Category Archives: Life

General Catching Up Post

6189_confused_woman_trying_to_hook_up_computer_power_cords_on_a_power_strip_with_the_power_strip_unplugged Our campus is at about 40 80 percent getting on the new domain.  This is pretty  good.  I would have liked to be further along but weird little things happen to slow the process down.  People are, for the most part; being incredibly patient and supportive for which I am so grateful.  Hitting hit hard tomorrow to try to get as much done before Monday as possible.  We have to go to Tyler Saturday but maybe Sunday afternoon I can finish up any stragglers before students arrive on Monday morning.

On the ride to Tyler I can work on my list of where to start Monday morning.  I’m glad I only have the responsibility for one campus.

There hasn’t been time or energy to write for FUN until tonight but things should get a bit easier now.

For tonight it’s tv, french fries, ice cream, and early to bed.

P.S. A thank you to my daughter who was hired as a temp to help us get all this done – she has been AWESOME!

Post Five Hundred

Carry On Tuesday #8 on a Thursday and Sunday Scribbling #171 Indulgence

I re-worked this a bit.  One paragraph had the word listen in it six times – that’s what happens when I write late at night 🙂

This is my FIVE HUNDREDTH post.  I have lived here in the blogosphere since March 2006.  That’s  40 months, or 160 weeks, or 1120 days, or approximately a post every other day.  Who knew I had that much to say.

This little place has changed since the beginning.  I’ve had several themes (getting bored with this one so a change is imminent) , and the focus has changed depending on where my eyes happened to be pointing at the moment.  I’ve written about my opinions on whatever.  Thought out loud, which can be a bit dangerous!  There were the dark times when Dale was so sick and I poured it all out here and held on by my fingernails.

I’ve posted little computer notes on things I’ve learned, I’ve talked about my faith, chronicled “The Great Kidney Transplant”, recipes, pictures,  thoughts about books I have read, whatever sparkled and caught my eye – it landed here.  Thanks Tony, for setting up the blog, for encouraging me to write, and for always patiently answering my unending questions.  This one is for you.

Tomorrow Light #2

It’s been a month since I crept up to the barn and saw the computer under the floor.   If it gets weird here, I’m gone. These days things are crazy.  You just never know.    Glenna and Tom had been kind and I help with  chores.  Glenna has been teaching me how to knit and a little cooking.  This week she  started teaching me how to play the piano.

There was  no lesson today though.  The house was clean from top to bottom and I was helping Glenna in the kitchen.  There were people coming and they would be hungry she said.  I thought it was crazy for others to know where we lived but Glenna smiled and said sometimes we have to trust folks or we might be safe but there won’t be much point to being alive.  I’m not sure what I think about that. I saw some pretty bad stuff happen before I came here and I’m not jumping in and trusting anyone.

Tom has been out in the barn all day putting benches out. Some, he built this morning out of logs.  He set up some sawhorses and boards to make a table to set food on.  Glenna says some folks will bring food.  I’ve been chopping and peeling all day.  We are using fresh vegetable out of the garden that won’t keep anyway.  That at least makes sense to me.

Most everything is done and Glenna said I should take a nap.  People won’t get here till after dark.  I’m not a baby for Pete’s sake.  I climb up to the loft just to make her happy.  I like it up here.  There’s a little window to let in some sunlight and a quilt that has reds and yellows in it.  Tom let me have some blocks and boards up here for a shelf, and Glenna gave me some books.  Ain’t. (I mean ‘I haven’t’, Glenna says I need to stop saying ain’t) had books for awhile and when I did they were mostly hunting and fishing books belonging to Pa.  My favorite right now is Jane Eyre.  She is a poor kid staying with rich family and they are mean to her but she has this whole other life going on in her head.  The rich kids are hateful and think they are so much better than her because she doesn’t have money.  I like her a lot more than her stupid cousins.  I laid down with my book and the sun is warm coming  through the little window.  Next thing I know, I’m waking up and the lanterns are lit downstairs.

I climb down the ladder and see Glenna setting out the bowls of food to take to the barn.

“Well hello, sleepyhead!” She says.  I’m glad you got some rest.  Do you want to help me take these out to the barn?”  Before we start loading up the bowls there is a sound at the door.

Is there anybody there?” said the traveler, knocking on the moonlit door.

My heart’s pounding and I am ready to run out the back but Glenna smiles and says “I’d recognize that voice anywhere!”  She opens the door and hugs the stranger as he steps inside.  “Come in Tony. It’s been too long!”

He has dark shoulder length hair, pulled back in a pony tail and he’s carrying a guitar case.  Glenna had told me he came when they gathered and he would play his guitar and sing. Tthe music was important.  “Hi there.” He said to me, smiling.  He had a kind smile.

“Was your trip hard?” Glenna asked?  He looked a little tired.

“I had to stay off the roads during the day.  North of here there was a group of people on foot that looked like they hadn’t eaten in awhile.  I hid out in the woods until they passed.  They didn’t look friendly.”

Glenna looked concerned. “Which way were they heading?” She asked.

They were on the east road that heads out of town. Soldiers passed in a truck and I didn’t see them any more after that.” He said.

A look passed between them and then they looked at me and got that look grownups get when they remember I’m in the room.

“If you want to clean up a bit, you know where everything is.  We are going to take these to the barn and we’ll be back for more.” Glenna told him.

“Sounds good! I’m hungry and those look like vegetables from your garden.” He said.

“There is plenty. We’ll see you in a minute.” Glenna said as we went out the door towards the barn with bowls and serving spoons.

The barn was transformed! There were lanterns hung around the walls and people were all smiling and hugging and talking at one time.  There were already plates and bowls on the makeshift table.  People took the bowls from us and put them on the table and there were kids giggling up in the hayloft. They were all hugging and greeting each other.  Finally we headed back to the house for the rest of the food.

“Do you remember everything I told you about tonight?” she asked me.

I nodded.  She had told me that we didn’t ever mention the computer but that tonight was important because we would get a new password.  I had heard about the internet and how before everything changed, anyone could talk to anyone else and pass information back and forth.  Now the N.U.S.A. had control and when people can’t talk to each other, they have no way of knowing if what the government tells them is true. No one says it out loud but everyone knows they lie.  You don’t need a computer to figure that out.

Glenna told me that now they had small groups of people that could only talk to each other and then only if they had the password.  There were a bunch of these ‘darknets’, she called them and each group could only talk to the people in their network.  When I asked her how they could connect to each other she smiled and called me ‘one smart cookie’.  She said before the world lost it’s mind, cables were laid all over the place.  If you had to dig a hole and put one cable in, it wasn’t much extra trouble to put in several cables.  There were thousands of fiber cables that were never used and mostly forgotten. They were being used now.

We went back to the house and got the rest of the food and Tony walked back to the barn with us.  When we set the food on the table, Glenna smiled at Tom and he put his fingers to his mouth and whistled.  Everyone stopped chattering and Tom said a blessing, thanking God for letting everyone get there safe, for providing food, and good friends, and asking Him to keep blessing us.  Everyone said Amen and started filling plates and passing them around.  I got me a plate and found a seat on a box back in a corner so I could watch.

The flickering lantern light threw shadows around the barn and reflected in smiling eyes. Men talked about weather and traveling. Women talked about their kids and food and health as they ate.  Kids finished eating first and ran around the barn or hid behind mothers who fussed at them to settle down It wasn’t mad kind of fussing because they would smile indulgently. I didn’t run with them but it was nice to see them having fun  Kind of made me sad about my own mama.  Silly, how can I miss someone I don’t even remember.

Empty bowls and plates were stacked in a metal washtub for later and Tony pulled out his guitar and started to tune it.  Everyone settled down and got quiet as he strummed a few chords.  He played a few songs that some of the older folks must have known, because they sang along.  They asked him to play one of his own songs. I watched Glenna sit quietly as  he began to play.

He picked out the first chords and I heard the word ‘dark’ and my ears perked up.  Glenna sat quietly with her head leaned toward the music and  as he sang the chorus  the second time through she sang it with him.  She had  explained how  the password would be in the music.  I was just beginning to learn but I knew there were eight notes in an octave.  At some point the lyrics would mention the word  ‘dark” and those who knew what to listen for would memorize the chorus and later transcribe the notes in the chorus as numbers.

Just a group of folks getting together, eating and enjoying some music. No law against that.  Tony played a few  more songs after that as families loaded up and started  home.  I helped Glenna start cleaning up and Tony packed up his guitar.  I was walking next to him going back to the house.  I looked up at him and said “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure” He said.

“How did you figure all this stuff out?” I asked.

He smiled. “Music is just math out loud.” He said.

Glenna asked him if he could stay but he said he had to move on.  There were others to sing for and miles to go. He looked at me and grinned. “I think I’ll be seeing you again.”

I hoped so.  I wanted to learn more.
To go back to the beginning : Part One

Keeping The Public Informed

There is an article in the newspaper today praising the two new local websites – one a citizen’s support site and the other a Computer aided Dispatch system which really just shows 911 calls.

When I checked the site this afternoon the call that caught my eye was “Terrorist
Threat”.  Wait, in Paris? Texas?  What is more bizarre is when I looked up the address it was the local McDonalds.  What would be the point?  Mickey D’s is killing us anyway – all an enemy would have to do is wait for the cholesterol to hit it’s ceiling limit and poof!  We’re gone.

I can’t imagine a scenario where something could happen in the McDonalds here that could constitute a threat.

As Alice would say, “Curiouser and Curiouser”….

Beauty From Ashes

Eye make-up washed off by tears – $10.00

Lotion for hands sore from clapping – $ 3.99

Cough drop for throat raspy from yelling – $1.98

Heart full of pride – PRICELESS!

I’m scribbling this in the car on the way home from the UIL band competition.  We made it in time to see the Paris Blue Blazes Band take the field and their show was just beautiful and graceful.  We stayed til after the North Lamar Panther Band finished playing and until we knew both bands had made ones!

I yelled and clapped for both bands and it made me incredibly proud that I work with these wonderful creatures who overcome so much everyday. Band teaches a sense of community, responsibility, accountability, and that practice really DOES make perfect.

Today, it taught them that beauty can come from ashes, that you can move and work through grief, and you can create meaning from senseless loss.

They proved to themselves that you can step up and do what needs to be done even when it is painful, and that the beat is still in your heart and head even when the drummer stops playing.  I am humbled.

Bob Dylan – Still

I’m going shopping.  I’m going to buy a CD – I’ll have to wait til next week when Bob Dylan’s new one is released but for now you can listen to it for free.  Go – listen – quick.  It will be officially released October 7.  Go here.

Most Of The Time

Most of the time
I’m clear focused all around,
Most of the time
I can keep both feet on the ground,
I can follow the path, I can read the signs,
Stay right with it, when the road unwinds,
I can handle whatever I stumble upon,
I don’t even notice she’s gone,
Most of the time.

Most of the time
It’s well understood,
Most of the time
I wouldn’t change it if I could,
I can’t make it all match up, I can hold my own,
I can deal with the situation right down to the bone,
I can survive, I can endure
And I don’t even think about her
Most of the time.

Most of the time
My head is on straight,
Most of the time
I’m strong enough not to hate.
I don’t build up illusion ’till it makes me sick,
I ain’t afraid of confusion no matter how thick
I can smile in the face of mankind.
Don’t even remember what her lips felt like on mine
Most of the time.

Most of the time
She ain’t even in my mind,
I wouldn’t know her if I saw her
She’s that far behind.
Most of the time
I can’t even be sure
If she was ever with me
Or if I was with her.

Most of the time
I’m halfway content,
Most of the time
I know exactly where I went,
I don’t cheat on myself, I don’t run and hide,
Hide from the feelings, that are buried inside,
I don’t compromise and I don’t pretend,
I don’t even care if I ever see her again
Most of the time.

Some thirty odd years ago, a scrawny girl in blue jeans, sitting on a rickety dock looking out over wind beaten grey waves, arms wrapped around bony knees – just trying to figure it all out with a Bob Dylan song playing in her head.

Some thirty odd years later, a slightly worn, definitely not scrawny woman still has some of the same questions and Bob Dylan makes me smell the lake wind and hear the sea gulls again.

Sing me to sleep Bob, no more thinking tonight, just dreaming.

Global Education

I am not a teacher, I have worked in education in some form for about 15 years.  I took 9 years out of public employment to raise my kids and even then I was a substitute teacher a few times.

I have heard people fuss and complain about schools, kids, teachers, parents – on and on.   None of the complaints directed at any particular group ever rang true to me because I have always believed that  institutions reflect the greater community they reside in along with all the individual entities that make up the community.

If I think – really think, about how change is effected, problems solved, from this starting point –  I feel so overwhelmed.  How can change happen if each entity is not moved somehow?

Maybe the reverse is true.  Maybe each little change affects the entire community.  That approach seems a lot more hopeful to me.  That means any piece of the puzzle that I come into contact with can be a part of a positive or negative change.  There is hope in that and also accountability.  That means that every single interaction I have, somehow creates change and that brings everything down to individual responsibility.

It means that my actions and interactions need to be thoughtful and intentional.  It means that not only am I my brother’s keeper but each of us is the keeper of our entire local community which has it’s interaction with the rest of the global community.   It means that I can’t blame anyone else for the state of the world – I can only make my individual actions count.

That makes sense for the individual.  If the entire community thinks like me – has the same belief system, and is willing to take the same level of responsibility then we will move as a group in a particular direction.  The reality is, individuals have their own agenda’s, their own belief systems, and their own ideas about what is the best direction for a community to move.  How to we reconcile the different views and not end up simply sitting still or moving backwards and forwards instead of making progress?

If you don’t think our thinking is splintered – look at your community.  How many churches are there?  If we are unable to unite in our belief system when in most communities in this area, it all revolves around a single book then….well, you can see the difficulty.

The catalyst for this whole discussion was a website called 2 Million Minutes.  There is a dvd you can order and I am planning on purchasing one.  There are lesson plans and clips of the making of the video.  The premise is that our young people have about 2 million minutes to spend in high school.  How will their two million minutes stack up result wise to students in China or India.  There is an exam to take to see how you stack up.

The exam challenge is the brainchild of Bob Compton after hearing a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education  “We have nothing to learn from education systems in Third World countries, “Much less a Third World country that lacks freedom of speech.” when he viewed the Two Million Minutes video.

The exam “is a shortened and greatly simplified version of the multi-day proficiency test that every 10th grader in India must pass to go on to the 11th grade.”

thirdworld.jpg
Go.Read.Think.

As a part of the global community, what are our priorities?  What are we willing to sacrifice to get there?  What are the consequences?

Beyond My Comprehension

I’m ashamed to have been complaining about Starbucks closing – how sad is my little world?
Story in the BBC today:

Nine face stoning death in Iran

At least eight women and one man are reported to have been sentenced to death by stoning in Iran.

The group, convicted of adultery and sex offences, could be executed at any time, lawyers defending them say.

The lawyers have called on the head of Iran’s judiciary to prevent the sentences from being carried out.

The last officially reported stoning in Iran last year drew strong criticism from human rights groups and the European Union.

The eight women sentenced, whose ages range from 27 to 43, had convictions including prostitution, incest and adultery, Reuters news agency reported.The man, a 50-year-old music teacher, was convicted of illegal sex with a student, reports said. Moratorium imposed Under Iran’s Islamic law, stoning to death is the punishment for the crime of adultery.In 2002 Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi imposed a moratorium on stoning, but at least three people are reported to have been executed by stoning since then.

Shadi Sadr from the Volunteer Lawyers’ Network, which is representing the women, said: “We are very worried as there are at least eight women and one man with a definitive verdict which can be carried out any moment.

Our specific… demand is to have the stoning sentence stopped by Ayatollah Shahroudi since the defendants are liable to be stoned at any moment
Lawyer Mariam Kian-Arsi
“There are no guarantees that the punishments will be halted or commuted.”She called on the international community to back their efforts, adding: “We are in close touch with human rights organisations and many of them have supported our campaign.”Fellow defence lawyer Mariam Kian-Arsi said: “Our specific and clear demand is to have the stoning sentence stopped by Ayatollah Shahroudi since the defendants are liable to be stoned at any moment.” Women ‘poorly represented’ In theory the penalty of stoning to death applies to both men and women.

But the lawyers say that in practice, many more women than men receive the sentence because they are less well educated and often poorly represented in court.

Human rights group Amnesty International earlier this year called on Iran to abolish “this grotesque punishment” and said many facing execution by stoning were sentenced after unfair trials.

Under Iran’s strict penal code, men convicted of adultery should be buried up to their waists and women up to their chests for stoning. The stones used should not be large enough to kill the person immediately.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/7516238.stm

Published: 2008/07/20 14:20:18 GMT
I tried to imagine myself as the person about to be stoned – what it would be like to be buried to your shoulders, knowing what would happen next.  I tried to imagine what it would be like to be the man involved who got away free – is he hiding?  Does he feel guilty?  Relieved?

What would it be like to be the parent of the young woman that was about to be stoned, or the friend? What would go through the mind of the person or persons that make the decision to go through with this as a punishment?

Who am I that picks up stones and waits for the last shovelful of dirt to be in place.   Do I know the person I am going to use as a target?  What are the sounds?  Does the person cry out?  Where does this happen?  Is there a regular “stoning” place in the village?

Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned.  But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

According to several sources I read including Wikipedia, four eye-witnesses would need to be produced to prove adultery.  They have to be men and they have to be Muslim.  If four eye-witnesses could be produced, how could rape have happened in the first place?
Who do they find to throw the stones?

I could say something about how we throw metaphorical stones at each other every day.  That idea doesn’t mean much when I picture the real thing.

One Of THOSE Days

It has been one of those days. Dale’s appointment at the Transplant Institute was today so we were leaving the house a little before six a.m.  As we went to get into the car a man stood up from between two of our vehicles where he had been crouched.  He was holding a drawstring bag and said he was looking for his cat.  He described the cat as white calico?  We told him it might have gone to the field behind the houses and he could get there by walking to the end of the street.  As he walked off I called the police department and they said they would check on it.  We received two phone calls from them in the next hour and a half as we were on our way to Dallas.  The first to confirm his description as they were talking to someone in the area we had described to them.  The second call was to thank us.  He had been going along stealing from cars in the driveways!

We rarely lock our cars (not that we have anything in them that anyone would want) but even so, we will now.

The traffic was light for a change so we were early which turned out to be a good thing.  DTI has been at a temporary location and we went to the office we had been going to, went up to the second floor, down the hall, opened the door and….darkness.  No sign or anything. We knew where they were moving to and luckily it was nearby so we still made it on time but a little notice would have been nice.

We took my MacBook with us as it has been having issues and had been repaired once only to be having the same problem when I got it home.  Unforunately I had not been paying attention to the news about the new iPhone which came out TODAY!  I never imagined what a big deal it ws until we drove past the little Apple store with the line going out the door, past the security guard, around the corner, and TWO BLOCKS down the street!  Uh yes, we drove on by.

Dale’s creatinine was up just a bit and after the last visit the doc had him do a 24 hour urine collection and get blood drawn here in Paris.  The lab work was done at PRMC and the results were given to the Nephrologist here.  The orders specifically said to fact the results to the doc at DTI and had the fax number one them.  They did not have the results today (The tests were done over two weeks ago!) and the Nephrologist office here is closed after noon on Friday.  They had called them this morning while we were there – the phone number had been written in pencil on his lab results from today from where the doc called right before we got today’s results.  When I called at 2:30 P.M.  They still did not have them.  I called the hospital and got them to fax the results which were not conclusive.  He has to repeat the test but this time we are skipping the local and taking it directly to DTI.  I am not griping about the lab here as much as I am about the Nephrologist who should know that in a post-transplant patient 2 weeks is just a tad long to wait for results on a crucial test.

Now, I’m pretty sure the refrigerator is dying.

Addendum – the refrigerator IS dying. We went and bought a new one – got it cheap – it has a dent, don’t care.  It has a bottom freezer and that was my one requirement.  We finished the evening off with the Paris Municipal Band concert and then came home and transferred food to the freezer in the garage til the new one comes.

I’m going to bed before something else happens!