Monday, January 24, 2011

Gettin' Ready for the Super (Texas) Bowl

Super Bowl primping is going on everywhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Did you know the NFL has some fund to pay for planting trees to make cities more beautiful? Why, that's right nice. Heard today some 6,500 trees have been planted hereabouts by school and garden volunteers getting ready for The Big Day.

Traffic has been disturbed a bit lately by maintenance crews planting flowers in the medians.

The sister of a friend of mine was surprised when city maintenance crews came through her neighborhood last week and mowed and trimmed every last lawn on the block. She lives a mile from Cowboy Stadium, you see. In a year where the state budget shortfall indubitably is going to impact county and city costs, the City of Arlington simply has reorganized its schedules of operation to tidy up the city as much as possible for tourist scrutiny.

So has every other city remotely involved around here. Believe me, folks, we aren't usually this neat and clean. Of course, shortly after a kazillion or so visitors hit the 'Plex, it probably will look a little...disheveled?

Will the cell tower coverage be sufficient for the phones? The cell phone companies say so.
D-FW is getting ready to throw the biggest party ever held in these parts. Like any hosts, we want the visitors to have what they want when they want it to the best of our ability. No shortages. Enough amenities.

And Lord help us, this week is beautiful. Feb. 6 could be anything from 70 degrees on down to the 20s with sleet and freezing rain.

I'm not going to any parties. I'm not making any money off this. My cell phone may not work sometimes, but the traffic probably won't be too bad. In my whole family, I'm the only one who might actually watch part of the game, but probably I'll just go shop. It's a great time for it.

Do you know, Jerry Jones is selling $200 tickets to people--in groups of four, or $800--so they can stand in the parking lot outside the stadium and watch the game on some big tvs? Watching the hucksters score definitely is part of the event. Dadgum. The price of those parking lot tickets would pay for some primo dental work I need. Or the attic insulation. Or, more fun, tickets to the Pacific Northwest again.

We've never had the Super Bowl before. It will be interesting to see what happens.
But a lot of the people in every city where it's held simply go on about their daily business and skip the gridiron entirely. Just as well.

Someone has to tend to bidness.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Enjoying a Dollop of Cold in my Winter

It snowed last Sunday, and THEN the next day we got a Canadian cold front. Didn't get above freezing for three days. Result: snow on the ground till Friday. Five days!

In the Southwest, that's pretty amazing. Streets were pretty clear, though. It was a great excuse to make soups and hearty food, like my stuffed cabbage rolls that I hadn't made in awhile. My old recipe didn't show up on any of the many internet recipes I looked at, so I relied on memory, and they came out great. Youngest granddaughter turned out to be a whiz at filling and rolling the leaves.

"You said it was like making a burrito," she told me. "And I've seen Daddy make those a LOT!"

Still, next time I think I will fix it the lazy way, with chopped cabbage added in with the tomato sauce after the meat is browned and rice added.

A puzzlement: when it is nice and warm inside, why am I so much more hungry in cold weather? It's a fact, however. Just as in summer, when the house is nice and cool, I am less hungry. I think I am simply happy such a season occurs in my year.

The snow looked really pretty. Only a few inches, but with the continued cold and no wind, the trees remained limned with white for several days, and the bushes wore their pretty snow hats.

Temps are going up into the 50s now, with clouds and fog. This, too, in unusual weather.

Oh well, the Fort Worth Exposition and Livestock Show started this weekend. There's a reason they call this time of year "stock show weather." Nevertheless, hearty Texas teens will ride the ferris wheel and other rides bundled up in coats, jeans and cowboy boots. Stock ranging from exotic chickens and flop-eared rabbits to llamas, cows and horses and more will be on display for the next couple of weeks. There's the drafty matinee and evening rodeos, and the many, many fried foods, with a little barbecue thrown in.

More snow flurries possible later in the week.

Think I'll make another pot of soup.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

When we are happy and others are crushed

A friend on Facebook asked if it was okay to narrow in on her own happy life with the awful stuff going on around the world. She cited an Australian boy who was swept away after he insisted rescuers pick up his brother first. Then a friend chimed in with footage of a girl trying to save herself and her dog in South American floods. She had to let her dog go to save herself.

How do we deal with this?

It is, probably, a little easier if they are not young. But not always.

I think we have to care, however sad. I also think we have to care about what is going on in our own lives.

If there is something we can do, well, we must.

Today, things go well. Tomorrow--hopefully the same. But we love each other. We love our neighbors.

My own life is happy currently. Mud slides won't crush us. Tornadoes, and other events, could.
What I have, what the victims had, is today. Let us make use of it. Let us say "I love you" every time. It could be the last chance we have,

And that is not a sadness. It actually is a way of life. I try to make sure I say it with every person I love in conversations. It makes me feel better. And if anything happens to me, I hope it will comfort them.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

For God's Sake, Don't Confuse Us With the Facts

Coverage of the Giffords shooting has frustrated me profoundly. Substance makes up less than half the coverage I've been able to find. Spin has covered far more. Opinion, argument.

It's gossip, masquerading as journalism. It obscures the truth.

I spent an hour yesterday researching news stories, videos, 911 calls, the Arizona Statesman, the local publication that, of all media involved, should have had an in-depth account and timeline of Saturday. I couldn't find it. Maybe it is there--my online research techniques are not stellar. My point is, the information shouldn't have been that hard to find.

I have heard or found two references to a woman "who tried to prevent the shooter from reloading". What did she do? what happened? I assume it was about the same time "two people" one report said, and "two men" in another tackled him and restrained him until law enforcement arrived. Then what happened? I've seen a full feature on Danny Hernandez, who rushed to his boss when she was shot and used his previous experience as a medic to try to stabilize her, in spite of continuing gunfire. No one has identified the three who actually intervened in a slaughter. It's as if they were some random piano who fell on his head.

What happened Saturday morning? We've gotten the sound bites, and then off to the glitz-the nine-year-old girl, which indeed is a heartbreaker--BUT! she is also the granddaughter of someone famous. What happened to the neighbor who took her along? A judge died, but so did three women who were older, apparently ordinary citizens, and beyond their names being listed among the dead, have gotten no attention. The headlines I see. The stories, I can't find.

In hindsight it seems likely that the shooter may have schizoid symptoms. Not uncommon in tragedies like this. Often, the families have been trying to get help for the person for a long time. If they are over 18, this isn't easy. We got the peers saying how weird he was, and all the excited rhetoric that goes with it. There is a lot more to THAT story, too.

But the media is thundering off to the next stories. Is it Sarah Palin's fault? Is it the left? the right? the tea party? Arizona gun laws? Almost before the bleeding bodies are carried from the scene, it's all about the spin, how this helps this point of view or that. There is a great deal of opinion, but very little truth, or facts, in all that.

Chaotic, shocking events like this don't have all the facts immediately, It seems, however, more should be available.

Facts? Who has time for those? After the bare facts, journalists have leaped to the spin pieces. He came, he shot, he was stopped. Now here's what I or X, Y, or Z thinks this means, or shows.

There's a loss of freedom in this. Not just in this one incident, but in the trend it signifies. I can still find a lot of information on the internet and in news coverage, but increasingly it is slanted, leaves out information, or includes opinions as if they were facts. Or, perhaps, maybe I just notice it more.

Of course, one person's facts are another person's opinions.

Even mine.

Friday, January 7, 2011

How To Deal When Parents Aren't Immortal

All of us lose our parents.

According to Francine Russo, never in history have so many of us had to deal with the declining health of our much older parents. At the same time, our culture belatedly is realizing the profit in providing services for the grey-haired halt, lame and the mentaly challenged.

In other words, the agony of diminished parents is probably gonna cost you. If you have siblings, the joint consensus in health care for a parent may cause time, grief, angst, confusion, and even possible expensive legal maneuverings. There is also a very real possibility, however, that all this cost leaves you with fellow adult children you can share the rest of your life with.

The book is "They're Your Parents Too!" or "How Siblings Can Survive Their Parents' Aging Without Driving Each Other Crazy" by Francine Russo.

My father died when I was 19. My mother died when I was 35. I was the only surviving child. So why my interest?

I do a lot of volunteer work with persons in crisis. I lived in a retirement village for three years, observing the decline of some delightful people in their 80s and 90s. I have seen, firsthand in the last year, how siblings--loving siblings--have responded in the emergency of the sudden illness (months only) and death of women 74 and 90.

As Russo notes, we aren't always talking about the loss of our mothers, but typically, women outlast fathers, whether married to them or divorced.

IF you are able to be introspective at all, this book is incredibly valuable and cuts new ground.
If you have parents aging but in good health, it is excellent preparation ground. It is a book I would want to read if my own parent or parents were waning, or if my siblings and I were having trouble communicating or deciding how bad things are. It isn't a be-all by any means. It does offer resources for evaluation and possible outside help. As an aging parent myself, I find it valuable in potential decisions that will affect my sons and daughter-in-law.

Every country in the world is dealing with this problem of the first large-sized generation old enough to need longterm help from children still supporting their own children into adulthood.

I haven't finished the book yet. I am just now going into the chapters on dementia, which affects 40 per cent of the aging. I confined my own mother at 57 with dementia. She died at 71. In her time, there was no assisted living. Only a nursing home. And I was lucky to find the one I did.

I can't find the portfolio with the poems I wrote from that time. But I remember the beginning of the one I want:
"A shadow lives who used to call me daughter.
She, who has no memories, is one...."

My own sibs died before my memory begins. Reading this book, I see they still were a part of my journey. And that maybe there are things I can still do with adult sons to make my children's future better. Or maybe not. But I can try.

It is a very good read. I will stuff it down the throat of every volunteer and professional caregiver I know. Unless you are a self-absorbed narcissist or have NO family, You I will skip.

READ IT. Even if your parents are gone.