Monday, May 11, 2009

BodyBugg is a Piece of Crap!

Yes, I got me a bodybugg.

I'm sure it records data. In fact, the very few times I've been able to upload the data to the server, it appears that the product actually works. Sort of. It didn't record steps for my sprints and, despite the fact that I had a 40-minute walk with sprints, it recorded only about 8 minutes of activity.

Most of the time I have a problem with the bodybugg server not being able to upload the data. I think they promoted the heck out of this thing and then didn't think to compensate for the overload to their servers.

Ever since this thing came out it hasn't been able to remember my login no matter how many times I told it to remember me. What a piece of crap!

So, I called the technical service line. Despite being told about every 5 seconds how important my call was, no one answered. After 15 minutes I gave up.

Bodybugg sucks. Don't but it. I don't care what they say about having improved their service. Maybe that means they only have about 60 errors instead of 65 when people upload.

Their customer service sucks, too.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Silent Poetry Reading

Sure on this shining night
Of starmade shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.

The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.

Sure on this shining night
I weep for wonder
wandering far alone
Of shadows on the stars.

— James Agee (1909-1955)
excerpt of "Description of Elysium" from Permit Me Voyage

Click to hear the version set to music by Samuel Barber.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

A Silly Dog Post

A link to this was emailed to me by a dog-loving friend. It's a bit late for Christmas, but it's still fun. Now, if only I could train my dog to do this!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Silly Post Revisited

The first lines from the first posts of each month of 2008:

In 2007 I resolved to clean out/reorganize my sewing/knitting/craft room. Here is my offering (late once again) for the annual Silent Poetry Reading day. We have a saying hereabouts where I live. Dear Jim, I hope you can help me here. OK, this one is borrowed from Minnie's blog. I’ve been reading more of “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.” [no posts for July] I injured my right shoulder (doing lovely, domestic things) in such a way that it has been painful to extend my hands to a keyboard for typing. You don’t have to go far to find anyone expressing an opinion on Sarah Palin’s pregnant-and-unwed 17-year-old daughter.

Yup. Definitely, um, nice.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Yet Another Rant . . .

OK, the GenX baby in my office is going on and on about how yesterday was the hardest day he’s ever had. 


He was playing paintball.  Again.


Oh, gawd, how hard can your freakin’ life be if the hardest you’ve ever been on your body comes from playing a stupid game?


I moved plastic containers of fabric and yarn and other crap from the storage unit to our CRV and then into the garage.  And then I hefted them around to get everything laid out in a reasonable way.  And then I tugged boxes of crap from the guest room (after moving around boxes of stuff that need to go back to the storage unit) out to the garage.  And then I was jumping about for four hours helping scavengers customers go through it all and find their treasures.  I made about $100 (which about covers the cost of the gas we used to run around in preparation for all of this).


Did I mention that GenX baby makes more money than I do? 


And he still lives at home with mommy?


And that I’m 2 years older than his mommy?


Life is freakin’ hard some days, you know?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Women's Rights - and Wrongs

You don’t have to go far to find anyone expressing an opinion on Sarah Palin’s pregnant-and-unwed 17-year-old daughter. I’m mostly amused to see how certain groups of people seem to have shifted from their traditional stances on this information. I mean, if Chelsea Clinton, who is much older than 17, were to announce she were pregnant out of wedlock, I’m sure we’d have had a lot of left-leaning folks spouting a lot of rhetoric about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body and reproductive processes, and a lot of right-leaning folks spewing forth vile declarations of how this is not an example of family values and how it would make Hilary Clinton unfit for public office. Alas, the tables are turned around and upside down.

Anyone who has read my blog previously knows that I support very firmly a woman’s right – nay, duty – to act responsibly. I also advocate this very strongly for men. And I don’t restrict it exclusively sexual conduct and reproduction.

Thus, I have constructed the following little dialog with the little pundits running around in my head:

Do you believe a woman have a right to make her own decisions about her body and reproductive processes?

Yes. But I believe she has to make responsible decisions, and that means the decision to employ contraceptive methods and/or devices if she does not plan on becoming pregnant. And that also means the decision NOT to have sex in the first place.

Do you believe a pregnant-and-unwed (it’s pretty much one word now, have you noticed?) 17-year-old is an expression of family values?

I think “family values” is an ill-defined buzz word developed for the sake of punishing those whose values are not in alignment with one’s own; as such, I think the question is foolish.

OK, so do you believe a 17-year-old has the right to get pregnant even if she’s not married?

Sure, so long as she’s mature enough to think of others before herself (which, after all, is one of the hallmarks of maturity) and that she has the means — physical, emotional, and financial — to raise the baby. Unfortunately, for most 17-year-old girls today, that wouldn’t be the case.

So, are you saying that Sarah Palin’s daughter should have an abortion?

While I don’t believe any woman’s abortion is the business of anyone except herself, her God, and her doctor, I personally don’t believe in abortion as a means of retroactive birth control. And it’s a fallacy to think that the only options here are abortion or raising the child herself.

So, are you suggesting a pregnant-and-unwed 17-year-old shouldn’t get married?

If she and/or the father of the child aren’t mature enough to get married, then they should not get married and they should offer the child for adoption. It’s likely the best choice for all parties concerned, and that includes the baby-to-come.

Doesn’t all of this suggest Sarah Palin shouldn’t be running for public office?


But, she’s a hypocrite! She goes on and on about family values, and here she doesn’t have a strong enough relationship with her daughter to keep her daughter from getting pregnant out of wedlock?

That only makes her human. Look, if Sarah Palin’s daughter weren’t pregnant we wouldn’t even be questioning her parenting skills or suggesting she’s a hypocrite when it comes to family values. The daughter would still be sexually active, and we’d be none the wiser. It’s sort of like George W’s daughter who got married fairly recently – I’m sure she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night, but no one really thinks about that because it’s none of our business.

Oh, so that makes you a McCain-Palin supporter!

Nope. It makes me a person in charge of my own opinions.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I'd Like to Thank Everyone

This is the text of an email I sent out to friends and family on Monday (25 August):

Time for a Kick in the Attitude

Actually, I’ve needed this for a couple of weeks or more now. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and under-enthused, particularly when it comes to doing the things I need to do in order to keep up with my goal of losing 50 lbs by my 50th birthday. When I got sick with a sinus infection (second weekend in August), it was like I lost all desire to do anything healthy afterward.

Somebody cue the violins as I sing the “Poor Me” song: Oh, poor me! I have no desire to take care of myself properly! I don’t want to exercise or plan my meals! I’m not getting enough positive attention! This is so hard! Oh, oh, poor me! I don’t get enough sleep (the dog keeps waking me)! I don’t have time to cook for myself! The kitchen is a mess! I don’t have time to do the creative things I want to do! I have 12 loads of laundry waiting to be done when I get home! Oh, poor, poor, me! I’m so bereft that I can’t even make this little whiney rant rhyme!

Hey, if you think that’s bad, try having it running around in your head every day for three weeks!

I was feeling really good about myself a week ago because I’d gotten back into gear. I’d tracked my food, made little charts to check off certain things I needed to do (like take nutritional supplements, do some lunges, get my cardio done). That lasted all of one day. Oh, I had good intentions for the next day, but it was the second night in a row I’d not had good sleep and I was something of a zombie when I got to the office. It just got worse after that.

This morning I even flung off my bodybugg (that thing I’ve been wearing on my right arm that monitors my caloric expenditure) because I resent having to keep track. In fact, I resent that I have to do any of this work at all. Really, why should I have to exercise and watch my food intake and strengthen my body and get enough sleep?

Or, maybe the question I’m really asking is, “Why is all of this so hard to do when it’s beneficial and I feel good for doing it?”

All encouragement and insight is gratefully appreciated. I’m really in a hole and I need help to get out.

* * * * * * * * Here are the responses received * * * * * * * *

A swift kick in the keister is in order. You're having a case of the PLOM disease (Poor Little Ole' Me). Now just knock that crap off, pick yourself up, dust off and start from the beginning. It's going to be a lot harder to take it off than it was to put it on. I fight it every single day that I'm alive, awake and kicking. You can do this - look at all the progress you've made so far. You might just need to mix it up a little and change your routine to get your body going again.

You can do this, believe me. /ck

* * * * * * * *

I sympathize. There is a lot on your plate -- you don't have room for the calories but they keep jumping back onto the plate! Dieting is a bitch, ain't it! Keep it up and you can do it as I know how stubborn you can be about things. /mb

* * * * * * * *

[My son] and I volunteered for the National Disabled Veterans Olympics recently. Some of these brave souls were missing hands and feet, yet playing very physical soccer games on sport wheelchairs - and having fun! There are so many things to be thankful for. /bs

* * * * * * * *

We need to walk today for 30 minutes. I'm going to be there to listen, and I'm not going to judge. Also, since this is a short week, this is a good place to start. I'll see you at 1130 today at your building. / rr

* * * * * * * *

Why don’t you get back to basics. Before you eat it, ask yourself whether the pleasure is worth the calories. Do you really like the taste of it that well? And go for a walk – nothing is a better mood-improver in my honest and humble opinion. Go slow – stroll, look for birds. Take your camera and look for unusual pictures. Go by yourself so you can’t spend your time talking and complaining. Focus on the world instead of yourself. /vn

* * * * * * * *

I don't know if this will help, but Ed's laptop has been reloaded and is acting much better. Too bad we all can't just reboot once in a while to make us more active. Hang in there..... /jb

* * * * * * * *

Here's your weekly Food For Thought courtesy of Jim Canale: "Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." -- Thomas Edison, Inventor

Remember to ask your questions:

1. How does this quote relate to my personal situations?

2. How could following this advice change the outcome of my situations?

3. In what way can I apply this idea to better produce the outcomes I desire in the future? /aj

* * * * * * * *

I know how you feel, girl. The kids started school today, and FROM WORK mind you, I had to sort out a stupid argument before they left for school. I was supposed to work out this morning too, and got here and just didn't want I didn't. I started this morning and I'm hot and bitchy...I just want to stop the world for a minute and get off. I know it will get better, but I'm just tired and cranky. So I'm right there with you! Ok, here we go. I want you to say this with me, "This day WILL NOT beat me. I will smile cheerfully to others and greet them and resist the urge to answer truthfully when they ask how I am. I will watch what goes into my mouth today, as well as be careful what comes out of it. I will not allow negative energy to defeat me today." We will take each day, one at a time. /jg

* * * * * * * *

Boy can I relate!!!!

have been thinking this past week how I need to at least send you email to congratulate you on the ten pounds you've lost ( I gained two instead...), and to congratulate Ed on the scholarship. That all got trumped of course by the day to day stuff (messy house, kids that keep wrecking it the moment I get it cleaned, kids that whine and fight me when I tell them to pick it up, a husband who is gone more often than home thanks to two jobs, and blah blah blah. I had to have a pity party for myself Saturday too.

But why should I punish my body for my bad mood, by eating garbage? Why should I further damage my self-esteem by allowing myself to give in? Why reinforce my belief that I can't lose weight, by eating more high-calorie comfort food? Because the food tastes so darn good, of course. I don't need it, I hate myself for doing it, but like any other addiction, I like it too much to stop myself.

Despite how much better I feel when I am not so overweight, despite how much I like looking at myself in the mirror when I've lost weight, despite how much more shopping I can do because they have more of my sizes available, despite the attention I get from losing it, despite how much better I feel about myself for having a little self control, I still sabotage myself.

Like you, I don't think it's fair that high calorie foods have to taste so good. I will barf before eating something that's "good" for me that I don't like, and I don't like barfing at all. I don't think it's fair that my mom who lived off coffee and cigarettes most of her life is probably in better shape than I am simply because she is thinner and not putting as much stress on her internal body organs as I am. Rotating shift work doesn't help, but I can't blame that for all my problems. People who eat "right" and work shift don't have nearly as much problem dealing with the rotating schedule as I do. People who have nothing better to do after work than run 5 miles are just sick! They look great though, too.

Yeah, the world is unfair. As I think Bill Gates once said, "Get used to it." As my calculus teacher once said "Suffering builds character." I didn't realize how right he was at the time, as I was too busy thinking about how sadistic he was.

The best way to build self-esteem is by challenging yourself to "get out of your comfort zone" and try. Does victory feel as good if you didn't really have to try for it? (well, yeah, sometimes, but...does anything worthwhile often come easy? Do we learn patience by not having anything to test our patience?

When I first trained for my present job, I went home for 5 days in a row thinking "Maybe I can't do this. I don't think I should have done this. It's over my head. I'm going to wash out and fail at this, humiliating myself." But someone pointed out to me that "if the village idiot over there can learn to do it, so can you!" I had to change my mantra to "Keep trying anyway. Don't give up just yet. There is nothing wrong with trying." After another week of trying, I began to see the light. It sure helped to have support from my co-workers, and my husband cheered me on some, but it was still up to me to keep trying, to not give up. In the end, I was the only one who could do it for me.

And that's how I think weight loss has to be. My challenge isn't like my husband's challenge with weight, or my kids. So I can't expect them to take up the cause for me and cook the right foods, and so on. I have to pick up the grocery list and decide what foods I like that will be better for me. I'm not saying "never" to the high calorie good stuff, I'm just saying "Not so much anymore." Keep the candy for special occasions, as it was meant to be. Same with dessert.

It's all well and good to say all this- doing it is another thing. But maybe it helps you to know that you are not the only one who struggles and finds it hard. You are not the first person to feel sorry for yourself and cave in to desire. Caving doesn't make you a failure, it just makes you human. Forgive yourself, don't dwell on the mistakes, then try again. /sm

* * * * * * * *

Oh, poor me! I have no desire to take care of myself properly!
Ok, but this is the only body that you get...May want to make it last awhile!

I don’t want to exercise or plan my meals!
Who does? Life would be sooooooo much easier if we were those b**ches who could eat anything and not gain an ounce...But we're not.

I’m not getting enough positive attention!
So who are you doing this for? Yourself? Or are you doing it so that other people notice you? If you're doing it for yourself, that's the way to go. If you're doing this for the attention...Man, you are so screwed, 'cause trusting something so important like this to other people is asking for failure.

This is so hard! Oh, oh, poor me!
ce when is something easy as rewarding as this will be? And hop out of the pity pool and get into a real one and do some laps, girl!

I don’t get enough sleep (the dog keeps waking me)!
Why does the dog wake you? Is there a remedy for this?

I don’t have time to cook for myself!
No easy answer to this, but cook when you have time and freeze. This can also help with portion control.

The kitchen is a mess!
No excuse. Clean it up and get cooking.

I don’t have time to do the creative things I want to do!
Neither do I but do you hear me crying over it?

I have 12 loads of laundry waiting to be done when I get home!
Do you have to sit on your washer and dryer to make them work? Pop a load in, go exercise...Pop a load in and cook a meal. Pop a load in, stop it after it fills, let the stuff soak a bit and go for a quick walk.

Oh, poor, poor, me! I’m so bereft that I can’t even make this little whiney rant rhyme!
Again, out of the pity pool and into a real one and do some laps soldier! And it's no one's fault but your own that it doesn't rhyme! :P

*hugs* Honey, I know it's hard (as I watch the numbers on my own scale climb...) But you have to do it for yourself, and as much as everyone loves you, we can't do it for you...You have to do it for you. And one day, people will start to notice...I've found it takes a good 20+ pounds, but they will see it. /ks

* * * * * * * *

(You asked for a kick, so, here goes.)

You know you feel better after you've exercised, so "Just Do It!" You're not going to lose 50 pounds sitting around on your duff - you've got to instill better eating and exercise habits - don't you *dare* fall off the wagon now! (Imagine me doing a drill sergeant impression, here.) So you don't feel like sticking to your plan today - *too* *bad*! You *will* stick to your plan today! You *will* *not* indulge yourself in junk food today - that's the *wimp's* way! You *will* eat healthy foods today, in healthy portions! You *will* continue exercising! You *may* change the way you exercise, but you *may* *not* stop exercising! (Ok, that's all I can manage of the drill sergeant.)

You probably do need a change - just don't let that change be a total abandonment of what you're trying to achieve. You know it's going to take a while to lose those 50 pounds. It took a while to gain them, after all. So you're going to have to find ways to keep yourself motivated during the process. You might consider taking up some other thing that would be exercise - dancing, racquetball, roller derby? - not as a complete substitution for your workouts, but as a change of pace. I would also suggest talking to your trainer and, perhaps, your counselor. Just don't get the two mixed up - I don't think your counselor will be able to offer exercise advice that is as good as your trainer's :-)

As for the laundry/time/creative stuff quandary, the only encouragement/advice I have to offer is to do it a little at a time. Don't try to do 12 loads of laundry in one day (or even two). Do the most urgent load (or two) tonight. Then repeat the process tomorrow, and successive days until it's done. Yes, new laundry will accumulate in the meantime, but that can be incorporated into the priorities. Is there any way you can tag-team the laundry with Ed? One of you starts it, the other moves it from washer to dryer, and whoever is available removes it from the dryer? (If this is what you already do, obviously, ignore this suggestion.) /me

* * * * * * * *

Focus on the vision, not on the task at hand. Ha! Doesn't that sound profound, like a quote from someone important? It just popped into my head so I thought I'd pass it on. I had the vision for the painting before I even bought the canvas. I painted the town one building at a time. At the end of the session, the painting wasn't finished by any means, but the task was finished for that day and I could rejoice in that.

So, you're right. All of this planning, prep, etc., is the pits. We should all be as rich as Oprah and have our own cook, nutritionist, grocery shopper, etc. However, thinking that way is just going to heap insult on the reality of our own life. So just focus on making good food choices today, even if someone else has to prepare them. Stay away from the carbs and enjoy the protein.

Now you know everything I know. Do as I say, not as I do! Hang in there. We're all in this together. / jw

* * * * * * * *

Step one for today--put your BodyBugg back on ASAP!

Get back on the bike, horse, whatever metaphor works for what you fell off of.

Question to ponder: do you believe that you deserve to feel good? /tm

* * * * * * * *

What is this all about??? You are a very accomplished lady and you didn't get there just because you are not inteligent and gifted in the creative way. You are bigger than this weight thing. Yes, it is hard, but like you said, you really feel good when you do it and you feel good that you have done something. You have succeeded in so many things. This is just one more thing you can do. Stop the 'poor ol' me' routine. If you don't pull yourself up and get on the healthy life again you are saying that you are too old to learn something hard. This is hard, it is against everything you have done for 49 years. Are you afraid to succeed at this? Are you afraid to look and feel so good that you can't stand yourself? Your mom never had a weight problem because she had different eating habits than you do. ( We will not say anything about the cigerettes - my mom kept the weight off I think by smoking herself into her jar.) You can change and you will. None of us feel like doing anything that is hard when we are sick. But you are not sick and you just have to 'Do It'. Start now! /rs

* * * * * * * *

There isn't a person one that isn't, or hasn't, gone through exactly what you are experiencing, and you know what IT'S OKAY!!!!! The good thing is you can step through this and you can succeed! If it feels good give yourself a stress reduction day, take a long soaking bath with your favorite scents, and then find a restaurant and treat yourself to a wonderful salad that has a lot of different veggies and a really good wait staff, find some really wonderful rich chocolate and treat yourself to a piece, then feeling really refreshed and relaxed go for a walk or a bike ride and just enjoy nature. Then the next day you can go back to the Gym and the stricter diet but every once in a while you need to acknowledge your own efforts! Know we all support you and know you are on the right track--keep up the good work!!! /mm

* * * * * * * *

If 50 by 50 is a reasonable goal, then keep reminding yourself! Unfortunately, I would be happy with 30 lbs off for myself....and I am 62 so that isn't much encouragement! I wish it wasn't so much work to be well or get "well" too...not fair that some folks don't look like they put out any effort and are in great shape! Who said life was fair?!

Seriously, when you have an illness, I have found that the mental attitude takes a downturn...the meds don't seem to be working as well. You need to "pamper" yourself a little---eat some soups and things that felt good when you were ill, then work into your other routines. The old saying "take one thing at a time" is best attitude to have right now. You have so many things you are doing/like to do when you are well....I have same problem....when I am "up" I can really get a lot done, but otherwise it is a struggle.

You have been able to keep your goals this long, shouldn't be too hard to get back! As for exercise, try to walk if nothing else. /jp

* * * * * * * *

I sincerely feel you. But no worries because you are doing great! We all need to take a step back now and then. We regroup, remotivate, recover, and press on. It is so difficult to make lifestyle adjustments -- even more difficult to make several at the same time (e.g. amp up the exercise, eat right, take supplements, etc.). I am amazed at the progress you have made so far and think it's terrific you are hanging in there. We all have motivational highs and lows. One of the most underemphasized things that we find when tackling changes like this is the ability to cut ourselves some slack! If you push yourself too hard when you are not up to it, you can do more harm than good. So every once in a while, it's ok to throw the body bugg! Our bodies are amazing. They adjust and learn like you wouldn't believe. Changing things up is actually ok -- it gives us a needed break and allows us to continue on to even greater progress. So take care of you, first and foremost! Take care of your health -- the lack of sleep and rest and recovering from the sinus infection has worn you down (I'm assuming). That'll suck the motivation out of anyone. So get some rest... do something nice for yourself... "indulge" in a creative project to get the energy flowing. Pick one thing that you want to do, and just do it. Messy kitchen be damned (unless that is the thing you want to do). Start small. The motivation will come and it will pick up and grow. Then you can work back toward the body bugg and get back on track. But do pat yourself on the back for all the progress you have made. You are kicking butt!!!! Hang in there! You're doing great!!!! /gp

* * * * * * * *

I'm going to be gentle with you, because I'm in exactly the same place. It's not fair, is it? Shall we try the reward (bribe!) system for a couple of small goals and see if it helps? I know I feel so much better when I'm on track. /mw

* * * * * * * *

I'm reading a good book that talks about tapping into your subconscious/non-conscious brain to achieve all those goals we set with our conscious brain. They highly recommend meditation and visualization for working this miracle. Without harnessing the non-conscious brain, apparently, we can set all the goals we like, but we will not achieve them. This explains a lot.

I think you deserve to treat yourself really good to reward your efforts so far and to pamper yourself after your sinus infection, which are really horrible, debilitating things that sound a lot simpler than they are. The infection drags you into total lack of energy and lack of will. The antibiotics that fight the infection are pretty hard on your overall system too. Be kind to yourself for a couple of days and then send yourself back to boot camp!

Your goal is wonderful and I hope you will find/gain the strength you need to succeed. /dh

* * * * * * * *

I'm in the same hole with you dear, I'm not sure if it's a collective thing or not. I just figure for me I'm getting the sympathy tummy with our pregnant co-worker. And I need to get walking again! /kc

Sunday, August 24, 2008

What-Did-You-Dream Game

Lady Euphoria had a fun post about having to log her dreams as part of a creative assignment. I have hilarious, outrageous, and often inspiring dreams and they go back as far as childhood.

My most vivid memory is of a dream I had when I was around 6 or 7 years old. In the dream I'm riding a large red and white yo-yo (it came up to my chest and was big enough for me to lay flat upon) down a snowy hill near the house where I grew up. When I get to the bottom, it's not winter any more; it's summer and I'm floating over the intersection. In the intersection, spreading out to cover all four of the corners, as an enormous fried egg (sunny side up).

Yes, the dreams are that detailed. And vivid.

My husband doesn't remember his dreams unless they are utterly terrifying, and then the dreams are not as full of color and detail as mine. I suspect the lack of color part might have something to do with his being slightly color blind, but I also think it's because his mind just doesn't take in details the way mine does. (This is not to say he is not a detail-oriented person. He is, but it's limited to the things he does well, such as cooking, woodworking, and archeology. I seem to be all details, all of the time.)

As I've grown older I've had dreams that are more like stories that are trying to work out their own plot lines (no matter how outrageous the people and circumstances involved). This morning I dreamed that I was involved in some kind of espionage / protection plot. I was on top of a series of buildings and we were protecting a woman who was designated as "the prophet." At one point we realized she'd been taken and the general alarm was raised. I was running through a kind of dormitory where young men (soldiers, guards) were sleeping and I was waking them and berating them for being in their beds. Then the prophet appeared (turned out it was my friend Trish) and I realized these guys were sleeping because they'd just gotten back from rescuing her. There's more to it than that, of course. There were large copper or bronze coins with a date of 1639 stamped in them and small cups everywhere that people were using the put these coins in; I was going around and collecting them. At some point I was in a gift shop, which was when I realized that all of this was a sort of historic reenactment, but the kidnapping part had been real as it had been engineered by a group who, for political reasons, didn't approved of what we were doing.

I don't get Freudian about these dreams. They are a kind of adventure in my sleep, like books I wouldn't otherwise have time to read or films I wouldn't otherwise have time to see. The only time I become concerned is when I have dreams that are so frightening that I wake feeling tense and frightened. Those are dreams that I don't care to retell or even to remember because they're not worth dwelling on. About the only information they give me is that I'm upset about something and need to attend to it.

One of these days I'll have time to flesh out some of these dreams into viable stories. Like, when the laundry is done. :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Lava Load of Laundry

It has been sorted into 12 loads. That's three loads of hang-up-out-of-the-dryer, three loads of towels & washcloths, two loads of T-shirts/shorts/knits, a load of blue jeans, two loads of socks/undies, and one load of a couple of blankets.

And that doesn't count the small load of dye session towels that are in now. (See the KFYS Club blog for pictures of yarn I dyed.) Those towels have to be washed in hot water in a load unto themselves lest the dye decide to migrate to other items. (The dye on the towels has not been fixed as it has been on the yarn. I'm not going to waste vinegar on towels that are for mopping up dye and other disgusting spills.)

The laundry has been accumulating for a few weeks due to illness (2 weeks ago) and a massive clean up (last weekend). It will probably take all week to get to this stuff. I'm going to take the load of socks/undies over to my mom's tomorrow so I can attend to them in between sewing and visiting and playing cards with her. I'm looking forward to getting away!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Buzz, Zoe, and the Snake

This tale was sent to me by a friend, Buzz, who has just moved into a lovely house in the country.  He has a dog, Zoë, who is a boxer.  His neighbor and good friend is Dan.


I had a little adventure last night that I thought that all of you might find amusing. :-)

Well, there I was…  at the house burning some cardboard boxes.  I noticed that Dan had purchased a new planter.  I went over to check it out.  In the process I saw a snake near the planter.  Of course I did what any big strong man would do…I jumped back in fear…literally.  No, there was no screaming…this time.

At first I thought it was the same snake that I threw over the bank this weekend.  It was a garter snake that got caught in the erosion mats and died.  So, I got pissed off at the dogs for dragging this snake back up the hill.  Zoe (the boxer) was standing next to me watching this whole display of manhood.  Needless to say, she was not impressed.

So, I grabbed the hoe…no not, Ho…hoe.  I thought I would get rid of this nasty thing again.  I asked Zoe if she had done this and she told me, no.  As I tried to grab the snake, it started to slither all over the place.  Again, I did what any strong man would do…yes, I jumped back.  That is when I figured out that this was a new snake caught in the erosion mat with the plastic mesh caught around its mid section and its head.  Its head was under the mat and I could not look my foe directly in the eye.  When I am locked in mortal combat, I like to look my foe in the eye…that’s how I roll.  :-)

Anyway, I realized that this snake was going to die and I realized that if Dan saw this snake, he might die too.  I didn’t want to lose my best friend.  So, I figured since the snake was going to die a slow death, I would expedite his departure from this world.  That is when I went whack whack with the hoe right where his head went under the mat.  I figured that I would give my worthy opponent a chance to take his last breath in peace.  I went back to the burn barrel and threw another couple boxes on the fire.

When I came back, I tried to free his little carcass from the erosion mat.  Guess what, he started to slither all over again.  Yes, you guessed it…I jumped back once more.  Needless to say, Zoe was still not impressed with this whole scene.  I told her to stay back and she looked at me like…I’m not getting near you, the hoe, or the snake…duh!

Once more, whack whack whack went the hoe and more boxes went onto the fire.  I was sure that took care of my problem.  I freed the snake and when I dropped his lifeless body on the ground, he took off like a shot down the hill.  This time I was whacking wildly and chasing a snake down a steep embankment.  He had deep indentions in his body.  There was no way this snake could have survived this onslaught.  I would have been dead from all the beatings.  Zoe knew enough to stand back and avoid sudden death.  Furthermore, my dog was the smartest animal in this whole situation.

Once again, I picked up the snake.  His body draped over the head of the hoe.  I finally had the opportunity to look my fellow combatant directly in the eye and then…his little tongue flicked all over the place.  I threw him to the ground and once more, whack whack whack.  This time he was dead.  I took his battered body and threw him over the bank where we never go.  He lies near his little buddy that met an early demise earlier this week.  I believe two dead snakes over the bank constitutes a snake burial ground.

3 Foot Wild Garter Snake = Free

Simple Garden Hoe = $22.99 + tax

Boxer Dog = $400

200+ pound man getting the workout of his life versus a 12 ounce snake = priceless.

Oh, forgot to mention the fact that Dan was at work while this WWF grudge match took place.  When I told him the story of the snake that would not die, he did what any big strong man would do…no, he did not jump back…he said, “Eeeeuuuuwwwww, ” and shuttered in disgust.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Obtainable Affirmations

These were in my in box today. At last, affirmations I can aspire to in my ongoing quest for improved mental health. :)

1. As I let go of my feelings of guilt, I am in touch with my inner sociopath.

2. I have the power to channel my imagination into ever-soaring levels of suspicion and paranoia.

3. I assume full responsibility for my actions, except the ones that are someone else's fault.

4. I no longer need to punish, deceive, or compromise myself, unless I want to stay employed.

5. In some cultures what I do would be considered normal.

6. Having control over myself is almost as good as having control over others.

7. My intuition nearly makes up for my lack of self-judgment.

8. I honor my personality flaws for without them I would have no personality at all.

9. I am grateful that I am not as judgmental as all those censorious, self-righteous people around me.

10. I am willing to make the mistakes if someone else is willing to learn from them.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pyramids of Z Street

I married an archeologist, so it should be no wonder that cleaning up our house is somewhat akin to the excavation of the tomb of Tutankhamen, with the exception that these are remnants of 20th century culture we're discovering.

"Honey, just how many Walkmans did you own?" I ask, picking out two of them from a cardboard box at the back of a closet.

"I kept breaking them," he says.

"You got the sport model," I observe, noting the bright yellow plastic casing. I don't ask why he didn't discard them. Archeologists don't discard anything; they leave them to be catalogued, tagged and stored, even if there are just pieces remaining.

"They were supposed to be stronger," he says.

"Can I turn this into a rag?" I ask, holding up a small t-shirt from B.R.A.N. 7 (the Bike Ride Across Nebraska in 1987). It's a size to fit a 10-year-old and it's full of holes.

He gives me a pained expression, the one that asks, How could you possibly think I would even consider it when it cost me a week of hard riding? I fold the shirt reverently and add it to a neat stack on the top shelf with his t-shirts from other bike rides. He doesn't wear them (they wouldn't fit any more anyway). They are trophies of a different place and time.

We were able to agree on some things to go into a garage sale: Some old lithographs that had belonged to his parents that he'd never much cared for in the first place, a dusty grey fedora that had been his father's, the bamboo torches (the kind that use lamp oil) we'd received as a gift 15 years ago but never used. I'll be putting in some skeins of yarn, an old punch bowl, some stuffed animals, and other craft items. There have enough to hold a nice garage sale and maybe we'll make enough to buy a textbook or two.

I'm embarrassed a bit to think how bent out of shape I got yesterday about money and costs and fancy dinners and absent fairy godmothers. As I go through the house and learn that we're well enough off to be able to get rid of some things, I know that I have nothing to complain about. We're making it; we will survive.

Considering my mother is near enough to death's door that she doesn't have to shout for God to hear her (and I tell her to remind Him that she'll be there soon enough to give Him what-for if He doesn't get off His heavenly arse to answer her prayers), it's nice to know she's praying for us every day.

Yep, I think we're going to make it through this.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Glass Slippers Cost Extra

We learned that my husband was awarded a scholarship of $3,000 for the next year (so, about $1500 per semester). I was really happy about it until I learned that the loan amount he qualified for (about $9,500 for the year) was not enough to cover his tuition, fees, and books. See, I thought that his loan amount would be able to be reduced because he was given the scholarship. I thought the loan amount alone was supposed to have been enough to have covered tuition and fees and books.

Oh, I was so naive.

His tuition and fees for this semester came to about $6,400, so even after using half the total loan amount and half of the scholarship, we still had to pay out about $127. And that doesn't count the $800 we'll be spending on his textbooks this semester.

So, this program, which was advertised on the web site as costing about $10,000 total for the 18 months it runs, now looks like it will cost us around $21,000 once you include books and fees and God-kn0ws-what else.

I'm seriously bummed out. I feel as though we are, once again, shat upon from a great height. Oh, yes, I suppose I should be glad there was a scholarship to help us cover about $1,500 in tuition that would otherwise have come out of our pockets, but I'm still suffering sticker shock.

And while all of this was going on, I was blithely working away on some items needed for an extravagant birthday party that a client is helping to arrange for this weekend. What am I but the modern equivalent of Cinderella, toiling away in relative obscurity and penury while the wealthy sip wine at lovely meals and worry about nothing more than whether they are dressed properly for the evening.

There is no fairy godmother. There are no glass slippers that, when finally placed on my feet by the handsome prince, will reveal me to have been a princess after all.

This is the part of the story no one ever tells you: The part where, after Cinderella is rescued from her impoverished life, everyone else in town still has to deal with what they little they have. Apparently there is a shortage of fairy godmothers, handsome princes, magical glass slippers, and the rest of that stuff. It's sort of like the Powerball lottery -- you can buy a ticket, but there's only one lucky winner (and you're not it). And Cinderella has forgotten your name because she's in happily-ever-after land while you're still trying to figure out how you're going to make it to the end of the month without ending up in the poor house.

Toss me those glass slippers, girl. I'll sell them on eBay and then use the money for something useful.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Laundry Olympics

Honestly. I have to cheer myself on, have a little commentator in my head blathering on and on: "She's tackling the baskets by doing a pre-sort -- towels here, t-shirts there, socks over here -- and that's the mark of a real pro. Divide and conquer. See how she's got those towels going -- fold, fold, triple-fold! Excellent technique! Let's look at that again in slow motion: Yes, here's the first fold in half, then a quick flip to get it in half again, and then a deft motion to fold in each side on the middle and stack it up. These are perfect scores, people, for style and execution."

Why do they never give us medals for slogging through the every-day, annoying things of life that have to be done no matter how tired or sick you are?

Monday, August 11, 2008

This Mess is a Place

This is the wreckage that is my kitchen and dining area. Brace yourself. I have more photos of the carnage:

It should make a reasonable person blush with shame. Dishes, papers, miscellaneous stuff, foodstuffs . . . Ed has the responsibility of cleaning up the kitchen area, and I have to clean up the dining area.

Oh, yeah, here's that detail photo:

Believe it or not, I've actually done some work on that area since taking the photo. I've got the trash bin half full with stuff thrown away and from emptying the shredder twice. I was thinking of using all of the shredded stuff for a papier mache sculpture -- you know, something as an homage to the mess, but I think these photos are enough.
Right now I'm contenting myself with throwing away what I can right away (catalogs, old magazines, old flyers) and setting aside the rest to go through. There are old statements that can be shredded, for example, and those silly "Pre-Approved" offers. Some letters and cards, of course, I am keeping. And I'm finding various odds and ends (packing tape, pens, glue sticks, buttons) among the mess. I might just have to bag up the stuff to be shredded and take it someplace because my lovely little home shredder is going to be overwhelmed, to say nothing of needing to be emptied every 10 minutes.

The best laid plans . . .

This sinus infection has really put me down. Nothing has been done to improve the condition of our home since August 2-3 when I cleaned out a back room. The dining room is still overflowing with papers and crap that needs to be sorted (throw away, shred, and keep). I think I'll set up the TV so that I can watch Olympics stuff while I do that, presuming I can keep my head from exploding. Gawd, I feel like hell.

It's an exercise in faith for me to be among this mess without doing anything about it -- faith that I will feel better, faith that I will be able to tackle this soon, faith that it can be done without losing my soul in the battle to bring a bit of orderliness to our lives.

In my lucid moments this past weekend I've been enjoying some of the Olympic Games. I watched a bit of women's fencing (sabers) as well as women's sand volleyball and learned a little more about those sports. It seems that when it's a sport that doesn't get much air time on the networks you get to hear more informed commentary.

Last night I watched a bit of women's gymnastics qualifying, one of my favorites, and I was awake for some of the swimming races. I found myself rooting for the 4th swimmer on the US Men's 400 meter relay team. He looked to be bringing in the team at 2nd place, then he moved ahead and touched the pad at just .08 seconds before his rival on the French team. It was a spectacular finish, and an upset because the French team was expected to win.

Just before that I saw one of the women's team swimmers lose by .07 seconds to a rival on the Great Britain team in a 400 meter swim. Again, it was a beautiful and exciting contest. A swimmer from Italy was the favorite to win. A swimmer from France had the lead in the beginning, then the US swimmer pulled ahead after 250 meters. In the last 25 meters she was failing, and here came the swimmer from Great Britain who wasn't expected to get a medal at all. It was a great match -- a disappointment for the girl who worked so hard for that lead, to be sure, but a great match.

In an odd way, I find that this sinus infection has sidelined my plans and my progress on getting the house in order much in the same way an athlete gets sidelined for injury. I saw the utter frustration and sadness on the face of one of the US team gymnasts because she couldn't compete in floor exercise due to an injury that happened at the end of practice. She couldn't compete in that event and therefore would not qualify to compete for a medal in that event. (I saw on the news that she was able to compete in the uneven parallel bars.) She was prepared, but she ended up sidelined. Well, that's me. The difference is that I'll get better and be able to tackle this. The difference is that I'll never get a medal for dealing with this mess (but I'll be happier for it).

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Bed Rest Today

I have come down with a sinus infection. It started yesterday morning. I saw my doctor in the afternoon and was prescribed the appropriate medications. Today I feel as though someone inflated my head beyond it's usual capacity.

I did watch a lot of the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games last night on television. They were magnificent to watch. Pity we also had to endure the inane commentary of the NBC employees blathering on. At one point they were actually talking about how former tennis great Jimmy Connors was saying that the Wimbledon tennis match was the best ever this year. If they have nothing of substance to offer, they should keep their mouths shut.

This morning I watched a bit of the women's fencing (USA swept the podium) and learned a few interesting bits about that sport. It was nice that there was a commentator whose remarks were instructive. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be at NBC felt we also needed a "color" commentator, meaning someone to say things like, "She got her there!" and "Let's see the replay on that." This is also the person who felt it necessary to remind us repeatedly (as though we had trouble with short-term memory loss) that these were both from team USA and that it meant USA would have both gold and silver medals no matter the outcome, blah-blah-blah.

Of course, I'm sure we'll be treated to a heart-rending story for each athlete as the games go one. You know the kind: Joe Schmoe grew up in impoverished circumstances yet his family sacrificed and then his father or mother or brother or sister or favorite aunt is seriously ill at the moment and needs a heart transplant so Joe is competing for this relative or that. While I have no doubt that any of these athletes trained extraordinarily hard and missed out on certain activities with friends and family, etc., you don't have to look far into anyone's life to find some kind of tragedy and sacrifice. I believe it trivializes the efforts of the athletes as well as the sufferings of all to make such a huge drama out of ever life. Good heavens, life *is* drama. It's comedy and tragedy and it's played out every day. To edit a person's experiences into some kind of schmaltzy soap opera is disgusting and manipulative.

Ugh, no more soapboxes for me today. I need to go to bed.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Out with the Old

As it turned out, I had a migraine for the remainder of Friday. It was the third one I'd had last week. I haven't had them this bad in a year. I think the combination of cleaning and weather triggered many of my allergens and these have been ganging up on me despite the medication I've been taking to hold them at bay.

I spent a lot of yesterday cleaning out a small bedroom that has become the dumping ground for times when we need to clean up in a hurry (such as the time when a storm knocked out power at my mom's and she had to come over to our house because she's on oxygen 24/7 and didn't have enough spares to last through the uncertainty of having the electricity come back on). The best part was when I found a cheap little tiara (my sisters and I had all gotten them for an occasion 3 years ago) which I placed on my head as I cleaned. I was the Princess of the Mess. It was silly and fun.

So, today our house is a bigger mess for all of the stuff pulled out of that room for sorting. We'll take a number of things to the storage unit, but likely not today since the temperature is so hot. I think we'll try for tomorrow morning when it's cooler.

To tell the truth, I don't find it particularly cathartic to be cleaning out this room. Some people express that feeling from cleaning out old stuff. I don't. It's just a job. I feel good when it's done. But I feel very good about getting rid of some of my old notions about worrying and such (as posted previously). That feels really good to be rid of.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Taking off the Masks

I injured my right shoulder (doing lovely, domestic things) in such a way that it has been painful to extend my hands to a keyboard for typing. I didn't post because I reserved most of my energy for doing my paid jobs rather than blogging. It's just as well, I suppose. The things I'd have written about probably wouldn't have been worth reading.

For the past number of weeks I've been blown about by the wind, speaking in terms of my emotions. No, I'm not bipolar, so it wasn't like having to balance manic and depressive moods. What I am is someone who has to battle depression on a daily basis both with medication and with cognitive restructuring (in other words, changing the way I think about things). Things have been going reasonably well -- I'm still on my diet and doing the things I need to do in order to continue progress -- but there are still worrisome elements of life that have overwhelmed me, the big issues such as, "do we have enough money to get through this month?" and "what happens if the money runs out?" and "what if Ed can't get a job when he's done with school?" and "Oh, Lord, how will any of this ever work out?"

For the most part, I can stay positive and move forward. But I have days when I want to stay in bed and pray that I'll wake up to find it was all just a nightmare. It all came to a head last weekend when we went to see the film "Journey to the Center of the Earth." When the principle characters reached the point of no return (i.e., the moment when, like it or not, there was no going back so they were compelled to move forward into the unknown) -- which in this case was being trapped in a cave with 60 tons of rock covering the opening -- I felt the metaphor hit me like 60 tons of rock. Ed and I reached a point of no return once his job was eliminated and he was forced into retirement. We were unable to go back; there was only going forward into the unknown.

Yes, we did pretty well at first -- Ed was able to find part-time work and so was I -- but then Ed's part-time work went away (curses to CompUSA) and he was unable to find any other job. It seems that every other avenue of employment was closed to him, so he found a program of study that should take only 18 months, at the end of which he'll be a qualified surgical technician and able to get a decent job. I hope.

But we don't live in a movie script. There will be no finding of a wonderful new world and we won't find out way out in one heroic ride up a geyser that deposits us on a sunny vineyard in Italy with diamonds in our backpacks (you have to see the film to get it all), and it certainly won't be all tied up neatly and happily in a mere 92 minutes (or however long the film was).

So, I've worried. And worry made me feel depressed.

But today I learned that worry (as well as anxiety, anger, and even guilt) are just masks we wear to keep from seeing what we need to see. What is it we need to see? Well, for each of us it's different, so you have to figure it out for yourself.

For me, worry is sometimes a way I have of covering up that I'm really frustrated with not being able to control the outcome of things. Worry is a way of trying to control, because I often feel that if I give up control then everything goes wrong. (And that's a huge fallacy. Things were already crappy but I believed that if I could exert control over them they would then be good.)

Worry is also, for me, a learned behavior. Worry is a way to prove you care. Worry is a way to show concern.

Even if I've taken my medication it's possible for me to feel overwhelmed with worry. But the medication helps me to step away for a second and consider what positive steps I might take to deal with my situation. The medication helps me to remember that I can choose to not worry. The medication helps me to remember that worry is form of denial.

I am very thankful that medication has been developed to help me to overcome the effects of depression. I am very thankful that I've found a counselor who helps me to see the flaws in my thinking. And I am very thankful that my husband loves me in spite of my madness sometimes.

Life is pretty good, even with all of the crap floating around us.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Lewis Black to the Rescue

I've been reading Lewis Black's recent book of essays, Me of Little Faith. I'm laughing my fat arse off! There is a section in which he describes the stereotypical dysfunctional family Christmas dinner. He suggests we not yell at one another so loudly lest we wake the baby Jesus. Geez, he nailed it in one!

I've had to put down the John Shelby Spong books for a while. I agree with nearly everything he says, but I find his writing a little preachy. He has a penchant for what I suppose he believes are rhetorical questions, but what really come across as saying, "Anyone who doesn't agree with me here is an idiot." Well, it comes across in a nice way, at least.

This past week there was an article in USAToday about a book that has come out which, if I understand the premise, is making fun of some of the silly stuff that Biblical scholars have come up with over time. A bunch of people were going a little nuts over the books, some upset that the Word of God was being made a joke and others trotting out their usual upset over what Christianity has done to them or the world (whichever, really, because they're all taking in 'way too peronally).

My post (among others) was that I have a faith that doesn't need defending in a country where freedom of worship is guaranteed.

Besides that, if you get upset over someone attacking your favorite book, then you don't have much faith to start with. Geez, like some of these people need to step in front of God and take the bullet? Give me a freakin' break!

I don't know exactly why these matters of faith are so important to me lately. I don't feel as though I've lost my faith in God, although I do know that I've lost my faith in people who profess to have a great and abiding faith (and who, incidently, will always be adamant that theirs is the only way to heaven).

God I don't have a problem with. People I do.

Monday, June 02, 2008

OK, my Spanish sucks

It should have been, “Yo lo dije que tu no hablas inglés.”  Well, the lady knew what I meant.  I should work on those irregular Spanish verbs.


Maybe after the laundry is done.


¿Que Quieras?

I’ve been reading more of “Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism.”  When I consider what I’ve read and the time period in which it was published, I am less challenged by what Spong is writing.  He gives a brief history of the various texts but only from the standpoint of describing how few if any of these accounts can be described as a literal history written by only one person.  I’d never really believed the Bible was literal, but I’d believed some of the accounts.  Now I understand that some of the O.T. books, for example, were in fact stories for the purpose of illustrating a particular point of view.  The book of Job, for instance, or of Ruth.  I just started in on the section about the N.T., and I was aware of the borrowing among the authors of the synoptic Gospels, but I wasn’t aware of how awful Mark’s grammar was!  It’s kind of funny, really, when you think about how people could get so worked up over something that was written on the other of, “He been coming very awful…” (sorry, that’s not from the book; rather, it’s my attempt to show poor grammar much as it was from what I’d read last night).  I suppose you could say that I don’t ascribe as much value to those books any more; rather, the things I value have to do more with attitude than with historical writings.


When Ed and I were on the flight from Albuquerque to Dallas, I was seated next to a woman who spoke only Spanish.  Except I didn’t know that at first.  All I saw was that I was to be squeezed between Ed and an older woman who had too much stuff with her, and I was crabby. Then, as we were still on the ground and at the gate, the woman called out, “Senorita” to the passing attendant.  The attendant didn’t hear her, but I figured out that the woman probably didn’t speak much English.  Also, her voice was kind of weak.  She had a cane with her.  So, I chanced what little Spanish I knew and asked her, “¿Que quieras?” (“What do you want?”)  The lady then asked if I spoke Spanish and I told her I did a little, so she rattled off something, but she was gesturing with her coat, so I asked her “¿Quieras lo …?” and I pointed upward to the overhead bin.  She nodded, so I handed the coat over to Ed who put it up for her.  And then the lady and I started on a bit of conversation, which was rather amusing because I’d have to nudge Ed from time to time and ask, “What’s the word for ….?” and “What does this mean….?”  It turned out the lady was visiting her nephew in Albuquerque, she was on her way back to Mexico City, and she was a tree specialist.  In the end, it was a pleasant flight.  Plus, Ed and I helped her to get her bags and stuff down from the bin and carried out to the gate where they got her on a tram to her concourse and gate.  And I explained to her that I’d told the attendant there that she didn’t speak English.  (“Yo lo dicho que tu no hablas inglese”)


So, here’s where all that was leading to:  I was a complete crab until I learned the lady needed help, and then I realized I had to get over my own complaints in order to be strong for her.  Would I have done that if she’s spoken English?  Would I have done that if she’d been able to get up for herself and take care of her stuff?  Sadly, I don’t think so.  So, how do I get over my own crap and be pleasant and helpful without needing someone to need me first?  How do I learn to be kind and exhibit a more Christ-like attitude every day?


I suppose awareness is, as usual, the beginning.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Who Owns Jesus?

I’m not sure where this entry is headed. It comes as a result of two events: (1) a nice conversation I had with the pastor of my church about what happens when you have a faith community based on relationships instead of rules; and (2) various things I’ve been reading about Christianity.

As for the first item, there was one insight in particular that has been gnawing at my consciousness: If you have a faith community (i.e., a church or a religion or a group of like-minded believers) based on relationships instead of rules, then the bottom line is that there is no single path to forgiveness or redemption or salvation or eternal life or any of that stuff. The upshot of it is that nobody “owns” Jesus or the keys to heaven.

Remember that wonderful passage in the New Testament letter to the Romans in which Paul (or whoever really wrote it) says something to the effect of, “Yes, I know there are dietary restrictions that many Jews find it important to follow, but I don’t have to follow them because my faith isn’t about what I eat or drink or any of that. On the other hand, if it causes a problem for my brother-in-faith, I’ll observe those restrictions out of my love and respect for him and his beliefs.” (Yes, that’s very much a modern interpretation. For complete reading, check out Romans 14 (whole chapter), and 1 Corinthians 8:13.)

Basically, if your spirituality isn’t bound by laws, then you are free to seek it according to your own way, presuming you are not bringing harm to others. Therefore, I can’t say, “You’re not Catholic, so you’re not going to heaven.” Nor can I say, “You’re not Christian, so you’re not saved.”

As for the second item, I started reading two books by John Shelby Spong, a retired Anglican/Episcopal bishop. One of the books is Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture; the other is Why Christianity Must Change or Die: A Bishop Speaks to Believers In Exile.

I admit from the outset that I am at times gratified and at other times very much challenged by what this author writes about Christianity. As a woman, I have often experienced the second-class citizen status traditionally accorded by men of many faiths based on their traditional reading of the Bible. As a Christian, I am appalled by some of the stories in the Bible (particularly the story in Leviticus wherein Lot sacrifices his two young daughters to a marauding crowd in order to protect two angels – one preacher I’d listened to on that text turned my stomach). As a human being, I am furious with the Christian Imperialism I encounter on a daily basis (i.e., the idea that only Christians are beloved of God, and then only those Christians who fit a certain model).

On the other hand, I rather like believing in the corporeal resurrection of Jesus. I even sort of like believing in a magical virgin birth. I rather like the idea of miracles, to own the truth, because I rather like the idea that as human beings we have to admit that we can’t prove everything (and therefore we need faith). According to Spong, these magical things aren’t possible because science doesn’t support it. *sigh*

Spong has some excellent credentials and academic supporters. His critics can say the same. When I read some of the remarks of Spong’s critics, they show some weaknesses in Spong’s reasoning and interpretations.

The bottom line, however, is that I’m tired of the bickering.

While I appreciate Spong’s insight into various aspects of the original texts of the Bible, and while I recognize that the Bible is only the way it is because of the people who decided what made it into the book and what was rejected, I just don’t think that anybody really knows what the whole truth of it is.

But it can’t ever just stay that way, i.e., with everyone agreeing that no one really knows everything and therefore we shouldn’t be so easy to condemn one another when our beliefs don’t coincide. The Christian traditionalists and the Christian modernists seem to be engaged in a recruitment battle, each claiming he/she knows what the “real” truth is about Jesus, the Creator, Christianity, etc. (None of this takes into account the Jews and Muslims and everyone else from this tradition who are adamant that theirs is the only way to know God.)

On a flight from Dallas to Omaha this past Wednesday evening I was seated next to a man who works at the Open Door Mission in Omaha. As we were talking, he would insert some of the usual catch-phrases into the conversation. One I recall in particular was his remark about the problems of the homeless are rooted in the breakdown of the family, and he went on to describe the breakdown of the family as being caused in part by both parents working outside the home. He also said that getting a divorce was too easy.

I told him that I don’t believe that homosexuality is responsible for breaking down families. (This common cry among those who condemn homosexuality always brings to my mind images of homosexual gangs roaming neighborhoods in search of heterosexual families who don’t have their homes properly barricaded against these gun-toting intruders.) The breakdown of families comes as a result of people (1) having babies when they really aren’t economically or psychologically prepared for the responsibility, (2) parents who place their children at the emotional epicenter of their homes, and (3) marriage being too easy to obtain.

In the end, he certainly agreed with me that not all children of stay-at-home moms are the most mature kids in the world (and he gave an example of one of this own grandchildren) and that not all families with both parents working outside the home are falling apart. He also agreed that men and women were making babies before they were prepared to take on the whole responsibility that a family entails. And he laughingly agreed that marriage is possibly too easy to obtain. He didn’t take on the comment about homosexuality.

There: we found common ground without having to argue. He’ll probably go on believing the homosexuals are condemned just as I’ll certainly go on believing they are loved as they are in God’s eyes. Each of us thinks we’re right. Each of us remains a Christian.

OK, to tell the truth, I hope that this other guy’s faith experience opens up so that he doesn’t feel the need to cling to some ideas I think are unkind. But I’m not going to condemn him to hellfire and damnation just because he doesn’t see things my way.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Laughter: Another Form of Therapy

1. At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and  point a hair dryer at passing cars.  See if they slow down.
2. Page yourself over the intercom.   Don't disguise your voice.
3. Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
4. Finish all your sentences with  "In accordance with the prophecy."
5. Skip down the hall rather than  walk and see how many looks you get.
6. Order a diet water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.  Alternatively, order your coffee with extra caffeine.
7. Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."
8. Put mosquito netting around your work area and play tropical sounds all day. When you emerge to get coffee or a printout or whatever, slap yourself randomly the whole way.

9. Send e-mail back and forth to yourself engaging yourself in an intellectual debate. Forward the mail to a co-worker and ask her to settle the disagreement.
10. Five days in advance, tell your friends you can't attend their party because you have a headache.

 11. Send e-mail back and forth to yourself engaging yourself in an intellectual debate. Forward the mail to a co-worker and ask them to settle the disagreement.
12. When the money comes out the ATM, scream "I Won! I Won! Third time this week!"
13. Tell your children over dinner, "Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go."
 14. When standing with people in an elevator, slap your head several times and shout, “Shut up in there!”


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book Meme Redoux

OK, this one is borrowed from Minnie's blog. According to what she posted, . . .

What we have here is the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by
LibraryThing’s users. As in, they sit on the shelf to make you look smart or
well-rounded. Bold the ones you've read, underline the ones you read for school,
italicize the ones you started but didn't finish.

One note: If the title appears in Blue, then I know my husband read it. (So, if it's both Blue and Bold, then I read it and my husband did.) He has read a lot more than me!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights
The Silmarillion
Life of Pi : a novel
The Name of the Rose
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
The Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged
Reading Lolita in Tehran : a memoir in books
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible : a novel

Angels & Demons
The Inferno (and Purgatory and Paradise)
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse : how societies choose to fail or succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey

The Catcher in the Rye
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics : a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values
The Aeneid
Watership Down
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit
In Cold Blood : a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

OK, personally, I don't believe this is a list of books that no one reads. I think it's more likely that this is a list of books from someone's library. Anyway, it was a fun meme.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Meme Redux

This one is going around again on email. You put an X for each item you've done, then answer the questions below.

() Gone on a blind date

(X) Skipped school

(X) Watched someone die

() Been to Canada

() Been to Mexico

(X) Been to Florida

(X) Been on a plane

(X) Been lost

(?) Been on the opposite side of the country — what’s opposite? I live in the middle!

(X) Swam in the ocean

(X) Cried yourself to sleep

() Played cops and robbers

() Recently colored with crayons

(X) Sang Karaoke

(X) Paid for a meal with coins only?

(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't?

(X) Made prank phone calls

(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose

(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

(X) Danced in the rain

(X) Written a letter to Santa Claus

() Been kissed under the mistletoe

() Watched the sunrise with someone you cared about

(X) Blown bubbles

(X) Gone ice-skating

(X) Been skinny dipping outdoors

(X) Gone to the movies by yourself

1. Any nickname? None you can say in polite company.
2. Mother's name? Elishka
3. Favorite drink? Diet Pepsi
4. Tattoo? None
5. Body piercings: Just the ears
6. How much do you love your job? Which one?
7. Birthplace? Iowa, the state of perfect nothingness.
8. Favorite vacation spot? England
9. Ever been to Africa? No
10. Ever eaten cookies for dinner? Probably
11. Ever been on TV? Yes
12. Ever steal any traffic signs? Who wants to know?
13. Ever been in a car accident? Yes
14. Drive a 2-door or 4-door vehicle? 4 door
15. Favorite salad dressing? Bleu Cheese
16. Favorite pie? Apple
17. Favorite number? none
18. Favorite movie? Not just one, and too many to enumerate
19. Favorite holiday? Christmas
20. Favorite dessert? Hot chocolate fudge brownie sundae
21. Favorite food? Vegetable Samosas
22. Favorite day of the week? Any day I can sleep in.
23. Favorite brand of body wash? If it smells good, I’m all for it.
24. Favorite toothpaste? If it tastes good, I use it.
25. Favorite smell? Celery – it’s so fresh!
26. What do you do to relax? Knit, read, play mindless computer games.
27. How do you see yourself in 10 Years? Sox2 (same old same old)
28. Farthest Place you will send this message? Cyberspace has no bounds.
29. Who will respond to this the fastest? Doesn’t matter.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Freakin' Monday (Redux)!

Once again, Monday has come like a ton of bricks just when I was feeling like I could finally relax.  What a pile of merde this weekend turned out to be!  I was tired all day Saturday, went out with “the girls” on Saturday night and found myself stuffed into a tiny booth with 4 other people at a crowded restaurant, then we squeezed around a tiny table at the Funny Bone.  Nice company, but uncomfortable surroundings.


Yesterday, I did laundry, struggled through a knitting design (lots of ripping and swearing), and did some reading.  I didn’t even get out of my pyjamas!  There just wasn’t enough weekend in my weekend.  I was too tired through it all.


I watched a bit of the first Godfather film on television on Sunday.  More and more, I realize it’s a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy.  I wouldn’t say that of the book, actually, because the book reads a lot like “true crime” pulp, but the film is masterful in how it highlights the interpersonal relationships and how each person’s personality contributes to his/her downfall.


I also watched most of The Da Vinci Code film late last night (something to accompany the knitting that was finally working out).  I found myself wondering whether we’d have had a film at all if the last scion had turned out to be a crabby menopausal drama queen who was an obese lesbian.  All of which is to say that such speculation is obviously fiction if the object of the obsession can only be a skinny, smart woman who knows how to handle a gun.  Frankly, I don’t care whether Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married or not.  It doesn’t matter to me or my faith in the least.  But I do strongly believe that everyone who made themselves upset over the book and/or the film deserved their angst.  Sheesh!  It’s fiction, people!  It’s an heroic tale!  It’s not real life!


This is real life:  You’re middle class and struggling financially; you’re middle-aged and overweight in a world that worships the young and thin and brainless; you spend your weekend on no greater adventure than getting the laundry done.  They can’t even make “reality TV” that real because no one would watch it.


Thursday, April 03, 2008

Why Men Don't Write Advice Columns

Dear Jim,

I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help.

When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with a neighbor lady making mad passionate love to her. I am 32, my husband is 34 and we have been married for twelve years.

When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he went into the back yard and heard a lady scream, had come to her rescue but found her unconscious. He'd carried the woman back to our house, laid her in bed, and began CPR. When she awoke she immediately began thanking him and kissing him and he was attempting to break free when I came back. But when I asked him why neither of them had any clothes on, he broke down and admitted that he'd been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless.

I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore. Can you please help?


Susie Fox


Dear Susie,

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the clips holding the vacuum lines onto the inlet manifold for air leaks. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.

I hope this helps.



Monday, March 24, 2008

Movie Meme

OK, like anyone really reads my blog . . .

The rules:
1. Pick 10 of your favorite movies.
2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie (or get them out of your capacious memory).
3. Post them on your blog for everyone to guess.
4. Strike it out when someone guesses correctly, and put who guessed it and the movie.
5. Looking them up is cheating, please don’t.

Here goes. One point if you guess the film, extra point if you know which character said it.

A. "I'm telling you this guy is protected from up on high by the Prince of Darkness."

ANSWER: The Usual Suspects, spoken by Sgt. Jeff Rabin (played by Dan Hedaya)

B. "It does not do to dwell on dreams, Harry, and forget to live." (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's / Philosopher's Stone, spoken by Dumbledore -- 2 pts each to ME and
Vision Sister)

C. "It left us speechless, quite speechless I tell you, and we have not stopped talking of it since." ANSWER: Emma (the Gwyneth Paltrow version), spoken by Miss Bates (played by Sophie Thompson, who is Emma Thompson's sister)

D. "It would take a miracle to get you out of Casablanca, and the Germans have outlawed miracles." (from Casablanca, of course, 1 pt to
Vision Sister and Leann.) Spoken by Signor Ferrari (played by Sidney Greenstreet).

E. "I saw Mrs. Claypool first. Of course, her mother really saw her first but there's no point in bringing the Civil War into this."

ANSWER: A Night at the Opera, spoken by Otis P. Driftwood (played by Groucho Marx).

F. "I know the presidents' chief advisor, we were at MIT together. And, at this point in time, you really don't want to take advice from a man who got a C minus in astrophysics." ANSWER: Armageddon, spoken by Dr. Quincy (played by Jason Isaacs -- and you thought he only played Lucius Malfoy!)

G. "There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?" (from Love Actually, spoken by Karen, who was played my Emma Thompson -- 2 pts to
Vision Sister)

H. "Whoa, lady, I only speak two languages, English and bad English."

ANSWER: The Fifth Element, spoken by Korben Dallas (played by Bruce Willis)

I. "It's not the years, honey, it's the mileage." (from Raiders of the Lost Ark, spoken by Indiana Jones, who was played by Harrison Ford -- 2 pts to leann)

J. "Somewhere out there is a lady who I think will never be a nun." (from The Sound of Music, spoken by the countess -- 2 pts to leann)