Thursday, April 28, 2005
He told me the average patient with hypertension must take 3 1/2 drugs to manage it. He said he also has high blood pressure and takes two drugs. This makes me feel better. Strangely, I had been feeling that it was my fault the drug wasn't controlling my BP. This new medication incorporates two drugs in one pill, which should be a benefit.
I've also lost 7 pounds, which was better than I thought. Not as good as I would have liked, but still better than I thought, based on my home scale. It's a little encouraging, and encouragement always help me see continuing results. (I admit it, I need a lot of external motivation and support!)
Hopefully, the new medication will bring my BP down to a level where I'll be allowed to do more exercises than the coronary rehab work they are allowing me to do now. That's a hard pill to swallow, let me tell you. I am so looking forward to doing some weight work on the machines because my results have always been much better when I've been able to add that component.
My greatest fear from today was the lab work to recheck my blood sugar. Please pray with me that the number is less than my March test. My instincts tell me that I must face the reality of having the Big "D". And I really, really do not want that.
So there you go, you know more about me than you every needed to or wanted to. I think I'm on the right road for managing these health issues. The next couple of weeks will let me know for sure!
You all, take good care of yourselves too. If you have concerns, take care of them. It can be scary, but the power is in dealing with them, not ignoring them.
Wednesday, April 27, 2005
On the way home from church tonight I stopped at Sonic. While I was waiting, I heard screams -- nearby, but I dismissed them as kids driving on the expressway screaming at each other. After all, it is the season and the time of night was about right for cruisers.
Oh how I wish it had been.
As I was peering into the dark, trying to see anything that could explain the sound, when two young guys pulled up in an SUV and pounded on the windows of the kitchen. They were looking for someone with a phone to call the police.
As it turned out, the screams were coming from the house behind Sonic. What I overheard the guys saying was that someone was beating (the .... out of ) the woman.
A couple of the girls working at Sonic called police, and then said they had already been called and had cars on the way.
Then another car pulled up on the side street, and the SUV guys had a brief conversation with the people in that car. They then pulled out of Sonic, squealing their tires, and drove off into the darkness.
There were more screams, and the girls from Sonic started feeling brave enough to walk towards the fence. Something spooked them, though, and they ran back toward the kitchen. I told them to go inside and lock themselves in to stay safe.
I took my usual path home which happened to go right by the house anyway, so I did what I've been trained to do -- I rubbernecked, of course. The woman was still screaming in the yard, and wasn't able to stand still to talk to the officer. She kept backing away from him even though I could hear him saying to her that he just wanted to know what was happening. I could hear her screaming about the back bedroom.
And I peeked in the front door -- typical of the show "Cops" there was a guy sitting in there without a shirt on, with more officers inside.
I'm sure I'll never know all that happened in that house tonight, but I've heard those screams before, and all I can do is ask you to join me in praying.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to Purgatory!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
|Purgatory (Repenting Believers)||Extreme|
|Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)||High|
|Level 2 (Lustful)||High|
|Level 3 (Gluttonous)||High|
|Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)||Very Low|
|Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)||Low|
|Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)||Very Low|
|Level 7 (Violent)||Low|
|Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)||Low|
|Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)||Very Low|
Take the Dante's" Inferno Hell Test
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Saturday was a trip to the Arts Festival in downtown OKC, the highlight of which was Indian food from Gopuram, one of my two favorite Indian restaurants (it also happens to be about a stone's throw from my house.) They did a fine sampler plate of six items for $6. Wish I had another one tonight because it included all of my favorites.
Today was (finally!) the opening of the Designer Show House which benefits the Oklahoma City Philharmonic. What a delight! It was nice to take a friend to see this home that I've watched through the transformation process. I've made so many friends of the designers and members of the Orchestra League who helped bring it all together. So many talented people did good work on this, and it all goes to support the orchestra and music education. So take my advice, go see it. Good project, great cause, well worth the price of admission. They also do a great omlette in the tea room for Sunday brunch.
After the show house, friend and I went to TLC Nursery to look at plants and seeds. I may have to go back during the coming week when it's less crowded than it was this afternoon. Lots of things attracted my attention, but I need to look long and hard at the budget and take cash so I don't overspend.
So there you go, a weekend filled with new experiences, great food, and LOT of walking. I hope you all had a similarly satisfying weekend.
Next week probably will involve another trip in for auto repairs (tie rods). I must say, last week's brake job came in handy this weekend on I-40 when a car stopped in front of me. Money well spent.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
The world was normal when the clock said "9:01" -- and then suddenly, it was not.
Things changed. The world split. The gates of Hell opened. The world turned upside down; 168 people died at the hands of madmen.
And Jesus wept.
He felt our pain. And He wept.
The clock struck 9:03 and the world was never again the same.
A field of chairs now stands for those who no longer can.
We remember them, the children, the parents, the grandparents, now gone from the lives of those who loved them so.
Forever frozen in our memories as they were at that moment, at 9:02 a.m. April 19, 1995.
Tonight there are gifts among the chairs -- flowers fill the air with their sweet perfume. Toys fill the small chairs of the children. Teddy bears never to be hugged, never to console a hurting child who would now be a teen, but for that moment on that Wednesday morning.
Even now, when we know more of the truth than we did then, we still seek understanding or explanation. None will ever soothe us. And so we weep, as Jesus wept.
His tears, mixed with ours, water the Survivor Tree, and we learn that we can survive. We can thrive again, even with the scars that still feel so fresh, a decade later.
The satellite trucks have returned and will focus the world's attention on us again as we again honor those lost that day. And as then, we open our arms to those who see our hearts clearly.
And yes, we will remember that we are changed, again. And we mourn, again. And we try to find the peace that a decade has brought.
A block away is our statement -- a new federal building -- saying we will not bow to terrorism.
Today, we remember again the names of the 168. And we remember those who survive.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
You Are Best Described By...
By Pablo Picasso
There's power in prayer. Miracles can and do happen, daily. We're asking God for one now on Tech's behalf and ask you to join us in this request.
Tech, I ask God to give you peace and serenity as you await your doctor's visit, and for good health and strength to face whatever is ahead. Know God's comfort, know His healing and believe Him when He tells you He has a perfect plan for you and your future.
Know also that there are a lot of us out here who care about you, even if we've never met in person. The power of words has made you a friend.
Herb hung around a little longer than most of the men in my life lately, but he's gone. Just like that *snap*.
For me, it was quick and painless. Probably not so much for Herb.
But he got what he deserved. He knew better. He disregarded the house rules, so he had to go.
Off with his head! Zap!
It took a couple of passes of the mower to really do him in, but he's gone, never again to call attention to my unkempt lawn. Taunting me, shouting to the neighbors "Hey look at this slob!" Silenced forever is he.
I'm glad. It was time for him to leave. He had nothing going for him, and now I can live peaceably in the neighborhood without fearing visits from the authorities or whispered remarks behind my back. The shame is over.
Buh-bye, Herb. Don't come back.
Anyway, I took 277 photos, and thought I would share some.
After-bath powder for the elephant.
Say it loud, say it proud! I am lizard, hear me roar....
A mallard. I love his markings. He was fighting with the geese, catfish, turtles and other ducks for the peanuts kids were throwing in "Monkey Lake." I don't know if they still call it that, but there was once an island in the middle of the lake that was inhabited by monkeys.
I just love his color.
Hey, hold it down... we're trying to sleep!
This rodent was busy dragging stuff into his burrow. He lives with the tigers, who were off taking a nap.
An orangutan with dreadlocks.
And finally, a real moon shot. The elephants were keeping time with their tails.
Friday, April 15, 2005
Let's see... in review...
1. Substantial car repair -- done.
2. Health insurance policy search -- done.
3. Income taxes -- done.
4. Stories written for work -- done.
5. Attended party for show house -- done.
6. Dozens more miles put on car -- done.
7. Photo shoots to go with stories -- done.
Now I can turn my attention to the chores of daily living, such as mowing my doggone grass. Yeah, there is extreme irony in writing a story about "curb appeal" when my own grass is knee high and I'm waiting for a notice from the city inspector to show up taped to my door. Maybe I can mow before my nosy next-door neighbor comes home from work and calls to complain.
What's left today:
1. Trip to post office to mail tax returns to IRS and check to my accountant, to whom I am so grateful.
2. Pay Dillard's bill.
1. Car tag
2. Driver's license
3. Next car repair, which is replacing the tie rods.
It's starting to look manageable again. I would also like to go work out today. It will help me reduce the stress that won't let go.
Here's a shameful photo just to show you that I wasn't kidding about the yard. NO curb appeal here, but I am rather proud of that tenacious weed that is close to two feet tall now. I think I'll name it "Herb."
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
One good friend was able to work me in this afternoon to do my income taxes for me. I sincerely hope and believe that this will be my last difficult tax year. I sold some rental property (at a loss) in 2004, in addition to self-employment. Next year, things should be a cakewalk.
My insurance agent was able to find me a health policy. It's a little higher than the one I had that is expiring this week, but I can set up a tax-deductible medical account with this one. At least I'll have that safety net in case of medical catastrophe. That was my other HUGE headache for the week, since the old policy expires April 14.
I rescheduled my doctor's appointment -- it was supposed to be in the morning, but by postponing it I can save that to go towards the new insurance policy instead of the expiring one. I'm not crazy about postponing the lab work, but on the other hand I do not want to wind up discovering anything that would be expensive! LOL.
Let's see... still have to do my car tag and driver's license by the end of the month, but I have time.
I got my billing done for the month yesterday -- shocking but a relief. Should be a pretty good payday at the end of the month.
Work things are going OK. If not for all these other headaches with the car, taxes and insurance issues, it would have been a really easy week. On the nice side, I spent the morning touring several half-million-dollar homes in a fancy neighborhood. (For those living out of state: A half-million-dollar home here is fancy schmancy! We're not California. We're talking about 5,000 to 8,000 square feet in a golf course community.) Anyway, besides making me feel even POORER, it was nice seeing these homes. Sometimes I can't believe I get to do this. (For perspective: The rental property I sold in 2004 was TWO houses on one lot. I bought them for $28,000 in 2001 and sold them, at a loss, for $24,000 in 2004. This was in my home town, and the bottom just dropped out of the real estate market there. Yes, those numbers are correct. Two houses, $24,000. The "big" house is the one I grew up in.)
Tomorrow night is a media party for the Designer Show House. That will be fun. I've been doing a series while this home has been coming together, and it will be my chance to see it all finished and decorated. Truly this one makes me feel like a spoiled child because I've had unlimited access to see this house any time I've wanted to go look.
Anyway. I won't say I'm 100 percent cheerful. I still have too much of that stress hormone floating around in my blood. But MAYBE I won't hurt anyone now... we'll see.
It's just what this extreme level of anxiety does to me.
It's music night again -- handbells and choir. I've got about a half hour to do some deep breathing first so I don't accidently sling a bell across the room. LOL.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
There are a lot of demands, a lot of expectations, and so far not one "plus" that I can put in my own column in return. Well, not that I'm seeing at the moment. Don't anyone try cajoling me right now, OK? I just want to steam for a bit.
My emotions are all nebulous and ill-defined at the moment. There's a good portion of stress, mixed with a generous splash of depression, expanded with several handsful of anger. All that's been baked into a cake that's frosted with disrespect and anxiety. If you light the candle on top, be ready for a smack-down.
Little Red Car spent the night at the spa last night, while a sealant dried on the new oil pan gasket. Maybe this one will last longer than the last. I missed my car. It made me antsy not being able to go outside, get in the car and GO. I finally got her back mid-morning today after I paid a ransom of nearly $600.
This is a big expense month. My car tag is due (not much for a 10-year-old car); my driver's license has to be renewed this month; income taxes are due this week and I am going to have to beg a CPA friend for help. Self employment tax is a bitch. There, I said it. It's especially painful if you don't make much money being self employed. They take a LOT.
On top of that, my health insurance policy expires this month and I have to find a new policy in mere days. My insurance agent hasn't called back since Friday. I'm supposed to go to the doctor on Thursday, but now I will have to reschedule that until I have another policy in hand.
Here's something you might not know about individual health policies, and you NEED to know this: If you make a claim, they will not renew your policy when the term ends. And any claims you file will be treated as a pre-existing condition on your next policy. There you go. They also do not include prescription drug coverage. And it's expensive. It's best to think of this as a hospitalization only policy -- a safety net for disasters only.
Anyway, to put it bluntly I'm pissed at the world tonight. Yes I am.
I don't mind paying money for my car repairs. The car feels new again and they made it pretty with a hand wash and wax. It gleams!
I don't mind paying my fair share of taxes. I just think that half is a little much, considering my total earnings last year were about what I made in a month at my previous job. Maybe two, but that's really stretching it.
Health care costs are starting to scare me, to be honest. I can't say there's anything I don't mind about those.
What's really got me ticked, though, is being disrespected because of what I do. Especially when my whole career can be dismissed by one cruel, casual remark by someone who wasn't thinking.
I just can't say more. I don't know what I would say that would make any difference anyway. It should be enough for me to know my own value and ignorant comments should roll off like water. But they don't.
So watch out. There could be a smack-down yet. We'll see.
Monday, April 11, 2005
I have to say, she's been paid off for more than half of her life, so I don't begrudge her a day of pampering. She hasn't asked for much other than an oil change now and then. She got her CV boots and timing belt done on time, and I think the air conditioner low-pressure switch had to be replaced a couple of years ago. All in all, not much for a loyal friend.
Today's spa treatment is a little pricy for someone making peanuts. She will get new front and rear brakes and an oil pan gasket. Just like a lady, she was keeping her troubles to herself for the most part. Not a drop of oil soils my driveway, but apparently the problem was really obvious when they put her on the lift.
And very soon, I'll have to treat her to inside and outside tie rods. Hopefully as soon as I get my next check. That one is a matter of personal safety, though it's not a critical item today. They counseled me not to dawdle, however.
Yes, this bit of maintenance is an expensive hit for me at the moment, but I have to look at it in the macro view. These repairs are less than what one or two new car payments would be, and I'll be able to keep my old friend going for a good while longer. I'm pretty sure I'll get my money's worth at any rate.
Now, if only I could convince her to quit drinking. Gasoline prices are what will kill me! Ka-CHING!
Sunday, April 10, 2005
These Bubbas, who dress up nice in quality suits with ties (though some are given to tossing off their jackets when they get really worked up), have all kinds of technology at their fingertips that they just can't help using. I know, I know. Their bosses spent fortunes on this stuff to "help protect life and property."
They want to make sure we know it's storming out there, and we might get hail.
Dammit!! I wish I was 5 years old again sometimes. Back then, we KNEW when it was hailing because we could feel it in our bodies. Right down to our bones we could feel the changes in barometric pressure. Our skins knew it was getting cooler and the wind was picking up.
By dang, we knew when it was hailing because WE WOULD LOOK OUTSIDE and SEE IT!
And we knew that at the end of a hail storm there was a chance of a hook that could (read that "could") cause a tornado.
But shoot, man, they're issuing this warning just as prime-time TV is starting for the evening, and the only area that's having to worry has "the potential" for hail. And this area is south of Norman, where there's nothing but acres and acres of horse farms. OK guys, make sure your horses are in the barn.
If you have to tell a horseman that, then he's not much of a horseman.
Look, if you see something like we had May 3, 1999, when we had Monster Storm tearing up the state from one corner to the other, TELL US about it. THEN you'll be saving lives and protecting property. Kudos to all of you who got us through that night and the following days. You earned every penny of overtime your bosses paid out. (So did I though, helping to present the aftermath to newspaper readers. I bet a nickle your overtime was more than mine and I'm still holding a grudge.)
Anyway. It's JUST HAIL. Excuse me -- the POTENTIAL for hail. The rain is picking up. Oooooh. Rain! Everyone hide!
Pooh. Just let me watch my TV. Put a crawler on the screen. Your big blobs of red, turning to green or blue, don't scare me. Big deal that you can tell the people on Frank Street in Norman that it's RAINING there.
Shoot. Teach them to look out the DANG WINDOW!
Saturday, April 09, 2005
This remains perhaps my favorite movie of all time. And I believe I've seen it 10 times or more. Every time I see it, I notice another special moment I hadn't seen before.
I'm so familiar with the film that I was aware of the cuts that were made to accommodate TV. None of the cuts affected the quality of the story terribly, but noticing their absence made me realize the many, many layers of detail that make this movie what it is.
It is story telling at its best. Fannie Flagg should remain proud of this work for all the days of her life.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Some of these folks have been physicians and health care administrators, sources for a story on rural health care. Very interesting, but very, very busy people. One called me back from a plane bound for Dallas. He called me back after he landed, from a lounge at the airport there during his layover. Good interview, but dang, the background noise from the lounge was loud. Glad I had the headphones. But I hate the telephone.
I kid you not. Every time one call ended today, the phone rang. After the airport interview, I clicked the "end" button on the phone, took off the headphones, ran to the bathroom while realizing I hadn't been in there all day. No wonder it was URGENT! It was 5 p.m.!! Man, I hate the telephone.
So there I was... when... "Ring! Ring!" I said to myself "Self, NO, it is not that important. I don't care if it's Prince Charles or President Bush. Sometimes, they just have to leave a message." Damn phone.
It wasn't royalty, just a royal pain. Not really, but kind of. It was a builder who I needed to set up an interview with. One of the last loose ends of the day, so it was OK to call him back and get that taken care of. I'm going to cut the cord on that phone yet.
In the midst of the afternoon, while expecting calls from umpteen different people, I got one unexpected call, from a kind of nutty friend who lives in Shawnee. I don't know if nutty is too harsh a description, but she does look at the world a little differently. But you'll have to read my (eventual) book to learn more about her, because I'm writing her in as a character. She won't have a phone in the book.
Anyway, today's distress from her was that a neighbor, "Mary" was walking down the street carrying large black garbage bags filled with her possessions. And on top of that, "Mary" was waving a 10-inch knife in the air. I think she hates phones too.
I advised my friend to call the police immediately to report a person in danger of causing harm to herself or others. USE THE PHONE!
My friend decided she would drive down to the police station instead of calling, because she didn't want them coming out to the neighborhood right then. Say WHAT? OK gotta run... whatEVER. I think I hear your phone ringing.
See, that's an example of why I call her nutty. Maybe it's just me, but if someone's walking down the street with a knife on MY block, I'm calling the cops and locking the doors. Quick, hand me the phone!
Wonder if she gave Mary a ride somewhere.... Maybe to a pay phone.
See ya, guys, I'm going to go play handbells and decompress a bit. It's going to be a long night when I get home. Gotta superglue the pieces of my phone back together.
Saturday, April 02, 2005
See y'all later, I've got some more reading to do!
(Thanks, J.T.!! This is incredible!)
Friday, April 01, 2005
So last night we had dinner together to celebrate his great news as well as both of our birthdays. He noted that between us, we were celebrating a century of life! (YIKES!) We dined to excess at the Deep Fork restaurant in Oklahoma City, a very nice, very beautiful special-occasion place. The waiters heard us talking about celebrating and treated us to appetizers and a to-die-for dessert. And guess what! J.T. gave me the new Billie Letts book! I'm so excited, I'll probably read the whole thing tomorrow! (I gave him Jimmy Carter's "Sharing Good Times." I hope he enjoys it as much as I know I'll enjoy Letts' book.)
Then, we enjoyed some mighty fine theater, a production of "Three-Penny Opera." Now, this was a small production played before an even smaller audience in a tiny theater on the lower level of the Civic Center Music Hall. I promise you I am not lying when I tell you there were more people in the cast than in the audience. Honest to Pete. Our seats were on row C, seats 7 and 8. Well... Row C turns out to be the front row, and there are only eight seats per row. That means two rows of similar size behind us, and not all the seats were filled. You do the math. The two side sections were completely empty. In addition, it was a cabaret-type performance, so the hard-working actors were literally in our faces, sometimes embarrassingly so. I think I should send some of the young ladies some additional Velcro to help keep their costumes (and body parts) in place. All in all, it was an entertaining, yet strange, event.
Today an e-mail friend from the Chicago area, whom I'd not yet met in person, was in town and we met for lunch. That was also fun, yet strangely interesting. Twice he excused himself from the table. The second time, he had left a credit card to pay the bill. During his absence, the waitress returned asking for a different card because it had been declined. For a few minutes, I started wondering if he had stiffed me and left me holding the bag. He hadn't, thankfully. I mean, I would gladly pay the bill for lunch with a close friend, but when he returned he argued with the manager, an exchange I wish hadn't happened.
Happily, I got some work done this afternoon before going to dinner with my friends in the singles group at my church. We went to Charleston's and had a great dinner. They even brought presents! Girly presents! Like candles, jewelry, good smell-um stuff and flowers. And I got another free dessert.
I have to say, turning 50 is fattening. But the greatest thing has been spending so much time with so many great friends. I'll spend a little extra time on the treadmill any time I can do that. It's worth the trade-off!