Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Anyone know how to fix dying plants? When I bought this one I asked for one I couldn't kill but obviously I should have asked for one neither BEN nor I could kill. Not to say that he did it or anything but I know my neglect had nothing to do with it. It was gorgeous in its day. The other problem with this picture is the sheer lack of ideas for what-the-heck to do with the sunroom. I welcome ideas.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Golden Weekend

Medical-type folks are always throwing around their own set of catch phrases. In Arkansas, at Children's Hospital, phrases included "strong work" and referring to children as "kiddos." It's no different here except there's a whole new set of them. Phrases such as "circling the drain," (close to death) "crazy train," (loony pt, drug seeker, etc), "teed up" (ready to be discharged) and my personal favorites, "golden" and "black" weekend. Everyone who's everyone medically utters (hehe) these phrases, I've seen my own fellow interns start using them as if they've been for years. I'm not sure why, but something about it drives me nuts. In any case, I'm on my golden weekend (both days off) and it's been swell enough. I had intended to sleep the entire time but neither Sophie nor Ben with his early morning bike rides would allow me to do that. But in any case, 8 am is much better than hours that really shouldn't be used for waking any day. The transition from my first rotation of clinics to inpatient can be best described by what I listen to on the way home from work. Last month ranged from Modest Mouse (pink album no. 2 and 3--it's a short drive) and Imogen Heap. This month it's the local Christian station which is really pretty good. Lighthearted, silly, to encouraging words. I am enjoying my patients and their rooms encourage me to visit because they have really amazing views. The hospital is on the edge of a residential area and its views include church steeples and lots of trees and lovely old houses and some even face downtown. One morning my COPD pt was sleeping away while I watched the sun rise from her room.
Transitioning now, to Ben. He met his colleagues this weekend and we joined them for a viewing of snakes on a plane. It truly delivers, folks. We decided to venture away from our usual choice of church pews at St Pauls and visit another church for a change and so went to the Wake Forest campus church. Several new freshmen were there, having just moved in, and managed to make me feel old and reflect on my first days when I met Kristin and Kim and Ashley and Ashley immediately began having dates. What a wonderful and terrifying year it was. Back to the service-this is a Baptist church but between the liturgy and singing all 4 verses to the hymns and the classical music it felt similar to St Pauls. WF is a large sprawling campus dotted with dark brick buildings with big white columns and metal roofs and spiral staircases and I'm so happy that Ben is back in academia. And speaking of, he'd probably want dinner soon. Boys eat a lot.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The rich gravy of time

I should be out for a bike ride now through the morning mist, or a jog with the ever-vibrating Sophie. Something to work off the two donuts and three cups of coffee with which I started my day after Brandy left the house at 5:45. Instead, Sophie is curled up on the bed, quietly devouring . . . something (when ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise), and I am listening to the Reverend Al Sharpton doing a fair impression of giving a coherent interview on NPR.

After a few cups of coffee, it's tough to digest much of anything, especially text, and I have a lot of pages left on my plate before shule commences on the 23rd. A remaining few chapters in two volumes of Eagleton; "Merry Wives," "Henry IV part II," and four volumes worth of Norton introductions, to say nothing of my Mandarin workbook.

Why isn't this done already, you may ask? With just what sort of crust have I been sopping up the rich gravy of time which seemed to brim higher on my plate than that of any other? What sort of tale do the telltale crumbs trailing me tell?

Well, for one thing, Sophie and I did some exploring up around Pilot Mt., half an hour out of Winston Salem. We failed to find a fabled blueberry patch, but we encountered some misty, storybook views, and several groups of Army recruits learning to rappel from beautiful layer-cake cliff shelves. Conversation ceased as my trusty beagle and I rounded the trail and came into view. Stout young lads, they were, hard of muscle and eye. To a man, they regarded us as if we were a) Intruding, and b) Gay as a whistle. I considered remarking that I had enjoyed paying my share of their salaries last year, and looked forward to continuing doing so in future, but decided instead to just continue on 'round the bend, as it were, getting me and my baby blue Speed Racer t-shirt out of range--er, sight-- as quickly as possible.

Also, I’ve been trying my hand at home coffee roasting. The story of how I came into possession of 13 lbs of unroasted green coffee beans is a long and odd one, which I’ll relate another time. Suffice to say that I’ve been stinking up the kitchen roasting fresh, dark coffee one cookie sheet and wok at a time. If my public demands it, perhaps I’ll show you in a future post how to wok this way.

Not content just to enjoy my windfall of magic wake-up beans, I decided to take a break from my old habit of buying on eBay, and give selling a try. Anyone interested in 3 lbs of assorted ready-to-roast Arabica coffee beans has about 24 hours left. No reserve! Bid often, bid high!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Hallelujah! The Dog's OK! On to the next gripe.

We've covered a lot of miles together since Valentine's Day of 2005: we've trained for and completed a half-marathon, made a lot of trips to the gym, driven umpteen miles interstate, listened to _A Passage to India_ in its entirety while stocking the shelves at Barnes & Noble before the store opened, jammed to Belle & Sebastian when things got too slow in the AR Senate gallery, learned Mandarin with Chinese Pod at 3 a.m. while tucking billing notices under every door on each of the Peabody Hotel's fifteen floors. And in all that time, I've never once dropped (except once), washed, or in any other way mistreated the blessed thing.

Yes, my iPod Mini. The best Valentine's Day gift I've ever received. Thank you, Dr. BLU.

Yet, yesterday I was almost to the point of eviscerating the little tyke. Pulling its giblets out for inspection and then, if I felt like it, stuffing them back in like a stubborn hernia.

(I'm talking about the iPod here, not Brandy. I'll not speculate about what SHE daydreams about doing with MY innards when there's nothing good on TV.)

For how does it repay me for all these months of tenderness and attention? In addition to its ever-more-lethargic battery, the blasted "Menu" button has quit on me. Those of you without iPods cannot know--you CANNOT KNOW--what an INFURIATING Achille's heel this is.

And what do we do with Achille's heels? C'mon--if you haven't read Homer, you've at least seen "Troy." Why, we loose mighty arrows into them, is what we do.

I'll put the question to you: Do I put this patient under the knife myself, entrust it to Matt via FedEx, or make a donation to Apple (HA!) so they can tell me to go buy a Nano (because after two WHOLE years they no longer support the Mini, despite its being the most popular Mp3 player in history)?

Hmmm. I suppose option #4 would be suck it up and deal with it, but you needn't remind me. I feel petty enough fretting about this stuff with NPR reminding me in the background of the latest death toll in Lebanon and other final vacation destinations. C.S. Lewis's "Learning in Wartime" is helpful here. Let us all heed his wise words about it being in the spirit of man to comb his hair before battle, make jokes on the scaffold steps, and, perhaps, grouse about faulty consumer electronics while our fellow human beings are busily showing no signs of slowing the incineration one of the other. I've written my congresspersons; have you? I'd drop Koffi Annon or John Bolton a note, but I'd hate to think they might take a moment to actually glance at it, thereby adding more molases to the already CRIMINALLY slow wheels of international diplomatic intervention.

Matt, new entry for your caption contest picture of several months back:
"Helloooo? Anyone awake in there? Anyone? Yeah, Satan has a controlling share interest, but CNN was a gift from me--haven't ANY of you been watching it?"

There. I feel better for that disclaimer, as I'm sure you do.
Talk to me people.

P.S. (Sophie submits her appreciation for your kind words, though I had to tell her that all the UPS drivers were on strike. Didn't have the heart to tell her that no one sent bacon.)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

One Sick Puppy

And He said to them, "Which one of you shall have a son or an ox fall into a well, and will not immediately pull him out on a Sabbath day?"
(Luke 14:5)

Emily Dickenson, famously shy of papparazzi even before they existed, wrote,
"Some keep the Sabbath going to church--
I keep it staying at home."

Today we kept it at the Forsyth County Emergency Vet. Hospital. Sophie began exhibiting signs of an injured left foreleg yesterday, and was showing no improvement this morning. Feeling concerned, not wanting to leave her home alone, and feeling that, although pets are welcome in some Episopal churches on the Feast of the Nativity, this was not the day to test an enlargement of the Church's already strained egalitarianism, we left off readying for services, and prepared instead to head Vet-ward.

It occurred to us afterward that $130 could have bought a brand new dog, one that wasn't broken. Nonetheless, I think we're pleased that we chose instead to purchase a measure of professional reassurance and an anti-inflammatory shot. If the wee invalid doesn't keep still and quit limping around in the next few days, an X-ray and doubtless other horrors besides, will be her reward.

We invite you to light a votive candle on her behalf, or, more conveniently, post a "get well (and pipe down!)" message for her here at our virtual "Whining Wall."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I saw the best minds of my generation . . .

For those of you considering calling the ASPCA, or maybe our parents, please rest assured that these shots of our prodigious pup were in no way posed. This is simply the scene that met me when I walked in the room with my coffee this morning.

Obviously, yesterday's intellectual exhertions left her tuckered out. I'll have to be more careful what books I leave sitting out. I'm proud of her for wrestling with post-structuralist assertions of the fractured self, and Eagletonian Marxist criticism, but these things take their toll on a young mind.

Hmm. Sophie certainly does seem to be doing a lot of laying around in these pictures. I wonder where she picked that up? Is Dr. Brandy studying, or is she sleeping?

Off we go, over the wise lone Saviour!

The following NY Times article caught my eye this morning. I especially like its recounting on page two of a 4th of July church service featuring a projector image of U.S. F-15s soaring over a silhouette of Golgotha. Far be it from me to cast stones (at least not the first one; I'm usually ready with a few in my pocket to follow the opening salvo), but it makes me grateful for the plodding, unexcitable steadiness of Episcopalidom.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

So this is the result of my coffee ground - soil experiment. Apparently you can change the color of hydrangeas by adjusting the pH of the soil. Darker colors (like the unfavorable purple that we previously had) come from a basic soil so I added coffee grounds from 1 french press coffee to the soil and look what came up-a hybrid of greens, purple, and blue. Psychedelic hydrangeas. Yes I really am working. In other news, the good people at Harris Teeter (local grocery store) were handing out samples of wine and lemon cake last week. So, um, back to the clinic.