Monday, December 31, 2007

Some of you have noticed that my sidebar link to Paul's Blog doesn't work. I've tried everything I know to fix it, but to no avail, so I'm removing it. He has a new post but you will have to click here to read it, unless you're on his mailing list and he's already sent you the link. I personally wish he would start another non-fishing blog, not instead of but in addition to, and tell us about other things. He's a great storyteller and writes so well that I think he deserves a wider audience. And Skip, I haven't given up on your figuring out the mechanics of blogging. You're another good storyteller in our family that could inform us and amuse us more often than you do.
I'm still living in an alternate universe, my head feels inflated and floaty. OK, Sis, I heard that!
"And that's different from your normal state how?"
Well, it's more inflated and floaty than normal for me. My pharmacist said this could go on for another week or so. She also advised me to keep a close watch on my blood pressure, so when I finish this, I'm going to my neighbor's to take it.
Unless I make a dramatic recovery between now and 8 PM, I'll forgo the New Year's Eve Soiree we've been invited to. My dogs need me here to protect them from all the "bombs bursting in air" that we get during the holidays. The Reservoir is a favorite place for fireworks, and they are unusually spectacular over the water, but the noise makes the 4-legged critters at my house a little crazy. Photo

My hubby just informed me that he's invited a couple of buds over this evening. Now we'll see how much he remembers about running the vacuum cleaner.

Happy New Year, Y'all!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another Sunday spent at home...My head is so swimmy, I get dizzy when I stand up. My back and chest are sore from coughing, and I feel totally worthless. As my friend Jean says, "I'd have to die to get better." Actually, I feel about ready to take that step. The pharmacist said Zoloft withdrawal is responsible for some of this, the cold for the rest of it. I haven't had a fever, so it's not the flu.

Why did I try to change anti-depressants while fighting a cold? I had already started the tapering-off process from Zoloft, so I thought I should follow my doctor's advice and continue it. I've also started the Wellbutrin. These changes will stress one's system, which lowers its resistance to bugs and viruses.
But why did I have to do all of this at Christmas? Take my advice, Kiddos, and pick another time of the year if you ever have to do this, unless for some diabolical reason you want to feel like crap. It's not a smart move.
I found this information online: When one stops Zoloft too rapidly a withdrawal syndrome may develop. Among the symptoms that may be experienced are nausea, tremors, lightheadedness, muscle pains, weakness, insomnia, and anxiety. The withdrawal symptoms usually last 1-2 weeks but in some instances they may gradually decrease over a period as long as a month. It is generally recommended that one taper off this medication gradually under a doctor's supervision.
On to happier thoughts...
Happy Birthday, Karen! I hope you're having a lovely celebra-tion with family and friends.
I dreamed last night of Ricky's family being at Benji's house and they were making a family picture to give me as another Christmas gift. And Guys, if you haven't already thought of this, think about it, ok? I'd love to have one of all of you together.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Speaking of new insights, I noticed beauty in the laundry basket this morning. Do you see it, too? Yes, I'm on drugs. The withdrawal from Zoloft and the adjustment to Wellbutrin has been unsettling, to say the least.
One of the most ironic, but most frequently heard, jokes after Katrina was this:

A flood came and a man had to climb onto the roof of his house. As the waters rose a neighbor in a rowboat appeared, and told him to get in. "No," replied the man on the roof, "the Lord will save me."
Then a firefighter appeared in a speedboat. "Climb in!" shouted the firefighter. "No," replied the man on the roof, "The Lord will save me."
A helicopter appeared and the pilot shouted that he would lower a rope to the man on the roof. "No," replied the man on the roof, "the Lord will save me."
Eventually the man drowned and went to heaven, where he asked God why He hadn't helped him. "I sent a neighbor, a firefighter, and helicopter," said God. "What more do you want?"
I was reminded of this joke last night when I reread some of the posts of 2007 on this blog. There were several times when I felt overwhelmed to the point of "drowning," but our Benevolent God sent one "rescuer" after another whose offer of help I accepted, so I'm still here, and I'm still smiling.
I've lost so much this year with the death of my mother, the loss of my husband's sobriety, the estrangement from family members, the loss of our property manager, etc., but for every loss there has been a gift, a new friend, a new relationship, a new opportunity, a new outlook, a new insight. I feel truly blessed. I can conclude 2007 with a positive, hopeful attitude, and look forward to 2008 being even better.
I wish the
same for
all of you,
Dear Readers.
Out with the
Old, in with
the New!
Have a
GREAT 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

As if this bad cold were not causing enough suffering, I woke up this morning with "lie bumps" on my tongue. Quickly, I reviewed the things I've told that might have been so willfully wrong as to merit severe punishment, but couldn't come up with anything I considered serious enough. I did recall a couple of things I probably should have lied about.

Google pointed me to more information than I really wanted to know about this malady, but I did find a couple of remedies I intend to try. The easiest would be ice. The second easiest would be a salt water rinse. Then if those don't help I'll try the "Magic Mouthwash," a mixture of equal parts of Milk of Magnesia (or Maalox) and liquid Benadryl.

The culprits most frequently cited for this nuisance are SWEETS and CINNAMON, two things I've enjoyed this Christmas more than usual. So long to the Wassail and the Little Debbie's. I shouldn't have enjoyed you nearly so much.

The funniest thing I've seen today is on our rector's blog . Give it a listen and see if it doesn't make you LOL. Happy Fourth Day of Christmas!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benji left with his crew around noon, but not before I took them to meet Jean, who entertained her impromptu visitors graciously and with good humor. She gave Benji her characteristic hug and kiss when I introduced them. I was a little nervous about Pip running loose in her house, but he was well-behaved and spent the whole time sweetly exploring the new, unfamiliar surroundings. He especially liked her candy dish.
I've got errands to run, no time for more blogging. Here are some of my favorite Christmas 2007 pictures of Pip.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mike and I were married 15 years ago today. We're celebrating this anniversary with a fairly quiet day at home while I sneeze and blow my nose every 5 minutes. We've agreed to postpone our anniversary dinner date until I feel better.
Since the wedding was on the second day of Christmas, we used 2 turtle doves, a traditional symbol of everlasting love, as decoration on the wedding cake, a Red Velvet with Italian Cream Frosting. We married in the Chapel of Saint Andrew's Cathedral, which was decorated beautifully in holiday greenery with poinsettias and candles. The reception was in the Camellia Room at the Edison Walthall Hotel.
Comparing last year's anniversary post with this year's, it's obvious a significant shift has taken place in my feelings over the past twelve months. I love the man I'm married to, but it's nothing like it was or like I ever expected it to be. I'm a lot less focused on my husband and our relationship, and have concentrated this year on taking care of myself. He and the marriage are what they are and I can't make something of them that they are not and never will/can be. And I'm ok with that.
Now if I could just get over this nasty cold...
Christmas pictures will be uploaded to Flickr soon.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Santa Claus came and went and left lots of STUFF while he was here. I wish he had taken the TV's with him. The noise really gets on Gramma's nerves. The video games can't be played without it, though, so I'm fighting a losing battle.
Pip has been in a happy mood ever since he got here. He got a little cross this morning after eating lots of chocolate and drinking a Diet Dr. Pepper, but Karen turned on the movie Cars and he calmed down to watch it. I'm so glad he's feeling better than he was last Thursday when they were here. He's saying several words now and I can actually understand a few of them.
Benji left earlier to take Bella and Phin back to their dad's in Memphis. I was tempted to call him and tell him I'd hid their car keys so his kids would be spending the whole day here, and if he didn't like it, he would just have to deal with me. Bella and Phin may not have liked that, though, since this is jackpot day for them. I'm glad both their parents play Santa. Some kids of divorced parents aren't so lucky.
My sons and daughter-in-laws took my request for a good housecleaning seriously and gave me a gift card from Merry Maids. I think it's one of the best gifts I've gotten in a long time. Mike gave me a white terry robe which will come in handy at the gym, as well as around the house. I gave him the Eagles CD he asked for plus a couple of knit pants for his gym workouts. We also gave each other a new printer.
I talked to the Tampa Bordens just briefly this morning. I think Mary Ann was the only one not preoccupied with a video game. She says they'll be here on the 1st after spending time at her mom's and a day in Memphis with Benji's bunch. They always spend Christmas Day at their own house and wait until the day after to make their way to Mississippi.
I didn't go to church last night. I was coughing too badly and didn't want to spread my germs any more than I will with family here. The coughing is not so bad today, but my voice sounds more bass than soprano. I don't feel bad, but my nerves are on edge. Now that things have quieted down some, I'm feeling more relaxed. I love having my office upstairs away from the hub-bub that's usually going on downstairs.
I hope you're all having a great "first day of Christmas."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

My friend LaRue writes beautiful narratives each year giving us unusual glimpses into the human experience of our Savior. As this is the fourth Sunday of Advent, our candle is pink in Mary's honor. We give the mother of Jesus more attention today than we normally do. Since I'm trying to recover from a nasty cold and don't feel much like writing, I'll share one of LaRue's stories with you. It's posted on her blog, but I'll save you a click. Even though you didn't give me permission, Friend, I know how you love to share the Good News, so I'm sure you don't mind.

A small hand waved in the cold Bethlehem night...The infant had somehow escaped his swaddling...again. He seemed to be directing some unseen orchestra. Before she tucked him back into the warm strips of cloth, the young mother make sure he had ten toes. She smiled at his dimpled knees. And she wondered at such an aristocratic nose on such a tiny face. As his soft, tiny hand brushed her soft, nurturing hand, she checked there for fingers and thumb; and lingered to look at his palm. A scripture from Isaiah, one she’d heard her brother repeat, came to mind. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands...” (Isaiah 49:16a nasb). This was the first of countless times in the next thirty-three years that she would ponder deep, hidden treasures in her heart. That same heart would turn over with laughter at a toddler’s antics; and catch in her throat with unshed tears when the crowds jeered him; and break half in two when she witnessed his death. But that was for later. For tonight, there was the joy of motherhood. She caught his tiny hand, tucked him close and knew she held a most precious gift in her arms...really.

O God, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thine incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

I was beginning to wonder if Old Man Winter was going to show up today, but the rain started late this afternoon, and the temperature began to drop. It's supposed to get down in the 30's tonight. If my throat is still sore in the morning, I'll probably stay at home, fire up those gas logs, and make some more of the Wassail we've been enjoying.
I didn't get everything done today that needs doing, but I did make a run to Kroger after I cleaned out the refrigerator. I'm planning an easy menu for Christmas, so it won't take long to fix dinner. I bought a turkey tenderloin, which I will bake; sweet potatoes, succotash, salad, and rolls. For dessert we'll have a Razzledazzle pie. I don't make Christmas cookies and candies like my mother did, because I would eat more of them than anybody else.

I did grab a box of Little Debbie's Christmas tree cakes while at Kroger. It's the redneck in me, I guess, or did we decide it's "poor white trash" food, Benji? I can't remember. Anyway, I like 'em!
For those of you who enjoy good choir music, here's the link to the St. Olaf Christmas Festival. I hope you're as blessed by listening to it as I've been.

Friday, December 21, 2007

I'm feeling terrible this morning. The throat is sorer, the voice is raspy, my head and ears hurt, I really wish I could go back to bed and spend the day. Alas, procrastination has put me at the brink of Christmas with several things left to be done. The Zicam is helping, I guess, but it's no cure for the common cold. And it suddenly occurred to me a few minutes ago that I never got the flu shot I was supposed to go back to the doctor for.

"You can't get sick," Mike demanded. "Who will take care of all the company you're expecting?"

"They are adults and they may be taking care of me," I answered.

Actually, 85% of my Christmas preparations have been completed. The tasks I'm dreading most, at the moment, are shampooing the carpet, washing clothes, and singing on Sunday and Christmas Eve. Those last two may get deleted from the To-Do List. I probably should warn David in case he wants to recruit a sub for the 2nd soprano part I sing.

Ok, quit your whining, Old Granny, put on your big girl panties and deal with it!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

8:30 am. I'm going Christmas shopping today. It's raining and 62*, just what I hoped for, but the rain is supposed to quit by noon, so I need to get out of here now.

3 hours later. Well, that didn't take long. I've never been in and out of stores so quickly and easily, especially this close to Christmas. I'm one of the few shoppers, obviously, who enjoys battling the elements. I'm getting a sore throat, so I may regret this foray into Mother Nature's dark, damp side. I didn't get chilled or wet, though, so maybe I'll be ok.

I did more listening than singing at choir practice last night, and didn't go to the dinner afterwards. In addition to the sore throat, I had a shoulder-neck-headache. A couple of friends recommended Zicam so I bought some while out. We'll see if it lives up to its hype.

I made a Christmas CD for Jean and took it to her this morning along with 3 others that I bought for Mother several years ago featuring the old big band swing tunes and crooners like Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. She seemed tickled pink to get them. Her son Neal and his wife Sandra are visiting from Birmingham, so I got to meet them. Benji and his crew are stopping on their way to Mobile to drop off Santa stuff. They will be here Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

5:30 PM. Benji just left with his family. They were here about an hour, long enough for Pip to get over his mad spell for being awoken at Gramma's house. He still associates being here with being abandoned by his parents when they went to Mexico. After we assured him he was not being left again, he warmed up to me a little and actually gave me a kiss before he left. What a dude!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On a happier note, here's a delightful picture of Pip decorating his little silver Christmas tree. You may recall from Thanksgiving '06 how much he enjoyed this when Mamie brought it to their house in Makanda. It's when I realized what good manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination he has; one of those better Borden genes, I guess.

Here's the one from last year when he still was very much a baby. Now he's looking like a little boy.

Mike had an appointment with his cardiologist this morning. I wonder if he was honest with him about his drinking. I don't know how he expects them to help him if he's undermining their efforts with his reckless behavior. I told him when he went to see our family physician last week that I'd already told them how much he is drinking, so he had to level with them or they would know he was lying.

"So how much did you tell them I'm drinking?" he asked.

"Oh, about 25 oz. a day," I told him.

"I AM NOT!" he countered. "You're crazy!"

"Ok," I said, "it takes you 2 days to drink a 1.5 liter bottle of wine. You do the math. And don't forget I was there when Dr. Fletcher told you to limit it to a 5 oz. glass of wine per day."
So he has a conversation with Dr. LeGarde's nurse about all this, and she says, according to Mike, "Oh, don't worry about it. Red wine is good for you."

"And what did the doctor say?" I asked after he told me this.

"Well, he was in the room while we were talking about it, and he didn't say anything."

One of the most worrisome aspects of this past Sunday's spree is that he fell, which is never good for a stroke patient. When I came in I found a dining chair overturned, the coffee table pushed out of its place, and it's a heavy coffee table, and a basket of Christmas cards overturned and scattered on the floor along with his telephone and remote control. I knew immediately what had happened. Somehow, he managed to get himself up the stairs and in the bed where I found him dead asleep when I got home at 9:00.

He had called me around 7:00 asking where I was. "We just finished the service at church, and we're on our way to the first house to sing carols," I told him.

"I thought you were upstairs," he said. Not only was he disoriented, his speech was slurred , so I knew he was drunk.

"You don't remember my coming through the living room about 4:15 on my way to church?" I asked. "I told you what time the service started, and you said you hadn't decided if you were coming or not. Do you remember any of that?"

"No, I don't," he mumbled. "What time is it?"

"It's time for you to get yourself in the bed before you do any more damage to your addled brain," I said. "I'll be home when we finish carolling."

I made up my mind to spend the night at Pam or Jean's if he were not asleep when I got home. I had no intention of going through another round of craziness like last year. But he was asleep, thank goodness!

I appreciate the notes of concern from some of you. Keep us in your prayers, especially during this holiday season. Something about it makes Mike more vulnerable to his demons than at other times.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Yeah! We have gas logs in the fireplace that work, and the gas heater upstairs works again. Seeing the fire in the fireplace made me ridiculously happy. Does anything make a living room cozier than a fire in the fireplace? I think not. Now I'm ready for Christmas. Pam found a man who cleans and repairs these things and made appointments for both of us this morning. I've been smiling ever since he got them to working.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about Sunday was the caroling we did after the church service. Most of the people we sang for invited us inside to sing since it was so cold outside. They knew we were coming so there were refreshments at each stop. My favorite was the Wassail, and the recipe is so simple I have to share it with you.

64 oz. Apple Juice
32 oz. Cranberry Juice
1/2 c. Sugar
6 Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 tsp. Ground Cloves

Simmer in large pot for at least an hour. Apple and orange slices may be floated on top for decoration. Rum can be added per cup for each drinker.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! And smell like Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I got this cute card from Ricky's family, all creatures great and small...
The Third Sunday of Advent was a mostly enjoyable day. The music was glorious, fellowship full of fun, food extraordinary, overall, a spiritually uplifting day. Closer to home, not so much.

Mike pulled another bender, but I absented myself until he had gone to bed and passed out. For that reason, I'm beginning to dread the Sunday of Lessons and Carols. After I got home from last night's service, I went back to the December 2006 archives to refresh my memory of last year's disaster on the Lessons and Carols Sunday when he was too drunk to stand up and walk. I also read about all the empty promises that were made and the foolishness of my optimism for his sobriety. It's been one hellacious year with him.

It was a good year for me, though, because I started taking better care of myself in many ways. Just as Mike, as a financial consultant advised his clients, "Diversify, diversify, diversify!" I've applied that principal to my non-financial investments. I gave myself permission to diversify, to enjoy the company of other people who have offered me intellectual stimulation, emotional and spiritual support, social opportunities, and friendship, rather than depending on "HUSBAND" to meet all those needs. I've never believed that a spouse should be expected to meet all the needs of their partner. It's the unrealistic expectations that lead to most of our disappointments.

The man I'm married to is limited, moreso than he used to be. Legally, we are still married, but the marital bond has been significantly weakened, not so much by the stroke as by the drinking; not much glue holding it all together - history, duty, joint finances, some affection and appreciation. The returns on my investment in him, of late, have been minimal. Had he been a bank CD, I would have moved the funds elsewhere, but the advantages of being married still outweigh the disadvantages, and as long as that is true, I'll stay with him. It's a precarious balance, however, and wouldn't take much to tip it the other way.

Finding satisfaction with friends has allowed me to get beyond the contempt I've felt, and to recover the compassion I feel for anyone who is disabled as he is and controlled by an addiction that has robbed him of his best self. As long as I can nurture the best in me in my associations with others, I'll stay with Mike and care for him. He needs a nurse and I will do that for him. It's one of the ways I nurture the best in me. He needs an assistant to manage the adult responsibilites that go along with maintaining any household. Again, that's something I can do, and will do. I will not do for him the things he can and should do for himself.

Al-Anon folks call this enabling, and if it were not for the stroke he had, I would agree, but since the stroke took so much from him, I can't blame his diminished capacity on just alcohol. I am compelled to give him the benefit of the doubt. He deserves kindness and mercy like everybody else. Again, that's something I'm good at, so I'll do it.

My own dignity and self-respect are less compromised when I take care of myself. Wasn't it Shakespeare who said, ”This above all: to thine ownself be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

Saturday, December 15, 2007

I got the plumbing problem solved except for the gas line, which still has to be inspected by the gas company before gas can be turned back on. The renters elected not to move out, but are staying with their daughter until everything has been repaired. I'm glad they had somewhere else to go temporarily. The low temperature tonight is supposed to be close to freezing.
We've got a heavy drenching rain falling this afternoon, with a line of severe thunderstorms headed our way. Jay-Jay has already started pacing the floor. Gus is sound asleep.
I hate that we couldn't attend the wedding tonight of Kirk and Mary Elizabeth. I know it will be gorgeous. With plumbing problems and choir duty, there's no way I could have squeezed in a trip to Tupelo. This weather reminds me of the night that Ricky and Mary Ann married. They celebrate their 20th anniversary on the 19th. Congratulations, Love Birds! Mike and I have our 15th anniversary on the 26th. It's a romantic time of year to get married.
I missed a Christmas party Weds. afternoon and another one on Friday. Just too much going on this time of year to do everything. Tomorrow our choir does the annual Advent Lessons and Carols and we have a dinner afterwards. That one I can't miss.
Ooh, this rain is making me sleepy. Now if I can get Jay-Jay to calm down, I'll grab a nap. Hope you're all having a wonderful week-end.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mike is using my computer on Friday to finish his CE requirements, so this may be it until Saturday. Among the Christmas cards I got today was this one from Benji's crew and their school pictures. Enjoy!

Just what I did not want right here at Christmas time, our property manager's agency wants to quit because our rent house at Madison has too many problems. The sewer line came loose under the house last week and has created quite a stinky mess. Until we can get that cleaned up, no regular plumber will touch it. Roto Rooter is going in the morning to inspect it and give us an estimate on the work that needs to be done. In the meantime, we've had to ask the renters to leave because living conditions are unsafe and unhealthy.

The woman who has actually been managing the property says she will continue to help me, but will have to do it "on the side," not through her agency. She's a Tupelo transplant, too, and actually lived in Plantersville for a while as a child, I really like her, but she's got vacation time she has to use before the end of the year, so you-know-who is back in the rental property problem solving business. Those of you who have told me I need a job must be pleased.

Mike surprised me with a sweet compliment when I told him about this latest development. "Honey, you're a great problem solver, and that's all you need to know how to do to manage rental property." He then went on to say that we should consider acquiring more rent houses while the housing market is soft. And would you believe that at just that moment our bank called wanting to loan us money?!? Is this a conspiracy?

While our oldest rent house is flooded underneath with raw sewage, please don't talk to me about taking on more properties, no matter how good I am at solving problems. I think that's what my mother called "borrowing trouble."
Sagittarius Horoscope for Dec 13 2007: Sun is in Sagittarius, Moon is going from Capricorn into Aquarius. What's the meaning of life? Why are we all here? Does becoming wealthy diminish your chances for enlightenment? It won't, by the way. Go ahead.

Ok, I'll just go ahead and become wealthy, just snap my fingers, wiggle my nose, and increase my net worth x 10. Oh why limit it to 10, why not 100 or a 1000? I'd rather have enlightenment, but since the horoscope says I can have both, gee, maybe I should reconsider this whole proposition.

Acquiring wealth has never been even close to the top of my list of priorities. I would have stayed married to husband #1 if it had been. His net worth exceeds mine many, many times, but he's poor, to hear him tell it. Why else would he be cutting pills in half? He says they cost too much, that's why. I feel sorry for him.

I am not wealthy by American standards, but by world standards, I am. I don't have to worry about the basic necessities of life - food, clothes, housing - and I have reliable transportation, access to medical care and education, and more than one pair of shoes. Do you know how many billions of the world's citizens can't say that?

In our rush to spend shameful amounts of money on people who don't really need anything, let's remember those who do need our help. One of my choir buddies makes donations to the favorite charities of the people for whom he would normally buy gifts. And he does it in their honor. Nothing would make me feel more honored than to know my loved ones would do the same. It doesn't even have to be to my favorite charity. Choose your own. My feelings will not be hurt. I promise.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I'm closer to being finished than I was yesterday, but still have lots to do. I strained my back, so I'm moving a little slower than I was, and my legs are so sore. I didn't think I was doing that much strenuous work, but somehow I did enough to earn several reminders of my age. I took a hot tub bath last night just to soak and actually fell asleep in the tub.

I acquired a new chair for the patio that I just love. It's a lime green butterfly chair that my neighbor found in someone's garbage. It's in a perfectly new condition and is so comfortable. I offered to buy it, but he gave it to me instead. Thanks, Art! That's the second patio chair I have that was obtained from curbside shopping (or dumpster diving, as some folks call it). I got a director's chair that way just a few months ago, and it had not one thing wrong with it. Anyone else out there been known to stop and claim something from a neighbor's garbage besides me and Ricky? (Sorry, Mary Ann, he gets it honestly.) Bonus question: Who remembers when I had a car this color?
Benji called to tell me I didn't have to come to Memphis on Thursday. Pip's other grandparents will be there, so he will be well cared for while Karen and Benji go to court to try to get the child custody issues settled with her ex-husband. Keep them in your prayers.
Deanne called to say she saw Jack's old organ in a furniture consignment store in Ridgeland. She wants me to go look at it to make sure it's hers. It doesn't play, so it's probably Jack's. Deanne was going to offer them $20 for it so she could have it just for sentimental reasons. It was still playing on a couple of the settings when I last saw it at the nursing home. One of the employees there asked if she could have it for her church which had lost theirs in a fire. Since Mother had quit playing it, I was glad to see it find a new home. That was about a year ago. It probably died around the time Mother did.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Eight hours, EIGHT HOURS! That's how long it took to get the Christmas tree out of storage and decorated and all the glitter and dust vacuumed from the living room after I finished with the tree. That's more work than I've done in one day in a long time! Amazing what can be accomplished when I get off my lazy butt and get busy! I was pooped, but very satisfied. I went to sleep smiling.

It didn't feel so good that I'd like to do it everyday, but I'm doing a repeat today on the back porch, which, for all practical purposes, is a front porch because it's the main entrance to the house. Residents and guests come from the street through the garage to the back porch and into the house. The front door is rarely used because it doesn't face the street, but now it and the front porch are clean and decorated. Confusing? Yes, but that's life in the condos at Woodlake.

Being the messy person I am, it takes something like "company coming" to make me clean house. I hope I don't fall into the same inertia that overtook my mother in her last years in her house. After Daddy died in 1996, Mother didn't clean her house again. Actually, she quit cleaning house after Daddy went to the nursing home 6 months prior to his death. Living alone and eating most meals out, she didn't make much of a mess. She did take out the garbage, change the sheets on her bed weekly, wash her undies, and recycle old magazines by taking them to the nursing home, but there was a thick layer of dust on everything in the house, lots of molded food in the refrigerator, and dirty dishes in the dishwasher that had been there long enough to mold.

Her standard excuse came to be, "I called the maid service to come clean, but they said they couldn't come until next week." She was very depressed, but in total denial, so her personal habits were erratic and irrational. She should have been moved to assisted living much sooner, but I waited until her car insurance was cancelled before I took action. Ricky and Benji, you have my consent to step in sooner than we did with your grandmother, if you realize I need help and don't get it for myself. And if I resist, just show me what I wrote on this blog. Of course, if I'm like Jack, I'll probably deny it.

I told Pam and Jean to go on to the gym without me. Once I build working momentum, I need to take maximum advantage of it. With Mike doing his workouts in the AM, I need to be doing mine in the PM. I could get more done around here, and cut down on the conflict, too. Maybe I can get enough done this morning to not need major effort for a week or two. He's having lunch with Ron and going to his house this afternoon. That should give me plenty of uninterrupted cleaning time.

Since I've discovered all kinds of new settings on my camera, I'm anxious to take Christmas pictures, so you should be seeing those soon. But I am forcing myself to get work done before playing, a very unnatural pattern for me. I hope y'all are having more fun today than I am!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

On the way to church this morning I caught part of Krista Tippett's interview with Rick and Kay Warren. I heard enough to make me want to hear the whole thing and you can, too. It's here, the edited and unedited versions. Click on the SOF Playlist on that same page for some music you probably will not ever hear anywhere else.

We're back to warm weather in Mississippi, warm enough for the AC. Cold weather will return toward the end of the week. I hope your Sunday has been as blessed as mine - good church, good music, good food, good friends, good nap. Have a great week!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Welcome, new readers, to this little corner of the blogosphere where I think out loud. It's all about me! ME! ME! And what makes each of my days different from the rest. As Alan Alda's new book says, Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself (isn't that a great title). Yes, I sometimes toot my own horn and sing my own praise, and why people continue to read this blog is still a mystery to me, but I'm averaging 15 hits per day, mostly from family members and friends. I consider each hit a friendly little "hello," and when certain visitors don't show up, I go looking for them. I understand from a couple of readers that it's a great cure for insomnia. Every once in a while a stranger wanders in after googling something like NPR or Plantersville or Buick. Don't ask me why. Cyberspace is a truly unique place. I don't get nearly as much feedback as I'd like, so feel free to tell me what you really think; and if you have a lot to say, perhaps you should start your own blog, but be warned - it's addictive!

With my latest "get out of jail free" pass, I went to the Manship House with the St. Philip's choir and sang Christmas carols. Afterwards, we all went to the Mayflower Restaurant downtown and had dinner. Mike went to Captain's Catch in Madison to hear Tony play. He had dinner with the Greenhills, then spent the night with them after they decided his driving would not be safe. Thanks, friends, for keeping him at your house and not letting your friend drive drunk!
Today I went to a photo workshop where I learned more about my simple little point-and-shoot camera than I knew, especially about adjusting the ISO. It really does make a difference. And it helps to think of it as film speed. John Wise and Jim Carrington led the class and challenged us to read our camera's manual, get familiar with all its features, and make lots of pictures over the Christmas holidays. We're meeting again next month to show off our best shots.
My little Kodak EasyShare C643 survived its first drop this week, even though I lost the cover for the end where the card and USB slot are. Maybe I can keep the dust out of it long enough to get some good holiday shots. And it has way more features than I'll ever master. Now you know why I don't want an expensive camera. I killed an expensive Olympus 35mm by dropping it. I'm way too clumsy to be trusted with another expensive toy.
I told a story at the workshop that I've discovered, thanks to Google, to be a total fabrication, maybe I dreamed it, or I forgot who the subject of the story was. Contrary to what I told, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg did have a professional photographer for her wedding pictures, Denis Reggie.
Some famous person, though, used their guests' pictures made with disposable cameras for their wedding pictures. There was a whole magazine spread with some fantastic pictures by amateur photographers. I didn't dream it. If anyone is familiar with this story, please tell me who it was. The point of the article was that expensive equipment is not necessary for great shots. It's the artist's eye that matters. Just take a look at Benji's pictures, you'll understand. He gets fantastic shots with his camphone.
But it was not "Sweet Caroline." Sorry for the falsehood. It was not deliberate.

Friday, December 07, 2007

I got a call around 3 PM yesterday from Jean, inviting me to come drink a glass of port with her. "I refuse to drink alone," she told me, "only alcoholics do that." She had about finished with her decorating and had the gas logs fired up, so it was a warm visit. Christmas music playing on the stereo would have been the only change I would have made to the cozy atmosphere, but people who aren't musically inclined don't feel the need for that like I do. Since most of my Christmas CD's have been uploaded to my computer, I'm planning to take some of my discs to her.
She and I did not make it to the gym this morning. I had my six month check-up, which I'd forgotten until they called late yesterday to remind me. I had to fast so they could draw blood and run a lipid profile, see if the cholesterol is down to a healthy level. The weight is 10 lbs. heavier than it was at the same time last year. When I complained about my fatigue and my ravenous appetite, the doctor wrote me a new prescription for Wellbutrin, which helps some people have more energy and control their appetite better. Seems the Zoloft has a bad reputation for making people be lazy and gain weight. And I thought it was a character flaw! It's so nice to be able to blame the medicine. I've got to ease off it before going with the new pill alone.

I'm listening to some gorgeous Christmas music from NPR, this year's "Christmas Around the Country". There are several other holiday programs available with a simple click. Again, be generous this Christmas in donating to a true American treasure - Public Radio. To contribute to Mississippi Public Broadcasting, click here. Your state, wherever you are, has a similar site, I'm sure. There are several good gift ideas at the NPR store, too.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Last night's party was a blast. David swears he was surprised, but I'm not so sure. I know what a good actor he is. I wish I had not volunteered to play the piano, and if I had any dignity, I would be embarrassed. The sopranos needed my voice worse than the group needed my pitiful playing, but we had several non-singers joining us in the regaling, so overall, it was appropriately hideous. The collage above includes the few members who could not be there last night, and I saved a blank spot for one who was there but managed to stay out of all the pictures - Jeff. If anyone can send me a shot of him, I'll add it. (Friday update - Jeff has been added. Thanks, Michelle!)

David got several nice gifts, but also several gag gifts. I gave him a "Princess" coffee mug which seemed to be the hit with the crowd and with him, second only to the can of "Spotted Dick," which is an English pudding (the new thing I learned yesterday). The biggest hit, though, was the song. (Words by Don Lacy pictured above in top right corner)

We come with joy unbounded, to sing thee this glad song
Of how thy life, well rounded hath lasted oh so long
For thou hast had a birthday, thou shalt not soon forget.
And these years shalt not shorten, they just get longer yet.

Oh, David, thou art fifty, a half a century old.
Thy vaunt is not so nifty, thy stride is not so bold.
Now old as the state of Hawaii, and not much younger than dirt
The truth we now share with thee, however much it hurts.

First let's look at thy memory, please pay attention here.
Thou seems't to lack the ability to keep thy music near.
Oh, what's so hard about keeping a score where it should be?
Instead of out the door creeping during the homily.

Thou art so deaf we must shout (repeat, louder),
and there's that thing with thy hair
We would not say it's falling out, but thou hast none to spare
And why are notes so tiny that they can scarce be seen.
We'd rather not be whiney, but thy eyesight's not too keen.

And as to thy sexuality, best get it whilst thou can!
Soon you'll lack the ability to take matters in hand.
As you grow old all's harder, except for one small thing.
And that would be thy ardor. At least, thou can still sing.
Now at the fifty year mark, there's something thou must know.
To these wise words thou must hark, as your digestion slows.
Old guys have known forever, (you'll learn 'cause you're no sap)
From now on never, never, pass up a nap or crap!


Jean and I are not going to the gym today. She's trying to decorate for Christmas and read Jan Karon's new book at the same time. She bought the book for Pam when she went to a reading and book signing with her son in Birmingham. Home to Holly Springs is about Father Tim's early years in Mississippi, and I can't wait to read it myself. Pam is at a Realtor's Convention in Tunica. Tomorrow, for sure, we'll go to the gym.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Oh me! Did you see what's posted over at The Plantersville Connection? It's Then and Now versions of Richard and me and the fruit of our union. Wow! What a difference 43 years makes, huh? George treated me to lunch today at Walker's, which is always very good. Thanks, Friend, I enjoyed it and will end this year's birthday celebration on that delicious note.

Tonight after choir, we're having a surprise birthday party for David. I would like to capture on video the song we're performing for him, Oh David, Thou Art Fifty, written by our senior tenor and dinner host Don Lacy. It's to the tune of Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded, and it is hysterically funny. I'm supposed to play, if I can control my laughter. Last week, I gave up, just couldn't play and laugh. We are, without a doubt, the most irreverant bunch of folks I've ever known, and we always have lots of fun.

Speaking of fun, I have to share this joke from LaRue. It had me laughing out loud.

A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly cold winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon forty years earlier. Now, because of their very hectic schedule, it was difficult to coordinate their travel plans. So the husband left Minneapolis and flew to Florida on Friday, and his wife was going to fly there the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel, but unlike when they were there the first time forty years earlier, there was a computer in the room and he decided to send an email to his wife. As he typed out the address, however, he accidentally made a one-letter mistake in the email address.

Meanwhile, in Houston, Texas, a Baptist pastor had just had a heart attack and died. His wife returned home from the funeral and decided to check her email, thinking that there might be messages from relatives and so on.

After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted dead away. The widow's son rushed into the room and found his mother on the floor. He then saw the computer screen, and here is what it said:

"To my darling wife, I know that you are surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you're allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and checked in. I see that everything's been prepared for your arrival tomorrow, and I look forward to seeing you then. I hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

"P.S. It sure is hot down here!"

A cheerful heart is good medicine... (Prov 17:22a)

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Since yesterday, more information has appeared on the Pipe Dreams site. If you wished to see the texts for the anthems or the hymns, they have been posted, in addition to some other music not included in the radio program, all Wesley material.
An update from Skip says Helen is on the mend from her back surgery. Knowing Helen, it must be very difficult to keep her in the bed. No wonder she's got hospital staff hopping to keep her happy. Hope you're soon fully recovered, Helen, with no more aching back!
Jean joined us for gym time this morning, even though she's still hoarse. We had lunch at Primo's where we ran into a precious elderly couple, Bob and Mary Daggett from St. Philip's. They're actually from Pascagoula, but have been here since Katrina. He's a big fan of our choir and said we've about persuaded him he'd rather live here just so he can hear us sing every Sunday. They're trying to sell their damaged house and lot down there and make a permanant move here.
I also saw an old friend from Colonial Heights Baptist Church days at Primo's, but the last time I saw her (we were both shopping in a Christian bookstore), she was so rude to me that I totally ignored her today. She and I were very close at one time, and even though we didn't agree on much of anything, we enjoyed frequent Scrabble matches. We met at least once a week for lunch when we were both working downtown. Unlike my friend LaRue, who also does not agree with me on most things, Ms. P. did not have enough class to make allowances for our differences, and implied that I had fallen from grace when I became an Episcopalian. In her snootiest, most holier-than-thou manner she said she would pray I found my way "back to the truth." I wonder how many former Baptists have been soured by that kind of arrogance. I was terribly hurt. I should have known how petty she could be. She was a sore loser whenever I won a game of Scrabble.
Ah me, I guess we all still have a lot to learn.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Today's Pipe Dreams features the music of the Wesley men, Charles, Samuel, and Samuel Sebastian. Not only does it include fantastic pipe organ, but out-standing choir work, too. Pay close attention to the descant on Lo, He Comes on Clouds Descending. Hardly a Sunday goes by at St. Philip's when we don't add a lovely descant like this to one or two of the hymns. In fact, I think we've done this one. Give it a listen and let the inspiration begin. The narration also includes good information on the Wesleys and hymnology, in general. And if you haven't made your contribution to public radio, please be generous.
Yesterday's Speaking of Faith program featured Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners Magazine, an author, and a rational, progressive voice among evangelicals. I missed part of it, but will go back and listen to the whole thing. I liked his idea of "leveling the praying field."
I did penance at the gym for all my over-indulgences of late. Actually, the aerobics we do in the pool are too much fun to call penance, but the effort it takes me to get there is not. Among all the sins of the flesh that I have been known to commit is the sin of sloth, I have it in spades.

As a Baptist, I never heard much about the seven deadly or mortal sins. Sin was sin, one as bad as the other, and we certainly never heard of "doing penance," but since leaving the Baptist church, I've discovered that some Christians consider some sins to be worse than others. From Wikipedia:
Listed in the same order used by both Pope Gregory the Great in the 6th Century AD, and later by Dante Alighieri in his epic poem The Divine Comedy, the seven deadly sins are as follows: Luxuria (extravagance, later lust), Gula (gluttony), Avaritia (greed), Acedia (sloth), Ira (wrath, more commonly known as anger), Invidia (envy), and Superbia (pride). Each of the seven deadly sins has an opposite among the corresponding seven holy virtues (sometimes also referred to as the contrary virtues). In parallel order to the sins they oppose, the seven holy virtues are chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness, and humility.
Here ends today's theology lesson.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen. (BCP)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

One thing I like the most about singing in St. Philip's Choir is that we are continually challenged to stretch beyond what we think are our personal limits. One of this morning's anthems, Rorate Caeli by Joseph Rheinberger, just totally fell apart in rehearsal when we tried to sing it A Capella. "Ok, I'll play it," our choirmaster said. The group breathed a collective sigh of relief, and our second run-through sounded 100% better than the first.
And where was our accompanist when it came time to perform? Standing beside the organ with arms up ready to direct, rather than seated at the keyboard ready to play. We got starting pitches and that was it! He flashed his most devilish grin at those of us who must have looked panic-stricken. "You'll be sorry," the soprano next to me grumbled under her breath.
Much to our astonishment, but not his, he was not sorry. We gave a solid A- performance, I thought. We missed a couple of notes, but the ones we sang were in the chord, so nobody knew but us. There is an old Gospel song that says, "Little is much when God is in it." I believe it!
David turns 50 next Sunday and I hope he enjoys celebrating all week long like I have. Sagittarians love to party! (Photo by Jim Carrington)
Mike played hooky again from church, but met me at Pan Asia for a birthday lunch. I had herb-crusted salmon and he had pan-seared tuna, two really good entrees by our favorite Jackson chef Grant Nooe. Yes, I'm still celebrating, thanks to all. And I'm told there is more to come. I'll have a big head to go with my big butt after this is over. I'm feeling way too special.
I turned on NPR's Bryant Park Project program from Friday, and was delighted to hear my niece reading the news, not once, but all four times. Wow! It was great, Laura, good job! You sounded like a real pro. You may have found a new profession to add to your already impressive resume.

I have another niece who is celebrating her first anniversary today with husband Chris. The new house they're building won't be done until about February, so they will be staying with her parents for a couple of months. Congratulations, Deanne and Chris!

Tara, you need to send me news from your life. I know it's exciting with 3 baby boys underfoot. The twins have a birthday soon, don't they? Let me know what's going on with you.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Just what I wanted to start my day with - a call from AT&T informing me that my service request has been completed today and asking me to press 1 if everything is not as it should be. So I press 1 thinking I can get them to remove call waiting, which I have loathed since its inception, and what do I get but another automated menu asking me about my reason for calling them. Puh-leeese! I'm beginning to feel harrassed! There are better ways to assure the customer's satisfaction. An automated survey asking assinine questions is not one of them.
My birthday week was good overall, regardless of the aggravation with AT&T. It started with being named in the birthday blessing on Sunday at church (there are actually 5 Philipians with Nov 30 birthdays). On Weds. the choir sang Happy Birthday to me and at dinner I got hugs from everybody. Mike gave me a digital picture frame and a cute card. This morning he brought me a dozen red roses. The aerobics class sang Happy Birthday to me, and Pam treated me to lunch, complete with red velvet cake, at Primo's. LaRue put a very sweet birthday tribute to me on her blog. Benji called; Ricky and the boys called and I thanked him again for the trip to Tampa, which was an early birthday gift; Jean called, she's still hoarse and congested but on the mend; and I got emails from a couple of friends. I never have to doubt that I am loved. And if I do, I'll re-read this as a reminder of how special I felt when I turned 61. Thanks to all who remembered me!
Today I'm doing laundry and getting the downstairs ready for Christmas decorations. Tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent. The New Year has begun on our church calendar. My goodness! This seems to have been the shortest 12 months I ever remember. I know, I know, they get even shorter just when we are slowing down with age. To quote another November 30th person of note, Mark Twain:

If I had been helping the Almighty when he created man,
I would have had him begin at the other end,
and start human beings with old age.
How much better to start old and
have all the bitterness and blindness
of age in the beginning!
Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen.

quoted in Autobiography with Letters, William L. Phelps