Tuesday, August 24, 2010

She Knows!

Fang gets such a big kick out of asking the grands questions and waiting for the answers. He recently asked our Dickerson grandson: Where was Moses when the lights went out? It took him a minute or two, but he gave the answer. A week later when he and his sister were in the back room bouncing on the bed while Paw Paw watched, the boy asked his little sister: Where was Moses when the lights went out? Paw Paw pointed out that she might not KNOW who Moses was. Looking at Paw Paw with one of those subtle but pointed smiles the grand said: She knows who Moses is.

That started a discussion between Fang and me about how many kids actually know who Moses is, but it was time to go to sleep, so we left that discussion for another day and just chuckled over the kids and some of the things that they have said that tickle us. For instance, about this time last year the little girl had finished her first day of kindergarten. Her mother told her that she needed to go into her room and choose the clothes she would be wearing the next day. The child's astonished question was: You mean I have to go back?

Having read some of the news today, I was encouraged to know that the trapped miners in Chile can see some hope of leaving that mine alive. These men need all the help that the nation and world can provide to free them from a certain and slow death in the depths of blackness. One of the first things they asked for was toothbrushes. One can only imagine what weeks without a toothbrush could do. But one thing sent down to them other than food was 33 extra strong mag lights so that each man could see what was around him. Being without sufficient food is one thing, but being deep in darkness could certainly send a person over the bend in a hurry.

Now, I have a point to mentioning those miners. They were making their living down in the bowels of the earth, and that was probably the only employment available to them or they would not have been in such an unsafe place. Still, they had a choice about leaving the sunlight and becoming restricted to a dark place. Some women in this world do not have the luxury of that choice. They are no more than slaves or chattel of little value, and their darkness is the burka or burqa, that all encompassing garment that becomes a walking tent when a woman must wear it.

In some countries--Israel and France--wearing the burka has been totally discouraged or outlawed. The French refuse to allow anyone to use public transportation who is wearing a burka--probably because either a man or woman would be unrecognizable and could easily conceal explosives or firearms under the garment. Only the ultra orthodox in the Jewish community would have their women wear the burka, and the rabbis in Israel discourage such a restriction on women and consider its use a type of sexual deviancy.

Other countries refuse to allow the garments to be worn in any school or university, but some countries have just slowly begun the elimination of the garments, including parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The problem with a burka is as symbolic as it is a reality. If a woman has no identity, she has no meaning as a person. This same attitude prevailed in America for centuries concerning the black people and the American Indians. Unseen as individuals, these people had no rights or value to those who "conquered" this land. What was stolen from them included more than land or liberty, but their very identities. How can one have hope in life if one has no name, no place, no value?

Women have not always been appreciated in America--lacking the right to vote or even own property for many years. But men in the United States had something to guide them that had nothing to do with hiding their women in tents or behind veils. Just as our grandson said, they knew who Moses was.

Monday, August 16, 2010

August in Texas

Somehow all the miserable critters that live in Texas manage to hide out under rocks or near a cooler spot during August. About the only plant that does well in this heat has to be the stinging nettle--otherwise known as bull nettle. If the reaction to bull nettle could ever be bottled, the army would have a biological weapon worth billions. Anyone hit by bull nettle would spend at least most of every day scratching and being too miserable to be dangerous. Maybe if it were used as a weapon, bull nettle would also find its way into medicine to offset some of the reactions in the human body to things like arthritis, Crohn's disease, Lupus, and such. After all, nothing causes such a reaction in the immune system the way the chemicals in bull nettles do.

Our month of August calls for all the crazy folks to come out in droves to try to ride their bicycles in the Wichita Falls Hotter N Hell One Hundred bike race. Exercise is wonderful--just like work, but I could watch folks work a lot easier than I could watch thousands of bicycles rolling around with those sweating riders huffing and puffing and just asking for heat stroke. Any time the temperature gets over 100 degrees, it is time to slow down and drink something while sitting in the shade--NOT ride hell bent for leather in the sun!

August is also a good month for salads and sandwiches and easy no-cook food. Or if our bellies just have to have hot food, it is a good month for grilling stuff outside in the shade. This weekend we had corn-on-the-cob grilled by our oldest son. The sliced roast made decent little steaks that cooked quickly, but the grandson informed me that the meat was a bit salty. I used lots of tenderizer and some seasoned salt, so I guess that was more than he liked. Just wait until he starts cooking!

Having the oldest son and his two children here for the weekend was just pure pleasure. Lance handled a couple of tasks that needed to be done and that the "old folks" found a bit daunting. But mostly, we just enjoyed having our family here for the visit. Fang truly gets a kick out of those kids and watching cartoons has become his second best activity. And of course, Harley B just thinks that the kids are here for his enjoyment. Every time one of them would put down a water bottle, he would look at it, look at us to ask permission, and then take off with the water bottle. It is beyond me why a water bottle is such good fun for a dog.

While the kids were here, we filled up the pool about half way and they splashed everyone and everything in sight. The dog did not offer to swim with them this time, however. He had his bath the day before they got here, so maybe he thought enough was enough. Besides, it was too hot to even enjoy the pool.

Mother always said enjoy the time you have and don't wish your life away, but doggone if I don't wish that August heat would go away much sooner than it will. Looking forward to a bit of chill in the air....

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Book of God

Raised as a good Southern Baptist, it is not surprising, I suppose, that I have read through the Bible more than once and memorized a fair portion of scripture. Now that is NOT to say that I totally understand/understood everything I read. In the first place, what may have been written and understood in context 100 to 1000 years ago may not have the same meaning to us today. However, the other night I finished reading The Book of God by Walter Wangerin, Jr. I highly recommend that anyone interested in reading a good--and I do mean GOOD--book read this one.

Not too far into the book, I felt I had run into an inaccuracy and almost stopped reading due to my prejudice--or obsession--for accuracy. But the point in question was debatable, so I kept reading. That was a good decision. The book begins with Abraham and ends with the empowerment of the apostles at Pentecost. This is one book I want my grandchildren to read. Years ago I would have thought that The Robe and The Big Fisherman by Loyd C. Douglas were about the best works around to make biblical history feel personal. Now I want to read other books by Wangerin and see if they are as good as this one has been. Zondervan publishers chose a good book in The Book of God, so now I am hoping that Paul, a Novel and Jesus, a Novel will be as good.

I am interested to know if others have read these books and what their thoughts might be.


Viewpoint or perspective is partially created through experience and partially created through what we read or see in media. Whether positive, negative, or indifferent that viewpoint still has to sift its way through moods and circumstances. Experience includes what happens to those around us and how they react to their circumstances. A friend lost her breasts to cancer. Then she wore prostheses instead of having implants. One night she returned from the bedroom and told her husband that she had injured herself seriously. Concerned, he asked what had happened. She told him that she had dropped her boob on the floor and stepped on it. I am still laughing.

My father drives an old Ford truck that he calls “Budweiser” because it had a “Bud” can in it when we took it to him. He says he can’t drive it right now because it is in mourning. It just can’t accept that Budweiser has sold out to a foreign company. Besides, it has just enough gasoline in it to get to the filling station to get more motion lotion. He is driving a little personal scooter down to the post office every day or so to get his mail. The scooter is slow and maybe not as dignified as sitting up in the cab of a truck, but it gets the job done.

Mother invented a new kind of doughnut that she deep fries and Dad calls them “hooters.” The parents had no idea why their children and grandchildren were laughing about the “hooters.” We explained. Then Mom created a new kind of cookie roll and Dad called them “poopers.” Rolling eyes . . .Don’t ask.

Somehow it always seems to help us along in life if we can bend our viewpoint to the funny side—some called it warped, but I think of warped in a good way. No matter how bad things can get—and let’s face it, things can get pretty bleak—calling things something other than what it is can make life a little easier to accept. A wreck on the Harley was a failed attempt to straighten out a California highway; a horrendous hail storm was an opportunity to fill up cups for a cool root beer for the kids; a long drought is a good excuse for planting cactus.

We need some humor in this life almost as much as we need love. No, I can’t see the evening news person making jokes about the economy or the weatherman giggling when the heat index reaches 110 degrees. But I can tell you about the guinea hens that froze in the trees back in ’85 and then thawed in the trash cans where we pitched them. I would have felt sorry for the man who opened the lid and nearly fell over when they flew out, but I was too busy falling over laughing. Yes, the pipes froze that year and water went everywhere when it thawed, but I still just remember the frozen guineas and the man who opened the trashcan. That’s perspective.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Springtime in Texas

It has been awhile since I posted anything here because I have been writing for SlightlyCreaky.com and have had my book--Destinations--published there. It was very exciting to have it published online, but not many people let me know what they are thinking about it as they read it. Hal Rosengarten has divided it into 'chapters' in order to manage the size of each section he puts online. It really doesn't matter to me how it gets on there as long as it can be read.

So much can and has happened in our lives lately. We are so grateful for all the blessings we have, but we are especially grateful for our children and our home. We even appreciate the silly ole black dog who likes to ride in the truck with us and the long-haired gray cat who sleeps on our bed with us. Oh, life is bound to bring some miseries around eventually, but right now we are just hobbling along together with love and laughter.

It's storm season now. Each year when I was a child we had a tornado on my birthday--or at least a storm. I guess we have a couple of weeks yet, so for now we could just use some nice rain on my new rose bush.

My work is cut out for me this week. Rachel colored pictures for her daddy's birthday book. She had to ask her mom what a couple of them were after she put them aside for a bit. I guess we may have to use more than one version or at least label what her pictures are supposed to be. She did a good job on a bicycle, however. I could not draw one that well.

Reece and Gary have gone on a trip to Austin and San Antonio for the fourth grade kids field trip to learn about Texas history. We took our children there one year and never regretted it. Even the adults have a lot to learn.

Well, back to Facebook to check on a post from the oldest son and then to bed. Posted a congratulations to our niece for graduating tonight with her master's degree. Sent her a check, but I think it is the idea that means more to her than the money. It took a lot of work to get that degree and she can be proud of it. Now we will watch Tracy graduate with her second masters and Lance with his first degree. Glad it is them and not me. I am too tired to study.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Do You Want to Know?

Customers are some of the most sensitive people in the world. When the product they are considering is a bit out of their normal sphere of knowledge, customers can be almost defensive because they may feel intimidated by the salesperson or what they consider to be the “expert” about the subject. Whether a person is buying a new tech gadget like a phone or a service such as rehabilitation exercises and classes, the customer should be treated as an intelligent person rather than as a child to be taught or as a negligent student to be scolded.

Recently we met up with an excellent sales person who rolled her eyes, growled, shouted, and otherwise showed her irritation with the phone service connection which was needed to activate our new phone. Never once did she show any indication that her displeasure had been caused by our inability to complete the same communication with that company. When she finished and gave us the paperwork, indicating the pieces of information that were essential to save, she made the comment that these companies who made products that required a call to a foreign country or to an automated system should have to spend their days shouting into a fuzzy call system in order to obtain a pay check. We thanked her for her patience on our behalf, and she went on about her business with a cheery demeanor. We were very glad to have had her help since she obviously knew what to do and what to expect.

Not every situation is so pleasant. Lifestyle changes involving foods meet those criteria. Recently published articles concerning genetic tendencies and a body’s ability to switch on or off certain enzymes have changed the way nutritionists have to look at foods and how their substances are absorbed within the body. Furthermore, scientists have observed that certain food combinations can change the body’s ability to convert foods into energy. Basically, changing one’s eating habits may help considerably when attempting to reduce cholesterol levels along with the use of drugs, but even certain changes or stresses on the body may change its ability to use nutrients.

No one minds putting forth his or her best efforts, but whether it is lifting weights, going to nutrition classes, or losing weight, the customer should be encouraged and appreciated rather than scolded or treated like a red-headed step child. Customers don’t come back when they expect negative feedback. Even teachers have to learn to cheerfully help students realize that the full load can be nibbled away one spoonful at a time. A nutritionist must learn to load her students with piles of good things they can choose rather than focus on the necessary restrictions. No one is so foolish as to expect to eat as much or any type of foods available, but it is nice to hear suggestions for healthy changes rather than doom and gloom about cholesterol, blood sugars, and weight loss. If you want customers to return, be positive!