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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Go, dog, go!

When I came home from class this morning animal control was here trying to take care of some of our neighbor's dogs which have become more aggressive since the summer.

The mama is now chained up in the front of the house every day and the poor mailman has to cut a wide path to avoide her when he brings the mail. The officer said that if we call the police at night when the dogs are making a racket then they might have more legal support to be able to do something about the ones that are chained up. I hope so. They've been waking me up at night a lot lately, barking on and on sometimes for more than an hour. The officer said she could tell by their environment and by the way they act that they are severely neglected. She did warn me never to let Bailey out in the back yard (fenced in) by herself. I wouldn't even go out there with her because if more than one of those dogs got loose and under the fence (which they do regularly), I don't know how many I could fend off. I hope they can come and take the dogs away soon.

(Oh, and my back feels much better. The exercises are really helping. Something I have done to contribute to my misery, apparently, is that I have been a lifelong stomach sleeper. Old habits die hard!)

Monday, January 26, 2004

Grateful

Last Thursday evening I began feeling a dull ache and soreness in my lower back. I injured it in high school (in track) and again in college (rowing crew). Every so often it is sore for a few days, but the soreness always goes away. After I had my daughter, the pain came more frequently, and right after she was born it was nearly debilitating.

By Friday afternoon I couldn't walk. I would try to stand up and my entire right side from my hip down would go limp, just like it used to when I was pregnant with Bailey. It is a common problem for the baby to put pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing Momma's leg to go numb and making her look like she's applying for the Ministry of Silly Walks. It would have been funny, except the hurting overwhelmed me. Since I was literally immobilized, Duane had to step in and help out with everything (he's been wonderful - even made me a spaghetti dinner tonight, complete with garlic bread and salad!). Every time the pain shot through my hip and down my legs, I was thankful that for most of my 30 years I have been completely healthy. I have asthma, but it is quite manageable. That's about it.

I finally decided I had to go to the doctor today. My back was getting worse. Lying on the x-ray table I hurt more than I can ever remember - more than all the labor I endured having my daughter, more than the pain I remember when I nicked my Achilles' tendon and almost severed it several years ago, more than the bruising I felt in my lungs after an asthma attack so bad it put me in the hospital. I had to roll onto my side for the films, and I couldn't. I had to do it with my clenched fists and my legs, crawling like a crab.

The doctor diagnosed me with sciatica, but my spine films were clear. I'm on muscle relaxers and I start physical therapy tomorrow.

As I was lying on the couch tonight I suddenly shifted my weight and for the first time in five days I did not have tears in my eyes. The muscle rellaxers are working. I still have a dull pain in my hip, but it is barely noticeable, and my mobility is just about restored. It is amazing to me how I take things like walking, bending over, lying down, picking up my daughter, playing my viola, lifting a book, writing on a classroom board, for granted, until those things are providentially hindered.

Relief from pain is a wonderful thing, and the wisdom and knowledge God has given us to learn how to manage pain is a gift, and it is starkly postmillenial at its simplest level. It is dominion, it is making order out of disorder, it is conquering thc curse. Pain management is not a cop out. There is nothing undignified about it, whether it is receiving morphine in a hospice during the last days of a terrible fight with cancer, or while a soon-to-be momma is agonizing in childbirth and asks for blessed relief from the pain with anesthesia that is readily available. Pain is not an illusion, it is not something we imagine.

I am grateful that for the cash equal to only a few hours' salary I can purchase medicine that allows me to climb stairs again, hold my daughter, wash the dishes, get out of bed in the morning, drive my car, play the piano, and pick up toys strewn all over the house. I pray that I never again take for granted any day I live without pain, although I think I would welcome it from time to time, just to remind me I am dust, and that I am dependent upon God and His decrees for all my days.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

They should have sent a poet

Every time I post on my site I am reminded of the line from Contact where Jodie Foster, unable to describe the beauty of our Milky Way and overwhelmed with emotion, cries "They should have sent a poet."

I am not a poet; I am not a writer. I write when I have to, because I have to. I do find beauty in words, just not in the ones I write. I am like the monotone singers on American Idol. And I wonder, does lack of ability to write mean a lack of personality, a lack of creativity, a lack of a sense of humor? Are writing ability and wit two sides of a coin? I'd like to think not necessarily.

For all that I have mentioned Eva Cassidy on my site once before. I have continued to buy her CD's, enjoying them immensely and feeling a strange connection (she recorded many of her songs in The Treaty of Paris on Main Street in Annapolis), and always feeling a heavy sadness in my heart when I hear her voice. If you don't order them off the Internet, you pretty much have to go to the Washington, D.C. area (she was from Bowie) to find stores that stock her CD's.

Not all of her songs are to my liking; I am not a big gospel or blues fan. I do not dislike the songs because of her voice, but rather for their style. That said, however, she has re-interpreted so many songs so beautifully she ought to be considered one of the foremost interpreters of her day. Fields of Gold will always remain one of my favorites, as will her versions of What a Wonderful World and Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

If you've never heard her sing, listen to the samples on Amazon from her albums Songbird and Time after Time, named for the Cyndi Lauper song that yes, she remakes (rather well) on this album.

But it is the beautiful lyrics and the haunting folk melody of I Wandered By A Brookside that snatches my heart. She leaves out the traditional middle verse and hums a melody in place of the lyrics, but the guitar and her voice are just something like I've never heard before. I enjoy the entire CD, but this piece and Kathy's Song (with a guitar so beautiful and simple it often makes me cry) made it worth the price.
I wandered by a brookside, I wandered by a mill
I could not hear the water, the murmuring it was still
Not the sound of any grasshopper or the song of any bird
But the beating of my own heart was the only sound I heard

[I lay beneath the elm tree to watch its long long shade
And as it grew the longer I did not feel afraid
I listened for a footfall, I listened for a word
But the beating of my own heart was the only sound I heard]


With silent tears fast flowing then someone stood behind
A hand upon my shoulder, I knew the touch was kind
He drew me near and nearer, we neither spoke one word
But the beating of our own two hearts was the only sound I heard

So purty

Duane and I were watching American Idol tonight and could barely stop the tears from rolling down our cheeks at some of the horrendous deeds performed in the name of "talent". My question is, did someone at some point in these people's lives tell them they could sing? What is the frame of reference for them to tell the judges that they are good? I can't carry a tune in a bucket, and I'll be the first to admit it. Now I love to sing, but I'd never tell anyone I think I'm good - let alone good enough for an audition. People really do have delusions of grandeur.

Speaking of comic relief, we did decide to watch the first episode of My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance. I thought there was no way it would be as good as the trailers, but oh my, it was so much better! Definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

A group I have to join

Left Behind Prophecy Club

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

2004 AAPC

I was not able to attend more than one lecture at the conference this year. I did, however, hear Dr. Armstrong speak on the Lord's Day before the conference, and I must highly recommend the tapes to anyone who is interested in a beautifully articulated admonition of love and unity. I have never heard much teaching trying to reconcile truth and love, but I am glad this was my introduction. We should all be so wise as to receive the admonition and apply it to our own covenant communities.
Can't resist

This is too good to pass up. I'll definitely buy the Latin translation.

During Christmas holiday from school I decided I'd try some light fiction. I checked the first two Harry Potter books from the library and read them in about two hours. I enjoyed them; they are well-written, interesting plots, good character development, and a bit thought-provoking.

I checked out the third and fourth the day before Christmas Eve to find Duane growling at me "Are you still reading those books?" I thought perhaps he was frustrated with me for reading them. Well, he was, but only because he had ordered the first four for me for Christmas. I have to admit he surprised me; I never thought he'd do something like that. I will enjoy having them.

Duane started reading The Hobbit to Bailey around Christmas. She enjoys it an often asks for Duane to read her "about the hobbits" and asks for "Bilbo Baggins" (she says it Bebo Baggin).

After seeing ROTK: LOTR twice and thoroughly enjoying it, I was disappointed to read some rather odd reviews of it around blogdom. I did not get the impression at all that the characters were shallow or under-developed; so many people cannot understand that it is a great trial to translate a book onto the screen, and that each will have their benefits and drawbacks. There were so many plot points in ROTK to wrap up and only a limited amount of time to do it in. The characters were deep, but much of it was implied, and no, I don't mean their gayness was implied. Not at all.

Tolkien was a soldier and knew of the things of war. He understood brotherhood and camaraderie, neither of which we have today. A man hugs another man and we think he's gay. A man weeps in the arms of another man and we know he's gay. We have lost the closeness of fellowship, and we have lost the significance of family and friendships born on the field of battle. The hobbits were not acting homosexual when they were reunited with Frodo; they were joyful, child-like in their emotion, and so overcome with happiness at seeing a loved one restored that they had to celebrate. We, with our stony faces and gnosticism, overlook or criticize the Biblical beauty of the feasting and the celebration of covenant community all through the books.

Jackson carried that theme very well into the movies and made it come alive even more deeply for me than when I read the books. Fans of the book may criticize some of his interpretations, but I think that overall these remain the most beautiful movies ever filmed. Not just with their cinematography, but with their story, and their lessons for us as well.

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