Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentines

Card from Dave
Happy Valentine's Day.

This is the Valentine card I woke up to this morning.  I'm a lucky girl.  What did I give Dave?  Nothing.

He's a much more romantic person than I am.  Sometimes when I'm overcome with love for him I shake his hand.  I'm much more comfortable speaking from my head than from my heart.

One of the best things about great literature is that it speaks for us when we don't have the words.  I love the play "The Rainmaker" by Richard Nash.  In it is a famous monologue the character Lizzie shares about her father.  I know it by heart.

It's not exactly about Dave and me.  For instance, Lizzie's speaking about her father not her husband.  She's doing the dishes. Dave does the dishes at our house.  Neither of us is middle-aged.

Nevertheless, this is my valentine to Dave:  I want him to know that I see him and I know him.

Lizzie's Monologue - The Rainmaker by Richard Nash

Some nights I'm in the kitchen washing dishes and pop's playing poker with the boys.  Well I'll watch him real close.  And at first I see an ordinary middle-aged man - not very interesting to look at.  And then, minute by minute, I'll see little things I never saw in him before.  Good things and bad things - queer little habits I never noticed he had.  And suddenly I know who he is!  - And I love him so much I could cry!  And I want to thank God I took the time to see him real. 


***




Friday, February 9, 2018

3rd Rock From the Sun

Is Starman really missing Orange
County school board member?
Do you ever think about how real life sometimes mirrors pop culture?  Remember the 1996 TV show "3rd Rock From the Sun which starred the great John Lithgow?"

Last Tuesday it kind of became  reality when Elon Musk's SpaceX company sent a beautiful red 2008 Tesla Roadster into space where it will orbit between Earth and Mars, possibility throughout eternity.

One of the perks of living in Central Florida is to get to experience the launching of "the most powerful rocket in the world."  It was perfect.  We saw it from home but my friend, Julia, and her family drove to the Cape at daybreak and waited five or six hours with 100,000 other folks to watch it up close and personal.

Julia got to see this!
There are loads of pop culture references to this launch.  What about the bright red Tesla convertible with a manikin named Starman at the wheel?  For the last few days, Jim Philips, a popular Florida talk show host, has been talking about the mysterious disappearance of a local school board member.  Jim's latest theory, on Thursday, was that he's actually behind the wheel of the Tesla in space.

And what about that sign on the Tesla's dashboard?  "Don't Panic."  This is the most popular quote from Douglas Adam's wildly popular "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy."

Starman IS a hitchhicker in the galaxy.


***

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Why I Love Florida Beaches

We Floridans love our beaches and, from what I've seen, do a good job of keeping them clean.  But I have observed, over the years, some weird things that have washed up.  I've also seen some questionable sand sculptures.  (Use your imagination.)

Today our Orlando Sentinel columnist, Scott Maxwell, lists -

The Ten Weirdest Things to Wash Up on Florida's Beaches

10.  Drugs - While this is sad and scary, to me it's not weird.  I once saw a couple of baggies of white stuff on the beach but it turned out to be sand.  Why would anybody have a baggie of sand on the beach?  That's weird!

9.  Military Ordnance - This is stuff like weapons, ammunition, Jeeps, etc.

8.  Dead People 

7.  Severed Limbs

Siesta Key
6.  Wildlife - like crocodiles and thousands of dead bees.

5.  A Big Blue Eyeball

4.  Cafe Cubano - this is a Cuban coffee made with cream and strong espresso.  So what gets washed up?  Coffee cups?  Expresso machines?

3.  Tires

2.  8-Foot-Tall LEGO Men - In 2011 a mysterious 8 foot tall, 100 piece fiberglass LEGO man was discovered bobbling in the surf near Siesta Key.  LEGOLAND, our Florida resort for kids, knew nothing about this guy.  But we then learned that, earlier, in 2008, he was spotted off the shores of Brighton England.

1.  Refugees -  I don't think this one is weird.  I feel a combination of sadness and pride regarding most of the refugees that have arrived on our shores.  And, especially, the 50,000 Puerto Ricans who have come to Central Florida (although they didn't wash up on the shore) since the devastating Hurricane Maria.  However, Puerto Ricans aren't refugees.  They are Americans.


***
  

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Where Did You Say You're From?

Yesterday my son posted on Facebook that 5 per cent of his DNA comes from Mali, Africa.  This prompted a big on line discussion.  It's been fun and interesting to watch.

We all learned just this past week that a jaw bone was found in Israel which shows us that the person who's jaw bone it is, migrated from Africa 40,000 years earlier than previously thought.

The lead anthropologist said, "The entire narrative of evolution of Homo sapiens must be pushed back by at least 100,000 - 200,000 years."

So, this was a reminder that, among other things, we all came from Africa at some point.

However, this is not what's been most controversial about the popularity of us getting our DNA tested.  What's causing problems for some of us is learning that our dad really isn't our dad at all.  The neighbor down the street is our dad.  (This was addressed in the "Ask Amy" column yesterday.) Since I and my son have had our DNAs tested, we've learned a couple of similar distant family secrets.

Should we share them with other family members or not?  I say "No!"

Family linage is complicated and some families (like my family of origin) are big old secret keepers.  And I've noticed that some distant relatives that my son has contacted have a different memory than I do about who was married to whom, etc. This can cause problems, especially when your mother was one of 13 children, as mine was.

 There is a song that is a cautionary tale regarding getting your DNA done and contacting long lost relatives.  If you want to listen to it look up the version by Willie Nelson.  It's the best.  Or you can just ask me to sing it for you because I know it by heart.  Below are some of the lyrics.  It's a very long song.  Good luck with your family discoveries.

I'M MY OWN GRANDPA

Now many, many years ago when I was twenty-three
I was married to a widow, who was pretty as can be
This widow had a grown-up daughter
Who had hair of red
My father fell in love with her, and soon they too were wed

This made my dad my son-in-law
And changed my very life
Now my daughter was my mother
Cause she was my father's wife

And to complicate the matter
Even though it brought my joy
I soon became the father of a bouncing baby boy

My little baby then became a brother-in-law to dad
And so became my uncle, though it made me very sad
For if he were my uncle, then that also made him brother
Of the widow's grown up daughter, who was of course, my stepmother

Oh, I'm my own grandpa
I'm my own grandpa
It sounds funny I know but it really is so
I'm my own grandpa

***



Thursday, January 25, 2018

What Life Changing Word Will I Hear or Read Today?

I'm still meeting with my Power Rangers on a regular basis.  We are an accountability group who've been getting together for several decades.  We're in various stages of disrepair but still powerful.

A week ago Wednesday, when some of us expressed our feelings of pain or helplessness, one of us suggested we all bring in positive quotes this Wednesday.  Then on Friday she fell down a flight of stairs so has spent the week in the hospital and now in rehab.

Yesterday, even though she wasn't there,  we decided to bring in our positive quotes anyway.  They were amazingly helpful to me.  Some were deeply spiritual.  Some were practical.  One of us led the rest of us in a healing prayer/meditation for our fallen member.

Words, written and spoken, have great power.  I'm choosing mine very carefully these days.

P.S.  The film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which I reviewed for you last week and has now been nominated for several Academy Awards, is all about the power of words, both hateful and loving.


***

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Late Stage Meniere's Disease

Image there is a guy with a leaf blower going full blast in front of you.  That's what it feels like to me in a crowd of people all talking at once.  Now imagine that, on the other side of the leaf blower, there is a person trying to communicate with you one-on-one.  You can hear the words only if you strain your brain and concentrate.  But as the crowd gets louder so does the "leaf blower."  So you find yourself just wanting to escape to a quiet place.

This is my world.  My Meniere's disease has settled into constant tinnitus, sometimes worse than others.  It seems like an oxymoron to have half my hearing gone but my biggest problem is noise.  It exhausts my body and my brain on a daily basis.

On the other hand, the vertigo and other symptoms have quieted down.

I have chosen this situation rather than one last highly invasive procedure - that may or may not work.

So, how's my spirit?  It's good.  I get up every day, put on make up, comb my hair and live this one fantastic life I've been given.  It helps me immensely to be around positive, funny people,  some of whom are going through way worse things than I am.  And not a week goes by that I don't hear from a person who has vertigo.  "What should I do?"  "Get a diagnosis!  Vertigo is a symptom. "

I'm still loving my devotional, "The Sun Still Rises," by Leonor Tubbs Tisdale, professor of homiletics at Yale Divinity School.  Much of the readings are about how she dealt with her cancer diagnosis and treatment.  It's hard hitting but positive.

That's what I want to be.


***


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Going Ape

STEM - The academic study of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

STEM is a way for us to understand the physical world so that we can, hopefully,  continue to move forward and keep it healthy.  Right now we are experiencing some troubling signs that our physical world is not well.

So when I read an editorial in the Orlando Sentinel this morning by Brandon Haught, a science teacher and author of the book "Going Ape:  Florida's Battle over Evolution in the Classroom," I was kinda distressed.

What he's saying is that some of us Floridans continue to be unhappy with the teaching of evolution and climate change in our public schools and are constantly trying to switch things back to the old way of thinking.

For instance, it was proposed in Nassau County (again) that we stop teaching evolution as fact.  Why?  Because "it can crush their (our children's) faith in the Bible."

In Brevard County people are complaining about social studies textbooks assertion that climate change is caused by humans.  They call it "blatant indoctrination."

One of the sponsors of one of the bills, Sen. Dennis Baxley, claims that "a college professor who teaches evolution but not creationism is a 'classroom dictator.'"

I, personally, have a positive view about the future of our planet.  The same planet my grandchildren and your grandchildren will being living on.  I think that science, technology, engineering and math will be key in providing them with the tools for keeping God's commandments to take care of our earth.

I just don't know if our Florida students will be equipped to be part of it.


***