Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Reason for Everything

A recent statement has been plaguing me: "I believe everything happens for a reason."
Yes or no?

Yes, I do believe everything happens for a reason, but I happen to think some of the reasons are pretty horrible. And some are just cosmic. That one of the factors of human nature often is to find a silver lining or fix the problem as best as can be done in no way mitigates the fact (to me) that life has pretty awful parts to go along with some really wonderful parts. And I don't believe that my faith will protect me or set an umbrella over me and the ones I love. But I don't see any reason to be fearful, either.

There's nothing good going on when a man beats a two-year-old to death because the man is angry with the child's mother. This'll show HER. Oops.

There's a reason when 500 Kurds are massecured in a town far from the American military control. A couple, really. Power and hate.

Greece has had more than 50 persons die in forest fires this week apparently set by greedy entrepreneurs who hope the destruction of forests will clear land for future economic development. The reason is greed.

The tsunami a couple years back had reasons sunk in physics. Lotta people died. Much destruction.

The six miners trapped in the collapsed mine in Utah. Much research will go into the safety of this facility. For now, I'm willing to call it an act of nature.

What I see is that evil, greed, power hunger complicates lives. Many folks with these traits go on to live they find to be happy and satisfying. Funny, though, that they often eventually make that misstep that brings them down. Or they do something really stupid. (An awful lot of people in prison may be bad, but they are also criminally stupid, and that gets them caught.)

Of course there's a reason for a positive belief system. For faith. They add quality of life. Simplify things. And at times, when I am squeezed down in a situation, are the backbone that lets me step out unafraid when I kinda think some dragons may be lurking. And if you look for good things, you will find them, actually more than you are looking for. I suspect it is the same if you look for the bad things. Now there's a miserable lifestyle, and some people do choose it.

But no matter how positive we strive to be, bad stuff goes on, often done on purpose by our fellow man. We note it. We process it. We do what we can. And we go on.

There's reason for everything that happens. But some of the reasons are just sad.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Winners In the Spotlight

Wahoo! I don't usually get energized by TV, but this is an exception.

Terry Fedor, the ventriloquist who does increcible voice impersonations--all without moving his mouth-- won the Talent in America contest, and will be interviewed on KRLD-AM 1080 in Dallas at 11 a.m. Monday. He was ubtervuewed there about two weeks before the competition. A Metroplex resident, I salute him.

Cass Halliday, the runnerup, wonderful vocalist also from the Metroplex, will be interviewed Tuesday at 11 a.m. KRLD-AM-1080 in Dallas.

These both are WOW. Hope the future opens up for both of them, and it seems to be doing so. Amazing, the talent we all have around us every day.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What I Want May Change, but Give It To Me And I'm Happy

For the last couple of days, I had been feeling snarly. I wasn't too interested in what you had to say, and I wasn't too interested in what I had to say, either. I basically wanted to curl up with a good mystery where I couldn't figure out the killer until the last 30 pages or less, is that too much to ask? Often, it is. I had the radio on, and the pillows plumped nicely on the bed for reading (don't have a couch any more). Food didn't sound interesting, and although I wanted to drink water, the lake has turned. I am unaccustomed to buying bottled, so I had a choice of Diet Dr. Pepper or dirt-flavored water. I wandered over to the computer a time or two, said, "nah", and went back to my book. Better for the universe and me both, I figured.

But yesterday afternoon, I had Something to Do, and I actually perked up a bit.
My oldest granddaughter and her mom were finally going to see "Harry Potter." Youngest granddaughter and I were going to see "Underdog", decidedly not two thumbs up, but what the hey, it's wholesome and she's five, and we would be going together. And she was pretty revved, herself. So they left, and then we did, and we got matinee tickets and then....movie food. I had neglected to buy and stuff candy in my purse, which is so small that's about all from outside I can bring in that will fit. I've decided I need a bigger purse again. I'm not sure about what that says about my respect for movie rules or if I'm breaking any laws or what. I usually don't eat or drink at movies, which is a good thing. Youngest granddaughter got one SMALL bag of popcorn. one SMALL soft drink, and a package of fruit chewies. Total was $8.75. I boggled and paid. No wonder they can afford the lower matinee prices.

We got seated, and the previews began, then snagged. Time sped by. She and I were seated comfortably, she had started on her chewies, the air conditioning was on, and we were having a good time talking with each other. It took something like 20 minutes, I think, and then they started the movie. Which she thought was very funny and I found funny enough to be pleasant. We should have been out of the theater first, but with our delay, we got out after mom and big sister, and they were waiting for us. As we left the theater, a nice man in a suit pushed two tickets in my hand. "What's this?" I asked in surprise. "Two complementary tickets as an apology for the earlier glitch."

I laughed. "Didn't bother us, but thank you" I said. I mean, how many of us have wickedly crowded schedules after a Disney movie? But hey, I have two more tickets now. Free.

Sisters compared notes. Both felt they were the winners. The oldest got to see Harry Potter. I mean, we're talking Harry Potter. The youngest got candy as well as popcorn and a drink. We're talking sugar. Both were well pleased. So were mom and grandma.

A front passing through had dropped a little rain, and the recent high temperatures were subdued to a low 90 with a light breeze, very pleasant. My snarly mood just evaporated.

This morning I got up fairly early for a Sunday to meet a friend from Midland, 41/2 hours away, who was in town briefly. We met at a little cafe about a half mile from my home where they serve nothing but breakfast on weekends. Really good breakfasts. Really fast, efficient friendly service. And they have huge mugs for hot tea and coffee. As usual, one of the fire station crews had shown up enmasse (they have some incredible three egg omelets stuffed with meats, cheeses and or vegetables), really good hashbrowns, huge biscuits you can get with a side of sausage gravy....and more, of course. They have much smaller breakfasts, too, or I would never go. You have a choice of about six kinds of toast. You can order sliced tomatoes or fresh fruit instead of the hashbrowns. You have Choices. I love that in a restaurant.

I love breakfast outings like this. Genelle and I had not seen each other in at least six months or longer, and spent a couple hours catching up. It was such a nice way to start the day.

So I am socialized again. Smiling at strangers. Interested in what others have to say. And I still have about a fourth of a pretty good mystery to finish. And everything I thought of to write about would take more effort than I felt like putting in this afternoon, to tell the truth. So I, too, am journaling a bit.
I try not to do it often because my life,though satisfying to me, is pretty mundane.
I resolve never to be reduced to telling you I washed clothes and then the dishes. I test out about 50-50 on introvert-extrovert, so my reading regimen might have gotten me to the same emotional place just about as soon as two visits with people I care about.
Seeing the family and my friend, I suspect, left my smile bank with more deposits.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream...

As I was preparing for bed the other evening, it occurred to me that my way of getting to sleep may be different. Not aberrant, just different. So I was wondering how the rest of you do it.

I never fall asleep with the book on my chest. Or while watching tv. And very seldom even listening to the most soporific music. Nope, I have to decide. I know there have been times when I was so exhausted I just drifted off, but even those are seldom. Yes dears, I do remember satisfying sex and it may have done the job, too, but that was long ago and far away and I just plain don't remember.

Since I've been nine or 10 years old, I have to be on my stomach, and I have to have a recent or favorite book in mind. Then I start weaving the next after the end chapter, and pretty soon I'm asleep. Usually, by that time, in my own dream. Anyone else out there do that? It's not anything I talk about, just one of my personal habits. But the other night it just struck me--I bet other people do it different.

My oldezt son doesn't get enough sleep anyway, and I suspect he's the hit the pillow and sleep type. His wife likes to go to sleep listening to an audio book. My grandchildren are usually asleep five minues after turning off the light and hitting the pillow. My younger son does toss and turn. Haven't really discussed this with others. Certainly haven't taken any surveys.

Sleeping soundly is another issure. I have nights when I sleep all night, others when I wake up, toss, turn, and go back to sleep all night. There's a huge difference in the amount of rest I experience. As lazy as I am in retirement, a good night's sleep is more elusive than it used to be. Still frequent, thankfully.

For those of you that hit the bed and drop off, you are blessed, and I suspect a whole lot of you are. But for the rest--anyone want to share their sleep rituals? Insomnia is a whole bigger problem. I've certainly experienced it, but for the most part, I wash my face, brush my teeth, pat my pillows into a comfortable pile, turn out the light and start imagining, which soon turns into dreaming. Works for me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Sickening Shooting of A Few Good Men

Over on Fatal Attraction, Phlegm Fatale muses about a horrible event in the Metroplex early Sunday morning. A little more information has come out, which I will try to incorporate. A motorist stopped at what appeared to be a car wreck on the side of the road and went forward, saw that the stranded motorist had a shotgun in his lap and ran away. He called 911 and pulled away. Two more motorists stopped and approached. Both were shot dead. A third samaritan stopped and approached and was shot critically. The police arrived, and one patrolman was shot in the face, in the right hand and right leg. His injuries are not critical, though it appears he will lose his left eye. The motorist then killed himself. There are reports other motorists stopped, one with a conceal-and-carry, and shots were fired, but this apparently had no effect on main events.

So the community mused this morning on the radio--can a good samaritan take the risk these days? Admittedly, only a small number of dangerous ones are there, most of the need is legitimate, but you are a parent with children to raise. What do you do? A number called in with efforts to help gone wrong where they were shot, robbed, or carjacked. And yet, about half of these people still said, "Yeah, I'm still going to stop after I assess the situation, because you just can't not help." The ones who said they would not stop seemed really troubled by their decision, and did say they would call 911.

Interestingly, several women called in to say if they are the one stranded, they would just as soon not have some stranger they don't know approaching. They said that's why they have a cell phone and roadside assistance. Killing by senseless killing, we are becoming more wary and afraid of one another. And yet many people continue to act to help in a crisis.

A police officer I know said a disturbing trend on 911 is the calls they are getting, in the middle of the day,when an unexpected visitor knocks on the door. The visitor is a stranger. The home resident feels threatened and calls the police. Personally, I seldom answer the door for unexpected calls these days because it is almost always someone trying to sell me something. If it's the neighbors, they will catch me later. But puh-leez! 911 for an unexpected knock?

Remember, this is the Metroplex, where we have crammed more than 7 million bodies into six counties. Last I heard, we get about 350 newcomers moving in every day and moving somewhere in this seething mass of humanity. Even when I go to the grocery store, I'm surprised when I run into someone I know. It just doesn't happen very often any more.

I don't know about moon phases, but this weekend in the 'plex was extraordinarily gory, brutal, and often lethal. Fights, shootings, beatings. Time to focus on some more positive lifepoints.

Go for the selfish creature comforts. It's supposed to hit 105 degrees today and nothing has been said about rolling blackouts or strained power grids. Just in case, though, I think I'll do the wash in the morning rather than at the peak of the energy use right now.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Great Gift of a Child

Back a few years when I was medical writing, I got a call from a woman who was very excited about a new public outreach program and she wanted me to write about it. And it was pretty wonderful. So, as it turned out, was she.

Back then, Fort Worth had a State School for the Mentally Retarded, which has since been closed. But it was open then and started a community outreach program where therapists would come to the home to work with the families each week.

This family was in great need. Their third child was born with only a little more than one-third of her brain. She was so profoundly retarded she had no ability to suckle her milk. She had to be taught, and she did learn, and survive. She was also hydrocephalic. Her head was easily twice normal size, with a shunt leading down the side of the head to the neck to drain off some of the excess water. For all this, she was a pretty baby, with a healthy, well-nourished body and a pretty face even through all the swelling.

The team came weekly to work the baby through a full array of motions and exercises designed to stimulate and strenghen, and they taught the mother how to do it the rest of the time. She was so excited. She was learning so much about child development that she never knew before. She loved helping her baby work to strengthen and grow.

When I saw her, the baby was about nine months old. She couldn't hold her head upright yet, but her mother said determinedly that she would. She could lft her heavy head off the mat for several seconds now when lying on her tummy. She worked every single day to strengthen her back and neck muscles. And she was responsive. She smiled when her mother picked her up. She wriggled happily when tickled. She seemed to notice the brightly colored toys around her and would reach out with a hand when her mother moved one closer.

"I don't know why she was born the way she was," her mother said, "but she's been such a gift. She has taught my whole family so much."

She said in the past, for Christmas she would have bought her two older girls dolls, perhaps, and some plastic toys, but "not this year! I'm learning to think about what enriches them, too." They got the dolls. They also got some books and educational toys she thought would have a good effect on their growth. "I never used to buy books. Now I read to them every night." She said they all, her husband included, had learned more about patience and gentleness.

She and her husband had married almost right after high school. They lived in a comfortable older house in a shabby-genteel part of town. Their lives had been satisfying and quite ordinary up until this baby's arrival. It was no longer ordinary. But it still seemed long on the satisfying.

As I was leaving, she told me,"One day, she will sit up. She will learn to talk. You'll see."

About three years later, I was saddened to read the obituary of this special little girl.
The shunt had developed an infection, always a danger in such cases, especially back then, and she had died.

But my heart lifted at one of the final paragraphs. She had been attending half-day nursery care, where she had learned and could say the names of her classmates. She attended sitting up in a small motorized wheelchair. She could count to five. And she had lately started on her ABCs.
Sad her life ended so soon. But all told, in four short years, quite a success story.

And I'll bet her family still remembers her as a precious gift.

Thursday, August 9, 2007


A few years ago, my family was all sitting around the breakfast table, waxing vehement on our pet peeves of grammar today. My younger son, who did not participate, listened with interest for awhile and then gave us all an equable smile. "You people," he intoned, "need to get a life."

Well, maybe so. But this is my last ditch effort to save an endangered verb, one I am very fond of. Pretend I'm Saving the Whales.

There have always been two. Lie and Lay. These days, even in books and journalism, LAY is taking over where it is grammatically incorrect to do so. Poor LIE is being ignored.

LIE is a very nice, precise, quiet verb. It deals with you, and only you. It does not involve any other thing or person. Consider it an introvert. Just you. That's all it is about.

You are tired. You LIE down. You took a nap yesterday, when you LAY down. You have done this before so you HAVE LAIN down. Or you HAD LAIN down. That's it. Short. Sweet. Personal. No one else involved.

LAY on the other hand is an extrovert. Interactive, always messing in. Lay is about doing what you want to do to someone or something else. So you LAY the baby down, or the packages. Yesterday you LAID the baby down for her nap. Or you LAID the packages on the table. Or, what the hell. You LAID your lover. Gramatically that's pretty correct. You did something to someone else that involved being horizontal (mostly).
And you HAVE LAID or HAD LAID this before.

But people are beginning to ignore LIE. They will say they LAID down for a nap when they were the only one taking it. This is so wrong. It grieves me.

Please, for the sake of a fine old verb that his been around a long time and is still useful, use LAY or LAIN when using LIE, and LAID and LAID for LAY. Honest. A small piece of your life will be less confusing. Isn't that worth a lot?

Save a fine old verb for future generations.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

There Are Sunshine People Among Us

I want to write about the Sunshine People, but they are difficult to describe. Not too plentiful on the ground. Still, most of us have met two or three sometime. I don't think I've ever known two at the same time.

I think they are born that way, and then they lead lives to enhance their natural inclination for warmth and goodness. They come in both genders, and pretty much all ages, although they really shine as they age. They are not prepossessing, so it may take you a while to realize what a special person this is and what a difference he/she makes.

Sunny dispositions? Of course. But so much more. It is that special warmth that draws us, almost as if we are warming our hands. We soak it in.

Linda was one of them. She was a pleasant, silver-haired woman in her 50s, dependable, prompt, and efficient at the tasks she was given.We had been without a receptionist several weeks before she was hired and had had to take turns subbing on the phones. The reception area had gotten a bit grubby and pretty trashed out. She immediately had the area spotless and immaculately organized. Without, I might add, comment or complaint. A woman with a green thumb, she started watering our office plants, and I'll be darned if the poor things didn't start looking better, losing the brown edges, putting on new leaves. She could manage civil conversations with some pretty difficult people, although she would hang up if they started cussing her. She wasn't a pushover. But so gentle. and kind. and a megawatt smile.

She was just so genuinely glad to see you. Her face would light up to see you. I think most of us got in the habit of drifting into her area sometime during the day if we could, just to talk a few minutes. Our days simply went better if we did. We felt better, more positive. She didn't fuss over us, or bake stuff, or do anything special. She just radiated that warmth and goodness and welcome.

She had been there awhile when someone in the break room said, "You know, I feel better with Linda here." And someone else said,"me too." Several mentioned the lift they got from her good morning smile, and one of the supervisors said, "she makes this a better workplace."

She was just an ordinary woman. No special skills. We certainly could have found someone with more computer skills. But Linda's warmth made much more difference than a few computer skills would have. When I talk with former colleagues, we still talk about Linda sometimes. We will always remember her.

I first made a Sunshine sighting in my 30s. An older lady at church whom the kids swarmed over,and pretty much the adults, too. What I finally figured out about her was, she let you love her however you wanted, and she was comfortable with it. She pretty much loved everybody back. You sat down with her and you just completely relaxed.

A mental health administrator I wanted so much to work for is one. Retired now, he had this excellent, amazing center that is still doing very good work. But somehow, his warmth, his belief in his staff, lifted them to heights of performance they can no longer reach on a regular basis. He was incredibly protective of them, making sure they had as much balance with family and work as he could possibly manage for them.

The poster child for Sunshine People, I suppose, would be Mother Theresa, but that's just one end of the spectrum.

We talk about liars and bipolars and self-centeredness, and brood about "people are no damn good." And all the time, these rare, wonderful perfectly normal people are moving among us, living their lives. I know lots of warm, cheerful people. The Sunshine People are a step above that. You don't just enjoy them, you feel better when you are around them.

Take time to remember the one or two or more you've known,or know, and remember that warmth, and for just a moment, revisit it. And smile.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Confessions of an an Occasional Female Shopper

I haven't worn a dress in years. Oh, skirts, and tops, yes. But not dresses. I haven't even been able to find skirts and tops out of the same fabric that look like they are a dress. And that's unfortunate because when one is short-waisted, the bisection is not a good fashion statement.

Of course being a fat woman isn't a good fashion statement, either, and that's part of my problem. I say part of the problem because dresses currently are being made in shifts or sheaths, or with slits up the side of the leg(which would expose my knee-highs), etc. There are no full skirts or A-lines. The pleats kind of look like the skirts and blouses. If a dress fits in the top, it is not going to fit in the bottom unless it is one whole size larger. For many years, many dresses were made that way. For all I know, some still are, but I can't find them. I, apparently, am the only small-busted fat woman around. Even in the right size, the bodice fabric just billows and pools.

So I have pretty much gravitated to nice slacks and tops. I recently found two pair of jeans after looking in vain for more than a year--I was offered low-riders, for God's sake, or jeans that cost $45 or $55 a pair.(So I'm chintzy). Found a new store with some jeans that fit well and cost only (ONLY!) $30 a pair and got some.I am irritated that they don't have pockets, but the saleswoman explained that with pockets, I would look bulkier. No pockets is "slimming". When I'm buying an 18, how slim can they be? I like pockets. Pockets mean I don't always have to carry a purse. I don't own a single skirt with pockets, but wish I did. That's another reason I mostly wear the slacks. They have pockets.

I sneak over to the men's clothing for sweats and nice, thick T-shirts. True, I haven't had any pink sweats in years, but the ones I get are nice and warm.
The thick, roomy T-shirts are good for running around and especially for my exercise class, which these days includes the occasional man as well as us women. I don't wear bras to exercise, never did. If I were a Young Thing today, maybe sports bras, but honey, I am old enough now that I know what I have doesn't dangle too far down. There ARE advantages to small.

When I dress up, I do Don A Bra. I wear makeup and lipstick and even jewelry and perfume. I have a couple of dressy tops and fitted jackets to dress up the slacks, and one really dressy pantsuit. These days I keep my hair really short, to keep it tidy and easy care. Still, when I dress up, you really CAN tell the difference.Other women may catch your eye because they are so well turned out, but I won't catch your eye at all. At least I'm not the dog in the corner. And I do enjoy the odd occasion to dress up a little, but the days of sheer hose, high heels and silk dresses are gone. (My late mother-in-law, an excellent seamstress with an eye for fashion, kept trying me to move my neckline south of my collarbones, but I don't think she ever got me to move it down much more than an inch.)

I mention all this, because now that I'm retired, I am slowly running into other like-minded women. We all love to wear pretty colors, not one of us deliberately picks ugly clothes, but we are just getting more and more to the no fuss wardrobe. And we just smile pleasantly and say nothing when others shop voraciously. I don't know if we are a large enough demographic for manufacturers to market directly to--most of my no fuss friends do not have the extra pounds I do, but they still miss the pockets, as I do.

I meet women who are always turned out well, dress very nicely, and always wear makeup and bras, and I admire them. But i like it over here with my wash and dry wrinkle free fabrics and,,,,when I think I can get away with it...no bra.