Sunday, August 31, 2008

Even though we're keeping an eye on the weather channel and Hurricane Gustav, we're not feeling the effect of it yet. We've got partly cloudy skies, warm temps, and muggy humidity, nothing unusual there. This time tomorrow will be an entirely different story, they say. I've invited Skip and Helen to come stay with me, but they've decided to ride this one out, as they did Katrina. At least, he's got a cell phone this time. Good luck, Cuz!
McCain brought his dog and pony show to Mississippi today, for what, I'm not sure, other than a photo-op with Haley Barbour. I mean, it's not like he was here to help. What could he do? I guess anything is better than the humiliation of a convention which was being shunned by so many of his fellow Republicans (not that Fox viewers would ever hear about that). What hypocrites!
I've been trying to get to the bottom of a rumor that is burning up the internet today about Palin's baby. Is he really her baby or her daughter's baby? I dunno. I do know that when I saw the whole family on stage at Friday's announcement, the thought occurred to me that it could be the 16 year old Bristol's child. According to school records, she took an extended absence from school for mononucleosis, during the same time that her mother was supposedly pregnant. The women who worked most closely with the governor knew nothing of her pregnancy until a month before she delivered. And this was her 5th child? It could explain why she didn't take a maternity leave and how she was able to return to work only 3 days after the event. Wasn't this scheme on Desperate Housewives? If this turns out to be true, it's a despicable exploitation of a special-needs child, and a damning indictment of her integrity. If it's not true, I'll be sure to correct the record, but there is some pretty credible evidence being circulated.
This morning on FOX, McCain said "I’ve watched her for many, many years..." Let's see, she's been governor for less than two years, so I guess he's been watching her since she was running the school's PTA? He was definitely checking out her butt and fidgeting with his wedding ring when they stood together at the podium on Friday. Here's the clip on YouTube. He also called her "a partner and a soul mate." My, my, my, does this saga get more twisted every day. If I were Cindy McCain, I'd be reminding that old codger of the pre-nup he signed before the wedding.
I think he's decided he really doesn't want the job and is deliberately sabotaging his own candidacy. At his age (72), actuarial life tables say he has a little less than a one in six chance of not surviving his term. Factor in his health problems and it's even worse. Palin's chances of succeeding him as president are disconcertingly high. Polls show, by a healthy margin, that Americans do not believe she is ready to be President. Thank goodness! Now if they will remember this when they go to the polls in November.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Hold the phone! My nasty neo-con neighbor, or nanene, just told me McCain will win it in a landslide because "he picked a winner." Sporting his smiley-faced tee shirt with the caption "Imagine no liberals," he attacked me early this morning, before I'd even had coffee, with a rant about NBC. Seems last night O’Reilly used a still frame of CNBC showing Palin and under her picture asking “How many houses does Sarah Palin bring to the Republican ticket?” (The answer is three.) Twelve hours later, my nanene is still fuming.

"They're in the tank for Obama, and that proves it!" he screamed, his face getting redder with ever word. For a Fox fan to be upset that one network is "in the tank" for a particular party or candidate struck me as somewhat surreal.
Last week Jon Stewart called FNC's "fair and balanced" slogan an insult "to people with brains." Then he added, "Barack Obama could cure cancer and they'd figure out a way to frame it as an economic disaster." I doubt that my nanene would find any humor in that, but I did.
I wonder if Fox will report "no oil spills" in the Gulf after Gustav like they did after Katrina. When Gov. Jindal (R- La) was on that network in June pushing for more offshore drilling, he was asked of his concern about oil spills. He answered, "You know, that’s one of the great unwritten success stories, after Katrina and Rita, these awful storms, no major spills."
In reality, the hurricanes caused offshore oil spills so large that they could be seen from space. The Minerals Management Service reported that 113 oil platforms were “totally destroyed” — a total of 124 offshore spills. In fact, oil seeped onshore into southeast Louisiana, which saw 44 onshore and offshore oil spills. The EPA called the spills “worse than the worst-case scenario.” Even oil industry representatives admitted: “nature can always topple you.” It’s hard to see how this is a “great unwritten success story.”
He, too, was being vetted at the time to be McCain's running mate. Talk about fishing in the shallow end of the gene pool!
Now the Republicans are trying to figure out how to turn Hurricane Gustav into an advantage for their convention. Never mind the devastation to all the people affected by the storm, how can we make it work for us? The main benefit it gives them, they've concluded, is that Bush and Cheney are scheduled to speak on the first night and with the storm will have to leave immediately afterwards, or if it's bad enough, maybe they won't show up at all! They even called it a blessing. Can you believe these cads? The video is here.
And in case you missed the spectacle that Focus on the Family made about praying for rain in Denver when Obama gave his speech at Invesco Field, it's here. (9-1 Update - the video is back on YouTube.) From what I could tell, the weather could not have been more perfect. Maybe God is a Democrat.

Friday, August 29, 2008

On the third anniversary of Katrina and John McCain's 72nd birthday, he just conceded the election to Obama in a very indirect and devious way. Naming Sarah Palin as his running mate was an act of desperation, not to mention, poor judgment. And his argument that Obama has no experience that qualifies him to be president just flew out the window. He wants to put a 44 year old woman, who's been governor for only a year and a half, just a heartbeat away from being president? And a 72 year old heart at that, in a man who has fought how many rounds of cancer? Is he serious or senile?
The sad fact is that a few shallow people will be suckered by this decision simply because she's pro-life. McCain just took pandering to a whole new level. And she thinks the "sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits" will support her simply because she has the right plumbing? I don't think so. He may as well have said he thinks all women are stupid. I never thought John McCain could make my day, but he did. What a hoot!
Now that Gustav is headed for the still unrepaired, hurricane-ravaged New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast, let's not forget that John McCain advocated sacrificing the Medicare drug benefit to help pay for the recovery efforts after Katrina. He and his brilliant Republican cohorts were just beginning to realize the massive debt that was accumulating due to the cost of war. And from the voting records following Katrina we find:

McCain Voted Twice Against Establishing A Commission To Study The Response To Hurricane Katrina. [ 9/14/2005, 2/2/2006]

McCain Opposed Granting Financial Relief To Those Affected By Hurricane Katrina. [9/15/2005]

McCain Voted Against Five Months of Medicaid For Hurricane Katrina Victims. [11/3/2005]

McCain Voted Against Emergency Funding Bill, Including $28 Billion for Hurricane Relief. [5/4/2006]

And he picks a running mate who believes that global warming is not in the least man-made. I guess she also believes that evolution is just a theory, like gravity. Give me a break! I think the untold story is that he offered the Veep job to all the other potential candidates (Ridge, Romney, Hutchison, Lieberman, Huckabee), but none of them wanted it.

For more on this latest evidence of McCain's twisted logic, see The Palin Gamble, and McCain's Sexist VP Pick over at The American Prospect. Here is what one Alaskan thinks of McCain's selection.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I hope you watched the historical event that occurred in Denver tonight. Obama gave one helluva speech. You can see it here, if you missed it. He will be a great president. (photo by Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images)
One of my favorite parts of his speech included these lines: The times are too serious, the stakes are too high for this same partisan playbook. So let us agree that patriotism has no party. I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain. The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag. They have not served a Red America or a Blue America - they have served the United States of America. So I’ve got news for you, John McCain. We all put our country first.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Michelle Obama's speech at the convention last night could not have been better. I hate that the speech was necessary, but I'm glad she delivered it with such style and grace. Did it change the minds of those who have believed and propagated the lies about her and her husband? Probably not, but for those "undecideds" with an open mind, surely she appeared to be very unmonster-like.

I admire so many things about her, but especially her decision to work in the public service sector, rather than pursuing a high-powered, high-paying career in an expensive law firm. She and Barack have used their advantages to benefit others who were less fortunate, which tells me a lot about their Christian faith and their patriotism.

...driven by the simple belief that the world as it is just won't do; that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.

In case you missed the report on Joe Biden's personal net worth, it's here and it's very modest. His memoir, "Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics" is suddenly a best-seller and and are currently sold out.

And if you, like I, are tired of the inane commentary accompanying the convention on TV, switch over to C-Span. I did, and I like it much better. I mean, I like the MSNBC guys, but some of their guests are just plain stupid. And there are no commercials on C-Span.

Monday, August 25, 2008

When I attended the Red Hat Readers group last week at St. Philip's, I heard differing comments about The Shack by William P. Young. I had not read the book, but was intrigued by the pros and cons of those who had. Two in the group did not like it at all, and one of them gave me her copy, saying it was nothing she would ever go back to.

It has taken me a week to read it, the first few chapters seemed a little contrived and tedious to me, but it got better, and I finally finished it this morning. Did it change my life? I don't think so. I already knew God as loving me unconditionally, or as Papa says in the book, "I'm particularly fond of that one." (She says that of each of us.)

Did I gain new insight into the Trinity? A different perspective, maybe, especially with God being portrayed as a black woman.

Did it affect me emotionally? Yes, I cried toward the end. The last novel that made me cry was The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks, which I read 10 years ago, and it produced way more copious tears than this one. (I am a die-hard romantic.) Post-menopausal tears do not flow nearly as freely for me as pre-menopausal tears did. It just doesn't happen very often.

My take-away from this book is what Papa says about forgiveness: "Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person's throat." People who want punishment meted out to those who have hurt them (or a loved one) will probably not like this book, but they are the ones I would most like to see reading this story.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tropical Storm Fay has rained on us all day. Attendance at church was sparse. David wasn't there, so Phil played the organ and James led our anthems. The first one sounded great, the second one needed some more work. I'll be glad when we get back to our fall schedule with Wednesday night rehearsals, even though our Wednesday night dinners are in jeopardy. Our host had a stroke last month, not nearly as severe as Mike's, but I'm thinking they may have to curtail some of the entertaining they were doing. I hope not, but that's the way it's looking for now. There is some talk about starting a Wednesday night dinner for the whole church, but it would be before rehearsal instead of afterwards.
Since I was the only one of my family at church, I came home and fixed lunch for Mike, Benji, Pip and me. They've been here since Friday and I've really enjoyed them. Pip is talking up a storm. I can't understand most of what he says, but he seems to have plenty to say. I was hoping we could swim some while they were here, but it's been too cool and too rainy. One thing has been abundantly clear - the kid is clearly crazy about his daddy, and his daddy is crazy about him. I've been blessed by the sweetest sounds and scenes between the two of them all week-end, at meal-time, bathtime, playtime, beautiful, happy, joy-filled moments.
I visited with Jean for a while this afternoon. She's still not able to talk without coughing, and she's still on oxygen, but she has gone up and down her stairs a few times in the past week. Her appetite is improving, her color was good, and she's getting impatient to be done with bed rest. Maybe when she sees her doctor this week, she will be allowed to get dressed and get out of the house. I hope so.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

One of the things I'm enjoying about my Dream Group is that we are bonding on a deep level and sharing very personal things about ourselves. I'm not involved in anything else that allows me to do this, and it's been a time of real growth for me. After our meeting this morning, we ate lunch together at Bon Ami and were joined by the counselor who led the initial workshop for us. It's so wonderful to be able to do this with friends who are so supportive of one another. I just wish we could meet more often than once a month. The rest of them, however, lead much busier lives than I do, so that's okay. At least, I have them once a month, and in between meetings, I'm having sessions with the counselor. She's given me homework to do before next week's appointment that I haven't done yet. We're having a rainy afternoon, so it's a perfect time to do some of that.

I got the sad news from Tupelo this week that Louise Parker lost a hard battle with cancer. Of all the supervisors I had at Bellsouth, she was, without a doubt, my favorite. Her obituary said she was attending Parkway Baptist Church and singing in the Senior choir. I had not seen Louise in several years, and was surprised to read of her church involvement. The Louise I worked for was estranged from the church of her childhood. I'm glad to know she, at some point, made her peace with it.

Give rest, O Christ, to thy servant Louise with thy saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

I was very pleased with Obama's choice of running mates. I just hope they have ads ready to refute the ads McCain is already running, trying to use Joe Biden's words against the Obama-Biden ticket. I can't wait until the Democratic convention starts on Monday. I reached Olympic burnout long ago.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

One more time, for those of you who still aren't sure, PROPER INFLATION OF TIRES DOES IMPROVE YOUR CAR'S GAS MILEAGE, THEREBY REDUCING YOUR COST OF GAS. Why is this fact still being ridiculed by certain people? Oh, I forgot. Sean and Newt are rich Republicans who don't really care what gas is costing them or the rest of us. Why does anybody watch that station?

At least, their stock is going down, down, down. From the LA Times: "Media company News Corp., whose stock fell 29% in fiscal 2008, reported compensation of $27.5 million for Chairman Rupert Murdoch during the period." Fox pundits are quick to point out that liberal media lose viewers/readers because people tire of the "liberal bias," so does this same logic apply to their own? That formerfoxfans may have grown tired of all the right wing propaganda is truly good news to me.

Two hours later: This business about tire pressure prompted me to check my tires. All four were on 25 psi. Very strange... I just checked them before I went to Florida and they were all on 32 psi. I know that tires on a car that isn't driven for a while will lose pressure, but that was just two weeks ago. Surely they didn't have help going low, I mean it does have that Obama bumper sticker ... Nah, that sounds a little paranoid, but still, I couldn't help but wonder.

Charges of infanticide will be flying between now and Election Day. We Democrats may as well get ready for it and grow a thick skin. That woman who has made a career of defaming Pro-Choice candidates was back on Faux News last night peddling her lies about Obama to the gullible. She's been debunked on every claim she's made, but somehow they choose to use her anyway. I guess that's why Alan Colmes was not a part of that segment.

And for those of you who still aren't sure why Obama voted against the "Born-Alive Abortion Bill," there was already a law in place to protect babies who were born alive in late-term abortions. He knew the bill was unnecessary to accomplish its much-publicized purpose. And he was also aware of its less publicized purpose - to undermine Roe v. Wade by making abortion physicians more liable to lawsuit.

There's an article here that explains the whole narrative surrounding this controversy. It's not an easy read. Not many people will take the time to read the whole thing including the different bills that were proposed and/or voted on in the Illinois legislature. If you weren't confused before you started, you will be by the time you get through it. That's why people like the pro-life nurse are able to get an audience. She knows very few people will dig out the details that disprove what she says. Most voters have already made up their minds about this issue and are not going to change their vote because of it, but this inflammatory language can be dangerous, destroying reputations and sometimes lives. Reflect back to what happened in Knoxville last month.

Rick Warren's closing remarks on Saturday night included these: ...we have to learn how to have civility in our civilization, how to stop being rude, how to stop demonizing each other... Accusing Obama of infanticide would definitely fall under the definition of demonizing, don't you think? Whatever happened to McCain's promise to run a positive campaign?

APR's Krista Tippet interviews Rick and Kay Warren on this week's "Speaking of Faith."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Lunch today was at Atlantica in Madison. Billed as an elegant, fine dining steakhouse, my expectations were high, but I was not overly impressed. Maybe I'm not elegant enough. I felt sorry for our servers, we can be a rowdy, demanding bunch of ladies sometimes, but I'm sure they've had worse.

We had a new lady in our group who just moved to Jackson from Greenville. We had several acquaintances in common, proving, once again, that "it's a small world after all." And she turned out to be a liberal Democrat! They picked Greenville many years ago due to Hodding Carter, Jr. being the editor of the newspaper there. "If he can write the things he writes and not get run out of town, then that's where we need to live," she and her husband determined.

Even though she's Jewish, she had heard from Episcopal friends that the best proselytes in the Episcopal church are former Southern Baptists. There are a lot of us, I'll have to admit. Seems like at least half of us in St. Philip's choir started out as Baptists.

She was a lot of fun to talk to, but I always get a lift from meeting another Democrat. I really need to put some more thought and effort into starting that Left-leaning Ladies reading group that a few of us discussed earlier this year. Okay, Gals, you know who you are. If you want to do this, let's do it. Let me know.

Monday, August 18, 2008

This blog has had a "face lift," can you tell? I'm trying to figure out how to add a couple of features, but my attempts, so far, have been unsuccessful. Stay tuned.

Seems I'm not the only viewer of Saturday night's forum who was suspicious of McCain's performance. Andrea Mitchell mentioned it on Sunday's Meet the Press, then various other news sources have reported, with quotes from the actual transcript, the discrepancies that occurred. I spent an hour reading all the comments on Christian Science Monitor's article this morning (200 have been added since then), and 9 out of 10 of them saw and heard what I thought I saw and heard - McCain somehow got the questions ahead of time. He was not in any "cone of silence," and Rick Warren has confirmed this to CNN. Why he said it to begin with is incomprehensible to me. Surely the man knew the repercussions that would occur.

Will we find out that even in a "Christian" format, John McCain had to cheat? One of those FOX fellows explained McCain's cheating on wife #1 on his being a POW. Now that same fellow is using the POW experience to say that's why he couldn't possibly have cheated on Saturday night's forum. I can't wait to hear what Keith Olbermann has to say about this tonight. And Warren is supposed to be on Larry King. It's a good night for TV.

I've got a neighbor wanting me to meet her at the pool for some water aerobics in half an hour. It's been two weeks since I did any, so I'll be glad to get back to it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I was tempted not to watch the political forum sponsored by the Saddleback Church and its pastor Rick Warren last night, suspecting that most in the audience were conservative Republicans and that audience reaction would be heavily weighted in McCain's favor. The moderator claimed to want a civil discourse, however, and promised there would be no "gotcha" questions, so I tuned in.

Obama's answers were thoughtful, articulate, and substantive. McCain's answers were more simple, black and white, pandering even, at times, to his base with key phrases and talking points. That he didn't stop to think about any of them before answering reminded me too much of "shoot-from-the hip Bush," (even though he clearly slammed Bush on some of his policies and actions) and I couldn't help but wonder if he got the questions in advance, contrary to the claims of the moderator. His quick, slick answers were atypical of the stumbling and stuttering we've seen him do so frequently in similar informal settings. They were too quick and too slick, but the cheering crowd loved him. Whereas the response to Obama was warm and polite, except when he defined marriage as between one woman and one man - that went over really well with this crowd, the majority clearly heard what they wanted to hear from McCain, and rewarded him enthusiastically.

What bothers me beyond the implications of last night's forum is the number of voters in this nation who prefer black and white thinking and simple answers to everything. Doesn't our staggering national debt, our dependency on foreign oil, our war in the Middle East, our failing infrastructure, etc. indicate a need for leaders who are courageous enough to admit we're all going to have to sacrifice to solve these problems, or else we'll be turning over to future generations a world in much worse shape than our parents and grandparents left for us?

Wake up, My Friends! Obama has the best plan for getting us, ALL OF US, out of the hole we're in. McCain will just dig the hole deeper.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Elvis died 31 years ago today on August 16, 1977. Do you remember where you were when you heard it? I do.

I was working a 3 - 11 shift as a long distance operator in Tupelo. The switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree – literally. People heard the news, picked up the phone to talk about it, some of them making long distance calls, some just to talk to the friendly local operator they always got by simply dialing zero. Some were crying, some wanted to verify the accuracy of the news, some were frantic as though their world was coming to an end. It was a wild day. And by the end of that shift, I had heard all the details of the story plus several conspiracy theories. Our supervisors told us to be polite, but to cut short any conversations that did not involve a long distance call being made.

My oldest son Ricky, who was 12, had been on a trip with the church youth group to Wilson Lake(?) in Alabama, and he was saddened by the news, but absolutely astounded that a couple of girls on the trip were bawling about it. "Mama, they didn't even know the man, and they were crying," he said, incredulous of their emotional reactions.

A crowd always gathers around Graceland in Memphis during the week of this anniversary to memorialize once again "the king of rock and roll." There was a short clip on one of the news programs this morning, commemorating the date, and they showed a group of "pilgrims" with candles touring the Presley estate in the rain. I've never been so enamored of any celebrity that I went out of my way to see them, dead or alive. Yes, I liked a lot of his music, and for anyone to die such a tragic death so young is sad, but isn't it time we just let the man rest in peace?

Friday, August 15, 2008

One of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice that Ann Landers used to give to people who were unhappy in their marriages was to make two lists - Are you better off 1) with him/her or 2) without him/her? Before Mike had his stroke, I made one of those lists. I found it a while back in an old journal, and seeing the advantages and disadvantages listed in black and white made quite an impact, especially when I realized that all of the advantages are gone. Actually, the financial advantage is still there, but it's the only one, and lately, it's not enough to make up for all the disadvantages. I'm afraid Mike and I have entered the zone of diminishing returns - more and more effort put into "getting along" resulting in less and less satisfaction.

So where do we go from here? I wish I knew. It seems that whenever I spend time away from Mike, I dread coming home more than the time before. This time it's been rough. I haven't slept well, and I've felt more contempt and resentment than I ever remember feeling, especially about his drinking. I'm beginning to wonder if my staying here is exacerbating the problem. After all, the rescuing caregiver in me does enable him (to a certain extent) to continue this unhealthy habit. I don't blame myself, but I must admit that I do make it easier for him to stay on the destructive path he's on. If he had to deal with more challenges of daily life like paying bills, preparing meals, doing laundry, etc. would he drink as much? My guess is he would not.

I'm not ready to do anything rash, but I am beginning to look seriously at what life without Mike would be like. Maybe some people just aren't cut out for marriage.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Water Lilies ate at Pan Asia today. I had the Taj Mahal Salad with tandoori chicken, greens, honey lemon vinaigrette, golden raisins, served in a crispy pappadum shell. It's an Indian dish that I enjoyed to the last crumb. Everybody complained about not being able to hear in the new restaurant, and proprietor/chef Grant Nooe assured us they're working on reducing the noise. Their new party room will be so quiet, we can hear every word that's spoken, and the next time we come we can have it, he said.

Most everybody enjoyed their food, I only heard a couple of complaints, and they were minor. Last week's outing to Frisco Deli in Madison was a bust, they said. I'm glad I missed it. My ego always gets a boost with this group because, without fail, some kind soul tells me how pretty I look. Today it was two kind souls, God bless 'em! Nothing lifts my spirits like a compliment from an older lady, not sure why, but it's always had that effect on me.

Due to last evening's rain, I waited until this morning to visit Jean. She looked frail and pale, but was in a chipper mood, so I enjoyed it and she seemed to, too. I took the sack full of Premier Jewelry I bought last week to help Cooper's ballteam. (Mary Ann donated her discontinued samples and I grabbed up a bunch.) Anyway, I let Jean and Pam pick out a couple of items rather than foisting cheap Florida souvenirs on them. They were a real hit.

Her son and daughter-in-law are coming from Birmingham tomorrow to give Pam a break, so I'll wait until next week to offer her another break. Jean is not able to go up and down the stairs, but she's got everything she needs close at hand. Her cats are especially enjoying her confinement. She's still attached to oxygen and is doing some physical therapy, so hopefully she will get well soon. I've missed her.

After lunch, I went to Madison to set the "For Rent" sign back up in the yard. I could tell there has been lots of bad weather lately, the yard is full of limbs. We've got a man interested in buying the place, which pleases me immensely, especially if he's willing to pay what I want for it. We're supposed to meet with him soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My plane arrived back at home on time (1:59 PM) amidst a steady rain and 74* temperature. Mike picked me up and by 2:30, I was being showered with puppy love from Gus and Jay-Jay, even though they detected the scents of 3 strange dogs on their "unfaithful" mama. Still, they were glad to see me.

My house wasn't quite like I left it, but I really didn't expect it to be. Mike fell twice while I was gone, but only told me about one incident. I got the other story from my neighbor who helped him get up on Saturday when he came in drunk and knocked the hand rail on the back porch down. Mike told me the rail "came loose" so he got our handyman to fix it. Uh huh . . . The carpet I shampooed before I left caught a whole glass of red wine, so I have to re-do that. And there was a week's worth of dirty dishes in the sink which he couldn't put in the dishwasher because he hurt his back when he fell - that would be the Sunday night incident when at 2 AM he had a sinking spell on the way back to his bed from the bathroom. He said he got himself up with no help. He doesn't know I know about the other time, so I won't confront him with it yet.

My friend Jean has been home from the hospital for a week, so I'm going to visit with her in a little while. I was hoping to go to the pool, but it's too cool and another rain cloud is headed our way. When I looked at the weather map, there appeared to be a storm system covering the entire coastal region. I wonder if Mary Ann and the boys and dogs got much time to play on the beach today. They were headed back out to Honeymoon Island when they dropped me off at the airport. One section of the beach was designated as a pet area, so that's where they were going. (About 30 minutes after I typed the previous paragraph, I received pictures from Mary Ann . . . all of which indicate they had a good time at the beach. She also sent some of our camp-out, so I'll go back and post those, too. Thanks, M.A.)

I need to unpack my suitcase, which has made its last trip with me. I'm getting too old to have to lug that heavy thing around. It's past time for me to get one with the wheels and handle like every other smart traveler has. I've used this one for over 20 years and it wasn't new when I bought it in a garage sale before moving from Tupelo, but that's what happens when you live on a shoestring like I do. Past time, indeed.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Our camping trip only lasted about 24 hours, but we packed a lot of fun into that time. The Dunedin RV Park included a pool and plenty of low-tech type games like shuffleboard and ping-pong. I'm still no good at shuffleboard and Ricky still is. Clay seems to have inherited that gene. We didn't go to the beach until today. It was out on Honeymoon Island, where there is a gorgeous state park. They supposedly have the prettiest sunsets in the state, but we didn't stay for that.

Mike called this afternoon to make sure I hadn't changed my mind about coming home. I haven't, but I've missed my dogs more than my husband. That's sad, don't you think? He said it's rained there ever since I left. By 2 PM tomorrow, I'll be home. Rick thinks I should try the online check-in again. Surely the Tampa airport can handle it. We'll see. I will be allowing more time than I did last week.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I had another close call with my purse again today. I left it in a shopping cart at Wal-mart, went back about 15 minutes later, and retrieved it from customer service. Some honest soul turned it in. . . can you believe it?! God bless 'em! I'm just glad my guardian angel came to Florida with me.

I've worked on Cooper's bedroom wall today, it's a long way from being finished. Tonight we went to Clay's performance with the Wharton High School Band, then ate supper in the cafeteria, compliments of the parents in the Band Boosters. Watching Clay brought tears to my eyes just like watching Ricky always did. Tonight we've watched the Olympics along with the Little League World Series. Ricky's big screen TV allows two programs to be viewed at the same time. Right now we're watching Michael Phelps' win his first gold medal of this year's competition. And the Little Leaguers are trying to break a tie in the 10th inning.

One of the things I enjoy the most about visiting Ricky's family is their enjoyment of athletics. It's not that I'm a sports fan, but I am a fan of sports fans. Tomorrow we're taking the camper out to the beach at Duneden. The campground is wired for wi-fi, so Rick can still report for work on Monday morning. Is that cool, or what?

Friday, August 08, 2008

I just finished Dreams of My Father, and I'm more inspired than ever by our Democratic candidate. What a story! Obama's presidency will be the dawning of a new day in American politics. I'm excited. Anyone who throws an "elitist" label at the man is simply displaying his ignorance. Reading his story, I was reminded of how totally non-elitist he is. There isn't anything about his background that justifies the charge. He is exceptionally bright, but he is also reflective, garnering as much knowledge and wisdom from all his experiences as can possibly be gained. Too bad we don't have more like him who are also willing to go into public service. With God's protection and direction, I believe we will see America's better character restored during his tenure.

I'm enjoying the hub-bub of this household. Clay has band camp this week, but it's from noon until 9 pm every day with nights and mornings being spent at home, unlike when his dad's band camps were on junior college campuses with no overnight reprieves back in their own beds. Cooper and his father-coach have started baseball practice for the fall season. This week-end we're taking their new pop-up camper to a beach park where we can get closer to Mother Nature. Now that takes me back! At least, this camper is air conditioned, but seems the old van we used for camping back 30 years ago also had an air conditioner, didn't it? Today we're painting a wall in Cooper's bedroom to look like a section of _____ Ballpark. Sorry, but Gramma doesn't remember which ballpark. I'll post pictures of the finished product. (Rick just came in and told me it's the Green Monster, Fenway Park.)

Mike reports that the dogs have adjusted to their new routine. Art is doing morning duty, and the neighbor ladies Gwen and Rachel are doing afternoon and evening duty. Gus spent the first night on the sofa downstairs waiting for Mom to come home and take him to bed. On the second night, he gave up his vigil and went to bed. I sure do miss my babies.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

One of the things I'm always struck by whenever I spend time with my sons is what good daddies they are. I see so much of my own father in them, as well I should, since he invested some of his best fathering in the grandfathering of them. As I observed my oldest interacting with his sons this morning, it occurred to me that this was the 100th anniversary of my father's birth. He cultivated "fruit that will last," when he sowed the seeds of love in their lives. Thank you, Lord, for this extraordinary man. His love touched the lives of so many and he truly left this world a better place than he found it. Help all of his descendants to live up to this legacy.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My trip got off to a harried and hurried start. Being the plugged in person that I am, I printed out my boarding pass at home thinking I would save checking-in time, but the scanner for home printed passes was out of order, so I had to get in line like everybody else. Trouble is, my plane had already boarded and I was stuck in the slow lane. Finally, I got the agent's attention, she brought me to the front of the line and sent me running for the security check while my name was being called over the intercom. I left my bag on the scale without a tag, knowing that if it got to Tampa at all it would be a miracle. I boarded about 1 minute ahead of the door being locked. Whew! that was close! Sure enough, I arrived in Tampa with no bag, BUT it came in on the next flight about 40 minutes later. Whew! that was close, too. I still am not sure how they knew who the bag belonged to or where to send it.
Mary Ann and Cooper picked me up, Clay is having band camp this week. He's a freshman sax player in Wharton High School's marching band. When we went to pick him up tonight, we got there in time to watch some of their practice. I love watching kids work so hard to be precise in their drills. Watching Ricky march used to make me cry, not sure why, but I did, especially when he was in uniform at a parade or ballgame. It touched this mother's heart knowing all the effort it took to keep lines straight and to get into position. I used to watch Ricky's dad march, too, but that never made me cry. He's coming next week after I leave.
I think I'm turning in early tonight. I only got about 4 hours sleep last night. I'm reading Barack Obama's Dreams of My Father, and understand much better how he came to be such a cosmopolitan character. Several people, after noticing what I was reading, asked me about him. The man seated next to me on the flight from Atlanta, said he's been a lifelong Republican, but he's voting for Obama in November. Bless him! and may his numbers increase!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

We had church with no music this morning. Seems like we called it "Music Appreciation Day" last year when this happened. It was a good service, a bit dry for my taste, but concise. My friend Yvonne visited, her first experience in an Episcopal service, and she liked it. Just wait 'til she hears the music! Coming from a Roman Catholic background, she was quite impressed by the prominence of women who were serving at the altar. She said she'd never seen that before today.
She and another friend Deborah and I went to lunch together afterwards at Amerigo's, where several people inquired about Jean. She's still in the hospital, so I visited her after eating, and told her about all the people who asked about her, not only at the restaurant, but also at church. She's doing well in her recovery and expects to come home tomorrow. By the time I get back from Tampa on the 12th, I expect her to be fully recovered. I just hate that I won't be here to give Pam a break, she's looking pretty tired. Jean has made new friends of all her nurses and other attendants. One of them left her a book of poetry (written by his father) in the middle of the night.
I've got a couple of neighbors who will be helping with the dogs while I'm gone. They came over this afternoon to get better acquainted with Gus and Jay-Jay. One of them was a former service consultant with AT&T, but got bumped after the merger. From the way she talked, I retired at a good time. Retirement benefits aren't what they used to be, she said. I've heard that from other people, too.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

This is my first day to not have Adderall, and the most significant difference it's made is in my appetite. I'm back to feeling hungry every 3 hours. As far as staying focused on my work, I'm down to crunch time in getting ready for my trip, so don't have much choice. I've been zeroed in on stuff that has to be done before I leave. I save way too much stuff 'til the last minute.

We discovered this morning that Mick was missing, so Mike and I plus a few neighbors looked for him with no luck. Around noon, he sauntered in ravenously hungry, and would not tell us where he'd been. We figure he got shut up in some neighbor's garage and was trapped until they opened it. I'm just glad he was not supper for the Reservoir alligator who lurks along the lake shore.

Benji's family is going through a rough patch right now, so please keep them in your prayers. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could save our children from the messy complications of life? No, that wouldn't be so wonderful. I've probably learned more from problems and gained more strength and confidence from dealing with difficult situations than in the easy parts of life. I've never tried to deprive my children of that same privilege, and I'm not about to start now. I do hate to see them hurting though.

Friday, August 01, 2008

We got a good rain this morning, a little over an inch, they said on TV. It came with all the scary sound effects that make Jay-Jay nervous, so he should sleep well tonight. He missed his morning nap altogether.
Mike and I ate lunch at Ryan's, and I told him about the trip I've planned. He was amazingly calm, but even he knows better than to act ugly in public. I had to go off and leave him at home last night when I went to the Evensong at church. He'd had too much to drink, but insisted he was going with me. When he went upstairs to change clothes, I grabbed my keys and took off, but I hid his keys before I left. I also turned off my cell phone. So I enjoyed an hour of heavenly sounds by the Mississippi Music Conference Choir. Every year I say I'm going to that conference, but every year something comes up to prevent it, like trying to get a vacant rent house leased. It's like a week of summer camp for adults at Gray Center, and they're all singers and musicians. How fun would that be! Maybe next year.
I did take him with me to visit Jean at Baptist Hospital tonight. They finally let her out of CCU and moved her into a private room. She was in rare form, telling all about her experiences and cracking jokes. She asked me to sing Beulah Land for her before I left, but I couldn't remember anything but the chorus, so I sang that. I don't think I could have sung the whole thing without crying. She's planning her send-off, but rather than a funeral, it sounds more like a cocktail party, which is fine with me. I just hope it's not anytime soon.
Thanks to those of you who responded to my last post. I do feel like I'm an alien in a strange land sometimes, until other people tell me they're appalled by the same things that bother me. I was reminded of the bumper sticker that Benji had on his old Toyota one time. I don't think it had the picture, but it carried the same message.

Another response I got said the shooter was upset that his food stamps were being canceled, and did he not know that if it had not been for the liberals in this country, he would never have had food stamps? How ironic is that?