Archive for March, 2008

Life on Saturday

The Cougars are now 2 and 2. At this morning’s game I was sitting next to one very funny father.

“Look at that big goalie! We should check his ID. Is he under 11? He looks like a 9th grader to me!”

“Whoa! Watch number 2 go! We should check his report card. Maybe he has some bad grades.”

“Number 2 has got to go! That kid is killing us! Someone should trip him, maybe he’ll break a leg.”

We have four more games to go. Wish us luck. Go Cougars!


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Race has certainly been in the news of late with the furor over the vitriolic remarks made by Barak Obama’s pastor and mentor. I always worry about people who make preposterous remarks. The Rev. Wright said the US government gave the black community AIDS? What about all the white people who have it? Did the US give it to the millions of Africans who have it? Hasn’t the origin and spread of the disease been traced and documented? Remarks like that rank right up there with those who say the Holocaust never happened. Weren’t there survivors from the many camps? Soldiers who liberated the camps? Didn’t the Germans keep records? Never lie about anything that is easily checked.

This is something else I’ve noticed about people. If they want to blame others for anything, they will find a way to justify their rationale. Somehow promiscuity and irresponsible sexual habits don’t get mentioned as a basis for the AIDS problem. It just fell out of the sky? They have no ownership? It is so easy to blame others and avoid the mirror.

Some blame race for problems that may have nothing to do with race. Didn’t get a job promotion? A white person got it? Given all other factors as equal, could it be something as subtle as grammar? (Or work ethic? Or deadlines met?) If I were a personnel director whose company had to be represented in the market place around the country, one thing I would certainly want is people who spoke standard English. That has to do with language use, not with race. I’ve known plenty of blacks who speak standard English. I’ve also known plenty of whites who do not. However, if it is an issue, blacks may be shouting discrimination for the wrong reason. If people say they are educated, they need to speak as educated people do, whatever their race, and that means using standard English. It can be corrected. No one wants to say that out loud because even that comment sounds discriminatory.

Obama’s grandmother worried about passing black guys on the street? Darn tootin’! So has most of the female population, black or white! Why wouldn’t she if the men are hanging out in groups? Women don’t know what to expect. They feel very vulnerable, and they should. It’s a creepy feeling. Men fail to acknowledge that. However, I’ve felt a start whenever I’ve passed groups of Middle Eastern men in London, or Asians in Paris, or white guys in Augusta, Georgia. People are not identifying the correct cause of that fear.

I do know that I am tired of being blamed for slavery. Wasn’t there, didn’t contribute to it, as is the case for all of the people living today. If I’m going to be held responsible for a crime, let it be something I actually did. Everyone’s family has suffered at some point in history. That’s life. My father’s original ancestor left England rather than starve to death. He half-indentured himself to his uncle to pay for his passage to the new world. It took him 3 1/2 years to repay him. No free rides.

As Americans we have had so many wonderful opportunities. If life isn’t what we want, then let’s get up off our collective backsides and change it. Let’s rejoice and be glad. Let’s celebrate our successes and enjoy the beautiful life God, and hard work, has given us.

Happy Easter!

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The Cougars

Today Bruce’s soccer team eight, nine and ten year olds from Fort Gordon played their first game, a double header.  They lost the first and won the second one.  Quite respectable for their first real play day.  There isn’t another team at the post they can scrimmage.  As Bruce said, this was the first time they all were headed in the same direction.  These situations usually reveal the hidden jewel, the kid who rises to the occasion, beyond what you might expect.  And vice versa.

I’m actually starting to understand the game.  One parent said, “This is better than March Madness!”  It was exciting.  It’s great to know the kids by name as I go to the practices with Bruce.  I’m certainly not an assistant coach, just Mrs. Coach, however, it is fulfilling to watch them develop.  Bruce did still have some voice left from yelling instructions all morning.

We were up very early as the first game was at 9, so we were there after 8, meaning we got up at 6.  That’s tough on a Saturday.  Actually that’s tough now for me any day of the week!  But it was fun.  And we get to do it again Thursday.

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A Windy Day

I missed all the excitement at our house yesterday!

As soon as I left for the nail salon yesterday, a very tall pine tree in our next door neighbor’s yard blew over and fell across our property line onto our lower yard taking down our mutual power lines, and our Comcast and AT&T lines. The power line was live so it promptly started a fire in the pinestraw. The neighbor called 911 while Bruce ran for a fire extinguisher. Soon there was a fire truck, police cars and Georgia Power trucks all in front of our house! Not to mention all the neighbors at their windows or out in their yards. Big excitement on Sumac Drive!

The firemen were not needed as Bruce had already put out the fire. The police saw no real danger so they left. Only Georgia Power had work to do. They soon had the power back on and, although, the line was on the ground, we still had cable service. This morning Comcast had their line back up, and AT&T showed up this afternoon to restore the phone.

Here’s some observations. In the world of workmen, the one talking the least is the one doing the most labor. Competing utilities can sabotage the other company rather easily when they share access to the same area. Cable company service has really improved in recent years. I remember once when they got upset with me when I wouldn’t take a day off from work on the off chance they might show up that day. I laughed and told them they could keep their upgrade. Apparently lots of others felt the same way! So on the other hand, competition makes some companies (finally) improve their services.

Our dog, Ginger, who has to announce all “interloper” alerts (that’s in her job description), finally gave up, found her duck toy and crawled into her bed for a nap. When I got home, it was all over except the shouting. I got to see the Georgia Power truck pack up and leave. The cats came out of hiding; Bruce and Ginger were tired. Just another windy day in the pine tree forest.

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Pictures and Names

Now that I read the newspaper more slowly, I sometimes glance at the obituaries. Here are the unusual aspects I’ve noticed. The first is the euphemisms regarding death. “She entered eternal rest. . . .” “He went home to be with his Lord . . . .” Yesterday there were only two notices that used the word “died.” I’m not sure I understand the delicate wording. People’s names wouldn’t be in the obits unless they’re dead. Why tippy-toe around? Another oddity is the choice of pictures. Today there were two people both 89 years old with pictures of each in their 20s. Who would recognize them? At that age, many friends and relatives are already gone so why not use photos that people might actually know? I’ve made my family promise they won’t use my high school graduation picture. Granted, at eighteen I was quite foxy, however, I still would like others to recognize me when I “pass on to my eternal reward.”

Another thing are the names. Sometimes they use their nicknames. “Boo Boo” or “Shorty” or “Red” certainly help people know them. One obit even had two nicknames. Who has two official nicknames? Walter wasn’t good enough? In one obit no one — and I do mean no one — in the family had the same name. How can people be related and not share a common name somewhere down the line?

Another oddity is the description of their lives. One 89 year old from today’s obits was noted as a “WWII Gilder Pilot.” WWII ended 63 years ago. Surely he did a lot of important things in his life since the four years he spent in the Army. Why stress that, unless, to him, that was the only defining part of his life? (Last year I read the obituary of someone from church who I knew and I actually did not recognize the person described. He wrote the long obit himself, calling himself a name I never heard used. It was weird.)

So — many years from now I hope my obit has a picture my family and friends will recognize along with accurate information and no silly nicknames. Only my brothers know my family’s nickname for me and they’re sworn to secrecy. Or — maybe I’ll outlive them!

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Coughs and Books

Day four of the cold. Here’s the report. Fever is lower, cough is not as painful. I’m sleeping okay. Taking my Tylenol and only a minimum of cough syrup, resting and drinking lots of juice and fluids — all the things you’re supposed to do. When I was still working I would rest up for a day or two, then dose up on a ton of cold medicine and think that would fix it. Nope. By the way — a big spoonful of honey does as much to soothe a sore irritated throat as well as anything. Honey is a natural healing remedy — even if my younger son does call it “bee spit.” It also helps to have Nurse Bruce see to my every comfort. He’s a good caregiver, even if he is a bit pushy about lying down and staying warm. He gets that first-sergeant-look on his face — the one that says, “You heard me, Private.” Okay, okay. Sometimes he outranks me.

I just finished a murder mystery and am ready to start perusing a stack of three books I got at our last visit to Barnes and Noble — from gardening to cooking. Good stuff for Spring.

Two weeks ago Bruce succumbed to my gentle nagging about getting a library card. “Everyone needs to have a library card,” says I. So we stopped at the nearest branch and, of course, we both checked out something. Two days later, Bruce left his book on the table on the porch; it blew off onto the floor. Along came Ginger, our dog, who decided she too wanted to check out his book. Apparently she didn’t like it, whether it was the plot or she just didn’t like the smell of a mystery.   Bruce found it, with 50 pages torn up, a bit worse for wear.  She normally doesn’t do that kind of stuff — well, except for the day she ate the front door, but that’s another story. So Mr. Honesty stopped by to pay his fine, like the good citizen he is.  Thirty seven dollars later he left, not a happy citizen, especially since he found the same book on sale at bn.com for fifteen bucks! So much for saving money and using the library!

We’re happily awaiting the next book bazaar the church has. I was in charge of the booth last spring which is a bit like putting an alcoholic in charge of the wine cellar. I got to preview every book that came in. One parishioner cleaned out 300 mysteries from his collection. His wife was such a happy woman. Every time I saw her, she smiled and thanked me. But, of course, we loaded up at $2 a hardback. The guy who owns the Book Tavern downtown loaded up too. His truck was full. However, at our house the rule was — we couldn’t bring back more than we had taken down since the objective was to trim down the bookshelves. That’s the perpetual problem of book lovers, isn’t it? So many books, so little space.

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We went to the movies last night. During the middle of the film, I felt my chest start to tighten. You know –that constriction that means a cold is coming on? As soon as we got home, I started the Zicam and the Tylenol. Bruce had a cold last month and I managed to dodge it then. It helps to get germophobic and be very careful about everything from cups to towels. It took Bruce about three weeks to get over it.

I used to have URIs every winter. They always turned into bronchitis and always drug on forever it seemed. One year, after twelve weeks, if someone had offered me a good (or even bad) witch doctor cure, I would have taken it. “Just rub your chest with red flannel and make three turns backwards around the tallest tree in the yard, and bury the cloth at the base of the tree at midnight.” Man — I’d been out there — stumbling around in the dark — red flannel and all. That mess had to go!

Finally my doctor put me on Singular. Wow! That really made a difference. I’m also conscientous about flu shots. However, sooner or later a bug slips through. My turn, I guess. The good news is that now I can sleep in or take a nap when I need one. One of the problems with teaching is that it’s more difficult sometimes to stay home than it is to go to work and tough it out — and spread the germs around! That’s when I started scrubbing desk tops with Chlorox cleaner. Couldn’t hurt!

So for now — I’m curled up on the sofa with tea, juice and my latest murder mystery.

PS The movie was “The Bank Job” — lots of twists and turns — we enjoyed it.

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