short excerpts...other writings...upon occasion or as prompted...
The tiger in the water? A representation of my life -- spirit and environment!


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dr. Underwood

Dr. Underwood and I had met under difficult circumstances when we were living in Washington, D. C. during my stint of duty at the U. S. Department of State. I had made a Monday appointment at Georgetown University Hospital to which Donnie and I had decided to transfer Noelle’s care. On Saturday, in the middle of the night, while the records were in transit and her care in the process of being moved from one hospital to another, Noelle’s shunt malfunctioned. There was no question where to take her. Georgetown University was five minutes from our house; the other hospital was a 45-minute drive.

The young neurosurgeon on duty that night at Georgetown University Hospital went through the normal procedures to determine that the vomiting and pain was from the shunt and not from a stomach problem. “Tell me how many fingers you see,” he directed 11-year-old Noelle.

“Forget about your fingers,” said Noelle wanly. “I can’t breathe. Do something about that!” With those words, she stopped breathing.

The emergency room was suddenly alive with doctors and nurses, carts and paddles. We were quickly ushered to a waiting room. We would have preferred to stay in the emergency room, but these doctors and nurses did not know us and did not realize that we would not have been in the way and might even have been able to help. Realizing that arguing was going to waste precious time, we complied with the request to wait in the waiting room for the results of medical intervention.

Fortunately, we did not have to wait long. The paddles got Noelle breathing again. The resident informed us that he had called the doctor who would be the attending physician, Dr. Underwood, at this happy hour of 2:00 in the morning and got him out of bed. He would be in soon to install a new shunt portion.

Within just a few minutes, indeed, Dr. Underwood showed up. He told us that Noelle was in acute hydrocephalus (she had not become shunt-independent as many hydrocephalic children ultimately do) and that he would need to operate to repair the shunt. Since no records were available, he asked me to recite as much of Noelle’s medical records as I could remember. As it turned out, it would take three surgeries, each two weeks apart, to get Noelle’s hydrocephalus under control again. He replaced the brain portion of the shunt first, leaving the older tubing in the peritoneum since it was functioning fine. Then he had to replace the valve because I had forgotten to mention that she could not tolerate medium pressure, the default valve type used in cases where records are not available. Finally, it turned out that the peritoneal end of the shunt was not really functioning fine; it had become trapped in the peritoneal tissue and so the third revision in six weeks was undertaken.

Dr. Underwood and I came to know each other well during these weeks. In making rounds after the third revision, Dr. Underwood hesitated as he was leaving Noelle’s room, turned to me, and flabbergasted me with his words, “You know, when I put in the new valve, I looked at the lower portion of the shunt and decided not to replace it since it was working. I could kick myself now for not taking care of it all at the same time.”

How did he dare say that to a parent in these days of rampant lawsuits, I wondered. And especially to me! Did he know that I was the scourge of many clinics and hospitals because I questioned everything the doctors and hospitals did and made them re-think or took my children to different doctors when I thought they were wrong? Did he know that I was an outspoken advocate for my children? Was he not afraid of my reaction upon hearing these words of fallibility? Or did he know that I had great respect for honesty and integrity? Did he understand, intuitively, that I could handle any truth; it was the partial truths and manipulations that caused me to take out my lance and pierce one doctor after another?

Copyright 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

Why Noelle?

Although Noelle was our second child, she was chronologically the first child to introduce us to the world of exceptional children, a world in which we would live forever thereafter. Lizzie would do that in a different way a couple of years later, but at the time that Noelle was born, we did not know that Lizzie was gifted; all we knew was that her stages of growth did not match the baby manuals, so we threw them all away about the time she was a year old. Therefore, when Noelle arrived, we did not even try to find a manual for her, but we did read everything we could find about spina bifida and later, hydrocephalus, and after that epilepsy. In between we learned about lesser concerns: a neurogenic bladder, lack of bowel control, colostomy care, range of motion exercises, breastfeeding a special needs baby, and on and on — a number of things which I have fortunately forgotten and another number of things that are too numerous and relatively minor to include here.

When you have a child with a life-threatening birth defect, you can feel very alone. This is especially the case when grandparents do not step up to the bat. Both sets of our parents were shocked by Noelle’s birth and immediately began professing that “their” side was not to blame. Our parents’ finger-pointing at each other, rather than their jumping in to help us, isolated us even more in the days of Noelle’s early surgeries. We, in contrast, blamed no one. We did not blame either set of parents; the appearance of spina bifida is a matter of both parents having some genetic weakness. We did not blame the obstetrical doctors for not warning us: at that time in history, there was no way they could have known. We did not blame ourselves: we had done everything we could to ensure a healthy pregnancy. We did not blame God: we did not know God existed. So, there was no need to ask “Why us?” “Why not us?” would have been an equally good question. Gene selection is a matter of chance; every biology student knows that. The need for our parents to place blame, however, tore away from us a potential source of support.

We did have solace and help, fortunately. They came serendipitously to us in the form of friends. As in childhood, in adulthood I gathered friends around me. I may have been an atheist in mind, but in heart I was surrounded by God’s influence through friends, many of them believers and most, if not all, of them bringing me comfort and giving me the opportunity and pleasure of helping them. As someone (wish I knew who it was) once said, friends are God’s way of taking care of people on this earth.

Some friends helped out with action. The hospital where Noelle was born could not handle her medical problems and so airlifted her from San Angelo, Texas, where she had been born 250 miles south to Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. I signed myself out of the hospital that same day over the medical staff’s objections, and Charles and I headed south. It turned out that Noelle would need multiple surgeries and we would need to spend several weeks in San Antonio. I called friends at Ravalli Federal Credit Union in Hamilton, Montana, where we had our savings account, and the treasurer not only made out the check the same day but drove it 50 miles north to the Missoula post office so that it would go out by air immediately, rather then wending its way by ground to Missoula and then on out.

Other friends provided emotional support. When many people did not know what to say upon hearing of Noelle’s birth defects and met the birth announcement with silence, David and Diane Edgerly (Dave-Bear and Di, as they were known to Lizzie, our oldest daughter, whom they had frequently babysat) responded differently. NCOs in the U. S. Army (yes, I was a sergeant in the U. S. Army when Noelle was born and, while she slept in a baby chair beside me, was promoted to officer ranks, the only person ever in the Army with the dubious distinction of having stood a direct commissioning board in maternity clothes), Dave-Bear and Di had recently been transferred to Germany, but as soon as they received the birth announcement, which included the information about Noelle’s condition, they wrote a very simple note that gave us great heart and a very warm feeling, the first in a long time: “Welcome, Noelle; Dave Bear and Di love you, too.”

So many people helped then and later. All along the way we have had the support of friends, and so have our children as they have grown. Amazingly, these friends have been grateful for the opportunity to help. Even strangers have helped on many occasions and have clearly felt pleasure from doing so. Sometimes they even were rewarded in other ways.

Nadezhda Long recently described to me the impact on her children, whom, when they were young, Noelle babysat. When Liza and Sasha, Nadezhda’s children, were in grades 3 and 5, Nadezhda bought them velvet dresses for Christmas. After watching a Christmas play that focused on humanitarian values, Liza and Sasha begged Nadezhda to let them take back the dresses and use the money to take Noelle shopping. Ironically (or was it ironic?), after Christmas, the dresses were still at the store and on sale for half price so that Nadezhda's girls ended up with the dresses after all.

Accepting help was never my forté. I was a product of New England, and New Englanders, in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, are “rugged individuals.” Along the way, though, I learned to accept help, not only because I needed it but also because people truly liked to give it. It seemed that Noelle and Doah, both of whom exuded an irrepressible faith in God in spite of being parented by an atheist (me) and an agnostic (Donnie), brought out the best in people. Now, post-conversion, I understand a little better why: we were God’s gift to other people. We presented them with the opportunity to experience the pleasure of helping others: us.

copyright 2010


Excerpted from my next both, currently being written, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heralding Noelle

Angel (A): Lord, you could prevent this. Why do you allow it?

God (G): And what do you perceive as wrong here?

A: Well, you see, this baby will not be able to walk, not as a toddler and not as an adult. Epilepsy will interfere with her ability to drive as an adult. Hydrocephalus – all that extra fluid in the brain – is going to bring her the need to check periodically that her mechanical device for removing it is working, and when it doesn’t, there will be moments of panic and stress as her brain is compressed and she is in danger of dying. Not once, Lord, but I can see that there will be a dozen times that the mechanical device will have to be repaired. Human doctors cannot do with the human body what You can. Their mechanical devices are like fingers in a dam. Would it not be better if this baby were every bit as physically able as the people who surround her?

G: No. The gene pool is what it is. I will not intervene. Besides, she will be one of my rainbow makers, my special sprinklers.

A: Spinklers, Lord?

G: Yes. Some people call these kinds of sprinklers broken. Sometimes they call them defective. They are, however, neither. They are simply differently configured, and because of that, they spurt water, they gush water, they spray water wider and farther. Noelle will splash water on all around her. She will water humanity.

A: I don’t understand.

G: Think about watering a field. You need to have rows of sprinklers. Each splashes water onto a given section of land. However, every once in a while, one of them is broken. More water rushes out, and more land is watered. That is a special sprinkler.

A: Ah, I see, but I still don’t understand how they water humanity.

G: Others are drawn to protect and help them, and then they feel good about showing mercy. My sprinklers bring out the best in others. That’s what I mean by watering humanity. Watch Noelle. You will see this.

A. Okay, but what does that have to do with rainbows?

G. Absolutely everything. Have you not seen how in the water splashing out from a long row of field sprinklers you can see rainbow after rainbow? That’s what this little sprinkler, one that others might consider broken, will do.

A: But what about her family, Lord? Her sister, Lizzie, and her parents?

G: Oh, I am happy that Noelle will be born into this family. It does not always happen that my special sprinklers are adequately tended, but these parents are fighters. They will protect my little sprinkler and make sure no additional harm comes to her beyond what she born with. They will make sure that she can refract light through her water droplets to cause rainbows.

A: How, Lord? They don’t have the expertise.

G: They will find it. When they can’t find it, I will lead them to it.

A: But, Lord, there will be so much to find, and there will be so many crises. How will they handle all this?

G: I will be with them. In the good times and in the bad. In the triumphs and in the crises.

A: But they don’t believe in You!

G: Oh, I can handle that, too.

copyright 2010


I have begun work on a new book, Raising God's Rainbow-Makers, which chronicles the lives of my children, especially in their childhood years. I have been sharing that book, as it develops, with readers of my Clan of Mahlou blog, but it seems that Mahlou Musings is also an appropriate place for posting since most of the readers of the two blogs are different. I would certainly like to have as much pre-publication feedback as readers are willing to give. It is always easier to make changes before publication than after publication. Many thanks for any comments that you care to leave.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Price of a Miracle

Here we go again with another Internet story. My sister keeps sending them, and they keep being good enough to share with others. I hope this one is true. I have seen it before, but each time I read it, it is a tear-jerker.

A little girl went to her bedroom and pulled a glass jelly jar from its hiding place in the closet.

She poured the change out on the floor and counted it carefully. Three times, even. The total had to be exactly perfect. No chance here for mistakes.

Carefully placing the coins back in the jar and twisting on the cap, she slipped out the back door and made her way six blocks to Rexall's Drug Store with the big red Indian Chief sign above the door.

She waited patiently for the pharmacist to give her some attention, but he was too busy at this moment. Tess twisted her feet to make a scuffing noise. Nothing. She cleared her throat with the most disgusting sound she could muster. No good. Finally she took a quarter from her jar and banged it on the glass counter. That did it!

"And what do you want?" the pharmacist asked in an annoyed tone of voice. "I'm talking to my brother from Chicago whom I haven't seen in ages," he continued without waiting for a reply to his question.

"Well, I want to talk to you about my brother," Tess answered back in the same annoyed tone. "He's really, really sick, and I want to buy a miracle."

"I beg your pardon?" said the pharmacist.

"His name is Andrew, and he has something bad growing inside his head. My Daddy says only a miracle can save him now. So, how much does a miracle cost?"

"We don't sell miracles here, little girl. I'm sorry but I can't help you," the pharmacist said, softening a little.

"Listen, I have the money to pay for it. If it isn't enough, I will get the rest. Just tell me how much it costs."

The pharmacist's brother was a well dressed man. He stooped down and asked the little girl, "What kind of a miracle does your brother need?"

"I don't know," Tess replied, her eyes welling up. "I just know he's really sick, and Mommy says he needs an operation. Daddy can't pay for it, so I want to use my money."

"How much do you have?" asked the man from Chicago.

"One dollar and eleven cents," Tess answered barely audible. "And it's all the money I have, but I can get some more if I need to."

"Well, what a coincidence," smiled the man. "A dollar and eleven cents -- the exact price of a miracle for little brothers."

He took her money in one hand, and with the other hand he grasped her mitten and said. " Take me to where you live. I wan to see your brother and meet your parents. Let's see if I have the miracle you need."

That well-dressed man was Dr. Carlton Armstrong, a neurosurgeon. The operation was completed free of charge, and it wasn't long until Andrew was home again and doing well. Mom and Dad were happily talking about the chain of events that had led them to this place.

"That surgery," her mom whispered to Tess, "was a real miracle; I wonder how much it would have cost."

Tess smiled. She knew exactly how much a miracle cost: one dollar and eleven cents plus the faith of a little child.

(Double-posted: 100th Lamb and Mahlou Musings.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Painting Problem Solution

Mommy says that she likes to paint, but sometimes I wonder if she really does. Maybe it is not that she likes to paint but rather than she likes to have things painted.
One time, when we were to have someone named Vanessa staying with us for a while, Mommy decided to paint Vanessa's room herself. She wanted it to be clean and pretty.
Mommy knew what was needed. She bought the right kinds of paintbrushes, enough white paint for the whole room, and a large, plastic drop cloth. She was ready.

Mommy carefully covered the green carpet with the drop cloth. Then she shook and poured out the paint. Now she was really ready!

Mommy quickly put a lot of paint on the walls. Mommy usually works very fast.

However, she always misses details, and this time was no exception. As she painted, she kept moving closer and closer to where she had placed the paint pan. That made her work go faster and faster. Soon Mommy had painted almost all of the room.

She backed up to see how much she had completed and how much more she had to do. As she backed up, she stepped into the paint pan. Oh, no!

Mommy was very frustrated. She had white paint all over her feet. She comforted herself with the fact that at least she had not spilled the paint when she stepped into the paint pan. She bent over to pick up the paint pan, but her feet were slippery from the paint. She fell down, ripped the drop cloth, and knocked over the paint pan. Now the carpet was the same color as the walls!

Well, Mommy gave up about the same time that Vanessa showed up. Vanessa offered to finish painting, and she did a very good job. She also did not step into the paint pan. Mommy came to watch and was very pleased with how Vanessa was painting.
Tom Sawyer liked to paint, too. He painted very much the same way as Mommy—with the brush in someone else's hand.

Conclusion: If at first you don't succeed, get someone more knowledgeable to do it.

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Your Mouth Blew, and Your Hands Tied

There once was a town that was divided by a wide and deep river. On one side of the river sat a man with a box full of goat skins next to him. This man was an expert at blowing the goat skin and tying it in such a way that it became a perfect float that one could hold onto in swimming from one side of the river to the other. The man was known as the "skin blower," and he would charge a nominal fee for his expertise in blowing and tying.

For those who were better-off, there were small boats available to take them to the other side.

A very stingy and conceited man once wanted to cross the river. Boats, of course, were out of the question since they were far too expensive for his taste, but even the nominal fee which the skin blower charged seemed too high for him.

"Just lend me one of your goat skins, and I will take care of blowing it and tying it," he argued over and over again.

"But it has taken me years of practice to know when to stop blowing and how exactly the skin should be tied," the skin blower answered.

No matter, it was hopeless. The man was too stingy and too conceited to be convinced by the skin blower's words. Finally, the skin blower said, "All right, I will let you borrow one of my skins for free, but you are responsible for the consequences."

"Consequences? What consequences? Saving my precious, hard earned money?" the man whispered to himself as he proceeded to blow the skin and tie it.

However, no sooner had he jumped into the water than the skin began to lose air. The man did not notice at first, but by the time he reached the middle of the river, where the current was at its strongest point, the skin had lost most of its air, and the man, who did not know how to swim, began screaming, "Skin blower, skin blower, the skin you gave me is no good. Come quickly, and help me!"

When the skin blower heard the frantic screams of the man, he stood up and shouted back, "It was your mouth that blew, and your hands that tied!"

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my dear friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beautiful Flower in a Broken Pot

From the Internet and worth reading, this story was passed along to me by sister. I don't know where she finds these stories. I wish I did so that the author could be credited.

Our house was directly across the street from the clinic entrance of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. We lived downstairs and rented the upstairs rooms to out patients at the clinic.

One summer evening as I was fixing supper, there was a knock at the door. I opened it to see a truly awful looking man. "Why, he's hardly taller than my 8-year-old," I thought as I stared at the stooped, shriveled body. But the appalling thing was his face, lopsided from swelling, red and raw.

Yet his voice was pleasant as he said, "Good evening. I've come to see if you've a room for just one night. I came for a treatment this morning from the eastern shore, and there's no bus 'til morning."

He told me he'd been hunting for a room since noon but with no success; no one seemed to have a room. "I guess it's my face. I know it looks terrible, but my doctor says with a few more treatments..."

For a moment I hesitated, but his next words convinced me: "I could sleep in this rocking chair on the porch. My bus leaves early in the morning."

I told him we would find him a bed but to rest on the porch. I went inside and finished getting supper. When we were ready, I asked the old man if he would join us. "No, thank you. I have plenty." And he held up a brown paper bag.

When I had finished the dishes, I went out on the porch to talk with him a few minutes. It didn't take a long time to see that this old man had an oversized heart crowded into that tiny body. He told me he fished for a living to support his daughter, her five children, and her husband, who was hopelessly crippled from a back injury.

He didn't tell it by way of complaint. In fact, every other sentence was prefaced with thanks to God for a blessing. He was grateful that no pain accompanied his disease, which was apparently a form of skin cancer. He thanked God for giving him the strength to keep going.

At bedtime, we put a camp cot in the children's room for him. When I got up in the morning, the bed linens were neatly folded, and the little man was out on the porch.

He refused breakfast, but just before he left for his bus, haltingly, as if asking a great favor, he said, "Could I please come back and stay the next time I have a treatment? I won't put you out a bit. I can sleep fine in a chair." He paused a moment and then added, "Your children made me feel at home. Grownups are bothered by my face, but children don't seem to mind."

I told him he was welcome to come again. And, on his next trip, he arrived a little after 7 in the morning. As a gift, he brought a big fish and a quart of the largest oysters I had ever seen! He said he had shucked them that morning before he left so that they'd be nice and fresh. I knew his bus left at 4:00 a.m. and I wondered what time he had to get up in order to do this for us.

In the years he came to stay overnight with us, there was never a time that he did not bring us fish or oysters or vegetables from his garden. Other times we received packages in the mail, always by special delivery; fish and oysters packed in a box of fresh young spinach or kale, every leaf carefully washed. Knowing that he must walk three miles to mail these and knowing how little money he had made the gifts doubly precious.

When I received these little remembrances, I often thought of a comment our next-door neighbor made after he left that first morning. "Did you keep that awful looking man last night? I turned him away! You can lose roomers by putting up such people!"

Maybe we did lose roomers once or twice. But, oh!, if only they could have known him, perhaps their illnesses would have been easier to bear. Uur family always will be grateful to have known him. From him we learned what it was to accept the bad without complaint and the good with gratitude to God.

Recently I was visiting a friend, who has a greenhouse, as she showed me her flowers, we came to the most beautiful one of all, a golden chrysanthemum, bursting with blooms. But to my great surprise, it was growing in an old dented, rusty bucket. I thought to myself, "If this were my plant, I'd put it in the loveliest container I had!"

My friend changed my mind. "I ran short of pots," she explained, "and knowing how beautiful this one would be, I thought it wouldn't mind starting out in this old pail. It's just for a little while, till I can put it out in the garden."

She must have wondered why I laughed so delightedly, but I was imagining just such a scene in heaven. "Here's an especially beautiful one," God might have said when he came to the soul of the sweet old fisherman. "He won't mind starting in this small body."

All this happened long ago. Now, in God's garden, how tall this lovely soul must stand! "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mommy's Cookies

One thing Mommy can usually cook okay is cookies. They are not special in any way, but they are usually edible. Actually, when Mommy was a little girl, she won a cooking contest for cookies. She made rainbow cookies: The dough was all kinds of colors mixed together. Mommy also made a big chart with the ingredients. On the chart, she made a writing mistake. Instead of baking powder, she wrote baking power. The judges thought that was funny. Mommy won an award for originality in cooking, but she said that she never figured out whether the originality was for the rainbow colors or for the power that she put into her baking ingredients.

Sometimes when the school had a bake sale, Mommy made cookies. People who bought them probably should have tasted them first. Mommy said that it did not matter. She said that people did not necessarily buy the cookies to eat them; they bought them to help the school. So, every time there was a PTA bake sale, Mommy would get busy making cookies, and we would all stay very far away from the kitchen, in case she wanted us to taste them.

Once my Mommy made some cookies the evening before a bake sale for the school band. She wrapped the plate of cookies in saran wrap and put it on the counter.

The next morning my sister, Echo, took the plate to the car and handed it to my Mommy. We lived too far from the high school for Echo to walk to school with all her books and band instruments, but we lived officially too close for her to be bussed. So, Mommy drove her to school every morning. The rest of us got to go along for the ride. That was fun because we drove through our neighborhood and often saw people we knew.

On the cookie day, our neighbors were especially friendly. Every time we stopped at a stop sign or a light, people waved at us. We all waved back and smiled. Even people we did not know waved enthusiastically. We sure lived in a friendly town.

When we got to school, Mommy got out of the car. As she stood up, she saw the roof. On the top of the roof, held in place by the saran wrap, was the plate of cookies. Now we knew why all those people were waving so wildly.

Conclusion: Saran wrap is fantastic stuff!

This story is excerpted from a collection of vignettes that I helped Doah, my severely mentally challenged youngest son, to write and publish several years ago (copyright 2003). It was my attempt to help him understand literacy and the purpose of writing and reading.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Carol and I

I grew up in a neighborhood where racial prejudice was pervasive. Actual discrimination rarely occurred, however, because the entire town was white until Carol’s family moved there. Carol’s first day in my second-grade classroom caused a stir. She was short, like me, but unlike me, black. The teacher put her in a front-row seat across from me. Everyone was quietly contemplating this situation — one African-American among 25 of us Anglo-Saxon children — when Larry, the boy who sat in the seat behind Carol, arrived late to school. He walked over to his desk, glanced around, then stared at the new occupant of the desk in front of him, and exclaimed, “A nigger!”

Classroom discipline immediately broke down. While the teacher restored order, I looked over at Carol and smiled. She smiled back. At that moment, I became angry with Larry for his cruel words, and Carol instantly became my new best friend. She was different from the rest of us, and I was intrigued by differences. Thinking about differences gave me a chance to understand myself better through the comparison and allowed me to see things from new perspectives. The latter appealed to me because the perspective I saw on a daily basis was brutal.

For the rest of the year, Carol and I were a “pair.” I was popular enough among my classmates to get away with befriending a non-white child. In fact, much of the antipathy toward Carol that could have appeared in our second-grade classroom did not. However, the community was a different story, and I lost my best friend by the end of the year when her parents, unable to tolerate the rampant prejudice of the 1950s in white America, moved away.

This excerpt is adapted from my book, Blest Atheist (MSI Press, copyright 2009).

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Bit Farther, Please

There once was a man who had an old father. The father was very weak and frail. He needed to be cared for constantly. So, the man got tired of his father and decided he would get rid of him.

"Let’s go for a ride, Father," the man said.

And he carried his father into the carriage, pulled on the reins, and rode off toward the wilderness outside of town.

After a while, the man reached a place that seemed very deserted. It appeared like a good spot to drop off his father.

"He will die here in a manner of minutes, and I'll be relieved forever of my burden," he said to himself.

But just as he was about to stop, he heard his father say in his quiet frail voice, "Son, a bit farther, please!"

"What?" exclaimed the man.

"A bit farther, please," the father repeated.

"But what difference does it make?"

"You see, years ago my father became old and sick, and I, too, got tired of caring for him, but when I dropped him off, it was a bit farther from here."

The above story is excerpted from a book, Metaphors of Islamic Humanism, by my dear friend, Dr. Omar Imady, copyright 2005.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Q & A

Jennifer Daiker at Unedited posted the following fun set of questions for writers. Since she did not provide a link but suggested that readers just go ahead and write up their own answers in their own way, I will suggest the same. Put your answers on your own blog and a URL in the comments here. That way people can go from here to your set of answers. Then go to Jennifer's site and follow the links back to Lynn at Place to Create to follow the thread.

1) What's your favorite genre to read? Why?
I love the classics, particularly French, Russian, and German classics, from the 18th to mid-20th century. Perhaps there is great satisfaction in being able to read them in the original and therefore enjoy the wording in them. Perhaps it is because so many different literary movements appeared in those years, and the importance of the word and the choice of words seems to have been considered more closely than in today's writings. Now, when it comes to movies, however, I am a die-hard sci-fi fan.

2) If you couldn't write in the genre you do, what genre would you write in?
I write in several genres, so this question is difficult for me. I am always ready to try a new genre, and in fact am working on a Christian novel (new genre for me) against a historical background (new genre for me) in the early days of Georgia (Gruziya of the former Soviet Union, not the USA state) (new setting for me). I will try to post some excerpts from it as I write along.

3) Pepsi or Coke?
Pepsi, hands down. But there are many drinks I like better than either.

4) How do you spend Sundays?
Being lazy. It's the only day I can truly slow down. Generally, I sleep in late, waking to find myself flanked by three cats and a husband. Generally, I spend some time in prayer, post an old post on Blest Atheist (but otherwise try to stay away from blogging -- but am not always successful in that, esp. if I have some post to finish on one of my other blogs that I fell asleep writing on Saturday), then go to the noon Mass, which is in Spanish, so I meet a different group of people than I would if I went to an earlier English Mass. Once a month, I have a meeting of the Franciscans. If not, I spend time catching up on chores at home, watching movies, talking to friends/family (sometimes, other times I really appreciate my introverted time even though I am not an introvert -- even extroverts get worn out with high-stress, highly visible jobs). Walking and other exercise is generally called for; I usually, but not always, succeed at including it. And then, whatever else happens to pop up. Most of all, though, I enjoy sitting by the window, listening to the all-day crowing of the roosters, and working on one of my books.

5) Penguin or Giraffe?
Penguin. Don't know why. Just have more empathy with me -- perhaps because I am short and grew up in snow country.

6) What type of vehicle do you drive?
Toyota Corolla, silver, with similar dents on the left and right sides of the bumper, where I backed into a fence (left) and into a tree (right). One day I will get them fixed.

7) Would you lick a battery if your life depended on it?
That seems to be a trick question. Die, or lick a battery and die? I don't see much difference.

8) When do you write -- morning, afternoon, evening?
I get more written from 4 a.m. - 8 a.m. than any other time. It has less to do with biorhythm than to no one being awake to interrupt me at that hour.

9) Which do you like more -- FaceBook or Twitter?
Facebook, but I don't use that much, either. Tried once to use Twitter; not my thing, clearly.

10) If you get hurt, (like a scraped knee or arm) do you ask for a band-aid?
No. First, there is not one available usually, anyway, and second, I usually don't notice that I have gotten hurt unless someone points it out to me.

Now, your turn...

About Me

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I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism, I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).

My Other Blogs

100th Lamb. This is my main blog, the one I keep most updated.

The Clan of Mahlou
. This is background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family. It is very much a work still in progress. Soon I will begin posting excerpts from a new book I am writing, Raising God's Rainbow Makers.

Modern Mysticism. This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.

Recommended Reading List

Because I am blog inept, I don't quite know how to get a reading list to stay at the end of the page and not disappear from sight. Therefore, I entered it as my first post. I suppose that is not all that bad because readers started commenting about the books, even suggesting additional readings. So, you can participate with others in my reading list by clicking here.
I do post additional books as I read them and find them to be meaningful to me, and therefore, hopefully, meaningful to you. One advantage of all the plane traveling I do is that I acquire reading time that I might not otherwise take.