Monday, December 25, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lasik - One Year Later

I'm so glad I had it done.
Of course, it is not perfect. There is no way they can return eyes to perfection. But it gets very close. I guess that I would grade my vision at 95%. My close-up vision is outstanding. My distance vision is wonderful. My only weakness is between two feet and five feet. It's slightly less sharp there. But Dr. Boothe told me it would be that way. He said that is what he opted for his own eyes.
I was enough sold on lasik that I allowed Carole to have her eyes done a few months ago. She is far-sighted, not near, and so everything about her procedure was different from mine. But she is making excellent progress and will soon be 20/20 or better in both eyes.
It is expensive. But eventually, it almost becomes cost-effective given the annual costs of glasses or contacts. And I never miss the morning/evening routines that accompany contact lenses.
All-in-all, I'd do it all again in the blink of an eye.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

This is Excruciating

Our grand-daughter Maddie has been sick this week. And it is killing me. She is normally high-octane and bubbly. Lately it's been the opposite.
On Thursday, I returned from my A.M. trips and offered to keep Maddie while Carole did some much needed shopping. Usually this would be time spent playing games with Maddie. Instead, she crawled up into my lap and mournfully repeated, "Momma, Momma." At that point, I wished I lived near Galilee in apostolic times so I could track down John, or Peter, or Jesus himself for a touch of a hand to instantly heal.
Of course I'm no different from any other grandparent or parent. But it's one of the few things in life that I let get me down. Whether it's Zach or Ethan in San Antonio or Maddie or Carole or one of my kids, I hate the feeling of helplessness when they hurt. I ramp up my prayers, but I know usually there will be waiting involved. It just sucks all the pleasure out of life.
I know Maddie will improve soon and be good as new in a few days. I know God takes care of us. But please, no more holding me tight and calling for Momma. I CAN'T TAKE IT!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

It's Time

I'll make this short. As you know, a bi-partisan panel has delivered a plan to President Bush urging a what is basically a steady withdrawal from Iraq. GW is not too keen on the idea. He remains determined to not pull out until the country can run itself. Democratically. He also wants to eradicate any sources of terrorism that may be rooted in Iraq.
Unfortunately, Bush has not learned from history. Just as LBJ got stubborn and let Vietnam become a personal pride issue, GW is unwilling to admit that Iraq has been a costly disaster.
It's time to get out. If the terrorism threat is as bad as is told us, then let's use all that military manpower to protect our borders. It will make a huge difference in our safety...and it won't cost us ten lives a day.
As to whether Iraq can ever run itself democratically, I'm very dubious. The factions there have such deep-rooted hatred for each other that harmony seems out of the question. I don't have the solution; I just know that we shouldn't be a part of it.
Isolationism has its value in some circumstances. This is one of them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Top 4 Funniest Church Moments

At the request of one of my sons, I chose this topic for today's blog. When you're as old as I and been to as many church services as I, by sheer rules of probabilities, you are going to witness moments in church where Murphy's Law reigns supreme. Here are 4 I remember.
1. My uncle Raymond was a funny guy who was a born cut-up. But he was deadly serious about his assignment in church. He sat at the back of the auditorium and controlled four dials on a wall...which in turn controlled the various microphone volumes at the front. One Sunday evening, I was a bit late getting there, but wanted to sit with the other high-schoolers down front. It was deathly quiet because we did a Sunday night communion for those who slept in on Sunday morning. Note: Everyone would crane their necks looking around to see who the sinners were because they were asked to stand in order to be served.
Anyway, my path to the front took me past Raymond. As I approached, he just happened to be in the middle of an arms extended skyward stretch. He could afford to do this because he was at the back. When I came astride him, I spontaneously and without aforethought, raised my right elbow and softly (I thought) gave him a nudge just under his rib cage. Well, it must have been a bit more powerful than I thought. The entire contents of his lungs emptied in a throaty roar that sounded like a mating hippo. The entire congregation turned as a unit to see from whence came the volcanic sound. Raymond was doubled over as though in convulsive laughter, except it wasn't funny to him. To make matters worse, long after decorum had been restored to the assembly, I simply couldn't keep my composure as I sat in my front seat. Later, I got it real bad from my mom, a cold, humorless woman.
2. I'm taking my grandmother's word on this next one. She said that one Sunday morning at the Garland Rd. congregation, a visitor of some import was asked to lead the opening prayer. The prayer would follow the usual introductory welcome by the minister. The esteemed prayer guy got a seat on the podium almost directly under the baptistry. The minister has just finished this sentence, "We would like to extend a most cordial welcome to our visitors," when someone from the back of the building, well behind the baptistry, opened a door. A fierce north wind was blowing that morning and someone had left the door to the baptistry open. The sudden gust toppled over a potted plant that had been positioned on ledge of the baptistry and it proceeded to land upside down on the head of the esteemed prayer guy. A cordial vistors' welcome, indeed!
3. I remember a particular communion segment at Peak and Eastside, my home congregation. You must know going in that the sanctuary featured a rather severe incline, back to front, the front being lower. Someone toward the rear dropped a collection plate, one of those shiny metal ones with a felt bottom. Incredibly, it didn't just lay there in a pile of rolled on its edge to the front of the auditorium. The sound was not that different from a slow bowling ball making its way down the lane. How it missed 59 pairs of legs, I don't know. And when it finally got to the end of its journey, it started doing one of those gyroscope-type spins, with the wah-wah-wah sounds getting closer and closer together. Finally, it was over. The entire sequence took probably 25 seconds and few in the audience were able to maintain their stiff Church of Christ demeanor.
4. At Peak and Eastside (btw, our softball team mascot name was the Pekineses), we didn't get air-conditioning until the early 60's. So in the hot months, all windows were opened and the foyer doors left open to hopefully catch an occasional breeze. One Sunday morning, a lonely dog must have been curious as to what was going on up there. There were 22 stair steps leading up to the foyer entrance. After climbing those steps, the dog encountered one Harry Griffith, a deacon whose church status, yea even his salvation, hung by a thread because he was a smoker. Harry's job was hang in the foyer area, answer any phone calls, assist any nursing mom to the cry room, and collect communion trays. He was the pharoah of the foyer.
The pooch seemed to have designs on entering the sanctuary, so Harry reached down to grab him. But this was a quick dog...ugly, but quick. It eluded Harry's grasp. The sanctuary had three seating sections and two aisles, identical to a typical high school auditorium. The dog headed for aisle separating the center section from the right section. Brother Griffith had an instant dilemma. "Do I let him enter the worship area and hope he quickly retreats, or do I chase after him?" Much to the delight of us young people, Harry chose the chase. The dog quickly realized what was happening and took off for the front. The minister was in mid-sermon. As long as I am allowed to live on this gorgeous planet, I will never be able to erase from my memory the sight of this middle-aged deacon sprinting down the aisle with arthritic abandon after that dog. The dog circled the communion table in a fashion not too dissimilar to Jeff Gordon racing through the high-banked oval at Daytona. Harry by this time was too far into this thing to quit now, and probably was wishing that tobacco hadn't compromised his lung capacity. He threaded through the narrow space between the table and the podium where the minister was looking down in horror, his mouth agape. The doggie sped to the other aisle and made for the foyer from whence he came. Griffith now was a visual cartoon. I shall never forget the way his coat was flapping and how his tie had been swept over his shoulder and was whipping in the breeze. The pooch made it the exit and left behind a stunned audience, a minister who forgot where he was in the sermon, and a panting deacon who will live in church-house infamy.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Just Desserts

I don't know when in my life desserts became a major food group. I don't remember very many desserts being served at 3311 Culver St. My folks were tighter than shrink-wrap and money wasn't spent on such frivolities as power mowers, air-conditioners, or desserts.
Maybe twice a year, Mom would make a graham-cracker pudding pie. Once a year, I'd get a birthday cake...until I got to age 6 and Mom concluded that I was too old for extravagances like that.
But I had enough interaction with the outside world to broaden my sugar-filled horizons. I loved church gatherings where entire tables would be covered with pies. Family get-togethers were cool - it was almost as though my aunts were in Olympic competition, and my Aunt Pearl was a gold medalist.
My modus operandi when I know a sumptuous dessert awaits is to rush through the meal proper, deliberately eating small portions to save room for what's coming. Many times, I stomp on Emily Post's grave by racing to the hostess shortly after the prayer has been said and asking for permission to slice the pie. This is while others are still in the process of filling their plates with mashed potatoes and string beans.
Here are some of my favorite desserts, complete with commentary:
1. Apple or cherry cobbler. Of course I love hot cobbler right out of the oven. But in college, I even lusted after the two-day-old cobblers that seemed to be super-glued to the bowls and had to shoe-horned out by an expert (thus giving rise to origin of the word "cobbler").
2. Lemonade pie. My wife can whup up world-class lemonade pie. Perhaps no other dessert juxtaposes taste and texture like this one. The filling feels so wonderful up against the palate that one is tempted not to swallow, but that is precluded by the extraordinary taste...and civility.
3. Blue Bell Ice Cream (in various flavors). Back in my marathoning days, I would spend Saturday mornings running the perimeter of White Rock Lake TWICE. Then I'd hurry home and consume a quarter-gallon of Blue Bell. I considered the morning's two activities an even swap of calories.
4. Banana pudding. Another taste/texture dream. Tastes as good two days later as on day one. It's wonderful with ice cream on top, a little-known nugget of truth.
5. Carrot cake. Carrots are renowned for their nutritional value. This is justification for pounding down on carrot cake. This dessert, however, loses its standing the longer it stands. Luby's is famous for sneaking 2-day-old carrot cake into their dessert selections. It looks fresh. Only when you bend the fork tines do you realize that you've got a refund coming, if not a gift certificate.
I could easily extend this list to 25. But I'd love to hear you expound on your favorites.