Monday, November 30, 2009

Pay Attention

While reading It's Margaret's blog, Leave it Where Jesus Flang it this morning, I was reminded of the Miserable Offender's rendition of "Pay Attention" on their Album "God Help Us."  The words and music were written by Deborah Griffen Bly, half of the duo (Ana Hernandez was the other half).  It's Advent and we all need to Pay Attention.  It's part of the Advent Message. Every Advent I listen to their album "Keepin' the Baby Awake" and wish they were still recording.  I find myself wanting to sing the hymns in church the way they recorded them.

Pay Attention (words and music by D.G. Bly)
Are we almost there!
How much longer till I'm safe in bed at home!
How much money do I owe for what I own!
How much left to pay!

Pay attention
Pay attention
This is it, more or less
Who would ever guess
This is the best of times
This is the worst of times
And it's passing
Pay attention.

Is it over yet!
How much longer does the hidden road go on!
How much farther till I cross the Rubicon!
How much toll to pay! [Chorus]

This isn't where I thought I'd be—
I ignored my own design
But if you're here, if you're with me
I like it fine.  I like it fine...
Someone tells a joke
Someone marries, someone else is giving birth
Someone's praying, someone's buried in the earth
All of us will pay—[Chorus]

We tend to just go through life, not paying attention and life just goes on, so Pay Attention, notice, think, act, serve.  We're waiting for the baby Jesus to come, but not really paying attention that he already has come and is here with us.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Izzie— Sunday Morning

The vet just called.  Izzie is complaining about being caged.  When they let her out to walk and pee and such, her tail wags and wags.  She wants to be around people.  In the cage "she vocalizes."  I assume that means she's either whimpering or barking. Probably both and she's very likely pawing the bottom of the cage. The vet said she would be better off at home since she's walking pretty well.  They will give me instructions on her care.

Instead of going to church, I'm going to go get her, even though I love the First Sunday of Advent. I finished Morning Prayer an hour ago, so that will have to do.

UPDATE:  Sunday evening.  Well she's home.  I had to wait a bit to pick her up.  I have no idea what they were doing.  The vet tech told me they had separated Izzie out from the other dogs and that she was quite a character.  She just needs to be around people.  I was shown how to do physical therapy with her.  We tried it out at the hospital and Izzie was less than cooperative.  Mainly it's massaging her back and back legs and working her legs four times a day.  She has two medicines she has to take.  One is prednisone and the other an antibiotic.  You should see her.  She has a rectangular bald patch on her back with seven staples in the middle.  I just took this picture of her battle scar.  You will have to click on it to see it in its full g(l)ory.

We took a little nap after we got home and now she's resting after a bit of food.  She won't let me out of her sight.  Her activities are supposed to be restricted, but mine are too.  She's worth it.  Right now she's resting on the floor at my feet.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Update on Izzie's Surgery

The vet just called.  Izzie is walking, although her back legs are a bit weak.  She has urinated, which is a good sign as well.  The vet said she didn't eat much and thought it might be the pain killers.  However, as most of you know, Izzie likes human food and she's not getting any of that.  Besides, breakfast isn't her thing (unless it's a piece of bacon).  A snack at lunch time and a good meal in the evening are more her style.

She will be on IV painkillers until this evening at 6.  They'll then give her pain meds orally.  I told them that she really doesn't complain unless it really hurts.  The only sign that I've noticed is that when she's in pain, she pants.  The harder the panting the more the pain. The doctor said she'd write that in Izzie's chart for the night vet.  They told me I can call at any time to find out how she's doing even in the middle of the night (I'm not going to do that—I've done too many 24-hour on-calls in the hospital to call in the middle of the night just for information).  They will call again tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Cribbage, Pecan Pie and Izzie

Izzie and I drove up to Millinocket, about three and a half hours from here.  We enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving dinner with our friend Pat at her son's house.  Pat and I played some Cribbage afterwards and I beat her 2 out of 3 games.  I'm always amazed at how competitive I get when I play games.  It must be a residue from my childhood.  Of course back then we played Hearts after the Thanksgiving dinner, using two decks of cards because there were so many of us.  Canceling out the Queen of Spades so you didn't have to take it was always a time of great hooting and carrying on.  There was also a coffee table cribbage board that always had takers.  Somehow playing cards goes with Thanksgiving.  It's also a signal that a hot turkey sandwich or a second piece of pie will follow.  I had pecan pie.  I think it's my favorite, although I wouldn't turn down pumpkin or apple.

This morning I drove Izzie down to Scarborough for her surgery.  The vet called me later to say she thought Izzie came through it quite well. She also said there was a lot of material that had oozed out of the damaged disc that she had to clean out.  Izzie will be there until Monday.  It takes approximately four week for recovery.  In the mean time she needs to walk on level surfaces (no stairs).  Go outside only on a leash and if she is not supervised, she needs to be confined.

Izzie is a VERY stubborn dog.  She doesn't take to pampering very well (except for food).  This is going to be a tiring time and I do hope it's worth it.  I asked if she would be able to travel after a few weeks and the answer was yes.  So, at least right now, I plan on driving the two of us to California for Christmas.  Of course, the next two weeks will tell.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's Not Cancer. Yea!

Thank you everyone for your prayers for my sweetie.  BUT I just got a call a few minutes ago from Izzie's neurologist.  The tumor under her tongue is benign.  I feel sooo relieved.  It's a good reminder that our eyes can sometimes mislead us and jumping to conclusions before the data are in is never good.  I'm grateful though for all of your wonderful concern.

Today Izzie was rebelling against my picking her up to get on and off the couch.  If I say "mommy help" she runs away from me as fast as she can go.  She has also decided to sit on the back cushions of the sofa.  Something she hasn't done in years.  Her back leg still doesn't function well though.

My friend David, from California, suggested that I give her Vitamin D-3 and for the last two days, I've given her some.  It can only help.  David's friend, who is developing Alzheimer's, accidently took 5 x 5000 IU of D-3 a few weeks ago and her ability to do complex tasks improved dramatically and quickly.  She normally takes 5 x 400 IU a day.  This led us to doing some research on the web as to the safety of such a large dose.  25,000 IU is still well within the safe amount, if not taken at that level every day.  Anyway, it's good for bones and muscles so David and I decided that Izzie should start taking 5000 IU to see if it would improve her back since we didn't think surgery would be an option.  I will continue her on it until she goes in on Friday morning.

Again, thank you all for your prayers for both of us.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Robert Whalley's "Poem for Monday"

My friend Robert Whalley (from All Saints' San Francisco and Berkeley days) now from Australia, will be ordained to the transitional diaconate in less than 15 days.  Bob is a wonderful, gentle soul and has spent a good part of his life as a college chaplain.  He writes beautifully and this poem from his blog, called Poem for Monday really spoke to me.  It seems I needed to hear the words of "stretching into the present."  Izzie's cancer has me off-balance and living in today is so important to get through this.

Poem for Monday
We don’t have to have a past today
Could simply follow the sun like certain plants
Face the light, turn to what is bright and warming; or, conversely,
Like a more delicate potted plant, move into the softer shade for the filtered light
Humankind cannot bear very much reality, nor should many other growing things.

Find the place that suits for this morning,
the ecology that supports enough growth,
(the life of significant soil), between reseeding (receding) and bloom.
But not being caught, rooted too deeply, in either of those beds.

Instead, stretch into the present like cats do, relaxing and
Letting the spine of the moment open like a shy smile,
An intake of breath, an increased delight, a touch of dancing
While you silently stay exactly where you are.

And all that carried history and expectation,
Heavy potential and the weight of undone deeds
Unfinished stories and long-dead parents and people
We never liked all that much; make it compost, treat it like dung.

To be left behind, discarded in a pile to decay, mulch,
To ripen into something that can feed new
Unthinkable, unspeakable growth that may
Bloom into possibilities in another spring

photo from Wikipedia.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My Isabelle

As Izzie has posted on her own blog, she has had a difficult time recently.  Over the last few days she really struggled going up stairs and got half way down and wouldn't move any further.  So I carried her down.  Then she whimpered whenever I picked her up.  We've been sleeping on the futon in the study since Sunday evening. I increased the medication she was taking for joint pain and swelling to the original dose, and although it helps, wasn't doing the trick.  I also noticed that her left rear leg would splay out when I set her on the ground.  But, once she got herself steady, she seemed to walk ok, if stiffly.

Yesterday she saw her vet again.  The vet thinks that a disk in her back is causing the problem.  She had an x-ray taken of her spine while we were still in Rangeley, and although at the time it wasn't really obvious, the vet here said she saw that one of the disks was not like the others.  She warned me that Izzie could get paralyzed if it broke.  Our vet thinks it's early enough to do something about it and give Izzie a few more good years. Izzie is now off her NSAID and on pain killers (she will probably need diagnostic procedures like an angiogram) and has an appointment this morning with a specialist.

Please pray for her and for me.  Izzie has been my partner in ministry.  She breaks the ice in a new parish and keeps vestries from taking themselves too seriously.  If people go on and on, she lets out a VERY loud snore which always gets a laugh.  She has also been known to snore in the middle of my sermons.  Which keeps me from taking myself too seriously.

I will update the blog when we (I) return from Scarborough.  When I posted this, the ad on the side was for "herniated discs."  Weird!

UPDATE: 2 pm (Thursday, 19 November) I just returned from the vet and the news is not good. Even though the disk is quite repairable and Izzie would likely come through that just fine, they discovered a tumor behind her tongue. The vet said it looked like squamous cell carcinoma, although a biopsy is needed to be sure. The vet said she would hate to do surgery on a dog that might live just 6 months or so and I agree. I will pick her up in the morning and she will get medication for pain for her spine and other meds and I will just wait and watch. I'm devastated and need to rest a bit.

UPDATE: 4 pm (Friday November 20)  Izzie is snoozing on the couch. She's on pretty strong pain meds. I am not to let her jump on furniture or go up and down stairs for the next four or five days and she has to be confined when I'm not around.  The only procedure she had was the injection of contrast media to look at her spine and a biopsy of the tumor.  They found the tumor when they were prepping her for surgery.  She seems to be her stoic, cheerful self, although very sleepy.  She shared my lunch (bits of turkey and ham from a chef's salad and ate a few treats when we got home.  She'll be on soft food for a while (a bit cheer from Izzie, since she detests kibble anyway).  I've decided to pamper her (even more) for as long as I can.  When she gets to the point where she can't eat properly or her back legs really go, then I'll have her put down.  I pray that is months off.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bad Nativities

Already frustrated by the Christmas decorations going up. Take a look at Going Jesus. It's not new, but now that the stores have the Christmas stuff going full bore, I think we all need to be prepared to  have our aesthetic senses refined. The post is called: It Came Upon a Midnight Weird: Cavalcade of Bad Nativities 2007,   I rather like the rubber duckies, myself.  The angel is kinda cute.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No Gay Marriage in Maine, Alas

I am really upset that Maine did not reject Question 1 and allow marriage for all couples, GLBT or straight.  I've shed a few tears this morning in anger and frustration.  I've looked up the voting statistics in the various counties and I do believe what people have told me is basically true.  There are two Maines.  The only two big(ish) cities, Portland and Bangor voted No, while rural Mainers tended to vote Yes.  Although the town I live in voted NO, the county did not, although the county vote was nearly 50/50.  In addition, the Roman Catholic church still has considerable influence in spite of progressive groups that don't hesitate to question their authority. I am truly sorry for all gay and lesbian Mainers who wanted the choice of marriage for themselves and their families.  I am truly sorry that an opportunity was lost to show the rest of the country what "justice for all" really means.

Monday, November 2, 2009

All Souls Day

I'm reading a mathematics book called "Does God Play Dice" by Ian Stewart. It's not a new book, although I have the second edition, but like most people I tend to throw around the term "chaos theory" without really knowing what it entails and this book is about the mathematics of chaos. I'm trying to do something about my limited understanding. There's something very intriguing about the idea about the underlying order in chaos and the chaos in things that seem quite orderly. This loving and wonderful God whom I believe created all there is made a most amazing universe. I know there's a sermon in here somewhere. But for the moment I need to put the book aside and work on other things.

There is something very solemn for me about this day. All of my mother's generation has passed away (she was the youngest of her family and the last to go) and even though it's been over ten years, I do miss her. She wasn't the easiest mother to get along with, especially when she was depressed, but she did have a good sense of humor, was a great cook and until toward the end, up for adventure.

I'm listening to the Tallis Scholars singing Byrd's The Great Service. It has the right tone for me today to help me while I spend some time working on a paper. You Tube doesn't seem to have any of the wonderful music from the this album which contains:
  1. Venite
  2. Te Deum
  3. Benedictus
  4. Creed
  5. Magnificat
  6. Nunc dimittis
  7. O Lord, make Thy servant Elizabeth
  8. O God, the proud are risen
  9. Sing joyfully unto God
However, I did find this glorious piece: Vigilate (Keep watch) which also seems appropriate. It was recorded at Tewekesbury Abbey.