I miss Dad and him talking to me about cows and green grass.

Father's day is coming up soon. We always went to Marlow for Father's Day and had a family reunion down there. I'll have to blog about that.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What If Momemts

Dad and I used to work together a lot on the farm when I was a kid.

We'd be in the pasture back when I was a kid and he was even younger than I am now. We'd fenced the entire farm with perimeter and cross fences. We had 160 acres and today that seems so small but when you do the work yourself then those are a lot of fence posts to have dug by hand and a lot of barb wire to have stretched.

When we started we dug those holes by hand. It was much later when we got the tractor mounted fence post attachment. That thing almost killed Dad once. He was up in the middle of the pasture working by himself. I am uncertain why I was not there. My brother probably was still a bit young to be out there maybe. So I heard this later.

Mom and my brother looked out the west window and saw Dad walking across the pasture towards the house. So it must have been before we built the big house. Mom said she could tell something was wrong and finally she could see that Dad wasn't wearing any pants. I think they ran out to meet him but I don't remember.

He had been digging post holes with the new attachment. In one particular place the ground was hard apparently and he felt he needed some more weight on the post hole digger. So he left the tractor in idle and stood up and walked back along the top of the attachment to add his weight and try to help it along.

The attachment was driven by the power take off assembly of the tractor so there was a shaft that went horizontal out from the rear of tractor to the top of the digger. There was a universal joint there where the shaft connected by a shear pin.

Well that shear pin was kind of long and Dad's khaki pants had cuffs. And so when Dad stood in the right place and the shaft was turning and the shear pin caught on the cuff of his pant leg. The khaki was pretty good material and the cuff was pretty strong. So as the shaft turned the shear pin twisted the pant leg and suddenly Dad felt his leg being pressured downward.

He said he knew he was in a lot of trouble but he said he didn't really panic or anything. There wasn't really time for it anyway because suddenly he was prone along the shaft and his body would be turned with it.

Except there wasn't really room for his body to turn with the shaft. This all increased the load on the tractor. The pants tore which tells you there was pretty good pressure if you've ever tried to tear a piece of khaki cloth.

Dad said he could hear the tractor engine load up and he fully expected it to kick in with more power and then his leg would break and be twisted off his body. And he wasn't sure what else was going to happen. But all this happened so quickly he couldn't do anything about it anyway.

But the tractor engine died when it loaded up and the digger stopped turning and Dad was able to find his little pocket knife he always carried in his pocket. Then he cut his pants free.

That he walked back to the house shows how upset he was.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Getting Over A Cold

I'm not exactly certain how I caught the cold. I think I know but it is only a suspicion. It doesn't really matter because the person I caught it from didn't mean to give it to me and couldn't have done much about it in the first place.

I don't know that it is a cold either. Maybe it is something else. It might be allergies but unlike I've had previously. It might be a new disease that no one has identified. Right! But it is my disease and I choose to name it and so I am calling it a cold.

It began with a listless Sunday for me. I didn't have any energy and I didn't want to do anything except sit and read and watch TV and sleep. But I didn't feel particularly ill. I was asked that question a few times and I was a little irritable at being asked and snapped back a few times. That day I did not believe myself to be sick either. It is only now looking back more than a week that I realize I was. Must have seemed more apparent to Judy though.

Next was the little cough that started. It was small at first and very quick. It would surprise me and force me to cough with no time to cover my mouth. Someone told me I should cover my mouth when I coughed. I think several told me that. It was embarrassing that I could not get that done. I think I did not know what to say.

Then there was the congestion and the increasingly frequent need to blow my nose. I am a loud nose blower. There's apparently a lot of empty space up there in my head or in my chest or wherever all this stuff is stored and I must have a healthy system that makes it all because I have a lot and it takes a lot of effort to get it out. And it is loud and I have to use more than one tissue. Finally I resort to paper towels.

Then my nose turns red and gets sore but by then I feel so bad that my nose is the least of my worries.

The throat is sore as can be. That lasted a couple of days. The eyes are watering. The nose is running. There is no energy. Hot showers feel really, really good if one can past the stage of getting into the tub.

Eating is difficult but in a way seems to help. Coke (as in Coca Cola) makes me feel better. Coffee is not appetizing.

Is it allergies? Or is it allergies and a cold? Or is it the flu? Should I go to the doctor? Should I stay home? Nothing really matters. I am as miserable one place as another.

Besides there are responsibilities. Even if one is not a caregiver there are responsibilities. Strange that I would have forgotten that during the caregiving.

Finally the week is done. The responsibilities shoved aside. I crawl into bed early. I think it was 8 pm or maybe earlier. It was Friday evening. I didn't care that Dr. G was investigating death in her morgue. I figure I might be next on her stainless steel table if I can't lay down soon. Then there's nothing. I remember nothing that is. Until the next morning sometime when I awaken. The entire Saturday is spent inside resting.

Well, resting and coughing and hacking and blowing my nose and breathing with my mouth open and not talking. Is that really resting? Can't decide for sure if the cough syrup helps or even if the Tylenol or whatever it is helps. Finally one tries because not trying seems nuts.

Judy ordered me some of that Capsaicin nasal spray called Sinus Buster. Wow!! That stuff works pretty well for opening up the old nasal passage.

Sunday makes it one week. I feel better early on and head over to the house and get a shower and maybe a coffee. If coffee is wanted then wellness is on the horizon. But the good feelings subside quickly. I always forget that part.

Monday is a holiday: Memorial Day. Not much remembering going on though but a lot of people at the lakes. The hacking cough is nearly gone but still present. The drainage is better. There is slightly more energy. Enough to do a load of laundry and work on a spreadsheet and word document.

Tuesday. I can face the world again today. Only an occasional cough. Still some drainage. Bought some more Kleenex or whatever brand it is. Got the big box. Wish they could fix it so the sheets would come out one at a time.

Of course Judy is sick. She's a few days behind me I think. Bless her heart.

Wednesday now. No drainage anymore. The nose isn't hurting. Can breath through the nose again all the time. Maybe a cough on occasion but not noticeable.

But have to take Judy to doctor today.

So much for colds.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jesus Camp

Watched this program on one of the satellite channels the other evening called "Jesus Camp."

I thought it was very disturbing - not the program itself - rather its subject: the camp and the activities at the camp.

It reminded me of one of my own early childhood experiences.

There was this one particular time when I was the only child that refused to go forward at an alter call. I can still recall the pressure of that time and the humiliation I felt and the fear and the rage and all the other mixed up emotions. In my case it was a Southern Baptist church and it was 40 years before I would willingly step foot inside one again.

I absolutely detest the idea of alter calls. I find not one shred of evidence for such a thing in the Scriptures. I am convinced they are for the benefit of the preacher and no one else.

God has known me forever but I have only known Him a few years now. If anything I suspect the mostly well meaning efforts of those people in my earlier years postponed my coming to know Him.

It was not that He was absent anyway but only that I could not see or hear or feel. It was my illness that required cure. When I could see I realized He was there all along.

There were people who loved me and prayed for me and cared for me. Prayer is considerably underrated by most folks, misunderstood and misused by so many Believers, and an object of scorn by the faith haters.

Back to Jesus Camp though. Some of the children had this idea that it was a struggle to obtain this or that from God. Some had been taught that only one kind of worship was pleasing to God. Some felt guilt and shame and some felt it was a matter of doing this or not doing that.

God is not some stingy miser. He pours out blessings on His children. He is not some cruel monster that delights in His child's misery and struggle. He loves diversity. Just look around at what He created! In His presence there is no room for guilt or shame or sadness; rather there is joy and peace and ebullience. And there is no sense of constraint but the expansiveness of freedom without limit.

Above all else is love.

When there's no freedom and no love then that's not Biblical faith.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memories for Later

When I was a child I would, on occasion, have something happen that I would tell myself I was going to make a point to remember later when I was an adult. Usually it was something that was particularly disappointing and I would say to myself "I am going to remember this when I'm grown so I will know how my kids feel."

I remember doing this but I just don't remember what those occasions were. I don't know that it helped me be more sympathetic with my kids either.

I continued doing this as I grew older but the circumstances changed and there occasions were not as frequent. There were even a few times during my caregiving for my dad that I wanted to remember something for later.

Sunday I was watching something on TV and this commercial came on. I have no idea what was being advertised. But in the commercial there was this mother and a young child. The child was asleep on the mother's chest.

There was something about how the child's hand rested on the mother's chest that made me double take the scene.

And then I remembered.

It was one of those things that I told myself I wanted to remember for later. I may have done it twice but I don't remember that. It may have been both my children or it may have been just one. I don't remember that.

But I do remember this time when my precious little baby was asleep on my chest and his (or maybe her) hands were clasped around my neck. I could smell the shampoo and the powder and feel the softness of the skin against my own. I could feel the faint whisper of breath against my cheek.

I remember thinking that this was a moment that I wanted to cherish and remember forever.

And I did.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Photos on a Sunday Morning

I think this is a Barn Swallow.
So I think we have both Barn Swallows and Purple Martins.
I bet the Barn Swallows built the nest.
I met these guys on the way to Dad's house.
About 1/2 of them left.
These 4 didn't seem to care whether I was there or not.
I think they are Turkey Vultures.

How would you like to pay for this sprinkler?
It had just started up when I passed.

No energy problem here apparently.
Another Vulture hanging out at a substation.
This fellow did not like me taking his photograph.
He shook his head at me.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I've Been Reading

Not necessarily in the order presented but these are the titles I have finished in the last few weeks.

All of these are Kindle editions. I doubt I would have bought even 1/2 of them had they not been. The first one below, New Scrooge Investing by Mark Skousen, was not my first choice. I happened to see Skousen on CSPAN talking about his book, EconoPower. I found that discussion interesting and tried to buy a Kindle edition only to find it unavailable. So his Scrooge book was available and I bought it.

I am still reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I am having a little trouble returning it to it. I blogged about it when I began it and that's been a while now. But I'm going to try to wade through it and enjoy it next - maybe.

The New Scrooge Investing: The Bargain Hunter's Guide to Thrifty Investments, Super Discounts, Special Privileges, and Other Money-Saving Tips

by Mark Skousen

I am a terrible investor although probably not the worst in the world. It is absolutely uninteresting to me. I have tried on several occasions to educate myself about investing and to actually try to do some or at least take a more active role in what I have. This is my latest attempt I suppose in that vein.

I am getting older as evidenced by the fact that the Social Security Administration is regularly updating me on my benefits status.

About the book itself I actually quite enjoyed it. The title for one thing is outstanding. I always did like Uncle Scrooge McDuck and I think using the Scrooge name is an excellent device. The book is updated with Internet information which I found quite useful. This book is not available though except from used stores. I bought a copy for my son and brother who carry the "Scrooge" trait in our family.

Phantom Prey

by John Sandford

I am a big fan of Sandford's books, especially the Prey series but I also like the Kidd novels as well.

This effort did not disappoint me although I noticed on Amazon that a few reviews were negative. What I particularly enjoyed about this book was the exploration of mental illness. I knew what he was doing but found it sufficiently fascinating that I had to keep reading.

The Burnt House

by Faye Kellerman

I very much enjoyed Faye's most recent work. I am a fan because she is one of the few authors that tries in incorporate real, ordinary life into the personality of her characters. In particular I appreciate her presentation of faith as a core value. This story had enough twists and turns to keep me guessing for a very long time. A lot of time has passed now in the characters' lives since the last book I read by Kellerman.

Double Cross

by James Patterson

Yes, I do like the Alex Cross books. I also like the movies and I imagine Morgan Freeman as Cross in every book. And I am unapologetic about it. Here's the deal: you have to suspend belief to enjoy fiction. That's the secret. You try to get all literary about stuff and you won't enjoy the time.

Alex is back with the police in this one and has a new love interest. And Kyle Craig is back as the Mastermind. There's more, too, but just those things are sufficient.

Compulsion: An Alex Delaware Novel

by Jonathan Kellerman

Hard to believe I've read 21 Delaware novels prior to this one. I enjoyed it but it wasn't my favorite by a long shot. But I do love the characters except for Rbin. I'd kill her off.

The Watchman: A Joe Pike Novel

by Robert Crais

Joe Pike is one of the coolest characters I've discovered in the last few years. I really enjoyed this book and I usually buy anything that Crais writes.

An Inconvenient Book: Real Solutions to the World's Biggest Problems

by Glenn Beck

I am not a big fan of talk radio in that I rarely listen to radio and if I do listen it is usually classical music. I read the Kindle version of this book but my son gave me the hard bound volume as a gift. I have to say that the latter is one of the most beautifully done books I've ever had the pleasure of possessing. Stunning.

The book itself deals with difficult problems but does it in a light hearted way that is not overpowering but neither is it trivializing. There are a lot of facts, figures, tables, cartoons, and so on. Made me interested enough in Beck to listen to find him and listen to him. But wouldn't buy they book on my own.

Obsession: an Alex Delaware Novel

by Jonathan Kellerman

And this is the 21st one if you are paying attention. I actually liked it quite a bit but it was the first Delaware novel I'd read in a while. I have to admit that the series may be getting a tad old in the tooth.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

In The Majority

My brother and my son both kid me that I have turned into a "liberal." At nearly 60 now I am 5 years older than my brother and 22 years older than my son.

I'm not really a "liberal" and they are only kidding me in a good natured way. But it is like kidding someone about your own age about becoming a senior citizen or something. My brother does that. He's funny about it though because he actually asks for his "senior discount" and sometimes people just offer it to him. I've only one time been offered a senior discount and that was a few years ago. It did surprise me. Several times people have asked if my brother was my older brother. I think it is because we are in that age range when it is hard to tell.

My family has a long history of being distrustful of government. That's probably not surprising given the fact that our earliest American ancestor fled the Franco-German area of Europe to avoid persecution, poverty, near-slavery, and constant war. In their quest to find freedom and opportunity in a new land they suffered terribly. That's something that is passed down through the generations.

We used to pretty much vote in the conservative democrat block when there was such a thing. But even then that was as much a practical consideration as philosophical. For one thing there was almost no republican party here for the most part so if you wanted to vote in a primary election you only had the democrat choice. For another we voted pretty much for the individual rather than the party affiliation.

It is kind of funny in a way to think about this now because Oklahoma is considered to be heavily republican and conservative. And yet just a few years ago the republican party barely existed if at all. There's also an active libertarian party and probably a few others.

So there are many more party choices today than there were when I was in my teens and early 20's.

Still I have definitely moved in my political opinions more to the center. I am much more pragmatic now than idealistic. Although I do retain some idealism.

Besides I've learned that I will not get all of my way most of the time.

I have also learned that other people disagree with me and that they will neither be persuaded nor will they be able to persuade me about certain things. Further I have learned that I will not understand why they believe what they do anymore than they will understand why I believe what I do.

I prefer civility though and respect and courteousness. I am put off by confrontation and argument and blind partisanship and rudeness and crudeness and lack of respect.

At the same time I have become more inflexible on fewer core beliefs.

Used to I usually found myself in the minority. In fact I could pretty well guess the outcome of some issue or another by just predicting the opposite of what I wanted.

But now I find myself in the majority all of a sudden.

I've discussed this phenomenon with other friends of my age. One such friend was a near hippie but you'd never guess that now. So he's come more near me now but from the other direction.

He says we've turned into our fathers and mothers.

I think that's pretty much right, too.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I've been interested recently in energy.

With gasoline at about $4 per gallon I suppose that puts me in the definite majority, too. That's another post I am writing, about me being in the majority all of a sudden, but that's another story.

I wish I had more personal energy.

What I've learned about energy is rather interesting. I will spare you from all my reading and research. But there really are no viable alternative energy sources to fossil fuels at this time. On the other hand there is a lot, and I mean a lot, of really good research being done by some very smart folks. That's very encouraging on the one hand and rather discouraging on the other.

We need physical energy as in making our cars move and heating and cooling our homes and businesses and running our lights and computers and what not.

There are not many direct sources we can use. Wind power is one. Solar energy is another. But mostly we have to convert. Wind power is physical energy that we capture and store as electrical energy and then later we can take the electrical energy and make things move. We haven't been very efficient but now we are really improving. Of course it is costing a lot of money. But one of the benefits of increasing prices for fuel is that certain alternatives become viable. So T. Boone Picken's Mesa Energy is working to put some 2,500 turbines into service by 2014. The total cost is estimated to be in the $10 to $12 Billion range by the time the entire project is complete (not the first 2,500 units).

Solar energy when I was a kid was barely more than a dream. But now it is so efficient that you see a lot of little solar panels out in the middle of nowhere that is used to run signs and gates and all sorts of stuff. Still we are just now at the point where it can really become useful and I expect great improvements in this area.

Mostly we have to get some kind of fuel and burn it and use the heat from the combustion to run turbines and then use the physical energy from the turbine to make electrical energy and that gets us about to the place where we start with wind and solar. We lose a lot of efficiency in each step.

Oil we refine and then we use the gasoline and diesel products to run internal combustion engines. Believe it or not the process from beginning to end is fairly efficient. I think that is because we've been doing it a long while. Like everything else it is also becoming more efficient.

I became interested because I kept reading and hearing about people that were using hydrogen to improve their auto fuel mileage. You've probably seen the "water car" videos. It actually is possible that some of these schemes work but they depend upon inefficiencies in the automobile in use. The hydrogen produced always has less energy available than the energy it took to produce the hydrogen. But if there is surplus energy from the electrical system in the first place then that's fine. It's kind of like the fact that wind and solar are both pretty inefficient but we don't care because we have wind and sun. The problem is that modern cars are pretty efficient. The other problem is that there are a lot of con artists and wannabe inventors.

The water car is pretty much a scam though and has been around since the mid 1930's or possibly earlier. It is interesting to me that most fraudulent schemes have some element of truth. You can produce Brown's Gas from electrolysis and that gas can be burned.

Hydrogen is usually called an energy storage material rather than an energy source. That's because you have to do something to get Hydrogen. It can be a fuel source but that requires a fusion process like our Sun uses and that's a bit out of our range right now. However, there is promising work being done in this area for both fusion and fission.

It would be really handy if we had some John Galt type person come along and find some radical new invention that would just suck usable energy out of the air. Maybe that will happen.

Back to hydrogen for a moment. Most of the big car companies are working on one or more hydrogen solutions. Jay Leno is driving one such car and Honda is actually selling some.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

End Of World

I watched this "documentary" the other night on SCIFI (I think - I flip a lot).

It was about these Mayan crystal skulls. The image is one I found at the Wikipedia article.

Undoubtedly this is popular now because of the 4th Indiana Jones movie that is due to be released May 22nd which is today and rather convenient for my blogging. The debut, or one of them I guess, is being held here in Oklahoma City to benefit a local charity.

Supposedly the Mayans had 13 skulls similar to the one in the image (which lives at the British Museum) and they are all carved out of crystal of one kind or another. As you might imagine there is considerable controversy over whether or not any of this is true.

Apparently the Mayans (and I don't really know any so this is what I gleaned from the program - and I flip a lot) believed that this "cycle" of the world was going to end on December 21, 2012. Although it is not known why precisely there is speculation that on that date there is some alignment of Earth and the rest of the universe that only happens ever 33,000+ years or some such. That alignment may cause the Earth's magnetic field to switch polarity and the speculation is that this causes a lot of bad stuff including the end of the world.

But wait! If all 13 skulls are brought together then the world doesn't have to end.

My son tried to get tickets to see Indy here at our new local theater, Warren Theaters. This is a fantastic theater in the old style of motion picture palaces. I haven't had the pleasure of viewing a movie there yet but I have eaten lunch in the diner and that was great just in itself. I had a malt and the server brought over both the parfait glass and the stainless tumbler. Reminded me of the first time I ever had a malt at a drug store of yesteryear.

Hopefully I'll get to see something there soon and I'll blog about it when I do. The theater has these "adult" balconies that are expensive but very cozy. The chairs are kind of like love seat size and are grouped around these little tables and you have an electronic button deal to summon your waiter. Mixing alcohol and movies and food seems to be a pretty good combination around here. If they could add in gambling of some kind it would really do well I suppose as is apparent by the success of our many Native American casinos.

I am certain there will be end of world parties and a lot more information about the upcoming event as we come closer to the date.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How I Feel After 8 Months

It is now 8 months since my dad died.

It would have been better if I had written this at 6 months and then again written another entry at 12 months. That is it would have been "better" in my possibly misguided sense of symmetrical thinking. I am pretty certain I'll post something at 12 months so I guess this will just have to be asymmetrical.

I did write something at 6 months just not a personal report. I titled it "Throne of Grace" and on Dad's birthday I wrote "Conflict Makes Me Sad." I wonder if not posting meant something? At the time I thought there wasn't anything really to report. Maybe there wasn't.

Feelings, that is emotions, are funny things. In many ways emotion is similar to blood circulation or hair production or other involuntary systems. They happen and we need them.

I did pretty well for a long while after dad's death I think. There were the ups and downs and grief and and hurt and loss and relief and joy and sadness and despair and happiness. I think all that is pretty normal really. It is to be expected. It isn't to be feared or avoided but embraced and experienced just as every other part of life.

Not so long ago, and honestly I am not sure when, things have become more difficult. Maybe it isn't possible to know the exact date and time because maybe there wasn't really a true beginning. Maybe there isn't really an ending either. Regardless things have been different for a while. Maybe it was about the time of Dad's birthday. Maybe it was when we went to Dallas and I had the allergic reaction. Maybe it is physical or maybe it is emotional or maybe both. I don't know.

But I think I can describe how I've felt. Maybe I will eventually regret doing it. Maybe not. Maybe someone else will read it and benefit. Maybe not.

My friends do not need to worry about me or do anything. I am alright and I will be alright. My faith remains intact and my core is unchanged. So I am writing in order to document my feelings and to help me think these things through.

For one thing I'm kind of lost.

Oh, I have somewhere to go in the morning when I wake up and I have a few things to do. Later on I return here. I have a chair over here and I am sitting in it now with my laptop and my Kindle within reach.

Much of my stuff is still over at Dad's. Sometimes in the mornings I sit over there in the chair in my old room which was across from his. I just sit there and kind of think about stuff. I leave the little TV on there all the time and a light and the room is still comfortable. But the rest of the house is a mess. My daughter has done such a good job. Things are sorted an in boxes and some things are exposed and waiting on someone to choose or discard. There are little yellow stickers on the drawers and cabinets and closet doors and they all have "empty" written on them. I think about that word some.

Dad's room has a few things left in it. It felt empty from the time he left though. I used to keep to door closed. And for a long while every time I would walk by I would look into that door. But I haven't done that for a while.

I used to exercise first thing every morning and then shower and dress. About once a week I do my laundry. It may sound funny but I like doing my own laundry. Judy has made many offers but I just keep doing it myself.

For a while now though I haven't really wanted to exercise. I know I should but I just don't have much enthusiasm for it. Often I do go down there and spend a few minutes but I'm just not getting much out of it.

I don't have a real job. I have responsibilities. I have lots and lots of responsibilities. But if I don't show up it's not that big a deal. I think its good that I don't have a real job because I don't know if I would have managed to keep it if I'd been working for someone else.

A reporter came the other day. He interviewed my son for the most part. He got me to stand in the picture at one point but it was just for a little human interest.

Someone asks me something now about the business and I have to turn and look at my son. It reminds me of when my dad used to turn and look at me in a similar way.

I'm very proud of my kids and grandkids. They are all doing so well.

I have tried a few times to return to writing. But I haven't made much progress. I haven't been going to church either. There is some controversy there and it upsets me. I can't stand much upsetting right now.

I have been sad for one thing. I have not been very happy either. I write both of those things because I think they are different.

I have been anxious, too, and not anxious as in eager anticipating something cool but anxious as in a more or less permanent sense of foreboding and fearing some disaster of one kind or another. One interesting aspect of this anxiety for me is seeing other people more as patients requiring my care than as persons contributing to the warp and woof of my life (do you like that phrasing Annie?). Actually I have written about this previously - maybe more than once.

Well it could easily be argued, and I have done so, that I have an inordinate number of people in my life that require care. But that's not the issue really because it is more about me than them.

Here's the thing: It is this assumption by me of the responsibility for someone else's life or at least a portion of it.

I don't know why I am like this. Not everyone is. And sometimes I am not. I'll give an example. Let's say I needed a ride. Then I would ask someone to see if he could help me and if he could then I would accommodate my schedule to his. So if he said "I can pick you up at 9" then I would be ready at 9. Actually I'd be there before 9 because I wouldn't want to keep my benefactor waiting. I can't remember any times that Ive been late for something like that.

But now let's say someone asks me for a rid and I say "sure thing, I'll pick you up at 7." So I show up at 7 but the rider isn't ready yet. I wait and finally the rider gets in the car and says "I'm so sorry to be late." Then I say something like "Oh, that's alright." But I didn't really think it was alright.

I think to myself I ought to say that this pissed me off but then I think about it and decide that it isn't that big a thing in any event.

The other thing about it is that I get to viewing people as being needy. So instead of being happy to see people and feeling like they are adding to my life I become so distrustful that they just want something from me.

I'm not very sharp right now either. I won't give any examples but I've done some of the stupidest stuff lately. My thinker is just off.

I've written about the negative parts. But there's a positive for every negative. I cannot write as much about the positives. But I have many and they are really, really big. I am looking forward to several upcoming positives over the next several months. Eventually I will write about them. The house remodel should be done in a few months and that will be exciting and it will open another new chapter. But it will have its own negatives.

Have you ever noticed that the greater the positive the greater the corresponding negative? For instance loving someone has got to be up there near the top. But losing that someone is also down there near the bottom.

That's my 8 month report.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Purple Martins

I was out walking around the yard and saw a bird leaving this nest that was built against the wall under the front porch.

It is really a magnificent construction project. I don't really like it there but can't really bring myself to remove it either.

It is sticks and mud and grass and formed into quit a sturdy little home.

I have no idea what bird made this thing but I am really doubtful that Purple Martins built it.

Actually I didn't realize the nest was being used until I watched the little bird fly away from it. Then I was kind of leery about checking any further because I didn't want to scare away the birds if there were eggs or young ones in the nest.

This next photo is as good as I could do with my digital camera for a close up. You can get an idea of the size of the bird by comparing it to the flood light bulbs.

The coloring is not very well presented in this photograph but it is a very dark blue or purple.

It really looks like a Purple Martin to me and we have quite a little bunch of them flying around here.

The thing that I find really confusing though is the nest. I've just never known a Purple Martin to use a nest like the one in the first picture.

Now here is an image I found on a Cornell Website that is much better and much closer. It is hard to tell from just the images but I am pretty sure that my birds are the same as this one which Cornell says is a sub-adult Purple Martin male.

The adult males are darker and I am pretty certain I have those, too. Mine may be a female though.

Martins are fabulous birds.

They eat and drink in the air. When they are eating they nearly stop or that's what it seems like. They also drink in flight which seems remarkable to me.

The thing that really amazes me is that they spend the winter in South America and then they fly all the way back here. They like to use the same nests year after year.

That Cornell article has a clip of their song, too.

I am really excited to have these Purple Martins here.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I have wondered before and still do to this day about the grouping of the deaths of our little caregroup's loved ones.

I made up that word, caregroup. I rather like it. But I searched on it and find a 163,000 hits so I guess it occurred to a few others besides.

There are two periods I remember each month. I don't dwell on it and I don't know that I remember it each month at exactly the same time. I don't memorialize it or anything like that. I usually don't even say anything about it to anyone unless it is brought up first to me by someone else. That is becoming less frequent. Except in blogging I think I've talked about it.

The first period begins on the 14th and ends on the 21st. It is so convenient that this period is in 7's. So it begins after 2 sevens and lasts one. I find that so very convenient. We have one death on the 14th and then one on the 15th and two on the 17th. Then we skip over to the 20th and follow up on the 21st. I've wondered that it was only 6 because 7 seems more right.

Then "we" have another period that begins on the 27th and ends on the 2nd. For some reason I always think of those two together rather than putting them with the others. .

But "our caregroup" is larger than just the few of us who have lost our loved ones. So we collectively have many more dates of loss if all were known.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Not my best view really.
Dial-a-bully and Bucky.
Judy's Jett and Mama Horse.
Judy and me.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Old Window

This window is on the old barn behind Judy's childhood home. The barn was built sometime around 1900 I think.

I did not take the photograph but I wish I had. It was taken by a cousin's spouse who is obviously rather talented.

It made me think though.

Windows are like eyes in a way. This one has seen so much, too. And what it has seen seems more important in a way because of the connection between the place and my Judy and her family and now my own family.

It does not make me sad although I can understand how it might seem sad to others.

Rather it makes me more hopeful I think. The old barn isn't used any longer. But that's only because the need for it has passed and not because it couldn't be used. It would take some fixing up for sure and then it wouldn't really be suitable for much of anything. In its day though it served its purpose very well indeed and represented a tremendous investment by the builders and users.

But that was a day when horses and mules provided the power and hay bales were small and we stacked them to the high roof. Today one of the huge John Deere tractors could not fit without removing a big part of the wall and even then it would be tight inside if even possible. And not even one bale of hay would fit there now.

There is a silo around on the north side that still stands but is also not used. Just down a short ways from the barn is a creek bank. Usually it has a little water flowing there and sometimes it is a torrent. It is pretty deep. If you happen to be back there you'd never know you were not still in the country until a car's noise would alert you.

We are in the "dates" of the month I see - that place mid-month when several us mark the passings.

Friday, May 16, 2008


This morning I began taking some 5-HTP stuff which is supposed to help in the production of serotonin. Also began last night another supplement that is supposed to help the epinephrine and norepinephrine. I follow a regime for 2 weeks followed by a slightly different one for one week and then a final week before retesting.

I may be kidding myself but I think I feel better this morning after the stuff last night, i.e., it wasn't so hard to pull on my clothes!!

We're also going to tap again together. For some reason I get out of the habit of doing the tapping even though it has helped me previously. I'm doing a script for grief and loss.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


According to this particular test from my Dallas visit my serotonin is way low. My Epinephrine is below normal as well. Of course, I read that there was some controversy over this particular test. Isn't there always?

According to WIKIpedia "... serotonin is believed to play an important role as a neurotransmitter, in the modulation of anger, aggression, body temperature, mood, sleep, sexuality, and appetite as well as stimulating vomiting." Epinephrine, also called adrenaline, "... plays a central role in the short-term stress reaction."

Judy thinks I'm depressed so she thinks these test results are probably rather accurate.

If the test results are accurate I wonder if the caregiving contributed?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Israel and O'Connor on Alzheimer's

"I submit to you that until you have actually stared Alzheimer's in the face … you cannot truly understand the deep sense of frustration, fear, helplessness and grief that accompany it," O'Connor says in a statement for the Senate Special Committee on Aging.

O'Connor Goes Public With Private Ordeal

I think that's about right.

May 14, 1948 the nation of Israel was declared to exist by proclamation of David Ben Gurion. Eleven (11) minutes later the United States of America became the first country to recognize the new nation. Sixty years ago today there once again was a nation of Israel. It had been nearly 2000 years since the nation was destroyed and its capital laid waste.

Pretty amazing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Omaha to OKC

My allergies behaved extremely well while I was away. I did have one episode that I am certain was an allergic reaction to something - probably something I ate - and that was at 3:00 AM Monday morning. So I wasn't all that bright eyed and bushy tailed Monday morning when it was time to leave for home.

But a little caffeine fix from Starbucks made it livable.

We drove west out I-80 from Omaha to York and then turned south on US 81. What a great, wonderful country we have in the good old United States of America.

Between my home in Oklahoma and Omaha there are thousands and thousands of acres of some of the best looking farm land I have ever seen. In Nebraska and Kansas there is a lot of irrigation, too. The irrigation is provided by these huge sprinkler systems that are just awesome in their size and concept. At least to me they are awesome.

Ever so often there is a little clump of human life made evident by a home and out buildings and equipment of one kind or another. The older homes are my favorite but here and there you see manufactured housing, too. We used to call them trailer homes. But really today these things are very nice and many are quite large.

On the plains are towns and often you know the towns are there from many miles away because you see these huge grain elevators rising above the horizon to mark them out. I think about what it must be like to live out here in this country. I would like it I know because I like the openness of the plains and the rolling hills and skies that stretch for miles.

I know some people do not like this and prefer the cities. Omaha is a large city and so is Kansas City. The smaller communities are very nice as well even though they are not nearly so large.

And then I always think about the wonder of driving on a 4 lane ribbon of concrete that traverses the entire land. That alone should fit into the wonders of the world.

We made it back home in time for rush hour traffic in Oklahoma City. Which is not really very much compared to traffic in Dallas and other bigger places I've been. But it was enough to remind me that we lived in a more populated place.

Finally we were home again and the horses watched us as we drove by the corral. They would have preferred us to stop and feed them. It was good to be home.

Monday, May 12, 2008


We had a wonderful lunch at P F Chang's.

You can't really see it in this image but those horse statues in front of the restaurants have some kind of cover over their butts. We all laughed about this quite a bit because one of our horses is particularly gassy. Just thought I'd throw that in.

Our waiter was very personable and did an outstanding job. I didn't pay but if I had I would have tipped him more than normal.

The food is excellent, too. I particularly enjoyed the Chang's Spicy Chicken but most of the other dishes as well.

Afterwards my lovely wife (as opposed to my unlovely one) dropped me off at the hotel and then went to spend time with her daughter. They are so close and I know for a fact that Judy wanted nothing more than to be with her daughter for a few hours for her own Mother's day present. I read while she was gone and then later she picked me up and our son-in-law grilled steaks and shrimp and stuff for us.

But on the way back to the hotel after Chang's I stopped by Starbuck's for hot chocolate. The girl who served me from the drive through window was particularly nice and struck up a conversation with us about how our day had been and where had we eaten lunch and so on. I was impressed with how personable she was and remarked about it as we left.

I said that if I had a business like Starbucks I'd want to go out of my way to teach the servers to be personable.

Judy said I probably should hire someone for that!!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day from Omaha

Happy Mother's day to all my friends who are mothers.

We are celebrating today with a big lunch at P F Chang's. I've only been to a Chang's once before and that was in Tulsa as I remember.

It turned really cold and windy here last night. I made about a mile this morning on my walk before my hands and ears turned too cold. Decided blogging might be a warmer exercise if not quite as healthy for my heart. Although blogging does wonders for my heart, too, albeit in a different way.

Last evening we attended this 3 hour plus performance of show choirs at my granddaughter's school. There was an admission charge of $8 per person and the entire auditorium was packed to overflow. We watched 4 show choirs I think and then a bunch of individual performances in between.

My granddaughter was in the first show choir. The last one was called the Amazing Technicolor Show Choir. There is a web site for the show choirs.

I really had not heard of show choirs until I learned about my granddaughter's participation. It is quite fascinating to find this in Omaha for some reason I think.

It reminds me of the old "Fame" television series in a way. The performances are nothing short of amazing to me in terms of quality of performance. That only comes about by virtue of a lot of practice and dedication on the part of both the performers and the leaders. And the parents' support as indicated by the sold out crowd at $8 per head.

The songs were all extremely interesting to me and a good many were things I had not heard and found immensely entertaining and sometimes thought provoking.

One I enjoyed especially and that reminded me of caregivers is a song titled "Someone to Fall Back On" which apparently is performed by artist, Jason Robert Brown. The lyrics, I think, are by David Burnham. Here they are:

I'll never be
A knight in armor
With a sword in hand
Or a kamikazee fighter
Don't count on me
To storm the barricade
Or take a stand
Or hold my ground
You'll never see
Any scars or wounds
I won't walk on clouds
I won't walk on water

I am no prince
I am no saint
I am not anyone's wildest dream
But i can stand behind
And be someone to fall back on

Some comedy
You're bruised
And beaten down
And i'm the one
Who's lookin for a favor
Still honestly
You won't believe me
But the things
I have
Are the things you need
You look at me
Like i don't make sense
Like a waste of time
Like it serves no purpose

I am no prince
I am no saint
And if that's
What you believe you need
You're wrong
You don't need much
You need someone
To fall back on

And i'll be that
I'll take your side
If i'm the only one
I'm used to that
I've been around
I'd rather be
The half of us
The least of you
The best of me

And i'll be your prince
I'll be your saint
I will go marching through
Fences in your name
I will i swear
Someone to fall back on

We had a great time.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Omaha is a really nice city. It seems bigger to me than it is. It is pretty easily navigated although I can get lost more easily than most people. My car navigation system helps me a lot but my wife is even better.

We were awfully tired after our 9 hour trip. We checked in at the hotel first and then drove over to see our family. We slept in a long time Friday morning. I got up earlier and jogged around the hotel parking lot. It's 1/4 mile and I think I made about 5 or 6 laps. I would have done more I guess but I have this pain in my side.

I drove over to Starbucks and got a grande black coffee with a shot. I was thinking about coffee and kind of tasting a mixture of lemon and coffee beforehand.

We had a nice visit to a Whole Foods not too far from the hotel. Nice visit as in spending $100+. But I do love to prowl around those stores. We don't have one in Oklahoma City and maybe that's a good thing.

We had a really nice visit then with Judy's daughter's family and finally made it back to the hotel about 10:15 or so.

I'm on my way out to jog around the parking lot.

They have some of the most gorgeous trees and shrubs around here and zero wind for our trip. The temperature is about mid 60's for highs but very pleasant. Rained last two nights and more for next two days is predicted.

We're supposed to see granddaughter perform in a choir this evening and a mother's day lunch tomorrow.

I'll try to get some more pictures today.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Omaha Bound

We're taking a little trip up to Omaha.

I'm going to "try" to take some photographs and post them daily. I'll start by editing this post after we've arrived. Maybe.

The trip in photos (kind of):

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


He had been a real looker once. But that was long ago.

He was dull and faded now but there were still enough shiny red patches to inform the more-than-casual visitor of his original finish. There was rust here and there. The wiper blades had long since turned hard and were now crumbling. The tires were gone and the wheels were off the ground only thanks to the assorted blocks of wood and concrete.

There was plenty of evidence of the trauma that had disabled him. The roof was crushed in the middle nearly to the top of the front seat. The hood was gone but the trunk was still in tact. The passenger door was closed and might even open if someone should ever try. The driver door was open and would never close again.

Lots of glass was broken. The once proud engine was now cannibalized for parts. He hated the thought that his parts were worth more than his whole.

He could not understand why he was here though.

Even if he had to be here in this neglected part of the pasture, why did he have to sit out here all alone. They could have at least turned his face the other way so he could see the others. He wondered if he had done something so wrong that he was being punished.

The rain began again early in the day. He could tell there were storms coming. They would be followed by wind and summer was approaching with the unshaded Sun. He would hang on for as long as he could.

Some had survived long enough that they were bought and lovingly restored. But he was too young for that. But he was too old for someone to want to use every day.

He was in the middle.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Black Road

I dreamed last night that I was driving a car. There were passengers but I don't remember who except for Judy.

There was this place where the road suddenly turned into this new kind of pavement. It looked like big black tiles that were kind of polished but not shiny smooth. They were rounded a little in the middle so that each had a crown. And they were tight together. It seemed liked it would be a little bumpy but it wasn't.

The new road changed course. I thought we should be going straight but the road veered off to my left and I had no choice but to follow it.

Then it was raining and I wanted to slow down but when I applied the brake the road was so strangely smooth that my brake didn't slow down the car at all.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Embrace the Suck

Embrace the Suck and More Military Speak by Austin Bay.

Bay, a retired Colonel in the Army Reserve, wrote this little handbook in 2007. Embrace the suck is "warrior slang" meaning "...Face it, soldier. I've been there. This ain't easy. Now let's deal with it" according to an excerpt.

I would have provided a link to this on Amazon except that it isn't available. I would have bought it even - well - maybe not.

At any rate I liked the title a lot.

It pretty much sums up my caregiving experience, too. It also pretty much sums up life in general I think.

There were several other sayings I liked. One was "Semper I" which is a corruption of the Marine's "Semper Fi" motto. Semper I means a Marine out for himself and not helping his comrades.

Again I thought about how some of us caregivers could relate to that.

To all of those who have commented and emailed please accept my apology for being so long absent. I really appreciate all of you so very much. Things are going pretty well.