Monday, July 27, 2009

Memory Monday: Hands covered in prayer

I'm going to try something new, to make each Monday a memory post. Since I'm concerned with my dad right now, I'll make this one about him. Maybe the next ones also. I don't know.

But I've been encountering an enduring memory of him from my childhood. There's no photo of it, just the way it looks in my mind, just the feel of it on my hands.

We went to church every Sunday. There was Fellowship, a brief service for everyone and a few hymns which began our day, then Sunday School, then church service. We had a family pew, a preferred seating spot that no other regulars would bother and Daddy wouldn't let us say a word about if a visitor did. As best I recall, the pews were very long anyway, the sanctuary of the pre-1900 building being wide and curved, but not deep. So if someone was already seated on our end of our pew, we could scoot elsewhere.

I don't remember much about the sermons or the choir until I was old enough to join it, but I do remember prayer. Standing to say The Lord's Prayer, my sister and I on either side of Daddy, we'd put our hands on the back of the pew in front of us and Daddy would cover our hands with his own. His were so big and ours so small. Even as our hands grew (and mine are quite large for a woman), he would still cover them.

I look at his hands now as he twists them in his lap or reaches to tap me on the leg or as they shake as he sips coffee from a plastic mug. His fingers are still straight, his nails tough, his hands incredibly strong. And I want him to cover my hands once more in prayer, but I feel it is now the other way around.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Punching in

Do you ever feel like you spend your life looking at a screen and punching (hopefully) appropriate buttons?

It struck me as I filled my car with gas at the local big box (3 cents off per gallon with a pre-paid-let-us-have-the-float-on-your-money card) and looked around. Just as I had done, the guy opposite me was staring at the screen, index finger poised.

Insert card.
Remove card.
Do you want to save your engine by purchasing an additive for an extra $1.99? Yes/no.
You have $X remaining.
Lift the nozzle.
Select the grade.

And, finally, Do you want a receipt? Yes/no.

Punch, punch, punch.

And it's the same story at ATMs, self-checkout, credit/debit card readers at the cash register, copy machines, iPods, iPhones, restaurant order computers, fast food order lines... whew! Woe be to you if you touch the wrong square and have to start over! If you even can.

Curmudgeon that I am, I don't think this is a trend which will reverse itself any time soon. It is only going to get worse, and I am going to have to learn to live with it. And be very careful what I punch.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

One missing Ms. Adventure

The end of June I blogged about Two Wet Little Kittens and their sister who stayed calmly in the back yard and watched as they were "watered out" of the carriage of the spouse's pickup truck. In the weeks following she has been the one to approach her breakfast even as I have stood on the back steps watching. She has been the one to roam the back yard while not under her mother's watchful eye. She has held promise of being a keeper-kitty, one who, once spayed and vaccinated, will stay put and catch mice and all sorts of bad critters. I named her Ms. Adventure.

And now she's missing.

I didn't see any of them for several days, then mom-cat showed back up for a free meal. In her wake were the two siblings, but no gray kitty wanting to get into trouble.

For it's trouble she must have found. I haven't seen her since last week and I fear Ms. Adventure has suffered a misadventure. It's a hard life for an outdoor kitty without a formal home and my two spoiled indoor darlings know nothing about it.

I won't give up looking for her, hoping she bounds out from behind a flower pot very soon.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

His own private world

My dad has Alzheimer's. Next month he will be 87 and this insidious disease has robbed us both of enjoying his last years. For three years he's been in the locked-unit of a care facility. At first, when he still had an idea where he was, he'd ask me what he'd done to be so imprisoned. Then he'd swear never to do it again if he could just get out. There's no easy answer to that, or at least, not one he would have remembered even the next day. I thought this might be unique to him until another resident asked me the same question a couple months after that.

I must look like the answer-gal.

But now, Daddy just sits. He smiles when I come in. He hasn't been able to tell me who I am for several weeks. He hurt his hip about a month ago, was consigned to a wheelchair, refused to stay, and is walking again. He is still a strong physical presence.

I was feeling sorry for him (and truth be known, for myself as well), cheated of his last years as a viable member of society. The good thing is he hasn't a clue. He is, as a wise friend counseled, in his own private world. When he naps, he moves his hands and nods his head and his feet rock. He wakes up still in it. I can see that in his eyes if I'm sitting with him. He's not unhappy. Happy doesn't exist anymore.

Or does it in his own private world? Which is preferable--to have lost one's mental ability and not know it, or to lose one's body, be bedridden with a wonderful mind still active, but now tortured to exist in a cage of skin and bones?

Thank goodness, we don't get to choose, but Daddy does seem to have it best.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fan vs. fan

To say it's miserably hot here in North Texas would be an understatement. The weatherman is promising a cool front by the weekend which will drop temps into the 90s for highs. Compared to the trip-digits we're currently having, this is a very good thing. I may have to find my sweaters.

On the other hand, just because it's hot outside doesn't mean it's cool inside. We keep our a/c set in the high-70s and run ceiling fans. At night, we use a stand fan also. If last fall is any harbinger, I'll actually miss the drone when it becomes cool enough not to have it.

But we're having a party, an outdoor party, and so we need more fans to circulate what will be very hot air on the patio. So we journeyed to the Big Box and picked up a couple. We put them together (does NOTHING come pre-assembled?) as a warm-up to our TV stand effort. Not that it was hard, but it stood as a reminder of how things keep getting cheaper and cheaper in construction. The difference, particularly in the motor casing between these fans and the company-identical one from a few years ago, is very noticeable.

For starters, the whole thing is lighter in weight. We'd better hope God doesn't decide to give us a breeze during the party, or these babies will be over on their noses. I just don't have a lot of confidence that I'll still be hauling them around in 5 or 6 years.

The price was right (and we did have other choices), but if you get what you pay for, I'm fairly sure we did.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Stand-ing together

No marriage is without a few growl-moments, times when you glare at the other person with 'what was I thinking?' running through your head. Ours have usually come when we're working on a project together, to wit: trying to use a miter box to build a toy box for child one; backing up a fifth-wheeler into our driveway with the spouse driving and me directing from the street; realigning the mirrored (and therefore heavy) bi-fold doors on the closet; choosing to put together an Es-cargo cartop carrier at 9 in the evening when we were tired. We could have won the prize on America's Funniest Home Videos for that one as I sat in the middle of the bottom tray and he affixed the top, all the while I was leaning farther and farther off-center until I tipped.

Each project had a solution: another trip to the lumber yard; finally listening to me; him remembering where we'd put the instructions to begin with--and then we added some to them!; patience.

But I think we're over that now. After nearly 37 years of marriage, last night we successfully (and in short order for us) put together a TV stand. This is, of course, no ordinary stand. It came in enough pieces to go through the alphabet and then be given numbers like: D1. Kid you not.

But let's back up.

Our den TV is 10 years old and wasn't quite state-of-the-art when new. It has served us well, but as we all know, CRT is out and LCD is in. Last fall we started looking and narrowed down the field. The only problem was we had nothing to set it on, as the current one has a build-in stand. The TV has to go in a corner in a small room with windows and doors. We had to have a stand before we could consider the purchase.

Fast-forward 6 months. In a Home Decorators catalog, I found the perfect piece. Everyone else had found it also, since it had to be backordered. I guessed from the shipping costs that perhaps this three-dimensional piece came in a flat box, but I called to be sure. Um, yes. So it arrived in its flat box and stayed in the living room in front of the quasi-fireplace for 6 weeks. There wasn't any sense in putting it together until we had the TV. It took up much less room as a box.

Last night, we found the TV. It will be delivered Thursday. We need the stand. What better time to put it together than 9 pm?

We laid out and identified all the pieces. Thank goodness, they each had a little sticky tag which helped. Otherwise, I don't think I could have told the right side panel from the left. We developed a system. (Why hadn't we thought of that earlier?) I would look at the next page of instructions, find the pieces and lay them and their corresponding screws or nuts or cams in the work space. He put them together.

The instructions said it was a two-person project. No lie. As it started to take shape, we would continue to compare what was being built with the picture. They were actually starting to look alike. We had a few little faux pas: I put a screw where there should have been a dowel (fixed with a pair of pliers) and the hinges were on backwards before they were on correctly. That took the undoing of 12 little-bitty screws, but the second door went much faster.

So there it sits now. After 2 1/2 hours of companionable labor, we decided that 1) it looks great and 2) if we did this for a living, we'd have to be much faster.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Scrabbling... and a note from Southwest Airlines

Not being able to pass up a bargain Scrabble game at a garage sale, I'm in possession of several. Rather than keep them in the closet ("Mega-Scrabble, anyone? Let's put three sets together!"), I decided to make a family crossword puzzle for the wall, maybe in the kitchen.

The problem comes in the dearth of appropriate letters. Those letters which cause sighs of regret when fetched in the game, like a K, take on real significance when several members of the family have names which need them: Kay, Sisk, Jack. As to the Ys--family, Casey, Kay, Mary, Emily--well, in short order, I needed more!

The probability of coming across cheap games is small, so I turned to that steady supplier of Americana, eBay. Sure enough, tiles abound. And not just sets of 100. No, I am currently the winner of 384, with free shipping. I just hope the set minus the 16 isn't minus the ones I need. But then, I didn't ask for an inventory, so my fault.

As to the luggage incident with Southwest which I blogged about on Tuesday, I received a very nice email from them, thanking me for my consideration in writing. No, Southwest, thank you for having an employee who cared.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Did you want your receipt?

Or how about your reciept? Your receict?

Waiting at LAX for our plane on Monday, I had need of a Starbucks LA-logo'ed mug for a friend. The smaller stand next to the gate didn't have such, so I ventured to the larger one near the Southwest entrance. Sure enough, mugs. I stood in line (nothing else to do) and did the author-thing: watching and listening. Not much going on, so I started reading. On the Starbucks chalkboard was a reminder that your 'reciept' from the morning would get you a cheaper beverage in the afternoon.

Thirty minutes later, we decided that a coffee would be in order and I, once again, stood in line to retrieve such, this time at the smaller operation beside our gate. Chalkboard also declared the advantage of having a morning 'receict'.

Between the two of them, they had it spelled correctly. And I really don't have anything else to say on the matter except I'd never thought of the latter permutation.

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

It takes a village...

... or at least everyone sitting at the airport gate.

But to begin at the beginning:

Saturday morning we're flying out of Love Field to LAX via Southwest Airlines. The Wright Amendment being what it is, we will have to stop along the way (Austin going, El Paso coming back), but we love the ease of Love and we'll be there if we can. So we're sitting at the gate, 'A' boarding passes in hand, watching the people and the staff and occasionally, the activity outdoors. As in, when will our plane get here (it started in Amarillo) and gee, did a piece of luggage just go flying off that baggage cart?

Yes, indeed-y. There, laying in the middle of the tarmac is a red suitcase. I had watched it fly off the back of the second baggage cart as the baggage guy had zoomed out of the building and headed toward the appropriate plane, somewhere in the ether. Another modified go-kart zips by... and he doesn't stop and get it!

Now, I have the attention of the lady standing next to me. We exchange looks and she hustles over to the check-in desk where two employees are chatting. Hearing the situation, one of them says, "I'll get it!" and he scrambles off. Minutes later, we watch him retrieve it, read it, pick up a bit of debris on the tarmac, and hustle off to deliver the bag. Minute later, he's back and someone's vacation has been saved an added layer of frustration.

On second thought, maybe I just ought to write a letter to Southwest and let them know the caliber of their employees (at least one of them) is not overstated.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Thirty years in one place

This weekend marks the anniversary of our homecoming. We'd spent seven years away from the nest area in North Texas, three of them in Georgia. It had been a good experience, allowing us to set up our married life and subsequent children at a distance from the families. My husband's professional training being over, we loaded up our two vehicles, two babies, two dogs and, with the aid of a sister-in-law who drove faster the closer we got to home, we headed out.

I'm not sure if we arrived home July 3 or 4. There was a huge banner above our door welcoming us back. The SIL's boyfriend had put it there, and I doubt he was welcoming us. It had been an arduous drive since the speed limit was down, gas prices were up, and gas itself was rationed.

Did I think, as we gratefully pulled two vehicles into the drive of our new home, that I would still be in it 30 years later? I wasn't 30 years old myself; I had no concept of the time involved. Thirty years was, well, a very long time. Who knew what it would bring? We'd already had lots of changes in our lives, most of them wrapped around two little boys and the hope that a successful career was on the verge of beginning.

In 30 years, I've watched my sons grow up. They're Eagle Scouts like their dad, college graduates, doing well in their own careers and marriages. I've two grandchildren. My spouse has seen his career grow and change with the times. All good, as the elder son would say. I dared myself to write a romance novel, then more. To be published, and I am. I've volunteered with Scouting, the church, the regional hospital, the public library.

Over the years, we never entertained the idea of moving from the house we started with. We have redecorated, remodeled, repurposed all of it. Besides the bathrooms and kitchen, only two rooms retain their original duties. In 2001-02, we gutted the place and lived to tell, marriage in tact!

Then we told ourselves it would look extremely shabby in another 20 years and we'd have to do it all over again. Let's see, 20 years from 2002... I'll be... ready.

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vision or visionary?

This very interesting article details what I got into my head would be a business model for print-on-demand. I'm sure I read about it somewhere, that "someday" there would be a kiosk in every store and the buyer could just 'dial up' the book he wanted, go have a cup of coffee, come back and collect the book.

Then that vision morphed into doing the same with electronic books on something like an SD card or via a cable to your reading device. Then the internet got much faster than my dial-up (thank goodness!) and that vision had every good reason to go away. Plus, enter readers better than my Rocket 1100.

But I find the article out of Vermont very interesting. Need a copy of something and 1) you don't have a bookstore in your town other than Walmart, 2) the library can oblige you only by interlibrary loan which is a wonderful service, but it'll be two weeks, or 3) Amazon is currently sold out? Just download and print on the neighborhood machine.

The machine is frightfully expensive, but then the industry is watching this small store in Vermont to see how it all goes. At the moment, very well.

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