Saturday, November 27, 2010

You suppose God is an Auburn fan?

I noted back when Auburn University squeaked by Arkansas about mid-season, on a Thursday night, that head coach Chizik told the lady with the big ear rings and TSH driven vocal chords, " This win is a GOD-THANG." Yesterday when he came from behind to beat the defending national champions in their back yard he announced to the interviewer, "God is good !"

Now I appreciate his obvious stalwart belief system. He has a right to declare his unadulterated faith. But isn't declaring God to even be a football fan a bit diminishing of His role as First Cause, Prime Mover, Creator of the Universe, etc.? I believe that to wear your religion on your sleeve brandishing it about for all to see is contrary to a spiritual personna. If you believe it, put it on and wear it, don't tell me about it. I don't need for you to save my soul at a football game on national TV.

I personally believe that tossing His name around for helping you pass a test, win an account, find something at a garage sale, turning the traffic light green at just the right time is on an approach to taking his name in vain. It might not be as severe as the lunatic golfer who curses, using his sacred name, when he duffs a putt, but it is in the neighborhood.

War Eagle and beat the 'Cocks and the Ducks and bring that national championship trophy back to Alabama for the second year in a row. This year it can be on display at the WalMart in Auburn, rather than Tuscaloosa.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Illusive Perfect Holiday

Just what is it that makes most Holidays a living nightmare? I believe that it is the illusion that we create for ourselves that this particular day will evolve into all that we hold in our minds as the quintiessential, primrose, poetic yet traditional holiday-esque time capsule. Just how long this illusion lasts into the day depends on an entire host of random acts. Most of us give up on the illusion by the time the perfect feast is laid out in front of us.

You want to sleep late into the morning. One of the central players in this theatrical endeavor is usually the maternal figure. She has not slept at all the night before because of all the responsibility she bears for bringing this illusion together in as faultless of a pattern as is possible.

You do your best to sleep but eventually guilt drives you out from under your warm covers. You wander down to the kitchen area for a bowl of corn flakes and encounter the red-eyed "significant other". With her nerves already frayed to the breaking point she points out an area by your recliner where your dog has evacuated his stomach of a load of green, soil-laced, froth. Before you have time to place anything into your stomach you have to get the paper towels, 409 and mop to remove the gastric exudate of your "best friend" from the family room. By the end of the day you will reinforce his role as your best friend from the experience of general interplay with various members of your family.

The day quickly springs to life. We are short on eggs by two. "I knew I should not have listened to you when you said that 2 dozen eggs was all we needed." says the red eyed galley chef. "Now what are we going to do?" You suggest that she cut down on the 13 pies she is going to make by one and therefore problem solved. She walks away muttering to herself and you go out to fetch your paper.

The newspaper looks like it is strapped with bailing wire to accomodate all the ads in their special, "pre-Black Friday" issue. You only want to find out who is playing football today and if there are any college hoops worth watching. As you leave all the ads in a 4-5 foot deep pile in the corner, extract the portion of 2-3 pages that actually deal with news and sports you pour yourself some Wheaties. You then find a quiet corner to crunch and read. Before you are able to finish half your bowl the next crisis hits. Uncle Ed has been released from the asylum and is coming to join us for dinner.

You wander out to find Uncle Ed. Now just which bridge overpass was it that he was sleeping under? Ah, it must be this one with the Mexican diplomats emassed. I pull up, place my .45 Smith and Wesson in my belt and get out of the car. Uncle Ed, over here ! Here he comes to join me. He asks me if it would be OK if he brings along some friends of his? I hesitate to respond then it becomes apparent to me that they are all imaginary friends, sort of like a virtual Facebook page. He wants to bring William the Conquerer, Sir Winston Churchill, Shoeless Joe Jackson and his agent. I can't really see the harm so I tell him it is OK.

Now comes the fun part. Taking him and his friends in the front door. By the time we have arrived the rest of the family is with us. They are comprised of a Judge, a police detective, a software engineer, a physician, and various working stiffs like myself. There are numerous conversations ongoing. They cover a variety of subjects: tea parties, Sarah Palin and Bristol, Mitt Romney, Tom Delay, Rick Scott, Obamacare,etc. Uncle Ed finally brings everyone to a focal point by announcing that Shoeless Joe and Sir Winston are hungry and when are we going to eat.

We go out to bring in the children. They have removed the cover from the pool and most of them are in the pool with or without clothes. The couple next door are in their hot tub, definitely sans clothes as is evident from the atrophied body parts as they make a mad dash inside .

By the time we sit down to eat the food is cold. Most of our women are off reading the paper and eating Wheaties. The dog has somehow consumed most of the turkey and dressing anyway. Uncle Ed calls on Shoeless Joe's agent, who is a reformed Druid, to pray over the food.

Later on that night, the mother figure says, "What a lovely Thanksgiving we had." Remember that you have to get down the Christmas decorations tomorrow first thing. The dog and I both vomit a sickly, green-hued froth near my recliner and we seem to have come full circle.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roll Tide and pass the cornbread dressing

I am thankful to be alive and well this Thangsgiving 2010. I am more thankful that my wife, Nancy, is alive and well. She had a serious brush with the grim reaper this past year. My daughter, Beth and her family have moved back from Pensacola and are now only 15 minutes from us rather than 3 hours. Our son,Drew, is happily employed and getting ready to have a new baby and our daughter Emily has been here all along with us. She is getting ready to give birth to another little girl. That will make 7 total grandchildren for us.

Someone once said that the Americans had discovered the perfect holiday, Thanksgiving. You do not have to go buy anyone a gift. All you do is eat all day long and watch football. How could there be a more perfect holiday?

I am healthy. A little too fat but I can walk 5 miles without too much of an effort. I can walk 18 holes of golf and occassionally break 90. Now I do take some meds. I spent thrity years in the pharm business and I truly do believe that pharmaceuticals do, indeed, extend and enhance life.I am thankful for them.

All in all my life is pretty good. I am not camped under a tank in Afghanistan or Iraq. I give thanks to those who do so voluntarily to protect us back here at home while I watch my Crimson Tide on TV and sneak an extra plate of cornbread dressing and gravy.

We Americans have a lifestyle that is the envy of the world. Our freedoms are unprecedented. I do not particularly understand a lot of stuff that goes on here. I had to quit watching the nightly lineup on Fox news from 8 PM on. It got me so worried about things I could not sleep. If there is not some sort of ball involved in what is going on TV-wise I just turn it off and try to read a book or something.

I have good friends. I love my church. I love my family. I had a wonderful career and am now into a second career that makes me realize what a great career the first one was.

Now if Alabama can just figure out a way to beat Auburn this will end up being a pretty good year, in spite of some seriously concerning moments.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Macy's in Philadelphia gets it!

Just when you thought it was getting to where you might be arrested for saying Merry Christmas to someone the following transpires. Can you just imagine walking through the mall and having a "Random Act of Culture" transpire before your eyes?

With all the political correctness folks around we have to think about any little thing that we might say that is offensive. We have come to this juncture through two or three decades of sensitivity training. I think we would have been better off spending our time in spontaneity training.

This "just happened" at the mall. Not like a nativity scene that shows up in the mall and the political correctness posse shuts it down because of the terrible affront it might be to someone to actually display symbols of the most relevant event in history.

I find this so appealing that it just happened. The lovely music of Handel's Messiah of course did not just happen. This presentation did not just happen. Both took countless hours and days of preparation. However the delivery of this random act did just happen. You can tell by the cameras panning the shoppers that they were mesmerized and delighted.

Good for us. Good for Macy's. Believe me I won't hesitate to spend my little bit of money there. God bless the organizational genius of those who made this happen. Just a few days ago.

If you have not seen it then please visit the following link. You Tube says that it has already had almost 3 million hits. What inspired genius to open the Holiday season. It renews my faith in all of us. To quote a famous line from a similar Holiday story, " God bless us, every one !"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Georgia sunshine, in Tallahassee

This is my little grandaughter, Georgia. She calls herself Georgie and she calls me Pop. She is one of five little grandchildren that my wife, Nancy, and I have together. Her Mother, Beth, has always been a bright, sweet and loving daughter to us. Georgia has two older sisters who have minds of their own. I am not saying that Georgia is any different.
Nancy recently had to go see a vitreoretinologist. The purpose was to have a needle inserted into her eyeball and deliver opthamologic grade steroids into her retina. I have always used an extreme, falacious example of deciding to give up golf and taking up inserting needles in my eye. The punch line on that declarative was that activity would be preferable to playing golf, at the level I play it. Well little did I know that Nancy would actually have to have that done one day.
Georgia went with us on this particular day as her Mother was volunteering in Kate's, her 5 year old's, classroom. Georgia and I played in the car. We listened to every song I could find on various CDs, including Ray Charles' version of Georgia. She obviously claims that song to be about her. After all the games I could come up with over an hour of waiting she decided that she wanted to see her Nana.
As it had been so long in the waiting I acquiesced to her demands. It is much easier that way, I am told. It was almost noon and the physician doing the procedure had to come into the office
in order to see Nancy. The waiting room was bare and this little imp burst through the front door and queried the receptionist, " Where's my Nannie?" The receptionist immediately brightened and smiled, Georgia has that effect on most anyone she meets, and asked her what her Nannie's name was. Georgia said, "Nannie, Nannie !". I quietly told the receptionist that this was Mrs. Vass' grand daughter.
The receptionist said to her, " Come with me and we will find your Nannie." She happened to be in the dark waiting area midstream in her first of 12 episodes of this procedure. As Georgia entered the room she saw her Nana. She squealed with delight and ran across the room yelling, "Nannie, Nannie." She climbed up on her lap and just hugged her for several seconds. I think she sensed that her Nana was doing something that was not terribly pleasant. Nana was just so happy and was warmed by Georgia's attention that day. I am sure that it had to have made the experience more bearable.
Georgia taught me a lesson. Of course I am not a cute little 3 year old girl. I am an overweight 65 year old man. The lesson is to try your best to put a little sunshine into other people's lives. It is so easy to get grumpy, cynical and mean. On the other hand, a kind gesture to anyone you encounter. Some pointless conversation to a person you pass on the way. A random note expressing concern or friendship to a person you have lost contact with. A random phone call to someone who is alone. All of these acts have an enormous effect on other people.
Something we ought to think about as we head into this very difficult and lonely time of the year for some people. The best gifts do not come from Macy's. They come from the act of giving a little of your time to someone who needs it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Depression and the migratory urge

I don't know about you but I have been pretty depressed here lately. My business has dried up and blown away to heaven only knows where. My baseball teams never made it past the first part of post season and now the mid-term elections are over. I suppose that I am just bored with life with nothing much to focus on. My candidates won for the most part in the elections. I really sort of liked seeing San Francisco win the series. Buster Posey played baseball right here in Tallahassee at FSU and I have always followed Cody Ross from his days with the Marlins.

I think there is something more here that I am dealing with and it has been a theory of mine for several years. I have a very happy life. My wife who was very ill earlier this year has rallied back and is her old self. I have wonderful children and I have 5 grandchildren who live within 30 minutes of me. Soon I will have two more of those. I have a wonderful home in a NE subdivision of Florida's capital city. So far I have been able to keep the wolf away from the front door. My football team is defending national champs and running at #6 in the BCS. I play golf once or twice a week with good friends. My scores suck rocks but that has not changed recently. So just what is it that is bugging me?

Here is the point of this post. I don't know if you experience this or not. I find in my own life that when the weather changes and fall settles in around us, I get a sense of melancholy and nostalgia for no apparent reason. I sort of review my past and drag up all the hurtful things that have occurred in my personal history and I feel regret and sometimes just abject depression. I suppose I could get my doc to Rx the latest SSRI and get to feeling better but I find that it always seems to go away eventually. But what the heck is it?

What occurs in nature when the seasons change? The bears load up on carbs and hibernate. The Canadian geese, except for the ones who defecate all over the greens on my golf course year round, fly south. Heck, even the monarch butterflies come floating in over the Gulf of Mexico in the hundreds of thousands. You see thier little corpses all over Hwy 98 south as some of them make landfall with unfortunate synchronicity of the passing of a car. Man, what is up with all that?

I believe that there is a remnant of the migratory urge in all of us. It is settled way down in our DNA. Back when we lived in caves and or tents or on the side of a cliff in a dugout apartment the weather would change. This signaled to us that we better follow the herds, head to a warmer climate or hunker down for the winter. I visited a place once upon a time named Montezuma's castle. It is about 50-60 miles north of Phoenix. There in the side of a sheer cliff are the remnants of the homes of a race of people who just up and disappeared back in around 1100 AD. No one knows where they went or why.

I think we mistake depression often for this wanderlust that seems to be endemic inside all of us. Now don't get me wrong there is a lot of stuff to be depressed about. Our economy is in deep guacamole. I don't see it turning anytime soon. However, who am I to judge. There are people that we just elected to office that are much smarter and more clever than you and I that are going to save us all. What's that? They are no more clever than any of the rest of us? Gulp !! Guess I will start taking a look at property in Niceragua.