Tuesday, May 31, 2005

After a while

      In Gene Wilder's autobiography Kiss Me Like A Stranger, he quotes a poem by Veronica A. Shoffstall. The poem moved me with its wisdom, intelligence and emotion. So much so that I wrote to Veronica Shoffstall and asked permission to post the poem on 51313 Harbor Street. I received permission today. I thank her for the opportunity to share it with you.

                  "After a While"
            By Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
      between holding a hand and chaining a soul
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
      and company doesn't always mean security
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
      and presents aren't promises
And you begin to accept your defeats
      with your head up and your eyes ahead
      with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child
And you learn to build all your roads on today
      because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans
      and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn that even sunshine burns
      if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul
      instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
      that you really are strong
      and you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
      with every goodbye you learn ...

Copyright 1971 Veronica A. Shoffstall. Used by permission.
You can email Ms. Shoffstall at rshoffst@bic.org


Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Too bushed to boogie

      I'm exhausted. It's been a long weekend. Didn't I say that it had been a long week before? I'm a whiner. I'm also going to call it a night right now. Catch me tomorrow when I'll be writing more. No, really, I will. I think. It's almost definite. Sort of. Night!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

A few changes

      By now you've seen the blue clock that I added Harbor Street, but did you scroll down and see the weather box? You can put in your own zip code and get the weather in your area. If you want the weather box, go to Weather.com and sign up. (In this case, you can't simply copy the code as it's linked to my URL.)
      I also added Paperback Writer in the Writing Links. PW is an active writer's blog, and the blogger shares a lot of writing information, including royalty statements and other nuts and bolts of the business. Check it out, and tell her that Harbor Street sent ya! (Which will surprise her, since I doubt she knows this blog exists!)
      And now a 51313 Harbor Street Health Moment:
      Have you heard the latest about watermelon? This delicious summer treat is loaded with lycopene and vitamins A, B6 and C.
      A Harvard study concluded that men who ate lycopene-rich diets had a much lower risk of developing certain cancers, especially prostate cancer. In addition, another report indicated that women with the highest lycopene levels had a five-fold lower risk of developing pre-cancerous signs of cervical cancer than women with the lowest lycopene levels.
      Other studies with processed tomatoes and tomato products show that lycopene's antioxidant capacity may prevent against hardening of the arteries, a risk factor for heart disease. And, in Europe, researchers have found a statistically significant association between high dietary lycopene and a 48% lower risk of heart disease.
      Vitamin A is important for eye health, can help prevent nightblindness, and boosts immunity by enhancing the infection-fighting actions of white blood cells.
      Vitamin B6 is used by the body to manufacture brain chemicals (neurotransmitters), such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine, which preliminary research shows may help the body cope with anxiety and panic.
      Vitamin C bolsters the immune system's defenses against infections and viruses and helps protect a body from harmful free radicals that can accelerate aging and conditions such as cataracts.
      Watermelon also is certified by the American Heart Association as being heart healthy. Watermelon is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
      And isn't it nice that something so good for you actually tastes good?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

A riot of color

I took this picture out of my car window at the drive-in bank.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Long week

      It's been a long week for some reason. I find myself inordinately tired tonight. I did want to share some good news before I go to bed. I talked to my surgeon on Tuesday about my bill, and he dropped nearly two-thirds of it! I didn't have to beg or push him to do it, either. I just explained I didn't have insurance and asked if there was anything he could do. That was it. He's a good guy. Unfortunately, that didn't work with the hospital and I still have to play them $2,100, but saving that much on the surgeon's bill helped a lot. I'm grateful.
      The incision is still healing, but it is much better. I still experience quite a bit of pain sometimes, but that's because ... well ... probably I'm doing more than I should. I don't want to hear it! Life has to go on, and I'm trying to be more careful.
      I finally got my hair cut today. Something I don't think I mentioned was that I had decided to let my hair grow until I knew whether I had cancer or not. My thought was that if I did and had to take chemo or radiation, then I'd shave it off so that it would be easier to take care of. I don't have cancer, so today I got it cut. But not as short as I have in the past. I liked the longer hair, even though it had a tendency to fly around like Einstein's do. Now it's neat and quite handsome. Come and get me, ladies! No, seriously, come and get me. I can't afford the gasoline to drive to you!
      And on that note, night!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Against the wind

      When I moved to western Oklahoma many years ago, I immediately telephoned my mother to tell her three things: first, I hadn't picked up a hitchhiker who murdered me; second, I didn't have a wreck; and third, even if I had been in a wreck, I had worn clean underwear. These being her major worries, I felt that I had put her mind at ease.
      In that first conversation, I remember saying, "Boy, the wind sure does blow out here."
      "Don't worry about it," she said. "Summer's coming, and the wind will stop. You'll miss it." She was thinking about the summers where I was reared. The summers there (there being on the Oklahoma side of the Arkansas River Valley) are hot and humid with only the faintest breeze to stir the curtains (not that you have the windows open since you're plastered to the front of the air conditioner if you have at least the intelligence of gravel).
      That first conversation was in May. By February of the next year, I realized that the wind was not going to die. When I think of western Oklahoma now that I have escaped, I think of the unceasing wind. It whistled and howled and roared across that flat land, picking up speed and red dirt and an occasional small car, and it never stopped.
      I once mentioned this to a friend as we walked down a street in front of a drugstore.
      "Doesn't it ever let up?" I asked, dodging a tumbleweed.
      "I guess I'm so used to it, I don't notice," he said as he deftly caught a small child who was being blown past and then handed her to her mother.
      The child's mother thanked us and then told her daughter, "See what happens when you untie your safety brick."
      A few minutes passed as we stared in the drugstore window at an interesting display of moist towelettes and eczema cream.
      "Think we're making any headway?" he finally asked.
      "I don't know," I said. "Perhaps when that truck turns the corner, it'll block the breeze."
      My father, who spent a fair amount of time in western Oklahoma, liked the wind. "It keeps the towns clean," he'd say. "All the trash just blows away."
      That comment has always made me think that some town in Kansas really has a trash problem.
      Actually, what Kansas really has is quite a bit of Oklahoma. The unrelenting wind carries away thousands of tons of rich Oklahoma topsoil yearly. On certain days, the soil colors the western Oklahoma sky a deep red -- as it does your face, your car and anything else outside. Eventually all of Oklahoma will be in Kansas -- which, other than tornadoes, is not a bad place to live if you like corn and girls named Dorothy.
      During the summer, when the temperature is in the three digits, the wind makes you feel like you're in a rotisserie oven. You can hear your sweat evaporate. And during the winter, wind chill takes on the importance of football scores.
      Still for all this, the wind does have its good points. It provides jobs for the makers of skin lotions and lip balms. By kicking dust into the atmosphere, it provides for stunning sunsets and spectacular dawns. It powers windmills and quite a few wind turbines which provide a surprising amount of electricity. An excellent ecological idea would be to erect turbines everywhere there is a lot of wind, although Congress probably wouldn't like them in their chambers.
      The western Oklahoma wind also puts you in touch with your roots. As you stand there, braced against its force, striving to take another step, straining grit out of the air with your teeth, your clothes snapping around like a whip, your hat on a trip to the ocean, you feel just like a brave and hearty pioneer of ages past: You wonder what in world are you doing out there and just how soon can you get out.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

There once was a perfect man

      Around my hometown, they still talk about it. Even after all this time, it comes up. "How sad," they say, or "I guess it only goes to show that you really don't know what's going with another person." The men at Edward's Barber Shop shake their heads as they discover the correct way to dress out a deer, according to Outdoor Life, and the women at Helen's Beautique sigh as they read the latest home remedy for winkles in Ladies Home Journal. Then they move on to another subject, but they return to it again and again because it's hard to forget that there once was a perfect man.
      I met him in the first grade. Although I remember little of that time, I'm sure he already showed the promise of the perfection he would later become. His picture in our first-grade annual shows a bright-eyed all-American boy, looking all the while like a poster child for a pro-life group.
      In the second grade, his charisma developed to just the right degree. He wasn't so charming that the boys could call him a sissy, and yet he was charming enough to allow the girls to tolerate him. We even suspected that a couple of them even liked him. He denied it, of course, but we saw the way Wilma Simmons smiled at him. We forgave him, though, because he was as rough and tough and ready as little boys could be.
      In the third grade, he was the captain of any team we had, always the last boy standing in any spelling bee (the girls always won) and the teacher's favorite. Not the teacher's pet 'cause then we would have hated him; he simply the one she couldn't help smiling at even when he talked too much, the one she automatically picked to clean the erasers, and the one she held up as an example to the rest of us. And Wilma smiled at him all the time. (Rumor had it that he'd kissed her, but us boys refused to believe it. He was too normal to kiss one of them.)
      He had a tough time of it in the fourth grade. His right arm and leg were shattered in a car wreck. By the time he recovered, the school year was over. He spent the summer, regaining his strength and catching up on his classwork. When he returned for the fifth, it was almost as if he had never left.
      He graduated from the sixth and the seventh and was, from that time on, our class leader with no dispute. Some of the guys resented him, but they were just jealous. The rest of us were glad we had someone to follow for we too had discovered how nice it was to have a girl smile at you. And how rare and hard it was to attain those smiles.
      On through junior high he went, excelling at this and that. Don't get the idea, though, that he was a genius. Being a genius would have made him different, not one of us. His grades were A's and B's, just right for his image. Not too smart, not too dumb, just right.
      In fact, everything about him was just right: his personality, his looks, his clothes, his car, everything. He continued in like fashion through high school and graduated with honors and plenty of sports letters.
      Most everyone in town expected him to go to college, but he didn't. They were surprised at first and then pleased. In my town, going to college is the exception rather than the rule, and somehow it seemed fitting that the all-American boy would choose to settle at home.
      He married Wilma, found an excellent job (yes, you can get those without a college degree), and life looked good. Or, at least, it did for anyone looking on.
      But something was wrong for him. One Monday, Wilma came home and found a note on the entryway mirror that read: "I'm sorry. I love you. I wish things could be different. I'm sorry." She ran into their bedroom and found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
      When I heard of his death, I remembered the last time I saw him alive, a few months before his death.
      Home for Christmas break, I was in a department store, looking frantically for presents, when I heard his voice behind me.
      "Hi there, guy," he said.
      I turned and smiled. Although I hadn't seen him since graduation, he looked the same while I was already losing my hair and gaining weight. His grip was strong, his smile still high-voltage.
      We exchanged greetings, talked about the difficulty in finding gifts and caught up the news of our classmates. After about 30 minutes, the conversation faded away. There had been too many years between us. We ran out of things to say.
      "Well, I have to go," he said. "I have to pick up Wilma."
      "It was good seeing you," I said.
      He looked at me and half-smiled. "Tell me, how is college?"
      "I really enjoy it," I said. "It's everything that high school wasn't."
      "I've thought about going ..." His voice trailed off.
      "You should," I said. "You'd probably enjoy it."
      "Maybe later," he said. "My job. Wilma and I are trying to have a baby. Maybe later."
      I nodded. He stood there for a moment more.
      "You know, I'm never going leave that town," he said slowly. "I'm never going to get away."
      I looked at him, puzzled, and unsure of what to say.
      He smiled, shook his head and waved goodbye.
      I gave a mental shrug and went back to trying to find Christmas gifts that I should have already purchased.
      That was his last Christmas, his last time to celebrate in the town in which he had spent his entire life. And now I wonder why. No one will ever know, but I have my ideas, which may be no closer that anyone else's. But I wonder if he didn't get trapped in his own image, trying to be all-American, trying to be the perfect employee, trying to be the perfect husband, trying to be "just right" for everyone. Looking back, I can see how hard he tried to please his family, his teachers and his friends, almost as if he was trying to redeem himself or make himself worthy in some way to have their affection. I wonder if, when he realized he couldn't be perfect and couldn't be all things to all people, he couldn't forgive himself, couldn't forgive himself for simply being human. He thought he was trapped and took the only way out he could see.
      Of course, I'll never know if I'm right. No one will ever know.
      He was buried on a Saturday. The day dawned bright and beautiful. Wilma later told me that the sunshine and blue skies helped her survive.
      "I kept looking around and seeing how much life still had to offer," she said. "Even though he was gone and I'd have to go on without him, it still seemed worth it."
      I guess it must have been -- if there are such things -- the perfect day for a funeral.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Greetings from HANDSOMEGUY51313

      Actually, the term is wrong. You're not chatting on the Internet. You're actually just typing on a computer keyboard. Admittedly you're responding to what other people are typing on their keyboards and they to you, but it in no way should be considered chatting. But that's what it's called.
      Perhaps you are new to Internet chat. If so, I will now share with you from my ... ahem ... limitless fountain of wisdom.
      First, you can't see the faces of the other people you're chatting with and thus can't read facial expressions. So the Net world invented emoticons to depict emotions. In their simplest forms, emoticons are punctuation like the following.
      :-) This is a smiley face. (Yes, it is. Just turn your monitor sideways. WHOA! Made my head spin. NOW TURN IT RIGHTSIDE AGAIN.) People use it after comments to show they're really just kidding as in, I completely disagree with everything you say, and you stink like rancid skunk armpits. :-) And then everyone knows you were just kidding, except for the person you sent it to, and he/she will respond with something like, I respect your right to your position even though it's obvious you have less brains than a squished slug. :-) Such discussions would end in gunfire if the people were in the same Real World room.
      ;-) This is a winking smiley. It's used for cute and subtle flirting, such as Are you a single female in her 30's with a hot body that would like to meet a nice, handsome man? ;-) If the female is smart, she will respond, Yes, but I'm chatting with some computer geek instead.:-) And laughs will be had all around, except by the guy, of course, who vows to track her down and stalk her for the rest of her life, but that's just me. I don't know how other men react.
      :-( Sad smiley. Used often by men just rebuffed by smart females.
      :-)> Smiley with beard. Used mostly by men and some carnival women.
      :-)} Smiley with double chin. Not used by anyone since we are all slim, attractive people in the chat world.
      (:-) Bald smiley. Used rarely.
      Smileys number in the thousands, but most of us don't have that many emotions even in the Real World.
      Smileys are not the only means to approximate Real World (or Real Life or Mundane Life or Normal World). Net chatters also use abbreviations, such as:
      LOL which means Laughing Out Loud. This is used a lot. For example:
      USER16: Hi, everyone. LOL
      USER24: Hi. LOL
      USER22: Hello. LOL.
      USER77: Greetings. ROFL
      Now 77 has taken it up a notch by Rolling On the Floor Laughing. Not to be outdone, USER65 dispenses with any type of greeting and types: ROFLH. (Rolling On the Floor Laughing Hysterically)
      77 immediately responds with: LSHICB. (Laughing So Hard that I Can’t Breathe)
      65 can't take this lying down so he shoots back with: LSHIMDFBL (Laughing So Hard I Might Die From a Busted Lung)
      Things could get ugly, but then luckily USER 14 enters the chat room.
      USER14: Hi, folks. LOL
      And the whole thing starts again. If they laughed that much at nothing in Real Life, they'd be put away and for good reason.
      Of course, no one uses USER14 as their screen name (or alias or avatar or chat handle). Instead they have names like BEAUTYGIRL or SURFERMAN or SWEETHING. I have yet to see HAIRYBACKMAN or ACNEGIRL. You will see many BRITTANYSPEARs and BRADPITTs. Of course, since those screen names are popular, what you actually see is BRITTANY304 and BRADPITT212. I've actually been in a chat room where three different people claimed to be Brittany Spears.
      And perhaps one of them was her. There's no way to know. You can claim to be anyone. And frequently people do. As a result, when a famous person enters a chat room, he or she is never believed when they say who they are.
      All this leads me to conclude that, despite all that chatting, not much communication is taking place in the Net world. LOL

Monday, May 23, 2005

This and that

      Yes, I'm posting flowers again. I'll be adding some more over the next few days as well as some trees. I don't intend to let spring pass me by.
      Tonight I worked on my fantasy novel, adding another 523 words. I meant to post a word total for the whole book so far, but I cut the book up into chapters (separate files) and need to total them all. I'll try to get that done tomorrow. I think posting my word count will work as motivation. At least I hope so.
      I've also been looking at various poems and started looking for places to send them to. I'd like to send out a poem or article once a week. Not that hard of a schedule, really. But if I don't send my work out, there's no chance of it being published ever.
      I went to the library after work and found a copy of Jon Stewart's America. Funny, but the foul language gets old. (A profane word eventually loses its ability to shock or amuse if used too often. It's called language fatigue.) Someone had removed the pages that featured the naked Supreme Court Justices. I'm curious if it was our local librarian or some patron. I'll ask when I return the book.
      I remain on the board of the local community theater. I have several ideas about increasing patronage and attendance. I hope I am able to implement them. I think the theater group has a lot of potential to really be a vital part of the community. We'll see how it goes.
      And finally I added that little blue clock on my blog today. I think I will keep it. Over the next few days, I'm going to be adding more links and more features to 51313 Harbor Street. I want the blog to continue to grow. Things that don't grow eventually die. Growth or die. It could be a slogan.
      And on that cheery note, night!

Crimson blooms

Crimson blooms.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 22, 2005


Beautiful daisies.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


      Still in that mood. Sorry. It doesn't lend itself to blogging much. Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, May 20, 2005


      Why it happens, I don't know. How some people end up empty. What causes that huge hole in their souls. When need is all they've learned. And they need all the time.
      When they look at me with that hunger in their eyes, I just want to pound the earth. How many times am I expected to give, to bite my tongue, to bury my anger, to suffer quietly and pat their shoulders? Where is the point that I finally break and start dealing out what I've been dealt? Why do I have to be the good guy all the time?
      I know this entry doesn't make any sense, particularly since it doesn't apply to anyone who reads this blog. Tomorrow I will make sense. Promise. I'm just frustrated tonight and overloaded. Tonight I dined on bitterness and regret, and the meal isn't sitting easy. Ignore me. I'm a whiney hiney. A good night's sleep, and I will be ready to jump back into the fray. I'm the original bump-n-go boy, remember?
      And let me answer my own question before I go: I try to be the good guy because I choose to try. Because darkness is too easy. Because I want to stand for something more however outdated and dumb that is. Because it's a losing battle, but someone has to fight it. It might as well be me. But my lord sometimes ... sometimes I'd like to walk away and disappear over a far hill. I don't think I'd look back.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A bunch of blogging goodness

      I intended to blog a bunch of blogging goodness last night. I made a plan, life made a plan, and guess whose plan happened? So I will try to make up for it tonight.
      My sister-in-law's father is doing somewhat better. He's still in serious condition from acute pancreatitis and things could go downhill quickly, but the news is better. I spoke to my brother last night, and he said that his father-in-law's kidneys and other organs were working again. The current concern is an infection of the lower intestines. So please remember him in your prayers and thoughts.
      I'm doing okay. The pain is much less. I still have restricted movement in my left arm, but that's getting better each day. The incision seems to be healing as it should. I return to the doctor next Tuesday to get the stitches out. I've decided to tell people that the scar was from a bullet wound. Makes it more interesting.
      'Cause I've been asked a few times already, I'll share the cost of my surgery: $3,600. Depending on your income, your response is either: "Wow" or "That's not as much as I expected." I was in the hospital for about four hours, which breaks it down to $900 per hour ... and I didn't even get a sponge bath from a cute nurse.
      Speaking of cute nurses, Crystal asked me a couple of days ago if I had been writing. Crystal has a cruel streak in her. But slowly I'm picking up the story again. That is one advantage that I have over people who write fulltime; I can stop writing and still have a paycheck coming in. Lots of people talk about how they'd like to write fulltime, but what they're really saying is that they want to write fulltime and get paid for it. That getting paid can be a bear with jagged teeth. My sympathies are fully with any writer who's trying to support a family with the written word. Drop by Holly Lisle's Silent Bounce for a day-by-day account of a good writer who battles with the bear daily. I believe in talent, though, and Holly will be wearing a necklace of bear claws real soon.
      A site I visit regularly is Event Horizon. You'll find a balanced, interesting look at current events. EH doesn't post as often as I'd like, but I find his short, pithy commentaries are right on target usually. I've always been surprised that he doesn't get more comments. Perhaps Erudite Redneck will drop by soon and bring his brand of rough-n-tumble commenting.
      Speaking of Erudite Redneck, he continues to rack up the comments by being his usual outrageous, funny self. I haven't been able to drop by much lately and I missed a lot of interesting debates so let me give my takes on the various issues he's brought up: Yes, No, Could be, I disagree, Blue, Voltaire would laugh, Good point, and Yeah, but what will Uncle Fester think? I hope that makes everything clear.
      Over at Trixie's Home, we're hoping that Silver Lining will manifest soon for Trixie who continues to make Trixie's Home feel homey, while Frenzied Feline is in a ... well ... frenzy over her new home and selling her old home. FF, by the way, is shining proof that not everyone who lives in California is a loon.
      I almost feel guilty telling everyone to drop by Soul Patches. Michelle shares so much of her emotional life that it reads like a diary, not that I've EVER read a girl's diary despite what my sisters claim. Anyway, Michelle's journey makes interesting reading, and she blogs daily, a good thing. I used to blog daily and hope to again someday ...
      Joel has been blogging almost daily at Words, Weights, Whatever. It's good to see that he takes seriously his responsibility to keep me entertained.
      Kitty is enduring her confinement like the true Southern Belle she is. Well, that makes it sound like she's pregnant or in prison. Neither is true; she broke her leg and is having to endure that, armed only with grit, humor and red-hot access to shopping channels. Drop in and send her a get-well wish.
      Jean isn't Ranting and Raving right now. She's on hiatus until around May 25. I would complain, but she's in the military and has a higher calling than keeping me from being bored ... although not that much higher. Come back, Jean, come back. And bring your polar bear, who is a nice bear entirely different from the previous bear mentioned.
      On a healthy note, Jaime at They Melt Away continues to inspire me with her commitment to lose weight and get healthy. Her impetus for weight loss has to be one of the most interesting ones I've read: She wants to lose weight because she wants to have a baby. In her own words: " Of course, occasionally I wonder why I'm losing weight so that I can do something that will make me gain weight again..."
      And Three&Eight of My Race Space is right: They did do Gunther wrong. He deserved one kiss with Rachel. Actually, I think we all deserve a kiss from Rachel. Particularly me.
      Finally, night-rider, my favorite blogger from Down Under (Do they call us Up Over?) has started posting again after too long an absence. NR needs to blog daily and post some more great photos, too. Someday I'm going to make it to Australia and get the Sweet Sweat tour of all those fascinating places.
      Well, that's the blogging roundup ... but wait, there's more! Thought I was finished didn't you? No, not yet, now it's time for a ...
      Harbor Street Health Moment: Have you heard the latest about olive oil? As reported by WebMD, a study by Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine researchers show that a fatty acid found in olive oil may reduce the production of a protein from a gene associated with breast cancer. The study found that oleic acid significantly lessons the levels of a protein produced by a breast cancer gene, which occurs in more than a fifth of women with breast cancer, and is connected with tumors of a particularly aggressive nature. Olive oil is the richest natural source of this fatty acid. The study may explain why the Mediterranean diet, which is loaded with olive oil, appears to protect against breast cancer. A different study, this one by research team from Barcelona and reported in the medical Journal Gut (No, I'm not making up its name), showed that olive oil may prevent the development of bowel cancer. And finally, a few months ago the U.S. Food and Drug Administration credited olive oil with decreasing the risk of coronary heart disease. Sounds like adding olive oil to your diet is a good thing. At least until the next studies come out saying it isn't.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Great news!

      The tumor was benign! I just spoke with the surgeon (for the first time since the surgery). The tumor was removed in two pieces, one was 5 centimeters and the other was 4. The pathology report said the tumor's size warranted "concern and removal," but the cells looked normal. My doctor said if I had allowed the tumor to grow, the odds were good that it could have become cancerous over time. The fact it was causing me pain was really a blessing. God is good.
      All I have to do is recover from the surgery, and we're on the road for that. Thank you all so very much for your support and prayers during this whole mess. Have a great day!

Monday, May 16, 2005

The limitations of will

      A friend dropped by to see me today and brought us both Subway sandwiches for lunch. During our conversation, he remarked that I had to be frustrated by all these recent illnesses, particularly since I had so many projects going on that had to be put on hold.
      And he's right. I'm frustrated, but not necessarily because of the projects. They'll all keep. The real source of my frustration is the lack of control, the failure of my will. Most of what I've accomplished in life has simply come about because I'm stubborn. When obstacles rise, I lower my head and push my way through. When I have to, I go around, but I keep my eyes on the goal. Many times I've reached it. Sometimes I don't, but I've always felt that I was in control.
      But this illness, the surgery, the recovery, it's all been a huge exercise in patience. Not one of my virtues. Doesn't matter how much I will this to go away or get better, my body will heal as it heals. I'm hoping a positive mental attitude helps, but it doesn't help enough. I want to be well now. NOW!
      And eventually I will be. it's like writing and other things in life. We do what we should -- I follow doctors' instuctions and take care of myself, in this instance -- and life gets around to rewarding us. We have to do our part -- put the words on paper, send out those submissions -- and things come together. I'm hoping things are coming together in your lives. Talk to you tomorrow.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Hanging in here

I got the foam tape off the incision today. It was a great relief. The tape had been making me itch like crazy. There's quite a bit of swelling, but that's to be expected. There's still a Tegaderm bandage on it that should come off tomorrow. I have more use of my left arm, but I have to be careful not to stretch the incision area.

The real surprise to me has been the level of pain. I had already been experiencing pain on my left side so I sorta thought I'd just keep experiencing the same level of pain. Yeah, I wasn't very smart in this. It's been quite a bit more than that. I've been living from pain pill to pain pill. But I think it's a little better today, and it should continue to improve.

So anyway, I'm hanging in here. Hope everything is going well in your world. My sister-in-law's father is still in the hospital, but he's doing a little better. We will continue to pray that he improves. Take care and have a wonderful week.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


I'm home. The surgery went okay. The tumor was encapsulated, but larger than expected so they had to made more holes in me. I'm typing only with my right hand as the other arm doesn't want to move. I'm having more pain than I expected, but I have some good pain pills. But I'm doing okay overall. My sister-in-law's father is doing some better, but is still in critical conditon. The pathology report on my tumor won't be back until Monday. Thank you for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


      I've not done much tonight except talk on the phone and wander aimlessly through my house. I'm ready to have this over with. I've got other things to do, and I want it done. There are people in the world with real problems, and they need my help. I need to be able to help them. So I want this surgery done. I want the pathology report -- which I won't get tomorrow -- to be clear. I've already spent too much time on this.
      I'd like you to ask you to add someone to your prayers. My older brother was going to come down for the surgery tomorrow, but he called me tonight to tell me that he couldn't. My sister-in-law's father is in a hospital in Missouri due to a quick, unexpected and serious illness. He's in critical condition, and it could go either way. My brother and his wife are going to head to Missouri tomorrow. He prayed with me over the phone. He's a good brother, and I love his wife like a true sister. They are raising a wonderful daughter. Anyway, please remember her father in your prayers.
      Crystal called me tonight and is going to call my roomie and check on me tomorrow afternoon. I will ask her to blog an update if I'm not able. I'm hoping I will be, although I keep getting told I won't be. We'll see about that.
      Well, I should be getting on to bed. Y'all have a good day tomorrow. Your support has meant a lot to me over these past few weeks. God bless and keep us all. Talk to you soon.

Surgery brief

      I just wanted to get on here and tell you that my surgery is scheduled for 9:30 tomorrow morning. Be thinking of me!

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


      Few things in life are more frustrating than watching someone you love suffer. Particularly when they're making the bad decisions that lead to their suffering, and they won't take advice from anyone. You can't stop them, you can't help, you can only watch.
      Sometimes you wish you didn't love them. Or at least not hear about their mistakes. But it's like watching a train wreck; you can't turn away. And you can't turn off your heart. So you get to suffer along with them.
      I think the only reason people ever become parents is because they simply don't know any better. Or they do, but they think, it won't happen to me. My kid will be different.
      And sometimes they're right. Their kids are different. Their kids avoid all these pitfalls and snares and make it to adulthood. I rejoice with them. But sometimes, the kids don't.
      All I can say any parent going through this, God love ya and bless ya. And pray that our misguided loved ones make through with their fingers and toes intact with minimal scarring. The old saying goes that you can't find any atheists in foxholes when the bullets are flying overhead. I'm not sure if you can find any parents that are, either.

Monday, May 09, 2005

May I rant?

      I'm in a bad mood. My back is hurting, my IBD is flaring, and I have that dang surgery this Thursday. I'm unhappy in the sense of wanting to wage war, kick over garbage cans, and yell at innocent Congressmen -- if I could find any. So bear with me as I rant.
Start Star Trek rant.
      Rick Bergman, executive producer of Enterprise, has been quoted as saying Star Trek is "tired." He says that the recent box office flop of the movie Star Trek: Nemesis is another example of that fact. As he puts it, "Star Trek is overexposed, and the public is tired of it."
      What a jerk. Fans aren't tired of Star Trek. They're tired of poor writing. Putting your female characters into ever-tighter uniforms doesn't not constitute good writing. I'm surprised that Seven of Nine or T'Pol were able to walk at all in their skin-tight catsuits.
      Bergman had no vision of Star Trek other than status quo. Under his helm, the show became its blandest. Consistently he catered to the lowest common dominator.
      Of course, I'm not saying anything that other fans haven't said. The problem actually started with Star Trek: The Next Generation. I liked TNG, but I got tired of too many holodeck stories and too many stories in which the Prime Directive simply forced the crew into inactivity. And let's not forget the shipboard romances that made no logical sense. (Is there any military service or otherwise that allows romances between superior officers and their subordinates?)
      This was followed by Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. DSN was darker than previous Treks. True to the spirit of the original series, it dealt with many social issues. Bergman never cared much for DSN and sent constant memos that it needed more action. (But he was responsible for squandering the death of Dax; that could have been a stunning story. Instead it became just a senseless act.) DSN also didn't have the ratings of TNG, but it won more awards and followed a consistent storyline.
      Bergman really took control with Star Trek: Voyager. And what a shame that was. Janeway was a great character and one worth pursuing. V had some great stories, but would also introduce Seven of Nine, a former Borg captive who could wear tighter and tighter clothes. I like Seven and her quest for humanity, but the writers kept confusing humanity with sex or violence. They would also overuse one of the worse thing to happen to the Star Trek: time travel.
      Star Trek had done a few good time travel stories before, but in Voyager, they used time travel again and again. They would kill characters, destroy the ship, end the universe, but hey, don't worry. We'll just change time, and it never happened. It became their equivalent of "It was all a dream." The writing became sloppy and stupid as the writers used time travel again and again to fix their mistakes.
      Next up: Enterprise. And from the start, the show was based on a temporal cold war. People traveled back and forth, changing time lines at whim. The characters never had a chance to grow; instead the writers used such stupid plots as having a Vulcan woman become a drug user, emotional, and weak. I have incredible sympathy for actress Jolene Blalock who played T'Pol, also in an circulation stopping uniform.
      Bergman helmed all of these disasters, including most of TNG movies. You'd think someone would look at how the ratings declined and figure that Bergman needed to be replaced. You'd think Bergman would look at the ratings and think that maybe something needed to be changed.
      Instead Bergman is blaming the fans for their lack of interest. He is blaming Star Trek for being "old" and "tired." He should, instead, shoulder the blame.
      Here's an idea for the next Star Trek series: There are an abundance of good science fiction writers; use them. (DSN used scripts from various writers, perhaps that's one reason the writing was consistently good.) And give them these rules: no time travel, no holodeck stories, no romances that don't develop naturally, actually have some science in there, and give us people we can root for and a future that we'd want to live in. But most importantly, shoot Bergman if he even comes close to the lot.
End of Star Trek rant.
Start doctor rant.

      Is it totally impossible to get a straight answer from a doctor? I understand they have to be careful about lawsuits, but really, when I ask what I should do to prepare for an operation, must he refer me to his nurse or the hospital? I'm paying, God help me, $175 a visit for his time. And he's going to charge me $1,000 for my surgery on Thursday. A straight answer surely must factor in there somewhere.
End doctor rant.
Start health insurance rant.

      People have asked me why I'm a Democrat when I hold a lot of Republican values (I'm against abortion, for instance). Well, there are several reasons (civil rights, environmental protection, etc.) but one of the biggest reasons is that I want universal health care. Gasp! Yes, that's right. I'd like to have some minimum health care available for everyone. (Go ahead; call me a Socialist right now. I know you want to.) Because I don't have any. Not a bit. I'm basically getting this surgery, knowing that I can't pay for it. Oh, I will make monthly payments because that's all I can do. I won't walk away from my debts. But man, I wish I had health insurance. Not that I haven't tried to get any, but no health care provider will sell me a policy that I can afford. I got a job, I'm making my way through the world, I pay my own way or do without, but listen, I need some help on this. And guess what, because I have a job, I can't quality for any government assistance. I'm poor, but not poor enough. Our president talks a lot about helping middle income families with health care costs; dude, go to it. I'll convert to Republican on the spot and campaign tirelessly for every elephant candidate on any ballot, but help!
End health insurance rant.
Start body rant.

      Okay, my body, let's have a talk. It's bad enough that we have to have surgery, but is it really necessary to punish me with an IBD flare and a back problems at the same time? I'm not happy with this, either, so don't punish me. Here's a thought: Let's get overwhelming healthy so that we avoid all future surgeries, all IBD flares and all back problems. Wouldn't that be a kick in the face of the entire medical establishment? I think we should do it.
End body rant.
Start local theater board rant.

      Most of you will recall that I was appointed to my local theater board a few months back. I worried about it being too stressful as the board has the reputation of being difficult. It has lived up to that in spades, diamonds, and clubs. The worse part is the vicious infighting on the group. And they all take it so seriously, like the fate of the world depends on their decisions. Many times as they endlessly debate, I want to yell, "Do you not have a life? Is there not enough real problems for you to handle? How can you be so childish? Grow up!" Someday I will snap and do exactly that. It won't change them, but it will make me feel better.
Oh, and while I'm at it, being a professor means nothing, okay? No, I take that back. It means you should know something about your field, but it doesn't mean you've been gifted with godlike knowledge of all things. I have a degree with several minors (I'd be in college right now if I could afford it), but I'm not so stupid as to think that what I know about what I studied makes me automatically as smart or smarter than other people. (Those to whom this applies will be upset; those to whom it does not will not care.)
End local theater board rant.
Start blogging rant.

      Aren't you tired of those bloggers who do nothing but rant? I mean, obviously they're alive, they're not starving to death, they got enough money to afford Internet access or they can make it to a library, exactly how much of a whiney butt are they? No matter how bad we think we have it, someone -- usually a lot of someones -- have it worse. Something for me to remember.
End blogging rant.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Good Movie

      I finally got to see National Treasure tonight. I liked it a lot! I bought the DVD. I think it's one that I'd like to see a few more times.
      Not much else to tell you about today. I worked about the house, went to Wal-Mart, talked on the phone and worked on rebuilding the the templates for the local theater group's web page. I have that almost finished. I have a couple more templates to do on that, and it will be done. Next up is to rebuild my family newsletter. (Both the web page templates and the family newsletter files were lost in the computer crash.) The newsletter is going to take a few days, but I will have it up soon, I hope.
      Be sure to go by Crystal's blog and read her cell phone story. Made me laugh out loud.
      Have a good night, a good tomorrow, and a good week.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Faded carnation

Faded carnation.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.


Do you know that I once held your life in my hands?
For a sweet moment, I thought about closing my fingers
I thought about my hand curling into a fist
I thought about you

You now think you were in control
You think you had the power to decide
I gave you that sop to your tattered pride
I thought about you then

Now you tell your friends about your escape
You congratulate yourself and they pat your back
And my hand on its own makes that fist
when I think about you

And my teeth ache
And my pulse pounds
And I want to tear my chest open
And let all the darkness out
if you trouble my thoughts

Because I know the truth, the lies you told
the story of your life, the rot beneath the curls
The whispered pleadings in the night
you thought no one knew

You will never understand why I let you go
You think you still hold a piece of my heart
never understanding that mercy is       not
the same as indifference

I thought about you once
But never again.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

"High Hopes" by Pink Floyd

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
in a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts stayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun

Along the Long Road and on down the Causeway
Do they still meet there by the Cut?

There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
to a life consumed by slow decay

The grass was greener
The light was brigher
With friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
to a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
dragged by the force of some inner tide

At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There's a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
through down this road we've been so many times

The green was greener
The lights were brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded

The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river

Forever and ever

"High Hopes" from CD The Division Bell by Pink Floyd

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


      I've always been an excellent worrier. I inherited the skill from my mother -- or maybe I gave it to her -- but I've polished and refined it to the point that when I don't have anything to worry about, I am quite capable of worrying about not worrying. Think I'm kidding? Consider that with all the bad things happening in the world, if I can't find something to worry about, I must not be bright enough to understand what's going on! And if you're not bright, you end up as some Republican senator.
      Plenty of people tell me that 95 percent of what we worry about doesn't come true. First, I want to know who figured that out. 'Cause no one asked me. And second, okay, if 95 percent of what we worry about doesn't take place, what about that other five percent, huh? Suppose it's the five percent that includes a jet airliner falling on your head or somehow ending up naked on America's Funniest Videos?
      To worry as much as I do, I have to worry about a multitude of things and not confine myself to the simple worries of food, shelter, clothing, and why the Democrats are against the death penalty but support abortion.
      I worry about world peace, the environment, and whether or not the fact that my scalp itches sometimes means I am about to suffer the heartbreak of psoriasis.
      I worry about reading Psychology Today magazine and discovering my life in the case history of a man arrested for fondling zucchini.
      I worry about my car and the endearing habit it has of dying on railroad tracks or in the middle of busy intersections or on the interstate as I accidentally honk at a motorcycle gang.
      I worry about computers coming to life and taking over the world. Then I worry about them giving it back.
      I worry about being marooned on an island with hundreds of lonely, beautiful women. On second thought, that's more of a daydream.
      I worry about being in an accident and not having good underwear on. (My mother strikes again.) Apparently hospitals as a matter of policy routinely reject people who wear dingy or holey underwear.
      I worry about how to pay my bills -- although apparently not as much as my creditors do. My telephone company acts like my payment is the only thing keeping them from bankruptcy. All the employees must gather around the mail room, just waiting for my payment to arrive so that they can shout, "Our jobs are saved!"
      I worry about losing my hair -- which I shouldn't do since worry apparently hastens its leaving -- and then I worry that I've already worried too much and the damage is done. There's a lot of things to be said about being bald. "Hey, there, baldy," for one, and "Polish your head a lot?" for another.
      An impressive number of worries, yes. But don't think I'm confined to domestic worries; I can branch out.
      For instance, I saw on the news that a small country recently announced it had developed a nuclear weapon. I can just see the press conference. A government spokesman steps up to the podium and says, "Gentlemen, we have developed an atomic bomb at last. This is the beginning of true equality when a tiny country such as ours can kill thousands of people and poison the environment as effectively as the super powers. This is indead -- excuse me -- indeed a great day."
      Look, if that isn't something to worry about, I don't know what is.
      In all this, I also have some personal worries, some very real questions that keep me awake at night and hover on the edges of my mind during the day.
      Such as, will I be in the right place at the right time do whatever I was put in this world to do?
      Am I saying, "I love you" enough and to the people who need it?
      Am I giving my best to my family and friends?
      Is the fact I'm alive adding a little hope or at least giving a laugh or two to this sad world?
      I worry about these things.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The scoop

      Okay, here's the scoop. I have surgery next Thursday, May 12. They're going to remove the lump.
      All the tests came back negative for cancer, except for the biopsy. The biopsy didn't show cancer, but showed some cell abnormalities. It read that it couldn't conclusively state that it wasn't cancer and recommended removing the growth and the surrounding tissue.
      So there we are. The lump is coming out. The surgeon thinks it will be a one-day surgery thing, but it depends on what he finds when he gets in there and how much tissue he will have to remove.
      The surgeon said he is "almost 99 percent certain" that it's not cancer, but he cautioned me that we won't know for certain until the lump has been sent to pathology. Still, 99 percent is good odds, I think.
      Overall, it's good news. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'm close enough to see the light.
      As always, I appreciate your prayers and support. Talk to you later.

Monday, May 02, 2005


      My appointment with the surgeon is tomorrow at 3:15. My biopsy and the other tests will be back, and I should know something. Am I nervous? Yeah, but I want to know one way or another. I can't plan without knowing, and I want to be able to plan things, vacations, other writing projects, etc. My side hurts me a lot, and I need that to be fixed.
      And if it turns out to be cancer, well, it's not a death sentence. A lot of people have cancer and survive. Should I be faced with that, I intend to be one of them, God willing. I'm ready to fight for my life. I think my time here isn't done. I still got things to do.
      Don't think I'm brave. I'm not, but I am stubborn. It's my greatest virtue and my greatest fault.
      I'm off work tomorrow afternoon, so I will try to blog as soon as I can and let you know what I find out.
      I appreciate your prayers and your support. Talk to you soon. Have a great day tomorrow.

Catching up


      Work was grueling Friday. Not particularly due to anything except my desire to be off work and go home. I had a huge list of 36 items that I wanted to get accomplished. They ranged from easy but time consuming (laundry, errands, other housework) to hard and time consuming (planting flowers, yardwork, etc.) So I was ready for my weekend to start. Which it finally did.
      My roomie and I ate at a local Mexican restaurant. The place was crowded, but the food was good. Afterward he worked on a truck engine he's rebuilding while I started my list.


      Got up early and got to it. Did three loads of laundry, washed the dishes, put away clutter, cleaned old stuff out of the fridge, drove to Wal-Mart and brought groceries, went to Staples and purchased a new mat to go under my computer chair, dropped by a video store and rented a couple of movies, stopped at a local garden store and purchased a flat and three pots of flowers, came home and put away groceries, planted and watered the flowers, removed the old mat and put the new mat down, returned to Wal-Mart and bought two new pairs of blue jeans, picked up my dinner at Taco Bell, came home and watched Troy. My roomie did a lion's share of the yardwork and was with me for the errands, although he didn't eat dinner as he was fasting a couple of meals (something recommended by his church).
      Troy was a disappointing movie. I didn't feel much empathy for anyone in it. I particularly disliked Brad Pitt in it, but I don't care much for him in anything. Eric Bana was good as was Peter O'Toole. Orlando Bloom didn't have much to work with; Paris isn't much of a character. And Brian Cox is an excellent villain, but they didn't give him much to do. There didn't seem to be much of a point to the movie.


      Ouch. I woke up, and my back let me know that it didn't appreciate the work Saturday. After church, I continued to work on my list and finished the day with 27 items crossed off. I worked some more on my computer and wrote on Dragons Gather. That afternoon my roomie and I watched the second movie I'd rented: Electra. I thought the movie was much better than the critics said it was. Jennifer Garner does a great job, and the action sequences are very good. I wouldn't mind owning it.
      That night I watched the Hallmark Channel mystery movie, this week it was McBride. They do a good job with Sunday mystery movies, and this one was no exception.
      I went to bed, fortified with Advil and smeared with Icy-Hot. I slept okay, but my back woke me up a few times.
      And that brings us to today, of which I will write more this evening. I hope your weekend was good. Oh, before I forget:

Happy Birthday E.R.!!!