Monday, December 22

This & That, But Mostly...

I can't believe the amount of time that has passed since my last post. It's soon to be a month since I last put fingers to keyboard. Where did the time go and what has been occupying all my time? For starters...Judi's Mom. Now that she has been placed in a local nursing and rehabilitation center, she continues to occupy a great deal of our free time. Regular visits are most important as she truly enjoys any family company...especially daughter Megan and "boyfriend" Greg. Mother's short term memory continues to wane more noticeably with every visit. She knows each of us, but forgets where she is, not even recognizing the grand lobby where we have eaten many meals with her. It is all totally new to her each and every time...her surroundings, the nursing staff, her roommate, what she did or didn't do five minutes ago. She is scumming to an ever thickening fog that has no horizon or promise of dissipating...just a sameness that has no definition. Sad...

Last evening was the one and only performance of our church's Christmas celebration that played to a packed house of over 1,500 spectators. Since August many in the congregation have been preparing for this event...learning the music, building props (I was heavily involved in this) and making the sanctuary festive. It was a full two hours of music with our 100 member choir carrying the bulk of the program. We also had some speciality groups, one of which is our Men's Assemble. We performed Elvis Presley's standard (if you can call it a "standard") Blue Christmas, replete with an Elvis impersonator from our church who performs his mimicking act all year round for various groups. If I never hear "Blue Christmas" again, it will indeed be a time too soon. We had a great time bringing this gift of Christmas music to our community, but we are all glad it is behind least until next August when we begin making preparations for Christmas 2009.

Than there's always the time and effort required to get oneself ready for Christmas. Since Judi and I still are without employment, our Christmas gift giving will be significantly reduced in scope. We are making do with one gift that we each think is significant, but not extravagant. We are not even putting up a tree this year (saves me two days!), as Megan is in Pennsylvania visiting with her boyfriend's family, not returning until January 3rd. With no family to share the day, we couldn't see the need to go to the effort of overly decorating the house as we've done for previous Christmases. We'll spend a portion of the day again visiting Judi's Mom in the nursing home, then out to dinner and a movie. Suits me. We might even spend a couple of days between Christmas and New Year's somewhere further south...perhaps Santibel Island where it is against the law for the temperatures to be cold.

I hope to get back on a more regular track with my postings right after the new year. I miss the opportunity to exercise my mind in this manner, as it gets so little exercise otherwise. I wish to take this opportunity to wish every one who travels across these pages a most wonderful and joyous Christmas and a New Year that will be filled with new dreams and fulfilled promise. It's got to better (I pray) than what we've experienced in 2008! God Bless...

I share with you what my friend Coffeypot shared as a Christmas greeting with me and all his many fellow bloggers...

Wednesday, November 26

"Beyond The Point Of No Return..."

There comes a time in every person's life when the tide ebbs towards the horizon, but fails to come back complete. This has become a truism for my wife's Mother.

These past dozen days have been difficult for our family. Judi's 87 year old Mother crossed an anticipated, but dreaded threshold this past Friday...she can no longer take care of herself. Since we have arrived home from our recent trip north, Judi's Mom, Francis, has been telephoning Judi...sounding as though she was on death's door and complaining that she couldn't get herself out of bed to go to the bathroom. Judi, being the dutiful and faithful daughter, would drop whatever she was engaged in and drive the 10 minutes to her condo to assist "Mother." This regular routine became more lengthy in time requirements and disruptive to our day-to-day lives. But Judi hoped (and prayed) that her Mom would begin to regain sufficient strength so that she could again manage on her own.

On Friday, Judi asked if I would accompany her, "in case I am unable to go myself some times in the future." What I found was a woman almost completely incapacitated...unable to raise herself out of bed without our help and too unsteady on her feet to remain upright even to take a few halting steps. As much as it pained me to speak what I observed to be truth, I told Judi that unless we got her Mother immediate medical attention, we would one day very soon find her deceased. Long story short, "Mother" was transported to a local hospital by ambulance, where she remained for five days and was immediately treated for dehydration and undernourishment. The poor woman was not eating any of the food prepared for her, but was subsisting on bottle after bottle of Ensure. An accompany diagnosis confirmed what I had been declaring for weeks, her dementia and Alzheimer's had advanced to the degree where she was no longer capable of caring for herself.

Yesterday Judi's Mom was admitted to a local rehabilitation center where she will remain for a minimum of two weeks, perhaps longer...then she will be transferred permanently to a skilled nursing home. It was and is the right decision. There is, however, some mixed emotions regarding this turn of events...first the relief that she is now in the caring hands of professionals who will look after her every need, but a sadness that once were far happier times can never be again. Today will mark the first time that "Mother" will not be joining us for our traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

A page has been turned. At bottom we are thankful, but understandably not joyously so. Another example of life requiring adjustments...some more trying and emotionally painful than others. She and we shall made them and persevere. One day at a time and this day I wish all who this way come embrace your loved ones and give thanks. Too soon they slip away. God bless.

Tuesday, November 11

"Well, I Thought It Was Funny..."

It is a regular occurrence with me. I observe or hear something I think is funny and I am unable to restrain myself from making some comment, too often much to the chagrin of my dear wife, who thinks the verbalized observance on my part is either "too loud," or at worse "too loud and totally inappropriate." She is usually right...but I do it anyway.

After church this past Sunday we decided that since there was nothing in the refrigerator but cobwebs perhaps we should grab a quick bite to eat at one of the local restaurants before returning home. Judi selected the Winghouse, a sports bar/eatery that has 2,912 televisions lining the walls, all tuned into the various on air sporting events, none of which can be heard due to the incessant beat of the throbbing rock music blaring from an equal number of stereo speakers. Throw in a couple dozen rabid sports fans, rooting at a fever pitch for their respective teams, and one quickly understands that quiet conversation is out of the question.

Upon reaching the entrance we were greeted by a young lady who obviously came through puberty with flying colors and, to her credit, cheerfully greeted us as though she'd been waiting at that door all night long for our arrival. "Hi! Would you like a table?" There instantly was my opportunity for a impromptu remark. "I'd like a bar stool, but if they have all been given away, why yes, I'll take a table. Do you gift wrap?" Even Judi thought that was funny. However, the hostess, whose still developing brain hadn't apparently caught up with her very mature body, failed to make the leap of synapse, and with that unmistakable quizzical look on her face said, "Let me show you your table." I let it go.

Upon directing us to our table, situated directly right under two of the television sets that were impossible to view from our vantage point, she yelled "Your waitress will be with you shortly." Right on cue came another twenty-something beauty whose outfit consisted of a pair of shiny black short-short pants that would give Hugh Hefner a cardiac infarction and a top that was so low cut that one could almost see Brazil. "Hi! I'm Darla and I'll be waiting on your table today." My cue. "Waiting for it to do what?" Another quizzical stare...she probably being the twin sister of the hostess. Undaunted, her jiggly enthusiasm (and I mean that literally) gives new meaning to the word effervescent, as her every spoken word was punctuated by gyrations of her entire body. When we finally gave her our food order, one would think she had just won the lottery.

If you have seen the commercial with the toddler boy who is sitting at his computer's keyboard and touting how much money he has made trading stock, so much so that he spent some of his profits on renting a clown: "BoBo, there," you would appreciate how I, like him, had "underestimated the creepiness" of the situation. If there are indeed outer space aliens who wish to find a location wherein to easily invade the minds of we human inhabitants, I cannot recommend a better place than this particular Winghouse. If there is a shred of intelligent life in the place, it escaped me.

Come quick, my little space buddies. I can use an extra table for my home. Check Spelling

"Awake Horacio...Awake!!"

This gentleman is Norman H. McColl, Jr., otherwise know fondly as "Buddy" to his many friends and equally impressive list of anxious creditors. Judi and I were privileged to spend an evening and part of a day in Buddy's and his wife's Jeanene's company in Statesville, N.C. as part of our recently completed three week trip to northern climes. Buddy has been my lifelong friend since I was 8 years old...his Mother and Dad - "Mom & Pop McColl" - having kept my younger brother and me after we disembarked from the school bus in front of their home until our Mother could, after her work day was complete, come to pick us up. My beloved Pop McColl has been deceased for a number of years, but Mom McColl is still living in the old home place and is as feisty, as jovial, and as loving as ever.

Buddy is four years my senior. He looks like he is 20 years my junior. I suppose this is somehow God's intended retribution for my having mentally tormented him while I evolved from early childhood to "know-it-all" teenager. Buddy and I have not always seen eye-to-eye on various topics of mutual interest and concern. But his friendship (and his love) is too important to me to allow basically minute differences of ideologies to mar or deflate a friendship that I hold as dear as any earthly treasure. Nonetheless, I still think that God likes Buddy better than me...if one considers that his hair is only now beginning to show the slightest hint of gray. Tell me that God doesn't have a sense of humor.

In the picture Buddy is standing beside the newly erected memorial signage commemorating where Scotts School once stood. Before the days of rapid influx of population to this part of rural North Carolina, Scotts was a school that educated the children of the surrounding community from first through the twelfth grade. Buddy graduated from Scotts. I, on the other hand, was commandeered by my parents, against my vehement protests, to relocate prior to my sophomore year in high school to Winston-Salem, N.C. Our school's adopted mascot was the Panthers. Prior to the turbulent, revolutionary 60's, it was okay to be a "black panther," and we were so proudly. Buddy and I were in the school's marching band. He and I both played the trumpet...I much better than he...and don't let him convince you otherwise.

Buddy assists his beautiful wife in her real estate business. But because - unless you've been living under a rock this past year - it is obvious that real estate is not exactly a booming enterprise, Buddy is also working at a local Statesville radio station selling on air advertising. We talked about the local and national state of the economies, as well as the up-coming Presidential election. We talked for a long time until it was well past good folks to call it a night. Buddy and Jeanene were gracious to permit Judi and I to spend the night in their bed. We considered this offer to be quite the extraordinary act of hospitality until we heard their story regarding their unrelenting quest to find the perfect mattress on which for them to receive a consistent restful sleep.

It seems that in the few short years since they have been married, neither he nor Jeanene could find and agree upon the right mattress. According to them, they have tried and discarded eight different combinations of mattresses. The latest iteration is a composite of two different box springs and mattresses...Buddy's a different combination on his side than one the side occupied by his bride. According to them, the jury is still out as to whether or not this attempt shall be approvingly judged as acceptable over the long haul. Judi and I slept fine. We both prefer a very firm mattress and we determined, as far as we could discern, both sides of the bed measured up to our usual requirements.

Upon waking the following morning, Judi and I decided that Buddy's and Jeanene's mattress plight was just too funny not to add to this growing legend. So, while remaking the bed we decided to add yet one more layer of potential discomfort to their professed misery. Under each side of the mattress we inserted one peanut shell replete with peanuts in tact, and a note hoping that the nights to follow would be of blessed repose. Unless they have heretofore discovered the little mementos of our stay, they, having read this post, will only now find the source of their on-going sleepless discomfort.

Serves you right for looking like a 40 year old. Sleep well our forever fond friends.

Sunday, November 9

"Georgia Peach (?)"

As promised, I couldn't let pass the necessity to correct 95% of the unauthorized comments my blogging buddy "Coffeypot" made in his October 20th post regarding my recent two-day Atlanta visitation in his company. I say 95% because he did nail the undeniable fact that my bride, Judi, is indeed "beautiful" and, if I must be bluntly honest, has been my "long suffering" wife for lo these last 25 years. And, "okay," he did sort of "babysit" me for the better part of a Saturday and Sunday as Judi was engaged in an educational seminar. Thanks John. Had you not accepted my self-invitation to spend time in your company no telling what type of devious mischief I would have subjected myself to being left along for two days in Atlanta.

The good looking fellow on the left in the picture above is yours truly, and the fellow towering above me on my left wearing the Tampa Bay Rays baseball cap (He stole that cap, by the way) is John "Coffeypot" Coffey. We had just descended from the top of Kennesaw Mountain, the site of the first major Civil War battle in the Atlanta Campaign wherein General Joesph E. Johnson's Confederate Army was entrenched in a desperate attempt to prevent the Union Army under the command of Major General William T. Sherman from moving unimpeded to Atlanta to the south. History records that approximately 4,000 causalities were suffered on both sides, the majority being inflicted upon the Union Army. History also records that Sherman's overwhelming numbers allowed him to outflank Johnson's position and continue the relentless pursuit of his goal to capture and decimate the heart of the Confederacy, Atlanta. "Coffeypot" was so caring in his concern for my physical well being, I having just recently recovered from heart surgery, that he constantly inquired as to how I was feeling and assuring me that "If you keel over from a heart attack either going up or coming down from the mountain, I'll be damned if I'm carrying your sorry ass out!" What a guy.

As "Coffeypot" did an admirable job in his blog of detailing all of the other locations and points of historical interest that he was so kind in taking the time to share with me, I'll not again revisit that portion of our travelogue. I was, however, privileged to meet his lovely home where I was introduced to his equally beautiful wife and his two delightful grandchildren, all three of which he rightfully and pridefully adores. I do wish to say that the two days I spent in Coffeypot's company were perhaps the most enjoyable out of the three weeks that Judi and I spent on our extended vacation. John says that we are "like peas in a pod." I couldn't agree more. John is a man who I came to admire from reading his blog and became even more a fan of this person of great character and conviction while in his attentive company. He'll no doubt downplay these accolades, but beneath his gruff and don't give a crap facade beats the heart of true American patriot, whose ideals and values are to be readily admired and emulated. Because I am indeed a "Christian" I suppose John found it necessary to watch his language. He need not have done so. I am not that thin-skinned or easily offended. Neither am I put off that he is a proclaimed agnostic. In times of mortal combat it is said that there are no atheist in a foxhole. Were I to find myself in such a life and death situation, I would be honored and far better assured to have a man such as John Coffey by my side.

So, yes I am grateful for the opportunity I had to meet "Coffeypot" up close and personal, to take full advantage of his self-proclaimed Sitting & Touring Company. It is my ardent hope that John and I will again in the future have additional opportunities to spend time together. Perhaps he'll travel here to St. Petersburg. I have numerous points of interest that I believe John would find most illuminating. An alligator infested pond just around the corner comes to mind.

P.S. I want my baseball cap back!!

"Congratulations. Now Don't Screw Up!"

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." So spoke Sir Winston Churchill as the tide of World War II began to turn in steady favor of the Allied forces. Sir Winton's words, I believe, are prophetic at this monumental crossroads in our nation's history. America has elected to the highest office in the land a man of color to become our nation's 44th President. At base this is an accomplishment for which the nation as a whole should take no small measure of pride, having transversed through generational pangs of lingering racial prejudice to this historic juncture wherein the color of the man's skin was considered a far lesser factor in his electability than was the perceived content of his character.

The nation's media outlets are touting President-elect Obama's margin of victory in the electoral vote as a decisive mandate to underscore his campaign rhetoric of "change." The popular vote would suggest otherwise, Obama collecting in his column of victory just slightly above 52% to Senator McCain's 46%. Hardly to be considered a landslide of over-whelming blanket support for his candidacy.

President-elect Obama would do well to bear in mind as he prepares to lead our nation embroiled in the midst of economic turmoil that the greatest majority of the 56,126,680 Americans who cast their vote for the opposing candidate still hold steadfastly to the unwavering fundamental principles of limited government, a restrained judiciary, fiscal discipline, and traditional values. To quote a recent political pundit who analyzed the exit polling, "The messageto politicians seems quite clear. Voters remain conservative on social issues and strongly support protecting marriage and traditional family." Post election polls revealed more voters identified themselves as being conservative than did they identify themselves as either Democrat or Republican. In other words, regardless of their political party affiliation, far more voters are conservative than liberal.

America is indeed ready of "change," but the undercurrent of hoped for and anticipated change that Barack Obama has been promising reaches little deeper in the average American's mind than the economic recovery and renewed prosperity of their individual pocketbooks. To further weaken the traditional values of our nation's moral fiber will be regarded with disdain and revolt. I wish President-elect Obama much success as he sets forth to right the currently down turned fortunes of our nation. But I, like the 56 million-plus fellow Americans that cast their vote for his opposition candidate, I will be watching very closely that he and his yet to be formulated administration do not drift too far to the left of center. His failing to recognize and pay concerted homage to the well entrenched conservative base of our nation may well find his January 20th inauguration date marked not as the end of his new beginning, but the beginning of his end come 2012.

Friday, November 7

"We're Back..."

After transversing 3,373 miles through nine states in three weeks, where Judi and I visited old and dear friends and distant family and relatives, witnessed two college football games (USF lost both to the universities of Louisville and Cincinnati respectively), watched in different parts of the country our beloved American League home town Rays baseball team come out on the short end of the World Series, Trick & Treated with our 6 and 8 year old granddaughters, were delighted witnesses to our son Christopher's marriage to his new bride Jennifer, sat patiently before the television waiting the final defining results as American at long last finally elected its 44th President-elect, and experienced some of the most breathtaking scenery made so by blankets of rioting fall foliage, we are now safe and sound back in good ole St. Petersburg, Florida. We're glad to be home.

A couple hundred photographs were taken to document our travels and experiences, a small sampling of which I will begin to share to highlight places and folks that have proven to be worthy subject matter for up-coming posts. I wish to pay special homage to my new friend John "Coffeypot" Coffey who, in his misguided description of our two day sight-seeing excursion around historic Atlanta, suggested that he was merely serving as a "baby-sitter" on Judi's behalf as she attended a three day seminar. The man has a great sense of history, but very little regard for the truth. I will also compose a post to honor my oldest and dearest friend, Norman "Buddy" McColl, in whose martial bed we spent one restful night and were regaled with a explanation as to why he and his wife Jeanene have yet, after eight different attempts, to settle on a mattress that they both can tolerate. (There is a special surprise waiting for them that will only be revealed when I compose my post about them). And for sure I want to share a few words about my dear 80 year old Mother, a genteel southern lady who defines the term. Hopefully the stories of these persons will prove entertaining. It is the people who cross our paths whose personal stories seem at first to be ordinary until one begins to peal back the layers of their personalities and histories to reveal a many layered substance that bespeaks of their worthiness to be celebrated.

In the mean time, there's unpacking to be accomplished, photos to be catalogued and stored, and two resident cats that after three weeks of our prolonged absence are not yet convinced that Judi and I aren't interlopers to be very wary of. "Here Kitty, Kitty..."

Monday, October 27

"Half Way...I Think..."

You know what I like best about Florida? It's not anywhere close to Ohio! Judi and I are knee deep in two grandchildren, huddled as close as we can to a roaring fire. The weather report calls for "possible snow flurries" tonight here in Cincinnati. Please...never ever let me entertain the thought of traveling north again to visit relatives in the middle of winter! I left Tennessee 26 years ago because my feet went numb with cold the first of September and never thawed out until late May. I have returned to that long ago forgotten sensation. I am not enamored.

Being a glutton for punishment, my wife has decided that we are still too far south and has scheduled a two day side trip tomorrow to Columbus. If they are calling for snow flurries here in Cincinnati, they are probably expecting an all out blizzard in Columbus. I am breathless with anticipation.

Still on the agenda...the football game Thursday night between the University of South Florida and the University of Cincinnati. USF lost to the University of Louisville this past Saturday...a game that we were a sad witnesses to. Perhaps Thursday's game will have a more favorable outcome. If I can manage to say warm, I will count that a moral victory. We are loving the opportunity to spend some long overdue quality time with our two granddaughters. Next time I am voting for the far warmer climes of St. Petersburg...where we will be once again...if we make it through all the snow drifts...come the first week in November, where 50 degrees is considered a cold snap. I can live with that. Later...

P.S. My blogging buddy Coffeypot made some less than truthful comments regarding the motivation of my wishing to spend some quality time with him while I was in Atlanta. Leave it to Coffeypot to lean over the line of fabrication to bolster his already over-inflated ego. That's okay...I'll set the record straight soon enough!

Wednesday, October 15

"Checking One's Moral Compass..."

This post is not about "religion." Let's get that straight right out of the box. "Religion" means many different things to each and every person who would profess to be religious to any lesser or greater degree. For me personally I am at base and without hesitation a "Christian." Where I chose to attend in order to worship, to express and to strengthen my religion is at a local Baptist church. Being "a Baptist" to me speaks only of the denomination that best reflects my personal beliefs about and the faith in what I know to be the existence of a supreme being that I recognize as God. I was baptised in the Presbyterian church and married (twice) in the Methodist church. Both of these Christian denominations have much to recommend each, but neither is prefect, as is equally true of the Baptist brand of practiced Christianity. I hold to the personal admonition that "being a Baptist" does not define me any more than does the type of automobile I chose to drive. Rather it is I who through intellectual contemplations define my denomination. I am comfortable with and confident in my choice of "religion" and currently chosen denomination, just as I am comfortable in who I am in the absence of religion as a divining rod of my overall character.

That having been established, I offer below a link to a YouTube film that was produced and is distrubted by the Catholic Church. I applaud these fellow travelers along life's mutual pathways for their unwavering adherence to the protection and scantity of human life from conception to the grave, believing that above all the other myriad of problems and issues that face our country at this difficult and confusing period in our nation's history that it is the moral fabric of our society that must not be allowed to be compromised on the alter of secular expediency. It is so easy to enter the voting booth and cast one's personal ballot based on the status of one's pocketbook or as a result of one's sense of personal frustration with the current tenor of our country's direction. It is quite another to cast a vary eye towards each and every candidate and ask yourself "Is this person the type of human being that truly believes that the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness must encompass at base the protection of God's gift of the unborn child and the family as a necessary and vital unit of moral cohesiveness if this country is to long survive and overcome its pusuit of personal wealth and sense of entitlement at any cost." Truly we are our brother's keepers or else we will find that we have become strangers to one another and this great house that from its conception has been the shinning light of hope to all mankind will surely divide beyond the point of redemption.

I ask each person who steps with conviction into a voting booth on November 4th to look to your own conscience and measure who you wish to be, who you know yourself to be, and measure that evaluation against the individuals for which you shall cast your vote. Your reflection may well shape the future of our country for good or ill. Know first and foremost in which direction your moral compass points.

(If above link fails to open, type in Catholic Vote 2008)

Tuesday, October 14

"Nervous Stomachs Abound..."

When, twenty-six years ago at the age of 34 I first arrived in St. Petersburg,the median age for the city's populace was somewhere in the range of the high 50's, the city then being in the early stages of slowly shaking off its long held reputation as being primarily a preferred retirement destination for transplanted northerners. So many retirees had opted to escape the frigid climes in the post World War II years the city garnered the euphemistic,but not entirely misdiagnosed reputation as being "God's Waiting Room," given evident credence by the dozens of green benches that lined the full length of Central Avenue and occupied daily by droves of senior citizens enjoying the warm Florida sunshine. So enamored was St. Petersburg with its reputation as being the "Sunshine City" that the afternoon newspaper, The Evening Independent boasted, with its "Sunshine Offer," that the paper would be "free" to everyone - "subscribers and strangers alike" - each and every day that the sun "did not shine on St. Petersburg." In the paper's 76 year existence, that offer was made good only 296 times.

The sunshine is still amply prevalent in St. Petersburg, but the green benches, like The Evening Independent, have long since disappeared into the nostalgic history of the city. St. Petersburg has transformed itself into a vibrant, enterprising community, embracing a modern metropolitan flair without sacrificing it's quaint, by-the-bay, old Florida feel. And just 34 short blocks due south from our Magnolia Heights residence looms the imposing fabric dome of Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays professional baseball team...a team that heretofore couldn't figure out how to get out of its own way, and now finds itself in the midst of competing for the American League championship. To say that the residence of this city are in absolute awe and dismay over this truly unexpected turn of fortunes is an understatement that is only more profoundly echoed by baseball aficionados throughout the country! Having beaten the venerable Boston Red Sox last evening 9 to 1 in hallowed Fenway Park, The Rays need only two more wins to advance to the World Series!

I realize, like every astute baseball fan, that two wins when four is needed does not make a series. However what looms just on the horizon is almost too impossible to even allow oneself to imagine. Just to possibly advance to the World Series still invokes disbelief in yours truly. The economic impact alone would be staggering! And what if we actually won the World Series? The jubilant effects upon this town of just under 250,000 would be indescribable. "St. Petersburg, Flordia...Home Of The World Champion Rays!" I don't think the city could fabricate a baseball cap large enough to encompass the pride we would rightfully generate. Talk about your dancing in the streets!! St. Petersburg...The Sunshine City. The Florida sunshine has never felt warmer or more enjoyable than it does today. Go Rays!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Post Script: Judi and I are leaving Thursday for an extended trip north, returning some time the first week of November. Since I am now physically strong enough to travel, and since my prospects for re-employment are dim at best in the foreseeable future, we have decided now is the best time to mooch off friends and relatives from here to Columbus, Ohio. My dear mother in North Caroina is already making extensive plans to lay in a resupply of her favorite staples: bread, eggs and cantaloupe. Yum! Judi will be attending a training seminar in Atlanta this weekend and I otherwise would have been left to my own devices to entertain myself all day long in her absence. But no more. I contacted my blogging buddy "Coffeypot," and I am to spend a day in his company as he provides me with a guided tour to numerous Civil War historical sites. I think it is so cool that this hobby of blogging has allowed me to make new friends and now an opportunity to transform a verbal friendship into a flesh and blood acquaintance. Judi will be taking her laptop and hopefully I can find the time and wireless locations to post a few blog entries while traveling the highways and byways of search yet another tankful of the cheapest gas. Wish us luck...

Wednesday, October 8

"Not So Much"

The weather report for Tuesday evening in Nashville: "Hot Air Blankets City." Perhaps is was merely coincidental that the oppressive zephyrs occurred simultaneously with the occurrence of the second presidential candidate's debates, but, based on what transpired, it was the principle contributing factor. The location was different, as was the format, but the content couldn't have been more predictable...boring...and disheartening.

Radio commentator Glenn Beck the following morning summed up my feelings after he wadded through the alleged debate, "The country is going to hell, we just need to determine the size of the hand basket." Apparently neither McCain nor Obama have fully come to grips with this dire prediction, as both continue to be locked into a war of valueless accusations against one another instead of a determined discussion of ideologies that embrace real means and methods of confronting the myriad of problems that currently plague our nation. One of these candidates is going to walk off in November with the White House as first prize while the rest of America is stuck with the leftovers.

I fully realize that there are dozens if not hundred's of blogs on the Internet that devote their daily offerings to the current political landscape. Although I am quite concerned about the immediate and long range future of our country and thus must pay attention to the two candidates who currently vie for the awesome responsibility of shaping that future, I also understand the grinding election fatigue that has permeated every nook and cranny of our physic for over two years. If you are like me, you just want to throw your hands up and shout, "Enough!! Quit your petty partisan bickering, one of you get a backbone and demonstrate some real measurable leadership!" Constantly flinging open the closet door of one's opponent to rattle the skeletal bones within has long ago worn threadbare with the American people. We are sick of hearing how each candidate has failed repeatedly to answer the call to leadership. Such rehashing of alleged past failures only serves to emphasize what we suspect is actually true: neither candidate, at bottom, is really the best, most qualified individual for the job of being President. Their unrelenting bickering continually reduces both to the unenviable status of picking between the lesser of the two "bad choices."

What the people of America most longs for is a individual with uncompromising integrity, a person who has a burning and unrelenting passion to rekindle the entrepreneurial spirit of the American people so that their enterprise shall be rewarded - not penalized, a person who has a clearly articulated vision on how to reunite this nation into embracing once again the firm belief that the strength and longevity of this nation lies not with its indecisive and over-regulating government, but with its people. and a person who truly understands that he and the government he administers are to be the servants to the people who have come to be increasingly frustrated with the discovery that they have very little voice and, therefore, power to influence the day-to-day decisions that effect every nuance of their daily lives. We are at a cross roads in America and sadly the two individuals who shall elect which path to travel seem to have no sense of direction.

There is one more debate yet remaining, if one adopts the notion that mudslinging meets the definition of a true debate. I anticipate no meaningful and worthwhile deviation form what has occurred in the previous two. Therefore, I am stocking up on no-doze medication to keep me awake throughout that anticipated ordeal and a dull butter knife to slash my wrists in case I don't fall asleep. It is a sad commentary on the state of the quality of leadership that the best this country can put forth as presidential stock are two individuals that have more character flaws to disqualify them than appealing qualities to recommend either. Indeed...just how large will the hand basket be that carries us to the depths of Hades?

Tuesday, October 7

"How About That?"

My appointment with the heart specialist, who had been assigned the responsibility of performing my second cauterization procedure, was yesterday. Prior to the doctor coming into the exam room for my consultation, his assistance wired me up to receive the latest and greatest EKG printout. Out spit the first strip of paper, then another and finally a third. A puzzled look came over the lady's face and she said, "This doesn't look right." For an individual who has just recently endured a triple by-pass open heart surgery, those four words didn't exactly instill a sense of brimming confidence in yours truly. "Your previous chart indicated that you had a heart flutter." Then she left the room. "Great! It's gone from bad to worse and I just bought a bunch of green bananas!"

After what seemed an interminable wait, the doctor came jauntily into the room. "How are we feeling today?" (I think every doctor is required to memorize this particular question on the very first day they enter medical school.) "Well, I replied, just fine up to about five minutes ago. You tell me." Said the good doctor, "I've got good news for you. It appears that your heart on its own has corrected the irregular heartbeat and I see no need to schedule you for the catheter ablation procedure." (I immediately got back on my cell phone and cancelled that afternoon's final arrangements appointment with the funeral home.)

The doctor proceeded for the next ten minutes explaining why this turn of events most likely occurred. I heard very little of it. "So, what's next?," I jumped in and inquired. We put you on a heart monitor for 24 hours and if that presents like I think it will, you're good to go. No more blood thinning medications, regular activities and on-going periodic check ups with your cardiologist. Sound good?" Said I, "Sounds great!!"

Come this Monday I get strapped to some type of mobile heart monitoring device that I must wear until the next day. The doctor wanted me to begin wearing it tomorrow, but I told him that come Thursday I was going to play my first round of golf since my surgery and nothing, and I meant nothing, was going to prevent me from doing so. He turns out to be a golfer himself and said he certainly would not dare stand in my way. I like him immensely.

So...there's an understated bit of "good news." Perhaps it may appear to be naive of most folks to think that this medical condition just happened to go away all by itself...that the human body has miraculous healing capabilities when left to its own devices. I agree up to a point. But I am convinced that God's hand was in this most desirous outcome and He does remarkable things when given time to work on a problem. I'm dedicating my round of golf to Him. Seems only fair...

Monday, October 6

"Watch Where You Drop The Soap, O.J."

If justice can not be attributed for having come full circle, perhaps one can assign karma the credit. Either way I take no small amount of satisfaction in learning of the news this past weekend that Mr. O.J. Simpson was found unanimously guilty by a jury of his peers on 13 criminal charges, all stemming from a foiled armed robbery attempt that transpired in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mr. Simpson's sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 4th, at which time the presiding judge could impose significant jail time that would in effect incarcerate Mr. Simpson behind bars for the rest of his life. Seems about right to me.

And yet, I hold some measure of pity for O.J. Here is a gifted man in so many ways that literally could claim the world to be his personal oyster, his fame and fortune assured by his gridiron exploits and enhanced by his Hall of Fame good looks and charm. Rather than parlaying those attributes into a winning hand for the rest of his life, he elected instead to allow his unfettered ego to propagate a belief that he could do no wrong, that if it was "okay" in his mind's eye to pursue an objective, it was "okay" by everyone else's standards as well. The jury's verdict of "guilty on all charges" laid low that erroneous assumption. This latest chapter in Mr. Simpson's life shall mark the beginning of the end for a life that had in the beginning demonstrated so much promise but shall be concluded at some future time as little more than a sad footnote in history of a minor personality who squandered his life away.

Another jury in Los Angeles 13 years ago delivered a "not guilty"verdict on Mr. Simpson's behalf in the murder trail of his ex-wife Nicole Simpson and acquaintance, Ron Goldman. At the conclusion of the sensationalized spectacle of a trial O.J. publicly declared that he would spend the rest of his life in continuous pursuit of his wife's murderer. Most of that diligent yet fruitless search has occurred on numerous golf courses all across the country. Henceforth Mr. Simpson's avowed pledge to continue the search shall be restricted to the confines of a jail cell. Perhaps there he will stand a greater opportunity of encountering his wife's killer. I would suggest that he begin first by looking in the stainless steel mirror that will adorn his next permanent residence. "Surprise!!"

Monday, September 29

"No Clear Winner?"

As far debates go, I'd call this one a tie. But that's just my opinion. Most of the talking heads and other prominent media outlets are flooding the airwaves and print media with their "take" on who was the stronger debater and thus the winner of round one of the remaining planned presidential debates. I am taking a "wait and see" approach, believing and expecting that one of the candidates will by design or accident either make a stand alone cogent point that the other cannot refute, or one of the candidates will spew forth a gaff that he cannot overcome. Friday evening's debate was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. You know it's coming, but it's taking forever to get to the point of impact.

Senator Obama certainly does not lack stage presence. His easy charisma certainly was evident as he smoothly and casually presented his own points of emphasis or refuted his opponent's. Senator McCain countenance was stiffer, more deliberate. But what he lacked in style he made up in substance, repeatedly re-directing the selected topics away from Obama's attempt to paint McCain into the same corner of President Bush's "failed policies" and to the point of who possesses the stronger record of leadership. Senator Obama repeatedly addressed Senator McCain as "John," attempting, I suppose, to illustrate that he is an equal to McCain, and thus has a right to be regarded as such. Senator McCain, in contrast, always addressed Obama as "Senator,"pointedly denying Obama that more elevated level of familiarity. There was present throughout the debate evidence of McCain's disdain and impatience with Obama, as he repeatedly stated that Senator Obama "just doesn't understand" the intricacies of how the world works by liberally sprinkling into his responses the many names of the foreign leaders Senator McCain knows and has personally negotiated with over his many years in the Senate.

In a nutshell Friday evening's first debate only served to solidify each of the candidate's heretofore staked out campaign strategies; Obama campaigning on changing radically the failures of the last eight year's of the current administration, and McCain campaigning to induce change in Washington based on personal experience as a recognized "maverick" whose record of experience "in" Washington would more effectively bring about the needed change.

Prior to my wife driffing off to sleep beside me on the couch, she said, "I've heard this all before." She is right. Nothing we heard in this first debate broke new territory. Each candidate put forth their anticiapted governing style, but neither spent any dedicated time in outlining what each specifically would do if given the elected opportuntiy to govern. In these perilous times that confront our nation both domestically and on foreigh soil, perhaps this is the best we can hope for...for the time being.

Saturday, September 27

"Looks Fine To Me..."

Here's a question I would really like answered. Are hairless cats really hairless? The reason I'm asking is we have two that aren't...hairless that is, and if the hairless variety truly do not shed, then I would give serious thought to trading our present cats in for a couple of the hairless ones.

It's not that I don't like out two cats. They are okay as far as cats go. I prefer a dog as a pet, but Judi insisted that after our last little dog passed away to Doggy Heaven that any new pets in our home would be of the feline variety. And you know the old saying, "If Mama ain't happy, nobody ain't happy." So cats it is.

Problem is they shed...constantly. We have wooden and tile floors throughout our home and the cat's constant shedding of their fur creates dust bunnies in every nook and cranny all through the house. I wouldn't care except it falls to my lot to be responsible for keeping these tumbleweed looking deposits from accumulating in such large quantities that they obscure the furniture. Originally given a choice, I choose this chore in lieu of daily litter box duty. But even that decision has proven to be a regular bane to my existence, as Judi has determined that a particular method of keeping the cat hairs swept up requires a special approach and tool. I personally prefer an old fashion straw broom to tackle the task, but Judi insist that I use a special vacuum cleaner to do the job. When she is supervising my efforts, the vacuum is employed. When she ain't around, it's me and my trusty broom. (What she don't know won't kill her!)

Last Saturday it was cat hair cleaning day and she was wearing her supervisory hat. "Hon." she says sweetly, "Would you mind taking care of sweeping the floors?" "All of them," I teased. "No," just the ones we walk on...and use the sweeper." "You mean the broom?" "You know what I mean." "Ah hon, that thing is a pain in the a--." She quickly retorted, "You know that when you only use a broom that it throws all the cat hairs and dust particles up in the air." "Yes, I realize that, but it gets it off the floor!" She wasn't amused. "So, you get started. I'm going to run to the post office, but I'll be right back!" This was her way of letting me know that I had best not entertain the idea of switching to my trusty broom.

So, whirring away I went. First in the living room, then the dining room, then into the hallway, and was almost to the kitchen when she returned. She smiled. It didn't last. From the front of the house I heard her shout, "Did you move anything? That was posed as a question, but it was really intended as a statement; "You didn't move anything!" "I did the best I could," I replied hopefully. "There's STILL cat hairs under the furniture!" "See, I told you this stupid sweeper isn't worth a crap!" She comes stomping into the kitchen. "Here...let me show you how to work that thing! She unplugs the vacuum from the wall and drags it back into the living room where she proceeds to shove the thing in, under and around every obstacle in the room...then on to the dining room, ending up back in the hallway, all the time shouting operating instructions and procedures over the whir of the electric motor. "See?" she said after the whir of the motor dies down. "If you use the thing right it does the job!" "I see," I said, with a big ole smile on my face. "You certainly do nice work," I added, obviously not knowing (or apparently not caring) when I was ahead. "Since I ended up doing your job, you now have to do mine!" "You don't mean the litter box?," I said in my best alarmed voice. "Yes, the litter box!" "The crime doesn't fit the punishment," I replied. "You want punished? I'll show you punished...and I think you know what I mean! I did. "Are there any special tools that I need to use? (Just couldn't leave it alone, could I?) No reply. Just that look that all men recognize that mimics a cautionary sign in the Arctic, "You're treading on thin ice here buddy!"

So...back to my original question. Are hairless cats really hairless? I'm in the market for a pair.

(This post is dedicated to my bogging buddy, Martha, but more precisely to her husband, who, like me, believes that the task of cleaning is much like beauty; it's all in the eye of the beholder.)

Friday, September 26


Now here's an idea that will surely sweep the nation like a plague of locus, especially for the thousands of present and future young mother's who, in these most demanding economic times, will be able in the privacy of their own homes to augment their family's income. First we must extend credit where credit is due and robustly applaud the far-sighted folks at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who it cannot be disputed burned copious amounts of midnight oil to devise this two-prong plan. Why I didn't think of this brilliant idea myself shall be a regretted short-coming I will just have to live with for the balance of my life. Are you ready? Here goes...

Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream has this week been approached by PETA representatives with the straight-faced suggestion that the company henceforth forgo utilizing cow's milk in the production of their world famous ice cream and substitute the excess milk from breast feeding mothers. See...I told you it was a major paradigm shift of earth-shaking proportions! PETA stated that by making such a change in the principle ingredient utilized in the production of ice cream would "reduce the suffering of cows and calves and give ice cream lovers a healthier choice." All together now..."Eww-w-w-w!!"

Here's a candidate for the understatement of the day. "The idea received a cool reception form Ben & Jerry's officials" You think!?! And the La Leche League International didn't exactly warm up and embrace the idea either. I would think not.

And what is this nonsense about "cows and calves suffering?" I grew up on a farm that had milk producing cows and believe you me they were glad to see me show up two times a day to relieve them of their liquid bounty...especially on an early cold winter's morning. If these Holstein's could talk I was convinced they would collectively and appreciatively say, "Thanks for the warm hand." But I digress.

Factoid... It requires approximately 12 pounds, or 1 1/2 gallons of cow's milk, to produce one gallon of ice cream. The harvesting of cow's milk is a well-regulated industry, assuring that from udder to table the numerous milk products produced are unquestionably safe for human consumption. The logistics that would be required to substitute equal qualities of breast milk is beyond reasonable comprehension. But you've got to give those enterprising PETA folks credit for providing the Ben & Jerry executives sitting around their corporate headquarters conference table a gigantic laugh. "We applaud PETA's novel approach to bringing attention to an issue, but we believe a mother's milk is best used for her child." Thus was the final approved politically correct statement released by Ben & Jerry's spokesperson. The original draft was more succinct: "What variety of alfalfa have you people at PETA been smoking!!" I like their first draft a lot better.

Does anyone but me ever wonder what part of the shallow end of the gene pool these people swim who not only come up with these harebrained ideas, but actually entertain the misguided belief each will have some validity and acceptance in the market place? Thank goodness PETA's latest attempt at being relevant will never see the light of day and it can been put out to pasture where our ever faithful bovine friends can make regular deposits on such a ridiculous idea! Got ice cream anyone?

Thursday, September 25

"Your Bias Is Showing Sir..."

Senator John McCain was scheduled to appear as a guest last evening on the Tonight Show with David Letterman. Prior to the shows taping Mr. McCain contacted Mr. Letterman to inform him that he was canceling his appearance in order that he might expeditiously depart for Washington D.C. to lend his senatorial leadership to resolving the current economic crisis that is threatening our country's financial solvency. This decision was in conjunction with Senator's McCain earlier announcement that he was also suspending his bid for the Presidency and would not participate in this Friday evening's scheduled Presidential candidates' debate in Mississippi until such time as the crisis had been satisfactorily and successfully addressed. Mr. Letterman's reaction? From his opening monologue, through his follow up bantering session with band leader Paul Shaffer, and his nightly Top 10 feature, Mr. Letterman's sophomoric attempts at topical humor eviscerated Senator McCain with unrelenting voracity. If one is strongly advised not to "fool with Mother Nature," the greater risk to one's reputation is to fool with David Letterman, he of the well known narcissistic ego.

Any devoted viewer of The Tonight Show would quickly discern Mr. Letterman's obvious disdain for conservative viewpoints, as evidenced by his nightly aired feature highlighting President Bush's often humorous missteps in a public forum with the English language, Letterman's thinly veiled attempt to categorize the President as a bumbling, incompetent fool. Letterman takes every gleeful opportunity to broadly paint public personalities who hold opinions contrary to the liberal, Hollywood party line as being intellectual miscreants at best or as country bumpkins that are to be publicly ridiculed and humiliated. Last evening's diatribe of Senator McCain is yet one more glaring example of Letterman's political leftist leanings that may play well in a stand-up comedy routine, but upon closer scrutiny reveal a disturbing lack of decorum and common courtesy to individuals who continue to dedicate their lives to serving honorably our country.

And the number one reason why David Letterman's personal political opinions should be ignored? He's an ass!

"Maybe It's Just Me..."

Few would dispute the inherent truth found in the old adage "All is fair in love and war." And has been increasingly evident in the national elections of the past couple of decades, "and politics " could be inclusively amended to that statement. It is apparent to me, at least, that candidates for elected office are of the opinion that it is "okay," in fact, advisable, to use any tactic that will place them in good stead with certain demographic groups of voters, regardless of the contradictions that are rampant in their shotgun pronouncements, believing, I suppose, that the voters are too stupid or too lazy to see through their veil of inconsistencies.

Case in point... The Barack Obama presidential campaign is in the process of requesting selected radio stations in the larger metropolitan cities of Ohio to run pro-Obama advertisements that attempt to portray their candidate in a more favorable Christian light. The group behind promoting the ads, the "Matthew 25 Network," has designs to position Obama as the candidate who when elected could best bring an end to the economic woes plaguing not only in that state but the entire nation. All well and good. A promise of a "Chicken in every one's pot" has long been a stable of expected electioneering. Where I take personal exception to these particular ads is the narrator's utilization of Biblical scripture, specifically quoting selected verses from Matthew 25. "Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed you?' they (the Disciples) asked. Jesus said, 'Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, you have done it to Me.'"

Candidate Barack Obama has made repeated efforts to distant himself from his family's well documented Muslim heritage and to assure potential evangelical protestants and Catholic voters that he is a "believing Christian." Since I again took the time to check out my reflection in the mirror this morning and came away convinced still that I am not God, I'll take Obama at his word and give The Almighty the responsibility to discern Obama's heart on his Christianity claim. Here's the rub...the ad's narrator, a former Democrat congressman and an avowed pro-life (emphasis mine) advocate, is supporting Mr. Obama because he would be a president "who sees those who are suffering and cares for the least of these." A review of Mr. Obama's voting record in the Senate and his many voiced policy statements and personal viewpoints would indicate that he upholds a very narrow definition of who is to be included as eligible to be among the least of these, specifically his voting record that clearly aligns him as being an outspoken proponent of abortion in all its ghastly methodology. If, for the Love of God, the existence of an unborn child does not immediately qualify to be included in the least of these, then there are no other categories that need be placed forward. Maybe it's just me, but I find these latest proposed Obama political ads to be blatantly contradictory and deplorably hypocritical.

One final note... Senator McCain announced that due to the omnipresent economic crisis that is now facing our nation, he has elected to immediately suspend his presidential campaign to return to Washington in order to take a more active leadership role in obtaining a bi-partisan resolution and requested of Mr. Obama to do likewise. Mr. Obama declined, responding that it is his opinion that both he and Mr. McCain could perform their legislative duties effectively while still remaining actively engaged in their respective campaigns. Sounds to me that Mr. Obama is making a claim that he is a professed master at multitasking. His Senatorial voting record would indicate otherwise, he having missed 107 roll call votes during his one and only tenure in office.

In all truthful candor, I hold to the personal opinion that Mr. McCain possesses numerous political opinions that leave me less than enamored with his candidacy. But I do not believe that Mr. McCain entertains the notion that he can walk on water, as I suspect Mr. Obama would like those who ardently support his candidacy to unconditionally attest. Abraham Lincoln said, "You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time." Our current President, George W, further refined Lincoln's quote, "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on." Mr. Obama has obviously taken this advice to heart.

Tuesday, September 23

"Hurray...Some Good News!!"

I know...I know... I promised not to devote my blog ad nausea to my health issues, but...I made my second and what turned out to be my last visit with the surgeon who performed my heart surgery. After the usual weight, temperature and blood pressure check, all of which were well within acceptable ranges, I was hooked up to an EKG machine. Sure enough my recently discovered "heart flutter" made it's anticipated (but unwanted) appearance. I got to view the screen that was recording my every heart beat and got an explanation as to exactly what all those wiggly lines mean. As a comparison, the analogy offered is not unlike a gasoline engine. Turn the key and the engine starts up, depress the gas pedal and the vehicle is propelled forward with great vigor. However, a noticeably hesitation is detected at speed. Usually means a spark plug has gone afoul. The human heart is not unlike a four cylinder engine and one of my plugs is fouled. Thus the need for a technician to go under the hood and correct the problem. When for me that corrective action is to occur is still up in the air, as I have yet to meet with the physician that will be making that call.

I also had an echo cardiogram this week, the purpose of which is to check to determine whether or not I may have developed any type of blood clots that could break loose when the cauterization is performed. Received a clean bill of health on that issue and a further assurance that my newly reconditioned heart is otherwise functioning well within normal expectations...not withstanding the recently detected "flutter." I told the gentleman administering the echo examination hat it was my beautiful and attentive wife that was causing the occasion irregular heartbeat. He didn't buy that as sufficient reason to avoid the pending cauterization procedure any more than did my cardiologist.

As a personal check on my progress I dragged out a couple of my golf clubs this morning and took at first some very tentative and gingerly swings to gage if such a physical exercise was going to send me immediately to the emergency room. Nope! Of course a half dozen swings of the differing clubs does not a full round make, and I realize that being pain free does not and probably would not equate into having sufficient stamina to endure the rigors of tromping all over God's green earth chasing that little white ball...especially since I am prone to propel occasional errant shots into locations that surveyors would be reluctant to transverse. Still I am encouraged that soon I may with confidence head back out to the links and again engage in the very missed fellowship that always accompanies my golf outings with my buddies.

And to those who have inquired about my far no such luck. I have a couple of prospects, but they look less than promising at best. Unless one has been living under a rock these past several months, and more particularly these past few days, our nation's economy is not exactly to be described as robust. More like in need of life-support. Scanning the "Help Wanted" ads in the local paper offers very little for skilled professional types. If I were looking for employment as a short order cook or chamber maid, I'd have a list to choose from. I can't boil water and I don't have the legs to be a chamber maid. So, I'll just keep net-working and see what God has for me in the way of new opportunities. I could get very use to this retirement way of life. The hours are great but the pay leaves a great deal to be desired. I'm thinking about establishing my own self-directed charity entitled "Help Support My Fallen Arches." Any takers?

Tuesday, September 16

"Stupidity Should Be It's Own Reward..."

I had an elderly neighbor lady who was particularly fond of cats that resided just a couple of houses away from my home when I was serving the Danville, Virginia YMCA. To say merely that she was fond of cats grossly understates her obsession. They were treated as though each was a special child...and she allowed her furry children unrestricted permission to run rampant all over the neighborhood. Even though there were always present cats and kittens galore, all appeared to be well taken care of and doted on by her with lavish displays of caring and affection. We citizens who shared the neighborhood with this lady and her entourage of cats more so than less so tolerated the fact that her cats came as part and parcel with our daily existence, being also silently appreciative of the added benefit that there wasn't a rodent of any description within twenty square blocks of our homes.

Nevertheless her obvious affection and concern for her felines would occasionally boarder on the ridiculous if not the inconsiderate, as was the case when one afternoon I arrived home from my office to find a City of Danville fire engine crew dutifully extending an array of ladders up into one of the grand old oaks that lined our street. Standing off to one side was the neighbor lady, wringing her hands and gazing anxiously heavenward toward a ball of white fur that was perched precariously near the very top of the tree.

"Oh my, Mr. Jim, Mr. Eggbert has climbed that tree and can't get down. I've been trying to coax him down all day and he won't come. I tried everything and it will soon be getting dark and I didn't know what else to do but call the fire department to come get him down." "I can see that," was my initial reply followed by a question to her that had an obvious answer, "You being a cat lover for all these many years, tell me, how many dead cats have you seen in trees? Perhaps a poor analogy, but my point to her was that her perceived crisis resulted in an avoidable waste of time, energy, resources and risk to the responders had a little forethought on her part gone into making another more wiser and prudent choice.

Thus was the case all along the Texas and Louisiana gulf coast this past weekend prior to hurricane Ike making landfall. Two million residents heeded the call for mandatory evacuation, having been told repeatedly that failing to comply could have deadly consequence. However, another 140,000 people (two thousand in Galveston alone) decided to tempt fate and ride out the storm. When the winds reached fever pitch and the storm surge poured water into their abodes, thousands found themselves stranded and, in some cases, in need of immediate emergency assistance. Maybe it's just me, but in such instances of stark stupidity and ignorant obstinacy, any resulting calamity that befalls them should be their just and deserved reward.

I realize that in any natural calamity there are mitigating circumstances which preclude individual(s) from taking more prudent courses of self preservation, such as being physically infirmed and perhaps bed-ridden. Even in those circumstances alerting the proper personnel of one's difficulties and physical limitations would have one quickly transported out of harm's way. But for those persons who thought it would be a hoot to throw a hurricane party, or remain at home to be with their pets, or just to spit in the face of danger, I would ask them - if they managed to survive such a stupid decision - after a category 2 hurricane comes ripping through your neighborhood, how many dead people do you see stuck up in trees? My guess is a lot more than wayward neighborhood cats!

The devastation that has been visited upon the good people of these affected regions is untold in yet to be tallied property losses and the accompanying deflation of the human spirit. The recovery in both arenas will take months if not years to overcome. My heart and prayers go out to them. They deserve and need all the assistance that can be quickly mustered on their behalf. For those who were deliberately too stubborn to get out when they were directed to do so... You can go to the back of the line.

Monday, September 15

"Friends Don't Let Friends..."

Fill in the blank. But in particular, this friend doesn't let my good blogging buddy Coffeypot slide without a stern warning regarding his previously reported "nothing serious" chest pains and sore arm that he has been experiencing for the past three months. Such warning signs are not to be regarded as one would regard a traffic signal that has turned from green to yellow. At the very least you are to proceed with caution and it is far better if you opt to come to a full stop! I am no doctor, but I am speaking from personal experience. Ignore those signs at your own peril. I did so back in 2004 and ended up having a heart attack. So much for being a macho male and telling myself "It'll go away." The result was I almost went away...permanently.

I am putting forth this personal message of concern post Coffeypot's initial blog entry regarding his present health concerns, having been wrapped up in my own efforts to recover from heart issues. I didn't have the mental stamina to sit in front of my computer to check in on all my blogger favorites. When I did get back to catching up, Coffeypot's September 6th post jumped out at me with great alarm. Been there, done that, and have a large T-shirt that proclaims "Lucky Heart Attack Survivor!" I would just as soon my good friend Coffeypot never gets personally fitted for one of these articles of apparel. You sir, have been sternly (and compassionately) warned.

(P.S. For some reason, I am now unable to access your email, Coffeypot, from your profile. I'm receiving a notice that the default mail client is not properly installed. I think the problem is on my end, but I have no idea how to correct the problem. Request... Coffeypot (and Martha) please send me an email to my email address so that I may add you both into my email address book. Thanks guys...)

Friday, September 12

"What Do You Want To Hear First...

the good news or the less than good news?" That was the question posed to me by my cardiologist early this week during my post-operative visit. Seems my latest EKG is indicating that I have a condition know as Atrial Flutter. In layman's terms, an occasional irregular heartbeat. Seems my new reconditioned plumbing is okay, but my electrical system needs tweaking. Great!

"Okay Doc, what does one do to correct this condition? " We put you on the blood thinner Coumadin for a month in order to thin your blood to the point where we can then perform a Catheter Ablation." (Well, that made perfectly good sense to me!) "Talk down to me Doc. Reduce it to its lowest common denominator." "We go in through your groin (I'm ALREADY not liking what I am hearing), insert a catheter that travels to your heart (It's getting better by the second!), on the end of which there is a probe that will cauterize (BURN!!) the defective nerve that is sending the incorrect signals to that portion of the heart that is beating irregularly. This should correct the problem once and for all." Notice he used the word "should," not "will."

Next question... "What is the downside if I elect not to go forward with this procedure? "Well, it's not going to get any better and most likely will get worse. You could learn to live with the condition or the condition could worsen to the point where you would have a heart attack." "Isn't this where I came in a couple of months ago when you announced that my 'skinny arteries' could lead to a massive heart attack? " I strongly suspect he knew that that was a rhetorical question. He answered "Yes" anyway just to appease me.

So, apparently I'm not quite out of the proverbial woods yet, but hopefully headed more permanently in that direction. My attitude continues to be the same as it was prior to entering the hospital for the by-pass surgery; "It will be what it will be and I will emerge just fine." At least they won't find it necessary to open me up like a can of sardines, although I am thinking seriously about getting a tattoo on my inner left thigh that says "Insert Catheter Here!!" I do know this, I am getting tired if not bored about blogging about my on-going medical condition. I'd much prefer to talk about other more interesting politics. On second thought...maybe my medical condition IS much more interesting than that mess!!

For now...I'm off to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa to take in this evening's college football game between our home town University of South Florida Bulls and the Kansas University Jayhawks. There's nothing quite like sitting among 65,000 screaming football fans to get the old heart pumpin'. Hum-m-m-m, maybe I ought to give that idea some more careful consideration. Later...

Thursday, September 4

"Punxsutawney Phil...

has nothing on me." Seems I, like this precocious beaver, had grandiose aspirations of coming out of hibernation to embrace a new season of promise only to see his shadow and retreat reluctantly back into the comfort of his burrow for a few additional weeks of solitude. So has it been with me. My desire to pick up once again with regular entries to this blog that was my practice prior to my surgery has been reluctantly curtailed during the past several weeks due to my body's continuing need to stay focused on regaining the strength I need to again burst forth to embrace a new a season of promise and opportunity. I think I am out of my personal burrow this time to stay.

I am still experiencing some lingering discomfort on the left hand side of my chest, in my neck and along the inner portion of my upper left arm, but all is bearable and "to be expected" according to my surgeon. A couple of Advils a couple of times a day seems to address those physical issues. I still find that I tire easily (also "to be expected"), which finds me giving in to the urge to take importune naps throughout the day. Haven't taking these many afternoon siestas since I was in kindergarten! Not un-welcomed believe me, but it sure puts a hole in one's day.

My mental acuity continues to steadily improve. I am thinking more clearly, but there remains still a noticeable lag between the brain and the finger tips. My inner dictionary and thesaurus have suffered little from non-use, but knowing the words and remembering how to spell them are still divided by a rather annoying chasm. Can I get an "Amen" for Spell Check? Practice makes perfect, so the more I continue to engage the old cranium to perform mental gymnastics the quicker I will be back to putting together cogent thoughts verbally and on paper. There's nothing more frustrating than to be engaged in a conversation and to suddenly go blank trying to think of the next series of thoughts that were so crystal clear just a moment ago. Gee...I hope that is related to my surgery recovery and is not to be attributed to my just getting on in years. Oh well...

Hopefully I will continue to find the daily renewal of physical and mental strength to again engage more frequently in this exercise of communicating my random thoughts on random subjects if for no one elses benefit but my own. In the mean time I think I am over due for another afternoon rendezvous with the living room couch. Later...but hopefully not too much later.

Tuesday, August 19

"Well, Good Morning Fay..."

Looks like the Tampa Bay region of Florida has again missed the brunt of yet another seasonal storm, this time tropical depression Fay, she having come ashore this morning just south of Naples, about two and a half hours south of St. Petersburg as the seagull flies. Judi and I have just returned from my recommended morning constitutional, wherein I am suppose to walk briskly for 20 minutes, three times a day. Though it best to try and get in our morning session before the outer bands of Ms. Fay sweep as predicted westward and we are socked in with rain squalls for the balance of the afternoon. Not to worry...except for the occasional tornado we should weather this storm just fine.

It is at times difficult for me to comprehend that a little over two weeks ago I was flat on my back recovering from open heart surgery, believing I was on death's doorstep and hurting bad enough to be looking for the key. Today I am sitting up right and taking occasional nourishment! Actually, I'm progressing most remarkably and must temper my desire to become increasingly active with the knowledge that my spirits may dictate otherwise, but my body is far from ready to enter the next 100 meter heat in the Olympics. My constant reminder of days past is the continuing discomfort in my chest, especially around the incision. The sternum has a number of weeks left to heal completely, which I am reminded of when I absentmindedly again make a sudden involuntary move that sends spikes of pain to my conscience, which in turn screams, "Are you crazy!?! Don't do that again!!"

I also continue to struggle with my mental acumen. Had I mentioned that before? I've forgotten... Seriously...I am far less then my usual witting self, which is probably a blessing to those who would otherwise classify my self-proclaimed "quick wit" as being a profound smart ass. Enjoy it while you can my detractors, now with more oxygenated blood pumping through my heart and into my brain, I'll be even sharper than before. In the mean time...what were we just talking about?

Enough for now... Somewhere in yon room awaits a couch with an indention that perfectly fits my soon to be reclining body. Here's hoping that Fay expends her energy soon and the bright tropical blue skys of sunny central Flordia again hold sway.