“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained by giving them to someone else.” ~ Peyton Conway March

Paul Gauguin’s “Snow Rue Carcel” (1883, oil on canvas)

 

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

Corey and I have spent the afternoon cleaning, trying to get the house somewhat straightened up so that we can put up the Christmas tree. I love my dogs, as you have heard me say many times, but the dog hair . . . I think that I could make another dog out of the hair that the three of them shed.

Paul Gauguin's "Snow at Vaugirard II" (1879, oil on canvas): This painting and the one above remind me of Monet's "Magpie")

Needless to say, I am wheezing, and Corey is sneezing. One of the wonderful effects of raising any kind of dust in this house.

Eamonn came by today, only to moan about how life is so terrible because his cell phone isn’t working, and the XBox stopped working. I have come to think of Eamonn as my personal source of comic relief. Would that the only things wrong in my life were a gaming system that has gone on the fritz and having no cell phone. I love eldest son dearly, but he really has no clue as to what life is about. I know. That is largely my fault.

I will be the first to admit that Corey and I have spoiled the kids. Up until the last two years, they all got pretty much anything that they wanted (within reason). By that I mean cell phones, games, gas money. So the last two years have been culture shock for them, not that it has harmed them in any way. I do have to say that I have always held steadfast to my basic principles in that I never pay full price for anything; clothes do not have to have a designer label, and big presents are reserved for Christmas and birthdays.

We have all learned how to do without, and it has probably helped to make us more appreciative of what we do have. I just wish that Eamonn were a bit more in tune with the fact that there really isn’t a money tree in the backyard.

Anyway . . .

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” ~ Mother Theresa

Corey’s parents have come through for us again. They have agreed to pay the electric bill with the understanding that we will pay them back as soon as possible. Have I mentioned lately how absolutely wonderful they have been in supporting us? I hate that we have to ask them as there is that issue of pride and the feeling (on our part) that we should be able to take care of things on our own, but as his mother reminds me, we are family, and they are happy to help when they can.

Once Corey finally starts to get a regular paycheck we will have to make a concerted effort to start to pay them back for some of the things that they have done. No one on either side of the family is rich or even well-to-do, so it’s not as if anyone has disposable income. That’s the part that has me feeling so guilty.

One thing that his mother did for us was to order a care package from Angel Food Ministries. I had meant to write about this wonderful organization before now, but just hadn’t gotten to it yet.

Angel Food Ministries was founded in 1994 by Joe and Linda Wingo of Georgia. The Wingos formed the organization to help provide food for friends and neighbors who were struggling financially. The program currently helps almost half a million families who are unemployed, living on a fixed income, or suffering financial hardships.  Actually, there are no prequalifiers to participate in the program, and there is no purchase limit. The service provided by this organization is invaluable.

A medium-sized box, which costs $30, has a retail value of approximately $60. Participants order from a monthly selection that includes fresh, frozen, and packaged food, including meat (beef, chicken, sausages), fresh fruit and vegetables, and other staples. The food is not seconds, such as past due bread, as all food is purchased via agreements with vendors and producers. The selection changes monthly, and specialty boxes are also available. These include meat packages, for example 10 pounds of chicken cuts for $20.

Each month participants submit their orders to their host site (orders can also be placed online). Hampton Roads has 15 host sites, with four in Norfolk alone. The orders are submitted to the main office in Monroe, Georgia by the deadline. About a week later, orders are delivered to host sites, or host sites go to the main Angel Food Ministries site to pick up orders.  On a designated date, individuals pick up their orders from their host site.

It’s a very efficient system that yields so much value for the money. The program even participates in the food stamp system so as to serve better families in need. Angel Food Ministries, which is non-profit and non-denominational, currently exists in 35 states. Corey and I have decided that once we are back on our feet, we are going to support this organization. We know all too well that we would not have survived these past two years without the generosity of those who care about us. It will be wonderful to be able to give some of that back.

If you know of a family in need, or a senior citizen who may have problems making regular trips to the grocery store, or if your own family is on a fixed income and is having problems with making the food budget stretch, please consider using this very worthwhile organization. Their toll free number is 1-877-366-3646, and their e-mail address is angelfood@angelfoodministries.com. Or, click on the link above to visit their site.

“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” ~ Albert Einstein

I remember one time when we were driving back from Ohio when the boys were much younger: We rode through Washington, D.C. (I don’t remember the reason why). It was winter and bone-chillingly cold outside. We drove around the area of  The Smithsonian, and I remember being dismayed by the number of homeless individuals who were sleeping over the subway grates. We told the boys that these people had no homes, no warm place to lay their heads, nothing in the world but what they carried.

I remember how sad both boys were at coming face-to-face with the cruel reality of homelessness. Of course there are homeless people in Norfolk, just not in the suburbs where we live. It’s not so obvious. I wanted to boys to see that homelessness had a face, that it wasn’t some abstract concept. 

Homelessness is the veteran whose mind has been torn apart by what he or she has seen. Homelessness is the senior citizen without a family, left to live at the mercy of the elements. Homelessness is the family that is living in the car that once served as a source of transportation. Estimates are that 1 in 50 children in the U.S. are homeless. That’s the face of homelessness.

I never want my children to become so inured to the plight of others that they no longer see faces, no longer feel a pang when they encounter someone in need. I hope that I have raised them to be caring adults.

During this time, one of my biggest fears has been losing the house. It’s not grand, but it’s home. The reality is that if we lost the house, we would not be homeless, we would have some place to stay.  And in spite of my complaints, I never lose sight of the fact that someone’s child is going to go to sleep hungry and cold tonight. Man’s inhumanity to man is without a doubt the worst scourge on the face of this earth.

“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” ~ Tenzin Gyatso, The 14th Dalai Lama

I’ll close with this poem that I found on Crashingly Beautiful:

The Thing Is

The thing is
to love life
to love it even when you have no
stomach for it, when everything you’ve held
dear crumbles like burnt paper in your hands
and your throat is filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you so heavily
it’s like heat, tropical, moist
thickening the air so it’s heavy like water
more fit for gills than lungs.
When grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, and obesity of grief.
How long can a body withstand this? you think,
and yet you hold life like a face between your palms,
a plain face, with no charming smile
or twinkle in her eye,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

~ Ellen Bassboth

More later. Peace.

Ben Folds Five, “Magic” (Corey loves this song)

“Agreeable friends—they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Eliot on Dogs

Lab nail polish

Wegman’s World Poster featuring Fey Rey, by William Wegman

 

“They (dogs) offer, if we are wise enough or simple enough to take it, a model for what it means to give your heart with little thought of return.”~ Marjorie Garber

“Both powerfully imaginary and comfortingly real, dogs act as mirrors for our own beliefs about what would constitute a truly humane society.” ~ Marjorie Garber

I had just begun writing my post for today; I was going to do a new Grace in Small Things. However, things change, and in this household, it’s usually within the blink of an eye.

Tillie had another seizure today. I heard Corey running from the living room and knew that something was wrong. Tillie’s last seizure was in May, and that one racked up a hefty vet bill that we are still trying to pay. This time, we knew that we did not have to take her to the vet. But still, it’s a hard thing to watch: the obvious fear in her eyes from not knowing what is happening with her body is probably the worst part. Thankfully, this one did not last long, and she seems to have suffered no long-term effects as she was ready to go outside and play ball with Corey within an hour of having the seizure.

I’ve been doing some reading about dog seizures, and of course, opinions vary from article to article. One common thread seems to be a deficiency in B6 and Magnesium.

One article in particular was very graphic in its disparagement of commercial dog foods, even relating how California pounds sell their euthanized dog and cat carcasses to dog food processing plants. I’m not sure how much stock I put into that, but if it’s true, it’s horrible.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that the term “meat by-products” is a euphemism for what’s leftover from the parts people can eat. I remember as a young girl being horrified when someone told me that old horses were used to make dog food. I would always get a lump in my throat whenever my mother would make me open the cans of K-Nel Ration (don’t even know if that brand exists any more) for the Yorkshire Terriers that we had. I was certain that I would smell horse when I opened the cans. I took me forever to get over that one.

We buy Purina  Beneful for our dogs. The Jack Russells have been on it since they were puppies, and Tillie has been eating it since she came home with us, first the puppy food and now the healthy weight maintenance formula. Apparently there is a mineral called phylate that leeches the vitamins from dog foods, causing a vitamin deficiency that can lead to seizures in some pure bred dogs, Labrador Retrievers being one of those breeds.

I checked the contents on the Beneful bag, but I didn’t see phylates listed. Who knows what to believe? I did look up phylates and confirmed that the mineral does cause depletion of vitamins. Whether or not it’s in the dog food is anyone’s guess. I just know that we are going to look for a vitamin supplement to give the dogs with their dinner in the evening. Two seizures within five months is two too many.

“One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you’re feeling blue is that he doesn’t try to find out why.” ~ Author Unknown 

Im ready for my close up
"I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille"

Tillie may feel fine, but I’m wiped out, and my headache that was gone for most of yesterday is creeping around my skull at the moment.  Oddly enough, I was speaking to the woman from the Social Security administration this morning about my migraines. She had called for some follow-up information: how often? causes? symptoms? Did I mention stress?

Anyway, the episode is over. Corey is mowing the yard, and Tillie is sleeping on the couch. Brett is still upset because he thinks that he should have noticed sooner that something was wrong. I told him that no one is to blame, but we just need to keep a closer eye on Tillie. The fact is, she may have had more seizures when we were asleep, but I don’t think so.

I am very attuned to the dog’s movements during the night and early morning. The dogs usually get my attention by shaking their heads and making their collars jingle. I wake up as soon as I hear that sound. They have me trained well. My own Pavlovian bell. So I think that I would have noticed if Tillie were in distress. At least, I hope so, but there is no way to know for certain.

“I love a dog.  He does nothing for political reasons.” ~ Will Rogers

Do you need a wrench
"Do you need a wrench?"

So much for the Grace in Small Things entry. I wasn’t doing too well with it anyway. I only had one thing down and was struggling to find four more. The past few days have been like that. Yesterday, I began an entry that I just deleted. My heart wasn’t in it, and it showed. Hence, no post yesterday, which breaks my attempt to post everyday in October.

I could touch on the abysmal governor’s race in our state, or the latest dubious proclamations from Glenn Beck about the POTUS being like Chairman Mao (oh, pleez, you moron), or how the Obama White House is wasting time on getting into a pissing match with Fox News as reflected Communication’s Director Anita Dunn’s comment to CNN about Fox News being a “wing of the Republican Party.”

I mean, the phrase Fox News is an oxymoron. There is very little news involved in the news arm of Fox Media. How about when Martha MacCullum of Fox News used a clip of VP Joe Biden on the campaign trail? Biden was quoting John McCain in saying that the “economy is basically sound.” MacCullum used that edited clip to say that the VP was one of many who were proclaiming a rebound in the economy. Say what?

Fox news is biased, not well researched, strongly conservative, and filled with lunatics like O’Reilly and Beck, but the acknowledgement by the White House just seems to be giving them more fodder for their misspeak. I say, treat them like the misbehaving children that they are. Ignore them and send them to bed. Blowhards feed on attention—positive and negative. Just consider bully Rush Limbaugh if you want proof.

Perhaps tomorrow I will be more inspired. For now, though, just not that much going on in my brain, at least, nothing very noteworthy. Just the usual: bills, mortgage, money, bills, money, health insurance, bills . . .

More later. Peace.

“A doodle. I do doodle. You too. You do doodle, too.” ~ Willow, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy and Spike

Buffy and Spike (Sarah Michelle Gellar and James Marsters)

 

“And then I was being chased by an improperly filled in answer bubble screaming ‘None of the above.'” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Today I took on another project: I cleaned my desk.

Buffy
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Now I know that many of you would not consider such a thing a project, per se, more of a task. Let me explain: I have always had a propensity for cluttered desks, and now that I am working on a desk that is about one third the size of my last desk, it is very easy for me to amass a mess in very little time.

But since I need to take care of some forms and make some telephone calls, the only way that I could do that efficiently was to find the forms that I needed. Unfortunately, by the time I tried to make some calls, it was already 4:50, and very few people want to talk to people at the end of the day. At least, I know that’s how I felt when the end of the day rolled around and the telephone rang. I would look at the caller ID and decide if it was a call I really had to answer or if I could let it go to voice mail.

So, one telephone call later, I went back to the actual physical desk which needed to be dusted. I mean reallydusted.  Finished that without giving myself an asthma attack, oh happy day for small things. The only thing left is to finish putting a pile of night-clothes back in the top of the closet; they were unceremoniously dumped out of the closet in order for me to gain access to the left side of the closet.

After that, if I’m still standing, I need to do some laundry. I’m exhausted just writing about it.

“I’ll see your numbness and I’ll raise you a lower back pain.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Xander
Xander (Nicholas Brendan)

Poor Corey is sick today. I think that he might have a stomach bug of some kind. He has spent the better part of the day in bed. Of course the dogs like it. I really didn’t realize that he felt as bad as he does until he came in and looked longingly at the bed, upon which was strewn my papers and notes from my desk. I finished quickly so that he could crawl back inside.

Corey doesn’t get sick very often, so when he does, it’s a really terrible, awful thing. I’m not mocking. He’s just beside himself when he doesn’t feel well, as if his body is directly offending him in some way. It’s cute, in a silly way.

The dogs have been enjoying his rest, of course. Shakes is cuddled up next to him, and Alfie is on his pillow above his head. Earlier, when I had the bed covered with papers, Alfie came in and gave me a dirty look. He then proceeded to jump on the bed and walk through the papers. My dogs are quite obnoxious at times. I have to remind them that the bed does not actually belong to them.

“Well, personally, I kind of want to slay the dragon. Let’s go to work.” ~ Angel from Angel

Angel
Angel (David Boreanaz)

Have my recently updated “Music to Work By” playlist running in the background. Just had to pause to identify a song. It was Joan Baez, “Diamonds and Rust.” Don’t know what possessed me to download that, but I remember when I was younger, it was one of the songs that I would sing full out when I was depressed, which was quite often. I’m sure that my neighbors were not amused, but they never complained. Thankfully.

I also downloaded a few Jackson Browne songs, and Janis Ian’s “Seventeen.” I suppose I was in a terribly nostalgic mood yesterday when I did all of the downloading and updating.

Yes, I know that I can be quite anal about somethings, and my music is one of those things. When I have my CDs on a shelf (not in storage), they are arranged alphabetically by genre: classical, jazz, etc. My music library on my computer is also very well organized: I have made sure that each song has been categorized, and that the name of the album is included (that is, whenever I can remember the name).

Anyway, I have four basic playlists: working music, sleeping music, country music (yes, I like country music, not the old style, though, more the crossover stuff), and a “This and That” category that has a little of everything in it.

“Haven’t you figured it all out yet, with your enormous squishy frontal lobes?”  ~ Spike,  Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

Alexis came by earlier on her way home. She delivered some homemade Lumpia, which is the name of small Filipino eggrolls. I love good Lumpia. Don’t really like regular eggrolls.

Lumpia can be strictly vegetarian, or it can contain meat, depending upon what the cook wants to do. Alexis and Mike make good Lumpia. She has begun to teach herself how to cook Filipino dishes, which really impresses me since I haven’t taught myself anything new in the kitchen in ages and ages. I am trying to convince Corey to learn how to cook Adobo, which is usually made with chicken or pork and has a delicious sauce.

He’s thinking about it, he says . . .

“That’s not Proactive Guy. That’s Sit-Around-And-Wait-For-The-Rest-of-His-Life-To-Turn-To-Crap Guy.” ~ Xander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Another interesting thing has happened. Brett decided to join the Improv Club at school. To say that I am happy about this move is an understatement. It was completely his idea (even better), and it means that he is actually willing and able to do an extracurricular activity this year. Such a change from last year.

Monday is parent/teacher conference at his school. Corey and I will be going, of course, and I’m hoping that I will be hearing better things than last year.

Brett’s new schedule of having four classes every other day seems to really be making a difference as far as his stress level is concerned. He has the one day off to do assignments and to just chill. Of course, it’s only October, but I’m keeping a good thought that he’ll make it through his senior year without too many problems.

“Wait. Handbook? What handbook? How come I don’t have a handbook?” ~ Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Willow
Willow (Alyson Hannigan)

Tomorrow I must make the telephone calls that I didn’t get to today. I also have an appointment with my regular doctor to make up for the one that I couldn’t go to last Friday. She is probably going to chastise me because my thyroid levels were off when I had my blood work done. My levels were off because I have run out of thyroid medicine, and I am still at an impasse with my prescription coverage.

I am trying not to pin too many hopes on the government’s idea of healthcare reform, but I swear I just don’t understand what the big deal is. How many countries around the world have government-sponsored healthcare? And these aren’t all wealthy, developed nations. I mean, if Thailand could institute universal healthcare in 2001, why can’t the United States.

Universal healthcare is not going to take us on that road to communism. Please, give me a break. What it will do is make sure that our infant mortality rate goes down, that our seniors get the medicine that they often cannot afford and that people like me who are disabled are able to afford our health insurance premiums.

I’m not asking the government to pay for everything, and I don’t believe that the majority of Americans are asking for that either. We just want options. We want not to be denied automatically for pre-existing conditions over which we have not control. For example, people who have had asthma since childhood, and that asthma has nothing to do with cigarette smoking.

Or consider the individuals who have had suffered bad side effects from a medication that has led to other health problems. How is it fair to deny coverage in such a case, especially since if the pharmaceutical companies had better oversight, then we wouldn’t keep letting medications onto the market that cause problems later. For example, the latest one that I know of is the medication Reglan, which, apparently has caused numerous problems. Well guess what? At one time, I took Reglan. Not for long, and it was years ago. But Reglan is just the latest in a long line of medications that infiltrate the market only to be recalled a decade or less later.

But the individuals who have health problems as a result of taking these medications can be denied coverage because of that wonderful catch-all classification—a pre-existing condition.

“Been there, done that, and deja vu just isn’t what it used to be.” ~ Angelus, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike
My favorite vampire: Spike (James Marsters)

Oops. Slipped onto the soapbox for a moment. But I’m sitting here at home without medication that I really need but cannot afford because it’s a matter of paying my health insurance premiums or pay for other things. Same old story. Really tired of singing this song. Nevertheless, don’t think for a second that I let it slide whenever I hear of another outlandish comment by a Senator or Representative regarding healthcare. I’m sending e-mails, signing petitions, letting it be known that I do want healthcare, and it is an issue for me.

For example, Republican House Leader John Boehner contends that he has never met a single person who supports the public option as part of health care reform. Last week, Boehner said that he was “still trying to find the first American who’s in favor of the public option.”

Hello? Hello? Is anybody in there? 

Here’s an updated version of “Diamonds and Rust.” Yep. It’s Judas Priest.

More later. Peace.

(Just a note: In a Buffy mood. No particular reason. There was some great philosophy on that show, in a silly vampire slayer kind of way.)