Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

Molly Ivins. Another good one dies young. A loss as great as that of Ann Richards.



Mama ER: Arkansas traveler

Unless something significant develops, Mama ER will be loaded up in an ambulance Monday and taken 200 miles east of here to a long-term acute-care hopsittle in Fort Smith, Ark.

Imagine my surprise when my immediate emotional reaction to the news was sadness.

I got used to havin' my mama so close, even though it has been so hard sometimes.

She is just a little bit better, but even a little bit is a lot, considering.

The nurse said Mama was trying to mouth words this morning. I told the nurse she was probably trying to say "Leave ... me ... the ... hell ... alone." I mean, you know, since the nurses never come by to just say hi -- they're always poking her or prodding her or flipping her or hooking up somethign or unhooking something. Or something. The nurse was not very amused. :-)

I saw Mama for just a few minutes; I spent most of the time I had there talking with doctors and a case manager. By noon, she was whupped and put back in bed.

Going back now for just a bit, in case she's awake.

I know why I'm sad. ... But why am I sad??


Tuesday, January 30, 2007


There she is ... again! Another Oklahoman

I love Oklahoma! Another Miss America! Two in a row! We knew her when ...

Pictured, left to right, is Brad Henry, the good Democratic governor of our state, with then-Miss Oklahoma and now Miss America Lauren Nelson of Lawton, Okla., who is crowning Logan Farmer, the 2006 Rush Springs Watermelon Queen!

Photo from the Rush Springs (Okla.) Watermelon Festival Page.

Read all about the new Miss America from the Buffalo News (Buffalo, N.Y., not Buffalo, Okla.).

I didn't watch the pageant. But I could not help knowing it was going on this year, since they moved it to CMT. Brilliant move on the pageant organizers' part. I'm thinkin' the CMT (Country Music Television) audience sees no problem with beauty, brains and brilliance all bein' bottled up in the same body and pranced around a stage. I know I don't.
Portrait by Jim Grillot.


Monday, January 29, 2007


Isaiah 55:12

Rough day. I just told Dr. ER that it's a good thing she wound up being here today after all -- an out-of-town trip fell through at the last second yesterday -- and that I have resumed my diety pills, which artifically buoy my spirits.

Otherwise, I might've thrown myself under a truck.

Not really. But it was not a real good day.

It's Dr. ER's birthday! But I've already given her her presents and her cards and we went out to a nice supper Saturday night, and not planning on her being here today, I feel funny because I have nothing for her -- but we *are* fixing to go eat Chinese food.

Mama seemed "there" some of the time I was with her today, but "not there" most of the time. She was sitting up when I got there, and she sat up for several hours. She had her teeth in, but they don't fit right since she went without them for so long.

The nurse said she was wide-eyed this morning, but she was looking at me through beady eyes. I know she is frustrated in a way I can only imagine because she can't talk -- and I'm afraid of what she might say if she could.

There was a "Code Blue" today -- first I've heard after 60-plus days on spending anywhere from an hour to several hours a day at the hospital. Come to think of it, I think that was what made me realized I was sad today. But, I don't know how it turned out.

One time before Christmas as Dr. ER and I were leaving the hospital -- and I haven't told anybody this, so, sorry brother and sisters -- we saw two guys wheeling out a dead person, someone completely covered in a sheet. It was startling, to say the least.

I find myself growing jealous of people I overhear in the hallways and waiting rooms -- those whose loved ones are getting better by leaps and bounds.

About Isaiah 55: 12. The verse is on the wall of the lobby, in a real soothing kind of font, and I have thought of it often since Nov. 30, the fiorst day I saw it, the day Mama ER arrived here so far from her home and so far from her comforts and routines.

Here it is. It took me forever to find because it's from the New Jerusalem Bible, a Catholic translation, which apparently is not on-line! I'm typing it in from the Bible I bought Dr. ER (at her request) for Christmas:

Yes, you will go out with joy
and be led away in safety.
Mountains and hills will break into joyful cries before you
and all of the trees of the countryside clap their hands.

Now, it has its context, but whatever. It's a beautiful idea, expressed beautifully, and in a totally appropriate place, since most of the people, by far, who wind up in this particularly hospital, do, in fact, "go out with joy."

I've been very careful not to let myself believe that it will apply to Mama ER. Or so I thought. Maybe I have let myself be too hopeful for my own emotional good.

It occurred to me today: The sentiment might also be there for the likes of me -- for family members who find themselves spending hours and hours and days and days at the bedside of the one they love.

There is no doubt in my mind that I have been there for her, and that y'all all have been praying for her, and for all of us. And that is a cause for joy -- the only one I can think of at this particular moment.



What is the purpose of your life?

Drlobojo, via e-mail, with accompamying photo attached: For the darker side of your humor.

ER: I like it! Long ago, I quit thinking the "purpose" of my life was anything big. Might be to be at the crosswalk at just *the* moment some lil ol' lady needs me to hold her arm as we cross. In fact, I think that *is* the purpose of life: to be there. Which includes, to be there as a warning! :-)

Drlobojo: It is a human paradox that we overestimate our purpose in life while underestimating our effect.

Source for pic:, :-(

What *is* the purpose of YOUR life?


Sunday, January 28, 2007


12 bottles of wine on the wall, 12 bottles of wine, when one of these bottles ... is open, there's a steak or barbecue involved

::: Mama ER Update: Dang if they didn't take her completely off the ventilator and I didn't notice until this evening. The equipment was still in the room yesterday as a backup, but I was so busy talking to Big Brudder and Little Big Sister I didn't notice it wasn't hooked up. Huh. She was sitting up in a chair looking very distressed when I went to see her awhile ago, after a few hours at work, after church -- I frontslid this morning! :-) -- and when I left she was looking less distressed but not happy and not comfortable, and still sitting up in her chair. I saw her main doc, her surgeon, for a few minutes. He ordered her teeth in for a couple of hours tomorrow. He also said she was a lot closer to the day she would leave the hopsittle than she is to the day she arrived (Nov. 30!). She is still in the best place she can be right now, and he said he will keep her there as long as he can before sending her to an LTAC (long-term acute-care hopsittle). Over and out. ... Oh, BTW, Mama ER most debinately would *not* approved of my extolling the virtues of wine, below. :-) End Mama ER Update :::

What happens when ER happens upon a 20-percent-off wine sale on a payday when he is down to one bottle of an amazing good and inexpensive wine he *knows* goes excellently with grilled steaks, barbecue and spicy stews:

Yep. I bought a whole dang case of wine! First time ever. Not bad at $9.19 per.

OK, actually, I bought the 2003 vintage, not 2004, but I couldn't find an image of the 2003. And the 2004, actually, was a little better.

But, the 2003: A monastrell (aka mourvèdre)-based wine from the arid interior of Spain, this wine distills the sun and heat into smooth purple fruit, chocolaty and rich. It's built for steak, well charred on the outside. Good Value; Wine & Spirits, June 2005, Value Wines.


Saturday, January 27, 2007


O, what a beautiful mornin'

Got up with time, and in the mood, to clean the kitchen! So, let me say now: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser rocks. Trust me. Go buy a box. Now. You will thank me. I'm not kidding. They totally have the ER Seal of Approval.

I think they have done for the household cleanin' industry what S.O.S. Pads did in their day -- and I recommend them, too.

Also, "The Incredible Shrinking Man" was on TCM when I turned it on this morning -- and nothin' gets me goin' like old, bad, B&W sci-fi, unless it's bad, old B&W westerns. Great background noise for kitchen cleanin'.

Oh, and it was blowin' and snowin' outside, which is always a good thing in my book.

Now, Bird and Dr. ER and the step-granddogs, Fenway and Apollo, are in there watchin' somethin' to their own liking.

Oh, a Very Nice Thing happened last night to me and Bird. I took her to Charleston's, just me and her, which was cool in itself because we hadn't done anything, just me and her, in a long time.

She had some kind of fancy chicken salad and a Dr. Pepper. I had some kind of fancy chicken-avocado-bacon-sprouts sandwich and fries a Dewar's rocks and a Fosters. When it came time to leave, the waitret said, "Your check is paid. Someone in the restaurant paid it."

We were floored. I hadn't seen anyone I knew, but I wasn't lookin'. Bird said, "Maybe somebody thinks I'm hot!"

"LOL," I said, "I was thuinkin' the same thing about myself!" Mirth ensued.

Bird said it kind of weirded her out to have an anonymous benefactor. Not me. One, I've learned that the flipside of giving graciously is accepting graciously, and two, the fact is my work makes some people gobs of money, and everyone who knows me knows I can't be bought, or even rented, that I don't take payola -- but I reckon someone knew I would have no choice but to accept an anonymous gift. So I did.

And I thnk that's what happened. Yesterday I was in a situation with about 300 bigtime movers and shakers, most of whom know me on sight -- and maybe someone overheard me askin' someone for prayer for the ER family and thought I could use a good turn.

That or somebody at Charleston's thought I was hot. Or Bird.

On to the bathroom! I am sooo in the mood to clean. Now *that's* weird.


Friday, January 26, 2007


Mama ER prayer: for a 'full pull'

::: ANOTHER UPDATE ::: I went to see Mama ER after work, about 6 p.m., and she looked good. Awake, eyes open, responsive. I talked sweet to her, and told her what a happy day it was since she got that danged old tube out of her nose and now I could see how pretty she is, and how it'll be easier for her to work with the therapists to talk again, and how she really is getting better every day. Told her that Big Brudder, Little Big Sister, Big Big Sister and Mr. Big Sister are all coming to see her tomorrow! About how beloved she is. About how many people all over the country, thanks to this blog, are pulling for her and praying for all of us. About how God loves her so much. About how I *know* the Lord -- all because she loaded me up and took me to church when I was little and raised me up in the way of the Lord and, in fact, as the Scripture says, now that I am older I have not departed from it. ... And now, Bird and I and the step granddogs, Fenway and Apollo, are waiting for Dr. ER to get home from the airport; Bird and the step granddogs' presence are an early birthday surprise for Dr. ER! :-) ::: UPDATE :::

:::UPDATE ::: They did it in her room. Started at 10:15 and was done by 10:35 a.m. -- then I split to go to the work thing. Now, I have to write a couple of things. Busy. More anon. ::: UPDATE:::

These doctors are so funny! Mama ER is having another "procedure" today -- here in about 15 minutes, actually. "Procedure" -- ha! Teeth cleaning is a procedure.

This here is another operation. Surgery.

Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy, (PEG) to be exact.

It sounds worse than it is. It means they're going to remove the feeding tube from her nose-esophagus and insert it directly into her tummy. On the other hand, any "procedure" is potentially dangerous for Mama ER now.

They will do it in her room, not downstairs in the OR. It looks like the hopsittle version of a tractor pull in her room, with all the equipment they just moved in.

In the tractor pullin' world, a "full pull" is when a competitor and his smoke-belchin' fire-breathin' big-wheeled steed of steel manage to pull the sled all the way, past the marks set by the other pullers, past the barricades, and if he ain't careful, out the end of the dadgum arena.

Redneck Prayer of the Day: That Mama ER does the "full pull" this morning, and in the long run.

It'll be this afternoon before I can update, although the "procedure" is supposed to only take 30 minutes or so. I have a work thing I have to go do in the meantime.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

'Why do you think Adam and Eve were nekkid?'


Me gusta Bill Richardson

Best political news I've heard since 2004: John Kerry will not run again.

Thank (brace yourself) God.

Bill Richardson for President.

America for Bill Richardson.

Hey, the past two presidents have been former governors of states neighboring Oklahoma. Third time is the charm!


Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Mama ER: Chasin' bun-buns in her dreams

Dr. ER has always said, when she sees Riker, the regal Pembroke Welsh Corgi, or Bailey, the semi-retarded weinie dog that needs a short yellow doghouse, dreaming and movin' his legs like he's running, she says he's dreamin' he's chasin' bun-buns -- rabbits.

Yesterday afternoon, Big Brudder and I were in Mama ER's room, as she was snoozing, and out of the corner of an eye I thought I saw her move her left foot. A minute later, I saw her move it again, in her sleep -- her left foot, and remember the stroke was on the right side of her brain, so it's the left side of her body that's down.

Recall that earlier I noted that her face is not droopy on the left anymore, and hasn't been for some time. Her moving her left foot in her sleep is just a little bit of good news -- nothing major -- but it's a good sign, nonetheless.

And those of us who love Mama ER will take all of that we can get.

Of course, Big Brudder and I agree that she's probably not dreamin' that she's chasin' rabbits. She's probably dreamin' that she's kickin' one or both of our butts. We're cool with that -- anything that helps her move her left side. :-)


Tuesday, January 23, 2007


On Bush: 'We will be showing him the way'

From the best speech on TV Tuesday night:

Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves "as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other." And he did something about it.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

-- from Democratic Response of Senator Jim Webb
To the President's State of the Union Address

Read it all, from Daily Kos.



A little Meskin food cain't hurt

So, I get to work this morning -- the actual work place -- and there is not a parking to be found. Talk about chapping my hide! It's the dang ice again. Parking on the roof of the parking garage is impossible because of it.

So, I call in and tell my boss that since I can't find a parking I'm just going to the hopsittle. On the way there, I call Big Brudder. He and his friend, who I will call Arkansas Jewel, are 10 minutes away and want to stop and have an early lunch (it's just after 10 a.m. at the time).

So, I meet 'em at Abuelo's, where we wait a half hour for it to open, and we have an early lunch. I had huevos rancheros, which, at Abuelo's, is two cheese enchiladas, refried beans y papas chiles, plus soft flour tortillas, chips, salsa, queso, guacamole -- the works. Y cafe, since it's still breakfast time to my way of thinking.

I told Big Brudder that he could love on Mama ER today, and that I was gonna take the day off . Now the plan is to get some work done at work for a change, get home in time to clean up the kitchen some and still have time to maybe have a drink to get me in the mood to scream and holler at the TV set tonight.

The State of the Union? Pissed off, put upon and tired of the BS. That's the way it looks from here anyway. You can tell the shape the Right Wing is in from the increasing shrillness and sheer lunacy of Faux News -- aka the Faux Nothing Channel -- which is the video version of what the Police Gazette had devolved to by the 1950s. A p.o.s. right-wing rag.


Monday, January 22, 2007


Sad, sad, sad, sad down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart, I'm sad, sad, sad, sad down in my heart, down in my heart today ...

Hey, I'm entitled to decompress a little. Can't shake it, so I'll ride it out.

... Mama's over there in her bed, wishing she could talk, I know. But she can't right now. No news is still good news with her. They'll test for staph probably in the next day or two, and they have to have three clean tests before they give an all-clear. Lungs are still a little soupy. Good news is she's getting some physical rehab again, limited though it is.

... Our house is a wreck. Just can't seem to find the time or energy to deal with it. The Christmassy tree is still up, and the Christmassy lights are still up outside, and that's starting to get depressing.

... Dr. ER is fixing to take a couple of trips out of town. That usually makes me sad.

... I was mean to Ice-T in the early-morning hours today and all he was doing was being a cat.

... I could not give a crap about anything to do with work today if I tried, and I am trying.

... The idea of working on my now 2-year-old thesis to turn it into a book seems impossible.

... I am taking the week off from my diety pills; today is the fourth day off from them, after two or three weeks of four-days-a-week on them; the hangover from them is mild depression.

... And I'm always down the week after I skip church, which is sort of a spiritual dialysis for me, and I missed two Sundays in a row, one because the ice storm canceled it and yesterday because I just didn't go.

In short, I am in a majorly sucky mood. :-(


Sunday, January 21, 2007


Is this a cloud or what?

Call me backslidden! I skipped church this morning for the first time in over a year. I'm just fatigued. Tired of everything. I watched "The Patriot" instead.

Check this out: UFO NEWS. The guy who runs it stopped by here the other day, attracted, I guess, by the story about a UFO out of Van Buren, Ark.

The picture is from Drlobojo, who says:

"This is a picture from 5 miles south of Roswell, New Mexico, in March 2005. Stopped to take pictures of the Teddy Bear Memorial to two teenagers killed in a car wreck at the site. Dig the "cloud" in the sky behind it."

Dr. ER and I were in Roswell in 1997 for the 50th anniversary of "the incident." I'd love for us to make it this year for the 60th anniversary.


Saturday, January 20, 2007


How to jinx a heavy snow forecast

Be silly enough to put "100 percent" chance of snow in the forecast, which is what Oklahoma City TV did last night. Pbthth.

Five to 10 inches, they said. Ha ha. This morning, just north of OKC, the flakes came five to 10 feet apart, every five to 10 minutes.

And, hey, here is an example of why ER loves Dr. ER. Found this next to the coffee pot this morning:

"Good morning!

"Well, it's 3 a.m. & no snow -- Weather Channel has changed its forecast to one to three inches; I can only hope they're wrong. If the weather guys got this wrong, it'll be because that danged upper level low inextricably* stalled over Baja today. That changed the timing & could even allow the warm air that is/was supposed to override the cold air at the surface enough time to actually warm surface temps too high. That & a stubborn high pressure to our east that was supposed to be outta here sticking around so long it took forever for the air to saturate & cool down enough for snow. I hope, however, that I wake to see snow. Please wake me at 10. Even though I am being an insomniac. But make it 11 a.m. if there's no snow so I can put off being sad. :-(

"Love, (Dr. ER)"

I think her pre-assessment of the snowfu (thank you) was dead-on right.

* Dr. ER meant "inexplicably." She's forgiven, since it *was* 3 a.m. :-)


P.S. We're watching Giant, (also here) which I am embarrassed to admit I've never seen before! What're y'all up to today?

Friday, January 19, 2007


Freaky Friday Invitation!!! ...UFOs over Van Buren, Arkansas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm busy today, tired, moderately stressed and fresh out of ideas.

First one to write a guest blog post and leave it in the comments -- I'll put it here and make it the ER Post of the Day!

Any topic -- just keep it clean.


:::UPDATE::: AND here it is!

By Anonymous (Turns out it was Little Big Sister!)

Can I post this? It's about UFO's over Van Buren Is it legal to copy and paste this? If not, delete it. This was in World Dailey News.
From a Newcomer to the Comment Section

Air Force colonel reports lights 'not of this world'
Snaps images above Arkansas: 'I have no idea what they were'

Posted: January 17, 2007
6:37 p.m. Eastern

By Joe Kovacs
© 2007

Zoomed image of mysterious orange light seen Jan. 9 near Van Buren, Ark. (photo: Col. Brian Fields, USAF, ret.)

In the wake of reports of unidentified objects flying over Chicago's O'Hare Airport, a retired Air Force pilot has his own mystery with a rash of bright, colorful lights he photographed hovering in skies over western Arkansas last week.

"I believe these lights were not of this world, and I feel a duty and responsibility to come forward," Col. Brian Fields told WND. "I have no idea what they were."

Fields, 61, was cooking chicken at his Van Buren, Ark., home Jan. 9 when just before 7 p.m., he observed two intensely bright lights as he looked to the southeast close to the horizon. ...


Thursday, January 18, 2007


Another day another damn 'procedure'

:::UPDATE::: Mama ER was in and out, presto change-o. Waiting now for the doc to come talk to me. If nothing unusual occurred, this is it for the night.

By the way, I found out just yesterday, after a neurologist checked her out, that Mama ER also has homonymous hemianopsia -- the loss of half the vision in both eyes. In her case, because the stroke was on the right side of her brain, the vision loss is on the left side of both eyes. :::END UPDATE:::


Surgical challenge of the moment for Mama ER: tracheostomy.

They'll come get her any minute now. It's usually not a real big deal, but everything is a real big deal for Mama ER these days.

Timeline update: Caseworker told me earlier that she didn't expect Mama ER to be released from this hospital before 30 days. She's so weak now, it will take every bit of that, she said, to get her strong enough to be moved anywhere.

In the meantime: Still dealing with staph, and her lungs are stilll not as clear as they need to be.

At least the trach will give her mouth a break and let her speak, very very very very very minimally, when she has the energy.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Official Okie Quarter (not)

'Cause if'n ya cain't laugh at yer selfs, then you have no room to laugh at anybody else'ns. What a hoot. No idee who came up with this.

Note the detail. That there is one of them silver loaf-of-French-bread type trailer houses up in that tornado! And a cow! :-)

(F6, to any of y'all not acquainted with Tornado Alley, is a measurement of a tornado's damage. An F6 would be a bad sumbitch.)



Long row to hoe

Mama ER update:

The docs say the pneumonia is clearing up. They act like they can beat back the staph. That means she's back to *only* facing rehab from a stroke.

Y'all, here's the prayer request for the day: That all who love Mama ER really understand how long and hard the rehab probably will be, that we all have the emotional stamina -- and ocassionally the actual physical stamina -- to carry on.

Mama ER will be in the hospital in Oklahoma City now for at least several more days. The next step probably will be a long-term acute care hospital in Fort Smith, Ark., for a long time, followed by home-health, for a long time.

I would be surprised if she were to fully recover. That rarely happens, I think, even with younger people. But she can recover a great deal -- and I mean some use of her left side, and her speech -- if she wants to.

1 REDNECK POINT to anyone who can identify the crop in the photo.

25 REDNECK POINTS to anyone who has actually hoed said crop. (Daddy ER gave me a short-handled hoe to help way, way back in the day, in the Arkansas River bottoms [Hey, TracyW: at Moffett]).


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


The adage is true ...

No news is good news re: Mama ER.

Heart in good shape. Kidneys in good shape. Staph is being treated. Still responsive but weak as a kitten.

My hope is to get back to where all we have to worry about is stroke rehab -- because, as arduous as it is, it's workable.

Updates as events warrant.


Sunday, January 14, 2007


Church of ER ... Jan. 14, 2007. Preaching: Garry Wills. Worship leader: ER. Music: Joan Osbourne, Keith Green, Joseph M. Scriven, Charles C. Converse

All the churches in central Oklahoma were closed this morning because of the dangerous, icy weather. I dreamed that I did something like this.




"What if God Was One of Us" Joan Osbourne.


"The Unseen Hand"


"Father-Mother-God, we know we see through a dark glass. When we are honest, we realize we hear through deafened ears, feel through numbed bodies and spirits, and speak with confused tongues -- because we are incomplete. Yet we look, listen, feel and speak anyway. With hope. In faith. Thank you for such habits, which come with Your Grace. In Christ's name. Amen."


"I Can't Believe It" -- Keith Green


Romans 1:16-17


"What is God's Faith in?"

"We normally think of our faith as having faith (pistis) in God. But Paul talks of God having faith (pistis). What is God's faith in? In himself? In his own words? In us? The last might seem the least plausible. How can he believe in us? But this problem reveals the inadequacy of our sense of trust. God takes us into his trust. There is no longer an estrangement. He promotes us into a partnership with him because we are members of his Son's mystical body. We trust him as sons. He trusts us as a father trusts his beloved children. This explains the difficult passage at Romans 1:17, 'from pistis to pistis.' If we already have trust, how do we move to get it? But if one of these is God's pistis, the passage makes sense: 'God's vindication is unveiled from [his] trust to [our] trust, it is written: "The vindicated will live from trust." ' Too often faith now means belief in a proposition, a dogma, the stand taken by a church. It is, instead, an active response to a Person, a trust in him."

-- from Garry Wills, What Paul Meant (New York: Viking, 2006), 183-184.


"What a Friend We Have in Jesus"

P.S.: Mama ER is steady as she goes today. They took the chest tube out yesterday afternoon. With the weather the way it is, and, quite frankly, me needing a break, I'm staying home and watching DVDs with Dr. ER, who isn't feeling well.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Dr. ER sidelined in self-defense

The crisis of the moment is a bitch.

Mama ER has contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA, a particularly difficult kind of staph.

Damn it all! That means she's isolated. Door closed.

For me, and most others, it means washing our hands a lot, wearing gloves to touch her, wiping things down, like this laptop computer, my cell phone and so on.

They're not terribly concerned about it spreading because it's deep in her lungs, it is being removed with a closed tube, and she is not coughing, which is mainly how it's airborne. Otherwise, it's spread by contact.

For anyone who is ill or with an immuno-depressed system, it means they can't be near Mama ER.

And that means Dr. ER. She has had so many health issues the past year, and, she just started another steroid, which further increases susceptibility to MRSA.

And that sucks. Dr. ER loves Mama ER, and is good for Mama ER, working with her in a way that none of the rest of us can. We are very, very sad about this.

Otherwise, Mama ER is OK, considering. She'll be on the ventilator for another day or so, I guess -- since I'm not sure at this point what all the treatment of MRSA actually entails beyond using a real strong antibiotic.

She is responsive, moving her right hand and leg when asked to, but she isn't opening her eyes. She was talking, slurrily, right up to the minute they put her on the ventilator, which is being used as part of the treatment of her lungs -- not as artificial life support. (There was some early confusion about that among my siblings.)

So, onward and upward. But without my beloved Dr. ER, at least for the time being.


Friday, January 12, 2007


We interrupt our regular programming, 'Mama ER Watch,' for a special weather statement from Oklahoma City's KFOR-TV Channel 4 ...

"The roads suck! They just suck!"

-- young reporter doing a stand-up on an icy street. Here's hoping he doesn't get in too much trouble for that.

Actual, official weather statement in the first comment.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Mama ER family circles

Meet Mama ER. Big Brudder took this pic early last year. Isn't she a sweetie?

Can't summarize this in a few words for a headline. Mama ER took a turn for the worse overnight. We gave them the go-ahead to put her on a ventilator to give her a chance to get her breathing cleared up; it's bad.

My thinking is it's like a defibrillator. If you have a heart attack and don't use one, you usually have no chance. If you have a heart attack and they can defib you, you do have a chance.

Mama ER is being given a chance with the ventilator. If she improves in a few days, then she continues to improve.

Family en route from Texas and Arkansas.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Physical therapist: 'I'm amazed'

That's a direct quote. The PT lady set Mama ER up on the side of the bed late this morning, and Mama ER just sat right there all on her own.

Not the happiest mama in the world, but not despondent. She wants to get better -- and that is most of the battle, I think.

Good news, indeed.

"I'm amazed" -- she wasn't kidding. She expected Mama ER to be a limp rag. No way.

Made me think of "Maybe I'm Amazed" -- you know, Paul McCartney.

But then I thought of "Amazing," by Aerosmith -- truly a great gospel song if there ever was one.


I kept the right ones out
And let the wrong ones in
Had an angel of mercy to see me through all my sins
There were times in my life
When I was goin' insane
Tryin' to walk through
The pain
When I lost my grip
And I hit the floor
Yeah, I thought I could leave but couldn't get out the door
I was so sick and tired
Of a livin' a lie
I was wishin' that I
Would die

It's Amazing
With the blink of an eye you finally see the light
It's Amazing
When the moment arrives that you know you'll be alright
It's Amazing
And I'm sayin' a prayer for the desperate hearts tonight

That one last shot's a Permanent Vacation
And how high can you fly with broken wings?
Life's a journey not a destination
And I just can't tell just what tomorrow brings

You have to learn to crawl
Before you learn to walk
But I just couldn't liten to all that righteous talk
I was out on the street,
Just a tryin' to survive


Monday, January 08, 2007


Itty-bitty baby steps

Stroke, right middle cerebral artery distribution, affecting the motor cortex.

Which is why Mama ER's left side is down. She seems to be trying to make up for it with her right side: still hanging laundry or hulling peas or something when she's asleep, which will be most of the time through today, and probably tomorrow.

Back to itty-bitty baby steps on physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.

Pray -- hope, wish for, vibe, etc. -- that I gain ears to hear! She tries to talk. A speech therapist girl was in here a minute ago, repeating the words Mama was saying -- the therapy gal has ears to hear. She helped me hear the most important thing:

Mama was saying my name.

I wasn't here when this happened Saturday night, and she was out of it almost the whole time I was here last night -- so I wasn't sure she knew me.

But she does.

And that's important -- to me, I admit.

Baby steps for both of us ... itty-bitty baby steps ...


(Photo from A Step Ahead Foot & Ankle Centers, in Colorado. Used without permission; will remove on request -- but I'd think they'd appreciate the plug. Maybe not. We'll see ...)

Sunday, January 07, 2007


It's a whole new ballgame

With Mama ER.

And it kicked me in the teeth and gut so hard that after stopping by here, the hospital, right after church today I went home and slept hard, in self-defense, for a few hours while Dr. ER and Big Brudder sat with her.

My heart broke. It's being patched.

Thanks to Mr. D, at church, who stops by this blog a lot, who made sure I saw him this morning and got a handshake and hug -- and to Mrs. D, too. But I confess I was in such an exhausted emotional daze this morning, I'm not sure who I saw and talked to.

Dr. ER asked me about church, and all I could say was: "Words. Music." I needed to be there, in the presense of mine friends, brothers and sisters. I've said it before: The place drips with Grace. That's what I needed.

Now: Cowboying up.

A CAT scan yesterday showed no hemmorhage ... hemor ... hemmer ... dang it, somebody else look it up -- no bleeding in the brain. A CAT scan tomorrow will determine whether it was, in fact, a stroke and, if so, how severe.

She's over there now, moving around her right hand and arm.

Looked like she was sprinkling flour and patting down dough. Then she kept picking up the edge of her blankie, and it looked like she was hanging laundry on a clothesline. She's dreaming.

She knew Dr. ER and Big Brudder were here all day, and she made us all a smoochy face when asked. ... Damn it to hell, this is hard. Damn eyes are leaking.

... Ahem. Saw the doc in the cafe earlier. He said, and this is a significant shift: "We're doing what we can. I'm ready for her to act more like 60 than 84. Hang in there, pardner. We're doing what we can."

The italed parts are what's new. A sign that the doc, for all his ability, is now doing what I tried and failed to do last night: Putting Mama ER in God's hands.

I did that last night, then took her back -- and I know this is just a metaphor for how we human beans *deal* with this kind of thing, because He really does have the whole world in His hands, one person, one heart, one life at a time.

Made me think of a line I picked up years ago from a Baptist preacher.

We are to make our lives living sacrifices to God. The problem with living sacrifices is they sometimes crawl off the altar. It's an on-and-off thing with me, as it is with anyone who's honest.

Tonight, me and Mama ER are on.


Saturday, January 06, 2007


Intensive care

:::UPDATE::: 8:25 p.m.
Damn. Mama ER had a small stroke a little after 5 p.m. Dr. ER was with her and says she saw it happen. CAT scan showed no hemorrhage in the brain, which is good. Doc said it would be two or three days before anyone could tell the exact nature of what happened, but it probably was a clot that went from her new-and-improved heart to her brain. Slight movement in her left hand; left face-drop; no movement in left foot; but she responds to pain in the left limbs. She was alert and looking around when I got here to the hospital; she couldn't talk. Now, she's asleep but trying to cough and not having much luck at it. Dr. ER has gone home to get some stuff and is going to stay with her tonight. I'm here for the time being.


I went to Stillwater today, 50 miles away, to haul Bird and YankeeBeau a couch. It was in my home office taking up useful book space. Saw an old friend at The Hideaway, famous pizza joint.

Little Big Sister came up to see Mama ER today. Big Brudder talked to Mama on the phone a litrle.

Back at the house, I walked in, went out and fed the dogs, took a call from Dr. ER checking in, then took a call from a nurse.

Mama ER is being moved to intensive care. Not recovering from last night's "procedure" as well as had been hoped. That means she gets one-on-one care again, not one-on-four. Dr. ER, on her way there anyway, has been alerted to the room change.

I buried the lead just now, as we say in the news business.


Friday, January 05, 2007


Mama ER update


Mama ER was in and out, with no complications, by a little after 7 p.m. I forgot to mention she will also have a chest tube for four or five days. She will be set back a little on general physical rehab, but after tapping her three times, the doc thought this was best for her.


Mama ER will undergo a "procedure" this evening, which is kinddoctorspeak for "minor surgery," to fix a leak around her left lung. The surgery -- I mean, procedure -- will be sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

It's called talc pleurodesis. Read about it here, but ignore the part about cancer.

Basically, they'll put her under light anesthesia and withdraw fluid from around her left lung -- for the fourth time since her surgery -- then spray talc in to cause the exterior wall of the lung to adhere to the thorasic cavity.

Prayers, please -- and good vibes, happy-happy thoughts and well wishes.

Y'all, I am not kidding. The past few weeks I have sensed that I am being held up by y'alls' and others' prayers.


Thursday, January 04, 2007


National U.S. Marshals Museum heading to new permanent home at ER's old stomping grounds, Fort Smith, Ark.

:::UPDATE::: The actual announcement. :::UPDATE:::

Hot damn! Big Brudder, knowing it was right up my alley, just called to tell me the news! The National U.S. Marshals Museum!

Perfect for Fort Smith, since Judge Parker ran so many posses of marshals fanned out across Indian Territory!

Hell's Fringe!

Hell on the Border!

And Heck Thomas!

I never even knew there was such a place as a National U.S. Marshals Museum, let alone that they were looking for a new site for it.


Knowing how the gubment works, I might could have a dang Ph.D. by the time they get it built, which might put me in the running to run the joint. :-)

Read about the National U.S. Marshals Museum.

Read a now-outdated story about the site selection process.

(Pictured, top to bottom: Marshal Heck Thomas, Marshal Bill Tilghman, Marshal Chris Madsen, "The Three Guardsmen.")


Wednesday, January 03, 2007


'The Wittenburg Door'

Check out The Wittenburg Door, "The World's Pretty Much Only Religious Satire Magazine."

I cut my liberal Christian teeth on it years ago, thanks to a particularly open-minded youth minister at the church I grew up attending -- the kind of minister now regularly run off from Southern Baptist churches.

The current cover story starts:

When did the words "tree-hugger" become a pejorative? (Probably the same time the word "liberal" became equated with "demon.") Don't let someone else ruin perfectly good words because of their political agenda. Besides, by all accounts, Jesus was a tree-hugger ("Consider the lily ...".) We're finding ourselves more and more serious about the environment we're slowly poisoning. Let's do something about it. "This is my Father's world, And to my listening ears, All nature sings while 'round me rings, The music of the spheres." Selah.

Read the online version of The Wittenburg Door.

Read *about* The Wittenburg Door via Wikipedia.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007


' ... Wind ... sweepin' down the plain ... '

If someone had told me the night that Mama ER had her surgery that on Jan. 2, 2007, I would be doing most of my work from a laptop and that she would still be in the hospital, I wouldn't have believed 'em.

As Mama ER might say, even with some breaks the past few days -- thanks to Big Brudder and Big Big Sister and Mr. Big Big Sister -- I feel like somethin' the cat drug up.

I need a second wind. Good thing there's always one sweepin' down the plain around here. (How 'bout Oklahoma's centennial this year startin' off the Rose Parade yesterday! Did me proud.)

It's not physical tiredness, nor mental fatigue. I think I've just got a little emotional worn-outness going on, even though she's doing better every day.

Fortunately, there are further levels of tiredness.

When, as Mama ER would say, I feel like something the cat drug up, chewed up and spit out, then stick a fork in me, I'll be done. :-)


Monday, January 01, 2007


Peas on earth

Blackeye peas, parboiled, are soaking. Ham bone is boiling. The hammy water will be the base for cooking the peas, which'll have some garlic and a dash of red pepper, as well.

Yum. Cornbread. Leftover goose. More ham. Dr. ER's potato salad.

Why blackeye peas on New Year's Day? This is from the Web site of Allen Canning Co. in Siloam Springs, Ark., whose veggies I grw up eating and, I think, some of my uncles grew greens for ...

It was my pleasure to tell YankeeBeau this tale over chicken wings last night.

Q: Where did the legend of eating Blackeyed Peas on New Year’s Day for good luck originate?

A: There is a tradition, which says if you eat Blackeyed Peas on New Year’s Day, you will have good luck throughout the New Year.

The Blackeyed Pea or cow pea has been around since the dawn of time. The Blackeyed Pea remains have been found in the excavations of the Swiss Lake dwellers of the Bronze Age (2500-1000BC). African slaves brought the Blackeyed Pea to America in 1674. They quickly became a vital source of nourishment for slaves and they could be grown in virtually any type of soil. During the Civil War, Yankee soldiers destroyed cash crops such as cotton and staples such as tomatoes and potatoes, but overlooked the fields of Blackeyed Peas.

Southerners, gentry, commoners and former slaves alike, turned to the Blackeyed Pea as a staple. The legend that eating Blackeyed Peas on New Year’s Day brought good luck emerged from this period of American history. Many old families of Charleston, South Carolina, began preparing a dish called "Hoppin’ John" out of Blackeyed Peas, bacon, and rice to feed families in the war-ravage South. As the area began to redevelop, many partakers of Hoppin’ John probably had a better year than the year before, hence, the legend that eating Hoppin’ John on New Year’s Day brought good luck.

People throughout the South, and those Southerners who have migrated to other parts of the country, would not think of starting a New Year without keeping this tradition. We hope you enjoy Allens Blackeyed Peas on New Year’s Day.

Happy New Year, y'all!


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