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philosophy 101: part one

Sunday, January 22, 2012
I have this theory that if every one in world was to be trained by their mama from the time they first discovered they could take their own clothes off - to not leave them on the floor - basically to clean up after their own self - that we would not have the problems here on the planet we seem to be facing.

I tell young mothers, when I know them well enough, to be able to offer a piece of unsolicited advice what a valuable trait it would be to have young people of both genders be willing to clean up after themselves. From the time they can sit upright in a bath tub - they are definitely old enough to pick up there tiny little articles of clothing and put them in a laundry basket. No reason they cannot match their wee little clean socks together when they come out of the dryer too! But just to train them up to know that they are responsible for keeping their clothes up off the floor - that mama won't spend the rest of her life picking up after them, putting the dirty dishes in the washer, reminding them to get their chores/homework done - practice for the Real World of independent living. And guys are as capable as girls by the time they are in six in telling red from white, and dark from light to help sort the laundry.

If people climbing Mt. Everest 'just because it is there' were to have to figure out how to get all their trash back down the mountain before they ever took the first step (including personal waste products) as well as all those cylinders of oxygen they use to make that crazy climb - they would be much less likely to leave their trash in their wake.

If people who can afford to drink the beer, go through the drive-in fast-food window would just keep their trash in the car until they get home, instead of being so thoughtless, I would not be out there in my front yard picking up the wrappers and empties that get dumped on the right of way. And blown into my yard. I am pretty faithful about recycling my own trash, but have no desire to be the one to be picking up after strangers, to put their empty soda/beer cans and bottles out for the city to pick up. If you have the resources to make the purchase, have to courtesy to take your trash with you. Your mama don' t work here.

I see indifferent uncaring kids in school lunch rooms all the time, dropping trash, food, milk cartons on floor and adults whose specific job it is to pick up, wipe down,sweep after they finish their lunches. I am all for having them all take a turn as the cleaners. It might make them so aggravated to have to clean up after other sloppy people, they would realize they need to be self-policing.  All those kids are learning is that it is ok to live like pigs. I am almost certain that they are not allowed to drop food on the floor at home, leave eating utensils on the table every day and spill cartons of milk with no consequences. There is absolutely no need whatsoever for us to be paying adults in janitorial positions to clean up after other people's kids in the public schools.

You gotta instill the self-discipline, just like they are not born knowing manners and how to say 'please' and 'thank you'. You gotta be present, willing to be the enforcer, willing to invest the time in following up, being consistent with seeing they do the job the right way, until they do it without the reminder. You gotta be willing to be the nagging mother/adult who is the person who makes them come back and re-do when they roll their eyes, try to take the short-cut, half-way effective, until they realize there are no shortcuts, and You will be calling them back to do it over... like we all learned: When we rolled our own eyes, and heard a thousand times: "if you are going to do it, you might as well go ahead and do it right the first time".

thinking of donating...

Friday, January 20, 2012
I just started the process to get on the list as a donor for kidney transplants. After discovering, late last year, I'd 'aged out' of the potential donors for blood marrow, I was sorta sad. Then read an article in the Sunday newspaper, Parade magazine section about a disconnected yet remarkable group of people who were kidney donors and thought: Hey! I can do that. The article described a series of fortunate circumstances by about a dozen different people who needed or had kidneys they were willing to part with. It was almost like a 'round robin' thing where "I know of a need" and "I've got a spare" and a matter of people getting matched up by the national transplant program as a result of knowing some one who had that desperate need, or a desire to give, but not knowing the person whose life would be changed by such an act of  unforseen kindness and unexpected generosity.

So when I accidently found myself no longer a candidate for marrow donation, as a result of going with someone else who wanted to sign up to give at a local donor drive - it was sad, but I've been around long enough to know that we all have to live within certain parameters. So though I pursued a possible exception to the 'rule', I also decided to check into kidney donations. The article in the paper indicated the first step would be to get in touch with the nearest site that would be part of the national network for transplanting organs. I discovered that to be Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

I just talked to someone at Emory Healthcare, which is the closest medical facility participating in organ transfer program. Had my initial interview, and will talk to the staff at length next week. In the same sense, though, of course much more invasive involved and intense, that I have made donations of pints to the ARC over many years (currently at just over 110), I thought: I have more than I need, and there is someone out there that this will really make a difference for... so why not? I believe that I have a number of body parts that are in relative good health, and sad to think that the marrow collectors think mine is too old to have any value. Not too much wanting to consider donating the unit as a whole to the Body Farm (to be left out in the weather to decompose at a natural rate) , but hope that there will be something of value in a physical sense to leave to someone who might benefit from what I have used, and thoroughly enjoyed -but not used up- for many years.

life with a worry wart...

Unbeknownst to me, I married a Worry Wart. I have recently concluded it is a genetic trait, and expectantly making an effort to be at peace with the situation. Partly because I have long known you can't change other people, and also due to the fact that it's too late to start over. Not that I have even the least bit of interest in starting over at this date/age/stage: I have been saying for many years that I believe I have filled my quota in the spousal department.

For the longest time I thought he was truly interested in where I was going, what I was doing, what my plans were for a particular period of time. (Or worse: trying to mind my business!?) But now I think he just mostly wants to know:
A). when I will be on the road, so he will know how long he has to be concerned about my safety while I am driving.
B). when I will be back to see that he is called to the table at meal time without him having to do anything other than show up.
So IF  I agree to call him upon reaching my destination and consistently ring the dinner bell, I think he has finally figured out I can pretty much take care of myself.

He has told me over the years that his mother was historically a worrier. But I never stopped to consider it might be genetic. I guess maybe it could be? He, the retired guy, with almost never a plan for the day, or any events on his calendar (that he keeps on his phone in his pocket - funny that it is now so conveniently available/accessible, without need of desk calendars/daily planners - and he has virtually nothing to notate!) other than 'leventy-dozen doctors' apponitments with a multitude of specialists he sees on a regular basis for various and sundry body parts. I was making a list recently of all the different practices he visits, and lost count (not so difficult for the arithmetically impaired to do) but I actually ran out of fingers as I tried to tick off all the doctors he deals with on a regular/rotating basis. All of whom routinely question him about the care and feeding of the various organs they have expertise with - and likely all get the same answer: 'Oh, I'm fine!".

Which is pretty much what I am planning to give as my answer: 'Oh, he's just fine', having decided this the best response/course of action when people I encounter ask me about 'how's he doin'?  I conclude people don't Really Want to Know about all your aliments, aches, pains, aging process - they are mostly just being  polite without actually wanting to devote their time to having a conversation, especially about personal health issues within some other persons' person.

But he is a worrier: more so since he has so much time on his hands to devote to such a project that requires no physical effort or power tools. So I am going to make a conscious effort to respond to those requests:
Call me when you get there?
Let me know you are safely at your destination so I can stop fretting?
Check in to let me know you are o.k.?
Be sure you tell me when you arrive?
I might be so unconcerned I will be taking a nap, but do give me a call to notify you are safe?
By remembering to make the call before I even get out of the car... now that I consider that he got that from his mother, and he, bless-his-heart, can't help himself.

winter storms...

Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I woke up this morning, way too early as usual - one of the major hazards I have discovered to be part of the aging process. I readily admit that thus far: this seems to be my only problem, so it is definitely not a complaint - just a fact of changing body chemistry.  I really like the geezer discounts at movies, free drinks at Taco Bell, etc, but I think I would probably, today at least, rather have a really good nights' sleep on a regular basis. If you out there, know any tricks I am not aware of over here, that would safely (preferably without drugs) induce a long restful night, please pass along the information before you get a copyright on the solution?

While I was lying there, pondering the universe as I do in the wee hours, with only my nose sticking out of my warm little nest, I heard something that sounded like a large building imploding. So I stuck an ear out as well, and discovered all the accompanying special effects of a winter storm passing over. Strobe lights flickering off and on, off and on, at an alarming rate, with accompany thunder and pounding rain on the roof. What sounded in the distance like long string of box cars banging together repeatedly coupling and uncoupling in series, over and over, a great rumbling, grumbling, grinding. (I suspect  going to the "War Horse" movie and the horrific scenes and sounds of WWI were mixed up in all this somehow, though I was fully awake before the storm started rolling across the panhandle of the county.)

All the signs of a bad winter storm: Which I saw a small snippet about when I was checking mail last night. There was a photo on AOL of a house, that looked fairly modern (meaning not the traditional yurt/igloo/tipi design you see in social studies/history books in elementary school libraries). It was covered in what the little twelve word description reported as about fifteen feet of snow. I am pretty sure it was in the US, probably in the upper mid-west, and I assume a current photo rather than something from a file. I am glad that is not me, living in that house, with the risk of no public services. Reminding me of that 'unexpected' storm back in the fall up on the eastern seaboard where people in the region were without power for days, and schools were closed due to both outages and trees downed prohibiting travel.

But honestly: those people make a choice, deliberate or not, conscious or not, to live where they live. They made a decision to buy a house, or sign a rental agreement, probably due to proximity of employment and/or family members. But still: it was a decision, overt, deliberate, due to failure to weigh it out carefully? And they do not live on the steppes in a yurt, or little stony drab, gray village hanging precariously to the side of the Himilayan Mountain range, isolated and ignorant of world events, both large and small. So they had access to the media, who were stirring up alarm, trying to raise an alert, warning about impending weather.

Those who choose to disregard that information then became: All those people who began demanding utilities and conveniences. Things we'uns in the most permissive, coddled nation in the world have begun to think of as necessities (up to and including potable water when we turn on the tap - or even flush: can you imagine what someone in third world country in that little dirt-floored, window-less, grass-roofed hut in Africa, Asia or South America would think of us throwing good fresh drinking water away every time we eliminate personal waste products?) Instant-on lights, refrigeration, and glass cook top stoves and more food stockpiled  in the pantry than we could eat in two weeks.

And: toilet paper!!! Have you ever considered what your life would be like without an ample supply of toilet paper? Great googly-moogly. Thank you Procter and Gamble for flushable paper. I am going to stop typing right now and get myself to the store to start stockpiling...

Well, those people who are making demands, saying 'I pay my utilities' and 'My family needs the 20 cubic foot upright freezer to work so all my groceries won't spoil' - they did choose to live in the mountains of New Hampshire or on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan or inaccessible Rocky Mountains in Montana. Yes, you will have times of aggravation, inconvenience and hardship. Like a twenty mile round trip to the curb store when you are out of beer and smokes at 10:00 p.m. But you do have that pick-up truck, and a pocket full of change to go down the hill to make the purchase, and a safe, dry, comfortable bed to sleep in when you get back.

So, step away from those temporary annoyances and discomforts: You do have all the promises and freedoms that come with American citizenship. Not 'free', mind you, but bought at great price by many generations of men and women in conflicts, service to country and committed in their efforts to preserve the constitution. But please: look UP instead of down, count your blessings, or snowflakes or children instead of complaining about the incessant mud they track in when the storm comes and the 'snow-days' accumulate.

All this to say, I was thinking about a road trip today: I have a car with a full tank of gas, good tires, excellent mileage ability, credit card for convenience at stops - and was moaning over the fact that I don't want to get out on the highway when I can't use the cruise control due to slick roads. Considering the annoyance of having to watch the speedometer every minute and adjust pressure on the accelerator constantly to keep speed steady - is that mundane, petty, silly, insignificant? Well... yesh, most definitely a poor excuse to postpone....

not really my story to tell, but ....

Saturday, January 7, 2012
This happened last week, and it's not really my story, but 'tellling' in an interesting way so I will report as an observer, even though I did not actually 'observe' as it unfolded. I think I may qualify as an Person of Interest or maybe just an interested party, but as I have pondered it for a couple of days, realize it might be better put in the recent commentary on Thankfulnesses.

A daughter was going to stay in the house down in south GA for the weekend, with friends, hangers-on, posse, associates, a generally motley crew. They were late leaving north GA, so excessively late getting to their destination: which explains why she called me at midnight or 12:01, providing opportunity for a heart attack or thoughts of 'blood gushing' and 'body parts flying' when the ringing awakens you from a sound sleep. She was reporting that the key I had described was not in the location as expected and in a quandry - tired, hoping for a nice warm bed. As if that were not awful enough: the bed would not be warm, since the HVAC was on the fritz. But just getting in the door was the first obstacle. ALL I could do from three hours away was say a bad word. Then call someone who was also sound asleep, but much closer with a spare. He admitted that he knew the location of the wayward key, and provided info. to get the weary travelers in the cold house.

They got in, and started to turn on lights. Then had a knock on the door from local law enforcement. So it took some explaining to satisfy the constabulary they had legitimate rights to be on the premises. I think they actually had to produce photo ID and got checked in the data base for felonious behavior. Pretty exciting for people who only wanted to fall into bed. I know they were asked to tell who, what, why, and where:   interesting to consider, as I now realize that anyone with a penchant for B&E is likely to not know the street address for the scene of the crime.

Crazy under most circumstances to be thankful for nosy neighbors, but I am. I am glad someone lives in a house next door that has been off-and-on empty for years, that they were up and peering out through the curtains, being suspicious, and willing to make the call. Thankful to know they were concerned enough to be Minding My Business. And appreciative enough that I called to get info. so I could write a note and let them know they are welcome to mind anytime they want...

In this day and age of frivilous litigation, people seemingly oblivious, passing by those in distress, indifferent/unwilling to get involved, it is very gratifying, even on such a small scale, to know that there are people who want to step up. Interested enough in the lives of others to make a move to insure safety. I recently read about research someone had done on the Good Samaritan principle - curious to know what makes people stop, slow down their busy-ness, divert their path, change their plans to help out others in need. Researchers thought the primary reason might be compassion, or concern, or medical training, or just a desire to help. I don't know how the project was carried out, to come to the end result. But according to the story, the main reason people got involved: Time. They apparently were willing to devote their time to helping. Not trained experts, not overwhelming compassion, but just willing to stop and assist. I think: a willingness to do the right thing, even if it might be inconvenient. But I have come to realize that the most valuable commodity we all have is: Time.

Time: something we seem to be amazingly willing to let slip through our fingers, when we should all be far more deliberate, intentional in spending it wisely. So That is my plan for the coming year.What are you going to do with the next 52 weeks?

a multitude of reasons for being thankful... (ongoing)

Thursday, January 5, 2012
When I went down town last Sat. to do my little volunteer jobette, painting in the renovated branch bank building, I noticed a group of people standing around on the sidewalk. They were in front of the little brick building that is office space for the Homeless Network, a program that provides services/info. to people on the streets. They obviously had no place to go, nothing to do, nowhere else to hang out. It was Saturday, and the building was not open to the public. They were back there, standing in a close huddle to conserve body heat, on Monday morning, when the Network was probably closed for the holiday. Again: no place to go, nothing to do, except hang out... waiting for the next meal at Valley Rescue Shelter.

So let's start counting our blessings. Clean underwear? Warm clothes? Warm beds? Warm houses, bathrooms with heaters? Houses with thermostats instead of tents?Hot water for showers? Soap, towels? Toothbrushes? Resources to pay the power bill when it is cold or hot? Windows to open when the weather moderates? Vehicles to drive, plastic to pay for gas to power vehicles? Gloves to keep from touching that cold steering  wheel? Carports to park cars in that prevent the 'incovenience' of scraping frost off vehicles that are paid-in-full? And let's hear it for wool socks!!

To say nothing of plenty of food, nutritious, meals of our choosing? To the point of making decisions to Not eat something if we choose? Health. Walking: sturdy, one-owner shoes, strength, energy, motivation, fresh air, sunshine, back around to good nutrition that gives the strength and energy to get out and do it...Plus a Highly Motivating factor is an excursion I am looking forward to in early August when I will go to TN, with P and C and J and his posse.

Family. Time. More time with family. I am making a deliberate conscious effort to spend time with the people I care most about. Have spaces marked off on my calendar for the next 12 months to devote to the people I love most who make me laugh best. U know who U R!  I'm excited already!

...well, maybe not a scrrreeeching halt....

The person who serves as our church receptionis has a talent/obviously gifted for the avocation of beautifully decorating our worship space. She recently found herself designing and painting wall-mounted scenery. What she has created has graciously, magnificently enhanced worship. She did a beautiful five-panel series of stretched canvas (even building the stretchers to her specs, and mounted the canvas) to illustrate Advent. She is now in the process of producing a rolled 'backdrop', more of an illustration, for the next sermon series,  trying to finish in time to have up for this coming Sunday.

And me: I am the church laundry-lady. Stopping by every week to pick up dirty dish towels in the kitchen and return them several days later Magically Clean. (Somewhat/how related to the Clean Underwear Fairy who has been secretly living within the walls of our house for thirty years....amazingly mysteriously remarkably astounding that we have yet to see him/her/it.) I am considering petitioning at the next committee meeting to have an official title, and maybe even get a key to the kitchen door, so I can pick up and return the towels without chasing down one of maintianance staff for admittance.

When I was passing through on Wed., with clean towels, looking for a key-holder to the kitchen, I talked to the receptionist and found her stressing about getting her next project painted, dry, hung before Sunday at 9:00 a.m. So I told her when she got back to church with the paint, to call me and I would come help. As you know, I love to paint, and got pretty well squelched with my last project.

I went over about 7:00, we painted till nearly 10:30. Which means I was after 11:00 turning out the light and going to sleep. Which means I did not crash at the usual 8:30 or 9:00, which means I spent all night actually sleeping. That was nice. I accidently, unintentionally slept all night on Saturday, but feel like it was primarily due to the fact that we were nearly 1:00 (after New Year's Eve entertainment) getting to bed, so not sure I deserve bragging rights to a good night's sleep on that one.

Anyway - I told her when she got ready to finish up today - to call and I would come back and we could probably get the thing wrapped up in a couple of hours. Reminding me so of a 'Choppy-ism', a saying I recall from years ago, that  I never heard come out of anyone mouth other than my mother: 'Many hands make light work'. Really enjoyed the work, that was not actually 'labor' since it was enjoyed, and the company. Thanks, J, for inviting me into yur world :)

painting career is over...

That painting I did on the last day of that old, raggedy, used-up year has come to a screeching halt.  I told the guy, Bill, who I assumed was the on-site supervisor, I could come back on Monday (1-2) and do more, priming the trim that already probably had forty coats of paint. So I went in and started about 10:00, hoping the building was warm enough for successful paint application.'They were not very organized'. Maybe recovering from staying up too late on Saturday night, but when I first saw the staff of Dr. and head nurse + Bill on Monday, they all had heads bowed in prayer, so I doubt there was much mis-behaving going on over the weekend ...just getting off to a slow, creaky start on a Monday morning.


I knew I would be using some primer that is very viscous, thick, all purpose, oil based, designed to stick to most any surface, and hard to remove. I'd tried to get that 'kilz' out of some paintbrushes I adopted/brought home on Saturday afternoon, made a run to wally world for paint thinner to let them soak after previous users left sitting in a water filled bucket far too long. With only marginal success. Had a very educational conversation about chemistry, paint, polymers with the paint-seller at discount store, which made  me understand why my attempt would be aggravating, resulting with ultimately throwing the paint brushes in the trash....

So here I am, around noon on Monday, with a container of paint/primer in one hand, and a wet paint brush in the other, making the usual up and down motion that one would make when painting the door facing. Quietly going about my business, pondering the world. One of the guys on the 'official' painting crew comes through the hall way with a bucket and paint roller in his hands, looks at me and says: 'what are you doing?' I said "Painting". This happened two more times.I guess I was a bit slow in comprehension, but after the third time, I finally understood that my limited skills and experience were no longer needed/welcome. So I picked up my little bucket of supplies, discreetly left.

I think they were aiming for a 'soft opening' of the clinic this week, but from what I saw on Monday, were far from ready to provide community health services. I think Jan. 4 or 5 was their goal, the date they were aiming for, but I will watch for info. in the paper. Our home-town Ledger-Enquirer (now printed in Macon, GA, in a cost-cutting measure) has gotten so pitifully thin by focusing on pertinent local news of stabbings, wrecks, lurid scenarios involving well-known, high-profile citizens, dirt-digging, dipping local politicians and public employees in the mud-hole - they often print 'sections' that consist of pages 1-4.

But I am looking forward to reading about the clinic opening.I plan to share that information with an un-insured, un-employed, medically ailing friend, to make her aware of their services, and hope she will go and find relief from chronic problems. When people get to the point that they can barely walk, inching along in pain, I know they need relief... and the one I know personally might benefit from a little push to get there...