Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happiest Moment of 2009

I actually know my happiest moment of 2009. Do you?

Of course I'm thinking of those moments without Donna.

My moment took place on April 26th about 8:30pm on a Sunday night. I'm just going to recite the thank you note I sent my sister's friends who have season tickets to Red Sox games. The Red Sox were playing the NY Yankees in Boston and there is no way to overstate the difficulty in getting tickets to those match-up games, murder for contract would not be out of the question. In fact seeing a Red Sox/Yank game has been on my "bucket list" for quite a while. Son Adam and I flew up from RDU, saw the game, flew back the next morning. It was wonderful.

"Dear Sheryl and Robin, May 5th

George Burns said happiness is having a loving, caring, close knit family in another city. Albert Schweitzer said happiness is good health and a bad memory. Although both good, they are wrong.

True happiness resided last sunday night due East of suicide bridge between Landsdowne and Hemengway streets within the confines of the 5th inning between 3rd base and home plate. Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury performed the most unusual and magical play in baseball. He stole home!

The place expoded in excitement. Every seat was filled - all 36,884 of them and everyone rose as one in exhiltation. I did something I hadn't done in years...hugged the guy next to me who I didn't even know. I usually don't hug people I know! It was like Fenway Park was full of Catholics after the priest announced suspension of collection plates during all masses for the upcoming year! The rarest play in baseball and thanks to you both, Adam and I saw it! Thank You!


Realize some of you are not big sports fans so I resolve not to mention baseball for the rest of the year.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Have God Will Travel 2

So I think the "more God, less Jim", should just be "more God". How do I get closer to God when it is something I cannot totally comprehend? Or worse, spend time defining, analyzing, and even attacking, ownership of theological bullet points floating around in the world? To try to do so with contentment as guide and find purchase in the shadow of God's love?

It is incomprehensible to me that something probably so simple is so hard to obtain and understand. A place without borders, no starting line, no finish line, no Indianapolis 500 - no line at all.

One way I'm exploring to get there is through a group at my church in contemplative prayer. It is an attempt to shutdown conscientious thoughts, open up, and let God be experienced. The process is easy - if you are reading this and I know you - zoning out is not a major problem for you...:). The rewards are not immediate, but can be deep. If interested, contact me.

"I heard a nice little story," Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait.
"Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air - until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.
"My God, this is terrible," the wave says. "Look what's going to happen to me!'
"Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave looking grim and says to him, "Why do you look so sad?"
"The first wave says, 'You don't understand! We're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't it terrible?"
"The second wave says, 'No, you don't understand. You're not a wave, you're part of the ocean.'"
-Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Have God Will Travel

I think I have a mind like the Indianapolis 500. Ideas seem to circle in my head for 500 times or so until one of them becomes a completed thought after it crosses the finish line.

Judi Gaitens, a facilitator of our Centering Prayer Group has a grandson, Mike, who was hit by a car while riding his bike earlier this year. He suffered serious damage and went into rehab after his initial hospitalization and now is at home and back to school part-time. If you want query God about His existence you could do worse than go to the Caring Bridge website, One of the entries indicated he spent "hours" in physical therapy each day. That grabbed my attention and I sent him a note about my experiences because I know what a grind that is, both physically and emotionally.
Back in the 70s I spent a year recuperating in an orthopedic ward in a Naval Hospital in Boston. I used to go to physical therapy to exercise my legs every morning and considered it a vast drain on my free time. The exercises were repetitious, boring, and painful. Most patients were marines who had done a combat tour and were not about to do any exercise regimen they didn't want to do, period. So one day the Corpsman singled out one of us that always complained the loudest, stared for a minute then yelled "Are you crazy?!!" (I think he picked me out because I was one of the few that were in the army and wouldn't give him that much of a hard time - and he was probably right).

The Corpsman's point was that we were exercising not for the the next week, month, or even year. We were exercising for the rest of our lives - all the sweat and pain
will give our legs the ability to take us where we want to go in the future and impact the rest of our lives. I wish I could tell you that I absorbed his lesson immediately and understood the importance. I didn't. Not until I got older, not until now. I don't think I ever knew the Corpsman's name because I don't think he ever gave it. He looked 19 years old going on 15 and when he came up to everyone, he only had one question, "Do you know any pretty girls?" But he had wisdom beyond years. Hope he found the pretty girl. I hope Mike got some encouragement from my note.

Life comes with a rear view mirror called memory. Sometimes I look. I've never understood people who say we should only look to the future. If you want to know where you're going, you have to occasionally check out where you've been. What I am going to write may sound egotistical because it probably is, but I'm trying to understand some thoughts and use words doing it so I am going to have to make a few short stops along that road. Both as I was writing Mike and now, after the operation when my legs aren't working well, I thought of some of the places my legs have taken me in life. They are in no particular order or importance and I'm sure you could come up with some even more meaningful than mine. It was fun and also gave me a sense of appreciation.

October, 1971, Laconia, New Hampshire: My legs took me by a meadow halfway up a hill on a brilliant autumn afternoon where I saw God show his A-game. From a stand of trees; birches, maples, and oaks; a whirling dervish of brilliantly colored leaves danced across the field as if keeping time to a wind song.
April 11, 1981, Winchester, Mass - For some reason my face has gone through life with the look of a bank robber, but as I walked down the aisle of the church everyone told me I had the biggest smile they had ever seen. My legs were walking me into marriage and into the arms of the prettiest, most wonderful person I have every met. I was lucky to share her life and I knew it. Still do.
My legs took me to Fenway Baseball Park in Boston, sit about 300 feet from the pitcher's mound and let me imagine what Babe Ruth's wind-up looked like.
My legs took me to my truck that took me to Cary, North Carolina where I witnessed my son do an unselfish act with no one looking. My heart soared.
July 31st 1970, Quang Nghai Province,Vietnam - I witnessed a medivac crew perform the bravest and most unselfish act of courage I ever hope to see. Facing certain death under fire, they were willing to give up their 3 lives for a small chance of saving one. No sense of duty or combat machismo defines their willingness to die for someone they didn't know. They're actions don't equate with any of life's mathematical computations: refuse the mission, lose 1 life, take the mission, lose 4with a small chance, a very small chance, of gaining one. We're people so we don't do divine things, but what they did (and probably repeated many times), transcended this life.
A few years ago on a cold January sunset my legs took me to a hill in Henderson, Nevada where I looked at the neon Las Vegas profile backlight the mountains across the valley. It was beautiful.

We all paint our own pictures, but God supplies the canvas and the color..and we get help on our brushstrokes. Did the Corpsman bring me to all these places? No...I did. but as I get older I've come to believe that we are all a sum of parts and other people have helped us to believe that our lives are built on a foundation of reliance, some reliance known, some unknown. We are connected in ways that are not readily discernible. Did God bring me to all those places? In truth I don't know but in a lot of cases I don't think so. Some of the places my legs took me God didn't want me to go and I lingered in those places a lot longer than I should have.

If I want to keep walking to God, to continue to close the distance, the issue isn't how much I was walking with God and how much I wasn't. The reality of the walk is that it is God's universe-my walk being a small part. Me being a small part. I'm fond of saying "less Jim, more God" is what I strive for in life, but that is not quite complete.

This is hard. I'll finish up tomorrow.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


As per request, my email is Keep forgetting to put it in (see previous post). Sorry

I'm Killing Time and It's Dying Hard...Raymond Chandler

I'm still poking along. Still have some residual pain and stiffness. Hopefully by the end of the month I'll be able to ramp it up and enter a recovery zone whereby I can connive and get people to do things for me that I should be doing for myself. We'll see.
It is still irritating me that I cannot seem to focus long enough to do any significant reading - my comprehension seems to have too much mileage on it. I guess it is the side effects of the pain meds, but I'm not sure I care why anymore; I just want it to stop so I can think in a straight line. Ditto an increased inability to find the words I want to use (as may be evident in this blog). It's akin to sitting down to eat a wonderful meal, searching all the kitchen drawers for the eating utensils and not finding them. I guess I shouldn't complain since I've always had a lot of "ask whatshisname to pass the whatchamcallit", just seems to be more so lately.
But it got me to thinking how much we rely on words. I guess words are symbols for we define, limit, and validate our senses and feelings. Self explanation and conversation with our own thoughts. The important thing to remember is that even if I can't quite recall the "word" I want, the thought as concept or feeling is still valid and experienced. Just like I'm doing now as I type this sentence. Got that? Wow - sorry to get so high fallutin!
Words can be fun too. One of my guilty pleasures is looking up the tabloid headlines of the NY Post or NY Daily News on the Internet. They frequently miss the mark and/or can be crude; but always entertaining. The hands down classic, "HEADLESS BODY FOUND IN TOPLESS BAR", is filled with an almost child-like wonder and gleeful astonishment. Gee! How did this happen? After the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and ended the "Curse of the Bambino", the NY Post ran a caption on the sports page, "HELL FROZE OVER", personal favorite. Imagine if the Council of Nicaea and subsequent Church Councils subcontracted the chapter break titles on the Old and New Testament with the News or Post. Could be interesting; "MANNA FROM HEAVEN-NO INJURIES REPORTED" OR "GOD TO SODOM AND GOMORRAH-DROP DEAD."
It is also fun to read a well crafted simple sentence made up of simple words-elegant:

"Outside the hawk (wind) blew hard off the lake and flattened itself against the bay windows" (author Michael Harvey). That's exactly what wind does.
"He dragged home $8500 a year, kicking and screaming". (Harvey again)
"He was six feet two and had to runaround in the shower to get wet".(Harvey)

Some authors will fill up pages to describe a single object or person and I enjoy reading those descriptions, but others, like Harvey above with the shower quote, and Raymond Chandler, sometimes leave it up to the reader to fill in the space around their sparse words, "The lawyer's briefcase looked like he got it from Noah and Noah got it second-hand." (Chandler)
Placement of words are important too. Have you ever taken a music lyric or short paragraph from a book and tried to improve it? It is not that hard in most cases, but with very good writers it can be difficult if not impossible.

"he was gray and venerable, and humane of aspect: but he had the calm, possessed, surgical look of a man who could endure pain in others." Mark Twain describing his dentist. It is the last four words that get you and makes him write, well, like Mark Twain.
"Another love before my time made your heart sad and blue,
And so my heart is paying now for things I didn't do." Cold, Cold Heart - Hank Williams. Every word counts and conveys.

On the other hand.

Sometimes it is better to leave things vague. Last month(?) there was a crawl on TV you may have seen: "Man from Brazil attends his own funeral." Normally this would beg further investigation. I could have gone on the Internet to explore this piece of news, but then I thought...why? More fun to speculate.
A safe bet the Brazilians wife probably did it. He probably kept serving her the morning coffee in a mug dedicated to tea and she just couldn't take it anymore. But with the onset of memory loss due to aging, she probably forgot to do the deed, but did remember to make the funeral arrangements - and being a good wife made sure she dragged him to the family event.
The guy was probably a Brazilian "baby boomer" and being a self absorbed boomer didn't quite trust God with his end of life event. Control is always better: Who to invite? Who should give testimonials and what should the testimonials proclaim about his life? How much? Better the Brazilian stages the ceremony himself before death so he can enjoy the experience. After all, what's the point of death if it can't be enjoyed?
Well I'm done... I've run out of words. Except these two.
Happy Holidays

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Get With The Game

Since I'm laid up I have ordered episodes of Ken Burn's Baseball on netflix. It comes in ten discs and I am on number 6. I never felt I could spare the time to watch it before the operation although I'm sure I could have.

It got me to thinking, though, baseball season is over and not peep from any of you. I realize it is a busy time of year, holiday season, snow season, the advent of a new year; a lot to do. I also realize that not everyone has baseball as their sport of choice, but it is after all the national pastime. My friend Jack and I just refer to the period from early November to March as the "off season", it simplifies things - don't have to remember those pesky holidays and whose President's birthday we are celebrating on "Presidents' Day."

I celebrate the fan in everyone - enjoyment in this life should be found anyplace you can get it - basketball, hockey, football, golf and even soccer and olympic ironing (no kidding), they all have a place; but try to take a small interest in baseball and see at least one game next year. Just a suggestion....:)

Baseball reflects our character as a people, both individually and collectively. Baseball is a main thread woven through our national character and bears our unique sensibilities that make us, as a people, a beacon of liberty and good throughout the world.

Here's why:

Baseball is sneaky. Deception, misdirection and cheating are not only allowed, but encouraged and rewarded! Ricky Henderson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year and received more votes than previous inductees Jim Rice and Goose Gossage. For What?
Ricky had the career record for stolen bases. An activity that gives birth to guile, timing, speed, and stealth. In his retirement years, he can have great success breaking into houses if he chooses that for a post-retirement activity. Good luck Ricky!

Stealing signs, hiding pitch release points (Luis Tiant completed his windup by facing center field, his back to the batter - solely for the purpose of denying the hitter a view of the oncoming pitch), masking a trapped ball in a glove then holding the glove up as if caught; are all part of the game. Forget steroids, corked bats, and pine tar, there is more deception and assumed betrayal in a nine inning game than a short conversation between two Congressmen.

Baseball is emotional. Anticipation, exasperation and deep depression will reveal itself within the confines of one inning. Even suicide, if you have Eric Gagne as your closing pitcher. More wide-ranging emotions than an 800 page Russian novel. Baseball is life without the boring parts.

Besides, Dostoyevsky never had any of his characters hit a grand slam or perform an unassisted double play.

Baseball is timeless. There are no timed "periods" or "quarters." a game can be played under two hours or up to eight hours (the record). The game is played for nine innings until completion.

Name another sport that is not timed. Ok, golf. Though it really isn't a sport and even if it were and you actually played it, there is always a guy playing behind you yelling for you to hurry it up. Sometimes in not a nice way - ok again I apologize; how long is it going to be kept against me?

This doesn't mean time isn't a consideration. A hitter has to decide with 1/3rd of a second from the pitcher's release point of the ball whether or not to try contact with the bat. The batter must analyze velocity, angle of ball path, and whether to pull or try to jam the bat to direct the
ball where the defensive players aren't. Conversely, a third basemen engaging a line drive directed in his vicinity has only two moves with his glove; up or down. The shortstop, the guy to his left who is a little further from home plate, with just a full second more, has six possible moves; up, down, left, right, and if he's lucky, forward and backward.

Baseball can be paced. You can go to a game, discuss the events of the day with friends, catch up on a cell, text to your heart's content, and/or bring a book. Next time you are at a ballgame, look around. Everyone's smiling and relaxed. Try taking out a Marcel Proust or your cell phone at your average college basketball or football game. Good luck.

Baseball involves failure. Try telling your boss you failed at your job seven out of ten times. Then tell your boss you are so happy with that result you are doing to demand a big raise! That's exactly what 300. hitters do - and deservedly so!

Baseball is unique. Think of another game where the defense has the ball. You hand off the football to the defense, they will run with it, score, and be very grateful. Ditto hockey and basketball!

Baseball fandom involves participation. As a fan you are part of the game. In every major ballpark I've been in, the home team starts the game with a public announcement of "dos" and "don'ts". My favorite....Fenway Park in Boston..."Do not say anything that will bring attention to yourself." It's like going to church, but with beer.

So if this were one of those Top Ten lists, my number one reason for supporting baseball would be: If god didn't invent baseball, we'd have to watch soccer all summer....or worse, golf.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blanket of Love

If you look at my first post on the blog - the handsome young man in the hospital bed at Duke, you may notice a white blanket with a small blue design.

[Right next to the urinal hanging on the bedrail - thanks Donna for framing the photo that way:} -I'm not sure the call button worked properly since the nurses did not answer in a timely manner. The care was so excellent and the nurses were constantly going in and out of the room so I never gave the call light malfunction a second thought. Besides, if I really needed them, I would just yell out "Coach K", "Coach K", a few times ... they would come pronto.]

Anyway, the blanket I speak of is a prayer blanket given to me from a member of a Centering Prayer Group at St. Andrew and prayed over by that group (and others). The member's name is Ernestine Soller, but she should answer to "saint"or "angel", because that is what she is.

At a time in life when a lot of us would be taking it easy and spending time with kids and grandkids, Ernestine is constantly at work sewing these blankets and giving them out to any and all who ask. The blanket represents and takes on the appearance of God's agape love and as the letter accompanying the blanket states, "when you hold this blanket, remember that you are not alone. We lift you up in prayer before the Lord and hope that it will be transformed into the very fabric of our pleas for God's healing on your behalf."

Imagine. The thread is woven, the prayers are woven in them.

I have given a blanket to others like myself who had medical procedures and a young family who lost a child. The last time I saw her, Ernestine was excited because she would making blankets for 40 soldiers in the Middle East.

I cannot comprehend what it must be lide to lose a child, but I can for combat. Someone once said that war involves living within the confines of very long periods of boredom filled with very short periods of complete terror. The problem is of course is that you don't know when those periods will come...but they do and life is cycled into very short horizons. Each moment's continuation is dependent on a lottery beyond dominion.

And that's where Ernestine's prayer blanket comes in. The thoughts between the periods are reflected thoughts - never realized in the moment, but only after. In this reflection everyone looks for meaning - something good, something to hold on to. I hope they realize that the prayer blanket packed and waiting for them in their rucksacks is that something. A concrete form of God. A concrete form of prayer.

God bless her.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What a Heel!

Had my stitches pulled yesterday. It is really, really strange to see my lower leg much straighter than it has been in about 40 years. My achilles heel is very stiff from limited use over the years though so they may have to go in and cut the muscle. The ortho doctor gave me some exercises to stretch it out over the next three weeks until my next appointment.

If the excercises don't work, Iwonder if he'll show up in OR with a bow and arrow ina toga. We'll see.

Carpe Deum

Monday, December 7, 2009

I Need Help!

Finally - not easy to use a laptop when being used on, well, the lap. Kept hitting "enter" key. Sorry.

As one writer put it, I was enjoying the "first minute of life" on my morning cup of coffee - one of life's greatest pleasures - looking out the window and watching everyone else going to work in the neighborhood on a Monday morning. As Donna was passing the room I asked her if she could get me some water. As she turned away she smiled to herself - heading to get the water. What does that smile mean? Usually a smile is a good thing. She's probably grateful I've allowed her to assist in my recovery? Brushing up her nursing skills and realizing she's still "got it"? Attempted murder?

She wouldn't answer me, but I've been married long enough to know the smile meant something. What do you think exactly? Nothing bad I'm sure.

You are wondering how I saw her smile with her back turned toward me? Me too. I'm guessing the titanium in my ankle may confer special super hero powers, i.e. Superman! I have a 2pm appointment with the surgeon today and am going to inquire. I wonder if this is when I get a cape. Do you suppose he needed prior approval for the cape and is there a co-pay? Questions, questions.

Would like to know what that smile meant though. What do you think?

And while you're at it - find out why, even though I'm still restricted to the sofa in the front room and a recliner in the living room, I still can't find the remote.


I Need You're Help!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Common Cup

Boy! God is smart! We have a need to join in group worship and He wants us to do it! Two weeks at home and I miss Mass.
For those of you not Catholic, our gathering, our worship, has many meanings with many layers (as does any religious service); the culmination of the act of worship during Mass is to walk into the Upper Room, to join Christ and His disciples and sit at the table of the Last Supper as part of the commmunity of saints. To this day, some will say "I'm going to Church", " I'm going to Mass", or "I'm taking the Eurcharist." All means the same thing.
When the priest holds the cup during Mass and says, "Take this - drink it all of you for this is the blood of the new and eternal covenant" (Matt 26, Mark, Acts), and with the communion wafer does the same thing, "Take this-and eat it all of you...", we believe the bread and wine is transformed into Christ's body and blood in a literal and exact sense - a spiritual event that transends this life, the place where moths and rust abide. Other christians, in a heartfelt way, do not believe this or believe it only in a symbolic way. We can differ but are always joined in God's love and grace.
Sometimes, to the great relief of those around me, I stop singing during Mass and just watch both individuals and families walk down the aisle. With one act of love they receive Christ into their bodies. At that point in time I know I am witnessing the most beautiful act I will ever see - until the next week when I will see it again.
Due to the increased threat of influenza and H1N1, the practice of sharing the cup among parishioners at communion has been stopped. We are reminded that for Catholics, Christ is present as a whole - body and blood in the consecrated wafer of bread and therefore nothing is really changed...."give us this day our daily bread." No physician in his/her right mind would advocate a practice of sharing a community cup which could promote illness, especially among the vulnerable, elderly, and young. So even though it is not my place to approve or not approve, I do support the church in its decision, knowing that church fathers sought prudence (Wis 7:7) through prayer.
ButI have a nagging feeling. I don't like it. Most likely for selfish reasons.
It doesn't happen often, but whenver I have a preliminary conversation with a non-Catholic, two things always seem to come up: Mary and Communion. It was always easy for me to explain the Eurcharist. My response was informed by Scripture, "I believe it because that's exactly what it says." I loved the directness and simplicity of the words and although I know that Christ is completely present in the communion host, the response of wine to blood, body to bread allowed me to live a little more comfortably in the Upper Room, the Word and my faith - when explaining it to someone else.
Some make the point when speaking about their church that "we are the church", I appreciate the meaning . A church is more than buildings and liturgical committees. They say the church is the community of believers and they are right. But I also would extend that sentiment. Ultimately it is God's church. He lets me sit at the table. I am a visitor. I am a guest. I am a follower. It just bothers me that when the spiritual bumps into the worldly that the spiritual is supposed to predominate. How can something as mundane as illness interfere between the relationship of God and man? (I know - Adam and Eve).
It sometimes seems that we are living in a period of diminishment. A President makes a good hearted speech about the importance of peaceful intentions in foreign policy and he wins a Nobel Peace Prize. "Downsizing" is now a common noun. Our jobs have been or may be downsized. We are told it is prudent to downsize our homes as we get older; and, shame on us, downsize our dreams. We stop trying to go for the three point shot, thinking an easy lay-up may be the safer course. But what if the lane is blocked? Better to play defense and not get scored against - that's the ticket.
But I also know this.
Louis Armstrong single-handedly introduced jazz to the world. One of his unique and wonderful musical techniques involved playing a solo "behind the beat." During a session, he would wait, let himself become out of synch with the line of rhythm. This created anticipation and appreciation for the next musical phrase. I think God plays behind the beat of His church. The Holy Spirit will course correct. If it be His will, a better Eurcharistic liturgy is in our future.
I feel better. Sorry to go on for so long on something that may not be of interest to you. I hope God gave you fast eyes. A writer, Michael Creighton I think, said that nothing had validity in his life until he wrote it down. In a pint-sized way I guess I am doing the same thing. I think through words. If this post doesn't make sense (and it may not) it could be because my mind is not 100% yet - combination of pain medication side-effects, cabin fever, and too much sleep.
Also - I do not represent myself as any type of expert on the Catholic Church What I don't know about the church could fill a football stadium between two last place teams at the end of a season. Although I grew up a Catholic, when I married I went with the Protestants, but several years ago they traded me back to the Catholics for a believer to be named later.
No expert I

Thursday, December 3, 2009


I woke up this morning feeling very grateful.

Usually gratitude is that bump of recognition from God. The tap on the shoulder. When I become aware of that impulse, I start rummaging around in the answered prayer bin. Why do some prayers get answered and others do not - or do we ever know? It is beyond our ability to really know, but we can ponder.

Throughout my life I have asked God to smooth over my sharp edges - whether caused by me or not. I just want them gone, to put as much distance between me and my problems as possible. "Hello God. Fix it please. Thank you and goodbye." But that may not be the way of God. He wants me to engage the problem, to work through it, to get to the other side, to constrict the distance. He answers my "Hello - Goodbye" with, "Get closer, I'll guide you. I won't tell you how, you can use words, feelings, or actions. Open yourself up to My Love". I say, "Goodbye", He says, "Hello."

I don't think God goes out of His way to create problems in life - I've proved quite adept at doing that myself, but the implse to pray, to engage, comes from Him. His gift may be that monentary recognition of the sharp edge; the fact of it's exsistence and the corresponding damage caused. Sometimes my first inclination is to try to smooth it out myself. My ego travels from denial to ego prior to prayer. At this point, I completely involve myself in turning the radio dial, not realizing the perfect melody is whispering in my ear the whole time. "Come to me".

So now I find myself a little lost. My gratitude encompasses medical healing involving many people and many people's prayers. How do I approach this without conceit. I don't want to border my gratitude with the medical procedure only. I hope not, but I guess the artifical ankle can fail or cause new medical conditions for me in the future. His gift involves more than that. His gift involves the opportunity to be close, the connection, being within Him.

It's nice that the artificial ankle connects my tibia to my foot. It's better the artificial ankle connects me to God.

I've got to work more on that.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thinking About Thinking

(children in photo: Jillian,6 yrs, Jim, 62 yrs, Katie, 3 yrs)

December 2nd, 930am -

I'm flat on our front room sofa. Looking out the window. Appears cold and rainny - a typical November day. I'm watching leaves fall off the pear tree in our front yard blanketing the grass, waiting for collection to the front curb, then getting whisked away. Normally, instead of enjoying the moment like I am now, I would calculate the time and effort involved for the distasteful drudge work of raking. Categorizing another household chore and not looking forward to it. Look for roses, see the weeds.

But not today. Not me. Nothing I can do about the leaves. Same with thinking. Since I'm in "recuperation" mode, totally inactive, I can give individual thoughts as much time if not more than they need. The speed and chocoblock of life aren't bumping into my thoughts as they speed down the synapetic highways in my head. No cross streets, intersections, or flashing blue lights in sight. Is this what it's like to be retired? :)

What would happen if you put a PETA member inside a room full of mosquitoes? I can give that as much thought as I want.

Why do I lock my pickup in the St. Andrew's parking lot before going to Mass? Lack of trust?Personal property paranoia? Habit? That's it, probably size fits all. Otherwise things could get very complicated; parking lot of Barnes and Noble looks ok; parking lot of Harris Teeter looks shifty. You get my point.

This no limit thinking can get hard and time consuming. you could call and ask how I feel and a Presidential election season could pass before I finish answering the question. May that's why God gives some of us (A-hem) a slight reduction in memory as we get older concomitant with a corresponding increase in free time. It never occured to me that thought is a time management issue, but there you have it.

Or maybe not.

I have been trying to catch up on my stack of magazines and came across an article in Smart Money, "Less Strain, Better Brain", by Dyan Machan. It seems that some of our cranial compadres such as Albert Einstein "imagined himself a child riding on a beam of light" just before formulating his special theory of relativity. The head of Ping Golf Club Company came up with 36 improvements on golf tees and clubs by standing in his backyard and looking at the stars. Day dreaming is good! Who knew? Would have been a tough sell for my public school teachers over the years though - if I had time to explain while nourishing my "creative" side.

Think I'm going to call over across the street and ask mom Jeanette if her daughters, Jillian (6 years) and Katie (3 years) can come over and play. I have a small box I use as a doorstop filled with colorful, small seashells and smooth sand stones. They can help me count and separate them before we catch Dora the Explorer.

Just as soon as I take the ones out that have the magic powers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Get Shorty

I want to thank Kristen Symank for helping Donna and I set up the blog. Although I am not a technological luddite, when it comes to software setups, however rudimentary, after five minutes my head sometimes turns into a bag of 20 lb. roofing nails. Of course it could just be the "titanium" affect from my artificial ankle. Time will tell.

Kristen is a member of Donna's Hope Community bible group. She is one of God's better ideas and as you can see from the photo - young and pretty..and an inch or two above median female height. I could be wrong, but the last time Donna and I were at her house I thought I saw claw marks on her front door...probably young guys trying to get in to see her. I mention the "looks" part because it may impinge on the following.

About three or four weeks ago Donna mentioned to Kristen that she knew someone who knew someone at church who knew a guy that may be a good fit, date-wise.

Think of all the responses and questions that could follow such a statement. "How much does he look like Brad Pitt?", "Why is he a good fit?", "What are his interests?"

Guess what she said?....."How tall is he?"....I repeat....."How tall is he?"

Dating has a height requirement?"

How long has that been going on?

What else has been kept from me? I just learned about five ears ago that you are supposed to shampoo your hair twice while showering. How was I supposed to know that? Not exactly considered a group viewing activity, I never noticed anyone in the men's shower at the Y getting washed up, towel dried, then going back into the shower and starting anew.

The height thing still puzzles me though. I don't know how I this but i do: Alan Ladd, the movie actor from the 1940's and 1950's (good actor; This Gun for Hire, Shane, and countless westerns), would stand on a box when engaged in a fond embrace with a female co-star. Or the co-star would stand in a hole or ditch to make him look taller. He was extremely good looking, but if his nose would clear the windowsill, then the window was installed close to carpet. The man was short!

So I'm guessing if Kristen jumped into a time machine and went back to the 1950s and Alan Ladd came across her, the meeting would go something like this;

"Hello young lady. I'm Alan Ladd and I would like to take you out on a date."

"No, thank you."

"but I'm Alan Ladd, star of state and screen, beloved by millions of admirers."

"You're short."

"But people tell me I look like Brad Pitt!"

"No Alan Ladd, you're still short and I wear heels. Hit the trail cowboy!"

So when I was a man about town in Boston in the 70s, and believe me, I was not much of a man about town; I was 5'8" (average height of men - 5'9") and therefore, well, short. No one told me I was supposed to carry around a stool...or a shovel. No wonder I had trouble getting second dates.

I always thought it was my car.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Nov 29th Ankle Replacement done on Nov 20th at Duke University Hospital, Durham NC compliments of Durham VA Medical Center.
I had the 3rd one listed - Wright Inbone. You can click on the video if you want - YEECH - or not. I got the impression it is not the most advanced prosthetic, but one of the most "reliable" other words, I got the one with the good personality.

Sounds of anguished shrieks in the middle of the night, spastic muscular movements with little form or purpose, inability to form continuing conversation using subject, predicate, and verb; a life purpose bordering on delusion.

And that's Donna's condition after just taking care of me for a week. I try, I really do, but despite my best efforts, I'm afraid I am to good patient comportment what school lunch meat is to gourmet dining. I ask you though, I was brought morning coffee in a coffee cup with animal images on it which of course is only to be used for tea; airplane and sports mugs for coffee; birds/animals for tea; mountains and seascapes for either coffee or tea except the Maui seacape cup (tea only) and the coffee mug from the monastery that used to show mountain ranges with flying birds - before they faded out - that one was always coffee. If she would just look at the cups prior to filling, they would tell her. Is that so hard?

Ok maybe it is. Even I know she has done yeoman's work putting up with me. If you have any more prayers to spare (and thank you so, so much for your kind efforts in this regard), we could use some. For strength and capacity. In your request, try to impress upon God the need to have Donna comprehend in a renewed way that I am "non-refundable." Thanks.

According the surgeon, Dr. DeOrio, a great physician - I was lucky to get him, I have to keep my "toes above my nose" for the first 6 weeks. I'm equipped with a Vaco pressure boot that Dr. DeOrio told me cost $3,000. I thought he was joking, but after looking at it, maybe not. Given the cost I keep waiting for it to recite the Gettysburg Address.

A couch patato! Someone actually ordered me to lie down. All day! For six weeks! Finally something I'm good at! I think for variety though, I'm going to have a neighbor come over and affix a large eye bolt through the raised ceiling by the front door. I can then hang upside down on a rope or chain attached to my good leg (toes above the nose!) and greet the neighbors and their kids when they come to visit.

This should provide an extra dimension of enjoyment and novelty for them, but hopefully not a requirement for future therapy.

I'll let you know.