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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Run or Walk, You Choose

January 27, 2015

In honor of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's birthday today, I'm going to talk about things completely unrelated to Mozart.

For instance, why didn't Davis name his dog Houdini instead of Lyndon. . . probably more fitting.  Although Walter and I may have caught on that Davis was planning a middle-age fitness program for us by letting Lyndon stay at our house for the semester and didn't want to give away the surprise that we would frequently be running willy-nilly cross country, scaling fences, shoving our way through brush, and generally tracking down a jetting dog who has escaped.  We keep upping the ante on security and then looking at each other and saying "Again?"

I also had the moment on the phone this afternoon with KBTX morning show reporter and anchor, Kessler McLaughlin, who said, "Can we do the interview at your house a little before 8:00 tomorrow morning?"  and I thought, "Isn't that about the time when Lyndon stirs up Willie and Teddy into a baying/howling/barking furor over the passing through the yard of "Dog Friend" and the simultaneous invasion of the morning squirrel brigade?"  Then I thought, with modern technology, the television station can probably dub over any background noise, as long as they keep it below the 130 mark (which they usually do, unless the squirrels are particularly naughty and press their noses against the porch door and stick their little tongues out).



Mainly, I want to rejoice in the wide range of friends and supporters who are rallying to put on and participate in a Fun Run/Walk in Erin's memory, just in time to give all of her friends a great send off in their last semester of High school (which is why I have to deep clean my house AND work on maximizing my beauty potential between now and breakfast tomorrow, so I can be ready to love the camera).



Here are some key rules:
  1. You don't have to run.
  2. You don't even have to walk very fast.
  3. You have to give me a big hug when you pass me.
  4. Or an elbow bump if you are going too fast.
  5. If you have a pair of sneakers that don't work for you anymore, bring them to donate to Dunk Your Kicks.  Donated shoes will support low-income cancer families at Texas Children's in Erin's memory.
  6. If you are reading this, Erin probably considered you a friend.  And that means you are invited! 
Some of you might not have an outing to College Station in your travel plans.  You can still support the race, by registering as "Donation Only."  If you want to send a card or remembrance, I will take them to the race that day and share them in a display.  The race benefits the Coalition Against Childhood Cancer, which, as Walter will tell you, is how I spend my non-paid work time these days.

So, what do you have to do?  


AND CLICK THE "TAKE ACTION" BUTTON
or
CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION TO REGISTER!





Monday, January 5, 2015

As Promised. . . The Family Gallery

January 5, 2015

Here I go, spoiling you again by posting so soon.

But I did promise to give you an update when all the Lego family portraits were finished.

Here is our foursome (at a distance, so you can tell who we are):



And here we are, a little closer and with a beagle bonus.



And here is the work in progress (Emma, building herself):



Saturday, January 3, 2015

My Christmas Gift Is Better than Yours

January 3, 2015

Maybe you think this is going to be a spirit-filled post larded with warm feelings about being together with friends and family in the holiday season.   

Maybe you saw on Facebook that we deferred the celebration of Christmas by a week plus because our collective schedules didn't line up until the new year, and you think I am about to wax on about how the 25th is an arbitrary day to celebrate, and how we defied convention and harvested the blessings of a less-stressed day.

Maybe I have lulled you into the mindset that I am about to talk about perfect love or the wonder of thirty married Christmases or memories of Christmases with our complete family.

You certainly don't think I'm comparing what I got to what you got . . . but actually I am . . . and I haven't even got it yet.

For the last two months, Davis has been planning our family Christmas present.  He found individual photos of family members, pixilated them, and built algorithms to translate the pixilated photos into colors in the Lego color palette.  Here's an example:




Then, he ordered Lego pieces from all over the world (more than 6000 of them) that matched our various complexions, hair coloring, and shadowing and had them delivered to our house.  And today he and Emma got to work on this year's Christmas Project--A Family Photo Gallery Rendered in Lego Brick (1x1s):






Since they haven't completed the full gallery yet, you still have time to whip your children into shape so that you have a chance to get an even better gift than I am going to have.   Let me know when you are ready to concede.  

I will post the full six lego portraits when they are done.

Friday, January 2, 2015

"Stop Putting Hot Air on Me"

January 2, 2015

Years ago, when we commuted regularly between Nashville and Bryan with a pre-school-aged Davis, a Rottweiler, and a back up dog, Davis would sit strapped into his car seat booster, with Dolly, the Rott on the seat next to him on one side, and Sparky, the back up, on the other.  Inevitably, he would tire of Dolly panting in his ear and whine, "Mommm!  Dolly is putting hot air on me.  Make her stop!!"

And as annoying as that was, you haven't lived until you have spent twenty-three hours in a crowded, mid-sized sedan with an anxious, hyperventilating beagle and a grown man who would prefer to stick a fork in his eye than be trapped in a car with an anxious, hyperventilating beagle.  But that is the nature of parenting and grandparenting.

Davis has a very cool opportunity and honor to spend this spring at the MSRI (Math and Science Research Institute) at Berkeley where he will devote his time to "furthering the appreciation of mathematics."  Which provides Walter and me with the very cool opportunity and honor to spend the spring with Lyndon, where we will devote our time to "furthering our appreciation of beagles."  It also explains why we spent our Christmas vacation chauffeuring a dog through mid-America.

Little did we know that the normally charming and very affectionate Lyndon is not enamored of car travel.  Of course, once he was out of the car at the end of each leg of our journey from Ohio to home, he no longer resembled a satan-beagle mix and reverted to his old self:



Teddy and Willie were chuffed to see us when we rolled in on Monday and were tolerant enough of Lyndon.  We are each, in our own way, helping the young dog adapt to his new "normal."  Walter, for his part, has walked Lyndon (as Peter Townsend has been singing since 1967) "miles and miles and miles and miles."  

I have become the table top and counter police.  Lyndon has an NFL-worthy vertical leap and can get up on the dining room table without the assistance of a step stool (or anything else).  You may also recognize that a beagle's keen sense of smell allows it to recognize if so much as a crumb is left for sampling.  As I do not want a dog snuffling around where I eat (much less nicking a slice of my spinach pizza when I turn my back, which happened within an hour of our arrival home on Monday), I have had to up the frequency and vigilance of my kitchen patrol.

Willie is leading by example, shining as the "good" dog in a family role that has been a long time coming.  We were counting on Teddy to be the Mistress-in-Charge of Lyndon's education, but she wrenched her back in the first evening's rough housing session and has been prescribed bedrest and high quality meds for the next week.  She does not seem to mind the pampering.

For those of you who wondered where I had disappeared off to at the end of the summer, I was not kidnapped nor did I check myself into the Magic Mountain.  Mainly, I took a break to refresh my writing voice and perspective and tend to both my paid and unpaid work.  If it makes sense to retroactively piece together some of those activities over the next few weeks or months I will.  

Otherwise, thanks to my loyal readers who have continued to check in to see if I have any nonsense to report and Happy New Year to both of you!  


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Vacay

July 24, 2014

We managed to slip away last week.  The stated reason was to attend Uncle Dave's 90th birthday in Amarillo.  That, of course, was fabulous.  But if you have already made it as far as Amarillo, why not jump off into New Mexico?  And we did.

First, we stopped in to see our great friends Carla and Larry just above Santa Fe to admire their new place, get to know their new dogs better, and share their view.  I will put a photo of their view here soon.

Then we headed to Taos.  Here's our view of Taos Mountain:



Walter and I come to New Mexico mainly to soak up cool air (52 degrees on the balcony this morning during coffee) and to hike.  I picked the hike today:  The Italianos Canyon Trail.  It had numerous water crossings and some rather challenging switchback courses.  Walter and I had quite a discussions about whether a donkey could get up the trail to carry chain saws and equipment to clear felled trees and such.  We decided "no."

All along the way, I thought we were on a "moderate" trail, and I kept thinking how poor my wind was and how out of shape I was, and how I probably couldn't make it a mile on some of the "strenuous" trails any more.  It turns out that that kind of thinking was very similar to what I experienced when Davis was born.

And, in fact, there may be a definite advantage to hiking a strenuous trail while thinking it is only moderate.

I labored for about an hour and a half and couldn't imagine going another 22 hours like the birthing coach said was typical for first moms.  He was born after a total of an hour and fifty minutes labor.

The rating for Italianos Canyon is, in fact, strenuous.  I feel better now.

One of the things about Taos, is that they know how to do doors.  This is a small sample of the dozens of doors we walk by in the three or four blocks between our hotel and the plaza.  I suspect that anyone could be an optimist if you lived in a place where the possibilities of opening a door was this appealing.


This is the way my life has been, especially the last few years.  A door shows up waiting to be opened, and invariably,  I walk through.  Although it is the subject of another post, here is my most recent door:



Friday, June 20, 2014

Lost

June 20, 2014

When your child dies from cancer,  you focus moment to moment.  You might have been told it was coming, but you didn't believe it.

You wonder if you can I bear to move the sneakers away from the backdoor where she always kicked them off.  What about facing the grocery aisle with the favorite Del-Dixie baby dill pickles or green, NOT PURPLE, Gatorade?

Moment to moment turns into day to day.  Can I face Mother's Day?  What about Halloween with no costumes?  How do you work up to putting the Christmas ornaments on the tree?

You heal and you grow and you love your child who isn't there.  Then one day you read that the average age of a child lost to cancer is 8.  Erin almost made it to 12!

You also read what that means.  71 YEARS OF LOST LIFE WHEN A CHILD DIES OF CANCER.




So here I sit on Erin's 17th birthday, no longer struggling with the moment to moment or even the day to day, but wondering what we lost over the last five years--classes, friends, drivers' ed, soccer, prom.  And wondering even more what the world lost by her missing the next six and a half decades.

Folks, we have to do better.  We can't just go throwing decades of life away, when there is a chance to invest in more effective treatments, and it would cost much less than many of the things we currently spend on as a nation.  #StepUp.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Go Spurs Go!

June 16, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom!


And because it is Monday, your featured Map (states that support the Spurs v. states that support the Heat):


As you can see, this morning, slightly over half the states, and probably a much larger than 50% portion of the basketball watching country woke up knowing they backed the wrong team.

Go Spurs Go!

Walter, Davis, and I won't take complete credit for the Spurs win last night or for the series, but we did our part.

Starting with hand-made, silk-screened fan gear (thanks Davis!):


We were also disciplined and dutiful.  We followed out game day rituals, eating the right foods and getting the right attitudes on.

Game time was even more crucial.  Walter watched alone, so he could bring his laser focus to bear at critical moments.  

The other five of us (me, Davis, Teddy, Willie, and Lyndon) became role players channeling whoever was on the floor at the time.  Teddy makes an incredible Patty Mills, and her encouragement on his three-point shooting last night almost required umbrellas all around to protect us from the shots that were raining down.   And if you think that Manu Ginobili could have racked that monster dunk to ignite the Spurs recovery without channeling Willie's inner fierceness, you may be mistaken.  Lyndon was best at BoBo Diaw, always on the move and helping everyone out.

Davis and I did bench squats during time outs and commercial breaks just to demonstrate our mind was right (did you notice the bad start?  Davis was distracted by his cell phone and some lively texting exchanges and did not do the requisite exercises.  I know Pop was relieved when Davis remembered his role on the team and got caught up on his squats.)

Walter wouldn't let us join him upstairs until things were completely in hand.  We tried with three minutes remaining, but he made us wait a couple of possessions more, JUST TO BE SAFE.  In the end, we all howled together, except for Lyndon who, like Kawhi Leonard, may not have learned how to celebrate yet.  He's young.  He'll figure it out.






Monday, June 9, 2014

Map It. . . Monday

June 9, 2014

I know the world (or at least the subset of the world that entertains itself with social media and online photo sharing) has special days of the week.  Who doesn't want to spice up their otherwise mundane Thursdays with embarrassing or personally revealing pictures of themselves from years past, a la Throw Back Thursday?  Until I looked it up, (#hashtag for every day of the week), I didn't actually know that I could have been chronicling this blog and my Facebook and twitter accounts in a much more systematic way all these years.

But considering that I'm a pretty poor photographer and that I haven't historically carried a camera NOR REMEMBERED TO USE IT IF I LUGGED IT ALONG in the first place, I don't have a huge ready stock of photos to share.  Did I mention that my elegant and precise system of filing all my hard copy, pre-digital photos involves packing boxes and my personal promise that one day I was going to scan, label, add snappy captions, and place them all in acid-free photo albums, EMPHASIS ON "ONE DAY"?

But I do like the idea of a little structure (Katherine Luquette, stop snickering!) and I am crazy in love with maps, so I am implementing Map-It-Monday.  Here's the first installment, which is a visualization of the ratio of bars to grocery stores in the United States.  It's easy to see Wisconsin.  Which Texas dot do you think represents Brazos County?




You can explore other Nathan Yau's similar maps of other countries here:  http://flowingdata.com/2014/05/29/bars-versus-grocery-stores-around-the-world/.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sleep and Share

May 29, 2014

Little known fact:  

If you are highly motivated, you can sleep on a cot, with a beagle, with phone alarms set for 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. and the next day believe you had a restful and an unremarkable night.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Drive

May 26, 2014

I know this sounds too bad to be true, but for the third time in the last 21 months we are in Columbus attending Davis's knee surgery.  ACL repair tomorrow.  Report to check in at 5:00.

This time it's a little different.  I don't know if you have heard, but Walter and I have a new business partnership:  the Doggie Summer Camp and Orthopedic Rehab Service.  Davis and Lyndon are our first customers!

As soon as they are travel ready, we'll head back to Texas.

We have spent the last two days driving for the pick up!  I can tell it was about 21 hours in the car because I'm a bit stiff through the hips, shoulder, and neck.  

And, with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy, I can tell I drove through east Texas because I saw:

  • a bank advertising on a billboard with a picture of a ginormous chicken and the words "we delight in poultry financing."
  • a second billboard $895 CREMATION as the only words besides the company name.
I can tell I drove through Tennessee because there were more Cracker Barrels, Waffle Houses, and Shoneys than there were Starbucks.

Also, can anybody tell why Ohio farm houses are white and Ohio barns are red?

Final Thought:  I think people in Brazos County should pay me to go out of town.  When we went to Galveston week before last, it rained 5 inches in Bryan.  I understand that the rain started today at noon and has already rained a couple of inches with more expected tomorrow.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Win

May 24, 2014

Before I ever donate any books that may have come from Fort Stockton to the Friends of the Library book sale, I always have to check them for goodies.  Janice, Walter's mom, was an absolute demon for tucking things inside books whether they were related to the book or not.

Here is evidence, found tucked into a song book for children, published in 1938, that the Walter L. Buenger, Sr. family were a creative force in Fort Stockton.

From the Fort Stockton Pioneer, 1969--"The front door of the Walter Buenger residence at 705 N. Missouri presents a holiday welcome which won first prize in the door decoration contest judged here Sunday night by members of the Fort Stockton Garden Club."




Friday, April 11, 2014

A Gift Redux

April 11, 2014

Sometimes gifts come in threes, in addition to these two:  http://erinbuenger.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-gift.html on April 11, 1988 this special gift came into my life:


Happy Birthday, Davis!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Gift

April 9, 2009

Some things are a gift, like Erin, and like this slideshow with fresh lyrics that my cousin and special friend Marcia created for my mom, Walter, and me.  


Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Picture slideshow made with Smilebox
Thank you for both.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Pack and Clean

February 23, 2014

Things you find behind the television, when you pull it out to disconnect the VCR (yes, VCR, not DVD.  Not Blue Ray--TRUTH IN BLOGGING DISCLOSURE:  this tv is in the living room and is the main unit we watch).  Before you guess, you have to know that no one has watched a video on this machine for a looonng time.  I think the last attempt was The Blues Brothers.  Erin and I started it right around this time of year around five years ago, and the movie that I thought she would laugh her head off to, turned out to be a few laughs with a lot of long boring yawns in between.

Anyway, back to the question:  name the things (besides copious piles of dust) that you find behind the television when you pull it out.



From left to right:  

  • a Ritz cracker sleeve (believe me when I tell you this isn't the most surprising place I have ever found one of these waxed wonders.  It was Davis's after school snack--34 crackers in each one--almost every afternoon after school for most of his life).
  • a $10 gift card from Best Buy with the bonus that it has not expiration date and not fees
  • a piece of Davis's junior year in high school ID card.  Students have to buy a replacement card when lost or broken, so as pieces chipped off he would just punch a new hole and wear a smaller and smaller piece.  This was left by the end of the year.
  • a picture of Erin framed with craft sticks from when she still had her baby teeth.  I'm guessing this is on a school field trip about a month after transplant in 2003.
  • a long unfound Easter egg, with candy still intact.
  • Walter's bumper sticker
I would also like to point out, that when I packed the loft bookshelves, I tried to do it in a systematic way, so that books in similar broad categories (classic fiction, theology and religion, joke books, etc would end up in the same box, so that when we eventually unpack the boxes our bookshelves will end up fairly organized.

Doing that naturally helps uncover duplicate copies.  Of course, there are many reasons to own more than one copy of a book.  It might be treasured.  You might have a well-worn copy and a newer version.  You may occasionally buy the same book twice on accident (this happens to me sometimes when I read a book series out of order).  You could own a book and receive a duplicate gift copy.  

You may can imagine other scenarios, but for the life of me, I can't explain how I ended up with three copies of.  .  . The Bobbsey Twins in the Country.  I'm pretty sure the only time I ever read it, I checked it out of the library.



Teddy knows that a good supervisor is always on the job.






Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blast (as in . . . "from the past")

January 2, 2014

After the bedroom, I tackled the loft office, which has/had lots of potential for thinning and shedding.  You ALL know what I'm talking about.  Did you really think you were going to look something up in a textbook you kept from that beloved class you had as a second-semester sophomore that was so meaningful and made you know that you had FINALLY become an adult and worldly, too?  And does anyone need the warranty and the receipt for the toaster oven you bought in 1987 (and has long since warmed its last tortilla).  

But, the damper on the spirit of "toss it all" is that there could be a treasure tucked in with the crap.  And I didn't need to consult the Antique Road Show to know the value of these finds:

First, from inside the seven-volume Complete Works of William Shakespeare that originally came from my great-grandparents' home (and maybe somewhere before that because that house was built in 1905 and these books were published in 1887) came these three gems:  

Behind Door #1 (alternatively, "Inside Volume Number 1")--A complete stranger (any help from family members reading/viewing this?) standing in party attire next to a Model T decorated as a parade float.  

I think this would be an excellent entry for a "Best Caption Contest."  

How about  "Really dear, I promise I took your car out for a spin every few days while you were gone to keep the battery charged, just like you asked me to."


Behind Door #2--A handwritten note to my great grandmother Mabel Octavine (and you wonder if I am sad that I was named for my Grandfather rather having to explain why I was named "Octavine" or  some other fabulous family name?)



If you can't read this marvelous Palmer penmanship, it says:

Mabel--
    I want to see you before you go home, so please come by after you go to Mrs. Lucas'.  You can tell her for me please that I am awfully sorry not to be able to come, and I am, but the truth is that my front tooth is out & I look like my Grandmother, & I couldn't go &  have the women saying "Don't she look old"-- Kitty

And I can't imagine the story behind that missing front tooth.

Finally, Behind Door #3--the worship bulletin from the Easter Service at the M.E. [Methodist Episcopal] Church, South, April 7, 1912 that features my great-grandmother, Mrs. J.B. Channing, singing alto and my great-great-granmother, Mrs. E.R. Ford singing in the flotilla of sopranos.  Ah to be Mr. Walter Wainwright in the chicken party.





Two other prizes I knew I had, but have to decide about (you know, the pressure to give in and hoard):

My grandmother's mahjong set, which celebrated its 90th birthday last year:


And something I don't have the technical skill (or further time to waste) to show you:  three Kodak, Ektachrome transparency slides of the Astrodome in November 1963.  My grandfather, Fafa (married to my grandmother Momo. . . what kind of warped people choose grandparent names that will be totally ridiculous to say out loud when you turn 14?) was one of the steel estimators for the construction of the Astrodome.  These three slides show the building skeleton, completely constructed with no "skin" or "innards," just like a framed house only much bigger and with an igloo shape instead of a peaked roof.

I also have about seven slides of my grandmother in some sort of community theatre performance but little information beyond that.


Monday, December 30, 2013

Box

December 30, 2013

I finally figured out that Boxing Day (December 26) wasn't about pugilism, like I once thought.  It might be about the tradition of opening the alms boxes in churches and distributing what has been collected to the poor in the parish or village.  It may, more widely, be concerned with gifting servants and tradesmen if you are a boss or employee.

Of course, that is the observance in the UK and the former territories of the British Empire.  Here at Leisure Lake, Boxing Day has morphed into Boxing Week and then Boxing Month, and will possibly become Boxing Forever.  Walter and I made the decision this fall to do one more (final?) renovation on our house.  Every other time, we have reserved at least part of the house as a sanctuary from chaos.  I must have been drinking heavily, because this time there is no such thing.  By choosing to replace all of the flooring, do interior and exterior painting in all rooms but one, and pull out and rebuild the kitchen and both bathrooms, I think we have doomed our lives.

The first step was easy enough (isn't that the way gateway drugs always are?).  We started with our bedroom--just enough cleaning, sorting, and storing to get our feet wet and feel good about the process.   We patted ourselves on the back for thinning our drawers and closets to make them manageable when we had to actually pack it all away.  

There were some humiliating moments.  Is it really possible that I had accumulated over 80 pairs of socks?  What type of snob needs enough socks to go almost three months without doing a load of sock laundry?  Hint:  if you can't close your sock drawer, even when a third of your socks are in a hamper somewhere, you have probably gone over the edge.

And what can I say about the 26 different knee braces that we pulled out of Walter's closet, some still in the original packaging, except, do you suppose we could become a vendor for Amazon's sports portal?

There have been discovered treasures.  The most obvious one was a written conversation between me and Erin apparently held during church when she was about a second grader and forgotten in the bottom of a purse last used who knows when.  Here is the first of 8 pages:



Erin:  I wont to riet to spek 
(I want to write to speak).

Mom:  Ok.  Do you want to go to Gina's after church?

Erin:  Yes.  What time is DaD cuming home?  
(Yes.  What time is dad coming home?

Mom:  Dad will meet us a Gina's.  You sang well and smiled pretty!

Erin:  I want to tok about what to tock about something.  I want you to think of one 
(I want to talk about what to talk about something.  I want you to think of one.)

Mom:  Do you think Cinderella will be fun?  What will it be like?

Erin:  I think I hav ben to Cinderella be for.  
(I think I have been to Cinderella before.)

Mom:  What did you do in Sunday school?

Erin:  I raed about Mary and Martha wan Jases cam to there hom   Martha wus rising around but Mery wus listing to Jeses and Martha sed why is my sister nat helping me  Jeses sed she is doing rite  she is lising to me  
( I read about Mary and Martha when Jesus came to their home.  Martha was rushing around but Mary was listening to Jesus and Martha said "Why is my sister not helping me?"  Jesus said, "She is doing right.  She is listening to me."

Mom:  That is a good story and you remembered it in good detail.  What are you hungry for?

Erin:  I dont no.
(I don't know.)

Mom:  What does Davis want (and passes the note paper to Davis, who is in high school)?

Davis:  I want the Fireman's Special, queso, and a breakfast taco (BTW, this is what he ordered every time during this period of his life).

Erin:  Is it all most over?
(Is it almost over?)

Mom:  Yes.

Erin:  Im tierd mom.  Can you see the firshers neet
(I'm tired, mom.  Can you see the [I don't have any idea what this is!]

Given her limited skill set at this point, I'll bet this written exchange served the purpose of distracting her for the entire sermon, if not the entire service.  Win!

************

At least now the floor of my closet is ready and available to pull out the old and put in the new and the bureaus and chests of drawers are movable.  The loft office hasn't been quite a one-day job.



Happy Boxing Whatever!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Lyndon's Christmas Message

December 25, 2013

We got a special invitation to Ohio for Christmas this year:



And consequently, Lyndon, the newest member of our family asked if he could do A Christmas Letter from the Buenger family.  He was so charming when he asked, that I was duped into it:
Hello Everyone in Blog-Land and Merry Christmus,
Of course, those people better show up back at the homestead sooner rather than later this morning.  I fear for their safety.  There is a tiny powdering of snow on the ground (just enough to make it fun to wee it away) and you know how terrible Texas drivers are with any hint of cold in the air.  They will probably slide all over the road on imaginary ice before they get back over, and Dad said I couldn't chew open any of the presents until Mimi and Oompa go back.  
Maybe it is colder in that big place they are staying downtown.  Mimi told us that when she woke up yesterday morning and pulled back the floor length curtains that the window and sill and all the window parts (sorry, slippery on those special human words) was covered with ice (I thought, "no kidding, it is 16 degrees outside and snowing") but then she said "ON THE INSIDE so thick that she couldn't even see out at all."  Then, she showed me a picture.

It wasn't just a little bit, like you can see in the picture, it was everywhere--maybe even a thicker than my nails, which dad complains about every time I jump up and snag his sweater or leave the little bittiest mark on his arm.  And I thought it was bad that they make me go out barefoot to do my business.  I would never consider sleeping in an ice room.
I think Oompa agrees with me.


Given a chance, I'm sticking with him.  He has the sense in in the family, not to mention style and civility.  I think Mimi was fooled by the way someone decorated that room she was sleeping in.  As if some cheap lights from Lowe's could transform a hotel room with ice into a holiday wonderland.  Sheesh.  


 Anyway, from the talk, this isn't like their usual Christmas.  They did something called shopping.  I felt like saying to them. . . like they do on all those really stupid dog videos. . ."Did you do this?" over and over again.  "Did you do this?  Did you really do this?  Mimi, look at me.  Did you do this thing called shopping on Christmas Eve?"  Unlike those dogs on the videos, she didn't even look sorry one bit.
I think they did this thing called shopping and whatever it is (because of course, I refused to go and stayed tucked into my crate in the middle of a pile of comforting and warm blankets) made dad VERY HAPPY.
In fact they all seem very happy, even though they have to bundle up like walking burritos every time they take me outside, even though they went to something called Easton Mall on Christmas Eve, even though they broke the news to me that they were eating Chinese food and not a "piggy pudding" for Christmas dinner this afternoon (actually I was a little relieved about this).   
Mimi said that you didn't have to have all that other stuff to have a great Christmas.  I think she is right, especially if you have three times as many laps to sit on and the occasional pistachio treat.   
Merry Christmas, everybody!   
L


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Inspire

December 5, 2013


Invictus

By WILLIAM ERNEST HENLEY
N_MandelaOut of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.


It matters not how strait the gate, 
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul. 

I still remember memorizing Invictus.

I also remember posting this on June 10, 2010

We went to Nelson Mandela Square this morning after we picked up our game tickets.. . . .As I was looking for fans worth photographing, I spotted an ancient woman wearing a tall yellow and green hat, being led through the crowd by a young woman and man. I stopped to let them pass in front of me and saw that she was blind, crying, and smiling. Her young friend/relative explained that she had waited for years to come and touch the 20 foot statue of Nelson Mandela. She was 86 years old and had lived a very hard life under apartheid. Now she was gripped by the World Cup and ready to follow every match on the radio.

And this on June 29, 2010



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Grade

November 17, 2013

It is, of course, THAT time of the semester, and though I have largely survived to this point, and the outlook to survive completely and score a total recovery is positive.  It doesn't mean, however, that I don't play mind games with myself.

Back in the day (unlike the enlightened present) public schools didn't typically start junior high students into algebra, the course Davis conquered as a 6th grader.  We all waited to have Ms. Littlejohn in the 9th grade (1st period--7:08 every morning. . .and luckily it was offered in the South Annex, which was only two blocks door to door from my house, so I could stumble in on time.)  

Some of my friends' parents allowed them to enroll in both Geometry and Algebra II when we were sophomores, so they could get all their pre-reqs in for the full run of mathematics, through trigonometry, analytical geometry, elementary analysis, and calculus, but my mean ol' parents insisted that I stay well-rounded, and I had to take them one at a time.  Which meant that if I was going to catch up to my rightful cadre of peers on the maths track, I had to take trig and analyt in summer school.

Mr. Longest pulled that awful instructional duty (he must have been either really naughty or really desperate), teaching heavy-duty math from 7:00 to 12:05 five days a week, six weeks in a row.  He tried to make the best of being trapped with cheerless 15 and 16 year olds, spinning out terribly silly, long-winded jokes so that we weren't snorting sin and sec into our brains the entire time (imagine the potential damage that would do).   I don't remember any of the jokes, but they had punch lines like "Only Hugh can prevent florist friars" and "Silly rabbi, kicks are for trids."

Despite his best efforts, time weighed on our hands--and here is where I'm not that proud:  

Every day, when I got to class, I would draw a circle in the upper right hand corner of my desk.  I would then divide it into five equal parts and then bisect each part and then bisect all of the parts, leaving me with a circle that had thirty equal pie-shaped compartments.

At 7:15, I would shade in one of the pie slivers with my trusty No. 2 pencil:



By the time the dismissal bell rang, it look like this (except, much more all the same shade):


By the end of the summer, all 30 desks carried this brand.

Now, the confession.  When I have a stack of 24 mid-term papers or 76 mid-term exams or whatever, I do the same kind of tracking, making sure I know at the beginning how many more papers I have to look through.  I put myself on a schedule (whatever is appropriate--three per hour, two per hour, five per hour, something), and then I track myself--though not on the desktop anymore.

If you are interested.  I have thirteen four page briefs, due back to the students on Tuesday.  Then I will just face twenty-four homework essays (coming in on the 21th), 76 essay exams (coming in on the 26th), 6 final projects (coming in on December 6) and 76 final exams (also coming in on December 6). Can you tell I'm celebrating?  After all the exams, projects, homeworks, and briefs I have shaded my way through this semester, I really can see the light at the end of the tunnel.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Be Brave

November 10, 2013

Twelve and a half years ago, when Erin was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, I never imagined where that diagnosis would take our family.  Obviously, some of it has sucked in ways that can't be expressed.  Walter and I would have gone to the moon and back to secure her survival.  You never want to hold your child down so that people can stick needles in them.  You never want your child to clutch and emesis basin like it is their oldest and best long-lost friend.

But this post isn't a complain or a whine post (if it was, there would be a different verb at the top of the page, you know like "Complain" or "Whine").

This post is an exhortation and an invitation.



First, the Invitation:  In two weeks (Saturday, November 23) you can run at the new obstacle and survival course over in Manor (on 290 on the way to Austin) called The Crucible.  This is a 5K race (and come on, if you can't run 5 you can walk it!).

Why?  

The sponsor of the race is MaxCure Foundation.  This New York City-based foundation puts kids with cancer and their families FIRST.  My friend Richard Plotkin who is the grandfather of the "Max" in MaxCure claims that his friends doubt he is really from the political party he claims to be from because he gives away so much money (usually gift cards) to needy families.

Max Cure has chosen six families from Texas Children's Hospital to support using the proceeds from this race.  They were chosen in honor of Erin.  So if you run, you help these families and you honor Erin.

The Exhortation:  Be Brave 24 has even more meaning.  The 5K has 24 obstacles.  Each one helps you remember an hour in the day of the life of a child with cancer.  You can't avoid them.  You have to face them.  When you are a child with cancer (or their family) you live with cancer 24 hours a day.  This race will make that fact a little more real to you.  See if you can Be Brave-24.

You can check it out here at bebrave24.com.

Are you brave enough to challenge yourself to get to Manor and cross the finish line?  If you haven't decided yet, consider this:


Maybe you are taking yourself and the challenge too seriously.  Loosen up.  Have some fun.  Drive over to Manor and make a difference for some kids:  Caleb, Jason, Faith, Payton, Konor, and Nathan.  And do it in honor of Erin.