Saturday, 19 July 2014

No news was good news

I am at the end of my fast from the news media. I am none the worse, and much the better after this sabbatical from news and chatter created anxiety.

I walked with Penne at leisure, prayed, spot cleaned some stains in my very old bedroom carpet, defrosted and cooked the last of my "fourth of July Special" steak, and ate it with sautéed asparagus and green bell pepper.


A friend from Church is in the hospital having had part of one leg amputated earlier this week.  Soon he will begin receiving treatments for bladder cancer.

I visited him today. His room T.V. was on  (chatter, chatter, chatter  from CNN). At my request he turned it off in less than a minute.

For once I was not in a hurry. He opened up and chatted not about the surgery, but about many of the sad failures and disappointments of his life. I listened.

You know, sometimes  we meet people in Church where they put on a good face, leading us to believe that they have their shit together. (It's hard to be honest in Church).  But once in a while we are able to break through the b.s. of religiosity and talk about life as it is, not life as we perform it.

Thus it was today.  I was moved to hear his story, and honoured that he trusted it with me. I, for once,  did not offer counsel. I simply listened, and then pronounced God's blessing.


I finished reading Iris Murdoch's novel "The Bell".  Oh my goodness she understand human nature, and the foibles and follies of religious life.  None of her characters are entirely wonderful. None of them are utterly bad.  I venture to say that we'd have a more healthy Church if we understood, as does Iris Murdoch, than none of us are entirely wonderful, nor are any of us incorrigibly bad.


I began to read David Reynold's  book  - "The Long Shadow:  The Legacies Of The Great War In The Twentieth Century".  (Norton 2014).  This is an important book about which I shall write more in a few days.


Early evening saw me visiting with my gorgeous octogenarian friend Betty and a new friend Carole.   Betty and Carole are much more interesting than CNN news.


And then there is Penne.  She is in canine heaven when I am at home for most of the day. She sets up shop in which ever room I am.  She sometimes lies down on my bed.  I sit beside her and begin some sweet talk.  Her tail wags, and wags, and wags.  She stretches out on her left side, and puts her right front leg over my arm.   Then she moves her body and  pushes me away so that I can give her a belly and nipple rub.  Damn that dog reads me so well.


There is some news which is good news.

Friday, 18 July 2014

A fast from anxiety

 I was in a tither yesterday.

The news from the Ukraine, from Israel/Palestine, from the U.S./Mexican border (and from  many other places)  was all bad, and  all too dreadful.

My anxiety level was HIGH.   
This was not good.
 I became so very  anxious

Acting on a suggestion from Rabbi Rachel Barenblatt (The Velveteen Rabbi),  (you can follow her thread at the Episcopal Cafe's "The Lead"  Friday July 18th 2014 -  "What to do when all the news is bad"     I  decided to  fast from all  media and social media on Saturday 19th July.

This means that I will abstain from  T.V. and  Radio news; from internet news, from e-maul, and from postings on Facebook, 
I will  endeavor to enjoy an anxiety free Sabbath.

See you on Sunday,



Thursday, 17 July 2014

For what should I wish?

I need spectacles for reading and for computer work. I do not need them for distance sight such as driving.  Nevertheless I opt for progressive lenses with the top being lens-less and the bottom being good for reading etc as I dislike having to take my glasses on and off.

I am fortunate (I think)  to have excellent optical insurance (courtesy of the Church Pension Fund) which enables me to have a free annual eyesight test, and a reduction in the cost of frames and lenses.

So off I went on June 24th to  Target Stores Optical Services for an eyesight test ( which determined that my sight  is deteriorating very slowly and there is next to no signs of macular degeneration or cataracts).

I placed an order for new lenses and frames  ( at a cost of $295 even with the optical insurance and a "Target Red Card" holder discount of $14.

Without insurance the new glasses would have cost $565.  That is astonishingly high.  No wonder poor people opt for no glasses at all, or for the cheaper  "readers" which are available at local drug stores. 

Of course they are poor because of their own faults and shortcomings eh?  (You can tell that to the Marines, but do not tell it to the Republicans.  They are deaf.)

My eye exam, as I mentioned, was on June 24th.

My receipt told me to expect delivery on July 4th (fat chance!), especially as the clerk told me that normal delivery could be expected in two weeks.

I waited for two weeks and a day before calling Target. My glasses had not arrived,

I called again today -  23 days after my initial appointment.  I was told that my glasses had still not arrived at the store.  I very politely expressed my displeasure, and said that if the glasses were not available by next Monday (July 21st) I would cancel my order.

The clerk said that she understood my frustration  (she sounded to be sincere) and ventured that if my order is not fulfilled by then "maybe" Management will give me a further discount.

She called me later. (Good for her)  She had followed through with the company which makes the frames and discovered that the entirely simple frame which I had chosen was on back order . (Chinese efficiency?).  This  clerk "hopes" that this will be resolved by next Monday.  (I have my doubts).

So "For what should I wish?"

1. That there is not a chance that my new glasses will be ready anytime soon, and that I should therefore cancel the order next Monday, and take my prescription to another supplier?

2.  That if I am promised delivery "within a few days"   I should insist on a deep discount or else I will still cancel the order?

3. That inexpensive prescription eye glasses be made available for the poor, and for the poorest of the poor?

( Don't count  on #3. Some "Village Idiot" Republican (and there are many) will insist that this is socialism.).

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Self interest trumps altruism.

Some readers may recall the sagas of my encounters with my (ahem)  "somewhat difficult" neighbour.

She is the one we found at 5:00 a.m. back on May 14th, flat on the ground and hallucinating wildly, in  a neighbours driveway.

She went off to the hospital and I went off to the United Kingdom.

Upon my return I called one of her brothers, a good and wise retired Judge from Michigan.  He told me that she had been moved into a nursing home in Venice FL and asked me to visit her.

That I did (for his sake), and found her to be in good spirits and in improving health.  She asked my to retrieve her mail.  I did so, and after boxing it  up, I posted it to her.

(Of course I  had not entered her villa alone - the President of our Condo. Assoc. came with me (wise as serpents, innocents as doves?)

Last week another of her  brothers called and asked me to visit her again, That I did last Saturday (for his sake).  She was even more chipper, and professed to be enjoying her life in the nursing home.

I mentioned the large amounts of opened foodstuffs spread about her kitchen and bedroom which I had noticed on my first visit to her villa, and asked her permission to do a clean up. It's not that I am a good guy, but I  share a common wall with my neighbour,  and (with previous experience in mind) I feared an infestation of rats

She gave oral permission (but ever wary) I also e-mailed her brother the Judge to ask for his written (e-mail) permission.  He granted that readily.

.Today I went into the Villa. Once again, to be wise I took a neighbour with me (a fabulous practicing Roman Catholic Christian.

Here is what I e-mailed to the Judge later this afternoon:

Hello .....
My good neighbour K.  and I went into E's Villa today.
We filled three large trash bags with spoiled and about to be spoiled food, and already opened boxes of food etc   ------   from the kitchen, from her bedroom and from the fridge.
We disposed of items such as unopened milk cartons (from meal on wheels), eggs,  and other items which were well past their by sale date. 
We also emptied out ashtrays, and threw out empty cigarette packs, together with used (but not soiled) bed and wheel chair urine pads.
K cleaned out some remnants of food and grease in the kitchen sink.
There were no signs of insects or rodents, nor were there any unpleasant odours..
Best to you, L and S.
Christian preachers such as I often make our appeal to the altruism of our congregants.  That's all well, good, gospel centred  and important.
But none of us are altruistic all of the time,
I cannot speak for K (she is a noble Christian) but when she said "you are very good to do this Michael"  I replied "Not at all, I am acting out of utter self interest, this is not a matter of goodness".
That was the truth.   It is against my interests to risk an infestation of bugs of rodents from "right next door".
And it felt very good to do this clean up in the company of my neighbour K who is both good and gracious.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Words which are new to me

I am reading Iris Murdoch's 1958 Novel "The Bell".

She uses two words which I have never encountered.

1.  rebarbative

2. animadverted

I have never seen these words before today.  I do not know what they mean.  Do you?

(I have not yet looked them up in a dictionary)

Sunday, 13 July 2014

British History Resource

A good site in which to dabble on one of those "not much happening days".