Thursday, April 26, 2012

Back to Normal

Yes, getting back to normal after a good night's sleep, and the toe pain pretty much gone.  Thanks guys for your concern.

Just finished my two-mile hike in the woods with the dog, so trying to get back to my routine.

The woods were so quiet this morning, the silence only broken occasionally by a woodpecker knocking or a morning dove calling.  I couldn't help thinking that this is the way the world should be - ninety percent silence.  Only the infrequent sounds of nature - birds chirping and squirrels rustling in the leaves.

Not like the world we've created where you often can't hear yourself think, let alone hear a dove calling.

I'm sitting at a McDonald's (forgive me my trespasses) with a coffee while a TV is playing in one corner and music is playing through the speakers in the ceiling and the gawd-awful beeping of the kitchen timers  that sound like smoke alarms or dumptrucks backing up,are piercing my eardrums at regular intervals (I think there are more than one of them going off at the moment).

I've gotten behind on chores, so gotta go.  A least it should be quiet at home.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Lord Giveth, The Lord taketh Away, Then Giveth Gout

Well, my exhilaration of Saturday gave way to increasing discomfort on Sunday evening.  The gout symptoms returned to my right big toe joint.  Beer is not the best thing for gout according to some experts but that Blue Moon Draft was sooo good on Saturday, I wouldn't have changed my dinner and drink order.  Sometimes living in the moment, without regard to "possible" consequences is worth it, regardless.
Internet image without attribution
You Don't Wan't To See A Photo Of My Foot
A few years back I had my first episode of gout in my left big toe joint.  The initial episode was the most excruciating, subsequent flare ups less so.  I've had a few flare ups on that side, usually in the spring time for some reason, and the literature apparently supports this.  

So this time I could feel it coming on in my right toe and though I'd nipped it with anti-inflammatory meds before it got too bad.  I wasn't to get away that easily however.  

If I was in agony on Sunday night (why does it always seem to get worse at night?) I was in hell last night.  I was '"getting used to" the pain when it intensified beyond purgatory.  The anti-inflammatory medication seemed totally useless.  Ice did nothing.  Raising the foot just gave me a better view of the swollen, shiny, red mass of flesh.

On a pain scale of 0 to 10, it went from "6" to "9.5".  The worst of it lasted for about four hours.  It felt like I was having surgery on my toe, toe joint and foot without anesthesia.  There was no let up, except that for minutes at a time the surgeon twisted the scalpel, just for the "hell" of it.  I generally am pretty stoic when it comes to pain, but couldn't help but yell each time.  I felt like a big baby.  Yelling out didn't really help.  

Thanks Stan, for sharing your experience.  There has to be a better way to deal with this.  The science is so behind the times in regards to gout.  Many primary care physicians treat it lightly, like the common cold.  No real effective treatment, especially for acute attacks.  And the long term treatments may kill you. Left untreated, gout could possibly lead to more severe complications.  

Short of going on a no-protein diet and living on cherries there has to be a better way, one without all the dangerous medication side effects.  The science seems so behind the times.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Perfect Saturday

I felt wonderful today.  Almost manic.  I don't know if it was the anti-inflamatory medication I took at three in the morning when I was feeling the first signs of gout acting up or if it was just the glorious day.  I have a suspicion that it was a bit of both.  I think the medication calms down a awful lot of aches and pains that I've gotten more or less used to living with.  It was nice to feel no pain.

The gout was nipped in the bud so I took a long hike this morning with Benni and Dottie and her dog Katjia.  After lunch I worked on a project outdoors, repairing a wooden bin where we keep recyclables.  I also hooked up the hot and cold water for the outdoor shower.  When Leon got home we gave the dog a bath (it takes two of us), then we took our first outdoor showers of the season and took a wonderful "awake" nap on the bed.  I was feeling wonderful.

After our rest, we decided to go out to dinner at Chute Gates.  Hadn't been there in quite a while.  I ordered a Blue Moon draft, and although I am not a big beer drinker, this was easily the best beer I've ever had - cold, foamy and served with a slice of orange.  I drank about half of it in a few gulps.  Really hit the spot.  Should'v taken my camera.

Leon ordered the Country Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes and Veggies, and I had a Half Rack of Baby Back Ribs, Baked Potato and Veggies.  Both came with a very nice salad.  We shared entrĂ©es.  Both were excellent.

 I am also not a big country music fan but I even enjoyed the country music that was playing during dinner.  Even the waitress was nice.
 If it had been a gay restaurant with hunky gay cowboys parading around it would have been absolutely perfect (alas, they have pin-up girls on the men's room walls), but barring that last fantasy, it was pretty perfect just the same.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ode To Dogwood - Cornus Florida

The Dogwood, Cornus Florida, (not Cornus Kousa, var. chinensis) is by far my favorite tree, and seems to be exceptionally floribunda this year.

The Dogwood is like a prayer.

 Most beautiful in bloom

 Its branches outstretched, embracing the sky

 Filling the senses with color against blue sky

 And filling the spirit and the mind with serenity

 A Zen Garden in a single tree

 A tree vibrant in its youth

 A tree majestic with cascading branches in old age

 Simplicity of form

 Simplicity of flower

 A prayer for Spring

 I pray with you pink and with you white

And thank you for sharing your beauty with us.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Downton Abbey Spoof

If you haven't seen these, here's something to give you a smile today.

Note: Red Nose Day is a UK fundraising day - a cross between April Fool's Day and a Jerry Lewis Telethon.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

From My File Cabinet - 6 Creative Writing Exercise

This little ditty was written in a creative writing class - during a 3-minute exercise in which we were required to use the words "Manhattan Kansas".  Interesting how the mind works in a spontaneous moment...

"I'm glad that's over." Gary said as he raised the whisky glass and took a good gulp.  He put the cigarette to his lips with the other hand and drew a lung-full of smoke. "I hate weddings in general," he added as the smoke escaped through his mouth and nose, making curly-cues around his face, " and I especially hate being in wedding parties".

"Well," John replied, "You held up pretty well in spite of it and I'm sure my brother and my folks appreciated it.  And, it was kind of fun being best man and having you in the wedding party too.  I couldn't help thinking that someday the two of us could be exchanging vows, right here, in Manhattan, Kansas!"

Note to Gary and John: Don't hold your breath.  Thanks to Joe My God for this timely tidbit about anti-gay discrimination in Kansas.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mea Culpa

When I emailed a copy of my post on the Easter Vigil to some family and friends, I imagined that by hitting the send button, it changed from being a shared personal reflection to being a self-rightous sermon though the words were identical.  I'm afraid this says more about me than the post itself did.  I lay awake in bed for hours last night feeling badly about having sent the email.  It was an inappropriate Easter greeting.

But it is interesting that the few replies I've received here and through email fall into two categories.  First are those who tell me it was well said, who more or less share the sentiments; second, those who offer some form of pity - who focus only on what they perceive as my deep pain and offer their love and prayers for me as though I were ill or a long-suffering martyr or something.  Just interesting.

I have such self-doubt and anxiety whenever I express strong views, or challenge authority or speak up to others.  Whether here in this Blog or in a letter to the editor, or god forbid face to face with someone whose views I find offensive or oppressive.   The heart races, the adrenaline rushes, fear rears its head and my confidence waivers.  "Who am I to expound on such matters?  They will come back at me and rip me to shreds. It will not be pretty."

Well, enough said.  Life goes on.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Vigil - Christ Turns Over in His Grave.

This has been the first Easter Season I have not felt moved or compelled to observe the religious rituals or cultural traditions associated with Easter.

I now rarely see the inside of a church, except for funerals - out of respect for the family of a deceased relative or friend.   I did not make a King Cake for Carnival nor did I weave palm fronds into crosses.  I did not make Easter Bread or Pizza Rustica.  There are no colored eggs in our house.  No Easter chocolate bunnies.  We are not getting together with family this year - we've been invited to dinner at our friends' place.

Perhaps I am depressed.  I know I am tired.  I am weary of the world and all its petty squabbles and all the ego-trips and political posturing and religious hypocrisy.

It seems this year has been exceptionally brutal in many arenas and I find religion, and Christianity in particular, virtually silent in response to all of the social justice issues and other global issues that face societies in all parts of the world today.  Virtually silent (there are faint voices) about the things that Jesus talked about.

They are silent and do not speak out on behalf of Mother Earth or condemn the waste, the wanton disregard for the environment and the obscene use of limited resources by the few.

They are silent and do not speak out on behalf of the poor, though they profess to believe in "an option for the poor".

They are silent and do not speak out on behalf of those who cannot afford health care, though they profess a belief in caring for the sick.

They are silent and do not speak out against the gathering of obscene wealth on the backs of the struggling working classes and the poor though they profess to believe the words of Jesus that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through a needle's eye.

They are silent and do not speak out against the evangelization of government though they profess to believe the words of Jesus to "render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's".

They are silent and do not speak out against the pedophile priests in their midst or beg forgiveness in humility or make amends to all to whom they caused pain and suffering.

They are silent and do not speak out to embrace the gay and lesbian and transgender children, too many of whom take their own lives because of judgements passed by "christians" who profess to believe in the admonition to "judge not, lest you be judged'.

They are silent and do not speak out against religious leaders who use their preaching to aggrandize themselves and amass personal wealth from taking tithes from their followers.

They are silent and do not speak out against a fanatical "christian" church that pickets funerals of American servicemen and gays with signs that proclaim "God hates..."

Instead, they speak out lest women receive health services their church disapproves of.

Instead they renege on their mission and service to the poor and sick rather than provide health benefits to married spouses

Instead they speak out to condemn the love and commitment of two men or two women in marriage while they allow the annulments, divorces and serial marriages between man and woman all the while waving a banner proclaiming the "Sanctity of Marriage".

Instead they excommunicate an intelligent, dedicated religious Sister for making a difficult life and death medical decision to save a woman's life while under her hospital's purview.

Instead they deny communion to a woman at her mother's funeral Mass instead of offering the sacrament in love and compassion.

Instead they withdraw financial support from a homeless shelter because the director advocates same gender marriage, even though they say they believe in the admonition to "shelter the homeless".

You get the gist.

That's why I say (with irony?) that if Jesus Christ could see his "followers" today, He would certainly "turn in his grave".

While there are individual Christians, congregations and denominations that have a different, perhaps more enlightened understanding of Christianity and stand up for the poor, the homeless, the sick, the disenfranchised and the marginalized in our society and in societies around the world, I find I still cannot, in conscience be a part of any church, Christian or otherwise.

The scandal of Christianity is that it is divided against itself.  It is the Tower of Babel - all so called christian groups speaking their own language, much of it nonsense.

It is not enough (for me, at least) to merely find a denomination or a congregation where your beliefs are shared, or where you can feel comfortable.  It is not enough (for me, at least) to try to "change things from within" or to put on the appearance of conformity.  There will be other, "truer" christians who will still condemn me.

There was a time when to be a "cafeteria Catholic" was an authentic option.  I think this is no longer the case.  The "New" Catholic Church is a different church altogether.  And other mainstream denominations are no better.  The Anglicans split over the ordination of a gay bishop; the fundies are a cacophony of voices.  On the opposite end are "religions" so watered  down that they believe nothing in particular.

Joining one group, church, denomination over another seems more of a political statement than a spiritual one.  Theologian have have made a mess of Christ's message.  If you don't know who to believe, they're all questionable, in my opinion.

A church, a Church, a religion, a spiritual belief system should be a conduit, a support, a well, a source, a map, a road, a repository of that which is Sacred -  and I don't use that word, sacred, often or lightly.  The conduit has broken, the well is dry, the road has washed away...

In some sense it saddens me that I cannot conform, or bring myself to believe in myths or mysteries or sit at a table where I am not fully welcome (even though you may say that I am).  Life would be much easier if I could, or could at least pretend to be listening, praying, participating.  Like so many others do...whose lives fall into place neatly fitting the parameters of what is acceptable.

Perhaps I am depressed.  I know I am tired.  I am weary of the world and all its petty squabbles and all the ego-trips and political posturing and religious hypocrisy.

Perhaps I am angry as well.  Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Resurrection seems highly unlikely, but what do I know?


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