Monday, June 29, 2009

Am I blue?

Am I blue? No, but I started out that way. I was a blue baby... born with the cord wrapped around my neck three times. My mother watched as the doctor unwrapped the cord from my neck and I slowly attained a healthy color. It was also a breach birth... I arrived right-foot first with my left leg pressed up against my left arm. It was not an easy experience for my mother, who delivered me in a small town hospital. I didn't move my left arm for several days. Mom massaged my left arm and leg for hours each day until I finally gained movement in my arm and leg. If I suffered any brain damage, it was minimal. I consider my survival a miracle.

I have experienced many miracles throughout my life, not the least of which is being here today... my birthday. Thanks be to God.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The King of Pop will moon-walk no more

Michael Jackson's moon-walk maneuver turned out to be a visual of his life... seeming to go forward while actually going backward. His death should be more of a surprise than it is... after all, he was only 50 years old... but he had been disintegrating for years. The line between genius and madness is exceedingly thin and Michael had a foot planted firmly on each side. Such a shame and waste. Long live Thriller.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Father's Day in the Garden

Took my brother to the Garden to see motorcycles and classic cars on Father's Day. After the suffocating heat and humidity of Saturday, it was a wonderful surprise and a joy to walk out the door into the perfect day outside. We ate lunch in the Cafe than walked through sun and shade to the display. There weren't as many cycles (Hogs, of course) or cars as I had expected, but the ones there were pristine. And they brought back memories of days when cars were simpler machines. They were machines that any average man with a knack for working with tools could tinker on, tweak, and repair if need be. It was also a rite-of-passage for many boys... spending time working under the hood with their fathers... learning the secrets to making the engines purr. Can't do that anymore... cars have become too complicated. But at least they don't have to worry about getting the engine stuck at the top of the A-frame.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Different Verdict?

Took a ride into the country last evening. It was a trip into my past as I drove a road I had lived on for some time. I saw family farms that have existed for several generations and a corporate farm or two that have sprung up over the years. Miles and miles of grass, trees, wild flowers, and crops not yet paved over in the name of progress... everything so green and washed clean from rainstorms the past week. We've had a warm winter here and I wonder if Summer will bring us lingering heat to sere the green to brittle tan and brown.

On this day in 1893, Lizzie Bordon was found 'not guilty' of the ax murders of her father and stepmother. She claimed her innocence throughout the trial, which was covered extensively by the fascinated media of the day. She lived a quite life afterward; never, to any one's knowledge admitting to anything else. Growing up, I jumped rope to a jingle that arose during that trial and it survives to this day:

"Lizzie Bordon took an ax...
Gave her father forty whacks...
When she saw what she had done...
Gave her mother forty-one"

Author Walter Satterthwait wrote a fictional mystery, Miss Lizzie, that tells the story of a young girl whose life intersects with Miss Bordon years after the trial. I've read the book and have listened to the audio version several times. The book evokes an era before DNA testing and other forensics had been dreamed of, much less developed. I've often wondered if the verdict would have been the same had that science been available. Somehow....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Living a charmed life?

Throughout my life, I have had numerous illogical escapes from potentially deadly events. When I became aware of these escapes, I at first thought there must be something special that I was to supposed to do for human-kind. As I grew older, and continued to experience these escapes, I decided that it wasn't about me doing something, but about being instrumental in helping someone else do something. I developed a sense of being almost indestructible. Several years ago while my son-in-law was in the car with me, I narrowly missed an accident with a truck. He was amazed at our good luck. I explained my theory. I told him how I probably would not know when I had completed whatever it was that I was supposed to do... but when that happened BLAM! No more narrow escapes. He said he could see how I would feel that way. He just hoped he wasn't with me at the time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The annual summer gas-gouge has begun. And it's our own fault.

The Consumers did it. Or are not doing it, according to the media who tell us why gas prices are rising again. It's us, the Consumers, who are at fault. Consumer demand is down. The producers have had to cut production because we're not buying enough gas. We are just not doing our part. If we... those who are on fixed incomes, the thousands and thousands who have lost their jobs, those who are still employed... all of us who see prices rising on everything... would just pull out our cash and credit cards and spend, the economy as a whole would be just fine. We didn't spend enough at Christmas and we're not driving enough now. The producers have to raise prices. Am I the only one who wants to throw up when the oil companies boast about their profits? And they will. Again. At the end of this summer. And prices will go down until time to raise them again for the holiday seasons.

The mid-point between a hissy and a rant is justifiable anger. I'm there.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Out-and-about again

Just came through the weirdest 'cold' I have ever had. Sore throat for 1 day, dry cough for a day and a half, 4 sneezing fits, 1 nose-blow, and a general malaise for 9 days. Not sure what it was but glad to have it over and done.

My oldest daughter and her children came into town for the weekend with hopes to visit historical and scientific sites. One visit we made was to the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site in Richmond VA. It is well worth a visit if you want to learn about an wonderful woman who used her intelligence to improve the lot of her family, race and city. The site is well maintained and renovated, the staff are eager to show and tell about the site, and most of the artifacts in her home are the actual furnishings, etc., that she accumulated, lived with, and used. Her story of personal triumph and tragedy is inspiring. We were enthralled.

One visit we did not make was to Hollywood Cemetery. My 10-year-old granddaughter said she does not like dead people. Her 5-year-old sister said she likes dead people. "They're nice." My daughter and I agreed that some are nicer than before.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


A strong thunderstorm came through late yesterday afternoon with lots of thunder, lighting, and a heavy downpour of rain. As I have a 7th-floor, corner apartment, I often felt as if I were in the midst of the lightning bolt. Very exhilarating when the flash and thunder seemed to be simultaneous. Lovely to experience and be safe at the same time.

When I was very small, there was a bit of family lore about lightning. Aunt Evie (my mother's sister) had been in the front parlor during a summer storm . She was sitting near an open window, reading. She had washed her hair and set it with metal crimping pins. The lightning struck in the yard close to the window. Didn't damage the house but it blew the pins out of Aunt Evie's hair. That explains a lot about Aunt Evie.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pardon My Angst

angst - an acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety; usually reserved for philosophical anxiety about the world....

Over the years, my interactions with kin and kith have brought me in contact with people who have depression, dementia, or just plain sour attitudes. My prayer has always been that I would never loose my awe of the wonders of life and nature, both human and non-. So far, I haven't lost my delight. However, every once in a while the horrors and idiocy that humans sometimes perpetrate overwhelm me. Several items in this morning's news pushed me over the edge. There is a line of dialog in one of my favorite films, Contact, to the effect that humans are capable of wonderful dreams and awful nightmares. I'm in 'hermit' mode now. But I'll get over it.

Of course, the fact that I have come down with a cold reduced my ability to avoid this current angst. I have observed that colds last 9 days and are divided into 3 phases of 3 days each. Phase One is "It's coming." Phase Two is "I'm dying." Phase Three is "Oh, wait... I think I'll live." I'm in Day 1 of Phase One. It's all my fault. My colds always come after I have used a telephone shared by others. I let a neighbor use my phone and wasn't able to disinfect before using it again. No good deed goes unpunished.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Seasoning of My Life (I Should Be Cured by Now)

When I was very young, farmers were still putting salt blocks in their pastures for the livestock. One of my earliest childhood memories is of being in our pasture, licking the side of a salt block while our cow licked the other. Mother was not amused. Salt has been the necessary condiment for me, provided mostly by potato chips (a duality of taste and crunch). A lifetime of chips.

Did you know that the amount of chemicals used for chemotherapy is based on body mass? Height and weight are used in some kind of formula to determine the dosage for the sessions. My oncologist gently suggested that I loose some weight, thereby reducing the amount I would need. Aided by that suggestion and the resultant loss of taste and appetite due to the chemo, I managed to loose 20 pounds. However, at my last weighing in I discovered I had gained back 5 pounds. Scared me chip-less! Haven't bought a bag of chips in two weeks.

Dr. Fredric Baur, the designer of the Pringles can, died in May 2008. He was so proud of his invention that he requested that his family bury him in one. They honored his request. I've told my family that they should bury me in a potato chip bag. Folded down and clamped with a wooden clothes pin. That'll keep me fresh.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I'm a parsing Laodiceac

Nobody parses anymore. Sentences haven't been diagrammed in school for years. I remember conjugating sentences in English class. I can still diagram a simple sentence, but anything past noun, verb, adverb and adjective escapes me. New words are added to the dictionary every year; however, the actual number of words used diminishes. This is partly due to the advent of text messaging. But the language was dumbing down before that. Speaking correct English in everyday conversation has become looked upon as affected and slightly suspect. Electronic word processing has been invented. Spell-check has been added. Proof-reading by an actual human is considered redundant. Thousands of proof-readers have lost their jobs! Chaos reigns!! (Oh, sorry... got carried away.) New books contain ever-increasing numbers of miss-spelled words and words spelled correctly but that don't belong in the sentences. Sometimes fragments of sentences are missing. I am seeing more and more corrections penciled in on pages of the books I borrow from the library. Bless our hearts. We who parse are falling by the wayside. Our days are numbered. Oh, well... as long as people can still communicate and understand each other, I guess everything will turn out all right. Yo.

The 2009 Spelling Bee Winning Word has finally given me a definition with which I can identify. Laodicean: lukewarm or indifferent in politics or religion. I was excited and energized by the last Presidential election as I haven't been in years. My enthusiasm for politics has since waned. Again. If that makes me a Laodiceac, so be it. Hmmmm... Spell-check doesn't like those words. Maybe they'll add them in the up-dated version.