Archive for January, 2012

The Bookworm
January 26, 2012

 People say life is the thing, but I prefer reading. ~ Logan Pearsall Smith (1931)

My last blog post mentioned reading books in a cave by candlelight. Forget all this high tech communication stuff! 

I just love reading books. I can think of no greater pleasure than whiling my time away in a different place and time, if only in my mind. I can marvel at historical accounts from centuries ago, and I can wonder about so many things while reading a good book. Some of the things I discover are priceless, and others are just totally fun. My imagination takes me on a journey each time I open the cover. 

My family knows me well, and for Christmas I got several interesting (non-fiction) ones, and then for my birthday shortly afterwards, here came another set, in a mix of genres. 

Whether waiting for hours to renew my driver’s license, sitting at the doctor’s office or flying on a plane, my go-to activity is to stick my nose in an interesting book. It’s actually something I look forward to (waiting), because it gives me a good excuse to indulge in my favorite thing to do. 

I seldom take the time to do this while at home. For some reason, it makes me feel a little guilty for not doing something more important. I need to fix that. 

Forget Kindles or Nooks or whatever the techno-flavor gadget of the month is, I like book books. Favorites are kept, others are passed along or re-sold. Our old, historic books are some of our greatest treasures. 

I’ll never let go of the Oz books that belonged to my mother in law. When Shannon was a little girl, we read each one together. There was a lot more going on in Oz than a girl named Dorothy dropping into Munchkinland! 

Yes, they are somewhat fragile, so they are more on display that  looked at, but that doesn’t lessen their call to me. The stories they tell are a legacy to the next generation, and they need to be preserved and cherished. 

My favorite? It’s the set of five volumes of “A History of Texas and Texans” by Frank W. Johnson (a leader in the Texas Revolution), published in 1914. They belonged to my great grandfather, who is featured in one article about the trail drivers of the 19th century. My dad treasured these books, as do I. 

I’ll admit, I’ve not studied them closely, but I’ll bet they have a wealth of information about people and events that we have never heard of. 

So just last week, I opened Volume V. And what did I discover? A photo of my great, great uncle, Louis Oge! (pronounced O-Zhay) Born in 1832 in Alsace-Lorraine, his home in the King William District of San Antonio is now an amazing bed and breakfast inn (on Washington St.). I knew about him from my great grandfather’s memoirs (his mom was Louis’ sister), but had never seen a photo of him! And right here is an extensive article about him. 

I can’t believe I just opened the book to this exact page! What an amazing coincidence. And what a treasure I have right there on the shelves in the living room… all these wonderful books that have been cherished through the generations and will continue to be so, even if I end up living in a cave, reading by candlelight.

Pewperson will return on Feb. 10

TVs Through the Ages
January 20, 2012

Progress through technology ~ Audi motors advertising slogan circa 1986 

I am not a TV watcher… I never really have been one. TV watching in my growing up years was controlled; we six children had to choose what to watch, but if the other kids chose something different, well… bonus! 

When I graduated from college, my parents gave me a sewing machine (at my request), because having a TV just wasn’t that important to me. My very first personal TV was a small (12″ diagonal) black/white one that I bought at Sears in the summer of 1978. It cost maybe $100, and I paid it out at $10 a month for a year. It had no remote control, rather it had a dial that you would turn to the station you wanted, and it needed an aerial (rabbit ears) to work. 

Recently, while cleaning out old files, we found a handwritten invoice from Curtis TV & Video, dated 12/15/80. It was for our Sony 19″ Color Remote TV. Total cost was $657. We put a down payment of $157 and financed the $500 in 12 payments of $46.66. Joel had just begun practicing law, and we didn’t have much money. That TV lasted until after we moved to this house… maybe 20 + years? After that one, I have never been able to figure out how to work subsequent ones… 

The remote control on this TV had an on/off switch, a mute button and the 13+ channel buttons, of which there were only 6 that actually had channels we could watch. You looked at the TV guide and turned on the show you wanted to watch when it was time to watch it. How quaint! 

In the fall of 1995, our previous house was burglarized, and many electronics were taken, along with shotguns, jewelry, computer equipment and odd things, like our coats, Joel’s underwear and belts, and small oriental throw rugs. I think the burglars used the coats and rugs to wrap up stuff, but the underwear/belts? We’re still scratching our heads about that. 

But they didn’t take that ancient 19″ Sony TV! Did it not fit through the window they jimmied open? Or was it just too old fashioned? All I know is that when we moved to our current house, it came with us. With all the costs of moving and re-decorating, plus a car wreck that required buying a new one (Bert!), once again, we found ourselves without any extra money for a new TV. 

For a long time we resisted the siren song of cable TV, but finally that good old TV bit the dust, and because it was so ancient, we didn’t see any reason to fix it. So we succumbed to getting cable, mostly to take advantage of the high speed internet feature. But with it came a new TV with such a complicated remote that I had to refer to written instructions in order to make it work. I think I was successful once. 

As time marched on, here came an even newer new TV, an HD flat screen one, which is even worse. I have no idea how it works, and I guess I just don’t care. But when grandkids come around, I suppose I’ll have to finally learn! I’ll bet they’ll be able to teach me. 

In the meantime, you can find me in my cave, reading my books by candlelight…

The Waiting Game
January 13, 2012

It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting. ~ Elizabeth Taylor

Another January has rolled around, and this month, my driver’s license was set to expire. I’d been given a pass six years ago, and renewed it by mail. The last time I went to the DPS office in person must have been 12 years ago, and I distinctly recall not having to wait at all. I’d barely sat down when they called me to the back. 

I’m not sure why that was the case back then, but I thought maybe I got lucky because not very many people are born in January? However, now that I think about it, there are lots of other folks out there who have just moved here and need a new license, or lost their license or something like that, so their dates of birth are irrelevant. 

So I wandered over there in the morning, hoping for the best, book tucked under my arm, ready for whatever might happen. It wasn’t a good sign that the parking lot was beyond full, with cars parked on the lawn beyond. It also wasn’t a good sign that inside the door was a very large crowd of people, with not enough places to sit. 

You would not believe the diversity of that crowd! I’ve never seen such a rainbow of faces, attire and languages before in my life. This crowd trumped last year’s diverse jury duty experience hands down. I wish I had taken a photo… it was that fascinating. Great people watching!

(especially the portly man who had on belted dress slacks with a sleeveless black undershirt tucked in… yikes!)

I could have turned around and come back another day, but I decided to just go for it. I’d blocked off the entire morning, just in case, and besides, I had my book. I don’t mind waiting, as long as I have something to read. 

57 was my number. I thought it was strange that they were calling random numbers in the 300’s, 900’s, 700’s, with no seeming pattern to them. When the heck would it be my turn? 

I found an empty chair next to a fidgety young woman with the  number 915. She’d been there an hour and a half, she said, and she saw other people being called who had arrived after her. When they finally called number 917, she was so mad! She stomped back there, and I don’t know what she did or said, but the very next number they called was hers! 

On the other side of my seat was a quiet young man with the  number 51. We compared notes and decided that each set of numbers must be assigned to different types of situations. For instance, we were both just renewing our licenses, so perhaps numbers 1-100 were for people like us? 

We got so excited when all of a sudden they called number 50! After a few more odd and random numbers, they finally called his number, and we both acted as if we had won the lottery. Crazy, I know! Off he went, and another man sat down by me. It is beyond coincidence, but his number was 58. What are the odds of having two people sitting together in that very crowded room with subsequent numbers? 

#53, #54… and then a long string of other numbers, making us wonder if the fifties person had gone to lunch or something. FINALLY, it was my turn, over two hours after I’d arrived. Wouldn’t you know it, the clerk at my assigned station was having computer problems, and my #58 friend was in and out at another station before I was. Sheesh! 

He didn’t have to take an eye exam. I did. He didn’t have to show his Social Security card. I did. Glad I had it with me! It seemed to take forever, but finally, FINALLY, I was finished. I’m good for another six years, and I HOPE that I don’t have to go back for another twelve!

Two and a half hours. Amazing… but oh, so interesting!

Weirdly Sick
January 6, 2012

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.”  ~ Matthew 9:12

Regular pewperson readers know that I am never… well hardly ever, sick. It happens so infrequently that I can think back and recall each occasion vividly. The last time it happened was in September of 2009, when I had a temperature spike of five degrees, which really knocked the wind out of my sails. It only lasted a day or two, but it took me awhile to get back on my feet. That’s all it was; there were no other symptoms. Weird. 

It was about that same time that I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease which can be debilitating, but with drug therapy, it is controllable, and because my case has been so mild, my rheumatologist has taken me off my meds for six months to see if it has gone into remission. 

In December I went in for my annual checkup with my “main” doctor, the gatekeeper, and the one who is always trying to find something wrong with me. He always asks me about this or that, and I always say, “I’m doing great! No problems, etc.” I think I frustrate him. 

The reason I am beholden to going to him so regularly in the face of my seemingly good health is that I have my father’s inherited overly elevated cholesterol level, which cannot be controlled by diet, so I must take a statin drug. And because of that one prescription, I must get checked regularly to make sure it isn’t doing weird things to my innards. 

After the doctor finished the exam, I thought I was good to go, but no. In came his assistant who said that he wanted to run a test on me that involved injecting me with a solution and waiting 15 minutes, drawing blood, waiting another 15 minutes and drawing some more. I can’t even tell you what the heck he was looking for (something about my thyroid), but I sighed and agreed. 

She said I may feel a sensation of needing to urinate and experience a metallic taste in my mouth, both of which indeed occurred, but neither caused much discomfort. Weird. 

After having had a needle stuck in my arm for 30 minutes, my elbow was a little sore. Then over the next few days, my shoulder was sore. Then the other one. And my feet. And then my knees. It seemed like all my joints were sore. Was it a resurgence of RA? Yikes!

I decided to call the rheumatologist not only to make my semi-annual appointment with her, but also to ask about this sudden soreness, wondering if I should begin taking the meds that I had previously been taking. She was out of town, and the earliest I could see her was mid January. Her partner suggested that I take prednisone, a steroid, until she could evaluate my condition. 

Reluctantly, I filled the prescription, but after I took a look at the “possible” side effects, I decided to forgo taking them, thinking that I’d rather be sore than sick. And so I persevered. The soreness was strangely random, often very painful, and sometimes gone. Weird. 

The night of Dec. 26, I could not get comfortable. Not even my trusty Tempur pedic mattress helped. I tossed, I turned, then my nose started to run, and my wrist hurt so badly that I put a stabilizing brace on it. My head hurt, too, which is unusual, since I seldom have headaches. “Someone” was snoring, and I simply did not sleep a wink. 

Joel says he thought he heard me crying, but I wasn’t. I may have groaned in anguish, and I know at one point, I begged, “please God, heal me with your touch!” 

In the morning, I limped out of bed to take care of Tucker, and then, since it was raining outside, I just flopped on the couch in the kitchen and enjoyed the warmth of the fire. Just as soon as Joel got up, my plan was to go back to bed. 

I don’t know why, but before I did that, I took my temperature. It was over 100 (normally, it is 97.8). Hmm. Weird. Then I got back in bed and slept deeply for about 4 hours.

When I got up, I had no more pain. None. All my joints were flexible and easy to bend. No headache. My temperature was back to 97.8, and I was ravenous. Since then, I have had no recurrence of pain or fever. Weird… but awesome. 

The next day, the doctor’s office called to report that all my numbers were good, (which I could have TOLD her before I took the stupid test). I reported to her what had happened afterwards,  and wondered if it had been a reaction to the test. She couldn’t understand how, but documented it, just in case. There is just no explaining the timing of the onset and then the suddenness of its disappearance. 

It wasn’t until two days later when it occurred to me that, in my anguish, I had called on God with a prayer requesting healing. And so I was healed, shortly thereafter. Coincidence? Or just weird? 

I know God has many, many other, WAY more important cries of anguish to attend to, but could He possibly have heard mine? I choose to believe He did, and because I do, I know I must glorify His name, and be ever mindful of His grace. What can I do to repay His gift to me? Lots. I can think of many ways, and they will be done. 

I wonder what my rheumatologist will say when I see her? I almost can’t wait! In the meantime, I’ve been running, packing up Christmas, etc. with no ill effects, no wrist brace, no limping, just ordinary, but much appreciated normalcy. 

Weird!