Saturday, June 26, 2010

Food and Clients and Insurance

I am monstrously happy this morning, having awakened late. The late rising came, I am sure, as a result of the fact that I know I must go to the office today to get some backlogged work out of the way and to prepare for a meeting tomorrow with a new short-term client (tomorrow, I attend a membership meeting, then Tuesday their board meeting followed by facilitating their strategic planning session Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday). The new client work is actually interesting; I like clients that come, let me help them clear the weeds, then go away and leave me alone until they need more help.

Having awakened late and having had a desire for food, I went to work. I diced some remnants of turkey we had frozen after roasting a turkey at some dim point in the past. Then I chopped some onion and red and green bell peppers and two Roma tomatoes and some jalapenos and then nuked (and then removed the skin from) some red potatoes which I cut in cubes. I sauteed the turkey and peppers and onions, then added the potatoes and finally the tomatoes and then, when the pan was awash in color, I added four beaten eggs. In no time, I had a strange breakfast, just in time for my wife to join me to share in the wonder. It needed salt and pepper and some salsa, but other than that it was a nice meal. After I had already gotten deep into this process, my wife mentioned that she had purchased some chorizo, but it was too late to change course. Plus, I started salivating about what might be tomorrow's breakfast of chorizo con juevos.

Now, I must drag myself away from this keyboard and addictive screen and go to my office to do my duty.

Oh, before I forget: we learned yesterday that our insurance costs are going up some cases, the choices of coverage are increasing 100% or more. The very basic plan for which we have been paying for our employees at 100%, which cost us $350 per month, is rising to $428 per month, about 22%. In order to keep the coverage for employees, we have to pay at least 80% of the premium. Because we have been unable to get our clients' fees to increase this year and have been unable to get more business (except this little one-off strategic planning gig), we're going to have to pass on the increased cost to our staff, so we won't be paying 100% of their insurance any longer. They're going to have to contribute. And this is at a time we cannot afford to give any raises. Life sucks, sometimes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Personal Control

Here I am again, creeping too close to the edge. I did that once before and killed my blog in the process, replacing it with one younger, more vibrant, and immune to the wisdom of experience. But it's not immune really, is it? Reality strikes me hard in the face when it's least expected and least welcomed.

Youth is wasted, even on those who think they appreciate the wisdom of age. They don't. They can't. And they never will. They can't because they are afflicted with youth. Youth is a fatal experience with a blank and, for some, unhappy ending.

It's not my intent to be dull and gray and depressing. I could deceive myself, the way I often do, and behave as if I were deliriously happy. But that would be the epitome of deceit, awash in the odor of despair.

So, truth will out, in the end. We shall all know the truth, and it will crush our spirits and end our existence.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Roger & Robin: Wish them Well

I've been worried about my wife the last few days, but I've also been worried about a couple of blogger friends. The New Dharma Bums, Roger & Robin, learned recently that Roger has colon cancer. He's going in for major surgery next Monday and is expected to be in the hospital for 5-8 days.

Most of what I know about them I've read in Robin's posts on their blog or on Facebook. I've never met them and, frankly, don't expect to. But somehow I feel close to them and their troubles are very troubling to me.

So, for the moment, I'm hoping my good thoughts for them will help them deal with this very upsetting situation. I hope you join me in wishing them well.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Canes or Buddhas

It's hard to be civil. To almost anyone. Most people who expect civility from me deserve a thump alongside their heads with a hardwood cane, instead.

Today, I realized an unplanned departure from the office, followed by a drive among tree-lined residential streets, can save people from sharp thumps alongside their heads with hardwood canes. I returned to the office ready to gently choke the life out of people, rather than bludgeon them to death with a cane. That's progress. Before long, I'll be chanting and encouraging people to spend time with their own personal Buddhas.

Monday, June 21, 2010


We went to the doctor today to find out more about my wife's "inappropriate shock." It turns out she had an unexpected defibrilation of her atrium, which was not part of the plan. The doctor wants to treat it with medication instead of ablation. The medication is such that it can change the electrochemical attributes of the heart, so a hospital stay is necessary when beginning the medication to ensure that any problems caused by the medication (which apparently would start immediately) could be addressed in hospital immediately. So, it's looking like she will go into the hospital for two days next week.

It's not supposed to be any big deal. No invasive procedures, just observation. But I don't like her to have to spent time in the hospital. She'll go in Wednesday, which means I cannot be with her because of a strategic planning consultation I'm doing. But I'll be done by 2 or 3, so I'll immediately go to see how's she's doing.

I do hate having commitments that I can't break. I don't like it at all.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Yesterday, my wife and I decided to take a little drive. We headed northwest to Duncan, Oklahoma, the crepe-myrtle capital of the State of Oklahoma. I have to say, I was unimpressed with their showing of crepe-myrtles (or, rather, severe lack of). Many other things failed to impress me about Duncan, too, including the town's failure to make note in any visible way (that we saw) that Duncan was the birthplace/hometown of Hoyt Axton (late singer/songwriter/actor), Ron Howard (actor/director), and Jeanne Kirkpatrick (former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations).

But, Duncan had some redeeming values. Jonny's at Oak Tree had better-than-average chicken-fried steak. We saw some beautiful birds...brilliant yellow bellies with dark wings...on the site of a museum as we drove through. And the price of real estate in Duncan is very, very attractive.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau website is abysmal and badly outdated. We had intended to eat at the Cornerstone Grill, which we found on the CVB website. The place appeared to have been long closed. The Chamber of Commerce site was a bit better, but neither site seemed to say a word about Ron Howard or Hoyt Axton. Instead, the pride seems to be in the fact that: 1) the town was a prime stop on the Chisholm Trail; 2) Halliburton has a large facility just east of town; and 3) the town is deeply associated with the oil industry.

The one highly redeeming feature of Duncan, Oklahoma was something we stumbled onto on our way out of time: J & M's Fried Pies. If ever you go to Duncan, you must try the fried pies. They have a very nice selection of fruit pies, including sugar-free fruit pies. And they have superb selection of meat pies, as well. We had fruit pies for dessert and took a couple of meat pies home with us (two different types) for an evening meal. Very, very good, in my estimation! In fact, the fried pies were good enough to warrant a return trip to Duncan.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Tonight was going along just fine until my favorite wife stepped into the family room where I was watching news on television. She asked if I wanted a cracker and I responded, "yes." As she was handing me the box, she let loose with a very loud "oooohh!!!!!" and dropped the box of crackers.

She had just experienced her first "shock" from her internal cardio-defibrillator. She was fine, though quite startled and more than a little scared. I was startled and extremely concerned about her. I had her lie down on the bed and I pushed the button on the bedside machine that "interrogates" her ICD and, after one false attempt, the data in her device was captured and sent off to her physician's office for review.

We then called her doctor's office (neither of us remembered whether we were supposed to). The call-back doctor assured us it was not necessary and said only that we should call the office in the morning so they could have my wife in to determine why she had been shocked. Normally, the call-back doctor said, the devices go off when they are needed, i.e., when the heart's rhythm is not proper and could thus cause sudden cardiac arrest. But not to worry, he said. Call 911 if it goes off again tonight, he said; otherwise, don't sweat it.

If the device was simply working as it should, it saved my wife's life tonight. The purpose is to shock the heart back into a regular rhythym when it gets so badly out of rhythym that the heart is about to suddenly stop beating.

I'm not sure how to feel right now. But I know my eyes are tearing up and I'm shaking and can't seem to stop.

Who, Me? Get Me to a Geezery?

The news was good today. The expert leak-detector plumber guy found no leaks. None. No leaks in the water supply pipes. No leaks in the sewer pipes. So, the foundation did not create horrors that will live long after me. At least I don't think so. If the plumber can be trusted.

So, I am dancing a jib and imbibing heavily of liquid euphoria. The world's a wonderful place. I'm celebrating and I want everyone to celebrate with me. Orgasms for everyone, on me!

Next step in this long and laborious process is to have the long-since-purchased carpet actually installed in the house. Thanks to a goddamn client's political infighting, I could not schedule it for next week because I had to schedule virtually every day next week for a doomsday conference call. So, I scheduled it for July 6-7, just so I could ruin my potential days off in connection with our nation's celebration of its golden years and impending decay and ultimate disintegration. But my client finally clamped onto next Monday, so maybe I can reschedule and get the carpet in early!

One day after the carpet is installed, I shall revise the appearance of the rest of this place. I'll turn a 1970s ranch into a 2010+ Wright-inspired celebration of clean lines and simple structures. Or maybe not.

Thank you for reading this and for not (publicly) calling me all the names in the book. I'm thinking...maybe I should go to a geezery, a place where old men insist on capturing their youth and locking it away to prevent its inevitable escape.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hoyt Axton Worth Hearing

More Hoyt Axton

Boney Fingers

More Hoyt Axton

Taylor Pie

Thanks to my brother who led me to find "Taylor Pie," who once was Susan Taylor who sang in the Pozo Seco Singers in Corpus Christi many years ago. I really like this:

You Won't Notice

I have many things I could share with you, but since you so rarely visit, you won't notice they're missing. It's too bad. You might have liked the photos and the story about me getting the bad stitch in my side after hearing my self tell a confusing, and completely backward, story and then laughing uncontrollably for a long and painful time after.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Saturday, I am getting together with a good "chunk" of my family to celebrate a brother's birthday and otherwise enjoy the company of people I love. I wish more of us could be there, but life and commitments and work and money conspire to make it tough. But I'm looking forward to seeing my oldest brother and his wife, my next brother (birthday boy), my next brother, my niece (daughter of birthday boy) and her husband, and my nephew (oldest son of oldest brother). I wish I could see birthday boy's son and his wife and my nephew's girlfriend and my oldest brother's youngest son and my oldest brother's wife's chi'ren and their spouses and young-uns, etc., and my wife's sister (and live-in sinner) and brother, but, again, there's a conspiracy of separation that makes it impossible.

Next year, birthday boy has a major birthday and my sister and my wife also have milestone birthdays in the same month. So, I'm going to try to convince the whole famn damily to make plans for a major celebration and get-together next year.

We lost my sister this year and reality says there are not too many more years left for the older of us in this remaining group. We have to make plans to all get together. If it's important enough, we'll make it happen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Our House...Is a Holey House

This is our dining room. Isn't it beautiful? Normally, it does not have two huge holes in the floor, nor is the carpet missing. Nor are the walls covered with plastic sheeting to prevent concrete chips from the jackhammer's work from damaging the walls. But then, normally we are not in the midst of expensive non-cosmetic foundation repairs. Goddamn foundation!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Fred's Texas Cafe

We drove to Fort Worth for lunch on Saturday, our destination being a place we'd stumbled across a few years ago while on one of our aimless drives, a place called Fred's Texas Cafe on Currie Street. That time, though, we just had a beer and took in the quirky southwest ambiance of the funky old bar and diner. Since then, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives discovered the place and dramatically increased its business. Now, though, the business is apt to include large numbers of geezers and thirty-something yuppies who live in the recently-built urban loft-style condos that are going up all around the area.

Since that first accidental introduction to the place, we'd wanted to go back. But after my wife saw the DD&D episode, it took on a new urgency...the food was said to be exceptional.

I can attest only that the Diablo Burger (a huge thing with chipotles, cheese, pickles, grilled onions, mustard, and lettuce) is wonderful! Whlie it's an absolute mess to eat, it's a remarkably good burger. The fries that come with it are truly home-made and exceptionally good, as well. When coupled with an ice-cold beer, as mine was today, the meal is otherworldly in its goodness. My wife had a patty melt that she said she liked very much; I tasted it and it was good, but it paled in comparison to thte Diablo Burger.

It was far too hot today to sit outdoors in the patio area (temperatures topped 100 degrees), but we peeked in and decided it would be a great little place if the temperatures had been bearable. It reminded me of what I want my back yard to look like.

Oh, the photos: first one is my burger, second one is my wife's patty melt. Used the cheesy cell-phone camera, so the quality isn't very good...but the food was.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Your Wildest Dreams

Every time I hear this song, I think back to a time when my life was very different. I wonder if I'm the only one who wonders whether...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Happy Books

Reminder to self: Find and read these books. Derek and Sissela Bok, a husband and wife team of academics (he retired as President of Harvard, she is Senior Visiting Fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies and a former member of the Pulitzer Prize Board) have written two books on happiness (completely separately) that I think will be fascinating reads.

(For more, go here.

(For more, go here.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Dark Night of the Soul

A friend told me I was going through a dark night of the soul. That's her explanation for the way I've been feeling lately. Dissatisfied, alone, wishing I could pin down what's on my mind that's making me feel morose and disconnected and acutely aware of the fact that I don't matter. She told me it's one of the toughest things I'll ever go through. That's a scary thought.

Maybe I am experiencing a dark night of my soul, though, as I told her, I don't buy into the concept of a soul. But I think she sees something, knows something, that I don't know. She has connected more dots than I. She's someone who knows, deeply, about introverts, but who is someone I believe to be deeply extroverted. That's an unusual combination, though not a contradiction.

Perhaps my sister's death a few months ago contributed to whatever this is I'm experiencing. It's shocking to realize that a powerful piece of one's life can be irrevocably ripped from it with no explanation, no reason, and no recourse. One's "power" quickly comes into question and a realization sets in: one has no power of any consequence. The world is capable of instantly rendering powerless and irrelevant one's control over even the smallest aspect of one's life. "The world" is my only phrase for it. Circumstance or chance or coincidence are other words for this strange movement without motive in the universe.

There are days, still, when I think of something I want to tell her and it strikes me, almost instantly, that I can't.

I don't think that's entirely it, though. My friend says all of us, when we get to this age (which could be between 40 and 80, I suppose), experience it. She suggests I look around. I don't see it. But that's because I tend not to talk to people about anything other than the mundane. I don't know people with whom I'd want to share anything more personal. But I do long for those conversations. Conversations about the meaning of life, or the lack thereof, the motives we humans have for all we do or don't, the emotions that have such strong control that they overtake the physical body and direct it in ways the mind typically cannot. You know, teenage angst. Seriously! That's sort of what it feels like; teen angst. At 56, I'm too damn old for teen angst.

All my life I've felt compelled to hide my real emotions from most people because I'd be considered weak if I shared them. A precious few people have seen and heard my emotional meltdowns that can occur with no precipitating event. I learned early on, mostly from my school mates, I suspect, that raw emotions were not to be shared because they bespoke of weakness and ineptitude. People who are too emotional are looked on with disdain and pity. At this point in my life, I feel a growing compulsion to respond to such attitudes with ferocious accusations against a person's emotional capabilities and intellectual capacity. A person with even moderate intellectual capacity, I reason, should be able to understand and appreciate...and share...deep emotion that is triggered by shallow experience.

This is going nowhere, fast. I don't know where I want it to go, but here isn't it. The destination was missed and the route has been closed. Maybe this is just another symptom of a dark night of the soul.