Thursday, August 31, 2006

Mississippi has more fat people and more under-educated people living in poverty than any state in the nation. Hmmm...wonder if there's a connection?

My step-daughter immediately came to mind when I read this news. Their landlord called recently pleading with Mike to try to persuade his ex to pay her rent so he wouldn't have to evict them. Mike's response was that his daughter always has a home where she can go, and the ex can go to hell. I was not even that charitable.

A nineteen year old daughter who cuts off most contact with her dad, after child support obligations end, doesn't deserve to be rescued. She actually quit having anything to do with him when he had his stroke. She made unwise choices, IMO, and needs to see where that leads. I hate to see her homeless on the streets with her derelict mother, but she is still tethered by an umbilical cord that drags her further from her potential with every passing year. She's had several opportunities to cut that cord (she realized at a very young age that her mother never would), and she chose to stay attached. Her one encounter with employment outside their home lasted only a couple of months before her mother convinced her to stay at home and help her babysit the two children she keeps. When her former employer told Mike he would really like to have her back, he called her. She wouldn't answer her phone and did not return his call.

With very deficient homeschooling, no ambition, no money, she has a bleak future. A driver's license, a college degree, a social life, a job, none of that appeals to her enough to get her away from the toxic relationship with her mother. We've tried for years to motivate her. Nothing worked. A good dose of reality might do it when nothing else would. Or it could reinforce the martyr image she has of her "poor mother." She will be 40 years old before she realizes how totally cheated and deprived she's been by her maleficient mama.

On a happier note, choir rehearsals resumed last night with sweet song and merriment. David asked me to sing a solo on one of the new pieces. I didn't volunteer, but I knew he was talking about me when he said, "this solo needs a light, breathy, child-like soprano voice. (pause, pause) Cathy, you would be perfect." So I agreed to do it. I did not go to supper afterwards, but came home instead. I was really tired by the time we finished.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I really like the calorie-count website. Today it gave me a B-, maybe because I lost .8 lb since yesterday? Being judged by an impartial, impersonal calculator is not so bad, and it actually gives me credit for walking the dog as a legitimate exercise. Based on my age, weight, lifestyle, etc., it says I'm burning 1706 calories/day.

I'm planning to eat lunch at Primo's today, so I need to be careful. Maybe they have something like a grilled chicken Caesar salad, or a BLT on whole wheat. And no dessert! If it's not raining, and it's looking like it might, I'll try to work in a walk afterwards at Friendship Park. Need to save room for a late supper after choir rehearsal.

2:45 pm. It didn't rain, and it got too hot to walk after lunch, but I get extra exercise credit for grocery shopping afterwards. Lunch with George was fun. I love spending time with people who have interesting stories to tell, especially if they're about people I know. I don't realize how hungry for conversation I am until I get around people who enjoy it. He knows so much more about hometown people than I do, and has kept up with them all much better than I ever did. If his novel is ever published, it will be very entertaining.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

While looking for the calorie count of seedless red grapes, I discovered It has all the tools needed for keeping track of weight, calories, nutrition, activity, it even assigns a grade to the foods and exercises that a dieter uses. And it's free! Everything I've logged, so far, has received an overall grade of C, pretty typical for average, ordinary me.

Radio, tv, and newspapers are full of Katrina anniversary reports. I heard one story this morning I had not heard before. While Pres. Bush was flying over the storm-ravaged areas, he was playing air guitar, clowning, and cracking jokes with those aboard Air Force One with him.

Contrast that with President Johnson's involvement in less than 24 hours after Hurricane Betsy hit New Orleans in 1965. LBJ arrived in New Orleans five hours after talking to Senator [Russell] Long. Reporters noted that he was shocked by the suffering and in particular by the thirst of survivors in one shelter. He immediately announced that the “red tape be cut,” and he took personal control of operations, which he continued—according to the Washington Post—“day and night.” (from

We still have Katrina reminders all over our neighborhood - lumber, shingles, debris from repair crews who left before completing their jobs, two units facing the water that are still uninhabitable, bare places on the lakeside where the rocks and soil were washed away, and posts protruding from the water where piers used to be. Those issues are so insignificant compared to problems on the coast that they seem hardly worth mentioning.

It was the rallying of local people to help those in need that stands out sharply in my memory, and the washing away of the denial of many that poverty still dominates large segments of our population. We, as a Great Society, have failed to care adequately for the "least of these." Social reforms aimed at elimination of poverty and racial injustice did some good, but there is so much more that needs to be done. When will we get our priorities in the right order?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Monday, August 28, 2006

Mike has an early appointment with his hand therapist this morning and the Bio-Ness sales rep who has the new e-stim equipment that the clinic is buying. Mike will be their first patient to use it, and he's volunteered to be the guinea pig while his therapist learns to operate it. He's excited about the possibilities. I hope it makes a significant difference.

His company did not come yesterday, he ate lunch with them instead. They, obviously, preferred conversation over mindlessly staring at the boob tube. I wish he could understand that about other people. Who wants to go to the trouble to visit someone just to sit and stare at their tv? They can do that at home. Must be an only-child thing, my mother had a similar attitude about entertaining and conversation. They grow up talking primarily to themselves, and don't learn to communicate with other people very well. It's that civilizing influence of siblings that the only child never gets.

Rain is predicted today and I hope we get it. My plants on the front patio are about to die. For some reason, I lose interest in watering them during the dog days of August. There is no outside faucet on that side of the house, so carrying water to them every morning gets old quick. They were so pretty in May and June, July not so much, August fagedaboutit!

I'm thinking seriously of switching to the new blogger format at the first of September. I'm still not sure if everything will transfer, so I may just start a new one, do this thing in 6 month increments. I wish a site meter were included with the new format. I'm not real satisfied with the one I've got. I finally figured out that the hits I was getting from Byram were my own. Why Byram? Why do my log-ons appear as hits from Byram. I dunno. I set the darn thing to ignore my own log-ons, but the times corresponded to my own times to the tee.

According to the horoscopes, conditions are favorable for Sagittarians today:

The Sun is in Virgo, Moon is going from Libra into Scorpio. Friends give you encouragement, assistance and applause. Soak it up; you're getting even better at what you do.

Your hard efforts to improve your life are finally showing results, dear Sagittarius. And this is just the boost you've needed, as some people set your self-confidence a bit on edge. Just don't let others destroy your vision of happiness. Continue to walk toward your goal and don't hesitate when small obstacles appear left and right.

Four days left to hit the weight-loss goal for Sept. 1. Those small obstacles must be the irresistable items on the No. 1 China Buffet. I told Mike I'd meet him there for lunch. I'll drink water before I go.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Husband #2 would probably have celebrated his 63rd birthday today had he not been a smoker. Lung cancer got him in 1995, and it continues to be the leading cause of cancer deaths, and the no.1 preventable cause of strokes. Makes me want to snatch cigarettes away from those who use the courtyard at church as a smoker's lounge. It ain't cool, Folks!

Father of all, we pray to you for Don, and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May his soul and the souls of all the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. (BCP)

Today we're remembering Katrina and her victims. Tom wrote a liturgy that is being used throughout the diocese. I wonder if we'll have storm songs, too. Seems there are more in the Baptist Hymnal than in the one we use.

Mike has invited Jon and Trish over this afternoon to watch RV. I tried to watch it when he first brought it home, but to me, it was too stupid to be funny. He watched Bruce Willis in Fifth Element this morning before leaving for church. He and Benji love that Sci-Fi classic, another one that I just don't get.

I was so glad he didn't turn on the tv when Skip and Bill were here. It's a poor substitute for good old-fashioned conversation, and gets in the way of our relating to one another as well as I would like. But he's addicted to it, so I blog.. Each of us is on a one-way street headed in opposite directions. No wonder I feel we're estranged sometimes.

After church.

I especially liked the Prayers of the People that Tom wrote for today's service:

We gather before God in faith and hope following the devastation our community has suffered from Hurricane Katrina. To the God of all creation we bring the tears we have cried, but with our hearts set on the future.

Hear us, God of creation.

God of Creation and Lord of all seasons, hear the thoughts of our hearts for the year that has passed and our hope for grace and protection in days yet to be.

Hear us, God of creation.

Lord God of all seasons, you sustain us througout the year.

You are the rain that refreshes the earth.

You are the light that shines upon all things.

You are the miracle of birth and growth.

You write the times and the seasons on the face of the earth.

You set it in motion for the benefit of all.

You are the Creator who blesses.

You are the Guardian of all that you have created.

The eyes of all look to you, O Lord.

You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

We have faced and endured the might of the winds, thunderous rains, and surging waves;

Hear us, God of Creation.

We have known uncertainty, and we carry concern for our brothers and sisters who have stood in harm's way;

Hear us, God of Creation.

We give you thanks for your holy strength that has sustained us in the year that has passed;

Hear us, God of Creation.

You are the God of hope; grant us the grace of your Spirit in the seasons to come;

Hear us, God of Creation.

Be our light in the darkness, our hope in the storm and the calm, our serenity in the chaos and peace, and our hope and trust in the future;

Hear us, O Lord of life.

Almighty and ever living God, we bring our grateful hearts to you in thanksgiving and praise for bringing us through the year that has past. Yet, we are mindful of those who have suffered injury, damage or loss and ask that you would comfort them with your healing love. Guard, as well, those who yet remain in harm's way. As we continue through the days to come, help us always to place our hope, our fears, and our trust in you, for in you alone is life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

David was back on the organ today, and got a round of applause when Tom welcomed him back. Everybody has missed him. Special music today was provided by a men's quartet - Ben, Don, James, and David. Then James did Duke Ellington's Come Sunday:

Ooooh...Lord, dear Lord above, God almighty, God of love,/ Please look down and see my people through./ I believe that God put sun and moon up in the sky./ I don't mind the gray skies'cause they're just clouds passing by./ Heaven is a goodness time. A brighter light on high./ Do unto others as you would have them do to you./ And have a brighter by and by./ Lord, dear Lord above, God almighty, God of love,/ Please look down and see my people through./ I believe God is now, was then and always will be./ With God's blessing we can make it through eternity./ Lord, dear Lord above,/ God almighty, God of love,/ Please look down and see my people through.

I recorded some of this with my digital camera. Just happened to have it with me today, but I didn't get it all, had to go for communion in the middle of it. Wish I could post the part I got, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up, every bit as majestic and soulful as Mahalia Jackson's recording.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

A binging banshee got ahold of me last night and wouldn't let go. Then my scales scolded me this morning for the 2 pounds added back since bragging about the 10 I've lost. Yes, I let up on the restrictions when I realized the goal for the month had been reached, celebrating a weight loss with more food and wine than any one person needs. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Six days to undo the damage and get back to the right number for Sept. 1.

And to think I used to worry about being so thin! Pile on the calories and never gain an ounce, one of the few privileges I took for granted that I have really missed. That marvelous metabolic rate lasted about 35 years before it hit the skids.

I stopped by Betsy's while out for my walk, and she hurt my feelings by saying my dogs have fleas. They are protected with Frontline, so MY DOGS DO NOT HAVE FLEAS! They sleep in the same bed I sleep in, for goodness sake! Insult my dogs and you've insulted me, they're my babies. She knows that and does it anyway. What happened to the Betsy who loved dogs? The one who took in poor homeless Hojo and let him sleep with her? I liked that Betsy much better. Richard was out for a walk while I was there. The dogs went with him.

David has returned safely from England. I got an email last night from him thanking me for the Garrison Keillor quote about choral singing. I've missed his music this month at church, and I'm ready to start back to regular choir rehearsals. Since Law and Order will not be coming on at 9:00 every Weds. night, I may join the supper crowd after rehearsals. Previously, Jack McCoy appealed to me more than the late supper did. Plus, Mike didn't like me staying out that late, but he may just have to get used to it. I need that social outlet for my mental health. Another confrontation, another boundary to set, nothing new; I'm getting pretty good at it in my old age, in fact.

Bill gave me a CD this week that I'm really enjoying - Porter & Bernstein (a la Previn). It's got some of the Cole Porter tunes from It's DeLovely, some Leonard Bernstein from West Side Story, several instrumentals by Andre Previn. I've got it playing now while I write, makes me want to get up and dance, Be a Clown!

Friday, August 25, 2006

Perfect conditions for a morning walk are unusual around here, but today I was reminded of Mr. Rogers' little ditty - "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor..." (Or was it a lovely day?) No cardigan needed, however. "The child is in me still... and sometimes not so still."

A yellow lab got after Mick while we were out, and the first one to his defense was Jay-Jay. I couldn't believe it! Jay-Jay is not fond of Mick, is even afraid of Mick, but he didn't want some strange dog chasing his kitty.

Ms. Sippi got hits from 2 new places yesterday and the day before - Byram and Metarie. Not a clue who they could be. Total hits yesterday were 13, a new record, and a total time of 250 seconds, not a record. Lots of fast readers or strangers clicking on who were immediately not interested. I can't imagine that anyone who does not know me would find anything of interest here. I send the link to people who have trouble with insomnia for a reason. After all, one of my objectives is to clear my memory bank of the fluff to make room for the stuff.

I locked my purse with my keys in the trunk of my car yesterday at Kroger. In loading the groceries from the cart to the trunk, I set my purse over in the trunk to get it out of my way, thinking to myself as I did it, "Don't shut the lid til you've picked up the purse." A lot of good that did! And on the one day that Mike was at the casino! The locksmith got there in about 20 mins., charged me $45 for 5 seconds of work (he had a master key! how scary is that!), and tried to make me feel better by telling me he's done the same thing. No, I don't think you have, Buddy, unless your purse falls off your shoulder and gets in your way, too.

The humidity and the temp are low enough to work on the deck this morning. Better get started.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Sagittarius, August 24, 2006. The Sun is in Virgo, Moon is in Virgo. It doesn't get much worse than this. A pedant is driving you crazy. You will survive this horrible annoyance. Keep the faith.

Horoscopes amuse me, there's usually enough truth in them to give me pause, but not enough for serious concern. Pedants are usually very annoying to me, but I haven't been bothered by one lately, thank goodness! Maybe my sister is planning to bug me about something in her most pedantic manner. She hasn't done that lately, she's outgrown most of it. If that's the worst I have to endure, I'm truly blessed.

Speaking of outgrowing things, I read an interesting comment from the House of Bishops/Deputies e-mail message board about the developmental crisis that a lot of us baby boomers are beginning to face. According to one deputy, we're at the point where "the promises of youth have not quite panned out, neither the idealism nor the dreams. Bodies betray and the realization that most of one's life is behind them results in either an ennui that isolates or bursts of energy to finish the important work of one's life." He goes on to say that we can either "become chronic personalities or gracefully become wise elders." It boils down to the choices we make.

But it's always been about the choices we make, from one developmental stage to the next. We are where we are because of the choices we have made. My natural inclination is to go toward the chronic personality, I've been accused of that when I complain about my foibles. But is that really the way I want to be remembered? And does it really have to be all one way or the other?

Becoming anything gracefully has not really been my forte. Seems I get from one stage to the next by more external pressure than internal, with much kicking and screaming along the way. I have gained some wisdom, and I'm fast becoming elderly, but I doubt that anyone will consider me a "wise elder" anytime soon, if ever. It still bothers me to know that that's what is expected of my generation.

Ah, well, I'll save this crisis for another day. I have more important things to do today, like get my nails done.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Just what I needed - a new blogging format to learn. New Blogger in Beta, better blogging with new features! Our current format has been improved. Transferring archives from the old to the new is still iffy, though, so I've decided to stay with the old until they have ironed out all the wrinkles. Or I may just start a new one at the first of the month. I don't want to lose my six months recorded here, and I'm not sure what would happen to it if I don't attempt to transfer it. I've got more reading to do, obviously.

The blogging bug, once it bites, can be infectious. Since I've journaled for years, I can't imagine life without writing, but blogging satisfies several other urges beside self-expression - creativity, communication, entertaining my friends and family, blowing off steam, it's just great fun!

Since I added the site meter I can see where my readers are from - Clinton, Jackson, Richland, Hammond, Tampa, Watertown, Brooklyn, Durham, Tupelo, Carbondale, so even though it doesn't tell me who they are, I have a good idea, and I am humbled by every hit I get. Thank you all for caring! So far, only my Carbondale and Clinton readers have signed up with Blogger to be able to comment. Most feedback comes as e-mail, which I also love to get.

Mike let me sleep in this morning while he dressed himself and went to Waffle House for breakfast. His court experience was frustrating, but he made new friends of the plaintiff and her family. He wants me to make billfold size pictures of our pets so he can show them as "our babies." Seems the people he met yesterday all wanted to see pictures. They were all dog lovers.

My weight loss goal for August has been reached! When I get real brave I will post the numbers. 10 pounds lost since June 1, that's all the numbers I'm telling for now.

Cousin Bill is considering a move to Jackson from Atlanta, so his son Robin can attend Millsaps. As an RN, Bill will have no trouble getting a job wherever he wants to live, and Robin is so smart and so cute, he should do well wherever he goes. Am I the only one who sees some Silas in this kid? Yeah, I know, I tend to give Daddy credit for all the handsome genes in the family, like he was the only good looking family member we have, which I know is not true, but I do have a b/w photo of him that looks a lot like this when he was in his 20's.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

My company has left, my husband is out of town, the dogs and cats are asleep, so I can finally sit in peace and collect my thoughts, reflect on some of what was said and done since yesterday.

I thoroughly enjoyed my cousins' visit. They arrived around 4:00 bearing gifts of wine, bread, fruit, and cheese. Immediately, we set in to eat, drink, and be merry. There's something about the constitutions of New Orleanians that allows them to put away serious amounts of libations. I have to dilute mine with water; otherwise, I can't keep up. Conversation was lively until almost midnight. I love the camaraderie and easy familiarity that prevails in our soirees. Even Mike was engaged until he retired around 9:00. And he didn't complain at all about our noise.

The common theme we seem to enjoy celebrating the most is the loving relationship between their mother and my father, the older brother and his younger sister. I've remarked frequently about how much like a brother Skip has been to me since we both retired and re-connected through our work on the family tree. Bill only recently joined this reunion, but since I knew him better in our growing up years (only one year's age difference between him and me, six between Skip and me), there was a foundation of familial affection already existing.

Our conversation usually takes bits and pieces of memories about our parents, experiences we personally observed, or stories they told us; then we expand and expound on them, maybe even embellish a little, and squeeze out their special significance to us. They left us a rich legacy of topics to discuss, as well as their practice of deep love and care for one another to emulate. Just as they learned a lot from their Uncle Si, I learned a lot from my Aunt Margaret, especially about being the mother of two sons.

We also talked about our recent trips. They were in Greece and Italy around the same time I was in Ireland. Here are pictures of each of them on this vacation.

Bill's daughter Melissa had her wedding in Greece while they were there. Their description of the whole event struck me as hysterically funny, and prompted me to ask, "who wrote this script?" It was definitely a one-of-a-kind wedding, with the invoking of Greek gods and defying the Greek gods, and the goat that cooked all night, but never got done.

Mike got up at 4:15 to get ready for his trip to Greenville. He was due in court by 9:00. I went back to bed when he left at 5:45, and the dogs, the cousins and I slept until about 9:00. By 11:00, they were gone. I never get enough of them. Skip has promised a longer visit in September.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I've been on the phone with Bellsouth DSL Tech Support for 30 mins, and finally got back online. This is happening too often, even the technician was frustrated. And no, Benji, I don't want to hear about Macs. I'm sure I'll hear all about it when Bill gets here.

I'm expecting an overnight visit from Skip and Bill, they're arriving around 3:00. Mike was upset when I told him because he has to leave early in the morning to go to Greenville to court. He can't sit up late and drink wine and talk like we usually do. And he doesn't want us laughing and getting loud (like we usually do) disturbing his sleep. What a party pooper! Maybe it will be cool enough to sit outside on the deck.

Happy Birthday to my friend LaRue! And belated birthday greetings to my friend and co-grandmother Jeanette! She got her birthday wish early when Mary Ann gave her the news about the lot. Thank you, Lord, for these beautiful friends.

Watch over Jeanette and LaRue, Lord, as their days increase; bless and guide them wherever they may be. Strengthen them when they stand; comfort them when discouraged or sorrowful; raise them up if they fall; and in their hearts may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of their lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (BCP)

I've got housework to do before my cousins arrive.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Housekeeping Monthly, The Good Wife's guide, 13 May 1955, came to Benji in a spam message and he forwarded it to me last night. We laughed about the antiquated ideas, but my dreams were tormented. I fussed and fought with various men all night - husbands, father, fathers-in-law, others. It really riled up the libber in me.

Young women today don't realize how very different their roles as wives are from those of their grandmothers, and what the generation in-between had to go through to throw off much of the male chauvinism that tried to control us. And to think there are men out there today who still want women to be like this! Some Christian preachers still preach it as the Biblical Model! And most Muslims aren't even as advanced as 1955 America in their lifestyles. I'll e-mail it to the women I know so they will have one more thing to be thankful for today.

There's been talk for the last decade or so about the backlash from women's lib. Yes, women have more rights, but they also have more responsibility. As long as the pendulum doesn't swing back to the other extreme, we'll get through it and be stronger for it. Improvements still need to be made. I hope and pray the younger generation is up to the task and that their brothers, fathers, husbands, and sons help them.

Today's devotional from Forward Day by Day:

John 6:53-59. For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

A professor of religious history, Elaine Pagels, writes in Beyond Belief about returning to the church after decades of absence when her two-year old son was diagnosed with an incurable lung disease. She recognized the need to be there. Here was a place to weep, to sing, to celebrate, to acknowledge common needs, and to deal with what she could not control or imagine. She writes that her defenses fell away, exposing storms of grief and hope. Through that experience, she dared hope that such communion has the potential to transform us.

On a weekly basis, and sometimes more frequently, I participate in a eucharist. There are times when I am deeply moved, there are times when I reflect on the experience during and afterwards, and there are times when I am quietly thankful for the sacrament without having any conscious response or reflection. Pagels’ writing is a powerful articulation of what I experience: celebration, transformation, and mystery.

The Gifts of God for the People of God.

Also Ps 147; Proverbs 9:1-6; Ephesians 5:15-20

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ok, so it didn't load in the previous post, but on the third try, I got it to show up in a separate post. Pip and Pop below, Carrie and Katie on the left.

Benji sent another precious picture of him and Pip. I'm trying to upload it, but for some reason, it hasn't popped in. Maybe it will. He was totally shocked to learn of Ricky's change of heart about living in Mississippi.

Ricky and Mary Ann bought the lot! A move to Rankin County is in the works. No firm timeline, too many variables, but the train has left the station. Woohoo! Mary Ann already has houseplans in mind. When Mike asked her if she was sure they wanted that much property to maintain, she reminded him that they have two boys.

My neighbor Art is selling a sofa and loveseat for his daughter and son-in-law that I would really like to have. Mike likes it, too, just doesn't want to spend the money. It's practically brand new, built by a Chickasaw Co. furniture builder, Jason's dad. Carrie and Katie came over while I was there, so I made their picture (which didn't show up either, even though I got an "upload successful" message). Katie was fascinated with the dogs. She was born 2 days before Harlee. They will probably be friends one day, or rivals for the same boy. When I asked about their new house and how much lots sold for in their subdivision, I realized the price Ricky got his for was a real bargain. She thought it was, too.

Friday, August 18, 2006

This morning's dream was about Benji and Daddy. Benji had taken possession of my new glasses, which, he said, allowed him to see more clearly than his own. He also wanted to "stay with Granddaddy," who lived next door. Benji was about 12 years old and was becoming even more independent and defiant than he had been. We were having this conversation in the carport doorway to their kitchen; I was standing in the carport looking up at Daddy and Benji, who were in the house. When Daddy said it was ok, I relented, but I wanted my glasses back. He had removed the nose pads, and when I realized that, I told him he could keep them. I didn't understand how glasses without nosepads could be comfortable, but he said he liked them better that way.

While it was good to visit with Daddy again, living with Benji during adolescence is not something I would ever choose to repeat, one of the most stressful times of my life, without a doubt. But I was warmly moved by his desire to see more clearly and to "stay with Granddaddy." He was that charming, persuasive Benji, who knew what he wanted and was prepared to stand his ground, the one I had trouble saying no to. His strongest ally was behind him 100%, encouraging, accepting, providing safe haven during a troubling time.

Maybe the stress relief I've needed was represented in this dream, the troubled one turning to his grandfather for comfort and support. I do feel less stressed today than I did yesterday when my IBS told me in no uncertain terms that changes have to be made.

Mike called while I was shopping at Kohl's, whining about the DVD player not working right, wanting me to come home and fix it. I'd already done all I knew to do it earlier, including putting new batteries in the remote. Nothing worked. When I told him I did not know anything else to do to it, he exploded and started screaming at me over the cell phone. I clicked off.

After he calmed down, he called back and apologized. But in the meantime, my gut did nasty things to me. It had to be the stress that triggered it. That's happened before. I need to just turn off the cell phone while I'm shopping. especially if it's mainly for relaxation.

I read a helpful article in the AARP magazine last night about caregivers and chronic stress, and how unmanaged stress will shorten one's life. If I think of Mike's lack of emotional control as an unfortunate result of his stroke, his outbursts don't bother me nearly as bad as when I view them as immaturity and irresponsibility, or a character flaw. That leads to anger, resentment, feeling victimized.

Truth is, it's not all one cause or the other, but a combination of the two, but my perception of the situation affects me more than the situation itself. I have to stay in responsible adult mode all the time. I'm not his parent, I'm not his child, we are both adults, and as long as we relate to one another that way, things flow much more smoothly. That seems to be more difficult for him to remember than for me, but he understands the concept and switches roles when reminded.

Ricky's purchase of the lot has moved one step closer to reality. One of the major obstacles has been overcome, two more to go. I hope it works out.

In further reflection of the dream, these verses came to me: Do not let your heart be believe in God, believe also in me. In my father's house are many mansions... I go to prepare a place for you that where I am, there you may be also...peace I leave with you... my peace I give not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Jay-Jay was gone over an hour yesterday, which alarmed both Mike and me. This morning it was Gus. I wish there were someway to track them when they're roaming off-leash and watch where they go. The technology exists but it's not priced for occasional recreational purposes.

Mike's interview went smoothly. Since he's only had 2 NYL cases over the last year, there wasn't much to check. Both of those fell in his lap from existing clients. Thank goodness he has no production minimum while he's on disability leave. He gets to keep his contract, draw renewals, and retire with full benefits. He's also free to broker business with other companies if the opportunity comes along. And enough opportunities have come along to keep us afloat financially, thank you, Lord.

The woman who came for the interview lives a much more affluent lifestyle than we do. I usually feel self-conscious about our very modest home when people come who are used to more sophistication and luxury. I did not feel that way yesterday. I'm very grateful that my tastes were never expensive. I feel blessed to have what we have, to live as comfortably as we do, not to have more bills than we do, not to feel the pressure that modern couples feel to make ends meet. There is much to be said for the simple life.

I talked with Ricky last night about the lot for sale that he wants to buy. He still has not come up with the money, houses in his neighborhood aren't selling as swiftly as they once were, and his boss had a very cool response to his idea of working his current job from Mississippi - lots of obstacles to overcome to get here. It will work out the way it's supposed to work out, no matter how much I want them here. Mary Ann has been looking at house plans, and we hope and pray that it will happen. And with his dad feeling more generous since he hit 60, it could. HIGH HOPES, low expectations - we must remember that.

The lot is next door to Vance's new house in rural Rankin County. It overlooks a small lake, much like Borden's Lake in Plantersville. I thought it was on a gravel road, but when I took Mike out there last week to see it, I realized the road is paved, there is just a short section of road on the way that isn't.

Speaking of Vance, today is his 32nd birthday. I'll send him an e-card. It's also the 8th anniversary of Mother's move to Jackson. Benji sent the cutest picture of Pip last night. It's posted below, separately; I just couldn't wait to show it. More pix at
Is this not the cutest picture? Pip does Elvis! What a card!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The cricket convention has ended, we're back to just the regulars hanging around, much less noise. I switched from Diet Dr. Pepper to caffeine-free DDP yesterday, so maybe that helped, I dunno. And I caught up on the sleep I lost.

In all my reading about tinnitus, one of the things I read that I had not considered before is the effect of cortisol, the stress hormone. It can play havoc with all sorts of internal systems. Effective stress management is required to keep it down. Guided imagery, journaling, self-hypnosis, yoga, exercise, listening to music, breathing exercises, meditation, sex, and other techniques are all recommended.

Some of these I use on a regular basis, some I've never tried, one produced more stress than it relieved. Eventually, I intend to find what works for me. I feel hopeful and optimistic again, another key factor. Masking the head noise with white noise, distracting myself with something that is all-absorbing, avoiding television and my television-watching husband as much as possible also help.

Today my twh is having a security compliance evaluation with the NYL staff person in charge of these things. I helped him catch up on his filing yesterday, 90% of everything piled up in his office going to file 13, so he should be in pretty good shape. We managed to work together for almost 2 hours without him having a temper tantrum. I was pleased. While he's at the gym this morning, I'll straighten the house. The vacuum cleaner noise always blocks out the crickets.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tinnitus has been known to drive some people over the edge. I've lived with mine for 10+ years. It's the main reason I take Zoloft, not much can be done but treating the mental and emotional distress it causes. If I were to wake up one day without a head full of crickets chirping, I'd be ecstatic. Last night I had a new noise - the buzz of a mosquito, and it was not a mosquito. I could not get away from it. I tried. It was almost 1:00 before I got to sleep.

The mosquito buzz is gone this morning, thank goodness! But I got so desperate that I decided to google tinnitus to see if there have been any new treatments discovered. There are a couple of dietary supplements for sale with money-back guarantees that I came real close to ordering. The medical sites all said there is still no cure, no way to relieve symptoms, just take the anti-depressant, the anti-anxiety meds, use noise machines, headphones, cognitive therapy, learn to live with it. Over the last ten years, I've tried them all. And I saw these reassuring phrases - you are not a hypochondriac, your condition is real. Yes, it is all in your head, but it is not your imagination. You are not neurotic. Tinnitus is not fatal.

Some people have had limited success with bio-feedback, some with hypnosis. I tried using the headphones with music playing, but that was even more annoying. Who can sleep with headphones and wires wrapped around their head? I did my deep breathing exercises and finally relaxed (or wore myself out).

Today I feel very tired. My husband, my dogs, everything is getting on my nerves. Even my favorite radio station is playing something with nature sounds in the background, including crickets, really annoying. I need to buy another noise machine, not one of the cheap models like I bought before. Or find a giant waterfall to sit under all day.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Mike's step-mother died on Friday. His Aunt Joyce, the last of his father's siblings, called to give him the news on Saturday, and to sarcastically express condolences. We will not be going to the funeral at 10:00 today. She was one of our most unfavorite people, one of those sly, devious, underhanded people whose bad vibes put me off from the start. I didn't hate her so much that I would want her condemned to hell, but I didn't trust her at all. All my suspicions were validated after Mike's daddy died. Everything he had promised for Mike's inheritance had been signed over to her in a flimsy, fraudulent, handwritten codocil to his will. Mike sued and got part of it, but the rest had already been distributed among her 3 sons. No records existed to disprove her claim, so Mike was screwed.

At my insistence, Mike persuaded his dad to sign over the Madison property to him a couple of years before he died, otherwise, she would have had that, too. After that event, we were not welcomed in her house, the house his daddy built for her after her first house accidentally burned. Funny how certain sentimental artifacts were saved when everything was supposedly lost. I still think one of her sons torched it for her. She was greedy and grasping, a pitifully insecure woman who resorted to dishonesty and deceitfulness. I hope she is held accountable. There will be no tears shed for her in this part of Rankin County.

Sunday was a peaceful day in our house. I went to church alone, Mike was not in the mood, he said. I found out that David arrived in London last Weds. before all the trouble started Thurs. with the terrorists. He should make it back ok one day this week. Our organist yesterday was drafted at the last minute because the sub he arranged cancelled. Her playing made us appreciate David that much more. Jeanne and I sang a descant in one of the hymns; that's as close to special music as we came. Tom preached a better-than-average sermon on the John 6 passage, coming pretty close to the universalist idea, but not committing to it, just suggesting we think about it.

And I have been giving it a lot of thought. The idea of anyone burning eternally in fire and brimstone has always bothered me. I've got more reading and research to do on the subject, but if and when I reach a conclusion, I'll try to write it out.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

As a former Southern Baptist, it was quite a shock to me when I realized that many Episcopalians believe in universalism, which is defined by Wikipedia thusly:

In comparative religion, universalism is the belief that true and valuable insights are available in many of the religious traditions which have grown up in various human cultures. It posits that a spiritually aware person will respect religious traditions other than his own and will be open to learning from them. It does not deny that immersion in one tradition is a useful anchor for an individual's spiritual development. While it celebrates the richness and value to be found among humankind's religious traditions, it does not necessarily deny that some things done in the name of religion, and some religious practices, are not constructive. But it distinguishes itself from the view that there is only one true faith, one uniquely chosen people, or one final prophet superseding all others. The name Universalist refers to certain religious denomination of universalism, which as a core principle adhere to standards and rituals which are convergent rather than divergent, often espousing themselves as alternatives to denominations based on dogmatic or factionalized differences.

Here's the sermon that will be preached today by the Rev. Barbara Cawthorne Crafton at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Metuchen, NJ. I'm having trouble digesting it, but I am chewing on it. I don't know if she calls herself a universalist, or not, but in my limited exposure to such a liberal view, I'd say this comes pretty close.

"Taste and see that the Lord is good." But is He really this good? Imagine that! For further info on this priest and author go to her website.

No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me; and I will raise that person up on the last day. - John 6:44

Let us remember who the Father is in the gospel of John -- it is the Father who creates the world. It is the Son through whom the world is created. Life comes from God, everything that is. Without the Father and the Son, nothing is made.

And so the idea that God the Father is involved in the sorting of people into the company of the saved and unsaved -- or that Jesus engages in such sorting -- seems unlikely in this context. It is the entire creation that is soaked in God's creative power. This drawing that God does is the omnipresent love that caused us to be here in the first place and orients our longing in the direction from which we came. It hasn't gone anywhere. It hasn't been withdrawn from any of us. We may have made decisions about how we will or will not respond to it, but God hasn't left any of us behind.

And so the favorite verses in this gospel that seem to point toward a salvation intent on involving an elite few -- or even an elite many -- only do so if we are determined to remake John the Evangelist in our own narrow image. Nobody comes to the Father but by me, his Jesus says, and we think that means that lots of people just don't come, just don't get in, just don't make the grade, because they didn't sign up with the historical Jesus or with his organization.

No. What Jesus says here is much more matter-of-fact. Are you saved? Yup. Who saved you? God. How? Through Jesus. Are there any people who got saved another way? Nope, Jesus was there for every last one of us, whether we knew it or not. There weren't any exceptions. God's love doesn't have exceptions.

Well, what happens to you if you don't accept Jesus Christ as Your Personal Savior?

Well, I may engage a personal shopper or a personal trainer or a personal assistant, but I don't have a personal savior. I have the same one everyone else has, and I have him by virtue of having been created through him. My salvation is my return to him, from the midst of the worst muck-ups into which I can stumble. It is not my reward for good behavior or for having the right answer when someone asked me a question about him.

As always, we are uncomfortable with a love that is all-encompassing, not least because it cuts us out of a decision-making role in the matter of who is in and who is out. It turns out we're all in.

What we do with who we are, and whose we are, is up for grabs. We can ignore it. We can decide we don't want it, although that won't change God's mind about us. We can determine to experience none of it as long as we live. We are free.

Or we can turn into it. Now. Before we have to live another minute unaware of its beauty.

Deuteronomy 8:1-10
Ephesians 4:(25-29)30-5:2
John 6:37-51
Psalm 34 or 34:1-8

Saturday, August 12, 2006

August 12, 2006 - The Sun is in Leo, Moon is going from Pisces into Aries. You're a wildly independent sort of person, as everyone knows. That's why they want to tag along. You're where the action is. Unless you're hiding out, of course.

So goes the life of this Sagittarian, with more hiding than action as she ages. Hiding out is a good thing, though, especially if your car insurance was cancelled two months ago and you're just now finding out about it. What's that old saying about God protects the fools and the children? I'm really glad nothing happened during that time and that I finally got it reinstated. Yesterday's horoscope said: If you can stay in your house for two months, with everything you need, you can wait out all sorts of traumas that could occur out there. Get a generator, too, so the ice cream doesn't melt. Mississippi heat does tend to keep me "in the house" as much as possible.

My insurance agent is also a personal friend whose wife was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months back. She was the organized one in his office. Now that she's no longer able to work, he's at a serious disadvantage. His company recently changed their billing system, too, so the poor man is really struggling to hold things together. I felt so sorry for him when I was in his office yesterday, seems I'm not the only one whose coverage had lapsed. Talk about a double whammy! I just hope his errors and omissions policy is paid; I see lawsuits in the making. Dear God, send your angels to work overtime protecting this man's clients.

My DSL went down yesterday, then my computer went haywire. I had to spend several hours running diagnostics, defragging, making sure all security systems were up-to-date and screening properly. Seems everything is back to normal today. Friday was a stressful day for me.

And it started out so peaceful! Due to the rains on Thursday, everything had a freshly washed sparkle to it. The flowers that were wilting the day before looked happy, and the green grass was more noticable than the brown. My condo even looked less drab than it usually does. And we're supposed to get more rain today.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Will wonders never cease? Pat Robertson admitted on his 700 Club that global warming may actually be a problem! "And it is getting hotter, and the ice caps are melting, and there is a buildup of carbon dioxide in the air. And I think we really need to address the burning of fossil fuels. If we are contributing to the destruction of this planet, we need to do something about it." DUH! There may be hope for humanity's earthly home, after all. Wonder what his fans thought of that statement. And I wonder when our prez will see the light.

Even though I haven't seen aninconvenienttruth, I have been taking more seriously the recommendations for ways to cut down the amount of Co2 I produce. There are really simple things we can all do - changing regular light bulbs to fluorescent, driving less, recycling more, inflating tires properly, using less hot water, turning off electronic devices when not in use, adjusting our thermostats, etc.

Yes, I added an AC to our household, but I will try to be frugal with its use. I'm not to the point that I will try to survive summer in the deep south without any AC, as one blogger in Georgia tried to do (without much success past 4th of July). Unlike him, we have no shade trees, and we have inadequate insulation plus health considerations, but the thermostat is watched more carefully and raised more often than it used to be, and I've been changing the filters regularly.

This is one of the latest, greatest shots from Benji's cellphone - The Pipster. I wish Ricky or Mary Ann would send pictures to me as often as they did when Clay and Cooper were babies, but then that is the cutest time of anyone's life, isn't it?

I got various responses yesterday to the sappy 9/11 poem I sent to family members, but this one from Betsy bears repeating: God has promised forgiveness for your sinfulness, but he has not promised tomorrow for your procrastination. St. Augustine

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Our love alert has been raised to red. Heathrow Airport was shut down earlier today with the foiling of a major terrorist plot. And the first message I opened this morning was a commemorative poem about 9/11 and how we should never put off 'til tomorrow the love and appreciation we should express today. David O'Steen is supposed to be in London sometime this month, not sure when he was leaving or returning, but he's the only one I know who may be directly affected by this latest development. I tried calling him with no luck. I just hope he doesn't get stuck on the other side of the pond. Church isn't nearly as enjoyable without music.

Now that I have an AC in my office, I can hear the soft rain; only the hard rain could be heard before. I love the sound of raindrops on metal, one of the few things I actually enjoyed about living in a mobile home back in the 60's. If it did this all day, I would not complain. Our outside temp is a cool 74* now. According to the radar, Rankin County is surrounded by showers from Meridian to Monroe, enough to keep us cool and wet for a couple of hours. Ahhh, what a relief it is!

I promised Mother and myself that I would take shampoo, scissors, and a curling iron with me next time I visit her. Her hair has never been as long as it is now, and she has never liked long hair. Fortunately, she doesn't realize how long it is.

She was getting regular visits to the nursing home's beauty shop, but for some reason she hasn't been lately. The aide, who helps bathe and dress her, shampoos it about once a week, but that's all she gets. I think they make the mistake of asking her if she wants to go, rather than telling her she has an appointment. I need to check on it. My clip job usually falls far short of what a trained beautician does, but with as much natural curl as she has, a botched cut can be pretty easily camouflaged. I'd just rather not do it unless I have to.

I've got a couple of deadlines looming - proving Mike's continued eligibility for my medical insurance, and turning in recipes for our Altar Guild's cookbook. What a great way to spend a rainy day! Such pressing matters to contend with. The rain has stopped. The dogs and I are going for a walk. I'll take my camera.

12 Noon. We didn't get any further than the end of our sidewalk before the rain started again. I came back in and cranked up the stove, not something I do a lot in the summer months, but cool, rainy weather inspires me to cook. I made the Salsa-Veggie Mix we like and baked some potatoes (topped with the mix and grated cheese) for lunch. It also makes great nachos with tortilla chips.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Patches is the oldest member of our menagerie. A 10 yr old Calico, she loves to eat, and can be vicious if Mick gets between her and the food bowl. Here she's licking her lips after enjoying a big breakfast. She loves babies and small children, paying more attention to them than any of her other people. Calicos are more aloof than most cats, don't care much for petting, and are susceptible to weight problems. Patches is still fat, but not as fat as she was before we put her on the indoor cat food. She spends most of her time outside on the deck or the patio, but will sleep on the foot of our bed with the dogs, if she decides she wants to.

I went online last night and found the AC I wanted at Sears, so I ordered it and I'm going out there this morning to pick it up. I hope it's light enough for me to haul it solo and install myself. By 3:00 yesterday, the temp was up to 88* in my office, and didn't start to cool down until 9:00. Enough is enough. Alex, the handyman, is coming at 1:30 to measure for the bathroom job. Maybe I can get him to help with the AC. (The spritzer bottle with ceiling fan on high - that's how I survived the heat.)

I did figure out a work-around for the pictures that are locked into the genealogy program, so I may go back and copy my favorite picture of my parents to the Aug. 7th post. But first I've got to walk with the dogs before the heat takes over.

4:00 pm. The AC has been installed, and my comfort zone is once again comfortable. Why didn't I do this sooner? One of the few advantages of Mike's disability is that I can hire a handyman when I need one. Before the stroke, I would always ask him. He would agree to do it, then procrastinate and complain from beginning to end. I would suggest paying a pro to do the job. More cussing and whining. Now when I need help, I can get it, without all the sound effects. It's so much better.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My early start on blogging was interrupted by Mick, prowling across my desk, with a tone of irritation in his meow. "You promised me fresh kitty litter this morning, so why haven't you done it, yet?" I knew exactly what he was up to. Going back downstairs got me sidetracked for another hour, but now I have fewer unfinished chores nagging at me while I settle into my comfort zone.

I've been trying my best to figure out how pictures from my family tree file can be copied and pasted to a different file. I know there is a way to do it, I've done it before, but so far, it eludes me. Oh, well, I'll get a great deal of satisfaction when the solution to this problem finally comes to me.

In the meantime, I'm having loads of fun with the new camera. I stopped at Best Buy yesterday and bought a 1.0 GB memory card and a 15 min battery recharger. The smart aleck kid working cameras was not a fan of Kodak anything, and had trouble speaking plain English to this grandmother who is mainly interested in making pictures of grandchildren and pets. He did agree that what I have is fine for that, like I must be the most unimaginative photographer he's ever wasted his vast store of expertise on. "Different strokes for different folks," I told him, and he stared at me like he'd never heard that line before. Really.

While browsing through the genealogy files, I realized there are several branches in this family tree that need to be updated. Skip had only one grandchild when I did his family, and Jack only had two great-grands. Now she has 9. Several marriages, births, and deaths have not been added. Too much on my plate right now to tackle this, but it's on my list of things to do. Maybe this fall or winter, that's when I really enjoy family history.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Joseph Silas Johnson was born 98 years ago today. I still miss him, but there are times when his presence is still very real to me. I've often thought how much he would have enjoyed pc's, or he may have preferred Macs. He was a life-long learner, which inspires me. Happy Birthday, Daddy, I love you.

Almighty God,
you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses:
Grant that we, encouraged by the good example of
your servant Silas,
may persevere in running the race that is set before us,
until at last we may with him attain to your eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ,
the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Mother has a 9:00 appointment with Dr. Carroll. I'm supposed to meet the van transporting her at St. D. and take her from there up to the doctor's office. I hope we don't have to wait as long as we did the last time. I'm taking my camera with me and will try to take some pictures while I'm out. She will enjoy being able to instantly see the pictures I make. She never liked to wait for anything.

I had a restless night. The dogs seemed determined to push me out of the bed. I moved them over a couple of times, but then I would wake up and realize they had pushed me to the edge. Maybe we can get a good nap this afternoon.

2:50 pm. Mother has recovered remarkably well, Dr. Carroll said, and we should be glad we went ahead with the surgery. If we hadn't, the tumors would be large and oozing by now. "It was the right decision," he told me. "I know you had mixed feelings about it, but you did the best thing for her." He has a very warm and comforting manner that I find reassuring. She still hasn't admitted to any pain, even adamantly denied it when he asked her. She was humming the whole time I was with her, not any tune in particular, just humming. When I hummed a couple of tunes, she hummed along, then went back to tuneless humming. I don't think she was aware she was doing it. She managed a smile for us, too.

I ran most of my errands while I was out, then Mike and I went to lunch at No. 1 China Buffet. One of the neighborhood handymen just came to look at doing our tile replacement in the bathroom. He's calling back tomorrow with an estimate. It's naptime.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Lord, the light of your love is shining
In the midst of the darkness, shining
Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us
Set us free by the truth you now bring us
Shine on me, shine on me

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father's glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Set our hearts on fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

Lord, I come to your awesome presence
From the shadows into your radiance
By the blood I may enter your brightness
Search me, try me, consume all my darkness
Shine on me, shine on me

As we gaze on your kingly brightness
So our faces display your likeness
Ever changing from glory to glory
Mirrored here may our lives tell your story
Shine on me, shine on me

Graham Kendrick Copyright © 1987
Make Way Music,
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.
Used by permission.

In honor of our former priest Fr. Barry Cotter, who loved this song and sang it every chance he got. He left St. Peter's By-the Lake to go to Ohio as a church planter and circuit riding priest. A talented preacher, teacher, and musician, wherever he is on this Transfiguration Sunday, I'm sure he's singing this song. (With Google, I discovered Barry is retired and living in Barnesville, OH.)

1:00 pm. I had a very different Sunday morning at church. With no choir during the month of August, I went with Mike to his Sunday School class. They were discussing the current church controversy with Bruns leading the discussion. Not many have kept up with it like I have, so even though I was supposedly "auditing" the class, I had as many answers to their questions as Bruns did.

Seems several in there are former SouBaptists like me, so a lot of what makes the Episcopal church unique is still a mystery to them. I was able to explain a couple of things in Baptist terminology that they seemed to appreciate, like "priesthood of the believer," and the "via media' as it applies to scripture. I got several invitations to come back. I felt like I talked too much, but Mike said I didn't.

I also learned that +Shannon Johnston is on the short list of nominees for Bishop of Arkansas, and that's the main reason he was preaching two weeks ago in our church. He's on Sabbatical from All Saints, so didn't want to meet with the committee there.

It's hard for me to imagine Ellen as a Bishop's wife, but she'll do fine, I'm sure. I spoke to her Thursday night after Evensong, she was in the Conference Choir, and wished afterwards I had asked about Ruth Liveakos, my favorite teacher at THS and one of the frail, elderly members of All Saints, last I heard. I wonder if she's still living. Ellen was our choirmaster at St. Peter's before she married Shannon, and we combined with Tupelo All Saints choir to sing at their wedding, a very lovely affair and loads of fun.

Our whole Eucharist today was with no music. David and most of our choir were at the Music Conference concert at the Cathedral. Consequently, we got out of church a half hour earlier than normal. While we were eating lunch at McAllister's, our friend Abby came by to give us a gift card for answering a survey about the recent renovation of the store on Pear Orchard. She's working as a management intern this summer before going back to school at State for one more year's work on her Masters.

Skip sent word that Julia Sims Wood was born yesterday. Congratulations to Granny Helen and the new parents!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

This made me laugh out loud:


The pastor entered his donkey in a race and it won. The pastor was so pleased with the donkey that he entered it in another race, and it won again. The local paper read: Pastor's Ass Out Front. His Bishop was so upset with this kind of publicity that he ordered the pastor not to enter the donkey in any more races.

The next day, the local paper headline read: Bishop Scratches Pastor's Ass. This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the pastor to get rid of the donkey. The pastor decided to give it to a nun in a nearby convent. The local paper, hearing of the news, posted the following headline the next day: Nun Has the Best Ass in Town.

The Bishop fainted. He informed the nun that she would have to get rid of the donkey, so she sold it to a farmer for $10. The next day the paper read: Nun Sells Ass for $10. This was too much for the bishop, so he ordered the nun to buy back the donkey and lead it to the high plains where it could run wild. The next day the headlines read: Nun Announces Her Ass Is Wild and Free.

Alas, the Bishop was buried the next day.

Moral of the story?? Being concerned about public opinion can bring you much grief and misery, and even shorten your life. So, be yourself and enjoy life ... Stop worrying about everyone else's ass, and you'll live longer and be a lot happier.

(from the Rev. Mary L. Allen on the HoB/D message board. See, I told you I was learning a lot from these bishops and deputies.)
I've been observing a most intriguing conversation on the HoB/D mailing list about the "Authority of Scripture." Seems to be much disagreement in the House of Bishops and Deputies about how we as Episcopalians are to believe and interpret Scripture. Since I'm no historian, I've learned a lot about Richard Hooker and Via Media, or his Middle Way between Roman Catholics and the Puritans.

Hooker argued that reason and tradition were important when interpreting the Scriptures, and that it was important to recognise that the Bible was written in a particular historical context, in response to specific situations. Hooker's emphases on reason, tolerance and inclusiveness considerably influenced the development of Anglicanism.

Now we have this growing element of bishops, priests, and parishioners who want to leave Via Media behind. Some favor the Roman way, some the Puritan, but according to them, we've become unreasonably tolerant and inclusive. I disagree, but if we are to include those who have heretofore been excluded, there will need to be a settling of disruptive influences. Reconciliation may not be possible in all cases, even though much effort is being made to reconcile opposing forces.

Our numbers are decreasing, but that is not necessarily a negative. We were described by one news article like this: The Episcopal Church, a tiny blip on the American religious scene ...Insignificant churches, ecclesiastical Davids slinging stones at society's Goliaths, are closest to living the Gospel of Jesus. The future of our tiny blip of a church excites me. I like the idea of slaying Goliaths.

Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. I'm doing the OT reading Ex 34:29-35, where Moses comes down from the mountain, after speaking with the Lord, and his face is so radiant that he has to wear a veil. Moses, along with Elijah, appears again with Jesus when he is transfigured.

One of the prayers we'll use is: O God, who on the holy mount revealed to chosen witnesses your well-beloved Son, wonderfully transfigured, in raiment white and glistening: Mercifully grant that we, being delivered from the disquietude of this world, may by faith behold the King in his beauty; who with you, O Father, and you, O Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

and Amen.

Friday, August 04, 2006

This picture of Pip was posted on Benji's flickr site,
along with some other outstanding photography. Is this not one handsome boy? Benji definitely has the artist's eye when he gets a camera in his hands. Something about this child still reminds me of my mother. There is a similar picture of her in a washtub taken in 1919. I wish I could post it for comparison, but I only have it in my family tree files and that software does not allow me to copy or save to a different file.
Is it Friday already? This week has flown by. Today's post may be short, I've got to take care of business.

Mike and I heard one of the best choirs last night that I've ever heard. Nobody attends the conference who isn't already an accomplished musician, their sound proved that. They did a couple of pieces that our choir has done, but with the obvious difference between 20 voices and 50 voices. Why these events don't attract a bigger audience is still a mystery to me, there should have been standing room only. And it was hard for me not to applaud after the jazz prelude. Who was that man on the organ? Microphones were set up for recording, maybe the whole thing will be aired on MPB.

Benji, Karen, and Pip are back in IL, so the tone of his last email was much happier. He sent a cute picture of him and Karen. Looks like he's been playing with special effects on his computer. I think the teeth whitener is working, Son.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

This is Jay-Jay, who came to our house a year and a half after Gus. He belonged to a neighbor's ex-wife, and was terribly neglected. Our vet had the full story on him since the ex-wife was also an ex-employee of his vet clinic. They had him in their records as Jay-Jay Focker. He's a beautiful mix of terriors. His tan, short-haired coat is very shiny. He is about 5 yrs old now (Gus is 4), and weighs 12.5 lbs. He's very strong, graceful, athletic, and he quickly established himself as the alpha male dog in the house. He has a quiet dignity about him that Gus seems to admire, but does not try to emulate. He's reserved and compliant, eager to please, but will back Gus up when he's barking at an "intruder." He has had a slightly calming effect on Gus. He sleeps against my stomach (or back) every night. Gus sleeps at my feet. He's not as free with the puppy kisses as Gus, but he shows affection by staying close and obeying. He tends to hyper-ventilate when excited, and is terrified of fireworks and thunder storms.

Yeah! It worked! This is one of the first pictures I made with my new camera. Gus has been my most willing subject. He's got a piece of a foil hamburger wrapper between his paws and growls if Jay-Jay gets near it.

Gus is part pug, part Chihuahua, so we call him a Pughuahua. He weighs 11 lbs., and has a shiny, short-haired buff-colored coat. He's very feisty and aggressive when provoked, and it doesn't take much to provoke him. He's a yapper, notifying us of everything out of the ordinary that comes close or crosses our yard. He's also very affectionate. Strong, stubborn, sweet, sensitive - that's Gus.
The new camera arrived yesterday, and I'm having so much fun trying to figure it out. Making the pictures is simple enough, but after I download them from the camera to the computer, I haven't quite figured out where to go from there. I attempted to post a picture of Gus to the blog, but for some reason, I keep getting errors. My last attempt gave me an error before I even browsed for the file I needed, so it may just be a blogger website problem. I'll try again later. I was able to print, but didn't get the layout I wanted.

Since I have more than one photo program on this computer, I'm wondering if there isn't a conflict between some of the programs. Maybe my computer is as confused as I am, not likely, but considering its operator, maybe.

I'm falling way behind again in things that need to be done around here. I've got first of the month bills to pay, laundry to finish, dusting and vacuuming, etc, etc, etc. I invited my cousins to visit next week. I wish they would tell me they're coming, I'd be more motivated to clean house and take care of business. Instead, I'll probably spend the afternoon going to the nail shop, napping, and fooling with the new camera and software. The word malingering might aptly describe me, especially during the summer. I did take the dogs for a walk this morning, so I'm not totally worthless. Mike just reminded me of the Evensong at St. Philip's at 5:30. The music conference choir is singing. I better get to ginning.

My neighbor Art came over to tell me his grandbaby Katey is at his house with her parents, who sold their house, but can't move into their new one, yet. Looks like they may be with him a couple of days. I've never seen the baby, who was born the same week as Harlee, but he's shown me pictures. He told me to go over sometime today to see her. She was still asleep when he was here.

Skip sent the cutest picture of his newest grandbaby Amanda, 2nd-born to his son Jonathan. Helen is expecting her first granddaughter next week from daughter Lillian. They're naming her Julia. My friend Larue is expecting another grand from daughter Laurie in Feb. With 3 boys already, Laurie thinks this may be another boy. I'm hoping my youngest grandchild is back at home in his own crib by now. I wonder if he remembers their home in Makanda, they've been gone almost 8 months. I know Benji was tired of being gone so long. They went to Asheville for their summer school gig right after returning from Ireland.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I took Mike to St. D. for a blood test this morning. We were there when the lab opened at 7:30. He's supposed to have a lipid profile done monthly, but it's more like every other month, or every 3rd month when he does it. Then we ate breakfast at Primo's on Lakeland. Again, he wanted to know about the trans fats, but the woman taking our order answered, "The butter is on the table," when I asked, "does your food have trans fats or butter?" "That's what the Lipitor is for," I told him when they brought his plate of grits, whole wheat toast and scrambled egg, all three items apparently buttered generously. "Besides, I read somewhere that butter is not as bad as trans fats because it's natural and doesn't clog arteries like margarine." He ate it all with no complaints. Even claimed to enjoy it, especially the coffee. We sat in the booth under the picture of the 1933 Primo's on Capitol Street. He and I both remembered it looking the same way in the 50's when our parents took us there. Each of us liked to sit at the counter and eat brownies.

I got some really good news from Mary Ann yesterday. Ricky called Vance to inquire about the vacant lot next door to his house. I could have been knocked over with a feather. I was shocked! We have begun a prayer campaign to move them back to Mississippi. I can't think of anything that would please me more, unless Benji called to say they're moving back, too. I told her there are plenty more vacant lots in Rankin County if he can't make a satisfactory deal on that one. They've been in their new home in Tampa less than a year, so I'm not sure what's behind this softening of his attitude. Maybe someone has offered him the right price on his new house. With the AT&T/Bellsouth merger, maybe his chances of transferring are better. I just don't know and really don't care what's behind it. The fact that he would consider it at all makes this mama very happy.

Our relatives in the Northeast are getting hammered with a heat wave. I hope they have air conditioning. Betsy said Tara and Steve did not last summer when she was there. With temps in the 90's and some close to 100*, they must be miserable. And those babies! How does she manage? I'd be spending the days in the bathtub. Surely it's cool where she works. Tropical storm Chris in the Carribbean is trying to build to hurricane strength. I just hope we don't have another Katrina. Seems August is getting to be the month to dread, weatherwise.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Seeing Billy Joe Shaver on Imus this morning was a rude reminder of how much time has passed since I first became aware of him. He hit Nashville in the late 60's before I moved back to Mississippi. Why I remember him from that time, I'm not sure, because he didn't become famous until the 70's. Maybe he was on the local tv shows, Johnny Cash had one, seems Kris Kristofferson did, too, or maybe he was featured in the news. All I remember is that I liked him, I thought he was cute. Now he is a very crusty, very salty old dog. Like Willie Nelson, his songwriting talent is far greater than his performing talent, but he's fun to watch, and the older he gets, the better he sounds to me. As he says in one of his most famous songs, "I'm just an old chunk of coal, but I'm gonna be a diamond someday."

The salty dog I live with pitched an ugly hissy fit last night because I forgot to remind him to buy aspirin. He even threatened to have another heart attack because he didn't have a tablet to take. I'm going to start recording some of his tantrums and make him listen to them the next day. There is a lot of anxiety at the root of these outbursts, which he really needs to deal with. They are less frequent than they used to be, but he can be so volatile, sometimes, I wonder if he's trying to make his heart stop with his explosive tirades. They hurt my heart, they're bound to be harmful to his, too.

My weight loss continues. On this first day of Month 3, I'm 7.6 lbs away from the 15 lbs in 6 mo. goal I was given by the doc. Having already reached and passed the 2nd month goal allowed me to eat more while family was here, and I did put back on a couple of lbs, but I also was not doing the 30 min morning walks. This month I'm making notations of walk/no walk days along with the weight record I'm keeping. It seems to be an essential element in the plan.

Betsy is back at school today, the kids don't start until Monday. Richard is at her house with no truck, no driver's license, no key, no glasses, and she said he's not too concerned about it. At least, he will be on foot if he decides to take off again, so he won't get far.

I wonder how he would do at the adult day care center on Old Canton Rd. I considered it for Mother when I was thinking about putting her in the condo where Betsy is now. I was impressed with the number and the caliber of workers at the center. They had about 35 - 50 adults to care for per day in 2003, several different groups and activities going on.

They went to see Mother on Sunday. She was much more attentive and responsive to Richard than Betsy, but she's always favored male attention over females'. When Betsy told Richard that it depressed her to see Mother in that state, he hugged her and said he knew it did. I didn't realize he was capable of being that sympathetic. That surprised me.

We got a shower yesterday afternoon and it's looking like we might get another one today. Dark clouds are moving in fast.