Sunday, March 31, 2013

Krishti u ngjall! Vërtetë u ngjall! (From the archives: April 12, 2009)

The title of this post is in old-style Albanian, the language my wife’s parents spoke.

Every year, on a certain day, when Mom and Pop were still alive, we would call them in Florida or they would call us in Nebraska or New York or Florida or Georgia (we moved a lot) and whichever party said “Hello?” heard the words, “Krishti u ngjall!”

The response was always immediate from the other person: “Vërtetë u ngjall!”

Phonetically, it sounded something like this:

KRISH-tee oong-ee-AHL! vair-TET oong-ee-AHL!

What a strange thing to do, you might be thinking.

Not at all. If you’re curious what those strange phrases might mean, here is an English translation:

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

The day, of course, was Easter Sunday -- Resurrection Day -- and we were simply doing what Christians have been doing in various places and in various languages for two thousand years.

After Pop died in 1983 and Mom died in 1986, we continued the traditional Albanian Easter greeting with Mrs RWP’s aunt in North Carolina. Now she is gone, too. There is nobody left in the family to speak Albanian to.

So, very early this morning, as the day was beginning to dawn, I said to Mrs. RWP, “Krishti u ngjall!” and she replied, “Vërtetë u ngjall!” Some traditions are worth preserving.

This was not only an Easter greeting, it was something like the communion of the saints, I think. Some of them on earth, and some of them in Heaven. But all in agreement.

In many places around the world, in many languages, many people said these words today. We said them at our own church (Pentecostal, not Albanian Orthodox) this morning. The pastor said, “Christ is risen!” and the entire congregation replied, “He is risen indeed!” The pastor said it three times, and after the third response, spontaneous applause broke out in the choir and among the congregation.

As I said, the communion of the saints.

This afternoon I found on the Internet a photograph of the interior of Saints Peter and Paul Albanian Orthodox Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the church Mrs. RWP attended as a child with her mother, father, and brother. It was the first time my wife had seen this church since 1946. The church is decorated in the photograph, not for Easter, but for another Christian holiday.

Christmas. You may have heard of it.



[Editor’s note. And now it is 2013, Easter Sunday, and the same thing happened this morning, with a couple of slight differences. Our greeting was the same, but this time Mrs. RWP spoke the words first, and I was the one who replied. Also, we now attend a Methodist church, yet the exchange between the speaker and the congregation was the same at this morning’s sunrise service. The communion of the saints. I rest my case.--RWP]

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The world is made up of two kinds of people...

Those who get it:


(click to enlarge)

...and those who don’t:


(click to enlarge)

Friday, March 29, 2013

A Good Friday meditation

[Editor’s note. My atheist readers may want to skip this post altogether, as I ain’t gonna change your minds and you ain’t gonna change mine. Still, I welcome everyone, one and all. --RWP]

I thought they’d be gone by now, but I’m in my fifth week of having shingles and they're still very much here.

Having the shingles on Good Friday can be very instructive.

In western Christendom, today is the annual commemoration of the day Jesus Christ (Hebrew, Yeshua Ha’mashiach, Jesus the Messiah) was crucified around 29 or 30 A.D. (Latin, anno domini, in the year of the Lord), or as the politically correct now say, C.E. (in the common era). In eastern Christendom (the Orthodox churches), this commemoration will not occur until May 3rd.

I told you in an earlier post that shingles were excruciating, and I told you that I pondered the word excruciating and realized it means “out of the cross” or “from the cross.”

I don’t mean to imply in any way that shingles are the worst pain a human can experience. My dad died of pancreatic cancer. My mother-in-law died of bone cancer. My mother died after an eight-year battle with cancer. Each of them experienced excruciating pain.

And then there’s Jesus. He was crucified. He was nailed to a cross.

Shingles are as nothing compared to that.

Historians will tell you that a lot of human beings were crucified by the Roman Empire over the years. So what was so different about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?

I’m glad you asked.

He had done nothing wrong. He was the Son of God. He was the Lamb who came to take away the sin of the world. And we killed Him.

So now I am in pain and Jesus suffered for me. We have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Praise the Lord! But our attention on this Good Friday should not be on the pain Jesus experienced or on his method of execution but instead on what his death accomplished.

That He died for my sins makes me free from the penalty of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). That He rose from the dead three days later gives me everlasting life (John 11:25-26). Yes, my body may die, but He will raise me up on the last day (First Corinthians 15:52-57). He is the firstborn of many brethren (Romans 8:29-30).

These things I believe.

I do not follow Him perfectly or as faithfully as I ought to. Nevertheless, I follow Him.

God help me. I’m a Christian.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Random thoughts, or It must be the medicine talking

You have no idea how bummed out (for British readers, the expression has absolutely nothing to do with one’s bum being out; it means depressed) I become when a post of mine receives no comments.

On some days, trying to blog is very much like whistling in the dark, spitting into the wind, casting one’s bread upon the waters (a reference to Ecclesiastes 11:1), shouting into the abyss (pick metaphor -- or rather, simile -- of choice).

Our grandparents said, “between Scylla and Charybdis,” our parents said, “between the Devil and the deep blue sea” and we say, “between a rock and a hard place.”

Our grandparents said, “the Sabbath,” our parents said, “Sunday” and we say, “the weekend."

The decline and fall of Western civilization is almost complete.

In this post I have decided to stick with American punctuation and forego the British. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, join the club.

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.

When you're down at the sea and an eel bites your knee, that’s a moray.


(Photo used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2)

The moon is full tonight.

I am reminded of Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach”:

“The sea is calm to-night.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand;
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

“Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Aegean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

“The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

“Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.”

If anyone knows about naked shingles, it’s me.

According to Wikipedia, William Butler Yeats responds directly to Arnold’s pessimism in his four-line poem, “The Nineteenth Century and After” (1929):

“Though the great song return no more
There’s keen delight in what we have:
The rattle of pebbles on the shore
Under the receding wave.”

I think Yeats has described exactly how I feel when a post of mine receives no comments.

I doubt that I shall be blogging much in the next few days, as I have a funeral to play for this afternoon, and a rehearsal tonight with the women’s ensemble, and a Good Friday service tomorrow, and an Easter Sunrise service, and the regular Sunday morning service to boot. Well, not to boot, but you know what I mean.

So I’ll see ya when I see ya.

If anyone cares.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

My five-day absence explained, plus a reading

Five days have elapsed since my last post, a rather long time for me as I normally post every other day, give or take. Here’s why:

My modem gave up the ghost and I didn’t have access to the internet.

It’s that simple. I reported it Sunday morning to my provider’s technical support group and after remotely running a few tests of their own they agreed with me that my modem was indeed frozen, freaked out, dead, kaput.

They said they would order a new one on Monday and that I would receive it via FedEx on Tuesday.

Tuesday dawned bright and early and I arose expectantly.
I do that every morning, but never mind.

Slowly the hours ticked by. There was no FedEx guy at my door at 9:00 a.m., no FedEx guy at my door at 12:00 noon, and no FedEx guy at my door at 3:00 p.m. [Editor’s note. Note the inclusion of the Oxford comma. --RWP]

Just as I was about to give up all hope and begin composing a nasty letter to my internet service provider giving them a piece of my mind, the FedEx guy showed up around 6:00 p.m., rang the doorbell, and was back in his truck before I could get to the door. I found the precious long-awaited package on my doorsill.

So now I am back in Blogland with all you wonderful people sitting out there in the dark nice folks. Just telling you about my ordeal has made me too tired to post anything else.

Except I did tell Snowbrush in a reply to his comment on the previous post that my next post would contain more about Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Bells” so:

Here it is, read aloud and everything (3:59).

P.S. -- Now in the fifth week of my shingles, I am still taking the pain medication Neurontin three times a day. Can you tell?

P.P.S. -- My hiatus caused my number of page views per day to drop from 502 to 208, so I am including the name “Pope Francis I” here to get my blog traffic back up to speed. If that doesn’t work, there’s always Susan Boyle.


(Screenshot from DVD copy of the film Sunset Boulevard showing Gloria Swanson.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

The New ABCs

Away with the horribly old-fashioned A is for apple, B is for ball, C is for cat. They’re too boring.

It makes more sense in today’s complex world to introduce our intellectually gifted, computer-literate, upwardly mobile children to the New ABCs, which have been specifically designed to prepare young sophisticates for the world of tomorrow:

A -- Avidly admiring Adelaide’s antiquated architecture, aspiring actor Alfie Armstrong, amused, ate an apple. Amanda Axelrod, Alfie’s aunt and an amateur architect, absentmindedly ate an apricot. Afterward, assorted apes and antelopes attacked Alfie, an absolutely awful alligator ate Aunt Amanda, and ants, always aggravating, ate apple-and-apricot appetizers.

B -- “Besides baking biscuits,” boasted blueblood billionaire bricklayer Benjy Bickerson breezily, “busy baby brother Bernard, bashful bachelor, broke broccoli, boiled bananas, blended batter, brewed beer, bought buttonhooks, bagged birdseed, befriended barking beagles, blew bubbles between Brooklyn’s bigger buildings, but borough’s better brokers blacklisted Bernard because baby brother belched before breakfast.”

C -- Clever Claudia Cornwall, collegiate carousel cleaner, coolly climbed Colorado’s classic crevices, clowning crazily, crying “Corral crustaceans! Collect cucumbers! Close Carlsbad Caverns!” continuously.

D -- Dizzy debutante Daphne Dingleberry, Denver’s dimpled darling, deftly drove dapper Daniel Doppelganger’s distinguished Dusenberg downtown during December Dental Days despite daily demonstrations denouncing defective dentifrice distribution.

E -- England’s elegant Evelyn Epworth, ermined, enrages eternally exquisite Elizabeth every Easter; even Elizabeth’s emotions explode eventually. Enraptured, Egyptologist Edward Emerson excavated emerald eucalyptus, evoking Evelyn’s ennui.

F -- Fresh from February’s fig festival, fertile French farmer Francois Français, feeling fine, flamboyantly fathered four following fun-filled fortnight frantically fighting Finnish flotilla fleeing Frankfurt’s fish-feeding frenzy fiasco.

G -- Gowned gorgeously, Gilda Gottlieb, Glendale's golden girl, greeted Gabriella Gildersleeve grandly. “Greetings!” giggled Gilda, gleefully giving Gabriella gangrenous glowworms. “Gracious! Gross! Ghastly! Gosh! Go!” gasped Gabriella, groaning. Gargling, Gabriella's goofy grandmother, Gloria Grambling, growled “Gesundheit!” girlishly.

and so on.

Want to give it a try?

P.S. -- Just for klahanie (Gary), who likes to start with the end and work backwards, here’s my offering for Zed, er, Zee:

Z -- “Zay!” zcreeched Zanzibar's zaniest zookeeper, Zelda Zymase, zending zebras zcurrying, “Zinfandel zertainly zounds zilly!”

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Potpourri (say it soft and it’s almost like praying)

Today is the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere, the vernal equinox having occurred at 7:04 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time -- or does that happen tomorrow? Spring came on March 21st when I was young. Now it seems to arrive on March 20th. Life on earth can be so confusing. For example, it’s the first day of autumn in the southern hemisphere.

Tomorrow is the 138th anniversary of the birth of my maternal grandfather, Nathan Silberman. He was born in 1875 in Pennsylvania and died in 1970 in Pennsylvania. The farthest south he ever traveled was to Mount Vernon in Virginia. The farthest west he ever traveled was to Minnesota. When he and my grandmother were raising their four children, every summer he took them to Old Orchard Beach in Maine. He played the clarinet and the violin. Not at the same time, in case you were wondering. Happy 138th birthday, Grandpa!

I did something this morning I have never done before. Jethro got me up at 5:30 a.m., insisting that he be taken outside so he could perform his morning, er, performance. It was still dark, of course. I always put him on a leash and walk him because our yard is not fenced and occasionally he will not come back when called. He is a good boy except when he is not, much like many of us. Back in the house afterward, I emptied the dishwasher and put all the clean dishes and glasses and silverware and cups into the drawers and cabinets where they belonged. Then I turned the lights out in the kitchen and started walking in the dark back toward the bedroom where Mrs. RWP was still sleeping. These are all things I’ve done lots of times. What was different this time was that as I made my way along the pseudo-hallway between the living room and dining room, I slammed headlong into the side of the grandfather’s clock. There was such clanging and banging as you have never heard as the brass weights and the pendulum expressed their displeasure at being disturbed. I had to flip on the lights and calm them down (the clock parts, not the lights) with a laying on of hands, hoping all the while that Mrs. RWP would not be disturbed. She wasn’t. I was not hurt, though the earpiece on the right side of my glasses is a little out of whack. Maybe I knocked some sense into my head. I hope so.

Speaking of Potpourri/popery, I’m not Roman Catholic but I am liking the new Pope Francis I more and more. He seems to be a humble man, down-to-earth and filled with common sense.
Here is a portion of an interview from last year in which the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio said some interesting things to a South American rabbi. You should read it. It couldn’t hurt. It might even do you some good.

The very idea of a South American rabbi makes my brain turn cartwheels.

Here is Nathan Silberman with his youngest daughter, Ruth (my mother), around 1930:



Here he is in 1946, when he was 71:



Three days ago I turned 72.

Time flies when you’re having fun.

This is Abraham Skorka, the South American rabbi who is the new Pope’s friend:



Care to join me in a couple of cartwheels?

This is Mount Vernon (George Washington’s home) in Virginia:



Nobody said a post had to be organized logically.

As A.A. Milne, or maybe it was Walt Disney, would say, Ta-Ta For Now.



Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More about my shingles than you probably care to know

Shingles should stay on roofs on rooves on the tops of houses where they belong, and not take up residence on the left side of my incredibly fit my truly amazing my aging and rapidly deteriorating torso.

This is a progress report.

I still have ’em or it or however one refers to shingles.

We are now in Week Four. Today is Day 23.

At the beginning, there were just some red marks and very little discomfort. People told me stories of themselves or their relatives and how excruciating their pain had been.

That was the word they used.

Excruciating.

I smiled and said, “Well, maybe I have a very mild case, or maybe we started the treatment in time, but I have very little pain.”

Boy, was I wrong. I spoke too soon.

The red marks got redder and more fiery and spread until they made a solid band about three inches wide that wrapped around me from my navel to my spine, and as the band grew, so did the pain. I presume I am now in the latter stages, as the fiery red has faded into purplish and the individual pustules or whatever they are have begun to dry and form crusts. The pain, however, continues to worsen. It seems to have worked its way inward.

I have good days and bad days. Most of the nights are bad.

I don’t want to be a wuss or a big crybaby, but let me tell you something: This is not fun.

Nurse Ellie is urging me to take more acetaminaphen (Tylenol) than I want to, and more of the Neurontin (generic equivalent: gabapentin) than the doctor originally prescribed, which was one pill in the morning, one in the afternoon, and two at bedtime. To be fair, they’re the lowest dosage made (100 mg) and the doc said I could take more if I needed them. I have started taking two every time. It actually comes in various sizes up to 800 mg. Also, our pastor, who used to be a pharmacist, said that if I took that much Tylenol for a year it might damage my liver, but a month of it would not.

I just don’t like to take pills, but Nurse Ellie says, “Then you must not be hurting that bad.” So I take the pills.

Still, sometimes the pain is like fire, whooshing in when I least expect it. Other times it’s a steady ache I’m always conscious of. Sometimes it tingles. Sometimes it itches. So far I have managed not to do any scratching. It’s just odd to me that as the disease winds down, the pain has not decreased.

I’ll tell you what it is.

It’s excruciating.

Sorry, atheist readers (I know who you are), but I must now preach a little Christian sermon, mostly to myself:

I know enough Latin to know that ex and crucis mean “out of the cross.” In other words, it’s a bit like being crucified.

I haven’t had nails driven into my flesh yet.

Jesus suffered far worse on the cross than I am suffering at the moment with my light affliction* and He will help me get through this.

End of sermon.

Nurse Ellie also says, “Old age ain't for sissies or wimps,” and she’s right.

I will try to write no more about shingles,

But I’m not promising anything.

---------------------------------------------------------

* “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (II Corinthians 4:16-19, KJV)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Like sand through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives, or Thoughts On My Seventy-second Birthday

1, 2, 3, 4, 5...

...14, 15, 16, 17...

...25, 26, 27, 28, 29...

...38, 39, 40, 41, 42...

(yawn)...

...59, 60, 61, 62, 63...

...71, 72.

Seventy-two.

SEVENTY-TWO???!!

It can’t be!

Where did the time go?

It seems like just yesterday I graduated from high school.

It seems like just yesterday I got married.

It seems like just yesterday I watched my children playing.

It seems like just yesterday I became a grandfather.

My oldest grandson is now six feet, two inches tall and 17 years old.

Where did the time go?

It went where it always goes. It marches on.

And there’s not one blessed thing we can do about it.

Shakespeare talked about the seven ages of man in As You Like It, Act Two, scene seven. You know, the infant mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms and so forth all the way to second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything. I know the drill; I figure I’m at about stage six out of the seven, which I’ll let you look up for yourself, and it’s no comfort, let me tell you.

Dylan Thomas told us, “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

That is definitely one approach. But I think F. Scott Fitzgerald said it best at the end of The Great Gatsby:

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

It’s not that I’m raging against the dying of the light or that I enjoy being borne back ceaselessly into the past particularly, it’s just that I can’t believe how soon this life is all over. I may live another 20 or 30 years, but still:



The doctor is IN. I recommend reading Psalm 103 every single day.

I also like to read Neil Theasby’s poem over there in my sidebar occasionally of an evening.

[Editor’s aside to Neil: You definitely now owe me. I have included you in an auspicious group that includes William Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. --RWP]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Irrelevancy, Irschmelevancy, some people are just rude

...and perhaps too liberal for their own good, and apparently have never heard of the separation of church and state (British readers, it’s an American thing).

Here is a transcript of a portion of Rush Limbaugh’s radio program from yesterday, March 12th. It includes a video clip from this past Sunday’s CBS television program Face the Nation, hosted by Bob Schieffer. Mr. Schieffer’s guests on Face the Nation this week were Sally Quinn and Carl Bernstein. They were discussing the Catholic Church’s current gathering of cardinals in Rome to elect a new pope. I found Rush Limbaugh’s comments very interesting.

You are free to form your own opinion, of course, but as far as I’m concerned, it is people like Sally Quinn and Carl Bernstein who are on the way to irrelevancy.

And Rush Limbaugh and I are not even Catholic.

But our mamas raised us right.

You want irrelevant? It’s the girl in this cartoon video, which was produced by Lutherans trying to be funny and yet making a point.

I probably don’t need to point out that Cartoon Girl is a wickedly accurate portrayal of women like Sally Quinn. It’s all satire, of course.

Of course.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah-Dah-Dah

If you are the sort of person who notices small details, you may have noticed the following line in my previous post:

... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ...

You may have thought it was an interesting decoration used as a divider and nothing more.

I will tell you a secret.

It is not just an interesting decoration used as a divider.

It has meaning.

There was method in my madness.

Let us put a portion of that line under the RhymeswithPlague Virtual Microscope (RVM, patent pending) and examine it more closely:



Three dots, three dashes, three dots.

Ring any bells?

My dad taught me this pattern with a flashlight when I was child. We went out into the backyard and pointed my new Boy Scout flashlight into the night sky. Using the button on the switch, I did it. I flashed three short flashes, three long flashes, and then three more short flashes. I have never forgotten it. Fortunately, we lived in a rural area over which airplanes rarely passed. On many a summer night I could be found out in the backyard with my flashlight, signalling to the universe. Why?

It is now time for the big reveal.

The pattern represents the letters S O S in Morse Code, which was invented by this man for use with this device:



S O S, S O S, S O S. The international distress signal. Some people say it means “Save Our Ship” but that may not be true.

When there is vocal contact, another international distress signal that can be used is “May Day, May Day” which is actually “M’aidez, m’aidez” which means “Help me, help me” in French.

When there is not vocal contact, your only hope is three shorts, three longs, three shorts.

Three dots, three dashes, three dots.

Dih-dih-dit Dah Dah Dah Dih-dih-dit.

Save our ship, because we’re sinking.

Very fitting for our celebrity-obsessed world, where some people actually think it is important that we know that Joy Behar is leaving The View. And Elizabeth Hasselbeck. And possibly Baba Wawa.

The most distressing thing of all is that many people who heard the news thought it was important too.

Oh, there are many things lots worse than The View, things so bad I wouldn’t dream of bringing them up on a G-rated blog. They’re all symptoms of the culture in which we find ourselves.

And we’re sinking.



[Update, 7:45 a.m., 12 March 2013: Thanks to comments received from klahanie and Yorkshire Pudding on my previous post, I have been made aware that The View and the women of The View are unknown in the United Kingdom and, one hopes, throughout the English-speaking entire world. My apologies for having been provincial and chauvinistic, but the original premise is still valid. Readers outside the U.S. may replace “The View” with their own local entertainment atrocities. --RWP]

I repeat:



If you don’t have access to a telegraph key, you can always use one of these:



Monday, March 11, 2013

We interrupt this blog for this important announcement from The People In Charge

The world as we know it will never be the same.

This person is leaving The View:



and this person is leaving The View:



and rumor (British, rumour) has it that even this person may be leaving The View:



which will leave only this person:



and this person:



on The View until they find three other persons to replace the persons who are leaving The View.

We now return you to the blog in progress.

... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ... ... _ _ _ ...

All together now, class:



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I’m free at last!

It took a bloke from Yorkshire who is currently teaching school in Thailand to help me see the light.

Thank you, Yorkshire Pudding!

In my last post, which basically was about Texas, I said the following:

“The Catholics or anybody else may have you until you’re six if they like, but if Texas gets you when you’re six and a half, you’re pretty much doomed very fortunate indeed a Texan for the rest of your life, like it or not.

“This is true even if you move away when you are 20 and hardly ever go back. I speak from personal experience. Even if you try to put Texas out of your mind, you cannot. I think it has something to do with bluebonnets.”

Yorkshire Pudding straightened out my thinking with the following comment:

“No, you are not a Texan, sir. You are a fully fledged Georgian. You may need hypnotherapy to expunge all thoughts of Texas and the hallucinogenic blue bonnet from your shingles-affected mind, so sing after me:

Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you.

Georgia, Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind.”

Singing along with Yorkshire Pudding definitely has a certain purgative/cathartic effect, but for the real deal, you have to

SING ALONG WITH RAY CHARLES!

That would make a Georgian out of anybody, plus Ray’s physical movements while he sings serve as the hypnotherapy Yorkshire Pudding suggested. For those of you wondering whatever became of Ray Charles, you will be happy to know that he has found part-time work as a metronome.

Here is a summary of my life, timewise:

I spent 6 years in Rhode Island (1941 - 1947)
I spent 14 years in Texas (1947 - 1961)
I spent 2 years in Florida (1961 - 1963)
I spent 2 years in Nebraska (1963 - 1965)
I spent 3 years in New York (1965 - 1968)
I spent 7 more years in Florida (1968 - 1975)
I have spent (so far) 38 years in Georgia (1975 - 2013)

That adds up to 72 years, which is right on the money, my 72nd birthday being only a few days away.

Since I have spent over half my life in Georgia, and it happens to be the most recent half, the only conclusion I can make is that Yorkshire Pudding is right.

I am a Georgian.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

I may have to turn in my credentials as a Texan

Yesterday was March 6th and I did not blog a single word about the fall of the Alamo, which occurred 177 years ago on March 6th, 1836.

I forgot to remember the Alamo!



And four days before that, on March 2nd, I did not blog a single word about Texas Independence Day, which is more important in Texas than the 4th of July.

The big three Texas Dates of Historic Significance (and thus blogging opportunities) are only two-thirds done for this year, however.

There is still the battle of San Jacinto on April 21st, when General Antonio López de Santa Anna got his comeuppance.

In addition, there is Juneteenth if you happen to be African-American, which I am not, not that there’s anything wrong with that.



I have heard it said that the Roman Catholic Church used to claim, “Give us a child until he is six, and he will be a Catholic for life.” I do not know whether that particular alleged boast is true. My mother, a non-practicing Jew, and my dad, a lapsed Methodist, were not religious when I was very young, so I never went to church or synagogue or anyplace else except the Pawtucket (Rhode Island) Day Nursery. When I was around five, I did visit the Woodlawn Baptist Church in Pawtucket a time or two with my dad. We didn’t own an automobile and Woodlawn was within walking distance of where we lived in the third-floor apartment of the house at 61 Larch Street.

In August of 1947, though, when I was six and a half, something momentous happened. We moved lock, stock, and barrel from Rhode Island to Texas.



The Catholics or anybody else may have you until you’re six if they like, but if Texas gets you when you’re six and a half, you’re pretty much doomed very fortunate indeed a Texan for the rest of your life, like it or not.

This is true even if you move away when you are 20 and hardly ever go back. I speak from personal experience. Even if you try to put Texas out of your mind, you cannot. I think it has something to do with bluebonnets.


(Field of Texas bluebonnets; photo by bombay2austin on Flickr. Noncommercial use permitted with attribution)

I know I'm getting old, but next year I simply must remember to remember the Alamo.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

And the caissons go rolling along

I have now been taking valacyclovir (Valtrex) for seven days with three days to go. The shingles still look the same to me but may be beginning to fade.

What hasn’t faded is the pain. It has gotten worse. Although I would not call it excruciating, it has steadily built over the past week. I felt worse today than ever.

So I returned to our primary care physician for the follow-up visit and he prescribed Neurontin (or actually its generic equivalent, gabapentin) to be taken three times a day for the next ten days. I have the smallest size, 100 milligrams. The doc told me it comes in much larger sizes as well, but we’ll start with those and hope they do the trick.

I do not like taking pills in general. I’m ready for this stuff to be over.

Speaking of general and over, Hugo Chavez died this afternoon.

Oops, he was only a colonel, not a general. But that was apparently high enough in the scheme of things to become the dictator elected leader of Venezuela.

Congressman José Serrano (D-NY) of the Bronx sang Chavez’s praises here.

Some people never learn.

If this post makes no sense, it’s probably the gabapentin talking.

Monday, March 4, 2013

We aim to please.

In the bowels -- apologies to Yorkshire Pudding -- of the Feedjit Live Traffic thingie over in the sidebar, I noticed that a reader in Houston who had done a search on black women who singing one day at a time sweet jesus had landed on a post of mine entitled “One Day at a Time, Sweet Jesus” which includes a photograph of a field of bluebonnets somewhere in East Texas followed by the “Take no thought for the morrow” passage of scripture from the sixth chapter of the Gospel According to St. Matthew. It contains absolutely nothing, however, about the song mentioned in the post’s title (except for the obvious connection readers were supposed to make from the “Take no thought for the morrow” passage of scripture from the sixth chapter of the Gospel According to St. Matthew).

A thousand pardons.

I want to remedy that at once. Houston Reader, here is -- not black women (plural), sorry -- but a black woman (singular) singing Christy Lane’s song, “One Day At A Time, Sweet Jesus” (5:33).

The church is Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois.

And here, Houston Reader, are black women (plural), black men, and a rather flamboyant an impassioned pianist, organist, and drummer performing “The Lord's Prayer” (5:00).

Although that particular musical style and level of intensity in worship may not be your cup of tea, it is what is referred to in the U.S. as “black gospel” music, a genre in which sincerity trumps technique.

But I do hope that Houston Reader is now happy, that Snow- brush out in Oregon has managed to recall a few fond memories from his early years in Mississippi, and that Yorkshire Pudding’s diarrhoea (his spelling, not mine) is now cured.

Writing this post brings to mind what an anonymous woman from Montgomery, Alabama, said at the end of the 381-day-long bus boycott in her city during the Civil Rights era: “My feet are tired, but my soul is rested.”

Friday, March 1, 2013

“Grow old along with me. The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.”

After three days of the valacyclovir (Valtrex), my case of shingles continues unabated.

I thought the pain was easing and the discolorations were fading slightly, but no. It was just wishful thinking.

It’s becoming a regular pharmacy around here.

I currently take three pills in the morning prescribed by my cardiologist (Cozaar, Toprol, and 1/4-grain Aspirin), one from my family doctor (the Valtrex), and two extra-strength Tylenol. In mid-afternoon I take two more of the Tylenols and another Valtrex. Before bedtime I take three other cardiologist-prescribed pills (a Zocor and two extended-release Niacin), two more extra-strength Tylenol, and a third Valtrex. I keep Nitrostat (nitroglycerin pills) on hand “just in case” of a heart flare-up but I am happy to report that in the 17 years since my heart attack I have never had to take a single one. Oh, and I just completed a three-month tour on Omeprazole (the generic equivalent of The Purple Pill) courtesy of the gastroenterologist following my first-ever endoscopy (bleeding ulcer) and colonoscopy (polyp). Counting the Omeprazole, that’s 16 pills a day, about 14 more than I would like to be ingesting.

I’m turning into a regular Snowbrush.

Well, maybe things haven’t quite reached that point yet.

But that which I greatly fear has come may have come may be trying to come upon me.

I speak of the condition we all dread. A-G-E.

Age.

Old age.

Nah.

It’s probably just the shingles talking.

In honor of the occasion, though, I have composed a pome (translation: some doggerel verse):

Old age -- it ain’t for sissies;
Old age -- it ain’t for wimps.
Old age is full of gases
Like those they put in blimps.

Old age has come a-knocking;
Old age will get us all.
Old age makes people long for
Dear dead days beyond recall.

Old age -- the final frontier --
Into it we boldly go
Where none of us has gone before.
What’s there? You don’t want to know.

(End of pome)

If you’re the type who likes to get a second opinion, you can always go with Robert Browning up there in the title of this post.

Otherwise, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.