Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not a bad day yesterday. I waited until Pat got up at 11:30, then went to Shop-Rite. Stopped at K-Mart and got a small (1.5 quart) slow cooker, so I can make Pat's meals more easily. Then realized it was 1:45 and Lorrraine, the nurse practitioner, was coming at 2:00. Rushed home to find Pat at least out of bed and washing; barely got him dressed before L. came in, but we made it okay.
I like Lorraine a lot. She is careful and thorough and is a kind and intelligent person. She examined Pat's toe (red, swollen, and sensitive) and gave me a prescription for an antibiotic. She's a quilter and we have mutual friends.
Had a long, enjoyable phone talk with Betty. I'm still a little worried about her stomach problems and headaches, but she felt better when we talked.
Wider: Here's a truly humbling exercise from brother Frank. I'm ashamed at how badly I did, considering the death-dealing and life-altering things going on there under our auspices. Try it!
http://www.rethinkingschools.org/just_fun/games/mapgame.html

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Yoicks, I didn't get up until quarter of six, so had to rush to dress and meet Susan for our walk. Yesterday was very slow. Did lots of wash, as usual, puttered around here and there, but mostly hung around waiting for Pat to wake up. Mary Ann Van O. called to invite me to dinner on New Year's Day--yes, indeed, would love to--and to a violin concert in Toms River on the 11th, which I hope I can swing--we'll see. Marissa, the p.t., came in the afternoon and the nurse practitioner will come today.
I'm so sick of the sickroom atmosphere and so tired of caregiving and so sad at my husband's decline.
Wider: Re the above. How dare I complain, knowing there are people in the middle east who would give anything to be in my situation--instead of existing as targets. A quote from Anti-War.Com:
"Israelis and Arabs 'feel that only force can assure justice,' I. F. Stone noted; he also wrote, 'A certain moral imbecility marks all ethnocentric movements. The Others are always either less than human, and thus their interests may be ignored, or more than human and therefore so dangerous that it is right to destroy them.'"
So true! So exactly the attitude of the warmongers and their supporters! And it's so topical, isn't it?
Actually, that was written in 1967, forty-one years ago, during the Six Day War.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Took Ellen to the airport about noon--sob!--and got home with no problem. Pat was up, but I had left him breakfast and he was okay. Spent the rest of the day at the supermarket, washing, and so on, my usual routine. Got a web call from sister Betty, but it was almost 6 and I had to get dinner, so didn't talk long.
Wider: I caught 60 Minutes last night. It was all about Obama and his successful campaign. The program showed past and present footage of his fight for the nomination, the democratic convention, and interviews with him, the first lady apparent, and many of his staff by Steve Croft.
Obama was his usual personable, articulate, winning self--and oh, how I wanted to love him and those beautiful teeth! What a terrific American story! How different he was from the mean, seemingly crazed, illiterate little jerk he'll succeed! Surely, surely, Obama will lead us out of the wilderness and...
But I had to remember the little boy with no legs and no right arm sitting with his friend on the ground in Iraq. Obama has never, in thought, word, or deed, been an anti-war candidate. I had almost forgotten my dismay when he chose Biden as his running mate. Wait--why was I so concerned? Why did I vote for Nader? BECAUSE BIDEN'S A WARMONGER, THAT'S WHY! And the other picks of "O" (better get used to it; that'll be his moniker in the press) that have the neo-cons slavering with delight have been just as indicative of his war-business-as-usual stance. Emmanuel, Gates--Clinton, fer cryin' out loud!--and the rest, staunch child killers all.
One of the many difficulties of taking seriously members of the media is their obvious old boy (and girl) network. How can we believe they aren't influenced by their proximity to power? I saw Croft laughing and joking with Obama and Biden and--dare I say it?--sucking up to them. He was thrilled, clearly, to be one of the boys and, significantly, he didn't pose a single hard question about war, "defense," or killing children. None of them do because, if they did, they'd find themselves shut out of the interviews and exclusive chats and dinner parties for which they live.
Now the scene of the crime is Gaza, where the Israelis continue to murder with the aid and support of the U.S. And Obama has said nothing. Soon, we'll hear, I assume, a carefully crafted, perfectly craven response excusing our Jewish friends and justifying the slaughter.
And babies will continue to be massacred.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Quiet day, as Ellen spent it at her sister's. Pat slept a lot of the day--he always does now--and I performed my wifely duties...
No, not those duties! I did a lot of wash, went to the supermarket and cooked. Got a web cam call from sister Betty in Santa Barbara, her device newly installed. Later, got another from Mike and Vivian; she's still recovering from her surgery, but is doing well.
Wider: I just re-read the John Caruso quote I posted yesterday, about Israel's crimes against the neighbors they mistreat. It seems to contain in it a sad and unanswerable question about, as he puts it, "the universality of human evil," especially:
"This base drive to impose suffering on others -- out of fear, out of greed, out of the lust to dominate -- lives in us all, in every individual, every nation, every people, every tribe, every sect, every clan."
But why, why, why should this be so? Is there no hope that it will ever be different? I'm old enough to have lived through World War II--now romanticized and nostalgia-coated out of all recognition--and I well remember the pervading sense of U.S. goodness, as opposed to the clear and perfect badness of "the enemy." I believed this right up to a few years ago. Then I finally--I'm a slow learner--began to wonder how it could be that Americans, out of all the world, present and past, could be so loftily different from the citizens of other countries.
Now I know we aren't.
And a riddle:
It's deafening!
What is?
The silence of the Great Black Hope of the dems.
(They're dizzy with happiness over his ascendency, but ignore the lack of condemnation for the latest Israeli rape in Gaza.)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

We continue to have a good time with Ellen here. Went to Boscov's and bought a new vacuum cleaner yesterday, and I was glad to have her advice. Unfortunately, E. has a cold. After lunch, she took a lap and I didn't wake her until dinnertime. I did get a chance to do a lot of wash. Today, Ellen will drive up to her sister's and be with her and the two little boys. How I wish I could go, but Pat just can't be alone so much of the day.
Susan got back yesterday and we'll resume our walk Will also go to Weight Watchers to assess the damage of the last few riotous (?) weeks.
Got a cam call from the Singapore Four and saw darling V. She went through the surgery well and seemed pretty good, just a bit cranky, which isn't like her, but I'm sure she'll get over that.
Tomorrow, I have to take precious number two daughter to the airport--sob!
Later: Now I have some cause for concern: I'm up 2 pounds, bringing me to 130 and 69.6 off. That means I've gained a full 5 pounds since my low of 125. Okay, I'll get back there, I have no doubt, starting right now (actually, I got back on the straight and narrow yesterday).
Wider: Lest any reader think I've gone soft, contemplate this from Anti-War.Com:
"According to the US government's logic, Iraq is now better off than ever before. As for the millions of lives that have been unjustly taken, and the millions of Iraqis on the run, their plight is a worthy price for freedom and democracy, precious US commodities that apparently come at a heavy price. Americans and the sanctioned Iraqi government are never to blame for any wrongdoing. Iraq's tragedy is always someone else's fault, but largely the making of elusive terrorists, whose identities and sources of funds change according to whatever Washington's political mood dictates."
This is from a piece on the shoe-throwing journalist and starts by describing the American and Iraqi presidents shaking hands--complacent, self-serving child killers both. Of course, it should be read in its entirety.
Also: John Caruso writes in "A Distant Ocean" about the inhuman embargo of the Gaza Strip by Israel and ends:
"It seems to be the tragic fate of this generation of Israel to teach the world, once more, the bitter lesson of the universality of human evil. This base drive to impose suffering on others -- out of fear, out of greed, out of the lust to dominate -- lives in us all, in every individual, every nation, every people, every tribe, every sect, every clan. It must be resisted at all of these levels -- beginning within, of course. And when it breaks out into the open, we must condemn it forthrightly, call it what it is, no matter what form it takes or who unleashes it."

Friday, December 26, 2008

Very enjoyable, low-key Christmas. Mike web-cammed and I talked to him and Paula, Patrick called, and our two girls were here.
We opened the bottle of champagne friends had given us for our anniversary and toasted our family, drinking out of the fluted glasses I had bought for Joel and Jen's wedding party to use more than 5 years ago. Served chicken, rather than turkey (it was probably more tender, anyway), plus the turkey gravy from the freezer (the one that I made from scratch and that took nine hours), cranberry sauce, potatoes both baked and sweet, banana and pumpkin bread, and stuffing, of course. Ellen bought and prepared fresh string beans and Alison contributed a carrot dish made with mayonnaise and horse radish--very tasty.
I confess though, that FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE, I bought, rather than made, the pies, pumpkin and apple. I had pumpkin, which I thought had a strange, gelitan-ish consistency, but I did add real whipped cream. The apple was okay, I guess, but can't compare with my homemade.
We opened our presents after, with some members of the party violating the terms of our cheapseanna gift-picking and getting Pat and me gifts. Pat got two nice sweaters, each with the required front closing and two pockets and I got silicon oven mitts (my daughters are convinced I'm going to set my kitchen towels on fire) and a crock pot index file with great recipes, along with more kitchen towels--always welcome. Also received a Christmasy cutting board and an ornament from a neighbor.
Along with little Lulu, who mostly stayed on the floor and scrouged for scraps, we had a lovely time. The upper Jersey company left about 9:00, I had my glass of wine, and fell into bed.
Much as I love the fall and winter holidays, I yearn for spring.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

It's Christmas Day at 11:00 am. Had a nice time at Lisa's last night, although I got lost several times on the way to Rancocas, due to the dark and rain. It was fun watching the antics of the little boys and girl, ages 6, 5, 4, and 1. Got home at 11:00, stayed up to chat with Pat and Ellen (and enjoy my glass of wine), then got to bed about midnight. Slept until quarter of eight (!). Good thing Susan's still away; will resume our morning walk on Saturday.
Mike called on the web cam. It was evening over there and he described a lovely Christmas. I was fascinated by Vivian's baby doll present, which not only eats and wets, but poops! Geez, that's just a little too much realism for me. (And with a doll like that, why do they need Violet?)
Vivian, poor child, gets her adenoids removed tomorrow.
Just now, Pat is still sleeping, Ellen's in the shower, and I'm looking forward to a pleasant, but quiet Christmas, very different from some of the hubbub of Christmases past. Guess I should be nostalgic for those, but I'm not.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Zipped up to get Ellen in the morning while Pat was still asleep. We had a good time together, as ever: Walked to Shop 'n' Bag, made Nana Mix, and so on. Pat loves having her here, too, of course. Mike called on the web cam and talked to Ellen and me. After dinner, E. trimmed the tree while I took a shower--it looks great (the tree, not the shower).
Will go to Lisa's Christmas Eve party tonight. So sorry Ellen can't come with me--but we can't very well leave Pat alone.
Wes J. asked for the Nana Mix recipe, so I posted it on his "wall" on Facebook. It's a million times better than the commercial kind and much, much better than the bland, conventional recipe, too. My mother didn't like the original Chex recipe--partly because she was too cheap to add mixed nuts--and revised it with peanuts and to be much spicier. It really is good. Mom had told me that my nephew, David W., came up with the name "Nana Mix."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Gosh--Ellen called early to say her flight would be delayed because of bad weather in various parts and she wouldn't be in until 9:30. I'm afraid to drive in Philly at night, so had to make other arrangements. Will go up to get her at the halfway place this morning.
The damn Christmas tree I was so pleased to find (because it's only a five-footer) fell over last night. M. and J. had trouble getting it in the stand and it was leaning as it was. Sigh...now I'm thinking the decoration will be an ordeal; next year, will go earlier and try to get a really small one.
Was pleased that Pat's bay buddies, Old George and Charlie, stopped in. However, Pat had gone back to bed, although it was almost 3. They stayed to chat for awhile and I showed them pictures of our anniversary party, which they had attended. I asked them to come back sometime.
Would love to go to the Christmas Eve party in Rancocas, but I don't see how we can leave Pat.
Talked to sister Betty and we thanked each other for our birthday presents. Brother Jim called to wish me a happy one.
Other than that, nothing much except another trip to Acme. Somehow, I manage to spend plenty on nothing much every time I go. It was bitterly cold all day, so I stayed in most of the time and stuck to my knitting (figuratively).
Later: A hard-hitting entry from the blog "Dead Horse" on the continuing slaughter of Palestinians by Israelis--aided and abetted by the U.S., of course, and never mentioned in the western press:
"The picture at the top of this post is of a Palestinian father carrying his dead child, the handy-work of an Israeli attack in the Gaza Strip. However it could be any number of scenarios – perhaps an Iraq father carrying his dead child, or it could be a father in Afghanistan after one of our murderous air raids – take your pick for our “humanitarian” work is never done. This is, after all, what we do best -- murder – we have an entire industry devoted to it. But heaven forbid that we should ever question the morals of our beneficent calling, our white man’s burden, our destiny of bringing hope and change to the world. What is a little collateral damage compared to our great shining destiny for when we kill brown people we kill them for their own good. It certainly is difficult to understand why they don’t love us.'

Monday, December 22, 2008

Well, it was fine! Had a wonderful birthday, the house full of children and toys, our stomachs full of Chinese takeout and cake, my heart full of love and gratitude. Little "T" got into everything to our delight--it's such fun watching him explore and enjoy. With the help of an adult, J. made ornaments of cinnamon and applesauce (believe it) and the guys watched whatever the Eagles were doing.
Got great gifts: Two terrific blouses, a pretty candle, a wireless mouse, a plethora of kitchen towels (yay!), another candle, a family picture of the Singapore contingent, and a gift certificate to SeaOaks. Most remarkable was from P. and N. With hand-written and illustrated directions, it's an unusual purse that can turn into other things simply by tying and knotting differently. I've never seen anything like it--it's just superb.
Later: Just got back from our walk. It's so cold my hands are hurting and my toes, too. Thank heavens it didn't snow, though, and I hope it holds off while Ellen is here. Will pick her up late this afternoon--best birthday present I could ever get.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Well, this is my birthday--ugh! ("Barfday" might be more descriptive.) However, I feel fine, look okay for my doddering self, and am looking forward to a family gathering today.
Was pretty busy yesterday. Made two recipes of "Nana Mix" to give Joel and Jen, plus made "sweet and spicy pecans." Think I'll give the ones in a pretty container to Susan; she and Walter are going north to her daughter's for Christmas.
Went out and bought a Christmas tree. Most of them were so humungous I couldn't go for them, but I managed to get a five-footer. Joel will pick it up for us and the nursery guy will trim it so it fits in the stand. (We may be the only people on the eastern seaboard who still buy a live Christmas tree.) I know, I know, the artificial ones are more symetrical, they're already equipped with lights, they don't shed, they're beautiful, and so on and on. I don't give a damn. In this plastic world, I want something that speaks of nature--0r at least, NOT commercialism gone nuts.
Wider: Continuing to read Morris Berman's book, I find it ominous, frightening, and--unfortunately--right on the mark. He asks rhetorically, "Would our penchant for aggression have been any less if Kerry had been elected?" Sadly, his conclusion is no, not in the long run, but it may have been marginally lessened. (These are paraphrases.)
Early on, Berman points out the seeming inability of Americans to give up their game and celebrity fixations to allow even a low level of serious intellectual activity. It seems to me the universality of television marks the truth of this belief. It's everywhere! It's hard to find a doctor's waiting room without one--or two--and many supermarkets have several. Wal-Mart has one at each check-out. I don't often go into many other stores, so I'm sure I'm missing some. What's much, much worse is, I understand, the routine introduction of television into classrooms, from kindergarten (and, for all I know, nursery school) up to college. No matter where you go, it seems, the constant din of plastic people making mindless noise, is going to follow. It makes me crazy.
But I'm going to enjoy my birthday, anyway.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

After a soggy trip to Acme (it rained most of the day), I stayed cozily in. Made an apple crisp, did some wash, and it was actually pretty enjoyable. There's something I like about being more or less forced to stay in, but I guess I wouldn't like it for long periods.
Amy, the OT, came. She's very nice and made a few suggestions for "independent living," but we kind of agreed having the PT come twice a week was enough.
I was a little uneasy this morning when Pat asked for another pillow--he already uses two--and for me to put his oxygen up to 3 1/2 liters. His breathing was even more labored than usual, maybe an ominous sign, but I'm not sure. Emphysema is a particularly lousy disease, although I guess none of them are fun and games.
Later: Just back from Weight Watchers. Somewhat disappointing (but understandable, considering dinner out and Susan's party), I'm up a pound. This brings me to 128, with 71.6 off. Must be particularly vigilant, what with my birthday tomorrow, Christmas Eve, and Christmas all looming with yummy stuff to tempt me. Okay, I'm going back to WW next Saturday and will take my lumps, whatever they are, then get back on the straight and narrow in the new year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Got to Kohl's, Wal-Mart, BJ's, and Target in the morning. Had to rush home before Marissa came at 1:00. Finally found some knee socks for Preshy and sent them off.
Took my illegally (I contend) opened box to the post office and was astounded to learn that yes, the government has the right to open any package and they often do at random. Unbelievable and horrifying, to keep learning how many rights (this one, to privacy) have been stolen while we were contemplating our navels.
Today, I'm going retaliate in a minescule way, by sending shoes to the serial killer in the White House.
Yes, that serial killer in that White House. Hope thousands, then millions do the same until the Godforsaken, corporate media has to pay attention.
I invited a number of "friends" on Facebook to do send shoes, also.
After postponing no fewer than five times, the O.T. is to come today--wouldn't you know, I agreed she could come this one time at 1:00. Asked Marissa to push back her usual 1:00 time and she'll come Monday at 3:00.
Wider: My current favorite, Justin R., at Anti-War.com, has a good post linking the economic crises with the billions we spend to murder children. Here's just a snippet:
"Our present military budget is more than all the other nations on earth combined, an inconceivable sum that drains the very lifeblood out of our economy. Weapons are not capital assets. The productive energy used to produce them is captured and frozen in time, until the weapon is either used, or junked as outdated: in either case it vanishes."
And so on. But go there and read it all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The "Ladies' Luncheon" across the street at Susan's was just superb. Guests were greeted at the door with a tuxedo-clad Walter, who acted as butler, footman, wine steward, and general factotum throughout the day. Immediately, a glass of champagne (yeah!) was pressed on me and I drank that with a few refills while I enjoyed the appetizers (fresh, not frozen, shrimp, vegetable platter, hummus and chips, etc.). Main course(s) were three delectable strattas, entirely homemade, several kinds of salad, and another dish or two--all of them just scrumptious Dessert? Homemade miniature cheesecake and cookies, plus chocolate candies in several forms. Even better: Susan's famous eggnog (in cooperation with Turkey Hill), laced with a generous portion of rum for those who wanted it--and you can bet I did.
Of course, I greatly enjoyed the company, about 20 women, all neighbors and friends. Met a newly-moved-in one whose husband is on dialysis and talked to her about our mutual lives and Wellspouse. Just a terrific day all altogether.
Combined Wider and Narrower Note: An odd and unsettling
incident capped the day. I received a birthday gift from my son, who lives in Asia. Having been told I could open the outer box, as the inner one was in gift paper, I did. I was surprised to find the inner flowered wrapping torn off and stuffed back into the shipping box. I was then amazed and infuriated to see the box had been re-closed with a tape that read: "Opened for U.S. Customs and Border Protection" with the seal of the "Department of Homeland Security."
How dare they? Since when does our mean, sneaking, Big Brother-like government have the authority to open private mail? And from Singapore yet! Do they think this little city state is a threat to our almighty exceptionist country? I'm going to pursue this and find out if one of my rights has been violated.
If I have any rights left, that is.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The less said about yesterday the better. With great difficulty, got Pat into the car in garage and, just as we pulled out, an icy rain started to fall. It continued--more heavily--all the way to godforsaken Toms River. Was able to get the chair and Pat out of the car under an overhang, then parked, getting soaked, and finally got in the doctor's office. The receptionist then chirped, "The doctor was called away; is it all right if the nurse sees him?" I said, "I don't care if the janitor sees him, this is the last time I'm coming here." As it turned out, the ear is healing nicely. Now, though, Pat has sores--certainly more cancer--on his other ear.
To top off the diem horribus (who do I think I am, the queen of England?) while we were sitting in the world's heaviest traffic in TR, somebody rear-ended me. I found no damage when we got home, but didn't know that at the time, so wailed and cried and gnashed my teeth. Well, not really--by that time, I was numb.
Okay, it's over and today is Susan's Ladies Luncheon, to which I'm looking forward. Even more, I'm happily anticipating my birthday on Sunday, when I get to have the family here. And better, better, best, Ellen comes in on Tuesday--happy day!
Wider: Here's Justin R. on Anti-War.Com, in his piece on my hero, the guy who threw the shoes at the mass-murderer, Bush:
"The next time some pompous politician, earnest policy wonk, or just your average, everyday agent of a foreign power suggests invading and occupying a nation purportedly just waiting to be "liberated," we should all reach for our shoes and – like Mr. al-Zeidi – take careful aim…"
Justin goes on to write about what for me is a deeply-unsettling truth: The propensity of "liberal democrats" to show an undue reverence for the presidency. He asks if, now that their candidate is about to succeed, whether their anti-war noises will subside. A good question--and I'll definitely look into the "progressive (read actual, not republican lite) democrat" movement.
Couldn't resist adding this, from the blog "Dead Horse"":
"How I despise patriotism in all its manifestations for it brings out the worst in people, the ignorance, the violence, the indoctrination, the destruction of any kind of thought, the double standards, the murder, the lies, and the rivers of human blood soaking the earth. And it ought to be shocking how little it takes to convince the gullible masses for the need of war. All it takes is a little propaganda. A few lies repeated over and over, the bogey man of manufactured non-existent threats."
And how true. And how horrible.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I decided to pull myself out of the gloom by calling Marissa, the p.t. and asking her to come later (she had been due at 1:00) so I could go to the mall. I did, while Pat took his after-breakfast nap, got what I wanted, and was back before he woke up. Marissa got here later--about 4:30--but it worked out well.
Also asked the Visiting Physician service again about the podiatrist, and told them to give me the number. Called that office and hope to get somebody to call back for an appointment. Also told the V.P. Pat needs to be seen by the nurse practitioner or doctor to check the new leison on his ear.
This morning, I go to my doctor for a BP checkup, then we drive up to Toms River to the plastic surgeon. That's looming as a nerve-racking ordeal and, wouldn't you know, it's raining, which makes it worse. If we just get through this week, we can relax--I hope--for a time.
Wider: There's an interesting piece in Truthout (on-line) about how the health care system got as bad as it is. This is just a snippet:
"All of these problems are due at least in part to an employer-based system, the original intent of which was not to provide quality health care to all, but to circumvent wartime wage regulations. As we begin to debate how to reform health care, we should keep in mind that the American health care system was not created to express American values or to meet Americans' health care needs. And knowing that, we should not be afraid to change the system if we can come up with a better one."
Makes a lot of sense and for those who cry, "Socialism!" one can just point to the police, education, the military--not to mention now the banking system--and ask why they aren't considered "socialism."

Monday, December 15, 2008

Kind of a dreary day. Aside from forays to Rite-Aid and Acme, did little. Pat slept a lot and I just had to wait around to help him dress, get his meals, clean up, and so on. He pointed out a new cancerous sore on his ear--not the one we have to go back to the plastic surgeon for tomorrow--and asked me to "make an appointment" at the dermatologist's. I absolutely will not do that unless I have to--we have a visiting physician, for heaven's sake; that's supposed to relieve us of going out to doctors and I'll be damned if I'll combine the inconveniences of both.
Wider: If you really want "dreary," here's a must-read from Justin R. at Anti-War.com:
http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13904
But OH, I got a real lift (heh, heh) when I saw the video of Bush under shoe attack. "You dog!" said the hurler, an Iraqi T.V. reporter. Yes, yes! He IS a dog and a serial killer and a child-murderer. That reporter should be cheered and feted and rewarded for taking direct action against such a monster. Yay!!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yesterday quiet, but okay in a mild way. Went to WW, later to Kohl's in the morning while Pat slept. Had a 30% off coupon and bought a few things, waited in line for what seemed an age, then found the coupon doesn't kick in until next week. In a mellow mood, I just laughed.
Got to see adorable little granddaughters on the web cam. Incredibly, little Violet has two teeth--at 5 months! Vivian, as vivacious (hey, those words have gotta have the identical root) and talkative as ever, showed me several items, sang, and was generally entertaining. What a beautiful child she is.
Wider: Last night, during my daily 45 minutes of television-viewing, we had the History Channel on and saw a piece on FDR. What struck me was that in his era--let's say the forties and earlier--there was a secretary and department of "War." When did they change that to "Department of Defense?" Was it before or after the publication of 1984 ? Words matter and they can lie. I believe the word "defense" sets up an automatic combination of beliefs that crystallizes into something like "we are blameless and we're not aggressors, but we must defend our country against our enemies." If we called the whole, vast complex of death-dealing apparatus--human and mechanical--the "Department of Child Murder" or even if we went back to "War," would it make a difference? But of course, that will never happen. The whole reason for the change was and is to keep this nation of sheep focused on their iPods, satisfied they're being "defended."
Later: Well, well--I just looked it up and the federal department mentioned above was re-named in 1949, the same year 1984 was published. Coincidence?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The sun broke through in the late morning yesterday, portent of a happy day. (Mimi, don't be a sap--but it was.) Pat slept late, even for him, and had just finished breakfast when Jack B. stopped in. They enjoyed talking while I put out a few more Christmas decorations (I'm trying to quit, honest!), then made and wrapped Pat's lunch, and zipped over to Marge's.
We went to a new restaurant in Galloway--Romanelli's Garden Cafe--and had a great time. Marge and I are on the same wave-length on most things and talked and talked and talked. I had a delectable turkey wrap, half of which I ate then, and half I saved for dinner.
Pat's cousin, Joe, from Jacksonville, and they had a good talk while I mad Pat a breaded pork chop, applesauce, scalloped potatoes, corn, and banana vanilla pudding for dinner. A miracle: He told me on how good it was.
Neat day all around.
Later: Back from Weight Watchers, I'm down another .2 and at an even 127; total loss is 72.6 pounds. I'm okay with that, but will continue to weigh in every week, as this is the danger (birthday/Christmas/New Year) zone. I'd like to get back down to 125.
Wider: From Arundhati Roy at Anti-War.com:
"'Here is a list of the countries that America has been at war with - and bombed - since the second world war:...China (1945-46, 1950-53), Korea (1950-53), Guatemala (1954, 1967-69), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959-60), Vietnam (1961-73), the Belgian Congo (1964), Laos (1964-73), Peru (1965), Cambodia (1969-70), Nicaragua (the 1980s), El Salvador (the 1980s), Grenada (1983), Libya (1986), Panama (1989), Iraq (1991-99, 2003-08), Bosnia (1995), Sudan (1998), Yugoslavia (1999), and Afghanistan (2001-08).[37]. From this, by simply counting, the years 1947-49, 1955-57, 1974-79, 1990 and 2000 were the only peaceful ones. 73% of the years, from World War II's end until 1989, the U.S. was militarily intervening somewhere."
Oh, but we're a peace-loving nation, aren't we?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Got to the post office to send off the last of my Christmas cards and mail the gifts for the little girls in Singapore, but aside from that, stayed in all day. It rained and rained and was dark and dreary, so staying in was cozy and nice. The P.T., Marissa, came and I got a call from library person, Jean C. Looking forward to lunch with Marge today.
Wider: Doug Bandow, in Anti-War.com, writes on the folly and crime of foreign intervention. He emphasizes the suffering of innocents, but also points out that our own soldiers are horribly at risk. (From "Force: The Real "F" Word"):
"Servicemen and women are not gambit pawns to be sacrificed in some global chess game. War is murder and brutality writ large, something sometimes necessary in self-defense, but never an appropriate tool for attempted social engineering in other nations."
I don't agree with the "necessary" part (a standing army isn't "necessary" for Switzerland, is it?), but it's a good article to be read in its entirety.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ho-hum day. Went to Shop-Rite and Kohl's while Pat was asleep and ran into his friend, John. He was happy to hear Pat had gone to the bay on Tuesday for the first time in two months. John called him later and they had a good chat.
Got sister Betty and the two little girls gifts at Kohl's. MUST wrap and send them today. After lunch, I did something or other, and it must have been thrilling, I can't remember what.
Brother Jim called and we had a nice talk. He said he had put our mother's name in a site called missingmoney.com and had come up with info that the state of NJ owes her something. He applied for it and will let us all know if we're millionaires or not (yeah, sure).
Incidentally, yesterday and today, I didn't get my walk in. Slept late yesterday after getting home at 11:00 and today, Susan and Walter are going to Radio City Music Hall (something I've always wanted to do), and will leave early. This is the first time we've missed our mile and a half in months, but it's raining anyway, we'll resume tomorrow, so no matter.
Wider: Does the following sound contemporary?
"The clever ones, up in the high places know how childish and silly the workers are. They know that if the government dresses them up in khaki and gives them a rifle and starts them off with a brass band and waving banners, they will go forth to fight valiantly for their own enemies. They are taught that brave men die for their country’s honor. What a price to pay for an abstraction – the lives of millions of young men; other millions crippled and blinded for life; existence made hideous for still more millions of human beings; the achievement and inheritance of generations swept away in a moment – and nobody better off for all the misery!"
Helen Keller spoke these words at a Women's Peace Party rally in 1916 (quoted in LewRockwell.com). The more things change...
Here's something else--very important, it seems to me. I admit that after my family, I probably love food best; this by Nicholas Kristoff is a must-read:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/11/opinion/11kristof.html?ref=opinion

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Wellspouse dinner in Manalapan was just great. Vivian and I wish we lived closer to the Java Moon where they meet monthly; it's more than an hour away and I didn't get home until after 11:00. Slept until 8:00 this morning, practically the middle of the afternoon.
There were about twenty people there, including two new members. One of them cares for a (fiftyish) spouse who was diagnosed in March with ALS--a true horror--and the other's husband has dementia caused by strokes.
It's always so comfortable being with this group. You don't get any of the well-meaning, inane comments civilians serve up (see earlier posts) and there's a close, fellow-feeling that makes you feel less alone. I brought a bottle of wine, as did several others, and we had a great time.
Wider: There's an interesting piece on "Lew Rockwell.Com" that compares, of all things, the car bailout with the piano market. It's worth reading at
http://www.lewrockwell.com/tucker/tucker115.html

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

'Twas bitter, bitter cold yesterday, and I went out only to the post office, having completed about one-fourth of my Christmas cards.
Marissa, the P.T., came and had Pat walk down the hall to our bedroom several times. She's a very pleasant young woman and I think he enjoys having her here, so it's okay even though there seems no particular purpose to the "exercise."
Had a long, long talk with friend Julie L. and heard all the ins and outs of a recent incident in our insular little community. It was interesting, but I silently repeated my mantra, "We'll all be dead in fifty years," which kind of puts all our little peccadilloes in perspective.
Wider Note Addendum: At Anti-War.Com, Norman Solomon has a well-considered treatise called "The Silent Winter of Escalation" that refers to his appearance on "Washington Journal" and his book, War Made Easy. It's well worth reading in its entirety here:
http://www.antiwar.com/solomon/?articleid=13877
Just one more? Couldn't resist this characterization of Dubya by my idol, Chris Hedges, in Truthdig.Com. He calls Bush "...a man with severely limited intellectual capacity and no moral core."

Monday, December 08, 2008

Busy domesticity yesterday. Went to Manahawkin for groceries, changed our bed, did mountains of wash, and decorated a bit more. Talked to Ellen in the evening.
Wider Note: My friend, Gerri B., sent an alert that "Washington Journal" would feature Norman Solomon, talking about his book, War Made Easy. He also has a DVD adapted from it, with Sean Penn narrating, and a bit of that was shown. The segment was on at 7:30 am and I got back from our walk in time to catch most of it.
Solomon very calmly and seriously spoke about how we're victims of the politician/media network to first consider, then accept, then champion war. In fact, we seem to be putty in their hands.
Of course, when it goes on "too long" and the body bags start coming home, we find ourselves turning against it, but it's often too late to go back. From the show, it's evident that Solomon illustrates his points with not only Iraq, but Vietnam. I was intrigued by his mention of "progressive democrats"--dems who are pro-peace--and will look into the organization.
Solomon quoted Obama as saying (during his campaign, it's important to realize, not after the election) that he would end not only the war in Iraq, but end the "mindset" that led us there. This is essential if we're not to remain child killers. Ominously, though, I read on a blog that O. acknowledged after the election that statements are often made by candidates that may not be the absolute truth. He then, even more ominously, did not except himself from this failing.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The baby shower turned out to be a lot of fun. It was one of those crowded, noisy, exuberant gatherings that are often more enjoyable than the perfectly planned, staid kind. Took little T out for a walk and ran into some former neighbors with whom I chatted. The food was great--not a diet dish in sight--and I made good use of the sausage, meatballs, pasta, potato and macaroni salad, and so on--not to mention the cold beer.
Had to leave a little early to get home in time to give Pat dinner. Took him a platter and he ate every morsel, including a big slab of luscious, sugary cake. Angelic former fatty that I am, I didn't indulge in that, but distracted myself by jumping in the shower. Had my popcorn and wine and slept like a log. Nice day.
Wider Note: If it isn't already, this will make your hair turn grey:
Critical Facts Reporters Won't Report, Serious Issues which put our Lives at Risk
This illustrates one of the reasons I no longer reject conspiracy theories about 9/11, the wars, or any other direction-changing events in the U.S. and the world. That doesn't mean I'm completely convinced we've been set up in every instance, but I'm taking the possibility seriously. You can't trust the ruling class!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Shopping day: went to Staples, Acme, and Woodhaven Lumber. Talked to sister Betty and filled her in on the L.'s terrific party. Other than that, just putzed around at home. Got a web cam call from birthday boy, Mike. Saw adorable Violet and her Mommy; Vivian was downstairs playing with a neighbor friend.
Will get weighed at WW this morning to see what the damage is, then to the afternoon shower for Jen's sister back in Ewing.
Wider Note: This is from the "Fred On Everything" blog. I always feel I have to make the disclaimer that I don't agree with Fred on--well, everything, but he happens to be the kind of irreverent and entertaining writer I enjoy and this, especially the last paragraph, rings so true.
"Hillary. I don’t hate Hillary. She’s smart, tough, sane, been around, corrupt, and personally repellent as a fanged garden slug. By today’s standards, that’s a bargain.
But why the hell is she Secretary of State? How many years has she spent abroad? What languages does she speak? What does she know about the street in Karachi, Cairo, Guadalajara? She probably thinks Mumbai is what you eat with a RC Cola.
See, what’s happened is that we are ruled by an incestuous bridge club clucking to itself in what amounts to a thermos bottle. Hillary is SecState because Precedent O’Bama wants to heal rifts within the Democratic Party. It would make more sense to poison the lot, but never mind. Everything is about domestic politics. And these dismal retreads promote each other in circles. Hillary goes from governor’s wife to First Basilisk to senator to SecState. Oh help."
Later: Lost a big 0.2 for a total of 72.4 and a current weight of 127.2. I'm okay with that, considering this week's partying: dinner out, the luncheon, and the L.'s gathering. However, I do want to get back to my lightest of 125. To keep me on the straight and narrow, will weigh in next Saturday, also.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Had a terrific time at the L.'s party. Stopped first at Boscov's to get something on-sale for Joely, but he may have it already. Will check with his Mom tomorrow.
The L.s throw great gatherings and we've (I've) gone to theirs for six years running now. This is the second time I've had to go alone and it's a melancholy feeling, but I want to be there, anyway.
All the regulars were there: a small, very convivial group of four couples and, now that Pat's unable to go, three single women, including me. Last night, they had live music, too. This keyboard player--wouldn't you know--went to Holy Spirit H. S., as all but two of the party-goers did. "Joe" grew up in Atlantic City and was in school with my brother, Frank, but moved to Miami in his sophomore year.
Wider Note: Raimondo does it again on Anti-War.Com. Here's a teaser for the piece, but read it all:
"A Loud Silence: That's the response from the "antiwar" wing of the Democratic party to Obama's Iraq sellout"
Or maybe I should say, "Read it and weep."
See http://antiwar.com/

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Great fun at the Women's Club luncheon. Went with Barb H. and Pat H. and I won one of the raffle prizes--a pocketbook I like a lot. Got home by 3:00 and Pat was fine. Looking forward to the L.'s party today (starts at 4:00)--oh, the social whirl!
Wider Note: Yesterday's The Press of Atlantic City ran a picture on the front page of Obama and several of his cabinet. He had a blue tie on and so did at least two of the others. Now, I've noticed very often that Bush and his cohorts wear red ties. It's just incredible to me that whoever decides these things (the valets? Hah! More likely the costume and set designers) must consciously pick out the colors to correspond to the political camp in which the person falls. I guess the tie thing is fairly minor, but it seems to point up the degree of manipulation to which the American public is subjected. In ways subtle and blatant, large and small, we're maneuvered to where the ruling class wants us.
Along that line: In light of the confusion and unanswered questions surrounding the Mumbai tragedy, am I entertaining the notion that the whole thing was stage-managed, maybe with the connivance of the U.S.? Oh, yes, I surely am. And--something I never thought I'd consider--I'm beginning to take seriously the claims of the fringe that 9/11 was a put-up job, too. Then there's the Kennedy assassination...
It's a bad old world out there.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Went down to Ventnor to pick up Pat's records from the endocrinologist's office. Stopped at 15 South to say hello to Dee. She and her SIL have moved into the main part of the house, which she was decorating for Christmas. (Think every square inch covered with red, green, and Santa's elves.) Had a nice chat.
Went to Betty's house after, to see if everything was okay, but the key wouldn't work. Will call her today and let her know.
Later, cousin Dorothy called me to find out if our address was the same. Was sorry to hear George had a heart attack, then stroke last month. Nice talking to her, though.
We found a corpse under the hall table. I was damned if I'd touch it, so Pat did. He put it in a bag and I hurried it out to the trash. Was dismayed to hear somebody else we know has caught three of them--ugh! Pat re-set the thing and put it back.
Received the flickering "candles" from QVC (am I insane? Why would I order four of them when I need to get rid of so much Christmas stuff? However, they look lovely flickering in the windows.
Wider Note: But what's flickering in the wide world? Justin Raimondo at AntiWar.com believes the Mumbai tragedy was a put-up job. He reminds us that the Iraq war (now occupation) was launched under the pretext of a connection to 9/11 and the existence of WMDs, then goes on:
"The neat little narratives pumped out by war propagandists to rationalize acts of mass murder are an important part of any campaign to spark a conflict, so they have to be minimally convincing, or at least credible. Yet the story coming out of the Indian government is frankly incredible. The terrorists left a satellite phone conveniently placed next to the body of their ship's captain, whose throat they had slit, with the numbers of their handlers stored in memory. Very convenient...." (And here he mentions that the killers continued to get messages from cohorts!) "That little embellishment, I believe, gives the show away. Add to this the oddly unprepared – indeed, criminally negligent – role of the Indian security apparatus, and the whole thing reeks to high heaven. "Fishy" is putting it mildly."
I asked the Oracle when we could turn out the child killers and have peace in the world and he told me, "Never."

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Pleasant day. Got our first Christmas card from my friend, Karen C.--she always gets hers out early. The PT came to assess Pat; she's very nice and will come in twice a week. Got a call from the OT and she'll come next week. Old George stopped in to say hello about 3:30. I left to meet Vivian at 5:00, stopping first to pick up my BP prescription and get a new battery for my small clock.
Great time with Vivian, as ever. It's oh, such a relief to talk openly about our sometimes shitty lives as caregivers and not have to deal with uncomprehending people who spout cliches, especially "I hope he's better soon." (Do they think he's a chameleon? You don't regenerate lungs.) "You're so strong." (Sez who?) "But are you taking care of yourself?" (Everybody seems to think they're being weightily original with that one--little do they know that nine out of ten ask this inane question.) And here's the kicker that makes me want to punch the well-meaning person right in her well-meaning face (it's invariably a woman): "You must be very special to have been given such a burden" or even worse, "God only gives you what you can handle" and variations thereof.
Okay, enough of that. Here's a wider note to ponder with alarm:
"The Real News" has a piece the secret posse comitatus the government has approved. This means combat troops can be used to, among other things, put down "civil unrest," which the president can define anyway he chooses. And that suggests the first steps toward a true police state. Our peaceful little anti-war vigils in Absecon could be dispersed at gunpoint, I guess.
Oh, but don't worry. Go back to your iPod and boob tube and pay no attention to what's behind the curtain...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Braved icy rain and strong winds to go to Target yesterday and get two tops for the luncheon on Wednesday, then ran a few other errands. Aside from that, stayed in. Looking forward to dinner with Vivian tonight.
Wider Note: For those Obama hopefuls still clinging to their dreams, this from Justin Raimondo at Anti-War.com:
"The War Party's decisive influence in the Obama administration is going to be rolled out on Monday, so that even the most craven Obama-bots on the Left will be left wondering who and what they voted for. Hillary the hawk at State, Bush's warlord Robert Gates at Defense, and Gen. Jim Jones – who wants to station U.S. troops in the occupied territories under the rubric of NATO! – as national security adviser to the president. Yes, antiwar voters took a chance on Obama, reasoning that anything would be better than four more years of Bushian belligerence, yet now they discover to their chagrin that the dice are loaded."
But there's much more and the piece, entitled "The End of the Affair"* should be read in full. Here's the address:
http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13838
And there's this, from Chris Hedges, one of my favorite writers on war (in "Truthdig.com"):
"Barack Obama’s decision to increase troop levels in Afghanistan and leave behind tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines in Iraq—he promises only to withdraw combat brigades—is a failure to rescue us from the status of a rogue nation. It codifies Bush’s “war on terror.” And the continuation of these wars will corrupt and degrade our nation just as the long and brutal occupation of Gaza and the West Bank has corrupted and degraded Israel. George W. Bush has handed Barack Obama a poisoned apple. Obama has bitten it."
Those last two sentences almost took my breath away.
*Wonder how many besides me recognize the allusion to Graham Greene's book of the same name?