Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Bernie is bigger!

Yesterday we had our second vet appointment. He has doubled in size in the past month, up to around 15 pounds. Hard to get a precise weight yesterday because he was feisty on the scales.

We had to wait an hour after we arrived for our appointment because a woman came in with a dog in distress. She was giving birth and one of the puppies got stuck. The vet had to do an emergency C-section on the dog; fortunately, all five puppies were delivered safely, alive.

I was a little crushed when the doctor insisted on securing payment before agreeing to do the surgery. That was $400 -- an expense the owner wasn't expecting and could not have anticipated. She was able to call a friend and a sister who were able to help her scrape together what she didn't have on hand. Still, I wonder if the vet would have turned her away and let the dog and puppies die! The good news is everything turned out fine.

After our wait, the vet was still tied up with the momma dog so the assistant just scooped Bernie up and took him back to the surgery room for his shot, and returned with him in just a couple of minutes. He got to see the new puppies and the mom that he had been hearing. Too bad he couldn't tell me about his adventure!

Just before we left the house for his appointment, Bernie managed to pull a Houdini move and wiggled his way out of the back yard again. He was sitting on the front porch -- this is the second time he's pulled that and the third escape to date. The middle time he ran down the street a few houses. I'm starting to think he may have a "girlfriend" in the neighborhood. Even if he doesn't know exactly what they are for. So he was muddy and messy when we went to see the doctor. Great impression... good thing most of the dirt falls off his coat.

Bernie also got an antihistamine when we got home because he had a reaction to his first shots. I know he got a good nap in while I went to get my hair done.

I eased my trauma of the day with a mocha latte at the local bookstore/coffee bar and picked up a copy of a book I've been hunting for a while. The weather has turned dramatically colder, so I hope to stay home tonight, heat up some soup I made in the crockpot yesterday, and veg out with the book. One thing I will never run short of is reading material.

My goal for this season is to sort through all my magazines and recycle everything possible from the stacks and stashes in the house. They must go! But you know how you always fear throwing out that ONE magazine that might have incredibly important or useful information! I've got two weeks to flip through and make sure I didn't use a $20 as a bookmark in any of them. Santa won't come until the magazines are GONE.

I'm about ready to bundle up and head for the house. I'm supposed to stay for another 45 minutes but I somehow am not feeling so inclined to do so.

Hope you're all fairing well with winter and the stresses that come with December. Stay warm!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A progress report

Bernie -- that's Mr. Woodward Bernstein Bryant -- now weighs 8.8 pounds and had his first round of puppy shots yesterday.

Unfortunately, he did have a bit of a reaction and I had to get him an antihistamine from the vet today. It is effective at knocking him out, so I should sleep well tonight -- and so should he.

Since I got Bernie, I've been crashing much earlier in the evening. I feel like an old woman, but lately I'm in bed by 8:30 on most nights. It's almost 7:30 now, and I would be happy to turn in right now. Makes me feel like I don't have a life, in some aspects. In other ways, however, life is opening up again.

Bernie is smart and strong. He learns new things every day and accomplishes new stages of development.

Over the weekend I worked out in the yard quite a bit, with his help. I was pruning limbs and he helped take the sticks to the brush pile. He's such a good helper!

Once we get past his need to nip at me every waking second we're together, I think things will be much better. Most of my gashes are healing nicely.

Next time I'll post some new photos -- my card is not handy or I'd download them now. Soon -- I promise!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

OMG I have a new puppy!!!

Or rather I will have a new puppy in a couple of weeks. He came to my office today with a couple of nice ladies, along with one of his brothers.
I'm taking suggestions for his name (looking for a name that would be appropriate for a journalist's dog.) Feel free to leave your favorite in the comments section.

Here's his photo. Isn't he wonderful??? I have a new puppy!!!


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Progress! Yes, it continues!

My kitchen is in pretty good shape. Dishes washed -- all but a very few -- countertop clear and clean. Food cabinet cleared out. I've even cleaned things I plan to put in a garage sale.

Now I'm working on my bedroom. This evening I've flipped and turned the mattress, dusted the nightstands, put on a clean mattress pad and linens, and swiffered under the bed. Somehow one pillowcase wasn't folded into the sheet set so I have to find it.

I'm also clearing out the magazines. I just found a Halloween issue of Country Living on my hope chest. I thought it was last year's issue, but NO. It is from ... 2004. Three years before I moved here! GAH! I've been working on clearning out magazines for a couple of months, taking an armload to work to recycle every couple of weeks or so. Looks like I still have some work to do on that front! At least I have slowed the incoming magazines by not renewing subscriptions and not making impulse buys. I am an absolute sucker for magazines -- or should I say, I am an absolute sucker for magazine cover photos. I love the pretty pictures!

There has been a lot of clearing out in my house over the past week or two and it is good. Last night I cleared years of old paperwork off the dining table. Still more work to do there, but I am so pleased to release this clutter.

And yesterday I mowed the lawn. It took me just an hour to do both the front and back yards, and I was taking the mower back to the garage as the first raindrop fell.

I was rewarded with a hot shower, a good solid nap, and then dinner with old friends. All in all, a nice day, considering I worked from 9 to 2.

Today I made another step and visited a new church. I was so pleased to find a church that had all the best qualities of my former church in Oklahoma City. I will definitely visit again, but I also hope to visit some other churches.

Back to the mucking out. More to do tonight before I go to bed. Hope your Sunday has been a good one.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Getting Ready

Following up on my last post -- I've made a list and checked off most of it this weekend, slowly but with determination, as I've had the energy to do it.

Time-wise, I'm a little off kilter from not working for five days (combination of illness and the long weekend, which, for once, I had off.) My sleep schedule has been thrown off from sleeping late and napping when I needed to do it.

However, I've made some good progress in the paring-down department. Unintended, I wound up cleaning out 2/3 of my canned food because it was out-of-date. I was stunned. Some of it expired before I ever moved here, two years ago. What's left now fits on one shelf of the cupboard and I will be keeping a careful eye on iy, making sure I use it before it expires, too. And I've learned I don't need to stock up on things I won't use right away. I can buy what I need, when I need it.

I've made grand progress on cleaning my kitchen, with the dishes 97 percent clean (I found some crystal pitchers and stuff when I unpacked some of those boxes and those still need to be cleaned.) Stuff like that also will be going in a garage sale or charity donation within the next month -- one way or the other. I won't wait forever to have a garage sale. If it works out, and I make a buck, great. If not, I'll donate this clutter and get it out of here and feel free and wealthy knowing I don't have to hoard things. They do not make me happy and I do not need to surrender my space to things I do not love.

I should go to bed now because I don't exactly know what I'll be facing tomorrow when I return to work. I have a very negative vibe about it -- I hope I am wrong and that things are just back to business as usual. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Slowed, but making progress

I've been slowed down by illness this week, missing work on Thursday and Friday. I had a very few minutes here and there to do a couple of loads of laundry and a little tidying up after my sick self -- certainly not the progress I have wanted to make.

Today, I still am not back full steam, but I'm at the point of MAKING myself move out of necessity. I had to get out to the pharmacy today to get my insulin refilled because they will be closed on Monday and I'll need my new supplies before then.

However, I've made some huge, major progress today, too. I went through four boxes that have been stacked in the corner of my kitchen since I moved in two years ago. These were boxes that my friends packed for me at my old house, so I wasn't sure what I would find once I got into them.

Amazingly, I found myself.

I found the self who, on a day's notice, picked up and moved to New York for two months on a fellowship while I was in graduate school. I found the photos I took there; the work I did while at United Media Enterprises. Good stuff. Stuff I am still proud of 25 years later. OMG, did I just write 25 years??? OMG!

I found photos from a trip to Florida to go deep-sea fishing in 1997. Another memorable trip on the Emerald Coast -- not just because of the seasickness while we were out on the boat, but the incredible restorative powers of the white sand and blue-green water. Incredible.

And I found photos from the most incredible trip I ever took, to Switzerland, in 1997. I cannot begin to describe any part of it -- the beauty, the scenery, the society and culture. I could not do it justice in a blog post.

Most of all, I would be ill equipped to describe a deep personal change that took place one night during that trip. Briefly, I had gone out one night after our tour of the day was finished, just to walk and take in more of the city. I tend to wander alone when I travel because I gain so much from it.

I stopped at a sidewalk cafe for a "Coke Light" so I could watch the people and just enjoy the night. One of my traveling companions happened to find me there a few minutes later -- an older man who was on the trip recording a radio program.

He stopped to visit with me and we had a profound conversation -- rather, he talked and I listened. He said he had been observing various people on the trip, me included, and wondered what the burden was that I was carrying around with me. He said that although we had only know each other for the few days we were on the trip, he sensed great potential that was being held back by an unresolved sorrow.

I started to laugh it off as some conversation starter -- not quite a pickup line, not quite the hocus-pocus of a fortune teller. But he persisted, saying that one of his gifts was discernment, a gift he had from being the seventh son of a seventh son.

It might still have been idle conversation, but it unlocked a truth in me that I had been suppressing. Family concerns had kept me from going as far as I might have, even with these occasional mountaintop moments. In fact, it was just a matter of weeks after this trip that my brother died and my mother began her final journey over the next couple of years.

Today's rediscovery of those bits and pieces of my past also hammer home to me that I may have had unfinished business a couple of years ago when I moved back to my hometown, but that is long finished and it is time for me to move on to my own next chapter.

Recently my boss, in anger, told me that my opinion on a matter wasn't welcome, and if I didn't like it, I didn't have to be here.

Truer words were never spoken. It's time for me not to be here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Digging In to Dig Myself Out

I started writing this in response to Tech's blog post tonight. His struggles are some that really resonate with me right now -- health issues/insurance inadequacies; feeling like our life's sparks have been burned down to embers and not being able to find our inner selves.

When I get in this state, I recognize now that it is reflected in my environment. Not sure which comes first, the chicken or the egg -- or the shattered sense of self or the mess. I know not everyone lives this way, so what I'm writing may or may not resonate with you.

I am fighting my way out of this quicksand that is so ready to swallow us up. One tiny project at a time. Tonight I realized my house was looking like one of those houses on hoarding shows that are so disgusting you wonder how anyone can live like that. Then I realized -- I CAN'T live like that. Not any more. So I watched one of the episodes of the A&E show Hoarders online (since I can't @#$@#$ afford cable to watch it on TV).

While I watched, I filled up two trash sacks with junk. I've put all my current mail in one place. Small baby steps for me. But then I realized I also made some steps over the past several days by working on my kitchen and bathroom -- I just didn't realize that I was systematically starting on this mission already.

This has been a longtime struggle for me. Over the years I've battled this with the help of FlyLady ( and SHE (Sidetracked Home Executives.) It's one of those things that keeps coming back to dance with me, though.

Like the people in the hoarding shows, I start finding myself making excuses for all the clutter around me. The yarn? It's so I can knit prayer shawls for people who need comfort or emotional support during a tough time. The fabric? I'm making a lot of my own clothes, but I also have big plans for making quilts for some of my friends. No, I haven't made any progress on that in three or four years, oh, but I will. And I have other fabric that's for making pillowcases for children with cancer, from another project I thought would be great to take on. Oh yes, I also have boxes of pillowcases that other people have sent me for this project. And a big stack of pillow cases that need to be washed, ironed and packaged for the project.

Then there is my laundry, piled up on the couch. Some needs to be folded and put away; some needs to be ironed. Some needs to be sorted to give to charity ... or to have a garage sale which I have been planning to have for two years and likely never will, because I can't be certain that I'll have a Saturday off to have one. (Lots of excuses, do you hear them all?)

Then there's a big black garbage bag that is filled with 2-liter plastic bottles that I have washed out to take to Wal-Mart to recycle. They are ready to go, next to a stack of other miscellany for that garage sale. There's also a box of books for the garage sale -- if they don't sell, I'll take them to the Friends of the Library for its ongoing sale, of course. Oh, and there's some shoes that I've been meaning to take to a co-worker who wears the same size. These are all heels which are too tall for me, but she might wear them or find someone else to give them to.

ENOUGH. I have had ENOUGH. I cannot live like this any more. All this stuff has to leave my house, and I mean NOW. Labor Day weekend is coming up in a few days, and this stuff better not be around come Tuesday morning.

I need to make some big changes in my life -- things like changing jobs and moving to a place that inspires me and draws me to be more fully alive. I can't make that next move with all of this JUNK weighing me down. I am at that point in my life when I need to live a leaner, cleaner, lighter life. This stuff does not define who I am, and it does not add one ounce of joy to my life.

Stay tuned for the Great Clean-Out 2009. And I'll try to tell you the rest of the story about why this came to the forefront today.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Dinner tonight

I'm marinating a couple of chicken breasts in plain yogurt. In a bit I will add some rice with a little water to the yogurt marinade, put the chicken on top of that and bake it at 350 for half an hour to 45 minutes. It's kind of a recipe I stole (and modified) from Drew Kime at "How to Cook Like Your Grandmother." He added fresh ginger to the marinade and I don't have any. I might add some ground ginger to it along with the salt and pepper, since I don't think Drew would hunt me down and thwack my hand with a measuring spoon for not using fresh. I sure hope he wouldn't drive all the way from Ohio for that!

Yeah, cooking season has started again at my house. I was getting tired of the nightly runs to Sonic or the other fast-food places, and of course my home cooking always tastes better than that stuff anyway, usually.

I just needed something easy tonight, and there's not a whole lot that's easier than putting chicken in a baking dish, plopping yogurt on top of it, putting the lid on the baking dish and letting it sit in the fridge while other stuff is going on. (I'm running some cleaner through the dishwasher, OK? We have very hard water here and it's time to demineralize the appliances. It's hard work.) Just a word of clarification -- Drew marinates his chicken for 8 hours, up to three days. Check out his blog for "Drew's way." I don't have that much time tonight.

I'll let you know how the chicken turns out. Right now, though, I think I'll get some salad because I'm hungry! Too hungry to wait for anything else!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I didn't mow!

I did not mow this weekend, and I think it's OK. The lawn hasn't grown much since last Sunday. I might see if I have a free evening this week to tidy up the front, though it really looks pretty good.

We've hit a cool patch -- Temps dropped down into the 60s this evening and there's a definite little coolness; it's almost cool enough for a long-sleeve light T-shirt. Darkness is creeping in noticeably earlier, too, closer to 8 p.m. than 9 p.m. If I say that my favorite season has arrived, I will jinx it and wind up with another long string of 100-degree days. I'll hedge my bets and just say I'm glad to have this preview of things to come.

I spent most of my non-working hours this weekend sleeping. I just seem so tired lately. I blame the diabetes, of course. When I woke up after an afternoon nap today I couldn't figure out what day it was. For a brief moment I thought it was still Saturday and was so disappointed when I realized it wasn't.

There are house projects I need and want to tackle, mostly of the cleaning/organizing/decluttering type. I'm not making any visible headway, but I am at a point where I am "almost" keeping up with dishes, at least better than usual. I do laundry often enough to keep clean clothes at hand every day, though I'd like to have all the different piles done and put away instead of lingering in strata like an archeology project. Scientists will be investigating my house for years after I'm gone trying to determine if this is a "fold" pile, an "iron" pile, a "wash" pile or a "give-away" pile. Maybe I should make signs. Or get huge boxes that are appropriately labeled so there's no guessing. Or, you know, just get stuff taken care of.

I promised myself I could watch a video tonight if I de-crudded the fridge, and I did, so now it's time to go make a selection from the six videos I rented tonight. Then I'll be back in my favorite place -- bed!

Here's wishing you all a good week ahead.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Thunderboomers take their toll

Last night's storms got a bit ferocious around here. We had some serious damage, less than a half-mile from my house.

And I slept through it.

There's a chance that the storms included a funnel cloud or two, based on what some people say they saw. But since it happened around midnight, it is difficult to say that those reports are reliable. Whether tornadic or straight winds, the damage was ferocious. There's a defined area that suffered heavy losses of old, old trees (which fell on houses and cars).

We got about 4.25 inches of rain in a 24-hour period, which brought with it localized flooding, too.

The winds, in whatever form they attacked, overturned vehicles, took roofs off a couple of houses, downed an electric transmission line, blew some structures off their foundations, destroyed carports and garages and generally caused mayhem. They even sent porta-potties scattering downtown.... yeah, nice landscaping!

Residents of the most affected areas came up with the same description over and over: It looked like a war zone.

I drove through the hardest-hit areas this morning and tend to agree with them. I have seen more damage, after an Oklahoma City ice storm and of course during the May 3, 1999 Oklahoma City tornado that went on for miles and miles.

You know what? That doesn't matter a bit to the people here who wound up with trees coming through their roofs and crushing their cars. Their losses are enormous.

I'll tell you a little secret, too. One of the people I interviewed this morning was a man I had known all through school, clear back to kindergarten. In fact, he was the first person I ever called on the telephone. After I watched a tow truck right his travel trailer (it had crushed an SUV when the winds flipped it on its side) I told him how good it was to see him, though I wished it had been under better circumstances.

His response: "Does it really matter, so long as you have the chance to get together again?"

Profound words from someone who has figured out what's really important in life.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One of those days

This has been one of those yuck days you'd like to be able to scrub off of yourself -- using sandpaper if necessary. Things just aren't sitting right.

We had great thunderstorms last night, so getting up was hard this morning. Then I got to work and found that my co-worker has marked the work calendar to take off the next four Saturdays. That would oblige me to work four Saturdays in a row -- I can't quite see myself working four weeks with just four days off, so I mentioned it to my boss, who agreed that was perhaps not the best plan.

Annnnnd then, the co-worker's dog died at lunchtime, so that discussion is off the table for a bit. I'm so sorry for her because I've met her dog, and it was a cool dog. And I know exactly what it's like to lose a beloved pet especially when a parent is sick, as hers is.

I'm trying not to be or sound heartless, but we've spent the past year trying our best to make accommodations while she has taken care of her mother, who has cancer and other health problems. We cover when she's had to drive to Oklahoma City for chemo sessions or when she's had to take time off for medical appointments and procedures. But there's not been even the smallest glimmer of gratitude -- rather, it's been more a parade of her misplaced rage that we've been handed in return.

I've been there and I know how isolating and overwhelming it is to be the caretaker for a sick parent, 24/7. I hope I wasn't without gratitude for the help I did get and the friends who helped support me during that time. If I neglected to thank anyone, I am sorry. I want you to know I wouldn't have made it through without you.

The day was rainy, off and on, which I love. I especially love rainy mornings and thunderboomers at night. We've got more tonight, so I will sleep well again.

Not much going on here because of that weather. I crashed hard on the bed when I got home and slept for a couple of hours. I've been daydreaming about a vacation, but that's all it's going to be with doctor and hospital bills being what they are. I might have a weekend trip to my aunt and uncle's farm in Missouri when the weather is consistently cooler. We'll play it by ear.

There's some nice thunder right now so I think I'll hit the sack and call it a night. I have not been feeling well for a while, so I know that has added to my limited patience. That's a sign I need to withdraw and sleep. Night, all!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fighting the yard

It was so much easier tonight, my struggle with the yard. I just mowed the front yard and it took me about 40 minutes, I would say. It wasn't terribly thick, but the grass had put up a bunch of those Y-shaped seed heads, so it looked bad.

It would be great if I had a weed eater or edger, but I do the best I can with the tools I have.

Last week was a huge struggle with the back yard. It had gotten both long and THICK, and the mower would die after a few strips and not restart until the following day. All in all, it took me four days to get it all done. Last Sunday I finished the last of it and actually was able to go over the whole lawn once more to even it all out. It still looks OK tonight, so I didn't "sweat" mowing it again. (hahaha).

I did spy a patch I missed next to the peonies, so I will have to get after it sometime this week, and do another once-over the whole yard just to keep a grip on things. I cannot let it get out of control again.

With each mowing, I've also been hauling limbs and branches to the alley to be picked up. There are a lot of trash trees around the property, and a lot of fallen branches from the huge oaks in the front yard with some of our recent heavy weather. I wish I could afford to hire someone with a chain saw and a truck to take them all out at once and haul them to the dump, but that is definitely NOT in the budget with all the medical bills I have sitting on my desk. I hate to think how bad it would be with a more serious medical condition!

Anyway, I keep chipping away at it, while it keeps growing back. I hold on to the truth that fall will come in the next couple of months and this foolishness will pause for a while. If I had the energy I would love to plant some fall flowers -- mums and pansies. I'm just not at all sure I can do it any more.

Whether or not I mow in the next day or so, I will have to get the Round Up out again and spray the patio before it is lost to the elements forever.

Aha! I just heard some thunderboomers moving in, and the windows just shook! I got the front yard just in time. I will sleep well tonight, no doubt. Here's hoping you do, too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Driving into the darkness

About 8:30 tonight I felt an overwhelming need to hop in the car and head to Sonic for a cold drink. I was also suffering from RSS -- restless spirit syndrome -- so after getting my cherry diet Coke I headed down the road to the highway and turned east.

As soon as I crossed the river bridge into Osage County -- which is also the Osage Nation Reservation -- I knew I was bound to fly through the darkness. The sun was setting to my back and the lights around me became fewer and farther between, until at last I passed the last green glows of farmhouse security lights and entered the total darkness of ranchland.

Every once in a while I'd encounter another car, but in the state's largest county with a small population, speed limits mean nothing and they soon disappeared into the blackness.

There's a freedom to being on the road, alone, in the night, especially on a weeknight when such foolishness is neither expected or well-tolerated by others. Yeah, I didn't much care. I was free and left my tiny boxed-in world behind for an hour or two.

Even though I couldn't see them after night sunk around me, I knew there were other beings out there in the rolling hills and tall grass. There are miles and miles of cattle ranches -- you can't always see the cattle but the nose never deceives you when they are out there somewhere.

And I know of ranchers out there who keep herds of wild mustangs -- caretakers of the animals for the Bureau of Land Management. Hundreds, if not thousands, of untamed female horses (females only, to keep the populations under control) running wild and free. I may not be a mustang but I felt myself a kindred spirit with them as I followed the white line into the night.

Eventually I reached the end of my leash in a small town. Nothing there to see at night with all the stores buttoned up. I made a turn-around in the parking lot of a dollar store. Like a stone flinging from a slingshot I headed back through the darkness, less alone than before.

In the distance, I wondered how I had missed so many street lights lining the way; then as I got closer, I realized the "street lights" were really groups of cattle trucks bouncing along in convoy to some of the large cattle ranches. Their lights were arrayed in a single line because they were around a long curve and up an incline from me.

Two or three groups of trucks passed as I made my return. Not all were cattle trucks. I imagine some were from the major retailer in the area -- Wal-Mart -- and I felt a tinge of sadness as I imagined others were moving trucks taking families from my town and transplanting them to our rival city. There's a lot of bad blood between my town and the oil company that is shipping out 750 jobs. It was easy to forget that in the darkness, until the trucks rolled by.

Crossing back through the ranchland I noticed the sky was not quite all black as I headed west. There was a swath of navy blue just above the horizon, the last hint of any light from the day. And then, in a moment, even that was gone.

The next lights I saw were from the refinery -- the lone piece of the oil company that we've been told will stay here. I'm not alone when I say we have our doubts about how long that promise will be kept. Word is that in a couple of weeks we'll hear something different on that front.

The refinery torches have always been a marker on the prairie -- a nightlight for the town, showing travelers the way home from dozens of miles in any direction.

If the refinery leaves, too, I want to tell the town there's nothing to be afraid of in the dark. Come out and see.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

We need to talk

And what we need to talk about is prayer.

Some interesting things have been happening this week as a result of a revival at my church. I'm spending a good chunk of time thinking on them in my heart.

The evangelist for our revival was a man named Wesley Putnam. He's a fine musician, a fun story teller and all that. But most important, he's a man with a caring heart. (See his site at

Here is something I need to share with you.

The revival started a week ago Sunday with the morning sermon. I had about made up my mind that I wasn't going to come back for the evening services because Wesley talked about raising our children to know Jesus. Having no children, and having a bit of an attitude, I was having none of it. Until Sunday night, when I went back for the church supper and the evening service, despite myself.

And you know that God worked on my head as well as my heart. I wound up going to all the evening services, Sunday through Wednesday.

Tuesday night we had a really severe storm. I left the office at six after hearing a lot of sheriff's department traffic on the scanner talking about the severe weather with rotation west of town, heading my way. I walked out the door and was hit by the deluge. My umbrella turned inside out in the 10 steps from the door to my car. I struggled to get in the car and get the door shut.

I pondered skipping revival but dismissed the thought, mostly because the church was closer than my house. I drove the four blocks over to the church and sat in the parking lot for a few minutes because it was raining so hard. I couldn't see anything once I parked -- none of the cars that I knew were there from when I pulled in, none of the houses in the neighborhood, nothing but sheets of rain.

The wind was blowing at about 70 miles an hour -- enough to start rocking my car. I was afraid it could flip the car the way it was getting underneath and lifting it. So I decided to make a run for it. I thought I would be a lot safer if I could make it across the street and into the church.

Well, the wind nearly knocked me down and the rain was coming down in sheets, soaking me to the bone. The water that ran through the street was already knee-deep on me. I made it to the steps before my umbrella was destroyed. I looked like I stood in the shower in my clothes.

I was able to grab a sandwich in the fellowship hall and stood under the blower in the rest room to dry myself enough so I wasn't dripping. I was still completely wet, but at least things weren't clinging to me -- too much.

The revival service was pretty remarkable. But it's what happened later that really made an impact. I met up with my friend, who is the organist, after the service and we started talking. She's always been very sympathetic to me and truly is concerned about me, unlike anyone else in this town.

We were the last two in the sanctuary as we talked, and I rode in the elevator with her. It's a brand new elevator, but it moved incredibly slowly while we talked. We got a lot said before it made it down one floor.

Well.... the door opened on my floor and we stood there, face to face with Wesley, the evangelist who was doing the services. He was still wearing the costume of his character from his presentation. Sue, the organist, said "Wesley, this young woman is at a crossroads. I need for you to talk to her." And with that she pulled him into the elevator. The door closed and then the back door (into the sanctuary) reopened and we went to talk.

He listened to me -- really listened, as I summarized briefly what the last two years have been like. He acknowledged that I am a wounded soul. I told him how much I miss my friends, my old church and the fracture there, and my life before I moved here.

He agreed that it sounded like my life is there. And he told me that when he has been in similar situations, his best advice was to "follow the peace."

I immediately was struck with the release of tension throughout my body. He held my hands and prayed with me and told me he wants me to stay in touch. He gave me his e-mail address.

I went home then and got a hot bath and put on my nightgown, and felt good like I have not felt in a long, long time. There was no tension in my body and I felt completely at peace.

Then the power went out. Oh, the storm was long over, but a transformer blew and plunged my whole section of town into darkness. People were out in the streets with flaslights trying to figure out how widespread the outage was. I was forced to go to sleep early and slept like a much-loved baby.

The next morning I asked God to give me a sign confirming what I believe I'm being led to. The sign I asked him to give me was a definite improvement in my blood sugar test that I was getting ready to do.

Now, for months my blood sugar in the mornings has been floating between 250 and 280, consistently. That Wednesday morning it dropped to 205.

The next morning it was 180.

Nothing has gotten these numbers to budge for months -- not starting insulin, not changing and increasing my insulin, not changes in oral medications or anything else.

My levels have bounced around a bit since then, but there is an overall downward trend in the numbers, which is good. It was under 200 again this morning, by a significant amount.

So why am I sharing this story, other than for the fact that I think it's pretty cool? Because I want to talk about prayer.

That simple prayer with Wesley was different, and powerful, and personal. It lasted for a very short time, but had more impact than any pastoral prayer in any service; any call to worship; any benediction that I've ever heard in any church. Why? Plain and simple because it was one person asking God to help another person. No pontificating.

Too often people mistake prayer for a public forum to tell other people what's what. They use it to further their personal political agenda. They use it to make people listen to what they have to say, instead of having a two-way conversation with God, which includes shutting up and listening.

This was intercessory prayer -- effective intercessory prayer. As the beneficiary of it, I know that I WAS HEARD. Not just by God. God always hears, even when all we can utter is a groan. He always hears. No, what made this different is knowing that Wesley heard me -- even through the 1-minute Cliffs Notes version of my distress. He heard me -- he listened without interrupting, even at the end of his very long day. He could understand my pain, my wounded spirit, and identified with me.

And he said that in the times in his life when he's also felt himself at the crossroads, the best advice he had was to follow the peace.

We all of us need to be heard. From one heart to another. The next time you have a chance to pray for someone, don't settle for repeating something someone else has printed. We don't need a lot more corporate prayers, no matter how much we might agree with the cause du jour.

What we really need to do is listen to the needs of our fellow humans. It's about connecting with someone and HEARING them, understanding them, and THEN asking God to work in specific ways in their lives, to meet their needs and ease their pains. After all, PEOPLE is what this whole Christianity thing is about -- individuals who need to connect with one another and with God.

To Wesley: Thank you for listening. I am praying for you, too.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I'm Alive!

Thanks for asking, Tech. I'm still here and alive.

It's the time of year when I find myself staying inside the house more and more, trying to stay out of the killer heat. So, basically, it's work, home, sleep, work, home, sleep.

I need to get out and fight the lawn again. Finding the optimal time is critical, however, I have to work it in around the odd schedule of thunderstorms, which leave the grass and ground too wet for mowing; my work schedule, which includes too much weekend and evening time to leave time for mowing; and my chemically enhanced inability to tolerate heat and/or sunlight.

Add to that a wicked propensity to recurring leg cramps and extreme fatigue from the diabetes and you can figure that leave me about 15 minutes a week for yardwork -- at 3 a.m. alternate Thursdays.

I've been on the new combination insulin for a few weeks and have seen some small improvements in my morning blood sugar numbers. However, today I tested a couple of hours after lunch (and a nap, so undoubtedly my liver dumped out a bunch of sugar while I slept). Yeah, not so good. It was 415 at that point. I've only had one reading higher than that. These are scary numbers, if you don't know. But I feel "normal." Having some vision problems, but that's the only physical indicator I have that things are still sccrewed up.

Also I'm taking a mega-dose of Vitamin D once a week. A prescription formula of 50,000 units of vitamin D in a little green gel cap on Wednesday mornings. They only dispense these 4 at a time. Needless to say the medicine-taking routine is now at the point of being a ridiculous ritual. One pink, two yellow, one large white, one small white, a morning injection, an evening injection, another large white, and a greenie on Wednesday. And an occasional purple. GAH! Oh, and blood testing once or twice a day.

This doesn't even get into the food rituals of counting carbohydrates, etc.

Just the mental gymnastics that are required to keep all these plates in the air keep me from having the energy to focus on better things.

And I'm real certain I've just recently posted the exact same post.

In something completely unrelated:

The parable of the Prodigal Son has come up too many times recently to be mere coincidence. I think it would be safe to say I have heard four sermons using this as the text in three weeks. Each focused on a slightly different meaning to the story; however, it's resonating with me that I'm in need of "going home." I know where home is, and I need to get back to it. And soon. Where I am is not home. I will elaborate more when I can get myself back on the path to where I need to be. Sorry to be sort of cryptic but "the plan" for "going home" is not solid enough now to make public. Your prayers, however, are always appreciated for discerning such things. I've screwed up enough on my own.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Conquering the plant world

I'm in the midst of a glorious four-day weekend. I believe this is the first I've had in two years, so I am enjoying every possible second of it! I hope you are too!

I've put in a considerable number of hours working on the lawn since Thursday, trying to catch up with the mowing, and the watering, and the trimming, and the pruning, and the Round-Up-ing (not a verb, but go along with me here, please.) I've got more to do tomorrow, weather permitting. Not a lot, but it could be a lot if I were so inclined, which I am not. I just want to get to the point where Code Enforcement doesn't slap a red tag on my front door again. Which means some more pruning and catching a few strips I missed with the mower while the sun was setting Thursday night.

So there's one attack on the plant kingdom, conquering the suburban lawn. Why did I want to live in a house again? I wasn't built for this kind of work. I'm not good at it and I never get to the point where it is done and well done. Maybe it's time for me to rethink this "life" style. I need a condo with someone else responsible for the grounds. Yeah.... and a masseuse. And a weekly pedicure.

Anyway, today I conquered another side of the plant world with an early morning trip to the farmer's market -- yeah! they were open on the 4th of July! And it was raining!

I woke up early and planned to lollygag in bed listening to the rain falling on my freshly cut grass. Oddly, though, sleep eluded me, which it never does. It's getting sneakier. So I got up, went to breakfast and headed to the farmer's market where I made quite a haul. I couldn't believe how many folks set up in the rain, but they have tarps they set up over their tables. I'm glad they do.

I walked away with a mess of green beans, a couple of tomatoes, some red potatoes, a candy onion, a couple of yellow squash and four peaches.

When I got home I decided to have a garden dinner today for lunch, and so I made up a recipe. Here it is, and let me just say I'll be making it again and can recommend it to you:

4 red potatoes, scrubbed free of the garden mud and cut into bite-size chunks.
1 sweet onion, diced.
2 yellow squash, washed and sliced into 1/2 inch slices. Halve or quarter the biggest slices so they are fairly uniform.

Put the veggies in a foil-lined roasting pan.

In a bowl, melt two to three tablespoons of butter; add about two or three tablespoons of good olive oil.
Add a good teaspoon of kosher salt
Add a teaspoon of fresh-ground pepper
Mince three cloves of fresh garlic and add to the mix. Give this all a good stir to mix. Pour evenly over the veggies; toss and turn to coat well.

Pop this into a pre-heated 450 degree oven for 30 minutes; remove, stir and cover with grated Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven; turn the heat down to 350 and let it settle for about 10 more minutes to let the cheese make friends with the veggies.

Remove from oven; resist the urge to start eating this until it cools down to the point of causing lethal burns. Once it's safe, enjoy!

I had a huge plate full of this for lunch and grazed on it the rest of the day, finishing the last of it off for supper.

Then for dessert, I took the four peaches....

Dip the peaches in boiling water to loosen the skins, then plunge in ice water. The skins will slide right off. Then slice and pit the peaches and put the slices in an oven safe baking dish (I used pyrex). In a small bowl, mix about a 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a tablespoon of nutmeg and a tablespoon of cinnamon (all approximate. Do it by smell so you have a nice spicy-sweet mix). Sprinkle it over the peach slices, then throw on some of your favorite nuts. Pecans would be ideal; I had blanched sliced almonds which were also good. Walnuts also would work great.

Bake at 350 (the oven is still on, remember?) for 15 to 20 minutes, until the brown sugar has melted and mixed with the juices from the peaches.

Again, refrain from eating this until the danger of scalding burns has passed. This is great in a bowl ... with a little vanilla ice cream on top. All melty wonderful, kind of like pie a la mode without the crust.

If you're diabetic, be sure you figure out your carbs first. I can't be responsible for backsliders. I can only tell you these things made my holiday a happy one!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I went to the doctor and the doctor said....

Hi folks! The series I promised you about the inspirational people in my life is still cooking and mulling around in my mind. However, I've been a little distracted with some heavy duties at work. A short summary of one week: College president faced the regents in a challenge by some staff members; restaurant closed by health department after a lengthy legal battle, with the largest fines ever assessed; 21-year-old shot to death and subsequent family battles; and all the normal, everyday ordinary stuff on top of that.

Oh, and I had to go to the doctor today.

The insulin I've been using wasn't doing the job to bring my blood sugar down, even at a bumped-up dosage. Today she changed me to a different insulin, which is a mix of long-acting and fast-acting insulins. I'll be giving myself two shots a day instead of just one; testing twice a day and oral meds twice a day.

She said that my pancreas has just "pooped out." Whoa Nellie, that's not something you want someone, especially a doctor, to tell you about your innards. Anyway, we're going to work hard to take the load off that ol' pancreas and try to keep the rest of me from "pooping out" too.

Last week I went in to have lab work done. Well, guess what. They lost one of the vials of blood so they didn't get the tests done that they wanted to have done today. So ... I had to give up another blood sample.

They did run some of the tests. And it seems that I also have another little problem that I wasn't expecting. She checked my Vitamin D levels. She told me that they consider someone is doing pretty well if their levels are about a 30 or better. Well, being the underachiever I am, I have a level of just 15. Huh. I got a D on my "D!" So instead of taking summer school, she's going to make me take a makeup D once a week in a mega dose. Great, another pill to swallow along with the diabetes pills, the high blood pressure and cholesterol pills and the blood thinner pill.

At least this explains the leg cramps! They have been fierce since the heat has rolled in. And frequent! OWW!

Let's see... I believe that's all of this organ recital. Nothing is as boring as reading about someone else's health complaints, and for that I apologize.

I could have told you about the killer vines that ate my back gate. Maybe I'll tell you that story tomorrow. You'll just have to come back and see, won't you?

Friday, June 05, 2009

A new series

I'm going to be working on a new series of blog posts titled "Inspirations." These will be about real-life friends who inspire me with their creativity and positive approach to life.

One thing I've noticed about these inspirations is that their lives are not defined by their jobs, solely. In fact, in most cases their jobs, while important, are a relatively small part of who they are.

I've been reflecting lately on all the great people I know who have wonderful talents for music, photography, writing, community service and other avenues. I'm really blessed to know such great people, especially when my own life feels like it is taking a "time out." Even better -- these great friends of mine really don't see these talents as any big thing. Their gifts are just such a natural part of their lives that they don't recognize them as being profound.

Stay tuned to this blog. I'll start this series this weekend. I'm looking forward to sharing these people with you.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

OK, that was what, a couple of months?

Guess what? It seems I've broken my addiction to frequent blogging!

Sorry about that folks. It has been a couple of months since my last update and I apologize for that. Lots of reasons, but no excuses.

I've gotten a lot of questions about how I'm doing with the insulin, and I have to say, not that well. It does not seem to be changing my blood sugar numbers one darn bit. I've had my dosage increased and still, nothing.

I do go back to the doctor's office next week for more lab work and then see the doctor the next week. We'll see what happens next. Clearly, we have not found the answer if all this medicine is just making my numbers go higher.

On top of the numbers themselves, I've just not been feeling hunky or dory. No energy to speak of.

I've been trying to get my house organized better but my lack of energy is making that slow going as well.

And because of that, I haven't done much of anything to write about. I've made a few trips to Stillwater, about 40 miles to my south, but that's about as far as I've traveled. My aunt has been pleading with me to come to Missouri for a visit for a LONG time now, so the next holiday I get probably will mean a trip up that way. I expect that will be for July 4 if I can, indeed, get more than two days off in a row.

Yes, that's one of the problems with my job. I still put in too many hours without adequate time off, but that is unlikely to change as long as I am here. So I just have to keep trying to get people to understand that only being able to count on having Sunday off puts a definite cramp in my ability to live.

Well, I wish I had more to update. It's past my bedtime and I'm sinking fast so I better just publish this for now and try to catch up more very soon.

It has gotten hot here, but it was cool today. I wouldn't mind more cool tomorrow!

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's been a few days

Giving myself the insulin shots has not been difficult. Just another routine to add to a day that already always seems overfilled. However, so far it does not seem to be reducing my blood sugar level, even with continuing my oral medications.

We started at 10 units injected at night -- the physician's assistant did say she wants to increase that to 20 units but wanted me to call her to report my readings after the first week, testing twice a day.

So... I get to stick myself once in the morning to test my early morning blood sugar, before breakfast. Then a handful of pills for different things with breakfast. Then at night I take another dose of the oral meds with dinner. Two hours after dinner I take my blood sugar levels again. Then before bed I do the insulin shot.

Stick, Stick, Poke! Sounds like a medical version of Duck, Duck, Goose! And it's not quite as much fun.

It's time for me to go to bed. I have to say I have enjoyed my three-day weekend for the most part. It was all spoiled this afternoon, though, when my very good friend Ron called me. He has been the music director and organist at my former church in Oklahoma City for about 20 years. He is an excellent musician with a powerful gift.

Well, he was calling to let me know he had just been fired. He has become the latest victim of a minister who needs to be removed for the sake of the church. A couple of months ago this minister engineered the firing of the director of adult ministries, who has done an exceedingly excellent job for about 10 years.

What's at the root of the problem? The minister can't keep his pants on in the presence of the church secretary, and everybody knows it. They have been caught with their "hands in the cookie jar" so to speak, many times. Yes, both are married to other people. So in a failed attempt to cover up their own moral weaknesses, they are resorting to setting up other people on the staff in a series of dirty tricks, forcing them to resign or forcing them to be fired if they will not resign.

Witnessing this has been devastating on so many levels. For those of you who pray, please pray for this situation.

As in all such situations, there is far more to this horrible story than I can convey in a single blog post. But as you surely can imagine, it is a painful situation for everyone in the church and beyond.

Everyone have a great week! Spring is on the way again.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Huh. I wonder why I was afraid.

Turns out the insulin shots are nothing. No big deal. The needle is tiny -- smaller than the lancet I use for testing my blood sugar.
I've successfully done the shots two nights in a row.

The thing I am semi-panicky about is that I've misplaced a package of two vials of my testing strips. That's about $50. I had to go to the pharmacy this morning to get more because I used the last of my known supply yesterday morning. You know what will happen -- I'll pay for the new ones and then tonight I'll move one piece of paper somewhere and I'll spot the ones I haven't been able to find. Meh -- I've had to do some mild house cleaning in my search, which absolutely is not a bad thing.

Oh, I'm a bit panicky about something else. I got my pay check today and only had one half-hour of overtime pay. I can't live on what I earn! I'm used to checks with a LOT of overtime (which I still can't live on, but at least I get closer.) I'll have to do some definite belt-tightening for the next couple of weeks.

We're expecting snow at the end of this week. It figures. We're supposed to have a city-wide garage sale day on Saturday and I've scheduled myself to be off work Friday and Saturday. Looks like I better get stocked up on DVDs, groceries and books and just plan to have a nice three-day weekend at home, alone. If it does snow they will postpone garage sale day to April 4. Not sure I can manage to be off two Saturdays in a row. Oh how I miss having two-day weekends off every week!

Time for lunch. Thanks to all of you who have responded to my posts. It is so good to "see" you all! Hope you have a great day!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Went to the doctor this morning

It was a mixed bag this morning at the doctor's office. Some good news (blood pressure and lipids are doing much better). And some bad news. Blood sugar is back up high; bad A1C results. The verdict: Insulin injections, starting tonight.

It's not something I look forward to, but it appears to be a necessity. Oral meds are not doing the job well enough alone and have some problems of their own (like... one is a sulfa drug to which I am allergic.) We'll see how this goes. It's good that I am not needle phobic. In addition to the nighttime injections, I will have to test twice a day now, morning and night.

Going to the doctor's office is a source of depression for me. The past three visits I have seen the physician's assistant. She is nice enough but for some reason I just don't respond well to her. The last time I was there I told her that I was depressed and wanted to move away from here. She basically told me to stop whining and go. Well, so far it hasn't worked out, but when I went in she said "Huh. I didn't really expect to see you. I thought you'd be gone by now." So, I started out feeling defeated because the economy is what it is, and I haven't been able to go someplace else. And I felt like she was rubbing my face in it. Oh well. I did get my prescription refills so I'll be set at the pharmacy.

I do have to call in and let her know what my blood sugar levels are each day for the next week so we can start calibrating the insulin dosage.

Next time I will see the doctor instead of the PA. She's really good with the tongue-lashings but at least she is more sympathetic which I consider a strong point for those in the medical field. Sometimes a person just needs a few minutes to feel like there is someone on their side.

I'm curious to see how the insulin injections go. I need to do some reading on the matter.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

You have to see the eagles!

If you haven't already looked in at Eagle Cam you need to. The first of the three eggs hatched this morning and both parents have been feeding it. At this moment there is a large fish in the nest and one parent is sitting on the two eggs and hatchling.

It is fascinating checking in on them. There are two excellent cams watching the nest so you get to see them from two angles. Go get hooked!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Well, you see, it's like this

It seems a lot of us bloggers have moved over to Facebook because we are too busy to be bothered writing thoughtful posts about meaningful topics, which was what prompted us to start blogs in the first place. So, we've been settling for one-sentence quick hits on non-topics instead. The fast-food of communication. Yeah, we'd rather accept meaningless requests from our "friends" to tend a plant that doesn't exist or "help save the rainforest" or "clean the ocean" without having to do a darned thing except click the right button.

Meh. There are aspects of Facebook that absolutely make me crazy. All those stupid applications that waste my time and do NOTHING. True enough, it can be a useful way of conveying a quick message to several people at the same time, or posting an interesting story to different groups of friends. But seriously, couldn't we do that with e-mail or a blog just as easily and with less frustration?

I don't know any more. Each communications "improvement" seems to take us so much farther away from our connections goals.

Anyway, I've been watching Eagle Cam for the past few days. You can see it here:

I did get to see both eagle parents eating a fish this evening, both standing up without being on the three eggs in the clutch. They are expected to hatch starting as early as tomorrow. Can't wait to see the babies over the next several days!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I didn't realize that most of a month has gone by since the last time I blogged! Now February is close to its end and tomorrow is Ash Wednesday!

I won't ask you what you're giving up or taking on during Lent this year. It's a highly personal thing. I would just encourage each of you to give it some thought. We're so used to hearing about the "giving something up" part that people have become very inventive about their sacrifices during this period of preparation. But somehow I think that giving up lima beans, liver or brussels sprouts kind of misses the point of this spiritual discipline.

Taking something new on also seems to be a more recent development in some churches as the companion discipline to sacrifice. Both components have their place -- for example: I give up disorder and take on steps to orderliness to bring peace of mind and also to make myself ready to help others. That's pretty much where my intention lies this year.

This came to me full force recently (See the Feb. 1 post) and I realized that my slobby ways aren't just a hindrance to me living my own life, but also curtail my ability to serve others. It keeps me from opening up my home and practicing hospitality, and it also prevents me from being prepared to act quickly in other situations, should the need arise.

So, during this Lenten season I will be working on this from both approaches, and through study. My study may not be a typical Cokesbury curriculum type study; there are several books that address certain components related to an overall spiritual discipline and response that have my attention right now. Maybe I'll blog more about them over the next few weeks, but at the moment I cannot promise that. I want to see how things develop before I make that commitment to anyone else.

One other thing -- I am working on getting more rest and going to bed earlier. And it's about time for me to make the trip to bed to end this day.

Bless you all and remember that Jesus loves you. Please take a second to say to yourself -- say it out loud -- "Jesus loves me." Use your name -- make it intensely personal. Say it and believe it, because it is the truth above all others.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Premio Dardos Award

Thank you to Jill of All Trades for this award!

Here's the text that accompanies it:

"This award acknowledges the values that every Blogger displays in their effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values with each message they write. Awards like this have been created with the intention of promoting community among Bloggers. It's away to show appreciation and gratitude for work that adds value to the Web"

Now I am supposed to select 15 other fellow bloggers to pass this award too and contact them. I am going to have to think about this.... I'll get back to you1

To Jill of All Trades


Hi! Does this look vaguely familiar?? I saw your post about your dad's place and did a double take!

Living Frugally

Or, Authentic Living.

It's authentic to live within our means. We're not putting on a misrepresentation of who we are when we stop spending money we don't have. It's real. I'm broke, I don't spend. I don't charge. I don't steal from my future for something today that will a) be gone before it's paid for or b) will be in the way of me living my life tomorrow.

I'm sure we've all tightened the belt lately. Not many of us can say we're better off today than we were as we celebrated the millennium (remember that? what a big deal we thought it was? Remember all the Y2K crap?)

Now, I am not advocating the hording of toilet paper and bottled water -- I think people who do have a plan of preparation and wise storage of resources probably have a great idea, if the storage for the future doesn't impair life today.

What I am advocating is common sense and reason. Live well, in all senses of the phrase. Plan for old age. Plan for illness. Plan for hard times. Don't waste. Don't throw away money. Don't waste your life.

Several of my blogging buddies have been posting about their budgeting efforts over the past several months. I'm pretty sure I have, too.

Now and then I'm going to start throwing out some ideas about how to cope with less money. Here's a short list of things I am doing. I know these won't work for everyone, but they have become a necessity for me as much as just a plan of coping:

1. Give up cable. I gave it up when I moved here in June 2007. I don't watch TV. Not only do I save the $40 or $50 or whatever amount that cable costs a month, but I'm also not exposed to advertisements for products I "just can't live without." Sure, I missed the Super Bowl ads, but I don't need to create a demand for Pepsi or Budweiser in my house anyway. (Just don't interfere with my Diet Coke habit and no one gets hurt.

2. Eat at home. One small blessing of living here is that I can come home for lunch. On average, that saves me $7 a day for lunch these days -- unbelievable! That's roughly $140 a month.

3. Cook instead. From scratch. It's fun, it's relaxing and man, doesn't it taste better than the other stuff? YES. It's also cheaper and probably healthier. (Do not look to me as a source for healthful eating information. Let me serve as your "horrible warning.")

4. Create energy efficiencies. Go green. Compact fluorescent bulbs save a ton of money. I don't use old-fashioned bulbs any more. Take advantage of "green" give-aways where these lights are given out as promotional items. They will last for years. Arbor Day and Earth Day are coming up. Find a group promoting either of these and there's a good chance you can get at least one free bulb.

5. Keep driving the old car as long as possible. Keep it in good repair. My old car is about to turn 14. It's been through a lot, especially this past year. It needs a tuneup and as soon as I have the cash, it's getting one. And it will probably go a while longer. At this point I have to think of necessary repairs in terms of "how many car payments would this be?" Say a repair is going to cost me, oh, $600. That's two payments (or less). If that gets me more than two more months of service from this car, I'm money far ahead. My tags and insurance are much cheaper, and I don't have to pay all that new car expense with tag and title and license. OK, so the radio's not so great. Big deal. I'm only in the car five minutes each way to work.

6. I sew. I'm sewing more again because a) I can't afford to shop. b) there's no place to shop where I live anyway. To make shopping worthwhile, I have to travel about 100 miles to a major city. When I go, I make the trip worthwhile. But I budget for it now. I keep a list of things I "need" and then try to make sure I have cash when those purchases become essential.

7. Sales. Don't be a dang fool. If you see something, it's going to be on sale in a couple of weeks for half or less of the price when it first comes out. Yeah, I'm cheap. I get $4 prescriptions at Wal-Mart, and while I'm there I scout out the clothes -- mostly shirts, sweaters and jeans. The jeans I buy are about $17. But the tops? I usually spend $5 or so, certainly less than $10. Last time I was there I spotted a shirt I spent $15 for a couple of months ago, marked down to $4. I've learned!

8. My latest product recommendation is Debbie Myer Green Bags. They paid for themselves the first week after I got them. They keep produce fresh for a much longer period of time. No mor icky science experiments in my fridge, plus having fresh food inspires me to find ways to use it!

More another time -- share your favorite money-saving approaches in the comments!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Trouble comes knocking

I got home from church and was on the computer for a few minutes when I heard a persistent pounding.

I went to the front door -- no one was there, but I looked to my left and an old woman was beating on the front bedroom window. She was standing out there with nothing on but a nightgown so I ran down to her to ask her if she needed help.

Bare feet, bone thin. Her hair was just a tangled mess and she had a huge bruise all around her left eye.

I wrapped my arms around her and helped her shuffle into my house to get her warm. The police came to my door before I even had a chance to get back to my bedroom to get her a robe and some slippers. A woman officer came in first and I ran to get the robe and slippers. Then she needed to go to the bathroom, so I got her back there to let her go. Then we put her on the couch and wrapped her up in a couple of throws.

A man officer came shortly after that, and then the woman's daughter showed up and was just ugly -- saying that her mother was spoiled and mad that she hadn't gotten her way and so now she is going to a home.

I told the daughter we were going to talk to her mother for a while so she could just leave. The officers just looked at her like "you heard her."

A third officer came also. He spent some time down at the daughter's house and then came to talk to the other two officers. Kristina, the old woman, stayed with me and I just held her and hugged her and rocked her and patted her and tried to get her warmed up.

I talked to her to get her talking. She is 86, about to turn 87 later this month. She has some confusion but there were some things she was able to tell me that were clear.

The officers spent a considerable amount of time down at the daughter's house, which is two houses south of me. Apparently they agree with me that the situation down there stinks to high heaven, so they will have Adult Protective Services check things out in the morning. They did, however, interview the daughter enough to feel confident the woman will be safe there until APS comes.

The daughter's story is that the woman fell in the bathroom a couple of days ago and that's how she got the eye bruise -- she fell into a doorknob.The male officer seems to give some credence to her story.

The woman is bone-thin. Even through the robe I could feel her backbone. I would be surprised if she weighed 90 pounds. And she had to go to the bathroom again before she left. Hate to be gross about it, but there was nothing in the toilet either time, which indicates she has not eaten recently. The officer said her daughter told them she was on a medication she started today that gives her diarrhea.

I gave both of the officers my card. Funniest thing was Kristine said "I don't want this in the paper" when we were putting her on the couch. I told her I could promise her that, then I turned to the woman officer explained who I am.

Kristine was probably here an hour and a half or so and was still bone-cold when they walked her back home.

I am so upset but I know that if APS can get her placed somewhere in either assisted living or a care home things will be better for her. Her daughter is not capable of being her caretaker at this point -- and if she didn't punch her this time, I know she will.

And I will state that I don't believe the doorknob story. If that woman didn't punch her mother, I'm a monkey's uncle.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

Several people have tagged me in their "25 things" both on Facebook and on their blogs, so here we go. I hope I can come up with 25 things!
1. I moved back to my hometown about a year and a half ago. I don't know why.
2. I am a reporter and cover city government and education.
3. I had a 15-year career at the state's largest newspaper, and freelanced for that paper for almost five years after I left.
4. I also worked for the State of Oklahoma for nearly 8 years.
5. I was held hostage near the end of the time I worked for the Department of Human Services.
6. I was exposed to the aftermath of a uranium hexafluoride release when I worked for the State Health Department and set off a Geiger counter after being assigned to take photos in an area around the plant in eastern Oklahoma. It was a mistake on the part of the guy running the device but it scared the pee out of me. Literally.
7. I was married briefly. There was nothing good or fun about it from the engagement to the wedding to the divorce. I got my divorce the day before my third anniversary but separated much sooner. Unlikely I'll ever do that again!
8. I am a musician. I have played the piano for nearly 45 years. Can you believe that! I also sing and play handbells, but I am on a break from those activities right now.
9. In 1984 I had a fellowship at United Features Syndicate in New York City for two months and lived in Manhattan.
10. In 1985 I participated in a symposium in Washington, D.C.
11. I went to graduate school but took a different job in another city during my last semester and did not finish my thesis. My area of study was new technologies and publication management.
12. I have done some travel writing which has included several trips. Most were excellent; most had some drawbacks.
13. In 1997 I went to Switzerland.
14. I am the "stump" of my family tree. Both of my parents and my brother have died. I have a few cousins scattered across the country; I routinely stay in touch with one cousin on my dad's side and a couple on my mom's side. Two of my mother's brothers are still living; I see one at least once a year or so. No husband; no children.
15. I like to sew.
16. I love to knit. The year before I moved here, I made more than a dozen prayer shawls.
17. I have been a DivorceCare counselor for several years.
18. I have been a GriefShare facilitator.
19. For several years I participated in "Christmas in April" which became "Rebuilding Together." I learned a great deal about home repairs from replacing siding and windows to building cabinets and doing minor electric and plumbing repairs and laying floors.
20. For 10 years I was the volunteer coordinator for the Red Andrews Christmas dinner in Oklahoma City. The dinner annually fed between 4,000 and 7,000 people.
21. Before I left Oklahoma City, I created a project at my church called the "Tie One On Chairity Auction" -- I had members of my church create aprons and decorate chairs which then were auctioned off to raise funds for Mustard Seed Development Corp. We raised several thousand dollars which was matched by a community grant from Wal-Mart.
22. I am a member of the United Methodist Church and serve on the board of directors of the Wesley Foundation at Oklahoma State University.
23. I attended the University of Oklahoma and was involved in the Wesley Foundation there.
24. I had a poodle named Fefe for 15 years. I loved her and I miss her.
25. I have to believe that my current situation is only temporary.

I don't have anyone to tag with this because everyone who would participate tagged me!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

God Bless the UNITED States of America

Following is the text of the benediction by Rev. Joseph Lowery during President Barack Obama's inauguration, as transcribed by CQ Transcriptions. God bless us, the UNITED States.:


God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, thou, who has brought us thus far along the way, thou, who has by thy might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path we pray, lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met thee, lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget thee.

Shadowed beneath thy hand, may we forever stand true to thee, oh God, and true to our native land.

We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we've shared this day.

We pray now, oh Lord, for your blessing upon thy servant Barack Obama, the 44th president of these United States, his family and his administration.

He has come to this high office at a low moment in the national, and indeed the global, fiscal climate. But because we know you got the whole world in your hands, we pray for not only our nation, but for the community of nations.

Our faith does not shrink though pressed by the flood of mortal ills.

For we know that, Lord, you are able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds, and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor, of the least of these, and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that yes we can work together to achieve a more perfect union.

And while we have sown the seeds of greed — the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economic disruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountain top, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together as children, pledging that we won't get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone.

With your hands of power and your heart of love, help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nations shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid, when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen.



I was very emotional today after hearing of Sen. Kennedy's seizure during the inaugural luncheon. Forty years ago, in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in April. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June.

As a 13-year-old political junkie, I had held great hope that the work of these two men as well as countless others would spell a new beginning for our nation. After the assassinations I had no idea what would become of those dreams.

It has taken us 40 years -- a symbolic number -- for this day to arrive. The inaugural parade was a panorama of all Americans who finally come together with all their voices heard. Lift every voice and SING!

I am so glad Sen. Kennedy was able to stand on the balcony and watch Obama take the oath of office as the President of the UNITED States.

Lord, indeed, help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right.

Monday, January 19, 2009

About my cartoon images....

The three cartoon images I've posted are edited versions of real photos of myself, altered through the fun-time magic of Photobucket. Here are the "real images" which I am not particularly eager to share, especially since the one makes me look like a dad-gum walrus.



Sunday, January 18, 2009

Good food at my house tonight

I've been making soup all day. The long-cooking, good for you, good for your spirit, good for what ails you kind of chicken soup you cannot get in a can.
The recipe is Here, at Posie Gets Cozy. This is Alicia Paulson's blog, but the recipe is made by her cute husband Andy.

I'm telling you, this smells SO good that a man walking into my door would want to marry me on the spot.

Of course, this soup takes a long time to cook. I haven't even gotten to taste it yet. I'm just now at the point where I've taken the chicken out and I'm letting it cool before I debone it and shred it.

Meanwhile, the aroma made me ravenous. I've been craving broccoli salad, so I've made that too, with the recipe from Here, at "How to Cook Like Your Grandmother" by Drew Kime.
Oh man. Drew can COOK. And he does it, all from scratch. No canned nothing, no frozen this or that, no artificial nonsense. Just good wonderful food. He also does not believe in secret recipes. I agree with him 1000 percent! Share the goodness, people!

OK I have to confess that I had to put away the broccoli salad before I ate it all. I think I polished off about half of it before I realized my gluttony. I have to save some room for the soup later, after all!

Make these recipes. Eat these recipes. Share these recipes.

Now, everyone say YUMMMMMmMMmmmmmmmmmm zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (Nothing like a good sleep after good food, after all.)

Thanks Andy. Thanks Drew. It's good to swap recipes with you guys. (Oh, you mean I have to share one of my own now? Hmmm. I'll be back.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nooo! No more speeches!

No more long-winded city meetings, please! Think of the children!


Life is more fun on this side!


Tech, I'd love to join you on the Walk to Jericho, but right now I'm stuck in my cartoon kitchen in my cartoon apron, and so far I haven't found my way out. Soon as I do, though, I'll jog along to catch up!

Right now I'm kind of enjoying a short break from what you call "the real world." It's kind of fun looking back at you from the flip side!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ohhh mah gudness

I have turned into a cartoon!


Sunday, January 04, 2009

A good day

I had a rather sleepless night because of sounds I heard outside my window. The final conclusion on my part is that the noises were caused by the wind, but they sure sounded like an assortment of other things: Cats doing the "dance of love;" electric toy trains, complete with the "woo, woo" whistle and the sound of the wheels on the snap-together track; mooing cows; and I would swear there was a bobcat in the mix. Not a single dang one of them was real. I heard them all through the night, to the point of waking up and wondering if I should go look outside. I voted no, until about sunrise, when I finally threw on my jeans and coat to see if there was an animal in distress or a circus set up outside my bedroom.

Nada. Not one single thing that I could pin the sounds on.

So, lacking the sleep I needed, I opted not to try to be presentable for church and instead decided to have some private devotional time at home, and focus in on some things which have been weighing me down in powerful ways.

Now that it's just after 10 p.m., I can report that it has been a successful day, with goals identified and steps taken to meet those goals. There remains some labor to perform, but now I have a clear course before me.

I also have a mostly clear floor around me, which was one of the huge issues with which I was struggling. In fact I was able to clear up piles and stacks of books, dishes, assorted mountains of paper and other stuff to the point where I could vacuum the dining room rug.

I also moved my computer off of the dining table. This is HUGE in ways I can only hope to explain. This has been a spirit-crushing intrusion on what I want for my life -- part of the way I define myself. That computer on the table has been a fortress which kept others at bay. If the table is covered, I can't invite others to dinner here. I cannot practice hospitality.

Now, the computer is on another table along the wall in the dining room. And guess what -- where I have it now, I don't have all the accompanying cords trailing all over, wrapping around me and choking the life out of me. That was another benefit that was nearly a surprise to me as I hadn't really thought about that part of it.

There is a divided shelf between my dining room and kitchen. Over the past couple of days I have cleaned it and organized some of my favorite objects on it. There are 16 separate boxes or windows on this shelving unit and 12 of them are pretty, now. My things are safely off the floor. Other dishes have been washed and stacked in the cabinet below.

I've been going through piles of papers, sorting out things that need to be shredded and separating out the papers that can just be recycled or thrown out. The purge is GOOD.

There's a certain energy that has returned to me. I've missed it and am glad to have it back.

No, I'm not finished with this work, but it's just great to see some progress being made.

Time to hit the hay so I can be ready to work tomorrow. I hope your new year is giving you the opportunity to make some personal commitments, too.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What a gorgeous day!

It was in the upper 60s, maybe even low 70s, here today. Nice day.

I started it out by ordering my breakfast to pick up at the downtown cafe. It makes me feel wicked decadent to be able to call Shirley and say "I'd like an express breakfast to pick up." She and Connie have it ready to go by the time I get dressed and drive the few blocks down the main drag.

My office has a bit of a tradition of ordering breakfast from this place on Friday mornings. We call it in and I usually am the one to drive over and pick it up for everyone. It's one tradition I can say I like about this work place.

Anyway, today was gorgeous. I spent a lot of time running out to the garage for various things. I've been working more on my dining room and continue to make progress. I finally was able to make it to a little cabinet area which gives me more space for stashing dishes. Now they are out from under foot -- I'm not having to weave a narrow path through this area now. Almost all of the books have been moved to a proper bookshelf instead of being piled in here too.

It was ladder day, too. I got my handy-dandy stepladder out of the garage because I intended to change the long-ago burned-out bulb in my hall. Well, apparently the problem is not with the bulb, as I tried several and still have no light. I checked all of the breakers -- twice. That's also not the problem. I'm just not up to switching the socket to see if that cures the darkness. I could, I just don't particularly feel like standing on a ladder over the furnace trying to keep from dropping things into the furnace.

While I had the ladder out, I cleaned off the divider shelves between my dining room and kitchen and arranged some of my pretties. It makes me feel better to see my watering pots and teapots and pitchers and bottles on display. There's a common thread linking all of them, other than function. Lots of rich, deep jeweled colors that the light can shine through or reflect off of.

And I made a trip to Wal-Mart today for a few things that were in the sale flyer -- exciting things! Toothbrushes and oral rinse and body wash and deodorant! Wheee!! And I picked up a pair of jeans and a couple of clearance shirt that were $4 each. I passed on the huge package of paper towels. They had a 6-pack of Super Bounty rolls on sale for $10, but I'm not a big paper towel user and I still have some rolls in my supply closet.

Well, I've got some more piddling to do around the house while I listen to Celtic music on public radio through my computer. I can't get the NPR station on my radio, but luckily it is available to listen to live on the internet. There's always a way to skin a cat.

Hope your new year is going great! I've been trying to greet the new year with a sense of serenity and wonder. I hope it makes for a better year!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

The first day of 2009 is dwindling down. Do you find yourself loaded down with hopes that this year is better than 2008? I sure do. 2008 was not the best of years for me and personally, I'm kind of glad to be closing the door on it!

I had to work for a couple of hours this morning, then I started doing some housework when I was interrupted by a phone call from a co-worker. We had talked for over an hour last night, and at least that long this morning. Times are tough, life is hard and I wish I had the right words of wisdom to offer the right comfort and a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes, at a certain point, I think we all go through nine yards of hell as a form of tempering. In all honesty, no one else on earth can truly help us get to the other side, but it's a good thing to have someone's hand to hold until you get there. One way or the other, we have to make that journey.

And here is New Year's Day -- the day we pin all our hopes on for fresh starts, new beginnings, "do-overs." That's a lot to pin on a Thursday, isn't it? Especially when there's no trash service?

I did get to continue on with some housework, then a nice nap, then dinner with some friends at their house, who made sure I got my black-eyed peas for luck. Then home, for more housework.

Yes! I can see some improvement for a change! Sometimes housework is so frustrating because it's just moving Object 1 from Point A to Point B or back again. But today I focused on a particular space in my dining room that has been one of the leading sources of emotional discomfort while I've lived here. I had books and dishes stacked up knee-high in this area.

Today, in near tears, I asked myself out loud what it would mean to have this space cleared out of these things -- to reclaim this area to be open, an area I could actually walk in. And I began. I've run two dishwasher loads today and moved books to a bookcase in my living room that has been home to auxiliary groceries that don't fit in my one cabinet in the kitchen.

Things are, happily, much better. I would not give myself a 100. A nice solid 80-85 percent, though. It is no longer a hazardous area, this one particular spot. Yes, there are danger zones remaining, but I have reclaimed a holy space.

I also washed my slippers today. Three pairs, which have been collected helter-skelter by the back door over the past several months. I've either run outside for some quick reason and gotten dirt on them, or they were victims of the Great Soap Spill in the garage last summer. Now, however, they are all clean again and put away in my closet! Yay!!

Here's a Power Point presentation for all of you (you'll need the Power Point Reader, I think.) -- I really found a lot of inspiration in it and hope you will too.

Live Life

Happy New Year, everyone! Thanks for reading!