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September 1, 2014
7:17am EDT

Rated: E | Book | Cultural | #1437803
My blog. I'm opionated and I just want to sound off.
  It's a collection of editorials or even mini-sermons. I know it's wrong to give unwanted advice if you want to have a few friends. But I can't fight the urge that I know better than they what they should or shouldn't do. I have all this wisdom and experience and it's such a shame not to share it!
Our culture needs some sound advice and I'm just the one to give it.
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August 31, 2014 at 10:56pm
August 31, 2014 at 10:56pm
Labor Day
         Why is Labor Day a holiday? I'm glad it is. But I had to look this up. Turns out it's been a holiday since 1882! It started in New York, then spread to other states, and by 1885 was everywhere. Of course, not all territories were states by then. It was a day set aside to honor all the every day workers who had helped this country become what it is. I would have guessed after The Great Depression. Who knew it was after the Civil War?

         So who thought this up? Someone named McGuire. But no one is certain exactly which McGuire. Peter was a carpenter and an officer in his union and got wide credit for dreaming it up. But Matthew was a machinist and has also gotten credit for it. Whichever McGuire suggested it, the unions backed them up and got political support for it. Today, it still honors the laborers of this country. Except for retail workers.

         Unfortunately, when the government closes down, the stores do more business. Those workers for city, state and federal government have secure income, sometimes more income, so they shop on the holidays for appliances, furniture, cars, and other big ticket items. So retail workers actually don't get the day off; they may even work longer hours, definitely busier hours. I think the original intention was for people who actually build things, or do physical labor, to get recognition and celebration. People like plumbers, manufacturers, bridge builders, seamstresses, trash collectors, and delivery men would get a special day. But I guess they couldn't exclude clerical workers, managers, bankers, and so forth.

         So have a happy Labor Day and remember to thank your sales clerk.
August 30, 2014 at 11:56pm
August 30, 2014 at 11:56pm
Fall Flies In
         Oh, dear, it's that time of year that goes by so fast. Why does fall, which isn't officially here yet, go so much faster than other times of the year? It's always been that way. Labor Day hits and the school year starts, then quickly high school football is over for the year, THE holidays are here, and then the long slow, cold winter. Spring speeds up a little, then summer slips by, then another fall races in and goes too quickly.

         Time is so . . . flaky, for lack of a better word. When you're waiting for your doctor's appointment, 30 minutes seems like hours. Thirty minutes on your lunch time races by. A minute at a stop light seems like forever. The time my head hits the pillow until the alarm goes off seems like seconds.

         Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer. (Old school: no wearing of white after Labor Day.) There are so many things going on in the fall. I suppose if time is relative, and there are so many activities, that it only seems fast. But it's been that way since I was much, much younger. Pumpkins to pick, decorations for one holiday after another, presents to buy, plays and concerts to attend or to practice for. As we get older, we have to add in doctor appointments for self or children.

         We can say it's our fast paced lives, this modern world, etc. But the truth is every generation feels the same way. Thomas Jefferson's daughter wrote a letter complaining about how much faster the world was moving, and that there wasn't enough time to relax as in her youth, and that was the early 1800's! Wordsworth wrote the "world is too much with us, late and soon" . . . He too complained our worldly cares made life speed by as we get older. John Donne complained of the same thing in the 1600's.

         So it's just the human condition. It's not us, not our world, not our generation. It's not that the world has changed and moving so much faster. That's just the human experience. I suppose if we didn't feel like time was fleeting, we wouldn't be human.

         So I will try to relish these days and make the most of them. And I will know that I am human after all if the time flies by.
August 29, 2014 at 10:20pm
August 29, 2014 at 10:20pm
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
         I have been concerned because I know a handful of people who did the ice bucket challenge who did not raise money or make any public statements, or give a donation themselves as far as I know. It seemed that they were into the fad of it, rather than what it represents.

         However, after a little investigation, I have learned that the challenge is working. Over 94 million dollars have been collected by the ALS Association this summer. They have plans to distribute it to researchers first and for education and outreach. Like me, people have researched a little about the disease.

         When I've mentioned Lou Gehrig, I found young people going, "Who?" You know, the baseball player. Unfortunately, the movie about him is old now, so very few younger people have heard of a baseball player from the 1920's. I knew the disease took his name because he was the first famous person to have it. It ended his career. In my research, I found that it was discovered 60 years before he was struck with it.

         First, the real name: Amyotrohic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS (easier for people like me), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. It's a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Again, for people I know, that means it gets worse slowly and affects the nervous system and breaks down its components, in this case the brain, spinal cord, and neurons or transmitters. The transmitters run from the brain to the voluntary muscles. They will eventually become paralyzed and die.

.          The ice bucket challenge was started by some families affected by the disease. And it has been a wonderful success and windfall for researchers, doctors, and victims of ALS. So if you can get some people to make a donation to see you doused in ice water, or maybe your boss, go for it!
August 28, 2014 at 11:15pm
August 28, 2014 at 11:15pm
Funeral of a Cousin
         I attended a younger cousin's funeral today. His death was not unexpected. The doctors gave him seven to ten days to live four months ago. He was determined to hang on. His kidneys were failing and he refused to undergo dialysis. He did not want to run his life around a procedure three times a week. He slowly drifted away and died peacefully at home.

         His family was reconciled to the inevitable. Although there was some sadness, an admission by his family that they would miss him, even in his neediness and fading energy, it was not the saddest funeral I've ever attended. He led a good life, was a happy person, and left many memories. He was honored by the fire department for which he volunteered until his health no longer allowed it.

         It was a gathering of family and friends in a common loss. I saw a child I hadn't seen in 20 years. I was surprised he remembered me, but I guess he heard news about me, just like I heard about him. I saw old people I hadn't seen in years, since the last funeral probably. We all agreed we needed to get together more. We don't have the right age group for throwing weddings any more, and funerals, well, there's enough of those.

         Our lives intertwine with others, whether related or not, then we drift apart. Somehow reuniting always seems natural and rekindles the warmth and joy between us. We catch up quickly and vow to get together soon. So many people drift in and out of lives, never completely severing the ties we build to them. Seeing them again, even briefly, makes us long for those old days, when we were younger and healthier, and prettier. We miss those bonds we built and the folks we've lost.
August 27, 2014 at 11:52pm
August 27, 2014 at 11:52pm
Stir fry eggplant
         Not much today. I tried a new recipe. And it's so easy I won't need to follow the recipe next time. Someone gave me a homegrown organic eggplant. It's not certifiable because they can't swear that all the neighbors don't use pesticide or have weed killer in the runoff. However, I didn't want to buy special cheese or spaghetti sauce so I looked around for the easy recipe and came up with stir fry.

         Now I think this might be a little healthy. You wash and chop up the egg plant. Add chopped garlic cloves. I added 3 because that's all I had. I minced it by hand. I used onions that we grew in the back yard, and I know they are not organic even if they are homegrown. I also used homegrown basil. There's no chemicals directly on it or the soil, but things are in the air in this neighborhood. I added a pinch of black pepper and stir fried in olive oil.

         The verdict: delicious. We loved it. I sprinkled soy sauce in it just before serving. It was fast, had a quick clean up, and went well with rice. We'll do it again.
August 26, 2014 at 10:38pm
August 26, 2014 at 10:38pm
Second Opinion
         Well, for once I have good news. The bad business is still out there, however, some better news came along. My brother was told he had mesothelioma and there was no hope. He would have four months without treatment, maybe 18 months after chemo, no guarantees. He was concerned about quality of life in the time he has left. The doctor got mad when his daughter said she wanted a second opinion. She was polite about it, but he was offended, even though he admitted he had little experience in this type cancer.

         He was supposed to start chemo that week, but it was delayed to draw fluid off his lungs. He did not reschedule the chemo. No one from the cancer center or the doctor's office has called him back. He saw several lawyers about mesothelioma and chose one. They recommended two specialists in this cancer, one for lungs in Texas, one in DC for the abdomen.

         He arrived at Baylor yesterday and was met at the airport by a patient advocate. He had doctor's appointments all day today. He said Baylor is like a city of hospitals all connected with skywalks. Everyone was pleasant to him and patient. The specialist there says he doesn't need chemo! He says it hasn't invaded his lungs, only his diaphragm. He's doing a biopsy Wednesday morning, so the doctor can make a quick assessment. He's accommodating his travel schedule.

         He will need a surgery soon, and will need to be off but can go back to work two weeks later. The doctor knows he walks a lot and has a physical job. My brother asked if he would be able to play the piano after the surgery. The doctor said, "Absolutely." Gary said, "That will be a miracle. I can't play it now." The doctor likes his attitude and his joking nature, and says his sense of humor will help him.

         At Baylor they tell him he has 5 to 7 years median life span. He also says that within five years they hope to have big advancements in this disease. This doctor gave him hope, not doom and gloom. He's realistic. He will have surgeries and treatments, but will have quality of life in between.

         Once the diaphragm thing is done, he will go to DC to see the stomach specialist. That is not so dire. It's a slow moving, stable cancer and doesn't have so much threat. It will be inconvenient; there will be discomfort, and expense. But the outlook is much happier.

         He told me over the phone tonight that he is stronger, younger, overall healthier, and prettier than most mesothelioma patients. You can't beat that! Always get a second opinion.
August 25, 2014 at 10:16pm
August 25, 2014 at 10:16pm
Paring Down
         I'm a materialistic person. I'm trying to get away from that. I've stopped collecting things. I don't want autographs from famous people or travel souvenirs or other things that my heirs don't want to keep or be bothered with discarding when I'm gone. I'm not rich enough to collect art or jewels or anything notable. I haven't been able to stop buying books.

         But aside from reducing my intake of new things, I'm not making much progress on getting rid of old things. I've finally gotten rid of shoes I'll never wear again, even if they were like new. I'm talking myself into getting rid of some other things I'll never use. For instance, no one uses hair curlers any more. But have I thrown mine away? No, they are still in a drawer, taking up space. I've never used the Christmas cookie jar that looked so cute. Why haven't I dusted off the box and donated that somewhere? Wool suits that are outdated are still in my closet. They will never be back in style. Good Will won't take out of style clothes or long coats because they don't move. Even charity closets can't give away out of style clothes. The trash can is waiting, but I feel so guilty throwing out expensive things.

         There's a TV downstairs that works. A furniture style console color TV before remote controls were made. No one wants it. I have an upright piano that needs refinishing sitting in my garage, but it needs restringing. It hasn't been tuned since the early 1900's, so the strings are no good. I'd have to pay someone to carry it to the dump.

         I've been too attached to things. I'm having a hard time letting go. Now I'm watching my sick brother selling his backhoe and his motorcycle because he knows he's dying and won't need them. He wants to save his children the trouble. He wants to close up all his remodeling projects on his property, so that the kids can sell the house easily enough.

         In our consumption oriented, heavily merchandised culture, it's easy to lose sight of what really matters to us. We over complicate our lives with material things. I've never had much money, so I've never had a lot. Yet I've had more than I needed. I'm working on it, on cutting back. Maybe I'm getting mentally ready to let go. I don't want to wait too long.
August 24, 2014 at 7:01pm
August 24, 2014 at 7:01pm
         Maybe by writing about this disease, as I learn more about it and its treatment, the process can be therapeutic for me. My family has been hit by it in that one of our members has been diagnosed with it. When one member of the family is ill, we all go through it together, although only the one has the physical pain and discomfort and eventual death.

         It is a cancer of the lining around the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Not every state has doctors or hospitals equipped to deal with it. We live near a cancer center that is outstanding for breast cancer, one of the best in the world, but in general cancer treatments, it doesn't make the list for acceptable treatment. So you have to search for the right doctor, the right location. Most hospitals can administer chemo once that's been prescribed, but surgeries and overall direction needs to be in a specialty hospital.

         The symptoms involve shortness of breath and can be mistaken for asthma, pneumonia, heart disease, and others. It makes the person fatigued and achy. Once it hits the abdomen, there is more discomfort and slight nausea. But that's not the part that kills you; it's the lungs and heart. It almost always involves asbestos, inhaled. People who've worked around truck brakes, insulation, coal mines, and various building products most commonly get it. People who have done the laundry of such workers have also breathed the asbestos and could have contracted mesothelioma. So that means the people who were involved in the manufacture of these products or who have used them in the building industry could develop this disease eventually.

         It's been around since 1929. Little progress has been made in its treatment. It is never cured. People do not go into remission after treatment. The average life span after surgery without chemo is about 11 months. With chemo, it goes from 4 to 24 months, but in rare cases longer. I have yet to hear about the quality of life after the chemo stops. The person known to live the longest since diagnosis is still alive in 2014, having been diagnosed in 1997. He's the exception to the rule.

         There are lawyers ready, willing, and waiting to help the patient get their part of the trust fund established by the asbestos companies. You've seen the ads if you've ever been in front of a TV. They want their piece of the action, and will help the patient with their experience, to consult doctors, and choose treatment. They actually become knowledgeable from dealing with many people of the medical terminology and can assist in getting appointments, airline tickets, etc., to make consultations. The cost comes out of your settlement. We figure that it will be enough to cover what the insurance does not cover, after lawyer fees, and travel expenses, unless it goes on for years. There won't be any profit for the patient. So you not only have to choose the right doctor, but the most honest lawyer (if that's possible) who will do the best job for you.

         I'm praying for a miracle, a scientific break through. Work is being done in cell research that may help fight the cancer cells. I want to hurry it up. You know you ignore these things until they strike home.
August 23, 2014 at 11:53pm
August 23, 2014 at 11:53pm
         So many records to keep. Even the simplest life requires so many records. The easy ones include warranties, owners manuals, etc. Then there's bills and the proofs you paid them. Insurance policies, retirement plans, investments if any, bank accounts, loan records, claims, and so forth.

         I live with my elderly father. The dining room is his office. When I have company, I have to wait until he clears away his papers to set the table. I can decorate the mantel for the season, but will find bills between the candlesticks and photographs in a day or two. He thinks its okay to leave two seats at the table with magazines or things he's working on if we're only seating four for dinner. Mom never let him get away with that, but I can't control him. He gets mad at me when he can't find something the next day. And he has to include Medicare and many other documents.

         My things I keep with the computer in the guest bedroom. I need an office, too. My bills, my genealogy notes, my writing, my church papers, are all mixed in one space. Then when guests come, either overnight or just for an afternoon, they move whatever they want around. Then I'm lost again. At least I don't mix them in the eating area.

         I tried to set up a movable file for Dad, but he doesn't understand the principles of filing. He likes piles. I use plastic boxes for mine. Getting organized is not a problem. Staying organized on a daily basis requires time and discipline.

         I guess a lack of discipline runs in the family. It just shows in different ways.

August 22, 2014 at 11:35pm
August 22, 2014 at 11:35pm
         Apple season is here. The orchards are open for picking and will be for a few months. Most have increased their profit base by expanding their produce and products. One local orchard has added grapevines and its own winery, just small for now. Most will have pumpkins in a month or two. They have added restaurants or snack bars since I was young, and offer hayrides when the pumpkins are in. One even has horses for rent for experienced riders.

         Most of the orchards here are on mountains. The cool night air and warm sunny days are the perfect combination for sweet juicy apples. In fact orchards are found throughout the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the best variety can only be found in these mountains, the Stayman. It's not found in grocery stores that truck in their produce. You have to go to farmers markets in town, or stands along the Parkway or the mountain orchards.

         The orchards are a great family outing. Small children love the activities. They all have the same souvenir shop. We have one called Graves Mountain, north of town, originally a family orchard, which makes its own jellies, including blueberry. Delicious. The scenery is spectacular. They have rocking chairs on the front porch, and people love to hang out there. There's big hill from the restaurant down to the drive below. It's tempting to lie down and just roll over the grass, but too many dogs! A splendid way to spend an afternoon.

         There's another called Carter's Mountain, closer to me, Southeast of town. The road is gravel, next to a historic inn. It winds for miles in ess curves up the mountain with sharp drops. You pray that you don't meet a vehicle going the other way, but you will. Someone has to go over the edge. You get to the top, and there's a huge parking lot. The scenery takes your breath away. You look down over the city. You bask in the glory. Then you buy apples and apple cider doughnuts. The apple cider is expensive, but it's fresh, no preservatives.

         I;ve got to go get some apples.

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