Sunday, August 15, 2010

I miss everybody.

Spacehook and blogging are two very different things. I like my job, but I miss having the energy to peruse all the blogs I enjoy, and write long posts myself. I miss being able to do the Friday Five on Friday. Everyone who still comes over here faithfully to check on me, thank you. I miss y'all. I'm fine, I just have to go to bed now. Sleep well, friends.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Agreeing to disagree

A dear friend of thirty-seven years' standing wrote to me of his concern that President Obama "is moving America towards economic ruin in order to establish a socialist regime and eventually a dictatorship". He could not have been more serious.

I am stunned that a person I have known and loved for decades could believe such a thing. These days I don't have the mental energy after work for sustained debate, much less to deconstruct piece by piece all of the proof-texts he sent me from The Audacity of Hope that "prove" Obama is "really" a Muslim (implication: we're all gonna die). I just told him that I believe the President is a brother in Christ and that he seeks God's guidance in one of the hardest jobs on earth. I sent him a couple of pertinent references from (which, I have learned, convinces no one whose mind is already made up).

W. and I have always been able to talk about everything, but it looks like that just changed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Here's the newest member of our household! Sugar is a small, very sweet dog that was rescued from a shelter by my friend C's mother, probably about eight years ago. The dreadful scar on her back is where some lowlife apparently poured some sort of acid on her. Amazingly, she is a friendly, trusting dog, and is well-behaved. C's mom has Alzheimer's and is in a nursing home, and C and her family have been keeping Sugar for four or five years now. They already had another dog, and for various reasons keeping two dogs has been a financial hardship. Back when Amie was still living I told C we would be willing to take Sugar some day. Well, after Amie died we got Riley...then we got Lena...and I felt more and more like I had made a promise I wasn't keeping, to one of my oldest friends (we go back to the late '70's).
The Scientist and I have been talking about maybe getting a second dog, and I made the big mistake of going on my favorite cattle dog rescue site, looking at all the available heelers, and getting really interested in several. But the issue of Sugar kept nagging at me, and last weekend I called C and said, let's try it. So Sugar and her paraphrenalia arrived on Monday night. Riley grouched and grumped a few times at first, but they have been coexisting peacefully since then.

No, she's not a heeler, but she's a sweet girl who needs us. On her head she has a horrid cyst or tumor of some sort, which is coming off tomorrow. Sugar is a Velcro girl who follows me all over the house, and is picking up on our household routines very well. She just wants to love and be loved. That, we can manage.

The master bath is finished!

Fabulous, humongous shower for two, before:


and after!
Vanity area, before...
and after!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Five: Hot Fun in the Summertime?

Songbird invites us to list five things we love (or don't!) about summer. Easy!

1. The food! Sweet peaches, berries, cherries, and--best of all--our very own backyard tomatoes. Nothing can compare with those.

2. (A corollary to #1) Grilling! And not just meat, delicious as that is. I'll post a fabulous grilled squash salad recipe later today.

3. Trips to the beach.

4. The hypnotic call-and-response of the cicadas and peepers on summer evenings.

5. Summer music--reminds me of younger years, when summer really was a carefree time. "Hot Fun in the Summertime" will be playing in my head for the rest of the day.

Honesty compels me to add that there are two things I absolutely detest about summer:

1. Humidity! And regardless of where you live, if you've never been to Houston in August, trust me, you DON'T know exactly what I'm talking about...and...


Friday, June 04, 2010

So I have just completed my first week at my new job, and I am worn out, overwhelmed with new information, but very glad I made the change. I am working for a large (VERY large) national mental health managed care company as their new Autism Specialist. Many states have now mandated coverage of autism treatment, and insurance companies are scrambling to catch up. So are many parents and treatment providers, who have not had much of an opportunity to have intensive autism treatment like applied behavior analysis (ABA) covered by insurance before.

The last time I worked as a mental health care manager, fifteen years ago, the managed care atmosphere was very different, and I left because all of the jokes about my going over to the dark side of the force were finally too close to the truth for me to laugh. In those days care managers really were pressured to limit and deny treatment as much as possible. I'm glad I decided to take this job, though, because everyone I have met this week seems compassionate, positive, and very concerned to help people get the best possible use of their mental health benefits.

Because I was an in-network provider with this company for well over a decade, a lot of the care advocates already knew my name and have said things like, "I've been referring people to you for years!" My closest coworker and mentor here is a care advocate that I've been on a first name basis with for about ten years, from all the times I submitted treatment requests to him--but we had never met face-to-face before my interview.

I had not been planning to leave my old job, but I realize now that I've been phoning it in for a while and was more ready for a change than I knew. This is a totally different situation, and a welcome new beginning.

Friday, May 28, 2010

First installment: Lena

Is anyone still out there? I have a lot to tell. First of all, Lena has a forever home! (more of that in a moment)

Aaand, we spent a week dawdling around the British Virgin Islands on this magnificent vessel.

And then...I found a new job, which starts on Tuesday. (That was the unbloggable.)

And last week...we had a great meetup with RevDrKate and her new husband (don't you love the sound of that, Kate?) R at one of our favorite restaurants.

And on top of all of that, we are in the throes of completely remodeling the master bathroom.

But first things first. Lena was adopted by a very nice couple with two young children, who fell in love with her at an adoption fair. All was going well until they observed that their daughter was breaking out in welts whenever Lena licked her! The rescue coordinator and I were so discouraged...then the family reported that they were going to make this work, and would try to teach Lena not to lick the child. Lena is quite a licker, so please pray that somehow this will work for sweet Lena and her new family.

Riley doesn't miss her at all. :)

(Edited to add:) Well, I just found out that Lena is back on Petfinder. Apparently she couldn't stop licking (no surprise there). I am thankful they loved her enough to bring her back to the rescue coordinator, who loves her too and will keep her safe until she's adopted again. So if you are praying for sweet Crystal girl to find her forever home, please add a prayer for sweet Lena girl too.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

a good tired

Spiritual Renewal Weekend is over, and although the turnout was smaller than I had hoped, it went very well. I am worn out, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. So many people worked so hard to support this weekend. I confess that for so long I just looked forward to the moment when it would be I can see how the Spirit carried it, the whole time. Why do I ever worry about these things?

The Scientist is at a conference in Florida, where he is giving a talk tomorrow. Last night there was a pirate-themed wedding at the resort where he is staying. Wonder who married the happy couple? And what would he/she say? "Arrrrr, I now pronounce ye sailor and wench"?

Lena spent yesterday at an adoption fair, where two families took a great interest in her. The rescue coordinator told me that one family spent about an hour petting and playing with her. Both families took the coordinator's business card, said they were going home to talk about it, and wanted to be sure Lena would be at the same event next Saturday (she will). Prayers, please!

And prayers, please, for the people who have suffered and lost loved ones and homes to yesterday's tornadoes in Mississippi and Alabama, especially in Yazoo City, where my mother graduated from high school. When you are driving through my Delta homeland headed for Jackson, Yazoo City is where the Delta's tabletop suddenly meets rolling hills, lush with kudzu in the spring and summer. There is a cafe in Yazoo City called Stubb's where one can enjoy the best chocolate chess pie on this or any other planet. Jimmy Carter held a town hall meeting at Stubb's during his presidency. Yazoo City is also the home of Willie Morris, whose essays I have enjoyed, and who died the day before my father died (odd thing to remember, I know). I no longer know anyone in Yazoo City, but I feel as if tragedy has befallen a friend.

And I have a great big unbloggable (a good one, which is unusual for unbloggables) on the horizon too!

Six more days until vacation, but until then, everyday life goes on...pardon me now, while I go to find the plunger and unstop one of the toilets, before heading off to session meeting....

Friday, March 19, 2010

RIP Alex Chilton

Memphis musician Alex Chilton died this week at 59. You probably remember him as the lead singer of the Boxtops ("Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane/Ain't got time to take a fast train"), but in the early 70's after the Boxtops broke up he was the leader of Big Star, a great band that in its day was more of a critical than a popular success. Their best songs still sound fine today. I have been listening to my old LP of their album Radio City, singing along with "September Gurls" and remembering the boy who gave me that album...

I found a recent and very good video of a reunited Big Star performing "September Gurls" in San Francisco a couple of years ago, but I'd rather look at this tribute video and reminisce about life and love (the unrequited variety) in 1974.

Friday Five: Movies

Jan says:
Whenever daughter MJ comes home on breaks from college, I get to go to movies, which has me thinking about motion pictures. Plus, it is fun to watch rented dvd's at home, which my husband prefers.Share your preferences, opinions, and recommendations about movies! Choose 5 types of movies to discuss:
science fiction
Bonus: Tell about the first movie you ever saw and/or the last one!

Drama: Is this the best category for Lord of the Rings? I think Return of the King is my all-time favorite movie. Amadeus would fit here too. Some dramas are not to my taste; I don't really care for spy movies (except Sean Connery Bond films--they don't count as drama), war movies, etc. The Scientist was amazed that I fell asleep watching The Hunt for Red October.

Foreign: I'm going to lump "thriller" in with "foreign". I am thinking of an exciting and stylish French film, Diva, from 1982. Haven't seen it since it was new--might have to check for it on Netflix.

Romantic comedy: This is my "escape" category. When I'm tired, stressed, a little blue, this is what I want to see. Moonstruck, When Harry Met Sally, What's Up Doc?, Return to Me, It Happened One Night, The Philadelphia Story, on and on...

Romance: Two of my very favorite romantic films are Sense and Sensibility and Enchanted April, but you wouldn't really call either a comedy. I'd put The Turning Point in that category, too (or maybe just drama). If you enjoy dance (or just want to admire the young Baryshnikov), don't miss that one.

Comedy: Sometimes I just want to laugh. I love Ghostbusters ("When someone asks you, are you a god, YOU SAY YES!"), Young Frankenstein, and one of my all-time favorite films--such a period piece now--A Hard Day's Night. Sometimes we rent stuff that's both dumb and hilarious--a few weeks ago we enjoyed Rock and Roll High School. Hey! Ho! Let's go!

Animated: Classic Disney, of course. And I enjoyed Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings, years ago. We watched both Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle to see what all the fuss about Miyazaki was about, and I'm sorry to say I still don't know.

And speaking of classic Disney, my mother always told me the first movie I saw was Cinderella, but the first one I remember was 101 Dalmatians! Most recent? We are in the middle of The Soloist--maybe we'll finish watching it tonight.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Scientist and I had a nearly perfect day yesterday. With clear skies and the temperature in the mid-70s, we spent most of the day outside, weeding the beds, planting tomatoes, and replacing all of the plants that froze during our unusually cold weather this year. I'm so happy to see life and color in those beds again. We enjoyed the company of two happy, well-behaved dogs all afternoon. We grilled Elgin hot sausage and lovely pastured pork chops from Yonder Way Farm, then cleaned up and went downtown to the ballet, where we received a seating upgrade and--for the first and probably the last time--sat in a loge box, just like the rich folks. And indeed we are rich, in every way that matters.

However, two blocks away from our home, a family in our neighborhood has been living their worst nightmare: their Marine son was killed in Afghanistan earlier this week. Our peaceful little day seems meaningless beside what this family is suffering. I have no profound comments on the nature of war; I just grieve for the death of this young man and so many like him. Please remember his family in prayer.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Here's Lena, our foster girl. Isn't she cute? The pictures can't show how soft her fur is, or the way her long tail curls up. (We haven't had a dog with a tail in years!) She is very young and --when she's not feeling shy or unsure of herself--playful and rambunctious! Riley has been doing his grumpy-old-man routine and looking up at me as if to say, "When is she leaving?" Sometimes he grouches at her a little, but nothing serious has gone on. She is responsive and seems willing to leave him alone, but every now and then she gives him a play-bow to say, "Come on, don't you want to play?" He sighs.

Lena is affectionate and happy, but very timid about all of these new experiences. Doorways! Slick floors! Stairs! All of her fleas are gone, but she's been scratching so hard from having had them, that I had to take her for an allergy shot today. The rescue coordinator is having her spayed this weekend.

She has the potential to be a great family dog. I can see her adapting well to a family with gentle older children or teens who will be patient with her timidity and help her gain confidence and security.

Had she not been pulled from the shelter on Sunday night, she would have been euthanized on Monday. We are so glad that didn't happen, and so happy to help this sweet dog find her forever family. I wonder if Riley will miss her after she's gone?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Five: Social Media

KathrynZJ is wondering:

1) What have been the benefits for you of social networking (blog, twitter, facebook, etc...)

Blogging brought me a wonderful group of far-flung friends, most of whom I would never have met otherwise. It also has provided an outlet for writing at times when I had something to sayand no other place to say it. Facebook has helped me reconnect with some old friends and keep up with folks on a daily basis.

2) Which medium do you use the most? Or if you use them all, for what do you use each of them?

It seems to me that the social aspects of blogging have largely been taken over by Facebook. I still blog when I have something on my mind and no other outlet for it, but lately I blog less than I used to...and have noticed that many other bloggers are doing the same. I've never used Twitter and don't even know how (or care).

3) If you could invent a networking site (with no limits on your imagination), what would it provide? What would it not provide?

I think between blogging, FB, and email (remember email?), and just picking up the telephone, all of my networking needs are met.

4) Who have you met that you would not have met if it were not for the 'miracle' of social networking?

Where do I begin! Everyone who might possibly read this today, except for my friend QG, who got me into this blogging business. Blogging has been a blessing and a joy to me, and I have loved the times I've been able to spend with RevGal friends.

5) Who do you secretly pray does not one day try to 'friend/follow' you?

Nobody that I can think of. I have hit the "Ignore" button on FB once or twice.

BONUS: What was the most random/weird/unsettling/wonderful connection you made that would not have happened if it were not for the ease of which we can find each other in the computer realm?

When I put my maiden name on FB, naturally people from junior high and high school started popping up. I was a bit mystified at why some of them might want to friend me, but so far no harm has been done. One day, one of my (not-serious) high school boyfriends sent me a suggestion that I friend another (more serious) high school boyfriend. After a little hesitation, I wondered what harm it could do now, and out of curiosity I sent him a friend request. Well, he is deeply involved in breed rescue and fostering, and we've exchanged a number of dog rescue-related messages. With the encouragement (urging? exhortation?) I've received from him and my dear Dogblogger, I have decided to try fostering rescue dogs. Riley is used to living with other dogs, and seems a bit lonely by himself. We'll see what happens!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday Five (on Saturday): Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

The Scientist and I returned this afternoon from a nice overnight trip to San Antonio, where we were able to combine business and pleasure. Unfortunately, we discovered right after we got home that some dirty scoundrel had gotten hold of our credit card number and had gone on quite a spree today in a midwestern state far, far away. Card's cancelled, game's over, no lasting harm done, but I was still furious. We think someone at the place where we went for a nightcap last night must have copied the number and given it to someone else, who then hopped on a plane (we were very close to the airport) and had a fine time today until Visa brought it to a halt. Well, perhaps that's what we get for hanging out in bars...

Anyway, thanks to Songbird for these traveling questions:

1) What was the mode of transit for your last trip?

Car. That gave us plenty of room to bring a cooler for the Texas olive oil and olives we found at the farmer's market this morning, not to mention our leftover barbecue. We had to get home in time to pick up Riley at the vet, so the dairy will have to wait until next time.

2) Have you ever traveled by train?

Yes, several times. When I was in kindergarten, our class boarded one of the last passenger trains to serve my home town and rode with our teachers to the next town, seven miles east. The grownups knew that passenger trains were almost gone, and wanted us to experience a little bit of train travel while we still could. In college, friends and I took the Panama Limited from Memphis to New Orleans to visit a suitemate, but all I remember about the train ride is that we had to be at the station in the middle of the night. I must have dozed most of the way. About twenty years ago, the Scientist and I took the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to San Francisco. How we enjoyed the ocean views and scenes we hadn't seen from the highway, such as the space shuttle launching pad at Vandenberg AFB.

3) Do you live in a place with public transit, and if so, do you use it?

Alas, no. There is a rail line nearby that gets heavy freight use but (in my opinion) would be perfect for commuter traffic. The Scientist and I predict that will happen around the time of our retirement!

4) What's the most unusual vehicle in which you've ever traveled?

Perhaps the Venetian water taxis that go to and from the airport, and the water buses, or vaporetti, that everyone uses to get around town. The schedules are easy to follow, and riding in a vaporetto along the Grand Canal is a travel experience found nowhere else.

5) What's the next trip you're planning to take?

I can hardly wait for May, when a number of heavy church responsibilities will finally be behind me, and we can celebrate in the British Virgin Islands aboard the lovely Arabella!