Stream of Consciousness

I guess Big Al and I have gotten to the age that most of our thoughts are an “Organ Recital”.  Thursday, we were worrying about our skin and the dermatologist.  This morning Big Al went to the gastroenterologist for a pre-colonoscopy consult.  I know, more than you wanted to know.

Then we went to the Toyota place to get the inspection done on the car.  I didn’t have any idea that we had had it for two years already, but I guess that’s right.

Daughter-in-law Erika’s birthday was on Thursday, so she and Bill went to the big city overnight while her sister-in-law, Kristie, kept the kids.  I bet they had a good time.  Kristie said the kids were still up when she went to sleep about 2:00 a.m., and at last count, Ian hadn’t surfaced yet.  Kate staggered out about 10:30 or 11:00.  Next week they have to start going to bed earlier and getting up earlier to get ready for school hours.  School starts for them the second week of August, I think.

My hanging baskets, remember them, 

didn’t get watered the whole time I was in San Antonio switching grandkids.  Mr. Watters either didn’t notice that they were dying of thirst, or didn’t bother.  For whatever reason, the only thing blooming when I left was the little yellow flowers.  They were pretty sad when I got back.

But not to be deterred, I kept dumping water on them and, low and behold,

this one seems to be recovering.  But it’s not the little yellow flowers that are coming back, it’s the white and purple ones that survived!  Very strange.  If it ever is cool enough either in the evening or early morning, I’ll probably try to pull the dead stuff out, but I’m afraid to do too much in case the roots are all bound up together.

I was also finally able to get a picture of the livestock that provides entertainment for me on my fence outside my window.

He was actually on the tree, and I think he thought he had turned brown and wasn’t visible, because he stayed really still while I took his picture.  Sue Ellen Hall also has one in her yard and identified it for me as Anolis carolinensis carolinensis – Green Anole, male.

I gave a speech in Toastmaster yesterday morning.  All my manuals have been packed, so I just did a general speech (I know 40 lashes with a wet noodle for not doing a manual speech).  I did an introduction to my Nook. 

In preparing for the speech I figured out that I have paid about $51 for books since I have had it, and I have over 20 books on it.  I’ve been able to read several things that were not in paperback yet (I rarely buy hardback books) for $9.99 or less.  Barnes & Noble also has weekly free e-books and bundles of classics and “sweet little love stories” for less than $1 a piece.  My Nook has a couple of games on it, can connect to the internet, has the capability of reading to me, can subscribe to daily and weekly magazines and newspapers, and more.  Couple that with an adjustable type-face – up to VERY LARGE, and the fact that I’m not killing trees to have something to read, I figure I’ve more than paid for it (even though I did get it when it was first out – so it was $249 instead of the current $199 price). 

Another great thing is that I can get a new book whenever I want.  I have a long list on my e-Book Wish List at the Barnes & Nobles website and whenever I want a new book, I just connect and buy it.  That means, when we’re traveling, I don’t have to load myself down with several books to take with me, in case I finish something.  Also, whenever I read a review of a book and think I want to read it, I can go to the website and put it on my Wish List.  I used to read about something and then forget before I went to the store again.

While we were waiting for the car, I finished one of the free ones – a mystery, private detective one that I don’t even remember the name of now.  Not really awful, but certainly not memorable.  But I did get

“The Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson.  It’s the second in the series that started with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  I’ve just read about 10 pages of it, but it looks just as good as the last one.  I may have mentioned that I saw the Swedish movie of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on Netflix with sub-titles, and thought they did a really great job.  I’ve heard someone is going to do an English/American version.  I hope they don’t mess it up.  The Swedish version was just perfect!

On my mind (what little of it there is)

My sister Harriet ( is recovering from plastic surgery for basel cell carcinoma.  She had a small spot on her forehead (it’s been there for years and she kept asking her doctor to look at it, but was told it was rosacia or something).  It started being a little more irritated and bled occasionally, so she finally went to a new dermatologist who immediately did a biopsy and told her is was cancer (although it’s the “good” kind of skin cancer – rarely spreads and rarely metastesizes).  She was sent to a plastic surgeon and it turned out to be much more extensive than anyone expected – still not too dangerous, but much larger.  It actually extended from the hairline to her eyebrow under the skin and it required a skin graft from her shoulder to close the wound.  She’s going to be fine.  She had the surgery in June and the scars are beginning to fade already, but this drove me to my dermatologist to get a couple of little places on my face looked at.

I’m 66 years old (almost – 15 more days until my birthday) and, of course, I was a sun-worshiper in my youth.  I have pretty fair skin – the legacy of my English grandmother on one side and my Scotch grandmother on the other, so I’ve had my share of sunburns.  Anyway, the doctor looked at the little scaly places on my cheek and nose and immediately went for the liquid nitrogen. 

You can see the two places that he froze on my cheek and the bridge of  my nose.  He said they were definitely pre-cancerous!

I had another little place on the other side of my nose where my glasses have pressed for years and years.  It had formed a hard little nodule under the skin – it had never bled, but occasionally it would get irritated.  He seemed much more concerned about it (although I wasn’t very concerned because it was very small – less than half the size of a pencil eraser – and I’ve always read not to worry about anything smaller than that).  Anyway, he numbed it and “snipped” a piece of it to send off for biopsy.  THAT word will get your attention real quick.  Now I have to wait a week to find out whether I need to go to the plastic surgeon, too.

If you have ANY question about any little spots, particularly if you are very fair, or have had several sunburns in your life – get thee to a dermatologist – NOW!

I’ve been following with interest the stories on Twitter and Facebook about the protests in Arizona.  Thought other people might be interested in this blog post from one of my friends in California.

I’ve also decided that I will join the boycott of Target and Best Buy for their donations to an anti-gay candidate for public office.  If you feel called, you should sign the petition at  I was impressed by the mother and grandmother who took all her purchases back to Target in protest.

And that’s all I have to task you with today!

And that’s the truth.  Bleth…

Random thoughts

The calendar on WordPress (see sidebar) always makes me a little crazy.  It starts with Monday (instead of Sunday) and I know that, but a quick glance always makes me do a double-take.  Very unsettling.  (This has now been corrected – Many thanks to Rae@the

I spent yesterday reaccomplishing my QuickBooks for the year.  I hope I got everything right.  At least the bank account and the loans are reconciled with the most recent statements, and I don’t think I have but one outstanding invoice.  If anyone else owes me money, please feel free to remit same.

We’re still not sure why the Home Server reverted to its origins and set everything, even my Excel files back to February.  Oh, well, I don’t think anything irreplacable was lost.

We’re kind of tightening our belts around here, trying to get some more money saved so when we finally sell the house and move we can take some time traveling to Tacoma.  We’ve managed to fritter away most of the money we made on the estate sale, so we need to replace that so we can furnish our house when we get there.  We’re still kind of camping out with the absolute minimum of stuff.  1 table, two chairs, bedroom furniture (although we desperately need a new mattress – not going to buy one yet – waiting to buy it when we get to Tacoma), two recliners (in terrible shape – will get new ones when we get to Tacoma), side table and lamp, and our computer tables.  I’m using the credenza (I sold my desk), and Big Al still has his desk, but it’s ready for disposal.  That’s about all.  We still have a couch and a couple of living room chairs that we’re not taking with us, and they aren’t in the rooms we use – just there for showing the house.

I’m up as speaker for Toastmasters on Friday, and I’m totally without ideas.  I understand my preacher friends who have to come up with something to say every week and believe me, I don’t envy them.  At least they have the lectionary to give them a starting place.  Maybe I’ll do a review of the books on my Nook.  That’s an eclectic bunch!

Summer is a slow time, although we did have a pretty good storm yesterday afternoon that cooled things off, it’s back to the 90’s again today.  At least there a couple storms forecast for today, again.

I got my Netflix queue mixed up between DVDs and Instant, so we’re getting “Sleepless in Seattle” between Episodes 4 and 5 of Season 4 of West Wing.  We’ll send it back straight away, and we’re one day ahead, so maybe we won’t get too much out of whack.


When Bill was here last weekend, one of the little jobs I asked him to do was to take the .5 terrabyte external drive that had been attached to my computer and move it to the Windows Home Server. 

(Isn’t it cute?  Basic model is 1 Terrabyte, expandable to 5 Terrabytes)

I figured it would be fine.  We had copied everything from the external drive to the WHS when the server was installed, and now I just wanted to have it available to back up the Home Server.  Plenty of room, no problems.

Before we removed the old external drive we again checked that everything on it was duplicated on the WHS.

Woe is me!  Somehow QuickBooks got confused and overwrote my active file with a back-up from last February.  Consequently it lost all the entries since then.  Thank goodness I have hard copies of everything and also thank goodness I haven’t been doing much business this year.  Gradually reducing my client load, etc.

But now I have a full afternoon ahead of me messing with reaccomplishing my QuickBooks!  Aaarrrggghhh!

Oh, well, at least it will give me something to do.  I’m not playing bridge with the Tuesday and Friday group any more.  There’s one fellow who can be very obnoxious about telling other people how they should play.  He finally got so bad that one of the women asked Big Al to talk to him and ask him to tone it down a little.  The upshot of the whole thing was that he took offense at Al for saying something to him – even though all Al did was report what other people were saying.  In any case, both he and his wife have been just plain rude to us the last couple of time we were there, refusing to speak to us even when we were their partners, and generally making me feel snubbed.  I decided that I didn’t need to be around people who were behaving as though they were 13-year-olds.  It’s not worth the lining of my stomach and my irritation at their juvenile behavior.  So I won’t be playing bridge with them any more.

This will give me some more time to read and maybe do some knitting.  I had neglected my reading except when I was on my way to bed, and I have several books that have been calling to me.  I’m working on Carol Howard’s “Tribal Church”, and I also have a book on Internet Evangelism on my nightstand.  I had told Carol that I would write a review of her new book, and it should be out soon, so I’ll have that to read as well.  Those are just the things that are serious reading.  I also have a bunch of mysteries, sweet little love stories, and other mind candy on my wish list at Barnes & Nobles to go on my Nook!

I’ve finished the scarf for Kate that I started when she was here, so I’ll probably get some more yarn and get started on something else that I can work on in the evenings when the TV is on.  Look out, family, I see something knitted in your future for Christmas!

Ian and his Asberger’s Syndrome

Ian is my #1 grandchild.  He was born in Metarie, LA, on February 10, 1998.  He’s 12 years old.

Ian has borderline Asberger’s Syndrome which is on the Autism spectrum.  He is mainlined in school and was on the honor roll the last couple of years.

It’s tough for people who don’t have close contact with someone with Asberger’s to understand exactly what the problem is.  For starters, kids with Asberger’s have VERY advanced vocabularies, which lead adults who interact with them to believe they are very advanced and much smarter than other kids.  They often have fairly high IQs, partially because the IQ tests are based on verbal skills.  They may, and often do, have problems like AD-HD and dyslexia and it’s difficult to cope with any of these problems separately.

The major problem with folks with Asberger’s is that they have difficulty connecting with other people.  They really don’t understand that the things they are thinking and feeling are not thought and felt by everyone else.  Because they think everyone is thinking and feeling the same thing, they assume that any differences they see in other people’s actions are deliberate insults to them.  They also are highly rule oriented, and feel like anyone who disobeys what they understand the rules to be are deliberately insulting them.

For instance, several years ago Ian and his father were attending “Donut Day” at his school.  Parents were invited to have “Donuts for Breakfast” with the kids.  The rule was that each child was allowed to take one donut.  When Ian saw one of the boys in his class taking a second donut, he lost it!  He was ready to confront the kid and make him put the second donut back.  His father stopped him and offered Ian his donut, so that now Ian would have two donuts, too.  But no, that wasn’t what Ian wanted.  He didn’t want another donut for himself.  He just didn’t want the other kid to have a second because “…the rule said – one donut each.”

Folks with Asberger’s also are usually one-track-minded.  This can also lead the uniniated to think they are smarter or more advanced than they really are.  If a child with Asberger’s becomes interested in dinosaurs, for instance, she will read, research, Google, etc., everything she can get her hands on about dinosaurs.  Woe be unto the teacher who is ready to move on past dinosaurs and talk about the solar system.  Until his interest in captured in another subject, he will only talk about, study about, read about dinosaurs.  A prime example of this is the character of the 10-year-old boy on the TV show “Parenthood” (Watch the episode where Max is diagnosed on Hulu – )

Because of the one-track-mindedness inherent in Asberger’s, Ian has difficulty following complex instructions.  If you give him instructions with single tasks, he’s highly proficient in following them, but if you say, “Go to your room and get your history book, and then bring it here, and read two chapters, and when you’re through reading, write a paragraph about what you read,” he will have a hard time getting past going to his room and getting his history book.  It isn’t that he doesn’t want to read the chapters, or that he is reluctant to write his paragraph, he just can’t easily follow all the “and thens.”  This is something else that folks need to remember when dealing with others with Asberger’s.

“Boston Legal” also explored adult Asberger’s in the character of Jerry Espenson.  Jerry shows a very severe form of Asberger’s, but his success in legal research in attributable to, rather than adversely impacted by his Asberger’s.

In any case, Ian is learning to control his rages and his anti-social behavior and to embrace his Asberger’s.  For the most part he is just like any other 12-year-old kid who loves video games, and science fiction TV and tormenting his younger sister.  He’s a great kid, with a wonderful sense of humor and an interest in learning about his environment and history. 

If you are interested in reading more about Asberger’s Syndrome, I highly recommend the book “Look Me in the Eye” by John Elder Robison.  (Read a review of the book and see an interview with the author here. )

Clean, quiet, and lonesome

Got up pretty early this morning to see the travelers on their way. 

Bill and Kate gathered up their stuff,

headed out to the car, and left.

The living room is clean again, but empty.

We went to church, had lunch, and read a little until we fell asleep in the quiet.

It’s lonesome with just Big Al and me in the house,

and it’s way too hot to go anywhere or do anything.  (That temperature is down from 101 deg less than an hour ago.)

Staycation with Kate

Kate and I arrived home from San Antonio on Sunday pretty nearly on time on Amtrak.  Kate chose to go to the Olive Garden for supper.

She enjoyed her dinner of cheese ravioli.

After we got home she entertained G’Dad and me with a style show.

The next morning she and G’Dad went to the grocery store in the morning and selected cereal for her breakfasts, cokes, and lunches that she liked and ice cream for a nighttime snack.  Then she and I went to the movie and saw Toy Story 3 in 3-D.  We went to Studio Movie Grill and she really enjoyed being served her snacks at her seat.

On Tuesday morning G’Dad went to play bridge and Kate stayed asleep until very late.

I had set up the netbook for Netflix, and she stayed up late to watch movies.

We went to Chow Thai for lunch and she stopped to pose with the Buddhas on the way out.

On Tuesday afternoon we went to JoAnn’s and got some craft supplies to work on a “doll house” for the family of pinecones she found by the fireplace.

We also got some yarn for a scarf because she thought she would like to learn how to knit.  Unfortunately, she soon decided that she would like Grandmother to finish the scarf for her.

Wednesday for lunch we went to Backyard Burgers and she had a baked potato.  Then she and I came home and worked on our crafts while G’Dad played bridge at the church.  She also spent a lot of the afternoon watching her pre-teen shows on TV.

On Thursday, G’Dad took her up to McKinney to spend the day with Erin, her best friend when she lived there.

On Friday, I went to Toastmasters’ and then to bridge while G’Dad stayed home with Kate.  She worked on her crafts some more, and watched a little more TV.

She made several pipe cleaner people to consort with the pine cone people in the doll house.

She was also very helpful watering the flowers that are really suffering with the heat (100 deg. the last two days).

Even though she has made a bit of a mess in the living room where she is sleeping, she promises to clean it up before she goes home.

I’ll really miss having her around when she gone, just like I miss having Ian around now that he’s back home.  They are both great kids who are willing to run errands (like fetching the mail) and set the table and help with emptying the dishwasher and all kinds of things.  It’s nice to have little helping hands around, although I love them just for themselves.

Stuff I’ve been contemplating

I’ve been thinking about and worrying over lots of “Stuff” lately.  Here’s a blog post quoting a speech by Barbara Kingsolver (if you aren’t a fan of her books – you better start being.)  This is in light of not just the tragedy in the gulf, but in response to a lot of my angst about global warming, over-consumption, etc.

I’ve also been really worked up over, and then resigned to a lot of the actions and inactions of the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  This blog addressed a few of my issues there.

As Kevin Costner said in Bull Durham, I’m “…dealing with a lot of shit, here!.”

I’ve also had grandchildren with me for the past couple of weeks, so my time has not been my own.  I’ll post a look at our Staycation with Kate tomorrow.

Kid Swap

On Friday, Ian and I got on the train in Dallas about noon and rode to San Antonio.  Bill and Kate got on the train in New Orleans about the same time and also rode to San Antonio.  Ian and I got in about 9:30 p.m. and checked into a motel, and Bill and Kate joined us about 2:00 in the morning. 

Saturday morning we got up (late) and had breakfast (supplied by the motel) and then the kids had some pool time.

Kate likes the shallow end, and Ian is happier clinging to the side.

Then we took a taxi to the Mercado.

I sat in the shade and listened to the Andean flute players while Bill and the kids did some window shopping.

Then we went to Mi Tierra for lunch.

Ian had beef and cheese nachos.

Kate had Chicken tenders (with queso dip).

Bill had cheese enchiladas (what else?).

And, of course, I had guacamole salad!  Yum!

Then we walked over and waited for the trolley to take us to the Alamo.  (That’s Kate’s hair waiting for the trolley.)

Bill and Ian had been to the Alamo a couple of years ago, but Kate had never seen it (and she’s the only one born in Texas!)

I went and sat under one of the big, old live oak trees in the shade while they paid homage to the shrine.

Kate enjoyed walking on the wall of the Memorial Fountain to Bowie, Crockett, Bonham, and Travis.

Bill and Ian took advantage of the cool under the oak to cool off before continuing on our sightseeing trek.

Kate liked the statue of the Mexican soldier.

Kate and Ian posed with the cannon.

Then we went out on the River Walk and looked around for a while.  (Getting hotter all the while.)

In an effort to cool off a litte, we took a ride on the river boat.  This is Ian thinking about taking a nap.

By this time we were exhausted and ready for supper, so we went to Acenar and had more Mexican food.

Then back to the motel for more pool time.  Ian is still hanging on to the ladder.

And Kate is still in the shallow end.

I watched the kids in the pool while Bill took a much needed nap.  Then he and Ian got packed up and left to get on their train back to New Orleans, leaving at midnight.

Kate and I got up EARLY on Sunday morning and caught the train back to Dallas at 7:00 a.m.

Kate napped and played with her DS and watched the world go by, until we arrived back in Dallas about 3:30 p.m.