Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A time of transitioning

For the past several weeks a dear man from my church has been in the hospital. He's 78 years old; he and his wife have been married for 60 years. I've visited him several times while he's been in the hospital -- reading to him, just visiting with him, taking him a prayer shawl from the church.

I just really care a great deal for this couple. They are still deeply in love, tremendously faithful, good people.

His wife called me early this afternoon to tell me he's now become more critically ill and asked for my help writing his obituary, so I went over to their house and spent several hours with her. Most of the information was already collected. I just put it in newspaper form for them (I first started my career as an obituary writer in 1976 and I've written the obits for my whole family.)

We talked about the plans for the memorial service and I asked her if she would like to do a slide show of photos of Jim's life. She loved the idea and I told her I could take some of her photos and scan them in and put them in some order that would tell the story of his life.

She showed me around the house and the gardens that they built during the 40 years they've lived in their home. She told me many stories that I'll ask the minister to allow us to use in the memorial service.

We fixed grilled cheese sandwiches and salad for dinner, then I went to the hospital to help feed Jim and spend some time with him, to give Barbara a little more time to herself before she came back to the hospital. It's the only time I've written an obituary for someone and then gone to feed them. That was a bit surreal.

This evening I'll be scanning in photos and things like that.

There is such a sweetness to their relationship. They were married at 17 and 19 -- she was still in high school, but Jim married her before he left for the U.S. Navy so she would have his allotment to live on.

I cannot imagine what she will have to go through in the coming days as he transitions past this lifetime with her.

Monday, January 30, 2006

What lines from TV shows crack you up?

Here's one that makes me laugh myself sick.

"I once made a vest from your wife's underpants. I can't imagine what you would do to me." -- Bill Dauterive, "King of the Hill."

Sunday, January 29, 2006

A satisfying Sunday

It's been a pretty good day here in Trixie-land. It's one of those increasingly rare Sundays in which I find my true Sabbath. Today has been a great day for fellowship, learning and rest.

This morning I served breakfast to my Sunday school class. We had a ham and cheese quiche I made last night, along with cantaloupe and red grapes. Normally the class tends to ignore the sugary treats we usually have -- donuts and the like -- because everyone is "on diets." Yeah, OK, whatever. I can't have them anyway because of my blood sugar levels. So there wasn't much left of this morning's breakfast when we ended class.

There were several visitors at church this morning with whom I've had some sort of previous connection, so there was lots of hugging and "good to see you, I need to call you and talk to you about ..." moments.

Some of my friends just returned from a two-week mission trip to Kenya. It was good to see most of them at church this morning, though some were too exhausted from the trip to be with us today. One of them brought me back some loose-leaf tea. I can't wait to hear more about their trip. Their work project on this trip was completing the building of a library.

A couple of our ministries are unique. As I've posted before, (see here: Cuddling up in the pews.) we supply the Oklahoma Highway Patrol with "Comfort Critters" -- teddy bears and the like to help comfort children in distress that the OHP comes across in the course of its work. We dedicated another "herd" of between 90 and 100 critters and sent them out on their mission today. We'll introduce a new crop next Sunday so they can soak up the lovin' and the songs and the sermons and the prayers too and then go out to do their job in March.

Our prayer shawl ministry also gives tactile comfort, to some of our most ill members. The shawls are either knitted or crocheted; we've added some simpler fleece lap blankets with fringes because we can create enough of them in short order to meet the demand. During the service, these shawls and blankets are placed on the altar rail; at the end of the service, members of the congregation are invited to come say a prayer over them and tie a knot representing that prayer in the fringe.

Last week I delivered one of the knitted shawls to an elderly friend of mine who has been in the hospital for several weeks now. I told him about how it was made and that everyone at the church had prayed for him, and showed him the knots and told him each knot represented a prayer for his comfort and health. And I explained it was something soft that he could just have nearby to touch, sort of like a teddy bear, and it could wrap him in warmth if he needed it. Also it could be tossed to the side if he wished, until he wanted it close by again. We included a note with the prayer shawls too. He had a hard time expressing his appreciation as he tried to keep from crying. It was a good ministry, and will continue to be a good ministry.

I came home and enjoyed a delicious nap, something I've missed dearly lately. There's not a lot that is pressing for attention tonight, so I can enjoy some leisure time without guilt, something that is truly a blessing. I hope you have this kind of rest today, too.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Look what it's doing!

It's called "rain." We haven't seen it for a long, long time but I do believe I remember that's what they call it.

Can you see it?? There was enough here that I could leave a footprint on my porch! And I got a drop of rain on my sweater when I went outside! WOOT!

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

The James Frey controversy

Writer James Frey has run contrary to Oprah Winfrey by revealing that his book, "A Million Tiny Pieces," is not a factual memoir as he has represented it. In several instances, portions of the best-selling book have overblown the truth of Mr. Frey's addiction and recovery. One point in particular is his assertion that he was imprisoned for three months -- the truth is, it was a few hours.

The questions about the truth of his tale had been raised by www.thesmokinggun.com. Frey subsequently appeared on Larry King Live and was questioned about the discrepancies; Oprah called in to defend him.

Since then, Oprah has further investigated Frey's manuscript and withdrawn her support of Frey. Now she is on the warpath, knowing she was intentionally duped.

Questions she and others have raised: Why wasn't it written as a novel? Why did he sell this book as a memoir?

Today's episode of Oprah will further deal with this as Frey appears again on the show to defend or explain his decisions. (The morning broadcast in some areas was interrupted by the President's address.)

Bottom line: Tell the truth if you're claiming that the piece you are writing is "the truth." If you're not writing a truthful account of the facts, label it as fiction or a "novel based on facts." Don't lie. Don't deceive your readers.

Isn't that part of recovery, anyway?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Some color -- For Einar

I don't want Einar to think that my life in the kitchen is colorless, in shades of black and white only.

Though the photos didn't show it as well as it might have, one side my glass-front cabinets are filled with cobalt blue glass dishes and pottery that I've collected in my travels.

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On the other side I have ruby red dishes and assorted accessory pieces. They are such a dark red they may look black in the photo since they don't have light coming through them.

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I have a lot of colorful textiles I use in the kitchen -- aprons and tea towels. Here's just one example -- the newest of my aprons. This fabric is called "Fruit Cocktail."
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And here are some new serving pieces I just got (don't look at my fat little hand.)

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

And God laughed

Sometimes I think God must have a real sense of humor. Remember some of us have talked about "signs" recently?

Well, today I've really been down in the dumps (it's that Jan. 24 thing...) I've been watching American Idol, wasting a couple of hours. And I started thinking I wish I could find some sort of motivational help to pull myself up out of this funk I've been in about my life.

I hadn't checked the mail today, so I just went to the mailbox and there's a letter from a Realtor I've met with a couple of times for business. Nice lady. There was a little note from her.

"I pray you will 'Be Moved' beyond your wildest dreams and that this year proves to be your best year ever. And remember ... don't just wish for it, go out and make it happen!"

She signed it "Be Moved" with her name.

Also in the envelope was a copy of this story:

1000 Marbles

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the basement with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time.

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind. He sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whomever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”.

I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say. “Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you’re busy with your job. I’m sure they pay you well but it’s a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. Too bad you missed your daughter’s dance recital.”

He continued, “Let me tell you something, Tom, something that has helped me keep a good perspective on my own priorities.” And that’s when he began to explain his theory of “a thousand marbles”.

“You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.” “Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now stick with me, Tom, I’m getting to the important part.”

“It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail” he went on, “and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays. I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy.”

“So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round-up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside of a large, clear plastic container right here next to my gear. Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away.”

“I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.”

“Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure if I make it until next Saturday, then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.”

“It was nice to meet you, Tom. I hope you spend more time with your family and I hope to meet you again here on the band. 75 year Old Man, this is D9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!”

You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. “C’mon honey, I’m taking you and the kids to breakfast.”

“What brought this on?” she asked with a smile. “Oh, nothing special, it’s just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids.” “Hey, can we stop at a toy store while we’re out? I need to buy some marbles.”

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The Kitchen is CLEAN!

Welcome to my kitchen! I spent all afternoon cleaning it. Now it sparkles and shines! It smells like an Almond Butter Pound Cake because that's the candle burning in there now that it's clean.

It's a small kitchen -- 7 x 15 feet. I wish I had more storage space. That's on my wish list for my "next house." Yeah. It is. (I have a long list and no money. Meanwhile, I love my kitchen as it is.)

So here we are:

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And now, for some reason, I am STARVING! Must find food!

Could it be.... Spring Cleaning?

Today I am spending time on my nest. It's a major cleaning day to set things right here at home.

It could be this non-wintery weather we've been experiencing or just a need to purge the unnecessary things out of my life. I may even do some blog cleaning -- or find more topics to rise to the top.

So far today I've done three loads of laundry while working on the kitchen. Definite progress is being made. I just want to get it done, get it done, get it done.

I'm working in shifts of about 1 hour labor, 10 minutes of break.

I did myself an injury yesterday, more to pride than anything else. I fell full-force on my knees after missing a step at a house where I was doing an interview. My black pants, which I had put on straight out of the dryer about an hour earlier, now have green knees from the paint on the porch. On the way home I got something to drink at Sonic. I managed to pour a great amount of it on myself as I was getting out of the car at home. Mis-er-a-ble day it was.

Well, back to the scullery, right after I do another laundry flip-flop.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Which religion?

Lifted from E.R. over at Erudite Redneck. Take the quiz yourself and see what you get -- are you surprised?

You scored as Christianity. Your views are most similar to those of Christianity. Do more research on Christianity and possibly consider being baptized and accepting Jesus, if you aren't already Christian.
Christianity is the second of the Abrahamic faiths; it follows Judaism and is followed by Islam. It differs in its belief of Jesus, as not a prophet nor historical figure, but as God in human form. The Holy Trinity is the concept that God takes three forms: the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Ghost (sometimes called Holy Spirit). Jesus taught the idea of instead of seeking revenge, one should love his or her neighbors and enemies. Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross to save humankind and forgive people's sins.



















Which religion is the right one for you? (new version)
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Tuesday, January 17, 2006


It's Tuesday night and AMERICAN IDOL starts NOW!
No meetings for me (hooray!) so I'm catching the first show of the new season with the auditions -- good, bad and ugly.

I'll be glued to the tube for the next couple of hours. Hope the rest of the world continues to turn without me!

Friday, January 13, 2006


I am so glad to see this week saying farewell, even if it is Friday the 13th. This is kind of a tough week of transitioning into the new year.

I've been struggling with emptying out my old computer, transferring the keepers to an external hard drive. And then I've been disconnecting my oldest computer and the router. I'm too old and fat to be crawling around inside an armoire disconnecting cables! So the tower of my sick computer is now on top of my work space rather than in the cubby. Thank goodness for USB ports on the front of computers!

Anyhoo, I have about 9 miles of excess cables and cords now. And Every. Single. Piece. Of. Paper in my office has been moved to the dining room table. I must find my Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works discs before I have my sick computer erased. This will be my weekend project.

Throw in extra time on the road, church meetings and hospital visits and it's been a full week. The good thing was having dinner Tuesday night with my friend J.T., who was in town for a meeting. (He still needs to answer the 7 Meme.)

I'm so glad it's Friday. I'm vegging out this evening with a frozen pizza and crappy television. Ahhhhhhh.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


We have SNOW! Yes! It's just a thin frosting of white, but it's laying all around like a natural fire extinguisher!

No, I'm sure it's not nearly enough to register any significant moisture, but at least for today, perhaps, the grass fires will take a break. YAY!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Knock knock -- is this thing on?

Well, I'm tentatively back online -- with a new laptop. The desktop will be going to see the computer doctor soon. It's a little tricky getting used to a new setup and keyboard. I broke down and installed the mouse through one of the USB ports because I cannot stand the little touchpad thing. I find myself bumping function keys and having everything disappear on me -- I will have to adjust where my hands rest!

Back to the grind -- just wanted to check in, say hello and hope that things are going better for you than they have been for me!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Time Out

I'll be scarce for a few days because of computer headaches. Things have gone from normal to bad and then worse. Today the computer has learned a new trick -- it has decided to just turn itself off. It's been randomly shutting down programs for a week or more, but now that's not enough to satisfy its need for power. Nope, not at all. Now it's saying "bye!"

So I have ordered a new laptop, which I should have in a few days. After it's ready, I'll take the PC in to have it wiped clean and start from scratch having Microsoft reloaded. I'm excited at both prospects!

Until I've got my new machine and get the old one up and running again, I can't make any guarantees about being online. My work comes before playtime, like everyone's, but things are currently too erratic to get my work done. And that makes more than me anxious.

So... I'll try to check in, but if you miss me for a short while, you know the story now.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Shamrock is burning

Once again wildfires are burning the little bit of what's left of Shamrock, OK, basically a little ghost town in Creek County.

Today the old school burned to the ground.

There may not be more than a handful of people still living in Shamrock, but it is important to me. Much of my family history centered here.

Shamrock was a boom town during the oil boom of the 1920s and 1930s. My grandparents worked and lived on the oil lease, where they raised a family of six children, including my dad.

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The Museum in Shamrock, OK. (2001)

In my lifetime there's never been much to the town, which at one time had up to 30,000 residents overnight. There's one two-story building in town, painted bright green. It's most recently been a "museum" of sorts, but that's a whole different story.

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Postman at the Shamrock Post Office. (2001)

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The Shamrock Volunteer Fire Department. (2001)
There's small volunteer fire department; a post office about the size of my living room, and a bar.

And a cemetery.

There are two days during the year which swell the population of Shamrock considerably. One, of course, is St. Patrick's day. Rather, it's the Saturday before St. Patrick's day; anyone who wants to come can be in a parade, or watch it. There's usually some sort of community meal, maybe a few activities for kids.

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Say hello to my Dad, who is next to his brother and my grandparents at the Shamrock Cemetery.

The other boom day is Memorial Day, when the descendants of those who lived here gather at the cemetery. Now and then you'll hear one of the older survivors refer to the day as "Decoration Day." Graves are tidied up and decorated with flowers and flags; tombstones polished to remove the red dust.

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The Shamrock jail.

There are bits and pieces of other structures -- car dealerships, banks, a jail -- all long gone. There's just enough left to identify what they used to be, decades ago, when people actually strolled along the sidewalks and Saturday nights were wild.

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Remnants of a former bank (2001).

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An early-day auto dealership.

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One of the last businesses of Shamrock; it looks like one day they just walked away and never came back.