Monday, June 26, 2017

Poor Timing and No Sense of History

The current Catholic Bishop here in Memphis was assigned to this diocese a year ago. He announced recently that most every priest in the diocese will be reassigned.

In this time of political unrest, the people have turned to their church for solace. They need the comfort of the priest they know and have an established relationship.

The Bishop’s argument for this change is that the message should be the emphasis of Catholicism rather than the priest.  There is general discontent among the faithful.

It is unfortunate that this current Bishop has not familiarized himself with recent Catholic history of the Mid-South. In the mid-1960’s, Memphis and Nashville were part of the same diocese. I moved into the area during the upset, and am not sure exactly what happened, but I do know the Bishop upset the Catholics of west Tennessee.

What followed was a most unpleasant period. Volunteerism and contributions to the church dropped dramatically. It was only a matter of a couple of years until Memphis was granted its own diocese.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will this Bishop be “promoted” and a new one sent here?

Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Diagnosis

This morning I took George, our better than standard poodle, to the vet. The last couple of days he’s been acting as though he wasn’t feeling completely up to par.

We thought at first the weather might have been the problem. A tropical storm hit the Texas and Louisiana shores causing heavy rain and high winds in the Mid-South. George is terrified of electrical storms. When one hits in the middle of the night, he forces himself between my night stand and the wall and then tries to dig his way right under my head between the mattress and innersprings. But yesterday morning there was no lightning only strong winds and lots of rain.

He followed me out for the papers and wet against a mailbox post before coming back in the garage, but he refused to join me in the house. He lay down in the doorway between garage and kitchen staring at me with pitiful eyes. I dried him with a beach towel and left him covered with it from head to foot where he remained looking doubly pathetic until I finally insisted he come in the house.

He went to his bed in the den where I covered him with the towel and a blanket. He stayed that way for over an hour. By the time I got ready to take him to the doctor, George was beginning to act more like himself so we stayed home.

This morning he was acting puny again, and since its Saturday with no Sunday office hours, we went to the vet. I don’t blame the dog one bit for not fully appreciating the vet. They use a rectal thermometer, and I don’t want to know how they get a urine sample.

Although he has gained three pounds, George passed his physical with flying colors. There was no apparent reason for his change in behavior. It might have been the weather or it might have been another case of ADR (Ain’t Doin’ Right).

They took a blood sample to be sure and to establish a baseline for any future problems. It cost me $220. It was worth every penny to make sure The Dog was okay.

Shopping at Walmart

I found a keychain in a drawer. It was a double 3” X 5” piece of Lucite with a snapshot of all our children taken about twenty years ago at Graceland. It’s the last shot I have of them all together before our son’s schizophrenia consumed him changing our lives forever.

I took it to Walmart to be copied. I only go there when I have no other source. I resent the fact that it has changed retail in our country. I used to love shopping in Dime Store in small towns. Besides putting countless small family owned stores out of business, Walmart robbed us of a small piece of our regional diversity.

Walmart controls the prices manufacturers charge for their product and therefore the quality. They are also extremely slow to pay them.

It doesn’t require a degree in labor relations to see Walmart is not a great place to work. They pay minimum wage and squeeze the employees as hard as they do their suppliers.  Female employees in the past have charged the company with discrimination.

But despite all this, there are occasions when I feel compelled to shop there, and this was one of them. I had a choice between patronizing Walmart and driving across town to start a complicated and lengthy process with Graceland for copies my snapshot. It was a no brainer decision.
The woman who waited on me was polite and most helpful. She obviously wasn’t familiar with the process, but between the two of us, we made it work.

Pressed for time, as usual, I decided to do my food shopping there as well. The selection might not have been as varied as in other stores, but it was clean, the prices were good and the other shoppers were most helpful and more polite than in my local Kroger. Part of that might be because most of the Walmart shoppers weren’t wearing ear buds.

In this country’s political upheaval of the past year, the large percentage of our population trapped below the poverty line with no means of escape has become glaringly apparent. This country is no better or stronger than its weakest citizen. Cultural values as well as politics and economics are the cause.
What’s the remedy? I don’t pretend to know, but I am going to change one aspect of my own behavior in hopes of starting a trend. Anyone who has read my book, Raiders and Horse Thieves, Memoir of a Central Texas Baby Boomer, knows my origins are exceedingly humble. As a result, I’ve never looked down on anyone for being poor. I reserve that for politicians who chew gum on the dais during the Presidential Inauguration.

But I have looked at those series of pictures on Facebook of people in Walmart behaving or dressed out of the norm. Never again will I participate. It’s time for us to stop laughing at those of us less fortunate and start looking for ways to help them help themselves.  

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Snail Crawled Into the Police Station

A snail crawled into the local police station. He was a mess. His antennae were bent, and his shell was askew with a large scrape along one side.

"I was mugged by two turtles," he tells the desk sergeant.

"What did they look like?" Asks the policeman.

"I don't know," replies the snail. "It all happened so fast."

Monday, April 17, 2017


George, our better-than-standard poodle, had his usual monthly appointment with the dog groomer late last week. As we were leaving, the owner spritzed him with cologne. George didn’t react, and I didn’t think anything of it until we walked into the off-leash dog park later that same afternoon.

A large dog of dubious heritage met us at the gate, sniffed George up and down, and said, “Ewwww, man. Do you stink. Can’t imagine where you’ve been, but you better find yourself something good and dead and roll in it right away. You’re disgusting.”

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We May Not Need It

While walking my dog in the park this morning, I phoned my sister-in-law to find out what’s going on in her part of central Texas.

We are both concerned about the wall our president wants to build between Mexico and Texas. It presents a couple of obvious challenges. The legal border between the two countries is the Rio Grande River. If the wall is built on U.S. territory, are we willing to give the land between it and the river to Mexico? It may not seem like much to us, but it does belong to someone who might need every little bit of land they own to make a living.

As a developer, I'm surprised our current president isn't more considerate of the potential loss of useable land.

There’s also the question of Big Bend National Paark. It's gigantic. The suggestion has been made that it would be easiest to build the wall around the northern boundaries and leave the park to be policed by the border patrol. If this is done, tourists to the park would theoretically be required to present a passport to visit Big Bend. The thought that any elected official would consider placing that majestic park outside our national boundaries is ludicrous.

The latest number of illegal aliens crossing the border between Mexico and the U.S. has been reduced to 18% of the recent past. They’ve heard our laws are being enforced and are staying away. Perhaps we won’t need the wall after all.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Love Your Rock

According to existential philosophical theory, we all live lives of quiet desperation. Some aspect of our existence is limited in such a manner that each and every one of us experiences great pain or frustration. An existentialist believes the way to achieve happiness is to learn to accept and/or love your limitations.

Sisyphus is a figure in Greek mythology who scorned the gods and hated death. His disobedience earned him a terrible punishment: he was sentenced to spend eternity in back-breaking labor that accomplished nothing.

He was ordered to spend all day every day pushing a gigantic boulder to the top of a steep hill only to have it roll back where he started.  For Sisyphus to find happiness from the existentialist perspective, he must learn to love his rock.