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I remember Mama—thoughts of my mother . . .

Countless times over the years I heard my mother say that she was not afraid to die, that she had lived her life with love for her Maker and in deference to Him, and that she was ready to meet Him at any time He called her. My mother believed that if one had faith, even though that faith be no larger than a mustard seed, then everything would be alright regardless of the situation, whether it be sickness or hunger or severe weather or any other danger looming on the horizon. And if you’ve ever seen a mustard seed you’ll have a good idea of how much leeway that gives one regarding the amount of faith one must have as one travels through life in this realm—let’s just agree that the size of a mustard seed leaves a lot of room for error, for straying from the straight and narrow path.

In late November of 1980 my mother was hospitalized with an embolism near the heart and was scheduled for surgery. She was so thin and the embolism was so large that it was visible under the skin, expanding and contracting with every heartbeat. When I arrived at the hospital late in the afternoon she was in the Intensive Care Unit, scheduled for surgery early the next morning.

She was understandably fearful of the pending surgery, and I told her that her fear was normal, that anyone would be afraid, and then I reminded her of the oft-quoted power of the mustard seed, the seed that if faith were no larger than, then everything would be alright.

My mother’s answer? With tears flowing freely she said, I don’t want to die, and I don’t want to hear any more about that mustard seed!

My mother was a heavy smoker, beginning in her teenage years and continuing through adulthood and middle age and later. She never really became old—her body took her into old age and reflected that long journey, but her mind and her thoughts and her outlook on life remained young, right up to the end of her time here on earth. Somewhere around the age of fifty she enrolled in a course of mail order studies and eventually became an LPN, a Licensed Practical Nurse. She often nursed persons rendered helpless after years of smoking and she was well aware of the dangers of the habit.

In response to admonitions to quit smoking, she always said that she would quit smoking when she was eighty years old. She smoked her last cigarette on her eightieth birthday in 1977, and her death came in November of 1980, almost four years later. Her surgery was one of those instances, according to her doctors, in which the surgery was a success but the patient died—her heart was not strong enough to endure the invasive and intensive surgery.

One of her doctors told us that her lungs were remarkably clear, particularly considering some six decades of smoking. I’ve never believed that—his comment was probably meant to be some sort of balm in an attempt to keep her survivors for blaming her cigarette habit for her death. It was not necessary—none of us placed any blame on her—our blame was aimed at the cigarette makers.

That’s it—that’s the story of my mother’s surgery and her death, the only time that I was present when a member of my family died, although I was privileged to attend the funerals of several relatives during my boyhood days. One by one my family members fell—mother, father, brother, five sisters and my stepfather, not necessarily in that order, of course. From the age of sixteen I was far off from home and was able to attend only a few of the funerals, whether my immediate family or those of assorted relatives—brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins—all gave up this realm for another as the result of accidents, disease, old age and in one instance, suicide—none was murdered, at least none of which I am aware.

Of my immediate family I am the last one standing. I’m not particularly proud of that, but I’m not disappointed either. I remain, I exist, perhaps due to the luck of the draw, the roll of the dice, or the turn of the wheel, or perhaps because of divine providence. Perhaps the Creator has a special purpose for me.

Hey, it could be—perhaps some day my WordPress musings, my ramblings, will be consolidated in a pseudo autobiography and published world-wide in numerous languages, and perhaps my tales, my escapades, my foibles and my frolics will influence someone to turn away from a life of sin and pleasure and become a monk and one day become the Pope, the holy keeper of the Catholic faith, the only living link with St. Peter, an apostle of Christ and the rock on which He built His house.

And perhaps not.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Postscript: I’ll be back later with more thoughts of my mother—stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Rabbits speak Arabbitian . . .

The second born of my three princesses, the one that lives, loves and works in Alexandria, Virginia recently posted a series of photos of an animal that was grazing early one evening in the common area behind her townhouse. In her narrative she says the animal was in the company of a robin and two squirrels—I suspect that was a meeting of WANNA, her neighborhood’s local chapter of the national Wild Animal Northern Neighborhood Association, an organization that was formed to ensure and protect the rights of neighborhood animals, both wild and domestic—sister national chapters are WASNA, WAENA and WAWNA denoting chapters in the southern, eastern and western sections of the United States.

Her neighborhood has a similar association for humans—my daughter and her husband were active in that association for a considerable time, but finally withdrew their support because of the constant conflict created by board members.

Click here for her original posting. These are her photos, and her narrative introduction follows:


I was scrounging around the refrigerator earlier this evening, hunting for something interesting to eat for dinner. I glanced out the window and saw this large rabbit (about the size of a normal-sized cat, actually!) grazing in the grass on the common area strip in front of our townhouse, alongside two squirrels and a robin. He was out earlier than I normally see them in the neighborhood (still daylight at about 7 p.m.). I grabbed my camera with a 105mm lens and ran outside, slowly approaching him. He let me get within five or six feet of him before slowly turning away, and even then he didn’t go very far. I was able to fire off almost 20 shots—these are the cream of the crop.

I was intrigued by the photos so I did a bit of research on rabbits, specifically on the differences between rabbits and hares. I learned that hares have longer ears, longer legs, bigger feet and prefer to live above ground. I learned that hares have black markings in their fur, and those that live in northern climes turn white in winter, a protective measure provided by nature to make them less vulnerable to predators. And finally I learned that one female rabbit can conceivably, so to speak, birth as many as 36 babies each year—at that rate my daughter may soon be up to her uh-huh in rabbits. The results of my research were inconclusive—the animal in the photos may or may not be a rabbit, and conversely it may or may not be a hare.

I made a rather lengthy comment on her posting, but before I bring that into this posting I will share a comment I found during my research. I would credit the writer but I could not identify a name, e-mail, blog post, etc. I found it hilarious—enjoy!

This was very helpful in settling a trivia question with a friend. However, it has also exposed a very ugly and troubling issue. Now that we know a “bunny” is specifically defined as an immature “rabbit,” this can only mean that employing the “Easter Bunny” to deliver swag baskets and hide eggs on Easter Eve violates a whole host of state, federal, and UN Child Labor Laws. Inexcusable child exploitation! This means there is no difference between our traditional Easter festivities and an El Salvadoran sweat shop full of hungry orphans making Nikes. We are just lucky we haven’t been caught yet. The only solution is to quietly change the job description to “Easter Rabbit,” purge all history books and greeting cards of incriminating “bunny” references, and never speak of this again. Furthermore, to ensure political correctness, diversity, and ethnic inclusiveness, in alternate years the contract for Easter Eve responsibilities must be awarded to the “Easter Hare.”

I mean, like, hey, is that funny or what!

The real reason for this posting was to share my comment on my daughter’s rabbit photos with other bloggers, and finally this is it, exactly as posted:

thekingoftexas

This is a great series of shots, no matter how domesticated or how wild this animal may be. Evidently this one is accustomed to posing—or perhaps it’s because of your facility in foreign languages. I know that you have accumulated a working knowledge of Spanish, but when and where did you learn to speak the language of rabbits?

And don’t bother to deny it—only with a working proficiency in the rabbit’s language could you have recorded these poses.

I realize that in your case I am preaching to the choir, but perhaps a brief (?) briefing of rabbit language and poses will be of some benefit to your blog visitors, so I’ll be brief—as always.

Rabbits speak Arabbitian, a language that originated in ancient—prebiblical—Arabia and for thousands of years was restricted to rabbits. Very few humans have mastered the language—obviously you are one of those rare exceptions. The others are photographers, mostly, with just a smattering of hunters. That’s because the IQ of most hunters is severely limited and cannot handle the intricacies of the language.

Arabbitian is pronounced air-ruh-be-she-un with the accent on be, the center syllable. Every rabbit world-wide speaks the same language—they are fluent in it from the moment of birth—it’s innate in their DNA.

There are different dialects, of course, just as there are in other languages, particularly in English. Very few natives of the deep South can follow the staccato speech of a Yankee speaker, and conversely southern speakers—Mississippians, for example, especially Mississippi girls—speak so slowly that the listener has ample time to refer to a dictionary for clarification on pronunciation and definition.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the southern girl and her Yankee date. They were parked on Lover’s Lane and the boy, as boys are wont to do, posed a question to her involving a certain activity, and before she could tell him that she had never done that—she had.

And that was not an isolated incident—it’s happened countless times and will happen countless more times, happily, perhaps, for both participants. Some day a brilliant dialectologist may develop a system to speed up the word production of southern girls, but that’s doubtful, so in such instances they will continue to produce—so to speak.

I knew you could speak Arabbitian when I saw the sequence of poses presented by the rabbit. A rabbit—any rabbit, regardless of its origin, will only offer five poses to a viewer—rabbits will pose at a 45-degree angle facing the viewer facing slightly to the right or to the left, at full side view facing right, a full side view facing left, and a backside view with its backside rapidly shrinking into the distance, because the only time a rabbit would turn his back on someone is to run away.

The one pose a rabbit will never assume, not even for a centerfold spread in PlayGirlBunny or PentBurrowBunny—that pose is one of facing a viewer squarely to the front. Rabbits will readily present a rear view, but it will be a fast-disappearing view as discussed earlier.

These restrictions rabbits place on photographers’ photo shoots is for a good reason. Rabbits’ eyes, as are those of most herbivorous animals, are placed on opposite sides of their head and each eye rotates in its socket independently of the other eye, enabling the rabbit to spot danger in a circle approaching a full 360 degrees, except directly ahead or directly behind. Contrast the herbivorous animal with the carnivorous animal. All carnivores are predators, and in most circumstances have no fear of what may be outside their field of vision—their eyes are fixed on their prey.

And as an afterthought, one should never crop a rabbit’s ears as many well-meaning owners do with show rabbits or with pet rabbits. Rabbits’ ears also rotate in opposite directions in order to detect sounds coming from all directions and thus perhaps avoid becoming dinner for a carnivore, whether the carnivore is bird or cat or photographer. Crop a rabbit’s ears and if it gets away or is turned loose in the wild, it cannot effectively pinpoint the source of danger and will become road kill or dinner for a carnivore, either human or animal.

There—I was not as brief as I hoped to be, but apparently I had a lot to say—so I said it.

Great photography—keep up the good work.

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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