Monday, May 18, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Deciding to go to the 50th college reunion

It is a bigger surprise to me than the people around me that my fiftieth college reunion is coming up next month.

I did, after all, graduate in 1965. I'm not that bad in math.

I am surprised by so much about aging. A college reunion shouldn't be that much of a surprise.

Looking over the activities, however, I see that there is a bus tour of the campus. No walking tour. Granted, the campus is quite a bit larger, but it is not a large campus, per se. It is prettier--in my day, they didn't water the lawns and the fountain didn't work. (And we are in a drought. Sheesh!)

I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a B.A. in Social Sciences and a B.S. in journalism. There were a plethora of courses that didn't count except as extra credits, and I'm glad I took them. Art history and music appreciation have deepened my appreciation of the world around me through the years. I took extra history courses, too. I figured if I wanted to write for a living, I had better learn as much as I could about as many subjects as I could master. That enriched my life, and it probably helped professionally here and there.

While I still like to see and do new things, my body has betrayed me in some ways. My eyes are distinctly less acute. I haven't driven in Dallas traffic in some years. I wouldn't be attending any of the reunion if a former college roommate hadn't called and offered to take me in with her and her husband if I can get to their home in a nearby suburb. Even that will be difficult, but I think I will go to the one luncheon on Saturday. Friday would involve too many arrangements with other people. Friday also includes a free tour of the Bush Presidential Museum. I am the only one I know who has no interest in seeing it, much as I love museums.

Another roommate and her husband will also attend, and I just realized they have been married 52 years. I was in her wedding. She was in mine. Wow! Brenda and Bill, who offered the ride, are near 50 years, if not there yet. They have all done well in their lives, been productive and even adventurous--Brenda and Bill moved to Japan for 10 years, where he was a high school band director. No, not on an American base, but in a Japanese school. I've stayed in the Dallas Metroplex, and it is true I have had three careers. I was married for 16 years. I always chose professional work that really interested me. None of it paid particularly well.

Huh.

I really don't have anything to wear. And I need shoes. And a new purse. I was going to get all of this for a vacation in Oregon in June. The clothes may be a little fancier than what I will wear to hike mountain trails. Nevertheless. I won't be buying heels. I threw all mine away the day after retirement. I have not regretted it.

I think if I were going to display me, I would stay home. It is worth going, however, to go and see who I remember. Names I haven't thought of in years will have lives I will love to hear about.

My hosts will bring me back to my car--or I may take light rail there, depending on the schedule. They will go back for the evening dinner dance. I will come home, put my feet up, and relax as I remember my small adventure.

All an adventure takes is an attitude of expectation. It should be fun. After all, I really don't think I will be attending the Diamond Jubilee. Some of us probably will.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Milepost Day

My oldest granddaughter passed her driver's test this morning and has been duly added to her parents' insurance. She will be driving, probably later today, in the car without one of us in the car with her for the first time.

And once again, we let her go a little more, let her fly a little higher.

We revel in the early first steps, crawling, walking. But even then, we have consequences. There's the trail of debris through the house as we hunt down the new walker. And other life lessons. When this same granddaughter was three something, she giggled and encouraged her little sister to walk just like the rest of us. Right up until same little sister could reach her big sister's previously inviolate crayons on the table.

"Hey!," she yelled, as much shocked as indignant, "she's getting in my stuff!"

By now, she sometimes raids her sister's stuff. So it goes.

I hope she remembers her first drive alone. I don't. I remember the weeks immediately after, but not that solo drive.

I remember her daddy, when he was seven, riding his bike to school the first time. I watched him pedal madly up the drive in his Cub Scout uniform, backpack in place, brown lunch sack swinging from his hand on the handlebars. It was a country town, lightly traveled road, a mile from the school. And my heart was in my throat. And he thrived.

I lived in a small town, too, but surrounded by mountains. My father was upset when he learned I had driven the old family car up and down a 40-degree incline on a mountain road--with cliffs on part of it--one day as part of a summer job I held. He had been meaning to repair the brakes. No problem, I assured him, I just put the car in a lower gear.

And so it goes.

No wonder the thought of guardian angels persists as we see ourselves, and our young ones, survive certain catastrophes over and over again. Catastrophes that, after all, never happen. Maturation and growth automatically opens us to greater risk.

Tonight, we have a family dinner of the bunch of us to celebrate the birthdays of two of us. New beginnings for them, and new beginnings for the new driver among us.

Anticipation of the year ahead and good food. Lots of love. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ruminations on a Single Snowy Day in Texas

Winter came late to North Texas this season.

Outside my windows, the streets and grass are white, the trees and bushes gilded with clinging snowflakes. We don't get the pretty ones with six points and endless variation. We get pinches of sizes ranging from scarcely visible to penny-sized,cottony fluffy stuff. It is falling rapidly, but the flakes are small enough now that, after three hours, we have maybe three inches.

We had sleet and freezing rain Monday and Tuesday, truly nasty stuff. The coverage was scant--although branches limned in crystal clear ice are rather pretty. Schools were closed then, because temperatures and wind were in the 20s, and the scarcity of such storms means our supplies of street protection are limited because of the expense. Better if people stay home a day or two.

Today, the snow came early. We were preparing for a noonish event. I had planned to go out for a few hours and went into my bedroom at 8:40 a.m. to dress. No precip at all. I came out 20 minutes later to find a full cover of white over the landscape, streets included. The cottony-sized snowflakes were falling heavily and rapidly.

I called to my destination and was told I was not needed, to stay home. So I have. I have spent a lot of time at my windows watching the birds. They have hit my sunflower seeds and millet like a high school football team finding a lone 7-11 convenience store open on their way home after the game. Much gobbling, shoving, intimidation.

I have put out food three times in three hours and will wait until later in the day for more. I don't know what has happened to the blue jays here; I never see them any more. I have had many cardinals, mockingbirds, and I don't know what the sparrow-looking bird is with a flash of pale green on the chest, many juncos, who look so round all puffed out. White-winged doves are actually fairly gracious about sharing. Late in the morning, however, a gang of starlings found the cache. I sighed. They were aggressive, numerous, and allowed no other birds in, even the cardinals, who seem to feel pretty entitled most of the time. I love their choreography together in the air; they must be fed. Today, I would even be gracious to the grackles, but none came.

The dogs loved it, not wanting to come in. Later inside, Brody wanted to play, chasing his tail and pouncing, dancing around the living room scattering the rugs. Gracie was intrigued, but highly concerned that it was a trick so he could swoop in and get her rawhide chew. (She considers it perfectly acceptable if she does the same, and if he tries to retrieve, she gives her bully bark you can hear three houses away.) Brody HAD his own chew, but she was not enticed. His exuberant dancing made me laugh.

Daughter-in-law called on her way home after her office closed to tell me they would pick my granddaughters up from school today, "of course."
I appreciated the call. It's the wisest thing. And I paused, just a minute, to remember.I used to drive 40 miles each way in snow and sleet, park six blocks from the office, and never missed most days. I played in it, and hot chocolate just isn't the same when you haven't gotten good and cold first, Wind chill currently is about 10, just two days after we hit the 60s briefly. Such go many winters in North Texas.

It is not to be envied, our lack of snow or sleet or freezing rain up till now. It may mean our drought will continue for the fourth year. Heard the other night that the Dallas-Fort Worth part of North Texas has gotten more rain than the rest of the state. Our lakes are 68 percent full. Lakes--and all but one in the whole, huge state of Texas are man-made--are at 38 percent elsewhere. This is the drinking, farming, irrigation water. We have no rivers. And every day, several hundred more people move here. Scary.

Today, for me, isn't a day to dwell beyond what is. I am fortunate to have warmth and shelter.

I have soup on the stove, chicken in the oven. A pretty view, and the weatherman has promised it won't last more than 2-3 days. A predicted high of 70 by Tuesday.

Sometimes, indeed, change is good.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The New Physics of Predetermination

I was listening to an interview with the author of a new Broadway play, "Constellations", which involves the concept of "multiverses". The audience must understand the concept in order to understand the play. Multiverses are concurrent universes. The interesting thing is, the interview was on a science show on PBS.

I recently had a transcendent moment for a couple of hours after two Nova shows on physics and string theory when I almost grasped the concepts. I'm back to my simplistic understanding of quantum physics as being related to if you put down a bowl of cat food, the cat will come, and if a bowl of dog food, the dog will come. (I think I also understood something about somebody's cat and a box, but that's gone now, too.)

Well, the theory has gone far beyond me. A growing number of physicists seem to believe theory shows a strong possibility of multiple universes.
A number of these same physicists apparently think these different universes are really the same universe, but with different outcomes. And that free choice, a prized attribute of humans, doesn't exist.

And that sort of blows my mind. I will have to learn more about this.

It sure would make a crazier universe than anyone expected.

So far as I understand, theism plays no part in these theories. It is all based on theoretical equations. And the snippet I heard may actually be as unrelated to actual physics as the cat and the cat food. But it is terribly interesting.

I'm imagining a universe where the asteroid missed the earth and dinosaurs still exist. People have not evolved yet. I would not be writing there.
And aliens might not be from far off galaxies, but alternate universes. At the least, it could be the greatest jolt to fiction since the popularity of the apocalypse. Literal space travel, from one universe to another. Maybe that's what worm holes could be....You wouldn't need time travel. You would just go to the universe where humans are in a different century. Or decade. Whatever. And you and yourself COULD both exist at the same time, because you would belong to different universes.

Great fun to think about.

I do believe in global warming. I doubt in my lifetime any physicist will come up with enough evidence to convince me that my sorry end is a predetermined when, where and how. What's the fun in that?

As I mentioned, all of these ideas came out of a discussion with the author of a new Broadway play. I just hope his plot is not obscured by all the discussion about the underlying theses. Or maybe that will be a good thing. Predetermined, so to speak.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ignoring the why when bad things happen

I've started three times today, and will work on the first two later. They need more thinking and more time.

I am not sure, but the only thing I really see that separates us from animals is one question:

Why?

Well, and the fact that animals have instincts where humans do not--and as we evolved, when did THAT creep in?
Humans don't believe they don't have instincts. I hear people talk about human instincts all the time.

We have a lot of fantasies we live by.

Watching my dog post-surgery for 29 days with a hood around his neck, I finally got it.
The fist couple of days, in pain, his eyes when he looked at me showed pain. He felt pain. He was trying to cope with this new reality. I don't think now, looking over it, that he ever wondered why? He was just sad and hurting.

His incision is almost invisible now, and he feels so good. He does remember the vet's office as a place he is not willing to go quite so much as before, but just a month later, that resistance is fading.

If he had wondered why, he wouldn't have come confidently to me for comfort and petting. His behavior would have changed as he tried to convince me not to hurt him again. He remained constant, consistently himself. That's admirable, I think.

When you take "why" out of your consciousness, the life you lead changes tremendously. " Why" leads to a lot of misunderstandings. "Why" leads to wars, and a cure for polio, and mass killings and better crop rotation. "Why", in fact, is the most dangerous question in human intellect.

If I were a better story-teller, I could weave a story about a curious woman who just had to open a box she wasn't supposed to open. But she was already infected with curiosity and wanting to know why.

Curiosity doesn't have to be about why. It can be about what's there? how does it work? where is it? Contrary to chainsaw massacre movie scenarios, survival can be aided by curiosity.

Be careful with that why question. It is seldom, if ever, answered simply. Misunderstanding the answer has caused a world of hurt through the eons.

But my silly dog doesn't ask why. If he worries, I don't see it. He doesn't anticipate bad times. If they come, he deals. When bad times end, he's happy. Actually, during the bad times he still found pleasure and some happiness.

He doesn't wonder why things worked out that way.

Silly old dog. He isn't smart. But he sure is wise.