Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not much to say for Thursday. I've got my elbow on ice after tonight's rehearsal. It must be carpal tunnel syndrome, it's been hurting a good bit lately. I adjusted the height of my keyboard and mouse pad, but with all the dancing we did tonight, I managed somehow to make it hurt again. Maybe tomorrow it will feel better.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This has been a fun, fun day - water aerobics at Total Woman, lunch with the Water Lillies at P.F. Chang in Ridgeland, choir rehearsal tonight. Wednesday is fast becoming my second favorite day of the week. I was disappointed to learn tonight that a rehearsal was held last night that I had no notice about. Since I'm only doing 3 chorus numbers, I couldn't tell I missed much. I think it was more for the solo, duet, trio acts. I probably couldn't have been there anyway since I was tied up with the gas company in Madison until almost 7:00.

It was an exciting day in politics, too. John Edwards dropped out of the Democratic race. Rudy Guilliani dropped out of the Republican race. Too bad we can't fast forward to next January and inaugurate Obama. Save lots of time and money if we could. I just hope he has a Democratic majority in both houses or reasonable Republicans who will support him.

And I hope Steve Holland is there to help him. If you haven't voted on the poll at the Cotton Mouth Blog for Steve, do it now. Contributions can be made online also for Steve's campaign. Contribute to, volunteer for, and support the candidates who can get us headed in the right direction. Our grandchildren will thank you.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Gusty winds up to 40 mph are clanging my heaviest chimes on the deck and bringing today's almost balmy temperatures down, down, down. January in Mississippi... maybe Mother Nature needs an antipsychotic. Makes knowing how to dress a real challenge.

I spent a lot of time today singing and memorizing lyrics to the songs we're doing Friday night. David is planning to have them all projected on the back wall for us, but I'll do better if I don't have to depend on that. I'm only in 3 of them - Kool and the Gang's "Celebration," Manhattan Transfer's "Boy from New York City," and Emmylou Harris' "Mr. Sandman," which I already knew. Did I do that with LaRue and Willene, or did I imagine that?

I've about decided that "Mercedes Benz" would be out of place in the program that's been planned. It's all doo-wop stuff. I may save it for the Parish Hall gala where things get a little more rowdy, depends on whether I have one glass of wine or two. I'll probably just totally chicken out on the whole idea. Tonight it seems a little manic. I've been having some of that since getting off the anti-depressants. My range of emotions has been all over the place, but they seem to be settling down somewhat. I've had two or three good cries, something I didn't do when I was on Zoloft.

One of those good cries happened yesterday when I started reading old journals. I was trying to find out exactly when it was I started Zoloft. It was shortly after I retired, November 1999. I was on 50 mg for about 4 years then 3 months before Mike had his stroke, it was increased to 100 mg. What made me cry was the Dear Abby list I came across, you know the one - Are you better off with him or without him. The advantages and disadvantages were perfectly balanced. Now all the advantages are gone except one, we can still afford for me not to have to work. That's incredibly sad, to see it in black and white and realize that most of the advantages are gone. At least, I'm not crying about it tonight.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The pool was cooler than it's supposed to be for our class this morning and the hot tub is still out of order. Of the four months we've had membership at Total Woman, the hot tub has been usable only half the time, maybe less. We're getting really fed up with all the excuses. I think we're about ready to check out some other places.

With the Y, Fitness Lady, Healthline at St. Dominic's, and Healthplex at Baptist Hospital, we have several other options if we can get out of the contract at Total Woman. I'm getting the impression they care a lot more about collecting our money than maintaining the facilities that led us to join in the first place. They seem to be concentrating more on the younger women and what they want than their senior segment. Are they trying to weed out the older members by attrition?

Mike got his car back. The locks have been changed on the Madison house and the power is on. Tomorrow the gas and water will be turned on and we can get the cleaning done. I cooked a couple of outstanding meals today, and it's not even cool and rainy! Pam loaned me a blouse for the Janis Joplin outfit and it couldn't be more perfect. It's Janis!

I'm seriously considering doing, "O Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?" Just suddenly popping up from the audience, between numbers on the stage, and bursting forth with song. It's done A Cappello so nobody but me has to be involved, and I think it would go over good with the crowd. I probably better run it by David first. It would help to know which song ends on the note that I need to start with, then do it immediately following that number. The next scheduled act probably needs to be warned, too, don't want to steal anybody's thunder.

A funny old memory resurfaced while I was thinking about doing this. It happened when Ricky and Benji were children. I had carried them to Lake Tiak-o-Khata to swim. On the way down there, I was playing Janis on my (8 track?) tape player. The swimming area always closed from 12-1 for lunch, so we were on the back porch of the lodge when "Mercedes Benz" came on the jukebox. The three of us started loudly singing and literally stopped traffic! All the people who were going into the dining hall and those eating in the outside area stopped to listen to us and applauded when we finished. Do you guys remember that? There was one table of three old ladies who gave me hard looks, but everybody else enjoyed it.

Pam and Jean have decided to come to the party. They weren't sure, at first, they wanted to, but I knew Jean would have a ball, she loves to dance, so I made one last pitch for the event to Pam today and she told me tonight they're coming. I'm thrilled. I wish everybody I know could be there and have as much fun as I'll have.

Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Thanks to my friend Jean, I've come up with a costume for Friday's party. I'll dress as Janis Joplin! I've got just about everything I need, including the stringy hair, except for the glasses. She's forever 27 in most folks' minds, so I'll be the aging Janis, imagine that, the one who didn't die young. Unless I can find some bell bottoms between now and then, I'm going with the denim mini-skirt with black tights underneath, or a I may use a long skirt. Granny skirts, boots, and glasses were all popular back then, and I've seen pictures of her in all of them. I've got a shiny silk blouse, but I'd rather have a shiny silk peasant blouse. Maybe I can find one at a consignment shop. A crochet vest would be good, too. She usually wore lots of jewelry, beads, bangle bracelets, etc.

With Pam still in San Antonio, I picked Jean up and took her to lunch today. Annual Council was held in Natchez this week-end, so there was only morning prayer at church, which we skipped. After lunch, we went to Party City to look for masks. She bought one with peacock feathers, but I couldn't find what I was looking for. Now that I've decided on my costume, rather than a mask, I may just wear the big tinted glasses. They had some of those, but they looked more like Elton John than Janis Joplin. I'll keep looking. It's gonna be a busy week.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

I did my very favorite kind of aerobic exercise today - dancing! For almost an hour and a half, it was steady and strenuous, enough to get the heart rate up. I think we finally got choreography for "Celebration," the opening number of the Mardi Gras program, hammered out and polished somewhat. We have rehearsal again on Weds. and Thurs. nights. These things are so much fun!

Driving Art's Rav4 was fun, too! Shifting a 5-speed made me feel 20-something again, and it felt so natural, too. I'll probably get back in my Buick and start reaching for that clutch with my left foot. I always loved a straight shift car! Not sure why, but I did. I like being physically involved in making the car go.
I borrowed Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis from my neighbor and have marked it up terribly already, but he said I could. He also mentioned to me that the book has 30 chapters and he has used it several times as a devotional book reading one chapter a day for a month.
I've been an admirer of C.S. Lewis ever since David Hall loaned me Mere Christianity. The Screwtape Letters is one I first read when Paul Ballard loaned me his book. I've planned for years to re-read it, so when I saw it in Art's living room, I asked to borrow it. Mike's Sunday School class read The Great Divorce last year, taking one chapter a week until it was completed, and I read the chapter to him each week because I wanted to read the book and he enjoys hearing me read.
By the way, did you know that a recording of C.S. Lewis himself can be heard reading the original broadcast of Beyond personality: The New Men, part of the third series of talks which were later published as Mere Christianity. It's the only surviving footage of the broadcasts.
I like to joke that it was three of my Baptist buddies who introduced me to Anglicanism - David Hall, former pastor at PBC, with Mere Christianity , Paul Ballard was choir director at PBC when he loaned me Screwtape Letters, and my friend LaRue with a book she gave me one year for my birthday, O Ye Jigs and Juleps by Virginia Cary Hudson. Remember that, Friend? Maybe y'all knew even then I'd be happier as something other than Baptist?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Old Man Winter strutted his stuff here today - cold and wet, good day to stay inside. And if Mike's car had not burned up a fan belt, that's exactly what I would have done.

As it turned out, I had to get out in that cold wet weather and pick him up at the Dodge dealer's service center, then make the grocery store run he started but didn't complete. He had to leave the car there, no part available until Monday, so we will have to make do with one car until he gets his back. I've got Mardi Gras rehearsal at the church tomorrow, then church on Sunday morning. He's welcome to it the rest of the time. And I can use my neighbor's Rav4 if Mike wants the car. No problem!

Check out the stories and pictures of Romeo over at Laura's BPP blog. What a gorgeous wolf! Several other good stories there, too, and a great cartoon.

If you missed Bill Moyers' interview of John Grisham you can catch it here. He even talked about his profession of faith at age 8.

If you missed Barack Obama's Top 10 Campaign Promises on David Letterman last night, it's here.

And in case you missed all the inaccuracies about the war by the Republican candidates in last night's debate, you can get the confusion cleared up here.

One thing I like about my "new bedroom" is that I can hear the rain falling a lot more easily than in the master bedroom. Why is that such a good sound to sleep by? I don't know, but it is, and it's calling me now.

Nitey nite!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here's an inspiring horoscope for Sagittarians today:

Sun is in Aquarius, Moon is going from Leo into Virgo. Making money will be easier for the next several weeks. You could make a very lot of it, too. Consider possible methods, and things you can buy and sell.

Now that's the kind of prognostication I like! Maybe we've got buyers just waiting for a couple of our houses to go on sale, not that selling them would make us rich, unless they've appreciated a lot more than I think they have, and that's the only thing we own worth selling.

I went to Madison today to assess the situation. The house key I had would not unlock the door, so I couldn't let the cleaning crew in. The power won't be turned on until Monday, the gas on Tuesday. Cleaning will have to wait until next week. It's just too darn cold to work without heat. Our handyman is replacing locks and thought he could get in the house without breaking a window, never did hear back from of those spin-your-wheels type days.

I tried to watch the Republican candidates' debate from Boca Raton, FL tonight, but lost patience with them in the first five minutes and turned it off after Mike Huckabee's cute little quip about the stimulus package. He said the tax rebates would probably be financed by borrowing from China, then American consumers would use the money to purchase merchandise made in China. He's not the only one concerned about whose economy will be stimulated the most, bless that Baptist preacher's heart! He probably doesn't understand Bush's fuzzy math either.

Paul's got some cool blogs over on the Clarion Ledger site. Be sure to check out his Jan. 15th "Sunrise Special." Who says you have to go to church every Sunday to appreciate the Creator's handiwork?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Being back at choir practice tonight felt so good! We are doing a beautiful arrangement of Just As I Am for Ash Wednesday. It's nothing like the hymn, but when we finished practicing the song with the new tune, David played the old familiar hymn tune and much to my surprise, everybody in there knew it by heart and sang it heartily. Billy Graham would have been proud! I sang for two hours without coughing and practiced the choreography with the chorus for the Mardi Gras program. I won't be in any of the single acts but can do 3 or 4 songs with the larger group. Still haven't decided what costume to wear. I may pull out the mini-skirt.

Rather than going to the Hilton today with the Water Lillies, I had lunch with a new friend, another Jeanne. She has a 6 letter name so readers, you will be able to distinguish between her and Jean when I mention them. Jeanne is a Democrat, who did not grow up in the South, but did grow up in a minister's home, so we have a couple of things in common right there. Her husband, also a Democrat, teaches Political Science at Tougaloo. It's nice to be able to speak uninhibited Democratese with a confidante. Welcome, Jeanne, to Ms. Sippi.

There are actually several Democrats at St. Philip's, several in the choir, in fact, but none with whom I've had the opportunity to talk privately very often. It's kinda strange when the choir is having dinner on Wednesday nights because the long dining table has the right leaning people on the right end and the left leaning people on the left end. Somehow, I wind up in the middle but have noticed that my head is turned more to the left than the right. Their conversations are far more engaging to me.

I didn't go to the dinner after choir rehearsal tonight. For one thing, I was very tired, and for another thing, Law and Order is back on Weds. nights at 9:00. Jack McCoy is the D.A. now, and I dare not miss it. Tonight's episode was really good, didn't you think? Moral of the story? Yesterday's tactics of combatting bullying and violence with more bullying and violence just leaves more people wounded or dead and very little accomplished in the solving of the original problem.

In today's email, I got a link to the speech given by my friend the Rev. Ed Bacon of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. He spoke to the Exempt Organizations Committee of the American Bar Association meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 18, 2008. Anyone interested in the IRS investigation of his church should read this speech. It ultimately concerns us all and our freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Jeanne, make sure your husband sees this, if he hasn't already.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

When was the last time a Leo Tolstoy story got dropped into the middle of one of my casual conversations? Probably not since the last time I talked to my cousin Bill. My friend Jean never ceases to amaze me. While we were in the pool today yakking about this and that, our talk veered into the current investigation of certain well-known, wealthy trial attorneys in our state.

"It all boils down to greed," we both concluded.

"Just like that man in the Tolstoy story "How Much Land Does a Man Need?" she added. I asked her to refresh my memory, so she did. Did I mention that my 86 year old friend Jean is very well read? I was embarrassed to tell her of my feeble (and futile) attempt to read Tolstoy.

When our conversation turned to my family, and the research I've done of my ancestors, she recalled a Eudora Welty story about a dysfunctional family that reminded her of mine. Again, she refreshed my memory, and they did, indeed, remind me of my family.

I feel so totally illiterate compared to her, and to others who love to read. You would never know I was the daughter of a literature buff, someone who even taught literature for a few years. My sweet daddy would be humiliated with how little I know about the classics. Reading all of Eudora Welty's books and stories is on my "Bucket List." And if I get through those, I may even tackle Tolstoy again. Wouldn't Daddy be proud?
Art: "Books in Winter" by Jessie Wilcox Smith.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mondays aren't usually as good as today was; this one I've enjoyed from beginning to end. Mike was being extra nice after I gave him an attitude adjustment last night. (He had been so bad. I'll spare you the details, but if I'd had the pepper spray with me he would have got a face full, and I told him that. Instantly improved attitude!)

Then I made some calls regarding the rent house. And I had a very sweet conversation with my neighbor who had the day off. After that, I went to the gym, and then to lunch with Pam and Jean. We had a delicious meal at a small Chinese restaurant that I hadn't been to in several years. Mike and I used to go there after church every Sunday when we attended St. Peter's.
I made an appointment with a couple to get the rent house cleaned, but then found out that some friends of ours are interested in renting it. For these friends, I would waive the deposit if they agreed to clean it themselves, and they might do that. Still no decision from them. We're supposed to meet tomorrow.
I went shopping after lunch at Lowe's to buy a "For Rent" sign to post in the Madison yard, then started looking around for ideas for the renovation we plan to do here. I'm seriously considering putting most of our budget into updating the master bedroom and bath. We've got a hall closet that we could take in and double the space for that bathroom, maybe even move the laundry in there (where all the laundry is generated, DUH!). Taking in our useless balcony could add about another 50 square feet. Rather than a master bedroom, we would have a master suite, maybe even put a morning bar or mini-kitchen in there. Rewire the cable for HDTV, add a new flat screen HDTV, a new recliner...
OK, you've probably figured out where I'm going with this. Not only will it add to the resale value of this house, but it will give Mike a place to spend most of his time and I can have the rest of the house to myself most of the time without having to listen to his garbage! Why hadn't I already thought of this?!?!

It was a most inspired day!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Being back at St. Philip's this morning for the first time in a month was a very emotional experience for me. I was about 5 minutes late, so the choir was singing the Gloria when I walked in. All the choir members noticed me and smiled, some discreetly waved. They sounded so good, it touched me in my heart's softest spot. And to think, I mused, they let me sing with them!

I can't describe how much I've missed them and the music. I sat through the whole service without singing until the very last hymn, figuring if I started coughing, I wouldn't disturb anything but the benediction. Afterwards, I went to lunch with Pam and Jean at Amerigo's. My glass of wine didn't zap me today like last week's did.

I finally took down the Christmas tree this morning, and while I worked on it, had an interesting conversation with Mike. He turned the TV on a program with noises that get under my skin real quick - screaming, bombs, guns, sirens, vulgar language, etc. I asked him to please find something else to watch or to turn off the sound. He asked what the name of this condition is that I have and I told him it's called misophonia; certain sounds evoke strong negative reactions, like fingernails on a chalkboard, except with me there are several other sounds that do it. It's the reason I gave him a set of wireless headphones for his birthday, which he has yet to use. He loves war movies, and the history channel's war stories, and I want him to be able to watch what he likes without disturbing me.

OK, he said, I'll try to find something that sounds good to you, except I don't think there is anything that sounds good to you.

Think about it, Honey, I said. You've been married to me for 15 years, so this shouldn't be so hard. If you had to create a soundtrack for one day of my life that would soothe and satisfy, rather than stress and strain, what would be on it?

That's easy, he answered, I would just turn on one of those soft music channels that you like and let it play all day.

And that's it? That's all I would hear?

Well, maybe some Hardball and Countdown, too, he added. But that's all I can think of that you enjoy.

Oh, come on, I chided, you can do better than that.

A conversation with Pam and Jean?

OK, what else?

Your favorite sound is my telling you I'm leaving and won't be back for several hours, he added, but I'm not sure how to work that in if I'm in charge of the whole day's soundtrack.

With that, I let it drop. It's obvious that some folks are impossible to please and I'm fast becoming one of them. Even I feel sorry for the poor man sometimes.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Being nice to Mike all day long on his birthday took all my time and energy, so there was no blog yesterday - another part of my being nice to The Man. Yes, he is aware that I diss him terribly. He never reads it, but I've told him and he's glad he provides "material" for me.
How did I wind up with such an insensitive SOB? The worst part of it is he brings out the insensitive side of me, and I don't like that side of me. Is it too late to make a New Year's Resolution to not be so insensitive? (Or should that be "to be more sensitive"?) Without the help of Zoloft, I'm feeling more fragile than I've felt in a long time, not sure how much more sensitive I can be. And he is trying to be more in-tune to what's happening with his wife.
We went to Ryan's for lunch yesterday, then went to Madison to check on our rent house. The renters are gone, just what I suspected since they had not sent any rent. What's that old saying - better an empty house than a bad tenant?
And now I've got to get it cleaned up, advertise it, show it, take applications, check references, find a new renter! Ugh! I hate doing this. I went by the realtor's office and picked up our former property manager's files and keys. It was not a happy moment for me. I would gladly pay 10% (maybe more) for a good property manager. And it's not a good time to even think about selling it.
Thanks to all of you who say I have too much time on my hands and need to get a job!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Here's the best picture I got today while Gus slept. It was shot in existing light and shows his most angelic side. He's on the back of the sofa, above Mike, who is also napping, but the one I made of the two of them wasn't nearly as good.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

George and I met at Islamorado Restaurant in Pearl for lunch. It's located in the Bass Pro Shop, and offers a wide variety of fish and seafood. I had clam chowder and salad. He had BBQ'd Salmon. Wonder if that's popular anywhere but the South?
I always enjoy talking about Plantersville people and experiences with George. With just the few years of difference in our ages, he knew a whole different group of people growing up than I did. I learn something new and interesting every time we talk. We're both watching Steve's campaign closely and hoping he is elected.

There are a couple of new items on Steve's website. I especially liked this part of the Babb article: Once while speaking at Ole Miss, Holland was asked why he was a Democrat. He shot back, "Because I was raised in a Christian home." The slide show has some good pictures, too.

After lunch I went for the hearing test. Just as I suspected, I have no significant hearing loss and the Beltone hearing aid does not help with the kind of tinnitus I have. I did learn a couple of new words that describe a component of my disorder - hyperacusis, and maybe misophonia. For those of you who want to know more, it's here.

The testing was done at the Miss. Hearing Health Center by a B.C. HIS (Board Certified Hearing Instrument Specialist). I asked about acupuncture, LaRue, and Dr. Dubrino (Ph. D) said some people have had limited success with it, as well as sublingual Vitamin B12. Of course, I started googling as soon as I got home and have decided to try this first. I'll probably ask my doctor before I order it to be sure there are no contraindications.

Tomorrow is Mike's 58th birthday. I'm taking him to lunch. He said he wanted to go to Ryan's, but after I told him about the BBQ'd salmon that George ate today, he said he wanted to try that, so I may go back to the Bass Pro Shop, which is okay with me. Lots of things on their menu I want to try.

Happy 1st Birthday also to Cyrus! Sure would like to see some pictures, Tarah.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The difference between the way I felt emotions while on anti-depressants and the way I feel them now is like daylight and dark. Before, it was like I had a warm, fuzzy cocoon insulating me from the cold, cruel world, and now I'm exposed to the chilly elements without so much as a sweater. To say I'm a little raw is an understatement. I feel like I'm overreacting to everything. I want to get back inside that cocoon! But my head has quit spinning, and the crickets aren't quite as loud and I don't really feel depressed, so I'll probably wait and see if I can get along without it.

I received the package from Cousin Kevin which included this picture of my great grandfather John N. Johnson. (Thanks, Kevin!) This man was a veteran of Hood's Texas Brigade, Company F, The Mustang Grays, a very famous Confederate unit that fought in the Battle of the Wilderness, Antietam, Gettysburg, Chattanooga and others. One tough old bird, wouldn't you agree?
There has been a great deal of confusion about his middle name. "Nunum" is on his tombstone. His mother's maiden name was spelled Neunum on her marriage license, but there are indications that her relatives, or people closely associated with their family, spelled their name Newman. Combine the ubiquitous Johnsons with the Nunum/Neunum/Newman family and you have one mell of a hess! It will take a keener mind than mine to unravel this riddle.
I also got a very sweet handwritten letter (remember those?) from Kevin's grandmother Aurelia, who sounds very young and lively to be 87. She lives alone and still drives. She would be my father's first cousin, so she's my first cousin once removed. I've got to get my genealogy software repaired, so I can add the information she and Kevin have sent.
The links to the family tree websites are here and here. You will notice that nothing has been done on either site in almost five years. I kept research notes and posted them on the Familytreemaker site, which I tried to make sense of last week, but it was more confusing than ever. We do have identities for a couple of more people mentioned in my grandfather's typewritten letter to his daughter Mildred, who was a student at Hillman College in Clinton, from Liberty, MS in 1922.
I've been to the gym three days this week and am really enjoying it. I get tired sooner than I did before Christmas, so I don't have all my strength back, and I'm still coughing, but not as often. Maybe I'm about over this crud, or pneumonia, or whatever it is I've had. Pam and Jean and I went to lunch after the aerobics class with the Water Lillies, a group of WOW who have one thing in common - we all do water aerobics somewhere. (WOW = wild older women) It was great fun. Next Weds. we're going to the Hilton.
Tomorrow I'm having lunch with George. Afterwards, I have an appointment to check out the latest development in the treatment of tinnitus. From what I could tell about the full-page ad in the newspaper, it's at a Chiropractor's Office. I could be wrong, but the screening is free, so I figured I could at least listen to their sales pitch. As much as I would like to annihilate this annoying noise, I don't have real high hopes for a cure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The meeting I attended last night was one of the most organized and most productive homeowners' meeting I've ever attended, not that I've attended very many of them since moving to Woodlake. I'm obviously not the only one who didn't want to be involved and I saw the unfortunate consequences of our mass neglect at this meeting. With the dues from a majority of homeowners in arrears and several serious maintenance problems unresolved, the board whose term just expired seemed to be mostly ineffectual. I would have been embarrassed to face a group with the poor report they gave. We elected a new board of more mature homeowners, 4 women and 1 man. I think we will hear a much improved report next January.

Mike asked about the meeting this morning. I had talked about it for a couple of minutes when he picked up his phone and began calling Ron, his interest in what I was saying totally gone. Something about his abrupt shift of attention from me to Ron offended me personally and deeply. It was rude and insensitive. He didn't say, Excuse me, I have to make a call, or anything; just picked up the phone and began calling his friend for their daily confabulation of B.S.

I was hurt, I was angry, I told him how his behavior affected me, and asked him why he even bothered to ask about the meeting if he didn't want to hear about it. "I just got tired of listening to you," he said.

I started crying. It's the first time I've cried about a personal affront in a long, long time. He looked genuinely bewildered with my reaction. Like a child he sat there dumbfounded, not knowing what to say or do. I'm not sure he ever understood what bothered me so about what he had done.

"I'm tired of being the only adult in this house," I wailed, [when do I get to be the baby?]. "I need someone to talk to me about serious matters, our home, our neighborhood, our property value. I know there's no comedic value in those topics, but they concern us and our investments and I feel like I'm talking to a 14 year old kid who doesn't understand the first thing I've mentioned!"

Still, no relevant response. Instead, I get a string of obscenities, then "you know I always call Ron at this time every morning."

"I wish I had a recording of this whole exchange. When I pack your clothes and put you and them on the curb, I would play it whenever I felt the slightest twinge of guilty conscience!" I screamed at him.

His phone rang. I knew it was Ron. I left the room with, "And don't go to Kroger and buy me any damn roses!"

When I met Pam and Jean an hour later to go with them to the gym, Jean asked about my long face. "I'm trying to figure out how to kick a crippled man to the curb and not feel guilty about it," I told her. By the time we got to the gym, I was feeling much better. Talking to other adults about adult matters did help me regain my composure. Pam was at last night's meeting and was elected to the board. She's very knowledgeable about all the things I wanted to talk about earlier with Mike. I made a mental note to call her, instead of wasting my time with him, next time I have a question about homeowner concerns.

Realistic expectations - without them I always get in trouble.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I didn't make it to church yesterday, but around noon, I made an escape to Amerigo's for lunch with Pam and Jean. Then I came home and crashed. I only had one glass of wine but I felt like I'd been on a week-end long binge.

I felt well enough to go back to the gym this morning for the first time in a month. After I heard how many other gym members have been sick with the same symptoms I've had, I couldn't help but wonder if we caught something from each other or if maybe the swimming pool was contaminated.

I know they had maintenance problems before Christmas with the swimming pool and the hot tub. They couldn't seem to regulate the temperature of the water, and they were frequently taking samples of the water for testing with worried looks on their faces. Whether a certain temperature is required for the chemicals to work properly, I don't know. I do know, looking back, that there was a great deal of dissatisfaction among their clientele concerning the pool, not something that inspires confidence in those who use it. As far as I know, there are no state regulations governing the operation of facilities like this, no oversight by the health department or anything. I wonder how it works in other states.

I enjoyed the exercise and the camaraderie until I began feeling the familiar pain of shin splints. Even the low impact of water jogging bothers my arthritic feet and ankles and my out-of-shape leg muscles. A soak in the hot tub afterwards made all the aches and pains go away. They finally got the heater fixed and the water was warm enough to feel really good.

Tonight I'm going to the homeowners' association meeting. I'd rather take a beating. I'm afraid if I don't go, I'll get elected to serve on the board. I've done that before and promised myself "never again." The meetings run a close second to the CWA local meetings I used to attend for "the most tiresome way to waste time." I have very little patience with all the petty squabbling that goes on.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

We got some exciting news from Plantersville:





Good luck, Buddy! I'll help you any way I can. I may even send you a dollar or two for the campaign. That would put you and Barack Obama in a very exclusive class of 2 politicians I believe in strongly enough to support financially. The announcement will be made tomorrow from the Plantersville School Cafeteria. Gosh, I wish I could be there. Oh well, I'll be there in spirit. Go, Steve, go! Here's another good picture from the internet.

And I'll give you all the free advertising you want on this blog.

I just realized how fitting the Molly Ivins quote on my title banner is for this man. And those of us who know him know just how good he is at all of it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Once again we dodged the bullet, but others in our state weren't as lucky. Ever since Benji lived in Kosciusko, I've been aware of how often tornadoes touch down in Attala County. Eleven homes and 1 business were damaged or destroyed there yesterday. Several other places in the state got hit, as well, including Lee County with several trees downed and power outages.

I was feeling well enough today, regardless of the hangsonahelluvalongtime cough, (Thanks, George, for cluing me into the name of this godawful bug that's going around) to go out for the first time in a week. Mike and I had lunch at Ryan's, then went to Target and Kroger. Ryan's finally has cornbread! I thanked the manager for finally acknowledging the taste of their Southern clientele. For an all-you-can-eat buffet to open in the middle of redneck Rankin County and not offer cornbread just rubbed me the wrong way every time I went in the place. Seems they're under new ownership and have tried to make improvements. He asked me to please call the 800 number on the receipt and give him and his store 5-star ratings across the board. I'll be registered to win $1,000, he said, if I would. I probably will.
Skip is excited about the new cousin who found us. Both of us are itching to see the contents of the trunk his grandmother has, but Kevin is sending some of the old pictures and letters, so that may suffice for now. Do I see another trip to Texas in our future, Cuz? Neither of us has done much genealogy research since we hit the Johnson brick wall. It's a very discouraging brick wall. I knew, at some point, that some cousin would discover an old trunk which contains valuable information, and that until that happened, we were spinning our wheels. Maybe it's this trunk. My fingers are crossed.
Paul has a couple of good fish tales this month. The Mississippi Sportsman column is here, and the Clarion Ledger blog is here. Read 'em if you haven't already.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

We've had an exciting day around here. First, I got an email from a Texas cousin I've never met. He and his 87 year old grandmother have been doing some root digging and he found my family tree online. He contacted me before Christmas, but I was too sick to care. He sent this picture, which includes my grandfather Charlie Johnson on the left with his sister Nellie (Harriet Penelope Johnson Barron of Crystal Springs, MS), their brother Willie (William Coleman Johnson of Culpepper, Virginia, the only sibling who stayed there and didn't migrate south then west like the rest of them), and another sister Mollie (Mildred Virginia Johnson Smith of Jackson, MS). I had never seen pictures of Willie or Nellie, even though I met Aunt Nellie when I was a child. She was my daddy's favorite aunt, and on his trips from New Orleans back to Plantersville, he usually stopped in Crystal Springs for a visit and lunch. I have vague recollections of accompanying him a couple of times, but very vague.
The grand prize will be the picture of their father, John Nunum Johnson, whom neither Skip nor I have ever seen. Skip's mom left her curiosity about family trees with him and me, but we got a diluted dose of it compared to her, I'm afraid. Anyway, welcome cousin Kevin to this side of your family. If you're reading this, you may learn more about your kinfolks than you really wanted to know.


Then the weather radio started screeching, the Civil Defense siren went off, the dogs were howling and I soon discovered we were under a tornado warning. So Gus and Jay-Jay and I spent almost an hour in the closet under the stairs. Mike was at the gym, so I didn't have to worry about him. I finally corralled the cats and locked them in together in the downstairs bathroom. They don't like each other, at all, so there was a good deal of racket at first, but then they settled down 'til the storm had passed. Evidently, a funnel cloud passed within a mile of us, but we got no damage... still don't know if anybody close-by did, but I'm sure we'll hear it tonight on the news.
The other excitement came in the wee hours of the morning when I figured out how to play an audio file on this blog. With this being a bad weather day, I've compiled a slide show of various images that represent some of the things I've seen today with an Etta James song to accompany it. I hope this works...let me know if it doesn't and I'll go back to the drawing board. It's crude (production-wise, not content-wise), but it is a first. Suggestions for improvement are welcome.
Oh foot! It didn't work! Oh well, I've just about mastered Power Point. Maybe I can figure out how to post that somewhere. And it was such a cool little crude video that had "Stormy Weather" for a soundtrack.
Here are the ingredients of today's "Dump Soup." It was delicious, so I try to make a record when happy accidents like this occur. There was only about an inch of Salsa left in the jar, which I used, it was not the whole jar.

It's one can each: Hormel Turkey Chili 99% fat free, Kroger Diced Tomatoes, Tri-Bean Blend, Progresso Minestrone Soup, Campbell's Chunky Old-Fashioned Vegetable Beef Soup, Stokley's Cream-Styled Corn, and a little Pace Chunky Salsa. Really good on a day like today, higher in sodium than my doc would approve, but tasty.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Not only does God work in mysterious ways, our minds do, too. After contemplating the relation between serendipity, coincidence, and proddings of the Holy Spirit (see yesterday's post), and after googling these terms and reading what a few others have to say on the subjects, my skeptical mind latched on to this summary:

It is not my contention that all coincidences are meaningless and should be ignored. Indeed, truly unlikely events may have some underlying significance and the search for their causes would be a laudable endeavor. However, the vast majority that we experience turn out to be much more probable than they appear, if analyzed critically. When this is taken into account, along with our propensity for selective validation, our desire to believe in something akin to fate, and our coincidence-detection hardwiring, the true deceptive power of coincidence is realized.
That's not to say I don't believe the Holy Spirit is involved in our mundane matters, I just know how huge my own propensity for selective validation is. Several great articles on this subject out there for the googling, but I especially enjoyed this one.
I consulted one of the very few webmaster gurus I know and he told me that Blogger has a copyright problem with MP3 and other audio files. There is no easy way to do what I want to do - post one song at a time for my readers' listening pleasure. BUT I can use Windows Movie Maker to make a video file with a few pictures and use the song as the audio track. Now you know what I'll be working on today. By the way, don't attempt to use "insegrevious" in a Scrabble game with me. You will get challenged.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

(Warning: I'm still bellyaching!)
It seemed like such a simple solution. Why hadn't I thought of it sooner? Rather than giving Wellbutrin another week to work without the whole world spinning around, why not just leave it off for a few days and see if I feel better? After all, the symptoms I've had can also be caused by the illness itself, not just by the withdrawal from/adjustment to medications for the illness. Why not just leave them all off for a few days, you know, the old "back to square one" principle. So this is Day Two of no anti-depressants. The dizziness is gone, and the crickets aren't singing quite as loudly.
None of the pros I talked to offered this solution as Plan B. My doctor said I should give the Wellbutrin another week, just like the pharmacist told me, and that was after he told me that "pharmacists don't know!" Well, they are more accessible than doctors are, and as long as their advice tracks exactly with that of the doc's, I will continue to consult them. Neither of them seemed to understand how miserable I've been, though, so I had to come up with my own course of action. It can't be any worse than what I've been through, and who knows? I might just feel better! We'll see.
As a sort of serendipitous affirmation of my decision, I got a newsletter from WebMD this morning that included 7 physical symptoms that can be caused by depression. Most of them I know about firsthand. I've found that Excedrin Back and Body tablets work wonders on several of them, no prescription needed.
The most productive thing I've done lately is clean my desk, inside and out. 95% of its contents got tossed. That's real progress for a packrat like me. I've also compiled new playlists on my WMP. Current favorites are "THE Divas, IMO" including Bonnie Raitt, Nora Jones, Etta James, Sarah MacLachlan, Diana Krall, Emmylou Harris, Aretha Franklin, and Marcia Ball. I've got some Melissa Ethridge and Ella Fitzgerald to add to this. Did I leave out any of your favorites? Let me know, I might just add them.
I downloaded an Etta James album last week-end that I absolutely love, not one track on it I don't like. My No. 1 favorite is "I've Been Lovin' You Too Long." It shook me to the core and brought tears to my eyes. It's so much better than what Otis Redding, the Rolling Stones, or Barbara Mandrell did. If I ever figure out how to add one of those mini-players to this blog, I'll play it for you. Why has a button been provided on Blogger for images and video, but not audio? I've found the html code for adding it, just haven't figured out how to add the one song I want to play. If any of you have figured out how to do this, please let me know. I'll be very grateful.
6:30 pm. Just noticed on the BPP blog that the second Monday of January is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. More serendipity? Or is it like my friend LaRue says: it occurred to me (secular speak for "The Holy Spirit impressed on me...") Twelve Step folks say there's no such thing as coincidence. I dunno for sure. I do know it gives me a very satisfied and happy feeling when I make a change and then get validation for that change from unexpected sources. One of my favorite verses from Isaiah says, and this is paraphrased: Whether I turn to the right or to the left, my ears will hear a voice behind me saying, "This is the way; walk in it. (30:21)

Monday, January 07, 2008

In trying to find a bare spot on my desktop this morning, I got the brilliant idea to clean out the file drawer in my desk, and put some of this stuff in there. The file drawer got filled up shortly after I retired (3/17/99) and hasn't been cleaned out since. In the back of the drawer behind the files of bills and bank statements, genealogy sheets, and art masterpieces (originally done as doodling) was a nylon bag (original home to a headset that got left with Ma Bell), filled with the contents of a desk drawer from the Bellsouth office. Make-up, snacks, Ibuprofin - you know the drawer, you ladies probably have one just like it, but do you know how well those things age? The lipstick and nail polish are still usable, the snacks are stale, the Ibuprofin is long past its prime. I'd decided to discard everything, but the pack rat in me can't let go of stuff that is still good. Hmmm, Wine With Everything, does Revlon still make this shade? I've got the nail polish and the lipstick. Remember when Caller ID was the latest, greatest feature for telephones? An additional line for the home office, the computer, or the kids was something we got extra Brownie points for selling. "Nashville, a good place to fool around," that had to be left from the Don days.But my favorite find was this, the mousepad I used for most of 1998 obviously, as I was counting down the days 'til retirement.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Epiphany came and went without any help from me; no personal epiphany for me either. I've officially missed the entire Christmas season and its music at St. Philip's. If it weren't a volunteer choir, I'd surely be fired.

I can't remember when I felt worse than I've felt today. I ache all over and I keep having hot flashes just like when I went through menopause. I probably won't post this. I'm sure all my readers are sick of my being sick. They ought to be in my shoes. Tomorrow I talk to Dr. LaGarde or bust.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It's been a relatively quiet day here except for Gus, who has barked at everything that moved, inside and outside the house. I think he finally wore himself out. He's sound asleep. My head is still swimming, and I tried to sing earlier, but lasted only 5 minutes before the coughing started again. As long as I stay in and take it easy, I do ok, but doing anything that requires balance or voice is still out of the question for now.
I asked the pharmacist if it's possible that the Wellbutrin is causing the dizziness, and she said it was possible, but more likely it's the withdrawal from Zoloft. Either could be causing it, or it could be both. We need to give it another week and see if it diminishes. If it does, it's the Zoloft; if it doesn't, it's probably the Wellbutrin. My doctor will be back from his vacation on Monday; I'm sure my pharmacist will be glad.
According to everything I've read, side effects of Wellbutrin XL may include: Abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, dry mouth, heart palpitations, increased urination, insomnia, muscle soreness, nausea, rash, ringing in the ears, sore throat, sweating. (My complaints are in the bold font.)

I've had tinnitus for about 15 years, so I can't blame my ringing in the ears on either drug, even though it has been worse lately. Whereas, I usually hear only an ensemble of singing crickets, their ranks, in recent days, seem to have swelled to a formidable choir accompanied by a full orchestra. If I were Chinese, I might consider myself lucky; they love the sound of singing crickets, sometimes housing them in gilded cages similar to our bird cages, only smaller. Before I got tinnitus, I liked the sound of them, too, but that was when I could close the window and turn off their music. If you want to know what the inside of my head sounds like, just walk into a bait shop sometime where they sell "live crickets," then walk over to the box of "live crickets." That's it. Mike tells me he always liked the Crickets, but I think he's referring to different crickets, like in the Buddy Holly band.

"I hear ringing in my ears, Doc. I try to ignore it but they keep leaving messages!"
'Tis the season for sore throats, several people I've been around have had that, too, so I may have just caught a bug. Some sort of upper respiratory infection has kept me coughing for almost three weeks, probably pneumonia.
I've blamed my agitation on Mike's inebriation, and it could well have been, but for the last couple of days, most of my agitation has been due to the snarls I've had to untangle in my computer since grandchildren used it for computer games. I plan to seriously solicit Santa on Clay's behalf for his own laptop next year, maybe even for his birthday. I worked all day yesterday in getting everything back to the way I had it except that I still can't send email. I can receive it, but not send it. Even the AT&T tech ran out of suggestions, so a specialist is supposed to call me Monday. So for those of you who were expecting a reply to your recent message, just be patient. I've done all I know to do.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Clay and Cooper are growing fast through their adolescence. Cooper, who is 2 years younger than his brother, caught up with Clay in height and weight several years ago, then got taller and heavier, much to Clay's initial dismay; but Clay is a happy, carefree child, so it didn't bother him for long. Knowing that his own dad, who was my firstborn, turned out to be a couple of inches shorter than his younger brother helped. Knowing that God planned it that way also helped.

Clay has had a growth spurt since he started 8th grade. He and Cooper are, for the time being, very close to the same height and weight. Clay's voice at 13 years old is getting deeper, and the peach fuzz on his upper lip was thicker and darker than it was just a month ago, but still not very noticeable. When he commented about it to me, I offered him the personal groomer/trimmer I keep in my bathroom, and he quite impulsively shaved his faint little mustache on the spot.

Ricky said I cheated him out of sharing "first shave" honors with his son. I should have known he wanted to mark this milestone as a special occasion, and I immediately regretted not discussing it with him first. Since Clay's shave with my trimmer didn't involve shaving cream and a real razor, I told him the "first real shave" honors were still his. I'm sure there will be pictures to mark the occasion.

Once again, I was struck during the holidays by what good daddies my sons have turned out to be. I give my own father a lot of the credit for the model they had to follow. I've never known a more devoted grandfather.

With their own father being as distant and detached as he was, they had unfulfilled longings that also influenced the way they relate to their own children. Giving their sons the attention, affection and admiration that they wanted but didn't get seems to have had a healing effect on the emotional scars they got from their dad's coldness, and from some of the mistakes that were made by their step-dad.

Having Don as a step-dad has helped Benji be a better step-dad, too. Benji and Don disagreed with each other more than they agreed. Now that Benji has step-children, he's understanding some of the frustration and challenges that Don experienced. Old grudges have softened into gratitude, and he's chosen the kinder, gentler side of his old nemesis to emulate.

No gift could have pleased this grandmother more than observing the wonderful, easy manner my sons have in dealing with their children. They are both quite good at it.

There was another poignant "grace under pressure" moment that made me smile. When we were at the Bass Pro Shop yesterday, Cooper lost his wallet. Unlike Clay who spends money and gift cards as quickly as he gets them, Cooper, from birthday and Christmas, had accumulated an impressive sum of close to $300, which was in the lost billfold. Ricky quickly retraced their steps and found it where they had been looking at guns. Cooper had been carrying it around in his hand because it wasn't "comfortable" in his back pocket, then laid it down to handle several rifles and walked off, carelessly forgetting what he'd done. Clay had done the same thing the night before, but without nearly as much money in his.

Within minutes of reuniting frantic boy with lost wallet, Ricky sat both boys down on the bench in the boot department and laid down the law about back pockets being made for boys' billfolds, demonstrating this principle in a very animated manner. He didn't raise his voice, he didn't shame them, but from the looks on their faces, all passers-by knew they were in trouble. And if they watched Ricky for any length of time, they had no trouble figuring out what the subject of the lecture was all about.

Gramma had to turn her back so the boys didn't see her grinning. I wish I could have made a picture without them seeing me. Maybe this blog post will help me retain the mental photo I got. Within minutes, father and sons were smiling and joking with each other, another memory I don't want to lose.

Way to go, Guys! In case I haven't told you lately, I'm very proud of both of you, and I really enjoyed spending holiday time with you and your families.

Holiday pictures are here.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Why does my house always seem much larger when company leaves? Maybe even "too large"? The space and the quiet are downright eerie. My dogs were sound asleep much earlier than usual. Having the 3 larger dogs in the house stressed my puppies to the max.

I went with Ricky and his family to the Bass Pro Shop today where we shopped and had a delicious lunch. I ate grilled grouper with steamed veggies and wild rice, and it was really good. The boys shot a few rounds in the shooting gallery, but I was the only one who bought anything, can you believe it? At BASS PRO SHOP?!? I got small pepper spray canisters for me and Mary Ann. They're small enough to be carried on a key chain. The next time I feel threatened, I plan to use mine on the threatener. Mike saw it and asked jokingly if I planned to use it on him. "Not unless I feel threatened," I answered, dead seriously. He must have already figured out that I was fed up with him. He bought me a dozen red roses while I was out buying pepper spray.
I've loaded most of the Christmas pictures to my Flickr site. Benji just sent this great shot of his family which was taken at Karen's cousin's house on Christmas Eve.

Here's one of Ricky's family that I found in the dump Ricky did from Mary Ann's camera to my computer. Judging from the turkey leg in Cooper's hand, I'm guessing it was made at Thanksgiving. They're in Gulf Shores tonight visiting his dad, and will complete their trip back to Tampa tomorrow. Of course, I'm prejudiced, but I think my sons and their families are extraordinarily good looking.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ricky and the boys spent the afternoon at Vance's riding the 4-wheeler and playing video games. They took the Shelties with them. Mary Ann and I made the most of the peace and quiet and took naps. Mike woke me up sooner than I wanted to be, so I was very grouchy for a while.
In the meantime, Ricky and the boys came home to drop off their dogs and pick up Mary Ann, then go by Pizza Hut for supper to take back out to Vance's house. They will be out there most of the evening.
I called in sick one more time to David due to my swimmy head. I've missed most of the Christmas music. The Epiphany service will be Sunday night. It's stuff I'm familiar with and I think I can be ready for Sunday night's performance with the rehearsal that precedes it that afternoon. I just don't trust my driving with my head still feeling detached from the rest of me, plus I just didn't want to get out in the cold.
It's colder here than any Mississippian enjoys. Today's high was barely above freezing and with the wind chill factor it was in the 20's all day. Why my grandsons wanted to ride a 4 wheeler on a day like today is beyond me, but boys will be boys, won't they? I thought as Floridians they would change their minds when that icy North wind hit them, but from what I understand, they were outside for a couple of hours. Vance got a Wii for Christmas, so the rest of the time was spent inside playing video games.
I talked to Betsy, who has had a busy vacation between semesters. She spent Christmas in NYC with Laura's family and got to see Tara and family, too, while she was there. She also got to meet the BPP staff where Laura works at the NPR studio. She got lots of positive feedback on her first-born, she said, which "made" her Christmas. We moms are always a soft touch for anyone who admires our children, aren't we?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The couple that Mike invited over last night didn't stay but about an hour, then went to a family dinner. He actually did some vacuuming before they got here. I drank a glass of wine while they were here and it seemed to make my head feel less fuzzy and detached.

Ricky's family (including the three Shelties) got here a little after 8 o'clock. We sat up and saw the new year in, then promptly went to bed like all sleepy people should do. Mike got drunk and made a total ass of himself, nothing new there. He kept wanting to watch Beverly Hillbillies, which no one else wanted to do, or listen to the stereo so loudly that conversation is impossible. Now you know why I'm getting him a set of wireless headphones for his birthday which is the 18th of this month. With them, he can stay in his private world of junky noise and not overpower the peace and quiet of the whole downstairs.

I took his 6th glass of wine while he wasn't looking and wouldn't let him have it back. He got hostile, cursed and threatened to hit me, but Ricky intervened and he got quiet. This was after he quoted a very obscene line from a movie with Mary Ann and the children in the room. He was so drunk he said he didn't realize the kids heard him.

I didn't sleep well. I've gotten used to sleeping alone in the guest room without dogs and without husband, so I had trouble relaxing and getting comfortable. The fireworks had made our dogs very nervous, so they slept as close to me as they could possibly get. I woke up three times drenched in sweat.

Today has been spent downstairs mostly, watching the Rose Parade and the Florida vs Michigan football game. Ricky took control of the TV first thing, for which I was grateful. Mike didn't protest, even though he has said he'd rather watch paint dry than watch a football game. I thought it served him right for acting so boorish the night before.

I cooked a late big breakfast and a late lunch, and just let people eat when they got hungry, rather than planning sit-down meals when everybody has to eat at the same time. That rarely works at my house due to the disparity in schedules. By the time Mike is ready for lunch, some of the late sleepers are just eating breakfast.

Gus and Jay-Jay missed their morning and afternoon naps, so they were quite ready to turn in early tonight. I may do the same. Ricky took the boys to Best Buy after the ballgame. They all had gift cards to spend. He and I figured out how to make the digital picture frame work that Mike gave me for my birthday. The resolution is terrible, so I'm thinking seriously of taking it back and exchanging it for something else. I'd like to have a flat-screen monitor for my computer, I'm still using the old bulky style. It wouldn't be an even swap, but with a little additional cash I could get a 19-inch. I'd much rather have that anyway.