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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Flying Squirrels...

...are not uncommon in SC, but due to their shy demeanor and nocturnal nature they are rarely seen.  Except if you happen to wander in my backyard, where if you peek in any number of "bird houses" you may find this mother and her babies.  She's been moving from house to house each night after she has been discovered by me or one of the kids.
And what's the easiest way to tell that she's nocturnal?  Check out the size of those eyes.

Monday, May 2, 2011

19 Years Ago..., I married my wife right about now- 2:00pm.  It was then, and remains, the best decision of my life.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

(Part 2) Leslie And I Had A Night Without Kids...

... recently, so we decided to try a local restaurant for the first time in quite a while.  Now Lexington Arms Restaurant and Lounge has been serving food to locals since the 1970s.  In fact, the place still looks like 1975 and the only things missing are lava lamps, a couple of beanbags and a cigarette machine at the front door.  The clientele too are generally silver haired and have put in an extra bit of Super Poligrip in celebration of Prime Rib Friday.

Leslie and I looked around and for a moment thought about leaving, but we were already in the door and seated.  We were sort of trapped anyway because as we were being hurriedly whisked to our seats, the waitress had given us the "'s kinda slow tonight" routine, which basically is like saying I need your paltry tip so that my 4 children can eat.  Besides, I do love prime rib.

As I sat buttering my bread, I looked at Leslie and said, "We are our grandparents".  And, at that moment, we really were, sitting there in a totally outdated "lounge", surrounded by groups of chattering retirees.  We were soon all heartily eating our medium rare prime rib, sipping a small glass of wine, munching our bread.  I pictured us also eating congealed aspic salad, some warm prunes and finishing it all off with a cup of decaff, perhaps a small slice of hummingbird cake.

"Did you enjoy your meal, dear?"
"Darned tootin', Sweety, that was one peach of a meal.  Now let's go home and get ready for bed- decaff is kicking in and it's almost half past 8.  If we hurry, we can catch a 60 Minutes rerun."

Another night without kids wasted.  My sciatica was acting up anyway!

Happy Easter!

Wishing you all a happy and joyful Easter.  The Greens

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

(Part 1) Thus Begins...

...several new blogs on Greenbeans concerning Growing Older.  I'm taking on this challenge for a couple of reasons.  The biggest reason being that several of my childhood friends are beginning to look rather... worn.  I use the word "worn" because I'd like to start a movement to actually lose the word "old" as a description of a person.  In my mind, "old" seems to signify that the value of that person is declining and the end is in sight, while "worn" seems more of a description of a favorite pair of tennis shoes- a bit frayed and not as crisp as they once were, but nonetheless worthy of a few more washings and a jog around the neighborhood.

And that's exactly how I feel about my "worn" friends.  They still have great value to me, even in the face of their fading and fraying, sagging and graying minds and bodies.  Through mutual appreciations and sometimes frictions, we have been worn in a way which makes each of us feel very comfortable, the rough edges smoothed by time.  My friendships are now more about reclining and listening rather than posturing and building.  My oldest friends and I built the foundations of these relationships many years ago, and everyone knows that those are the hardest years to weather.  We have eroded in the some of the same ways and  also frayed and frazzled in different areas that somehow compliment the other; that somehow serve to bolster and renew our longtime kinships.

Yes, my friends are in so many ways like my worn and comfortable tennis shoes.  In fact, I think I'll take a few of them for a jog around the my neighborhood.  But please, have the paramedics on speed dial.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Illness Does Not Affect Individuals...

..but rather it also affects all those who love and care for the patient.  While it is true that I have only been a patient a handful of times in my life, I learned first hand the challenges of a patient dealing with a chronic illness.  While some diseases can dramatically shorten a persons life, all diseases will alter the trajectory of a life in big or small ways.  That's true of both the patient and their family.

I was 8 years old when my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  What started then as a strange numbing of half of her body and debilitating days of exhaustion eventually grew into more visible, permanent symptoms of the disease.  The days of watching my mother run or me playing basketball with her in the driveway, slowly ended with the diagnosis of that disease.  Throughout the course of more than 30 years her symptoms have progressed from a slight limp that slowed her down to her daily confinement in a wheelchair.  She remembers much of her life in milestones marked by the loss of abilities or the complications of the disease- the day she could no longer drive; when she could no longer feed herself; the time she fell from her wheelchair and broke both of her legs.

As a patient, she has been poked and prodded, admitted and observed.  Throughout her journey she's received competent care and beautifully delivered compassion.  At times along the way, however, she has also been mismanaged, misdiagnosed and forgotten.  She's been prescribed medicines which worked well to provide a better quality to her life and occasionally has taken medicines in which the benefits did not outweigh the side effects.  In solemn conversations held in sterile examination rooms she's been given probabilities of life expectancy, predictions regarding her limited and shrinking abilities and in some rare instances, hope.

Having seen her live it, I sometimes wonder what I would be like as a patient with a chronic disease.  Would I have the stamina and courage my mother has displayed through the years?  Would I have the same deep-seated faith and hope that she lives by?  I can only hope that I would.  After all, I've learned much from her over the years and she remains the greatest example of how I should face challenges in my life.

As a longtime representative for a pharmaceutical company, I often try to envision the perspective of the patient.  I attempt to look through their lens, modeling my behavior to be honorable to him or to her.  I think that by providing the correct and balanced information to the patient's healthcare provider I can make a dramatic and positive difference in the life of their patient.  And not only the patient's life, but the lives of those who love and care for them.  That's the best kind of job.  They may never know the role that I play, but that's alright.  I know, and that keeps me going.  And the life and hope of my own mother keeps me focused on the most important element of healthcare, the patient.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

NASA's Messenger...

...spacecraft has released its first image of Mercury -- the first ever glimpse of the innermost planet's dusty craters taken by a craft in orbit just over 120 miles from the planet's surface.  Mercury has the greatest range of surface temperatures of any planet in the solar system.  This ranges from -300°F on the dark side of the planet to 800°F in the late afternoon.  A single day is represented by slightly less than 60 earth days.

I've always been fascinated with Astronomy and in fact I sometimes enjoy breaking out the family telescope.  On a clear night when company has come over and joined me on the back patio I will sometimes set up that telescope, occasionally allowing guests to see their first view of the moon through the lens, shadowed craters and debris fields visible.

There's something about a dead planet or our own moon that makes the creation of this earth come alive for me.  Earth is a living planet for many reasons.  Water, atmosphere, the perfect rotation balanced by the perfect moon the exact distance from a perfectly energized sun.  While there are many coincidences in this world- our world is not one.

As Messenger and other satellites like it continue on their journeys, taking amazing pictures of lifeless planets, let's celebrate our own vibrant and living planet- always thankful of the perfect one who created her. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Cotillion... one of those words rarely used and not easily spelled.  The traditional meaning is simply, "A ball used for society to introduce young ladies".  In my house, it has become synonymous with "manners class" or that "embarrassing dance class" that occurs every few weeks.  In any case, both of my daughters have participated and, I think, enjoyed it to a degree though they would never admit it.

Last night, I was proud to accompany my youngest daughter, Jenna, to a Cotillion Ball.  She was lovely and so grown up looking.  After the dance, we enjoyed dinner together and it was a special evening.  She is growing up fast.  And she's a great dancer to boot.  Looks like those lessons are paying off.
Grant, George's son, was also there.  Here he tells Melba to, "... put a little something in the punch to kick it up a notch, and be quick about it.  I've got to get back out there and win a dance contest."  Grant walked away with 2 dance contest recognitions that night.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Few Weeks Back...

...I attended a funeral with my Father.  It was the funeral of an old friend of my dad and his brother Warren.  In health, Phil had been an energetic man with a keen wit, who could play a guitar like nobody's business. Long ago he married my Dad's first cousin Wanda, a talented singer and musician in her own right, and for many years they performed together as a duo or with a band. The last four months of his life Phil was frail and weak, battling small cell lung cancer with little hope of recovery; the music silent. 

Wanda asked my Dad to give a eulogy and he was very honored to do so.  As a part of the eulogy Dad read a letter that my Uncle Warren had written about Phil.  Warren and Phil had been inseparable friends in the early years of life and part of the letter relayed a story from their childhood which I will attempt to paraphrase:

It seems that Warren and Phil were always getting into some sort of trouble back then and even at the age of 9 or 10 they tried to find ways to make a little extra money.  While some boys that age might consider raking a yard or doing some light manual labor for a couple of dollars, Phil's ideas always seemed more centered around business to business propositions.  The idea of selling something just seemed more appealing and from his perspective there was an endless supply of resources to fulfill the needs of the locals.  For example, his grandfather had a beautiful garden overflowing with beans, cucumbers, tomatoes- perfectly free for the taking...should you not get caught.  And they never did, creating a relatively lucrative business in the neighborhood.  Demand was high- cost of goods low (free)- profits high and all parties happy.  That is, with the exception of Grandpa who scratched his head in dismay at what must have been the worst infestation of rabbits and green bean eating deer he had seen in 50 years.

On one occasion, Phil and Warren were walking along the railroad tracks and from the corner of his eye, Phil spotted an old, discarded commode laying along the wood-line.  Hearing a train approaching in the distance, the boys decided to see what would happen should pieces of the commode be run over by a speeding freight train.  Using large rocks, they began breaking the discarded crapper into hand sized pieces and eagerly piled it on the tracks.  Soon enough the powerful train ran over the pieces of white porcelain creating a puff of dust, crushing them into a fine white powder. 

This, of course, stirred in Phil an idea.  His sister had a couple of lovely powder boxes sitting in the bathroom.  Having "borrowed" the boxes, Phil and Warren filled them with the newly created white dust now piled on the railroad tracks.  And you guessed it, a new door to door sales product was introduced to the unsuspecting public.  Phil and Warren's Toilet Powder was born.

And both boxes sold by mid afternoon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

So I Get This Call...

...the other day from my friend Rickwell who says that he'd like to write about the Greenbeans Blog.  Rick's opinion of my musings in this forum are particularly interesting to me because he, along with another longtime pal- George, got me involved in blogging in the first place.

Thanks, Rickwell, for the plug and for the encouragement.  You have brought some added joy to my life with the introduction of posting my thoughts and for that I am grateful. 

To see what Rick penned, click here: