Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Bern always buys our family wonderful, funny, funny scary Halloween presents. She's a real Halloween junkie.

This year my favorite is two zombie flamingos for Tim! They are like the pink lawn ornaments but black with vacant eyes and fierce teeth. They have no yard to put them in, but that's just as well--they'd be stolen in a heartbeat!

Zombie flamingos, pretty funny, huh?

What I don't get is our culture's fascination with all things Zombie. There must be half a dozen TV shows about zombies, along with two 'talk shows' that following "The Walking Dead" and "Fear the Walking Dead" to recap and discuss each episode!

I don't get it, but lots of people must. Bern is hooked on the two shows mentioned above and on most any zombie movie or show. She is one of the most rational people I know--and she loves TWD and FTWD. Go figure.

I can watch them but usually lose interest in 15 minutes or so and drift out of the room.

I just can't figure the phenomena out. What is so mesmerizing about apocalyptic zombie stuff and how horrible being around zombies tends to make human beings?

Is it something about the 'out of control feeling' that Donald Trump has locked onto and milked for all it is worth--which in my opinion, isn't much?

I just don't get the fascination with 'undead' things.

Any ideas?

But I do like those undead flamingos!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Enough about me...

After Wednesday's surgery, I'll be living upstairs in our house for a couple of weeks and have every opportunity--since my office is upstairs--to keep you up to date on every detail of my recuperation.

So, for something completely new: the Presidential race!

I can't wait for the first debate tomorrow. I really have no idea what will happen, but I'm anxious to watch it. Trump has never had to be on a debate stage with only one person for 90 minutes, no commercial breaks and no audience reaction to play to.

I'm really anxious to see him try to pull that off!! (Actually, I hope he implodes in the first five minutes and stalks off the stage....)

I'm rooting for Hillary to be more personable, good-humored and smiling than she usually is. That's what I'm praying for. I don't doubt for a minute that she'll be impressive in the content part. She will run figure 8's around Trump on policy. I just hope she can not get bogged down and seem more 'approachable' as she does it.

I think I'm still one of a vanishing breed who believes enough in Americans to think there is no way Trump can win the election. I'd just like a result  on Monday that makes it certain...the imploding and storming off the stage scenario, for example!

We shall see.

Most of the news channels have a clock ticking down to the time of the debate--about 27 hours now....

Friday, September 23, 2016

Wrestling with feeling 'helpless'

I utterly hate feeling helpless!

I'm sure you do too. To rely on others for basic stuff....Oh, at this point, still getting around and all, I could still do a lot that Bern doesn't want me to do. I couldn't walk the dog, but I could cook dinner--I can move around the kitchen without my cane. I could clean dishes and load the dishwasher. I could feed the dog---but Bern's already taken over all that.

And it will be worse after my knee surgery. My mobility is going to be more limited, I know. I already and dreading crutches. I don't know the  last time, if ever, I walked on crutches. I can get up and down the steps--one at a time--but on crutches? I'm just not scared.

But then I pinch myself and remember 'helpless' is relative.

I'm sitting at my computer in no pain, in my house in Connecticut with my dog behind me and my wife washing my clothes. And she's been great about the injury.

I have an upstairs book and a downstairs book since I need both hands to do stairs and when I through a book down this morning, Bern came running, thinking I had fallen. So now I have something to read both places. I stay on one level as long as I can before going to the other level.


How hollow that sounds when I watch the news: the police shootings in Texas and North Carolina, the millions of refugees around the world...people in poverty, people in prison, people in nursing homes and in hospice care, people with disabled children.

I should wash my mouth out with soap for even voicing the word "helpless" to refer to myself.

That's the Theory of Helpless Relativity....

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

What it's like right now....

Having a ruptured max muscle is strange. It isn't as painful as it sounds but I can do nothing that requires it--like get my leg in bed.

Everything takes three times as long and twice as much effort--like sitting down and standing up, walking (especially up and down stairs--but our front stair case has a great banister and with my cane I can do it) and never mind getting on and off a toilet! I know now why handicapped bathrooms have all those bars....

I noticed in the last days how my emotions devolve. At first I was frustrated and disappointed in myself for being so clumsy. Next came self-pity (which hangs around a bit). Then anger and rage at the whole thing. Then (still in this phase) strategising and optimism.

I am one of the most 'glass half full' folks you'll ever meet--so all will be well and all will be well and all manner of things will be well. Optimism is my middle name.

I'm already making lists of what to ask the surgeon--real, practical things. And planning out how to map my 'space' during the first couple of weeks and coming up with ways I can 'be' that make it easier on Bern after the surgery (though it will very hard on her even though I behave as a 'perfect patient). I'll still be a patient! For more weeks that I want to think about yet. It's one day at a time time!

I'm going to focus on what this injury teaches me about myself. I already know this will be a long course in patience and focusing on the moment. Good could come of that.

I can also be guilt free about how much reading I do since I won't be doing much of any of the day to day tasks for a good while!

I joke about how "I'm so incompetent, Bern does most everything around the house." This will teach me how much I actually do--cooking every other dinner, handling trash and recycle, washing clothes, cleaning up after myself--since Bern will have to take that over for a time plus cater to me more than I like being catered too. By being helpless, I might come to realize what good things I do normally.

I will learn to deal with disappointment: I had just started (one session) teaching a course at UConn in Waterbury on "Reading the Gospels side-by-side" and I called today to cancel it. Big disappointment. Bern and I were also planning to see when in October Josh and Cathy and the girls would be up for a visit that now won't happen. And we would surely have gone to NYC to see Tim and Mimi and Ellie a time or two. I don't have a lot of disappointments in my life, so maybe this is a chance to be more aware of and compassionate toward those who do.

(See what I mean about 'glass half full"?)


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I'm back...actually, I never left!

At 6:30 Saturday Morning, I was coming down our back stairs in near darkness. We were about to go to New Haven to meet John and Sherrie and catch the limo that would take us to Laguarda Airport and our flight to Myrtle Beach, SC where we'd rent a car and go to Oak Island, NC.

About a week before that day, Bela, our Puli began to refuse to go down the back staircase. It annoyed me no end that I'd have to walk to the front staircase and down then walk through the house again to the kitchen. It occurred to me this evening that he was trying to give me a warning.

I was two steps from the bottom when I turned to say something to Bern, who was in the kitchen, and missed the last step. I've done it before, but this time I landed so hard on my right foot that I blew out my right knee.

We called John and Sherry on the way to the ER to tell them we wouldn't make the flight.

The ER (I won't tell you which hospital because I plan to write a letter to their CEO tomorrow) Xrayed my knee, told me there was no 'permanent  damage', gave me a brace and a cane and recommended that I consider going to an orthopedist 'just in case'.

It hurt like hell, but Bern found a Sunday afternoon direct flight to Myrtle Beach from Newburg, NY that was quite cheap, one way (since we had return tickets to NYC). There were issues: how to retrieve our car from Newburg? Was I really ok to travel? But John was happy to come to Myrtle to get us and it was missing just one day. Besides (mostly from adrenaline, as I reflect) I seemed to feel so much better by Saturday evening. So we booked the flight and set off to Newburg on Sunday morning (about 95 miles away). We got on the plane on time and started to be pushed away from the gate when the little machine that pushes planes back broke and damaged the plane. We were assured a mechanic would clear the plane for takeoff...but no mechanic was on duty!!! They unloaded the plane after an hour, still assuring us they just wanted us more comfortable, and handed out free water and sodas. After several 'updates': the mechanic was called...the mechanic was on the way...the mechanic would be there soon, anyone leaving the security zone would not be let back in!--which took up another hour and a half.

Bern finally went to the spokesperson and said something like, 'you know this isn't going to happen. You're just waiting for people to get fed up and leave, so you don't have to compensate them!'

After a phone call up the line they admitted there would be no flight. We'd become friendly with some of the other passengers by that time and they practically cheered Bern.

They offered motel rooms and promised another flight the next day (usually flights to MB were only Sunday and Friday) but after all that my knee was feeling worse than it had the day it happened. So we came home.

Monday I called the Orthopedic Group that had fixed a broken arm for me and said I needed to see someone in the Hamden office that afternoon. I got a 2:15 appointment because I sounded so pitiful, but the truth was, my knee was better again, so I drove myself. Driving was actually more comfortable than riding and my ankle worked fine, though I had to lift my right leg into the car and scoot it to the pedals. That should have been a clue....

They did more X-rays and the doctor came in to tell me I had ruptured my left quad muscle, pulled it totally away from the knee and I would have to have surgery (now you know what my letter to the hospital CEO and ER chief is going to say!)

I'm not bad hobbling on my cane. And there isn't much pain (unless I bend my knee too much) but I have to lift my right foot into bed or onto a foot rest since the Quad muscle does that and it's torn away.

So, that's why I'm back blogging so soon.

I have other tales to tell about my leg--but that will be tomorrow. I'm going to bed (if Bern will lift my right leg up for me). I'm sure she will and Ill push it with my left foot to the middle of the bed....

Friday, September 16, 2016

Puli to Holiday Hill

When we board Bela, it's at Holiday Hill Pet Lodge in Wallingford. If you live in Connecticut and have a dog or cat, GO THERE!

It's family owned and run and they are great. Besides, our Vet, Dr. Matz, is on call for them.

It's 13.5 miles from our house and Bela barked the whole way in spite of the bread and peanut butter treats Bern made. He is a nightmare in the car. He is a nightmare all the time, really, but especially in the car.

He is so protective it drives us crazy. Knocking on our front door will get a 50 pound creature with really sharp teeth leaping up at the window in the door, snarling and acting really dangerous. Which he is.

The folks at Holiday Hill tell me he's a dream there. I saw him lick the young woman who took him away today. He doesn't lick me! She says he walks like a dream, never snaps, is friendly with other dogs....on and on....

It's like when your friends tell you how polite and kind your children are at their house!

I guess going to the pet lodge is a vacation for Bela. He doesn't have to be so aggressive to protect Bern and me. He can relax and just be sweet.

We're the problem for him!!! He has to guard us!!! There, he can chill out.

That's the way I'm thinking, anyway.

I'll be off-blog (is that a term?) until September 24th. But don't stop reading. There are over 1700 posts. Go peruse the past of the Castor Oil Tree. Lots on stuff to ponder.

Be typing again in a week.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Love is abject apology

Love Story, that Eric Seagel novel and movie, said--abjectly wrongly--'love is never saying you're sorry.'

Love is, in my mind, abject apology. Being in love is always admitting you're wrong and apologizing.

Just today, asked three times by a Washington Post reporter, if Donald Trump believed President Obama was born in the USA, Trump did not apologize for his 'birther' nonsense.

Trump is unable to say he's sorry for anything. He cannot apologize to anyone.

In my mind, that makes him incapable of love.


No kidding.

Do you want a President incapable of love?

Ponder that.

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About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.